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

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Zimbabwe talks: Little sign of a breakthrough
May 05, 2003, 20:15
Presidents Bakili Muluzi, Olusegun Obasanjo and Thabo Mbeki met their Zimbabwean counterpart today

Presidents Bakili Muluzi, Olusegun Obasanjo and Thabo Mbeki met their Zimbabwean counterpart today

Three African leaders met Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and the main opposition leader today in a push to resolve the country's political and economic crisis but there was little sign of a breakthrough.

Mugabe, who last month hinted he may be ready to retire after 23 years in power, met privately with President Thabo Mbeki, Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria's leader and Malawi's Bakili Muluzi at State House in Harare.

The three then met Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), but there was no mention - at least in public - of the suggestion mooted by analysts and media of seeking a way for Mugabe to step down with dignity.

"On both sides we saw one common factor: Earnestness for negotiations to be resumed," Obasanjo told reporters.

"Somebody said 'Look, it appears as if this country is sitting on a keg of gunpowder'. That might be an exaggeration, but things are definitely bad," added Obasanjo, himself re-elected last month in polls criticised by monitors.

Once one of southern Africa's most prosperous countries, Zimbabwe has seen its economy all but collapse with fuel shortages, inflation well over 200% and half the population of 14 million facing acute food shortages.

Mugabe has blamed sabotage by Western states incensed over his seizure of white-owned farms to give to landless blacks.

South African officials said the one-day visit sought to facilitate dialogue between Mugabe and the MDC, which accuses Mugabe of a harsh political crackdown amid Zimbabwe's worst crisis since independence from Britain in 1980.


Mugabe stuck to his demand that before any talks the MDC drop its legal challenge to his 2002 re-election, which was dismissed by some Western governments as rigged.

"The MDC said they don't recognize me alongside the British, the Americans and the Europeans. Does the MDC now say they recognize me? That is the issue," he told reporters.

"If they do, well, that means that the action now in court has to be withdrawn and we start talking, and I now talk to them knowing that they recognize me. And before we do that...," he trailed off, opening his hands to signal nothing would happen.

But Obasanjo said that obstacle was a "little point which we can iron out," promising to work fast so talks could resume.

Analysts say MDC recognition of Mugabe's legitimacy could allow him a face-saving retirement before the next presidential elections scheduled for 2008.

While Tsvangirai vowed to press a legal challenge to last year's presidential poll results, he said earlier on Monday Mugabe's willingness to talk could be the "light at the end of the tunnel" for Zimbabwe and hinted compromise was possible.

"If they want to talk, we are ready to talk. If they see the same national interest as we see it, I think there is hope for the country," he told the BBC.

Yet as he prepared to meet the visiting presidents at a hotel, witnesses said several people were detained trying to protest outside. The MDC said 10 of its activists were arrested.

After the talks Tsvangirai, who is on trial and could face the death penalty if convicted of plotting to kill Mugabe, said negotiations with Mugabe's ZANU-PF were urgently needed, but made no mention of dropping court action on the 2002 polls.

Mbeki, criticized by opposition and human rights groups over his dealings with Mugabe, said the meetings in Harare had made "very good progress" before he left for meetings in the Congo.  - Reuters

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National Post, Canada

African leaders will carry message from U.S. when they meet Mugabe
Washington seeks new elections in Zimbabwe

      Steven Edwards
      National Post

Monday, May 05, 2003
NEW YORK - The United States has signalled it wants "regime change" in
Zimbabwe as two of Africa's most powerful leaders prepare to visit President
Robert Mugabe to discuss the deepening political and humanitarian crisis in
his country.

Washington believes a free and fair ballot can occur in the southern African
nation only if Mr. Mugabe hands over power to a transitional government for
a new vote.

A similar plan is unfolding in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

But in Zimbabwe, where Mr. Mugabe was returned in a March, 2002, election
that many international observers say he rigged, the United States is
relying on the diplomatic muscle of African states to persuade him to step

Thabo Mbeki, the South African President, and Olusegun Obasanjo, his
Nigerian counterpart, will visit the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, today. They
will be joined by Bakili Muluzi, Malawi's President.

Although Mr. Mbeki has been among the most vocal African leaders supporting
Mr. Mugabe, his trip is seen as an indication he is ready to put more
pressure on the Zimbabwean President.

The South African leader is said to be worried about how the Zimbabwean
crisis is affecting Western countries' commitment to the New Economic
Partnership for African Development, a made-in- Africa initiative that calls
on the West to provide aid and investment for Africa in exchange for
Africa's commitment to improve the quality of government and economic

Canada and other leading industrial countries promised to support NEPAD
through an Africa Action Plan promoted by Jean Chrétien, the Prime Minister,
at the 2002 G8 meeting.

