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Institute for War and Peace Reporting

Tribal Rivalry May Split ZANU PF

Ruling party could in time rupture because of Mugabe's insistence on
promoting the Zezuru clan over the larger Karanga.

By Benedict Unendoro in Harare (Africa Reports: Zimbabwe Elections No 18,

To outsiders the great tribal split in Zimbabwe is between the Shonas and
the Ndebele - the latter an offshoot of the Zulus of South Africa who now
largely occupy the dry western part of the country.

But Zimbabweans themselves know that the critical ethnic and cultural
divide - the one that will eventually decide the fate of their troubled
state - is between the distinct clans that make up the Shona.

The Shona, who began arriving from west central Africa more than a thousand
years ago, share a mutually intelligible language. But ethnically they are
not homogenous. Between the clans there is a diversity of dialects,
religious beliefs and customs.

The five principal clans are the Karanga, Zezuru, Manyika, Ndau and

Of these, the biggest and most powerful clans are the Karanga and the
Zezuru. At this moment, largely unperceived by outsiders, an almighty
struggle is going on between Karangas and Zezurus inside President Robert
Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party that at some point is destined to explode and
completely reshape Zimbabwean politics.

The Karanga are the largest clan, accounting for some 35 per cent of
Zimbabwe's 11.5 million citizens. The Zezuru are the second biggest, and
comprise around a quarter of the total population.

The Karanga provided the bulk of the fighting forces and military leaders
who fought the successful 1972-80 chimurenga (struggle) that secured
independence and black majority rule. Nevertheless, the ZANU movement -
since renamed ZANU PF - was led by a Zezuru intellectual with several
degrees - Mugabe - who did not do any fighting.

The ethnic differences at that time seemed to matter little since ZANU
proclaimed unity as one of its ideals. Mugabe's predecessors as leader were
Ndabaningi Sithole, an Ndau, and Herbert Chitepo, assassinated in mysterious
circumstances 30 years ago, a Manyika.

But those clan differences have surfaced with a vengeance in 2005, after
Mugabe filled every top position in the state with members of his Zezuru
clan and pushed out the Karangas.

The Karangas, who know that their men won the chimurenga, are angry.

Besides 81-year-old Mugabe, his two vice presidents - Joseph Msika and Joyce
Mujuru - are Zezurus.

Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi, who is also Mugabe's spymaster, is a
Zezuru, as are the chiefs of the three main security forces.

Army chief General Constantine Chiwenga - whose highly combative wife
Jocelyn threatened to eat a white farmer at the height of the 2000-2004 farm
invasions - replaced a veteran Karanga fighter, General Vitalis Zvinavashe.

The air force chief is Air Marshal Perence Shiri, former commander of the
notorious North Korea-trained Fifth Brigade, which in 1983 swept though
Matabeleland destroying entire Ndebele villages and murdering more than
20,000 civilians. Shiri christened his campaign against the Ndebele with a
Shona word, Gukurahundi, meaning "the early rain that washes away the chaff
before the spring rains". Mugabe has since rewarded Shiri - who replaced a
Karanga - with three confiscated white farms.

The national police chief is Commissioner Augustine Chihuri, a Zezuru who
has publicly declared his personal unwavering support for Mugabe and ZANU

Further enhancing his grip on power, Mugabe has placed control of the
electoral process since 1985 in the hands of his fellow Zezuru - Tobaiwa
Mudede, the all-powerful Registrar General.

Mudede has been in charge of all Zimbabwe's electoral bodies and has been
widely accused of rigging all elections for the past 20 years in favour of
Mugabe, who has rewarded him with two former white-owned commercial farms.

The judiciary also is in the hands of the Zezuru. Godfrey Chidyausiku, a
Zezuru, was appointed chief justice in 2001 after Mugabe toppled his
predecessor, Anthony Gubbay, one of the last white Zimbabweans on the bench.
With Chidyausiku's appointment came the gift of the 895-hectare Estees Park
farm, north of Harare, newly confiscated from its white owner. Chidyausiku
has ensured that all judges conform to Mugabe's decrees and has appointed
two Zezuru relatives as High Court judges to help him.

One of Zimbabwe's most independent judges, Justice Benjamin Paradza, a
Karanga, was forced out of office. Justice Moses Chinhengo, another Karanga
constantly criticised by Mugabe's ministers, resigned in disgust and said,
"I hope that in future I will be able to serve Zimbabwe in another capacity
as the call of duty may demand."

Kindness Paradza was born in 1963 in Masvingo, in the Karanga heartland, but
when he was aged nine his parents moved to Zvimba district - Mugabe's home
area in Mashonaland West, a Zezuru stronghold west of Harare. In 2003, he
won a by-election in the Makonde constituency in Zvimba district on a ZANU
PF ticket. Before this year's primary elections, he was everyone's favourite
to represent the party in the coming election on March 31.

He was very popular locally but was booted out of the contest because of his
roots in Masvingo. "Karangas should stand for election in their own
province," a senior ZANU PF official very close to Mugabe was quoted as
saying. The constituency was instead given to Mugabe's Zezuru nephew, Leo
Mugabe, one of four close relatives standing in safe ZANU PF constituencies.

The Zezuru hegemony has crept up and become a fact of life in Zimbabwean
politics, although for many years there was intense debate as to the
authenticity of Mugabe's origins.

What is more certain is that in1963, when ZANU was formed, Mugabe was
appointed to the powerful position of secretary general after being
nominated by the late Nolan Makombe, a leading Karanga who had convinced his
co-tribesmen in the movement that Mugabe was a fellow Karanga of the
influential Mugabe dynasty of chiefs from the area of the Great Zimbabwe
ruins near Masvingo. Mugabe cleverly encouraged this belief until he was
well entrenched in power.

Although at its inception ZANU was led by Sithole, a Ndau from Manicaland
from the far east of Zimbabwe, the party was dominated by the Karangas.

Its powerful individuals included Leopold Takawira, Nelson and Michael
Mawema, Simon Muzenda and Eddison Zvobgo - all Karangas.

The tribal composition replicated itself in the armed wing of ZANU with the
Karangas, led by Josiah Tongogara, forming the backbone of the liberation
struggle. Other prominent Karangas were Emmerson Mnangagwa, current speaker
of parliament but now out of favour with Mugabe; retired Air Marshal Josiah
Tungamirai; and retired Army Commander Vitalis Zvinavashe.

Nathan Shamuyarira's rise to power illustrates how Mugabe has achieved this
Zezuru hegemony. In 1972, Chitepo beat Shamuyarira to the influential post
of chairman on the exiled ZANU War Council in Zambia.

Angered, Shamuyarira resigned from ZANU and took the most prominent Zezuru
leaders out of the movement to form the short-lived Front for the Liberation
of Zimbabwe, Frolizi.

When in 1974 Mugabe was smuggled out of what was then Rhodesia into
Mozambique by a Manyika chief, Rekayi Tangwena, to join the chimurenga, he
was not easily accepted by the Karanga and Manyika guerrilla leadership. But
when he eventually ascended to power, the first thing he did was to
neutralise the Karanga element by imprisoning many of them - most notably
Rugare Gumbo who was the original mastermind of the guerrilla war. Gumbo and
several fellow Karanga leaders were kept in underground pit dungeons until
independence in 1980.

As soon as he was entrenched in power in Mozambique, Mugabe invited his
friend and fellow clansman Shamuyarira to join the struggle. This move was
hugely resisted but Shamuyarira remained in Mozambique as Mugabe's guest
until independence in 1980, after which he became successively minister of
information, foreign minister and now minister of defence. He remains
Mugabe's most trusted lieutenant.

To quell any Karanga suspicions of his tribal manoeuvres, Mugabe kept the
respected Simon Muzenda, a Karanga, as his sole vice president until the
latter's death in 2003.

Other Karangas, such as the late firebrand lawyer Eddison Zvobgo, long seen
as a future leader of the country, were systematically downgraded to
provincial leaders. Josiah Tongogara, the military commander of ZANU in
exile, was a Karanga who died in Mozambique on the eve of independence in an
as yet unexplained car accident. Sheba Gava, a Karanga, was the most
powerful woman guerrilla during the Seventies war but when she died in the
following decade she was not granted national heroine status although
Mugabe's first wife, Sally, a Ghanaian, was given that accolade when she

Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo, a Zezuru nephew of Mugabe,
allegedly harassed the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, mayor
of Harare, Elias Mudzuri, out of power.

Then, last December, at ZANU PF's electoral congress, Mugabe arm-twisted his
party into voting Joyce Mujuru to the powerful new position of second vice
president, securing complete Zezuru hegemony, with a Zezuru president and
two Zezuru deputies.

But a backlash has begun, with unpredictable consequences.

ZANU PF almost ruptured completely in the prelude to the electoral congress
when seven provinces out of ten resisted Mujuru's appointment to the vice
presidency, calling for the Karanga Mnangagwa to get the post.

In the subsequent political bloodbath, Mugabe sacked his powerful
information minister Jonathan Moyo - an Ndebele - who is now standing for
parliament as an independent. Mugabe suspended six provincial chairmen from
active politics for a period of six years. All were from non-Zezuru
provinces - Manicaland, Masvingo, Midlands and Matabeleland North, Central
and South.

