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

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Troika urges Mugabe to negotiate

Andrew Meldrum in Harare
Tuesday May 6, 2003
The Guardian

In a move hailed as the first step towards solving Zimbabwe's deepening
crisis, President Robert Mugabe came under concerted pressure from three
African leaders to begin negotiations with the opposition party, the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Presidents Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and
Bakili Muluzi of Malawi met Mr Mugabe for two hours yesterday to encourage
his ruling Zanu-PF party to hold talks with the MDC.

After meeting Mr Mugabe, the leaders met the MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai,
for 90 minutes. "The three presidents agreed with me that Zimbabwe is in a
dire state," said Mr Tsvangirai. "We agreed that we have to work out a
solution. The fundamental issue is that the MDC and Zanu-PF must get down
and talk."

The inter-party negotiations would aim to establish a transitional period in
which Mr Mugabe would retire and an interim government including both
parties would be installed to pave the way for new, free and fair elections
according to international standards, say African diplomats close to the

However, Mr Mugabe has not welcomed the pressure from his fellow African
leaders. The state-owned Sunday Mail newspaper questioned whether the
presidents were coming "as African brothers or as agents of the British

Speaking after the talks, Mr Obasanjo said: "It appears as if this country
is sitting on a keg of gunpowder. That might be an exaggeration, but things
are definitely bad."

Mr Mugabe stuck to his demand that before any talks the MDC had to drop its
legal challenge to his 2002 re-election, which the Commonwealth dismissed as

"The MDC said they don't recognise me alongside the British, the Americans
and the Europeans. Does the MDC now say they recognise 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in court has to be withdrawn and we start talking."

Mr Tsvangirai has stated that the MDC is not willing to abandon its case.
The court case, alleging widespread state-sponsored violence and
vote-rigging, is the opposition party's only legal recourse.

Mr Tsvangirai has put forward his own conditions to the inter-party talks.
He said that all state-sponsored violence and torture against MDC supporters
must stop and that the repressive Public Order and Security Act and the
anti-press laws must be repealed.

"It may be a halting step but this is none the less the first step in the
movement towards a democratic government," said Iden Wetherell, the editor
of the Zimbabwe Independent. "It may be a protracted and messy process, but
it has now begun. The visit of the three leaders represents a significant
chink in the hitherto solid armour of African solidarity protecting Mugabe."

John Makumbe, the chairman of the Zimbabwe in Crisis Coalition, was
cautious. "I believe Mugabe has a few more tricks left up his sleeve," he
said. "The process has begun but I fear there will be... more blood spilled
before Mugabe actually steps down."

The visiting leaders were welcomed by about 300 female MDC supporters who
gathered in the centre of the capital, Harare. Jubilantly singing and
dancing, they waved placards saying: "Please advise Mugabe to step down",
"Tell Mugabe to go now" and "Women are being tortured".

Armed police charged the crowd and dragged away about 10 women, including
some with babies. But the action did not dampen the protesters' spirits.
"They can arrest us, but they cannot stop us," said one woman after fleeing
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Africans' attempt to resolve Zimbabwe crisis fails
By Tim Butcher in Johannesburg and Peta Thornycroft in Harare
(Filed: 06/05/2003)

A concerted African effort to resolve Zimbabwe's crisis appeared to have
collapsed last night as the presidents of South Africa, Nigeria and Malawi
failed to persuade Robert Mugabe and his political opponents even to sit
down for talks.

The Zimbabwean president said he would negotiate with Morgan Tsvangirai,
leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, only if it
recognised that his re-election had been legitimate. But Mr Tsvangirai said
he would talk only if no conditions were attached.

Last year's presidential election, which was derided by western observers as
a travesty of democracy, is being challenged in the courts by the MDC. It
says Mr Mugabe's regime has no democratic legitimacy.

The failure to reach agreement last night paved the way for further
industrial action organised by unions allied to the MDC. This will doubtless
be met with a new round of repression by Mr Mugabe's regime.

The African leaders' mission was so unsuccessful that President Thabo Mbeki
of South Africa did not attend the official press conference in Harare,
instead flying to the Democratic Republic of Congo on an unscheduled

South African government sources had inflated expectations over the visit to
Harare by Mr Mbeki, President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and President
Bakili Muluzi of Malawi.

Sources close to Mr Mbeki had hinted at a "historic day for Zimbabwe" and a
"good day for Africa" as regional powers, rather than white, western
governments, would end Zimbabwe's political crisis and economic slump. But
Mr Obasanjo admitted "insuperable" obstacles.

It was the first face-to-face meeting between Mr Mbeki and Mr Tsvangirai,
raising hopes that Pretoria's lukewarm attitude to the opposition might

Some South African sources had predicted that Mr Mugabe would stand down
after 23 years of de facto dictatorship, but this proved optimistic.

Instead he came out fighting, using the visit to put pressure on his MDC

Mr Mugabe told reporters: "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 talking."
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The Times

            Mugabe blocks talks
            From Jan Raath in Harare

            AN INITIATIVE by three African leaders to bring President Mugabe
to the negotiating table with Zimbabwe's pro-democracy Opposition was
blocked yesterday at the very first step.