While the United States has not openly threatened to link continued support
for NEPAD to Mr. Mugabe's removal, the Bush administration's emerging policy
on development aid calls for rewarding sound policy decisions that lead to
economic growth and reduce poverty.

"What we're seeing here is Mr. Mbeki and Mr. Obasanjo saying we have to deal
with the problems in Zimbabwe for the good of the continent," a U.S.
official said yesterday. "If Africa starts to police themselves, that's
great, because no one else has to get into their business.

"We're not drawing linkages between NEPAD and Mr. Mugabe," the official
said. "But we now have the Millennium Challenge Account, which is a whole
new type of foreign aid where we say, 'Hey, you start working towards making
your country a better functioning place, and you can expect support.' "

At a press conference ahead of the visit, Mr. Mbeki pledged only to
encourage Mr. Mugabe to talk with Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for
Democratic Change.

"Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and I will be going to Zimbabwe
[today] to raise various questions," he said. "The most important of these
include negotiations with the MDC."

Despite his careful words, there is widespread anticipation he may press Mr.
Mugabe to retire.

The Zimbabwean President hinted at the possibility in an interview last week
with Zimbabwean state television in which he referred to his controversial
land-reform policies.

"We are getting to a stage where we shall say, 'Ah, fine, we have settled
this matter and people can retire,' " Mr. Mugabe said.

Asked about the statement, Mr. Mbeki said last week, "This is not the first
time that President Mugabe has said this in my presence. I am sure it is
seriously meant. That is why he decided to say what he said."

But on Tuesday, Mr. Mugabe's office said, "President Robert Mugabe has not
indicated a wish to leave office now or at any other time before the expiry
of his term" in 2008.

Until now, Mr. Mugabe has resisted all international pressure to step aside.

Much of this has come from the Commonwealth, whose Secretary-General, Don
McKinnon, was in Ottawa last week.

"It's a classic case where we have failed. I claim we deserve an A-minus for
effort over Zimbabwe, but about a D-minus for achievement," Mr. McKinnon

The Commonwealth has suspended Zimbabwe's membership until December to
protest the alleged election-rigging and the arbitrary, often violent
seizure of white-owned farms for landless blacks.

Noting the absence of success for other international efforts to reform
Zimbabwe's government, Mr. McKinnon added, "I don't regard that we ... are
out on our own in terms of not being able to achieve anything."
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      Monday, May 05, 2003

Mugabe sets conditions for talks with opposition

      Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was defiant after a round of
shuttle diplomacy by southern African leaders on Monday.

      The leaders of South Africa, Nigeria and Malawi - Thabo Mbeki,
Olusegun Obasanjo and Bakili Muluzi, respectively - were in Harare hoping to
persuade Mugabe to sit down with opposition leaders.

      But Mugabe said the Movement for Democratic Change would have to
recognize his election win from last year before he would speak with their
leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.

      A year ago, Mugabe narrowly won an election widely regarded as flawed
and marked by vote rigging and intimidation.

      The opposition has the support of Britain, the United States and the
European Union in refusing to recognize the results.

      Mbeki, Obasanjo and Muluzi met with Mugabe at his offices, then later
with Tsvangirai at their Harare hotel. Obasanjo and Muluzi met again with
Mugabe after Mbeki left on other business.

      Obasanjo told reporters after the meetings that he was optimistic. "We
are delighted President Mugabe and his government are very anxious of the
resumption of negotiations," he said.

      Tsvangirai said the meetings went well.
      The MDC issued a statement saying it is ready for talks without

      Mugabe, meanwhile, was defiant, insisting that the court challenge to
the election be dropped. "Do they recognize me? If they do, well, it means
the action in court has to be withdrawn and we start talking," he said.

      Zimbabwe is in the grip of political and economic chaos, caused in
large part by Mugabe's increasingly autocratic rule and by his land reform

      Agricultural production plunged after Mugabe evicted thousands of
white farmers from their land last summer. Fuel is in short supply, and the
country owes millions of dollars to the neighbouring countries that supply
its electricity.

      Millions of Zimbabweans are starving.

      Opposition and union calls for two national strikes since mid-March
have been widely supported, despite government crackdowns that saw thousands
of people arrested and beaten.

      © the CBC, 2003
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Zim meeting 'went well', says Tsvangirai

      May 05 2003 at 05:12PM

Harare - A delegation of African leaders met on Monday with Zimbabwe's
president and its opposition leader in an urgent round of shuttle diplomacy
aimed at ending the political crisis that has plunged the southern African
nation into chaos and driven it to the brink of economic collapse.

