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New Zimbabwe

Civil servants pay rise now 300pc

By Staff Reporter
Last updated: 05/12/2004 08:47:04
THE government has announced a further 50pc pay rise to civil servants after
the matter went to arbitration.

Civil servtants went on strike earlier in the year demanding 600 percent
salary adjustments, while doctors and nurses embarked on a parallel strike
action demanding 8000 percent.

Public Service Minister Paul Mangwana said the government had agreed to pay
the 50pc pay rise on top of the 250pc adjustment awarded earlier this year.

Independent arbitrator Lawrence Gabilo proposed the 50 percent top-up
following submissions by both government and civil servants.

"The figure being demanded by the unions would be difficult to implement as
this would trigger the inflation to go up considerably and force prices of
goods and services to go up in response," Gabilo said.

Zimbabwe has rampant inflation of nearly 600 percent and civil servants said
the government's initial offer of 100 percent would set them back in the
face of rising costs of goods and services.

Mangwana also revealed that the minimum wages for domestic workers had been
increased by over 60 percent following recommendations by the Wages and
Salaries Advisory Board.

A grade one gardener now earns $83 000 a month, up from $12 000; a grade two
cook/housekeeper now earns a monthly salary of $90 300, up from $13 060.

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The Telegraph

No famine here, says hungry Zimbabwe
By Peta Thornycoft in Harare and Tim Butcher in Johannesburg
(Filed: 12/05/2004)

Zimbabwe, where more than five million people face famine, claimed yesterday
that it had enough food to feed its population and would not seek aid
supplies this year.

The claim was dismissed as ridiculous by agricultural experts and aid
workers who said it was an attempt by the regime to secure full control over
food supplies before next year's parliamentary elections.

While there have been relatively good rains this year, the claim by Paul
Mangwana, the labour and social welfare minister, flew in the face of all
empirical evidence.

"We don't need food aid from outside the country," Mr Mangwana said. "We
generally believe we produced enough for local consumption, and we have told
our international partners about this.

"There are some areas that would have food deficits, but these would be
covered through internal food distribution."

Donors would be asked only to assist in development programmes "and if we
have good rains again this year, we will kiss goodbye to food imports and
donor food assistance".

The regime of President Robert Mugabe has a history of exploiting food
shortages. In a country where scores have died of starvation in recent
months, food is a powerful political tool as the ruling Zanu-PF government
has a record of giving supplies only to loyal supporters.

Two years ago the head of the air force was ordered by Mr Mugabe to fly to
Johannesburg with a bag full of dollar bills to buy food that could then be
given to party loyalists.

Paul Themba Nyathi, spokesman for the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change, said: "This is typical of Zanu-PF. It's callous and cruel as they
will distribute the little food we do have for political gain, with no
consideration for the plight of ordinary Zimbabweans."

The government's claims were dismissed by independent analysts and aid
experts who said 5.5 million Zimbabweans, 2.5 million of them in urban
areas, needed food assistance.

In March, 63 people, including 48 children, were reported to have died from
hunger in the second city, Bulawayo.

"This is not the right time to come up with a proper decision about food
needs as we do not have accurate estimates yet," said Norbert Dube, chairman
of the non-governmental organisation Forum in the southern Matabeleland
province, where hundreds of thousands of people have been kept alive by
donations from the West.

Zimbabwe needs about 1.8 million tons of maize a year for its human and
livestock needs, and independent agencies estimate a shortfall of 900,000

Once a net exporter of food with its well-designed irrigation system and
rich agricultural land, the country has been turned into a food-aid beggar
by the economic mismanagement of the regime. By destroying Zimbabawe's
commercial farming sector, Mr Mugabe removed an important source of foreign
currency as well as a generator of employment that benefited millions.

Those people who used to have a steady income now have nothing and are
forced to rely on food aid.

The announcement yesterday came only days after Mr Mugabe's government
suspended the work of United Nations crop assessors who were visiting from
South Africa.

