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Sydney Morning Herald

Tribunal ordered to rehear landless Zimbabwean couple's refugee claims
By Leonie Lamont
May 19, 2004

Zimbabwean farmers seeking refuge in Australia will be encouraged by a
court's decision that the dispossession of their land represents continuing
persecution, and is a valid ground in pursuing refugee claims.
A Zimbabwean couple and their four children had been rejected as refugees by
the Refugee Review Tribunal, but this month the Federal Magistrates Court
directed the tribunal to rehear the case, this time taking into account land
The family are of Indian Muslim background. The mother said she and her
husband's family had farmed in Zimbabwe for four generations. They were
forced to flee their farm near Masvingo after threats and occupation by
so-called war veterans in 2001.
The tribunal found that their risk of physical harm had been removed when
they fled to Harare, where they owned a flat.
But a federal magistrate, Rolf Driver, criticised the tribunal for not
considering whether the family had been persecuted by being forced off their
family farm "and whether that persecution by dispossession was continuing".
"Where land is seized unjustly or unlawfully by a government or its agents -
or where a government condones or approves of seizure by individuals using
threats of violence - and the land provides the livelihood of the person
dispossessed, and the seizure is part of a pattern of seizures based on
race, religion, political opinion or targeted at an identifiable social
group, in my view all the elements needed to satisfy the test of persecution
under the [refugee] convention are present," he said.
The mother said when the "war veterans" first went to the farm they bashed
the workers, manhandled her and threatened to rape and kill her. The family
stayed on the property until May 2001.
"They came back and not only bashed my husband leaving him bleeding and
unconscious, I was beaten and my daughter almost raped," she said.
She told the Herald that her mother, brother and nephew had been granted
refugee status.
"It would be so great to have another family farm in Australia," she said.
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MDC disputes Lupane election result
BULAWAYO, 18 May 2004 (IRIN) - Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party took a step
closer to gaining a two-thirds parliamentary majority after its victory in a
weekend by-election.

The seat for the Lupane constituency in the Matabeleland North province
became vacant on the death of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) MP, David Mpala, earlier this year.

ZANU-PF candidate Martin Khumalo beat Njabulo Mguni of the MDC by 883 votes
in the two-day poll, taking the ruling party to within two seats of a
two-thirds majority in the 150-seat parliament, and the right to amend the
constitution, should it wish to do so.

Khumalo polled 10,069 votes against Mguni's 9,186, with 40 percent of the
48,134 registered voters casting their ballots.

MDC spokesman Paul Temba Nyathi said the result, as with past elections, was
"an indication of how democracy has been mutilated in Zimbabwe".

He alleged that in the run-up to the by-election, 12 MDC campaign rallies
were disrupted by ZANU-PF supporters, while police had denied the MDC
permission to hold a rally under the Public Order and Security Act (POSA).

"People will continue to be denied their democratic rights whenever
elections are [held] under conditions that do not come anywhere near the
SADC [Southern African Development Community] norms and standards. As long
as we have traditional leaders threatening their subjects with retribution
if they do not vote a certain way, that does not enhance democracy," Nyathi
told IRIN.

Since the general election in 2000, when the MDC launched their electoral
challenge to the ruling party and secured 57 seats, ZANU-PF has won back
three rural and two urban constituencies in by-elections.

Professor Heneri Dzinotyiweyi of the University of Zimbabwe said the Lupane
by-election gave an indication of "the trend in the 2005 general elections,
as far as the rural vote in Matabeleland is concerned".

But Nyathi said there was "a world of difference between being able to cow
[into submission] one constituency, and doing so successfully in 120
constituencies at the same time. We will demand that SADC norms and
standards be introduced for the coming elections".

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18 May 2004
Zanu PF steals Lupane by-election

The MDC did no lose Lupane to Zanu PF, Zanu PF stole Lupane from the MDC.

We salute those brave voters’ who defied the intimidation and came out to cast their vote for the MDC.

We remain the voice of the people in Lupane. Zanu PF cannot claim to base their authority in Lupane on the will of the people since their “victory” was not secured through a free and fair ballot.

 In the parliamentary elections of June 2000, Zanu PF only polled 3,300 votes to the MDC’s 14,439. Given the chronic economic deterioration since June 2000, the unprecedented poverty and suffering that has ensued and the fact that the people of Lupane suffered horrendously during the Zanu PF sponsored ethnic cleansing that took place in the mid-1980s, it is simply inconceivable that Zanu PF could dramatically increase their share of the popular vote and win this constituency.

Zanu PF used their traditional tactics of coercing the voters and distorting the electoral process, an area where they have an impeccable track record.

The management and conduct of the Lupane by-election underlined yet again the urgent need for minimum standards for elections in Zimbabwe, standards which have been clearly set out and articulated by the MDC in recent statements. Until these standards are implemented, elections in Zimbabwe will fail to comply with SADC and international standards, a factor which raises serious doubts as to the legitimacy of election ‘victories’. 

The Lupane by-election provided confirmation of the dire state of the electoral process in Zimbabwe and the lack of public confidence that it inspires. The MDC was again denied access to the voters’ roll, our campaign posters barely saw the light of day whilst during the two days of polling the following incidents occurred, incidents that have become all too characteristic during elections in today’s Zimbabwe:

If Zanu PF truly believes that it has regained the support of the people then it must put this to the test in a free and fair election. We urge Zanu PF to honour its commitments under the SADC protocol for elections and begin the process taking the necessary steps to ensure that the integrity of the electoral process is restored and that genuine democratic elections can take place. What does it have to lose if it has become so popular all of a sudden?

As long as the 15 demands for a free and fair election issued by the M
DC have not been acceded to, elections in Zimbabwe will continue to be a farce.


We, as a party, will continue to fight for the basic rights for all the people of Zimbabwe.

Paul Themba Nyathi
Secretary for Information and Publicity


Note To Editors:

 Zanu PF polled 10,069 votes to the MDC’s 9,186

Examples of fraudulent activity (see following)




March 2004

24 March: Matebeleland North: Lupane: Reports have reached us regarding hundreds of prospective youth brigade militias notoriously known as "Green Bombers" from Matebeleland provinces who are being bussed into Lupane Constituency to register as voters for the forth-coming by-election.


