The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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Date: 02 June 2001 09:29

Dear family and friends,
What a week, so much happened that I was tempted to do a mid week letter.
Flu stepped in though and consumed brain cells so apologies in advance for
this long letter today. I had barely finished writing last week when
reports came in that Zimbabwe's Minister of Defence, Moven Mahachi, had
been killed in a collision with another car. This news sent an already
suspicious and superstitious country into total turmoil. I must admit to
being suspiciously concerned about this news myself - particularly after a
series of news bulletins kept reporting the accident in different ways and
placing the offending vehicle in different positions. Even with all
R's dinky cars on the kitchen table I was still unable to do a
satisfactory re-construction of the accident. To add to the widespread
whisperings, the Speaker of the House then publicly shouted, and very
loudly, that there was no question of foul play having been involved in the
Minister's demise. Minister Mahachi was declared a National Hero and whilst
the preparations were underway, Zimbabwe's traditional n'angas (witch
doctors) were publicly saying that this was a very bad sign, the Gods and
the Spirits are not happy, they are angry with the violence in Zim and
suggesting divine intervention was now in play. Our President,  visibly
shaken, again took the opportunity  of Mahachi's funeral to swipe at the
world. He said how sad it was that Mahachi had not been able to see the
land re-distribution in Zimbabwe through to the end. A programme that had
seen: "innumerable hostile obstacles and had been hindered by an
unwarranted British campaign." Zimbabwe has, in the space of four weeks,
seen two top ministers killed in car accidents, a third (Nkosana Moyo)
resigned and left the country and war vets leader, Hitler Hunzvi  has been
hospitalized with 'cerebral malaria.' The fate of Hunzvi is still not
clear. When whisperings became roars by the end of last week, Hunzvi was
suddenly seen on state TV, apparently OK. The next day he was admitted to a
top Harare hospital and we have heard no more.
The High Court in Harare has been busy this week. Last years' election
results from Marondera East were being challenged. The Judge had ordered
the Registrar General to present all 12 ballot boxes to the court but on
Monday only 5 boxes arrived. Asked where the rest of the boxes were, the
lackeys from the Registrars office said, aaaah sorry for that, and were
ordered to drive to Marondera immediately and collect the other 7 ballot
boxes. All week the nonsense has been going on and there has still not been
a satisfactory answer as to why ballots from a neighbouring constituency
(headed by MP Hunzvi) were found in the Marondera boxes. Anyway, everything
was counted and checked and the results were still in favour of Minister
Sekeramayi - by a margin of only 25 votes.
Also in the High Court on and off all week has been our former Minister of
Agriculture, Kangai. The moment the heat was on Kangai passed the buck. His
lawyers stepped in with partial minutes of Cabinet meetings saying that
indeed perhaps Kangai did have the President's permission to sell maize
without going to tender. Not good enough, declared the judge, demanding
that full minutes from Cabinet be produced so that things could be seen in
context. Everyone's gone home to mull it over now and the case will
re-start in a fortnight.
We saw another little light come on in Zimbabwe this week -this time in
Plumtree where Zanu pf and the Mdc were fighting it out in council
elections. The Mdc candidate disappeared just before voting started and the
State reported that the man had defected to Zanu pf. In fact the candidate
had been abducted by 'war vets', taken to a house in the middle of nowhere
and tied to a metal bed frame. Terror tactics, I am delighted to say, did
not work, the Mdc candidate won the local election and switched on another
light of hope in our exhausted but apparently determined country.
Also going on almost every day in Harare this week have been demonstrations
by polytech and teacher training students.Services at these institutions,
until now subsidised by gvt, have been privatised and these youngsters are
struggling to survive with the massively increased costs of eating and
sleeping. Their protests have been met daily by teargas-happy riot police.
Perhaps the biggest news of the week was the U.K.'s Guardian report of
secret information suggestion a coup was imminent in Zimbabwe. There was,
of course, a unanimous roar from top army brass in Zim all saying lies,
lies, I am not the one. South African President Mbeki joined in with that
chorus and then added his voice to
others still slamming the brave utterances of US Secretary Colin Powell
last week. Mbeki said that he was fully in support of land reform in Zim.He
said it was a slow process though, both complicated and difficult and
compared it to Palestine and Israel. If Mr Mbeki means what he says though,
why then does he continue to support the present "fast tracking" programme
ravaging Zimbabwean farms. Either it's slow or it's fast - which one do you
support Mr Mbeki? A lot of things became clear though when I learnt this
week that 83 farmers & farm workers have been murdered in South Africa in
the last TEN MONTHS. Why didn't we know about this - Mr Mbeki's gvt has a
moratorium on media publication of 'crime statistics'. MY GOD - Zimbabwe
and South Africa begin to look as one.
On Friday our Minister of Home Affairs announced that the "final phase of
fast tracking" would commence that morning. 200 teams of 'experts', he
said, would be deployed across the country to peg  and demarcate all land
and tell war vets and squatters to go ahead and start erecting permanent
OK - I know this letter is far too long and I still haven't said it all but
let me end on a personal note. So many people ask me how the book is doing,
how R is, what's happening on your farm. African Tears should now be
freely available in UK. Thanks very much to Zimnews for your review this
week and for helping spread the word. I know that as long as I refuse the
cameras and the reporters it makes it that much harder to spread the word
and every little bit of support I get is a huge boost as it is yet another
way of telling the world what is still going on in Zimbabwe. R is fine
and came home last Friday absolutely beaming. He had been given the Merit
badge for his class for the week and also a Special Mention Certificate for
having covered all his new exercise books. ( I think I actually deserve
that one for all the hours spent with the brown paper and plastic on the
couch long after he'd gone to bed!) Yesterday I was asked to attend at
10.15 am for tuck shop duty - which I duly did and actually had a ball -
selling sticky cake and suckers to toddlers - don't worry I didn't use any
swear words, didn't smoke and didn't politically indoctrinate anyone! My
Mum is coming down today for a weekend of TLC. For the last fortnight in
her home town of Murehwa the 'war vets and zanu pf youth' have been bashing
on doors, demanding zanu pf membership cards, names, i.d. numbers. The
psychological intimidation continues, the heat gets slowly turned up - we
are all so very tired of it all. Sorry for such a long letter. Thanks to
you all for your wonderful letters, your support and your determination to
keep on helping us. With much love, c
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Zimbabwe reels from Aids
Zimbabwean youths
'Aids is robbing the nation of skilled young people'
Zimbabwe will have zero percent population growth next year, mainly because of the Aids pandemic, the government anticipates.

