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

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Mail and Guardian

Zimbabwe: Quiet diplomacy has 'clearly failed'


      20 March 2004 09:44

The time for quiet diplomacy in Zimbabwe is over and must be brought to an
end, a senior official in the country's opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) said on Friday.

Speaking during a visit to Berlin, the MDC's legal secretary David Coltart
said the policy, practiced notably by South Africa, had failed.

"Quiet diplomacy has been tried for four years and clearly failed," he told
a press conference here.

"This quiet diplomacy must be put to an end. We are living in a far worse
environment [than before]. There are no demonstrable positive fruits from
this strategy."

South Africa, through President Thabo Mbeki, has been trying to mediate an
end to the political and economic crisis in neighbouring Zimbabwe.

But his approach has come under fire from political detractors, who say he
is taking far too soft a line on his Zimbabwean counterpart Robert Mugabe.

Zimbabwe was plunged into crisis after presidential elections in March 2002
that returned Mugabe to office, the results of which international observers
and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai alleged were rigged.

The country is now in the grip of its worst economic crisis, with inflation
at more than 622%, 70% unemployment and severe shortages of fuel, medicine
and food.

Coltart called for international, high-profile mediators to bring the MDC
and Mugabe back into talks that were broken off in May 2002.

"It is time for a person like (UN chief) Kofi Annan to come and see what's
going on," Coltart added.

"We have made gestures, like we suspended civil disobedience action, that
have been responded to by further acts of repression."

Coltart was in Berlin to present a report citing attacks, intimidation and
threats against MDC members between 2000 and 2004.

The report says 90% of MDC deputies have been directly targeted, and that in
half the cases, the perpetrators were members of the Zimbabwean police, army
of intelligence services.

"This shows a well-planned coordinated strategy designed to annihilate the
opposition," he said, adding that the "draconian legislation" recalled the
era when Rhodesia, as then, was still ruled by a white minority
government. - Sapa-AFP
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Sent: Saturday, March 20, 2004 3:03 PM
Subject: Sitting under a tree

Dear Family and Friends,
Zimbabwe's rainy season is coming to an end and although 85% of the
country have had above average rainfall, it's been a difficult time with
some long, dry and very hot stretches and then prolonged periods of
incessant rain. We've had a few very heavy storms, one of which left
streams of water pouring through my ceiling and running down the walls.
Rushing around in the terrific noise of a big storm, trying not to slip in
the puddles which grew and crept across the floor, I spread old newspapers
on the ground to soak up all the water. One of the newspapers, dated
October 2001, carried a story with a bold headline which read "Mbeki to
act on Zimbabwe". That was two and a half years ago and this week South
African President Mbeki was still promising that something dramatic was
about to happen in Zimbabwe. Speaking at an election rally in South
Africa, President Mbeki again said that informal talks were going on
between Zimbabwe's two political parties. Mbeki promised that when the
leaders of our country announced what had been agreed at these talks,
everyone would be shocked and that Zimbabwe's problems would be solved
much sooner than anyone expects.

Quiet diplomacy, talks about talks and promises of action have been going
on for so long that not many people have taken much hope from our
neighbouring President's electioneering words. As each month passes, daily
life here just becomes harder and harder to bear. No one has enough money
to keep up with the 620% inflation and at the bottom of every bill are
printed the most outrageous statements. The electricity bill this month
says: " Domestic Tariff increase: 140%." Another bill says: "All charges
will go up every three months until further notice." At the post office
the prices just seem to go up unnoticed and a letter to America which cost
two thousand dollars to send last year, now costs fifteen thousand
dollars. Tucked into our purses we all have bank notes that buy nothing
and stamps that are useless. A year ago when you gave a beggar one hundred
dollars you were giving him a meal, now that same one hundred dollar note
does not even buy a single box of matches. People who have got jobs are
struggling to cope and the 7 out of 10 people who are unemployed in
Zimbabwe seem to have given up and they simply sit around, waiting for
world food aid to be dished out every month.

