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The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
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Globe and Mail, Canada

      Taking on Mugabe

      STEPHANIE NOLEN reports on a woman thrust to the fore ahead of
Zimbabwe's first parliamentary election in five years

      Monday, March 7, 2005 - Page A1

      HARARE -- Three days after the Zimbabwean government imprisoned her
husband, Roy, in November, a delegation came to Heather Bennett from the
couple's former home town, Chimanimani.

      "They said, 'If we can't have Roy, we want you,' " she recalled. She
was flabbergasted.

      Ms. Bennett's husband, Roy, 48, is the member of Parliament for the
Eastern Zimbabwean constituency, representing the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change. Mr. Bennett was jailed last May, after shoving Justice
Minister Patrick Chinamasa to the ground during a parliamentary debate over
land reform.

      During the debate, Mr. Chinamasa told Mr. Bennett, one of three white
members in the Zimbabwean Parliament, that his relatives are "thieves and
murderers" and that he would never set foot on his farm again.

      The Bennetts' 2,800-hectare coffee farm was seized in 2001, under
Zimbabwe's controversial land-redistribution program. The family contested
the expropriation and won six standing orders from the courts, giving them
the right to reclaim their farm. But the government refuses to enforce the

      After the scuffle, Mr. Bennett apologized for "unparliamentary
behaviour." But the ruling ZANU-PF Party used an obscure bit of
parliamentary legislation to jail him for a year, and the constitutional
court has dragged its feet hearing appeals for his release.

      Mr. Bennett, who is hugely popular with his black constituents, became
a lightening rod for this sort of attack during Zimbabwe's slow collapse in
recent years. In the late 1990s, President Robert Mugabe, 81 and in his 26th
year of rule, launched a highly politicized land-redistribution program that
stripped many white Zimbabweans of their farms. The properties were
reallocated mostly to cabinet ministers, rather than to landless blacks. The
commercial farming sector collapsed, and with it Zimbabwe's once-vibrant
economy. Once a major agricultural exporter, the country again will be
reliant on food aid this year.

      A parliamentary election on March 31 offers little hope for change;
international observers say it will not be fair. The opposition has been
barred from access to the major news-media outlets. The youth militia
created by Mr. Mugabe to carry out the redistribution has been sent around
the country to threaten violence toward would-be opposition supporters.

      Nonetheless, the MDC persists in its fight. Mr. Bennett applied from
jail to run again, but the national electoral body refused to allow his

      So while her husband sits in Mutoko prison, 145 kilometres north of
Harare, Ms. Bennett finds herself an unlikely political candidate.

      A shy and gentle woman of 42, Ms. Bennett had never spoken in public
until last week, never made so much as a toast at a birthday party. But
yesterday, she stood up to face a crowd of several thousand people, near the
farm where she used to live, and made her first political speech -- some of
it in Shona, which she speaks quite well.

      In an interview a few days earlier in her Harare house, lent by a
friend as a temporary residence, she acknowledged being terrified at the
prospect of her first rally.

      "I'm more petrified of this than anything else," she said.

      There is plenty to be afraid of in a Zimbabwean election. In 2000,
when her husband ran, Ms. Bennett saw the attacks in Chimanimani by the
government's youth militia, who beat polling agents, burned the houses of
suspected MDC supporters and went on a general campaign of rape and battery.

      In May, 2000, the first time their farm was invaded, Ms. Bennett was
pregnant. The invaders seized her, held a machete to her throat and forced
her to repeat slogans praising ZANU-PF. She miscarried.

      James Mukwaya, who is running Ms. Bennett's campaign after doing the
same for her husband in 2000, said he is confident she will hold the riding
in his stead.

      "Roy Bennett is a man of the people. He is white in complexion, but
his heart is black; there is no difference between Roy Bennett and the
blacks in Zimbabwe,

      "He did not choose, himself, to stand as the candidate of Chimanimani
in 2000. But it was the people who went to him and asked him to stand for
them as a member of Parliament. And during his tenure in office in the past
five years, he showed the people of Chimanimani how a member of Parliament
should work for people."

      Mr. Bennett took 11,410 votes in 2000, compared with 8,072 for the
ZANU-PF candidate, in an election that most international observers
considered unfair. Chimanimani has no white voters except the Bennetts, who
were born there.

      Running a white, novice candidate in an all-black riding may not be an
obvious strategic move. Mr. Bennett suggested that Mr. Mukwaya should run,
but Mr. Mukwaya said there could be no better choice than Ms. Bennett.

      Ms. Bennett said she will try to carry on with development projects
initiated by her husband, digging boreholes and trying to get drugs to

      She acknowledged that there is an inherently paternalistic quality to
the relationship between the white farmers and the black populations they
once employed. But she said her family had a warm and mutually respectful
relationship with the people of Chimanimani.

      "Why weren't the farms overrun? They threw the white farmers off, but
they had to cart people on our land, and then they didn't stay."

      Yesterday, when the new candidate arrived in Chimanimani, the crowd
swamped. She was visibly nervous, but the crowd buoyed her. The loudest
cheers came at the end, when she said in Shona: "The Bennetts are here to
stay. The Bennetts will not leave the people of Chimanimani, ever."

      Indeed, despite the daily pain of missing her husband, Ms. Bennett can
imagine a better time to come.

      "Democracy will come to Zimbabwe," she said quietly last week. "And
we'll go forward together, and the race thing will be put to bed because we
will have been through this together. There is no way that evil reigns
forever. It has to change."