            After more than two hours with President Mbeki of South Africa
and President Muluzi of Malawi and Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria's
President-elect, Mr Mugabe declared that he was willing to negotiate with
Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

            However, the MDC would first have to recognise his legitimacy to
govern the country by dropping its court challenge to his controversial
victory in presidential elections last year, he said. The MDC is applying
for the election result to be overturned because of the ruling Zanu (PF)'s
campaign of violence, fraud and manipulation of the electoral process. Most
Western governments and the Commonwealth ruled that the election was not
free and fair.

            Mr Obasanjo said that the three Presidents were delighted that
Mr Mugabe was anxious to talk with the MDC. However, in a reference to Mr
Mugabe's demand that the MDC drop its legal challenge, he said: "There is a
little point which we can work out. We will work on it as quickly as

            A statement from the MDC later did not mention the blockage. It
said that the three leaders had stated that there was a "pressing need for
Zimbabweans to open dialogue" to deal with the country's crisis.

            Mr Tsvangirai told them that the MDC was "ready for
unconditional dialogue and was ready any time, anywhere to engage in such

            Mr Mugabe's obduracy appears to have undone a long, carefully
planned international diplomatic strategy. Widespread expectations that Mr
Mbeki and Mr Obasanjo would finally be blunt with him have evaporated. The
Harare meeting was a major test for the leaders of Africa's two most
powerful countries and it appears that they were easily pushed aside by Mr
Mugabe, diplomats said. The regime gave no sign yesterday it was sensitive
to the presence of the three leaders. Outside the hotel where they met Mr
Tsvangirai, police dispersed a group of 30 MDC demonstrators and arrested
ten of them.

            Mr Mbeki and Mr Obasanjo brokered talks between the MDC and Zanu
(PF) a year ago, but they fell apart after five weeks over Zanu (PF)'s
refusal to continue unless the MDC dropped the court case. MDC officials
confirmed that the party would drop the case, but only after Mr Mugabe gave
a "cast-iron guarantee" that he would resign soon.
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New York Times

Negotiations in Zimbabwe Fail to Break Political Crisis

OHANNESBURG, May 5 - At the end of an afternoon of whirlwind diplomacy in
Zimbabwe today, three of Africa's most powerful presidents failed to break a
stalemate between President Robert Mugabe and his leading opponents that has
pushed the country to the brink of economic collapse.

The visit to Zimbabwe by Presidents Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Olusegun
Obasanjo of Nigeria and Bakili Muluzi of Malawi had been the focus of
intense speculation by news organizations. The meeting had raised hopes
across southern Africa for the start of a peaceful resolution to Zimbabwe's
worst crisis since the end of white-minority rule more than two decades ago.

Zimbabwe has been ravaged by soaring inflation and unemployment, shortages
of food and fuel, and cycles of state-sponsored violence against those
thought to be government opponents. Two weeks ago, the tensions gave way to
mixed hope and confusion when Mr. Mugabe, 79, made veiled comments to news
organizations that he could be ready to retire, ending 23 years in power.

As they traveled back and forth across Harare today, the three visiting
heads of state appeared beaming, sometimes arm in arm, presenting a
formidable image of African unity.

But they were careful to avoid any public talk of a change in leadership in
Zimbabwe. Their aides emphasized that the high-profile visit was aimed only
at helping to mediate the differences between Mr. Mugabe and the leading
opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, or M.D.C. But, after
hours of meetings with Mr. Mugabe and the opposition leader, Morgan
Tsvangirai, there was little sign of concrete progress.

Mr. Mugabe has said he will only agree to meet with the opposition leaders
on condition that they drop a lawsuit challenging the legitimacy of
presidential elections last year in which Mr. Mugabe narrowly defeated Mr.

The opposition party, international human rights groups, and several foreign
governments, including the United States, have charged that the elections
were marred by fraud and intimidation.

Political analysts speculate that the current Mugabe government needs
international recognition in order to shield the president from future
prosecution for human rights violations.

"I am the president of this country and I have legitimacy," Mr. Mugabe said
at a news conference in Harare today. "The M.D.C. doesn't recognize me,
that's the issue. If they do, that means now the M.D.C.'s court challenge
has to be withdrawn and we can start talking."

Meanwhile, Mr. Tsvangirai said he would be willing to meet with Mr. Mugabe
if the government disbanded militias that have been accused of systematic
brutality against opposition supporters and restored the rule of law. But it
appeared that Mr. Tsvangirai refused today to agree to drop the lawsuit.

"The underlying issue is that the M.D.C. and Zanu-PF must meet," Mr.
Tsvangirai said, referring to the ruling Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front, Mr. Mugabe's party. "The country is in a dire state."

Mr. Obasanjo put a positive spin on the talks, calling the issue of how the
election was conducted "a little point we can work out.

"On both sides we saw one common factor," he added, "earnestness for
negotiations to be resumed."
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Straw, Kansteiner Expected in Botswana

The Herald (Harare)

May 6, 2003
Posted to the web May 6, 2003


British Foreign Secretary Mr Jack Straw and United States Assistant
Secretary of State for African Affairs, Mr Walter Kansteiner, are expected
to meet in Botswana next week where the American military has an air base.

Well-placed sources said the British Foreign Secretary was expected to
arrive in South Africa on Monday next week for a two-day visit before
touring the region.

Mr Straw was expected to spend several days in Botswana where he will join
Mr Kansteiner at an undisclosed venue for discussions suspected to centre on

South African media reports last week were saying American President George
W. Bush was sending Mr Kansteiner to the region to persuade African leaders
to back its strategy to effect a regime change in Zimbabwe.

