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

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The letter pages of the independent press have been full to the brim with
correspondence from concerned people expressing a wide range of views from
support to absolute disgust at the present political situation in this
country.  I see a lot of whining going on, and I guess editors must see one
hundred times more, about the most chronic stupidity being exercised by the
politicians in their Augean stable and the damp passive response from the
people.   This missive is about courage and moral fibre, matters that appear
lacking in the Zimbabwean community of all shades and persuasions.

I believe one of the finest characteristics of the majority of people in
Zimbabwe is their being a peaceful people who are respectful and indeed slow
to anger.  What a wonderful nation to suppress, where so little in the form
of resistance is offered.   Little question therefore that the people
succumbed to the perceived ravages of their colonial past.  No wonder the
current regime is so fully entrenched and has so totally subjugated the
people to the extent of making our colonial past a mere kindergarten in the
realms of our history.

"Ah", you say, "but we chased out Smith".   I am beginning to wonder.   Is
it not true that the now ruling party's army comprised gangs of villains,
renegades and thieves - opportunists armed to the teeth - who raped and
pillaged the villages in their glorious road to the defeat of colonialism!
Are not scoundrels of the same ilk perpetrating their long practiced
antagonism against you, the people today?   The same miscreant tricks, just
a different generation.   Can you, the people, not see the evil pattern?

Do not allow yourself to believe the untruthful liberation propaganda you
have all so readily gulped down over the last 20 years, without question.
Because this is what Zimbabweans have done and now they are paying for it
with a corrupt, racist, tribalist and autocratic regime.   Democracy is out
the window, people.  You are at the mercy of a more rabid bunch of men and
women than you will ever meet and they will stop at nothing to remain where
they are.

If you capitulate now, as you apparently have, then best Zimbabweans all go
down to their local ZANU (PF) cell, obtain a membership card and shut up -
stop whining and enjoy their lot, because they have not the courage to do
otherwise.  And Mugabe and his cronies know this only too well and will make
every effort to ensure you, the people, stay crumpled in your little
subservient lives for ever in the name of the baba, the party and heroes
past.   Are you vomiting with shame yet?  You should be!

Zimbabweans seem to lack the moral fibre to extricate themselves from the
ravages of the ZANU (PF) regime, they fear for their personal safety and
that of their families and how incredibly right they are, because the system
will crush them with absolute impunity and take a few along just for the
ride.   This is no appeal for heroes; we have enough of them running amok as
it is.   No, this is a little attack on your conscience, a suggestion that
you examine your morals, pick up your courage, and question the issues
without being swallowed in the trash emanating from the government press and
electronic media.
Think about your future in Zimbabwe, and more importantly that of your
children, not on the euphoric ideals of one man, one farm with free inputs
and 30 head of cattle to boot, but rather on the reality of you sitting in
your little hovel, jobless, hungry with hungrier children screaming for
sustenance.  Think about your lot in the fuel queues, the job queues as the
hunger pangs bite, and the bread queues to come as the regime skillfully
continues to plunder and destroy the very core of your life.

Zimbabweans must take courage and liberate themselves from the devastation
eating away at their nation.   The people must become bigger than the regime
and democratically defeat the ruling party, for should Government not allow
a process of democracy to prevail then they invite sustained violent
struggle, a useless waste of resources.  So take up a pseudonym, as I have
here, and as the war veterans have, for use of your real name will mean
instant reprisal to you and your family.

Encourage your fellow Zimbabweans to resist the unlawfulness of the present
regime by any way lawful and to be outspoken against the regime at every
juncture.   Let us create a "Winter of Discontent" and be heard through all
nations.  Mothers, wives, sisters and nieces of servicemen, policemen and
civil servants encourage your children, husbands and relatives to terminate
their services to the oppressive regime in the hope that when change comes
their jobs will be re-secured for clearly, as night follows day, they will
face the wrath of the people should they not.

Stop patronizing the state owned media through buying and reading their
diatribe of untruths and through advertising. Castigate those who read the
Herald, Sunday Mail and Kwayedza and boycott those companies that advertise
in those same papers and the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation's propaganda
channels.  Phone those "sellout" companies and tell them of your intentions.
  Avoid Government and ZANU (PF) sponsored gatherings or meetings, for your
presence gives them false confidence.    Vote at every conceivable
opportunity for anyone but the ruling party.

Report all incidents (present and past) of Government and ZANU (PF)
sponsored and orgestrated violence to lawyers, have affidavits recorded and
name offenders and witnesses, so that the perpetrators may be brought to
book after change comes about.  And be sure to send a copy to your local
church leaders and complain of their revolting silence.   Publicly identify
secret servicemen and masquerading "war veterans" list their names and
addresses and warn others against them.   Form cells with your fellow
Zimbabweans, at home and at work, but guard against the infiltration of the
party's clumsy spies, thugs and sellouts.

Understand what common law crimes are being committed by these roving ZANU
(PF) thugs.   Murder is unlawful, yes you all know.  But why are business
capitulating to extortion most foul?  What of the abductions (kidnapping and
hostage taking if you like) and all the assaults?   For goodness sake
extortion is "First Schedule" criminal offence as is abduction and assault.
And those former employees who brought the thugs upon you and extorted money
from you are accessories to the crime, if not principals who must be
prosecuted!   Companies have a right to recourse and must report such
offences to the police and at the very least get a reference, for you know
the police will not honour their own charter.  But when change comes, and it
will, at least you can seek justice.

Insist that your church leaders become outspoken against the regime or
boycott the churches.   Push non-government organizations to speak out
against the regime or refuse their programmes.   Annoy foreign embassies
with your protest, especially the spineless South Africans who have turned
their blind eye.  Take this message to all you know in Zimbabwe, cut it out,
keep it in your pocket, copy it, print it, e-mail it in the interests of
sustaining the last modicum of hope that we have before we fall into the
dark abyss beyond democracy and into anarchy.  And then send it again and
again so that everyone understands the message to the core.  We must
lawfully resist, we have a duty to the nation to do so.

Do nothing illegal fellow Zimbabweans for you are the force of goodness
against evil, the people, the true masses or the povo, the life blood of the
nation that no Government will suppress if you demonstrate a little morale
fiber and the courage to lawfully resist the regime.   Continue to be
spineless and cower in you hovels and your children will hang their heads in
abject poverty and shame and regret their worthless, immoral and cowardly
parents for ever.  The choice is yours.  So far, you have not managed very
well at the polls, and if you do not rise up to the call against evil, soon,
all goodness will be lost in Zimbabwe forever.

