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May 28, 2002 | home



Comrade Mugabe is clinging to power, and taking his country down with him.

Issue of 2002-06-03
Posted 2002-05-27

Fifteen years ago, Richard Pascall, a professional hunter and safari guide, bought a fifty-two-thousand-acre farm near the village of Turk Mine, in Matabeleland, the western region of Zimbabwe, and began raising a herd of African black rhinoceroses. He went about this in the usual way: fencing in a large patch of bush (eighty per cent of his land), releasing some rhinos onto it, and leaving them to their own devices. That's about all there is to rhino-culture: if water is scarce, as it is in Matabeleland, you pump some of it for the animals, and if poachers are to be feared, as they are wherever rhinos range, you establish patrols to keep them at bay. Beyond that, you stay out of the way and hope the rhinos will be fruitful and multiply, because they are among the most endangered animals on earth. Since 1970, when seventy thousand black rhinos roamed the continent, poachers and habitat destruction have depleted their numbers by ninety-six per cent, and today just twenty-seven hundred survive. By contrast, Pascall started out with eleven rhinos, and by the turn of the century he had thirty. His farm, Gourlays Ranch, where he lived with his wife, Carol, and two daughters, was considered one of the most successful rhino-salvage efforts in Africa—subsidized by foreign investors and contributors, valued at thirty million dollars, and protected under Zimbabwean law as a wildlife conservancy. But two years ago, when a man who called himself Hitler Hunzvi turned up at the gate, leading a gang of more than a hundred armed vigilantes, the Pascalls suddenly found themselves as endangered as their mammoth wards.

Hunzvi claimed the Pascalls' land in the name of the Zimbabwean people, and advised Pascall to surrender if he didn't want worse things to happen to him. Pascall stood his ground. There was a scuffle. Pascall wore a pistol in a shoulder holster, and, as Hunzvi's men grappled to disarm him, the gun discharged twice. Nobody was hit, but the shots heightened the tension. Hunzvi's men entered Pascall's house, where the walls are heavily hung with the trophy heads of big game. They made him open a safe in which he kept his hunting rifles, and helped themselves to a dozen. "I'm a born-again Christian," Pascall told me recently, "and I sincerely believe that day I had angels all round me, because they should have killed me."

Hunzvi's raid on Gourlays was filmed by a cameraman from Zimbabwe's state-controlled television, and in pictures the crux of the confrontation was plain to see: the Pascalls are white, and their attackers were black. Hunzvi was the head of the national association of liberation war veterans, who in the nineteen-seventies had fought for black-majority rule against the white-supremacist regime of Rhodesia, as the country—a British colony—was then known. Independence had come in 1980, but twenty years later, although whites counted for less than one per cent of the country's twelve million citizens, they still controlled most of its wealth, and just forty-five hundred white farmers held title to seventy per cent of the prime agricultural land. In seeking to "liberate" the Pascalls' property by force, Hunzvi purported to be fulfilling the revolution he had fought for—and, as the presence of the state television made clear, he was doing so with the blessing of President Robert Mugabe.

Hunzvi, however, was not a veteran of any combat. He had spent much of the war in Poland, where he trained as a doctor and married a local woman who later left him and wrote a memoir, "White Slave," in which she remembered her husband as a wife-beating, "unfaithful, vain sadist." Back in Zimbabwe, Hunzvi managed in the early nineties to insinuate himself into the state bureaucracy, and, as an assessor for the War Victims Compensation Fund, doled out subsidies to injured veterans. Within a few years, he had bankrupted the fund by awarding huge sums for scurrilous complaints to a veritable Who's Who of President Mugabe's ruling clique. (Mugabe's brother-in-law, for example, received seventy thousand dollars for ulcers and a scar on his left knee.) At the same time, Hunzvi began mobilizing mobs to stage street demonstrations in Harare, the nation's capital, demanding pensions and a host of other benefits for veterans. Many of Hunzvi's followers were plainly too young to have fought in the seventies, but the spectacle of rebellious liberation fighters embarrassed Mugabe, who had come to power at independence as a liberation hero. When the scandal of the war victims' fund was made public, and Mugabe realized how deeply the rot reached into his court, he cut a deal with Hunzvi which has defined Zimbabwean history ever since: every war veteran would get a hefty onetime disbursement, followed by a lifetime monthly check, as well as free medical care and free access to education—and, above all, land.

The demand for land had been Hunzvi's final coup: he threatened to lead his men into the bush to wage war and seize white-owned farms if Mugabe did not capitulate. After all, Mugabe had promised during the independence struggle to grant every black Zimbabwean some acreage as a reward for victory. Over time, however, he had proved less interested in resolving the land issue than in exploiting it as a bully pulpit from which to deflect attention from the predatory corruption of his ruling party, ZANU-P.F. (Zimbabwe African National Union—Patriotic Front). His schemes for redistributing farms had been consistently reckless, illegal, and destructive, each bringing greater suffering than the last to the rural poor it purported to serve. Much of the best land seized by the government wound up in the hands of Mugabe's cronies; farm laborers were left unemployed and homeless; productive farms were laid to waste; and impoverished Zimbabweans who were given plots were not given legal title but were simply allowed to subsist as squatters. Under the circumstances, Mugabe regarded Hunzvi not as a menace but as an ally, and announced plans to nationalize roughly half of the remaining white farmland in the country, without compensation.

The combined effects of the government's payout to the war veterans and the devastating blow to commercial agriculture—which accounted for half the country's foreign-exchange income and more than a quarter of its jobs—plunged Zimbabwe's already beleaguered economy into chaos. The currency lost nearly half its value overnight; international investors and aid donors bolted; and many whites who had been sufficiently content with their privilege that they had stayed out of politics since independence began making common cause with reform-minded black activists. In February of 2000, when Mugabe unleashed Hunzvi's "war veterans" to occupy white-owned farms by force, the action was clearly understood as punishment for white support of the nascent opposition party, the M.D.C. (Movement for Democratic Change), which had just led a successful campaign to defeat a new constitution that would have expanded Mugabe's already extraordinary powers. It was the first time Mugabe had been rejected by voters, and, with parliamentary elections looming in June of 2000, the assault on whites was accompanied by a less publicized but often more brutal campaign of violence against black oppositionists and sympathizers.

Zimbabweans who thought that Mugabe had paid off Hunzvi to keep him quiet found themselves wondering who had ultimately coöpted whom. Richard Pascall had no doubt about it. He was an active M.D.C. supporter, and his farm was among the first in Matabeleland to be invaded. After surrendering his rifles, he had watched Hunzvi's men go on a rampage around his property, looting blankets and radios from the homes of his ranch staff. The staff had fled in terror, but a young black neighbor who wandered into the housing area during the attack was beaten up and carried off by the veterans. Hunzvi himself didn't stay long at Gourlays; he had other farms to invade, and he was busy, too, running a medical clinic outside Harare which was used as a torture center, where naked M.D.C. supporters were beaten on the bottoms of their feet and subjected to electric shocks. Hunzvi died last year, apparently of AIDS and malaria, but his "war veterans" have continued his campaign. More than a hundred of his followers remain encamped on the Pascalls' ranch, claiming patches of land for themselves and selling off plots to local villagers.

"We've had to adapt to a form of coexistence," Pascall told me, when I visited the place one afternoon in February. His safari business had collapsed, but he refused to leave his rhinos. "I speak the language fluently. I grew up here with these people as playmates. So it's a give-and-take, but mostly we give and they take."

Robert Mugabe is seventy-eight years old, and has repeatedly vowed to stay in power for the rest of his life. In this spirit of relentlessness, he has made it a crime, punishable by six months in jail, for two or more people in Zimbabwe to meet and discuss politics without obtaining a permit from the police at least four days in advance. The permit is just a nicety; the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), which elaborates the offense, allows the police to bar whomever they like from attending even an authorized political discussion, or to break it up at any time without explanation. To be sure, the law doesn't prohibit a person from conducting a solitary monologue about politics, but anyone doing so must be careful what he says, since POSA also makes it a crime, punishable by a big fine and a year in jail, to make a false statement "engendering hostility towards" or "causing hatred, contempt or ridicule of" the President, or, indeed, to make any statement "about or concerning" him that is "abusive, indecent, obscene or false." The sharpest sting of this last stipulation is in its tail—in the choice of the word "or" to qualify the word "false"—which tells you that even an irrefutably true criticism of the President is grounds for arrest and punishment.

Comrade Mugabe, as he likes to be called, was running for reëlection when he signed POSA into law, in January, and his message to voters could not have been clearer: Put up and shut up, or else. Zimbabweans were alarmed but not surprised. Officially, Zimbabwe remains a parliamentary democracy, but in reality Mugabe presides over the country as a tyrant in the classical sense of the word: an autocrat who rules exclusively for his own gratification, with contempt for the common good. Although he has continued to stage elections in order to maintain a veneer of international legitimacy, his preferred vote-winning strategies have always been intimidation and terror. Despite the brutal campaign in the parliamentary elections of 2000, however, the M.D.C. had succeeded in sweeping fifty-seven of a hundred and twenty contested seats, and now Mugabe was desperate. The Presidential election was to be held in mid-March, and for the first time in his political career he was running as the underdog candidate, trailing the M.D.C. leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, a former trade-union boss, by substantial margins. Zimbabweans finally appeared to have had enough of a regime that had transformed what was once one of Africa's most prosperous countries into a domain of bloody disorder with one of the fastest-shrinking economies on earth.

The annual inflation is close to a hundred and fifteen per cent. The national treasury is bankrupt. The Army is engaged in a futile intervention in Congo's civil war, at a cost of dozens of lives and an estimated million dollars a day. The health-care system is essentially defunct, and, with a quarter of the population infected with AIDS, the funeral business is among the country's last remaining growth industries. When Mugabe said of Zimbabwe last year, "This is my territory and that which is mine I cling [to] unto death," his subjects might well have wondered whether he was speaking of their death: the life expectancy of Zimbabweans has fallen by some fifteen years during his tenure, and now hovers around forty. Sixty per cent of Zimbabweans are unemployed, and those who have jobs earn, on average, less than they did at independence. The rest of the population scrapes by on less than a dollar a day, which might still buy a bellyful if the crippling effect of the farm invasions—compounded this year by regional drought—hadn't created drastic food shortages, raising the prospect of imminent nationwide famine.

Unable to run on his record, Mugabe sought instead to run from it, by rallying his crumbling black base around the spectre of a common enemy: the whites. He didn't care that ninety-seven per cent of M.D.C. voters and candidates were black. Behind "these human superficies," he told the ZANU-P.F. central committee in July of 2000, Tsvangirai's party represented "the resurgence of white power" and "the revulsive ideology of return to white settler rule." In his view, the new opposition was just the old Rhodesian enemy got up in blackface, an imperialist fifth column, sponsored by London—with help from Washington—"a counter-revolutionary Trojan horse contrived and nurtured by the very inimical forces that enslaved and oppressed our people yesterday." And at his first rally of this year's campaign he declared, "We are in a war to defend our rights and the interests of our people. The British have decided to take us on through the M.D.C. . . . We went to war; we went to prison; we have suffered over the years; but we are not afraid of the struggle. We will not run away. You can count on us to fight."

Tsvangirai, for his part, preached a strict gospel of nonviolence, rule of law, economic reform, pluralism, withdrawal from Congo, friendly relations with Western aid donors, and legal and equitable land redistribution, and he never let Mugabe forget that his status as the incumbent was a staggering campaign handicap. Tsvangirai's rallies—when he was not barred from holding them, as he often was—were defiantly festive affairs, with much song and dance. A burly man, with a fearless, jovial air, he came across as a populist, and drew his greatest support from urbanites and the young. (Two out of three Zimbabweans are under the age of twenty-five, and have no memory of colonialism.)

But the M.D.C.'s mild-mannered message of reform often sounded naïve in the face of ZANU's violence. In the runup to the elections, more than a hundred M.D.C. members and supporters were murdered, and thousands more were beaten, tortured, or raped by ZANU-P.F. thugs, often operating in complicity with the police and with Zimbabwe's Central Intelligence Organization. M.D.C. officials and candidates were arbitrarily arrested, and harassed with absurd criminal charges. (Tsvangirai himself was a target of assassination attempts, and in the final weeks of the campaign was accused of plotting to kill Mugabe, and booked for treason.) Oppositionists' homes and offices were ransacked and, not infrequently, fire bombed. Reporters and editors in Zimbabwe's independent press corps were subjected to the same treatment, while many foreign reporters and their news organizations were either expelled from the country or refused accreditation to work there. As the election campaign intensified, ZANU-P.F. youth militias fanned out across the country, setting up roadblocks, where voters who could not present a party card were beaten and informed that their votes would not be secret: to support the M.D.C. was to risk death, the militia said, and the lesson was underscored by the slogan "Vote ZANU-P.F. and live."

Toward the end of February, with three weeks to go before the voting, I flew into Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second-largest city and the capital of Matabeleland, and was given a two-week tourist visa. As a stronghold of M.D.C. support, Bulawayo was a community suspended between hope and dread. I was curious about the whites, a vestigial population. They thought of themselves as Zimbabweans first and Africans more generally, but although there were distinct differences between their culture and the European culture from which they had derived, the differences between their world and that of their black neighbors and compatriots were even greater. Many were giving up on Zimbabwe, and emigrating; sendoff parties—dour affairs—had become far more frequent among them than births, weddings, and funerals.