South African President Thabo Mbeki, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo
and Malawian President Bakili Muluzi held closed-door talks for two hours at
State House with President Robert Mugabe, whose increasingly authoritarian
rule has been blamed for causing the crisis.

The visiting presidents returned to their hotel without comment and met for
one-and-a-half hours with Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change.

"It went well," Tsvangirai said after the meeting. "The fundamental issue
is, as a matter of urgency, (the ruling) Zanu-PF and the MDC must sit down
and discuss. That's what they will take up."

Muluzi and Obasanjo then headed back to State House for a further round of
talks with Mugabe, while Mbeki left for a previously scheduled visit to

Mugabe said last month he would only meet with Tsvangirai if the opposition
recognised his re-election and dropped a court case challenging the result,
conditions the MDC has previously rejected.

Mugabe, 79, who led the nation to independence in 1980, narrowly defeated
Tsvangirai in presidential polls last year that independent observers said
were deeply flawed.

The opposition, along with Britain, the European Union and the United
States, have refused to accept the results, saying voting was rigged and
influenced by violence and intimidation mainly against opposition

The MDC has criticised African leaders for recognising Mugabe's re-election
amid state-sponsored political violence and shielding him from international

Previous efforts by South Africa and Nigeria to mediate the crisis ended in
a stalemate last year, but the situation has only grown worse.

Zimbabwe is suffering its worst economic crisis since independence.
Inflation has soared to a record 228 percent, unemployment is nearly 70
percent and the nation is suffering acute shortages of hard currency, food,
fuel, medicines and other essential imports.

"It is not a secret that Zimbabwe is facing very serious economic and
political problems and I think it is our responsibility to assist when a
neighbour in a situation like that arises," Muluzi told reporters before
leaving Malawi.

The talks were intended to encourage "internal dialogue" between different
Zimbabwean factions, he said.

Mugabe has been criticised for cracking down on the opposition, civic groups
and the independent media, behaviour which continued even as the presidents

Reporters for some foreign media organisations were refused entry into State
House to cover the meeting with Mugabe.

Meanwhile, police arrested at least 20 demonstrators outside the gates of
the hotel where the visiting leaders later met Tsvangirai.

The demonstrators carried placards and banners blaming Mugabe's party for
the crisis, claiming women were victims of torture and insisting Mugabe must

The peaceful protest was cleared before the leaders returned from State
House, and none of them saw the arrests or the demonstration.

The new mediation effort came ahead of a trip to southern Africa by Walter
Kansteiner, the US State Department's top Africa official.

Kansteiner will visit South Africa and Botswana, US officials in Harare
said. The trip will include efforts to win backing for US calls for
political reform in Zimbabwe.

The Herald newspaper, a government mouthpiece, said in an editorial on
Monday that Mugabe's foes hoped the talks would lead to the leader's
retirement and implied the government feared a possible attack from US and
British forces, an accusation both nations have repeatedly denied.

"There is trepidation .. about the timing of the visit in view of the
pronounced positions of the British and American governments over regime
change in Zimbabwe following their successful invasion and occupation of
Iraq," it said.

The opposition and the main labour federation have shut down most of the
economy with two national anti-government strikes since mid-March.

Both organisations have vowed to continue with strikes, demonstrations and
"passive resistance" against Mugabe's rule.

More than 200 people have been killed in political violence since 2000 and
thousands of others, mostly opposition supporters, have been arrested,
tortured and driven from their homes, rights groups say. - Sapa-AP
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Workers Join Opposition to Make Mugabe Sweat

African Church Information Service

May 5, 2003
Posted to the web May 5, 2003

Kholwani Nyathi

Pressure is mounting on Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe. The country's
main labour movement, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), staged a
successful three-day stay-away recently to protest fuel price hikes. The
strike brought most major towns to a halt. AANA Correspondent Kholwani
Nyathi, gives an in-depth analysis of Mugabe's trying moments in the recent

The main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), plans
to stage similar mass action to start this week and run into next month.
Their intention is to press Mugabe to quit power.

The ZCTU is a major constituency of the MDC, with most of the party's
leadership being former labour activists.

MDC argues that Mugabe's re-election in March last year, was rigged by the
Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede, who allegedly inflated the voter's roll
with ghost voters.

Mugabe is also accused of having masterminded a planned campaign of violence
against opposition party members in the run-up to the election, using his
party youths and war veterans. The election, which was rejected by Western
observer groups, including the Commonwealth, is currently being challenged
by MDC in the High Court.

Although ZCTU stay-away was initially sparked by fuel price increase,
analysts say the mass action was part of broader plans by civic groups and
the opposition to push Mugabe to negotiate his exit.

