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

Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index

A paradise in freefall
The Scotsman: Sat 1 Jun 2002
‘By this time next year we might all be dead," Tuesday Nkhoma, a Zimbabwean opposition leader, tells me at the entrance of the Kingdom Hotel, his country’s biggest tourism development since independence at its main resort - Victoria Falls, one of the UN’s Seven Natural Wonders of the World, straddling a mile-wide stretch of the mighty Zambezi River.

At this time of year - southern Africa’s mid-winter - the brilliant Vic Falls days are the kind that any Scot would kill for: cloudless, the sun hot, the air clear and as fresh as chilled Champagne, the evenings so cool and invigorating that every mosquito is hibernating.

In a normal year there would be many tens of thousands of tourists milling around the tiny town of Victoria Falls, just a short walk away from the Falls themselves. But this month as a tourist in the Kingdom - foreign journalists are banned from Zimbabwe and have to enter Robert Mugabe’s de facto dictatorship clandestinely - I see only two diners in the hotel’s 370-seat main restaurant overlooking lakes lined by baobabs, bougainvillea, flame lilies and fig trees. No-one sits around the circular lakeside bar. The two diners are outnumbered by smartly clad chefs tending the buffet, the maître de maison and a dozen or so waiters straightening the cutlery and unfolding and folding napkins and surely hoping their jobs would survive, unlike those of countless thousands of other tourism workers who have been laid off in the past two years.

My new friend Tuesday Nkhoma is chairman of the local Youth League of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) which claims, almost certainly correctly, that it was cheated of victory in the March presidential election because of massive rigging by Robert Mugabe’s ruling ZANU party. MDC graffiti plaster the walls of the poverty-stricken black township of Chinotimba, a short walk from Victoria Falls town but where no genuine tourists dare to venture - which is a pity, because I am treated like a long-lost pal by the residents who, like most ordinary Zimbabweans, remain some of the nicest people on the African continent, despite the cruelties and rapacity of Mugabe and his henchmen.

The people, who two years ago voted in an MDC MP for Victoria Falls by 14,000 votes to 4,000, proudly wear T-shirts that proclaim "The Power is in Our Hands."

Actually not, says Nkhoma: "We’ve got a big, big problem. We’ve got no maize coming from the farms, because the white farmers are not ploughing. People are already starving, and the government has no foreign exchange to import maize.

"It’s got worse since the presidential election. Look at your hotel. It should be full, but it’s empty. It won’t go much longer. It’s only surviving using money it banked a long time ago. There are no tourists, and no tourists mean no jobs. And it’s all because of Mugabe."

Nkhoma has a small open-air patch in the centre of Victoria Falls town where he sells stone carvings spread out on a canvas on the ground, alongside many hundreds of other crafts sellers. Or at least he tries to sell things. His last sale was many weeks ago. And to make life worse he was evicted after the presidential election from his township house by local government officials dependent for their jobs on Mugabe’s ZANU. Nkhoma, his wife Beauty and their seven-year-old daughter, Future, now live in a 40sq ft, one-room shack made of asbestos and black plastic with no water or electricity, along with thousands of other internal refugees who share three repellent waterless toilets.

"Because I was a senior MDC official I was refused credit to pay for my rent, water and electricity," he says. "To get credit you have to produce a ZANU membership card. I’m frightened. I’m not free. We live in a police state where hospitals have no supplies and shops have no basic foods. But I’ll never support ZANU until I die."

Nearby, another MDC official expelled from his home is digging a deep trench in which to bury rubbish. "We’re going to put Mugabe in here," he laughs.

Nkhoma smiles weakly, with good reason. "Even criticising President Mugabe and his appalling wife, who we call the First Shopper, now carries a jail sentence," he says. Then he recalls how his grandmother, sister and a cousin were killed by Mugabe’s North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade, which in 1983 slaughtered some 30,000 "dissidents" in Matabeleland, of which Chinotimba and Victoria Falls are part. "They were forced to dig their own graves and then they were shot on the edge of them," says Nkhoma. "People here have never forgotten. It is still in their hearts. ZANU’s spirit is just for killing."

