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

Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Business Report

Zimbabwe may lease back seized land, farmers say
May 13, 2005

By Brian Latham and Antony Sguazzin

Johannesburg - Zimbabwe might partially reverse its five-year-old policy of
seizing white-owned commercial farms after a plunge in export income and
four years of famine, the Commercial Farmers' Union said yesterday.

Some farms seized since 2000 might be leased back to their former owners,
said Ben Kaschula, the union's manager for regions. "What are being
discussed are 99-year leases," Kaschula said.

"Some have been verbally offered to farmers who have complied with
government policy - in other words, farmers who have co-existed with
settlers on their land." President Robert Mugabe's government has been
redistributing land to black subsistence farmers. The seizures won him rural
support in elections in 2000, 2002 and this year.

They have also slashed production of tobacco by three-quarters, cut maize
and wheat supplies, and contributed to five years of recession. Joseph Made,
Zimbabwe's agriculture minister, was not available for comment yesterday.

For the plan to be successful, Zimbabwe's constitution might have to be
amended when parliament sat on June 28, Kaschula said. "No one has been
offered a lease in writing and no one knows what the precise details will
be," Kaschula said.

White farmers trying to get leases for farmland had been told that they
would have to surrender their title deeds to the state before any were
granted, he said.

The farm leases would mainly be offered in the Midlands and Manicaland
provinces, the London-based Africa Confidential publication reported,
without revealing its source.

Compensation would be offered to farmers who bought land under investment
programmes guaranteed by agreements between Zimbabwe and other governments,
the publication said.

A list of farms to be returned had been compiled and the land would have to
be sown by June. June is a time when only wheat is grown. Maize and most
other crops are sown in October, before summer rains.

Before 2000, Zimbabwe was the world's second-biggest exporter of flue-cured
tobacco, the top grade of the crop. Tobacco was Zimbabwe's biggest export.

The country was also the biggest grower of paprika in the southern
hemisphere and the world's sixth-largest rose exporter. It sold maize to its
neighbours in most years.

Since then the UN World Food Programme has had to provide food aid to almost
half of the country's 11.8 million people. Zimbabwe has been the biggest
buyer of South African maize for at least the past two marketing years.

Mugabe's programme left almost all Zimbabwe's 4 000 white farmers stripped
of their land. Most of the country's 300 000 farm workers and their families
lost their homes.

The US-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network classified Zimbabwe's
food shortages as an "emergency" on May 11.

"The magnitude of Zimbabwe's food security problem is such that it will need
to import substantial amounts of cereal," the agency said.
Back to the Top
Back to Index


Mugabe wants two more years
12/05/2005 23:17  - (SA)

Johannesburg - Zimbabwe's opposition on Thursday said President Robert
Mugabe would use his two-thirds majority in parliament to remain in power an
additional two years until 2010.

Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) party won
78 seats against 41 won by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in
parliamentary elections on March 31.

The elections were endorsed as "reflecting the will of the people" by
observer missions from the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
region and South Africa, but the MDC rejected the results, alleging
electoral fraud, intimidation and use of food by Zanu-PF to gain votes.

MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube said: "It was obvious that Mugabe stole
the people's mandate to get the parliament to change the constitution in
such a way that his tenure will be extended by two years to 2010."

Law-making, constitutional reforms

He said the ruling party would turn the new parliament, which reconvened on
June 28 to "a rubberstamp discussion institution without getting down to
serious business of law-making and constitutional reforms".

Ncube accused the Mugabe government of "shutting the people out of the
political space by denying them the free will to choose their leaders as
demonstrated during the March parliamentary poll".

He urged the international community, particularly the SADC, to exert
pressure on the government to create a conducive environment for political
and electoral reforms in the country.

He said: "Unless this is done, the political crisis in Zimbabwe will remain
unresolved, there is democratic deficit in Zimbabwe."

The MDC is challenging the election results in at least 13 constituencies
before the electoral court.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Online

SA must copy Zimbabwe's electoral system: ANC official
Fri 13 May 2005

      JOHANNESBURG - A senior African National Congress (ANC) official
stunned a meeting called to review last month's parliamentary elections when
she said Zimbabwe's electoral system was so perfect that South Africa should
consider copying it to improve its own polls.