Respected political analyst, Professor Brian Raftopoulos, told a weekly
paper here that the unstated objective of the renewed pressure on the
government was meant to force Mugabe to consider early exit.

"The high price of fuel is genuine issue touching every Zimbabwean and it is
this bottled-up anger within the populace that both the MDC and ZCTU are
harnessing to push the government to address the syndrome of crises Zimbabwe
is facing," he stated.

The professor went on to explain: "Put differently, the renewed pressure we
are seeing from the opposition, labour and civic groups and also from within
the region, is meant to push Mugabe to negotiate his exit".

Mugabe is also facing pressure from neighbouring countries such as Botswana,
urging him to find a solution to Zimbabwe's political and economic problems.

Several members of parliament in Botswana were recently reported to be
lobbying their government to take a tougher stance against Mugabe.

President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa is also facing mounting pressure
internally and externally, against his "quiet diplomacy," approach towards
the Zimbabwe crisis.

The country was suspended from the commonwealth councils last year, by a
troika comprising South Africa, Nigeria and Australia, after controversial
elections in March.

Mbeki was part of a team that extended the country's suspension from the
club of former British colonies, but later distanced himself from the

The South African president however, condemned the use of violence by
Zimbabwean authorities in squashing mass action.

Not more than a week ago, private media claimed that armed police officers
and members of the defence forces, forced closed shops to re-open during the

Analysts said the response by the government to the mass action, was
symptomatic of a regime under siege.

"The government's strong-arm reaction to the mass action, provides a gauge
for civic groups and the opposition to measure their success," said Dennis
Dlamini, a Zimbabwean political analyst, adding: "The deployment of armed
police officers and soldiers to forcibly reopen closed companies and shops,
can be read as the actions of a desperate regime".

Other observers said the popular support the work boycotts received, were
indications that Mugabe was losing grip in the balance of political power.

Prominent civic activist Lovemore Madhuku, was quoted in the local press
recently, saying that the success of the strikes indicated that Zimbabweans
were ready to push out Mugabe's government.

"I think anyone can now call a strike and the whole of Zimbabwe will respond
positively, as long as it is anti-Mugabe," he said.

Brussels-based International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICTFU),
weighed in with support of the ZCTU action, saying fuel price hikes would
worsen the economic situation in Zimbabwe.

"With the country facing raging inflation and the economy in disarray after
more than 20 years of rule by Mugabe's regime, adopting policies such as
fuel price hikes, will only make the situation worse and increase the
already heavy burden on the people of Zimbabwe," the organisation said in a

Mugabe's 23-year long rule faced its biggest threat from the formation of
the MDC in 1999, with the opposition party winning 58 seats, out of 120,
denying Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union - Partriotic Front (ZANU
PF) an outright majority needed to amend the constitution.

The ruling party has refused to engage MDC in dialogue, claiming that the
opposition party is being funded by Zimbabwe's former colonial master,
Britain, to dislodge Mugabe from power.

The diplomatic rift between London and Harare deepened following the
country's controversial land reform programme, and dubious electoral

Britain has refused to recognise the legitimacy of Mugabe's election win,
and last year, with the assistance of the United States of America, imposed
targeted sanctions on Mugabe and 72 of his associates.

The embattled President responded by issuing retaliatory travel bans on
various British nationals, including Zimbabwean journalists working for a
London-based radio station, in the country.

Of late, Mugabe appears increasingly aware of the mounting pressure around
him, and has on several occasions hinted on succession plans.

There have also been reports of inter-party conspiracies to oust Mugabe,
with the assistance of defence chiefs and the opposition.

In an interview on state television recently, Mugabe hinted his retirement
plans. "We are getting to a stage where we shall say fine, we have settled
this matter (land redistribution) and people can retire," he said.

More than 3 million Zimbabweans are in exile, due to the economic and
political crisis in the country.
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Business Day

Mugabe talks end


HARARE - South African President Thabo Mbeki, Nigerian President Olusegun
Obasanjo and Malawi President Bakili Muluzi concluded their closed-door
talks with President Robert Mugabe in less than two hours at State House on
Monday, Sapa's correspondent reported.

The three visiting African leaders were on their way for a separate meeting
with Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change in Zimbabwe.

No statement has been issued so far by the various leaders on the issues
discussed on Monday.
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Zesa, Eskom Seek Ways of Resolving US$16m Debt

The Herald (Harare)

May 3, 2003
Posted to the web May 5, 2003


Negotiations between Eskom of South Africa and Zesa to find a sustainable
way of settling a US$16 million debt the latter owes Eskom for electricity
imports are ongoing, a Zesa official said yesterday.

