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- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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Time running out for Mugabe?

By Joseph Winter
BBC News Online

Reports of Robert Mugabe's political demise have been greatly exaggerated on numerous occasions.

As the situation in Zimbabwe has gone from bad to worse to disastrous in recent years, Harare has been rife with rumours that he will shortly be leaving office, due to ill-health or political pressure.

Robert Mugabe
Is Mugabe looking for a way out?

So far, he has outlived many of the rumour-mongers.

But maybe, this time is different.

The government now admits that serious action is needed to revive the economy.

Annual inflation is running at an estimated 228%, three-quarters of Zimbabweans do not have a job and half the population needs food aid.

The government has tried to improve living standards by controlling prices but this has only led to shortages and black markets for everything from foreign currency and fuel to sugar, cooking oil and the staple food, maize meal.

So now the authorities are looking for alternatives.

Strong hints

But "Bad economy is bad politics" as Malawi's President, Bakili Muluzi, says he told Mr Mugabe during Monday's talks.

The political stand-off must be ended in order to kick-start the economy.

Petrol queue in Harare
Six million need food aid
Shortages of petrol, bread, sugar
228% Inflation
Opposition complains of persecution
They reject last year's elections

This is presumably why Mr Mugabe recently raised the possibility of his retirement.

He pointedly said that his land reform programme was now complete. He has previously said that he wanted to remain in power until he had redistributed Zimbabwe's farms from whites to blacks.

Just a few hundred white farmers now remain on the land, from some 4,000 in 2000.

For the first time, he also raised the possibility of meeting opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai - a man he usually dismisses as a "sell-out" and "British stooge".

Government spokesmen insist that Mr Mugabe, 79, has no intention of stepping down until the next elections, due in 2007, but these denials have not silenced the speculation.

Pole position

Mr Muluzi said he, along with Presidents Obasanjo of Nigeria and Mbeki of South Africa, had not urged Mr Mugabe to resign but had just pointed out the severity of the situation.

Reading between the lines, it seems that Mr Mugabe may well be looking for a way out.

Morgan Tsvangirai (l) and Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa (r)
Talks between the MDC and government broke up last year

So what comes next?

The African leaders say they just want to get Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party to talk to Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Both sides are keen to resume talks, which were suspended last year.

But Mr Mugabe wants the opposition to first recognise his 2002 re-election.

This could be an attempt to put Zanu-PF in pole position when it comes to choosing his successor.

Peaceful retirement

Alternatively, Mr Mugabe may be trying to bring the MDC into a Zanu-PF dominated government of national unity.

The MDC has strong support from both the international community and Zimbabwe's business sector.

Presidents Bakili Muluzi (l) and Robert Mugabe (r)
Muluzi (l) denies being soft on Mugabe (r)

Their recognition of his government may be enough to restore some confidence in the economy.

But the MDC insist that Mr Mugabe step down and then a transitional government, with them as equal partners, be established to oversee new elections.

Mr Mugabe would presumably prefer to hand over power to a chosen successor from within his own party who would guarantee him a peaceful retirement.

Mr Tsvangirai has promised that the man who led Zimbabwe to independence in 1980 would enjoy immunity for any crimes he may have committed in recent years.

But this does not seem to be enough for Mr Mugabe.

Or maybe it is not enough for his Zanu-PF lieutenants who have been waiting for many years for their turn in the sun.

These are the issues which will come up if and when dialogue between Zanu-PF and the MDC does eventually start.

Until these political questions are solved, the economy will continue to worsen, making life even more difficult for the ordinary Zimbabweans both sides claim to represent.

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Zimbabwe talks 'serious'

Critics say African leaders have been soft on Mugabe
Malawi President Bakili Muluzi has denied that he and other African leaders were soft on President Robert Mugabe during Monday's talks in Harare.
"I would like to assure Zimbabweans that we didn't just go there to have a cup of tea. We were very serious," he told the BBC's Network Africa programme.
Mr Muluzi and his counterparts from South Africa and Nigeria held separate meetings with Mr Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in a bid to resolve Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis.
The talks came amid speculation that President Mugabe may be considering early retirement.
'Bad politics'
But Mr Muluzi said the leaders did not tell Mr Mugabe to step down because that would be "undiplomatic".
He said that they had discussed the worsening economy, with inflation running at 228%.
Six million need food aid
Shortages of petrol, bread, sugar
228% Inflation
Opposition complains of persecution
They reject last year's elections