May-August is normally the height of the tourist season in Zimbabwe, with Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the main drawing card. Overlooking the Falls is the magnificent Kingdom. Opened by Mugabe in 1999 and built at a cost of nearly £20 million, it’s Zimbabwe’s biggest tourism investment since independence 22 years ago. Elephant herds nudge against it perimeter fence directly beneath bedroom balconies and kingfishers, coloured like magnificent jewels, skim across the lakes in the Kingdom’s spacious grounds. Warning notices tell of small crocodiles who might just nip off small children’s fingers if they dabble in the water. Mongooses scurry through the grounds and monkeys and baboons chatter in the baobabs and figs.

Cleverly modelled on buildings of ancient central African empires, the Kingdom’s decor is superb, consisting of natural woods, local stone and thatch. At the entrance stands a 15ft metal sculpture of feathered Ndebele-Zulu warriors clad only in skimpy skins, spears and shields raised. Waterfalls tumble throughout the hotel grounds.

But Mugabe’s disastrous land invasion policy, the massive slaughter of the country’s once magnificent wildlife and his crackdown on political opponents have made it a paradise lost. The past two years of political and social turmoil have scared visitors off. The British Foreign Office, most other EU countries, the US State Department, Canada, Australia and New Zealand warn their nationals not to travel to Zimbabwe. The official British Foreign Office advice is: "The leaders of the ruling ZANU party regularly single out Britain for fierce criticism, alleging British interference in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs. British travellers may therefore be exposed to particular risk." Also, companies have stopped selling travel insurance for Zimbabwe.

Following the government-sponsored farm invasions and violence, tourist bookings to Zimbabwe dropped dramatically and foreign airlines, including Qantas, Lufthansa and Australian Airlines, cancelled services to the country. The Air Zimbabwe Boeing-737 that once shuttled 120 passengers several times between Harare and Victoria Falls has been taken off the route and replaced by a 14-seater plane, says the airline’s spokesman, David Mwenga. British Airways still flies into the country, although it refuses to accept Zimbabwe’s now worthless and unchangeable currency as payment.

The 700-bed Kingdom was designed to build upon a thriving tourist industry that drew nearly 2 million visitors in 1999 and generated some £300 million in foreign currency earnings. But the Kingdom this month, at the height of what should be the tourist season, is a symbol of an industry and national economy in freefall as dramatic as the thundering cataract stretching across the Zambezi’s myriad rainbows and spray rising 500 feet.

My attempt to book a Zambezi sunset cruise on a 60-seat boat in midweek is unsuccessful. "You’re the only client, it’s not really worthwhile," says Heavenly Tshuma, a local tour guide. "Zimbabwe has become a no-go place. We can thank Mugabe for that."

One morning at breakfast a chef asks, "Is it a nice day?" It is, of course. Then the chef confides: "Ah, we are suffering," leaving much unsaid. When I suggest he at least has the comfort of a job, he grimaces and says: "But 80 per cent, they have no jobs."

"We are suffering," has become the people’s slogan in Victoria Falls and elsewhere in Zimbabwe. I hear it every time I step outside the Kingdom to be importuned by legions of street-traders, saying they are hungry and offering to exchange money at several times the official rate. An absolute, determined refusal to do business inevitably brings the plea: "OK, then give me one dollar US or one euro for good luck."

"We are suffering," has become the familiar cry of people in Chinotimba, laid off in their thousands from the game lodges and hotels that once thrived around Victoria Falls. Their money has either run out or is running out, and the shops have no staple supplies such as mealie maize, sugar, cooking oil and soap. At the Victoria Falls Hospital, in Chinotimba, the district medical officer laments that five of his nursing staff have left recently to take jobs in the UK. In outpatients a big notice warns: "Due to nursing shortages, the hospital will not be able to attend to all cases except emergencies."

The medical officer, who says only five of his fellow 90 graduates from the School of Medicine at the University of Zimbabwe remain in the country, says: "People are suffering. They have no jobs and there is little food. And 90 per cent of the people we admit test HIV-positive."

So much for the warning sign in outpatients, warning: "Casual Sex Means Formal Death."

The local monthly newspaper, Vic-Falls News, reports that counsellors at an AIDS workshop have agreed that evil spirits called "tokoloshes" probably spread the HIV virus by sexually abusing women during the night. Tokoloshes exist, in one guise or another, in the minds of the people throughout Africa. Africans raise their beds on bricks to prevent tokoloshes, tiny spirits less than three feet tall with only one buttock and an extraordinarily long penis slung over the shoulder, climbing up and getting under the sheets beside them. Frigidity in a woman is claimed to be the work of a tokoloshe lover. As an explanation for the 4 million Zimbabweans who are HIV-positive, it takes some beating.