A year ago if you saw a queue it was for bread, sugar, bank notes or
petrol. Now we hear only of queues for world food aid. A year ago when you
asked a farmer what his problems were, he said lawlessness and drought.
Now when you ask a farmer what his problems are, he says lawlessness and
labour. Farmers, old and new, cannot find enough people to work for them.
It is easier to sit under a tree all day knowing you will get world food
aid then to work for a wage which you know will never support you and your
family for the month. Maybe there are informal talks going on and maybe
there is going to be some sort of dramatic solution sooner than everyone
thinks in Zimbabwe but the problems are so vast now that it is very hard
to see the wood from the trees or the maize cobs from the world food
trucks. Until next week, with love, cathy. Copyright cathy buckle 20th
March 2004
My books on the Zimbabwean crisis, "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" are
available outside Africa  from: ; ; ;  in Australia and New Zealand: ;  Africa:
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From AFP, 19 March

Tough for Zim to rejoin Commonwealth

Eileen Ng

Zimbabwe's democratic institutions have deteriorated further in the past two
years, making it more difficult for the country to rejoin the Commonwealth,
Secretary General Don McKinnon said in an AFP interview on Friday. Zimbabwe
was suspended because the 2002 presidential election was deemed unfair, "but
since then we have seen a deterioration in those democratic institutions
related to things like freedom of the press, freedom of the judiciary,"
McKinnon said. "We hope to see Zimbabwe back in the Commonwealth. The issue
is, is Zimbabwe prepared to listen to Commonwealth leaders? The nerve
endings are rather raw right now, so until the issue settles down a little
bit, it won't be easy." President Robert Mugabe (80) pulled Zimbabwe out of
the Commonwealth, a club of mainly former British colonies, in December in
protest over his country's suspension. McKinnon rejected Zimbabwe's claims
that a racial divide in the Commonwealth pitted small African countries
against rich white nations, saying the "vast majority of African countries
do not support Zimbabwe." Zimbabwe's return to the group would be "certainly
not in the immediate future" because "positive, fruitful dialogue" between
Mugabe's ruling party and his arch-foe Morgan Tsvangirai's party was
unlikely to take place soon, he said. Mugabe last month slammed the door on
proposed negotiations with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) to resolve a long-running political crisis. He has accused Britain of
bankrolling the MDC in a bid to oust him from power.

McKinnon said Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980, had done a
"marvellous job in the early days" of his rule in Zimbabwe, once the
region's breadbasket, but land reforms had led to economic decline. McKinnon
acknowledged that land redistribution was necessary in a country where the
tiny white minority owned the best farmland, but said the way it had been
done had created difficulties "for a lot of people, particularly the two
million farm workers whose grandparents came from Malawi, Mozambique and
Zambia. "They ended up without anything at all because they have lost their
jobs on the farms, they don't have rights as Zimbabwean citizens. We are
dealing with economic collapse of the country so a lot of things have got to
change." Zimbabwe's economy has nose-dived, with international support
drying up and the inflation rate skyrocketing to record highs of more than
600 percent. Washington earlier this month renewed sanctions imposed on
Mugabe and other government officials, including freezing their assets in
the US. McKinnon said there was little that the Commonwealth could do for
Zimbabwe because Mugabe had refused to listen to African leaders and had
rejected its overtures. "If a country doesn't want to be persuaded, then how
do you do it? Mugabe doesn't feel very happy about the Commonwealth right
now, so we will take a backseat for a while. We will watch events and we
will listen to other African leaders," he said.
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Zimbabwe says 'mercenaries' trial open to public

March 20, 2004, 14:41

Zimbabwe is determined to have 70 suspected mercenaries tried in a
top-security prison where they are detained, but the trial would be open to
the public, the country's chief prosecutor said today.

The men held on suspicion of plotting a coup in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea
filed an urgent court application yesterday to have their case heard in an
open formal court, but the appeal is still to be considered. Bharat Patel,
acting attorney-general, told Zimbabwe's government-owned news agency ZIANA
today the state wanted the suspected mercenaries to be tried in Harare's
Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison for security reasons.