Tichatonga Mabhunu
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Farm Invasions and Security Report
Thursday 10th May 2001
Every attempt is made to provide a comprehensive report of ongoing activities in relation to farm invasions, but many incidents are unreported due to communications constraints, fear of reprisals and a general weariness on the part of farmers.  Farmers names and in some cases, farm names, are omitted to minimise the risk of reprisal.
Illegal occupiers abducted the foreman on Santidza Ranch, Mwenezi, on Monday.  The foreman is still missing. Police are investigating.
On Machiki Farm in Marondera, an aggressive mob entered the fenced area of the homestead in the evening, and assaulted the occupants.  A guard was separately assaulted. 
The fence guard on Bubye River Ranch, Mwenezi, was assaulted after discovering a section of fence that had been cut and covered with brush.  
The owner and his family on Mayfield Farm, in Harare West, were barricaded in their home following a dispute with illegal occupiers in which the son was assaulted. 
Illegal occupiers gathered on Rutenga Ranch, Mwenezi, in front of the owner’s home in the morning, barring the owner, his daughter, son-in-law and grandchild.  
A group of 7 businessmen from RSA were held at gunpoint at the 18 km peg outside Bulawayo on the Victoria Falls Road and were relieved of all valuables. 
Death threats have been made to farm labour on Cambria Farm, in Masvingo East and Central.  War vet Muzenda is requesting that staff vacate their homes, as he wants to occupy them. 
A work stoppage occurred on Cotswold Estate, in Umboe. The Governor said the owner can continue planting wheat next week.
In Mwenezi, a veld fire started by illegal occupiers on Chigwisi Section of Nuanetsi Ranch destroyed a lot of grazing.
350 head of communal cattle have moved onto Lesanth Ranch, Mwenezi, from the buffer zone.
Disruptions on wildlife safari operations is growing with two sets of clients having been frightened away by illegal occupiers in Inyati camp.
Mashonaland Central
Harare West - A dispute arose regarding access to water, the farmer's seed maize crop and the intended wheat crop on Mayfield Farm.  Police were called when the resident illegal occupiers assaulted the farm owner's son and they responded but were reluctant to offer any assistance.  The DA Concession and local Lands Committee eventually responded and, after lengthy deliberations, managed to stabilize the situation.  The farmer has been allowed to continue with wheat planting but the dispute remains largely unresolved.
Mashonaland West North 
Karoi - The owner of Ardingley Farm is being prevented from planting wheat. The DA is unable to assist.
Chinhoyi - Bandira Farm was visited by Assistant DA who say they are going to resettle 50 people on the farm, contradicting the agreement between the owner and the DA. There is a lot of movement on farms in this area.
Umboe - A work stoppage occurred on Cotswold Estate. The Governor said the owner can continue planting wheat next week.
Ayshire - Agritex are pegging on Great Gains.
Nyabira - Pegging has commenced on Kingswood and Wellesley Farm.
Trelawney / Darwendale -  An Agritex Team is pegging Western Ridge Farm, Marussino Farm, Sundown Farm, Riverhead Farm, Glen Esk and Preston Farm.
Mashonaland West South 
General - Agritex officers continue to peg on all farms, regardless of their  legal  status.  The situation remains un-aggressive.
Mashonaland East    
Marondera -  Following a visit by ZRP and the Assistant DA to Machiki Farm, an aggressive mob entered the fenced area of one of the homesteads in the evening, assaulting the occupants.  A guard was also assaulted.  Support Unit arrested the ringleader and remained on the farm overnight and continued looking for 2 other assailants known to the victims. 
Mutare - On Fairview wheat planting has been stopped by illegal occupiers. 
Burma Valley - Pressure is mounting and more peggings are taking place on listed properties.
Chipinge - A pedigree bull was slaughtered on Groenvlei.  Illegal occupiers are trying to force the owner out of his house on Lusilver.
Masvingo East & Central - 16 hydrant pipe fittings have been stolen from one field and 19 have been maliciously damaged or broken off on Dromore Farm.  Death threats have been made to farm labour on Cambria Farm.  War vet Muzenda is requesting that staff remove themselves from their quarters, as he wants to occupy them. Illegal occupiers are mounting pressure on the owner of Mayo Farm, requesting that he remove his cattle.   The owner of  Southwill Estates has been subjected to extortionate demands for alleged crop damage.  Large numbers of illegal occupiers are waiting to be resettled on Bon Air Farm.
Mwenezi - A veld fire started by illegal occupiers on Chigwisi Section of Nuanetsi Ranch destroyed a lot of grazing areas, and spread onto Triangle Limited. Illegal occupiers gathered on Rutenga Ranch in front of owner’s home in the morning, barring the owner, his daughter, son-in-law and grandchild. Shouting, singing slogans and demanding for the land and compensation for illegal occupiers maize eaten by the owner's cattle. illegal occupiers remained outside the homestead for the day and lit fires in the evening. About 19.00 hours the Officer in Charge arrived with the excuse that he had no transport. He immediately excused himself from the scene saying he would return after he had dinner. The Police returned and met with the illegal occupiers, but did not disperse the crowd that evening. In the morning illegal occupiers marched outside the homestead and prevented the owner from checking cattle in a kraal nearby. Farm labour were told to stop work.  The fence guard on Bubye River Ranch was assaulted after discovering a section of fence that had been cut and covered with brush. 350 head of communal cattle have moved onto Lesanth Ranch from the buffer zone. A protest between the owner of Santidza Ranch and illegal occupiers occurred when the owner wanted to take legal action against poaching. The illegal occupiers abducted the foreman on Monday and the foreman is still missing. Police are investigating.
Save Conservancy - Poaching continues.
Gutu / Chatsworth - Illegal occupiers on Nyombi Estates have cut gum trees. Fences have been cut near the railway line allowing cattle to wander. 85 illegal occupiers arrived on Lonely Farm.
Midlands - Nothing to report.
General - The level of aggression has not escalated and no further assaults have been reported during the past few weeks.  The general trend last month into this month has been a marked escalation of pegging on listed as well as unlisted properties.  Some unlisted properties being pegged found themselves listed the following Friday.  Disruptions on farming operations such as demands to remove owners cattle, chasing cattle off farms, cutting of fences so that cattle can stray, and the introduction of illegal occupiers' cattle continues unabated and is widespread.  Disruptions on wildlife safari operations is growing with two sets of clients having been frightened away by illegal occupiers  in Inyati camp.  A group of 7 businessmen from RSA were held at gunpoint at the 18 km peg outside Bulawayo on the Victoria Falls Road and were relieved of all valuables.   There are numerous disruptions  to businesses in the city and several reports of assaults.  Over Independence celebrations, DA's have been signing letters of authority to hunt animals on farms to supply meat for the festivities.  Poaching, snaring and stock theft continues with companies having lost as much as 300 head of cattle each.  On one ranch some 15 cattle are slaughtered each month.  Trading in meat is a new source of revenue from occupied properties.  Refusal to let landowners operate their properties is escalating, examples being; refusal to allow safari / hunting operations to take place; cattle being removed or restricted to limited areas of the property; claims being laid to irrigable lands; tomato producer being prevented  from cutting firewood to make fires around his lands to prevent frost damage; restriction demands to prevent owners going into sections of farms that have been illegally occupied; occupation of farm buildings / homesteads and workers houses; eviction of a miner occupying a farm house with his property being thrown outside whilst they moved into the premises; several claims that the farm now belongs to them with eviction notices against farm owners and demands of removal of cattle are being made.  Even on fenced game farms claims are being made on the animals as now belonging to them. 
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Living with death

By David Blair
The Daily Telegraph, 23 April, 2001

Last defender of the family's lands

For three generations, David Olds's family tilled the soil of their
Zimbabwe farmsteads, surviving drought, political turmoil and war. Now,
in the wake of government-condoned farm seizures which killed his mother
and brother, David is the last defender of the family lands.

The rains have been kind to Matabeleland this year. Green leaves cover
the acacia trees and a luxuriant carpet of grass rests on the
once-parched soil, still tainted by a film of sand blown in from the
Kalahari desert. Soon after the African dawn on Sunday, March 4, a tall,
slender woman of 68 walked down the corridor of her modest,
single-storey farmhouse. She had long white hair, tied in a flowing
ponytail that fell almost to her waist. Passing a row of paintings
depicting the scenery of Zimbabwe, she unlocked the door and walked out
into her garden.

After 25 years on Silverstreams farm, she began the working day at 6.20
every morning by opening the gates beside her whitewashed home.
Following her normal routine, she walked past the empty oil drums and
past the small outhouse with a flat tin roof. The sun had risen and the
air was pleasantly cool before the heat of the day. Beyond was the
farmyard, with cattle moving to-and-fro, and black workers gathering to
collect water from the nearby dam.

She was about five feet from the gates when two men opened fire with
AK-47 assault rifles from behind an acacia tree. A hail of bullets
sliced through the wire mesh of the fence, punctured the oil drums and
slammed into the outhouse. She was hit and mortally wounded, but she
turned and struggled towards the cover afforded by her white Isuzu
pick-up. Trailing blood on the grass, she managed to move about 10 feet
before she fell to the ground and died. Her three dogs were driven half
mad by fear and rage. But the gunmen shot all of them: Pavarotti the
Rottweiler, Blondi the mongrel and Duke, an Alsatian so old it could
barely run.

Then they shattered the lock with a burst of fire, broke through the
gates and emptied their weapons into the body of the defenceless woman.
One bent down and stole the wedding ring from her finger. Then they took
her white pick-up and made their escape. A witness saw the car heading
north towards Tsholotsho, and the vehicle was found abandoned the
following day. One man has been charged with murder, but the other is
still at large, and no one has yet been convicted for any of last year's
political killings.

The murder of Gloria Olds was yet another tragedy for a Zimbabwean
farming family that has tilled the soil of Matabeleland for three
generations. Barely a mile from the spot where Gloria was killed, her
son, Martin, 43, was murdered on neighbouring Compensation farm on April
18 last year. Martin was certainly not defenceless. He had a fierce
reputation as a tough character, well able to protect himself. They came
for him at dawn, not two gunmen but a highly organised force of 70. Even
then, Martin held them off with a shotgun and 9mm handgun for perhaps
half an hour, wounding two before he was shot and beaten to death. His
homestead is now a scorched and bullet-scarred shell, and squatters are
staking out his land.

With the vociferous support of President Robert Mugabe, squatters have
occupied almost 1,700 white-owned farms since the onset of the land
invasions last February. All but a handful of the 45 farms in the Olds
family's home area of Nyamandhlovu, 350 miles south-west of Harare, have
been overrun. Seven white landowners have been murdered: Gloria and
Martin in Matabeleland, and five others scattered elsewhere in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe's ruthless terror campaign against the opposition claimed another
40 lives last year.

The tragedy has split up the Olds family. Martin's widow, Kathy, 44,
fled to Britain last year, where she was granted political asylum. She
now lives in Cirencester with her children, Angus, 14, and Martine, 18.
Gloria's surviving son, David, 44, still runs Silverstreams, the family
farm, while his wife, Laura, 40, and children, Mandy, 14, and Ryan, 11,
live in the nearby town of Bulawayo. Laura visits her husband
occasionally, travelling the 40 miles along a narrow, winding road, but
the risks are too great for them to contemplate bringing the children,
or for her to stay on the farm overnight. Every day they must think
about their safety and prepare for the worst. David varies his routine
hour by hour, and maintains constant radio contact with neighbouring
white farmers.

David is a powerfully built man who oozes determination from every pore.
His emotional attachment to Silverstreams cattle ranch is unbreakable.
'You're not just talking about a man's livelihood here. When a man loses
his farm, he loses everything. He loses his home, his livelihood, his
memories, his whole life. Where does he go after that?' he said. Yet
Silverstreams could be listed for seizure by the government at any time,
and squatters occupy Compensation farm. Kathy Olds has received no
compensation for being driven off her property - and no one expected
anything else.

