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

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      Church seeks refugee status for Zimbabweans in SA

      March 07, 2004, 18:14

      The Zimbabwean Church is to lobby government to improve the plight of
Zimbabweans in South Africa. It will also - in conjunction with its South
African counterparts - push for talks between Zanu(PF) and the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).

      However, while the cleric seeks peace, the situation in the country
remains oppressive. Six MDC members were injured when their convoy was
attacked on the way to a campaign rally in Zengeza, east of Harare. The
attack was allegedly carried out by Zanu(PF) militia. In addition, three
members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise are incarcerated in a Bulawayo jail.

      Quiet diplomacy
      At a special service for Zimbabwe today, Pius Ncube, the Zimbabwean
archbishop, lashed out at Robert Mugabe's government and South Africa's
quiet diplomacy towards the country. "I will not excuse the government, they
are not going to get my sympathy, they have gone around killing people,
raping the young," Ncube said.

      Churchgoers also heard from Zimbabweans who claim to have suffered at
the hands of Zanu(PF). Even those who defend human rights spoke of detention
and brutality. Gabriel Shumba, a human rights lawyer, said: "They tied it to
my genitals, some to my toes and in my mouth - I was asked to clamp down on

      The animosity between the ruling Zanu(PF) and the MDC is expected to
increase ahead of next year's elections. "Next year you can be sure the
parliamentary election will be rigged," Ncube said.

      At the same time - with Zimbabwean authorities saying no to talks with
the opposition - the situation in Zimbabwe is not likely to change soon. A
reason why the church plans to talk government into giving refugee status to
all Zimbabweans in this country. It also wants NGOs to form one body that
will cater to the needs of Zimbabweans abroad.

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Mail and Guardian

' Black Moses 'morally revulsed' by homosexuality


      07 March 2004 00:00

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe on Saturday lashed out anew at
homosexuality and also promised to stamp out corruption, which he said was
destroying the crisis-ridden southern African nation.

Mugabe, who turned 80 last month, was speaking at a special thanksgiving
ceremony for his long life organised by prominent Zimbabwean churchman
Obadiah Musindo.

"I'm morally revulsed by homosexuality," Mugabe told the function, which
also featured popular gospel singers and choirs.

Mugabe, who has called homosexuals "worse than pigs and dogs", said same-sex
marriages also deserved outright condemnation.

"It's Adam and Eve, not Adam and Adam, Eve and Eve," he said in biblical
reference to humanity's first parents.

"Let us never entertain the theory that man and man can form a family."

Mugabe also waxed eloquent on corruption -- a theme he has taken up
recently -- saying Zimbabweans had the right to prosperity honestly gained.

But anyone guilty of corruption would be brought to book no matter "who it
is that offends -- a relative of mine, a great man in business, a great

Offending businessmen would also be dealt harshly with because they were
"offending against the rules of our society... ruining our own heritage".

The function was attended by government officials, prominent Zimbabweans and
hundreds of flag-waving students.

Reverend Musindo, the organiser of the function, described Mugabe as a
"black, political, economic Moses" whose vision was "to raise millionaires
and billionaires" in the country.

The economy of the former British colony has been in a nose-dive in recent
years with international support drying up, and rates of inflation and
interest skyrocketing to record highs of more than 600%.

Mugabe's reputation as an African statesman started fading in recent years
after the country -- once the region's breadbasket -- slid into economic
decline as land reforms which had been left unresolved for years, were
jump-started with the violent occupation of white-owned farms. - Sapa-AFP

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Ncube asks churches to act against Mugabe

      March 07 2004 at 10:56AM

      By Christelle Terreblanche

South African religious leaders are set to become the leading voice against
the escalating human rights abuses in Zimbabwe after a series of meetings
and appeals from their Zimbabwean counterparts.

An "in-principle agreement" this week to take on a more pro-active role has
been given impetus by an unprecedented cry for help from a Zimbabwean
archbishop, who asked the churches to intervene urgently in the human rights
situation and not to wait for approval to send a taskteam to their
strife-torn neighbour.

The appeal came from the Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, who
was in South Africa this week to garner support for increased pressure on
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe to enter into talks with the opposition
ahead of the proposed 2005 election.

Ncube, who has won several international human rights awards, also wants
more pressure put on the South African government to abandon quiet diplomacy
and give Mugabe an ultimatum to enter into talks. "The international
community must assist us to force these people," Ncube said.

      'So far and not further!'
"There is no other way of dealing with such a dictator. There must be
pressure from a whole lot of sides. We can't solve this problem alone... He
needs an ultimatum. So far and not further!"

