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

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                  25 May 2003 17:40:11 GMT
                  Zimbabwe opposition calls week-long Mugabe protest


            By Stella Mapenzauswa

            HARARE, May 25 (Reuters) - Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai said on Sunday he would begin a week of mass marches on June 2
with the aim of forcing President Robert Mugabe from power.

            The leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) told about 15,000 people in the capital Harare to pray daily in the
coming week in preparation for the mass action.

            "After that, we want to embark on a week of democracy marches in
every town and every workplace. We must be prepared to be arrested, we must
be prepared to make a mark to ensure that we will never again be oppressed,"
Tsvangirai said.

            "We cannot stop this mass action because Mugabe has offered
nothing. Until he agrees to go, we will continue to push," added Tsvangirai,
who told a rally on Saturday that the MDC was planning a "final push" to
force Mugabe from power.

            Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in
1980 and hinted on Thursday for the second time in two months he might be
ready to hand over to a successor, amid a deepening political and economic
crisis many blame on his mismanagement.

            But he vowed the MDC, which he calls a puppet of the West, would
rule only "over our dead bodies".

            Tsvangirai told his supporters Mugabe had no legal right to
appoint a successor and that the MDC would push for elections within three
months of the presidency falling vacant, as provided for in the

            Mugabe's government has dismissed media reports that the
international community was preparing an economic rescue package for
Zimbabwe hinging on Mugabe resigning by the end of the year.

            An acute shortage of Zimbabwe dollar notes has lately added to
the woes of Zimbabweans already finding it hard to get hold of basic
commodities like maize-meal, sugar and milk.

            The MDC and labour unions each called strikes earlier this year
which were among the biggest protests against Mugabe since his controversial
re-election in March 2002 polls that both the opposition and several Western
countries said were rigged.

            Mugabe, 79, denies mismanaging the economy, saying it has been
sabotaged by the West in retaliation for his seizure of white-owned farms
for redistribution to landless blacks.

            Tsvangirai and two senior MDC officials are on trial on charges
of treason for allegedly plotting to kill Mugabe. They deny the charges.
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Zim must pray
25/05/2003 19:25  - (SA)

Harare - Zimbabwe's main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Sunday told
his supporters to prepare themselves with prayers ahead of "democracy
marches" due to begin in just over a week.

Addressing thousands of supporters at a rally in Highfield, the home suburb
of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, Tsvangirai said there would be "a week
of democracy and democracy marches" beginning on June 2.

Many here had been waiting for Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) to name a date for the next stage of protest "mass
action" against the government.

Two strikes held in the last two months have been widely followed here amid
growing economic hardships.

But war veterans loyal to Mugabe have threatened to clamp down on any mass

As supporters cheered in the afternoon sun, Tsvangirai said on Sunday he was
not afraid.

"We must be prepared to be arrested. We must be prepared to make a mark."

"I'm ready if they want to arrest me," he added. Tsvangirai and two party
officials are already on trial for treason for allegedly plotting to
assassinate Mugabe, a charge he denies.

Private prayer was needed this week ahead of the demonstrations, the
opposition leader said.

"It is preparation," Tsvangirai said, speaking in the local Shona language.

Sunday was billed as a National Day of Prayer in Zimbabwe.

He told his supporters they would have to be disciplined. The government has
accused the MDC of being a "violent" party after buses were petrol-bombed
during an opposition-led strike in March.

"If I say march, you should march," Tsvangirai said. He also said ruling
party officials wanted to know what was going to happen to them if the
opposition party came into power.

"There are some Zanu-PF people coming to me and saying 'What are you going
to do with us if you come into power'," Tsvangirai said.

He said some ZANU-PF members had approached him telling him to "do
something". He did not elaborate further.

Meanwhile the party claimed that police "besieged" the MDC headquarters in
central Harare shortly after the rally.

"The police are after women who they chased as they returned from a
successful rally addressed by the MDC president and several senior party
officials at Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield," the party's information
department said.