The UN's World Food Programme said at the weekend that it wanted to assess
Zimbabwe's harvest after providing food aid for two years.
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From The Herald, 12 May

Sky News crew's accreditation expires

Herald Reporter

The accreditation of the Sky News crew, which was in the country purportedly
to produce a documentary aimed at countering the negative publicity the
country has been receiving, has expired, the Department of Information and
Publicity in the Office of the President and Cabinet has said. "The
Department notes that you claim completion of the first part of your
assignment for which you were accredited. This in effect means that your
accreditation has expired as of today, 10 May 2004," said the department in
a letter to Mr Ben de Pear, a producer of Sky News who was in the country
with the crew. The department said a request by the Sky News crew to
interview President Mugabe should only be made from the crew's home country,
which is Britain, through the Zimbabwean Embassy in London. The Sky News
crew entered the country illegally late last month before securing
accreditation and despite advice from the Department of Information and
Publicity. The department had strongly objected to the arrival of the crew
before agreement on the proposed television documentary project featuring
the President and also outside the accreditation rules and procedures under
the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The case took a new
twist last week when it emerged that a Ugandan national, Mr David
Nyekorach-Matsanga, and not Zanu PF, was behind the crew. Contrary to media
reports that the ruling party had organised the visit by the team, Mr
Nyekorach-Matsanga, a Ugandan who has been in and out of Zimbabwe since the
presidential poll in 2002 for as yet an unknown mission, claims to be the
one behind the news crew. According to sources, Mr Nyekorach-Matsanga had
been claiming that it was up to him to decide whether or not the news crew
would proceed with the interview they were seeking with the President and
senior Zanu-PF and Government officials.
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From The Daily Mirror, 12 May

Mining boss shot dead

In a Mafia-style hit, the chief executive officer of Bindura Nickel
Corporation (BNC), Leonard Chimimba was shot dead outside his Harare house
on Monday night. The Daily Mirror is informed that the mining executive was
shot once through the back of the head as he was driving towards the gate of
his place of residence. Chimimba was said to be returning from a series of
meetings with some bank executives. While confirming the gruesome murder,
the mine's company secretary, Fraternity Ndhlela said: "I don't have any
details at the moment because I have been running around and so we still
haven't got the finer details." The company's corporate services director,
Isaac Matunhire, sent a bereavement message to BNC workers: "It is with deep
shock and sadness that we regret to advise of the tragic death of the chief
executive officer Dr L R Chimimba. Dr Chimimba was shot by an unknown
assailant at the entrance to his home in Harare on the evening of Monday 10
May 2004, and passed away in hospital shortly afterwards." Mourners were
said to be gathered at his home at 29 Hogarty Hill Lane in Hogarty Hill,
Borrowdale. Funeral arrangements would be announced in due course.

There were unconfirmed reports that Chimimba was set to meet the governor of
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Gideon Gono, yesterday before his death. The
veracity of the appointment and nature of the discussions could not be
established at the time of going to press.Police spokesman, Superintendent
Oliver Mandipaka last night confirmed the murder but said investigations
were still in progress. "The victim had a gunshot wound in the head and we
believe that the incident occurred at around 8.30pm. He was rushed to the
Avenues Clinic but died 30 minutes later. The police however managed to
recover a spent cartridge and one live bullet at the scene of the crime."
Mandipaka appealed to members of the public to advise the police if they
knew anything about the shooting. The nickel producing company was in the
news for the wrong reasons in early March this year when two trucks carrying
a total of 40 tonnes of nickel worth US$600 000 (about Z$3 billion) destined
for South Africa from BNC, disappeared. It was rumoured that this was an
inside job amid allegations that some locals and foreigners were operating
in cahoots with criminals in South Africa.