Tens of thousands of blacks with the means to get out have also fled in recent years, adding a severe brain drain to Zimbabwe's woes. But many black Zimbabweans in exile hope to return if conditions improve. For whites, departure is almost always permanent—a surrender, or a cutting of losses, and one need not indulge in colonial nostalgia, or overlook the injustice of white affluence, to recognize that the loss is Zimbabwe's as well. For all his fine talk of economic "indigenization" and black empowerment, Mugabe has betrayed the promises of liberation and self-determination, and, faced with the evidence of his failure, he has come to behave toward his country like a vicious child with a toy he has broken, smashing away at it as if to prove that if he cannot make it work he can make sure that it never forgets to whom it belongs.

"You know what's at stake?" the Bulawayo businessman said to me. "Survival." He was in his early forties, a chain-smoker, with a scrappy manner, a small man with a big voice, and he had a habit of setting up his statements with questions. "You want to know how people feel here right now? There's only one word. 'Threatened.' Threatened. Blacks and whites are shit-scared."

"There's another word, too," said his wife, who was the same age and same height as he. " 'Hopeful.' "

"Goddam right," he said. "Shit-scared and hopeful. Blacks and whites."

The businessman and his wife are white. Both were working hard for an M.D.C. victory. We sat in their kitchen, where the traffic was heavy, with dinner cooking, children coming and going, and visitors appearing at the door: a white farmer friend, with news of the latest war-veteran activity near his farm; a black M.D.C. candidate arranging for the businessman to drive him through his rural constituency on a campaign swing; and a white man with a fistful of e-mail-encryption software for the family computer. "Meet the I.T. man for the coverts," the businessman said. "You see, everybody's doing his bit." Every half hour, he jumped up and went into his den to check the TV news headlines.

Mugabe had just expelled the head of a European Union election-observer team, calling him an illegal alien and accusing him of political "cheek." Just as Africans aren't invited to referee the legitimacy of European elections, the President said, the conduct of Zimbabwe's vote would be judged by observer teams from southern Africa and elsewhere on the continent, notably Nigeria. The European Union had responded by imposing "smart sanctions" against the regime, targeting Mugabe and his inner circle by freezing their assets in the E.U., barring them from travelling there, and sending their children home from some European schools. Too little, too late, argued M.D.C. leaders, who had been calling for such measures for years. The businessman agreed. He considered it racist to suggest that African elections should be judged by "African standards," and it angered him especially that the government of South Africa, the regional superpower, was conspicuously reluctant to criticize Mugabe, even as Zimbabwe's decline was causing its own economy to suffer.

There was never any chance that the election would be either free or fair, yet, between Tsvangirai's popularity and Mugabe's strong-arm tactics, nobody could say what the outcome might be. Early in February, Mugabe's information minister, Jonathan Moyo, had declared, "We should not demean the African struggles for liberation by using the fiction of democracy." The businessman also considered the election to be about something much larger than Zimbabwe—"a make-or-break situation for all Africa"—and he said, "If democracy prevails here, the First World better take note and come to the party, because it's southern Africa that's being saved." Then he said, "You know, the militias are camped two miles from here in a school—fifty or more of them, ZANU-P.F. youth. What's that about? Kids putting up campaign posters? No. Intimidation. It's just total harassment and intimidation."

I'd heard about the militia presence the day before, from Fletcher Dulini, the M.D.C.'s national treasurer, who told me about attacks he'd encountered on a recent campaign swing: a brick through a windshield, a log swung at the door of his car as it passed, the police refusing to intervene when the candidates complained. "This is their strategy," Dulini said of ZANU-P.F. agents. "That sort of psychology that is a kind of mental torture—they do it just to waste our time and keep us from campaigning about the issues." Twice during our conversation, his cell phone rang with reports of attacks on M.D.C. offices in Harare. Dulini spoke of these things with a chipper, goes-with-the-territory air, but the third time his cell phone rang he hung up in an anxious mood, and left immediately. His wife had just seen a militia mob milling near their home.

Half an hour later, as I drove through Dulini's neighborhood, I came around a bend and there they were: twenty or thirty young men on either side of the road, jostling along in a pack at a hurried, agitated pace, silhouetted in the dusk. I drove through the gantlet they formed, and they paid no attention, but a mile farther on I realized that my chest and jaw were still tight. Later still, I met a twenty-three-year-old gardener and M.D.C. sympathizer, who had been abducted by ZANU-P.F. thugs a week earlier from a local shopping center. He and another man were beaten for several hours, then loaded into a truck, blindfolded, and driven into the bush, where they were made to lie on the ground and roll from side to side while ten men took turns whipping them. Finally, they were stripped naked, and left by the roadside. The gardener's back was crosshatched from his shoulders to his waist with stringy scabs that were starting to knit into scars.

"Mugabe's a piece of work, and he deserves to be in prison with Milosevic," the businessman said. Zimbabweans often spoke of Mugabe and Slobodan Milosevic in the same breath, especially to say what the businessman's wife told me: "Two years ago, it was watching Milosevic go down that moved us to think, Oh, maybe that could happen here—nonviolent change."

"Actually, two years ago it was the 'no' vote on the constitution that changed it for me," the businessman said. "People here stood up and said no. Seeing that they could do that—that was powerful."

The businessman and his wife seemed to draw strength from talking of courage and possibility. But toward the end of the evening we moved into the den to watch a special television report being broadcast from South Africa about preëlection violence committed in Zimbabwe in recent weeks by ZANU-P.F. militants. The images were grim: lacerated bodies, punctured bodies, brown bodies bruised charcoal black. There was a woman who had been whipped for trying to protect her husband from a whipping. The woman was carrying her daughter in her arms, and the baby's cheek had been torn open by a barbed-wire lash.

"We have to talk about what to do," the businessman said. "I want the kids out of the country." His wife agreed that if Mugabe remained in power Zimbabwe was no place to raise children, but the prospect of leaving upset her as much as the thought of staying. "What would you do?" she asked.

On the eve of the election, I received an e-mail from the businessman's wife, reminding me of another time when whites and blacks were both scared and hopeful: April 18, 1980, Zimbabwe's independence day. After seven years of war, the white-supremacist Prime Minister of Rhodesia, Ian Smith, had done what he had sworn he would never do "in a thousand years," and yielded to black-majority rule. In Harare, the British flag flying above the state house was taken down—the last time it flew over an African colony—and nobody knew what to expect. Any number of whites, filled with Smith's propaganda images of black Marxist guerrillas bent on avenging historical wrongs, pictured themselves slaughtered in their beds. But Mugabe went on television and read a speech that is still remembered throughout Africa and abroad as one of the great declarations of the age. In the name of reconciliation, he issued what amounted to a blanket amnesty to everyone on all sides of the recent conflict, and declared that he would "draw a line through the past." The businessman's wife's e-mail consisted of a short excerpt from that speech:

If yesterday I fought you as an enemy, today you have become a friend and an ally with the same national interest, loyalty, rights and duties as myself. . . . The wrongs of the past must now stand forgiven and forgotten. If ever we look to the past, let us do so for the lesson the past has taught us, namely that oppression and racism are inequalities that must never find scope in our political and social system. It could never be a correct justification that because the whites oppressed us yesterday when they had power, the blacks must oppress them today because they have power. An evil remains an evil whether practiced by white against black or black against white.

Mugabe, who was reared in Jesuit mission schools and has half a dozen college and university degrees to his name—three of them earned by correspondence during ten years spent in Rhodesian jails—has always been described as a hard man to know, bitter and secretive by nature. That he is devoid of charm is indisputable. Even on his election posters, he appeared lonely and joyless: an old man, with a thin scolding mouth and frightened eyes fixed behind big spectacles in a blank, distant stare, angrily shaking a raised fist. But, for all his high-blown anti-colonial and Marxist rhetoric, he is famously opportunistic on most matters of political principle, at once hard-nosed and capricious, a man of his word, whose word is forever changing. In his intolerance for dissent, however, he is absolute and unyielding, and, once the Rhodesian state had been dismantled, he recognized that whites were no longer a threat to him. On the contrary, he needed them to maintain the economy while he established his power. Although a hundred thousand whites—half of the white population—had left Zimbabwe by 1985, those who stayed prospered. Anthony Lewis, writing in this magazine a year after independence, described an "Alice-in-Wonderland quality" in the attitude of white Zimbabweans toward Mugabe: "He was the chief villain. Now he is the person on whom white hopes rest, the man of moderation and authority." Mugabe's conciliatory racial stance also served as a convenient smoke screen in 1982, when he sent a special division of his army into Matabeleland, the home territory of the man who was then his chief political rival, Joshua Nkomo, in a bid to silence dissent there forever.

The unit—trained and equipped by North Korea, in a gesture of revolutionary solidarity—was known as the Fifth Brigade, but it is better remembered by the name Mugabe gave it: Gukurahundi, which means "the rain that washes the chaff away in advance of the spring rains." "Some of the measures we shall take are measures which will be extra-legal," Mugabe told parliament as he prepared for the operation, adding, "An eye for an eye and an ear for an ear may not be adequate in our circumstances. We might very well demand two ears for one ear and two eyes for one eye." This proved to be a gross understatement. During the Gukurahundi terror, at least twenty thousand civilians were slaughtered, while many more were driven from their homes, flogged, starved to the brink of death, raped, or, at least, forced to witness such atrocities, and even to pretend to celebrate them in song and dance. ("First you will eat your chickens, then your goats, then your cattle, then your donkeys. Then you will eat your children, and finally you will eat the dissidents," a Gukurahundi officer told villagers who had been deliberately cut off from food supplies.) The dead were generally disposed of in unmarked mass graves, and survivors were assured that if they ever spoke of their ordeal they could expect a similar fate.

The terror was brought to a halt only in 1987, when Nkomo, who had fled into exile, signed a "unity" pact, and what remained of his party was subsumed into Mugabe's, transforming Zimbabwe into a de-facto one-party state. For the next decade—until Hitler Hunzvi loosed his mobs on the streets of Harare—few Zimbabweans dared to oppose the regime, and those who did were easily coöpted, or, if that tactic failed, crushed. Indeed, looking back, many Zimbabweans will tell you that if Mugabe had stepped down, as many in his party had urged him to do, at the time of the last Presidential elections, in 1996, he would probably be remembered forgivingly, as he likes to imagine himself, as a hero of liberation, and an eminent African statesman—if not a Nelson Mandela, whose all-eclipsing nobility Mugabe bitterly resents. He would certainly not rank among the infamous dictators for whom he has expressed admiration over the years: Nicolae Ceausescu, of Romania; Kim Il Sung, of North Korea; Enver Hoxha, of Albania; and Mengistu Haile Mariam, of Ethiopia, who is wanted for crimes against humanity at home and now lives under political asylum in Harare. But ever since Mugabe's pact with Hunzvi and the "war veterans," he has steered a course of pure destruction.

The staple food of Zimbabwe is maize. People eat it as a milled cereal boiled into porridge, and they regard it in the way that Asians regard rice—as essential. But since the farm invasions began, in 2000, commercial farmers have seen their harvests drop by at least forty per cent a year, and by mid-February there was no maize to be found in most stores. (It didn't help matters that war veterans had seized control of grain distribution, and that maize was being trucked to ZANU-P.F. rallies as bait to lure the crowds.) Zimbabwe has long been known as the region's breadbasket, and neighboring countries were also feeling the pinch. "Total food deficit," a white farmer I'll call JoJo said. "It's going to kill southern Africa."

Already, farmers were slaughtering their livestock because the government had proclaimed maize a strategic resource and confiscated animal-feed reserves. "Chicken and egg production is plummeting," JoJo said, adding, "Think of it from a livestock point of view, and it's symbolic of the rest of the country. There are ninety thousand pigs in this country. Slaughter them now, and it'll take four to five years to get pork back up to speed. Same with everything." He went on, "We used to have a strategic reserve of maize of eight hundred thousand tons, and that was untouchable. Last year, the government sold it to get foreign currency to buy fuel. Why did they run out of fuel? The story is they stole it all. Corruption."

JoJo's farm is about fifty miles northwest of Bulawayo, a spread of forty-two thousand acres in the low rolling veldt that flattens out toward the frontier with Botswana and the Kalahari sands. His family has been on the place since 1896, and JoJo figures that three-quarters of it is now occupied, by some fifteen hundred people. Shortly after his land was invaded, in mid-April of 2000, one of his neighbors, a white farmer named Martin Olds, was murdered by war veterans. "We were warned that armed people had moved into the area, and I'd been tipped off that he and I were possible targets," JoJo said. "We all moved into one house here, but he was on his own. We were alerted at 6:20 A.M. that he'd been surrounded. When we tried to get to help him, they had roadblocks in the way and we were shot at. Eventually, the police came and let us in, saying he was still firing indiscriminately. But in fact he was dead." JoJo didn't want to dwell on the incident. "They'd murdered a couple of white guys in the east, in Mashonaland, so they had to murder a couple here to send the message."