"It appears the police will not move away until the women come out," it

The party also claimed that 12 MDC supporters were arrested after an
opposition rally in Chitungwiza, Harare's satellite town on Saturday and
were still in custody on Sunday.

There is growing unrest in Zimbabwe, amid shortages of food, fuel and
banknotes. Inflation has now reached 269% and is likely to rise still
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War vets threaten military action against MDC

      May 25 2003 at 11:12AM

      By Brian Latham

Harare - Zimbabwe's notorious war veterans, who spearheaded the country's
violent farm invasions, warned this week that they would use "military
tactics" to thwart the mass action campaign of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) to topple President Robert Mugabe.

As Mugabe himself talked openly of his departure this week, the MDC urged
Zimbabweans to prepare for the "final push" against his Zanu-PF regime. The
MDC plans mass action, stayaways, strikes and demonstrations to force Mugabe
to resign.

Patrick Nyaruwata, the National Liberation War Veterans' Association (NLWVA)
leader, responded with an ominous warning earlier this week that his
militias would resist the MDC push forcefully.

"We have stood aside and observed you for too long. This time we will not,"
Nyaruwata said in Harare. "This time, using our military experience, we will
mobilise against you. I do not mince my words."

      'The consequences of any mass action will be grave'
His organisation's often violent invasion of white farms has displaced 95
percent of the country's farmers over the past three years and cost the
country 200 000 jobs.

"The consequences of any mass action will be grave. We will co-ordinate with
state security agents to fight you. Remember that most top security agents
in defence, the police and the Central Intelligence Organisation are war
veterans and we will be co-ordinating with them," Nyaruwata said.

There was no comment available from Zimbabwe's shadowy Central Intelligence
Organisation, or from Sydney Sekeramayi, the Zimbabwe security minister. But
Endy Mhlanga, the NLWVA secretary-general, backed his chairperson's threats,
holding a cosh over the MDC's head.

"Ian Smith was armed to the teeth but we defeated him. We are prepared to
fight again, using all the experience we gathered during the war to defend
ordinary people from this unlawful violence. We have a plan in place. We
will use the same tactics we used during the farm invasions and during the
war to crush the demonstrations," he said.

"We've been mobilising our 55 000 members throughout the country, starting
in Harare, and we have been telling them to be prepared to risk their lives
once again and assist militarily for the final battle to defend our
sovereignty," warned Mhlanga.

Professor Welshman Ncube, the MDC secretary-general, dismissed the threats.
"This is clearly designed to intimidate the people of Zimbabwe from
undertaking peaceful mass action to free themselves from this rogue regime.

"We are not afraid and the people should not be afraid.

"We decline the invitation to engage in any form of violence. They can shoot
us if they want, but we will be unarmed," Ncube said.

MDC insiders have said that mass action could begin as early as tomorrow or
early June "after pay day". The opposition says there will be a change in
tactics, but has so far refused to disclose what this means.

Despite Ncube's dismissal of the threats, the MDC appears to fear a violent
backlash to its mass action. This week it placed full-page advertisements in
Zimbabwe's independent press urging the country's uniformed services not to
allow themselves to be used against the people. In a "Special Message To The
Uniformed Services" under the banner "Action for national survival", the
opposition warned that Mugabe's Border Gezi Youth Brigades would face the
wrath of the law under an MDC government.

"In an MDC government, the Border Gezi militias will be arrested, tried and
sent to jail. Think about your future," the advert reads. Border Gezi terror
brigades and self-styled war veterans have worked with police and army
against the MDC, the opposition has said.

"Security forces should not allow their professional standing to be
tarnished by Mugabe's Border Gezi militias, whose mandate is to deny
democratic governance to the people of Zimbabwe and to maintain Mugabe's
autocratic rule. To us in the MDC, the uniforms of the Zimbabwe defence
forces and the Zimbabwe republic's police should be a symbol of national
pride, evoking a sense of security rather than terror," the opposition has

"The security forces must disassociate themselves from the Border Gezi
militias, whose existence is to rob, rape, assault, kill and terrorise
people into submission. The Mugabe regime's strategy is clear: it wants to
pit the uniformed forces against the people of Zimbabwe."