Health Minister Timothy Stamps said there were 100,000 Aids-related deaths in the country last year alone.

Aids was robbing the nation of skilled and productive young people, he told state television.

Aids drugs
African countries have been pushing to get cheap Aids drugs
Other factors limiting population growth were a successful family planning campaign, and the migration of skilled workers abroad.

Zimbabwe has one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the world, with one in four people believed to be living with the virus.

At least 2,000 people die per week from Aids-related illnesses, according to official statistics.

Aids battle

Mr Stamps' announcement coincides with the first national Aids awareness campaign to be launched in more than a decade in the United States.

Next week marks the first public mention of the Aids virus, which appeared in June 1981 in an American medical journal.

Throughout the world, some 21 million people have died of Aids in the last 20 years and 36 million are currently infected.

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From News24 (SA), 4 June

Zim war veteran Hitler Hunzvi dies

Harare - Zimbabwe's controversial war veterans leader and one of President Robert Mugabe's staunchest supporters, Chenjerai Hitler Hunzvi, died on Monday morning at a hospital in the capital, state radio reported. The condition of Chenjerai Hitler Hunzvi, 51, Zimbabwe's war veterans' leader and member of parliament, deteriorated to the point where he was placed on a life-support system in the Coronary Care Unit (CCU) at Harare's Parirenyatwa Hospital. The CCU is a special unit for critically ill patients who need life support.

Hunzvi, one of President Robert Mugabe's staunchest supporters, was admitted into the hospital on Wednesday - a day after he was released from the same institution. Last week Hunzvi collapsed and spent several days in hospital in the city of Bulawayo, reportedly suffering from cerebral malaria. Medical sources dismissed the malaria claims, saying Hunzvi has a history of ailments linked to a "lesion on the lung and insufficient bone marrow activity", both of which are usually Aids-related. "While it is normally in bad taste to discuss the medical records of our patients, Hunzvi's case is different. He was a public figure, a very public figure. People need to know about the nature of his illness," said a doctor close to his medical team.

