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

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28 March 2004

Two MDC youths shot as ZANU PF goes on rampage in Zengeza, one dies on arrival at hospital


Francis Chinozvinya an MDC youth who was shot in the chest this morning at 08.00 hours at the home of the MDC candidate James Makore in Zengeza when a mob of ZANU F militias raided the home, was pronounced dead on arrival at a hospital in Harare. Another MDC youth, Arthur Gunzvenzve, who was shot in the leg has been admitted at the hospital. Ten other MDC youths were seriously injured in the raid.


MDC officials present at the time of the shooting have stated that the shots were fired following a raid by four truck loads of ZANU PF youths on the MDC candidate's house.


The shooting occurred after the ZANU PF youths who had attacked the home of Makore and the people in it had met resistance from the MDC youths who were present at the time the house was raided.


The MDC unreservedly condemns the continuous descent into thuggery, lawlessness and mayhem in Zengeza and the general body politic in Zimbabwe. We once again appeal to the Zanu PF leadership not only to condemn violence, but to take immediate steps to bring it to an end.


Elections, which should reflect the exercise of our sovereignty in the selection of our leaders should never become open seasons for murder, torture, beatings and violence.


The people of Zimbabwe deserve to be allowed to select their leaders peacefully.



Professor Welshman Ncube



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Zim Std

Strange twist to gold case

• I was tortured to implicate Mnangagwa, Moyo, says Burden By our own Staff

ARRESTED gold dealer Mark Matthew Burden has claimed that police tortured him to implicate Speaker of Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa and Mines Minister July Moyo in his illegal gold dealings.

In a sworn affidavit made on Friday, Burden makes sensational allegations of how — on February 20 — police used electrical shocks to his genitals to force him to admit to the involvement of both Mnangagwa and Moyo in his illegal gold deals.

“The pain was excruciating, consistent, persistent and unending. He indicated that this torture would continue until such time that I confessed the Honourable Speaker and the Honourable Minister’s involvement,” Burden says in the affidavit made available to The Standard, of the man who tortured him.

“Despite the torture I could not betray the truth as these two honourable members were never at any stage whatsoever involved in my gold business,” Burden says.

Burden claims the torture occurred at Harare Central Police Station, saying it had lasted an hour and was preceded by 13 hours of interrogation.

Police re-arrested Burden months after a Kwekwe magistrate controversially released him. Burden is facing 46 counts of breaching the Gold Trade Act. Police accuse him of illegally buying and selling gold and that he also illegally exported the precious metal from his Ivan Hoe Mine in Kwekwe, where he also runs eight gold mills.

The gold dealer says he was transferred from Marlborough Police Station cells to Harare gold squad where the interrogation began at 10 AM on the day he was arrested.

He was then taken to the Harare Central’s homicide section after 4 PM, where the interrogation continued up to 8 PM, only to be interrupted by a two-hour break his alleged interrogators took between 4 PM and 6 PM.

One of his interrogators, Burden claims, left shortly after 8 PM threatening to “come back later with more valour”.

The unidentified officer returned at around 11 PM visibly drunk, Burden further alleges, and ordered that his clothes be removed and that his hands be cuffed behind his back.

The officer then produced a “military jersey” which was wrapped tightly around the head so that breathing became difficult, says Burden.

“He proceeded to force my legs open and thereafter fitted a round clamp on the foreskin of my penis. He then tied an electrical cable around my right big toe. Having done that he started questioning me about the Honourable Speaker ED Mnangagwa and the Honourable Minister July Moyo’s involvement in my gold dealing business,” Burden says.

Burden says “the more I denied their involvement, the harder he cranked the electrical current”. The torture only ended after the officer felt Burden’s heart was beating too fast.

Police Spokesman Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena yesterday said if Burden had any complaints against the police, he should inform the courts.

“There is a trial that’s going on”, Bvudzijena said. “So he can present his case to the magistrate”.

Burden claims he “painfully narrated” his ordeal to his lawyer George Chikumbirike but says he had “begged him (Chikumbirike) not to disclose the incident to any other person whatsoever as I feared for my life”.

Yesterday Chikumbirike denied knowledge of either Burden’s alleged torture or the affidavit, saying his involvement with Burden did not extend outside the ongoing criminal trial.

“I was not a participant in the drafting of the affidavit. I only represent him in the criminal trial. Anything else, I don’t know”, Chikumbirike told The Standard.

However, Burden’s Kwekwe lawyer Josiniah Maupa confirmed that the affidavit in the possession of The Standard was authentic.

A Harare magistrate hearing Burden’s trial last week interdicted the Press from revealing the identity of a leading political figure named in court proceedings.
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Run On Deposits May Fuel Another Cash Shortage

Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)

March 28, 2004
Posted to the web March 28, 2004

Kumbirai Mafunda

ZIMBABWE could once again be plagued by bank note shortages as
panicky-stricken depositors and creditors rush to take their funds out of
the threatened financial system, economic experts have said.

The stampede by frightened investors follows the closure of commercial banks
such as Intermarket Banking Corporation and Barbican Bank which were shut
off by the central bank after being considered as unsafe and unsound a
fortnight ago.

The move on the two banks, and specially that on Intermarket which was
considered by the public to be in a sound financial position, has sent
shivers within the banking sector and depositors.

The Reserve Bank closed down Intermarket Banking Corporation and its
building society for over exposure.

The shock announcement was followed a day later by the closing down of
Mthuli Ncube's Barbican Bank and its asset management arm for critical
under-capitalisation, corporate incest and violating the Exchange Control
Act. Ncube himself skipped the country.

The Reserve Bank's swift action, which resulted in depositors being told
that they could not access savings, triggered a run on deposits on all the
young and black-owned commercial banks as confidence in the banking system
shrank to its lowest ebb in the history of banking in Zimbabwe.

"What guarantee is there that my bank won't fold too. At this rate I better
take my funds home. Moreover there wasn't much interest that I was earning,"
said Timothy Msara of Chitungwiza.

Banking sources said many depositors were transferring their money into
accounts at long established banks that have managed to weather the storm to

"People are moving their accounts the movement of money is going to all
externally-owned banks. Stanbic has more than doubled their business," said
one banker.

The movement of money however, said experts, was likely to trigger another
cash note shortage reminiscent of last year before the introduction of
bearer's cheques.

"The pace is also worsening the issue because there is no warning from the
RBZ. So any rational person will keep their money home thereby triggering
another cash shortage," said Witness Chinyama, Kingdom Financial Holdings'
Group Economist.

Reacting to news that depositors were withdrawing their money from the black
banks, Kingdom's Deputy Chairman Nigel Chanakira was philosophical.