JoJo had been heavily involved in the parliamentary election campaign in 2000 as an M.D.C. activist, but this year he said, "We're lying low. If we didn't, we'd be slaughtered." He said he'd lost count of how many times his family had been threatened, but as part of his survival strategy he has learned over the past two years not to blame the squatters personally for their presence on his land. After all, he said, "Not one resettled African has title. It's a monumental cock-up. They're just being dumped on the land. They're victims, in their own way, as much as we are." Still, he took some pride in comparing the squatters' drought-stricken maize patches—sunburned leaves rattling on dry, stubby stalks—with his own well-irrigated acreage, with its tall, fat-eared yield. "They don't know what they're doing," he said, adding, "What I hate is how impotent I feel—impotent because we've been closed down to help people that are starving, impotent to help development, impotent to get out and help the opposition."

JoJo lives in a house that his grandparents built in the nineteen-twenties, a place redolent of the colonial idyll, with floors carpeted in leopard skins and a maid who brought tea in a Spode china pot ("rosebud chintz") with a Wedgwood cup, saucer, and sugar bowl. At night, JoJo produced some port, and said, "I think every Zimbabwean white farmer appreciates by now the need for major land reform, but none of us can identify with the way it's being done." He told me that he'd have no problem giving up as much as half of his land, as long as he could give his expertise along with it, so that resettled blacks had some hope of agricultural success.

In the morning, he drove me for several hours around his property: chicken houses; maize fields; a large area of low sandy soil laced with drip-irrigation hoses, where paprika, a highly lucrative export crop, is grown; a refrigerated room where fresh peas awaited shipment to London green markets; a machine shop; the farmworkers' housing; and a school and medical clinic. It was a small village. I was amazed at how much of it remained operational after two years of occupation, but JoJo said he'd been reduced to little more than subsistence farming.

"It cannot be in the national interest to destroy this," he said. "We've had sixty to eighty of these war-vet guys beating at the gate with axes, and I'll sit down and offer them tea and talk to them, because what are your alternatives? If you lose your cool, that's what they want. I think the government is terribly frustrated that we're still here. They thought we'd all just pack up and leave." He'd been tempted. "I was offered six million U.S. dollars for this property four years ago, before all this started, and we debated it. But we're Africans. This is our life."

One afternoon, in Bulawayo, I stopped by the office of David Coltart, a constitutional and human-rights lawyer, who is also an M.D.C. parliamentarian and the party's shadow minister of justice. Coltart is the only white in the shadow cabinet, and he takes evident pride in the fact that the constituency that sent him to parliament is ninety-five per cent black. He had just come off a campaign swing, and was wearing a bulletproof vest, but he seemed less concerned by his personal danger than by the number of people he had encountered at his rallies who expressed a desire for revenge against ZANU-P.F. in the event of an M.D.C. victory. "What we face at many political meetings is people saying, 'Will you please just look the other way for forty-eight hours?' " he said, adding, "We simply can't start off in the same way that Mugabe left off."

So far, M.D.C. supporters had, with relatively few exceptions, abided by the party's strict policy of nonviolence, and Coltart believed that revenge attacks could be prevented "if a firm clear message of change is articulated." Washington Sansole, a local black lawyer and an M.D.C. supporter, wasn't so sure. "The ordinary people who have been subjected to these beatings and intimidations—they are going to be thirsting for blood," he had told me. Paul Themba Nyathi, the M.D.C.'s shadow minister for local government, took a middle view. The appetite for revenge was great, but he said, "I think it can be prevented, because it comes from a sense of helplessness that makes people seek satisfaction by inflicting pain back on their tormentors. If we can give them some hope as an alternative to Robert Mugabe, who always built the country on hate, I think it's possible to keep from mayhem. But it's going to be very difficult."

Coltart was busy designing a legal framework for an M.D.C. government to address the abuses of the old regime. Mugabe had always been a champion of amnesties and pardons; he had issued them in the name of "unity" after each phase of bloodshed in his political progress: at independence, following the Gukurahundi massacres in Matabeleland in the eighties, and after every national election in the past decade. Coltart was eager to bring this "culture of impunity" to an end, but he said, "Regarding Robert Mugabe himself, we've been placed under enormous pressure by the international community to insure that he is allowed to retire peacefully here." The international pressure came from other African countries. Tsvangirai had made it clear to Mugabe that he would be allowed to exit without humiliation, but Coltart remained troubled by the prospect of "a policy that results in relatively low-level people being prosecuted when the top architects go scot-free."

To address that tension, at least partially, Tsvangirai had promised to establish a truth commission. The idea, Coltart told me, was not only to hold hearings on the Mugabe era but to examine the country's vexed history all the way back to November 11, 1965, when Ian Smith issued a unilateral declaration of independence from the British Empire and declared a state of emergency, in a bid to preserve white rule forever. On that day, Coltart said, "The white government became illegal, and many of the crimes committed since then are better understood in that context." He felt that the time had come "to bring whites to speak and make whites reckon with their part in abuses."

Ian Smith, who is now eighty-three and still lives in Zimbabwe, is unrepentant for the brutality of his apartheid-style police state. At Oxford two years ago, he stated his position plainly: "The more we killed, the happier we were. We were fighting terrorists." Smith's undimmed extremism can seem like a template for Mugabe's own racist outbursts, but his defiant posture is almost universally reviled by the fifty thousand or so whites who have chosen to stay on in Zimbabwe. Indeed, everyone I spoke to—black and white—agreed that, despite Mugabe's best efforts, there is very little overt racial conflict in Zimbabwean life.

"The truth of the matter is that blacks know that whatever hardships have come about in the past twenty years have not come about because of whites," Washington Sansole said. "That race thing is a red herring." Coltart went further. He suggested that Mugabe's attacks on whites had actually served to make many whites feel more Zimbabwean than ever—albeit defensively. "That's been, I think, the miracle of what's happened in Zimbabwe," he said. "For twenty years, the vast majority of whites were completely disengaged from political life in the country and disengaged from the vast majority of black people. They lived in little white islands, and, quite frankly, I think racist beliefs were deeply rooted and remained unchallenged. The irony is it's taken this drama for people to realize that there are just some absolutely outstanding black people."

Certainly, it is a faith akin to Coltart's that had kept farmers like JoJo, and Richard Pascall, the rhinoceros rancher, on their occupied land, and dreaming of developing it further once Mugabe was gone. Down the road from Pascall's place, however, I met a couple whose farm had been so thoroughly pillaged by squatters that they had no hope of restoring it. They'd had no income for a year, and had just enough savings to keep themselves in Scotch whiskey until the election. The only reason they stayed on, they told me, was that they had nowhere to go. In anticipation of escalated violence in the event of a Mugabe victory, many farmers were sending their wives and children to safe houses in town, but this couple refused to consider such a separation. "I will never leave my husband. If he goes, I go," the woman told me, and the man said, "My wife doesn't shoot so good, but she's a helluva good loader."

If it came to such a battle, the couple had no doubt that they'd lose. But the fantasy of taking a stand was all they had left. "One thing Mugabe has done is teach people to hate," the woman said. "Forty years in this country, and even with that bloody war I didn't hate them. Now I hate them. I had two boys hanging off the back gate last week, begging for food. They were so bloody hungry—and I turned my back on them. I did, and it's a bloody shame, and it's Mugabe's prime achievement."

Mugabe is not one for admitting to error, but a week before the election he held a rally in Bulawayo, where he confessed to having made the great blunder of his political life, when, on assuming power in 1980, he gave his famous speech, seeking reconciliation with whites. "We made a mistake when we showed mercy," he said, adding that he had acted "as a fool" but was "wiser now." And, at his inauguration, two weeks later, he made sure not to repeat the mistake of magnanimity in victory, although he did offer Zimbabweans an opportunity to submit to his domination once again in the name of unity.

The election itself was a mockery, even by Africa's degraded standards. As many as a million potential voters had been systematically excluded by the government from voting, while voter rolls were inflated in ZANU-P.F.strongholds, and the violence and intimidation continued right through the balloting process: hundreds of opposition poll watchers were arrested, and hundreds more were beaten or otherwise physically prevented from going about their task. In the end, on March 13th, Mugabe claimed victory by a margin so preposterous that it was apparent his ballot-box stuffers had been overzealous, and only the most jaded and cynical of foreign observers—notably South Africa's mission, whose members seemed to have forgotten that they themselves had been assaulted during the campaign by ZANU-P.F. thugs—found qualified terms for approving the vote as free and fair enough.

"Well done, Zimbabweans. . . . We have dealt a stunning blow to imperialism!" Mugabe declared, as he promised to accelerate his land-redistribution program, and made special thanks to the African leaders who had stood by him in solidarity. The next morning, Zimbabwe awoke to the news that another white farmer had been shot dead by war veterans—this time on a farm that Mugabe's sister had been making moves to acquire—and the following afternoon the country was suspended from the British Commonwealth. In the weeks since the vote, Zimbabwe has fallen out of the international headlines, but it has not fallen quiet. If anything, the level of state-sponsored violence has escalated. M.D.C. activists and independent journalists are arrested almost daily, more than two hundred white farmers and twenty thousand black farmers have been expelled from commercial farmlands, food supplies have been kept from tens of thousands of people in areas that voted for the opposition, while thousands more have been displaced from their homes by the violent rampages of vengeful war veterans, police, and soldiers.

Not long ago, I received another e-mail from the wife of the businessman in Bulawayo. In earlier post-election messages, she had sounded depleted but upbeat, convinced that the outrageousness of Mugabe's victory, combined with the fact that change had to come someday, meant that change would still come sooner than later. Now she didn't sound so sure. Without preamble, she wrote:

I WANT TO LIVE IN AFRICA, FUCK IT!!! The uncertainty of tomorrow and the broken dreams of what could be are soul destroying. In the meantime I've been on a rampage chucking out all unnecessary clutter, accumulated over seventeen years of life. Is this my subconscious speaking? How does one discard Ovid's "Metamorphoses"—1984, University, Professor Budick?!? I remember one of the farmers' wives saying she had twenty minutes to pack. She stood before her cupboard and finally left all but the photographs. That's all we need really.

She's still there, but a week later I received four e-mails at once from exactly the sort of farmer's wife she described—Carol Pascall, of Gourlays Ranch. The first e-mail said:

The squatters disarmed us yesterday. They now have in their possession four shot guns, two .308 rifles, one .22, and one handgun. The police were notified and their reply was that they had no vehicle. We contacted them this morning once more and once more there is no vehicle available. Last night one of our sheep was slaughtered and a few more are running around with stab wounds. My daughter Juliet leaves for university in South Africa today. All that keeps me going is knowing that there are many people out there who are going through absolute horror, something I cannot even begin to imagine and I will not let evil rule the day. We need to make a stand.

The next e-mail said:

As I sit and write this now, we are sitting a hundred and twenty kilometres from town, the police are not responding, and we have at least two hundred and fifty squatters, youths and war vets on the farm who are threatening to kill us. They have successfully chased away all our labor. They are at this very moment putting grass and branches around the compound houses in order to burn them down. The roads are barricaded. Please pray for us. I am sorry this is disjointed, but at this moment all I can think about is that we are most probably going to be killed tonight. Not a nice thought.

The third e-mail said:

We had the remainder of the workers sleep in our house and cottage last night. We armed as many as possible and we all took it in turns to be on guard. The workers' houses were not burned down last night. This morning at first light we once more phoned the police for a reaction. They said at 5:30 this morning that they were coming, we are still waiting. In the meantime the remainder of the workers have left without their belongings as the squatters have forbidden them to take anything with them. We have been told that we must leave without anything. We are stalling for time, hoping and praying that the police will react. In the event that they do not, not only will we lose everything but the workers stand to lose all their worldly belongings as well. I wish I could describe the looks on their faces. . . . The roads are still barricaded and manned by the squatters. They have moved more people onto the farm. . . . Richard seems to be spending all his time puking his heart out. What do we do? . . . I believe that we must remain strong and remain here. . . . What started all of the nonsense is that we are a black-rhino conservancy. . . . A big bull died last week due to fighting, as the animals are now compressed into a small area and the bulls' areas are overlapping. We did what we were supposed to do according to the law and contacted a government vet and National Parks. The vet came out to ascertain the cause of death, and National Parks collected the horn. That was on Sunday. On Monday all hell broke loose as the squatters now decided that they own the rhino and they want the trophy fee for these animals and we should have consulted with them prior to calling the vet and National Parks.

The fourth e-mail said:

The police arrived here and attempted to keep the peace. They said that they could not sort out this matter, as it is political. We need to talk to the local squatters, as this is where all land problems etc. are now sorted out. This came as a shock as this means that we no longer have a government or law and order. Some of the youths exposed themselves to my daughter and once more we are told it is political. The squatters and war vets are now running the country. We have managed to buy ourselves time and will be off the farm in seven days' time. All our workers have left. . . . I must admit that last night the demonic forces were tangible. Our lock and chain on our security gate has been stolen. . . . The squatters have told us that we are to hand all our weapons in to the local police. I do not feel safe about that. Today one of our horses came in with two cable snares around her neck. Another horse came in with evidence of having had a snare on her neck. This has all happened since Monday, as this is when our game guards were disarmed and called in. I shudder to think what will happen to the black rhino and game left on the farm.