Everywhere the tourist industry is taking a severe beating. The Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit - which patrolled the game reserves surrounding Victoria Falls and which include the town itself, where elephant and lion roam at quiet times - is disbanded during my visit because of lack of funds. The unit had been very successful in deterring poachers in the four years of its existence. It had removed 4,620 snares and captured 60 poachers, including four illegal elephant-hunters. It also removed dozens of landmines planted by the white Rhodesian Army during the 1970s war of independence.

Ceiling fans still revolve at the elegant Edwardian-era Victoria Falls Hotel - along with the Kingdom, one of only two big hotels still trying to operate. The Falls Hotel is as empty as the Kingdom, but courtly waiters in tuxedos still hover and serve me tea and scones one sunny afternoon, as I watch the Zambezi surge down the deep gorges below the Victoria Falls. Local safari guide Breeze Dlhamini joins me, the lone scone-eater, and shares my pots of tea. "There are not many who come to look any more," says Breeze. He confides that he voted for Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, in the presidential election. "We all did. We can’t go on like this. Soon this place will just close down."

At the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, outside town, general manager Andy Conn says: "We are only just surviving. We’ve cut prices to rock-bottom to maintain some kind of cash flow and keep a few jobs. We are just keeping things ticking over. There are no profits. I’ve retrenched several staff, put the rest on short time, and we have all - starting with me - taken a 30 per cent pay cut. I hope eventually we’ll get back to normal, but I’m not terribly optimistic."

Back in town, soft drink seller Oi-Oi complains: "I have been here since dawn. No-one has bought anything. It has been like this all year."

And before I leave at the end of my clandestine visit, I browse in an upmarket curio shop in the small Elephants Walk shopping mall. "We have invented a game," says owner Jeanette Taylor. "It’s called spot the tourist." She says that until two years ago her business had been increasing annually by 600 per cent. Since then it has been in freefall. "Now it’s about survival, pure and simple," says Jeanette. "I just hope we can hang on."
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Feature: Biting Economy Hardships Force Children to Beg in Zimbabwe 

      Xinhuanet 2002-06-01 16:09:25
         HARARE, June 1 (Xinhuanet) -- The number of child beggars is
      increasing on the streets of Zimbabwe's capital Harare as biting
      economic hardships force parents to send their children to go on
      the streets to beg for money and food.
         The main reasons for the children to go on the streets to beg
      are orphaned, supplementing family income, neglect by parents or
      peer pressure to join them in the streets.
         Efforts to take some of the children off the streets and put
      them under the care of children's homes where they have been
      rehabilitated and sent to school have helped very little in
      reducing the number of children on the streets.
         In Harare, the children position themselves at strategic places
      such as busy traffic intersections, the First Street Mail and
      parking bays where they beg from motorists.
         The child beggars are also found along the Fourth Street and
      they beg for money from drivers who are stopping at the crossroads
      during the lights of the traffic red signal.
         Three children interviewed by Xinhua this week, 12-year-old
      Rudo Muswe and his friend, 10-year-old Mal Benita, said they come
      to town everyday to beg for money while their mother wait for them
      under a shade along the Fourth Street.
         "We come here to beg and when we get money from well-wishers we
      buy food and go back home. Both of us usually get about 500
      Zimbabwean dollars (about 9.1 U.S. dollars) a day," said Muswe.
         Another child beggar Chiwda Tembo, 10, said his father passed
      away and his mother forced him to beg on the streets to get some
      food and money. He also has two young sisters.
         "I get about 420 Zimbabwean dollars (about 7.6 dollars) a day.
      My mother does not want me to go to school, so I come here to look
      for some money to buy food. If I fail to get the money it means my
      mother and sisters will have nothing to eat. That is why at times
      I end up harassing people to get money although I know that it is
      not good," said Tembo.
         At the East Gate, two other children said their parents send
      them to town everyday to beg in the streets. They normally get 300
      Zimbabwean dollars (about 5.5 dollars) a day and they use the
      money to buy food.
         They said that at times they would not go back home if they
      fail to raise any money and would have to spend the night on the
      street pavements.
         The Department of Social Welfare (DSW) said that there were now
      more children on the streets of Harare. The department had a
      program called Children in Difficult Circumstances, whose aim was
      to address the problem of children on the streets.
         DSW Secretary Lancester Museka claimed that the department had
      identified categories of vulnerable children whose circumstances
      make them unable to survive without outside intervention.
         Most of the children said they now enjoy begging on the streets
      rather than going to schools as they can not get money everyday at
         However, others said they are willing to go to school if they
      got someone to pay for their fees.
         "We would really like to go to school one day and stop roaming
      around the streets begging for money but then if we do not do this
      where will we get the money? We have to beg so that we get money
      for food for ourselves and the rest of the families otherwise we
      will all starve," they said.
         But Museka said the DSW provided school fees for children in
      difficult circumstances and all they needed was to contact the
         A woman on the Fourth Street said she sent her son to beg for
      money because he enjoyed more public sympathy than her.
         "I used to beg in the streets so that I could look after my
      child after his father passed away. But then people were not
      helping me as much as they did to my child," said the woman who
      refused to be named.
         She said that at first the child refused to go on the streets
      to beg but when he went for days without food he agreed.
         However, Museka said that the DSW offered counseling services
      to families in difficult circumstances. He also warned that
      parents who continue to force children to beg could end up being
         Some of the children said they were not forced onto the streets
      but the situation at their homes forced them to do so. Some of the
      street kids have been caught after stealing cell phones, handbags
      and other goods from motorists and pedestrians.
         At the recent United Nations General Assembly on Children,
      President Robert Mugabe also highlighted the country's street
      children problem.
         Child beggars have been increasing in the last decade in
      Zimbabwe due to the HIV/AIDS scourge and a sharp decline in the
      country's economic performance.
         It is said that more than 360,000 children have been orphaned
      by AIDS and are being forced to work or to beg under difficult
      conditions to survive.  Enditem