There were innuendoes that this was part of a well orchestrated Mafia type
syndicate operating in South Africa especially given that this had been
followed by a similar heist of 36 tonnes of platinum from Zimasco's Mimosa
Mine in Zvishavane, that was also on its way to South Africa. The drivers of
the trucks of BNC's nickel were said to have been held at Alberton Police
Station in South Africa, but the case seemed to have died a natural death,
as further developments have not been revealed. Leading conglomerate Anglo
American Corporation (AAC) was once the major shareholder of BNC but sold
its 52,94 percent stake to a consortium, Mwana Africa Holdings for US$8
million in April 2003. Mwana Africa is a consortium of African businessmen
from Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Kenya, Ghana and
South Africa. Kalaa Mpinga, a Congolese and Zimbabweans Oliver Chidawu and
Ngoni Kudenga are also said to be directors of the consortium. Chidawu is
also reported to have been instrumental in the transfer of other companies
in AAC's stable-namely Bard Discount House and First Merchant Bank - to
African Banking Corporation. Mpinga chairs the board of BNC with Retired Air
Chief Marshall Josiah Tungamirai as an alternate director. Other directors
include Kudenga, Muchadeyi Masunda, a Mazula, J Schwarz and T Wadeson. Upon
deciding to dispose of its shares in BNC, AAC had cited the restrictive
foreign exchange regulations in Zimbabwe that threatened the company's
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From Business Day (SA), 12 May 2004

Zimbabwe minister denied bail as a risk

Harare Correspondent

Zimbabwe Finance Minister Chris Kuruneri, who has been detained for almost
three weeks on charges of violating foreign exchange and citizenship
regulations, was denied bail in the Zimbabwe High Court yesterday. Justice
Ben Hlatshwayo ruled that Kuruneri was likely to abscond if given bail as he
had "family connections, friends, and abundant means of survival outside the
country". "The charges are very serious, and the punishment upon conviction
is likely to be so severe as to induce the applicant, who has both
substantial means, family, friends and connections abroad, to abscond."
Hlatshwayo said the chances that Kuruneri could flee were real because he
was facing "very serious charges involving enormous amounts of money and
possible severe punishment". Of the five charges relating to the illegal
export of funds and holding dual citizenship, the judge said three were
"quite strong", and the accused's explanations "very weak or even
improbable". Earlier yesterday Kuruneri appeared before a magistrate for a
routine remand hearing. He was remanded to May 26. Kuruneri was arrested on
April 24 on allegations of exporting large amounts of foreign currency to
buy and build properties in South Africa. He was reported to be building a
R30m mansion in Cape Town and to have bought a Mercedes Benz valued at
R547734. Kuruneri has said he did not export the money but earned it through
consulting for foreign companies. He is also accused of holding Zimbabwean
and Canadian passports at the same time, which is illegal under Zimbabwean
citizenship laws. He said he had never held a Canadian passport, merely
becoming a permanent resident after living in Canada for 11 years.
Kuruneri's lawyer said he would read the bail judgment before deciding
whether to appeal. A number of prominent businessmen, including Zanu PF
officials, have been arrested on corruption charges. Several business
executives, especially bankers, have fled the country to escape President
Robert Mugabe's anticorruption crackdown.
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Zimbabwe Judge Refuses to Dismiss Case Against Suspected Mercenaries
VOA News
12 May 2004, 17:08 UTC

A Zimbabwe judge has refused to dismiss a case against 70 suspected
mercenaries accused of plotting a coup in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea.
The judge, Magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe, told a makeshift court in a Harare
prison Wednesday he is satisfied there is a "reasonable suspicion" the men
committed a crime.

The 70 suspects, most of them South African, are awaiting trial in the
maximum security prison. They have been charged on several counts including
immigration and aviation violations after their plane landed in Harare in

The Zimbabwe government says they were headed to Equatorial Guinea to
overthrow the government there. Prosecutors told the court they have
obtained a contract which they say was signed between the alleged leader of
the mercenaries, Simon Mann, and Equatorial Guinea's exiled opposition
leader, Severo Moto. The lawyers say the contract stipulated a monetary
payoff, but they did not tell the court what the alleged payment was for.