In a fraudulent effort to win the Lupane seat, which became vacant as a result of the death of MDC legislature David Mpala, ZANU PF has refined its rigging tactics for the Lupane by-election. Youths from areas such as Jambesi, Kamativi and Wankie are reported bussed into Lupane Constituency where arrangements are made by ZANU PF officials for them to get recommendation letters from the local chiefs and headmen to enable the youths get registered as voters to enable them to vote in the Lupane by-election. Laurence Mbewe a ZANU PF official in the area is responsible for facilitating their registration.


At Lupane business centre alone where the youths are booked at the guesthouse until 27 April 2004, more than 300 youths were registered between Monday 22 and Wednesday 24 March 2004.


Some of the youths confirmed that they were indeed registering in preparation for the by-election. They disclosed that they had been instructed not to talk about it to the public. In an attempt to disguise their strategy, each group is moved out to either Dadaya camp in Zvishavane, Mushagashe in Masvingo or Border Gezi in Mashonaland Central as soon as registration is completed. They undergo youth training in those respective centres before being re-deployed back into Lupane to vote in the forth-coming by-election.



8 April: Matebeleland North: Lupane: Gerald Khumalo (33) an MDC activist was attacked by a group of about 20 war veterans at Lupane Business Centre on 7 April at around 21.30 hours.


Gerald was relaxing in Wise Waters cocktail bar when a group of about 20 war veterans, among them Timon Mlilo and Obert Dube, approached him, grabbed him by the collar, handcuffed him and dragged him out of the bar, punching him in the face as they dragged him out. They took him to the CIO office at the business centre, but found it closed. While waiting to get the keys to the CIO office, the war veterans told Khumalo that Njabuliso Mguni, the MDC candidate in the by-election, was a sell out because he once worked for the Government, but has crossed the floor to the opposition.


Khumalo was rescued by other MDC youths who followed the abductors to the CIO office and and forced them to release Gerald.


War veterans and Zanu PF militia have set up bases in Lupane ahead of the parliamentary by-election to be held on 15 - 16 May 2004. One such base is Kusile District Council pre-school situated at Lupane business centre.


16 April: Matebeleland North: Lupane: ZANU PF starts building militia bases in the Lupane Constituency in preparation for the by-election. Already two bases have been established and these are at Gomoza and St Pauls'. Hundreds of youth are being moved into these bases to take positions.


24 April: Matebeleland North: Lupane: ZANU PF supporters moved from door to door in Gomoza ward of Lupane hunting down MDC supporters and assaulting them. They were also threatening anybody from attending the MDC gathering that had been called for by the MDC local leadership for the following day.

 Job Tshuma and his wife Sicingeni Tshuma were dragged out of their home into the bush where they were brutally assaulted. Apparently the ZANU PF group were looking for Robert Tshuma the MDC ward chairman who is also the father in law of Job and when they failed to get him they went for Job and his wife. The couple was taken to St Luke's Hospital in Lupane where they received treatment.


25 April: Matebeleland North: Lupane: Four ZANU PF trucks which were driven in a move style tried to disrupt an MDC gathering that was taking place at Gomoza shopping centre. More than 500 MDC supporters had gathered at the shopping centre and were being addressed by the leadership which included two members of parliament Moses Mzila Ndlovu and Abednigo Bhebhe when four ZANU PF trucks arrived being driven at a frightening speed encircling the MDC crowd. The accupants of the four trucks were shouting, "overrun them." For some minutes the ZANU PF trucks continued to instil fear but the MDC crowd did not disperse. All this happened right in the face of the ESC members who were present and also one police officer who could not help the situation.


MAY 2004


11 May 2004: Matebeleland North: Lupane: Morgan Komichi the MDC Matebeleland North  provincial chairperson and 18 MDC youths were arrested at Lupane business shopping centre at around 10 00 hours after they had had clashes with the ZANU PF sponsored members of the youths brigade notoriously known as the "Bomber Brigades"


The incident which occurred at around 0700 hours was triggered off by the militias who attacked the MDC youths who were putting up posters and distributing campaign material in preparation for a rally which was to be addressed by the MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai the following day.


The militias were repulsed and soon after heavily armed police descended on the MDC offices and arrested the youths. No one on the ZANU PF side was arrested. Those arrested are detained at Lupane police station and they include Morgan Komichi the Matebeleland North Provincial Chairperson,

11 May: Matebeleland North: Jotsholo: 44 MDC supporters were arrested at around 1030 on their way to Lupane for an MDC rally which was due to be held at Lupane shopping centre on 12 May 2004.


13 May: Matebeleland North: Lupane: Morgan Komichi and 18 others released on free bail. The 18 others who were arrested with Komichi are: Sibangilizwe Nyoni, Sherphard Moyo,Sindiso Ndlovu, Elton Sibanda, Bekhimpilo Nyathi, Sibungu Moyo, Caspin Godhlo, Vicent Nyathi, Cosmas Sebele, Mehluli Mhlanga,Mfakazi Ngwenya,Fundani Mpofu,Nkululeko Sibanda, Maphuma Ncube, Mgwa Masuku, Themba Moyo,Patrick Moyo,Future Tshuma


15 May: Lupane: The Lupane by-election started at 07.00 hours this morning. At Kusile district council polling station a group of ZANU PF supporters that is stationed outside the 100 metres radius is writing the names of the people who are coming in to cast their vote. At the same polling station the presiding officer has denied the polling agents the right to keep a record of the electorate as they come in to cast their votes. He argued that the recordings should be done at the end of the day. Still at the same polling station a police officer is conducting the voter checking process using indelible ink which is a breach of the electoral act.


13 May: Lupane: Two MDC activists Demadema Ntini Ncube and Look Sibanda were abducted by a group of ZANU F supporters at Siphuzile polling station and were taken to Morgan Mtunzi the area headman. The headman in turn handed the two over to war vets and ZANU PF supporters who were camped at Matambo School. The two were severely tortured the whole night and were only released on Friday evening. Upon their release they approached the MDC chairman for the area Rodger Mhlope who took them to the police so that they could get police reports to enable them get treatment. At the police the victims were instead arrested on allegations that ZANU PF had made a report saying that the two had been involved in some violence with their supporters. The two have been detained at Lupane police station.