Zimbabwe press hopeful over talks
"I said: 'Bad economy is bad politics'."
After several hours of talks, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo said sticking points remained between the two sides.
Mr Mugabe says he will only hold discussions with Mr Tsvangirai if he recognises Mr Mugabe's re-election last year.
Mr Tsvangirai refuses and has filed a legal challenge to the official results, alleging that the poll was marred by fraud and violence.
Mr Muluzi, Mr Obasanjo and President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa met Mr Mugabe for two hours at his State House residence on Monday.
They also held talks with Mr Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) at a Harare hotel.
Officially, the talks they held with President Mugabe were aimed at pushing for dialogue between Zimbabwe's Government and the MDC.
Land reform complete
Speculation that President Mugabe might want to bow out of politics early began after his recent public comments in which he hinted for the first time that he might be considering his retirement.
Talks between the MDC and government broke up last year
He has previously said that he would not be leaving office until he had finished his land reform programme.
There are now very few white farmers left on Zimbabwe's land and Mr Mugabe has said that it is complete.
Since then, the Zimbabwean Government has backtracked and said President Mugabe has no plans for early retirement.
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New Africa push on Zimbabwe crisis starts slowly

By Alistair Thomson

JOHANNESBURG, May 6 - A new African bid to coax Zimbabwe's President Robert
Mugabe and his main opponent into talks have made a slow start, highlighting
the political deadlock at the heart of a devastating economic crisis.
       Meetings between Zimbabwe's two leading protagonists and visiting
African leaders in Harare on Monday yielded little obvious progress, with
the opposition's refusal to recognise Mugabe's March 2002 re-election
proving a major obstacle.
       South African analysts were upbeat after both Mugabe and Morgan
Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) recognised the need
for urgent negotiations to end the crisis in Zimbabwe, where half the
population faces hunger, inflation has topped 200 percent and opposition
strikes have hit industry.
       But there was little sign of movement on what they said was the key
issue: talks that may lead to a compromise deal allowing Mugabe to step down
and make way for an interim administration.
       ''The reason they are not talking now is that neither of the two
recognises the legitimacy of the other,'' said Dr Siphamandla Zondi,
regional analyst at the Africa Institute of South Africa.
       The MDC is challenging in court Mugabe's re-election -- dismissed as
rigged by some Western governments. Tsvangirai is on trial on charges of
plotting to kill Mugabe and could be sentenced to death if found guilty.
       Mugabe reiterated he would not talk to the MDC until it dropped its
case, while Tsvangirai said he would not accept conditions to the talks.
       ''I don't expect these negotiations to start in the short term...The
parties do not seem to have the political will to negotiate,'' Zondi said on
       But he said the visit by the South African, Nigerian and Malawian
leaders had given new impetus to mediation efforts, and held out hope they
might act as guarantors of a dialogue.

       The MDC has backed two successful recent general strikes and got
another boost from a report in London's Daily Telegraph of letters which
could prove Zimbabwe's army occupied polling headquarters for the 2002
election in breach of the constitution.
       Yet Tsvangirai is under growing pressure to drop the case.
       ''I told Mr Tsvangirai President Mugabe was elected by Zimbabweans
and it will be impossible for him to step down just like that,'' Malawi's
Bakili Muluzi said on his return home.
       And Nigerian leader Olusegun Obasanjo, fresh from his own disputed
re-election which foreign monitors said was tainted with fraud, may not
encourage a legal challenge.
       ''Mugabe and Tsvangirai didn't sound like they were shifting on their
stance on the elections and people like Obasanjo cannot question Mugabe's
legitimacy without coming across as being hypocrites,'' said Brian Kagoro of
rights group Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.
       Even if Mugabe were to agree to an exit before his term expires in
2008, cleaning up after his 23-year rule would be a long, difficult task,
analysts said.

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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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ZIMBABWE: Talks stalled over recognition for Mugabe

JOHANNESBURG, 6 May (IRIN) - Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says it will launch a mass action campaign to demonstrate people's "displeasure" with the government of President Robert Mugabe.

MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi told IRIN on Tuesday the protest action would begin within the next two weeks, and "might last longer" than a two-day stayaway held in March and involve demonstrations.  

Following an inconclusive visit on Monday by three senior African presidents trying to open a dialogue between Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, Nyathi said "our premise was talks can only yield something if further pressure is brought to bear on Mugabe."