The suspects deny the charges. They say the were en route to the Democratic
Republic of Congo to provide security for a mine.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.
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Zimbabwe: Malaria Toll Rises

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

May 12, 2004
Posted to the web May 12, 2004


Fifty-seven people died of malaria in Zimbabwe last week, bringing the toll
to 500 since the start of the rainy season this year, government medical
officials said on Tuesday.

Medical experts have attributed the rising number of deaths to the heavy
rain in most parts of the country, coupled with a lack of funds and
chemicals to carry out routine spraying.

Since 2001, Zimbabwe has been part of the "Roll Back Malaria" initiative,
launched in partnership with the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

UNICEF spokeswoman Shantha Bloemen said "excellent" anti-malaria programmes
in many districts had been affected by lack of funds and the country's high
inflation rate.

She pointed out that the price of a mosquito net had spiralled from Zim
$14,000 (US $2.63) to Zim $40,000 (US $7.54) in the past few months. In
previous years district administrations had provided the nets to people at a
subsidised rate, but with the hike in price in recent months, they had been
unable to do so.

Bloemen said the malaria initiative had bought US $100,000 worth of malaria
drugs, using funds received from the Norwegian government. "We now have an
ample supply of drugs, but the problem is ensuring that rural people have
access to them".

Dr Biggie Mabaera, medical director of Mashonaland Central province, where
the largest number of cases occurred, said the situation had been aggravated
by the lack of chemicals. "We have only been able to spray part of the areas
prone to malaria outbreaks, due to these [funding] constraints."

Dr Stanley Midzi, head of disease control in the ministry of health and
child welfare, said 3,500 malaria cases had been reported up to the end of
the wet season [in early June], almost a third more than the 2,500 reported
countrywide in the same period last year.

The Zimbabwe government has launched several awareness campaigns to
encourage villagers in malaria-prone areas to use mosquito nets, wear
clothing that covers most of the body at night, and use insect repellant
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Tetchy cross-border relations with Botswana
BULAWAYO, 12 May 2004 (IRIN) - A packed minibus stops at the Plumtree border
about 100 km southwest of Zimbabwe's second largest city, Bulawayo, where
the commuters alight and head for the immigration post.

A few stride confidently towards the building for a quick passage to the
buses that will take them across the Zimbabwe/Botswana border, while the
rest amble forward nervously, anticipating hassles by the Batswana
immigration officers.

"Travelling on weekends is less of an ordeal, when immigration officials are
exhausted and less alert," said 28-year-old Pamela Tshuma, a regular
traveler who works as a hairstylist and informal trader in Botswana's
capital, Gaborone.

Pamela plaits hair at 30 pula (US $5) a head in the suburbs of Gaborone. "If
one works hard and is lucky to get customers, it is possible to make 3,000
pula a month (US $605), which translates into a lot of money back home," she

Zimbabweans have been making shopping trips to Botswana for almost three
decades, but the steadily deteriorating economic conditions in their country
have caused thousands, both skilled and unskilled, to trek to Botswana's
cities, towns and mines in search of jobs. Many enter the country illegally
along secret paths in the dead of night.

Although scores of them are deported every week, the desperate Zimbabweans
still find it worthwhile to sneak back into the country in search of
opportunities and a better life.

Recent media reports on the alleged ill-treatment of Zimbabweans by Batswana
nationals have soured relations between the two countries.

In turn, the Zimbabwean authorities have accused Botswana of hosting a Voice
of America radio transmitter that broadcasts "hostile propaganda aimed at
regime change by the Americans", beamed at Zimbabwe by exiles. Botswana has
denied any wrongdoing.