This is likely to have far-reaching consequences for ZANU PF and the
country. The revolt by Moyo - until recently ZANU PF's propaganda supremo
and a Mugabe ultra-loyalist - has shown others in the ruling party it is
possible to rebel against Mugabe's political whims and perhaps get away with

Although ZANU PF is almost certain to win the March 31 election, there is a
lot of alliance building going on under the surface and in secret meeting

Karangas are saying quite openly they have had enough of being trampled upon
and talk of making plans to unseat those who they believe are being used to
weaken their power base. By the time of the 2008 presidential election, it
is more than likely that the current divisions will manifest themselves in
an explosion that could blow ZANU PF into smithereens.

Veteran Zimbabwe journalist and independent newspaper owner Trevor Ncube,
chairman of IWPR Africa, foresees a possible intriguing new alliance between
the Karangas and Ndebeles, together comprising half of the population.

Ncube believes some disillusioned ZANU PF Karangas are already campaigning
covertly for the opposition MDC.

"Whatever the outcome of this realignment of forces, ZANU PF will have to
adapt and change if it is to remain relevant after the March 31 election,"
said Ncube. "That is the grim reality it faces."

Benedict Unendoro is the pseudonym of an IWPR journalist in Zimbabwe
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Zim Online

Secret agents trail NGO representatives
Tue 22 March 2005
      HARARE - Zimbabwe non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
representatives yesterday said they were under surveillance by the
government's dreaded secret service Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).

      In an advisory to members, the National Association of NGOs (NANGOs),
which is the main representative body for NGOs in Zimbabwe said officials of
its more than 1 000 member organisation were being kept under surveillance
and being tracked to their homes and offices by unknown people suspected to
be CIO agents.

      NANGO head Jonah Mudehwe, who described the situation in the civic
community as "jittery" because of fear, said in a statement: "It has come to
the attention of NANGO that there have been reports of increased
surveillance of NGOs by people believed to be state agents, at the back of
an announcement by Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister, Paul
Mangwana, that a committee has been set up to probe NGOs.

      "This includes people being followed, unidentified vehicles being
parked around the vicinity of offices of NGOs, and NGOs being approached by
strangers and asked intrusive questions about their personal lives and
institutional issues."

      Mangwana, who has threatened to shut down NGOs that cannot account for
money they received to fund projects in the country, could not be reached
for comment on the matter.

      Initially the government had wanted to probe only groups that received
money donated by international donors to Zimbabwe through the United Nations
Development Programme after an official plea for help by Harare. But the
government later said it now wanted to investigate all NGOs operating in the
country accusing them of siphoning money to the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change party in breach of government laws prohibiting foreign
funding of political parties.

      The move to probe NGOs is the latest onslaught by the government
against civic groups.

      A new law awaiting President Robert Mugabe's signature before it can
become effective will ban NGOs from voter education and will require those
that wish to carry out human rights and governance-related work not to
receive foreign funding.

      The new law also provides for a government appointed NGO Council that
will register and monitor civic bodies and will have powers to ban those
perceived as not toeing the government line.

      Urging NGOs officials and workers to be extra careful, Mudehwe said
the groups and their workers should, "improve security awareness and take
measures to minimise their exposure to being isolated and subjected to
danger. . . this involves avoiding co-operation with strangers - whose
personal and work details have not been disclosed to your satisfaction -
without legal representation." - ZimOnline
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FROM: Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum

Open Letter to President Mugabe

17 March 2005

Dear All

Re: Findings and Recommendations of the Fact-finding Mission to Zimbabwe of
the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights 2002: Open Letter to
Heads of State of Zimbabwe, Nigeria and South Africa

Attached please find an open letter which has been sent to the Heads of
State in the above countries.  The letter will also be flighted in the
press in those countries over the week-end of 18 - 20 March 2005.

This is an AI initiative in collaboration with lead NGOS in the respective
countries where local human rights NGOs have also indicated their support;
in Nigeria 32 co - signatories, 19 in South Africa and 17 in Zimbabwe.

Newspapers running the open letter are:

The Vanguard - 18 March
The Guardian - 18 March

South Africa
The Mail and Guardian - 18 March
The Sowetan - 18 March

The Independent - 18 March
The Standard - 20 March

The Herald, which was approached to flight the letter, responded "We would
not be in a position to flight your advertisement on the 18th of March

Yours sincerely

Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum

Open Letter to President Mugabe

Zimbabwe must implement the African Commission's Recommendations 18 March

Your Excellency,

We, the undersigned, wish to express to you our grave concern about the
continuing abuse of human rights in Zimbabwe and to call on you to ensure
that the recommendations made by the African Commission on Human and
Peoples' Rights (African Commission) in the report of its 2002 Fact-Finding
Mission to Zimbabwe are implemented in full.

In the report on its Fact-Finding Mission, the African Commission concluded
that "human rights violations occurred in Zimbabwe". The Commission made
several substantive recommendations for action by the Government of
Zimbabwe. The majority of the human rights concerns documented by the
African Commission Fact-Finding Mission in 2002 remain serious problems

The findings and recommendations of the African Commission

On freedom of expression.

The African Commission stated that laws such as the 2002 Public Order and
Security Act (POSA) and the 2002 Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act would have "a 'chilling effect' on freedom of expression and
introduce a cloud of fear in media circles". The Commission recommended

"The POSA and Access to Information Act should be amended to meet
international standards for freedom of expression".

On the police service.

The African Commission found evidence that a "system of arbitrary arrests
took place". The Law and Order Unit of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP)
was described as appearing "to operate under political instructions and
without accountability to the ZRP command structures".

The Commission stated that every effort must be made to "avoid any further
politicisation of the police service" and recommended that the Law and
Order Unit be disbanded.

On the youth militia.

In 2001 the Government of Zimbabwe established the National Youth Service
(NYS). The African Commission noted reports that youths trained under the
NYS have acted as militias for the ruling party and have been implicated in
acts of political violence.
 The Commission recommended "that these youth camps be closed down."

On the rule of law.

The African Commission found that "the government had failed to chart a
path that signalled a commitment to the rule of law." and in its
recommendations stated that:
 "The independence of the judiciary should be assured in practice and
judicial orders must be obeyed".

On the work of NGOs.

The African Commission's report stated: "Legislation that inhibits public
participation by NGOs in public education [and] human rights counselling
must be reviewed. The Private Voluntary Organisations Act should be

Since the African Commission visited Zimbabwe in 2002 little has changed.

The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act remains in place.
In 2003 this legislation was used to close down Zimbabwe's only independent
daily newspaper, the Daily News, and the weekly Daily News on Sunday. It
has also been used to shut down the Daily Tribune in 2004, and the Weekly
Times of Bulawayo in February 2005.

The Public Order and Security Act (POSA) continues to be used selectively
to prevent the political opposition and civil society groups from meeting
or engaging in peaceful protest. In 2005 POSA has been used to detain
dozens of women for handing out flowers to mark Valentine's Day and to
arrest opposition candidates and supporters in the context of the General
Election campaign.

There are persistent claims that the police are partisan and apply the law
selectively although the Commissioner of Police has recently reiterated
that there will be zero tolerance of violence, particularly in the run-up
to the General Election in March 2005. Youth training centres [camps]
remain operational and graduates of the NYS are given preference for
recruitment in the police. This could have negative long-term implications
for the integrity and professionalism of the police force in Zimbabwe.

Your government has continued its repression of NGOs, particularly those
working on governance and human rights issues. The Private Voluntary
Organizations (PVO) Act is set to be replaced by the Non-governmental
Organisations Act - a piece of legislation widely condemned as even more
repressive than the PVO Act.

The judiciary remains under sustained pressure and the operational
environment for judges raises doubts about judicial independence in some
matters. Court orders have been ignored and there continue to be
considerable delays in the consideration and completion of cases perceived
to be of a sensitive nature or where some constitutional rights are at

The African Commission is charged with ensuring the promotion and
protection of the rights guaranteed under the African Charter on Human and
Peoples' Rights. Its recommendations should be given the most serious
consideration. We have noted the government's response to the African
Commission report and regret the lack of positive engagement by the
Government of Zimbabwe with its recommendations. We urge you to reconsider
this report and to take action to implement its recommendations.

Yours sincerely,

Amani Trust
Amnesty International (Zimbabwe)
Crisis Zimbabwe Coalition
Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe
Legal Resources Foundation
Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe
National Constitutional Assembly of Zimbabwe
Nonviolent Action and Strategies for Social Change
Transparency International (Zimbabwe)
Zimbabwe Association for Crime Prevention and the Rehabilitation of the
Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights
National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (Zimbabwe)
Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
Zimbabwe Human Rights Association
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

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Zim Online

FEATURE: Tsholotsho: two tales from a divided constituency
Tue 22 March 2005
  TSHOLOTSHO - A donkey-drawn cart, pasted up with posters beseeching people
in this rural town, about 110 km northwest of Bulawayo, to vote for former
government propaganda tsar, Jonathan Moyo, rolls by.