"God will create something out for me and it is not a crime to be indigenous
and professional," said Chanakira.

Economic commentator Rashid Mdala said the run on deposits at some financial
institutions undermined the whole financial sector.

"People will question the security of their investments," said Mdala.

Some bankers who spoke on condition of anonymity had some unkind words for

"Gono is destroying indigenisation. All businesses are going to be foreign
owned banks. Our house is on fire and instead of extinguishing the fire we
are asking who did it," said one banker.
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Rbz Too Powerful: IMF

Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)

March 28, 2004
Posted to the web March 28, 2004

Kumbirai Mafunda

THE visiting International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation is concerned that
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has usurped the role of central government in
the administration of the economy, it was learnt last week.

Official sources who met the seven-member IMF team said the Washington based
financial institution felt that the management of the Zimbabwean economy was
being ceded to the RBZ leaving new Finance Minister Chris Kuruneri "a mere

"They observed that the power of management of policy has shifted to the
Reserve Bank leaving a gap in the Ministry of Finance which is really the
heart of management of macro-economic policy," a source said.

After the appointment of former Jewel Bank chief Gideon Gono as head of the
Reserve Bank, Zimbabwe's monetary policy is now being formulated at the bank
and not at the Ministry of Finance as was done previously.

The IMF, the sources said, was however appreciative of the moves being taken
by Gono to restore confidence in the crisis-ridden financial sector.

On any prospects of aid resumption, which the IMF terminated in 1999, the
sources said the global lender is not considering such a move nor talking
about it.

"That is totally out unless there is a change of government. They are just
watching and monitoring. It will be difficult even with a change of
government," said an official source.

Analysts said it was unlikely that the IMF team would be swayed by recent
token loan payments made by the government. Kuruneri last week announced
that Harare had paid US$4,5 million to Washington in the past three months.

"We haven't restored property rights nor carried out a massive devaluation
which are all prerequisites of the IMF. We are miles away from any IMF
accommodation," said independent economic consultant John Robertson.
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New Ministries Struggle to Set Up

Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)

March 28, 2004
Posted to the web March 28, 2004

THE government is struggling to establish national offices and employ staff
for all the four ministries created following a reshuffle of the Cabinet by
President Robert Mugabe last month due to crippling financial constraints,
The Standard has learnt.

Government sources said it would take a long time before the offices were
established in provincial cities because the new ministries were unbudgeted

The new ministries, widely viewed as Mugabe's propaganda conduits ahead of
the 2005 general elections, require not only offices, but new departmental
heads and staff - as well as office equipment and resources that would
consume billions of dollars.

"Where is the money to buy all that expensive office equipment, let alone
pay the workers' salaries, going to come from? All these new portfolios are
unbudgeted for this year making the problem even more complex," said the

No provisions were made for additional spending on new Cabinet positions in
former finance minister Herbert Murerwa's National Budget announcement last

The new ministries include John Nkomo's Special Affairs in the President's
Office in charge of Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement, Webster Shamhu's
Ministry of Policy Implementation and the Ministry of State for
Indigenisation and Empowerment headed by Josiah Tungamirai. The other
affected ministry is Didymus Mutasa's Special Affairs in the President's
Office in charge of the Anti-Corruption and Anti-Monopolies programme.

Former Minister of Youth, Gender and Employment Creation, Elliot Manyika -
who was appointed Minister Without Portfolio - also requires offices and

Mutasa last week confirmed to The Standard that the offices were not yet
fully established. He said he personally only managed to get an office two
weeks ago.

"The ministry is still not fully established, we are yet to get the offices
and employ the workers. In the meantime, we have an office at Munhumutapa
Building for the minister and the principal director has already been
appointed," said Mutasa.

Contacted for comment, Tungamirai said his ministry was surviving on the
President's Office's budget and the issue of offices was "neither here nor

"The budget of the offices in the President's Office is also my budget and I
have one of the best furnished offices ever. That is also the same budget
for Shamhu, Mutasa and Nkomo," claimed Tungamirai.

Nkomo said he was not in a position to comment because he was at a funeral.

Independent economists said because of the creation of the unbudgeted
ministries, government was likely to announce a supplementary budget by
mid-year to cater for them.
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Zanu PF Deploys 'Green Bombers' in Lupane

Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)

March 28, 2004
Posted to the web March 28, 2004

Savious Kwinika

Zanu PF has deployed the notorious "Green Bombers" in Lupane constituency
ahead of a by-election set for May 15 and 16, The Standard can reveal.

The deployment of the Zanu PF militia comes barely a week after the
opposition MDC publicly announced a candidate for the Lupane by-election.

The MDC will be represented in the by-election by veteran educationist,
Njabuliso Mguni, who is pitted against Zanu PF's Martin Khumalo.

Contacted for comment this week, Zanu PF, war veterans and the militia
admitted that they were now in Lupane but said they were in the area to help
uplift the standard of living for the poor and school leavers.

Jabulani Sibanda, the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans' Association
(ZNLWA) president, said some war veterans, Zanu PF militia and members of
the youth wing were operating in Lupane but in a peaceful manner.

"I have an appeal to make to those already in Lupane to desist from
violence, thuggery, intimidation and threats. Elections are called elections
because people and individuals will be competing for certain positions,"
said the war veterans' leader.

He said he would be travelling to Lupane next week to assess first hand what
exactly is happening in the constituency left vacant following the death of
MDC legislator David Mpala.

However, MDC said in a statement that "Green Bombers" from Matebeleland
provinces were being bused into Lupane Constituency to register as voters
for the forth-coming by-election.

"Zanu PF has refined its rigging tactics for the Lupane by-election. Youths
from areas such as Jambesi, Kamativi and Wankie are reportedly being bused
into Lupane where arrangements are made by Zanu PF officials for them to get
recommendation letters from the local chiefs and headmen to enable the
youths to get registered as voters so that they vote in the Lupane
by-election," said MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi.

At Lupane business centre where the youths are reportedly booked at the
guest house until April 27, more than 300 youths were registered between
Monday and Wednesday last week, said Nyathi.
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Mugabe Salary Hike Slammed

Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)

March 28, 2004
Posted to the web March 28, 2004

Caiphas Chimhete

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has awarded himself a 265 percent salary increment
and substantially hiked his allowances with effect from January this year at
a time millions of Zimbabweans are wallowing in abject poverty.

A statutory instrument published in Friday's Government Gazette says Mugabe
or an acting president would now earn Z$73,7 million a year, up from Z$20,2
million with effect from the beginning of this year.