On presenting his credentials to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe
recently, Botswana's new envoy to Zimbabwe explained that the radio
transmitter had been in operation for the past 25 years, and scoffed at the
alleged ill treatment of Zimbawean nationals. "It is a traditional custom in
Botswana for traditional chiefs to flog petty criminals. We don't put people
in prison for petty crimes."

Bostwana's presidential spokesman, Jeff Ramsay, accused sections of
Zimbabwe's media of "fuelling misguided xenophobia", saying: "Botswana has
noted with growing concern openly hostile reports against the government and
the people of Botswana, which can only be interpreted as a deliberate and
systematic attempt to fuel hatred and xenophobia between our people."

Tsokolo Matibeli, a Zimbabwean electrical engineer working in Botswana told
IRIN: "It is those people who have no residence permits, those that overstay
and the illegal immigrants who face problems with the authorities - like in
any other country."

Pamela commented: "Naturally, people view foreigners with disdain - that
cannot be taken as xenophobia."

But Zimbabwean traders and job seekers in Botswana are afraid the recent
stand-off between the two countries could jeopardise what has become a
lifeline for their families.

"I hope accusations do not develop into retaliatory actions. Botswana is the
only country in SADC [Southern African Development Community] that does not
require entry visas, unlike South Africa, Mozambique and Namibia," observed
Nkululi Langa, a Zimbabwean motor spare parts dealer who frequently visits
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Corpses Overcrowded in Hospital Mortuaries

The Herald (Harare)

May 12, 2004
Posted to the web May 12, 2004

George Maponga

Major hospitals in Masvingo are battling with an increasingly unmanageable
high number of corpses in their mortuaries, with most of them holding bodies
double their carrying capacity.

The hardest hit are Chivi, Chiredzi, Mwenezi and Masvingo hospitals, whose
mortuaries have a combined capacity of 67 bodies, but are carrying 122

The situation is more serious at Chiredzi District Hospital, which has 60
bodies but can accommodate only 32 bodies at a time.

Masvingo provincial medical director Dr Tapiwa Magure yesterday confirmed
that most of the province's hospital mortuaries were overcrowded with

"The most affected hospitals are Chivi, Mwenezi, Chiredzi and Masvingo
General Hospital which is also storing bodies from Ndanga Hospital in Zaka
as the mortuary there is out of order.

"At the moment, Chiredzi has 60 bodiesbut its carrying capacity is 32, while
at the Masvingo General Hospital mortuary, there are 35 bodies against the
carrying capacity of 17, with Mwenezi carrying 18 bodies compared to its
capacity of nine bodies," said Dr Magure. He called on relatives of the
deceased who have funeral policies to utilise funeral parlours to help ease
the overcrowding at hospital mortuaries.

Most of the bodies have been lying in hospital morgues for weeks before
collection by relatives, a situation which Dr Magure said was worrying.

He said they were liaising with the Department of Social Welfare to work out
plans that would result in bodies that have been certified for paupers'
burials being disposed of as part of efforts to clear the backlog.

"We are also liaising with the police to find ways of reducing this backlog
as most of the bodies are brought by the police," said Dr Magure.

Among the 35 corpses at the Masvingo General Hospital mortuary is the body
of a Masvingo man which has been lying there for two years but cannot be bur
ied as his family is demanding compensation from his alleged killer before
burying him. The Social Welfare Department has turned down a request for a
pauper's burial in this case as the relatives of the deceased are known.

Shortage of funds has been inhibiting the expansion of mortuaries at most
hospitals in the country in the wake of the high number of deaths, mainly
due to the HIV/Aids scourge.
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Mining Weekly

      Miners say they 'relinquised' Zim rights

      Mining giants Rio Tinto and Anglo American have decided to abandon
some prospecting rights in Zimbabwe, before the African nation decided to
revoke the licences, the companies said on Wednesday.

      Zimbabwe's latest weekly official gazette, made available to Reuters
on Tuesday, said the government had nullified four rights issued to Rio
Tinto Zimbabwe Ltd and seven held by Prospecting Ventures, owned by Anglo's
Zimbabwe unit.