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Zim Online

SADC Parliamentary Forum barred from poll
Tue 8 March 2005
      HARARE - Zimbabwe's Foreign Affairs Ministry officially confirmed
yesterday that the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
Parliamentary Forum will not be invited to observe the country's election in
three weeks time.

      The forum comprising representatives of all SADC states including
Zimbabwe has traditionally observed elections in SADC countries. It observed
Zimbabwe's last major election in 2002 but unlike other African observer
missions, produced a scathing report condemning violence and other unfair
practices during the poll which saw President Robert Mugabe, 81, winning a
fifth five-year term to rule the country.

      Mugabe and his government have apparently not forgiven the forum for
breaking ranks with other continental missions three years ago. The forum
was last week omitted from a list of countries and organisations invited to
observe the March 31 poll.

      Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Pavelyn Musaka told ZimOnline yesterday
that the parliamentary forum will not be allowed in to witness the election
because it is not on the list of invitees. Musaka denied that Harare was
being vindictive against the forum but could not give reasons why the body
was being left out when SADC was invited.

      "Not at all," Musaka pleaded to charges that the forum was being
barred as punishment for condemning Mugabe's re-election in 2002. She added:
"Only those on the list will observe the election, if they (Forum) are not
there, it means they are not invited so they are not going to observe the

      Zimbabwe has invited 23 countries to observe its election, SADC and
all its member countries, five Asian states, another three nations from the
Americas and only Russia from Europe.

      The ruling parties of Angola, Tanzania, Namibia, South Africa,
Mozambique and the Sudan People's Liberation Army, all of them allies of
Mugabe and his ZANU PF party are also invited to observe the election.

      The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party has
criticised Mugabe for treating the election like a wedding party where the
bride and groom invite only their friends.

      MDC shadow foreign affairs minister Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga,
said: "He (Mugabe) is treating the election like a wedding party, where the
bride and groom invites friends to come and be merry. The only people that
are coming to observe the elections are his friends." - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Harare pins hopes on Pretoria to crush border blockade
Tue 8 March 2005
  HARARE - Zimbabwe is banking on Pretoria to stop the Congress of South
African Trade Unions (COSATU) from blockading its lifeline Beitbridge border
post next week.

      Labour Minister Paul Mangwana last night told ZimOnline that while
Harare could crush any action on the Zimbabwean side of the frontier aimed
at blocking movement of people and traffic, it expected South Africa to do
the same on its side of the border.

      Beitbridge is on the Zimbabwean side of the country's border with
South Africa, which is Zimbabwe's main trading partner. More than 90 percent
of Zimbabwe's imports and exports to and from South African cities and
seaports pass through the Beitbridge border post.

      Mangwana said: "Should they come here, we will deal with them very
effectively, we have all the machinery to deal with the people who want to
cause problems.

      "If they threaten to do anything (on South Africa's side of the
border) the South African authorities will deal with them."

      He would not say whether Pretoria had promised Harare to stop the
border from being blocked from its territory.

      But South African Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma two
weeks ago warned COSATU against blocking the border, a warning which the
union has vowed to ignore as it kicks off protests against repression, human
and worker rights violations in Zimbabwe with a march today in Pretoria and
picketing at Zimbabwe's embassy in the city.

      Today's protests will be followed by the blockading of Beitbridge on
March 16 and night vigil as well as more protests at the border on March 30,
a day before Zimbabweans vote for a new Parliament on March 31.

      Disruption at Beitbridge will also affect countries such as Malawi,
Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo that transport goods through
the post. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

COSATU denies seeking 'regime change' in Zimbabwe
Tue 8 March 2005
  JOHANNESBURG - The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)
yesterday said it was not aiming at achieving "regime change" in Zimbabwe as
alleged by President Robert Mugabe's government but was merely concerned
with increasing worker solidarity.

      Speaking at the end of the labour movement's three day conference
here, COSATU President Willie Madisha said his body was not supporting any
political party in Zimbabwe.

      "We do not support any political party but the workers," said Madisha,
rejecting accusations that COSATU had ulterior motives. "Workers in Zimbabwe
have been killed, castrated and have no rights. Those workers need to be
supported," he said.

      He said accusations by Mugabe and others that COSATU was being used by
the British and American governments to achieve "regime change" in Zimbabwe
were completely baseless.

      "Inside and outside South Africa, as well as in the tripartite
alliance we have been accused of advocating for regime change in Zimbabwe, I
want to say that this is absolute rubbish. We have never advocated this,"
said Madisha.

      COSATU said it would continue assisting workers to resolve the
political problems in Zimbabwe.

      COSATU has planned a series of protests to show solidarity with the
suffering workers in Zimbabwe. The mass action programme kicks off tomorrow
with pickets at the Zimbabwean High Commission offices in Pretoria. This
would be followed by similar demonstrations at the South Africa/Zimbabwe

      The South African government two weeks ago warned COSATU against
proceeding with the protests but the militant labour movement insisted that
it would go ahead with its plans because the South African constitution
guaranteed freedom of expression.

      The ruling ANC youth league and the Pan African Congress (PAC) have
accused COSATU of being used by "imperialists". Madisha said such
accusations were completely baseless. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

SA editors demand end to media siege in Zimbabwe
Tue 8 March 2005
  JOHANNESBURG - South African editors have condemned the relentless attacks
on the media in Zimbabwe and warned that this did not augur well for the
upcoming parliamentary elections.

      The editors, represented by the SA National Editors Forum (Sanef) said
the continuing closures of newspapers and
      harassment of correspondents did not bode well for free and fair
parliamentary elections on March 31.