      ANC Member of Parliament Nthabiseng Khunou, who was part of the South
African parliament's observer group to the disputed elections, shocked her
audience at the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) by
suggesting that South Africa should adopt Zimbabwe's electoral rules because
they were impeccable.

      She was making a presentation at the meeting entitled: Zimbabwe
Election 2005 -Interpretations, Implications, Prospects towards 2008. She
said her observer group had not witnessed any violence in Zimbabwe contrary
to many "negative media reports" in South Africa about violence in Zimbabwe.

      She also defended draconian media and security laws used to ban
newspapers before the election and to ban opposition rallies saying they
were being rightly enforced to promote law and order.

      Khunou defiantly stood by her remarks as her somewhat angry audience
interjected and derided her as she spoke.

      "I will not be intimidated at all. I am used to this jeering in
Parliament....So I will not be intimidated."

      She was challenged to explain the good things about Zimbabwe's
electoral system which she wanted South Africa to adopt. She then singled
out the "queuing system" which she said had helped reduce long lines at
polling centres.

      "We were very impressed by the queuing system at polling stations,"
she said amid more angry interjections from the audience which forced her to
launch a tirade.

      "I am not here to tell you what you want to hear. I will report on
what I saw and not what you think I saw. I did not see any violence in
Zimbabwe," she said.

      Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) spokesman Welshman Ncube said
Khunou's sentiments helped to explain why his party had resolved not to
engage the ANC as a mediator in the Zimbabwe crisis. He said it was not
helpful for the MDC to engage a party whose sole purpose was "to help Mugabe
remain in power at all costs and even help him rig elections".

      The ANC could not help Zimbabwe in any way without an honest
assessment of the crisis in the country. Engaging it was therefore futile,
he said.

      Ncube chronicled a litany of problems that his party faced in the
election including the chasing away of its polling agents at 60 percent of
all rural polling stations, the discriminatory application of draconian laws
to victimise MDC supporters and the refusal of main state newspapers to
flight its adverts.

      He also cited the banning of the private media, the lack of an
independent broadcaster, the intimidation of opposition supporters and many
others which he said could have hardly made the election free and fair as
claimed by the ANC.

      Khunou said she had not seen any violence nor political repression in
Zimbabwe and the election had been held in peaceful circumstances.

      "The pre-election process was well planned and executed. There was no
verifiable evidence to justify food discrimination claims against MDC
supporters," she said.

      Elinor Sisulu of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition launched an angry
broadside at Khunou saying her remarks were very unkind to the hundreds of
Zimbabweans who had suffered torture, rape, death and beatings at the hands
of Mugabe supporters.

      Khunou said she had not seen any evidence of any such things.

      Democratic Alliance MP Diane Kohler-Barnard, who was part of the SA
parliamentary observer mission, said she felt like she had not witnessed the
same event after listening to her colleague.

      She too criticised the ANC saying Khunou's remarks and President
Mbeki's "invisible diplomacy" on Zimbabwe were a disgrace in this age of
African renewal.

      She said the climate she witnessed in Zimbabwe prior to the election
was such that no one in their right mind could ever say the parliamentary
polls were free and fair.

      Zimbabwe Election Support Network chairman Reginald Matchaba-Hove said
there was no way Zimbabwe could ever hold free and fair elections under the
current electoral dispensation. The challenge was to write a new
constitution that would define new rules for holding credible elections. -
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Online

Food aid recipients swell to a million
Fri 13 May 2005
  BULAWAYO - The number of school children, orphans and other vulnerable
individuals receiving food in Zimbabwe under a special World Food Programme
scheme swelled to one million last month as severe hunger spreads across the

      WFP spokeswoman Makena Walker said most of the recipients were from
the southern Matabeleland region, traditionally a poor rainfall region and
the worst affected by food shortages this year.

      "In April alone, WFP provided food aid to one million people, mainly
school children from Matabeleland region and those that are living with
HIV/AIDS," said Walker.

      Four months ago, about 900 000 people were receiving food under the
WFP scheme that is limited to the vulnerable in society.

      President Robert Mugabe and his government will not allow the WFP or
any other donor to feed the starving general populace.