Ncube met senior clergy this week, including the Anglican Archbishop
Njongonkulu Ndungane, and Dr Molefe Tshele, the general secretary of the
South African Council of Churches (SACC). His visit coincided with an "in
principle" resolution this week by the SACC, after a first-ever high-level
meeting with Zimbabwean clergy, to send a taskteam to Zimbabwe as soon as
the organisation received a green light from all its counterparts.

But the archbishop feared such a mandate might not be forthcoming.

"People are dying now," he said. "We can't wait for protocol. It is their
duty to respond urgently to the situation."

Ncube warned that religious leaders in Zimbabwe were divided because Mugabe
had "bought out" most of them and that the church in Zimbabwe could not play
a meaningful role without help from neighbouring countries.

"Mugabe gave them money and farms," Ncube said. "He even offered me a farm
as part of his evil devices."

He said those clergy who were anti-Mugabe felt that they couldn't "make it

"We need urgent intervention from all churches, but South Africa is the
closest historically," he said, adding that some Zimbabwean church leaders
were bedevilling efforts to garner support.

"They are trying to prevent South African churches coming in on the grounds
that South Africa is playing 'Big Brother' and that they themselves know
better about Zimbabwe."

Tshele said his discussions with Ncube on Friday had given momentum to the
earlier agreement that the SACC would help reinforce the importance of the
church in resolving the Zimbabwean impasse.

"I agree with him that the churches in South African and Zimbabwe should
jointly become the voice against moral and human rights abuses, but that we
should refrain from party political issues because it could become a
divisive issue," Tshele said on Saturday.

"[Ncube] made an appeal that we have influence and that we should therefore
use it, but this would be subject to an [SACC] executive meeting on March

In an interview, Ncube also confirmed the existence of secret terror camps
in which Mugabe's regime was teaching thousands of youths to torture and
kill. He feared these youth militia were already being used to control
political activity ahead of next year's elections with tactics similar to
that of the war veterans.

Ncube said the only thing keeping the economy going was the South Africa's
continued support of Mugabe's Zanu-PF government.

"If they cut off the electricity and transport that will be the end of the
game," he said.

Mugabe was dependent on South Africa and he owed millions in electricity
bills, Ncube said.

Ncube's visit also had a third dimension - to highlight that half his
Bulawayo parish now lives in Hillbrow. Ncube said that South Africa was
breaking its own laws by not giving the estimated 2 million Zimbabweans in
the country refugee status and asylum.

"Those people have a very rough time [in South Africa]," he said. "They
can't find employment, they are badly treated and often go without
accommodation and food. They have to prostitute themselves."

He called the South African government's attitude "very hypocritical".

"On the one hand they are supporting Mugabe... and on the other will not
give refugee status to Zimbabweans."

Ncube said it was crunch time for talks as there was no possibility of
holding free and fair elections next year, as Mugabe had announced.

After President Thabo Mbeki's recent optimism about talks, Mugabe has again
rejected the possibility of entering into talks with the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC).

Ncube said Mugabe would not give in without pressure from all sides.

"He is a liar, gets up to all sorts of tricks, he will do everything he can
to stay in power. He will kill, buy people out, cheat," the archbishop said.

"It is absolutely urgent that South Africa help convene talks as soon as
possible. It is a total fallacy to say Zimbabweans must solve their own

Ncube said the situation on the ground was "deteriorating very, very fast",
with thousands dying every month of starvation and HIV/Aids, while last
year's inflation rocketed by more than 1 200 percent.

"It's impossible to live. Something like 80 percent of the people are living
below the poverty line," Ncube said, adding that the population was also
overcome by a hopelessness and a moral decline.

"People are now saying that the white government was less oppressive than
the black government."

Ncube will hold a special service for Zimbabweans in Braamfontein today.

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From The Sunday Times (SA), 7 March

Mugabe's men fight over farms and hunting rights

Sunday Times Foreign Desk

In the aftermath of Zimbabwe's disastrous land reform programme, President
Robert Mugabe's chief lieutenants are squabbling over the spoils of the
government's land seizures. Zimbabwe seized land from white farmers under
the pretext of redistributing farms to needy peasants and alleviating
poverty. However, land disputes involving the political elite have exposed
high-level greed and other abuses attending land reform. The latest disputes
over farm seizures, as well as the dishing out of lucrative hunting
concessions, involve Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, Agriculture
Minister Joseph Made, Special Affairs Minister for Lands, Land Reform and
Resettlement John Nkomo, Environment and Tourism Minister Francis Nhema and
Matabeleland North provincial governor Obert Mpofu, among others.