      "Unfettered media are essential for the free flow of information, the
exchange of ideas and for voters to formulate opinions on which to base
their ballot decisions," said Sanef in a statement.

      "In addition, state-owned media should be impartial in their coverage
and also provide opportunities for direct access to
      the full range of political parties and stakeholders."

      Sanef urged Zimbabwean authorities to lift all restrictions on
journalists and media, including foreign media, as a gesture of
      goodwill towards the poll, and in the spirit of the Southern African
Development Community's protocol on the holding of
      free and fair elections.

      The influential body urged President Thabo Mbeki's government to make
"stronger representations" to the Zimbabwe government about the necessity
for authentic media freedom as a fundamental pre-requisite for a fully
democratic election.

      Sanef said it regretted public statements by the South African
government which seemed not to give any prominence to the importance of
Zimbabwe lifting its siege on the media as a precondition for a free and
fair election.

      It also said it expected all media wanting to cover the election to be
given access.

      "Sanef expects all media, South African and foreign, to be granted
access to Zimbabwe for reporting the elections and
      generally, without fear or favour or restrictive, selective or
prohibitive accreditation requirements."

      The forum urged the South African government to demonstrate its
commitment to media freedom in Zimbabwe and the rest of Africa, by
supporting the principles of media freedom and condemning publicly all
actions to curtail it. The handpicked Media and Information Commission has
shut down four newspapers in past two years with the Weekly Times being its
latest victim. The MIC yesterday lashed out at Wilf Mbanga's recently
launched Zimbabwean newspaper accusing it of being "a propaganda tool" for
former colonial power Britain.

      MIC chairman Tafataona Mahoso has threatened to take unspecified
action against the newspaper. Two weeks ago, three freelance correspondents
for the Times of London, Associated Press and Bloomberg news agency were
hounded out of the country by officials who accused them of spying and
working illegally as journalists.

      Dozens of Zimbabwean journalists have been arrested over the past two
years. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

South Africa insists Zimbabwe poll will be free and fair
Tue 8 March 2005
  PRETORIA - The South African government has reiterated that Zimbabwe's
March 31 election will be free and fair and there was no reason for concern
about the controversial plebscite.
      Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad told reporters here yesterday that
"there is no reason to believe that there is anyone who would want to
infringe on the rights of the Zimbabwean people to express their will fully
at these elections."

      He added: "We want to also believe that anyone infringing on the
rights of the people to express their will freely will be met with the full
might of the law, irrespective of which party they come from."

      Zimbabweans did not need the world to pre-judge an election that had
not yet taken place, Pahad said.

      Yet his remarks and those of President Thabo Mbeki last week that the
election will be free and fair despite all the documented problems on the
ground amount to pre-judging the poll. The Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) has already expressed disappointment at Mbeki's remarks saying the
South African leader was ill-informed about the situation on the ground in

      Pahad said a Southern African Development Community (SADC) observer
mission to be deployed in Zimbabwe from March 15 would seek to help achieve
the objective of a free and fair election. It would be expected to intervene
if there was any sign
      on infringement, he added.

      But critics say the SADC mission is long delayed and its effectiveness
will be limited as it will only arrive only two weeks before the election.
The new SADC protocol on the holding of free and fair elections requires
invitations for the regional body's
      observers to be sent out at least 90 days before the election.

      Zimbabwe's invitations were sent out only about 10 days ago.

      But Pahad said he was confident that two weeks were ample for the
mission to deal with allegations of pre-election irregularities.

      "If they do their work properly and energetically, two weeks should be
sufficient for us to make our presence felt there."

      Pahad said exact guidelines of the team's intervention powers were
being worked out. He said the team would be expected to follow up every
allegation of wrongdoing and, where necessary, "intervene with both sides".

      "It is important for our observers not just to write down what they
hear but to follow these things up," Pahad said.

      "If conditions are created through intimidation by anybody for people
not to go to the poll, it is something the observers must bear in mind so
they can try to ensure that... it is stopped and protection is given to

      The 50-strong SADC delegation would be led by South Africa's Home
Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. It would
      have 10 South African delegates.

      Meanwhile, a row over the inclusion of the representative of South
Africa's official opposition, the Democratic Alliance, on the SADC observer
mission was resolved yesterday with the party's original choice, Dianne
Kohler-Barnard, getting the permission to join the observer team.

      A row had earlier erupted between the South African government and the
DA after the latter accused the former of selecting one of its MPs, Marious
Swart, without any consultations. The DA had earlier nominated
Kohler-Barnard who had been rejected by the South African government.

      But foreign ministry spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa said it was subsequently
agreed that Kohler-Bernard would be part of the team as originally planned.
South Africa will field 10 members to the SADC observer mission. - ZimOnline

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Elusive pro-democracy activists leave their mark

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

©  Zvankwana-Sokwanele

Spray can protest

JOHANNEBURG, 7 Mar 2005 (IRIN) - They are best known for the audacity of their campaigns: protest messages stamped on condom packets, bank notes, and pithy postcards to President Robert Mugabe - but who they are is less apparent.

An underground group of anti-government activists, Zvankwana-Sokwanele - "Enough!" in Zimbabwe's two main languages, Shona and Ndebele - do not operate out of offices with a nameplate on the door. Their only regular presence is a website in cyberspace, or the graffiti-splashed billboards and road signs exhorting people - in the words of Bob Marley - to "Get up, stand up".