"We have no problems with members of the public and press attending, except
we want the hearing to take place in prison," Patel was quoted as saying.
However, defence lawyer Jonathan Samkange told Reuters the detained men
wanted to appear in a "normal formal open court because that is part of
ensuring the case is being dealt with in a normal and fair manner."

Regional defence analysts say the planned trial could raise embarrassing
questions for the Zimbabwean government over the suspected mecenaries'
reported bid to buy weapons illegally from the state.

The 70 accused - from South Africa, Angola, Namibia, the Democratic Republic
of Congo and one from Zimbabwe - were arrested on March 7 after their
US-registered Boeing 727 plane landed in Harare and was seized by Zimbabwean

The men say they were heading to Congo to guard mines. However, Zimbabwe
maintains they were on a mission to oust Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the
president of Equatorial Guinea, and has charged them with plotting to murder
him and his bodyguards.

Samkange dismisses charges as fictional
Samkange has dismissed the coup charge as "fictional" and questioned whether
it can be brought under Zimbabwean law.

The state has also charged the men under immigration and firearms laws over
accusations their plane landed in Harare with a false declaration and that
they intended to pick up weapons from the state-owned Zimbabwe Defence
Industries (ZDI).

Regional defence analysts say the planned trial of the suspects could raise
embarrassing questions for the government over their reported bid to buy
weapons illegally from the state.

Equatorial Guinea, sub-Saharan Africa's third largest oil producer, says it
has arrested 20 men it says were part of a plot funded by foreign powers and
multinational firms to put an exiled opposition politician living in Spain
in power. - Reuters

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Cde Msika castigates people who abuse positions for corrupt needs

21 March 2004
The Vice President, Cde Joseph Msika has once again castigated some
influential members of the Zimbabwean society for allegedly abusing their
positions in the society to commit acts of corruption.

Cde Msika who was addressing a rally at Eskbank farm in Christon bank,
attacked unruly elements in the country who are allegedly circumventing laid
down government procedures and allocating themselves land using their
eminent positions in the country.

He specifically singled out some war veterans whom he accused of
disregarding land allocation procedures set out by the government.

Cde Msika regretted incidents where resettled farmers have been displaced by
some individuals without the knowledge of land committees in their areas.

The Vice President also warned those disrupting farming activities on some
white owned farms in the area saying Zimbabwe is a multi-racial country
where people of different races should co-exist peacefully.
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Sunday Times (SA)
Mugabe man builds R30m Cape palace

Finance minister regularly doles out cash for seaside super-mansion


MINISTER'S MANSION: The house being built in the posh Cape Town suburb of Llandudno for Zimbabwe Finance Minister Christopher Kuruneri Picture: TERRY SHEAN

A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS: Zimbabwe's Finance Minister Christopher Kuruneri



ONE of Robert Mugabe's most trusted senior ministers has been secretly visiting Cape Town to fund the construction of a spectacular seaside mansion, fuelling speculation that he is actually over seeing the palace on behalf of the Zimbabwean president.

Christopher Kuruneri, promoted to finance minister during Mugabe's Cabinet reshuffle last month, has been paying for the multimillion-rand project in cash despite strict rules in Zimbabwe that limit the export of foreign exchange.

Several sources close to the project say its cost is about R30-million.

Kuruneri has strenuously denied breaking Zimbabwe's foreign exchange rules. He said this week that the house was his and that he was not acting on behalf of anyone else.

At the time of the reshuffle on February 9, Mugabe announced that Kuruneri ( until then deputy finance minister) would "spearhead" the country's economic recovery.

Since Kuruneri's promotion, several Zimbabwean businessmen have been arrested on charges of "externalising" foreign currency. Two of them, James Makamba and Cecil Muderede, are still awaiting trial.

This week, several financial insti tutions were shut down on suspicion of illegally exporting currency from Zimbabwe, among other charges.

Kuruneri has been paying monthly visits to Venture Projects & Associates, the company that is building the Llandudno mansion.

Venture Projects is the trading name of C J H Joint Venture, a close corporation established in 1991 by Chris Hayman and Brian John Gelling.