      Local church leaders, United Nations food experts and other
non-governmental organisations have warned of a humanitarian disaster in
Zimbabwe in the coming months unless the government opened up and allowed
unfettered delivery of food aid by international donor groups.

      But Harare, which admitted Zimbabwe was facing serious food shortages
only last March after denying there was hunger in the country and even
telling international food agencies last year to take their help elsewhere,
insists it has enough resources to ensure no one starves.

      Zimbabwe would need to import 1.2 billion tonnes of maize costing
about US$500 million, money which Mugabe's government grappling a severe
economic crisis for the last five years does not have. - ZimOnline
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Online

Police backtrack on threats to ban protest music album
Fri 13 May 2005
  HARARE - Zimbabwe police yesterday backtracked on threats to stop the
release of an album of protest music produced by local civic society groups.

      A spokeswoman of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), a
coalition of civic bodies that is behind the music album, last night said
the album will be launched today after the police officials indicated they
would no longer prevent its release to the market.

      NCA spokeswoman Jessie Majome said: "Our officials went to the police
station this morning and a police Assistant Inspector Mhondoro indicated
that the police have no problem with us launching the album."

      Majome did not say why the police relented on their threat to ban the
release of the protest music album but said the NCA was prepared to resist
any attempts to ban their music. "In any case we were already psyched up to
resist any attempt to disrupt the event (launch of album)," she said. Music
on the album calls for a new and democratic constitution for Zimbabwe and
also criticises police brutality against the government's political

      The police had earlier said they wanted to ban the album for fear the
protest music it contains could be used to rally Zimbabweans to rise against
the government particularly as emotions were still high in the country after
last March's disputed parliamentary election.

      State secret agents and the police routinely censure music or
publications deemed too critical of President Robert Mugabe and his ruling

      Local music icon Thomas Mapfumo and several other artists have had
their songs banned from national airwaves because state official feared they
might incite Zimbabweans against the government.

      Four newspapers including the country's largest circulating non
government-owned daily, the Daily News, have been banned in the last two
years by a government too sensitive to criticism amid mounting opposition to
its rule. - ZimOnline
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Online

High Court rejects bid to have Daily News journalists registered
Fri 13 May 2005
  HARARE - Zimbabwe's High Court has ruled that journalists working for the
banned Daily News cannot receive accreditation from the state media
commission until their newspaper is registered.

      The judgment, handed down by Justice Kamocha earlier this week after a
15 month delay, represents yet another blow to Zimbabwe's small but
courageous private media battling to survive under a harsh environment.

      Kamocha said journalists from the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe
(ANZ), publishers of the Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday, could not
be accredited until their newspapers are registered with the government's
Media and Information Commission.

      "For a person to practise as a journalist he or she must be accredited
first," said the judge.

      The Daily News took the case to the High Court in February 2004 in a
bid to force the government's media commission to register its journalists
while it finalised the registration process for its banned titles.

      Under Zimbabwe's tough Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act, journalists face a two-year prison sentence for practising without

      President Robert Mugabe's government is accused of harassing the
independent media in a bid to silence all voices of dissent. Four newspapers
including the Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday, were shut down in the
last two years.

      More than one hundred journalists have also been arrested in Zimbabwe
for flouting the country's tough media laws in the last two years. -

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Online

Tsvangirai asks SADC to press for reforms in Zimbabwe
Fri 13 May 2005
  PORT-LOUIS - Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday
asked the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to press for
democratic reforms to ensure free and fair elections in the country in

      Briefing journalists after talks with Mauritian Prime Minister and
SADC chairman, Paul Berenger, Tsvangirai said his Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) party was not seeking a re-run of last March's disputed
parliamentary poll won by President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF

      He said: "Our mission was to brief the prime minister about the
problems surrounding the elections, the various impediments to free and fair
elections and the way forward . . . we don't ask for a re-run, we want to
ascertain that the future elections be conducted in a free and fair manner."

      Tsvangirai said he had also asked Berenger to convene SADC's troika on
security and defence and the regional bloc's general troika to hammer out a
way to bring his MDC party and Mugabe's ZANU PF to the negotiating table.