Zvankwana-Sokwanele, formed after President Mugabe's raw-knuckle 2002 presidential election victory, say their aim is to "achieve democracy" through non-violence. The government, on the other hand, has dismissed them as a "western front", bent on destabilising the country.

The authorities were particularly incensed when "mischievous political slogans" appeared on banknotes at the beginning of the year. The government said defacing the currency was a crime, and the culprits would face "the full wrath of the law".

Zvankwana-Sokwanele contends that the strict laws governing public assembly and free speech mean that it must use unorthodox methods to get its pro-democracy message across.

Its new campaign is a protest aimed squarely at what the group regards as an already stolen legislative poll, due to be held on 31 March. The activists are urging voters to spoil their ballots by choosing "none of the above", rather than selecting any of the contesting candidates.

"By spoiling your ballot you will not legitimise an illegitimate election. This is an active way of saying the electoral process is cockeyed," the group announced on its website.

Leonard Tsunga, chairman of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, said Zvankwana-Sokwanele's campaign was a militant response to the alleged lack of free speech. He stressed the atmosphere in Zimbabwe was so charged it prevented genuine debate and the opposition's access to the public.

"It is criminal to criticise the government in Zimbabwe - calling for action against government is a 'capital offence', bordering on treason. In that atmosphere, the only alternative is to opt for underground campaigns," said Tsunga.

A member of Zvankwana-Sokwanele told IRIN that, with anti-government papers closed and their journalists hounded, spray cans and graffiti were the only effective way left to register public protest.

"Our action brigades are in every little town and city, armed with sprays to put up our messages wherever the public can see them. We are giving the public a voice and regular updates on the national crisis," she said.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena described the protest group as an illegal organisation bent on inciting the public against the government. "They are as illegal as their activities. The police are still looking for the people behind the organisation. They have to account for all the offences they have committed in the last three years - defacing walls and banknotes is a criminal offence."

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Amaizing - Zim sells miellies to Botswana
          March 07 2005 at 07:05PM

      By Peter Apps

      Francistown, Botswana - Dire predictions of food shortages in Zimbabwe
have not stopped a lively cross-border trade in maize to relatively
prosperous Botswana, traders and residents said.

      "People (Zimbabweans) bring maize here and sell it... they get a
better price," Devine, who is from Zimbabwe, said at the bus stop in the
bustling Botswana market and transport hub of Francistown.

      "They want (Botswana's) pula (currency)," added Devine, who did not
want his last name used because of his immigration status.

      The cross-border sales fly in the face of the conventional wisdom that
Zimbabwe's once-thriving agriculture is in trouble.

      While Zimbabwe was a regional breadbasket until - aid workers say -
chaotic seizures of white-owned land and drought led to food shortages in
2001 and 2002, Botswana is largely desert and has never produced much maize,
keeping prices high.

      Since President Robert Mugabe boasted his country had a record crop,
aid workers and South African grain traders have found it increasingly
difficult to assess Zimbabwe's food situation ahead of elections in late

      The estimates range wildly from disastrous famine to slowly improving

      Francistown residents say the only time Zimbabwean cross-border
traders bought maize in their shops and supermarkets to take home was in
2002, suggesting shortages are now less serious than they were then.

      But Zimbabweans buy sunflower oil, groundnuts and inputs like
fertiliser in Francistown as annual inflation rate of 133 percent and lack
of supply pushed up prices at home, they said.

      "There is food in the shop but people don't have the money to buy it,"
said 32-year-old Bulawayo resident Danisile Siziba, who was in Francistown
to sell goods to get foreign currency.

      Aid workers say southern Zimbabwe suffered drought this growing
season, but the rest of the country looks better.

      On Zimbabwe's northern border, Zambia has seen several years of good
crops and in Livingstone, near the Victoria Falls border crossing, locals
said Zimbabweans frequently crossed the border to buy maize.

      "A lot of them come across the border. They sell curios to get forex
and they buy miellies (maize)," Livingstone street vendor Crispin Mubila

      Zimbabwe's government is also widely believed to have bought large
amounts of Zambian maize, but this looks set to change after Zambia's
government imposed an export ban last week, saying drought meant the food
was needed at home.
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Independent Story False, Mischievous, Says Gono

The Herald (Harare)

March 5, 2005
Posted to the web March 7, 2005


RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr Gideon Gono has dismissed as
mischievous, a story published in the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday
alleging that he had set up a National Land Board to give land back to
former commercial farmers as a strategy to rescue the economy.

"The story in the Independent of today (yesterday) alleging that the
Governor has set up a National Land Board to draft some so-called
"agricultural reconciliation plan" or some such document is not only false
but seriously mischievous and calculated to cause confusion among
stakeholders in the country as nothing of that sort has been conceived nor
even thought necessary.

"The land reform is irreversible and that reality ought to be accepted by
all," said Dr Gono.

He said it was unfortunate that some sections of the Press were in the
business of quoting imaginary central bank sources when the bank had proper
procedures and systems to deal with the Press.

The paper quoted what it termed "highly-placed central bank sources" saying
that the Reserve Bank was working with the Ministry of Agriculture to
reverse the land reform under which thousands of landless Zimbabweans have
been allocated pieces of land over the past few years.

It alleged that the land board, chaired by former Arda chief executive Mr
Liberty Mhlanga, had already begun to recall some ex-commercial farmers.

"The revival of the agricultural sector hinges on full utilisation of
allocated farmland, full mechanisation, revival of irrigation, tobacco bans
and other infrastructure, timely provision of inputs to farmers and the
commitment by all new and old farmers to make land reform and agriculture a
success," added Dr Gono.