Zesa management services officer Mr Daniel Maviva told The Herald that Eskom
had not cut power to Zimbabwe despite the passing of a deadline for payment
on Wednesday.

"We are still holding negotiations with Eskom on matters of settling the
power account," he said.

"No cuts as yet. Officials from the two power companies are in constant
touch to find sustainable ways of resolving the debt."

Zimbabwe imports 35 percent of its electricity from Eskom and Hydra
Electrica Cabora Bassa (HCB) of Mozambique while 65 percent is sourced from
its own power stations - mainly from Hwange and Kariba.

"We are still able to meet 65 percent of our electricity needs from our own
power stations," Mr Maviva said. "Generation of electricity is going on."

Zesa introduced load shedding last month to cut down on electricity
consumption in both industrial and residential areas.

The power utility is failing to raise the required foreign currency to pay
debts to regional power utilities.

Although Mr Maviva could not say how much Zesa owes regional utilities, it
is estimated that the utility's debt is more than US$143 million.

Load shedding has seriously affected industrial production with several
companies being unable to produce anything for one or three days a week.

Zesa has been trying to convince industrialists and exporting companies to
pay their electricity bills in foreign currency.

Ms Julie Whyte, a director of a clothing factory said her company had lost
over three days production due to power cuts.

"Normally we work 44 hours per week," she said. "In the past week we have
only worked 15 hours and if this continues we will go bankrupt and 250
people will have no jobs.

"Our factory's viability is being destroyed by Zesa's unannounced power

She suggested that it would be better for Zesa to switch off one industrial
area completely for one or two days a week to save on bus fares, fuel and
enable factories to plan.

Several companies were now said to have introduced shifts whereby workers
only work when there is power, whether during the day or night just to cope
with production.

Many have cut down deliveries to clients as erratic power supply is
affecting production.

Some supermarket owners in some areas complained that meat and other
perishables were going bad due to power cuts which in some cases occur
throughout the day.

"We released a Press statement as regards the power situation," said Mr
Maviva. "We did this to assist industry to plan."

He said Zesa was working flat out with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe,
commercial banks, its clients and other Government arms to find ways of
resolving the power crisis.

Zesa has a capacity to export power during off-peak periods to Eskom through
the short-term energy market of the Southern African Power Pool, a regional
grouping of power utilities.

Zesa earned more than US$600 000 from sales of electricity to SA's Eskom
between April 2001 and May 2002.

It sold 184 520 gigawatts of electricity to Eskom during off peak periods in
this period.

By July last year, Zesa had managed to reduce its debt from US$12 million in
2001 to around US$6 million.

This has since surged to US$16 million.

Zimbabwe's maximum winter peak demand is estimated to be about 2 100

Hwange has an installed capacity to produce 920 megawatts while Kariba is
capable of supplying 666 megawatts.

Apart from getting supplies from local stations, the country also imports
power from Snel of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
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5 May 2003

For Further Information Please Contact:

Nkanyiso Maqeda, MDC Director of Information: 0263 91 248 570
Grace Kwinjeh, MDC EU Representative: 0032 494 181621
James Littleton, London: 00 44 7771 501 401


"We believe that the only way to resolve the current crisis and salvage what
remains of the nation is through a process of serious and sincere dialogue
between the MDC and ZANU PF,"   said MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai on 30
April 2003

"Today we mark, yet again the end of another year of violence, hardship and
misrule. Each year that passes leaves the workers and the people of Zimbabwe
worse off than the previous one. As workers around the world today celebrate
their hard earned rights we in Zimbabwe remain in the midst of a struggle to
regain our freedoms that have been stolen by the Mugabe regime," said MDC
President Morgan Tsvangirai in a message to workers and the people of
Zimbabwe on May Day

Political Violence/Intimidation

'Soldiers' Beat Workers
Several people in Harare were seriously beaten last week by people dressed
in army uniforms as the regime set out to punish those suspected of being
involved in the recent strike called by the ZCTU.

In Mutare, scores of residents were also beaten up under the same pretext by
people dressed in army uniform.

Political Violence Report: March 2003[1]

Assault - 40
Death Threats - 2
Disappearances - 3
Displacement - 53
Political Discrimination/int - 105
Torture - 159

The figures provided in the report only reflect the reported incidents of
political violence. Given the scale of state sponsored political violence
that engulfed Zimbabwe in the aftermath of the successful MDC sponsored stay
away of 18/19 March, the actual number of victims of violence is no doubt
much higher than the figures provided in the report.