David spent his childhood on a farm. His brother died defending the
family's land. Now it falls to him to continue the Olds family tradition
and try against all odds to recapture the happiness of the past. He
talks with audible pride of his grandfather, Martin, who bought the
12,000 acres of Silverstreams in 1942. Then, it was a barren expanse of
dense bush, two days' journey from Bulawayo on one of the ox-wagons that
were still widely used. 'The old man built this place up from nothing.
When he bought the farm, there was almost nothing here. Everything you
see is what we've done,' said David.

The family were butchers by trade. Originally from St Just, Cornwall,
they emigrated to South Africa in the mid 1800s and the first Martin
Olds moved to the British Crown Colony of Southern Rhodesia in 1931. He
bought a butchery in Bulawayo, went into cattle ranching on
Silverstreams, and left the family business to his son, Alf.

By the time Alf opened a second shop in Bulawayo - the 'Olds Butchery' -
he had met a young, dark-haired travel agent who worked for Central
African Airways, called Gloria. She was born in Hastings and had come to
Rhodesia in 1941 as a wartime evacuee. The couple married in 1955, when
he was 26 and she was 23.

David was born in 1957, one year after his brother, Martin. He talks
with fondness of the ordered world of Rhodesia, when everything,
absolutely everything, was geared for the convenience of the white
elite, numbering less than four per cent of the population. Bulawayo may
once have been the seat of power for Lobengula, King of the Ndebele
tribe, but under colonial rule it acquired the Ascot race course, a
whites-only country club and plush suburbs with streets named after
British prime ministers. The Olds Butchery was on Abercorn Street, just
around the corner from the lovingly tended memorial to Cecil Rhodes's
pioneer column - a Gatling gun mounted on a solid stone plinth.

Alf would rise at three in the morning and work in the butchery until
closing time. Every weekend, he would leave the family home in Bulawayo
and look after Silverstreams. 'Cattle was the old man's passion and it
was work, work, work. I can't think of a time when I saw him relax,'
said David.

Life revolved around cattle sales and the annual agricultural show.
Making no concession to the heat of the African summer, men would dress
as if they were attending auctions in Lincolnshire. Tweed jackets and
trilbys dominated the crowd of farmers as the cattle were driven before
them. Alf would always position himself on the right edge of the back
row. The animals he bought often became prize steers.

When David was five, the family left Bulawayo and moved to Southcote
ranch, a few miles from Silverstreams, although they kept the butchery
in town. Inhabiting a magical world of dense bush filled with wildlife,
the boys spent their days herding cattle, riding horses, swimming in the
dam built by their father, and hunting. By the age of 12, David and
Martin were shooting porcupines, spring hares and small antelope with
.22 rifles. Soon they were heading off in the dead of night to track
down kudus.

The experience left them with a deep understanding of nature. 'We always
shot for the pot or because the animals had to be controlled. We never
shot for fun, never,' said David.

Orphaned animals were rescued from the bush and became family pets.
David shared his baby milk bottle with a steenbok, a tiny antelope found
abandoned near the farmhouse. As well as nine dogs, at various stages
the Olds family menagerie included Dumbi the kudu, Paddy the vervet
monkey, Mziki the reedbuck, Hans the porcupine and Esmerelda the skunk.

Politics impinged little on their lives. Yet David remembers sitting in
the family butchery and listening to Ian Smith's announcement of the
Unilateral Declaration of Independence from Britain on November 11,

'We were sitting listening to the radio. I remember all the customers
listening, how happy everyone was,' he said.

Like most white Rhodesians, the Olds family backed Smith to the hilt -
Alf's cousin, Gordon, was one of the Prime Minister's backbench MPs -
and trusted him to defend their privileged life against the threatening
spectre of African nationalism.

That privileged lifestyle included an education modelled on the British
public school system of the 19th century. At the age of seven, David and
Martin went to boarding school and their parents chose the deeply
traditional Rhodes Estate Preparatory School (REPS), near the Matopos
hills, south of Bulawayo.

Gloria never forgot her British background. Yvonne Sharp, who lived on a
nearby farm in Nyamandhlovu, became a close friend in the Seventies.
'Gloria would always say that England was a lovely, gorgeous, cool
country. She would dress in the English style, with lovely hats and
gloves. She wanted her family to remember that they were English as well
as Rhodesian.'

Compulsory chapel, Latin lessons, an obsession with sport and an
old-fashioned uniform complete with a peaked cap proved beyond doubt the
British heritage of REPS.

The boys progressed to the equally traditional Plumtree School in 1969,
one of the oldest and most prestigious establishments in Rhodesia. In
the quiet school courtyards, every conceivable British tradition was
lovingly upheld, including the fagging system. All of the older boys had
a 'skivvy' - a younger boy charged with the vital tasks of making tea
and polishing shoes.

David excelled at all sports, especially rugby, and was a troublesome,
boisterous tearaway, who had frequent fights with his elder brother.
Also a brilliant sportsman, Martin became a prefect and head of Lloyd
House. These honours entitled him to wear a distinctive white shirt and
punish boys with 'Impots' (or Impositions). A new athletics track was
built with the forced labour of the miscreants - who almost always
included David.

While Martin was responsible and hardworking, his younger brother was
always getting into scrapes of some kind. One evening, David and a
cousin, Gavin, armed themselves with catapults, took up position on the
school balcony and began shooting at the fruit bats swooping overhead.
For a joke, Gavin decided to shoot David. The resulting injury to his
left eye almost blinded him, caused a permanent squint and led him,
disaster of disasters, to miss a whole rugby season.

Neither boy stayed on for A-levels. Martin left Plumtree in 1974,
followed by David in 1975. By this time, the war against black
guerrillas led by Mugabe and the late Joshua Nkomo was in full swing.
White Rhodesians dismissed the rebels as 'gooks' and although their
idyllic world was under pressure as never before, little changed on the

As the war escalated with a wave of attacks on white farms near
Rhodesia's eastern frontier in 1975, Alf and Gloria moved to
Silverstreams and set up the family home. The entire community adjusted
to life at war. Saturdays were still occupied by tennis parties and
dinner at the Nyamandhlovu Farmers' Hall, but grenade screens and blast
walls protected homesteads, everyone carried guns - usually
semi-automatic FN rifles for the men and 9mm handguns for the wives -
and lone travel by night was forbidden. Every farm was issued with an
Agric Alert radio and roll calls were transmitted at 7pm and 7am each
day. If there was no reply, neighbours would assume the worst and rush
to the rescue.

Yvonne Sharp attended firearms drill at the Farmers' Hall, yet she never
saw her friend Gloria at these occasions. 'Gloria was a fantastic shot.
She never needed the training. She and Alf were well prepared for the
war,' she said. But farmers around Nyamandhlovu were shielded by
geography. Mugabe's ZANLA guerrillas operated out of Mozambique, on the
other side of the country, and rarely came as far as Matabeleland.
Rebels from Nkomo's ZIPRA army infiltrated Rhodesia from Zambia, 250
miles to the north. Few penetrated as far as Nyamandhlovu and throughout
the entire war, no serious incidents affected the local farming

By 1975, Smith had extended the call-up to include all white males over
the age of 18. David and Martin were conscripted into the Rhodesian Army
soon after leaving Plumtree and, at their special request, found
themselves in the Grey Scouts. This unit of mounted soldiers, specially
trained for counter-insurgency operations, claims the honour of having
conducted the last cavalry charges in the history of warfare.

Alone, and extraordinarily among modern armies, the Rhodesians still
used horses on the battlefield. A soldier on horseback had a better
chance of spotting his prey and of pursuing him to the kill, or so the
thinking went. Perhaps most importantly, the Grey Scouts had a crucial
psychological advantage over bewildered African opponents. Their
prisoners often asked, 'How can the white man ride on the top of the

David and Martin trained together for the Grey Scouts in 1977, learning
how to shoot accurately from the saddle and dismount at a gallop. David
remembers these days with great happiness.

'There were tremendous blokes in the Grey Scouts and being with Marty
again was great,' he said. 'The camaraderie was something you will never
get again. All the blokes would do anything for each other, die for each

The brothers went into action in 1979. By this time, their opponents had
discovered the best way of breaking up mounted units - ambushing them
with mortar and machine-gun fire. David and Martin Olds were with a
troop of 20 horsemen when mortar bombs began exploding all around them
on a patch of open plain in Chiweshe, the main infiltration route for
Mugabe's guerrillas. 'All we could do was try and charge our way
through,' said David.

The cavalry careered across the plain, with shells exploding in all
directions and bullets cracking overhead. Suddenly they spotted a narrow
ravine in their path, but it was too late to stop. 'We all piled in.
Blokes were losing their horses left right and centre, it was a real
to-do,' said David. Remarkably, no one was killed in this ambush sprung
by increasingly effective ZANLA guerrillas. But the brothers had nothing
but fond memories of the army. 'It turned boys into men. You don't
remember the killing, you remember the good times with your mates,'
explained David.