He stressed that anything outside these parameters was mischief designed to
cause unnecessary suspicion among stakeholders who were making concerted
efforts to ensure the success of the agricultural revolution.
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Mon. Mar. 7 2005 3:36 PM ET

T.O. doctors successfully separate twins News Staff

Surgeons at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children say they have successfully
separated seven-month-old twin boys from Zimbabwe who were joined at the
abdomen and shared a liver.

"The separation surgery went as planned, with no unexpected complications,''
announced Dr. Jacob Langer, chief of general surgery Monday afternoon.

"While we are optimistic about their prognosis, the boys must be monitored
for any risk of infection or bleeding.''

The boys, named Tinashe and Tinotenda, are recovering in the critical care
unit, where they are in critical condition on life-support.

The surgery to separate the boys began at about 9:30 a.m. ET, a hospital
spokeswoman said. The operation had been expected to last eight hours but
was completed in about five hours.

The surgical team was made up of about 25 staff members, including two
general surgeons, two plastic surgeons, and two anesthetists. There were
also eight nurses and a number of surgical and anesthesia residents.

All of the doctors involved waived their fees for the surgery, which cost
approximately $200,000.

The boys were delivered in July at a Salvation Army hospital with the help
of Canadian physicians in a rural part of Zimbabwe. They arrived at Sick
Kids in early December accompanied by a nurse and their mother, who is a
peasant farmer and a single parent of other children.

The boys are the 10th set of conjoined twins to be treated at Sick Kids. The
hospital says it is the only facility able to offer both the expertise and
the financial assistance needed.

The boys' expenses are being covered by the Herbie Fund, which has helped
more than 450 children from more than 80 countries travel to Sick Kids to
receive care unavailable in their own countries.
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Zim govt slams new paper
07/03/2005 22:00  - (SA)

Johannesburg - The chairman of Zimbabwe's media commission, which has shut
down four independent newspapers in two years, lashed out on Monday at the
publication of a new weekly newspaper published in Britain but distributed
inside Zimbabwe.

The state-controlled Herald Newspaper, the only daily allowed to publish in
Zimbabwe, said Monday that the new weekly, The Zimbabwean, was "a propaganda
tool" for the former colonial power Britain.

It quoted Tafataona Mahoso, the head of Zimbabwe's media commission, with
threatening to take unspecified action against the new newspaper, which is
free from government censorship and highly critical of the government of
President Robert Mugabe.

Zimbabwe has passed draconian media laws that prohibit any journalists from
working without a government license. The law also makes it illegal for a
newspaper to publish without a license.

The government has used the law to close four independent newspapers and to
arrest and harass independent and foreign journalists for writing stories
critical of the government.

The news tabloid, which is distributed mainly to Zimbabweans living in
Britain and South Africa, was launched last month by veteran Zimbabwe
journalist and publisher Wilf Mbanga. Thousands of copies of the newspaper
are distributed in Zimbabwe.

Welcomed the launch

Last week's edition featured a front-page advertisement placed by the
British parliament congratulating Mbanga for the outspoken weekly.

It said the house of commons welcomed the launch of the paper and said it
would "provide Zimbabweans living abroad and the general public with the
opportunity to read views and news about Zimbabwe free from official

Mahoso said the ad showed the British parliament was pursuing an imperialist
plot against Zimbabwe. He also claimed the paper was being funded by
organizations with an anti-Zimbabwe agenda.

Mbanga has denied the accusations, saying he sank his life's savings into
the paper.

Mugabe's government has repeatedly claimed it is the target of a plot
financed by Britain and the United States that seeks to oust Mugabe and his

Because it is published outside the country, the Zimbabwean escapes most of
the restrictions placed on newspapers inside the country by the laws that
ended free press in Zimbabwe.

Last week, Zimbabwe's media commission ordered the closure of the recently
launched Weekly Times, an independent newspaper, because it said the
publication violated its license by engaging in "partisan political

The closure came barely two weeks after three freelance correspondents for
the Times of London, The Associated Press and Bloomberg news agency were
hounded out of the country by officials who accused them of spying and
working illegally as journalists.
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      Zimbabwe opposition backs wife of jailed white MP

      Mon March 7, 2005 5:16 PM GMT+02:00
      By Cris Chinaka

      CHIMANIMANI, Zimbabwe (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's main opposition party is
counting on the popularity of the wife of its jailed white MP to prevent
President Robert Mugabe's party from taking his seat in this month's
parliamentary poll.

      Heather Bennett, a low-profile mother of two with little political
credentials of her own, was cheered as she campaigned in her own right for
the first time in rural eastern Zimbabwe.

      Supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
mobbed her motorcade as she drove into a dusty football field in a township
perched on a hillside.

      "I want to tell you that we shall never abandon you," Bennett, 42,
told the jubilant crowd of about 5,000, in her first campaign appearance
before general elections on March 31.

      The MDC has vowed to stop Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF from snatching the
constituency following the jailing of her husband, Roy Bennett, who won it
in 2000 against all odds. Mugabe's traditional stronghold is in rural
Zimbabwe while urban workers are the backbone of the labour-linked MDC.

      "We are going to win this seat, and we are going to shock ZANU-PF
elsewhere by winning this general election," MDC chairman Isaac Matongo told
the rally late on Sunday.

      Supporters sang and danced in between speeches spiced with slogans
against the government. The venue was festooned with posters taped to trees
and on shop fronts proclaiming the MDC slogan: "Change is in your hands".