      The two companies said they had actually applied to the government to
abandon the licences, before they were revoked.

      "We had done everything we wanted to do with them.... Rather than...
having to carry on work in circumstances in which there was nothing to find,
we decided to abandon them," Rio Tinto Zimbabwe head, John Nixon, told

      Nixon said applications to abandon the rights to prospect for diamonds
and gold were submitted at the end of last year.

      A spokeswoman for Anglo American, the world's third biggest
diversified miner after BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, said "relinquish" would
have been a better word instead of "revoke".

      "I think... there has been a misuse of the word 'revoked'. What they
actually mean is relinquished," the spokeswoman said.

      "We've actually given back. These things (rights) were not going to be
used in the near future," she added. Anglo's rights were for the exploration
of chromites. Zimbabwe is attempting to clamp down on under-utilisation of
mining rights, and local media have reported repossession of hundreds of
unused mining claims from companies and individuals since the beginning of
the year to make way for what it calls serious investors.

      In a monetary policy quarterly review in March, central bank governor
Gideon Gono said Zimbabwe's mining sector continued operating below
capacity, with some potential investors keeping mining claims for years
without "tangible operational plans".

      Gono urged mining authorities to put in place deadlines within which
mining claims should be utilised, saying this had been done in other

      Zimbabwe's mining ministry issues exclusive prospective orders for a
renewable term of two years but can cancel these if the company fails to
begin exploration work on time.
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      Zimbabwe's maize crop is 'much higher' than its needs

      May 12, 2004, 12:32

      Zimbabwe will produce 2.4 million tonnes of maize this year, much more
than it needs, a final government crop estimate has shown, state media said
today. The government of Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean president, has told
international donors that it will not require emergency food aid for the
first time in three years after the bumper harvest, although farmers and aid
agencies were sceptical of the new figures.

      Joseph Made, the Agriculture minister, said this year's maize harvest
would surpass the country's annual requirement of between 1.5 million and
two million tonnes thanks to above-normal rainfall, the state owned Herald
newspaper said. "Made said results from the final crop assessment for the
2003/2004 season showed that 2 431 182 tonnes of maize would be produced
this season," the newspaper said.

      Zimbabwe has battled food shortages since 2001, which aid agencies
blame mainly on disruptions to agriculture linked to the seizure of
white-owned commercial farms to resettle landless blacks. The Herald quoted
Made as saying that the land reform programme had enabled new black farmers
to show that Zimbabwe's agricultural productivity was far higher than had
been assumed. The country's average annual maize production has been at
around 1.3 million tonnes over the past five years, although it fell sharply
during 2001/02.

      CFU sceptical
      Zimbabwe's Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), which represents many of
the remaining white farmers in the country, was sceptical about the new
government forecast. "We think the crop will be similar to last year which
is around 700 000 tonnes. We don't know where these figures are coming
from," Doug Taylor-Freeme, the CFU president, said. "Even the seed that was
sold does not add up to that (output)," he said.

      Last week Zimbabwe officials abruptly cancelled crop assessment
missions by the UN World food programme and food and agriculture
Organisation, which officials had hoped would deliver a clearer picture of
the country's grain balance. Made said if sorghum and millet were included,
the country's grain output would total 2.8 million tonnes, of which 1.2
million tonnes would be delivered to the government-run grain marketing

      Zimbabwe suffered from severe food shortages in 2002 and 2003,
affecting up to seven million people, and recently international aid
agencies have estimated that the country might face a shortfall of as much
as 900 000 tonnes of maize this year. Made was not immediately reachable for
comment. Zimbabwe's food crisis has been one sign of an economic crisis that
has also brought acute shortages of foreign currency and fuel, one of the
highest rates of inflation in the world and an unemployment rate of over

      Critics blame the government for shortages
      Critics blame the crisis on mismanagement by Mugabe but the veteran
leader denies the charge, and in turn accuses opponents of his land reforms
of sabotaging the economy.

