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Wednesday June 7 4:33 PM ET

Bill To Halt Zimbabwe Aid Approved

WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. aid to Zimbabwe, including debt relief, would be suspended until democracy is restored under a bill the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved Wednesday.

The bill said that under President Robert Mugabe's leadership over the past 20 years, the southern African nation has become more totalitarian.

``The farm invasions are nothing but a cover for an assault on democracy, the collapse of the economy and a desperate effort to win over rural, landless voters,'' said Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., chairman of the committee's Africa panel, who sponsored the legislation.

``If we allow Zimbabwe to continue down this path, we risk allowing further instability in southern Africa,'' he said.

Besides suspending U.S aid, the bill calls for U.S. representatives at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to vote against any credits for Zimbabwe.

The legislation also contains a provision to allocate $16 million for land reform programs once the president and Congress conclude democracy has been restored in Zimbabwe.

It would establish a Southern African Finance Center in Harare, the capital, to house offices for the U.S Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corp. and the Trade Development Agency.

More than 5,000 cases of political violence have been reported in Zimbabwe since February, when a government-sponsored referendum on a new constitution was defeated. At least 30 people, mainly opposition supporters, have been killed.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change has accused Mugabe's government of orchestrating the violence to intimidate Zimbabweans ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for June 24-25.

Last Friday the government announced that the state would immediately begin seizing 804 mostly white-owned farms. The government has ignored constitutional ownership rights and laws protecting private property during the often-violent occupations of more than 1,400 white-owned farms that began in February.
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Wednesday June 7 4:20 PM ET

Mugabe Seeks New Land Seizures
By ANGUS SHAW, Associated Press Writer

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - Unbowed by criticism of his plan to seize more than 800 white-owned farms, President Robert Mugabe said Wednesday that his government is eyeing all white-owned land.

If whites are allowed to remain on their farms, Mugabe said, it will be out of charity from the nation's majority black population.

Last week, the government announced it would immediately begin nationalizing 804 white-owned properties. On Wednesday, Mugabe said that those farms were not enough to satisfy landless blacks.

``We are looking at the totality of our land. It must come and if we allow others to have portions of it, that must be on the basis of our own will, our own desire and our own charity,'' Mugabe said in an address to ruling party candidates in the parliamentary elections, set for June 24-25.

After last week's announcement of new land seizures, the United Nations postponed a visit by Mark Malloch Brown, the head of the U.N. Development Program. He had been scheduled to discuss how to get orderly land reform back on track in Zimbabwe.

Mugabe's announcement was criticized by the United States, Britain - the former colonial power - other donors and opposition parties.

The biggest opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, described Mugabe's remarks Wednesday as ``irrational'' and a further threat to the agriculture-based economy already disrupted by the illegal occupation of more than 1,400 white-owned farms.

Veterans of the war that led to independence from white minority rule in 1980 have spearheaded the occupations. Mugabe urged supporters Wednesday to offer thanks to war veterans for leading the occupations that had hastened the land takeovers.

Welshman Ncube, secretary-general of the Movement for Democratic Change, said Zimbabweans had little reason to be thankful for the occupations, which triggered political violence. At least 30 people, most of them opposition supporters, have died in the violence, and at least 7,000 people were displaced from their homes.

``It is completely irrational to ask Zimbabweans, ... whose women have been raped, whose homes have been burned down, whose teachers have fled, to thank the thugs responsible,'' he said.

Mugabe has described the land occupations as a justified protest against the unfair ownership of land mostly by the descendants of British settlers.

About 4,000 whites own about one-third of the productive land, which also supports 2 million farm workers and their families. About 7.5 million blacks live on the remaining two-thirds.

Mugabe's opponents say he has promised white land to rural poor to bolster his flagging popularity ahead of elections as the nation faces its worst economic crisis since independence.

In a statement issued Wednesday in London, British Foreign Office Minister Peter Hain said only Mugabe could insure the upcoming elections were free and fair, ``and he seems determined not to.''

``Neither Britain nor the international community can solve the land problem or reverse Zimbabwe's economic decline. Only Robert Mugabe can do so, and he shows no sign of wanting to,'' the statement said
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Wednesday, May. 3, 2000
Leader of the Opposition
Morgan Tsvangirai of Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change is leading the fight against strongman Mugabe

Morgan Tsvangirai was late. After a whirlwind tour of South Africa, the U.K. and the U.S. last month, Zimbabwe's charismatic opposition leader was due to speak to journalists at his home in a middle class suburb of Harare, the capital. A desk and chairs had been arranged under a tree on the tidy front lawn and security men were congregating at the driveway gate. Finally Tsvangirai arrived to begin the press conference. "Why was he delayed?" one journalist wanted to know. Had he been detained at immigration, or roughed up by the secret police or President Robert Mugabe's henchmen? "I lost my bag," said Tsvangirai, smiling. "If someone took it, they will just find dirty clothes."

The gathered crowd laughed at the joke, but the security men and the guard dogs on short leashes were evidence that Tsvangirai is deadly serious. Since last year, when he helped form the Movement for Democratic Change, Tsvangirai has forged the first meaningful opposition to Mugabe's rule since independence 20 years ago.

In February, Tsvangirai and his party celebrated victory when Zimbabweans rejected proposed changes to the country's constitution in a referendum. It was the first time Mugabe or his party had ever been beaten in a public vote. Since then Mugabe has backed a campaign of violence and intimidation against white landowners, black farm workers and opposition members. At least ten people have been killed. But speaking three weeks ago about the upcoming parliamentary elections, Tsvangirai sounded undaunted. "No amount of intimidation or threats to us as individuals, or the whole MDC, are going to intimidate us into submission. We of the MDC are providing a credible alternative to the dictatorship that we have. We are not going to give Mugabe a chance by boycotting this election."

Tsvangirai was born in 1952 in Buhera in the country's east. His father was a bricklayer. After secondary school he worked as a textile weaver and then in a mine. Within years he was leading the mining union and by the late 1980s was head of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions. In late 1997, Tsvangirai led a series of "stay-aways," or strikes, against proposed tax increases, bringing the country to a halt. Mugabe was forced to cancel the increases as well as plans for another tax to pay for war veterans' pensions.

The well-spoken opposition leader earns most of his support from Zimbabwe's urban workers, particularly younger voters. The parliamentary elections are likely to be split along urban-rural lines, and many see Mugabe's belated push for land reform as a crude attempt to shore up the rural vote, traditionally the stronghold of the President's ZANU-PF party. Tsvangirai says Mugabe has a "paranoid obsession with race" and describes the President's speeches as the "crazy utterances of a deranged dictator." He agrees that there needs to be a program of land reform, "but we need reform that is orderly and will not destabilize the economy."

While he believes that Zimbabwe can rebuild — "We have to look positively beyond Mugabe. Mugabe is history" — he worries that his country has squandered international goodwill. "What the situation in Zimbabwe confirms is Afro-pessimism," he told the gathered journalists three weeks ago. "If it can happen here in Zimbabwe, then what's to say it can't happen 20 years down the track in South Africa. [Mugabe and his backers] are confirming to the world that we can sink to that level." Zimbabweans hope he can prove the world wrong.
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Wednesday June 7 1:19 PM ET

Mugabe Considers Seizing All White-Owned Farms
By Cris Chinaka

HARARE, Zimbabwe (Reuters) - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe said Wednesday his government could seize all white-owned land and if whites were allowed to continue farming it would be ``out of...our own charity.''

Mugabe told his ruling ZANU-PF party the government was looking beyond the 841 white-owned farms already designated to be seized for redistribution to landless blacks.