15 May: Lupane: At Ekusile Rural District Council, village heads affiliated to Zanu PF were  selling maize at give away prices to electorate as they came to cast their votes. Receipts that were issued out to the buyers were obtained as evidence by the MDC fooicials.


At Manasa mobile 9, 3 village heads Luckson Msipa, Gift Ncube and another Ncube whose first name has not yet been established were writing names of the people as they came in to vote.


At Malunku polling station, war veterans are camped outside the polling threatening people who are coming in to vote.


16 May; Lupane: There have were disturbing reports which were brought to the attention of the Electoral Supervisory Commission and local and international observers.


In at least 50% of the polling stations, which include Guga Primary School, BH 42 Primary School, Ntuthuko Primary School, Sibombo School, Jibajiba School, Mkombo School and Mzola 27, village heads were seated outside the polling stations compiling the names of people who were going to vote.


At the polling stations at Mpahlwa and Mathambo schools, war veterans loyal to Zanu PF were camped inside the school premises in total violation of the Electoral Act. Some of them were openly campaigning for Zanu PF and threatening voters within the 100 metre radius of the polling stations. 


At Tshongogwani School polling station, seven village heads were only removed from their positions by the police with the assistance of Electoral Supervisory Commission officials following the intervention of MDC parliamentarians Thokozani Khupe, Abedinico Bhebhe and Rensen Gasela. The heads could only be identified by their second names include Lupane, Mhlanga, Gumbo, Ncube and Ndlovu.


At Manasa mobile 9, 3 village heads Luckson Msipa, Gift Ncube and another Ncube whose first name has not yet been established were writing names of the people as they came in to vote.


There were also seriously disturbing reports at Mobile 9 at Manasa where 19 people attempted to vote for the second time and were turned away, but were not arrested. Similarly, at Malunku mobile 9, 24 people attempted to vote for the second time after having been transported from other polling stations in Zanu PF vehicles.


At Ekusile Rural District Council, village heads affiliated to Zanu PF were selling maize at give away prices to the electorate as they came to cast their votes. Receipts that were issued to the buyers were obtained as evidence.


A compilation of a list of all the village heads who are being used by the Zanu PF government to threaten people into voting for it was made. A large group of them confessed to the underhand dealings by government, while others were going completely against the people in return for large cash benefits and vehicles that have been offered to them as individuals.







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      Zimbabwe opposition MP in parliament scuffle
      18 May 2004 18:49:04 GMT

By Stella Mapenzauswa

HARARE, May 18 (Reuters) - A white Zimbabwean opposition legislator was
ejected from parliament on Tuesday after he knocked down a member of
President Robert Mugabe's ruling party who made reference to the seizure of
his farm, officials said.

ZANU-PF chief whip Joram Gumbo said parliament would set up a committee to
look into the incident involving Roy Bennett of the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) and ZANU-PF member Patrick Chinamasa.

"We are members of parliament from two different parties and we definitely
don't agree on issues but we cannot go to the extent of fighting each other
in the house," Gumbo said, adding Bennett could be suspended from the house
or fined if found guilty of contempt.

MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi said his party regretted the incident but
that Bennett had responded to extreme provocation over the loss of his farm.

"You need to have been in parliament to understand the magnitude of
provocation that Bennett was subjected to. He has won something like four
High Court decisions but ZANU-PF has ignored those court decisions and
proceeded to take away his farm," Nyathi said.

"He gets no protection from parliament, he gets no protection from the
courts of law. So of course one understands that kind of reaction though of
course it's totally unfortunate."

The MDC and several Western countries have criticised Zimbabwe's seizure of
white-owned farms, but the ruling party says they are necessary to redress
the ownership imbalances created by Britain's 1890's colonisation of the
southern African state.

Tuesday's incident came a day after ZANU-PF wrestled away an MDC seat after
a weekend by-election, boosting its presence in the 150-strong legislature
to 97 against 52 for the MDC and one for a smaller party.

The victory in the northwestern district of Lupane is a psychological boost
for the ruling party ahead of next year's general polls.

The MDC, which came close to winning nearly half the 120 contested seats in
2000 parliamentary polls, has since yielded five in a series of
by-elections, amid charges of an uneven playing field.

The opposition and other government critics say deeply rooted flaws in
existing electoral laws make it impossible to hold free and fair polls in
Zimbabwe, and have helped Mugabe to tighten his 24-year grip on power.

Mugabe denies opposition charges that his misrule has brought a once
thriving economy to its knees, and in turn blames the crisis on sabotage by
local and foreign opponents of his land reforms.
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New Zimbabwe

'The gloves are off' - Tsvangirai

By Morgan Tsvangirai
Last updated: 05/19/2004 01:04:24
ON the eve of the Lupane by-election, magistrate Sikhumbuzo Nyathi ordered
the release of Morgan Komichi, the MDC leader for Matabeleland North
Province and 18 others. Komichi and the activists were arrested, detained
and charged on Tuesday on allegations of public violence at Lupane business

Magistrate Nyathi asked a police officer in court to explain why he arrested
only MDC supporters if his evidence was based on a clash between MDC and
ZANU PF supporters. The officer could only respond by saying that he was
taking instructions from his superiors.

Pressed further on why he was failing to identify any of the MDC supporters
he claimed to have caught red-handed committing the alleged crime, the
police officer insisted that he was merely acting on instructions from his
Apparently angered by Komichi's freedom, militias abducted our supporters
Demadema Ntini Ncube and Look Sibanda and took them to headman Morgan
Mtunzi, who, in turn handed them over to a group of war veterans and ZANU PF
supporters camped at Matambo School. The two were severely tortured before
their release on Friday evening. They were arrested soon afterwards when
they attempted to file charges at the police station, and accused of

Elsewhere in the impoverished constituency, village heads were turned into
grain merchants during the campaign, selling maize at heavily subsidised
prices on the last days of the campaign. In cases where food was an
insufficient inducement, beatings, threats and harassment became the main

The Lupane seat fell vacant on the death of the MP David Mpala, who died
from injuries he sustained at the hands of ZANU PF.