      "ONE OF US"

      Roy Bennett, 48, won the Chimanimani seat in parliamentary elections
five years ago, a poll which was marred by violence and which the MDC and
some international observers say was rigged by ZANU-PF.

      Bennett, a Chimanimani coffee farmer, is popularly referred to by his
mainly black constituents as "Pachedu" -- meaning "One of us". He won in
2000 on an MDC ticket after the ruling ZANU-PF party refused public demands
to take him on as its candidate.

      Last October he was sentenced to a year in prison with hard labour
after he scuffled a government minister in parliament.

      Since his election ZANU-PF has targeted him in a campaign against the
MDC, which won nearly half of the 120 contested seats in the 2000 elections
and remains the biggest threat to Mugabe's 25-year-old rule.

      Bennett's farm in Chimanimani has been seized by the state under a
controversial programme of forcibly acquiring white-owned farms for
redistribution to blacks. He says most of his property has been stolen while
his wife suffered a miscarriage four years ago from the resultant trauma.

      The incident in parliament that sent him to jail followed a heated
debate over Mugabe's land seizure programme.

      His wife, one of four whites contesting this month's election on the
MDC's platform, told the rally the jailed MP was determined to continue
fighting for democracy.

      The MDC's Matongo said the Bennett family had become a symbol of the
opposition's determination to confront Mugabe and ZANU-PF over issues of
democracy, human rights abuses, economic mismanagement and abuse of office.

      Mugabe rejects accusations of tempering with elections and blames his
country's woes on opponents led by former colonial power Britain. Zimbabwe
also rejects any accusations of human rights abuses as slander by its
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Mail and Guardian

      Zimbabwe strangles platinum mines

      John Robertson: COMMENT

      07 March 2005 12:59

            Zimbabwe's prospects of attracting new mining investment inflows
have been dealt a crippling blow by the government's decision to sweep aside
international agreements that permitted a major platinum producer to use its
current export earnings to help fund its continuing capital developments.

            On February 28, platinum producers lost their rights to hold the
proceeds of their mining activities in Zimbabwe in offshore bank accounts.
Producers have been instructed to transfer all balances held in offshore
accounts to foreign currency accounts with Zimbabwean banks. In order to
access these foreign currency deposits, they will now have to comply with
the country's draconian Exchange Control Act and function within a slow and
erratic payments pipeline.

            The new measures have already been declared unacceptable by the
larger of Zimbabwe's platinum producers, Zimplats. To help Zimplats succeed,
Zimbabwe's government agreed to a need for formal agreements that would
permit Zimplats to retain direct control over its foreign earnings while
even larger expenditures on imports were still needed for the development of
the mine.

            With this agreement in place, Zimplats's output of
platinum-group minerals has increased Zimbabwe's production from about a ton
to 10 metric tons a year over the past three years. Zimplats's expansion
plans had been fully accepted by the government and are already in
operation. But the uncertainty caused by the Zimbabwe government's
abrogation of the financing agreement will almost certainly force the
suspension of these plans.

            The plans depended upon purchases of an imported plant,
equipment and specialised services that would have absorbed the mine's total
current foreign exchange earnings plus additional amounts from Impala
Platinum (Implats), the principal shareholder. The revoking will be treated
seriously, especially as the South African and Zimbabwean governments were
also signatories to the Impala Platinum- Zimplats agreement.

            Zimplats is now likely to lose crucial cash flow assistance that
it enjoyed from Implats.

            Mounting levels of panic appear to be the driving force behind
this and other foreign exchange-related measures taken recently by the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. It has waged war on inflation in the past year by
holding the exchange rate almost constant. Inflation would have been higher
without the enforced exchange rate stability, but the country paid a high
price in lost exports and lost export capacity.

            Falling foreign earnings from tobacco, beef, cotton, sugar and a
wide range of consumer goods have badly impacted on an economy that now
needs to import more than half its basic food requirements. With an election
less than a month away and one of the world's worst credit ratings, Zimbabwe
now has an urgent need for foreign cash to pay for imported food.

            Platinum proceeds appear to have been identified as the one
significant untapped resource, but instead of offering some relief to a
beleaguered government, the decision to capture platinum earnings seems
likely to arrest the one significant investment programme that was actually

            Repercussions are likely to be felt in many directions.
Proposals by other companies to go ahead with other mining developments,
notably diamond mining, are likely to be put on hold, as will job creation
and training opportunities, increased taxable earnings and the higher
foreign earnings inflows that would have resulted from the developments.

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From The Herald, 7 March

Singh, Orji case takes new twist

Herald Reporter

The payment wrangle between Original Black Entertainment Television and Miss
Tourism World president Mr John Singh took a new twist yesterday amid
revelations that the former received US$200 000 and another 6 890 pounds as
consultancy fee. This was contrary to media reports that OBE TV, a media
consultant firm for the Miss Tourism World based in the United Kingdom had
not been paid according to Mr Michael Orji, the director of OBE TV.
According to documents made available at the weekend, OBE TV Limited
chairman Mr Bernard Ampaw said the payment had been made in full and
apologised to Mr Singh. "The payment has been made in full and final
settlement in England as per our agreement to be paid in London, UK. OBE TV
apologises to the misunderstanding that my director Mr Michael Orji has made
in Harare, Zimbabwe against Mr John Singh, president and Miss Tourism World.
"OBE TV retracts all allegations against Mr John Singh, president and Miss
Tourism World," Mr Ampaw said. Both Mr Ampaw and Mr Paul Gibson who is Mr
Singh's assistant signed the letter, dated March 03 2005. Last week, Mr Orji
through his lawyer Mr Aston Musunga of Musunga and Associates filed an
urgent application at the High Court seeking an order to be paid the
consultancy fees. An order to have Mr Singh arrested was then granted by
High Court Judge Justice Antoinette Guvava although it could not be effected
as Mr Singh had left Zimbabwe for the UK in a huff. According to Mr Orji, Mr
Singh packed his bags and sneaked out of the country aboard British Airways
before the court ordered his arrest.