The threat of violence erupting in the streets came just a day after
79-year-old Mugabe for the first time openly and explicitly invited the
country to discuss his succession.

"We want people to be true and open to each other and discuss [issues] as a
united people," he said.
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Zim: SA press on thin ice
25/05/2003 15:15  - (SA)

Harare - The Zimbabwe government has lodged a complaint with South Africa
over what it says is the "demonisation" of President Robert Mugabe by the
South African press.

The paper said that Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, whose office crafted
tough laws governing the media in Zimbabwe, had written to complain over a
recent column in the Sunday Times which was "insulting and wholly

"The newspaper has been at the forefront of demonising the president, the
government and people of Zimbabwe and seeking to divide Zimbabweans and
South Africans for a long time now," the paper quoted Moyo's letter as

Zimbabwe's treatment of the media and journalists shot into the spotlight
again earlier this month after US reporter Andrew Meldrum, who had lived
here for 23 years, was deported.

"I should state categorically that we believe in media freedom as one of the
pillars of democracy yet we are clear that this freedom is not a licence for
vested interests to insult and demonise a head of state," Moyo wrote.
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The shaming tragedy of Africa

While many of Africa's problems are of its own making, the West's negligence
continues to exacerbate them

Will Hutton
Sunday May 25, 2003
The Observer

It is the continent with 12 per cent of the world's population but with 80
per cent of the world's Aids deaths. It has experienced 30 years of economic
stagnation. Its murderous wars and genocides seem never-ending; on average,
200,000 die every year. Unemployment varies between 30 and 70 per cent. Its
corruption is endemic. It is Africa.
The latest African horrors to disfigure our screens come from Congo's Bunia.
Lendus kill Hemas who now kill Lendus in a cycle of tribal murder. James
Astill's chilling film on Friday's Newsnight showed streets dotted with
corpses surveyed by a powerless garrison of UN peacekeepers 'without the
mandate' to intervene; a 10-year-old orphan in combat fatigues told Astill,
in one of this year's more extraordinary TV interviews, he had killed 10
Lendus himself.

Half of Africa's 10-year-olds do not attend primary school because there
aren't any. This child militiaman, too, is uneducated and doesn't attend
school; his family has been lost through Aids or war. He simply joins his
peers in a disintegrating society in which plunder and murder are a way of
life - and so passes the destructive gene on to the next generation.

The Democratic Republic of Congo, for long ruled by the singularly corrupt
Mobutu, whose principal advantage to his American backers was that he was
not a communist, is a notorious basket-case. But you do not have to look far
for others. Zimbabwe is correctly stigmatised internationally. Nigeria is
hardly an advertisement for anything. Islamic Africa is a double whammy -
the problems of the rest of the continent overlaid by the medieval church
and political structures together with religious text-based law and
pre-modern prejudices which Islam entrenches.

There are a couple of brighter stories to relieve the gloom; Botswana is
prospering on the back of the diamond industry, while Uganda is educating
nearly all its children of primary school age. But in the main, this is a
continent which year by year outdoes itself in its capacity to disappoint
and inflict suffering.

Its problems involve such a matrix of homegrown economic, cultural,
political and social crises, entwined with Africa's unhappy place in the
international trading and financial system, that it is hard to achieve a
consensus about where to begin reform, let alone build a coalition to
achieve it.

But outsiders can do three things: we can be generous with aid and debt
relief; we can insist that it is contingent on less corruption, better
governance and more rational priorities for government spending; and we can
try to ensure that we don't dump our exports on Africa and that it, in turn,
has free access to our markets in the West.

These measures alone won't solve the continent's problems, which require
leadership and transforming reform from within, but they would be sensible
starting places.