Among a host of key electoral infringements, the MDC was denied access to an
updated voters roll. We only managed to use the roll supplied to us before
the 2002 Presidential election.

The current Electoral Supervisory Commission has proved to be nothing more
than an instrument of Zanu PF. The police are openly partisan. Other
government officials have been threatened with the loss of work if they
attempt to be professional in their work, especially during the time of

During my visit to Lupane on Wednesday, I heard harrowing stories of voter
manipulation and coercion. Villagers who braved the tense atmosphere to
attend our campaign rally said senior Zanu PF officials, war veterans,
militias and government ministers were in Lupane threatening them all sorts
of chilling misfortunes if they dared to vote for the MDC.

The area was awash with anxieties arising from reminders of the dark days of
Gukurahundi. The wounds of Gukurahundi have never healed and memories of
Fifth Brigade atrocities of 20 years ago are still as fresh as yesterday.
Zanu PF has perfected its fraudulent systems and is determined to bulldoze
its way against the people's wishes in a crude manner.

At most polling stations, ZANU PF supporters noted the names of voters. Our
polling agents were denied the right to keep a record of the votes as people
came in to cast their ballots. The police were responsible for the voter
checking process, in a clear breach of the Electoral Act.

The lessons from Lupane are no different from our experiences in the past.
The pattern remains the same throughout the country. However, Lupane gave us
the last instalment. We have since shifted our focus and our approach. We
gave Zanu PF a long rope. The regime has hanged itself and the matter is now
settled. The days of Zanu PF assuming the positions of spectator, coach,
referee and player in our national elections are over.

An election, whose outcome is predetermined, is no election at all. If
people see elections as inconsequential to their lives, one cannot blame
them for their loss of faith in the process. If elections lead to national
cesspool, then they have no place in people's lives. Lupane has helped put
paid to a minority but vocal view in our society and beyond that seeks to
pressure Zimbabweans to continue partaking in national plebiscites under the
present conditions. Lupane has caused a serious rethink in our broad
campaign for a radical change in conditions before any legitimate polls come
to life in Zimbabwe.

The ball is no longer in the air. Our future is open. Zimbabweans have a
deep conviction and a clear belief in the supremacy of their sovereignty
over Zanu PF's effort to legitimise intolerance, violence and oppression.
Our consultation show that Zimbabweans still believe in elections provided
such elections are absolutely free and fair. The desire and spirit for
change remain high. That is what keeps us inspired to serve them. We are
confident that we shall have free and fair elections in March 2005. We are
determined to achieve this goal.

Our preparations for 2005 are in full swing. Never before has our entire
nation been so ready for a showdown with Zanu PF. We have a rolling
programme on the ground, a programme that will deliver change and ensure a
legitimate MDC victory.

The programme is structured in a way that would enable us to intensify
pressure on the regime to accede to our demands for the following minimum
conditions necessary for the restoration of genuine, democratic elections.

The demands, based on the SADC norms and standards are an essential
pre-requisite to the exercise of our fundamental human rights and must be in
place well before Election Day in 2005.

Restore the rule of law. Mugabe must end all forms of political violence and
completely disband the youth militias. He must ensure that the police and
security forces are impartial in the conduct of their duties. In addition,
Zimbabwe needs a special court to hear and resolve electoral disputes
speedily. From our experience in the past five years, the legal route, in
its present form, has subverted democracy.

Restore Basic Freedoms and Rights. We are asking the regime to revoke those
aspects of the Public Order and Security Act and the Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) that curtail personal freedoms of the
people. The Public Media must be open to all political parties and
individual politicians. Further, all Zimbabweans living outside the country
must be allowed to vote.

Establish an Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). Elections are very
crucial to any country. They are basic right with a potential to make or
break a nation. We risk perpetuating our misery if we allow Zanu PF to
continue playing games with our electoral system. Already, we are the
laughing stock of the SADC region.

Because of our previous experience, the management and implementation of our
electoral process cannot be left to Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede alone.
Mudede has failed the nation on numerous occasions. His record contains
sufficient evidence to disqualify him from handling another major election
single-handedly unless Mugabe and Zanu PF are not serious about the future
of Zimbabwe. We need an impartial body to run our elections.

Restore Public Confidence in the Electoral Process. This is a crucial
matter. Zimbabweans are fast losing faith in elections because of mistrust.
We need a clean and accurate voters roll. The roll must be freely available
to interested persons and to all political parties. People must vote in a
single day; the counting of votes must be done at the polling station
immediately after voting ends. Violence must end.

Restore the Secrecy of the Ballot. Voting must take place in an atmosphere
that ensures total secrecy. Our ballot boxes must change. We need to use
translucent plastic ballot boxes of secure, single piece construction. The
regime must stop abusing traditional leaders to coerce their subjects during

Together, we shall win.

Morgan Tsvangirai
President, Movement for Democratic Change

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Business Day

Zimbabwe inflation down to 505% in April


By Shoks Mzolo

Zimbabwe's overall annual inflation shed 78.7% easing to 505% year-on-year
(y/y) in April from 583.7%
y/y in March, Standard Bank (SBK) said in a research brief, attributing the
lowering of inflation to the administrative measures over the recent past.

Food inflation declined to 563.5% y/y in April from 655.9% y/y in March
while it fell to 3.7% month-on-month (m/m) in April from 5% m/m in March.
Annual inflation of the bread and cereals component was 843.2% y/y and the
meat component registered 589.9% y/y.

The food component has a 33% weight in the consumer price index (CPI).

The beverages and tobacco category's annual inflation fell to 457.4% y/y in
April from 510.8% y/y previously, however m/m inflation rose to 5.7% in
April from 0.7% m/m, noted Standard Bank economist and author of the brief
Robert Bunyi.

This category is second highest after food with a 16% weight in CPI.

The transport and communication category registered lower annual inflation
of 626.9% y/y in April, down from 820.4% while the clothing and footwear
category similarly recorded lower inflation at 448.9% y/y from
477.7% y/y.