Apart from that, Mugabe, largely seen as the architect of Zimbabwe's
economic collapse, would get a Cabinet allowance of $2,8 million annually,
up from $1,4 million.

The 80-year old leader has also hiked his general allowance to $1,6 million,
housing allowance to $3,024 million a year Ñ up from $1,5 million. He would
also get an annual gratuity that is equivalent to his monthly salary, as
from January this year.

Analysts, however, slammed the increments saying this was a clear admission
by the Zanu PF leader that the economic situation Ñ that he has presided
over Ñ was now intolerable even for himself and the First Family.

'It could also be greediness and insensitivity on the part of Mugabe, whose
every other need is taken of care of by the State. What does he need the
money for,' said one analyst.

Collins Gwiyo, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions' deputy
secretary-general, said Mugabe's hefty salary increment was an indication
that he can do whatever he wants with the taxpayer's money.

'It also shows how ungovernable Zimbabwe has become. He is actually looting
the coffers while the workers are suffering. He is merciless,' said Gwiyo,
whose union is the largest workers' representative body in the country.

Tendai Biti, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change's secretary for
economic affairs, said the increments were both amoral and immoral if one
took into consideration the way ordinary Zimbabweans were suffering at the
hands of Mugabe's repressive regime.

'Amoral in the sense that a wage increment is a reward for good work done.
What good work has Mugabe done to deserve an increment Ñ destroying the
national economy?' asked Biti.

He said the increment was also recognition by the Zanu PF leader of the
current hyper-inflationary environment in the country.

'If he can recognise that why can't he create favourable economic conditions
for everybody to benefit other than increasing his salary and allowances?'

According to experts, at least 70 percent of Zimbabwe's 13 million people
are living far below the poverty datum-line and many more are becoming
poorer each day as the economy continues to deteriorate.

That aside, the gap between the poor and the rich Ñ mostly Zanu PF
politicians and businessmen Ñ has substantially widened.

Attempts by workers in the past few years to express disgruntlement over
their paltry salaries and the government's insensitivity to their worsening
plight has met with Mugabe's wrath. He has, by using the partisan police
force and the army, ruthlessly crushed any expression of discontentment or
disgruntlement by the workers.
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Cattle Rustling Haunts Seke Rural Folk

Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)

March 28, 2004
Posted to the web March 28, 2004

Valentine Maponga

AFTER six days without decent sleep, Simbarashe Dadiwa (26) of Chakwizira
Village in Seke decides to take a break as nothing so far has happened.

Sleeping in the cattle kraal every night guarding the family's cattle has
become part and parcel of his life since the beginning of last year.

Nights have become unbearable in this part of rural Seke as villagers forego
sleep to guard dwindling livestock that is the target of marauding cattle

School holidays provide much needed relief for Simbarashe as he shares the
duties of patrolling the cattle pens around his village with his
school-going younger brothers.

"We have decided to take sleeping shifts with my father so that we can catch
the thieves when they come to steal our cattle. One of us sleeps between 7
PM and midnight while the other stands guard just in case the thieves
strike," said Dadiwa.

Last year alone the Dadiwa family lost three cows and one bull to cattle
rustlers who have become so bold and pounce, sometimes even in broad
daylight, around Seke which is near a ready market for cheap beef in the
burgeoning town of Chitungwiza and Harare.

Many villagers in Seke now build their cattle kraals just a few metres from
their homesteads and have to endure the stench from the cattle pens just to
be sure that they can hear any commotion among the livestock.

Hundreds of cattle are lost every year in Seke to cattle rustlers who
connive with unemployed youths in the villages to get access to the cattle
pens during the night.

Artwell Mapuranga of Chirimamhunga Village said the greedy rustlers do not
even confine their activities to cattle alone: they steal anything -
including household items - which they come across.

"These days they no longer choose what to steal whatever they come across
they take from goats to cattle. Anything that can be moved these days can be
stolen and that includes cattle," said Mapuranga.

"The cattle rustlers don't care whether the livestock belongs to a relative
or a neighbour ... what they want is money," said Claudios Mapfidze whose
goat was recently allegedly stolen by a cousin.

According to some of the victims of the cattle thieves, what's worse are the
cruel methods of slaughtering cattle employed by the rustlers. It is not
uncommon, said some, for an animal to have one of its legs hacked off and
carted away leaving the rest of the carcass behind.

Some unscrupulous butchers in Chitungwiza and Harare are said to use the
unemployed youths to steal livestock even from their own parents and

"Our own children do not have anything to do so they are being used by these
criminals from the cities to steal from us," said Mapuranga.

"The price of a beast is now very high and can fetch as much as $1,5
million. This is a lot of money and very tempting to a young man who does
not even have a family to look after," said Mapuranga.

The Standard was told several butchery owners in Chitungwiza and Seke rural
areas were buying the cheap beef from the cattle rustlers which they sell in
their butcheries.

Some villagers said their efforts to stop cattle rustling by forming
neighbourhood watch committees had failed because the criminals were now
armed with guns and other dangerous weapons.

"The situation is now getting out of hand. Our own neighbourhood guards are
not fully equipped to fight these criminals," said Robert Chirimamhunga, who
said because they possess guns, some of the more brazen cattle rustlers were
driving away cattle in broad daylight.

"Last week we caught a suspect and took him to the police but to our
surprise the young man is back in the community. We believe some of the
police officers receive kickbacks from these criminals," he said.

Chirimamhunga called for tougher sentences against cattle rustling.

"Our courts are too lenient with these criminals. How can a stock thief be
sentenced to community service? Something definitely needs to be done," said

"Our villages are very close to Chitungwiza and Harare and we are appealing
to the police to add more patrols and stop this menace," said Webster Mazuru
of Chirasavana village.
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Mozambicans Blamed for Cattle Rustling

Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)

March 28, 2004
Posted to the web March 28, 2004


Mozambican cattle rustlers stole more than 900 cattle in Zimbabwe between
November and February this year alone, police have confirmed.

'It is true that most villagers residing in these areas (Chiredzi, Mwenezi,
Beitbridge and some parts of Matabeleland south province) have lost hundreds
of cattle to the Mozambican thieves.

'We have since formed anti-stock theft teams with joint police patrols
involving Zimbabwe and Mozambique. We are also involving the South Africans
so that we can bring to book the thieves,' said Masvingo Provincial police
spokesperson, Inspector Patson Nyabadza.

Several Zimbabwe villagers in Chiredzi, Beitbridge and some parts of
Matabeleland region have lost cattle worth billions of dollars to the
Mozambicans, a move that could, if unchecked, have a serious negative impact
on the current exercise to rebuild the national herd.