Moyo, who has been linked to three other farms, is now at the centre of yet
another controversy over a safari farm, Sikumi 2, in Dete near Hwange. The
farm has a top-of-the-range lodge, Sikumi Tree Lodge, and was seized by the
government before being parcelled out to a company controlled by Moyo. The
lodge is an ecotourism facility that offers upmarket accommodation and
photographic safaris to tourists. It was previously owned by a Mr B de
Fries, through freehold, but was leased by the Rainbow Tourism Group, which
tried to prevent Moyo from taking it over. Rainbow Tourism, in which the
government has a 17% stake, wants Moyo out as it claims his presence is
disrupting its tourism activities. Zanu-PF supporters in the area also want
Moyo evicted because he is not from that region. However, despite his
involvement in various farms, Moyo this week insisted that he had only one
property, Patterson Farm in Mazowe.

Mpofu is also fighting with Rainbow Tourism and other stakeholders over two
farms, Farm 40 and Farm 41, in the same area. And Mpofu is locked in a
dispute with authorities over Wildlife Estate, a world-renowned heritage
site that he seized two years ago. The farm has about 500 "presidential
herd" elephants given special protection by Mugabe in 1991. Police are
reportedly investigating Mpofu over his failure to bring foreign currency
earned from hunting back into the country. Made, meanwhile, is embroiled in
conflict over Chiumbiri River farm. Mugabe last year ordered party loyalists
with more than one seized farm to give the rest up. But the government is
still battling to repossess farms from leading party officials.

John Nkomo, who heads a presidential committee tasked with repossessing land
from Mugabe supporters, says more than 400 farms have been taken back from
members of Zanu PF's elite. He has issued a warning to those resisting
government efforts to recover land, saying they face arrest as their acts
constitute corruption. Nkomo is involved in a dispute with Zanu PF official
Kenneth Karidza over Rocky Arlington farm, which also incorporates Mbizi
game park. Nhema stands accused of granting hunting and photographic
concessions to Zanu PF political heavyweights in Dete, Gwayi Valley, Hwange,
Binga and Victoria Falls. Zimbabwe Defence Force commander General
Constantine Chiwenga and Policy Implementation Minister Webster Shamu are
among a string of officials who have been granted hunting concessions.
However, disgruntled Matabeleland North Zanu PF officials and safari
operators have cried foul - and have called for the eviction of ruling-party
bigwigs from other areas. This has sparked a high-level fight within Zanu PF
over land. The hunting industry is a money-spinner that generates millions
in foreign currency.

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Ancram: Conservatives will restore trust in Britain's foreign policy
Speech to Conservative Party Spring Conference 2004

"Here at Harrogate today we begin the long march to political victory.

The main battle may still be some way off. But in June already there are battles to be fought, not least the European elections, and they are battles we must win.

At the heart of them will be the burning issues of integrity and trust, so cynically eroded by Tony Blair over these last seven years.

He has undermined them with spin.

He has dishonoured them by the casual ruthlessness with which those who dare to criticize him have been smeared and broken.

It is often said that the first casualty of war is truth. Here truth is the inexorable casualty of Blair.

He promised that he would ‘listen'. But his Government ignores the wishes of the British people.

He promised ‘no more lies…no more broken promises'. But these are the common currency of his Government.

He promised to restore ‘the bond of trust between the British people and their government'. No Prime Minister in history has done more to destroy that bond.

He doesn't trust the British people. And the British people no longer trust him.

As the taxi driver who brought me here on Friday said, "We don't like him any more. We don't trust him any more. It's time he was gone."

The breakdown of trust has been damaging enough here at home. In terms of our standing in the wider world it has cost us dear.

Britain's word in the world used to be respected. What we said we meant.

Not any more. The years of spin and deception have put paid to that.

Seven years ago we were promised an ‘ethical' foreign policy.

Tell that to Gibraltar. There was nothing ‘ethical' nor honourable about the furtive negotiations to sell out their British sovereignty to Spain.

And two years ago Tony Blair preached of ‘a moral duty to act'.

Ask the suffering Zimbabweans about that moral duty. They have been abandoned and betrayed by Blair in the face of Mugabe's reign of terror.

In the run-up to the Iraq war Tony Blair asked us to trust him.

I don't resile from my belief that the action we took in Iraq was justified and right.

It was not an easy decision, but had we walked away from it I am convinced that we would have had to return to it again when the challenge would have been much more dangerous and the risks infinitely more great.

But there are now growing suspicions about the case that Tony Blair made for war.

Too many unsubstantiated claims of personal knowledge of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Too many unanswered questions about what Blair knew and didn't know.

Too many arrogant dismissals of doubts.

Why Mr Blair? The case for war was sound. You didn't have to distort it.

He spoke loftily on Friday about the need to reform international law to justify future actions.

Well he must tell us what he meant and whether he can take his party with him.

Because if trust is to be restored, the Government and the Prime Minister must now come clean.

And then there is Europe.