Hunzvi's illness comes as a major blow to the ruling Zanu PF party's campaign programme for the Presidential election next year. It is a week after the death of another Zanu-PF stalwart, defence minister Moven Mahachi. Mahachi was killed less than a month after gender and employment minister Border Gezi. Both died in car crashes. The party seems to believe that it is facing a fresh, unnatural crisis arising from a myth among the ageing Mugabe followers that their opponents were using black magic to attack them. Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Speaker of Parliament and an unwavering Mugabe loyalist, appeared on national television visibly shaken by the recent spate of misfortunes. "We don't know what is hitting us," he said. "It's not natural. Something else must be happening."

On Friday, Hunzvi's relatives were said to have called his lawyer, Aston Musunga of Musunga and Associates to draft a will, but the lawyer refused to confirm this. On the same day, top politicians, including the two vice-presidents Simon Muzenda, Joseph Msika and top officers in the army, visited Hunzvi in his private ward.

Hunzvi, the MP for Chikomba, was the chairman of a faction of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans' Association. Last year, he led the ex-combatants and Zanu PF supporters in seizing mainly white-owned commercial farms for resettlement. Thirty-five people - mainly opposition supporters - died in the campaign. Zanu PF won 62 seats, most of them in the rural areas. It lost 58 seats to the opposition, most of them urban constituencies. Two weeks ago, Hunzvi collapsed at a Bulawayo hotel and was rushed to a clinic in the city. Hunzvi was discharged from Parirenyatwa Hospital on Tuesday, only to be re-admitted the following day.

From BBC News, 4 June

Mugabe henchman dies

The leader of Zimbabwe's self-styled war veterans, Chenjerai Hunzvi, has died in in hospital in the capital, Harare. The controversial MP, who spearheaded the invasion of white-owned farms last year, was a staunch supporter of President Robert Mugabe. State media confirmed his death a few hours ago following days of rumours, but did not say what he died from. The 51-year-old collapsed last month in a hotel in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city. Since then self-styled war veterans had stood guard outside his hospital room. Zimbabwe's leading independent newspaper said that he was suffering from "suspected cerebral malaria". The AP news agency said that in recent weeks, Mr Hunzvi, a Polish-trained medical doctor, had shown signs disorientation and rapid weight loss.

Correspondents say his death is a severe blow to President Mugabe's ruling party. The government is already reeling from the recent deaths of two ministers in separate car crashes. Employment Minister Border Gezi and Defence Minister Moven Mahachi, one of the president's most loyal aides, were both declared national heroes and buried with full military honours. Mr Hunzvi led militant ruling party supporters in the invasion of more than 1,700 farms, accusing white farmers of supporting the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. He was elected as an MP last year, following a violent election campaign in which more than 30 opposition supporters died. Since then the War Veterans Association switched its attention to urban businesses, demanding money off employers, under the guise of trying to settle labour disputes.

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Mangete sugar fields set alight

News24, 4 June 2001

Three more sugar cane fields at Mangete near Mandini in northern
KwaZulu-Natal were set alight by arsonists, days after a high profile
delegation of provincial and national leaders called for calm on the
land, which is part of a long-standing dispute between the Dunn family
and the Macambini community.

Dunn family spokesperson Pat Dunn said on Monday morning that 13 sugar
cane farms in the area had been affected.

Sugar cane fields on 12 farms were set alight last weekend. On Friday
morning an additional field was destroyed and on Sunday night three more
fields were set alight.

According to Dunn two of the sugar cane fields set alight on Sunday
night were on farms where arsonists had already burnt large areas of
sugar cane, while the third fire was on a new farm.

Damage to sugar cane crops is estimated at around R1 million.

It appears that arsonists also attempted to set alight the community
Anglican church, but were prevented when the pastor heard a noise and
fired shots into the air. A bottle containing petrol was later found at
the scene.

The Mangete land, currently owned by the descendants of John Dunn, is
part of a 1997 land claim by the Macambini community. The matter has
since been taken to the Land Claims Court.