Hayman said this week that the company's main business was project-managing the construction of residential properties. He confirmed that Kuruneri was a client but refused to discuss their business relationship.

Information registered with public bodies confirms that Kuruneri has bought two properties in Llandudno and is funding the construction of a mansion on one of them.

Information at the Deeds Office in Cape Town states that the owner of 17 Apostle Road and 38 Sunset Avenue is Choice Decisions 113 (Pty) Ltd, a so-called "off-the-shelf company".

According to information lodged with the Department of Trade and Industry, Christopher Tichaona Kuru neri is the sole director of Choice Decisions, which bought 17 Apostle Road on March 9 2001 for R2 069 852 from Gianfranco Lovisolo. This property is rented out at present.

Just over a year later, on April 22 2002, Choice Decisions bought 38 Sunset Avenue for R2.7-million from Albert Robert Louis Bertrand.

Work on the house, designed by Cape Town architect Stephen J Forster, began in the middle of last year.

Forster said his brief was to build a three-storey, eight-bedroom house with a floor space of 1 000m².

The house will have eight bathrooms and a dining room that can host 20 people. It will have a triple garage and provision for two lift shafts. Forster said he expected the house to be completed in November.

A source close to Hayman's company said this week that Hayman's services to Kuruneri included the safekeeping of large amounts of US dollars. "There are people in the company who don't like what's going on," the source said.

"Mr Kuruneri comes in with little warning, gives Chris [Hayman] cash to pay the contractors, inspects his properties and then flies back to Harare.

"If he can get on a flight back the same day, he does. No one is allowed to contact Mr Kuruneri in Zimbabwe. Only Chris speaks to him when he arrives in South Africa. On one occasion Chris walked into the office with a huge wad of US dollars in his hand."

This week Kuruneri claimed that the R30-million price tag on the house was "super-nonsense". When it was put to him that he was overseeing the property for Mugabe, he described the claim as " completely false".

Kuruneri said he had raised the money for the mansion while living in Canada and also through his work as a consultant for several multinational companies.

He said he had never contravened Zimbabwe's strict exchange rules as he had never brought the money earned overseas back into Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, back in Llandudno this week, the foreman on the building site said he had been told that the house was intended for "the head of the African section of the World Bank".

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ABC Australia

Sunday, March 21, 2004. 1:00pm (AEDT)
Zimbabwe files new charge against suspected mercenaries
Zimbabwean police have filed a sixth charge of "conspiring to commit
international terrorism" against 70 suspected mercenaries linked to an
alleged coup plot in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, their lawyer said.

Defence lawyer Jonathan Samkange said the police were charging the men with
"contravening UN [United Nations] resolution 1,373 [2001] and UN resolution
1,456 [2003]".

The move came as the country's acting Attorney-General Bharat Patel told the
government-run news agency ZIANA that the state wanted the men to be tried
in a top security Harare prison, which is being vehemently opposed by the

"We have no problems with members of the public and press attending, except
we want the hearing to take place in prison," ZIANA quoted Mr Patel as

The charge sheet filed against each of the detainees on Saturday reads in
part "from June 2003 and 7 March 2004 in the republic of South Africa, I
conspired and agreed with 69 others to oust the president of Equatorial
Guinea ... from power in a coup d'etat".

Mr Samkange has said the 70 cannot be charged with international terrorism
because it falls outside the scope of Zimbabwean laws.

The accused have been linked to 15 alleged mercenaries detained in the small
west African state of Equatorial Guinea, one of whom has died due to
cerebral malaria, authorities in Malabo say.

"What this boils down to is that they don't have any charges against these
men," Mr Samkange said.

So far the accumulated charges against the 70 men are: conspiring to possess
weapons of war, conspiring to murder the long-serving president of
Equatorial Guinea and his bodyguards, possession of weaponry, violating
Zimbabwe's immigration laws and attempting to overthrow a foreign

The 70 accused were detained on March 7 after their plane was impounded at
Harare International Airport, allegedly on its way to Equatorial Guinea
where Harare says they were planning to stage a coup.