In 1994 Blair proclaimed that "under my leadership Britain will never be isolated or left behind in Europe".

Well, now we know what he meant.

Going along with the crowd, rather than fighting Britain's corner. Following rather than leading. Surrendering our sovereignty, abandoning our interests rather than making a stand.

And all so that Tony Blair is never isolated or left behind. Never can one man's neurosis have cost his country so much for so little.

All humiliatingly illustrated in Berlin three weeks ago. The Prime Minister of our great country scuttling shamelessly around the skirts of France and Germany.

‘Euro-creep' /…/ - in every sense of the word.

Spin, deceit, betrayal, sellout. These are the true elements of Blair's foreign and security policy.

No strategic approach. No proper correlation between objectives and resources. The result - military overstretch, shortage of equipment and failure of direction.

We, on the other hand, will come into government with a coherent foreign and security policy.

It will be based on our national interest, on our sense of duty and of national pride. It will match our resources and our capabilities.

We will rebuild respect for Britain in the world, not least because what we promise we will deliver.

We won't turn our backs on the suffering people of Zimbabwe.

We will ask the UN to send in observers to monitor fair distribution of food. We will freeze the assets of all those who bankroll Mugabe.

And, much as I love cricket, I would never – unlike Jack Straw – leave England's captain in the intolerable position of having to shake the bloodied hand of Zimbabwe's cricket patron, Robert Mugabe.

I would make clear my view that the coming tour should not go ahead.

In Gibraltar we will disown this government's dishonourable agreement in principle to share sovereignty with Spain. Sovereignty shared is sovereignty surrendered.

And we will never agree to a settlement that has not received the freely given consent of the people of Gibraltar.

And unlike Blair and Straw, we will join the people of Gibraltar in celebrating their proud three hundred years of being British.

Our historic experiences in the Middle East should allow us evenhandedly to promote dialogue towards a settlement.

A settlement based on a secure Israel within acceptable boundaries and a viable Palestinian state.

And we believe that prize is within reach.

We will reassert the primacy of Nato as the cornerstone of our security policy.

We will disown Mr Blair's proposals to create a separate European military planning capability. We will support the widening role of Nato, and we will encourage continuing American commitment to it.

Our relationship to the United States will be one of genuine partnership, not of subservience.

Where we disagree we will say so. Where we can persuade we will do so.

But always in the spirit of close allies bound together by shared values and shared traditions, where loyalty to each other benefits both nations.

And we will continue to play our part in the fight against international terrorism.

We must never give the terrorist the victory of creating an environment of fear in which we have to restrict our freedoms and change our lives.

Three weeks ago I stood in the ruins of our consulate in Istanbul, where our consul Roger Short and other innocent people were cut down by a suicide bomb.

We owe it to them never to give up and never to give in.

So we must maintain our involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq until real stability has been achieved.

I am proud of the way that our soldiers have responded to the challenges that they face there.

I visited them near Kabul recently. Their professionalism remains outstanding.

I honour those who have lost their lives.

I pay tribute to those who carry out their difficult tasks with such distinction.

But there must never again be a situation where our soldiers are put at risk because the likes of Geoff Hoon have delayed crucial military planning for party political reasons.

Never again should any of our soldiers be sent into combat without the right kit.

And never again should a British soldier find himself in the frontline with only five bullets to fight a whole war.

The first priority of a government is the defence of the realm and the protection of its citizens.

We will ensure that our armed forces, that invaluable national asset, are equipped to meet their commitments.

We will ensure that the excellence of our front line troops is maintained, and improved.

We will ensure that their ethos is fully respected and that they are properly resourced for their agreed tasks.

And of course at the same time we will see that every pound that the taxpayer spends on defence is both efficiently and effectively used.

And then the European Union, that partnership of sovereign nations of which we are, and are determined to remain, an important part.

That is why we oppose a Constitution which opens the door to a single European state in which we would be smothered and submerged.

In the Euro-elections in June this will be a major issue. Jonathan Evans will shortly explain why.

Let me here pay tribute to Jonathan and his colleagues for the enormously effective work they do on our behalf.

We want to see their numbers increased.

We want to see that to show Mr Blair that the British people want a forward looking Europe of Nations, not a backward looking Nation of Europe.

We will fight the Euro tooth and nail. And we will fight the proposed Constitution with equal ferocity and strength.

And above all we fight to let the British people decide in a referendum

Because we at last have the opportunity to build a flexible Europe.

A Europe within which those members who wish to integrate more closely may do so as long as they do not require others to do the same. As Michael Howard said recently in Berlin, ‘live and let live'.

A Europe in which the authority and primacy of national parliaments is reasserted, where there is proper accountability, where a genuinely enterprising and competitive Europe is created.

A Europe where national identities still matter.