      The government says Zimbabwe's food shortages were largely a result of
drought, and that land redistribution was necessary to correct colonial
imbalances that left the bulk of Zimbabwe's prime farming land in the hands
of minority whites. - Reuters
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The Scotsman

'Cricket Tour Must Be Stopped' - Zimbabwe Opposition Leader

By Tim Moynihan, PA News

Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai today urged the England and
Wales Cricket Board to call off the tour of his country planned for this

His message was read at a Westminster news conference by Trudy Stevenson,
another leading member of the Movement for Democratic Change.

Mr Tsvangirai, who awaits judgment in Zimbabwe after a year-long trial for
treason, called on Commonwealth countries to work together to boycott the
Zimbabwe Cricket Union.

He said: "It is our view that, since cricket is largely a Commonwealth game,
Commonwealth nations should be lobbied to support the boycott and to come
together as members of ICC (the International Cricket Council) to tell the
ICC board to endorse the boycott.

"This will take pressure off individual teams and nations, and will respond
to the ICC's stance that 'we simply do what our members tell us to do'.

"Members, tell the ICC that Zimbabwe must be boycotted until the game of
cricket there has been put back on a proper footing and until (President
Robert) Mugabe's regime allows its sportsmen and women the same rights as
those enjoyed in the rest of the democratic world."

The ECB is under growing pressure to scrap the tour in protest at President
Mugabe's regime.

But it faces potentially crippling fines from the sport's ruling body unless
it can prove players' security is at risk.

The British government says it would prefer the tour to be postponed but
says it has no power to order players not to go. And it is too early to
assess whether players would be in danger.
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      Could mess lead to Test shake-up?

            By Scott Heinrich

      The general consensus is that, out in Zimbabwe where Sri Lanka are
steamrollering their acquiescent hosts, Test cricket is being sullied.

      Quite what Zimbabwe's looming series against Australia will do to the
sport's reputation does not bear thought.

      Tim May, the Australian players' representative, is presently trying
to get the International Cricket Council to stop the uneven bout before it

      May, a former Test cricketer, reckons the player crisis in the
crippled southern African country "makes cricket look stupid", and he is not

      India captain Sourav Ganguly has echoed a familiar May refrain,
calling for a two-tier championship system to preserve the "competitive edge
of Test cricket".

      To Peter Sleep, a former team-mate of May's, the gap among the 10
Test-playing nations was large enough before Zimbabwe's 15 rebels were
sacked, leaving the national team devoid of genuine first-class talent.

      "There were no easy matches when I played but there are now," the
former leg-spinner, who played the last of his 14 Tests in 1990, told BBC

      "That's because the ICC has let the weaker nations in, and I can
understand why because they're trying to get cricket played around the

      "But the 10-team Test championship format needs to be looked at. Test
cricket is being cheapened enough at the moment and I think the standard is
poor to be honest.

      "At the moment, Kenya are probably better than Bangladesh, and maybe
even Zimbabwe. But do you let them in?"

      The concerns within the cricket fraternity are obvious, but they are
held at a time when the ICC contemplates giving Kenya Test status and boasts
proudly of the next World Cup holding more teams than ever before.

      Sleep has joined a growing list advocating a divisional system, which
would replace the current set-up which demands each full ICC member face eac
h other home and away every five years.

      May has tabled his ideas to the ICC - as well as his plans for a
one-day shake-up - but hitherto the ruling body is unmoved.

           May suggests ODI plan

      "There's a way around it, and I think a two-tier solution is it,"
Sleep says.

      "The promotion/relegation system works well in football. Why couldn't
we do it in cricket?

      "You would get better cricket and it would be more competitive. Teams
would have something to play for."

      Sleep believes cricket's name is being tarnished, and says the ICC has
a case to answer.