The trouble is that the West cannot agree even on such basics. All the signs
are that next week's summit of G8 leaders in France's Evian will be - from
Africa's perspective - another waste of space. There is a plan tabled by the
French government after February's summit of African heads of state in Paris
for both the EU and US to stop dumping agricultural exports, notably
European sugar and dairy products and American cotton, on Africa.

The trouble is twofold. First, the proposal comes from France, and George
Bush has instructed his staff that he will not receive phone calls from
President Chirac. Second, the US does not accept that its subsidies to its
farmers lead to any American export dumping; its $20 billion of support for
its farmers is virtuous while similar sums spent by Europeans are dastardly.

Instead, President Bush has accused Europe of impoverishing Africa through
its unwillingness to import genetically modified crops grown in either
Africa or the US and in not matching American efforts to combat Aids.

The EU's performance needs improving radically, and the Common Agricultural
Policy needs root-and-branch reform, but Bush's remarks are so far removed
from reality that you have to wonder if he really believes them himself. The
US Administration tops up the incomes of American farmers directly, allowing
them to export cotton, say, at a world market price with which Africa's
small farmers cannot compete, a price which, in any case, reflects the
production from America that would otherwise be uneconomic. In effect, as
Kevin Watkins, Oxfam's director of research says, African farmers are
competing with both the US and EU Treasuries. But the US does not even
acknowledge this truth.

Its position on Aids is no less compromised, giving with one hand, through
its grant programme, but taking away with the other through its rearguard
action defending high Aids drug prices. The drug companies' public-health
declaration, dragged out of them after losing court battles in South Africa
and Brazil over their right to stop their patents being infringed over
life-and-death Aids drugs, recognises that public-health needs must trump
private patent rights.

The EU wants to make the World Health Organisation the custodian of the
declaration and give African countries the automatic right to reproduce the
drugs they need at low prices in a global multilateralist deal. The US, on
the other hand, resists such autonomy; instead, it wants every country to
apply to the World Trade Organisation on a drug-by-drug, case-by-case basis,
so that the reaction to disease is necessarily slower, and drug prices
generally higher.

Nor does the US have a clean pair of hands over trade. The EU, whatever its
other failings, allows African exporters access to EU markets with either
low or non-existent tariffs. The US, under its African Growth and
Opportunity Act, requires that African access to American markets is
reciprocated by accepting US law over all property rights, whether
intellectual or commercial - Empire Lite at its most insidious.

In short, US assistance to Africa is dependent on the degree Africa builds
itself around the American business model and accepts American law and cheap
farm exports; everybody else had better fall in line.

You might be hoping that Tony Blair was set for some honest brokering in
Evian, but on this, as elsewhere, Britain is an American satrapy and we will
mimic the American position. As a result, we can expect stalemate and warm
words. Africa will have to look to itself for salvation, however depressing
the omens. Its governments must spend more on primary schools and
public-health projects and less on white-elephant universities and

Above all, those who hold public power in African countries need to serve
their countries rather than loot them, a change in attitude that will need
an African enlightenment even to begin to create the idea of the public
interest, of which there is precious little sign.

Africa, tragically, is going to get a lot worse. It may be decades before it
gets any better.
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'Zimbabweans pay bribes to withdraw cash'

      May 25 2003 at 11:26AM

      By Basildon Peta

Embattled Zimbabweans, who queue for nearly everything, say they have to pay
bribes to bank officials to withdraw their own money because of a shortage
of bank notes. Cheque books are also hard to come by.

State media reports said recently the cash crisis had been caused by the
shortage of foreign currency to import paper required to print the
banknotes. But the Zimbabwe government also blamed illegal foreign exchange
dealers whom it said were hoarding Z$100-billion (about R1-billion) worth of

An official with a commercial bank, who requested anonymity, said:
"Sometimes the printers tell us that they don't have ink, or paper or even
electricity due to power rationing. So they delay printing the cheque books
and it's entirely beyond our control."

Zimbabwean banks have begun rejecting larger cash withdrawals exceeding Z$50
000 in a bid to avert the shortages. "You now have to pay money to get your
own money from a bank," said an employee with a local NGO.