The Macambini indicated their willingness to settle the matter out of
court, but the Dunn family has thus far refused. Dunn said the family
would make a decision on how further to proceed later this week.

Since last year there have been several incidents of arson on the Dunn
land and in April the community hall was razed.

Members of the Macambini community have also allegedly threatened to
take over the land by force.

King meets with community

Friday last week Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini called for a meeting to
address the growing crisis and was attended by more than 2 000 members
of the community.

Among the leaders present were Zwelithini, national Agriculture and Land
Affairs Minister Thoko Didiza, Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu
Buthelezi, KwaZulu-Natal premier Lionel Mtshali, African National
Congress provincial leader S'bu Ndebele as well as traditional leaders
from the area.

All called for calm and reason, urging the community to put aside their
animosity and to sort out their differences through negotiations.

Buthelezi also warned arsonists that the KwaZulu-Natal government would
not allow a precedent for Zimbabwe-style land invasions in the province.
He said under no circumstances would the provincial government allow the
province to become comparable to Zimbabwe.

The Mangete crisis could send the wrong message to the rest of the world
and investors would not come to KwaZulu-Natal or South Africa.

Buthelezi said in settling the dispute the memories of the past had to
be balanced against the reality of the world today.

Didiza called on the two protagonists to find a lasting solution to the
dispute before the end of the year. She said pressure should not be put
on the Dunns through acts of violence. She said land claim issues were
difficult but not insurmountable.

Zwelithini said sugar cane was the backbone of the KwaZulu-Natal economy
and the arsonists were sabotaging the provincial economy.

Provincial safety and security MEC Nyanga Ngubane said government would
leave no stone unturned to bring these "barbarians" to book.

The land was given to John Dunn by the Zulu King Cetshwayo in the 1800s
along with 29 of the king's wives.


Another Eight South African Farmers Massacred

Adriana Stuijt
NewsMax, 4 June 2001

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Eight more farmers have been massacred on
South African farms over the past three days, bring the total of people
murdered in armed attacks on commercial farms since 1994 to a total of
1,108 people, primarily people of Boer-Voortrekker descent.
The latest eight victims all had been unarmed farmers of
Boer-Voortrekker descent whose forebears arrived in South Africa from
various European countries 400 years ago.

Investigating police officers on the scene all were struck by the
similarities of these attacks, saying these couples had been ambushed
with military precision - and all were massacred by heavily-armed young
black males armed with AK-47 military carbines and other military

The four massacred couples have left behind six orphans. None of the
attackers stole anything, police said.

In the attack on one couple, the Schoonwinkels, their ten-year-old son
also had been abducted, severely assaulted and left naked, tied up with
barbed wire to a fence, his mouth tied up and stuffed with tall African
grass. The Schoonwinkel child was found in severely traumatised
condition by defence force and police trackers only hours later.

These latest South African farm massacres occurred between May 31 and
June 2 at four commercial farms in the South African provinces of
Mpumalanga, Gauteng, the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape.

The police officers investigating these four massacres all said that
these could not be classified as armed robberies - as nothing had been
stolen "These attacks have been carried out with military precision, as
if attacking military targets," one policeman commented. "These were
textbook military-style ambush operations, but these were all carried
out against unarmed farmers instead of military targets."

Three months ago, the SA government ordered an independent expert
investigation into the underlying causes of these organised armed
massacres of South African farmers. South African agriculture has been
plunged into a crisis, with farmers leaving their profession in droves
which lead to massive unemployment in rural areas and a dramatic drop in
food production.
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MDC chairman’s son abducted

6/4/01 12:13:22 PM (GMT +2)

Staff Reporter

THE whereabouts of Tichafa, 30, the son of Rosie Chinyemba, the MDC chairperson for Mazowe district, were still unknown at the weekend after the police launched a manhunt for him last Monday.