The recreation and entertainment category recorded an annual inflation of
395.5% y/y while the education category registered 514.3% y/y.

"The reduction in annual inflation has been underpinned by fairly rapid
declines in food inflation and food inflation is now in single digits on a
month-on-month basis. Recent press reports indicate the government estimates
the country will produce just over 2.8 million tons of grain this year and
will exceed the country's national food requirements," Bunyi said.

"Assuming the projections are achieved food inflation will cease to be a
threat to overall inflation over the medium term."

He said as the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe effectively devalued the local
currency it gave further relief to exporters.

"This action is expected to increase market confidence in the foreign
exchange auction system and improve foreign exchange availability," he

Bunyi said the continuation of the low interest rate lending facility
coupled with higher crude oil prices and a depreciating currency will exert
inflationary pressures that will eventually reverse the current declining
trend in inflation.

Looking ahead, Bunyi said: "The key issue now is the stability of interest
rates as opposed to the level of interest rates."

"The Reserve Bank may have to incorporate a programme of periodic
devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar as part of the process of injecting some
stability in the money markets. In the meantime we expect that it will
maintain its present path of reducing interest rates."

I-Net Bridge

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Unique market intervention sustains Zimbabwe's urban poor
      18 May 2004 13:10:00 GMT

      Kristy Allen-Shirley

C-SAFE (Consortium for the Southern Africa Food Security Emergency)
During a time when Zimbabwe's urban population has seen its purchasing power
slashed by soaring inflation and widespread unemployment, with limited
access to food, a unique market intervention has worked to rebuild the
flailing commercial sector and sustain the urban poor.

The USAID funded Market Assistance Pilot Program (MAPP) is providing
beneficiaries in Zimbabwe's second largest city, Bulawayo, a low-cost maize
alternative - sorghum - by utilizing existing commercial channels, and the
program is set to expand to other struggling urban centers in the country.

C-SAFE, comprised of Catholic Relief Services, World Vision and CARE, took
the step of piloting the ambitious program in September 2003 as the combined
effects of drought, poor economic policy and HIV/AIDS left livelihoods
frayed and urban communities powerless to emerge from a state of chronic
food insecurity.

"Relief, aid and development projects have traditionally focused on rural
areas, where needs are severe. But in Zimbabwe's case, where we have massive
market failures in urban areas, the evaporation of infrastructure and
critical wounding of the local economy, the ability to recuperate is
limited, and prospects for hunger relief are poor," says Brad Barnett of
Catholic Relief Services, MAPP implementing member.

As an alternative to traditional food distributions, C-SAFE approached
existing commercial entities that could facilitate a program aimed at
"filling the market gap" with an affordable maize substitute. The sorghum
proposal initially encountered resistance from both retailers and consumers
given its lack of commercial presence in the local market for several
generations. However, within weeks, 150 retailers in 40 high-density
Bulawayo suburbs agreed to sell the cereal. Demand exploded from 30 tonnes
to 300 tonnes a day and by November, seven local millers were milling and
packaging the USAID sorghum to meet the incredible consumer demand.

At the height of demand, MAPP sorghum had an average shelf life of less than
one hour. Retailer Caroline Makoni of Lucky 7 store in the high-density
suburb of Pumula clearly remembers the consumer need. "During November, the
sorghum would sell out in no time. The availability of a cereal in our store
really provided a much-needed and affordable essential to customers. Today
there is a little maize available on the market, though it is comparatively
expensive, so most of my customers still rely on the sorghum." Lucky 7's
three tonne orders now sell out in about two weeks. Each 10kg bag currently
retails for Z$6000 (USD1.20).

The price of sorghum set by C-SAFE is determined by income, household size,
and the retail price gap between maize and sorghum. When cereal prices rise,
the potential for side marketing increases, so C-SAFE monitors the market
activity and adjusts the sorghum price accordingly. Retailers are also
permitted a 15% mark-up on the product to ensure profitability. The sorghum
is an easy sell and it is priced to move, but it stays in the target market.

C-SAFE undertook an assessment in late 2003 to establish viability of a MAPP
expansion to other poor urban areas and found that purchases of sorghum
jumped from 0% to 82% (of households) in four months, satisfying a market
gap in unmet cereal demand. Number of meals consumed daily also increased
for both children and adults. The MAPP had succeeded in its approach to be
self-targeting, readily available and commercially accepted.

Sibusiswe Tshuma, 31, a mother of five and sorghum consumer can attest to
the impact the maize substitute has had on her family's well being. Prior to
the MAPP intervention in her area, the family, whose children range from 7
to 15 years of age, would consume just one meal a day. The sorghum bought
from her local store has provided the family with two bonus meals each day.

"It is so very important to have the sorghum available to us at a good
price. For us, it has become so expensive to pay for schooling, clothes and
other necessities. Basic supplies are hard to find and we continue to
struggle each day. The extra meals each day are improving our health and
energy for my children."

Faith Ncube has been purchasing sorghum regularly over the last six months
from her local store in suburban Luveve. The 10kg bag she buys each week
feeds her household of four adults and three children. She admits that she
would prefer maize if she could afford it, but the family's income will only
stretch to a sorghum purchase. Faith affirms, "We use the sorghum for
breakfast and lunch, which is better than six months ago. Before we had
sorghum, we only ate one meal a day. It's still hard today as we only have
enough money for food - we just can't afford anything else." The Luveve
grocery store sells around 400 10kg bags a week to its urban poor customers.

The Bulawayo market is now consuming around 1000 tonnes of MAPP sorghum each
month. In fact, 77% of the high-density population - 460,000 people are
being fed per month by the MAPP.

In recognition of the MAPP's impact and its potential to assist many more
vulnerable households, USAID Food for Peace has approved a MAPP expansion to
Gweru, targeting over 100,000 urban poor; an expansion to Chitunguiza,
targeting 250,000 urban poor; and the continuation of the original program
in Bulawayo.

This vital expansion will support C-SAFE's goal to improve and maintain the
nutritional status of targeted vulnerable groups; increase support to
households affected by HIV/AIDS; increase and maintain agricultural
productivity and improve market linkages.