      'Sometimes the printers tell us that they don't have ink'
"We have experienced bizarre situations before but this is more than that. I
had to pay a bribe of Z$5 000 to withdraw Z$50 000. It's totally

Companies and individuals who have to withdraw huge sums of money to pay
weekly minimum wages are also hard hit.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has said it will introduce Z$1 000 notes to
reduce printing costs and for the convenience of Zimbabweans. Zimbabweans
have to carry large stashes of cash in the boots of their cars as the
increasingly worthless currency cannot buy much.

The highest cash denominator in Zimbabwe is a Z$500 note. But these have
somehow disappeared from circulation and mostly Z$100 notes are being used.
The central bank said the Z$1 000 note would be introduced towards the end
of the year.

Zimbabwe's Financial Gazette said the central bank this week failed to remit
Z$200-million to the Central African Building Society for the payment of
civil servants' salaries. The building society had received only

Many civil servants get paid through building societies because of the low
minimum balance requirements for account holders. The situation is expected
to get worse in this week when more public servants and other workers line
up at the banks to draw their pay.

Some economists have speculated that the central bank could be withholding
money deliberately as part of its efforts to cripple the black market where
most of the foreign currency trade has been taking place.

The Zimbabwe dollar took a heavy knock this week after the Zimbabwe
Electricity Supply Authority and the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe went
on a buying spree on the black market to raise money for electricity and
fuel imports.

A United States dollar was fetching Z$2 500 this week, up from about Z$1 300
last week.
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Zim, 150 others ban tobacco advertisements

From Bulawayo Bureau
Zimbabwe, along with more than 150 other countries in the world has banned
tobacco advertising in an effort to discourage smoking, the Minister of
Health and Child Welfare Dr David Parirenyatwa has said.

Dr Parirenyatwa told our Bulawayo Bureau from Geneva, Switzerland, where he
is attending the World Health Assembly, that the countries have signed a
convention banning tobacco advertisements in a bid to discourage smoking,
particularly among the youths.

Although tobacco industry officials were not available for comment yesterday
analysts said the move would adversely affect the industry.

Dr Parirenyatwa said the convention was binding and all signatory countries
were expected to honour it.

He said it had been discovered that the adverts encourage smoking, which has
resulted in millions of deaths in the world.

"We (The Ministry of Health and Child Welfare) are going to hold a meeting
next week with various stakeholders in the tobacco industry (in Zimbabwe) to
chart the way forward following the ban of the adverts since tobacco is the
largest foreign currency earner in the country,'' he said.

According to the World Health Organisation, 3,5 million people die annually
worldwide from tobacco-related diseases and this figure is expected to
increase to 10 million by 2020.

About 70 percent of the deaths are expected to be in developing countries.

WHO has blamed the rise in tobacco-related deaths on weak action by
governments, international trade and cheap tobacco prices.

Statistics compiled by the United Nations Children's Fund showed that the
number of children who smoke is now greater than before.

A survey conducted by the organisation showed that out of 1 358 secondary
school pupils who participated in the survey, 23 percent had smoked while
36,6 percent of those who had never smoked were likely to start smoking the
following year.

According to WHO, research has shown that pregnant women who smoke risk
giving birth to mentally retarded children or small babies.

Children who are exposed to tobacco smoke usually suffer from respiratory
diseases such as asthma attacks and sudden infant death syndrome.

Smoking also causes diseases of the heart and circulation, diseases of lungs
and the stomach in particular ulcers and cancers of the mouth and bladder,
eye irritation, sore throat, cough and headache.

Organisations such as the Rehabilitation and Prevention of Tuberculosis and
WHO have always been advocating a smoking ban in public places.

In Zimbabwe, the Government banned smoking in public transport vehicles,
trains, planes and eating places in October last year.

Dr Parirenyatwa said the summit also encouraged health ministers to
discourage smoking among the youths and pregnant women.
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