And we will work with our fellow atlanticists in Europe to strengthen the vital partnership between Europe and America.

We can take the lead in creating a Europe which works for the people and not for Brussels.

We will reinvigorate the Commonwealth around its most influential members in every continent.

Because our historic role must be to bring together the Commonwealth, Europe and the US as a force for stability in an increasingly unstable world. But above all we will rebuild pride in our country.

Michael Howard in January reminded us " that by good fortune, hard work, natural talent and rich diversity, these islands are home to a great people with a noble past and an exciting future".

I am proud of that past, of those British characteristics which are our strength.

And the greatest of these is our love of freedom, a freedom which as Michael Howard also said should be defended "at any time, against all comers, however mighty".

And in looking at that exciting future we owe it to the people of this country to stand up for Britain, to have confidence in ourselves and to restore the confidence of others in us.

And under Michael Howard's clear and determined leadership we can do it.

And we can do more. We can start to set about this wretched government, to show them up for what they really are.

Our task is great.

To sweep this seedy, spin-ridden, self-seeking, self-serving, values-free bunch of second-raters out of the doors of Downing Street and onto the scrap heap of history where they belong."


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The winds of change

From the horrors of apartheid to the release of Mandela and the inauguration
of the first democratically elected government, the world has watched as a
divided nation has pulled itself together. As the ANC celebrates its first
10 years in power, David Beresford considers South Africa's long road to

Sunday March 7, 2004
The Observer

On the outskirts of Pretoria there used to be a large billboard which told
passing motorists: 'Thundering jets, the sound of freedom.' The intention
was to reconcile white residents to the noise of jet aircraft which used a
nearby military air base. 'White' residents, because it was in the time of
apartheid, and the jets were, of course, thundering in the racist cause.
The billboard has long gone. Which is a pity - because there would be some
justification for the claim nowadays - in fact, ever since that moment, 10
years ago, when the sound of jets in Pretoria announced the arrival of real
freedom with the fly-past at Nelson Mandela's presidential inauguration. As
the white generals saluted him and jets and helicopters blazed and clattered
their way overhead in further salutation, the enormity of what had happened
was brought home to watching millions; the military had switched its
allegiance and a black man was now boss.

It was a moment which was generally held to mark the defeat of apartheid -
freedom, of course, being inimical to that inherently oppressive system. But
with the advantage of hindsight, a case could be made for arguing that
apartheid was not defeated, but had merely run its course. Afrikanerdom had
achieved what it set out to achieve - dealing with the poor white problem,
entrenching the language, creating a cultural identity - and it was time to
move on.

Certainly today the Afrikaner and South Africa's whites as a whole have
never had it so good. The 'green mamba' - South Africa's notoriously useless
(or worse) passport, has become an 'open sesame' to Africa. The wealth of
whites can be seen on the roads, along which slide an extraordinary
profusion of Mercedes and BMWs, some costing as much as a house, which
enable their drivers to play out their bundu-bashing fantasies of whips
snaking out over ox-wagon trains in air-conditioned comfort.

Restaurants are packed, patrons seemingly giving little heed to the rapid
escalation of prices on menus. South Africa, the economists still tell us,
remains one of the cheapest places in the world to buy a hamburger.

The recent recovery of the South African currency has been startling. The
collapse of the rand, which had been steady since PW Botha wagged his finger
at world television audiences in the mid-Eighties in a memorable piece of
hubris, was suddenly and unexpectedly reversed last year. Dire warnings were
offered as to the impact such a reversal was having on export markets and
local tourism. Business leaders hastened to blame any diminuation of
corporate profits on the trend. But, while all this was no doubt true, the
recovery of the rand has had an important psychological impact, doing much
to save the country from the snearing self-doubt of the banana republic,
which at one stage it seemed destined to be.

While there is a fast-growing black middle class, taking advantage of quota
systems, affirmative action and the like, there is still an enormous amount
of poverty in black South Africa and, statistically, no evidence that the
wealth gap is closing. There is a huge underclass, to whom Mandela might
well have never taken those salutes for the difference it has made to their
lives. Some of them can be seen in the suburbs when the garbage trucks are
about to make their weekly rounds, scavengers descending on the waiting
rubbish bags, literally in search of crumbs from the white man's table.

There are also incidents which show that in some places the mind-set of the
apartheid years lives on, such as last month's murder of a farm worker by a
game rancher who allegedly had him beaten up and then thrown to the lions.
So few were the remains after the lions had fed on him that the police said
they were having to use DNA tests to confirm his identity.

Although such incidents are isolated, their impact on the country's black
population hardly needs amplification, seeming to confirm their worst fears
as to what lies behind conciliatory stances taken by white leaders.