Saul, Tichafa’s young brother, said yesterday he had not seen him since
Monday, after 10 heavily armed policemen went to his house in Chinyemba village near Howard Mission School in Chiweshe.
The police were looking for Tichafa in connection with clashes between MDC and Zanu PF supporters in Glendale the previous day.
Saul said the police had shut down the Chinyemba family business, Mutekedza Supermarket, at Nyachuru business centre, and locked Tichafa’s car.
Efforts to get a comment from the police failed yesterday.
Saul said trouble started on 19 May when he and Martin, his twin brother, accompanied Tichafa to Glendale service station to fill up his car, a Mazda 626.
A group of about 30 Zanu PF supporters and war veterans, armed with whips, allegedly attacked them and attempted to burn the car, saying Glendale was a Zanu PF area.
They managed to flee, but not before they had sustained injuries, with Martin receiving seven stitches on the forehead and Tichafa sustaining head injuries.
They reported the matter at Glendale police base.

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04 June 2001

On the run

IN a country where there have been very few certainties for the last 18 months, Zimbabweans can at least be certain that ZANU - PF is in disarray. True, the party may rally. It will certainly attempt to, but it is weaker now that it has ever been.

And Zimbabweans can largely dismiss those foolish enough to proclaim that this is when the ruling party is at its most dangerous. It is cornered, they say, and lashing out like a wounded buffalo. A lovely analogy, and accurate enough for the first part, though entirely wrong for the second. Like a punch drunk boxer reeling and losing, any punches ZANU-PF throws at the moment are as likely to miss as they are to hit - and anything that does severe damage will be by virtue of luck, not judgement.

Besides, just what is ZANU- PF today? For the purposes of argument, it has to be the Mugabe faction. Seriously divided, the party is bickering and fighting with itself. It will deny this, pointlessly, for the entire nation now talks of this faction against that faction. The clever Mr Eddison Zvobgo pitted against Mr Simon Muzenda; Dr Nkosana Moyo legging it over the hills to resign from somewhere slightly safer than the city of Harare, the old liberal guard of ZAPU against the militants in ZANU. These divisions last week led to rampant rumour mongering when a second of Mugabe's most loyal lieutenants died in a motor vehicle accident. He was murdered, the people say, but by whom?

Perhaps he was and perhaps he wasn't. The same goes for the largely unlamented Mr Border Gezi. Still more rumours did the rounds, perhaps in less spectacular circumstances. It was interesting to hear that home affairs minister John Nkomo called off the business invasions after telling Mr Mugabe that if the instructions were countermanded by the president's office he, Nkomo, would leave the ruling party and take Matabeleland with him. Plausible enough, especially with repetition, except that the people of that province would rather vote for a donkey than anyone connected with ZANU-PF - as was pointed out by a ruling party candidate in last year's election. He lost, incidentally, though not to a donkey.

If in business, location is everything, in politics it is timing that's critical. With ZANU - PF on the ropes, it is tempting to put the boot in. That is not what Zimbabwe needs. While a change of government would be pleasantly refreshing, no one should change one de facto one party state for another. A revolution is needed, but within the ranks of the present ruling party, not in Zimbabwe.

The problem is complex. The current reign of terror and lawlessness afflicting Zimbabwe stems not from fatuous rhetorical nonsense about colonialism and land hunger; it stems from a desire to remain in power. It also began before last year's constitutional referendum, at a time when Mugabe and his secret policemen realised that the tide of popular opinion was turning. The perceived solution was war veterans and anarchy, a totalitarian "final solution" that might well impoverish Zimbabwe (though who cares?) but would swing support back to ZANU -PF.

The June parliamentary election proved that the policy was a spectacular failure, a fact that angered the Mugabe faction.

But it also cost the ruling party the one caucus it had that might rein in the hot-headed militants who have since done so much damage. ZANU - PF simply disappeared off the map in Matabeleland, a province dominated by moderates from the old ZAPU party. Those same moderates now have no constituency, either in parliament or the party. A population greedy for change effectively sidelined them.

And yes, it's true that people like Dumiso Dabengwa failed to stop the party's excesses before the election. But it's also true to say that there is no way of knowing whether they'd have been more successful after it. Too many factors come into play to predict accurately what might have been, not least their closer relationship with the ANC in South Africa.

Still, everything that has been during the last 18 months of madness has to be background to what is today. The "is" of today is a very much weakened ruling party, damaged by death, division and desertion. And that gets us back to the imperative of timing.