      The cart's occupant, a smiling young man clad in a T-shirt emblazoned
with Moyo's portrait frantically waves a V-sign at a group of onlookers
while at the same time shouting: "Phambili ngentuthuko! Phambili ngoMoyo!
(Forward with development, forward with Moyo)"

      From a nondescript beer hall on the other side of the road, a group of
youths also donning pro-Moyo regalia swing along to a song blaring from a
hi-fi set on the bar counter. The song, which has become a household hit
here in Tsholotsho since its release two weeks ago, was penned by none other
than Moyo himself. Titled "Phambili leTsholotsho," the song is virtually a
plea to voters here by President Robert Mugabe's former right-hand man to
vote for him on March 31 because he alone understands their problems and
knows the solution.

      This confidence bordering on arrogance by Moyo, who has adopted the
V-sign as his symbol appears not without basis if the mood at Tsholotsho
business centre or at Dinyane village, from where he allegedly tried to
reorganise the top leadership of ZANU PF incurring the anger of Mugabe in
the process, is anything to go by.

      It is at Dinyane school where Moyo gathered seven ZANU PF provincial
chairmen and other top leaders of the party to allegedly plot to block the
appointment of Joyce Mujuru as second vice-president of ZANU PF and

      Mugabe, who had openly backed Mujuru for the vice-presidency, seen as
a key stepping stone to the top job, was so angry at Moyo that he fired him
from ZANU PF's politburo and blocked him his appointment to the party's
central committee.

      Out of favour and blocked by ZANU PF from contesting next week's
election on its ticket, Moyo eventually resigned from the party to contest
the ballot as an independent.

      But speak to Thoko Sibanda, one of the villagers here at Dinyane
village, to get an insight into why Moyo, reviled elsewhere across the
country, might just emerge the victor come the first of April.

      "He is our hero and I doubt if anyone here has anything against him,"
Sibanda said. She added: "There are a lot of projects that he has set up and
our children can now learn computers. Those who did not have money to pay
school fees now have that privilege, all because of Moyo."

      As if to underscore Moyo's popularity in this village, his posters are
literally all over the place, on trees, on huts and on rocks by the

      Among other things, the villagers credit Moyo with widening and
tarring roads in the area, putting up tower lights, building a Grain
Marketing Board (GMB) depot, doling out computers to a dozen schools,
attracting the country's third largest bank to open a branch in the area and
setting up a scholarship fund that has to date benefited hundreds of
underprivileged pupils.

      Even some traditional leaders on the pay roll of the government and
all supportive of Mugabe and ZANU PF appear to back Moyo here. "Some
traditional leaders are backing him. He has brought about development and
they think there is absolutely no reason why they should forsake him. To
them his dismissal from ZANU PF is not an issue," said one village headman,
who did not want to be named.

      But take a drive westwards, deeper into Tsholotsho and a different
picture as to who has more support in this apparently divided constituency

      First, if the number of posters on buildings, trees and roadside
boulders is anything to go by, then Moyo has no place in this part of the
constituency. Instead, the contest appears to be between main opposition
party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) candidate Mtoliki Sibanda
and ZANU PF's Musa Mathema.

      Most people here seem to fail to grasp the concept of an independent
candidate who does not have the backing of a larger political organisation
wanting to represent them in Parliament.

      At Tjitatjawa, a sprawling village further west which is mainly
inhabited by Zimbabwe's minority San people, the contest is between ZANU PF
and MDC. Moyo is virtually not a factor here.

      "A lot of people here are MDC because ZANU PF has failed us. People
are not happy at all," said Bongani Mpofu, one of the headmen at Tjitatjawa.

      Asked why he would not vote for Moyo either, considering his darling
record in the east, Mpofu replied: "We don't vote for individuals. Parties
are more important and effective than individuals. Besides, Moyo has never
done anything for us."

      The MDC's Sibanda, who is current Member of Parliament for Tsholotsho
after winning in the 2000 general election told our news crew: "The people
of Tsholotsho spoke in 2000 and I believe they will speak the same language
this time round."

      ZANU PF candidate Mathema is also equally confident of victory arguing
that voters were clever enough to realise that Moyo was able to do all the
good things he did for Tsholotsho only because he was a member of the
government and not an independent.

      If voting patterns elsewhere in the country are clearly defined with
urban areas backing the MDC and rural areas supporting ZANU PF, here in
Tsholotsho the month end poll remains too close to call. - ZimOnline.

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Zim Online

FEATURE: New era gives birth to fresh hopes at the polls
Tue 22 March 2005
  NORTON - The expectant crowd cannot wait anymore. Women dance with
fearless abandon.

      They have every reason to do so after bearing the brunt of a painful
five-year economic recession and being suppressed for too long.

      With their red whistles and colourful party regalia, the whistling
breaks the ghostly silence in the small town of Norton, about 40 km west of
the capital Harare.

      A raging political battle between the ruling ZANU PF party and the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) for the control of the Manyame
constituency, of which Norton is a part is on. The women seem to be the
driving force behind this new political revolution.

      It is not just women who are trickling to Ngoni Stadium in Norton, the
venue for an MDC rally. The men, the young boys and girls are part of the
"miracle" unfolding before their eyes.

      Five years ago, such scenes were simply unfathomable. Militias from
ZANU PF, with President Mugabe's full blessings, went around opposition
strongholds bludgeoning the whole nation into submission.

      "This year people are free to exercise their right to attend political
meetings of their choice. There is less violence and intimidation, and we
can attend all the meetings we like," said Miriam Murowe as she walks into
the stadium.

      As we speak, a group of chanting MDC youths, in white and red
T-shirts, raises a cloud of dust as they sing the party's songs promising
"revenge" at the polls.

      But beyond the youthful zeal and joy here, is seething anger against
Mugabe's government which they accuse of serious human rights violations.
Five years ago, these youths bore the brunt of a brutal campaign by the ZANU
PF supporters and self-styled veterans of the country's independence
struggle to crush rising dissent from the opposition.

      But now things seem to have changed. Or could it be the lull before
the storm?

      About a kilometre from here, a group of about 10 ZANU PF supporters,
in their party T-shirts, sit around a crate of traditional opaque beer,
commonly referred to as "scud," to drown their sorrows. The "scud" has no
relation to the missiles developed by former Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein.

      But the effect of the "scud," is probably the same as the contents can
certainly knock you off with a ferocious punch!

      They seem oblivious to the fact that an opposition rally is only a
kilometre away from their drinking spot.

      Back at Ngoni Stadium, slogans of "change" and "enough is enough"
emerge through the thick of dust as about 10 000 MDC supporters cheer the
arrival of leaders, Hilda Mafudze, candidate for Manyame constituency which
includes Norton, Tendai Biti, the party's secretary for economics and
dismissed Harare Mayor Elias Mudzuri.

      The crowd seems a bit disappointed that party president Morgan
Tsvangirai could not make it to the rally as he was still in Mutare
attending to "urgent party business."

      About 11 police officers casually monitor the proceedings from a
distance, while 10 officers from the government's Electoral Supervisory
Commission proceed to hand out fliers to the public urging political parties
to shun violence.

      "We are encouraging you to shun political violence and go out in your
numbers to vote for the party of your choice on March 31. For more
information, you can read our fliers," one of the monitors says handing out
fliers to all the people who cared to listen.

      On the stage Biti, a fiery lawyer who cut his teeth in student
politics at the University of Zimbabwe in the late 80s, makes a compelling
case to voters to shun Mugabe for "messing" the economy.

      "This is an election to revenge against 25 years of mismanagement,
escalating cost of living and unemployment. This is why we say March 31 is a
day of reckoning for Mugabe," Biti says amid thundering applause.

      He said daily price increases have eroded people's purchasing power to
a level where Zimbabweans could hardly afford underwear, to chuckles from
the party faithful!

      Biti warned Zimbabweans to brace up for massive food shortages as only
a paltry 600 000 tonnes of maize were expected from the "new" farmers who
replaced the white commercial farmers who lost their farms in Mugabe's
chaotic and often violent land distribution exercise.