However, things are changing for the black population. Perhaps the most
important area is education, in which zoning has had an ironic impact -
domestic servants realising that, by virtue of their residence in the room
at the bottom of their master's garden, they are entitled to send their
children to government schools which are among the best in the country.

The result is that, while the majority of black children continue to make do
with the lack of facilities and poor teaching in the townships, there is a
substantial group whose use of language and deportment make them - apart
from skin colour - indistinguishable from whites. It is a reservoir of the
schooled that could have considerable significance for the future of the

And then there are the white men's sports of rugby and cricket, which have
had such a psychological impact on the country in the past. Can they do it
again, in reverse?

South African rugby is in a trough at the moment, the consequence of
lingering racism and maladministration which, in combination, have
devastated morale. Disclosures that the national squad had been put through
a 'boot camp' run by police-force veterans before the recent world cup -
being forced to cavort through the bush in the nude, made to pump up balls
in a freezing lake at gunpoint and having cold water poured over their heads
while listening to renditions of God Save the Queen and the New Zealand
'haka' - have made them a national laughing stock.

But though South Africa's domination of world rugby may have gone for ever
in the age of professionalism, one senses that in time, at least, it will be
rescued from its present plight by the influx in particular of 'coloured'
players who are bringing a huge amount of untapped talent to the game.

Its cricketers, under the boyish captaincy of Graham Smith, are second only
to the Aussies in world rankings. With players like fast bowler Makhaya
Ntini - 'the fittest man in world cricket' - one suspects that the playing
fields of South Africa still have a considerable role to play where national
reconciliation is concerned.

Ten years ago, when Nelson Mandela took the salute at Union buildings, the
major question facing the country was what sort of a ruler he would turn out
to be. There were concerns that the makings of a personality cult were
already developing around him, that such was his fame that it would
encourage an arrogance of power. The opposite was the case. He not only
ceded any real power to Thabo Mbeki when he became president but, seemingly,
as an example to his successor, he stepped down after only one term of

Last weekend, I happened to see him at a local shopping mall, buying a book
for St Valentine's Day. Inevitably, a crowd gathered, breaking into
spontaneous applause while keeping a careful distance, so as not to
discomfort him. There was, contained in that affectionate reaction, a
tribute to Mandela of a kind that is difficult to imagine being accorded to
any other world leader.

With Thabo Mbeki, it is somewhat different. Quietly spoken and a seemingly
shy man, he nevertheless nurses an overweening belief in himself. He rarely
gives interviews and seems to intensely dislike newspapers. Instead he
writes a weekly column on the internet, seeing this as an adequate
substitute. It is part of his vanity that he ghost-writes speeches for his
ministers, as well as writing his own. Educated as an economist, his
pretence to medical expertise - his insistence that poverty is responsible
for HIV and Aids, rather than the virus - is well-known.

Enormous pressure has been put on him by foreign donors to revise his stand
on the issue, and to some extent it seems to have worked in that both he and
his health minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, have promised the country
that a 'roll-out' of anti-retroviral drugs is under way. But such assurances
have contrasted with minimal action on the ground. In statements smacking of
a Marie Antoinette, Tshabalala-Msimang has recommended that HIV and Aids
sufferers should try a diet of lemon, ginger, olive oil, garlic, beetroot
and African potatoes. Although she recently announced she had changed her
mind about the potatoes.

Aids is not the only policy area in which Mbeki seems to suffer no
contradiction. His much-criticised visit to Haiti in support of
Jean-Bertrand Aristide - contributing to the latest upsurge in political
violence in that unfortunate island - was a more recent example.

The presence of former members of the Pan Africanist Congress (an extremist
black nationalist grouping) among Mbeki's key advisers encourages the belief
that he is far more of a hardliner on the race question than generally
appreciated. A curious element of the Mbeki enigma is the uncertainty he
creates by his apparent blunders - uncertainty as to whether they were
intentional, or not. Certainly he makes straightforward gaffes, as on the
occasion when he had the wrong side winning the Battle of Omdurman.

But what does one make of the Mbeki who stood at Mandela's 80th birthday and
quoted from King Lear, having seemingly overlooked the detail that the play
dealt with the foolishness of an old man. Did he overlook it, or was there a
deliberate attempt to insult? Despite the known antagonism between the two
men, such speculation may seem unfair to Mbeki. Only he has done it on other
occasions. It is, in part, this uncertainty about Mbeki which has started
the parliamentary opposition to demand an unequivocal public statement that
he has no intention of rewriting the constitution and going for a third term
in office.

Last year, on his 85th birthday, Mandela assured his fellow South Africans
that there was no question of Mbeki standing for a third term. 'Not the
Mbeki I know. He could not do that. He will not change the constitution in
order to benefit himself. That is the last thing he would do. Whether I'm
alive or gone, he will respect the constitution.' The statement, coming out
of the blue, appeared to be an attempt by Mandela to head off some
behind-the-scenes move along those lines, or at least suspicion on the part
of the great man about his successor's intentions.