Inspector Nyabadza said besides the joint police operation, people in the
affected areas had formed the neighbourhood watch committees to compliment
police operations,
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UK Pledges $500bn Aid

Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)

March 28, 2004
Posted to the web March 28, 2004


The British embassy in Harare has reaffirmed its assistance to impoverished
and marginalised Zimbabweans by pledging about $500 billion for humanitarian

British Ambassador to Zimbabwe Sir Brian Donnelly on Thursday announced that
the embassy would intensify its fight against HIV/Aids and in its efforts to
provide food to starving Zimbabweans despite the frosty Harare-London

"Some people find this surprising, given that the bilateral relations are
probably at their lowest ebb since 1980. But in my view, the scale of our
ongoing support is testimony to the British government's long-term
commitment to the people of this country," Sir Brian said while opening the
British embassy's road show here.

He said their visit to Masvingo was to accord people outside the capital a
chance to access the mission's services.

l Meanwhile, the Canadian government has commissioned a $10 million home for
displaced children at Emthunzini Wethemba (Shelter of Hope) in Matabeleland
North province on Friday.

Emthunzini Wethemba is a registered NGO that looks after street and
displaced children. The $10 million grant from the Canadian government is
for the construction of gutters for water harvesting, a 60-cubic metre water
storage tank, a pump for a micro-irrigation system and funds for the
installation of geysers.

Speaking at the function, the Canadian Ambassador to Zimbabwe John Schram,
said the water-harvesting project was ideal for a drought prone area like
Matabeleland North.

"It also serves as practical demonstration of self-sufficiency to these
children, who, one day will have to live on their own. They are being better
equipped through practical experience on how to be productive," said Schram
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Outrage Over Court Order On Media Ban

Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)

March 28, 2004
Posted to the web March 28, 2004

CIVIC organisations and lawyers have expressed outrage over an order by a
Harare magistrate barring the Press from naming a top politician implicated
in court of having substantially benefited from the alleged illegal gold
dealings of Mark Mathew Burden, at a time the country is trying to fight
endemic corruption.

The order, they said, is also a major blow to freedom of the Press, under
siege from President Robert Mugabe's repressive laws.

Magistrate Virginia Sithole on Tuesday prohibited the Press from naming the
politician, the alleged beneficiary of Burden's illegal gold dealings.
Burden is facing 46 charges of breaching the Gold Trade Act.

'The Press is not to publish contents of paragraph 19, or anything from the
deleted paragraph,' ordered Sithole.

The order gives credence to reports that Zanu PF's anti-graft crusade is an
election campaign gimmick as the 2005 general polls draw near and would
'only net the small fish' and those in the private sector, analysts said.

John Makumbe, the chairman of Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) Ñ a
local corruption watchdog Ñ said the order shows that some senior
politicians in the country were above the law and can do whatever they want
with impunity.

Apart from that, Makumbe said Sithole's order makes the government's
anti-corruption drive a national joke.

"There should be no one above the law. The courts are public institutions
and are supposed to inform the nation on things of national interest," said

"If they have to protect an individual it must be for reasons of age that is
anyone below the age of 18 cannot be named, but the last time I checked
(name supplied) is well above that age," quipped Makumbe.

Constitutional law expert Lovemore Madhuku said the order was evidence
enough that the Mugabe's anti-graft crusade was not a serious effort and was
designed to hoodwink the international community into believing that
something was being done about corruption.

"It shows they won't allow the anti-graft crusade to eat their own
children," said Madhuku, "It is the best evidence to show that they are not

Responding to questions in Parliament on Wednesday last week, Didymus
Mutasa, the Minister of State in the President's Office responsible for the
anti-corruption and anti-monopolies programme, cast a shadow over hopes that
the high-ranking Zanu PF official would be investigated.

Asked whether he will pursue the case, Mutasa said: "The courts have
directed that the name remains unknown. I also do not know and until the
name is publicised then we will follow it up."

The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) spokesperson said the order by
Sithole prohibiting the media from naming the prominent politician was a
blow to Press freedom and the government's anti-corruption crusade.

He said information must be made readily available especially on the
anti-corruption crusade being undertaken by the government.

Other than that, the order by the magistrate also sends the message that
there are some "untouchables" in Zimbabwe and that the anti-corruption drive
would only net those without political muscle, he said.

He said ZUJ would meet this week to decide on what course of action to take
to register its displeasure with Sithole's order.

Sithole's order was granted after Burden's lawyer, George Chikumbirike of
Chikumbirike and Associates, made a successful application that the Press be
interdicted from reporting the issue or the personality of the individual or
any other reference to his status.
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Colonial Divisions Challenge New African Parliament

Sunday Times (Johannesburg)

March 28, 2004
Posted to the web March 28, 2004

S'thembiso Msomi

Regional differences surface as continent forms assembly, says S'thembiso

THE election of a president nearly turned the inaugural session of the Pan
African Parliament in Addis Ababa into a farce last weekend.

The matter seemed straightforward enough. Tanzanian member of parliament
Gertrude Mongella was the only candidate after Ghana and Sudan withdrew
their nominees - saying they had "noticed that Africa wants a woman" as

And so the obvious thing for Mozambican President Joachim Chissano, who
presided over the first session in his capacity as chairman of the African
Union, to have done was to proclaim Mongella president, right?

Not so easy, argued some member countries. The fact that Mongella was the
sole candidate should not mean that secret ballot voting should not take
place, they said. After about 90 minutes debating the issue, members of the
newly formed continental assembly queued to vote.

Some three-and-a-half hours after being named as the sole candidate,
Mongella was officially pronounced the parliament's first president, having
won 166 of the 201 votes cast.

The protracted debate over whether to vote or not highlighted the varying
parliamentary traditions that exist among member countries.

Some four decades after most of Africa was liberated from colonial rule, the
continent is still deeply affected by its colonial legacy. Most former
English colonies are still steeped in the Westminster system, while
Francophone and Portuguese-speaking countries are influenced by the
traditions of their former rulers.

Perhaps the language barrier was to blame but there was little interaction
between members from different regions over the three days of the
parliament's sitting.

When the Namibian Embassy hosted a dinner party at the Congo hall to
celebrate Namibia's 14 years of independence, few delegates from outside the
Southern African region turned up.

Even the debate on whether South Africa or Egypt should become the permanent
seat of the parliament seemed to be divided along regional lines.

Much as the parliamentarians tried to maintain an image of "African unity"
during the public sessions, there were tensions and suspicions.

Libya, for instance, was not happy with the fact that African Union (AU)
commission chairman, Oumar Konare, made no mention in his speech of its
president Muammar Gaddafi's "significant contribution" to the "struggle for
Africa's liberation and unity".