Mr Kansteiner last year said his government was working with South Africa,
Botswana, Mozambique, the EU and other countries throughout the world, civil
society and independent journalists' groups in Zimbabwe to remove President
Mugabe and the Government from office.

However, South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique distanced themselves from Mr
Kansteiner's statement saying they were not aware of any such plans.

Fresh from their invasion and occupation of Iraq, the United States and
British officials' meeting in Botswana, where the US has a military base,
was being interpreted as a tactic to scare the Zimbabwean Government to
comply with a new American strategy to have President Mugabe replaced by a
new leader from Zanu-PF.

This comes in the wake of yesterday's visit to Zimbabwe by the presidents of
South Africa, Nigeria and Malawi to resuscitate talks between Zanu-PF and
the MDC, which were postponed following the opposition party's court
application to declare the election of President Mugabe null and void.

MDC leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday said his party and Zanu-PF must
meet as a matter of urgency to discuss the problems affecting the country.

Speaking to journalists after meeting Presidents Thabo Mbeki of South
Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and Bakili Muluzi of Malawi, Mr
Tsvangirai stressed that the two parties should meet.

"The underlying concern is that MDC and Zanu-PF must urgently convene and
discuss the issues affecting the country because the country is in a dire
strait," he told journalists at Sheraton Hotel where he met the three
leaders to find ways of resuscitating dialogue between Zanu-PF and MDC.

Mr Tsvangirai would, however, not comment further but showed he was keen on
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Fuel, Electricity Blues Affect Tobacco Season

The Herald (Harare)

May 6, 2003
Posted to the web May 6, 2003

Leonard Makombe

ERRATIC fuel, coal and electricity supply has affected the tobacco selling
season and preparations for the 2003/2004 crop.

The shortage of fuel, especially diesel, has left most of the farmers behind

There has been low activity at the country's three auction floors as the
farmers are still curing their crop. Others have also failed to ferry their
crop to the auction floors.

The deputy president of the Zimbabwe Farmers Union, Mr Wilfanos
Mashingaidze, said the farmers had already exhausted the money allocated to
them from the Tobacco Growers' Trust.

"We are already anticipating money for this season which would be allocated
to us by the Reserve Bank through TGT. Farmers are aware that the money
collected last season has all been exhausted," said Mr Mashingaidze.

He added that it is only after they have received the money that they would
be able to facilitate fuel supplies to the farmers.

The Zimbabwe Tobacco Association on its website has also pointed out that
diesel and coal shortage has affected preparations.

"Of the estimated +/- 500 commercial farmers a fair portion have started
some land preparations for 2004 in form of pre-discing or harrowing of the
their lands. However, the shortage of diesel may hamper further progress and
increases in hectares in all sectors," ZTA said.

There are fears that the shortage of inputs may dent next season's total

Players in the tobacco industry are bitter that they are not given the
priority when diesel, coal and electricity are being allocated.

They argue that they are the cash cows of the country's economy and denying
them some of the basic inputs would affect production of the crop.

TGT get 20 percent of the total foreign currency earnings of the crop from
the farmers which is then used for inputs.

Erratic supplies of inputs were characteristic throughout the 2002/2003
tobacco season.

"Coal deliveries to farms have stabilised and most growers have sufficient
stocks to complete curing their crop.

"Expensive road haulage was the only option available to farmers to avoid
leaf losses," said ZTA.

The shortage of coal has seen farmers relying on wood leading to massive

Discussions on re-afforestaion programmes are currently in progress between
tobacco associations, affiliates and local authorities.
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Re the article "Rain but no parade" posted yesterday....about the two man protest at the cricket:

Attached is a BBC photo of me and a young lad called Hari in our two man demo at Edgebaston. I froze my behind off in the rain and wind - luckily a few years of experience made me varnish my posters so they wouldn't sag and smudge.  One can always extract a bit of humour from the situation.
The Coventry branch MDC arrived after most of the press went except SKY TV. That quadrupled our numbers to 8.


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Daily News

      Mugabe talks tough

      5/6/03 7:04:53 AM (GMT +2)

      By Brian Mangwende and Pedzisai Ruhanya

      PRESIDENTS Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Bakili Muluzi of Malawi and
Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria yesterday urged President Mugabe and MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai to resume dialogue to resolve Zimbabwe's deepening
political and economic crisis.

      Tsvangirai dismissed a ZBC/TV report last night that he had accepted
Mugabe as the legitimate leader of the country.

      He said: "ZBC is totally out of context. Our position is clear that we
have not accepted him as the legitimate leader. We have never made any
undertaking apart from saying that because of the current crisis we are
willing to speak to him, but without any conditions."

      But Mugabe insists that the MDC recognise him as the legitimate Head
of State before dialogue resumes.

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

      The three visiting heads of state made their views clear to Mugabe and
Tsvangirai at separate meetings in Harare as it emerged that the troika
acknowledged that there was a governance crisis in Zimbabwe.

      A well-placed government source said yesterday: "They were told in no
uncertain terms that they should go back to the negotiating table as a
matter of urgency without any conditions.

      "The three leaders want the political impasse to be unlocked. So the
first hurdle is to bring the two to the negotiating table before any
substantive issues are discussed."