Zimbabwe security authorities say the men stopped in Harare to pick up
weapons including AK-47 assault rifles, rocket launchers, hand grenades and
ammunition to be used in the alleged putsch.

The accused say they were hired in South Africa to be security guards on a
diamond mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Some of the charges carry a maximum jail sentence of up to 10 years, but
Zimbabwean Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge has said the accused could face the
death penalty.

-- AFP
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Zimbabwe Mirror

Mudzuri summoned to appear for hearing
Tawanda Majoni

Suspended Harare mayor, Elias Mudzuri, has been summoned to appear before a
disciplinary hearing tomorrow, but he has expressed concern over the manner
in which the set down date was made.

Mudzuri also took a swipe at the local government, public works and national
housing minister, Ignatius Chombo, saying he has personalised and
politicised the matter. Chombo has set up a three - member disciplinary
committee to hear the case. The committee comprises chairperson Johannes
Tomana, Mercy Chizodza - both Harare lawyers - and Kuziwa Nyamwanza, a
magistrate. By virtue of his being the chair, Tomana will preside over the

Mudzuri, who was suspended as mayor in April last year in terms of section
54 (2) of the Urban Councils Act, Chapter 29:15, was served with summons
dated March 19 and signed by Tomana. One Gomo, the chief security officer in
the Harare Municipal police division, on Friday afternoon served the summons
on the embattled mayor at Newlands, where he had gone to attend a meeting.
The hearing is scheduled to be conducted at the local government boardroom
in the morning.

In correspondence dated 16 February, 2004 and addressed to the "Executive
Mayor of Harare, Engineer Mudzuri", Chombo indicated that according to
preliminary investigations done at his behest, Mudzuri had allegedly engaged
in acts of misconduct.

He charged that the mayor had abused his authority by arbitrarily suspending
and firing senior management staff and other employees, "leaving critical
positions without substantive occupants thereby causing diminished capacity
of the City (Harare) to deliver on essential services".

Chombo mentioned, among others, Leslie Gwindi, the public relations manager,
whom Mudzuri relieved of his duties charging that he was irregularly
employed, Nomutsa Chideya, the town clerk, and the director of health
services, Dr Lovemore Mbengeranwa. All the three were re-instated following
Mudzuri's suspension.

Mudzuri also stands accused of abusing his authority on April 4 2002 by
chairing a council meeting relating to previous acts of misconduct by the
mayor, and allegedly influencing councillors to adopt a resolution to
withdraw the case from the courts.

Chombo in addition accuses Mudzuri of failing to provide a turn-around plan
in accordance with the minister's directive in 2002, manipulating tender
procedures and the "general mismanagement of council affairs" and public

But the executive mayor insists that there was no transparency in the way
the preliminary investigations were carried out. In a letter dated 1 March
and addressed to Chombo, Mudzuri said he was not aware of a committee that
was set up to investigate him. On the very day the summons was served on
Mudzuri, his legal representative, Beatrice Mtetwa of Kantor and Immerman
responded, raising a number of concerns. She indicated that her client
"cannot make head or tail of your summons" because, among other things, it
was not clear what terms of reference Tomana's committee was operating on.

Chombo in July 2003 claimed that he had set up a committee to investigate
the allegations that were levelled against Mudzuri, and Mtetwa queried
whether the new committee would not be a duplication of the first body,
pointing out that there was an anomaly since there was no annexure of the
correspondence spelling out allegations against Mudzuri as indicated in the

In a response that was served on Mudzuri yesterday, Tomana apologised for
the anomaly. He pointed out that his committee was not related to the one
set up by Chombo earlier on, further informing the mayor that terms of
reference for his committee would be furnished on the day of the hearing.

But Mudzuri, who visited the the Sunday Mirror offices to express his
displeasure, said he was taken aback with the urgency with which the matter
was now being dealt with.

"It is almost a year since I was suspended and I had expected to appear for
a hearing within three months but this did not happen. Chombo took his time
and all of a sudden, he seems to have no time to waste, and this is
mysterious, to say the least.