``It is not just the 841 farms that we are looking at. We are looking at the totality of our land,'' Mugabe said in a pep talk to the party's 120 candidates in parliamentary elections scheduled for June 24-25.

``If we allow others to own portions of it, it must be out of our own will, our own desire, our own charity. Not on the back of colonial history. So let us be clear on that,'' he said.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said Mugabe's comments were another example of the government's erratic policy on land.

``It is no longer a rational policy or a rational program. The people of Zimbabwe are going to be short changed by an irrational government,'' Tsvangirai told a news conference.

Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) poses the strongest challenge to ZANU-PF in Zimbabwe's 20 years of independence from Britain.
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Denmark Offers Funds If Violence Ends

Denmark said Wednesday it would contribute funds to land reform in Zimbabwe on the condition that violence associated with the invasion on hundreds of white-owned farms was stopped and the country held free and fair elections.

At least 27 people, mostly MDC supporters, have been killed, hundreds beaten and thousands forced to flee in violence accompanying a government-sponsored land grab over the past three months.

Mobs of independence war veterans and supporters of ZANU-PF have invaded more than 1,000 of the 4,500 mainly white-owned commercial farms that form the country's economic backbone.

Danish Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen said in Copenhagen his government was ready in principle to give money to a South African-led drive to raise international funds for Zimbabwean land reform.

A week ago, South African President Thabo Mbeki's office announced that Saudi Arabia and Nordic countries had agreed to help fund the acquisition of 118 white-owned farms in Zimbabwe.

``We are not supporting solutions via violence,'' Rasmussen told reporters on the first day of a two-day visit by Mbeki.

``You have to stop the violence (and) you have to ensure democratic elections,'' he added.
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Zanu-Pf Responsible For Torture -- Study

According to a study released in Copenhagen Wednesday, ZANU-PF has been responsible for torturing opponents and instilling fear in the population at large ahead of the election.

The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT), citing evidence collected during a May 29 to June 5 fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe, said war veterans close to the ZANU-PF were engaging in ``organized violence'' and ``systematic torture'' to silence the political opposition.

British Foreign Office Minister Peter Hain said Tuesday the elections would not be free and fair if Mugabe continued to foment violence in the countryside.

``Neither Britain nor the international community can make this election fair. Only Robert Mugabe can do that, and he seems determined not to,'' Hain said in the faxed statement released by the British High Commission (embassy) in Harare.

Mugabe welcomed the arrival of hundreds of international observers to monitor the poll, but said the government would not be bound by their opinions.

``They are not here to validate our elections. They will make their own report, but we are the final judge of our own election,'' Mugabe said. ``We are a proud people. We know the rules. We have set the rules.''

Observers from the European Union, the Commonwealth and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) are already in the country and others are expected from South Africa Thursday.

A court application by the opposition Zimbabwe Union of Democrats (ZUD) that the election should be conducted on constituencies used in the last election in 1995 would be ruled upon Thursday, said High Court Judge Justice Yunus Omerjee.

If the court rules in favor of the ZUD, the nomination of candidates for the parliamentary elections might have to be re-ordered, potentially delaying the election.

In London, visiting MDC representatives predicted on Wednesday the opposition would win the election, ruling out a boycott of the poll in the face of intimidation.

Officials in Britain to brief parliamentarians and the media said the people of Zimbabwe were ready for change.

``We believe we're going to have difficulty failing to win the elections,'' MDC campaign coordinator Richard Maasdorp said.
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Zimbabwe Police Holding Cuban Defectors - Diplomats

Jun 7 2000 4:00PM ET

LUSAKA (Reuters) - Two Cuban doctors seeking asylum in Zimbabwe are being held without charge by police there, United Nations officials and diplomatic sources said Wednesday.
Zimbabwe had failed in a bid to deport Leonel Cordova Rodriguez, 31, and Noris Pena Martinez, 25, to Cuba without an asylum hearing, officials with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) told Reuters.

They said the doctors, who were being held in Harare, arrived in Zimbabwe in February in a group of 150 medics, part of a Cuban scheme to send health experts to underdeveloped countries.

``As UNHCR, we are concerned that the Zimbabwean government has not followed the laid down procedures in dealing with two Cuban doctors that have defected and are seeking asylum,'' said Dominik Bartsch, a senior UNHCR official in Zambia.

The UNHCR office here coordinates U.N. refugee activities for southern African countries outside South Africa.

Zimbabwean government officials were not available for comment.

Thousands of Cuban doctors are working in hospitals across southern Africa, including Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Mozambique and Botswana. Cuba also trains hundreds of African medical staff in Havana.

The two doctors had been in Zimbabwe for about a month when they sought refuge at the Canadian embassy in the Zimbabwean capital Harare on May 23.

Senior diplomatic sources said the doctors were arrested by Zimbabwean agents on May 24, hours before a scheduled asylum interview, and taken to Harare airport where officials put them on a European aircraft with Havana the final destination.


But the doctors only got as far as Johannesburg, diplomats said. The pilot of the commercial flight refused to carry them any further after they slipped him a note saying they had been kidnapped in Zimbabwe after denouncing Cuban leader Fidel Castro. South African authorities then sent them back to Harare, where they have been held without formal charge and have still not had the asylum hearing they sought, diplomats said.

Oluseyi Bajulaiye, UNHCR Resident Representative in Zambia, said the Cubans were in police custody and the U.N. agency had requested access to them. Bartsch said no deportation should occur before a formal asylum hearing and he called on Zimbabwe to respect the proper procedures.

``You cannot deport those seeking asylum to a country where their lives could be in real danger. That is against international and Zimbabwean law,'' he said.
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From News24 (SA), 5 June 2000

War threat if election rigged

Harare Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has warned the government that his party would declare "war" on Mugabe if Zanu-PF rigged the forthcoming parliamentary elections. "The consequences will be too ghastly to contemplate if they rig the elections. They will beg us to remove them because the atmosphere would have become too hot for them," he said.

"If they rig the elections, we will fight each other at State House," Tsvangirai told supporters in Dangamvura, Mutare. The rally, estimated by the police at 5 000, was held under tight security. However, he emphasised that the MDC did not hate President Mugabe, but his system of governance which had plunged the country into its worst economic and political crises since independence.

Tsvangirai did not elaborate on what form of action his party would take in the event the elections were rigged, but ruled out the use of arms. The MDC poses the biggest challenge to Zanu-PF's grip on Zimbabwe after 20 years in power. Tsvangirai, standing against the Manicaland Governor, Kenneth Manyonda, in Buhera North, further cautioned the government against using state institutions to carry out acts of violence against the opposition. In particular, he accused the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) of acting like the Zanu-PF youth league and said it would only last another three weeks, if it continued doing so.

"The army and the police belong to us. But the CIO members need to be guided because they are behaving like the Zanu-PF youth league. If they continue like that they will only last another three weeks at work," Tsvangirai said to applause from his supporters. To former guerrillas, Tsvangirai said: "War veterans we respect you, but we don't fear you."

A human rights report released last month by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Non-Governmental Organisations Forum alleges that Zimbabwe’s secret service and Zanu-PF candidates are masterminding violent attacks on opposition party members. Tsvangirai urged his supporters to shun and condemn violence but defend themselves if attacked by Zanu-PF supporters. He asked: "If the MDC is a majority party, and it is a majority party, why should it be intimidated by a minority party?"

Tsvangirai said his government would give priority to employment creation and equitable distribution of land. Tsvangirai addressed another rally at Odzi near Mutare where some Zanu-PF youths reportedly attempted to disrupt the meeting.