The Miss Tourism World Organisation was paid US$2 million as licence fee by
the Government and 10 percent of the amount was to be paid to OBE TV. Mr
Orji last week said that OBE TV would institute court injunctions in all the
countries Mr Singh holds the Miss Tourism World and that OBE TV was no
longer involved with the pageant. He, however said the wrangle had nothing
to do with the Zimbabwean Government but was between OBE TV and Mr Singh.
But what remains unclear is why Mr Orji wanted Mr Singh to pay him when he
knew about the agreement that payment was to be made in the UK. Besides
being a media consultant firm, OBE TV shot on sight a documentary on the
visits by more than 80 Miss Tourism World contestants to Zimbabwe's tourist
resort areas in the run-up to the final of the pageant held at the Harare
International Conference Centre on February 26. The initial agreement
between Mr Singh and OBE TV was for the documentary to be used by the models
to market Zimbabwe's tourism. The documentary titled "Zimbabwe: The
Authentic Africa" was also supposed to feature selected industries and
manufacturers to portray Zimbabwe as a country with vibrant productive
capacities and capabilities.
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Northside Community Church, Borrowdale

THURSDAY 17 March at 6.00pm
speakers: MORGAN TSVANGIRAI - President of the MDC
                  and TENDAI BITI (MP)

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----- Original Message -----
From: Solidarity 4 Zim

You will kindly note that in the Zimbabwe Solidarity Newsletter, issue 3, the first article ‘Voices from within – election monitors’  had a gross mistake in it. Where it says election monitors have to pay 100 000 US dollar (page 2), it should rather state that election monitors pay 100US$ if they are foreign election monitors and 100 000 Zimbabwe dollars if they are local observers. 
The editorial staff would sincerely like to apologize for this editorial mistake.
Kind regards.
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Sokwanele - Enough is Enough - Zimbabwe

International Women’s Day:
“A story of ordinary women as makers of history”

Sokwanele: 7 March 2005

Tomorrow, Tuesday 8 March, is International Women’s Day.

International Women’s Day originated from the trade union movement in America in the early 20th century, particularly in the activism of the women who worked in the clothing industry “sweatshops” of the time. In 1907 the women held a “Hunger March” in New York in protest at the dangerous working conditions and very long working periods, and calling for a ten-hour working day and improved wages. The police attacked the march, and the following year on March 8th 1908 a commemorative march was held, which became a milestone in women’s history. This date is what we now celebrate as International Women’s day.

The Charter of the United Nations, signed in San Francisco in 1945, became the first international agreement to proclaim gender equality as a fundamental human right. In 1975, during International Women's Year, the United Nations began celebrating International Woman’s Day on 8 March. Two years later, in December 1977, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women's Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions. In adopting its resolution, the General Assembly recognized the role of women in peace efforts and development and urged an end to discrimination and an increase of support for women’s full and equal participation.

The United Nations today argues that no enduring solution to society's most threatening social, economic and political problems can be found without the full participation, and the full empowerment, of the world's women. The UN theme for International Women’s Day this year is "Gender Equality Beyond 2005: Building a More Secure Future".

We enclose below a message from the United Nation’s Secretary General, Kofi Anan, for International Women’s Day:

This year marks a milestone in the movement for gender equality and the advancement of women -- the 10-year review of the Beijing Conference and Platform for Action. In 1995, women gathered in Beijing and took a giant step forward on behalf of humankind. As a result, the world recognized explicitly, as never before, that gender equality is critical to the development and peace of every nation. Ten years on, women are not only more aware of their rights; they are more able to exercise them.

Over this decade, we have seen tangible progress on many fronts. Life expectancy and fertility rates have improved. More girls are enrolled in primary education. More women are earning an income than ever before. At the same time, new challenges have emerged. Consider the trafficking of women and children -- an odious but increasingly common practice. Or the increasing targeting of women in armed conflict. Or the terrifying growth of HIV/AIDS among women -- especially young women.

Yet as we look back on the past decade, one thing stands out above all else: we have learnt that the challenges facing women are not problems without solutions. We have learnt what works and what doesn’t. If we are to change the historical legacy that puts women at a disadvantage in most societies, we must implement what we have learnt on a larger scale. We must take specific, targeted action in a number of areas.

This year offers a precious opportunity for doing that, as the world’s leaders prepare to gather for a summit at the United Nations in September to review progress in implementing the Millennium Declaration, agreed in 2000 by all the world’s governments as a blueprint for building a better world in the twenty-first century. As part of that process, I would urge the international community to remember that promoting gender equality is not only women’s responsibility -- it is the responsibility of all of us.
Sixty years have passed since the founders of the United Nations inscribed, on the first page of our Charter, the equal rights of women and men. Since then, study after study has taught us that there is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women. No other policy is as likely to raise economic productivity, or to reduce infant and maternal mortality. No other policy is as sure to improve nutrition and promote health -- including the prevention of HIV/AIDS. No other policy is as powerful in increasing the chances of education for the next generation. And I would venture that no policy is more important in preventing conflict, or in achieving reconciliation after a conflict has ended.