      The issue of the MDC to recognise Mugabe as the President was also
raised, as well as for the MDC to withdraw its High Court petition
challenging Mugabe's presidential election victory last year.

      The three leaders expressed concern that the Zimbabwe crisis was
impacting negatively on the southern African region.

      Reuters reports that no aides were present at the two-hour closed
meeting with Mugabe.

      The visiting leaders then went to a Harare hotel and met Tsvangirai,
who is on trial on charges of plotting to assassinate Mugabe, effectively
placing Tsvangirai at the level of a head of state. The MDC leader denies
plotting to kill Mugabe.

      South African officials said the one-day visit sought to facilitate
dialogue between Mugabe and MDC, which has accused the veteran leader of a
harsh political crackdown following his victory in the disputed presidential
poll last year.

      Tsvangirai agreed with the three African leaders that there was an
urgent need for dialogue without any conditions to stop gross human rights
abuses and resolve the crisis.

      Last year, similar talks facilitated by Obasanjo and Mbeki flopped
after the MDC leader petitioned the High Court over Mugabe's re-election,
largely condemned as flawed by the international community.

      Mbeki immediately left Harare for Kinshasa late yesterday after the
meeting with Tsvangirai, while Muluzi and Obasanjo returned to State House
to brief Mugabe on their talks with the MDC leader.

      The Daily News was barred from entering State House where a media
briefing was made by Muluzi and Obasanjo.

      Tsvangirai yesterday told the three presidents that he hoped Zanu PF
would "summon sufficient courage to put the interest of the country above
its partisan quest to retain power".

      In a statement, Paul Themba Nyathi, the MDC spokesman, said: "The
three visiting leaders sought to find out whether the MDC was committed to
dialogue as a way of resolving the Zimbabwe crisis. Tsvangirai explained the
depth of the crisis as it manifests itself in the political, economic and
social dimension.

      "He agreed with the expressed view of the three statesmen that there
was a pressing need for Zimbabweans themselves to open dialogue with a view
to addressing all their problems. The MDC reiterated that it was ready to
unconditionally dialogue and was ready anytime, anywhere to engage in such

      Tsvangirai was accompanied to the talks by Welshman Ncube, the MDC's
secretary-general, and Gift Chimanikire, Ncube's deputy.

      Meanwhile, Priscilla Musihairabwi-Mushonga, the MP for Glen Norah
(MDC), said six placard-carrying women were arrested outside the Harare
International Conference Centre while the three presidents were in closed
discussions with Tsvangirai.

      The MP lambasted the police action saying: "I am upset that human
rights are being violated right outside the venue where the presidents are
meeting to discuss human rights abuses. A truckload of policemen arrested
women who came here holding placards urging the visiting presidents to bring
sanity to the country.

      "The message was that we need a peaceful solution to the Zimbabwe
crisis and the women were urging the presidents to be honest brokers.

      "If our State can't respect that, then there is no need for them to
meet. It's such a disgrace."

      The NCA sent an open letter to the three presidents advising them that
the best way to solve the Zimbabwe crisis was through a people-driven

      In a statement, NCA chairman Lovemore Madhuku said: "While welcoming
their interest in resolving Zimbabwe's crisis, we have made it clear to the
three heads of state that the real solution to the country's problems lies
in the authoring of a people-driven democratic Zimbabwean Constitution."

      The NCA said there could never be free and fair elections in Zimbabwe
under the present Constitution.
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      Daily News

      MDC starts mobilising for Gwanda municipal polls

      5/6/03 7:35:20 AM (GMT +2)

      From Our Correspondent in Bulawayo

      The Gwanda branch of the MDC will this weekend start mobilising its
urban structures in preparation for the municipal elections which due to be
conducted in August.

      Petros Mukwena, the MDC deputy provincial secretary for information
and publicity, said in an interview that the party would hold a public
meeting at Jahunda Hall on Sunday.

      He said the meeting would mark the official launch of the party's
campaign for all the nine wards and the mayorship.

      Said Mukwena: "We will basically be mobilising our supporters for the
elections. We want to explain to them why they should have a say in who
governs them."

      He said the party would use the meeting to mobilise all urban ward and
district structures with the assistance of the party's provincial and
national executive members.

      The MDC, he said, would field candidates in all the nine wards and in
the race for the mayoral seat. He however refused to give the names of the
candidates they are planning to field.

      The MDC meeting will mark an intensification in the battle for the
support of Gwanda residents as Zanu PF has also stepped up its preparations
for the same elections.

      Zanu PF's preparations took off on a chaotic note with Lloyd Siyoka,
the provincial chairman nullifying the results of secretive primary
elections which sources said were conducted by individual councillors
without the consent of the provincial leadership last month.

      Zanu PF has divided the town into two districts. Gwanda East includes
wards 6-9 while Gwanda West districts encompasses wards 1-5.

      Commenting on the allegations that the party had conducted secret
primary elections last month, Siyoka said: "Primary elections have not been
held and we have not discussed anything like that at provincial level.

      "We are still working on that and we want to handle them with care
because they are very divisive. What you have heard is possibly the wishes
of the people in those wards which may not exactly be the party's position."