      "Prime Minister Berenger ... should convene two troikas to try to see
whether they can come out with a solution toward ensuring that the two
parties ZANU PF and MDC find a solution to the national crisis," Tsvangirai

      The SADC defence and security council troika comprises South Africa
Lesotho and Namibia, while its general troika includes Tanzania, Mauritius
and Botswana.

      The Zimbabwean leader said Berenger had also promised to hold talks
with South African President Thabo Mbeki about holding a meeting to be
attended by the two troikas to discuss Zimbabwe's crisis.

      Mbeki, who leads the region's most powerful country, is regarded by
United States President George W. Bush and other key western leaders as the
point-man on Zimbabwe. The South African leader is also current chairman of
SADC's vital organ on defence and politics.

      But Tsvangirai and his MDC party announced last month that they would
not accept South African mediation accusing Mbeki and his government of
taking sides in the Zimbabwe dispute after they endorsed Mugabe and his
party's victory in the March poll.

      The MDC says it was cheated out of victory but SADC election observers
declared the election as having been credible and reflective of the will of
Zimbabweans. - ZimOnline

Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Only Way Forward

We spent the past weekend working on the issues facing the MDC in Zimbabwe.
We have come a long way in five short years - we have a national network of
over 8000 branches, elected executives in all 120 districts and 12 provinces
and permanent offices in all major centers. All this from zero in 2000. We
are one of the best-known opposition movements in the world and certainly
hold the position of the most significant parliamentary opposition in

Despite being up against people "who have degrees in violence" and who have
had hundreds of our members murdered, thousands tortured and imprisoned and
with the whole State machinery lined up against us - we have not only
survived, but remain the greatest threat to the ruling Party in 25 years of
dominance in Zimbabwe. Not only have we survived, but also we have
steadfastly kept to our principles of non-violent political action as we
sought political change through the ballot and normal legal procedures.

Many regard the latter position as being "weak" and accuse our leadership of
being spineless. Many in the media would love to see a bit of action here -
with people being gunned down on the streets and thousands throwing stones
and more at the armed forces. In fact all of our leadership has gone to jail
for their principles in the past 5 years - some on several occasions,
including our President, Morgan Tsvangirai. Others have paid with their
lives for their principles.

This weekend we agonized over what to do following the third defeat in 5
years at the hands of a corrupt and sterile regime which will do anything to
stay in power, no matter how great their failure. At the end of it we
agreed - without exception - to stand firm on our principles and not to
endorse calls for violence and extralegal activity. We also agreed to go to
our congress in January 2006 and to set in motion the process of holding
elections in all the branches, districts and provincial assemblies that
precede such an event. It will be a significant event for us in the MDC - we
will renew our mandate as leaders, share pain and joy with 14 000 delegates
and celebrate our faith in the ballot box as a means of securing a better
life for all our people.

What I find so remarkable about the MDC is the fact that although we are a
Party of the poor and disadvantaged, we share a belief that only democracy
and the rule of law can offer us a better life. It is awe inspiring to see
simple peasant people taking a principled stand on issues that were once the
preserve of the rich and the west.

But what is the way forward - more of the same? No! We agreed that it could
not be business as usual, we simply cannot afford to wait either for the "
old man" to die or for the next election. We agreed there was only one way
forward and that was to go back to the issue of the constitution.

Our present constitution was not home grown; it came out of our colonial
past as a bi-product of the Lancaster House process, which preceded
elections and independence in 1980. The present political turmoil has its
roots in the campaign started in the mid 90's for a new constitution. This
culminated in the referendum in March 2000 which the government lost -
simply because they ignored what the people had demanded of any new

With the emergence of the MDC in 2000, the issue of the constitution has
been put on the back burner in the expectation that democratic elections
would usher in a new administration more sympathetic to the call for new
home grown constitution. This has not happened and with the failure of
elections in Zimbabwe, due to electoral fraud, to yield any kind of real
change, the MDC decided it was time to go back to the issue.

We are told that Zanu PF intends to table three amendments to the current
constitution in the next sitting of Parliament - formation of a Senate,
entrenchment of the Electoral Commission in the constitution and a new
provision which will allow the State to take over any land which it chooses
to designate for acquisition.