Beneath this last message, Carol Pascall had pasted an article by Chris McGreal, the Guardian's southern Africa correspondent. Under the headline "ZIMBABWE STRUCK BY NEW REIGN OF TERROR," he described the ordeal of a black woman near a town called Nembudziya, who had been taken from her home by a soldier. The soldier threatened to shoot her, but forced her instead to perform oral sex on him, while her two-year-old watched, then smacked her in the face with his pistol, and so on. McGreal provided a litany of such abuses, performed by soldiers on house-to-house rampages across Zimbabwe: "Six people have been murdered in political violence in Zimbabwe since the election, but a reluctance to kill outright—perhaps because torture and rape attract far less attention—is the only restraint shown by the troops and militia." Men, too, were forced to have sex with each other; others were branded with hot irons or hung upside down from trees. All of this had been going on before the election as well, and with the desired result: Mugabe had outpolled Tsvangirai in this district by two votes to one.

It struck me as remarkable that Carol Pascall, holed up in her farmhouse at her computer, with a mob raging at her gate, should have bothered to attach this story to her own. By comparison with what her black compatriots were suffering, her own plight seemed almost comprehensible, and that seemed to be exactly her point.


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Daily News  - Leader Page

      Killing the goose that lays the golden egg

      5/30/02 9:25:43 AM (GMT +2)

      President Mugabe's critics have been consistent in citing as the main
reason for the country's economic mess his reluctance to take kindly to
either advice or criticism.

      Among the many ill-conceived decisions he has taken on the economy was
his unreasonable antagonism towards the World Bank and the International
Monetary Fund.

      His dismissal of them as irrelevant had disastrous consequences on the
balance of payments and the procurement of foreign currency.

      Then there was his decision to award, under pressure from the late
Chenjerai Hunzvi, pensions and lump sum payments to thousands of war
veterans. That action, unbudgeted for, was directly responsible for the
crash of the dollar on Black Friday - 14 November 1997.

      But by far the most economically ruinous was his arrogant decision to
send troops without consulting Parliament - to the Democratic Republic of
Congo four years ago.

      This has continued to drain scarce foreign currency to this day. While
it is true that Mugabe's resistance to advice and criticism is behind the
economic ruin and the current political crisis, a contributing factor has
been failure to speak up by those who ought to do so when things are going

      Their silence amounts to a conspiracy with the government. While they
know their advice or criticism will not be listened to, much less acted
upon, it remains imperative that those in positions of influence, in the
public and private sectors, summon enough moral courage to point out the
government's aberrations when they occur.

      Herbert Murerwa did it at the Zanu PF congress in December 1999 when
he told Mugabe there was no money for his proposed expenditure on communal
farmers. Although Mugabe insisted he would have to find the money somewhere,
Murerwa was right to say the government was broke.

      Which is what the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has done. In its
latest Weekly Economic Highlights, the RBZ blamed the shrunken revenue base
on the government. But some would apportion some of the blame to the RBZ

      If it had been more vocal in demanding autonomy from the government,
it would most likely play a more pivotal role in curbing some of the
government's excesses.

      That shrinkage in the revenue base is a result of the closure of
hundreds of companies amid dire economic conditions brought about by the
government's controversial policies.

      These are policies the government continues to pursue purely to ensure
its political survival. Often, when political considerations are at stake,
the government acts first and thinks later.

      There is no consideration beforehand for the possible consequences of
its actions.
      Clearly, if it had stopped to dispassionately assess the economic
implications of its plans to cow the population by any means, the government
would never have orchestrated first the farm and later company invasions.

      It ought to have considered the human tragedy its actions would bring
upon innocent citizens and the effect on the government coffers.

      The government's sanctioning of the complete destruction of commercial
farming, arguably the most sophisticated and profitable in the region,
through farm invasions and its promotion of anarchy at factories resulting
in their closure, was more like enemy action than conscious government

      This is especially so when it is remembered that the architect of the
anarchy had boasted only a year earlier that he did not know anyone who
would have run the economy better than he was doing.

      It was the proverbial killing of the goose that lays the golden egg.
If the government had looked farther than the elections, it would have seen
the error of its ways.

      By destroying commercial farming and closing down factories, it was
destroying its revenue base as corporate and personal taxes were bound to

      There would be less sales tax as people's buying power was reduced.
The government's current heavy domestic borrowing is a direct reflection of
that folly. As it is, we are now in a cul de sac because the government has
no clue how to undo the damage. Neither, it seems, has the RBZ.
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Daily News  - Leader Page

Why the Zanu PF/MDC talks failed

5/30/02 9:26:48 AM (GMT +2)

INTERNATIONALLY facilitated talks have generally occurred where there are
two or more warring factions in a given country. By warring this would mean
that the factions bear arms of war that they have been using against each
other as well as against the country's citizens.

Examples of countries where international mediation has occurred due to the
presence of armed conflict between military wings of political organisations
or political armies include Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo,
Burundi - and Zimbabwe in 1979.

Zimbabwe, however, has been revisited by the concept with the advent of the
short-lived Zanu PF and MDC inter-party talks facilitated by the governments
of South Africa and Nigeria.

The most significant distinction from the previous type and style of
international mediation in national crises is that in Zimbabwe there are no
warring factions. Instead there are competing political parties.

This not only makes the Zimbabwean situation peculiar, but fairly difficult
for international mediation to arrive at a mutually beneficial agreement for
the interested parties.

The talks between the MDC and Zanu PF must be looked at within the context
of the controversial presidential election that took place in March 2002.

The election that has been described by many a reasonable person as unfree
and unfair is the basis upon which Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Olusegun
Obasanjo decided to try and bring the two parties to the table.

They probably did this for a number of reasons. The first being the fear
that the opposition MDC would immediately upon losing the unfree and unfair
election embark on nationwide mass action that would send the country into
some form of instability that would affect the region.

They were trying most probably to stave off the loss of innocent lives, the
problems with the South African economy and refugees that would be
encountered in South Africa and Zimbabwe's other neighbours.

The second reason is their need to keep Africa on the map in relation to the
much-vaunted New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). Zimbabwe is a
thorn in
NEPAD's side, so the best way of dealing with it in view of the Group of
Eight leading industrial nations summit was to be actively seen to be taking
an active role that seeks to stave off any worsening of the Zimbabwean

The two main parties, however, also had their reasons for entering into
dialogue. The ruling Zanu PF had a clear obligation to be respectful to
Mbeki and Obasanjo.

The two presidents had already shown leniency toward President Mugabe
through South Africa's quiet diplomacy as well as through the brokering of
the celebrated but ineffectual Abuja Agreement.

The MDC, on the other hand, had no feeling of obligation to enter the talks
but the meetings that Mbeki and Obasanjo held soon after the announcement of
the election results probably swayed the MDC president, Morgan Tsvangirai,
to take the talks seriously on one basis, which was the possibility of an
internationally monitored election rerun.

And this is where the talks between the two parties begin to show signs of
not having much of a future.

In its opening remarks, the ruling Zanu PF party through the leader of its
delegation, Patrick Chinamasa, showed a fair amount of disrespect toward the
opposition MDC and laid claim to Zanu PF being the only custodians of
democracy and nationalism in Zimbabwe, "We brought independence, we brought
sovereignty, we brought democracy and the ballot here.

Today we not only claim authorship of the independence, sovereignty and
democracy in Zimbabwe, but also declare ourselves guarantors of these
non-negotiable elements of our statehood."

Zanu PF's position was further clarified in Chinamasa's following statement
where he said: "Indeed no one party can ask for permission to diminish our
sovereignty through associations, whether national or international, that
seek to threaten it."

On the other hand, the MDC stated its position without ambiguity through its
secretary-general, Professor Welshman Ncube, who stated: "What we in the MDC
are seeking through this dialogue is two-fold: an immediate restoration of
law and order and the rule of law guaranteeing the security, and political
freedoms of each and every Zimbabwean regardless of political affiliation.

Unconditional return to legitimacy through a fresh presidential poll held in
a climate of peace where the freedoms of all political players are

Such a position was the only one that the MDC could take to these talks.
Until some miracle occurs, Zanu PF, however, will not accept the very idea
of an election rerun.

The election rerun agenda was and will probably never be an issue with Zanu
PF unless domestic political pressure is applied on them by the opposition
MDC. And it is this point that brings us to the all-critical issue of why
the Zanu PF government is so self-evidently arrogant towards the opposition

As a former liberation movement, Zanu PF respects people politics and has no
fear of international pressure as long as it feels it can manipulate or
bring to the fore its desires as what the people of Zimbabwe want.

When it went to the Lancaster House talks in 1979, Zanu PF was in a position
that one can safely argue to have been a strong one. Ian Smith knew he was
losing the war and the British knew that to end the war they had to engage
Zanu PF.
In the current situation, the MDC has not gone into the talks from a
position of strength. It does not have a strong basis of instilling fear
into the Mugabe regime through either mass action or insurgency of any other

Because Zanu PF does not evidently see the threat that the MDC poses, it
does not take the MDC seriously for now.

The onus then shifts to the MDC to prove that it has the capacity to
mobilise and threaten through mass action a government it considers
illegitimate. Then - and only then - will the talks begin to have a semblanc
e of seriousness.

The MDC needs to raise the political stakes against Zanu PF or else rest its
case. The seriousness with which the South African and Nigerian governments
will approach the talks will be far different if the MDC proves its people
power beyond any doubt.

And when this happens, a situation that is somewhat similar to Madagascar
will occur with Zanu PF retreating to the rural hinterland, as is the case
with Didier Ratsiraka, and the MDC taking over the towns, as is the case
with Marc Ravalomanana.

Only then can a power-sharing agreement be etched out and a transitional
government of national unity be formed to oversee an election rerun.

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Daily News - Feature

      Children, the innocent victims of the Zimbabwean crisis

      5/30/02 9:10:20 AM (GMT +2)

      Foster Dongozi Features Writer

      ZIMBABWE'S current political and economic crisis is taking its toll on
all areas of human endeavour, with results that were, until now,
unimaginable "I am a nine-year-old boy attending school in Harare. I walk
for one-and-a-half hours to get to school because I can't afford bus fare.

      "I have no lunch because I can't afford it. I walk back home and get
there very tired.

      I hope all those who are responsible for doing this to our wonderful
country go to bed on a full stomach."

      This was part of a heart-rending letter written to The Daily News by a
nine-year-old boy from Chitungwiza recently.

      He said he occasionally received a free ride from a sympathetic bus
driver. The letter was a reflection of the rampant difficulties that
confront young children in Zimbabwe today.

      But his situation could charitably be described as "rosy" because some
children are surviving under even more difficult circumstances.

      Thousands of children are today homeless, malnourished and out of
school, as a consequence of the violent land redistribution exercise by Zanu
PF supporters and so-called war veterans, in which the farm workers, in some
instances families headed by children, were displaced.

      Ironically, in the midst of this wretchedness, President Mugabe lauded
efforts by his government during an address to the United Nations Special
Session for Children. He skirted around the issue of the plight of children
displaced by a skewed land redistribution programme at home.

      With the onset of what threatens to be a severe winter, children have
become exposed to cold nights in makeshift homes. Some face permanent
psychological damage after watching their parents being raped or beaten.

      Horrifying tales are told of young girls being gang-raped by so-called
"land-hungry" people. In February 2000, the government failed to persuade
the electorate and lost a referendum on a new constitution.
      Sensing that it had lost its popularity, Zanu PF officials encouraged
so-called war veterans and peasants to "spontaneously" occupy commercial
farms in what was generally seen as as a vote-winning gimmick.

      Education and health, recognised as basic rights for children the
world over, are now viewed as a luxury by the wretched children of
commercial farm workers.

      Organisations representing farm workers have indicated that a minute
number of farm workers have benefited from the controversial land
redistribution exercise.

      An official with Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe (FCTZ), a
non-governmental organisation, which seeks to improve the welfare of farm
workers, described the situation of farm workers' children as "quite

      Kaday Sibanda, the deputy director of FCTZ, said: "Information that we
have indicates that only two percent of farm workers have been resettled so
far and only now is compensation being talked about."

      Thousands of farm workers lost their jobs and property during the
violent exercise, directly affecting the welfare of their children.

      "Some of the farm schools were closed in the process, denying the
children an education while some medical facilities ceased to exist."

      She said a study revealed that some girls were afraid to go back to
school because of the risk of being sexually abused after seeing some women
and other girls being raped by the land invaders.

      "On our part, we have a supplementary feeding programme for 11 382
farm workers' children still on the farms and a further 3 615 in informal

      Informal settlements, is a euphemism for squatter camps which sprouted
outside farms after farmers and their workers were displaced.

      Sibanda said the plight of some children had worsened as some of them,
orphaned mainly as a result of the HIV/Aids scourge, had nowhere to go.

      She said they had no capacity to handle the children's trauma after
some of them were raped or witnessed violence. Simon Gubha, the president of
the General Agriculture and Plantation Workers' Union of Zimbabwe, said the
children of farm workers were now "stranded".

      He said: "Thousands of children are stranded in terms of education,
health and shelter. In some cases, destitute children are thronging the few
functioning grinding mills to scavenge for maize-meal."

      Gubha said the loss of jobs by farm workers had led to malnourishment
among the former workers and their children. "A number of under-weight cases
are being recorded at clinics among new mothers who are former farm workers
because they are not getting adequate food."

      He said among the children who face an uncertain future there are
nearly 10 000 who are disabled.