         by Gao Shixing   

Back to the Top
Back to Index

June 1, 2002
A world in need of trade more than aid
Steven Chapman
Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, on a fact-finding tour of Africa,found himself under attack this week by traveling companion Bono for daring to question the need for large increases in foreign aid to poor countries."You need big money for development," declared the Irish rock star. "If the secretary can't see that, we are going to have to get him a new pair ofglasses and a new set of ears.
"There is a critical flaw in Mr. O'Neill's corrective: They aren't rose-colored. Western nations, it's true, deserve some of the blame for the Third World's economic troubles. But the problem is not so much what the advanced democracies refuse to do for Africa and other poor areas. It's more what we prevent them from doing for themselves." Mr. O'Neill has not ruled out additional Western funding, but he thinks the burden should be on recipient countries to prove a given expenditure will actually do any good. His skepticism is based on the long record of development assistance, which can be summarized by a look around Africa. If foreign aid were the solution, Africa would have few problems. The continent that Bono thinks is crying out for new help is in that position only because most of its governments have failed to make good use of past help.  Bono talks of all the valuable and inspiring efforts being made in Africa.  Maybe if he were personally supervising each disbursement, Western taxpayers could count on getting positive results for their money. In the realworld, however, dollars shipped overseas to finance good works often end up being wasted or stolen.The World Bank, which administers billions of dollars in such assistance, acknowledges that particularly in Africa, such efforts have often been "an unmitigated failure," facilitating "incompetence, corruption and misguided policies." Ian Vasquez, a scholar at the Cato Institute, looked at 73 nations that got development assistance between 1971 and 1995, and found that neither aid per capita nor aid as a percentage of GDP was positively correlated with economic growth. "How much aid a country got had absolutely nothing to do with its overall prosperity. Aid can help countries that do the right things. Elsewhere, it's about as helpful as an umbrella in a hurricane. If countries want to escape poverty, they need to protect property rights,establish the rule of law and promote free markets, as well as deliver public services in an honest, efficient manner. Unfortunately, even if they do all these things, they may find their way blocked" by the same countries that have furnished so much development assistance. International trade has the potential to do wonders in Africa and other stagnant areas of the globe. The international humanitarian group Oxfam says that if the developing countries increased their share of world exports by 5 percent, this would generate $350 billion 7 times as much as they receive in aid." If sub-Saharan Africa had done nothing more than maintain the share ofworld exports it possessed in 1980, the average African's income would be double what it is today. Americans want Third World countries to do all they can to lift themselves up. But when they try, they find Westerners scrambling to push them backdown. Affluent nations often make it impossible for Third World exporters to participate in the world economy. Third World producers trying to export to rich countries face tariffs averaging nearly 13 percent, nearly fourfold the duties encountered by producers from rich countries. Poor countries that might sell agricultural commodities in the West also face another hurdle - government subsidies to farmers in rich  countries,which amount to $1 billion a day and serve to discourage imports.Textiles and apparel, where poor countries often excel, are still tightly restricted in theUnited States and other advanced economies. We want developing nations to compete in the world economy  but without inconveniencing our own producers,thank you. All these barriers cost poor countries about $100 billion a year,which is twice as much as they get in assistance. "The biggest request we are making of Western countries is to open their markets," Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said recently. "Debt relief has saved us some money, but the real money will come from trade. Give us the opportunities, and we will compete."Isn't that the kind of talk we've been yearning to hear from Africa?If we opened our markets, a lot of poor nations would be able to build vibrant economies and stand on their own two feet. They would also speed the day when rich and poor alike can celebrate the obsolescence of foreign aid.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