Such changes do nothing to improve the present situation - the Senate will
not broaden political representation in Parliament, ZEC will remain an
instrument of the State controlled by Zanu PF functionaries and the land
provisions will simply compound our economic and political difficulties. We
resolved to reject such piecemeal amendments to the constitution and instead
to call for a national conference to develop a new constitution which will
embrace the ideas and desires of the nation as a whole. Such a conference
would make decisions on a consensual basis and the final product would then
give us the legal framework required to guide us back into the regional and
global community of nations.

The leadership of the MDC is now consulting others in Zimbabwe and leaders
outside the country about the way forward and resolved to throw its weight
behind a demand that Zanu come to the table for such a debate with
representatives from the whole country. After a new constitution has been
adopted we would expect a period of time to lapse while we restore
confidence in electoral procedures and organise ourselves for new, free and
fair elections in an environment that was also free of fear.

In the meantime we are reminded daily of the collapse of the economy in the
form of long queues for fuel, food and transport. Government seems to be
frozen in its tracks - like someone who finds themselves on thin ice and
freezes, scared to move forward in case they fall through the ice and unable
to go backwards. Export industries are crumbling, the services to the cities
and towns are in dire straights, the exchange rate at 824 to 1 is wildly out
of kilter with the real market rate of 22000 to 1 and the Mozambique
currency now buys more than one Zimbabwe dollar!

Faced with the need to feed half the population and unable to procure the
resources required to keep the economy going, the State is going to have to
move soon. Its options are few and to my way of thinking it is deeply
significant that the Secretary General of the United Nations is coming here
at the month end. He would not do so unless it was the view of major UN
power blocks that action was needed to resolve the crisis. There is also a
peculiar silence in South Africa about the impending implosion of Zimbabwean
society and the serious consequences for the region as a whole and South
Africa in particular.

With Mr. Blair and his team back in the drivers seat and also occupying the
position of Chairman of the G8 and President of Europe and a resurgent Bush
changing regimes across the globe by one means or another, the regime here
has every reason to be nervous. By rejecting change and renewal within Zanu
PF they have committed the fatal mistake of restricting their own team to
those who are at the end of their careers. By insulting everyone who has any
capacity to help resolve our crisis, they have cut off all other options. If
they were wise, they would take our offer of a chance to come back to the
shore and off the ice before it engulfs them.

Eddie Cross

Bulawayo, 12th May 2005

Back to the Top
Back to Index


Inflation gives Gono 'sleepless nights'
          May 13 2005 at 10:35AM

      Harare - Zimbabwe's central bank governor is having "sleepless nights"
over how to tame inflation currently running at more than 120 percent, the
reports said on Friday.

      Reserve bank governor Gideon Gono is struggling to contain inflation,
which President Robert Mugabe's government considers the "Number 1 enemy".

      From an all-time high of more than 622 percent in January 2004, the
inflation rate dropped to 123,7 percent this March, but inflationary
pressures are once again high and there are fears it will soar again.

      Gono, who is due to give a monetary policy review next Thursday, says
he has decided upon "resolute measures that we are going to take once and
for all".

       Earlier, Gono had said he wanted inflation to be around 20-30 percent
by the end of 2005. That may not be possible, independent economists say.

      Zimbabwe's parallel market for foreign currency is said to be booming
once again and there are food shortages, which the government says have been
"artificially" created.

      "We are not new to these challenges. They will be dealt with
decisively," Gono, a former leading banker, said. - Sapa-dpa
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Globe and Mail, Canada

Secret police now run Zimbabwe's land program
Friday, May 13, 2005 Updated at 8:23 AM EDT

Associated Press

Harare - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has appointed Didymus Mutasa,
the head of the secret police, to oversee a controversial
land-redistribution program, the government said Friday.
State radio said Mr. Mutasa, head of the Central Intelligence Organization,
would have authority over Flora Buka, who last month was appointed minister
of state for special affairs for lands and resettlement. The
land-redistribution program has been dogged by allegations of favouritism
and corruption, with ruling ZANU-PF party moguls obtaining more than one

Alleged scandals have caused deep divisions in a ruling party already riven
by factions supporting different candidates to succeed Mr. Mugabe, 81, who
has indicated that he will retire at the end of his current term in 2008.