There were also soldierly high-jinks. While on a trip to South Africa to
buy some horses, David and a few friends stumbled on the hotel where the
cast of The Wild Geese, the action movie starring Richard Burton and
Roger Moore, was staying. It happened to be Burton's birthday and the
hotel had been taken over for the party. Claiming to be kitchen staff,
the group of Grey Scouts walked into the celebration and claimed an
empty table at the back of the dining hall, from where they joined the
toasts to the star.

Although it had nothing to do with the war, the Olds family were hit by
tragedy in 1978. Elizabeth, the brothers' 18-year-old sister, was killed
in a car accident. She had been Alf's favourite and David described his
father as 'nearly destroyed', but added, 'with true grit, he got through
it.' This stoical attitude to death was typical of the rugged and
increasingly embattled and isolated white Rhodesian population.

Rhodesia was transformed into independent Zimbabwe in 1980, and Mugabe
took power after winning an easy victory in the first elections. The
Olds family were too deeply embedded in their country to consider

Like tens of thousands of whites, they were encouraged to stay by
Mugabe's early message of reconciliation and unity. They stayed in their
country and were proud to call themselves Zimbabweans.

Gloria helped the neighbouring George Silundika primary school by
donating books and meat from the ranch. Their 40 black workers were
treated well, and friends point out that many served the Olds family for
decades. When Gloria's friends gathered for her funeral, at least 30
black faces were among the congregation of 250.

After leaving the army, shortly before independence, David went to
Harare and worked for an irrigation company. The homestead on
Silverstreams was too small for him to return there. He had met Laura
while serving in the Grey Scouts, and the couple married in 1984.

Martin married Kathy in September 1980. The wives of both brothers were
born and bred in Africa and had no desire to leave.

Martin and Kathy bought Compensation farm, next door to his parents at
Silverstreams, in 1981. The two ranches were merged into one unit
covering about 20,000 acres, with almost 1,000 head of cattle. After Alf
died of emphysema at the age of 70 in 1999, Gloria ran the operation
with the help of Martin. When he was killed she managed alone until
David moved in with her in December 2000. By chance, he happened to be
with his family in Bulawayo on the weekend when she was killed.

For the Nyamandhlovu farmers, the period after independence was far more
traumatic than the war itself. The old certainties of Rhodesia were gone
and there was a new, more potent threat. Mugabe's first government was a
fragile coalition with Nkomo, his old rival. By 1982, Nkomo had been
sacked and armed dissidents, drawn from the remnants of his ZIPRA army,
roamed Matabeleland, carrying out random attacks.

White farms around Nyamandhlovu were often the target, and five local
landowners were killed - more than during the entire war. With the
support of the authorities, farmers joined the Police Reserve and formed
a rapid reaction squad, popularly known as the A-team. To no one's
surprise, Martin became its leading figure.

George Parkin, 47, was senior officer of Nyamandhlovu police station and
a close friend of Martin. After leaving the police force in 1982, he
became a manager on nearby Fountains ranch, 10 miles from Martin's home.
'Whenever there was an emergency, the first person you phoned was
Martin. He never hesitated, you always knew he was coming,' said Parkin.

In 1984, dissidents ambushed Jack and Joy Ehlers at the gates of their
homestead, about 20 miles from the Olds farms. Their vehicle was raked
with automatic gunfire before they were dragged out and butchered on the
ground. Farm workers raised the alarm and Martin, characteristically,
was first on the scene. George Parkin's wife, Lesley, 48, remembered
Martin saying, 'I closed Joy's eyes and put down her skirts. There was
nothing more we could do for them.'

Armed with FN rifles, Martin, George Parkin and about six other
landowners set off to track down the killers. Travelling on horseback
and using an armoured Land Rover specially adapted by Martin, they
headed north for four days. The tracks of the killers led to a village
near Lupane, 60 miles away.

Martin and four others waited in ambush on the edge of the village,
while Parkin led the rest of the squad through the cluster of mud huts
to flush out the killers. In a sudden flurry of activity, four men armed
with AK-47s fled in panic. Parkin heard a volley of shots as Martin's
ambush group opened fire. One dissident was killed, and he learnt that
Martin had fired the fatal shot. The survivors were handed over to the

The Parkin family frequently joined Martin for holidays. In 1983, Martin
and Kathy had a daughter, Martine, and a son, Angus, followed in 1986.
Childhood polio had crippled Kathy and she walked on crutches, not the
most practical way of negotiating the rugged terrain of Matabeleland.
But Martin would always carry her whenever necessary. Lesley Parkin
described him as a 'gentle giant, a man who was like a puppy when he was
with his wife and kids'.

She had cause to be grateful for Martin's selflessness when he saved her
husband's life in 1989. The families were enjoying a fishing holiday on
Lake Kariba when George and Martin tried to tether their boats as dusk
fell. Carrying a mooring rope, George waded into the black, choppy
water. When he was at knee depth, a shape loomed out of the darkness and
seized him by the right leg. The crocodile toppled George into the water
and swept him, screaming, out into the lake. Hearing the cries for help,
Martin plunged in and seized hold of the animal. 'There was a tremendous
wrestling match, Mart was getting scratched to hell by the croc's claws,
but he kept bashing away at it,' said George.

Yet the six foot beast managed to break away from Martin and carry its
victim into even deeper waters. Suddenly George surfaced, his rescuer
managed to grab hold of him and the crocodile mysteriously relaxed its
grip. Martin dragged his friend to safety and set about giving him
emergency aid. Typically, he had brought with him a voluminous medical
kit containing every form of treatment. George was made comfortable and
taken to hospital the next day. Aside from a vivid collection of scars
on his leg, he received no serious injury.

Martin's feat received nationwide publicity and on Independence Day the
following year, April 18, 1990, he was summoned to State House and
decorated with the Bronze Cross by Mugabe. Photographs from the
newspapers show a stern, bearded farmer, sitting two places away from an
aloof president. Exactly 10 years later, Martin was murdered by gunmen
who made no secret of their loyalty to Mugabe.

When the farm invasions began last February, Martin was the first to
demand that the police uphold the law and evict the squatters. When they
failed to act, he personally rounded up five invaders who were on a
neighbouring farm and escorted them to Nyamandhlovu police station. John
Zurnamer, 43, a close friend, said that Martin demanded to see the
senior officer and told him, 'Do your duty'. One week later, he was

'They picked out Mart because he was the toughest nut in the area. He
was a hard, principled man who didn't take kindly to anyone breaking the
law,' said Zurnamer. To break the farmers of Nyamandhlovu, the invaders
had to break the Olds family.

Now David is determined to cling to whatever can be salvaged from the
wreck of their lives. His wife, Laura, makes no secret of her desire to
leave Zimbabwe. 'It wouldn't be the same living in England; we wouldn't
have the sun, the wildlife, the horseriding, but at least we would be
safe,' she says. But her determined, unbending husband is resolute about

The Olds family have their eccentricities - a mosaic of Mussolini hangs
in their living-room and no one can remember how it arrived there,
although it may, apparently, be a collector's item. But in their own
way, they typify the breed of people who chose to farm in Africa. Now
they are confronted with the ultimate dilemma - whether to leave the
country that has become their own, or stay in the bush and defy the men
at their gates. It is not a decision for the faint-hearted.

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18 AFZ planes grounded

Vincent Kahiya
Zimbabwe Independent, 11 May 2001

THE Airforce of Zimbabwe (AFZ) is falling apart as a combination of
international embargoes, foreign currency shortages and poor maintenance
has immensely compromised Zimbabwe's air defences, military sources said
this week.

The Zimbabwe Independent was also told that untreated malaria has
claimed the lives of more soldiers and airmen in the Congo than actual
Military casualties from the DRC campaign, authoritative sources said,
currently stand at 600.

The figure of troops in the DRC has been variously put at between 9 000
and 12 000 men. But the Independent understands that following rebel
attacks last year on Zimbabwean positions at Pweto, on the DRC's border
with Zambia, the total went up to 16 000.

The Zimbabwean authorities have kept a lid on Zimbabwe's losses in the
DRC saying these would be revealed at the end of the war.

However, it is the depletion of the airforce which has raised concerns
among senior officers in the high command. It has been established that
the AFZ has at least 18 planes out of service due to a shortage of spare
parts while some have been lost in operations.

These include three Lynx helicopters, two Alouette helicopters, and two
Hind helicopter gunships.

The AFZ's four British-made Hawk fighter planes are all grounded due to
shortage of spare parts following an arms embargo imposed by Whitehall
last year. Three F-7 fighter planes are believed to have crashed after
being sent to the DRC to perform a fly past at the funeral of Laurent
Kabila in January. The other planes which are not operational include an
AB412 helicopter and two Cassa 212 transporters.

Information at hands shows that as of January last year, the in-service
fleet of the AFZ included 12 F-7 interceptors of which two were
11 Hunter fighters from the Rhodesian era, and 15 Cessna transporters.

There were also 11 Hawks, 23 Alouettes, six SF260 TP and 23SF260M/W/F
helicopters, and nine AB412s.