Mandela's dislike of Mbeki's policies are well-known - particularly on HIV
and Aids and Zimbabwe. His opposition to the president on HIV and Aids is
openly stated. Where Zimbabwe is concerned, Mandela appears to fear
splitting the ANC by openly coming out in opposition to Mugabe. Having stood
down himself after one term, Mandela could be expected to make a strong and
possibly decisive stand against any attempt by his successor to rewrite the
constitution. But the question is whether Mandela will last long enough to
fight that particular fight.

Mandela is looking increasingly frail nowadays. Although his sense of humour
and quickness of mind are still there - asked recently what he planned to do
when he gets to heaven, he replied 'Look up the local branch of the ANC' -
it must be questionable whether he would be around to fight a Mbeki

In the absence of Nelson Mandela, one is left scratching around for
'watchdogs' of liberty. South Africa's constitution lays much emphasis on
the separation of powers. But Thabo Mbeki seems to have thoroughly cowed the
legislature (an interesting statistic to emerge recently was that less than
one in 10 parliamentary questions are put by ANC MPs), while the judiciary
has shown little sign of its being a bulwark of constitutional rights.

An amendment to the constitutional provision under the country's party list
system, allowing MPs to cross the floor, has already been cleared by the
constitutional court. In the last election, the ANC came very close to
taking a two-thirds majority, with 66.35 per cent of the vote and, even if
they do not get the two-thirds required to be able to tamper with the
constitution, they will now be able to 'buy off' individual opposition MPs
as a result of that constitutional change.

But, hopefully, such fears will prove baseless. Undeniably, Mbeki has
presided over something of a turnaround in South Africa's fortunes.

This week, his finance minister, Trevor Manuel, delivered what he described
as a 'bloody good budget' - a judgement in which most concur. Slashing 4bn
rand (£325m) off personal taxes and promising 1 trillion (£1bn) rand on the
improvement of services for the next three years showed a new confidence in

For the moment, at least, freedom can still be heard to thunder in South
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Zimbabwe Mirror

      How Matonga was arrested
      Mirror Reporter

      Bright Matonga, the chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe United
Passenger Company (Zupco) was the subject of an apparently well-calculated
move that saw him literally walk into the lion's den. He was arrested at the
Police General headquarters where he had gone to see Commissioner Augustine
Chihuri on invitation.

      Matonga was by last night still in police custody at Rhodesville
police station, even though he is yet to be charged. The Zupco boss
reportedly contacted Chihuri, making known his complaint against a senior
police officer, Edward Marodza, who he accused of unprofessional conduct in
the way he was handling investigations into suspicions of fraud in a deal
between the parastatal and a South African bus assembling company, Scania.

      Matonga was alleging that Marodza forged court documents "to embarrass
and tarnish the image" of Zupco and himself. A police source said Chihuri
later telephoned Matonga, advising him to drive to the Police General
Headquarters so that the two could discuss the complaint the Zupco CEO was
raising against Marodza. When Matonga arrived at PGHQ, a policeman manning
the entrance directed him to park his car inside the premises of the
building. Normally, visitors are supposed to park their cars outside, in the
space adjacent to Greenwood Park, which is overlooked by PGHQ.

      The unsuspecting Matonga, when he went up to the third floor to meet
Chihuri, was instead shown into the office of one Assistant Commissioner
Chibage, who indicated that the police commissioner was out. Chibage told
Matonga that he could relate his complaint to him, which the Zupco chief

      Chibage, the source said, informed Matonga that the allegations he had
raised against Marodza would be investigated by the police internal
investigations department (PISI) after which the former left the office,
intending to go back to his office.

      However, at the PGHQ reception, two detective constables, Mpofu and
Muwandi, were waiting in "ambush", and as soon as Matonga appeared, they
approached him and told him that he was under arrest. He was handcuffed and
led to a police Mazda pick-up truck, where he was bundled into the back.

      The Zupco file he had brought along with him, which contained the
Zupco-Scania deal documents, was taken by Marodza, who had been waiting in
the truck together with another detective constable, Matsamburutsa. Matonga
was then driven to the CID Fraud offices in town, after which he was
transferred to Rhodesville police station.

      It could not be established at the time of going to press whether or
not Chihuri deliberately invited Matonga to his office and communicated with
Marodza to come and arrest the Zupco CEO. Efforts to get a comment on this
from the police were fruitless.
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Zimbabwe Mirror

Zupco boss Matonga languishes in cells
Tawanda Majoni

Mystery continues to shroud the case involving the Zupco chief executive
officer, Bright Matonga, who was picked by the police on Friday night and is
still in police detention.