Popular MDC Mayor 'Suspended'
In what was a clearly politically motivated, and indeed illegal move, the
illegitimate Mugabe regime last week suspended the MDC's popular Mayor of
Harare, Elias Mudzuri. Harare residents have voiced their anger at the
decision by the regime's local government minister, Ignatius Chombo and
rallied round Muzuri.

Since being elected Mayor a year ago, the regime has deliberately frustrated
Mudzuri's attempts to effectively carry out his mandate. Proposals to raise
funds to improve Harare's crumbling infrastructure and public services have
been deliberately blocked whilst in January this year police arrested
Mudzuri for addressing a meeting of rate-payers, a meeting which clearly
falls within his jurisdiction as Mayor. Mudzuri was held for four days in
filthy conditions and allegedly threatened with death whilst being held in
police custody.

Settlers Attacked Again
New reports have emerged of people who settled on land after February 2000
being forcibly evicted and attacked by senior Zanu PF officials and cronies
desperate to grab the land for themselves. The latest incident concerns
Mugabe's nephew, Patrick Zhuwau, whose gang of thugs allegedly attacked
settlers on a farm last week, many of whom remain in hiding. This is yet
another example of the Zanu PF elite exploiting the land reform process for
their own financial interests at the expense of the hundreds of thousands
desperately in need of land in order to earn a basic living.



Two weeks after COSATU condemned the Mugabe regime for the 'disgusting human
rights abuses' that are being perpetrating, it has warned that unless urgent
steps are taken to resolve Zimbabwe's economic and political crisis the
crisis will start to spread to other parts of the southern African region.
COSATU leaders raised their concerns during a three hour meeting with
President Mbeki last week.

            "If the economy of Zimbabwe is affected, it's going to affect
this will affect the workers of this country, as such we need
something to be done," said Joseph Maqhekeni, COSATU President.

Amnesty International
Amnesty International called on the United Nations last Friday to intervene
in Zimbabwe to resolve that country's political crisis and curb human rights
violations. Amnesty International's southern African spokesperson Samkelo
Mokhine said the UN should take a much more active role in Zimbabwe and he
appealed to the Mugabe regime to invite the UN's special envoys on freedom
of opinion and expression to visit the country. "The UN has a vital role to
play in publicly condemning the government of Zimbabwe for the country's
spiralling human rights crisis. We are calling on the UN because the African
Union president Thabo Mbeki recently said AU has not taken a position on
Zimbabwe and SADC also has not been vocal in terms of condemning Zimbabwe,"
he said.

Mokhine was speaking in Braamfontein at the release of Amnesty
International's report on Zimbabwe entitled "Zimbabwe Rights Under Siege".
The report underlined how draconian and undemocratic pieces of legislation
such as the Public Order and Security Act and the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act  had been systematically used by the Mugabe regime
to suppress and violate the internationally-recognised rights of freedom of
expression, association and assembly.

"On behalf of its 158 million members in 150 countries and territories
worldwide, including Zimbabwe, the International Confederation of Free Trade
Unions (ICFTU) protests in the strongest possible terms against the arrest
of several trade union leaders carried out yesterday, Monday 21st April, and
today by Zimbabwean police, ahead of a three-day general strike due to start
tomorrow, 23 April 2003". Extract from a protest letter sent to Mugabe by
Guy Ryder, ICFTU General Secretary.


The Solidarity Peace Trust Publishes First Report

A report published recently by 'The Solidarity Peace Trust'[2] provides a
shocking reminder of the inhumane nature of the Mugabe regime and an insight
into its increasing barbarity. The report offers compelling evidence of the
pervasive use of torture by the authorities to punish those courageously
engaging in acts of peaceful protest.

The report, entitled 'Peaceful Protest and Police Torture in the City of
Bulawayo' was compiled in conjunction with 'Danish Physicians for Human
Rights' and contains interviews and examinations of 15 victims of human
rights abuse in Bulawayo during the period 24 Feb to 29 March 2003.

All 15 people interviewed by the health professionals who helped to compile
the report reveal that they were the victims of violent attacks by police
officers, some of whom have been named:

- Law and Order Officer N Tshuma - implicated as torturing detainees on 28
Feb, 4, 8, 18-21 March.
- Law and Order Officer Ngwenya - implicated as torturing detainees on 24,
28 Feb, 18-21 March.
- Law and Order Officer T Matshazi - implicated as torturing detainees on 28
Feb, 8, 18-21 March.
- Law and Order Officer Sibanda - implicated as torturing detainees on 28
Feb, 18-21 March.
- Law and Order  Officer R Masuna - implicated as torturing detainees on 24
Feb, 4 March.