      The MDC candidate says she is confident of winning the seat against
Mugabe's nephew, Patrick Zhuwao despite the odds being staked against her.
Manyame constituency includes informal settlements of newly resettled people
at Tongogara, Porta Farm, and Mount Hampden. It also includes Inkomo

      Mafudze said: "Despite the few problems that we have faced, we will
retain the seat. The people are determined and resolute." - ZimOnline
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

US sends poll assessors

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Mar-22

THE United States has sent two advisors to the House of Representatives to
assess the status of Zimbabwe's forthcoming general elections, pencilled for
next week, and meet officials from Zanu PF and MDC.
The team will also look at the current economic and health conditions in the
country and bilateral issues between Zimbabwe and the US.
The visit comes against a background of soured relations between the two
governments, with the US alleging that there is no rule of law and Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice labelling the country "an outpost of tyranny".
President Robert Mugabe has hit back, accusing American president George W
Bush and his ally, Tony Blair of Britain, of using bully tactics against
smaller nations.
Pearl Alice Marsh and Malik Chaka, both professional staff members of the US
House of Representatives' International Relations Committee (HIRC), jetted
in on Sunday and are expected to leave on Friday, six days before the
parliamentary polls.
In a statement yesterday, the American embassy public affairs section said:
"Responsible for advising the HIRC and members of the US Congress on all
issues related to Africa, Dr Marsh and Mr Chaka will be visiting Harare and
Bulawayo in order to assess the status of the upcoming Zimbabwean elections,
current economic and health conditions as well as important bilateral issues
between the United States and Zimbabwe."
Apart from Zanu PF and MDC, the two will also meet election officials as
well as religious leaders during their six-day visit.
The US embassy also said the representatives would be briefed on USAID and
US Centre for Disease Control funded programmes in Zimbabwe.
Foreign Affairs spokesperson Pavelyn Musaka yesterday acknowledged the
presence of the US officials.
Zanu PF deputy secretary for information and publicity, Ephraim Masawi,
confirmed that party officials would meet the US delegation.
He added that he still wanted to do more consultations with the foreign
ministry regarding their status to assess the elections.
"We are going to meet them either on Wednesday or Thursday. We are yet to
know what they want to hear from us. But we know that what Americans are
always up to is mischief," said Masawi, who is also the Provincial Governor
for Mashonaland Central.
Neither MDC spokesperson Paul Themba Nyathi, nor secretary-general Welshman
Ncube, could be reached last night.
Party national organising secretary Esaph Mdlongwa said he was not in a
position to comment.

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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Madhuku fails to turn up

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Mar-22

NATIONAL Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairman Lovemore Madhuku yesterday
failed to turn up at the Police General Headquarters (PGHQ) in Harare to
provide evidence on alleged political violence contained in a report
published by his organisation last week.
Yesterday, Madhuku said the NCA had no obligation to provide police with the
"We do not have any legal obligation to provide them with the information
they need. If they think we committed a crime why don't they prefer charges
against us. They have a number of laws that deal with publishing falsehoods
they can use, if they think we committed a crime," Madhuku told The Daily
Mirror last night.
NCA published a report circulated to the media and diplomatic mission in the
capital claiming that the March 31 parliamentary polls would not be free and
fair due to widespread human rights abuses by uniformed forces and Zanu PF
Chief police spokesperson, Wayne Bvudzijena yesterday confirmed that the
constitutional law expert did not report to the police as he had earlier on
been agreed upon.
"Contrary to what he told you (as reported in our lead story yesterday) he
has not proved anything at all. He promised to provide the details today
(yesterday) but he has not done so. I phoned him today (yesterday) and he
said he was sorting out a few details and would bring the evidence, but he
has not done so," Bvudzijena said.
On Sunday, Madhuku said he had confirmed "every paragraph and full stop in
the report," and yesterday reiterated the NCA stance.
He said: "We stand by that report from the first sentence to its last full
Bvudzijena said police had invited Madhuku to today's press briefing on
political violence at PGHQ to explain their side of the story in his
presence and challenge him to produce evidence contained in the NCA's
damning report.
"We have invited him to tomorrow's (today) press briefing. We felt it was
appropriate that he be present so that he hears our position on his paper.
We also want him to provide his evidence," Bvudzijena said.
The NCA published a report entitled Consolidated Election Climate No.1
alleging that there was political instability ahead of the elections
including murder, rape assault and participation of uniformed forces in the
run up to the elections.
Police have, however, dismissed the NCA claims and on Sunday picked up
Madhuku at his Parktown home for questioning over the negative report.
"We are saying the contents of the report are false. We are not aware of
cases of murder, sexual assault and torture in the count down to the
parliamentary elections. We have asked Madhuku to explain where they got the
information. He has pledged to assist us. That document was meant for the
international gallery as we are not aware of the cases contained therein,"
Bvudzijena said on Sunday.
However, Madhuku last night said he would not attend the press conference
saying: "Press conferences are for journalists and I am not a journalist. I
think they were just extending a joke to us. It's the lighter side of our
relationship with the police, they can have their press conference."
Bvudzijena could not divulge the course of action the police would take
against Madhuku if he fails to attend today's press conference.
He only said: "Let us just wait for the press conference."
Political violence has been largely subdued with the major political
players -Zanu PF and the MDC - agreeing that the situation has been calmer
compared to the run up to the 2000 and 2002 parliamentary and presidential
elections respectively.
Statistics provided by the police have also reflected a general decline in
cases of politically motivated violence before the crucial elections in nine
days time.

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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Election Watch

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Mar-22

Zanu PF Bulawayo ZANU PF over the weekend held a series of meetings in
  Some of the meetings took place at the following venues, Sizinda Hall and
Tshabalala Zanu PF offices in Nkulumane, Nkulumane High School and Amaveni
Primary School in Nkulumane constituency addressed by Absolom Sikhosana, the
party's candidate.
Minister Sithembiso Nyoni, war veteran Jabulani Sibanda and John Nkomo, the
Zanu PF national chairman and fellow Politburo member Sikhanyiso Ndlovu
addressed rallies at Mtsede Primary School in Mpopoma constituency,
Nkulumane High School, Topia Church Makokoba and Hindu Community Hall in
Bulawayo South.
At the Hindu Community Hall, Nkomo urged the Indian community to vote for
Sithembiso Nyoni and Joshua Malinga, candidates for Bulawayo East and South
constituencies respectively.
Nyoni donated $20 million to four schools in her constituency. She urged
school headmasters to show commitment towards the development of their
schools and promised more assistance to the schools if voted into office.
Mashonaland West
The ruling party's candidates in the province held a series of campaign
meetings over the weekend. The meetings addressed by President Robert Mugabe
and Vice President Mujuru were held at Nyabira Primary School and Ngoni
Stadium in Manyame Constituency.
Kadoma Central candidate, Jimayi Muduviri held rallies at Kadoma Sports
Club, Jameson High School and Rimuka.  Jonathan Shumbayaonda Chandengenda
held meetings at Makande, Kadziro, Kurudzirai and Kudzanai business centre
in Kariba constituency.
Chandengenda explained the voting procedures to the attendants emphasising
that people should go to the polls early since voting was going to be done
in one day. He promised to improve the transport system, roads and bridges
in the constituency.
Mashonaland East
Zanu PF held campaign meetings in the province over the weekend at Munamba
and Jekwa business centres in Murehwa South constituency addressed by
outgoing MP and party candidate, Joel Matiza.
Minister Ambrose Mutinhiri, seeking re-election in Marondera West, held a
rally at Muringari Business Centre, while several Zanu PF officials held
meetings at Masasa, Dombo, and Mashambamuto business centres and Zave
Primary School in Chikomba constituency.
Vice President Mujuru addressed a rally at Chinamhora in Goromonzi and at
Nyamurara Business Centre in Murehwa North.
In her addresses, Mujuru encouraged women to participate in the country's
economic growth. She blasted the MDC for allegedly being a front for the
Two campaign meetings were held by the MDC over the weekend at Mufakose Area
E Hall in Mufakose constituency and at Lochnivar Shopping Centre in
Kambuzuma Constituency.
Paurina Mpariwa and Willias Madzimure, the party's respective candidates for
the constituencies, addressed the meetings. Mpariwa educated the attendants
on the Sadc principles and guidelines governing the conduct of democratic
She said that if the MDC were elected into power, it would give back all the
acquired land to the white farmers until compensation funds were secured.
She said her party would provide farming resources to the landless people
before they were resettled. Madzimure criticised the Zanu PF manifesto for
lacking clear-cut policies on bread and butter issues and concentrating on
anti-Blair rhetoric.
In Bulawayo, the MDC held campaign meetings in the following places over the
weekend: Montgomery Hall in Makokoba Constituency addressed by the party's
candidate Thokozani Khupe, Amakhosi Stadium in Pumula/Luveve Constituency
addressed by Esaph Mdlongwa, and at Sizinda Hall in Nkulumane Constituency
addressed by Gibson Sibanda.
The general theme in the addresses centred on articulation of the party's
election manifesto. They criticised Zanu PF for the land reform programme
saying the ruling party chased away white commercial farmers who relocated
to Zambia, alleging that Zimbabwe is now importing maize from the same
farmers. They blasted corruption, which they said was rampant in Zanu PF.
Mashonaland East
The opposition party held three campaign meetings at Hokonya, Wazvaremhaka
and Marungana business centres in Chikomba, which were addressed by Piniel
Denga, who articulated the party's manifesto and urged the people to vote
for the MDC. He applauded the call for a peaceful campaign by President
Robert Mugabe adding that he had been able to embark on his political
activities without any problems.
The MDC candidate for Buhera North, Tichaona Mudzingwa, held a campaign
rally at Gombe Business Centre over the weekend. He articulated the party's
election manifesto and promised development in the constituency if elected.
New Ziana

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Washington Times

Mood is festive as elections approach

By Geoff Hill

JOHANNESBURG -- Diplomats describe a festival atmosphere in Zimbabwe as
large crowds turn out for rallies by both government and opposition parties
ahead of parliamentary elections on March 31.
    While President Robert Mugabe has never had a problem campaigning,
outside observers are surprised to see how effectively opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai has been able to muster supporters around the country.
     "It's like a festival," said a Western diplomat based in Harare,
Zimbabwe. "Government strongholds where, in the past, people have been
afraid of stepping up to hear the opposition are turning out record crowds."