Mugabe demanded recognition as Zimbabwe's legitimately elected leader by the opposition before engaging in talks on resolving the country's crisis. He said the MDC would have to drop its court challenge to the results of last year's controversial presidential election in which Mugabe was declared the winner.

"I am the president of the country, I have legitimacy which the MDC doesn't recognise," Mugabe said. "Does the MDC now say they recognise me? That is the issue. If they do, that means the MDC court action has to be withdrawn and we can start talks."

Nyathi said the MDC had rejected Mugabe's conditions for talks.

"The three presidents who came here, if they had any doubts on Mugabe's destructive rule, now have no doubts," Nyathi commented. "All he does is be a spoiler, but at the moment his back is against the wall. He's not as an important a factor as he claims to be."

Presidents of Bakili Muluzi of Malawi, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and South Africa's Thabo Mbeki held separate talks in Harare with Mugabe and Tsvangirai, to encourage them to restart a dialogue process which collapsed last May because of the MDC's court challenge.

Obasanjo told journalists that the three visiting leaders were "delighted" Mugabe and his government were "very anxious" for negotiations. "There is a little point [the MDC's court challenge] which we can work out. We will work on it as quickly as possible."

Muluzi said after Monday's deadlock that he was asked by Mbeki and Obasanjo to hold further talks with Tsvangirai "very soon".


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Movement for Democratic Change

Economic Review for April 2003

The major economic developments in April were the commencement of load
shedding by ZESA following the Authorities failure to meet commercial
obligations to suppliers, the further acceleration of the rate of inflation
and a massive increase in the price of liquid fuels. The latter was expected
following the devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar from 55 to the American
dollar to 824 to the US dollar but even so the price adjustments to petrol
prices were unduly harsh and have evoked a public outcry culminating in a
three day strike by labour unions.

Despite the price increase in liquid fuels no improvement on the supply of
fuel to consumers was experienced and reports suggest that none can be
expected. This development coupled to continued shortages of coal from
Hwange and the commencement of load shedding by ZESA has plunged the
productive sector into a new phase of its ongoing collapse. There is
simply no way that industry and other sectors that still function, can absorb
these cuts in supplies of essential energy and survive.

These developments will further curtail production to meet both domestic and
export demand and will therefore exacerbate both local consumer shortages
and the decline in export revenues. The continued fall in exports - down by
two thirds from their peak in 1997, will in turn handicap the whole
country's ability to deal with the current crisis.

While the nation has been preoccupied with the energy crisis in all its
different forms, another crisis, just as serious, is looming in the food
industry. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, the Minister of
Agriculture continues to insist that domestic maize production will reach
1,4 million tonnes - more than double the output in 2002. In addition he is
making unrealistic claims in terms of tobacco production and expected wheat
plantings this year. Experts in the field say that maize production is
unlikely to reach 800 000 tonnes and point to the high prices prevailing
in the market for new season maize as evidence. Farmers are selling their
maize for $250 000 a tonne compared to the GMB price of $130 000 a tonne.
Informal markets in the towns are selling maize at prices ranging up to $400 000 a

The tobacco crop is not expected to exceed 85 000 tonnes and claims by
elements in the industry close to the State that they have grown over 120
000 tonnes are simply wishful thinking. There are now two weeks left to
prepare for the planting of winter wheat and barley - there are few signs of
this taking place and it seems likely that the crop this year will be even
smaller than that grown last year. It is expected that while barley output
may be maintained, the wheat crop will decline to 80 000 tonnes compared to
the 136 000 tonnes delivered to the GMB in 2002.

With combined demand for wheat and maize running at 2,2 million tonnes a
year and zero opening stocks for the season, we are faced with a food crisis
that is, if anything, more serious that that which faced Zimbabwe in 2002.
This is made much worse this year by the failure of the government to face
reality and request an extension of food aid supplies in the current
marketing year. So even as we consume what little has been grown, the aid
organisations are running down their programs and preparing to withdraw from
the country. It is time for the regime to be honest with itself and the
country and admit the failure to grow enough food to feed the nation for the
third year in a row. This is a painful admission in a year when all other
southern African states are reporting adequate supplies. Nothing emphasizes
the failure of the land seizure program of Zanu PF more vividly than this.

The net effect of these developments is to make all Zimbabweans even poorer
than they have been to date. Many households are now unable to afford even
the most basic of needs and services. Workers are walking to work, selling
assets to raise money for essentials and cutting back on basics just to
live. Many, desperate to find the means to support their families are
turning to small-scale gold mining or illegal migration to South Africa and
Botswana. The thousands of people involved in these activities are testimony
to the desperation of people in Zimbabwe today.