The in-service fleet consists of planes that are due for service and
those that still have flying hours. Most of the planes are on the ground
as they cannot be flown without a service certificate. The servicing is
being hampered by a shortage of spare parts.

Sources said the operational figure was currently standing at three Hind
helicopter gunships, one Cassa, one Lynx, six F-7s, one Alouette and
four AB412s. There are also two AS532 Cougar helicopters used mainly by
President Mugabe for his tours of the country.

Military sources said the AFZ, once the envy of many African states, had
slowly lost its shine. The AFZ was credited with successfully defending
Kinshasa when Laurent Kabila's regime was subject to rebel attack in
August 1998.

The Airforce of Zimbabwe successfully defended Kinshasa from the air and
it is doubtful if Zimbabwe can perform that duty now, a defence
specialist said.

Sources said Zimbabwe had also suffered more manpower losses form
disease than combat. They said the increase in malarial cases became
manifest when the ZNA moved to the eastern front in 1999 where troops
had to spend long periods in trenches in the equatorial jungle.

There was increased risk of contracting the disease and fatalities went
up due to erratic supplies of drugs. Rebel sources in the DRC have put
the figure

of malaria-related deaths among Zimbabwean soldiers at above 2 000 but a
Red Cross official in Kinshasa this week said the figure was more likely
to be about 1 000. This could not however be confirmed.

Attempts to have malaria cases treated at South African military
hospitals were unsuccessful because protocols with Pretoria covered only
military casualties, the Independent has been told.

The Independent also heard this week that Zimbabwe had purchased an
Antonov 12 transporter from the Ukraine.

Sources said Ukrainian pilots who usually flew military goods to the DRC
from Zimbabwe were refusing to fly without payments upfront in foreign
currency and Zimbabwe saw it prudent to buy a plane and fly it using AFZ
officers. However, there are no spare parts or service records which
normally accompany a purchase of this kind and the plane is likely to
end up grounded.

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War vets close down 27 farms

Dumisani Ndlela
Zimbabwe Independent, 11 May 2001

WAR veterans this week closed down 27 farms in the Virginia farming area
of Macheke, threatening production of wheat and tobacco in moves that
will seal-off over $300 million worth of revenue and cost thousands of

Although the farms had been listed for compulsory acquisition about a
month ago, the farmers said they had not been served with either a
Section 5 or Section 8 Land Acquisition Order to compel them to stop
working on their land when the war veterans invaded their farms.

I have not been served with an order and I just carry on with my
business as usual, one affected farmer said yesterday.

But sources said the government, through Lands and Agriculture minister
Joseph Made, had endorsed the shut-down on the properties by war
veterans and immediately served orders on the affected farmers
indicating that he would fast-track the acquisition of the farms.

A farmer from the area said yesterday that the farmers had been served
with different orders.

Some have been served with Section 5 orders and others have been served
with Section 8 orders, a farmer said yesterday.

This is understood to be the first large-scale expropriation in an area
by the government since last year and has caused anxiety in the farming
sector. Virginia is one of the country's most productive areas and the
cessation of production will have implications for food self-sufficiency
and forex revenues.

Made is understood to have already taken a hardline against the farmers,
ignoring any pleas for dialogue.

Farming sector executives confirmed the cessation of farming activities
in Macheke, where Virginia lies, but refused to give details until after
a meeting that was scheduled to end late yesterday. Industry sources
predicted the meeting, reportedly with senior government officials, was
unlikely to cut any ice with Made who appears determined to prove
obdurate and thereby win political favour.

However, the executives expressed grave concern at the situation in the
area which they described as very worrying.

The farmers said their complaints to the district administrators and
police over the illegal occupation of the farms were being ignored.
Police are doing absolutely nothing when approached for help, a farmer

Over 2 061 jobs will be lost due to the move, while 10 000 dependants
will also be left homeless.

The total wage bill for all the employees is estimated at $42 million
per month and NSSA stands to lose $2,5 million in monthly subscriptions.

Planting of wheat and tobacco on the affected Virginia farms measuring a
total of 1 142 hectares has ceased.

No land can be prepared and we are talking of very huge losses, a farmer
told the Zimbabwe Independent from the farming area, one of the most
productive in the country.

A farming source said nine wheat production farms had been closed while
17 tobacco farms had been shut down by the war veterans.

The wheat farms cover 295 hectares while the tobacco farms cover 847
hectares. These are portions of land normally under intensive

Farmers said wheat production under threat from the invasions and
government designation plans add up to the equivalent of 2 655 000
loaves of bread this winter. The average cost of a loaf of bread is $25
and this brings the total loss to $67 million, while tobacco production
lost amounts to $261 million at US$1,70 per kilogramme, sources said.

l The clampdown on Macheke farms comes as tourism industry players were
reportedly busy trying to secure a meeting with Environment and Tourism
minister Francis Nhema over the designation of land in the Eastern
Highlands which includes some of the country's premier resorts.

Tourism industry players said a total of over US$500 million worth of
receipts could be scuttled by the move this year alone, while an
undisclosed number of jobs would be lost.

The Eastern Highlands boasts prime tourist resorts which include Outward
Bound, Pine Crest and Raynes Park Estates as well as the country's
best-known lodges and hotels like Troutbeck Inn, Pine Tree Inn, Inn on
the Ruparara, and the Montclair.

Operators in the area are pushing the government to de-list their land
from properties to be designated under the government's fast track
resettlement programme spear- headed by Made.

But they were also privately lobbying for a court challenge against the
orders, sources said.

Since the decline in the tourism industry due to the breakdown of the
rule of law and farm invasions, the Eastern Highlands had maintained its
market share when other resorts around the country has experienced
dwindling arrivals.

That is now likely to change.
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From The Daily News, 10 May

Editor charged with defamation again

Geoff Nyarota, the Editor-in-Chief of The Daily News, was yesterday afternoon charged with criminal defamation for the second time in a month. Yesterday’s charge arises from the publication of stories in which it was reported that Evelyn Masaiti, the MP for Mutasa, and three relatives of some victims of the June parliamentary election violence sued President Mugabe in the United States of America last year.

Nyarota arrived at Harare Central police station soon after the arrival of a five-person delegation from the United States-based World Press Freedom Committee. The delegation is in Zimbabwe on a mission to study Press freedom conditions in the country. It consists of the committee’s executive director, Marilyn J Greene of the US, European representative, Ronald Koven of France, David Dadge of the International Press institute in Austria, and South Africans Joe Mdhlela of the Media Workers’ Association of South Africa and Raymond Louw, Editor of Southern Africa Report. The delegates held a meeting with Information and Publicity Minister, Jonathan Moyo, in his office yesterday morning and on discovering that Nyarota was about to be charged with criminal defamation they visited Harare Central.

Louw said last night: "We visited the police station as part of our investigation into the state of the media in Zimbabwe. We are holding a press conference tomorrow at which we will release the preliminary findings of our visit." When Nyarota arrived at the police station the delegation followed him into the charge office. They were, however, asked to leave by policemen who said they had no legitimate business there. Nyarota, who was accompanied by his Harare lawyer, Lawrence Chibwe of Stumbles and Rowe, was then charged under the Law and Order (Maintenance) Act. The charge arises from publication of stories, which the government has denied. The stories were confirmed by the US-based lawyers who filed the $20 billion lawsuit.

They said that the four plaintiffs had, indeed, sued Mugabe. Elliot Pfebve, Maria Stevens, Adella Chiminya and Evelyn Masaiti sued the President for alleged wilful violation of human rights and for murder. Chiminya’s husband, Tichaona, who was the campaign manager for Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC president, was petrol-bombed in Murambinda on 15 April last year. He died together with Talent Mabika, while travelling from an election campaign rally. Pfebve’s brother, Matthew, was murdered in Bindura just before last year’s parliamentary election, while Stevens’ husband, David, a commercial farmer, was shot dead by war veterans in Murehwa. Masaiti, the Mutasa MP, sued Mugabe for what she described as his failure to run the country in a democratic manner. US judge Victor Marrero passed a default judgment in the civil suit against Mugabe. The case was heard in the New York Manhattan District Court in the presence of Stevens, Pfebve and Chiminya.

Soon after a Detective Assistant Inspector Dowa finished recording a statement from Nyarota, his lawyer told The Daily News that his client had denied the charge that he criminally defamed Mugabe. Chibwe said the police proceeded to take Nyarota’s fingerprints. Last month, Nyarota and two of his reporters, Sandra Nyaira and Julius Zava, were charged with criminal defamation arising from the publication of a story in which the name of Mugabe was mentioned in connection with allegations that certain unauthorised payments were made by Air Harbour Technologies during the construction of the controversial $5 billion new Harare International Airport building. The police yesterday said the docket for this charge had been submitted to the Attorney General’s Office.

Meanwhile, the name of Mugabe has appeared on a just released list of 10 world leaders accused of the worst abuses against the media. In a statement, released to coincide with the celebration of World Press Freedom Day, whose major celebrations were held in Windhoek, Namibia, last week, the New York-based Committee to Protect journalists (CPJ) said of Zimbabwe: "Robert Mugabe’s government has launched an all-out war against independent media, using weapons that range from lawsuits to physical violence."