Comment From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 6 June 2000

The West must send a message to Mugabe

By David Coltart

As Zimbabwe braces itself for the polls, David Coltart urges the international community to help ensure a fair and peaceful election

ON Saturday the main Zimbabwean opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), successfully nominated candidates to oppose Zanu-PF in all 120 constituencies. That it succeeded in doing so in the face of massive intimidation is nothing less than miraculous. The stage is now set for elections to be held on June 24 and 25.

Don McKinnon, the secretary-general of the Commonwealth, two weeks ago believed that it was still possible to hold free and fair elections. If anything, over the past two weeks the prospects for a free and fair election have dimmed, for the violence has continued.

One prospective MDC candidate was murdered last week and the intimidation against the opposition is generally rampant. What still apparently is not appreciated is that Robert Mugabe and the Zanu-PF leadership are directing the violence, that the violence will continue, and possibly escalate, until the election and that the post-election period is likely to be violent as well.

The night Mr McKinnon was in Harare, the house of the MDC candidate for the town of Kwe Kwe was razed to the ground by supporters of the Zanu-PF minister of justice. The same evening Mr McKinnon was handed a violence report, based on figures supplied by an independent NGO, documenting more than 5,000 cases of violence since February, 90 per cent of them perpetrated by Zanu-PF and government forces. Of the 20 people murdered to date some 18 were MDC supporters; not one was a Zanu-PF supporter.

It is unlikely that Mr Mugabe will stop either the violence or the farm occupations because he knows that it is only through massive intimidation, which he must continue until the elections, that Zanu-PF can win. If Zanu-PF lets up on the intimidation it will have exhausted its final card. It has nothing else to offer and having created a climate of fear it cannot afford to stop now.

Sadly, it is also likely that Zanu-PF will wreak havoc in the post-election period - either in the form of gratuitous attacks on losing opposition candidates or by attempting to destabilise the new MDC order. The international community must plan to counter these machinations if it wishes to ensure a peaceful election and transition. While even intimidated observers are welcome, their presence alone will not do the trick.

First and foremost the international community must recognise that Mr Mugabe is responsible for the violence and that he has the power to stop it overnight. It is no good persuading him or believing that he is "genuine". Mr Mugabe is a tyrant and is personally responsible for massive human rights abuses during his 20 years in power.

In the 1980s he was responsible for near genocide and this year has been responsible for the systematic torture of thousands of Zimbabweans and the murder of opposition party supporters. He has also made a direct threat against an ethnic minority, namely white farmers, whom he branded as "enemies of the state". In doing so, Mr Mugabe is guilty of committing crimes against humanity and now is the time for the international community to warn him that if the violence and occupations continue he will face a similar indictment to the one prepared for Slobodan Milosevic last year. In like vein, steps should be commenced to identify Mr Mugabe's foreign assets and he should be warned that if the violence and occupations continue, these assets will be seized.

The time for quiet diplomacy is over. Mr Mugabe and his cronies think they are immune from personal international sanction and for so long as that is the case they will continue to orchestrate violence and human rights abuses throughout Zimbabwe.

Secondly, it must be understood that while observers will help, most will be politicians without the forensic skills which are badly needed. Zimbabwe is a vast country and most of the intimidation is taking place in remote rural areas. In addition, Zanu-PF is cunning; it cut its teeth in guerrilla warfare and has mastered the art of deception. It will do all in its power to mask and hide the intimidation once observers are on the ground. For this to be countered, skilled people who can expose what is really going on must be deployed.

What we need immediately is a multi-disciplinary team of, say, 50 people, comprising forensic experts (with police experience), journalists, lawyers and politicians. The bulk of them should be deployed to five cities spread throughout the country. Their job will be to respond to, investigate and report on acts of violence to their headquarters in Harare. They should then report to the media and their respective governments. This alone will give the lie to Zanu-PF propaganda that they are not responsible, and it will act as a significant check on the violence.

Thirdly, it must be appreciated that Zanu-PF is trying to deter people from voting. It knows that if there is a high turnout of voters it will lose, because the vast majority of Zimbabweans are disenchanted with its record. Similarly, it knows that if people are intimidated they will stay away, and the Zanu-PF hardcore majority will deliver victory by default. The only way that voters will feel safe to vote is if there is a massive presence of international observers in every constituency during the week before, and after, the election.

These observers will not have to do much; they will simply have to be there, a reminder to voters that they are not alone and that it is possible to vote for peaceful change, which in turn will herald a new era for Zimbabwe, southern Africa and indeed the entire continent. There is, of course, the danger that the international community will see this as a tiresome, expensive and unnecessary exercise. Zimbabwe is, after all, a relatively insignificant country. But it should not be forgotten that it was Zimbabwe that provided the highest number of troops per capita to assist Britain in the Second World War and it is the same people who have contributed magnificently to all spheres of life throughout the world since then.

The fact that it has had a succession of wayward governments in the past 30 years should not be sufficient to condemn the vast majority of peaceful and law-abiding citizens to oblivion. And if that does not persuade them, then it must be remembered that for so long as Africa remains the basket-case of the world, the rest of the world will not be able to live in peace.

Democracy, stability and economic progress in southern Africa are the keys to solving Africa's problems. Long-term chaos in Zimbabwe, which will be inevitable if there is not a peaceful and democratic transition this year, will undermine southern Africa and therefore the entire continent. It is imperative that the international community acts quickly to secure a free and fair election in Zimbabwe.

The author is Secretary for Legal Affairs in the Movement for Democratic Change

Comment from The Daily News, 5 June 2000

Why are Zanu PF leaders quiet?

Pius Wakatama

THE democratic form of government was aptly described by Abraham Lincoln as "government of the people, by the people, for the people". Because it is impractical for all people to meet and take part directly in government they elect a certain number of their fellow citizens to represent them in making decisions about laws and other matters that affect the people.

The democratic way of life recognises the equality and dignity of all persons regardless of race, religion, sex or social standing. It holds that everyone is equal in court trials and all legal matters. A goal of democratic society is to assure its people an opportunity to make full use of their abilities as elected representatives or to participate in the process of governance through public debate. Because of its very nature, therefore, a democratic government can only function properly where freedom of speech is valued and protected by law.

In civilised democratic societies people are elected into government to serve the people and to represent their interests. In some instances some have even had to be literally coerced to accept nomination into parliament by the people in recognition of their good qualities. Elections in a democracy are supposed to be a friendly game where there are no enemies but opponents. After elections, losers congratulate the winners and life goes on as usual. The government respects opposing views and the opposition is constructive in its criticism.

This is not so in many countries in Africa including Zimbabwe. I gaped in disbelief when parliamentary aspirant Philip Chiyangwa was quoted as saying: "I am rich because I belong to Zanu PF. If you want to be rich you must join Zanu PF". That was indeed a revealing statement. The tragedy of Zimbabwe is that we have too many people who get into politics not to serve the people but to serve themselves. I was telling a rather apathetic and cynical friend recently how important it is for people to exercise their democratic right to vote. After listening patiently he yawned and said: "What good will it do? If we vote out the present corrupt bunch it will be replaced by another equally corrupt bunch. That is the story of Africa my friend. We are just not capable of making democracy work." What an indictment!

Because people want political power for personal gain, our politicians will fight tooth and nail to get it and will lie, torture and kill to maintain it. Political opponents are viewed as enemies to be intimidated or physically eliminated if necessary. Even friends and relatives are viewed as enemies to be shunned if they don't support the "correct" political party or share the same views. I have personally been snubbed by some Zanu PF friends since I started contributing to this column.