      Gubha said while the able-bodied children could run away from the
mayhem being wreaked on the farms, the disabled, some of whom could not move
unaided, were at the mercy of the invaders.

      He said his union had no capacity to counsel abused and traumatised
      "Some children were abducted and raped by some militias, with some of
them falling pregnant."

      He said officials from his union could only express sympathy with the
children as they had no trained counsellors to cater for them.

      A large number would not write Grade Seven, Zimbabwe Junior
Certificate or Ordinary Level examinations because their parents could not
to pay examination fees following the loss of steady jobs.

      The Farm Orphan Support Trust of Zimbabwe (FOST) is another
non-governmental organisation established in 1997 to support orphaned and
vulnerable children on farms in Manicaland and Mashonaland Central

      Lynn Walker, its executive director, said: "Children who have gone
through the trauma of losing one or both parents have had their trauma and
insecurity exacerbated by the uncertainty they feel about their future.

      "Many of these children know no other home." She said her organisation
was providing supplementary feeding programmes for 4 500 children on 110
farms in the two provinces, to combat malnourishment.

      They have also managed to secure school fees for 250 orphaned farm
workers' children.
      "FOST is undertaking a training programme for members of farm
communities to enable them to offer emotional and social support for
orphaned and vulnerable children that have been traumatised by the loss of a
parent or care-giver and who are feeling insecure about their future,"

      Walker said. Against this background, observers are questioning the
sincerity of President Mugabe in attending the recent United Nations
Children's Conference when members of his party were directly responsible
for destroying the future of many children in the rural areas, particularly
on commercial farms in the country.

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      'We have a right to be heard'

      By Nqobile Nyathi Assistant Editor
      5/30/02 2:55:25 AM (GMT +2)

      AS Zimbabwe's government cracks down on freedom of the Press and of
expression, the country's civic society is embracing electronic activism to
promote openness and debate in an increasingly repressive climate.

      In use in the developed world for more than a decade, electronic
activism uses the Internet, electronic mail (e-mail), electronic mailing
lists, newsgroups and newsletters to lobby around specific issues.

      It has been used by United States-based supporters of the Zapatista
rebels in Mexico, Amnesty International and, more recently, to protest
against Israel's military intervention in Palestine.

      In 1999, electronic activists organised a "virtual sit-in" against the
World Trade Organisation and electronic activism has also become an
important tool for democracy and civil rights groups, as well as lobbyists
for the rights of animals, the environment and more focused liberties of
women and children.

      In Zimbabwe,, a central hub for civic society
organisations, has been in existence for about 14 months to promote greater
public access to information and freedom of expression.

      "Electronic activism is using the Internet and e-mail to advocate and
lobby around specific, focused issues and these can be local government,
health or political," Bev Clark of told the Financial Gazette.

      Brenda Burrell, also a partner in the initiative, said: "In about
March last year, we started Kubatana to address the issue of information
dissemination within the NGO (non-governmental organisation) and civic
society organisation (CSO) communities.

      "Kubatana is essentially a central hub, a clearing house of civic and
human rights information in Zimbabwe."

      The driving aim of the hub is to provide Zimbabwean NGOs and activists
with another tool to reach and lobby the public and other stakeholders, and
to give ordinary Zimbabweans a forum to air their views and access
information that will allow them to make informed decisions about issues
which affect them.

      It has gained momentum at a time the government has introduced and is
rigorously enforcing legislation aimed at curbing a free Press and limiting
freedom of expression.

      Several journalists, activists and members of the public have been
charged under the draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act and the Public Order and Security Act, which allow fines and jail terms
for criticism of the government.

      "There is no doubt that we live in a very repressive media and
information environment in Zimbabwe and Kubatana really exists to challenge
that and to empower ordinary Zimbabweans to use the Internet and e-mail to
communicate their thoughts," Clark said.

      "Oppressors thrive on lack of information and we want to address this
issue. The more that ordinary people are informed, the more empowered they
are. For a long time in Zimbabwe, we have been subjected to misinformation
and a polarised Press and we believe that it's a country's right to receive
information in order to determine its future and construct a better future."

      To meet these objectives, has created a directory of
Zimbabwean NGOs and CSOs, with fact sheets on the organisations and links to
their websites, some of which have been developed by Clark and Burrell.

      "We now have over 170 NGOs, CSOs and social justice groups on the
Kubatana directory," Burrell said.

      "A large part of what we do is to publish Press statements, articles
and research documents on behalf of these NGOs. What we have been very
successful in doing is making Zimbabwe's NGOs and civic and human rights
activists more accessible locally, regionally and globally."

      The website provides breaking news, copies of important legislation,
information on the implications of new laws and government policies, has a
mailing list and also stimulates debate by inviting the public to send
e-mail comments on topical issues.

      The site also publishes alerts about issues of concern
such as the recent spate of arrests of journalists and invites the public to
send written protests to the relevant stakeholders.

      One of the more successful electronic activism campaigns on the
website centred around the Citizenship Act, which was introduced last year
and was widely seen as an attempt by the ruling ZANU PF to disenfranchise
thousands of voters entitled to dual citizenship prior to the disputed March
presidential election.

      Political activist Judith Todd successfully appealed against the loss
of her Zimbabwean citizenship under the Act in a test court case funded by
several local NGOs.

      Burrell told the Financial Gazette: "One of the useful ways that we
have integrated a variety of strategies pertains to the whole issue of the
Citizenship Act. People found themselves without information and through
using e-mail we managed to network with legal NGOs to disseminate advice and
get through a very difficult situation.

      "People didn't feel so in the dark so you can see some of the real
results from using these tools."

      Another encouraging factor has been the increased use of
in spite of limited access to and knowledge about how to use the Internet
among Zimbabweans, especially in the low-income groups.

      The creators of the website say many of their subscribers are from
small towns and outlying areas, which have benefited from the mushrooming of
Internet cafes and the widespread use by Zimbabweans of free e-mail
facilities offered by portals such as Yahoo! and Microsoft's Hotmail.

      Clark pointed out: "Many Zimbabweans access the Internet and we have
seen a flurry of Internet cafes being established. We also have schools that
are online. Many Kubatana subscribers come from outlying areas and smaller

      Burrell added: "The information is not only accessed using the
Internet. People can print information and work on it to turn into their own
little newsletters for their communities. We have examples of students and
factory managers printing out information and putting it up on notice boards
at work or school."

      To promote access to the Internet and increase the community of
electronic activists, is holding a series of free workshops
throughout this year to educate NGOs, trade unionists, students and the
general public about electronic communication tools.

      There has already been an overwhelming response from the general
public, the creators of the website said.

      "We have 70-year-olds coming to electronic activism workshops and
sitting side by side with 17-year-olds," Clark noted. "We have Zimbabweans
sharing experiences about activism and life and whenever they do this, the
unfortunate divisions that are being sponsored in this country are breaking

      "In the future, we'll be working with information officers at
non-profit organisations to make them more efficient in information
dissemination. My real concern at the moment is the youth, who are
marginalised in Zimbabwe.

      "Zimbabwe is part of the global landscape and communication tools like
the Internet and e-mail are becoming such standard tools that if we leave
our youth out of this learning curve, we will be doing them a great

      Burrell said: "The future for us revolves around making these tools
better understood by the general public and established NGOs and CSOs. The
main issue is that Zimbabweans must fight self-censorship and question the
parametres that constrain them. They have a right to say what they think and
make their voices be heard."
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      ZANU PF accused of manipulating food aid

      Staff Reporter
      5/30/02 2:51:07 AM (GMT +2)

      A DENMARK-BASED organisation, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), says
it has discovered widespread political manipulation of food donated by
international humanitarian agencies to feed thousands of Zimbabweans facing

      PHR board member Hans Petersen yesterday said his agency, which issued
a report on alleged human rights abuses in Zimbabwe at the weekend, had
collected information on food distribution and torture before and after
Zimbabwe's disputed presidential election in March.

      "The information about food was collected in the first part of May
this year and torture victims were examined from the beginning of April to
May," he told the Financial Gazette.

      "There are some pre-election examples included (in the report) because
the victims are still under pressure. The cases are from Matabeleland South,
North, the Midlands and Bulawayo."

      According to the PHR report, entitled Zimbabwe: Post-Presidential
Election March to May 2002: We'll Make Them Run, food distribution is
subject to political manipulation at all three access points.

      These are the government's food-for-work programmes, the state-run
Grain Marketing Board (GMB) and feeding schemes that are backed by aid
donors, which the report said were being manipulated by ruling ZANU PF
supporters at the expense of members or perceived supporters of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

      The report said: "The first two maize access mechanisms are run
entirely at the discretion of government employees and are particularly open
to political selectivity: in rural areas and also in some urban areas only
known ZANU PF supporters are allowed to benefit.

      "Those who do not carry a ZANU PF card are not allowed to purchase
maize from the GMB even if they have the money to do so, and known MDC
supporters report having maize stolen from them if they are lucky enough to
buy it. It is also documented, including in the cases in this report, that
members of 'MDC families' are not able to take part in food-for-work

      A week ago several Zimbabwean church leaders also complained about
ZANU PF's manipulation of food aid for political ends, charges which the
government denies.

      Although PHR admitted that the scale of discrimination in donor
feeding schemes was not known now, it said discrimination had been reported
in rural areas, particularly in the Midlands and parts of Mashonaland, where
the government has a strong support base.

      The report said: "It appears that this food discrimination is most
easy to manipulate in the under-five feeding. The names of 'MDC children' do
not exist on some feeding scheme lists as the lists are drawn up in the
first instance by committees consisting entirely of ZANU supporting
government structures.

      " Such structures include rural district councils, chiefs, headmen,
headmasters and other prominent community members."

      Petersen said in some cases, humanitarian agencies had been forced to
withdraw food to end the discrimination. But ruling party activists had in
some areas conducted witch-hunts to discover villagers who had revealed the
manipulation to the donor agencies.

      There was no immediate comment from the Ministry of Information. But
Makena Walker, a spokeswoman for the United Nations' World Food Programme
which is targeting more than 500 000 people in seven provinces, said
although its implementing partners had reported allegations of manipulation
of food distribution, mechanisms were in place to protect against this.

      She said a register of targeted beneficiaries was drawn up by its
partner non-governmental organisations, together with local communities, and
these were checked at every step of the distribution process and were even
read out in public

      She said: "We received a small number of allegations that the food
distribution is not impartial, but these have been investigated by the WFP,
our implementing partners, the local authorities and even the beneficiaries

      "Our programme is targeting over 500 000 people based on assessments
done in October last year, but the food situation has deteriorated and many
more people have become very needy in the meantime.

      "The food availability is only so much and at the moment we can only
feed those who are targeted."

      Petersen said the manipulation of food distribution by ruling party
supporters was part of a pattern of repression against the MDC and, through
his agency's reports, he hoped to make African regional leaders aware of the

      "This is connected with the other human rights violations like
torture. It is a pattern of general repression against the political
opposition," he said.

      "(President Robert) Mugabe and his government are using the food
situation to punish the political opposition and are manipulating donations
to their advantage.

      "We hope that we can inspire the donor organisations to monitor more
closely their programmes, but also we would like to draw attention to the
Zimbabwean case among African neighbours. The solution to the human rights
crisis in Zimbabwe is held by African neighbours, especially South Africa,
but they need information and this is where we come in."
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      Zim dollar crashes as forex crisis worsens

      Staff Reporter
      5/30/02 2:49:20 AM (GMT +2)

      ZIMBABWE'S foreign currency crisis has deepened in the past two weeks
amid reports that the exchange rate of the Zimbabwe dollar to the American
greenback has crashed to more than 400 Zimbabwe dollars against one US unit.

      Currency dealers said the already short supply of hard cash had
deteriorated in the past fortnight despite the opening of the tobacco
marketing season, seen by many as the lifeblood of the Zimbabwean economy.

      The 2001/02 tobacco selling season, which opened on May 14, is
expected to end in November.

      The Bureaux de Change Association of Zimbabwe chairman Nesbert Tinarwo
said the foreign exchange market had been uncharacteristically dry for this
time of the year.

      "The market is very, very dry which is not even reflective of the
tobacco season," Tinarwo said this week.

      Tobacco is Zimbabwe's premier export crop, which rakes in about a
third of the country's annual foreign currency earnings.

      There was speculation this week that the government had been buying
most of the funds on the official market to meet its commitments to import
food as well as to pay off a US$28.6 million debt owed by Air Zimbabwe to
the Export Import Bank of America.

      The national carrier, in which the government is the majority
shareholder, has been frantically trying to raise money to pay off its debt
to Export Import Bank by tomorrow after the American bank threatened to
repossess aircraft bought with funds borrowed from the financial

      No comment was available from the central Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe or
Finance Minister Simba Makoni.

      The government is also trying to raise more than US$23 million
required to import grain before the end of May.

      Makoni indicated earlier this month that only 230 000 tonnes of maize
and wheat had so far been imported out of the 400 000 tonnes required to
meet the anticipated shortfall of food up to the end of this month.

      A further 800 000 to 1.2 million tonnes of grain needs to be imported
between next month and May 2003.

      The deterioration in the supply of hard cash triggered a dramatic fall
in rates on the parallel market, where dealers said deals are taking place
at rates as high as 420 Zimbabwe dollars against the American greenback.