      Although Siyoka refused to give the names of their candidates, inside
sources said the provincial executive was of the opinion that all the
sitting councillors should bid for re-election as there were no credible

      Most of the Gwanda councillors, including the mayor, were elected
unopposed in 1999.
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Daily News

      Police force Mudzuri out of Town House

      5/6/03 7:37:47 AM (GMT +2)

      By Sam Munyavi

      ARMED riot police descended on Town House yesterday morning and forced
Elias Mudzuri, the executive mayor of Harare, to vacate his office and
surrender the keys to Sekesai Makwavarara, the deputy mayor.

      Mudzuri was suspended by Ignatius Chombo, the Minister of Local
Government, Public Works and National Housing on Tuesday last week for
alleged incompetence but defied the suspension order.

      He went into hiding during the Zimbabwe International Trade fair in
Bulawayo last week after he was alerted that the police were hunting for

      He resurfaced in Harare on Sunday and reported for duty yesterday.

      The police besieged him in his office demanding that he surrender the

      Mudzuri said: "They said they had been ordered to take the keys. After
resisting, I decided they might manhandle me so I gave the keys to the
deputy mayor and just walked out.

      "I am saying this is harassment. There is no legal basis for their
action. Where has this ever happened?"

      Last night the council resolved to reject Mudzuri's suspension.

      The Combined Harare Residents' Association is preparing a High Court
challenge. Their lawyer, Sheila Jarvis, said the application was not ready

      Beatrice Mtetwa, Mudzuri's lawyer, yesterday responded to Chombo's
suspension letter to Mudzuri.

      Mtetwa said Chombo's letter dealt with generalities and it was very
difficult to know what "the precise and particular" allegations were.

      She said Chombo was required by law to fully particularise the
allegations forming the basis for a suspension but had not done so.

      She said: "For this reason our client cannot be expected to give
specific responses as he obviously cannot be expected to know that which has
not been communicated to him."

      Mtetwa said Section 54 (2) of the Urban Councils Act, under which
Chombo suspended Mudzuri, required that there be reasonable grounds for the
suspension but Chombo had failed to particularise these.

      She said: "In our view, you have failed to properly comply with
provisions of the law, with the result that the purported suspension is
null, void and of no effect. In the result, our client is not bound by the
unlawfully executed purported suspension."

      Mtetwa said Chombo had totally misconceived his powers as set out in
the Act, "in addition to failing to understand the very clear differences
between council powers and the functions of the mayor".

      She said it was not the mayor's function to produce a strategic
turnaround plan for the city and he had taken appropriate action against the
official who had failed to do so as set out in the Act.

      Mtetwa said the ministry had refused to grant the council authority to
borrow money for capital projects, resulting in it failing to discharge its
duties appropriately.

      On Chombo's accusation that Mudzuri had suspended and dismissed staff,
Mtetwa said the accusation was based on an improper reading of the Act.

      She said Mudzuri was not obliged in terms of the Act to liaise with
Chombo's office in the exercise of functions given to him by the

      Mudzuri's actions had at all times been in accordance with the council
resolutions and in terms of the Act.

      "Our client and council, having been duly elected by residents of
Harare, cannot surrender their lawful functions to your office, particularly
where your actions are meant to subvert the ratepayers through their elected
representatives," Mtetwa said.

      She said if Chombo genuinely believed that there was a basis for
Mudzuri's suspension, this could only be sanctioned by the residents through
a ballot.
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Daily News

Leader Page

      Government's land tenure system flawed

      5/6/03 7:05:33 AM (GMT +2)

      THE criticism of the government's land tenure system by Daniel
Mackenzie Ncube is justified.

      In a report that he presented recently to the South African
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Ncube, the chairman of the
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture, Water Development,
Rural Resources and Resettlement, said the present centralised land tenure
system was unacceptable.

      Ncube said the problem was more serious for communally-held land and
the State land occupied by communities under customary rights.

      Basically, the people under such a system cannot use land as
collateral, for instance, if they wanted to borrow money from the bank.

      One has to go back in history to fully appreciate the anomalies
inherent in the present land tenure system.

      In 1925, a land commission set up by the colonial administration
recommended the racial segregation of land settlement. This culminated in
the Land Apportionment Act of 1930, one of the most radical and repressive
pieces of legislation to be passed in this country.

      In essence, the racial law gave the whites, who were a small fraction
of the total population, 20 million hectares of the 40 million hectares of
arable land, leaving the blacks, who outnumbered the whites by 25 to one,
with 12 million hectares of largely infertile land.

      That Act created what were called African Reserves for blacks, later
to be called Tribal Trust Lands in which the land was owned communally.

      The Act allocated land to white settlers on the basis of freehold
tenure, giving them absolute ownership. The blacks, who were uprooted from
the rich land, did not have individual ownership of the poor land they were
forced onto as the African reserves were governed by administrative
discretion, while their land rights were held in trust by a State body
justified by colonial paternalist ideology.

      In 1980, when the present government came into power, it inherited a
dual, unequal and hierarchical system of land tenure characterised by racial

      Freehold lands, ie, large-scale commercial farms, were held by the
whites and the barren tribal lands occupied by blacks.

      These tribal trust lands were renamed communal lands and their control
vested in the President of the country, thus perpetuating the colonial
set-up which has not been amended up to this day.

      Only traditional leaders - the chiefs - have the final say on the land
under this system.