    The human rights group Amnesty International said there have been
"significantly fewer reports of politically motivated violence" than during
past elections, but warned that threats and intimidation against opposition
supporters would make it hard for the vote to be judged as "free and fair."
    Mr. Mugabe's ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front
(ZANU-PF) narrowly won the 2000 election, taking just 62 of the 120 elected
seats in parliament -- the first time the party has been challenged since it
took power in 1980.
     Mr. Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which won 57
seats, accused the government of using torture, intimidation and vote
rigging to win the balloting and the courts later nullified eight of the
ZANU-PF seats, though the government refused to rerun the vote in those
    In 2000, MDC rallies were frequently overrun by ruling-party youths or
broken up by police. But this time, most meetings have gone ahead, though
several have been delayed or moved when police refused to grant permission
for the gatherings.
    Under Zimbabwe's notorious Public Order and Security Act (POSA), it is
illegal for two or more persons to discuss politics in a public place
without police permission.
    The MDC has also complained that the ruling party is using government
vehicles to ferry people to its rallies and that soldiers have been forcing
voters to assemble whenever the 81-year-old Mr. Mugabe delivers a speech.
    Radio, television and all daily newspapers are controlled by the state
and give little space to the MDC.
    The only independent radio station broadcasts by shortwave from London.

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Military muscle boosts Mugabe in election contest

HARARE, Mar 22 (Reuters) Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is known as a
snappy dresser -- a man who swapped the fatigues of a guerrilla commander
for the business suits of civilian office with a sharp eye for political

Military uniforms with braids and epaulets have never been Mugabe's style.

Political analysts say, however, that the 81-year-old leader is increasingly
using Zimbabwe's military to bolster his hold on power, mobilising army
allies to ensure his ruling ZANU-PF emerges victorious in March 31
parliamentary elections.

''For Mugabe the strategy is very simple: he is hiring men he really trusts,
and telling everyone else that the army and other security forces are with
him,'' one political analyst said.

Mugabe honed his political skills in the 1960s both as a backroom strategist
in Zimbabwe's liberation struggle and as an articulate public speaker, and
has long matched political savvy with a healthy respect for military muscle.

Unlike many African countries, however, Zimbabwe's army remained largely in
the shadows following independence from Britain in 1980 -- a public image
analysts say belied its role in keeping Mugabe's government afloat.

That low-key approach started to change in 2000 as Mugabe faced a rising
challenge from the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), and
the military is increasingly coming to the fore in this election as Mugabe
deploys army officers, war veterans and youth brigades in a campaign which
he says will ''bury'' the opposition.

In the last six months, the veteran Zimbabwean leader has brought more
senior serving or retired military officers into his party ranks to help
shape a political strategy against the MDC, which he describes as a puppet
of Western powers.

Mugabe has also appointed dozens of former army officers to key positions in
the civil service, including the secret Central Intelligence Organisation
(CIO), the prison service, the police force, and the judiciary.

Other senior army and security commanders have taken positions in Zimbabwe's
''independent'' elections commission, in parliament, the cabinet and
ZANU-PF's powerful politburo and central committee bodies.

''He is not simply flexing his military muscles but sending a message to the
world that he is a formidable force,'' said the analyst, who declined to be

Brian Raftopoulos, a Zimbabwean political commentator and Mugabe critic
based in neighbouring South Africa, says Mugabe and ZANU-PF have become a de
facto military regime.
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The Telegraph

Mugabe is an autocrat: when will South Africa face facts?
By David Blair
(Filed: 22/03/2005)

Francistown, Botswana

If Robert Mugabe's penchant for national vandalism has wrecked much of
Zimbabwe, the old dictator can claim credit for at least one new
construction project in neighbouring Botswana. Fittingly, this sinister
edifice outside Francistown, a few miles from the two countries' common
border, boasts razor wire coiled on grey walls. For it is a fortified
detention centre whose sole purpose is to jail and deport the tens of
thousands of Zimbabweans who pour into Botswana every year.

These desperate people are voting with their feet, and fleeing the
consequences of Mugabe's rule. You might have thought that the message borne
by this human tide was unmistakable. Yet Africa's foremost economic and
political power is determined to ignore them. When the results of Zimbabwe's
election are announced after polls close on Thursday next week, nothing is
more certain than that President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa will declare
the contest free and fair.

Once more, Mr Mbeki will indulge Zimbabwe's autocrat and give a clean bill
of health to his latest subversion of democracy. To reach this quixotic
conclusion, Mr Mbeki will turn a blind eye to blatant chicanery. The South
African leader will ignore Mugabe's new electoral rules that have installed
pillars of the ruling Zanu-PF party to run and supervise the polls at every

Mr Mbeki will overlook the fact that, for the first time, the army will be
running polling stations, and members of Mugabe's militia of choice - the
young thugs styling themselves the "national youth service" - will also be
"helping" voters in the polling booths.

Mr Mbeki will downplay other trifling matters such as Zimbabwe's Public
Order and Security Act, which makes criticism of the president a criminal
offence and forces the opposition Movement for Democratic Change to apply
for police permission to hold rallies.

Instead, Mr Mbeki will adopt his most earnest expression and stress
Zimbabwe's "positive" electoral reforms. These changes are worth detailing
because they represent the sum total of what Mr Mbeki has achieved with his
policy of "engaging" with Zimbabwe. They amount to the following:

. The MDC has been given 12 minutes on state television to present its
manifesto, a privilege it has never previously been granted. The launch of
the opposition's campaign on February 20 was given four minutes of coverage
on the main evening news. (This was followed by a two-hour interview with
Mugabe, and four hours of saturation coverage of Zanu-PF's first rally.)

. Mugabe has created an "independent" election commission. (This partisan
body was chosen by a parliamentary committee stuffed with the regime's loyal

. Zimbabwe's polling booths will have transparent ballot boxes as a
safeguard against stuffing. (Mugabe's thugs are already telling frightened
villagers that their votes will not be secret because anyone can look inside
and discover if they back the MDC.)

That's your lot when it comes to electoral reform, Mugabe-style. It says
much for the macabre absurdity of elections in Mugabe's crumbling domain
that some Zimbabweans are giving thanks simply because the present campaign
has seen no grisly murders so far.

To Mr Mbeki, these cosmetic adjustments are enough. He believes they satisfy
a protocol signed by all southern African countries last year, guaranteeing
"freedom of association", "political tolerance" and even "equal
opportunities for all parties to access the state media".

We know all this because Mr Mbeki has already laid his cards on the table.
Instead of placing pressure on Mugabe, the craven apologist has declared the
contest beyond reproach before the casting of a single vote. Earlier this
month, Mr Mbeki said: "I have no reason to think that anybody in Zimbabwe
will act in a way that will militate against the elections being free and

With those words, Mr Mbeki threw away any bargaining power he may have had
with the Harare regime. Why should Mugabe try any real reforms when he is
already clutching Mr Mbeki's certificate of a free election?

Mr Mbeki's indulgence of Mugabe then led him to overlook a delegation from
the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) - part of his ruling
coalition - being twice turfed out of Zimbabwe.

On the first occasion, the trade unionists were arrested in Harare,
manhandled by police and flung on to a bus that dumped them at the border.
Mr Mbeki's response was to tick off Cosatu for having had the temerity to
visit Zimbabwe in the first place. The trade unionists' second visit saw
them picked up at Harare airport and placed on the next flight home. Their
crime was to have sought to meet their counterparts from Zimbabwe's trade
union movement, which is allied with the MDC. Their deportation brought only
silence from Mr Mbeki.

A fortnight ago, Zimbabwe announced that election observers from a
"parliamentary forum" in southern Africa would not be allowed to cover the
polls. This group was guilty of being the only African observers who ruled
against Mugabe's stolen victory in the presidential election of 2002.
Instead of protesting, Mr Mbeki's government ruled that this "parliamentary
forum" had "no legal standing". This group of respected MPs from across
southern Africa was, apparently, nothing more than a bunch of impostors.

From this depressing litany, Mugabe will have drawn only one conclusion. He
can do whatever he likes and South Africa will always support him. No matter
how great or embarrassing the excesses, the urbane Mr Mbeki will put the
best possible gloss on them.

South Africa is the crucial artery for Zimbabwe's electricity and fuel. Mr
Mbeki could, if he chose, place pressure on Mugabe of a kind that no other
world leader could match. Nothing could be clearer than that Mr Mbeki will
never use these levers against the Harare regime.

South Africa boasts a constitution filled with ringing phrases about
tolerance and democracy, a document that, it is often claimed, is the most
liberal in the world. Yet while its neighbour tramples on every one of these
ideals, the principal beneficiary of Mr Mbeki's relentless, dogmatic
tolerance, is Mugabe himself.
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Christian Science Monitor

from the March 22, 2005 edition

      In Zimbabwe, people power fails to ignite

      By Abraham McLaughlin | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

      HARARE, ZIMBABWE - In the past four months, spontaneous democratic
movements have transformed Ukraine and Lebanon. In South Africa, the masses
overthrew decades of autocracy when the racist apartheid regime fell in
      But here in Zimbabwe, one of six countries the US calls "outposts of
tyranny," there has been no people-powered revolution. Many ask why the
democratic wave that has swept Africa since the cold war's end - bringing
multiparty voting to Zambia, Ghana, and other nations - has bypassed
Zimbabwe, once seen as a shining light of the continent.