Nevertheless, the establishment of the continental parliament, some 13 years
after the African heads of states adopted the idea, has been widely welcomed
in Africa and abroad as a crucial step towards stronger regional
co-operation and political stability.

Konare said the parliament's key role would be to promote the protection of
human rights and the consolidation of democratic institutions on the

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said the parliament would help to lay
a solid foundation for the rule of law in AU member countries. On a
continent still fraught with undemocratic practices and where a number of
political parties cling to power through unconstitutional means, these are
seen as noble goals. But not all of the 53 countries represented in the Pan
African Parliament's assembly are democratic states. Libya, for instance,
does not have a directly elected national assembly and yet this did not stop
parliamentarians electing Libya's Moham med Lufti Farhat as the body's
second vice-president.

Countries such as Zimbabwe, with its well-documented history of human rights
abuse, are also members of the new parliament. This raises questions about
its ability to meet one of its key objectives; to promote the principles of
human rights, democracy and good governance on the continent.

A network of continental non-governmental organisations last week called on
the African parliament to ensure that there is democracy in all AU member

One way of doing so, some argue, is for the parliament to take strong
action - including expulsion - against member countries that do not comply
with its principles.

Others say this is not up to the parliament to decide but should be left to
the African Peer Review Mechanism, a voluntary instrument initiated by some
of the continent's leaders to promote democracy and good governance among AU
member states.

Limited to an advisory and consultative role for the next five years, the
Pan African Parliament seems to have little power over members.

But even if it can't take action against Libya and Zimbabwe, the assembly
opens a new avenue for pro-democracy politicians on the continent to
challenge policies of such countries on a public platform not inhibited by
diplomatic considerations.

The launch of the parliament signalled the successful establishment by the
AU of all the structures it needs to achieve its goals. There are still many
challenges ahead, but at least Africa has taken the first step.
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The Cape Times

      Can sanctions end Mugabe's rule?
      March 29, 2004

      This article was provided by the International Bar Association, which
represents law societies and bar associations around the world, and works to
uphold the rule of law.

      Pius Ncube, Archbishop of Bulawayo and an outspoken critic of the
Zimbabwean government, recently called on South African leaders to cut off
electricity supplies to its northern neighbour in order to force President
Robert Mugabe to the negotiating table.

      He said sanctions, similar to those imposed on apartheid South Africa,
should be instituted against Zimbabwe.

      In a radio interview Ncube said: "Zimbabwe is owing billions in
electricity (bills). They just would need to be told: 'Hey you people,
settle your affairs or else we cut off.' Then Mugabe would be forced to
dialogue with the opposition because Mugabe is refusing to talk to them."

      This is not the first time the call for more stringent sanctions
against the Zimbabwean government has gone out. Over the past two years the
idea that South Africa, which supplies Zimbabwe with electricity, should
turn off the switch has been levelled on numerous occasions.

      In the face of an authoritarian regime, sanctions seem to be the most
obvious and effective means to force a government to reconsider its actions.
However, there are some complex issues to consider - sometimes they create
human rights abuses of their own.

      In order to help bring the terrible current human rights abuses in
Zimbabwe to an end, to what extent do we take risks in extending sanctions?

      According to a June 2000 report of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion
and Protection of Human Rights of the United Nations, entitled "The Adverse
Consequences of Economic Sanctions on the Enjoyment of Human Rights"
(otherwise known as the Bossuyt Report), the guiding theory behind economic
sanctions is that these will put economic pressure on civilians who will
thus put pressure on a government for change.

      Cutting off the supply of electricity and other necessary goods
(petrol, to name one) to Zimbabwe would create the "economic pressure"
proponents of comprehensive economic sanctions speak of, but at what cost to
ordinary Zimbabweans?

      The Bossuyt Report argues that "under sanctions, the middle class is
eliminated, the poor get poorer, and the rich get richer as they take
control of smuggling and the black market. The government and elite can
actually benefit economically from sanctions, owing to this monopoly on
illegal trade."

      The report cites a number of commentators who have demonstrated that,
"in the long run, as democratic participation, independent institutions and
the middle class are weakened, and as social disruption leaves the
population less able to resist the government, the possibility of democracy
shrinks. In sum, the civilian suffering that is believed to be the effective
factor in comprehensive economic sanctions renders those sanctions
ineffectual, even reinforcing the government and its policies."

      The UN secretary-general, Koffi Annan, wrote in his Millennium Report:
"When robust and comprehensive economic sanctions are directed against
authoritarian regimes, a different problem is encountered. Then it is
usually the people who suffer, not the political elites whose behaviour
triggered the sanctions in the first place."

      According to research conducted by the Bossuyt report, only about a
third of all sanctions can boast even "partial" success, while others have
cited a "dismal" 2% success rate for sanctions against authoritarian

      Sanctions are, in essence, a "middle ground" option - more severe than
verbal condemnations but falling short of the use of force, the report
states. There are a wide range of sanction options, from economic to
diplomatic to cultural.

      Economic sanctions include trade sanctions, such as selective or
comprehensive economic sanctions; financial (blocking government assets
abroad and its access to financial markets); and travel, targeting
individuals or groups. Military sanctions are essentially arms embargoes.
Diplomatic sanctions target state rulers or may include sanctions such as,
for example, the refusal to allow the apartheid South Africa government to
participate in the UN to further its diplomatic isolation.

      According to the Bossuyt report, financial sanctions alone have a
greater success than trade sanctions or combined trade and financial

      As a fallout of the highly criticised comprehensive economic sanctions
imposed against Iraq under Saddam Hussein, "smart" or "targeted" sanctions
have become the preferred way of imposing sanctions on authoritarian regimes
in order to bring them in line with human rights and humanitarian law.

      Targeted economic sanctions, particularly targeted financial
sanctions, are regarded as a more effective tool than comprehensive economic

      These may target the personal foreign assets and access to foreign
financial markets of members of a government, the ruling elite or members of
the military.

      It usually includes the freezing of assets of government-owned
businesses; investment in those businesses may be prohibited.

      Further, imports of luxury goods and other goods primarily consumed by
the ruling elite can be banned.

      The European Union (EU) recently extended its travel ban on ruling
members of the Zimbabwean regime from 79 individuals to 95. The EU sanctions
also include the freezing of these individuals' assets in countries that are
members of the union.

      The United States government has imposed a blanket ban on more than
200 Zimbabwean officials linked to the ruling Zanu-PF, freezing the assets
of such high-ranking government officials as Information Minister Jonathan
Moyo. According to a report in the state-owned Herald newspaper, Moyo
dismissed the new US sanctions, telling the "imperialists" to "go to hell".