      A National Land Policy Framework workshop organised by the government
in 1999 drew up a number of proposals that could be considered to remedy the
colonial anomalies in our land tenure system.

      It proposed that all land be classified under a two-fold tenurial
regime, customary and statutory.

      "All forms of tenure under received law will fall under the statutory
regime while customary forms of tenure will fall under customary regime," a
report produced at the end of the workshop said.

      The report also recommended the establishment of a National Land Board
(NLB) as a statutory trust with corporate personality in the Constitution.
It also proposed the establishment of Village Assemblies which would be
given corporate status.

      It said village lands would be held under the Village Assemblies under
customary tenures by individuals, families or any other recognised body,
while freeholds and leaseholds would be held under the NLB.

      The report said the relationship between the State and freehold owners
is governed by civil laws and is carefully weighted in favour of land
owners, while that between customary owners and the State is dominated by
the granting of discretionary powers on State functionaries.

      When the government introduced the Land Acquisition Act in 1992, it
should have looked at some of these pertinent issues instead of addressing
only the acquisition of land.
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      No choice for Mugabe, Tsvangirai but to sit down and talk

      5/6/03 7:06:53 AM (GMT +2)

      By Jack Zaba

      No one can successfully deny that dialogue remains the cheapest and
most effective way to address our pathetic situation. It is through dialogue
that lasting peace seems a reality in Burundi. Also, is it not of talks
between Joseph Kabila and the rebels that we have witnessed a promising
silence from gunfire?

      Now that Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Thabo Mbeki and Bakili Muluzi
are in the country, can we prepare a smile marking good days to come? It is
clear that these African leaders know fully well that the impasse between
President Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai is so grave that staring
at it would bring the whole of our continent into inexcusable shame.

      These two elephants are having a tug-of-war and there seems to be no
end in sight. The longer they fight, the more the country and Africa at
large perishes. So they are here to help Zimbabwe have a reconciliation -
that we may work together as a people and bring sanity to our country.

      But what is the nature of the impasse that exists between Tsvangirai
and our dear Mugabe? To some, why should there be talks if Mugabe claims he
is the legitimate leader? Why, after all, is Tsvangirai given all such
recognition, yet he was hammered in the last presidential election by our
theatrical Mugabe? If Mugabe agrees to the talks, does it mean he has
conceded to failure? If so, why can't he just throw in the towel? Numerous
questions can be drawn from the issue of dialogue.

      It is a fact that we have two leaders who are proud - politically -
because each one of them boasts of certain volumes of influence from
different angles. It's a case of two proud elephants who are in a brawl and,
as it appears, they wield more or less equal power and influence. Mugabe
knows he is the incumbent and he is proud that Tsvangirai would need
supernatural powers to unseat him as he has a say to all forms of organised
violence - the army, police and the CIO. He boasts of his control over the
public media. Professor Jonathan Moyo knows this. With all this, Mugabe has
managed to entrench his hegemony. He is confident of his background.

      On the other hand, the courageous leader of the opposition is a very
proud man. He knows that all the suffering people of this country are behind
him, even the business people. He is well aware that with the people you can
triumph over every other adversary.

      Tsvangirai enjoys the all-needed international support. So to him
there is no other wish an opposition leader can think of which excludes
support from a country's majority coupled with international support. These
two gave us liberation from colonialism.

      The two leaders (Mugabe and Tsvangirai) are both at a vantage point
and only time can tell which one falters first. This has been the basis upon
which our country has reached such a stalemate. It is a case of no one
moves, no one goes, thus it has no winner. Mugabe has used his source of
influence - the army, police and war veterans - to ensure at all costs that
Tsvangirai never tastes the smell of State House.

      You know why you are being flogged and harangued on a daily basis, don
't you? This has kept him afloat and he sees his life going on. He knows
that he cannot bring any more good into the country, but he is not ready to
adhere to what comes along with such failure - quitting. So he has remained
adamant that he won't leave.

      But Tsvangirai cannot rest and he has also used all his influence to
cause sleepless nights to Mugabe. The stayaways, the smart sanctions and the
all fearsome link to Tony Blair and George W Bush.

      Mugabe keenly followed how Saddam Hussein faced his demise, so like a
normal being he remembered how he is Blair's worst political enemy and how
easily "Tsvangson" can convince the Britons to invade State House.

      All these factors have finally forced these two colossal figures in
our land so far to roll back a little, so that they try the option of talks.

      Mugabe sees no future for himself if things take another six months in
this decayed situation. Even his wish to complete his term of office is
slowly becoming a fallacious as it can't be achieved as long as the constant
menace of Tsvangirai is with us. He knows Tsvangirai keeps on gathering more
influence as long as the economic malaise is worsening. Minus a better
economy there is no Mugabe.

      His degrees also tell him that without foreign currency injection
there is no iota of improvement that can come along to our country and the
only face that is relative to the sources of foreign currency is that of the
opposition. So he convinces himself that at least to avoid a humiliating
exit he should talk with Tsvangirai. The opposition leader is apparently the
only hope our dear leader has for a better Zimbabwe. He can deny this
publicly, but his conscience tells him so.

      On the other hand, Tsvangirai knows that he has all the necessary
arsenal to remove Mugabe, but it is a tedious and cumbersome task especially
dealing with a cunning dictator like Mugabe.