A few days ago I was at the same place with a government minister I have known for years. I wondered whether or not to greet him because I was afraid he might give me a cold shoulder or even become hostile. I, however, gathered enough courage and went up to him. I put my best smile and held out my hand saying: "Minister, how are you?"

"Wakatama, how are you my friend," he said, taking my hand and pumping it heartily.

"I am very well thank you, Minister," I said, pleasantly surprised at his friendliness. His next words almost floored me. He said: "I read your column in The Daily News. You must keep writing because what you are saying is the truth and people need to hear it. This country is being messed up terribly. Zimbabwe needs people like you, who are not afraid to say the truth."

I almost asked him why he doesn’t, himself, speak out or get out, but I thought that would be rude. This brought to the fore a question which I have long asked but which has never been answered. Why are so many decent, law-abiding and church-going leaders silent in the face of such chaos?

It is common knowledge that a majority of the people in government are not happy with what is going on. Many of them are ashamed of the lawlessness which has been sanctioned by the President. In April Vice-President Msika while acting president, and obviously after consulting senior ministers issued a directive ordering war veterans to end their illegal occupation of commercial farms. When President Mugabe returned from Cuba, where he was attending the Group of 77 meeting, he countermanded Msika’s order and told the war veterans to remain on the farms contrary to the law of the land.

The country expected a party revolt over the issue but nothing happened. Mugabe had his way without so much as a whimper from Msika and other Zanu PF leaders. Why did they put their tails between their legs and go into a safe corner? How has this country lost its moral fibre and stamina? What are Zanu PF leaders afraid of that they let one man ruin their country? I guess the main fear is that of physical elimination. Enough people have been permanently removed from this planet for political reasons to cause one to be afraid to dissent or defect, especially if you are regarded as knowing too much. We can't afford to risk anymore opening the cupboard door and let the skeletons tumble down, can we?

There is also the real fear of being investigated with the possibility of ending up in jail. What I have heard is that the dear leader keeps a little note book. Each time a party stalwart pokes his hand into the national till or commits some misdemeanour the leader, who has eyes and ears everywhere, jots down the details and turns a blind eye with that cunning smile of his. If Augustine Chihuri starts to rattle his handcuffs he is told to cool it.

This is ammunition for the future. Thus for twenty good years chefs have been helping themselves without hindrance. This is why today the mouths of those who should be speaking are shut. It is a clear case of blackmail. Kumbirai Kangai was arrested and arraigned as a clear warning to all those who might even think of crossing the President or challenging his decisions no matter how outrageous.

Apart from any other sins he might have committed, Kangai raised the President's ire by daring to challenge Didymus Mutasa in Mutare. Others did not steal but they got carried away by power and greed. They are up to their ears in debt. Which bank or company can dare refuse them a loan even without collateral? They can't risk opposing the President in the streets. We have heard of former leaders who ended up penniless paupers. The mere thought of this happening to them is enough to keep them quiet to the detriment of the country.

From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 6 June 2000

Zimbabwe attack on white judges

By David Blair in Harare

WHITE judges were described as a "foreign cancer" yesterday, in a renewed attack on the Zimbabwe judiciary by the embattled regime of President Robert Mugabe in the run up to the general election. The ruling Zanu-PF party's propaganda machine, angry at the judges' independence and insistence on upholding the law in defiance of Mr Mugabe's wishes, also questioned their loyalty. The outburst, which coincided with increasing intimidation of teachers, causing the closure of 250 schools, was made by Prof Jonathan Moyo, campaign manager for Zanu-PF.

He asked in his weekly newspaper column whether the two white Supreme Court justices, including Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay, and four whites among the 19 High Court judges, were secretly holding British citizenship. He said: "No sane Zimbabwean should expect the judiciary to be headed by a foreigner, especially a Briton, 20 years after independence, just like it would be insane to have a foreign or British president or speaker."

He directly questioned the citizenship of the Chief Justice, asking: "Is he a British or a Zimbabwean? He certainly cannot be both. The question must be answered to the full satisfaction of the nation as a matter of urgency. If this is not done, the Zimbabwean body politic will remain with a clear and present danger, a legal cancer or virus."

The attack has infuriated the legal fraternity. Michael Gillespy, one of the white judges, is considering taking legal action against Prof Moyo. The courts have angered Mr Mugabe by twice ruling that the invasion of white farms by black squatters is illegal and ordering the police to evict them. Mr Mugabe has simply ignored these and other court orders. Pearson Nherere, a senior lawyer, said: "The whole nature of a dictatorship is that it doesn't brook a dissenting voice.

The whole thing is ill-informed and designed to play to the baser instincts of electorate. But it won't work. This is cheap and incompetent propaganda. They are trying to lend legitimacy to their acting above the law. It is all part of the racist hype which is part of the election campaign."

The delegation of 105 European Union observers in Zimbabwe for the election on June 24 and 25, who met for the first time yesterday, said they had a "daunting task" ahead. They will disperse to troubled rural areas on Friday. Pierre Schori, head of the mission, promised it would stay in Zimbabwe for "some weeks" after polling day. Many voters fear vengeance from Zanu-PF thugs if they return an opposition MP. Mr Schori said: "We hope that our presence will help to deter violence and intimidation in order to contribute to a conducive environment for the election."

Mugabe supporters were reported to be demanding £100 from teachers in return for their safety. In Buhera district, 150 miles south-east of Harare, teachers have asked the Education Ministry to close schools until after the election because of the violence.

From The Daily News, 5 June 2000

NCA opposes Zanu PF plans to use Parliament to change Constitution

Staff Reporter

THE National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) has threatened to campaign for the opposition if Zanu PF goes ahead with its plan to change the Constitution through Parliament. The Sunday Independent of South Africa recently quoted the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Emmerson Mnangagwa, as saying President Mugabe had instructed him to take to Parliament some clauses which formed part of the draft constitution rejected in the February referendum.

Mnangagwa said Zanu PF would start work on changing the Constitution after the elections, which are scheduled for the end of this month. Lovemore Madhuku, the NCA vice-chairman, yesterday said: "We are opposed to Mnangagwa's statement.

"We just read it in a newspaper and if Zanu PF announces categorically that it will change the Constitution through Parliament if it wins the elections, we might be tempted to campaign for the opposition to ensure that Zanu PF does not get the required two-thirds majority." Madhuku said the constitutional reform process should be people-driven and should not be led by one political party.

"We have maintained neutrality and believe constitution-making should be people-driven but if one party says it will undertake a programme which undermines the basis upon which the NCA exists, we will be forced to campaign for the opposition to ensure that that party does not get a majority vote," Madhuku said. "We don't expect any government after the 'No' vote to ignore the people and try to push constitutional reform through Parliament."

Madhuku deplored the spate of attacks on members of opposition political parties by suspected Zanu PF supporters and said the prevailing atmosphere was not conducive to the holding of free and fair elections. "Under these circumstances it's impossible to hold free and fair elections. Political parties have no freedom to campaign. In rural areas it will take a brave person to go out to vote," he said.

From The Times (UK), 6 June 2000

Harare scandal envoy forced to quit


THE Commonwealth's most senior adviser on African affairs resigned yesterday after his business ties with the regime of President Mugabe of Zimbabwe were exposed. Moses Anafu, a Ghanaian diplomat who has worked extensively across Africa for the Commonwealth, handed his letter of resignation to Don McKinnon, the Secretary-General, at a meeting yesterday. A spokeswoman for Marlborough House, the Commonwealth headquarters, said that it was accepted, but refused to provide any details.