Mr. Barnett of Catholic Relief Services is confident of the MAPP's
suitability and continued success in urban Zimbabwe and says, "The prospects
for this program are great. It can enter a market and satisfy the unmet
needs of low-income households immediately and begin to rebuild the
commercial structure at the same time.

"This is the most promising program I have ever seen in terms of plausible
exit strategy and leaving sustainable working relationships. We are linking
all levels of community from consumers to small-scale traders to experienced
millers and eventually aim at linking with local producers of sorghum.
Because sorghum is also a drought resistant crop, it's better suited to the
semi-arid climate of Matabeleland than maize.

"Now that we've demonstrated a commercial acceptance of the cereal, we would
be keen to find a way to encourage the intensive cultivation of it here in
Zimbabwe to rebuild the cereal market into one that is again self-sustaining
and autonomous." For now, says Barnett, the MAPP's supply of sorghum is
closing the market gap and its reliability is appreciated in an environment
where uncertainty reigns.

And uncertainty is maybe the only event that is certain for Zimbabwe in the
coming months. While the current harvest does signal relief for some
families, the traditional sting inevitable comes by September, when there
are serious shortages of maize and much of the harvest has been consumed.
Maize producer prices are also set to rise by 150%, potentially rendering
the preferred cereal unaffordable to most people at a retail level. Although
the Government of Zimbabwe has announced that the country will not require
food aid due to an expected bumper harvest, crop projections are not
available and the UN was forced to shut down its crop assessment last week.
There are fears that the country, which was once self sufficient in food
production and exported throughout the region, could yet again be plunged
into acute food insecurity, which will affect millions of already struggling
Zimbabweans, half of whom are urban dwellers.

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Mail and Guardian

China discusses trade, politics in Harare

      Harare, Zimbabwe

      18 May 2004 17:10

A delegation from China's ruling Communist Party on Tuesday held talks with
President Robert Mugabe on increasing trade and economic cooperation and
closer political ties, state media said.

"We discussed ideas of extending cooperation to a new stage," Cao Bochun,
the leader of the visiting delegation, was quoted as saying by the Ziana
news agency.

The group, which includes members of the Central Committee of the Chinese
Communist Party, also discussed ways of forging even closer political
relations with Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF.

The eight-member delegation is on an exchange visit that includes talks with
Trade Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi "to discuss further trade and economic
cooperation", said an official from the Chinese embassy in Harare.

The delegation arrived in Harare on Sunday and was due to end its visit on

Last year Zimbabwe exported commodities worth Z$1-billion to China, mostly
iron and steel, Ziana said.

Political relations between Zimbabwe and China, which supported the
country's fight for independence against white minority rule in the 1970s,
have remained strong.

Mugabe, facing increasing isolation by Western powers, has encouraged
Zimbabweans to look to the East for new markets.

China has recently awarded Zimbabwe an approved destination status, which
should see numbers of Chinese tourists to Zimbabwe -- currently estimated at
10 000 a year -- increasing. -- Sapa-AFP
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Cotton replaces tobacco as top forex earner
JOHANNESBURG, 18 May 2004 (IRIN) - Cotton has replaced tobacco as Zimbabwe's
top foreign exchange earner, with exports expected to bring in between US
$120 and $150 million this year, according to the Zimbabwe Commercial Cotton
Growers' Association.

But cotton farmers are unlikely to benefit because buyers, hit by the
sliding value of the Zimbabwean currency against the US dollar, "are
offering a price lower than the cost of production", Michele Bragge, a
spokeswoman for the association, told IRIN.

About 80 percent of Zimbabwe's cotton is grown on small-scale farms, which
were largely unaffected by the government's land reform programme. The
country is set to produce 300,000 mt of seed cotton this year, up from
250,000 mt last year. Annual domestic cotton consumption is 30,000 mt.

Cotton buyers have offered farmers Zim $1,800 (US 33 cents) per kg, "while
the cost of production is at least Zim $2,000 (US 37 cents) per kg", said
Bragge. If the farmers did not get that price, production was expected to
slump next year, she noted.

Bragge said cotton producers were "hoping to get financial support for the
difference from the government", and the official newspaper Herald reported
on Tuesday that the government "is adamant that it may be forced to buy all
the cotton from farmers if merchants fail to come up with a lucrative
producer price for this marketing season".

Historically, Zimbabwe has been the world's second-largest tobacco exporter,
earning as much as US $400 million in good seasons. But production began to
fall three years ago after the government's controversial land reforms.

Rodney Ambrose, a director of the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association (ZTA), told
IRIN, "Our production of unmanufactured tobacco has dropped tremendously in
the past three years, from 237,000 metric tonnes in 2000 to 82,000 metric
tonnes last year". According to the ZTA, production was expected to slump to
60,000 mt this year.

Ambrose linked the drop in production to the loss of commercial
tobacco-growing farms as a result of the land reform programme. "We lost
about 45,000 hectares of land under tobacco cultivation, which resulted in a
loss of 150,000 metric tonnes of tobacco," he explained.

"Cotton is easier to grow, while tobacco is more capital intensive," Bragge

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Nurses Strike Over Salaries

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

May 18, 2004
Posted to the web May 18, 2004


Service delivery at city council hospitals and polyclinics has been
disrupted by a nurses strike in Zimbabwe's capital Harare.

The nurses went on strike on Monday over a salary dispute with the city
council, demanding a second 100 percent salary hike after receiving a
similar increase in January.

Chairman of the Harare Municipal Workers' Union, Cosmas Bungu, said the 100
percent salary increase awarded to council workers in January this year was
not enough to keep pace with the rising cost of living.

Inflation has hovered around 600 percent in recent months.

Bungu said some nurses had also complained that they did not have uniforms
and protective clothing.

"We presented our grievances to the City of Harare, in writing, to the
acting mayor [Sekesayi Makwavarara] on 23 April, but no action was taken.
That's why we have resorted to going on strike," said Bungu.

Makwavarara could not comment on the allegations, and instead referred all
questions to the Harare City Council public relations manager, Lesley
Gwindi, who said the council was negotiating with the striking nurses.