Out of the 15 victims:

- 14 reported assaults with booted feet.
- 14 reported beatings with police batons or wooden sticks.
- 6 reported being beaten with a baseball bat; in one case this resulted in
a broken arm.
- 6 reported assaults with a sjambok.
- 5 reported beatings while wearing handcuffs.
- 15 reported deprivation of food and/or water for periods of time varying
from one day to six days.
- 14 reported living conditions in their cells that amounted to deliberate
abuse; a maximum of 32 detainees were crowded into a cell measuring 3 x 4 m;
the cell next door was empty.
In no case was medical care given to a detainee.
- 1 youth spent 6 days in a cell with a broken arm and was repeatedly denied
access to health care.

The authors of the report, in their concluding remarks, warned that "state
repression is worsening and becoming more blatant. It is our prediction that
the human rights situation in Zimbabwe will deteriorate further in the next
three months."

 - -------------------------------------------------------------------------

General News

Fuel Crisis
An increasingly desperate Mugabe regime is scratching round to find
sufficient foreign currency to prevent Zimbabwe from running dry of fuel in
the next few weeks. Incompetence and a flagrant mismanagement of the economy
means that finding sufficient foreign currency may prove an impossible task.

Reliance on foreign currency accruing from the current tobacco sales may not
be sufficient given this year's unprecedented low yield.

With Zimbabwe's credit worthiness at an all time low, and with suppliers
likely to demand cash up front, the possibility of Zimbabwe actually running
out of fuel is now a disturbingly realistic prospect. In the past the regime
has counted on the generosity of Colonel Gadaffi to alleviate the perpetual
fuel crisis, however, a characteristic failure to repay debt meant that the
Libyan supply dried up. The regime currently owes Libya in excess of US$ 170

Conflicting Figures on Resettlement
An integral part of the regime's propaganda strategy to hoodwink the
international community has been a desperate attempt to convince potentially
sympathetic elements of the success of a land reform programme that is
widely condemned as chaotic and appallingly managed. Zimbabwe's High
Commissioner to South Africa, Simon Khaya Moyo, recently told journalists in
Johannesburg that over 300,000 families have been resettled on the A1
village resettlement scheme whilst almost 54,000 farmers have been resettled
on the A2 commercial farming scheme.

These figures, which have been used by other representatives of the regime
at international forums and bi-lateral meetings, conflict with figures put
forward by the regime's minister for agriculture, Joseph Made. In an article
published last week in the Sunday Mail, a sycophantic Zanu PF mouthpiece
devoid of any objective content, Made said that 210,000 settlers have been
allocated land under the A1 scheme and 14,880 under A2.

Crisis In Hospitals
Reports in the press that a shortage of coal at Harare Central Hospital has
made it impossible for the hospital to heat up its boilers for steam to
sterilise instruments, is yet another symptom of the level of politically
induced decay that is affecting Zimbabwe's public services. Hospitals are
already struggling to cope with the exodus of healthcare professionals, the
lack of funding and the increasing number of victims of state sponsored
violence. Now the prospect of a lack of fuel to carry out the most basic
activities will exacerbate the crisis of the health sector and consequently
the suffering of ordinary Zimbabweans.


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Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to with "For Open Letter Forum" in the subject line.


Letter 1: Quentin

Brenda and Bev of Papercut suggested I contact you. I am a Zimbabwean and
understand what it is like to loose touch with friends and even family due
to the displacement that is going on at the moment. I started the site to help. We charge a nominal registration fee,
designed to keep our service going, and thereafter allow our users to
search our extensive database for friends and family. A portion of
registration fees from overseas members is donated back to schools in Zim.
Our service is hosted in the EU and run to EU security and privacy
standards and in our system when you find someone you can send them a
message but don't get to see their details, the result of this is that the
privacy of our users is protected.

I'd be grateful if you would let your members know about the site and hope
that it proves useful to you all.


Letter 2: Ruth

I believe that the letter from Mr W Breytenbach brings up a very pertinent

Another similar case is that in which Philip Chiangwa claims he is doing
nothing wrong in contracting a company with agricultural interests to grow
tonnes of soya beans on his and his friends appropriated farms.

One wonders who the purchasers are going to be.

As Victor Franki advised we are doing all we can at this moment in time to
keep ourselves going.  We neither wheel nor deal to the best of our
knowledge for the benefit of you know who.  We do deal with trusted


Letter 3: James Maberley

This Business Link course is the course that we are part-funding as ZAWT
to help farmers get some form of re-training, as we spoke of earlier this
year. The decision to part-fund was taken on the basis that it would
stretch the funding to more people, but also, there needs to be a sense of
ownership and commitment by those participating, and they will only really
'own' it if they have put some payment towards it. Peter-Ben Gilpin did the
course last year I think and speaks very highly of it.