Mr Anafu, who had been part of a Commonwealth observer team in Zimbabwe to monitor the forthcoming elections, had been recalled in disgrace at the weekend after his business ties to a controversial diamond company were disclosed in The Times. Mr Anafu is named as a non-executive director of Oryx Diamond Ltd, a company due to be floated on London's Alternative Investment Market next week. The company has the concession to mine and sell diamonds from an area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo controlled by Zimbabwean troops. Some of the profits go to the regime of President Mugabe and his ally, President Kabila of the Congo.

Mr McKinnon decided to act against Mr Anafu after it emerged that his subordinate had accepted travel costs from the company, even though he is a full-time employee of the Commonwealth. The disclosure undermined the credibility of the organisation, which is preparing to monitor elections in Zimbabwe which are planned to take place on June 24 and 25. So far the campaign has been marked by violence orchestrated by Mr Mugabe's ruling Zanu (PF) party against the opposition, which has led to the death of more than 25 of Mr Mugabe's opponents.

Mr Anafu's connection with the diamond company was a clear conflict of interests because he was part of a team supposed to judge the fairness of the elections. The profit from the sale of diamonds from the Congo is believed to be being used by Mr Mugabe to keep senior members of the Zimbabwean leadership, including ministers, generals and intelligence chiefs, loyal to his rule.

From News24 (SA), 5 June 2000

Zim health bodies plead for ‘safe zones'

Harare - A coalition of medical organisations appealed to President Robert Mugabe's government on Monday to make hospitals and clinics "safe zones" and to provide them with protection from the violence enveloping the country. The Community Working Group on Health, made up of organisations of doctors, pharmacists, nurses and medical aid societies, said health facilities were being shut down, health workers were being attacked and threatened, and people injured in violence were being prevented from seeking help.

It said more than 5 000 acts of violence have been reported from all over the country in the last three months, including the killings of 30 people. Doctors and nurses have been faced with emergency brain surgery, serious head injuries, fractured limbs and severe burns. Children have suffered the trauma of being forced to watch their parents being beaten and tortured. People wearing opposition party T-shirts were stripped naked.

The group did not say who was responsible for the attacks, but last week a report by a human rights organisation said 94 percent of the violence had been carried out by ZANU(PF) thugs. The party has been running a three-month campaign of violence, led by self-styled guerilla war veterans and Mugabe's secret police, in a bid to crush the opposition Movement for Democratic Change which has presented the ruling party with the first threat to its grip on power in 20 years.

Human rights bodies say police have tended to stand by in the face of murder, assault, rape, arson, theft and extortion by ZANU(PF) thugs. A statement by the CWGH said that victims of violence had often been threatened or stopped from seeking emergency medical attention. It cited the attack on rancher Martin Olds in the western province of Matabeleland North in April, who was killed in a three-hour battle with heavily armed ruling party thugs. An ambulance he had called was stopped by a police road block from going to collect him, it said.

Last month Chimukoko hospital in the Mudzi district in remote north-east Zimbabwe was closed to ensure that dozens of teachers who had been severely beaten were not able to be treated. Others had been forcibly stopped from going to hospitals, or had been dragged out of the institutions, the statement said. Health workers had either been beaten or threatened with violence if they treated injured victims. Others had been kidnapped from their posts, or assaulted because they supported the MDC.

"This attack is being made on an already over-stretched and under-resourced health system, where both health workers and clients are stretched to provide and access the basic drugs and services they need. "The main victims are the ill and vulnerable who need these services, many of whom are children."

The group demanded that the government "protect health facilities against invasion, political intimidation of any sort or closure, and ensure that health facilities constitute safe zones where political intimidation cannot take place." It said health workers should be protected against violence and intimidation, and "decisive legal action" should be taken against anyone interfering with people's access to medical help.

From News24, 5 June 2000

Firms 'plotting economic chaos'

Harare The government in racially-divided Zimbabwe accused white-managed companies Monday of closing down parts of their businesses to create economic chaos ahead of parliamentary elections later this month. Deputy Industry and Commerce Minister Obert Mpofu told the state-run ZIANA news agency his ministry was compiling a list of such companies. He charged that some managers were reportedly sending workers on forced unpaid leave and telling them that if they voted for the opposition they would get their jobs back, but would be fired if they voted for President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) in the June 24-25 poll.

"We have received a lot of reports," Mpofu said. "We are taking stock and compiling the names. When we come back into power we will not hesitate to help workers to buy those companies." The business community counters that companies are cutting back production because they cannot obtain enough foreign currency to operate. The tourism industry has said it has had to lay off staff because tourism here has come to a virtual halt as a result of political violence which has led to some 29 deaths and the displacement of more than 6 000 families since February.

The critical shortage of foreign currency has led to erratic fuel supplies, leading to long queues at petrol stations, while the occupation of some 1 500 white-owned commercial farms by landless blacks led by independence war veterans has disrupted agricultural exports, along with low tobacco prices.

Mpofu insisted however that the timing of the "rampant" closures could not be just a coincidence. ZIANA, however, quoted one analyst as saying: "There might be one or two companies where workers have been told political things, but the truth is that businesses, like the government itself, have no foreign exchange to buy raw materials. "Borrowing offshore is not possible now because of the country's credit worthlessness," the analyst told the agency.

The president of the Affirmative Action Group, Matson Hlalo, told ZIANA that the general state of the economy was so bad that any manager with business acumen would close or scale down operations. "There is nothing political about it," he said. "Companies are having difficulties in raising forex to finance operations. The only way is to close."

The Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines made an urgent appeal to the government on Sunday to allow gold producers to open foreign currency accounts to enable them to import essential production components. Gold producers are not permitted to hold receipts in foreign currency accounts because they are not direct exporters.

Instead they are obliged to sell their gold to the Reserve Bank, and are paid in local currency at the official exchange rate, pegged at 38 Zimbabwean dollars to the US dollar. Hotels and bureaux de change in Zimbabwe are currently offering up to 55 Zimbabwean dollars for a greenback. Chamber president Frank Purcell told ZIANA at the weekend that the shortage of foreign exchange had disrupted the production of gold. "It has also led to a severe squeeze on profitability as gold mines struggle to survive with revenues that are determined by the low international price of gold," Purcell said.

He added that costs were escalating steadily because of the combined forces of hyper-inflation (currently running at close to 60 percent) and the rising price of foreign exchange on the parallel market. Purcell said the result had been an initial short term increase in gold output as producers maximised volumes and grades in an attempt to remain viable. That was followed by a decline in production with accompanying losses of jobs and foreign exchange earnings, he said.

Tobacco and gold are Zimbabwe's top foreign exchange earners, followed by horticulture and tourism. Zimbabwe counts some 70 000 whites, many of them owners of big farms or in senior positions in business and industry, among its 12.5 million people.

From IRIN (UN), 5 June 2000

Fuel pumps run dry

Riot police were called out at the weekend when tempers flared among motorists in a gasoline queue that brought traffic in the capital, Harare, to a virtual standstill, news reports said on Monday. Scuffles broke out on Saturday morning when it became clear to motorists that many of them would not be able to fill their tanks. The reports said most service stations were only able to provide some diesel fuel. The fuel crisis has been caused by a foreign currency shortage which prevented imports. The crisis has been blamed partly on corruption at the state fuel procuring agency, the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NocZim).