      His attitude echoes the general response of Zimbabwe's ruling elite
who, at least in public, greet the news of sanctions with calculated
nonchalance. Many critics of Zanu-PF argue that turning off the electricity
supply would be far more effective than banning Mugabe and his allies from
travelling to Europe or freezing their assets (if they can be found) in the
US, particularly since reports of the elite's shopping trips to the Far East
appear in news reports with disconcerting regularity.

      The Bossuyt report argues that the right to impose sanctions is not
unlimited in human rights and humanitarian law, and recommends a
"six-pronged test" for sanctions, which must undergo periodic review:

      a.. Are the sanctions imposed for valid reasons?

      a.. Do the sanctions target the proper parties?

      a.. Do the sanctions target the proper goods or objects?

      a.. Are the sanctions reasonably time-limited?

      a.. Are the sanctions effective?

      a.. Are the sanctions free from protest arising from violations of the
"principles of humanity and the dictates of the public conscience"?

      Sanctions must abide by human rights and humanitarian law and
internationally and regionally recognised charters (including the African
Charter on Human and People's Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human

      If they fail the above test or violate international human rights,
then sanctions may be having an adverse effect. As much as it may be
tempting to use more comprehensive economic sanctions against Zimbabwe, and
as frustrating as it is to see the ruling elite snub its collective nose at
the sanctions imposed against them, the international community must bear
the rights of every innocent Zimbabwean man, woman and child in mind, when
assessing which sanctions to impose on Zimbabwe.

      Cape Times: The Debate

      .. Join the debate: e-mail contributions to

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Business Report

      Zimbabwe puts new mining laws on ice
      March 28, 2004

      By Bloomberg

      Harare - Zimbabwe had suspended plans to introduce new mining laws
aimed at boosting black involvement in the economy while it consulted with
the industry, said Zimbabwe's Chamber of Mines on Friday.

      Amos Midzi, who became minister of mines last month, is consulting
with mining companies on draft legislation that was drawn up under his
predecessor, Edward Chindori-Chininga.

      The proposal would force foreign firms to sell 49 percent of their
shares in local businesses to black Zimbabweans and publicly traded
companies to sell at least a quarter of their stakes.

      Ian Saunders, the chamber's president, said: "The new minister said
before he took it [the draft legislation] forward he would require a much
longer stakeholder review on a one-to-one basis" with mining companies.

      The proposal "would have been catastrophic to the industry".

      Zimbabwe has the world's second-biggest reserves of platinum and
chrome, and deposits of gold and coal.

      Impala Platinum (Implats), which controls Zimbabwe Platinum Mines
(Zimplats) and Mimosa mine, plans to expand in Zimbabwe.

      Rio Tinto Group, the owner of Rio Tinto Zimbabwe, is digging a diamond

      Aquarius Platinum, Anglo Platinum, Anglo American and Ashanti Gold
Fields have assets in the southern African nation, which also produces

      Zimplats, which is 82 percent owned by Implats, said in a statement to
the Australian Stock Exchange that the proposal "was an internal paper
prepared as a basis for discussions.

      "As a consequence of the reaction to the draft paper becoming public,
the ministry of mines has withdrawn the paper."

      But a company, which Saunders declined to name, had quit an
exploration programme after it heard of the proposals, he said.

      Citigroup cut its target price for Implats to R620.75 from R689 after
the release of the proposal.

      Impala believed the mines it was already building would be exempted.

      "We hope there will be very significant changes made" to the
proposals, Saunders said.

      South Africa will pass laws in May that compel miners to sell 26
percent of their assets to blacks by 2014. It had initially proposed that
all new mining projects be controlled by black investors.

      Zimbabwe won independence from the UK in 1980 after a 15- year civil
war between black nationalists and the white minority government of

      Black Zimbabweans had been discriminated against during 90 years of
white rule.

      The country is in its sixth year of recession, with unemployment at a
record 70 percent and annual inflation rate at a near-record of 602.5

      Over the past five years President Robert Mugabe's government has been
seizing white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to blacks.
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Sunday Times (SA)

Mansion minister has other properties

Bonny Schoonakker

Zimbabwe Finance Minister Chris Kuruneri, whose Llandudno mansion made
headline news last week, has property investments worth millions of rands
more than the home he is building in the exclusive Cape enclave.

This week a family renting his second Llandudno property spoke of their
horror at discovering that their home was part of a property portfolio owned
by one of President Robert Mugabe's key ministers.

One member of the family, who asked not be identified, said this week that
"we cannot wait to move into our new home", being built in Hout Bay.

She, her husband and children live at 17 Apostle Road, a large mansion on
the upper levels of Llandudno with a spectacular view over the Atlantic and
high above 38 Sunset Avenue, the new home being funded by Kuruneri.

She said: "We felt absolutely dreadful" to discover that their home was
funded by a minister from a country in rapid economic decline.

Their monthly rentals on the property, she believed, should rather go to the
thousands of Zimbabwe pensioners made destitute after their benefits dried
up months ago.

For now, rent for 17 Apostle Road is paid to Hout Bay businessman Chris
Hayman, whose company, Venture Projects & Associates is overseeing the
construction of Kuruneri's house on 38 Sunset Avenue.

Although he has rented out the house, Kuruneri continues to list 17 Apostle
Road as his official residence in South Africa. His ownership of the
property means that his Cape investment portfolio is worth far more than the
R30-million value ascribed to his new home.

Kuruneri bought 17 Apostle Road in 2001 from an Italian businessman,
Gianfranco Lovisolo. The purchase price is listed as 563-million lire, which
at the time was some R2.069-million.

The sale of the property was arranged through Cape Town lawyer Lorenzo
Bruttomesso, a member of the Cape Town firm C B Niland & Partners.
Bruttomesso (according to a former Venture Projects employee) has been given
power of attorney by Kuruneri to conduct a wide range of business deals in
Cape Town.

Kuruneri also has a substantial (though undisclosed) stake in an upmarket
seaside apartment block in Sea Point, which estate agents say is "easily"
worth R20-million.

Amassing this investment, whether on his own behalf or that of others, has
kept Kuruneri busy over the past two years. An official record of his
travels into and out of South Africa shows that he has visited Cape Town 14
times since April 19 2002.

This week, in response to the outrage about his Llandudno mansion, Kuruneri
claimed that the house was being paid for with money which he had earned
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Sunday Times (SA)

New Controversy dogs Mugabe's heir

Sunday Times Foreign Desk

Emmerson Mnangagwa's chances of taking over the job of his boss, President
Robert Mugabe, were dealt another blow this week when a dramatic court case
implicated him in a gold scam, further smearing his reputation.