      Instead, things here are getting worse. Zimbabwe's once-vibrant
economy is collapsing under semi-socialism - with at least 127 percent
inflation, 70 percent unemployment, and 4.8 million people verging on
starvation. Its government tortures critics, gags the media, and uses food
to gain support. Experts expect another flawed election March 31.

      Yet, so far, there's been no revolt. Observers cite several reasons.
President Robert Mugabe is still revered as colonial-era liberator despite
his brutality. And the opposition hasn't unified behind a figure akin to
Nelson Mandela or Ukraine's Viktor Yushchenko.

      "There's been no spontaneous combustion" - despite several sparks that
could have ignited it, says Chris Maroleng, a Zimbabwe expert at the
Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, South Africa.

      He's referring to the relatively strong political opposition party,
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). In 2000, it won 57 seats in the
150-seat parliament - and will try to expand on its minority in next week's
elections. In 2003, for instance, the MDC organized stay-at-home strikes in
its "final push" to oust the government. The government beat demonstrators
and jailed MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai. But people didn't rise up.

      Some analysts attribute the lack of response to poverty and AIDS.
"When people are starving, it's awfully hard to promote democracy," says
Robert Helvey, president of the Albert Einstein Institution in Boston, who
has worked recently in Zimbabwe. Some 4.8 million of the country's 12
million people urgently need food aid or they could starve, according to a
recent report by the Famine Early Warning System Network, based in South
Africa. Referring to Ukraine's Orange Revolution, Mr. Helvey says, "You
can't have 1 million people sitting in the streets of the capital for 17
days. There's not going to be food for them."

      Then there's AIDS. In 2002, the official HIV infection rate was 27
percent, one of the world's highest. And it's thought to have gone up since
then. "Who's got the energy to protest?" asks Mr. Helvey.

      One Harare activist, who declined to be named, cites Zimbabweans'
"amazing passivity." He explains that two policemen could pull up to a
dissident's house in an urban, anti-government area, beat the person badly,
and drive away unhassled. "In South Africa in the 1980s, police could never
do that," he says with exasperation. "They were terrified of the townships,
because they'd get stoned or mobbed."

      Another reason may be Zimbabweans' lingering sympathy for their
octogenarian president, Robert Mugabe. He fought the white colonial
government to achieve independence in 1980 - and has been the country's only
leader since. For two decades he led a relatively peaceful nation that was
southern Africa's breadbasket and a regional economic powerhouse. "It's like
he's your father," says Mr. Maroleng. "He may do bad things, but he's still
your father."

      Maroleng also worries that southern Africa's black leaders and
intellectuals have been slow to criticize a black peer like Mugabe. Compared
to the clarity of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, many people
haven't seen it as "quite as black and white - no pun intended," he says.

      Even Mugabe's harshest critic, Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncumbe
allows, "There's still a love-hate relationship" between the masses and
Mugabe. "People are confused."

      Many also give Mugabe credit for shrewdness. Despite a comfort with
brutality - including the apparent killing of thousands of opponents in the
1980s - Mugabe hasn't recently provided the opposition with a rallying
point, as did Syria with its apparent assassination of former Lebanese Prime
Minister Rafik Hariri.

      Instead, Mugabe has hobbled Mr. Tsvangirai, the opposition leader,
with treason trials and other harassments. "If he had imprisoned him, you'd
have another Mandela," says Maroleng. "If he'd killed him you'd have a
martyr" - like Hariri.

      Because of Mugabe's cunning, he says, Zimbabwe has neither.

      Nor does it have a figure like Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a unifying
moral force in the anti-apartheid struggle. Zimbabwe's churches are divided,
as is civil society and the political opposition.

      Archbishop Ncumbe is perhaps the closest thing to a Zimbabwean Tutu.
Posters of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi adorn his office walls in
Bulawayo. He rails at the regime's tricks. "Did you know there are 800,000
dead people on the voters' roll?" he asks.

      But in the capital, even anti-Mugabe clergymen criticize Ncumbe. "He
represents a bitter minority" in his home area, says Methodist Bishop Levee
Kadenge. "He can't speak for all of us."

      But unity may yet emerge. Many churches have joined a campaign to
"Raise the flag of Zimbabwe in prayer." It's a nationalistic approach that
insulates churches from government criticism that they are agents of Western

      With economic frustration rising, some say a blatantly rigged election
could bring people into the streets. "If they steal it this time, people
will say, 'Enough, enough!' " says Casmere, who works at a Harare rental-car

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The MDC has a newly redesigned website located at which
has profiles of all MDC candidates, how to donate in these last few days and
their election manifesto.
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SA observer mission apologises to MDC
          March 22 2005 at 07:41AM

      By Moshoeshoe Monare

      The South African government observer mission in Harare has taken
advantage of Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana's absence and apologised
to Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

      A delegation, led by former Limpopo premier and MP Ngoako Ramatlhodi,
told the MDC that Mdladlana's views did not necessarily represent those of
the entire mission.

      This comes after Mdladlana's statements in Harare last week triggered
a row over the team's ability to make an impartial finding on whether the
election would be free and fair.

      The MDC vowed not to co-operate with the team, but after Monday's
meeting, it accepted the observer mission's apology.

      Sources told Independent Newspapers on Monday night that there had
been tension between Ramatlhodi, Safety and Security Deputy Minister Susan
Shabangu and most of the members on one side, and Mdladlana on the other.

      "Ramatlhodi and Shabangu made it clear that Mdladlana was not speaking
on their behalf and that the minister was not co-operating with them."

      Mdladlana, according to the source, has tried to issue a statement
from Geneva, Switzerland - where he is attending an International Labour
Organisation conference - to say he would meet MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

      "He wanted the team to ignore the MDC leadership below Tsvangirai, and
he is doing this from Geneva. Ramatlhodi went ahead and met with (MDC
secretary-general) Welshman Ncube," said the source.

            'I can't say more than the statement that was sent to you'
      Ramatlhodi's team even told the MDC that Mdladlana was away in Geneva
and that he was not going to be involved in the mission as he was expected
to return only next week.

      "It appears to me that Ramatlhodi took advantage of Mdladlana's
absence in order to set the record straight with Ncube," said the source.

      Ramatlhodi and Mdladlana could not be reached for comment.

      "The South African observer mission regrets the misunderstandings that
arose and recommits itself to neutrality and impartiality without any
interference with the electoral process. In this regard, the observer
mission further commits itself to fulfilling its mandate without fear or
favour," the mission said in a statement.

      "The commitment is applicable to all parties including independent
candidates contesting the forthcoming elections. The mission is determined
to ensure that the people of Zimbabwe exercise their right to choose their
leadership without hindrance," it added.

      Priscilla Misihairambwi, the MDC spokesperson on international
relations, confirmed that the party had accepted the observer mission's

      "I can't say more than the statement that was sent to you. We have
agreed that they will issue a statement," said isihairambwi.

          .. This article was originally published on page 7 of The Star on
March 22, 2005
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East African Standard

      Zimbabwe polls pose challenge to Africa's media

      JOHANNESBURG, Monday

      Zimbabwe's elections pose serious challenges for Africa's media, faced
with reporting a story which splits African public and political opinion in
a country with a history of media repression.

      Media analysts say many African media companies will simply not have
the cash to send teams to cover the March 31 parliamentary polls, while
others may not get accreditation under the government's strict media laws.

      With barely a dozen resident journalists working for foreign media
companies, Zimbabwe's foreign press corps is set to balloon in the run-up to
the vote, with more than 300 applications for accreditation, officials say.

      For those who get it, objective reporting could be hard.

      President Robert Mugabe's administration has waged a long campaign
against foreign and particularly Western media as well as independent
newspapers at home, some of which have closed.

      Mugabe frequently describes foreign journalists as tools of western
powers bent on punishing him for seizing white-owned farms to give to
landless blacks, casting himself as an unbowed champion of Africa's
liberation struggle.

      Harare will not want to be seen harassing foreign reporters during
polls, but they may have problems, said Luckson Chipare, regional director
of the Media Institute of Southern Africa.

      "They could be targeted by war veterans ... and there is no recourse
to the police. The police just look the other way," Chipare said, referring
to pro-Mugabe independence war veterans who have targeted opposition
activists in previous elections.

      Former Information Minister Jonathan Moyo was the villain of the piece
for many reporters who fell foul of Zimbabwe's media restrictions until he
fell out dramatically with Mugabe over his succession and was sacked.

      Jacob Ntshangase of the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism in
Johannesburg cautioned reporters, especially those from fellow Southern
African Development Community (SADC) countries, against using coverage of
the polls to settle scores.

      Some private newspapers in Sadc member states have denounced the
organisation for failing to speak out against Mugabe.

      "Our media in Sadc needs to go the extra mile to verify stories on
Zimbabwe. The journalists in Zimbabwe seem to be fed up with the situation.
There is a danger (that it can become) a propaganda thing," Ntshangase
said. - Reuters

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Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to: with subject line "For: Open Letter Forum".