      "Deals on the parallel market have been taking place at between 385
(Zimbabwe) dollars to as much as 420 to the US unit while the rand has
suddenly jumped from around 30 to 40 Zimbabwe dollars in a space of one
week," one commercial bank trader said.

      Dealers said they were sitting on applications for foreign currency
stretching as far back as July last year.
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      Half of Zimbabwe needs food aid

      Staff Reporter
      5/30/02 2:46:18 AM (GMT +2)

      THE United Nations' World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and
Agriculture Organisation (FAO) yesterday said about six million Zimbabweans,
almost half the population of the country, need emergency food aid and some
of the hunger victims could die.

      WFP spokeswoman Makena Walker said the estimates followed joint
WFP-FAO missions from mid-April to the middle of May to assess the
humanitarian crisis unfolding in drought-sapped southern Africa.

      In a statement highlighting the results of the missions, the two
organisations said: "The longest dry spell experienced in Zimbabwe in 20
years has made the food situation especially dire.

      "This has been compounded by the sharp fall in maize produced by
commercial farmers, who normally produce one-third of the total cereals, but
whose farming operations were disrupted by the ongoing land reform
activities and widespread illegal invasions.

      "The overall cereal deficit is a staggering 1.5 million tonnes, even
taking into account anticipated commercial imports and pledged food aid.
Some six million people in rural and urban areas are estimated to need
emergency food aid."

      The government has persistently denied that its controversial land
reforms under which it seizes farms without compensation has caused the
looming starvation.

      Walker told the Financial Gazette: "These (the six million) are the
people who are in need and it is going to get worse as the months go past
and people finish their harvests. We are looking at feeding six million
people within the next one year."

      The Zimbabwe government, which has just declared the drought a
national disaster after months of denying that serious food shortages were
in the offing, says it plans to import 170 000 tonnes of grain before the
end of this month and between 800 000 and 1.2 million tonnes between June
2002 and May 2003 to avert starvation.

      The projected food imports are seen costing the government, reeling
from an unprecedented foreign currency crisis triggered by skewed policies
and poor exports, more than US$165 million ($9 billion), money it does not

      Meanwhile, the WFP is already running a food aid programme in Zimbabwe
targeting more than 500 000 people in six provinces, but there has been a
sluggish response from the international community to the agency's appeals
for aid.

      Yesterday's WFP-FAO statement said: "Zimbabwe is facing a serious food
crisis, even at harvest time, and unless international food assistance is
provided urgently and adequately, there will be a serious famine and loss of
life in the coming months."

      Over the next year, nearly four million tonnes of food will have to be
imported to meet minimum food requirements for southern Africa, where also
Malawi, Zambia and several other countries have been hit by the drought.

      Almost 10 million people already need emergency food assistance in the
region, the WFP and FAO said.

      "Given the gravity of the findings, the two Rome-based agencies today
(Wednesday) called on donor governments worldwide to respond quickly and
generously with food aid donations to avoid widespread hunger from
developing into a humanitarian disaster," they said.

      Western donors have told Zimbabwe's government, accused of stealing a
presidential election in March, it has to change its governance before they
can offload huge amounts of aid to help the starving.
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      MDC readies mass action

      By Sydney Masamvu Political Editor
      5/30/02 2:45:41 AM (GMT +2)

      THE opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) meets on Thursday
next week to finalise plans to launch an indefinite nationwide mass action
to force a re-run of the March presidential election controversially won by
President Robert Mugabe.

      The mass action, code-named "Operation Restore Legitimacy", is aimed
at pressuring the government to hold a fresh ballot before the end of this
year and is spearheaded on three fronts - the legal action, the mass action
and through the engagement of the international community.

      According to information obtained by the Financial Gazette this week,
the entire MDC leadership has in the past two months been engaged in intense
ground work and logistics planning to prepare for the mass action to
challenge Mugabe's poll win, which the opposition party and the
international community say is fraudulent.

      MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday declined to discuss the pending
mass action.

      "I am not in a position to discuss that issue at the moment. It is
still an internal matter which is being finalised within the party
structures and the relevant stakeholders," he said.

      "When everything is finalised, the action which we will take will
speak for itself."

      But MDC insiders said the party's decision-making national executive
will meet next Thursday to decide the exact date and timing of the mass
action after hearing progress reports from teams assigned to work on the

      Mugabe, who says he legitimately won the March vote, has vowed to
crush any mass action or "people power" challenge mounted over his disputed

      According to the insiders, the MDC has assembled 15 lawyers from
within its ranks to compile a comprehensive case on its still-to-be-heard
legal challenge of the presidential election.

      It has also been engaging the international community and regional
leaders to highlight the controversial issues surrounding the poll.

      Welshman Ncube, the MDC's secretary-general and leader of the party's
team in talks on the future of Zimbabwe with the ruling ZANU PF, and MDC's
shadow foreign minister Tendai Biti have been spearheading this exercise.

      The team has been responsible for lobbying the 54-nation Commonwealth,
the 14-member Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and the 15-nation
European Union (EU) to take action on Zimbabwe's flawed presidential ballot.

      According to documentary information, the MDC leadership has already
met some members of ruling parties in the SADC to spell out its concerns and

      Zimbabwe has been suspended from the Commonwealth and excluded from
NEPAD, a new African economic development blueprint, while the EU, New
Zealand, the US and Switzerland have slapped sanctions on its leadership
over the March vote.

      The SADC, while endorsing Mugabe's re-election, has expressed mixed
feelings on Zimbabwe's breakdown of the rule of law and political and
economic crisis.

      The insiders said Tsvangirai, vice president Gibson Sibanda, national
chairman Issac Matongo, youth head Nelson Chamisa and women's league boss
Gladys Matibenga were in the team involved in mobilising the internal mass
action by holding rallies to sell the plan to the party's faithful.

      The MDC's leaders are being assisted by its provincial leadership,
which is being revamped in readiness of the planned mass action.

      Dozens of civic organisations joined the coalition with the MDC by
educating Zimbabweans on the planned action and how to sustain it, sources

      Reports of the threatened mass action come after talks between ZANU PF
and the MDC aimed at finding a solution to Zimbabwe's grinding political and
economic crisis collapsed two weeks ago.

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Daily News

      MDC rejects fresh dialogue initiative

      5/30/02 9:10:03 AM (GMT +2)

      By Pedzisai Ruhanya Chief Reporter

      THE MDC last week snubbed fresh initiatives by Zanu PF-aligned church
leaders to rekindle the collapsed inter-party talks with a new-look Zanu PF
delegation led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Stan Mudenge.

      The revelations are contained in correspondence between Faith for the
Nation, chaired by Reverend Andrew Wutawunashe, and the two political

      Early this month, Wutawunashe's delegation, which included Noah
Pashapa, met both President Mugabe and the MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai,
seeking a home-grown solution to the political crisis.

      After the meetings, Faith for the Nation wrote to the MDC and Zanu PF
outlining what it called a National Unity and Reconciliation Initiative
(NURI) national document.

      The organisation said there were problems of post-election
polarisation between the government and Zanu PF on the one hand, and the MDC
on the other, an abnormal political playing field characterised by violence,
political reprisals and a threatening perpetuation of a culture of

      The churches said there were serious food shortages, economic problems
and a deterioration of the country's international position.

      The group proposed: "The issue of Constitutional Reform continues to
be an unnecessary source of conflict. We propose that the government and the
civic constitution documents be now handed to a bi-partisan Parliamentary
Committee which will take from the best documents and propose a new
constitution to Parliament."

      Wutawunashe's team said a Joint Parliamentary watchdog committee could
be appointed to hold the law enforcement agents accountable for enforcing
peace and freedom on the political field and to ensure that all cases of
political violence are thoroughly and fairly investigated and culprits
brought to book.

      "It is in the power of the government and the political parties to
forgive grievances with political overtones now raging in the courts.

      "We propose that a measure of goodwill in the spirit of
reconciliation, post-election grievances now in the courts be withdrawn,
specifically that the presidential election result and the legitimacy of the
government be recognised by the opposition and the present prosecution of
opposition leaders be withdrawn," Wutawunashe said.

      He said all the political parties should accept and endorse the land
redistribution programme because it was part of the unfinished agenda of the
liberation struggle.

      The group also proposed that a national charter based on all the goals
of the liberation struggle and issues of sovereignty be signed by both

      Following this communication to Zanu PF and the MDC, Wutawunashe wrote
to Tsvangirai on 21 May 2002 saying: "We request a person or persons to work
with on this initiative. The government and Zanu PF side has responded and
assigned Dr Stan Mudenge, the Minister of Foreign Affairs for engagement on
this initiative."

      He said the group aimed to hold a tripartite meeting as soon as
possible once the MDC responded.

      Welshman Ncube, the MDC secretary-general yesterday confirmed he
received letters from Wutawunashe but his party refused to accept the

      A letter, written by Ncube to Wutawunashe on 23 May said: "Zanu PF
unilaterally withdrew from the inter-party dialogue sponsored by South
Africa and Nigeria in circumstances where they demonstrated a complete lack
of good faith and that they are not ready for serious and genuine dialogue.
In these circumstances, we are not going to be taken down yet another garden
path leading nowhere."

      Ncube said Wutawunashe's initiative was premised on recommendations or
starting points which were wholly unacceptable to the MDC.

      He said it was not possible to recognise Mugabe as president because
that position was rejected by the MDC membership and there could be no
solution to the current crisis without solving the issue of the stolen poll.

      Ncube said: "Your initiative seems to be sponsored by that section of
the Church, which has been aligned to Zanu PF and its causes, including the
sections which have been prepared to put Mugabe on the same plane, if not a
higher plane, than Jesus Christ.

      "This is the same section of the Church, which seems to have no
difficulty in reconciling its Christian values with condoning murder, rape,
torture and the burning of homes, under the guise of land redistribution."

      Some of the churches in Wutawunashe's group are Family of God, Baptist
Church, Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, Apostolic Faith Mission in
Zimbabwe and Ambassadors For Christ Ministries.

      - Nigerian Foreign Minister Sule Lamido will hold talks with
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in a bid to revive the stalled talks with
the MDC, officials said yesterday.

      They gave no further details but said Lamido arrived in the Zimbabwean
capital on Tuesday. Nigeria and South Africa have been mediating in talks
between Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu PF party and the MDC.
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Daily News

      Church warns Herald

      5/30/02 9:06:59 AM (GMT +2)

      Staff Reporter

      THE Johanne Marange Apostolic Church says it will take legal action
against the government mouthpiece The Herald for "manufacturing falsehoods,"
unless the newspaper retracts stories it published on two consecutive days
last week.

      These claimed that some worshippers died when they drank "poisoned"
tea at
      Rupako Farm in Nyazura.

      In a letter to Pikirayi Deketeke, the paper's editor, dated 24 May,
written by the sect's lawyers Mushonga and Associates, the Church says if
there is no retraction within four days they will either issue a summons for
defamation against the newspaper or make an official report to the police.

      The letter says the sect, led by Noah Taguta, would consider reporting
the paper to the police for allegedly publishing falsehoods in contravention
of the draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

      It could not be established by yesterday whether The Herald had
responded to the ultimatum.

      At least 47 people, 27 of them women and seven children, were affected
and admitted to hospital on 19 May, according to the stories.

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      Daily News

      Mugabe's visit to designated Banket farm raises eyebrows

      5/30/02 9:05:55 AM (GMT +2)

      By Pedzisai Ruhanya Chief Reporter

      PRESIDENT Mugabe and the First Lady last week paid a private visit to
Clydesdale, a commercial farm in Banket, in his home district of Zvimba.

      The call has fuelled speculation as it comes at a time when his
government is evicting illegal settlers it encouraged to invade prime farm
land two years ago.

      The First Couple's visit to the farm, about 15km south-west of Banket
and owned by Mike Mackenzie, came a week after the farmer was handed an
eviction notice.

      Mugabe was also accompanied by Joseph Made, the Minister of Lands,
Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, and Peter Chanetsa, Governor of
Mashonaland West province.

      Mackenzie yesterday refused to comment when reporters visited his
property to establish the veracity of Mugabe's secret visit.

      Mackenzie said: "I don't have any comment. It was a private visit. I
am now tired of this because people are twisting the facts. The Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Corporation television was not there. There were no cameras."

      A farm worker confirmed the visit but said he was not aware of its

      "It's true that Mugabe visited this farm but I do not know why," he

      The farmer specialises in citrus and tobacco farming. Part of the farm
is occupied by settlers.

      While Mackenzie refused to speak to The Daily News, a story in the
United Kingdom-based The Daily Telegraph last Friday confirmed that Mugabe
paid a surprise visit to the farm in a relaxed mood.

      "He was very, very pleasant, relaxed, warm to us, the whole family,"
Mackenzie told the paper. "We took pictures of him with us, he signed a map
of the farm in my office and I showed him around."

      The unpublicised visit to Clydesdale Farm is Mugabe's first in the two
years since he and his supporters launched the invasions of white-owned
land, during which a number of farmers were killed.

      The invasions disrupted farm productivity and aggravated the current
food shortages, for which the drought has also been blamed.

      The London newspaper said Mackenzie's first warning of the
presidential visit came when he walked into his office and Made, sitting
behind his desk, informed him Mugabe was on his way.