From Business Day (JHB), 6 June 2000

Call To Delay Poll If Farm Invaders Stay

By Trust Sithole

Harare The president of the opposition Zimbabwe Union of Democrats, Margaret Dongo, wants the country's approaching election postponed if the government fails to remove its supporters from hundreds of white-owned farms they have invaded. Dongo, a founder member of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans' Association now led by Chenjerai Hunzvi, is infuriated by the presence of war veterans on about 1200 farms.

She says the veterans are intimidating opposition party supporters in a bid to influence the outcome of the June 24 to 25 parliamentary elections in favour of President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu (PF) party. She said yesterday that she had written to Home Affairs Minister Dumiso Dabengwa, demanding the removal of the war veterans from the farms with immediate effect. She said that failure to comply with the terms of her ultimatum would leave her "with no choice but to take him to the high court".

Dongo criticised the delimitation exercise that had resulted in new constituency boundaries as "fraud". She alleged that this had "diluted" many urban constituencies by mixing them with farming areas that were often populated by people of no fixed abode.

Meanwhile, insiders of Zanu (PF) said former freedom fighters in the region planned to push the Southern African Development Community to accelerate land redistribution in the region. They said that former combatants from SA's African National Congress and Pan Africanist Congress, as well as from Namibia's Swapo, Mozambique's Frelimo and Zanu (PF) were trying to stitch up a pact through a regional war veterans' association. Frelimo would be enlisted for solidarity only because there was no land problem in Mozambique.

From The Star (JHB), 6 June 2000

EU observers' warning on Zim elections

By Cris Chinaka

Harare - The head of European Union (EU) observers in Zimbabwe warned on Monday that the conduct of elections this month could impact on the country's relations with Europe. "This election is important since its conduct may have a profound effect on the future relations between Zimbabwe and the EU," said Pierre Schori, who heads the largest international mission to observe the June 24-25 parliamentary poll. A wave of political violence has claimed at least 28 lives since February, when thousands of liberation war veterans and supporters of President Robert Mugabe began invading hundreds of white-owned farms.

Schori, a former Swedish government minister, said the EU's 200-member mission would be deployed in constituencies across the country. They would observe the campaigning, administration of the election, polling and vote counting, he added. "We hope that our presence in urban and rural areas will help to deter violence and intimidation in order to contribute to a conducive environment for elections," Schori said in his first major news conference since arriving last Wednesday.

Zimbabwe's election campaign started in earnest on Sunday with political analysts crediting international observers with ensuring that Saturday's nomination of candidates went ahead without incident. "The task before us is a daunting one, but we are convinced that with the support of the Zimbabwe government, the political parties and the structures of civil society, the...mission will play a significant role in encouraging participation in the election process and helping build confidence among voters," Schori said.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which had feared obstruction by government officials and ruling party supporters, has registered candidates in all 120 constituencies. The MDC, which is the first opposition party since independence in 1980 to field candidates in every constituency, poses the biggest challenge to the government which has held power for two decades.

Police said on Monday three people were injured and three arrested at 35 rallies nationwide at the weekend. "I think if it continues at this pace we will be going through a very peaceful election period," police spokesman Superintendent Wayne Bvudzijena told Reuters. Student organisations called for a class boycott on Monday to protest the violence and intimidation, but there was little early evidence of a mass stay-away.

From The Daily News, 5 June 2000

Liberators’ Platform welcomes directive

Political Reporter

The Liberators' Platform (LP), a group representing war veterans, says it supports the Minister of Home Affairs, Dumiso Dabengwa's directive for the ex-fighters to prepare to leave commercial farms they have occupied.

The group was formed in opposition to the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans' Association (ZNLWVA) led by Chenjerai Hunzvi. Members of ZNLWVA and Zanu PF supporters have invaded and occupied commercial farms since February. A statement from the LP said if the war veterans left the farms now, this would help Zimbabwe restore the rule of law, create conditions for free and fair elections and allow all political parties to campaign freely without fear or hindrance. Such a move would pave the way for normal farming activities which had been severely disrupted by the occupation.

"It needs no reminding that Zimbabwe is under the international spotlight at the moment and that the forthcoming general elections will be subject to close scrutiny," the LP said. "The country cannot afford the risk of international isolation by conducting elections while part of the electorate is under the influence of armed party militants. It is disturbing to note that late comers into the liberation struggle like Endy Mhlanga have the audacity to challenge a senior war veteran of Dumiso Dabengwa's stature."

"We appeal to all war veterans, on and off the farms, the leadership of the National Liberation War Veterans Association and the ruling party leaders not to sacrifice the country's long-term interests on the altar of political expediency. The pursuit of narrow, sectional and partisan political interests should be set aside at this time of crisis in the interest of peace and stability," says the statement.

From The Star(JHB), 6 June 2000

Political crisis cripples Zim healthcare

By Abbey Makoe

Harare - As the political turmoil intensifies and economic hardships deepens, Zimbabwe's Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr Timothy Stamps, has warned of a looming shortage of drugs. "We are faced with the possible shortage of drug supplies for essential requirements, such as anti-retroviral drugs for the treatment of HIV/Aids, blood pressure and insulin, among others," Stamps said on Monday. He blamed the situation on Zimbabwe's lack of foreign currency and said the country was being forced to choose between "having to keep to the basic drugs or importing the exotic, expensive drugs".

Most of the country's 1 082 public health centres were reported to be overstocking malaria and cholera medicines in anticipation of the crisis. Although the situation has reached worrying levels, Stamps emphasised that his ministry "does have funds for the public hospitals and clinics, but not for private hospitals". A number of foreign Zimbabwean drug suppliers, particularly South African companies, were unwilling to release further supplies until outstanding debts were paid.

Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of Commerce and Industry Obed Mpofu said during an election campaign in Bulawayo that the government was compiling a list of companies that were suspected of being "engaged in orchestrated economic and political sabotage". "We've been receiving a lot of complaints from employees who claim their employers are pressurising them to vote for the Movement for Democratic Change, or else the companies are going to close down three months after the elections if the ruling party (Zanu-PF) wins the elections."

Mpofu's department was also investigating the authenticity of other allegations, including that many companies were deliberately reducing the number of working days, forcing employees to go on unpaid leave, illegally cancelling staff contracts, or enforcing retrenchments.

Meanwhile, the government said the fuel crisis, which had worsened in the past three days, would be eased with the expected arrival of 2,8 million litres of fuel on Monday. President Robert Mugabe last week accused Britain of intercepting oil ships with tempting offers to buy fuel destined for Zimbabwe at twice or even three times the agreed price.

From The Daily News, 5 June 2000

Threatened farmer files charges against Zanu PF

By Godfrey Moyo

Bulawayo - Nyamandlovu farmer, Robin Greaves, has filed charges against two Zanu PF campaign managers in the Bubi/Mguza constituency after they allegedly threatened to behead him. Greaves’ lawyers said at a meeting held at Matambo Farm, farm workers were told that they would be called to another meeting when Greaves "had been killed". The lawyers said according to the farm workers, they heard the campaign managers say that after Greaves had been decapitated, his head would be presented to the people.

Greaves owns Fountain Ranch. Jacob Thabane of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is standing against Obert Mpofu, the Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce in the Bubi/Mguza constituency in the 24-25 June parliamentary elections. In filing formal charges, Greaves’ lawyers said: "The meeting was further advised that Zanu PF had already killed one person, Martin Olds." Olds, a farmer from Nyamandlovu, was shot dead at his Silver Streams property by alleged war veterans on Independence Day. Like Olds, Greaves was threatened because he was allegedly "not living peacefully with the people".