"Why should I be served with the summons on a weekend? I suspect this was
done to stunt the process of consulting my lawyers in order for a fair trial
to be conducted, and this goes to show how personalised my case has become.

"In addition, he (Chombo) should have had the courtesy and professionalism
to inform me of the setting up of this new committee. He is treating me like
an ordinary person yet I am an elected public office holder and the first
citizen of this city. The truth is that he was riled by the fact that the
capital city was being run by the opposition," fumed Mudzuri.

Accusing Chombo of destroying his council, dominated by councillors elected
on a Movement for Democratic Change ticket in 2002, Mudzuri said the
minister had misdirected himself to say he had abused his authority as
executive mayor. "For instance, he naively says I misapplied myself by
firing Gwindi, when the bottom line is that he was irregularly employed. How
do you fire a person with an invalid contract?" He insisted that Gwindi and
the other stated employees were dismissed or suspended with due regard to
the law, in terms of the Urban Councils Act.

Calling for members of the public to be given the chance to attend his
hearing, Mudzuri said by keeping him out of office for almost a year without
a salary, Chombo "is trying to fix me".

However, one legal expert said it was not necessary for the public to be let
in for the hearing. "Instead of conducting a hearing in First Street, what
is important is for Mudzuri to be given a fair trial," he said. He added
that it was not fair for Mudzuri to complain that he had been given short
notice. "He was fully aware of the charges and what was only left was the
set down, which was duly done." Harare Municipality has been run on a
care-taker basis since the suspension of Mudzuri. His deputy, Sekesai
Makwavarara, was made acting mayor, but her party called on her to quit the
post, leading to her ostracisation by the party when she dug in her heels.

Last week, her protracted stand-off with the MDC forced her to quit the
labour-based party.

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Sunday Times (SA)

Local men brave mighty Zambezi

Biénne Huisman

Eight adventurers from Cape Town are planning to navigate the length of the
Zambezi in Central Africa to help curb one of Africa's main killer diseases.

Joined by a fellow bundu-bashing Gauteng businessman, they set off from the
small northern Zimbabwean town of Chavuma yesterday.

The nine men are taking on Africa in three inflatable boats, averaging about
25km/h, on a cruise across the continent. They will travel 2 500km and
finish where the Zambezi meets the Indian Ocean in Mozambique.

Veteran African traveller Tim Cumming said the expedition was more than
adventure. "We thought: 'Why not throw in a good cause while we're at it?'
So we fixed on malaria. An important objective of the trip is raising
awareness of the disease, which kills more people in Africa than Aids does."

The crew are handing out "anti-malaria packs", which contain mosquito nets,
insect repellent, malaria testing kits and information pamphlets, to people
who live in the Zambezi valley.

"It's going to be exciting and challenging," said another of the men,
Patrick Semple, a doctor, adding that he would be armed with a first-aid kit
throughout the journey.

"Hopefully we won't need the kit. But there are the obvious dangers like
malaria, crocodiles and hippo s. I'm also wary of rapids in the top stretch
of the river, which is running very high at the moment."

Semple said the men had taken anti-malaria drugs and had been vaccinated
against cholera - which recently struck in Mozambique and Zambia.

Richard Tren, the head of the international non-profit organisation Africa
Fighting Malaria, welcomed the expedition. He said: "In many countries in
Africa, such as Zambia where the expedition will spend much of their time,
malaria kills more people than any other disease."

The World Health Organisation estimates that between one million and two
million people die from malaria annually. Ninety percent of those occur in
Africa - mostly in children under the age of five.

"Although malaria is very dangerous, no one should die of it," Tren said
this week. "The disease is entirely preventable and curable. It is a disease
that we can fight and beat."

The crew from Cape Town consists of Cumming, photographer Athol Moult,
safari guru Andrew Weinberg, lawyer Bob Groeneveld, financial expert Simon
Espley, entrepreneur William George, former Springbok water-polo player
Brent Wiltshire and Semple, a neurosurgeon at Groote Schuur Hospital.
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