Misheck Sibanda, chief secretary to Mr. Mugabe's cabinet, told state radio
that the adjustment of cabinet responsibilities means Mr. Mutasa will work
closely with the presidency in overseeing all matters relating to the
acquisition, distribution and settlement of land under the program.

He said Mr. Buka's role would stress field-based monitoring of
land-reform-related settlement.
The plan aims to resettle 240,000 families on former white-owned land,
covering 17 per cent of the country. Much of the farms have become derelict
because many owners failed to take up holdings they were allocated.

Zimbabwe's agricultural production has crashed, leading to food shortages
and falling exports of cash crops such as tobacco. Current United Nations
estimates suggest 5.5 million people may need food relief to survive until
the next harvests in 2006, despite Mr. Mugabe's predictions of "bumper

Mr. Mugabe appointed a commission last year chaired by former cabinet
Secretary Charles Utete that "expressed concern over multiple farm

Mr. Mutasa, 70, was appointed to conduct a shake-up in the Central
Intelligence Organisation, Zimbabwe's secret police, after five leading
party members were detained on allegations of spying for the South African

Mr. Mutasa's new post will give him control of Mr. Mugabe's sole remaining
source of patronage in a foundering national economy. Given responsibility
in the 1980s for overseeing Mr. Mugabe's abortive plans to introduce a one
party state, Mr. Mutasa is a veteran Mugabe loyalist from the eastern
Manicaland area.
Back to the Top
Back to Index


Zim election fought in court
13/05/2005 12:35  - (SA)

Harare - Members of Zimbabwe's main opposition party will face ruling party
MPs in court on Friday to launch petitions contesting the outcome of
parliamentary elections in March, the Herald newspaper reported.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Zimbabwe's six-year-old opposition
party, is contesting the results of elections in at least 16 constituencies,
and says many more were won by fraudulent means.

The cases will be heard in the country's newly-created electoral courts in
Harare and Bulawayo.

High Court Judge Paddington Garwe is to chair Friday's meeting in Harare
where 11 of the cases will soon be heard, the Herald reported.

"The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the modalities of setting down the
election petitions within the prescribed period," the registrar of the
electoral court, Charles Nyatanga said.

Under Zimbabwe's Electoral Act, the petitions have to be heard within six

The losing MDC candidates, the Zanu-PF party members who defeated them and
lawyers for all parties are expected to attend the meeting, reports said.

President Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front
(Zanu-PF) party swept to victory in the March 31 polls, winning 78 seats to
the MDC's 41.

The opposition has refused to accept the results of the polls. After
parliamentary elections in June 2000, the MDC challenged Zanu-PF victories
in 38 constituencies, but the cases were never resolved.
Back to the Top
Back to Index


Zim 62: 'Cat and mouse game'
13/05/2005 14:49  - (SA)

Harare - A lawyer for alleged mercenaries who have completed their prison
term in Zimbabwe accused President Robert Mugabe's government on Friday of
playing "cat and mouse game" with his clients by continually stalling their

The men waited for a fourth consecutive day at Harare's Chikurubi prison
after High Court records indicated they had completed their sentence.

"It looks like this is a cat and mouse game situation," said Jonathan
Samkange, a lawyer for the men. "My clients are all dressed up in their own
clothes very cheerfully ready to leave but they are getting anxious."

Their scheduled release and deportation was stalled first while officials
went to film for identity pictures and then by the government's refusal to
let them board a rented bus.

The 62 men allegedly were embroiled in an aborted plot to overthrow
Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang Nguema.

The men, who were arrested in March 2004 when their Boeing 727 landed at
Harare, completed yearlong sentences and were discharged from prison on
Thursday, but held overnight at the prison awaiting arrangements for their

Remaining at the prison were the two pilots of the aircraft, serving
16-month sentences for breaching aviation regulations, and former British
Special Air Service soldier Simon Mann, completing a four-year sentence for
attempting to buy weapons from a Zimbabwe state-owned defence company
without a license.

Air transport ruled out

The government, which at first told a lawyer for the men to hire a bus for
their deportation, changed its mind on Friday and said they could not board
the bus because it would be a security risk.