The lawyers claim the meeting at Matambo Farm was told that after the elections, whether Zanu PF win or loses, they would go after MDC supporters. In their affidavit, the lawyers said the meeting was told that if it is found that certain areas had voted for an MDC candidate, then there would be retribution against that particular area. Zanu PF, they said, would check each ballot box to see how the voting had proceeded.

Greaves filed charges against the Zanu PF officials under sections of the Law and Order Maintenance Act and the Electoral Act. His lawyers said any person who prevails upon a voter to vote or to refrain from voting shall be guilty under a section of the Electoral Act.

From The Star (JHB), 6 June 2000

Poll squabble may land Mugabe in court

Harare - A small opposition party in Zimbabwe is taking President Robert Mugabe to court in a bid to force him to halt forthcoming parliamentary elections. The Zimbabwe Union of Democrats, led by former ruling party stalwart and independence war veteran Margaret Dongo, is arguing that Mugabe failed to follow legal requirements which stipulate that a minimum of 21 days be left between nomination and polling day. "We feel that there was a flouting of electoral procedures. There is supposed to be 21 days between nomination and polling, but there is less," party spokesperson Isaac Manyemba said.

With nomination having occured on June 3 and polling due to start on June 24, the party insists that makes only 20 full days days between the two dates, and not 21 as required by the law. "It might appear to be a minor issue, but we are concerned about the rule of law, There is no shortcut to democracy," Manyemba said. The party, which is fielding 10 candidates for the 120 contested seats in the June 24 and 25 elections, is also arguing that previous constituency boundaries should be maintained for the upcoming poll, because the election dates were announced well before new boundaries were released. "The elections must be held on the basis of the old constituencies because the proclamation of the dates was done on the basis of the old voter's roll," said Manyemba.

Mugabe announced the polling dates on May 15 while the delimitation commission which redrew the boundaries only presented its report to him on May 24. The case, filed on Friday, was being amended on Monday to include Mugabe as a respondent. It was expected to be heard in the High Court later on Monday or on Tuesday.

From The Daily News, 5 June 2000

War vets look to Eastern Europe for help

Daily News Correspondent

Bulawayo - War veterans have 4 000 tractors and 4 000 grinding mills nationwide and will seek assistance from countries in Eastern Europe to run the occupied commercial farms that they plan to seize from whites, an official has said.

The chairman of the Bulawayo branch of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans ZNLWVA), Cain Nkala made the comments after many meetings with farmers on the land crisis. Nkala said war veterans would not move out of the farms because that would be giving back economic independence to the whites. He denied the war veterans were being used by Zanu PF and said the occupations were about economic independence. While Nkala would not spell out who would be resettled and who would be involved in commercial farming, he said a way would be found to enable the land programme to benefit many people.

As for farm implements, he said, "friendly" countries in the formerly socialist Eastern bloc would be approached. "The advantage of indigenous people getting into commercial farming is that the foreign currency they earn comes back to Zimbabwe. People have to understand that this is about a revolution, an economic revolution," said Nkala.

Ben Zietsman, the chief executive officer of the Matabeleland Commercial Farmers' Union said the war veterans were beginning to realise that politically they would get nowhere with the occupations. Zietsman said: "They are under pressure for free and fair elections and observers are insisting that there be no violence." He said although the former liberators were not vacating the farms, there was no longer any aggression and that almost all the farmers had gone back after fleeing to the cities. Zietsman said some confidence was returning and that it was necessary to sort out the problems before the elections so that there would be credibility for the process internationally.

He said: "We still have to fix the damage done because as things stand, nobody would rush to come and invest here". Zietsman praised the war veterans in Matabeleland for being realistic and forward-looking. A start, he said, had been made but that it would take years to work things out. The stakeholders’ approach to the land problem, Zietsman said, was to tackle the problem from the bottom upwards. "The landowners and the land-hungry have been talking at grassroot level and will be directing the politicians on how to sort out the problem," said Zietsman.

From The Daily News, 5 June 2000

Catholic bishops condemn violence

By Tarcey Munaku, Political Editor

ALL the Catholic bishops in Zimbabwe have unreservedly condemned the worsening politically-motivated violence afflicting the country. They have appealed to the government to take the lead and stop the wave of intimidation and lawlessness which has resulted in at least 26 deaths and injury of innocent civilians and the widespread destruction of property. Father Walter Nyatsanza, the secretary of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference (ZCBC), told The Daily News that the Catholic leadership was "deeply concerned" that people were being killed or seriously injured for their political beliefs since the electorate rejected the government-sponsored draft constitution in the referendum of 12 and 13 February.

In an interview in Harare, Nyatsanza said the two archbishops and the seven bishops had not identified the perpetrators of the violence but the Church condemned whoever was behind it. He said: "All the citizens of this country must refrain from violence and pray for peace. The government has the machinery and should take the lead to stop the violence because the police are there to enforce law and order." Members of the ZCBC are: Archbishop Patrick Chakaipa of Harare; Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo; Bishop Alexio Muchabaiwa of Mutare, who is also president of the ZCBC; Bishop Francis Mugadzi of Gweru; Bishop Robert Ndlovu of Hwange; Bishop Helmut Reckter of Chinhoyi; Bishop Michael Basera of Masvingo; Bishop Angel Floro of Gokwe; and Patrick Mutume, Auxiliary Bishop of Mutare.

The nine clerics join the rising chorus of condemnation of political violence and intimidation blamed mostly on the ruling Zanu PF which is facing its sternest electoral challenge since independence from the nine-month-old opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Four white commercial farmers are among the 26 who have died since politically-inspired violence started in February alongside the wholesale forcible occupation of more than 1 500 white-owned commercial farmland by war veterans and supporters of President Mugabe. In their Easter message to the nation, also endorsed by Reverend Murombedzi Kuchera, chairman of the Heads of Christian Denominations, the church leaders said no part of society must be allowed to settle their grievances through violence.

"Even verbal violence must be avoided," they said. "Threatening, insulting and racist language cannot be tolerated. The laws of the country that protect people from abuse and physical assault must be enforced. The courts of law must be respected and the law enforcement agencies must do their duty without fear or favour. Voters must not be intimidated and political opponents must not be attacked physically."

Reacting to statements from certain sections of the war veterans that they would go back to war if Zanu PF lost the parliamentary elections on 24 and 25 June, the Church leaders said: "The country must never go back to war, instead we must go back to reconciliation. To have to return to war would certainly spell disaster for our nation and it would be very unfortunate."

Nyatsanza said the Catholic bishops sincerely trusted that the government and the people of Zimbabwe would accept and honour whatever the results of the elections. He said: "If the government loses, it loses and if it wins, it wins. But to go to war because of losing the elections would be disastrous for our nation."

Nyatsanza said there had been "a lot of effort" by the Catholic leadership to engage the government in discussions to create an atmosphere conducive to peace and calm. He said: "There has been that kind of quiet diplomacy. Sometimes diplomacy is needed and condemnation should really be the last resort. What is important is to achieve peace and that is what we are all trying to do."

Nyatsanza said although lines of communication with the Office of the President were open, it had been difficult for the Catholic leaders to have an audience with Mugabe to discuss the current political, social and economic situation in Zimbabwe.

However, Nyatsanza, said he saw no reasons why Mugabe, a born and practising Catholic, should be excommunicated from the church. Mike Auret, former director of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe and the MDC candidate for the Harare Central constituency, has written to Pope John Paul at the Vatican in Rome, Italy, requesting the universal patriarch of the Catholic Church to excommunicate Mugabe, blaming him for condoning violence and the general breakdown of the rule of law. The Pope has not responded to the two letters Auret wrote.