(On behalf of the Commercial Farmers' Union) (Available on Power Point as

Herewith an update as at 17 April 2002 of the current status as regards
listing of farms prepared as a community service.

1. Large Scale Commercial Sector (6 000 farms) on 11 020 000 hectares which
is 28.2 percent
2. Small Scale Commercial Sector 1 380 000 hectares, which is 3.15 percent
3. The Communal Area is 16 350 000 hectares, which is 41.8 percent
4. Resettlement Area is 3 540 000 hectares, representing 9.1 percent
5. Parks/Forest Land is 6 339 000 hectares in extent, 16.2 percent
6. ARDA (State Farming) comprised 250 000 hectares, which is 0.6 percent
7. Urban Area is 200 000 hectares, which is 0.5 percent
This represent a total of 39 079 000 hectares of land, bringing the
percentage to 100%.

1. The Large Scale Commercial Sector, totaling 11 020 000 hectares (approx
6000 farms) is divided up into hectares as follows :
1a Commercial Farmers' Union Members - 8 595 000 hectares.
1b Indigenous Commercial Farmers Union - 700 000 hectares (approx).
1c Non Members (either Union)- 600 000 hectares (approx).
1d Development Trust of Zimbabwe (Govt of Zim GoZ) - 332 000 hectares.
1e Indigenous/Tenant Schemes/Leases (GoZ) - 470 000 hectares.
1f Cold Storage Company (GoZ)- 211 000 hectares.
1g Forestry Commission (GoZ)- 112 000 hectares.

It is of interest to note that calculations to hand as at September 2001
indicate the following breakdown:
STATE LAND is 27 604 000 hectares, 70.6 percent; PRIVATE LAND is 11 275 000
hectares, 28.9 percent and URBAN LAND is 200 000 hectares, 0.5 percent. A
total of 39 079 000 hectares.

The Government of Zimbabwe Land Reform programme has resulted in changes to
the above picture. Land has been acquired through notices of acquisition and
in some instances, invaders have first arrived on farms, under the 'Fast
track' programme and then steps have been taken to acquire the farms through
legal means available.

Some farms were deemed unsuitable and were then delisted from acquisition,
however in November 2001, the Government of Zimbabwe announced its intention
to implement Maximum Farm Size regulations and this resulted in the
relisting of farms. The results below indicate this shift in policy.

Lising refers to the naming of the farm in Government Gazette notices - it
is a preliminary notice, Section 5. The following are compulsory acquisition
statistics, they represent the changing picture of occupation of land in

As at 01 March 2002, there were 5 648 farms measuring 10 231 950 hectares of
land listed for acquisition. On this date there were 706 farms measuring 1
475 378 hectares delisted from acquisition. There were 51 farms, 90 698
hectares that had previously been delisted, relisted for acquisition. This
brought the nett figure to 4 526 farms on 8 847 270 hectares of land.

The statistics on compulsory acquisition as at 5 April 2002 are:
5 835 farms listed for acquisition, measuring 10 442 612 hectares. There
were 706 farms on
1 475 378 hectares delisted. There were 51 farms, 90 698 hectares that had
previously been delisted, relisted for acquisition, bringing the nett listed
to 5 180 farms on 9 057 932 hectares.

Statistics on compulsory acquisition as at 17 April 2002 are: Gross listed:
5 849 farms on       10 452 519 hectares. Delisted dropped to 449 farms on
853 900 hectares and the number relisted rocketed up to 343 farms comprising
773 028 hectares. This brings the nett listed to 5 743 farms on 10 371 647

Of the 6 000 large scale commercial farms comprising 11 020 000 hectares
(28.2% of Zimbabwean land) under threat of acquisition, there remains 151
farms on 567 481 hectares of land not affected by legal notice. To this we
could add the delisted land of 449 farms on 853 900 hectares, which still
remains in the hands of the original large scale commercial farmer. This
brings the percentage of commercial land taken as at 17th April 2002 to 87,1

We are yet to input figures from Government Gazette weekly issues 26 April
to 31st May 2002.