      "He greeted us warmly," said Mackenzie. "I was surprised, but pleased
to see him. I took it as a sign from God. I took him around the farm . . . I
didn't tell him of our troubles because I wasn't asked."

      Two weeks ago and a week before Mugabe's visit, Mackenzie was served
with an eviction notice giving him three months to leave, the paper said.

      The paper said Mugabe wanted to know why a 60-hectare field had not
been planted with wheat, desperately needed to avert a disastrous food

      Grace Mugabe, described by Mackenzie as "charming", intervened before
he could answer. "She pointed to this small field of cotton and said, 'That'
s why'."

      The Telegraph said the occupiers, who now decide what crops can be
planted when, and the cotton which they had sown, had prevented Mackenzie
from growing his usual 70 hectares of wheat.

      The paper said Mackenzie told Mugabe that he had not cleared the land
for tobacco farming because of the eviction notice from the government.
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Thursday, 30 May, 2002, 05:41 GMT 06:41 UK
Journalists return to Zimbabwe court
Zimbabwe Presdident Robert Mugabe
The case will indicate the extent of Mugabe's control on the press
test hello test
By the BBC's Alastair Leithead
Two journalists charged under Zimbabwe's press and media law will appear in court again on Thursday accused of abusing journalistic privilege.

Britain's Guardian correspondent Andrew Meldrum and Lloyd Mudiwa of Zimbabwe's Daily News have been told to expect their trial to go ahead.

If found guilty, they face up to two years in jail.

The case centres on a story alleging that supporters of President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party murdered a woman.

Setting a precedent

The two journalists were charged under Zimbabwe Government's draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

If the trial goes ahead, it will set a precedent for the laws which critics say are aimed at stifling free speech and suppressing dissent against the government.

Andrew Meldrum and Lloyd Mudiwa
If found guilty, the two journalists face up to two years in jail
Both Andrew Meldrum and Lloyd Mudiwa were arrested after they published a story about a woman allegedly beheaded by Zanu-PF supporters.

The report provoked a shocked reaction across the country but, when the Daily News investigated the story further, it found there were inaccuracies and apologised.

The two men have been charged with abusing journalistic privilege.

Other journalists also charged under the act will be waiting to see how the trial is handled, as it is an indicator of how determined the government is to influence the press in Zimbabwe.

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      Govt threatens eviction on winter crop

      Staff Reporter
      5/30/02 1:02:12 AM (GMT +2)

      THE Zimbabwe government, desperate to ease a worsening food crisis,
will remove all newly resettled black farmers and the few remaining white
commercial growers from their properties if they do not plant this year's
winter wheat crop, according to Agriculture Minister Joseph Made.

      He sounded the warning at the end of last week, saying the government
was monitoring very carefully the operations of wheat producers.

      "If all the land that has to have a winter wheat crop does not have
the crop, we will not hesitate to take the farms and give them to those who
want to use them productively," Made said.

      "This applies to the newly resettled farmers and the white farmers who
have been left on the farms. We will take the farms."

      The warning comes after reports that Zimbabwe, facing mass starvation
because of drought and land seizures by ruling ZANU PF supporters, has only
five weeks' worth of wheat left.

      Wheat stocks have been depleted because of a sharp rise in the
consumption of bread, which many Zimbabweans are using as a substitute for
the staple mealie-meal, in short supply because of poor maize harvests.

      The government expects black farmers, who include senior
administration officials who have benefited under the A2 commercial farming
phase of its land reforms, to produce substantial amounts of wheat this

      Made said the government expected newly resettled farmers to plant 32
000 hectares of wheat this year, but could not say how many hectares the
farmers had already planted.

      On average, Zimbabwean wheat growers plant between 50 000 and 55 000
hectares of the winter wheat crop annually.

      But the violence accompanying the seizures of white-owned farms by
ZANU PF mobs which began in February 2000 has hit the commercial farming
sector, which produces 90 percent of Zimbabwe's wheat, making it difficult
for nearly two-thirds of large-scale producers to plant their crop this

      Farmers this week said between 25 000 and 28 000 hectares of wheat had
been grown so far this year by large-scale commercial farmers, while 3 000
hectares had been planted by the newly resettled farmers.

      "This will produce around 100 000 tonnes of wheat if it grows to
maturity and will last for three-and-a-half months," one industry official

      The farmers say financial institutions are unwilling to give loans to
wheat producers because there is no guarantee that the government will offer
them substantial producer prices for the crop or that they will not be
evicted under the government's land reforms.

      Some farmers have had their irrigation equipment damaged or stolen and
this has also hit their operations.
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      Govt borrows $1 billion a day

      By Joseph Ngwawi Business News Editor
      5/30/02 1:09:00 AM (GMT +2)

      ZIMBABWE'S domestic debt is growing at the rate of more than $1
billion a day and the borrowings are costing the cash-strapped Harare
authorities at least $86 billion in interest payments, according to the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).

      Latest figures from the RBZ reveal that the government's domestic debt
grew from $240.2 billion during the week ended April 5 to about $279.4
billion on May 10, an increase of $39.2 billion in just over a month.

      This translates to more than $52 million an hour borrowed by the
government from the domestic banking sector in the past month.

      "The rate of increase of the borrowings has been staggering over the
past few months and this paints a picture of a desperate government,"
consultant economist John Robertson said this week.

      The domestic debt stood at $231.1 billion on March 22.

      Cumulative interest on treasury bills, the chief source of funds for
the government on the money market, also shot up by about 70 percent from
$51.3 billion in March to $86.9 billion on May 10 at a time the Treasury has
been trying to minimise its interest bill.

      Finance Minister Simba Makoni has pursued an expansionary monetary
policy since February last year under which he has deliberately maintained
excess liquidity on the money market.

      The policy caused interest rates to collapse from more than 60 percent
in December 2000 to about 10 percent in February last year. The rates have
however recovered in the past few months to around 30 percent.

      The increase in the size of the domestic debt comes against a backdrop
of rising expenditure by the government, which is battling to raise funds to
pay for food imports.

      Makoni needs to raise more than US$188 million (about $10.3 billion at
the official exchange rate) to import over 1.2 million tonnes of grain
required to feed more than two million starving villagers between now and
May 2003.

      The official exchange rate has been pegged at 55 Zimbabwe dollars to
one American unit since 2000, while it costs US$137.40 to import a tonne of
maize from South Africa.

      According to the RBZ's figures, expenditure by the government during
the first two months of 2002 averaged $31 billion compared to about $14
billion a month spent last year.

      "This is a signal that there is greater pressure for the government to
spend this year compared to 2001 and the impact of that will eventually
reflect later this year when we calculate final figures on the budget
deficit," said an economist with a commercial bank.

      The government has forecast that Zimbabwe's budget deficit will be
14.9 percent of annual gross domestic product (GDP) this year, but analysts
say the figure could hit more than 20 percent of GDP.
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                  God has spoken

                  Tim Neill
                  5/30/02 1:06:03 AM (GMT +2)

                  THE church in Zimbabwe, in spite of its large
constituency, has failed to significantly lessen the deepening crisis in

                  With some notable exceptions the leadership's failure to
courageously stand for God and the people has meant acquiescence to the
country's slide into ruin and anarchy by ZANU PF.

                  Indeed some have vocally and in print made statements that
are quite shocking to the majority in Zimbabwe.

                  One of these dear men is amusingly called by his church
"The Prophet".

                  The fires of life prove leadership and in our case the
fires of hatred, corruption and violence seem to have melted away the love
of justice, leaving only a worthless dross.

                  In this article I want to examine a fundamental
theological reason why the church has failed to be the salt and light in our
society. This is needed because unless we take the time to look at ourselves
and then self-correct, an irrelevant church will be the dreadful legacy that
this present generation will leave to the next.

                  Basically, the church in Zimbabwe forgot or ignored the
truth that God has spoken.

                  When a person reads the Ten Commandments he or she is
reading what God says. It is the fundamental morality. There is absoluteness
about it. This is right and this is wrong. There are principles to obey, to
put into practice, and they make for a well-integrated individual and for a
harmonious, happy and functioning society.

                  They are given for our well being to make our lives align
with the moral grain the altogether good God put into His universe.

                  Sometimes Christians disagree on the meaning or
application of the scriptural deposit. For example, some Christians believe
strongly in the death penalty. Others, equally sincere, do not accept the
death penalty. But all would agree on "You shall not murder".

                  Moral actions relating to how you deal with that which
follows from immorality are often not so easy to define.

                  God has spoken, there are absolutes. And the church has a
responsibility to bring its world back to these standards. It is the divine
origin that makes them absolute and gives them weight for all people.

                  Furthermore, Christians would want to move morality on to
the Messianic revelation given to us through Jesus.

                  One reason, at the human level, is that there was a
freedom and joy in his life that was in stark contrast to the strict,
forbidding life of moralists of his time.

                  Jesus exalted the Ten Commandments. But his understanding
of good behaviour was more positive than negative. He called for things like
loving our enemies and doing to others what you would have then do to you.
He spoke of justice, mercy and forgiveness, of caring for the poor, the
prisoner, the sick and the hungry.

                  Morality moved, under Jesus, from an avoiding of sin to
seeking ways of loving and caring, of accepting one another and showing
kindness. Sin is still sin but seeking the welfare of your neighbour is of
more importance than seeking your own personal piety.

                  Hebrews 1 says: " In the past God spoke to our forefathers
through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last
days he has spoken to us by his Son".

                  It is this reality of a world that has been addressed by
the Son of God that gives the church a unique opportunity to act and to
speak for the benefit of all.

                  So what could this word from God do? Could it change our

                  Consider the "war veterans". The Golden Rule (do to others
as you would have them do to you) would bring a definite change of
behaviour. You yourself would not want to be forced to have sex with a hole
in the ground and especially not in front of your wife, so don't force
others to do it.

                  You wouldn't want your possessions stolen or rubbished.
You would not want to be verbally and physically abused. So, very simply,
don't do it yourself to others, whoever they are.

                  To police or prison officers who whip prisoners simply
because they are prisoners, God says you would not want to be treated
unjustly, so don't do it to others. If your case was forgotten or lost and
you found yourself languishing in prison you would want someone to take up
your case. So you take up the cases of the forgotten inmates in your prisons
and see that they are heard.

                  If we are honest, there is a terrifying level of
wickedness operating in our nation and we should rightly be unsettled and
disturbed in our souls. The vast majority of us go about our business each
day shaking our heads and with a dull feeling of inadequacy and
hopelessness. We see the massive gap between what is required of us by God
and what as a nation we are actually practicing individually in our homes,
in government and in the courts.

                  God seems so very far away, we feel abandoned and we
certainly seem to forget that God has spoken.

                  Jesus warned: "Because of the increase of wickedness the
love of most will grow cold". In all too many instances the church has gone
cold in its love of justice and its love of people created in the image of
God, for far too long it has been too afraid to display the sense of
righteous anger and revulsion against what is going on in our nation.

                  For many the love of neighbour has been replaced by cold
greed, self indulgence and love of money. As a nation our love of truth has
grown cold. So now we have an hour of lies and nonsense on the television
every night.

                  What then is the way forward for Christians and especially
its leaders in Zimbabwe?

                  We have to rekindle our love of God's ways. We have to
fight to regain our love of justice, truth, neighbour and for these
rekindled loves to shape our lives.

                  It is not enough to "keep your head down" and hope that
the storm will rage over us and that we can emerge when all is safe. We are
called, now, to walk courageously into the minefield that is created when we
call for right to be done. We have to make a conscious decision that
wrongdoing in Zimbabwe by anyone is unacceptable - including ourselves,
those in authority, those in business, those who are powerful .

                  All of us must stop this practice of justifying the
unjustifiable and instead put into practice what is right.

                  Only a significant return to the practice of basic
morality can turn this country around permanently.

                  God has spoken.

                  Provincial Canon Tim Neill is a former vicar-general of
the Anglican Church's diocese of Harare
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      Obsession with trivia ruins our education

      Dumisani Nkomo
      5/30/02 1:04:39 AM (GMT +2)

      EDUCATION Minister Aeneas Chigwedere seems intent on systematically
destroying the country's education system if the plethora of retrogressive
changes he is introducing is anything to go by.

      The honourable minister (if I am to be charitable with the use of the
word honourable) recently shocked Zimbabweans by announcing that all schools
would be required to wear one uniform. While to most of us this was rank
madness at its worst, the truth is that the lunacy has been creeping into
the education system for quite a while.

      When the government put in place a statutory instrument barring
teachers from engaging in politics, many people welcomed this move as long
overdue. It was thought that since teachers were professionals they should
not be seen to be holding posts in political parties.

      Those who blindly supported this law thought that this would enable
teachers to focus on their "core business", which is teaching. However the
political rights of teachers were trampled upon in the process of improving
"the quality of education.

      Teachers are entitled to enjoy as much as everybody else the fullness
of political life as long as this does not interfere with their work. The
constitution of Zimbabwe grants all citizens freedom of association and
assembly, "which is the right to belong to or to form a political party,
trade union or association to further or protect his/her interests".

      The constitution is quite clear in as far as political rights of all
Zimbabweans are concerned and to all intents and purposes teachers are
Zimbabweans unless new legislation is passed declaring them aliens - which
at the rate we are going could become a reality in this epicentre of comedy
called Zimbabwe.