Nyatsanza said anybody, whether Catholic or non-Catholic, was free to write to the Pope about anything but it was up to the Pontiff to respond or not. He said: "But, personally I do not think there are any real grounds to excommunicate the President. He has not taught heresy or proclaimed any false doctrine." Nyatsanza said instead of seeking excommunication, appeals should be made to Mugabe to use the "lawful and best way" to redistribute land in a "peaceful and orderly" manner. He said the black majority in Zimbabwe had a legitimate claim on more and better land. But, he stressed, the killing of the four white farmers by suspected war veterans and supporters of Mugabe was "unfortunate and unnecessary".

From Business Day (JHB), 6 June 2000

Zimbabweans resurrect some battered pride

NOTTINGHAM - Zimbabwe, destroyed by England in the first cricket test between the two nations, finished the second test yesterday with a spring in their step as the rain-hit game at Trent Bridge ended in a draw. England won the series 1-0, but after Murray Goodwin had restored some Zimbabwe pride following their heavy defeat at Lord's by posting an unbeaten 148, the bowlers followed suit by dismissing England in their second innings for 147.

Their chance to do so came as a surprise, following skipper Andy Flower's bold declaration of the first innings at 285/4. That gave England a lead of 89 which looked fragile when their reply stood at 44/4 and later 110/7. Once again England were indebted to Michael Atherton who made 34, after scoring an impressive 136 in the first innings. In 10 tests he has scored 1032 runs, with five of his eight centuries in home test matches.

No 3 batsman Murray Goodwin top scored for Zimbabwe with an unbeaten 148, his third test century, and the highest for the country in an overseas test. Guy Whittall, who took 3/14, was the pick of the tourists' attack. His third wicket finished England's innings and left Zimbabwe, needing 237 for an improbable victory, to play out the last five overs to close on 25/1.

The Zimbabweans wore black arm bands for the third time in the test. They were mourning the death of medium paceman Gray Brent's mother, who died of a heart attack. They also wore the bands for farmer Tony Oates, the father of a Zimbabwe "A" player who was killed recently. The other was for the aunt of Whittal, also the mother of former test star Adam Whittal, who died of cancer during the test.


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How can we let people know that their chances of voting are very
small unless they go and check this roll that is currently available
at some voting centres and retain their correction paper to present
on the day. There is only one week left.

My husband and I were at the Greystone Park School yesterday.
There were 10 people in the room at the time..of those 10, four
were not on the roll at all. Of the remaining 6 only one had the
correct details and would have been able to vote..that was my
husband. I however lived at a different address, a road I had never
heard of. My initials were wrong and my ID number was incorrect.

At this rate only one in 10 people in every will be able to cast a

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Please lobby your MP's and see that your government insists on true democracy NOW!!
Send more observers and please ensure that they stay on for at least three weeks after the election.
Insist that a pre condition for recognizing the outcome of this election is that all so called "war vets" and the thug brigade be removed  immediately from farms and the rural areas where they are terrorizing the population.
Please help!!
Dear family and friends,
We are still here, just, after having lived through the week from hell.
It started on Monday morning when three "war veterans" arrived at our gate.
Our resident war vet, Edward, has apparently been dismissed by the ruling
party for illegally selling plots of land and been replaced by these three,
two women and a man. They told me that they needed meat, maize meal, fuel,
transport and money in order to muster support for a "mini star rally" they
are having on Friday afternoon in a rural village near us. The mini rally
is apparently to make sure that everyone attends the main rally on Saturday
morning which is to be addressed by the President. After a frightening ten
minutes I eventually sent them packing saying I wouldn't give anything
without an official letter and receipt. The three musketeers were not happy
with my attitude, were confused as to why I wanted anything official -
didn't I know who they were, what they would do to me?  They left,
complaining loudly and said they would be back when they expected donations
or I'd have to face the consequences.

Tuesday morning they were back with a hand written letter in one of the
school exercise books I sell in my store! The letter was from "The War
Veterans, Watershed Road Headquarters" and addressed to all commercial
farmers. It said that all farmers are "required to donate" meat, maize
meal, fuel, transport and money for the two rally's to be held at the
weekend. So now I've got the letter I'd insisted on and they passed it
through the gate. Another had a brand new receipt book and I suddenly had
no more excuses! Clutching at straws I asked to see all their war vet I.D,
cards which they flashed and I said I wanted to take their cards inside and
record all their names and numbers. They weren't too happy with that but I
stuck to my guns saying that I must know who I was dealing with. Amazingly
they relented and I retreated into the house with shaking hands and icy
sweat dripping down my arms.

Eventually I went back out and gave them  Z$300 (£5) !  "It's not enough"
they said, "give more". Then I launched into a very emotive speech about
how we were on the verge of bancruptcy. For 3 months our land has been
occupied, it's littered with huts and shacks, they've "liberated" all my
grazing and water, I've got 70 cattle and 100 sheep which I'm being forced
to feed out of a bag. All my trees which I sell as poles and firewood are
being cut down and stolen, all my fences have been stolen etc etc etc. They
seemed genuinely shocked at how bad it was on the farm and how their 3
month presence had almost crippled us. So they accepted the money and as I
started to walk away they called out "what about your car, we need your car
to transport people to the rallies at the weekend." Now it's gone too far,
I thought, and flatly refused. They eventually left but said they'd come
back with a driver to collect my car later in the week.

On Wednesday they came again for my truck, again I said no. On Thursday
they were waiting for me at the store and by then I was a nervous wreck.
After a week of awful nightmares and jumping at every creak in the roof,
Ian and I hid and disabled my truck and at 7am on Friday morning evacuated
the farm with passports, title deeds and the enormous pile of all my emails
and videos - all the evidence of this nightmare. We had decided it was
better not to be on the farm while these rallies were going on so that we
would not be forced into a situation we could not control or a
confrontation we couldn't avoid.

We came back to the farm on Sunday mid -day to find everyone still here but
dear little Jane, my store keeper, in a very bad way, She is absolutely
terrified and will not tell anyone what happened to her, just keeps saying
she fell off her bicycle, but she hasn't got a bicycle and we all know what
really happened. Her mouth is enormously swollen with a long deep cut
beneath her nostrils. Her upper lip is swathed in plaster and blood soaked
bandage, her face lacerated and weeping on her cheek; she is limping and
holding her back. She was unable or unwilling to get help at the time and
will now be badly scarred for life and I am going to persuade her to let me
take her to our GP tomorrow as they were unable or unwilling to treat her
or even change her dressing at the local clinic today.

Some of our workers had been to the rally on Friday where they were all
forced to buy membership cards and "data forms" pledging undying allegiance
to the ruling party. They were told that if the opposition wins the
elections "the war is started".

Today, Monday, our farm is full of strange people. Over a hundred are
gathered in the field below our house, others are walking across the lands;
clearly the heat has been turned up in the 18 days to go now before the
election. God willing we will all survive.
I can't say the same for my 5 geese who are self appointed security guards
outside the gate. In our 3 day absence they found a way into my vegetable
garden, cropped all the carrots, dug out all the beans, pruned all the
lettuces and freely manured the whole area, Anyone need a goose for the

With love and thanks to everyone for the continued support and particularly
the G's for putting up with the DFS (Distressed Farming Subjects) for
the weekend.
(PS On Friday the gvt published a list of 804 farms that are to be
compulsarily acquired and we're not on it)
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