The Commercial Farmers Union reserves the right to check copy for accuracy
should you wish to use this information for publication purposes.


31st May 2002

Further updates will be made available as they are completed. This overview
is available as a Microsoft Power point presentation. CLICK HERE

For more information, please contact Jenni Williams
Mobile 263 - 91 300 456 or 263 - 11 213 885
Or email me at  or

Back to the Top
Back to Index


African regimes share blame for food shortages
By Tim Butcher, Africa Correspondent
(Filed: 31/05/2002)

Zambia led calls yesterday for international aid to help up to 10 million
starving people in southern Africa, declaring its own crisis a "national

The governments of Zimbabwe, Malawi, Angola and Zambia all blame food
shortages on rain patterns that have caused flooding in some parts and
droughts in others.

But while this has undoubtedly contributed to serious crop failures, many
observers believe that the regional shortages are largely the result of
government corruption and mismanagement.

President Robert Mugabe's land-grab policy in Zimbabwe has crippled a
once-buoyant agricultural sector. In Malawi the government has been accused
of selling off the grain reserve cheaply.

In Angola the government has used the excuse of 25 years of civil war to
justify not spending the billions it receives each year in oil revenues on
efficient commercial farms. Instead the money disappears into secret

Serious doubts remain in Zambia over the legality of the government of
President Levy Mwanawasa after the legitimacy of last December's election
was challenged by European Union observers.

The situation is complicated by the international aid agencies, which have
been painting an increasingly dire picture of the situation.

In the past some aid agencies have been accused of exaggerating humanitarian
problems as a means of increasing donations.

The United Nations World Food Programme estimated last month that six
million people across southern Africa were suffering from food shortages.
This week it raised its estimate to 10 million, with more expected from
Zambia when field work is completed.

It led Mr Mwanawasa to declare a state of emergency yesterday in Zambia,
during a television address, and to request millions in international help
to help up to four million Zambians.

In Zimbabwe the predictions of economists who gave warning of the folly of
Mr Mugabe's land-grab policies have come true with around half the
population, more than six million, in need of food aid.

The WFP said the land reform programme, implemented on many farms this year,
"caused serious disruption of normal farming practices".
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Saturday, 1 June, 2002, 12:57 GMT 13:57 UK
Long hours in a Harare jail
Andrew Meldrum, Collin Chiwanza and Lloyd Mudiwa
Meldrum (left): Jailed for factual error
test hello test
By Andrew Meldrum

My stomach lurched as I descended the stairs to the Harare jail cells. It was dark and cold.

"Take off your shoes and socks, your belt and watch," ordered the guard.

He told me I was only allowed one top item of clothing so I would have to choose between my shirt and sweater.

All prisoners must be barefoot in the cells of Harare Central Charge Office where I was held.

Daily News printing press after a bomb attack in 2001
The independent press has been a target in Zimbabwe
For the next 33 hours the world was divided into two categories - those with shoes walked with confidence and could come and go as they pleased; those without shoes were locked in jail and could not go anywhere.

I was barefoot and in jail.

I was arrested for writing an article in the UK's Guardian newspaper on political violence against Zimbabwe's opposition, after Robert Mugabe's disputed re-election as president in March.

I wrote that one of those opposition supporters killed in the wave of retribution was a woman who had been beheaded.

It turned out that the woman had not been beheaded.

I went to the toilet and cringed as my feet stuck to the sticky floor

And, under Zimbabwe's new Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, to make a factual error is to commit a crime, punishable by a fine of up to 100,000 Zimbabwe dollars ($1,830) or up to two years in jail.

Even though I had signed a "warned and cautioned" statement, police decided that I should be held in jail.

Because I was arrested on a holiday, Workers' Day, I was incarcerated overnight until I could appear in court.

My lawyer tried valiantly to get me freed, but as it was a holiday all the officials who could order my release were unavailable.

Blanket bugs

As I entered the dank cells - barefoot and discouraged - I heard "Psst. Pssst. Come over here!"

We became giddy when we climbed the stairs and saw blue sky through a window.