We are also discussing another course which is shorter and more directed
towards helping farmers work out what on earth they need to do to get on. I
will let you know more about it as it progresses. This is being conducted
through the FFT whom we have worked with since we started and indeed they
will be carrying out all the necessary interviews of applicants for the

Keep up the good work.


All letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions
of the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice
for Agriculture.

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Africa to take care of it's own
05/05/2003 15:41  - (SA)

Charles Banda, Media24 African Service

Harare - Malawian President Bakili Muluzi has said that countries in
southern Africa have the responsibility of making sure that political and
economic stability is restored in Zimbabwe.

Speaking on arrival in Harare, where he has joined South African President
Thabo Mbeki and Nigerian leader Olusegun Obasanjo for talks with Zimbabwean
leader Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, President
Bakili Muluzi hinted that he and other African leaders in Zimbabwe have to
encourage internal dialogue between the ruling Zanu-PF, opposition Movement
for Democratic Change, church leaders, academics and all other stakeholders.

"The first thing that everyone must recognise and admit is that Zimbabwe at
the moment is facing serious political and economic problems which need
solutions," said Muluzi.

A task force set up by the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC),
identified a number of problems which need urgent solutions.

Muluzi said that "These problems cannot be addressed by one party
single-handedly, hence the need for dialogue."

he also said the crisis in Zimbabwe has affected many countries in Southern
Africa, not only Zimbabweans, and countries in the region need to help solve
the problems.

The leader of the opposition MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai, said that he is ready
to hold talks with President Robert Mugabe and other stakeholders on the
political and economic crisis rocking Zimbabwe.

He insisted however that the election, which was held in Zimbabwe, was
fraudulent and that another election needs to take place so that a
legitimate government can be put in place.

Tsvangirai expressed optimism that the visit by the three heads of state
from Nigeria, South Africa and Malawi, have provided a ray of hope that one
day Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis will come to an end. - Media24
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Independent (UK)

Leaders fail to persuade Mugabe to stand down
By Basildon Peta, Southern Africa Correspondent
06 May 2003

A mission by three southern African leaders aimed at resolving the political
crisis in Zimbabwe by securing the departure of President Robert Mugabe
ended in dismal failure yesterday.

South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki, the Nigerian leader, Olusegun
Obasanjo, and the Malawi President, Bakili Muluzi, jetted into Harare
yesterday for meetings with President Mugabe and the opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai. They had a plan to resume dialogue between Mr Mugabe's
ruling Zanu-PF party and Mr Tsvangirai's opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) in the hope that this would lead to a deal for the 79-year old
Mr Mugabe's retirement.

The leaders, with the backing of Britain and the United States, now accept
Mr Mugabe's retirement as the first realistic step to resolving the Zimbabwe

Mr Mugabe told the three leaders that he wants to be recognised as the
legitimate leader of Zimbabwe by Mr Tsvangirai and his MDC before engaging
in any dialogue with them. This means that the MDC must withdraw a court
application challenging Mr Mugabe's controversial re-election in March last
year. The election was dismissed by international observers as fraudulent.

But Mr Tsvangirai flatly rejected Mr Mugabe's demand and vowed not to
recognise him, MDC officials said. Mr Tsvangirai told the leaders that he
wants dialogue with Mr Mugabe to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis but insisted
that this has to be unconditional dialogue.

The Nigerian leader later conceded that there were "sticking points" in the
attempts to resume dialogue between Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai.

After meeting Mr Tsvangirai, Mr Obasanjo and Mr Muluzi went back to Mr
Mugabe to inform him of the MDC position while Mr Mbeki left for the Congo.

Mr Mugabe said: "Does the MDC now say they recognise me? That is the issue.
If they do, that means action in court has to be withdrawn, and we start

The African leaders want Mr Mugabe to be replaced by a new leader from
within Zanu-PF. The new leader would then form a transitional authority to
implement an agenda for reforms. This will include convening a
constitutional conference leading to presidential and parliamentary
elections in 2005.

The constitutional amendment required to achieve this needs the support of
the opposition since Mr Mugabe does not command a two-thirds majority in
Parliament, and a new election would have to be held in 90 days if he
retires. Mr Mugabe is vehemently opposed to an early election.

The opposition has so far insisted on an immediate re-run of last year's
presidential election. The three African leaders oppose this MDC demand
because they think it will only make Mr Mugabe cling to power, causing the
Zimbabwe crisis to deepen.

Mr Tsvangirai said: "The talks were very productive and forthright and
forward looking. There is now a degree of urgency on their [the leaders]
part to see us go to the negotiating table with Mugabe."

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