      Hence, he has seen that maybe dialogue may fast-track him into State
House as it would in the end eliminate Mugabe gracefully which would
inevitably see the crumble of Zanu PF and he would not face any formidable
challenge from anyone in the ruling party. That is how he hopes to swallow
Zanu PF this time around.

      It's still early to say what the talks will bring us, but as for now
all indications are that our two leaders now appreciate that dialogue can at
least bring a win-win situation without the shedding of innocent blood.

      Let us just wait for reason to rule.

      Jack Zaba is a university student.
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      Is POSA being applied more vigorously in Matabeleland?

      5/6/03 7:04:06 AM (GMT +2)

      From Chris Gande in Bulawayo

      IS the Public Order and Security Act being applied more vigorously in
Matabeleland than it is among high profile politicians in other regions to
cow people into submission?

      Or are police and law officers in the region more enthusiastic to
suppress dissent than their Harare counterparts?

      These are questions that have been haunting politicians in Zimbabwe's
second largest city which has emerged as the bulwark of opposition to Mugabe
's rule?

      When the MDC organised a mass stayaway that paralysed the country more
than three weeks ago, the police in Bulawayo were swift in their response.

      Within a space of two weeks, they had arrested and detained four MDC
MPs including the party's vice-president, Gibson Sibanda.

      Just recently, the ZCTU organised another successful stayaway.

      Again the police in Bulawayo were swift in their response: three ZCTU
officials were arrested a day before the job action.

      The selective application of POSA on Matabeleland-based politicians
and trade unionists has sent a wave of concern among the people who feel
that the law is being applied selectively.

      Politicians, trade unionists, journalists and even poets from
Matabeleland have been victims of the widely condemned and draconian law.

      The second highest bail that has been paid under POSA is in
Matabeleland, where Sibanda was made to pay $1 million for his freedom. MDC
president, Morgan Tsvangirai paid $1,5 million bail for the treason
allegations he is facing.

      "What is shocking about the arrests is that politicians in Harare who
would have committed the same crime are not being arrested. Even if they are
arrested they are not detained and denied bail," said Paul Siwela, an
opposition political leader.

      He said in Harare, for example, there were reports that buses were bur
nt during the stayaway yet the police were not as brutal to the MDC
leadership in the capital as they were in Bulawayo where there were no
reports of violence.

      "We expect the MDC MPs to raise such concerns in Parliament but they
appear afraid because they will be branded tribalists. It is for such
reasons that we are calling for a federal state," he said.

      Siwela was last year arrested and detained for more than two weeks
under POSA after he had addressed a public meeting that was discussing the
controversial 1979 document.

      The document, which was circulated in Matabeleland, encourages the
promotion of Shona superiority over the minority Ndebele.

      Charles Mpofu, an MDC councillor in the Bulawayo City Council, said it
would appear the police are more ruthless in Matabeleland because it is
perceived to be an MDC stronghold.

      "The reason could also be that Zanu PF is implementing the dictates of
the 1979 document," he said.

      Pastor Raymond Motsi, a Baptist Church clergyman, said there were a
number of reasons why police were being high-handed when dealing with
Matabeleland-based politicians.

      "We have so many people who are paranoid. The stayaway caused so much
consternation and the people of Matabeleland are more pro-active," he said.

      Josphat Tshuma, a lawyer said it was surprising that some leaders
facing treason charges were granted bail without being detained yet Sibanda
was being denied bail for a lesser charge.

      Tsvangirai, Renson Gasela and Welshman Ncube are facing treason
charges for allegedly plotting to assassinate President Mugabe.

      Tshuma said this during Sibanda's bail application hearing. Felix
Mafa, the national vice-chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly
(NCA) said the problems lay squarely on the constitution.

      Police in Bulawayo have repeatedly denied permission for the NCA to
hold public meetings yet in Harare the same organisation has been allowed to
hold the meetings with a similar agenda.

      George Mkwananzi of the pressure group Imbovane Yamahlabezulu said:
"It appears that there are two laws for Zimbabweans. The government appears
more offended than the people of Matabeleland"

      Gorden Moyo, a member of Bulawayo Agenda, an advocacy group, said the
government was in a vengeful mood against the people of Matabeleland.

      Bulawayo Agenda has had 11 applications to hold public meetings
spurned by the police in a space of two months.

      "The people of Matabeleland are being punished and the government is
targeting political and civic leaders in the region. The people of the
region are being silenced and the government wants to instill fear," he

      Moyo, who is also the head of the Research Institute of Zimbabwe, said
the government appeared to be afraid that the international community could
use the minority to gain control of the country.

      He gave an example of the United States and British invasion of Iraq
in which the coalition forces used the minority Kurds in their campaign for
the fall of Baghdad.
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      Nothing for Mugabe to fear in a planned exit

      5/6/03 7:16:06 AM (GMT +2)

      By Kuthula Matshazi

      Signs are that President Mugabe is finally considering retiring. I say
this based on two reasons, the first being his advanced age and, secondly
that he feels he has successfully pursued his land reform agenda.

      Another pointer to Mugabe's departure is the national dialogue which
is being facilitated by Presidents Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Olusegun
Obasanjo of Nigeria and Bakili Muluzi of Malawi.

      While the three factors I have mentioned above could be reasons enough
for Mugabe to leave the stage, there is one other strong reason, at least to
himself, which can make him stay on. It is his belief in conspiracy theories
that people are ganging up against him to eliminate him from the political

      We hope that the intervention of these presidents would yield positive
results by the dialoguing parties to find common political ground.