      Teachers were in fact systematically defrauded of their constitutional
rights in this attempt to "improve the quality of education" (a euphemism
for something much worse than that).

      While all reasonable Zimbabweans agree that teachers should not engage
in party politics within school premises, what they do outside the school is
their business. Even President Robert Mugabe and the legendary late Joshua
Nkomo were teachers at one stage. Imagine if they had not been allowed to
enjoy their political rights even under the evil colonial days.

      The government should not treat teachers like faceless, human machines
with no social or economic aspirations manifested in involvement in
organisations which further their interests including political parties.

      If the truth were told, this measure was purely punitive and stems
from the government's notion that teachers have actively de-campaigned the
government since the February 2000 referendum (the government is not aware
that Jonathan Moyo has done that much worse than anyone else). This was the
beginning of a cycle of madness presided over by Chigwedere and authored by
his acolytes in the Ministry of Education.

      After this initial bout of policy madness, the government went on to
change names of schools "so that our culture and historic experiences of our
people could be reflected". But changing the name of, for example, Townsend
High School to Joseph Msika High School will not improve the quality of
education at that school at all.

      It is an indisputable fact that schools with so-called colonial names
are named after persons who contributed to the founding and development of
those particular institutions. Schools have traditions, identities and
backgrounds that are different, and most of the time this is reflected in
the names of those schools.

      While we acknowledge the role played by our heroes in liberating the
country, surely Msika or even our very respectable MaFuyana had nothing to
do with the development of Townsend High School and Coglan Primary School
respectively. If the government wants to honour national heroes by naming
educational institutions after them, it should build new schools and name
them after these luminaries.

      In any case issues such as the renaming of schools, which is merely
cosmetic, will not bring about any positive changes to education. In fact
these changes would be quite costly in that schools would have to change
school reports, letterheads, banners and badges all to satisfy the nostalgia
of government ministers with antiquated ideas.

      I would not be surprised if the government woke up one day and decided
that all schools must have one name in order to "reflect our national
unity", whatever that is. The government's preoccupation with minor things
is destroying our education system, once the envy of Africa.

      In another unprecedented schizophrenic and paranoid move, the
government ordered that all students in Zimbabwe would be compelled to write
the local ZIMSEC examinations only and could not opt for Cambridge. What
will the government lose if 10 000 or so people decide to Cambridge exams?

      This policy - if we may be charitable enough to call it that - smacks
of the kind of xenophobia typical of the fascist regimes that seek to
control every aspect of citizens' lives. While the move will mainly affect
private schools, it is a sure indication that the government wants to
control its people like robots.

      In seeking to validate Emily Dickinson's poem "Much Madness Makes
Divinest Sense", the government proposed that schools would be required to
wear one uniform nationwide. I will not dwell much on this act of rank

      Such a decision would be a recipe for disaster as it mutilates the
concept of identity. We know that South Africa uses the same system but,
honestly speaking, this has not added any value to our neighbours'

      If anything Chigwedere's policy is likely to result in increased
absenteeism, truancy, delinquency and other forms of cardinal mischief
because monitoring of students will be next to impossible. Will Chigwedere's
policy add value to our education or it will take away something we have
always had and prided ourselves on - discipline?

      In another policy move to "improve the quality of education" the
government will now require teachers to work the full day, as is the norm
with other civil servants. The assumption is that since teachers will spend
more time with students by virtue of being at work for eight hours there
would be a corresponding increase in the quality of education.

      Oh what a flawed reasoning! The quality of education will not be
improved by draconian measures, which militate against reason.

      On many occasions teachers take their work home as marking in crammed
staffrooms is next to impossible. Teachers - at least most of them - are
honest, hard-working, overworked and underpaid individuals who are victims
of a system which undermines their role in the whole education structure.

      Instead of enforcing these useless and retrogressive regulations, the
government should be working at improving working conditions for teachers.
If conditions of service are improved, then invariably the teachers will be
motivated to enhance their performance.

      The likes of Chigwedere epitomise a repressive state apparatus, which
seeks to curtail the liberties of its people instead of empowering them to
be the best they can be. Chigwedere is reversing the gains we have made in
education. Away with him and his cave age policies!

      Dumisani Nkomo is a Bulawayo-based political commentator currently
working as a programme officer for an advocacy think-tank.
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                  The way forward, Mr President, is . . .

                  5/30/02 2:37:23 AM (GMT +2)

                  CONFUCIUS says: "Sometimes in order to go forward one must
take a step backwards."

                  When you are on a journey and you find that you are lost,
you might be going the wrong direction. Accordingly, trace your way back to
the last junction and go the other way.

                  Apparently, we are lost. We are moving in the wrong
direction. We have reached a stone wall. Let's take a step, or even two
steps backwards, maComrades. Let us trace our steps backwards nearly three
years ago and see where we went wrong. For the unexamined life is not worth

                  It all began in that fateful year 2000 - in February, to
be exact - after the rejection of the referendum on the draft constitution.
President Robert Mugabe had one of two choices after the rejection: to
accept the rejection and re-commission the Chidyausiku Constitutional
Commission to study the reasons for the rejection with a view to coming up
with an acceptable constitution; or to ignore the rejection and go on as if
nothing had happened.

                  The President chose the latter. In fact, he didn't ignore
the rejection; he rejected the rejection in that he got visibly angry and
remained so since then, unleashing all manner of bad words on the opposition
and civil society for masterminding the rejection of the draft constitution.
For nearly three years, the opposition has been paying for it heavily.

                  What would have happened had the President chosen to
accept the "no" vote in the February 2000 referendum? Would we be in the
situation of internal chaos and international pariah we are in today? The
answer is "no".

                  Whether one is Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) or
ZANU PF - or non-partisan - we all know that had Mugabe done what he was
supposed to do after the people voted "no" to the draft constitution, namely
the re-commission the Chidyausiku Commission to come up with an acceptable
draft constitution, all this crazy madness we have seen in the last three
years would have not happened. Just stop and reflect.

                  I suspect that even the President, upon reflection, would
agree with this observation that we wouldn't be in this mess.

                  "But Mas, why continue crying over split milk?" friends in
ZANU PF ask in their pleas for "creative" and "patriotic" suggestions.

                  Fair enough. This is the "creative" and "patriotic"
suggestion: three years is not too late for us to trace our way back to the
junction where we chose the wrong direction. We must heed Confucius' advice
and take a step backward in order to go forward.

                  Mr President, you should establish a national
constitutional commission consisting of representatives from ZANU PF and MDC
members of parliament and from the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) -
an 18-member commission, nine from each. Task this commission with coming up
with a synthesis of the Chidyausiku Constitutional Commission and the NCA
draft constitutions with a view to coming up with an acceptable new
constitution for Zimbabwe.

                  This can be done within six to nine months or less. The
same or a different commission could be simultaneously tasked with reviewing
the present electoral laws.

                  Both the draft constitution and the electoral law should
be taken to the people in another referendum. It is important that the
people directly endorse the constitution that governs them.

                  Moreover the present Parliament, stemming as it does from
conditions of intimidation and fear, has dubious legitimacy to claim it
represents the true will of the people. After the referendum, general and
presidential elections could be held in accordance with the new constitution
and electoral laws. That way, there would be no need to "rerun" anything, Mr

                  Meanwhile, the dismantling of vulgar structures of
coercion, like the farm-invading war veterans and the youth militia, could
be speeded up and bring back normalcy to the countryside. These structures
give us a bad name, no matter how you look at them.

                  Otherwise, Your Excellency, you risk further alienation
from the people and the international community. My reading of this one (I
mean the good governance one) is that the "imperialists" are not playing.
They are dead serious.

                  Anyway, good governance is good for our people, whether
the "imperialists" are playing or not. More importantly, the people do
appreciate an honest mistake. Moreover, they will be relieved, even at this
late hour.

                  Let us heed Confucius' advice and take a step backward in
order to take two steps forward. That is the way forward, Mr President.

                  This advice is no less relevant for the MDC, whose origins
were in the quest for a new and democratic constitution.

                  Professor Masipula Sithole is a lecturer of political
science at the University of Zimbabwe and director of the Harare-based Mass
Public Opinion Institute.
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FinGaz - Letter

      There's no need to resettle ministers

      5/30/02 2:32:52 AM (GMT +2)

      EDITOR - The recent list of ministers and other people who have been
granted land makes interesting reading and gives rise to some thoughts.

      In 1997 one of the criteria for the government acquiring a farm was
that the farmer/owner was an absentee landlord. Now these people being
granted land are all going to be absentee landlords, unless of course they
are going to give up their lucrative positions in the government and
commercial sectors.

      Included also, I understand, are school teachers in senior positions
in private schools, highly placed executives in multi-national firms and
many other people who have no need to be resettled. One finds it hard to
fathom the logic behind all this.

      These people are obviously not in need of a piece of agricultural land
and are unlikely to have the experience to farm this land to the maximum of
its potential. They lack the experience and training and also as a farmer's
wife it has been very obvious to me over the years that the old saying still
applies: "The boot of the master is the best manure."

      No matter how good one's employees are, they are not able to make
informed decisions on a timely basis. To be a teacher, an accountant, doctor
or engineer one has to be trained. Farmers are also trained.

      We have now seen the result of over two years of resettlement and I
cringe to think that this is going to feed the nation. We are on a sandveld
farm that adjoins a communal area. The notion that commercial farmers own
all the best land is absolute nonsense.

      The land adjoining our farm is just the same on both sides of the
fence. What the commercial farmers do own is knowledge and expertise. I have
studied with interest the crops grown in this area and others and wonder if
this is all a plot to reduce the population of the country by literally
starving the nation.

      The crops were planted too late, inadequately fertilised and in many
instances not even weeded. There is absolutely no excuse for such behaviour.
The sandveld farms are quite capable of producing excellent maize crops as
has been shown by the recent maize grower of the year competitions.

      One of our few remaining employees made the remark that the settlers
are more interested in sitting in the sun than working. I have no doubt the
employees of the "fat cats" who are acquiring farms will do this as well.

      We have the capacity to grow wheat and have always done so in the
past. There is a small amount of wheat now planted on this farm - about
one-tenth of what we would have planted. Already it is obvious that this is
another disaster in the making.

      I now hear that we are not even going to be paid for our improvements
as the government needs the money to finance the new settlers. No finance
house has ever been prepared to pour money into any business when the people
who are going to run the business are totally untrained, inexperienced and
lack commitment.

      One wonders where the money is going to come from anyway as the
commerce and industry sink further into the mire, thereby eroding the tax
base for the government.

      I am a third-generation Zimbabwean and have no affiliation to any
other country and it hurts like hell to see the people of this country being
starved and abused to satisfy a government which must rank with some of the
worst in the world for its treatment of the people as a whole.

      We hear that people in the communal areas would like us to get back to
farming as they need the income that working on farms used to provide.
Weekly we have an employee off to attend a funeral - lack of adequate food
must be compounding this I am sure.

      How far down must we all go before the people will stand up and say

      Farmer's Wife,

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--> FinGaz

      Wife of murdered MDC activist fingers out alleged abductor

      5/30/02 2:59:46 AM (GMT +2)

      BULAWAYO - Patricia Nabanyama, the wife of murdered opposition MDC
member Patrick Nabanyama, yesterday stunned a packed High Court here when
she positively identified Simon Rwodzi as one of several war veterans last
seen with her husband.

      In testimony on the second day of the trial of six war veterans
implicated in the abduction and murder of Patrick Nabanyama - an MDC
election agent - Patricia fingered out Rwodzi in front of Justice Lawrence

      "I know him. He stays in the same Nketa high-density suburb with us. I
saw him with a group of people who took my husband," she said pointing at

      Asked by the defence counsel if she knew the other five war veterans
in the dock, she said she could only positively identify Rwodzi.

      During the course of the trial, lawyers representing the war veterans
told Justice Kamocha that they strongly believed that the MDC activist was
shipped out of the country either to South Africa or Canada.

      However the judge told them that they should not continuously bring up
the issue unless they can produce concrete evidence that Nabanyama was still

      The defence lawyers, to buttress their point that Nabanyama was out of
the country, quizzed Patricia why she was making frequent visits to South

      Patricia told the court that because she was now the family
breadwinner, she had been forced to rely on cross-border trading.

      A total of 15 state witnesses have been lined up to testify in the
trial, which opened in Bulawayo on Tuesday and is continuing.

      An investigating officer, Detective Sergeant Mbonisi Ncube, raised
eyebrows in the courtroom by declaring that police were still investigating
Nabanyama's disappearance.

      Nabanyama was abducted from his Nketa home in Bulawayo five days
before Zimbabwe's June 2002 parliamentary election in which the opposition
nearly ended the ruling ZANU PF's two-decades-old stranglehold on power.

      Apart from Simon Rwodzi, the other veterans facing charges of murder
are Ephraim Moyo, Aleck Moyo, Howard Ncube, Julius Sibanda and Stanley

      Stanley Ncube is the acting head of the Bulawayo branch of the War
Veterans Association, a position previously held by the late Cain Nkala,
also implicated in Nabanyama's abduction.

      In an incident similar to the Nabanyama case, Nkala was seized from
his Magwegwe West home here last November and his body was later found in a
shallow grave at Norwood Farm outside Bulawayo.

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