Mugabe, President Vladimir Putin of Russia and Colombian paramilitary leader, Carlos Castano are the new additions to the list of government leaders alleged to be guilty of using various methods to intimidate the media in their countries. The list is prepared annually by the CPJ, a non-profit and non-partisan organisation dedicated to the global defence of Press freedom. At the top of the list are Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, China’s President Jiang Zemin and Liberia’s President Charles Taylor. The CPJ noted that, since January 1999, two local journalists have been tortured and two foreign correspondents expelled, while the secret service screens e-mail and Internet communications "to preserve national security". Bomb attacks twice damaged the premises of The Daily News, with the second bomb explosion following close on the heels of a call from Mugabe’s Information Minister, Moyo, to silence the paper "once and for all". CPJ’s executive director, Ann Cooper, said in a statement on the Ten Worst Enemies of the Press for 2001: "We hope that by naming these 10 Press tyrants, we can focus world attention on their deeds and, by exposing them, bring about change."

From News24 (SA), 11 May

'Stop intimidating journos'

Harare - Zimbabwe's government has created a climate of intimidation against journalists in the country that must end, a panel of international press rights groups said Thursday. "Violence against journalists has increased, foreign journalists have been expelled, and the government has sought to preserve the monopoly of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation," the group said in a preliminary report. "Furthermore, government ministers have verbally abused journalists in public and used criminal defamation laws to silence critical reporting," it added.

The delegation called on the government to uphold the rule of law, ensure the safety of journalists, investigate abuses of press freedom, end its campaign of intimidation, stop the use of criminal defamation suits, and uphold a Supreme Court judgment ending ZBC's monopoly. In presenting their findings, members of the delegation said their meeting with Information Minister Jonathan Moyo produced little hope for change. "Mister Moyo, in my opinion, saw nothing wrong with the situation," said David Dadge of the Vienna-based International Press Institute, adding that Moyo had insisted the government was enforcing the law. "It's my opinion that that is not actually true in Zimbabwe, that the rule of law is being undermined almost every day," Dadge said. "The government is doing little or nothing to change the situation in Zimbabwe." Marilyn Greene, executive director of the World Press Freedom Committee, said: "Basically what the government should do is stay out of the media's business".

The delegation comprised representatives of the World Press Freedom Committee, the International Press Institute, the South African National Editors Forum, and the Media Workers’ Association of South Africa. Journalists in Zimbabwe have come under repeated attack during the last two years, including two bombings at the independent Daily News which have never been prosecuted. Journalists have also suffered beatings and harassment by police, and become the target of criminal defamation lawsuits.

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From The Star (SA), 10 May

Moroccan UN troops arrive in DRC rebel town

Kigali - United Nations troops from Morocco arrived in the Democratic Republic of Congo rebel stronghold of Goma on Thursday to help reinforce a ceasefire in the country's many-sided war, rebel officials said. But at the same time, rebels complained that government troops were advancing in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, threatening the truce. The 105 Moroccan soldiers arrived in Goma from Rabat early on Thursday before heading to a base just outside the town, according to rebel officials. Goma is headquarters for the Rwandan-backed Congolese Rally for Democracy, which has been fighting to oust the government in Kinshasa for nearly three years and controls a vast swathe of eastern DRC. Another 300 Moroccans were deployed in the strategic northern rebel-held town of Kisangani last month, after initial rebel objections were overcome. The UN troops are supposed to guard supplies and rear bases for several thousand unarmed UN observers, whose job is to report violations of a ceasefire between the main warring parties in the DRC.

Rally for Democracy officials expressed concern on Thursday about the government troop movements, as well as advances by Ugandan troops, their former allies, towards Kisangani. Joseph Mudumbi, the rebels' head of foreign relations, said government and allied troops were advancing from the village of Muliro towards the rebel-held port of Moba on Lake Tanganyika in the eastern province of Katanga. "This force estimated at about two battalions is comprised of government forces and their allies of Burundian and Rwandan Hutu militia," Mudumbi said. "We have asked Monuc (the UN mission in the Congo) to look into this violation, but this was not a pre-condition for today's deployment," he said.

The war in the Congo began in 1998 when Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi invaded the country to support rebels fighting to oust then President Laurent Kabila. Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia have all sent troops to help the government, which is also said to be using Rwandan and Burundian ethnic Hutus to help its cause. Another 145 Moroccans are expected to arrive in Goma on Saturday. The deployment will bring to 800 the number of UN "casque bleus" or blue helmets in the rebel-controlled eastern Congo.

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From The Zimbabwe Independent, 11 May

Gonarezhou demarcated for resettlement

One of Zimbabwe’s foremost national parks, Gonarezhou, has been demarcated for resettlement under the controversial fast-track programme in a move likely to deal a mortal blow to tourism in the south of the country, the Zimbabwe Independent has established this week. The demarcation of part of the world-renowned national park, the beacon of tourism in the south-eastern Lowveld, comes barely two months after the signing of a Transfrontier agreement between Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa, encompassing Gonarezhou as a regional conservation area. The sudden change of land use at Gonarezhou, without consulting the other signatories of the agreement, is likely to scuttle the setting up of a vast game park which includes Gazaland in Mozambique and the Kruger National Park in South Africa.

Masvingo governor Josiah Hungwe yesterday confirmed the resettling of people in the park but was quick to say that animals and humans will not be living side by side. When asked when people would be moved into Gonarezhou and how they would cohabit with the animals he said: "Vanhu vatovako iyezvi so (People have already started to build). "There is 11 000 hectares of land available so people can all fit well. It’s not that we have taken the whole park area but what we have done is to acquire land which is just adjacent to the park area," he said.

However, the governor’s claim that the land taken is "adjacent" to the park is at variance with reports from the National Parks department and Agritex. In a letter to National Parks acting director Brigadier Epmarcus Kanhanga headed "Occupation of Guluji Area of Gonarezhou National Park for Settlement", dated May 9, a senior National Parks provincial officer clearly states that the land being acquired is within the national park. "I spoke to the District Administrator of Chiredzi, Mr Sanjovo, yesterday (sic), 7 May 2001, as the chairman of Fast Track Land Committee for Chiredzi District about the above issue," the letter says. "The District Administrator confirmed that the exercise of settling people in Gonarezhou National Park started last week after the area was pegged and would be through by the 9th of May 2001."

"The Agritex District Officer for Chiredzi also confirmed that he sent two teams who did the pegging and that the plots were being allocated to people but so far the people had not yet settled but were making preparations for settling in the park. The Agritex Officer stated that his teams pegged some 520 plots but the area had capacity to take 750 settlers. He said grazing area is being planned. The total area for resettlement is 11 000 hectares. Cattle are being grazed daily inside the park. The numbers are never less than 500 in the park per day. The cattle fence has been put down allowing free movement of cattle in and outside the park," the letter says. The acting director for Research in the Department of National Parks, Vitalis Chadenga, confirmed having received reports of people moving into Gonarezhou. He expressed concern that this would derail the Trans-frontier agreement. "We have had reports of people moving there (Gonarezhou) but this is really unfortunate on the Zimbabwean side as this is most likely affect the Transfrontier agreement," he said.

The movement of people in the park area has raised concerns among Parks board members who visited the area last Saturday to assess the damage which has so far been done to the environment. The villagers moving into the game area, mostly from Chief Chitsa’s area, have destroyed game fences and some estimates suggest more than 1 000 cattle are being moved into the area every day. The movement of cattle into the area is likely to expose some of them to foot-and-mouth disease as the park contains buffalo. The settling of people in the park stems from a meeting which was held at Senuko Lodge in Save Conservancy on March 2 this year. This meeting was followed up by another one on April 7 when it was decided that the park would be resettled, sources close to the move said.

Minister of Environment Francis Nhema dismissed Governor Hungwe’s statement as misleading. "There is nothing like that. What has happened is that some cattle strayed into the park but our guys from Parks are working on that," said Nhema "There are no people physically within the park at all. He wants to politicise the issue. I do not know why he is making such a statement. The governor does not know the implications of such a statement. Imagine (if) he was talking to an international journalist, then claims he was misquoted." Nhema said his ministry was working on the problem.

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AirZim re-engages its former pilots from aviation authority

Brian Hungwe
FORMER Air Zimbabwe pilots now working for the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) are being re-engaged by the airline, a development likely to create a conflict of interest, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.

CAAZ monitors and regulates the operations of the country’s national airline, Air Zimbabwe, to ensure operations comply with the International Civil Aviation Authority regulations and standards.

The training and licensing of the pilots was also handled by CAAZ, which monitors the safety standards of planes and approvs the aircraft’s maintenance systems.

Engineers who spoke to the Independent said there existed a strong possibility of conflict of interest from having the CAAZ officials flying Air Zimbabwe planes.

“There is a danger that these pilots may overlook certain safety aspects of the aircraft in their inspections as they will be flying for the airline and serving two masters,” the engineer said.

The engineer said that in other countries airline authorities took a deliberate position not to engage civil aviation pilots as that would compromise their positions as regulators.

“It is against standing international regulations,” the engineer said.
Air Zimbabwe general manager (flight operations) George Mwase confirmed to the Independent that a former Air Zimbabwe pilot now working for the CAAZ often flew the airline’s B737.