Thought of the Day:

"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear."

Mark Twain


- Tesco's - the end of the road? - John Hickson
- Tesco's - Andy Nimmo
- The Mystery of South Africa's Position on Zimbabwe - Eddie Cross
- Writing on the Wall - John Kinnaird
- RE: Jamming of SW Radio Africa - Anne Cockroft
- Mugabe on TV - Homesick African
- RE: Peter Bellingham - Help on Beryl Hulbert - Tish Wrigley
- RE: TESCO'S - telling the truth? - Mike Ashely-Cooper
- RE: TESCO'S and snow pea fiasco - Mike Ashely-Cooper

LETTER 1: Tesco's - the end of the road?, received 20.3.2005

by John Hickson

Dear JAG,

Further to my long-running correspondence with Tesco the next e mail from
their Customer Service Department arrived on 11 March. It reads as follows:

----- Original Message -----
To: John Hickson

Thank you for your email.

I sincerely apologise for the delay in responding to your query.

Thank you for contacting us again regarding our position with the current
situation in Zimbabwe. I can fully appreciate your views.

As a company, we source products only from approved farms which comply with
our stringent standards. None of the farms that supply Tesco, have
undergone a change of ownership.

We will only maintain contact with the current supply base under the
present owners, with whom we have developed good business relationships
over the past few years.

We are committed to sourcing product from Zimbabwe, as significant
investments, with Tesco in mind, have been made over the past 10 years.

I trust this has addressed your concerns.

If you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact us at quoting TES509275X.


Joanna Castle Tesco Customer Service

 On 15 March I replied as follows:

----- Original Message -----
From: John Hickson

Dear Joanna Castle,

Thank you for your letter of Friday March 11.

But I really don't seem to be getting through to you. No, I'm afraid that
you have not addressed my concerns.  You make no reference to the statement
I have suggested. You do not disassociate Tescos from some extraordinary
remarks made earlier on your behalf.  You continue to choose to avoid or
ignore my questions this despite the fact that, as far as I can, see
growing crops anywhere should not be a matter shrouded in secrecy. Your
answers, such as they, are serve only to suggest that you have something to
hide. Either your customer services department is betting the bank on my
losing interest and just going away or is, for its own perverse reasons,
determined to provoke concern and suspicion. Please, now, have the courtesy
to offer me a substantive and honest reply. Indeed it now seems to be in
order to ask you to be good enough to provide a complete list of all the
products you source from Zimbabwe and to describe the conditions under
which they are produced. Or is that secret too?

And do please be good enough to spare me the PR platitudes. I am not
writing to complain about a packet of sausages.

Yours faithfully

John Hickson

On 17 March I received what must be Tesco's final word. It reads:

----- Original Message -----
To: John Hickson

Thank you for your email.

This issue has already been addressed by one of my colleagues and
unfortunately, I can add nothing further to that reply.

If you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact us at quoting TES551130X.


Neil McGouldrick Tesco Customer Service

----- End Correspondence-----

It may be that the Tesco Customer Service Department is simply not equipped
to deal with inquiries of this kind. Certainly it has displayed an
intriguing incoherence. That is one charitable view. It may be that their
operations in Zimbabwe are as clean as anyone could reasonably expect but
that they, all the same, cannot be bothered to deal with the irritating
questions of a distant dispossessed Zimbabwean.  That is another charitable

It could be that they calculate that even the revelation of inappropriate
links to ZANU PF would not have a sufficiently damaging effect upon their
UK sales for them to worry much. That is, perhaps, a more realistic view.
It has seemed curious throughout this correspondence that Tesco has acted,
after its initial blunder, to release as little information as is possible.
They really do seem to have something to hide. Does anyone know what it is?
Perhaps others might like to write to Tesco at
and see how they get on.

I will be collating the Tesco correspondence and sending it elsewhere to
try to gain it a wider readership.  Others may care to do the same. .

Yours sincerely,

John Hickson


LETTER 2: Tesco's, received 19.3.2005

by Andy Nimmo

Dear Sirs

I recently read a letter on a Zimbabwe Situation website from a reader who
had written to TESCO supermarkets UK requesting a statement asserting that
they do not deal with illegally occupied farms in Zimbabwe. They replied in
an ambiguous terms which raised suspicions. I wrote to them on my own
behalf seeking clarification and received an equally non-committal and
ambiguous response. I would hate to jeopardize the trade between legitimate
growers and TESCO and hence would ask if JAG is aware of any legitimate
growers dealing with TESCO.

A group of ex Zimbabweans living in the UK are prepared to circulate
messages on the e-mail calling for a boycott of TESCO if they are proved to
be dealing with illegal occupiers of farms. I have already had Zimbabwean
mange tout peas withdrawn from shelves in our local Sainsbury's after
querying whether they were bought from legitimate owners of farms.
Sainsbury's did not answer my query but merely pulled the products!

If you do not have access to this sort of information could you give me a
contact e-mail address for the CFU?

Kind regards



LETTER 3: The Mystery of South Africa's Position, received 19.3.2005

by Eddie Cross

Dear Sir

It is now very apparent to anyone with half a brain that all is not well in
South Africa when it comes to handling the Zimbabwe crisis. Here we have a
situation where by every measure, the Zanu PF led government has failed -
the economy is in tatters, half our population needs food aid, the quality
of life for the majority has deteriorated to the point where nearly half
the adult population has decamped. Almost all basic human and political
rights are being abused and worse on a daily basis. And the regime has lost
its legitimacy because of a well-known and clearly exposed record of
electoral fraud and abuse.

Yet, the leadership in South Africa and many of its apologists insist on
maintaining the position that things are "improving" and that a "free and
fair election" is still possible. It's not out of ignorance. Its not
because they simply want to be perverse. What then is the reason - the real
reason for this ridiculous stance?

We in the MDC have tried everything - we have tried to be charitable -
"they do not know what is going on"; we have tried the diplomatic route
"lets talk about these things - then they will understand". We have tried
"quiet diplomacy" and just about every other strategy you can name - with
little or no effect.

I have pondered this situation long and hard and feel that we are missing
something. The first order of business is to stay in business - politics is
no different. Thabo Mbeki has only one real objective and that is to
maintain the ANC as the dominant political force in South Africa until he
can retire and go off and do other things. Everything else is subordinate
to that goal.

If that is the case then what threats exist which might explain his
attitude to Zimbabwe?  Its not history or relationships - Mbeki and Mugabe
are not soul mates and Zanu PF did not support the ANC during their long
struggle against apartheid in South Africa. If anything the two parties
have a long time animosity towards each other. So why the huddle behind the

It can only be because Mbeki fears some aspect of the political evolution
of events in South Africa and is doing all that he can - within the
constraints of his global role and the situation in South Africa itself, to
subvert the process of change in Zimbabwe. Its not that he simply wants to
be kingmaker - although that might explain some of the motivation. It is
something more.

I think it is because the MDC is a by product of the trade union movement
in Zimbabwe and above all, Mbeki fears the fallout of an MDC victory in
South Africa itself. Although we always knew it, we never fully appreciated
the fact that the ANC is really an amalgam of three political institutions
- the ANC itself, COSATU and the South African Communist Party. What we
also never fully appreciated was that while the ANC drew its intellectual
and other strengths from within, its real political muscle was drawn from
the SACP and COSATU. In fact in this political game COSATU is the senior
figure with its 2 million members and national infrastructure.

Now that the struggle against apartheid is over, the unifying forces that
this brought to the ANC alliance, have gone and in their place are the
normal political forces of policy and programmes that political parties
everywhere have to contend with. The ANC is in power and with this has come
new wealth and privilege. As a consequence many ANC figures and persons
connected to the ANC have suddenly found themselves part of the "Sandton
set" and the beneficiaries of wealth and privilege that they only imagined
in the days of the struggle.

Not so for the poor working class in South Africa from which the membership
of the SACP and COSATU are drawn. They are, if anything more marginalized
and feel left out of the new South Africa. For them little seems to have
changed and they are becoming restless. The tripartite alliance is under

COSATU has gone so far as to visit Brazil to see for itself what a "Workers
Party" can do in a developing country. They were impressed and even came
home with a draft constitution. This is blowing a chill wind under the
South African Presidents chair. As the ANC moves to the right in the South
African context, this tension can only increase.

Mbeki knows this and he fears that an MDC victory, followed by the
formation of a government, which restores our economy and our rights as a
people and then goes on to be a real success in social and political terms,
would have serious implications for the ANC itself. I think he is right and
that our needs as a country are being subordinated to these perceived South
African (ANC) interests.

So we have had all the different games being played by the South African
government here - first the support for Simba Makoni as the Prince Charming
- that fell apart because he had no constituency in Zanu PF itself. Then
the whole fiasco with Munangagwa as Prince Charming. This falling apart
when they tried to go too fast for the "veterans of the war" in the Zanu PF
administration. Had Mugabe gone along with Mbeki in this exercise he would
have made things very difficult for the MDC and might even have attracted
some of the less principled members of the international community to his

As it is Mugabe slapped him in the face, his heir apparent tossed aside and
his spy ring inside Zanu PF was wiped out. MDC now faces a Zanu PF led
regime, without its sharpest minds at the center of things and with an
aging and less and less able coterie of politicians in control. It is a
testimony to the strength of Mbeki's fear of the forces at work in the
ANC/COSATU/SACP alliance that despite all this, he still holds onto his
indefensible position towards Zimbabwe.