Gwindi urged the nurses to report for duty and said the council would soon
provide health professionals with the protective clothing they required.

Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr David Parirenyatwa, said at the
Nurse of the Year Awards ceremony in Harare last week that nurses should
find other ways of negotiating for salary increases besides striking.
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Zimbabwe decision on Friday
By Adam Cooper
CRICKET'S powerbrokers will decide on Friday if Australia will play Zimbabwe
in the scheduled series and whether those matches should have Test status.

Zimbabwe's rebel cricketers today conceded their dispute with the Zimbabwe
Cricket Union (ZCU) was over and gave up on trying to have their grievances
over selection policies resolved.

With the 15 rebels unlikely to play for their country again, Zimbabwe will
name a second-string side to play Australia in the first Test, starting

But whether that match - and another in Bulawayo starting May 29 - goes
ahead and whether it should be classified as a Test remained unclear.

The International Cricket Council will hold a telephone hook-up of the
presidents of the 10 member countries on Friday to discuss the issue.

The ZCU board could ward off that meeting if it decides to beforehand to
cancel the matches and replace them with one-day matches.

If the proposed matches are stripped of Test status, it will be because
world cricket cannot afford more embarrassingly lopsided results.

But if the matches are stripped of Test status, Australia is likely to
object to playing them and instead push for more one-dayers.

Three one-day matches have already been scheduled for this tour.

If the Tests are cancelled, Australia will seek a guarantee that it does not
have to tour Zimbabwe again to play the Tests despite the ICC's rule that
all Test-playing nations must play each other home and away twice over a
10-year period.

Australia will claim it was prepared to play the Tests before the political

More talks among ZCU officials are set down for tomorrow.

At this stage the only certainties are on the field, and Australia
predictably proved too strong for a Zimbabwe A side today.

The two-day match was declared a draw after Australia was all out for 448 in
reply to Zimbabwe A's 151 just before tea.

Captain Ricky Ponting top-scored with 87, Justin Langer hit 84 and Damien
Martyn retired on 49.

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Zimbabwe rebels give up hope
By Adam Cooper
ZIMBABWE'S rebel cricketers have conceded defeat and will not play for their
country again, with the planned Test series against Australia unlikely to be

The rebel players' lawyer Chris Venturas late yesterday confirmed the 15
rebels had given up on their demands of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) and
would not seek more discussions.

"That's it, it's quite a sad situation," Venturas said.

"The series will proceed as far as we know, but the 15 guys who have removed
themselves from selection will not be playing."

The development followed a series of talks overnight involving the rebels,
ZCU officials and International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive
Malcolm Speed.

It is unknown whether Australia has to play Zimbabwe's current second-string
side in two Test matches, but the farce Zimbabwe cricket has plunged into
has cast serious doubts over whether the series will happen.

It is still unclear what the reaction of the ICC will be.

Speed said yesterday the crisis had world cricket concerned, particularly
about the integrity of Test matches.

But Speed could not be contacted after Venturas confirmed the rebels had
conceded defeat, and flew out of Harare today.

Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive James Sutherland said CA would back
the ICC if it postponed the tour.

Sutherland said at this stage the schedule had not been altered and the
Australians were prepared to fulfil their playing commitments.

But when asked if he would back any ICC move to postpone the two Tests,
Sutherland replied: "We are open to whatever suggestions the ICC have. If in
their interests it's for the good of the game then we'd be listening."

The dispute has dragged on since mid-April, when most of Zimbabwe's best
white players boycotted the national team in support of deposed captain
Heath Streak.

Streak was sacked in early April after he raised concerns about the ZCU
selection panel's policies and lack of first-class cricket experience.

The rest of the players have since been unavailable for selection in protest
against the policies, make-up of the panel and the ZCU's refusal to
reinstate Streak as captain.

Streak and Grant Flower, the players' spokesman, could not be contacted.

ZCU chairman Peter Chingoka declined to comment, but said the ZCU would
release a media statement later today.

If Zimbabwe's second-string side plays Australia, they will be lambs to the

Zimbabwe coach Geoff Marsh, whose side lost by an innings in each of the two
recent Tests against Sri Lanka, doubted whether the side could keep taking
such thrashings.

"They're getting a pasting out there and what I don't know (is) what effect
that will have on these young players," Marsh said.

"If the (rebel) players don't come back it's going to be a very tough three
weeks for us.

"We've just played Sri Lanka and they lost three-nil (at home) to Australia
(in March), so our guys are going to be under enormous pressure."

Zimbabwe will also be without batsman Dion Ebrahim for its next match.

Ebrahim, the player with the most Test experience outside the rebels, was
suspended for one match after he said a leg break bowled to him by Sri
Lankan offspinner Muttiah Muralitharan "was the first legal delivery he's

Australia were 3-324 at lunch on the final day of the two-day match against
Zimbabwe A after captain Ricky Ponting made 87, Justin Langer 84, Matthew
Hayden 61 and Damien Martyn 49 not out.

Zimbabwe A made 151 in their first innings.

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      ICC chief heads home after Zimbabwe snub

      Tue May 18, 2004 8:41 PM HARARE (Reuters) - A crisis engulfing
Zimbabwe cricket deepened on Tuesday when an attempt by the International
Cricket Council (ICC) to help end a stand-off between players and selectors
failed to get off the ground.
      ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed, invited to Harare to address the
Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) board, was heading back to London 24 hours
later after it appeared to change its mind and refused to allow him into a

      "After inviting him to Zimbabwe, the ZCU decided they wouldn't meet
with Malcolm Speed," ICC spokesman Brendan McClements told Reuters on

      Fifteen of Zimbabwe's leading white players refused to play for the
national side last month after accusing the board of allowing politicians to
dictate the make-up of the side.

      The ZCU responded by sacking the players and fielding a young and
largely black side which was subsequently thrashed by Sri Lanka in a one-day
and test series.

      Zimbabwe, whose board favours promoting black players to make the
national side more representative of the country's population, are due to
host world champions Australia later this month.

      Their captain Steve Waugh has said such a one-sided contest would be
"pretty close to a waste of time".

      McClements said Speed had spoken to ZCU chairman Peter Chingoka and
managing director Vince Hogg personally before departing, telling them they
needed to resolve the situation "as a matter of urgency".