“The pilot concerned is not moonlighting. He works for Air Zimbabwe upon request. He is a very senior official within CAAZ. When he left, he was a very senior training captain and when we need him, we have every reason to call him,” Mwase said.

Mwase said that Air Zimbabwe had an agreement with CAAZ to recall pilots with valid licences to fly the corporation’s planes.

“We do not pay them,” he said. “They actually pay us for the service because it will be part of their training.

“Flying provides them with the experience needed and enables one to also check if the aircraft is in good condition,” he said.

Airline sources however said since CAAZ policed Air Zimbabwe “who then will police the airline when we have CAAZ employees now operating as pilots?”

Pilots lose their licences if they did not fly at least five hours a month.
The Independent was this week furnished with a list of names of former Air Zimbabwe employees now working for CAAZ who were said to be “moonlighting”.

One of the pilots left the airline in a huff when he was about to be disciplined by Air Zimbabwe for inflating overtime hours. He left before the axe fell on him and got an exit package instead.

“How can this officer now be entrusted with the responsibility of checking the safety standards and discipline at the airline?” the engineer asked.

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THIS week we celebrated the fifth anniversary of the Zimbabwe Independent. The paper first appeared on May 10 1996 promising to “tell it as it is”. That included “bold reporting combined with robust views”.

“The duty of the media,” we said at the time, “is to exercise vigilance on behalf of the public and to promote better governance.” That involves, we said, “the cultivation of an informed public aware of its rights and resistant to intimidation or blandishments by politicians accustomed to bulldozing their often ill-considered projects across a prostrate nation”.

Little did we know that five years down the road a prostrate nation would be made to feel the whiplash of an ideologically bankrupt and vengeful regime determined to cling to power by any means at its disposal, even if it meant destroying the economic foundations upon which the country’s survival depended.

Last week the press in Zimbabwe, together with colleagues around the world, observed World Press Freedom Day. At the same time Unesco sponsored a conference in Windhoek to mark the 10th anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration on media freedom.

Zimbabwe’s independent press has been under sustained attack in the period since the 1991 declaration. Accustomed to a deferential state-owned media that has over the years camouflaged corruption and misrule, Zanu PF has reacted with predictable anger to more outspoken publications.

When attempts to rubbish our agenda of political reform failed and the nation demonstrated unambiguously a preference for public accountability and better governance, more direct methods of confrontation followed.

In early 1999 two journalists from our sister paper, the Standard, were abducted and tortured by army personnel with the full complicity of the police. This followed publication of a report about a coup plot.
President Mugabe went on television to endorse the army’s response and threaten the newspaper’s proprietors.

The Daily News, which arrived on the scene in 1999, has twice been subject to bomb attacks. The perpetrators have not been caught despite massive allocations every year by parliament to a bloated security apparatus housed within the Office of the President.

The same office is currently preparing a misnamed “Freedom of Information” Bill to curtail press freedom by licensing journalists and imposing penalties on newspapers which prove too outspoken.

The government is currently bringing charges against an editor under a Criminal Defamation law that has been struck down in other Commonwealth jurisdictions as incompatible with democratic freedoms.

The charges arise from reports that a group of Zimbabweans has sued President Mugabe in the United States in connection with human rights abuses. The lawsuit has been confirmed by the four plaintiffs’ lawyers.

Last year President Mugabe declined to sign into law a Public Order and Security Bill passed by parliament because it did not contain the same penalties for the press that the 1960 Law and Order (Maintenance) Act provided.

Contrary to claims by Minister of Information Jonathan Moyo that Zimbabwe respects freedom of the press, the record speaks for itself.
This is a regime that is profoundly hostile to freedom of the press. Moyo has himself threatened journalists and newspapers in public.
The freedom which the press enjoys today it has wrested from the iron grip of a reactionary regime intent upon obscuring its trail of wrongdoing.

Last year a radio station was raided by the police after it had obtained a Supreme Court ruling striking down the ZBC monopoly of the airwaves, permitting independent players to transmit within the ambit of frequencies regulated by the state.

Ignoring the views of stakeholders, the government proceeded to draft new broadcasting regulations so restrictive in scope that parliament’s legal committee declared many of their provisions ultra vires constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression. The government also ignored that advice and went ahead to promulgate what is undoubtedly the most oppressive Broadcasting Act in the region.

The charter adopted last week in Windhoek calls for African states to transform their state-controlled broadcasters into genuine public broadcasters subject to independent regulatory authorities.

The conference resolved to set up a Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression within the African Commission for Human and People’s Rights. Calls were also made at Windhoek to repeal or amend all laws inconsistent with freedom of expression, with particular emphasis on the need to repeal laws of criminal defamation.

The crackdown on press freedom in Zimbabwe is a clumsy response to the role independent newspapers have played in exposing the villainy of a regime that has impoverished all except its own oligarchs and is now attempting to beat the opposition and civil society into submission.

It won’t happen. The thirst for freedom is universal. Zimbabweans have voted not only for democracy but also, in the pattern of their purchases, for a press that keeps them informed.

That is something we at the Zimbabwe Independent will continue to do without fear or favour.

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Editor's Memo & Feedback

Bottoming out!

Iden Wetherell

YOU will all be reassured to know that our gallant police force is not, as widely assumed, slumbering while Zanu PF supporters assault factory owners and loot their premises. They are fully awake to their duties and only this week were attending to matters of urgent national concern.

They have once again decided to investigate the Zimbabwe Independent with a view to bringing charges under the Censorship Act. This arises from a photograph published on January 12 on our Independent Extra Page 1 entitled “Bare Buns” showing a rear view of contestants participating in a “fun run” in New Zealand.

The picture came from Reuters news agency and was published around the world without, as far as we know, any complaint. It was perfectly harmless and, with the runners shown from a distance, could not by any stretch of the imagination be regarded as obscene.

Nevertheless, the officer heading the investigation claims he had a number of complaints and that the Censorship Board had produced a report suggesting the picture contrave- ned the Censorship and Entertainment Control Act. We were not told who the complainants were or shown a copy of the Censorship Board’s report.

Having signed a “warned and cautioned” statement, I was finger- printed and photographed and then subjected to a confusing set of questions in a dark noisy room deep in the Dickensian labyrinth of Harare Central in the company of our lawyer and a number of convicts!

None of this worried me unduly. Journalists have been subject to a lot worse in recent years. The police officers I dealt with were polite and professional so I have no complaints there.

But I do object to petty harassment of this sort when the police force has been at best supine and at worst complicit in the wave of political violence and lawlessness sweeping across the country. Police officers have actively assisted war veterans to break the law and in a recent reported case have assaulted lawyers collecting information for a court application, lecturing the victims on why they should not support the MDC.

Last year the police instituted a similar investigation into a Reuters picture we carried of a group of naked customers lining up outside a Vienna department store waiting for the sales to begin. It was evidently very cold!

Nothing more was heard of that matter and we are therefore curious as to why another docket has been opened. The collaboration of the Censorship Board in this matter confirms a view I have long held about the unhealthy role this unreconstructed body plays in interfering with our basic freedoms in the name of protecting the public.

The obvious word to apply in all this is hypocrisy. Nothing seems to excite Zanu PF policy-makers and their prudish allies more than bare bottoms. You will recall the furore in parliament when the MDC circulated photographs of the damage done by riot police to the buttocks of Mabvuku MP Justin Mutendadzamera and his wife.
There were cries of indignation from ruling party MPs who claimed the pictures were “obscene” and “against our culture”.

Violence by the riot police in people’s homes, including assaults on opposition MPs, is of course all part of Zanu PF’s culture. But bruised buttocks — that’s “obscene”!

The real obscenity is of course the state-directed criminality that has become a facet of everyday life in Zimbabwe. We at the Zimbabwe Independent have stood up to that. And we will not allow spurious claims to be defending public morals by ignorant and anonymous complainants — if indeed they really exist — to muzzle our right to publish pictures that everywhere else in the world are regarded as completely harmless. These people should get a life while we get on with ours!

I was at least interested to see the interior courtyard garden at Harare Central is nicely maintained. The last time I was there was 30 years ago when I was a student. We had been involved in a demonstration in the city centre against discrepancies in pay scales for teachers.
We had all been rounded up by the riot police and made to sit in the garden for several hours while they sorted out our details.

It looks exactly the same. So do the laws under which we were charged!

Many of you saw the clip carried on the BBC News last Friday on media repression in Zimbabwe. I was interviewed about the incitement to violence emanating from senior politicians and our reporter Brian Hungwe commented on the importance of the independent press in telling the public the truth about what is happening in the country.

Jim Fish, who conducted the interviews, spoke to villagers who said people wanted to hear more than one voice on the radio. There was also footage of the Daily News cartoonist at work and Phillip Chiyangwa was shown saying MDC-aligned editors concocted news to demonise the government.

I suspect Jonathan Moyo saw the item when it flighted on Friday morning — and then on the hour every hour throughout the day — which can’t have put him in the best of moods! But it was not the BBC’s fault that he had been out of his office attending to political business when they submitted their applications for an extension of their accreditation. Jim Fish and his crew were denied an extension and told to leave the country immediately.