For democracy to succeed, and don't forget that it's an essential ingredient for long-term prosperity, then anarchy must fail. Anything that is done that might give the forces of anarchy an opportunity to rally their numbers, to get up off their knees, is bad for Zimbabwe.

The mood of farmers is critical. By and large, there's still a lot of fight left in people, though a combination of crazy economics, threatened viability and illegal, threatening invasions has left people wondering about the future. It has to be hoped, because it may well be essential to success, that farmers and their workers still have more fight in them than the architects of anarchy who're doing their best to destroy the country. Some time ago, this magazine predicted that this was a waiting game. That is still true, and if farmers (and everyone else being terrorised) can hold on for a while longer, then right will prevail over wrong - though compromise will only lengthen the process.

And don't listen to those foolish individuals who say they know more about what is going on than you do, or that this is a "man's game" played by the "big boys". That's rubbish, even a baboon could work out who is doing what to whom in Zimbabwe - though only a baboon would claim proprietorial rights over solving the problem. Anyone could do it (and everyone must); but it takes patience, perseverance and backbone.

Brian Latham
Editor- The Farmer

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Farmers come in droves for cattleman's field day
MDC MPs warn of intimidating tactics
CPA boss warns of threat
Minimum standards for workers' facilities on farms
Switching off the light

Farmers come in droves for cattleman's field day

ZIMBABWE'S cattleman of the year, Mr Roy Lilford, held a field day on his Wicklow Estates farm last week, to mark the winning of the prestigious award. About 250 farmers and people from the cattle industry attended the field day in a show of immense solidarity at a time when farmers are suffering immense hardship.

Wicklow Estates in Selous, where Lilford was born, runs six herds on 4630 hectares, with 1852ha under grazing and the rest arable. The rotational grazing system is made up of 27 paddocks. "Veld reinforced pastures and crop residues are totally complimentary. All my tobacco lands are now planted to legumes and we're developing smaller paddocks which are entirely dryland pastures. The legume pastures are utlised in late summer, April, May or early summer and September, October when cattle find them more palatable," said Mr Lilford. The main legumes used on Wicklow are Siratro, Cassia Wyn and Wild Sunhemp, while grasses are Katombora Rhodes Grass and Giant Rhodes Grass.

His six herds are divided into first calvers (bulling heifers), second calvers, third calvers, the first main herd, second main herd and replacement heifers.

Lilford says he keeps his management principles simple. "We use Sussex, Saler, Saler x Sussex bulls and Mashona bulls in a very simple system. Sussex, Saler x Sussex to Brahman and indigenous type cows and Mashona bulls to Sussex Saler type cows. We don't have a third cross terminal herd," he said.

MDC MPs warn of intimidating tactics

MOVEMENT for Democratic Change (MDC) parliamentarians have condemned intimidation in Zimbabwe by ZANU-PF, claiming that prominent commercial farmers and top business people have been party to intimidation.

Speaking at a meeting in Borrowdale last week the MDC's shadow legal affairs minister, Mr David Coltart said intimidation came in the form of invasions of farms and businesses as well as violence. Speaking to about 600 people, Coltart said there were top businessmen and farmers using intimidatory language in support of ZANU- PF.

"There are certain farmers and a top MD of a bank going around farms telling farmers that the whether Zimbabweans like it or not, Mugabe and ZANU-PF are going to win the next presidential elections," said Mr Coltart.

He said some privileged Harare business people, black and white, are also saying that Mugabe will win - and that it will be good for the country.

"Those people are out of touch with the majority of this country. They are advocating this because of their corrupt deeds with ZANU-PF," said Mr Coltart.

He said such people know that if ZANU - PF is exposed they will also be exposed.

"ZANU - PF and these people should be made to know that evil will not be rewarded. When the international community says the rule of law should be observed, they do not only refer to farms but also to murders and persecutions in the whole country. We have 10 months left before the presidential elections and I have no doubt that ZANU-PF will use whatever means to secure victory. We have to be courageous. Those in the high density areas have been the most courageous. Let those of us who are privileged not let them down," said Mr Coltart.

Mr Roy Bennett, another MDC MP, said all Zimbabweans have a role to play in the country but the ruling party has indoctrinated people into believing that whites don't have a role to play in politics.