The case is the latest in a series of setbacks for Zimbabwe's controversial
Speaker of Parliament, regarded by many as Mugabe's anointed political heir.

Speculation around Mugabe' s successor reached fever-pitch this week after
one of his closest lieutenants announced that the 80-year-old president
would step down at the end of the year.

In a sensational courtroom twist, the magistrate in the gold-scam trial
banned reporting on Mnangagwa's links with the accused, saying the links
were irrelevant to the case. However, foreign newspapers ignored the ban and
the allegations against Mnangagwa were widely reported outside Zimbabwe.

The allegations came amid speculation that Mugabe would call crucial
presidential and parliamentary elections early next year. Although the
president has said he will retire in 2008, his close aide Nathan Shamuyarira
dropped the bombshell on Friday that Mugabe could depart much earlier.

The State alleged in court this week that Mnangagwa was involved in illicit
gold dealings with illegal gold traders.

The accusations emerged during the case of "unscrupulous" gold dealer Mark
Mathew Burden, who is facing allegations of dealing in gold in violation of
Zimbabwe's Gold Trade Act.

It is alleged that Mnangagwa received a total of Z16.7-million from Burden,
who owns Ivan Hoe Mine and eight gold milling plants, through bank cheques.

The State says the payments to Mnangagwa were unearthed during an
investigation of Burden's Standard Chartered bank account.

The State says that "upon perusal of the bank documents, police discovered
that the accused had made the following cheque payments to E D Mnangagwa"
between September 2002 and August 2003: Z700 000, Z2-million, Z3-million and
another of Z3-million, followed by an amount, paid on September 17 2003, of

When asked about these payments - which police suspected were related to
gold transactions - Burden could not give a satisfactorily explanation.

Mnangagwa is also reportedly under investigation by police over mineral
deals he was involved in during the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo
between 1998 and 2002. The United Nations also investigated these

Mnangagwa has since denied any wrongdoing.

A few years ago he was implicated in an airport construction scandal.

The fresh allegations against Mnangagwa came as Shamuyarira, Zanu-PF
secretary for information and publicity, suggested on Friday that Mugabe
would announce his retirement during his party congress in December.

"The congress of the party [will be] held in December... and you can say
that it is at that point that Mugabe will indicate his view of his role in
the future," Shamuyarira was quoted as saying. He added that a power
struggle in Zanu-PF was likely to erupt, depending on how Mugabe departed.

"John Nkomo [the party chairman] is on par with Emmerson Mnangagwa. It
depends very much on how Mugabe quits. If Mugabe at the December congress
says, 'I am quitting now', Joseph Msika [the vice-president] will
[automatically] take over," said Shamuyarira.

"It will be very difficult for anyone to oppose him.

"But if Mugabe says, 'I will be retiring in a year's time', then there will
be in-fighting between Mnangagwa and Nkomo."

Mnangagwa, Nkomo, Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi and former Finance
Minister Simba Makoni are being touted as the frontrunners for Mugabe's job.

However, as Mnangagwa falters and with his reputation in tatters, the odds
are increasingly being staked in Nkomo's favour.
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1 Dead, Dozens Injured in Violent Zimbabwe Election
Peta Thornycroft
28 Mar 2004, 16:25 UTC

A crucial parliamentary by-election in Zimbabwe became increasingly violent
when at least one opposition supporter was shot dead, and others were
injured by gunfire.
Doctors at a city center private clinic confirmed that a young man, believed
to be a member of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change was
pronounced dead at the hospital.

Two more men, in the same ambulance, were treated, and one was admitted for
further treatment for gunshot wounds.

Members of the medical staff at the clinic, who asked not to be identified,
said they had treated about 75 people for injuries since Friday, with the
largest number on the first day of voting, Saturday.

All claimed to be opposition supporters, and say they were attacked by
ruling party supporters.

The non-governmental organization, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network,
said it had observed the by-election in the Zengeza constituency, about 15
kilometers south of Harare.

The organization's director Reginald Matchaba-Hove said there was violence
before and during the voting. He cited several key violations of the
Electoral Act, and said initial reports indicated that most of the violence
was committed by young members of the ruling Zanu PF party.

He also said he was surprised at how many young people needed assistance
with casting their votes, claiming to be illiterate.

He also said voter turnout was low compared to the last election in June of

Movement for Democratic Change secretary-general Welshman Ncube deplored the
death of the party supporter and the injuries of the other party loyalists.
He blamed Zanu PF.

Campaign staff and the Zanu PF candidate were not available for comment.

The seat became vacant when the former member of parliament fled to London,
saying he feared for his life. He is a member of the Movement for Democratic

Zanu PF, which was the only party given any airtime on the national
electronic media, said it would show in this by-election that it has begun
its campaign to win back urban seats which were won by the opposition in
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Limpopo Transfronteir Park fails to benefit Zimbabwe

March 28, 2004, 12:01

David Hamadziripi, Zimbabwe's ambassador to Mozambique, says his country has
"not much, if any" funding available for the Great Limpopo Transfronteir
Park. South African, Mozambican and Zimbabwean officials have met in Maputo
to discuss progress regarding the park.

Hamadziripi says donor money for development projects has all but dried up
because of the political situation in his country. Mozambican and South
African parts of the park are well on their way to becoming an integrated

However the Gonarezhou National Park on the Zimbabwean side remains a
separate entity. Tourists should be able to travel freely between the South
African and Mozambican sections by October. - Sapa
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        Zimbabwean government going after wildlife

            March 28 2004 at 10:26AM

      By Basildon Peta

      In what seems like an unrelenting effort to destroy its economy, the
Zimbabwean government plans to seize all privately owned game parks and

      The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) has criticised the government's
latest confiscation drive saying the move is tantamount to punishing farmers
who provide sanctuary for animals. The WWF has since made an appeal to the
Zimbabwean Presidential Land Resettlement Committee, tasked with overseeing
land seizures and resettlement, saying land acquisition should be based on
sound ecological and business principles.

      A senior official with the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) said
farmers had received indirect notice from the Zimbabwe government that it
planned to nationalise all privately held conservancies and game producing
settlements for redistribution to black citizens.

      The official, who preferred not to have his name used, said the CFU
understood that the notices for seizures of private conservancies would be
much shorter than those stipulated for the confiscation of commercial farms.
Fearful of the effect impact of the latest seizure drive on their wealth,
white farmers have proposed setting up an "Action Forum" to try to resist
the planned confiscations of private game parks.