      "If I were the ICC, I would put a ban on Zimbabwe so that no one goes
there until they sort out their problems with politics and other matters,"
he reasons.

      "They've just let things go and hoped things would work out by

      "They clearly haven't and they've got to take some of the blame by
letting things ramble on.

      "I don't think getting belted by Sri Lanka and Australia will help
Zimbabwean cricket at all."

      Sleep does not envy his Australian Test successors, nor the reluctant
England cricketers who look destined to tour Zimbabwe later this year.

      "With all the politics in Zimbabwe at the moment, it would be
difficult for anybody to go there.

      "I'm sure none of the Australian Test team really wants to go, and
England will have the same problem later on.

      "But it's harder to get in the team than get out and a lot of their
places would be in jeopardy.

      "They don't want to go but they don't want to lose their spot."

      Of the Aussies, only Stuart MacGill has pulled out of the Zimbabwe
tour - but there are more who would like to follow suit, if only to save the
name of the game.

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Business Report

      Zambia to lease state farms to foreigners
      May 12, 2004

      By Shapi Shacinda

      Lusaka - Zambia was offering the first leases on government land to
foreign and local farmers, including some from Libya and Zimbabwe, as it
tried to diversify the economy, lands minister Judith Kapijimpanga said

      An area of 100 000ha in central Zambia would be ready for occupation
this year, once roads were constructed and power provided.

      The land is the first to be put up for lease under a government policy
to establish farms in all nine provinces of Zambia, which has faced severe
food shortages in the past.

      Kapijimpanga said Zambia hoped to woo farmers who would grow cash
crops for export as the country diversified its economy from copper and
cobalt mining to agriculture.

      "We have demarcated land into small-scale farms, semi-commercial and
commercial farms. They measure between 20ha and 10 000ha."

      Kapijimpanga said soil tests showed the land was good for growing cash
crops such as wheat, maize and tobacco.

      Foreign applicants for land included the Libyan government, which
wanted to start growing wheat for export, she said.

      "The Libyans approached us for land as they want to grow wheat on a
commercial scale and we are in serious discussions with them," Kapijimpanga

      She said Zambia would welcome white Zimbabwean farmers who had fled
their country since the start of the seizure of white-owned farms there.

      White Zimbabweans were already farming in Zambia on land leased from
private owners.

      "We have a number of [white] Zimbabwe farmers who have settled in the
Mkushi bloc [in central Zambia] ... they too are free to apply and [we]
already have a number of applications that are being processed," she said.

      Treasury data indicate that only 3 million of Zambia's 45 million
hectares of arable land are used for farming, partly due to the fact that
the impoverished country is thinly populated with only 10 million people.

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Sunday Times (SA)

Zimbabwe farmers lease land in Nigeria

Wednesday May 12, 2004 07:03 - (SA)

LAGOS - The central Nigerian state of Kwara has agreed to lease farmland to
white Zimbabwean commercial farmers who are planning to emigrate to the west
African country, according to a government spokesman.

"The Zimbabweans were here last week. We held fruitful discussions with them
before they left for home. It is true that we have agreed to lease some
farmlands to them," state government spokesman Tajudeen Kareem told AFP.

Press reports said the state government agreed to lease 15 farms of 1,000
hectares each equipped with basic infrastructure like roads, dams,
telecommunications, security and houses to the farmers.

The lands are to be leased for between 50 and 99 years with the first batch
of farmers arriving the country within four months, reports said.

Many white Zimbabwean farmers have emigrated or plan to do so to escape the
political crisis in their own country, and in particular President Robert
Mugabe's policy of seizing white-owned land for redistribution to blacks.

Some have already settled in other parts of southern Africa, while a number
of them approached Nigeria for assistance.

In March, a delegation from the Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe
visited Nigeria and met with both Kwara State Governor Bukola Saraki and
President Olusegun Obasanjo in Abuja.

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