It was therefore surprising to hear Moyo on Monday claiming that no foreign media organisations had been denied accreditation to cover the Tsvangirai trial.

This point was presumably made to bolster the government’s spurious claims to be upholding freedom of the press. What Moyo hasn’t realised yet is that government is being judged by what it actually does, not what he claims it is doing!
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A CAMPAIGN of demonisation has been launched against Nkosana Moyo because he failed to do the impossible: he could not improve the prospects for trade and investment so long as President Mugabe and his followers persisted with their campaign of violence and lawlessness.

He said as much when interviewed by the BBC from Johannesburg last Sunday evening. And he is right. Nobody will want to invest in Zimbabwe while ruling-party supporters claiming to be war veterans are invading companies, abducting and assaulting staff, and extorting money.

At the time of Moyo’s appointment last July a number of commentators went on state television to say how Zimbabwe’s fortunes would be greatly enhanced by the arrival of technocrats like Moyo. The others were Simba Makoni, Joseph Made, and July Moyo.

We expressed scepticism at the time as to whether, given Zimbabwe’s fossilised political system with its Stalinist politburo and old-guard dinosaurs lurking in the undergrowth, Moyo and the others stood any chance at all of being able to influence the course of events. We also doubted that Made could in any way be regarded as a technocrat given his almost childlike need to please the ruling party and less-than-impressive performance at Arda.

What should surprise us is that Moyo stuck it out so long in the company of rogue ministers who were not only ignorant of the workings of a modern economy but insisted that it was their patriotic duty to reduce the country to rubble. Now he is being excoriated by Zanu PF for deserting them.

Phillip Chiyangwa led the attack pointing out that Moyo was “never one of us”.

“It was good that he resigned before he was sacked,” Chiyangwa snarled, accusing Moyo of having failed to deliver.

The Herald concocted a story about Moyo discussing his resignation with British High Commissioner Peter Longworth before seeing President Mugabe. In fact Longworth met Moyo to discuss the threat to British companies by war veterans, not the minister’s resignation.

But this wasn’t allowed to get in the way of the Herald’s conspiracy theory. The paper conjured up an “African diplomat” to say: “Anyone who believed that the two had only discussed alleged factory invasions by war veterans would believe anything.”

Anyone interested in the provenance of that statement should look no further than the following line: “War veterans had in fact dissociated themselves from the factory invasions, saying those who were doing so were imposters or rogue elements within their group who should be brought to book.”

This reflects the government’s new exercise in damage-limitation designed to suggest that industrial disruption is not really part of its policy. Only “rogue elements” are involved.

In line with this policy Willard Chiwewe’s outrageous statement of April 26 saying embassies and NGOs would get what they deserved was kept out of the Herald and instead his subsequent assurance that Zimbabwe would abide by the Vienna Convention on the protection of diplomats and their premises was accorded prominence.

Moyo’s sin, it would appear, was not so much his failure to toe the party line by pretending that land seizures were the panacea for all the country’s problems, but in allegedly raising with Longworth the prospect of a government of national unity. Again, we had a Herald “source” assuring us that such a conversation took place despite Moyo’s unqualified denial. There then followed indignant statements by “analysts” saying the only “national unity” permissible in Zimbabwe was the 1987 variety!

“National unity is one of the major successes which has brought together all the liberation movements of this country,” one of these “analysts” was reported as saying. “Nkosana Moyo has shown political naivety by calling for the government of national unity because that is the most important achievement for Zimbabwe over the past 20 years.”

Where does this sound as if it is coming from? And why aren’t the views of the electorate regarding the unity accord of 1987 reflected at any level by these “analysts”?

As for their assertion that Moyo’s brief was to “empower” the middle class, this was probably the first he had heard of it. He was no doubt under the impression his mission was to restore the economy to health by providing a conducive business climate in which companies could safely and profitably operate. This would have made it difficult for Zanu PF to pursue a policy of punishment and plunder.

Chiyangwa said it all when he accused Moyo of not being “one of us”. At least Nkosana can draw some comfort from that tribute!

Sadly, Simba Makoni will not be following in his colleague’s principled footsteps. Makoni desperately wants to reform and modernise Zanu PF which he regards as his home. The fact that it is beyond redemption and shows no willingness whatsoever of being transformed into a democratic law-abiding party which is capable of putting the nation’s interests before its own in no way daunts him.

This, if nothing else, shows poor judgement about the nature of power in Zimbabwe which may count against him if and when he seeks to aspire to higher office.

Chiredzi MDC activist Bernard Mhunduru, the Daily News reports, was last week jailed for destroying a portrait of President Mugabe. He was sentenced by a Chiredzi magistrate who said the offence was very serious because Mhunduru’s actions showed disrespect to the head of state.

Did the MDC not supply Mhunduru with a competent lawyer? He should not be languishing in prison for contravening provisions of the Law and Order (Maintenance) Act which almost certainly violate freedom of expression and which the party’s leader has in his own case successfully referred to the Supreme Court in a constitutional test.

The Chiredzi magistrate needs a quick re-education course. Mugabe may indeed be a head of state. But he is also the head of a government and a political party that has broken every law in the book.

While spewing a larva of hate and violence against his political opponents he enjoys the protection of legal officers who seem to think they are bound by colonial laws to uphold the dignity of his office. If he refuses to do that himself, why should anybody else?

As equally bad as the and Order (Maintenance) Act is the Miscellaneous Offences Act under which the police fined youths in Chitungwiza recently for allegedly celebrating Border Gezi’s death.

After toyi-toying in the streets they were charged with conduct likely to provoke a breach of the peace, even though they had not caused any breach of the peace as there was no disturbance to the public.

At the same time, truckloads of Zanu PF supporters from Centenary, Mt Darwin, and Shamva, reportedly descended on Bindura and attacked MDC supporters who they accused of celebrating Gezi’s demise.

In both cases the most the youths can be charged with is insensitivity. Any attempt in future by the police to abuse the Law and Order (Maintenance) Act and Miscellaneous Offences Act in order to suppress the legitimate expression of views should be referred to the Supreme Court for determination. The police must not be allowed to continue functioning as an agency of Zanu PF.

And in this connection, why hasn’t the ZUJ/IJAZ instituted a civil action against the police for blocking their demonstration against the Daily News bombing? Again, the Miscellaneous Offences Act was misused to stifle legitimate peaceful protest and nothing was done by those whose rights were blatantly infringed. The same goes for the lawyers’ demo in early 1999 that was brutally broken up. Why have Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and the Legal Resources Foundation not stirred themselves into action?

War veterans are reportedly interrupting performances by cultural bands such as Hohodza and making the audience chant Zanu PF slogans.

The owners of establishments where the musicians were appearing in Chinhoyi and Karoi last month were first approached by war veterans and told to let up to 20 veterans in free. A bouncer who refused to comply in Karoi was made to wear a Zanu PF headcloth. The audience was then subjected to political indoctrination before the show could proceed.

This is apparently becoming the pattern when any visiting band performs in the area.

Instead of interfering with other people’s enjoyment, why don’t the war vets form their own band and try and capture the public imagination through their artistry rather than crass brutality?

Any suggestions for names their band could adopt? “Hitler and the Hoodlums” has a rather ’40s ring about it. So does “Bob and the Bombers”.

Somebody has suggested “Chenjerai and his Jambanja Jazz Band”.
Let’s have your suggestions.

Congratulations to Hifa administrators for bringing some colour and vitality into our bleak national landscape. Their hard work brought to Harare a kaleidoscope of performers.

Opera divas, jazz musicians, classical musicians, actors, dancers and artistes of diverse talents all combined to offer Harare punters a genuine array of culture unprecedented in the capital. This presentation was assisted by an Indian summer which left behind a happy glow.

One brickbat among the bouquets. Hifa should not provide a forum to crude government propaganda of the sort contained in Ngugi wa Mirii’s environmental play, She God. This production was actually commissioned by a government department and the writer features prominently in the pro-Zanu PF press. Its message that colonialism is responsible for all desertification is hardly borne out by the facts. A visit to Indonesia and Malaysia could prove enlightening!

There have been a few rumblings from the usual sources about local content at Hifa. In fact local content was evident at every level from theatre to dance, and of course in the composition of the audiences.

Hifa is Zimbabwe at its best in all its rich diversity and tolerance. Ask the thousands of teenagers who flocked to see Channel O’s South African VJs in action. But it is also an international showcase that
is becoming increasingly world-renowned. Tamper with that winning formula and it could well go the way of everything else.

A comment by Bishop Patrick Mutume, following the Catholic Bishops’ condemnation of political violence last week, appears to have gone unnoticed. Asked what they could do about political leaders who were Catholics but persisted in their evil ways, Mutume said: “There is no other sanction we can give them but the sanction of hell.”

Give ‘em hell Patrick!

Following Yasser Arafat’s recent visit to Zimbabwe to seek President Mugabe’s advice, the Johannesburg Star carried a cartoon showing Arafat holding out his hand in greeting. Mugabe is at the sink washing blood off his hands.

“So you’ve come to me to learn about peace and harmony and understanding,” he says. “Take a seat while I wash my hands.”

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