      "The net result of the current and continuing acquisition of
commercial farm land has had an unprecedented injurious effect on Zimbabwe's
all inclusive sociological structures as a consequence of devastated
agricultural economic capabilities," read a document circulating among the
affected farmers to mobilise them for the "Action Forum".

      "Yet, once again, a further politically driven nationalisation process
is about to be launched, with no lesson having been learned by the
perpetrators from the first wave of reckless futility. This time the attack
is to be on the last bastion of sanity that exists in Zimbabwe's private
conservancy and wildlife producing areas."

      The document adds: "There should be no need to explicate the extreme
consequences should this second wave of psychosis be allowed to unfold,
given that it is a foregone conclusion that the miserable effects will
supplement the already contaminated quality of life of every single
Zimbabwean... if not obliterate the existing poor ecotourism industry."

      Given the lack of a representative group mandated to "vigorously
protect and fight for the direct interests of wildlife stakeholders", the
document advocates the setting up of the Action Forum to fight the planned

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Three held over deal with alleged mercenaries

      March 28 2004 at 10:26AM

By Moshoeshoe Monare

Zimbabwean armament officials have been arrested in secret for collaboration
with the band of alleged mercenaries being held in Harare.

The officials agreed to sell arms to the men in a bid to get access to
scarce foreign currency and boost Zimbabwe's arms parastatal's business,
security sources have revealed.

A Zimbabwean criminal investigation official has confirmed that three
Zimbabwean Defence Industries (ZDI) officials have been held secretly here
over their involvement with the deal with the "mercenaries".

While the group of 70, made up mostly of South Africans, appeared in a
makeshift court in Chikurubi Maximum Prison this week, there was no word or
sign of ZDI officials. The state has charged the alleged mercenaries with
buying arms from ZDI and having made an initial payout of $90 000 (about
R630 000) as an upfront transaction for the balance of $180 000 for

The investigating officer refused to disclose the progress and details of
charges brought against ZDI officials who were involved in the deal.

The deal involved buying arms that included 61 AK-47 assault rifles, 45 000
rounds of ammunition, 100 rocket propelled grenade launchers and 20 light
machine guns.

A diplomatic source said the ZDI had no business in selling arms to
individual private citizens. "It should be selling arms to the government
and in terms of prescribed rules and laws. It's like (in South Africa) Denel
cannot sell (arms) to individuals or governments that are involved in

"We are worried about ZDI's conduct that it has intended to sell arms to
these individuals.

"The fact that they had met (alleged mercenary leader Simon) Mann and
concluded the deal leaves much to be desired."

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Zim chokes on low tobacco crop
28/03/2004 16:25  - (SA)

Harare - Zimbabwe's annual tobacco trading season opens this week but it
offers a much smaller crop than last year's already record low, industry
officials said, blaming high input costs and the country's sky-high
inflation rate.

The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) estimated that about 60
million kilograms of the lucrative flue-cured tobacco crop would be on offer
this year, a 25% drop from 80 million kilograms sold last year.

The figure, a record low in the 24 years since Zimbabwe's independence, was
about a quarter of the record high of 237 million kilograms produced and
sold in 2000.

Last year the crop - normally the country's top foreign exchange earner -
suffered a deep slump in production, recording a more than 50% decrease on
the previous year's output.

In 2001, farmers produced 201.7 million kilograms, dropping the following
year to 165 million, 80 million in 2003 and finally 60 million this year.

Godfrey Guka, deputy general manager of TIMB, attributed the huge slump in
production to high costs of inputs in a triple-digit inflation environment.

"The major reason (for the drop in crop size) is the cost of production,"
Guka said in an interview.

Zimbabwe's inflation rate was currently at around 602%.

Rodney Ambrose, a director with the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association (ZTA), said
it's a question of viability. "With interest rates of between 250% and 300%,
a lot of growers have scaled down."

Critics of the government partly blame the country's controversial land
reforms which have driven hundreds of previously commercial white farmers
from their land to make way for landless blacks.

But Ambrose, whose association represents 400 commercial and 6 000
small-scale growers, said there were enough land and skilled farmers able to
grow tobacco, and laid the blame squarely on the crippling input costs.

"The land is out there and there are lots of farmers who are able to grow
tobacco," he said.

This year's selling season will open about a month earlier than previous

Officials say they brought the season forward in a bid to help cushion
farmers from high interest rates on bank loans they obtained to finance
their operations.

In previous years tobacco used to rake in 31% of the country's foreign
currency, then making it the country's second export product after gold.

Although it produces only about 5% of the total world flue-cured Virginia
tobacco, Zimbabwe is traditionally the second largest exporter of the leaf
after Brazil on the international market.

It accounts for about 19% of total world exports. Brazil exports about 29%
of total global tobacco. - Sapa-AFP
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From The Sunday Times (UK), 28 March

SAS man tells how coup went wrong

Tom Walker

A former SAS soldier languishing in a Zimbabwean jail has confessed to
numerous failures in his attempt to lead a group of mercenaries in
overthrowing the president of Equatorial Guinea. In a 13-page handwritten
statement, Simon Mann describes how he hoped to convince the Harare
authorities to let him and his men pass through Zimbabwe. He pretended to
back a rebel army in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that could have
helped Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean leader, to secure diamond rights for
his bankrupt regime. The operation would have been a smokescreen: after
dumping off arms for the rebels, Mann and his fighters would have flown on
to their real target, oil-rich Equatorial Guinea. The operation, launched on
March 7, foundered when the Zimbabwean authorities impounded Mann's plane
after it landed at Harare airport to pick up weapons. Mann and 69 men,
mainly South Africans, Angolans and Namibians, were last week charged with
conspiring to overthrow Teodoro Obiang Nguema, the president of Equatorial
Guinea. They face life imprisonment if found guilty. In his statement Mann
says that he was introduced early last year to Severo Moto, a prominent
Equatorial Guinean opposition leader exiled in Madrid. If Moto returned,
"there would be an uprising of military and civilians" against Nguema, he
says. Mann, 46, writes that he ordered weapons from Zimbabwe Defence
Industries in January: "Naively, I believed that by dealing with ZDI I was
dealing with a high level and would be 'covered'." However, he encountered a
string of misfortunes, including a bird strike to the engine of his Russian
Antonov 12. When the rebels he was pretending to help failed to secure an
airstrip at Kolwezi, in southern DRC, as planned, the operation was
postponed. By mid-February he was planning another run but this ended in the
group's arrest.Mann, an old Etonian, insists he was not working with the
connivance of western intelligence, as has been alleged.
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