      Chingoka, however, told Reuters: "There's nothing to report.

      "I met with him with Vince Hogg. It was an opportunity to update each
other on developments on various matters."

      Speed had arrived in Harare on Monday on an open-ended visit, although
the ICC stressed he was not acting as a mediator between the two sides.

      He was quoted as saying in media reports he would meet the board and
the players and explain the ICC's position.

      The meeting with the players went ahead as scheduled, their lawyer
Chris Venturas told Reuters.

      "It was an amicable meeting, and he listened to our side of the story.
It was a full and frank discussion about the way forward," he said.

      "He listened to our grievances, and he's going back to London to
report to the ICC. We're just glad we had a chance to say our piece."

      The crisis was sparked last month when the ZCU announced Heath Streak,
one of the few world-class players in the Zimbabwe team, had resigned as
captain and retired from all cricket after complaining about the selection

      Streak responded through his father by denying he had retired.

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Australia Herald Sun

Bring 'em home
Robert Craddock

ENOUGH is enough. It's time for the International Cricket Council to suspend
Zimbabwe as a Test match nation until it can get its ransacked house in

There should be no such thing as a free ride in the blue-chip world of Test
cricket. The game must have quality control.
You simply cannot allow a sub-district team to masquerade as a Test side as
is happening in Zimbabwe at the moment.

The ICC will rightfully push for the Test series against Australia to be
cancelled if the 15 white rebels do not return to the side within the next
few days.

They should go further and push for Zimbabwe to be suspended until further

Zimbabwe may be closer than it realises to being temporarily banished from
the game's highest tier.

The ICC needs the support of seven of the 10 major nations to suspend a side
and already there is a behind-the-scenes push for it to happen.

South Africa and India are in favour of suspension. Other nations have
adopted a wait-and-see approach. The only nation known to be against it is
New Zealand.

It's not cricket's fault that Zimbabwe's fragile cricket system has gone to
ruin under the wretched dictatorship of Robert Mugabe.

And nor is it cricket's job to play Mother Teresa.

The game has to protect its own interests and Zimbabwe, with a little help
from its bosses, has to look after itself.

Cricket has been patient with Zimbabwe for little return.

Zimbabwe has been a Test nation for 13 years yet the game has never looked
like sprouting wings there.

On the first day of the first Test against Sri Lanka recently, with Muthiah
Muralidaran bidding to snatch Courtney Walsh's world record, there were 40
spectators at the ground in Harare.

Much has been made about the Australian players feeling obliged to tour
Zimbabwe "for the locals who really want us to come".

Oh really. Which locals are they? Whoever they are, they don't turn up to

Zimbabwe has won just eight of 75 Tests it has played and four of those
victories came against Bangladesh. Apart from beating Bangladesh in
Bangladesh its sole offshore win was against Pakistan.

Zimbabwe has survived on the strength of one exceptional player -- Andrew
Flower -- a few genuine internationals such as Heath Streak and a group of
battlers simply doing their best.

But there has never been any sense that one year will be better than the
next and they will one day take a quantum leap, like Sri Lanka did, from
minnow to formidable force.
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Australia Herald Sun

Test nations back cancellation
Michael Crutcher

THE International Cricket Council is poised to free Australia from its
farcical tour of Zimbabwe unless an urgent solution is found to the bitter
stand-off between rebel players and officials in the troubled African

Rebel players and the Zimbabwe Cricket Union were meeting last night in a
last-chance to end their dispute before Saturday's first Test in Harare.
If the players, led by dumped captain Heath Streak, remain on strike, it is
believed ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed will move to cancel the four-week

Speed has rushed to Harare with the support of key ICC member nations to
"protect the integrity of Test cricket" after a hopelessly outclassed
Zimbabwe was crushed by Sri Lanka in the past two weeks.

Agitated ICC nations, including powerbrokers India and South Africa, are
behind the push to prevent Australia from facing one of the most pointless
series in Test history.

The cancellation of the tour is not a formality because seven of the
remaining nine member nations must approve any action against Zimbabwe. It
is believed any vote would be desperately close and may not be decided until

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said in Melbourne
yesterday that he had no reason to believe that the tour of Zimbabwe would
be cancelled or changed, but did not rule out ICC intervention.

"We are open to whatever suggestions the ICC have. If it's in their
interests for the good of the game, we'd be listening," Sutherland said.

"I can say that the Zimbabwe Cricket Union is trying very hard to work
towards a resolution and none of us should underestimate what a complex
matter it is.

"Test cricket is about the best players from the respective countries.
Anything less than that is not good for Test cricket."

The Australian players have remained quiet but they want a decision on the
tour post haste.

The confusion has reached such alarming levels that the Australians went to
the Academy ground last night for their warm-up match against Zimbabwe A
with no idea whether they would play in a Test match in just three days.

Australian officials at the ground were awaiting news of the meeting between
the ZCU and its rebel players, which will not be held in front of Speed. The
ZCU has denied Speed any involvement in talks.

Since arriving in Harare, Speed has met some resistance from the ZCU, which
has refused to consider the concession of scrapping the Test series in
favour of playing five one-day matches. "The schedule is staying as planned.
There is no way it will change," ZCU chairman Peter Chingoka said last

"This is a local matter that requires a domestic solution. Malcolm Speed is
here for an update visit where we tell him about our progress."

Streak said the rebel players were not prepared to drop all their demands,
still wanting the ZCU to reconsider its selection policies and the behaviour
of some of its officials.

The ZCU insisted the players needed to be more flexible, leaving doubt over
whether the six-week deadlock could be resolved in one meeting.

Tensions are high in the country, with the ZCU being urged by members of
parliament not to accept the white players back into the team.

"Peter Chingoka and his board should just forget about the racists and
concentrate on grooming the youthful team under Tatenda Taibu currently
playing for the country," MP Victor Chitongo told a Harare newspaper.

A senior rebel player said last night there was little chance of the group
being ready for the Test.

"We haven't played or done any skills work for nine weeks so it's too much
to expect us to be ready," the player said.

with Ron Reed

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