At the time of going to press last night, the police seemed to be having
problems deciding on a sustainable charge to lay against Matonga, whose
arrest has been viewed as dramatic as his case is vague. His lawyer, Johanes
Tomana of Muzangaza, Mandaza and Tomana, told the Sunday Mirror that the
police were yet to tell him why they had arrested Matonga. He said he was
processing an application to the courts in order to secure his release since
the police had shown they did not have a case against his client.

"The police are yet to advise me on what charge or charges they are
preferring against him (Matonga). They should have done that by now and I
don't know what they are up to," said Tomana.

It has, however, been confirmed that the police intend to interrogate the
Zupco boss in his personal, rather than representative, capacity. The Zupco
lawyer, Wilson Manase said: "I have established that whatever charges are
going to be made (against Matonga) will be laid not against Zupco, but
Matonga per se." When contacted for comment, a senior police officer who has
been involved in the investigations that led to the arrest of Matonga,
Superintendent Edward Marodza of the Criminal Investigations Department's
Fraud Squad, declined to comment.

He instead referred this paper to the officer commanding CID Frauds,
Assistant Commissioner Nyakochwa, who he said was now handling the case
involving Matonga. Nyakochwa in turn said he did "not discuss such matters
over the phone" before switching off.

On Friday night, following the arrest of Matonga, Tomana and Manase had a
meeting with Nyakochwa.

The lawyers wanted to be appraised on what crimes had been manifested in the
Zupco-Scania deal, pertaining to Matonga and Zupco, but the police
reportedly failed to come up with a clear-cut case.

"When we met them (the police), they first indicated that they would charge
him (Matonga) with fraud but this fizzled out after some discussion. They
then promised to telephone me to advise of the charge, but that has not
happened," said Tomana.

He added: "The law is specific. You hold someone when there is a prima facie
case against him or her but that is not the case here. Since the police have
not indicated their intention to release him, I am applying to the High
Court for his release." Marodza's involvement in the matter has been lined
with controversy, with allegations being made that he forged documents meant
to force Matonga, Zupco, Metropolitan Bank and Pioneer Motor Company to
surrender documents pertaining to a deal to buy buses from a South African
assembling concern, Scania.

Just before he was arrested, Matonga had written to the police commissioner,
Augustine Chihuri, complaining over the way Marodza was handling his

"It is our belief that .superintendent Marodza has actual intent to
embarrass and tarnish the image of both the Chief Executive Officer and
Zupco as an organisation. It is our belief that .Marodza has other ulterior
motives, driven by malice beyond the call of duty of an investigator," read
the complaint.

It has been alleged by a source privy to the goings on that Marodza was
acting at the behest of a cabinet minister who views Matonga as a political
threat. Matonga and the minister (name available) are said to be both
interested in running for the Kadoma East parliamentary seat in next year's
parliamentary election.

It has also been revealed that when Zupco underwent a restructuring exercise
about two years ago, some influential people, among them the mentioned
minister, wanted the parastatal to be sold off, with the view to snatch it
up for themselves.

The shareholding structure of Zupco was a source of acrimony.

Government however insisted to remain as the major stakeholder, arguing that
Zupco was too strategic for privatisation.

There have been suspicions over payment for the initial 48 buses, whose
total cost was $7.5 billion. Controversy started to dog the Zupco-Scania
deal when the purchase to buy the coaches did not go to tender. However,
Zupco has since been absolved by government. The buses-one Andare Class
luxury coach, 10 Andare Semi luxury coaches and 37 Torino urban and rural
coaches-have since been delivered to Zupco.

Pioneer, as the agents for Scania South Africa (Pty) Ltd, on February 10,
2004 confirmed that they received the $7.5 billion from Metropolitan. A
director with Pioneer, one M Verwey in a letter to Zupco, acknowledged that
the sum had been received from Metropolitan on November 28, 2002, January
24, 2003, February 21, 2003, June 9, 2003 and December 11, 2003,
respectively. The money was received in tranches of $3.13 billion, $1.52
billion, $150 million, $800 million and $1.9 billion, respectively.

Marodza was last year in South Africa investigating possible fraud in the
way the deal was handled. Sources say his investigations, which were done in
conjunction with the South African police, failed to yield substance,
judging by the delay to charge Matonga.

Said another source: "It becomes difficult to understand how he could be
charged, because it seems that so far, no cases of fraudulent activities
have been reported by Scania, Metropolitan, Pioneer or even Zupco itself."
It was revealed this past week that Scania intended to sue Zupco for
allegedly failing to pay them as per their contract. However, it has not
been established how Scania failed to receive its money.

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