"In my constituency there are few white people and the people who voted for me are from poor rural background who stood up to violence and intimidation from the ruling party. The current government will not spare anyone with its evil, from the richest to the poorest," said Bennett.

Bennett urged people, urban and rural alike, to stand up against intimidation in the run-up to next year's presidential election, saying that if the poor could do it, then so could the wealthy.

CPA boss warns of threat

Speaking to hundreds of farmers at a Cattle Producers' Association field day in Selous, chairman of the association Mr Tim Reynolds warned that time was running out for Zimbabwe's veterinary department. He said the department had until the end of June to satisfy the European Union that Zimbabwe should be allowed to continue with beef exports to the lucrative European market.

But Reynolds warned that the department, under the directorship of Dr Stuart Hargreaves, faced massive problems. Illegal occupiers had moved into Zimbabwe's famous Gonarezhou National Park, taking cattle into an area where buffalo are found in abundance. Meanwhile, trouble in the Save Conservancy Area, where farmers and wildlife producers have suffered months of intimidation at the hands of self-styled war veterans and ZANU-PF supporters, continues unabated, despite lobbying from both the agricultural and tourism sectors.

And as if the threat of a Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak wasn't serious enough, the veterinary department is suffering from a chronic staff shortage. Mr Reynolds claimed that there were currently about 800 vacancies in the department. "We're on very, very thin ground right now," warned the CPA chairman.

He said that FMD's high profile after the UK outbreak meant Zimbabwe was getting poor publicity because the disease is endemic to the region. He said that though the trade liked Zimbabwean beef, there was resistance. "It's not really wanted right now," Reynolds told farmers.

A recent FMD outbreak in Uruguay saw imports of that country's beef closed down in under 24 hours and Mr Reynolds warned farmers that an outbreak in Zimbabwe would see the same thing happen. He said that the veterinary department would ban all movement of cattle immediately if there was an outbreak.

Minimum standards for workers' facilities on farms

ZIMBABWE'S government should create an enabling environment for commercial farmers so they can provide better living standards for farm workers, while minimum standards should be put in place so that farmers know what they are supposed to do to improve the quality of life for their workers.

In an interview with The Farmer this week, Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe (FTCZ) deputy director, Mrs Kaday Sibanda said farm workers have been made vulnerable by Zimbabwe's land reform programme.

She said the FTCZ has been lobbying government to set minimum standards for facilities farmers provide for their workers - and to give incentives for those farmers who provide such facilities. But so far they have not achieved any success.

Mrs Sibanda said, "It's easy for government to say farmers are not doing this and that for farm workers but government has no minimum standards to say this is what the farmer should provide. If there are minimum standards in place, farmers will know what is expected."

The government introduced a rebate system for farmers who would provide acceptable basic infrastructure facilities for the workers but it takes four years to get the rebate from government.

"There are no incentives for farmers to make welfare of workers a priority," said Mrs Sibanda.

She said it takes only a year for a farmer to get a rebate for equipment bought to improve production but it takes at least four years for farmers to get rebates for money spent on improving facilities for farm workers.

Mrs Sibanda said her organisation which is 100% reliant on donor funding has initiated programmes which have been well received by both farmers and farm workers. She said schools, health facilities and HIV home-based care units have been built with a lot of help from farmers, most of whom provided building material.

One well-received initiative from FTCZ as the introduction of "Early Childhood Education and Care Centres.

"A lot of mothers on farms work and manage to take children to the tobacco barns but it harms the child's health," said Mrs Sibanda.

In these care centres on the farm children are left to play and get education while their mother are working.

Mrs Sibanda said they provide training to farm schoolteachers. She said FTCZ also work through government ministries to provide training in various areas and provide government extension officers with motorbikes. This, she said, is because government already has established structures, which helps them to access the farms.

The uncertainty surrounding the land issue have also discouraged farmers from continuing with improvements on farms.

The FTCZ have been doing most of its work in Mashonaland provinces and has plans to go to other provinces.

The FTCZ approaches to government to recognise farm workers in the land reform programme have not yielded results. Mrs Sibanda said there is no consistent answer from government officials over the issue of those being displaced by the land reform exercise. She said some officials tell them that they will be allocated land while others say they don't qualify to be resettled.