      This is Mugabe's best chance to retire with a secure future. He must
grab the opportunity with both hands.

      Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien was in a similar dilemma. After
taking his federal liberal government to three consecutive majority
governments he steadily lost command of his caucus to his ex-minister of
finance, Paul Martin. Chretien had been accused of sidelining his caucus in
the decision-making process.

      Instead civil servants in the Prime Minister's Office were alleged to
be running the show. Martin is widely respected and is a hot favourite to be
the next PM having taken Canada out of a budget deficit of about US$35
billion (Z$19,25 billion) in 1993 to eight years of consecutive budget

      There was a wide-scale call in 2001 from the media, politicians and
colleagues for him to step down for a new person to lead the party. Opinion
polls found out too that Canadians wanted Chretien to resign. The calls were
louder when Martin quit the cabinet, reportedly fired by Chretien.

      In August 2001 Chretien, who had been reluctant to shed his political
future, was finally forced to announce his retirement date, February 2004.
He has been in parliament for 40 years and the last 10 years of those as
Prime Minister.

      In the run-up to the retirement announcement, his popularity had
sagged and there was scepticism that he would not even see through his time
to retirement. However, now it seems most likely. His popularity has surged
for two reasons. Firstly, the declaration of his retirement date and,
secondly his social agenda.

      Chretien unveiled his last budget in February laden with high spending
on a range of social programmes; reduction of child poverty, health,
infrastructure, environment and affordable housing, among a whole host of
other programmes. This was Canada's biggest spending in decades.

      A great number of these social programmes had been unfulfilled since
the 1993 election promises that brought Chretien into power.

      So the combination of announcing his retirement date and his social
agenda has again increased his popularity. He even has had the audacity to
tackle controversial, but necessary legislation, which would normally be
left untackled for its delicacy like introducing legislation that prohibits
corporate donations to political parties.

      He has pushed the Kyoto Protocol despite stiff resistance from
business. And most recently, he has even managed to refuse to grant the
United States assistance in invading Iraq. The lame duck PM, as the media
called him then, is, after all, in full control.

      Analysts and the media both agree that Chretien is firmly in control
of the government agenda. He is an emancipated man less beholden to undue
influences and freer to pursue his agenda with minimum hindrances.

      Similarly, Mugabe could seize this opportunity to accept retirement. I
would assume that there would be a brokered deal that would offer him
impunity from the vast crimes that he committed.

      Apparently, by announcing his retirement date, it would make a
majority of the people extremely happy.

      It would also set Mugabe free to address several programmes that will
facilitate the success of the transitional period and establishment of a new
country order. He could do this in several ways.

      He could rally his hawks and counsel them into accepting a new country
order. Not only would he counsel his hawks, but also all the other Zanu PF
connected persons so that they appreciate the dawning new era with a
positive outlook and avoid sabotaging it.

      Secondly, the President could engage civic organisations and court
their support in bringing about the new order by preaching the word of
reconciliation. He could also urge them to outlive the era of political
extremism and violence, but dedicate themselves to working with whomever for
a new Zimbabwe based on agreed national interests.

      Thirdly, Mugabe could assist in pulling down the Zanu PF terror
networks, and with the help of civic organisations integrate them into the
society. This will help in minimising or eliminating the potential reprisals
this group of people could get from revenge-seeking victims. If reprisals
were allowed to happen, then intra-party conflicts would continue, thus
denying Zimbabwe a new peaceful era.

      While Mugabe has frankly no more use for governance, he has a very
great role in shaping up a new Zimbabwe by acting as a middleman in healing
the great rift that has occurred along the political continuum.

      However, this role is not ascribed to him alone.

      The president of the MDC should also be involved in assisting Mugabe
in healing the rifts by mutually preaching conciliatory messages. These two
men have a great deal of work to do in building common ground for

      Kuthula Matshazi is a social and political commentator
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      United Nations silence on atrocities baffling

      5/6/03 7:09:00 AM (GMT +2)

      The United Nations Resident/Humanitarian Co-ordinator, on behalf of
the UN Country Team in Zimbabwe placed an advertisement in The Daily News on
Friday April 25 2003 expressing condolences over the death of Stephen Nkomo,
the Matabeleland South Governor.

      While there is nothing inherently wrong with consoling a family over
their loss, why has the UN not issued any statement of condolence to the
family of Tonderai Machiridza, who died in hospital on Independence Day from
injuries he sustained when he was assaulted while in police custody?

      Why has the UN not offered its sympathies to the family of Professor
Masipula Sithole, a renowned political commentator and academic, who died
last month?

      And why has the UN not expressed its sympathies to any of the over 200
people who have been murdered in political violence over the past three
years or advertised its concern over the welfare of the thousands of
Zimbabweans who have been beaten up, tortured, raped, displaced and harassed
in politically-motivated violence in that period?

      This advertisement in the face of the UN's silence in such cases as
described above brings into question the willingness and capacity of the UN
to serve as a non-partisan actor in Zimbabwe.

      Furthermore, it jeopardises the credibility of the UN's Country Team
in Zimbabwe, and its ability to serve as an apolitical provider of
humanitarian assistance.

      Amandla Khumalo
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