It was Collin Chiwanza, one of two Zimbabwean journalists who had been arrested the day before.

Collin and Lloyd Mudiwa, reporters for the Daily News, showed me the ropes in jail and we became fast friends.

They had a blanket to keep them warm and offered to share it. It was a filthy rag that reeked of urine.

Lloyd showed me bites he got from bugs in the blanket. I vowed NEVER to get near it.

But within about 15 minutes I stuck my cold feet into the blanket.

By that night I was snuggling under it for warmth.

'Let me out!'

Outgoing and bubbly by nature, Collin kept us entertained by telling us stories about his childhood and school days.

He told us about his first girlfriend and his second, his first job as a schoolteacher and how he became a journalist.

He told us about his wife and his baby daughter. Lloyd and I also told stories and we made silly jokes. Our camaraderie really helped to pass the time and lifted our spirits.

Andrew Meldrum
Andrew Meldrum: One of 12 journalists arrested in 10 weeks
Night was the most difficult time. It was cold and I could not sleep.

I went to the toilet and cringed as my feet stuck to the sticky floor.

The walls, the dark and the stench made me claustrophobic. I wanted to shout: "Let me out!"

But I pulled myself together, realising I could easily drive myself crazy, but it would not help the situation.

I just had to endure it. I clambered back under the blanket next to Collin and Lloyd and tried to sleep.

In the morning the guards told us to come with them.

We excitedly pulled on our socks, shoes and clothes.

We became giddy when we climbed the stairs and saw blue sky through a window.

But our happiness was dashed when we arrived at the magistrates' court and were taken to the basement cells.

We each had to wear a single handcuff and with nearly 30 other prisoners we were ordered on to a narrow, steep staircase.


The door behind us was locked and so was the door at the bottom of the stairs, which led to the courtroom.

We waited there for two hours.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe
Mr Mugabe signed a new media law in March
Eventually we appeared in court. The charges against Collin were dropped as he had not written a single word of the story in question.

Lloyd and I were released on free bail pending trial.

Since then I have appeared in court twice for remand hearings.

Each time I am thankful to be able to walk into the courtroom freely, through the front door and in clean clothes.

I look at the door leading back to the cramped, filthy prisoners' staircase and I pray I never have to go back there.

I do not feel alone. In the 10 weeks since the Mugabe government's new press act became law, 12 journalists have been arrested.

It is a crackdown on the independent and critical press.

Andrew Meldrum is the UK Guardian newspaper's correspondent in Zimbabwe.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


Zimbabwe appoints media-information control panel

HARARE, June 1 - Zimbabwe appointed a media and information commission on
Saturday to implement a tough media law approved by President Robert
Mugabe's government earlier this year.