According to the surveys by the FCTZ only 7% of the workers on acquired farms have been resettled. The remainder, she said, were still on living on these farms but with no land allocated to them. As a result there have no source of income and in trying to find alternative sources of income some were now practising illegal gold panning which is an environmental and health hazard.

She warned of large numbers of squatters in the near future if the problem of displaced farm workers is not rectified.

Due to the political situation in the country a lot of donors have withdrawn. Although donors have not deserted FCTZ they have adopted a new approach to funding their activities. Mrs Sibanda said some of the donors were now reluctant to have long-term commitment. "This has affected our plans but we are lucky because no one has pulled out. They are concerned about the violence perpetrated against farm workers and the farmers," she said.

Switching off the light

ZIMBABWE hasn't seen a total solar eclipse since 1886, though two will be seen in southern Africa in the very near future, the first on 21 June and another 18 months late on 4 December. Thousands of foreign visitors are expected to visit the country - and the region - to witness the event. The best place to view the June eclipse in Zimbabwe will be north of the line between Mutoko and Makuti; in this zone the phenomenon will last for about three minutes, starting at about 1.45PM.

In fact, solar eclipses happen slightly more often than lunar eclipses, though fewer people witness them. That's because lunar eclipses can be seen from an entire hemisphere, while their solar cousins can be seen only from a narrow band that's rarely more than 200 km wide. Thus the eclipse of 23 November 2003 will be visible only from Antarctica.

All solar eclipses begin in the west and move eastwards at the speed of the moon's shadow, about 1700 km/h. A solar eclipse won't last more than seven and a half minutes at the most - and usually between two and five minutes is the norm. Lunar eclipses, though, can last for up to two and a half hours. Generally, every location on earth will witness a total solar eclipse every 375 years and a lunar eclipse, on average, every second year.

Solar eclipses are not very exciting unless there is an eclipse magnitude of 90% or more because our eyes compensate for the shadow passing over the sun. Still, in southern Africa, the eclipses of 2001 and 2002 will be easily visible and reasonably accessible. The next opportunity to witness this magnificent phenomenon in Africa south of the equator will be in 2030, while there will be a spectacular eclipse in Mutare on 4 October 2070.

Safety specs - safe viewing

It is dangerous to look at the eclipse with the naked eye. The best way to view it is through special solar eclipse viewers or a number 14 welding glass. Alternatively, cover a mirror with cardboard, leaving a space less than 2cm across and project an image of the sun onto a shaded wall or a darkened room.

Do not attempt to look at the eclipse through binoculars or a telescope. For the best advice on how to view the event, if you're unable to get the special viewers, contact the Astronomical Society.

(With thanks to Dr Francis Podmore, Department of Physics, University of Zimbabwe.

Email: For further information visit the Society's website at

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Zim car plant closes
Posted: 04/06/2001 14:27 - (SA)

Harare - Zimbabwe's largest car assembly plant, Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries, has been closed indefinitely, the state-owned Herald reported Monday.

The plant, which specialises in assemblying Japanese vehicles, has given in to persistent and critical shortages of foreign exchange in Zimbabwe necessary for the importation of assembly kits, the report said.

The firm's more than 300 workers turned up for work Friday after a month-long involuntary holiday and found the gates locked, according to the daily.

Workers will, however, continue to receive salaries for the next five months, when some car kits from Japan are expected to arrive.

Zimbabwe's economic crisis - marked by among other things high inflation and acute shortages of foreign currency - has seen levels of production drop by 75%.

The paper said the workers were told of the closure by the firm's chairman Mike Ndudzo. Ndudzo was not immediately available for comment.

At least 400 Zimbabwean manufacturing firms closed shop last year while a total of 750 companies laid off nearly 10 000 workers, according to a recent study by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI).

The shortage of foreign capital has been exacerbated by a suspension by the International Monetary Fund of loans to the southern African country since 1999.

The invasion last year of hundreds of white-owned farms by veterans of the country's liberation war and a subsequent violent electoral campaign saw the country's international standing deteriorate, worsening the economic crisis.
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