"That is wasted money, but it is part of the game," said Samkange. He was
not told how the men would be taken to South Africa by the government, but
air transport was ruled out because of the alleged security risk.

"I cannot put my head on the block and say they will be released today but
they cannot be kept any longer at Chikurubi because they are not in holding
cells, they are in their own plain clothes and that is causing a lot of
confusion," he said.

For much of Thursday the men were left in limbo outside the gates of the
maximum security section, after formal release and return of their civilian
clothes and belongings.

Samkange said the 62 had been "in a very, very anxious" state.

President Obiang's government had sought to have the men sent to Equatorial
Guinea where they faced summary execution. Equatorial Guinea has sentenced
24 other suspected mercenaries from European and African nations to lengthy
prison terms.

Sir Mark Thatcher, formerly resident in Cape Town and the son of retired
British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, pleaded guilty last year in a
South African court to unwittingly helping to bankroll the coup attempt.
Back to the Top
Back to Index


      Zimbabwe annual inflation quickens as economy ails

      Fri May 13, 2005 3:24 PM GMT+02:00
      HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's inflation rate edged higher in the year
to April, official data showed on Friday, casting a dark cloud on an economy
hit by chronic fuel, food and foreign currency shortages.

      The Central Statistical Office said the consumer price index rose
129.1 percent year-on-year in April, up 5.4 percentage points on the March
rate. Month-on-month inflation added 3.2 percentage points to 7.4 percent in
April from its March level.

      "The increase in prices between April 2004 and April 2005 was largely
accounted for by increases in the average price of beverages, meat, fruit
and vegetables and communications," the department said.

      Zimbabwe's inflation has slowed sharply from a high of 623 percent in
January 2004, but remains among the world's highest and President Robert
Mugabe's government has called it the country's number one enemy.

      The southern African country is caught up in an economic crisis many
blame on government mismanagement, with an acute shortage of foreign
currency forcing manufacturers to operate well below capacity, leading to a
scarcity of basic commodities.

      The central Reserve Bank has targeted an inflation range of between 20
and 35 percent by year-end, but economic analysts doubt this will be

      Zimbabwe's economic woes have been compounded by the withdrawal of
international donor support mainly over Mugabe's controversial drive to
forcibly redistribute large tracts of white-owned commercial farmland among
blacks, a programme critics say has undermined the key agriculture sector.

      Mugabe defends the land reforms as necessary to correct ownership
imbalances created when Britain colonised the country over a century ago,
and says he has adopted a "Look East" policy under which his government
seeks economic ties with 'friendly countries' from Africa, Asia and the
Muslim world.

      Mugabe says domestic and Western opponents of his land seizures have
deliberately set out to sabotage Zimbabwe's economy through sanctions
ostensibly aimed at the ruling elite, but which he argues have hit ordinary
Zimbabweans harder.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Radio Dialogue Denied Licence

Media Institute of Southern Africa (Windhoek)

May 13, 2005
Posted to the web May 13, 2005

"Radio Dialogue" which has been waiting in the wings for a community radio
licence has been denied a licence to operate a free to air local commercial
radio licence by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ).

"Radio Dialogue" which is based in the second city of Bulawayo, applied for
the commercial radio licence after BAZ invited applications for private
radio stations and one television station.

In turning down the application, BAZ noted that in its proposals, "Radio
Dialogue" had described itself as a community radio station but had gone on
to apply for a free to air local commercial radio licence for Bulawayo.

"The invitation was however for a free to air broadcasting (narrow casting
services). Your application does, not, therefore, conform to the licence for
which the Authority invited applications," reads part of the letter from
BAZ, dated 27 April 2005.

The BAZ further stated that "Radio Dialogue" had failed to meet other
requirements for a licence in terms of the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA)
which state that no broadcasting service or signal transmission station will
be licensed if it is wholly or partly funded by foreign donations or

"Radio Dialogue" had in its application stated that funding for the radio
station was going to be backed by foreign non-governmental organisations.

According to BAZ, the radio station had failed to show its shareholding
structure in terms of BSA and that the list of its equipment does not
include the technical specifications of the equipment.

"The Authority is therefore unable to check for compliance with the
technical standards prescribed by the regulations
Back to the Top
Back to Index