This is a very dangerous game for South Africa. Mbeki is sacrificing
serious political capital in his pursuit of this goal. He is in fact
sacrificing economic growth in South Africa and much of the promise of
NEPAD on this regional spat. In doing so he is in fact strengthening the
very forces he fears in South Africa itself and perhaps hastening the day
when a new democratic movement on the left will emerge to challenge the ANC
for supremacy in South Africa. It took 20 years in Zimbabwe; it will take
less time in South Africa.

Eddie Cross


LETTER 4: The Witing on the Wall, received 19.3.2005

by John Kinnaird

Dear JAG

I am amazed with the operating farmers of Zimbabwe and of this area in
particular. The election is less than 2 weeks away and you cannot or do not
want to see what is right before your eyes.

There was an MDC rally in Chegutu last week, and none of you sent your
tractors, lorries or gave your workers time off to attend the rally.

The stadium was packed to overflowing, there were great scenes of happiness
and determination to get rid of the present regime.

The following day ZANU-PF had a rally at the same premises, schools were
closed and chldren forced to attend, all of you sent tractors and lorries
and were instructed to take all your labourforce there, and to pick up
anyone seen on the road and take them to the rally.

The stadium was still only half full. The ZANU-PF leaders are starting to
panic. I believe that Webster is starting to say that they want 1000 white
farmers back on to the land.

This is the person who still has not paid for the equipment that he
"borrowed" and compels some amongst you to go and plough and plant his
fields for him. Edna is another one, she has wrecked about 4 farms, 2 of
them daries, that I know about, and we are now importing milk.

Now these are the people who want to put white farmers back on the
land????? Perhaps it has come to the stage that the white farmers that are
still there are the only supporters that they have in their constituencies.

There certainly is no support amongst the black electorate. There will come
a stage when your pandering and support for a failed regime becomes a large
part of the problem.

You may be seen by the people of this country (who are desparate for change
like the rest of us) as being one of the main obstacles to change. If you
do want change, then suggest that you get off your backsides and make an
effort to assist to bring about change.

Hardly any of you have even taken the risk of putting your hand in your
pocket (as terrifying as that may appear to be) and giving money to the
party whose brave candidates who are possibly putting their lives on the
line and standing for parliament.

In the end we would all stand to benefit but if you are seen to be an
opponent of the new regime you will become viewed with suspicion.

I ask you once again to dig deep and let us all stand together with the
people of Zimbabwe and get rid of ZANU-PF once and for all. Change may not
come about this election, but as sure as the sun is going to rise in the
morning, there will be change and you do not want to be caught sitting
either on the fence or on the wrong side.

John Kinnaird


LETTER 5: RE: Jamming of SW Radio Africa, recieved 18.3.2005

by Anne Cockroft

Dear JAG

I note with interest the letter from Gerry Jackson, SW Radio Africa's
Station manager concerning the jamming of the station.  I am an avid
listener of this station and have been since its inception, and am somewhat
puzzled by the lack of publicity the jamming has received.  I am even more
puzzled to note that no comment has been made by the MDC on the jamming.

Am I one of the few that view the jamming as yet another infringement of
our human rights and a further blow to press freedom?



LETTER 6: Mugabe on TV, received 14.3.2005

by A homesick African

Hi there,

Did anyone watch the programme on Robert Mugabe this evening?  We live in
the UK now, but still have family living n Zimbabwe & it is terrible what
rubbish people over here believe about what is happening & has happened in
Zimbabwe.  This programme was just full of inconsistencies.  They had the
Zim representative to the UN proudly lauding Bob & his many
accomplishments.  Andrew Meldrum was up there with him, also going on about
what a good guy Bob is.  Hullo, is that the same person who got kicked out
of Zim, by orders of none other than his bosom buddy Bob Gabriel Mugabe?!

I couldn't believe some of the fairy stories included in that programme.
They had a bunch of African Americans (FRIENDS OF ZIMBABWE) who obviously
still think that the idealism that existed in 1980 still exists in the
hearts of the average Zimbabwean of African ethnic origin, but anyone with
half a brain cell can see that isn't so.

Even living in the UK you hear about what is going on out there & it is
such a huge tragedy.  This business of the colonial forefathers of the
white farmers stealing the land is such codswallop.  We all know the Govt &
things like TTL's & National Parks accounted for approx 70% of all land in
Zim & through careful management & hard work on the part of commercial
farmers the remaining land was producing enough to keep the economy afloat.
Not all of them were white either.

My brother was one of those farmers & I know firsthand how hard people like
him worked & what sort of input they made into improving the standard of
living & education of their workers.  He started a school for the children
of his workers, built by bricks produced on his farm, sorted out a clinic &
put in brick housing for them, & he wasn't exactly the only person in the
community or country to be doing exactly the same thing.  It wasn't Bob, it
was those vilified white farmers, though no-one thinks to mention that on
national or international television.

I know it isn't politically correct to say that a "black" person can be
stuffing things up, in Africa nogal, but he is doing a wonderful job of it
& surely the fact the the trade unions in South Africa & Nigeria are
opposing this land reform programme of his says something?!

All those people who have died since Bob got his ass kicked in that
referendum surely didn't die for nothing?  Or those poor people who were
slaughtered in Matabeleland in the 1980's.  As a kid growing up during the
1970's & the tail end of the Liberation Struggle, I can remember the
climate of fear we lived in.  Actually, the early 1980's were probably more
scary than the war years 'cos then the police were no longer quite what
they seemed to be, just like they are now.  I noticed there wasn't an awful
lot about the Green Bombers in this programme about Uncle Bob, but they
should've had a mention, seeing as they almost single-handedly kept him
secure when all else failed.  Even his beloved Prof Jonathan Moyo is
turning around & telling a few home-truths, whatever his motivation to do

Ag, I give up sometimes.  We try & tell people what the real story is, but
when you have rubbish like this being aired on tv it is a long & difficult
struggle.  Here is the address I found online for these codswallop
merchants in America who persist in believing Bob is wonderful :

Friends of Zimbabwe
456 Nostrand Ave
phone 7183981766
fax 7186231855
Maybe some re-education & sending them some salient facts as to the current
events in Zimbabwe would be a good idea!

>From a homesick African


LETTER 7: RE: Peter Bellingham - Help on Beryl Hulbert, received

by Tish Wringley

RE: Peter Bellingham - Help on Beryl Hulbert

Dear Peter,

Please could you advise me of Beryl Hulbert's email address as Andrew
Fuller was our neighbour and I am also in contact with his close circle of
friends who would love to regale her with tales of his wonderfully
eccentric and colourful life during the last few years but are unable to
afford the exorbitant postage to the UK.

Many thanks

Tish Wrigley


LETTER 8: RE: TESCO'S - telling the truth? received 19.3.2005

by Mike Ashley-Cooper

----- Original Message -----
From: Myke Ashley-Cooper
To: Tesco Customer Service
Sent: Saturday, March 19, 2005 8:14 AM
Subject: Re: TES525893X Re: re:TES368194X.

To ensure that you are telling the truth, from which farms do you source
and in what period/s have there been no change in ownership?

This email, like previous ones from me, has been blind copied to many
people in Zimbabwe as you never reveal any information that can be checked
on and continue to deal, we are absolutely sure, with the illegitimate
Zanupf regime!

----- Original Message -----
From: Tesco Customer Service
To: Myke Ashley-Cooper
Sent: Friday, March 18, 2005 11:03 PM
Subject: TES525893X Re: re:TES368194X.

Dear Sir

Thank you for your email.

As a company, we source products only from approved farms, which comply
with our stringent standards. None of the farms that supply Tesco, have
undergone a change of ownership.

We will continue to maintain contact with the current supply base under the
present owners, with whom we have developed good business relationships
over the past few years.

We are committed to sourcing product from Zimbabwe, as significant
investments, with Tesco in mind, have been made over the past 10 years.

I trust this has addressed your concerns.

If you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact us at quoting TES525893X.


Sue Shearer
Tesco Customer Service


LETTER 9: RE: TESCO'S AND SNOW PEA FIASCO, received 20.3.2005

by Myke Ashley-Cooper

>From Myke Ashley-Cooper
Sent: Sunday, March 20, 2005 5:28 AM
Subject: Re: TES525893X Re: re:TES368194X.

Dear Tesco's

I have been advised that there was some fiasco about yourselves and snow
peas - when a farm in Nyanga was seized, and the entire crop of snow peas
(many tonnes) was sold to Tesco by the new 'owner', who reaped what he did
not sow, completing the original contract to his own advantage. This
episode dates back to the early days of the land grab somewhere round
2000-2001. There was quite a fuss about it then, but the problem
fortuitously 'disappeared'.

Your comment please?

Myke Ashley-Cooper


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