       The government's information and publicity department said
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo had picked the journalism school's head
at Harare Polytechnic, Tafataona Mahoso, as executive chairman of the panel.
       Mahoso is a strong supporter of Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party.
       Moyo also named two former editors of government-run newspapers, two
other university academics and a retired civil servant to the commission.
       The panel was expected to have up to a dozen members and will license
media houses and accredit journalists. The members were appointed for three
       Soon after his much-criticised re-election in March, Mugabe approved
the law, which critics have said is aimed at curbing freedom of information.
       The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act imposes heavy
fines and jail terms of up to two years for ''abuse of journalistic
privilege'' such as publishing ''falsehoods.''
       The government argued the law was needed to regulate an industry rife
with unprofessionalism. Mugabe has accused foreign journalists and some
Zimbabwean private media of pursuing a hate campaign against his party, in
power since the former Rhodesia gained independence from Britain in 1980.
       The government has arrested 11 local and foreign journalists under
the law in the last two months, in what critics see as a crackdown to
intimidate those critical of its policies.
       Journalists working for foreign media in Zimbabwe have gone to its
highest court to challenge the law.
       The Zimbabwe Foreign Correspondents Association wants the Supreme
Court to declare unconstitutional the law's sections on registration of
media houses, accreditation of journalists and bars on foreigners from
working as correspondents.
       In its statement on Saturday, the government said the commission
would ensure that ''all Zimbabweans enjoy improved access to information and
achieve effective ownership and control of mass media services in the
       The commission would also ''enforce professional and ethical
standards in the media industry, as well as mount investigations and
inquiries on media conduct.''
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Dear Family and Friends,
This week the UN World Food Programme and the F.A. O. said that 6 million Zimbabweans in both urban and rural areas need emergency food aid. They said that even after pledged aid had been given and government food imports had been made, the country would still have a shortfall of 1.5 million tonnes of cereals. The statement acknowledged that 2 years of farm invasions had compounded this massive food shortage and said that unless international food assistance was given urgently: "there will be a serious famine and loss of life in the coming months." The UN also spoke of the effects of drought saying Zimbabwe had just experienced the longest dry spell in 20 years. What they did not say however was that most of Zimbabwe's dams are full. In fact, for anyone that has lived in Zimbabwe, the dam percentages are completely beyond belief. (Masvingo 91%, Matabeleland 79%, Mashonaland 89%, Midlands 88% and Manicaland 100% full) I don't know how many droughts I've lived through in my 44 years in Zimbabwe but there have been a lot both as a town and a country girl. Living through a drought in a Zimbabwean town is horrible - water is rationed, you may not water gardens or cars, baths are shared, laundry is done in the same water and then it's carried out to water the most treasured plants; the toilet is flushed once a day after a brick is put in the cistern to lower the water level and huge penalties are imposed for exceeding the number of cubic metres you are allowed. Living through a drought in the country is a nightmare. There were two bad ones in my ten years on our farm and every day was horrific. The borehole pumped air and watering 100 cattle, 120 sheep and 100 chickens was utterly exhausting. We spent our days from dawn to dusk bumping down the dusty, rutted farm roads to a little spring with buckets and drums. Every drop of water the animals and people on the farm needed had to be carried from a spring 2 kilometres from the house. It was back breaking work, bending over, filling the bucket, lifting it over your head to fill the drum - again and again and again. The cattle and sheep would wait at the gate and literally stampede when they saw the water coming. The hens would peck incessantly at the empty drinking troughs and then when you tipped the water in, they would drink deeply, tipping their heads back to get every drop into their parched bodies. By the end of the day, with your back breaking and covered in dust from head to foot you could lower yourself into 3 inches of bath water before collapsing into bed. So, the UN says this is our longest dry spell in 20 years and yet all our dams are almost 80% full . Our dams are so full because the water has not been used to irrigate crops. There are no crops in the ground because government supporters stopped farmers from growing food because they wanted the land for their masters and now 6 million people face starvation. What a sickening irony.
This week our agriculture minister Dr Joseph Made said that any white farmer who did not put a crop of wheat into the ground would have his farm listed for seizure. I'm not sure where the Minister has been these last two years because he has already listed 95% of Zimbabwe's farms for government take over. There are now only 308 farms in the entire country not listed for state seizure. Neither Dr Made nor any of his officials are prepared to offer any written guarantees to a farmer that he will be able to grow, reap and sell his wheat before the government moves in and takes the farm over. 6 million starving Zimbabweans have Dr Made and his government to thank for their plight. We have become like Somalia and Ethiopia and are holding out our begging bowls to the world. A world who would rather feed us than help us to get a democratic government who care for their people. Until next week, with love, cathy.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Business Day

Obasanjo's emissary has talks with Mugabe

Zimbabwean state media says envoy upbeat about unity talks

HARARE Nigerian foreign minister Sule Lamido said he had an "enlightening"
discussion with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe after delivering a
special message from Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, state media
reported yesterday.
Independent and international media were not permitted to interview Lamido
after his meeting with Mugabe in Harare on Wednesday, but the Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) said Lamido expressed confidence in a
resumption of talks on a government of national unity between Mugabe's Zanu
(PF) and Morgan Tsvangirai's opposition Movement for Democratic Change
The ZBC and the semi-official daily, The Herald, said the contents of
Obasanjo's message to Mugabe were "not made available".
However, the ZBC said "observers at the talks" a term used to describe
members of the government urged Nigeria "not to sacrifice Zimbabwe for
Western support of Nepad (the New Partnership for Africa's Development)".
Obasanjo and SA President Thabo Mbeki are seeking billions of dollars in
international assistance Nepad, a plan aimed at rescuing the African
continent from poverty.
The European Union and the US say Africa must address good governance issues
in rogue states, such as Zimbabwe, to receive backing.
The Herald said Lamido dismissed concerns about last year's Abuja agreement,
brokered by Obasanjo, under which donors agreed to resume funding land
reform in return for the restoration of legality and democratic rights in
Zimbabwe. Sapa-AFP
May 31 2002 12:00:00:000AM  Business Day 1st Edition
01 June 2002
Back to the Top
Back to Index