Whatever the very real benefits of investing in women, the most important fact remains: women themselves have the right to live in dignity, in freedom from want and freedom from fear. On this International Women’s Day, let us rededicate ourselves to making that a reality.

For more information on International Women’s Day, please visit the following websites:

Visit our website at

We have a fundamental right to freedom of expression!

Sokwanele does not endorse the editorial policy of any source or website except its own. It retains full copyright on its own articles, which may be reproduced or distributed but may not be materially altered in any way. Reproduced articles must clearly show the source and owner of copyright, together with any other notices originally contained therein, as well as the original date of publication. Sokwanele does not accept responsibility for any loss or damage arising in any way from receipt of this email or use thereof. This document, or any part thereof, may not be distributed for profit.

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Daily News Online Edition

      Date set for SADC observer mission

      Date: 7-Mar, 2005

      JOHANNESBURG - Next Monday has been set as the date when the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) observer mission departs to monitor the
parliamentary elections to be held at the end of this month in Zimbabwe.

      The 15-member team, led by South Africa's Minister of Home Affairs,
Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, will access whether the Zimbabwean electoral
process is in keeping with the SADC electoral guidelines.

      Aziz Pahad , the Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, today joined
President Thabo Mbeki in expressing optimism that the elections would be
free and fair.

      He brushed aside criticism that two weeks was not enough for the
observer mission to conduct its work.

      Pahad said it was crucial that the SADC observer mission be allowed to
carry out its mandate unhindered if the Zimbabwean polls were to be

      "There is no reason to believe that there is anyone who would want to
infringe on the rights of the Zimbabwean people to express their will fully
at these elections. We want to also believe that anyone infringing on the
rights of the people to express their will freely will be met with the full
might of the law, irrespective of which party they come from," Pahad told
reporters in Pretoria.

      Zimbabweans did not want the world to pre-judge an election that had
not yet taken place, Pahad said.

      The SADC observer mission, to be deployed in Zimbabwe from March 15,
is one of the few international groups to be allowed into Zimbabwe to
witness the polls.

      Its report is expected to play a major role in determining whether the
result will be accepted, although the opposition has already started crying
foul about the ruling Zanu PF resorting to chicanery to steal the election.

      South Africa will also send a 20-member parliamentary observer
mission, a national delegation led by Membathisi Mdladlana, the labour
minister, and a group of African National Congress observers yet to be

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Daily News Online Edition

      US, SA agree on need for free polls

      Date: 7-Mar, 2005

      WASHINGTON - Two of the world's most powerful women met at the weekend
and agreed on the need for the elections scheduled for the end of the month
in Zimbabwe to be free and fair.

      South Africa's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma,
and the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, held talks in Washington on
Friday where they discussed "the need for those elections to be open, free
and fair, and for hopefully the monitors to contribute to that process",
said US State Separtment spokesman Richard Boucher.

      The last Zimbabwean presidential elections in 2002 and the
parliamentary vote five years ago were marred by allegations of rigging,
violence and intimidation.

      Boucher said the US had expressed concern that the conditions in
Zimbabwe made it difficult to have free and fair elections "but we hope it
can be. We welcome SA's effort in that regard," he said.

      President Robert Mugabe has refused to grant most international
observers access to the country to judge the run-up and the actual
conduction of the polls, which he is fighting on an anti-Tony Blair

      Mugabe has invited observers from the 14-member Southern African
Development Community (SADC) among 32 observer missions for the March 31
vote, which will be seen as a key test of Harare's commitment to the
regional bloc to ensure a free poll.

      South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki last week said he believed that
the vote in Zimbabwe would be free and fair, which earned him the wrath of
the stunned opposition Movement for Democratic Change, which immediately
responded that he was wrong.

      MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has criss-crossed the globe to alert its
leaders that the playing field is not as level as Mugabe pretends it to be.
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The Collapse of Zimbabwe in the Wake of the 2000–2003 Land Reforms
(Edwin Mellen Press, 2004)

Monday, March 28, 2005
12:00 PM (Luncheon to follow)

Featuring the author, Craig Richardson, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, Salem College, with comments by Roger Bate, Fellow, American Enterprise Institute, and moderated by Marian Tupy, Assistant Director, Project on Global Economic Liberty, Cato Institute

The Cato Institute
1000 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001

tv Watch the Event Live in RealVideo
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Zimbabwe’s general election comes at a time of unprecedented political and economic crisis. With the opposition violently suppressed, it is very likely that the government of Robert Mugabe will once again rig the March 31 poll. In the early years after its independence, Zimbabwe, with its vast wealth of minerals and rich farmland, seemed poised to be an African success story. Today it is one of the most rapidly deteriorating countries in Africa. How did that happen? According to Craig Richardson, President Robert Mugabe's decision to seize commercial farmland in 2000 sent the country on a downward spiral, with foreign investors fleeing, unemployment skyrocketing, life expectancies dropping, and inflation reaching 500 percent. Please join us for a discussion of a book that Hernando de Soto called "crucially important… [in] letting us know how badly the ignorance of the role of property rights in development can hurt a nation."

Cato book forums and luncheons are free of charge. To register for this event, please fill out the form below and click submit or email, fax (202) 371-0841, or call (202) 789-5229 by 12:00 PM, Friday, March 25, 2005. Please arrive early. Seating is limited and not guaranteed. News media inquiries only (no registrations), please call (202) 789-5200. If you can't make it to the Cato Institute, watch this forum live online.

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