The efforts being made by this regime to halt and reverse this slide into
poverty and desperation are doomed to failure because they do not address
the basic causes of this present collapse in the economy. The solutions are
political - not economic in the first instance and any move by Zanu PF to
address its failures in this respect spell disaster for the Party. It is
time for Zanu PF to admit its failures and to stand aside and allow a new
team to take over and steer the country back to stability and

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Once Lush Buhera Forests No More

The Herald (Harare)

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

Tanzikwa Guranungo

ABOUT 10 years ago, thick forests characterised Chikwekwete village in the
Buhera District of Manicaland.

One could hardly see the next homestead that was less than a kilometre away
because of the lush vegetation.

Pasture for livestock was easily available not far from the houses, although
the cattlemen preferred driving to a river about two kilometres away where
they could also have a drink of water.

It was risky then to leave livestock unattended for long, because it would
be difficult to locate them when they strayed into the thick bushes.

Young children were also not allowed to walk alone in the bush, as wild
animals would prey on them. Criminals also hunted people in these bushes for
ritual purposes or just petty crime like mugging.

During those years mountains were a sacred place where no one passed any
remark no matter what they saw. Rural folk would go there to get firewood
and also pick wild fruit quietly and only speak using sign language.

Passing remarks it was believed, would anger ancestral spirits that would
punish offenders by either disappearing or getting lost in the hills for

These mountains were rich in all sorts of wild fruits such as hute,
makwakwa, maroro, nhengeni, mauyu, tsambatsi and matufu.

Rural farmers grew sorghum (mhunga) which was also favoured by birds.

Wildlife and humans lived side by side in harmony.

Those were the days when meat was also always available as cattle bred in
abundance because of the rich pastures and chicken laid so many eggs because
of the abundance in seed products.

The younger generation also spent their afternoons trapping quelea birds,
which travelled in swarms using a sticky adhesive known as urimbo which was
smeared on tree branches.

These birds were a delicacy.

However, Buhera District in general is a sorry sight. It is so dry and that
lush green vegetation is no more. The quelea birds don't grace the skies

Although Buhera District falls in region five that has low rainfall in
Zimbabwe, land conservation activities in the 1970s had made it possible for
rural folk to produce food all year round without anyone going hungry.

It was a punishable crime to cut down trees and there were areas designated
for pastures and cropping.

The rivers were flowing with fresh waters and vegetable gardens graced the
landscape during wintertime.

The Zunde Ramambo system of storing grain by chiefs was also in place. This
grain was collected by all villagers to a central granary at the chiefs'
homestead that would feed orphans, widows and also to feed the village when
there was a low yield.

As Buhera people round up their harvesting this season, some have already
started cutting down trees as usual for brick moulding and firewood. The
practice still continues unabated.

The thick forests, which used to cover Chief Makumbe's area only a few years
ago, have since disappeared.

Livestock has to be driven as far as Gumbunga that is five kilometres away
for pasture and water.

However, other villagers said they had turned into brick moulding to save
the forests that have dwindled in the area.

But they still have to cut tree trunks into pieces that are placed in a
'brick oven' to harden them.

A thousand bricks costs $5 000.

It is estimated that a full brick oven constitutes at least 20 000 bricks.

Villagers have become desperate for wood fuel as paraffin that is an
alternative is no longer readily available. Paraffin stoves have collected
rust as paraffin has joined many other basic commodities that have become

Village head Mutizwa Munyimi said he was not happy with the way his people
were cutting down trees especially the Mukamba tree, which he said, was used
for different purposes.

The Mukamba tree can be used to manufacture various types of household and
office furniture, which included desks, tables, cabinets and wardrobes.

He added that people who had migrated from cities to rural areas in the last
two years had worsened the situation.

"Many people have returned home following retrenchments and these are
cutting down trees to put up houses and cattle pens. They also need wood
fuel and the scenario is just very distressing," Mr Munyimi said.

Apparently, many newly resettled farmers had the tendency of hacking down
trees completely oblivious of the need to keep small woodlots on their
premises, as conservation strategy.

Some villagers cut these trees for firewood, which they sell at Murambinda
growth point, where there is a ready market.

It is also sad to note that residents of Murambinda growth point have
invaded neighbouring farms for firewood because of the acute paraffin

Some of the residents could be seen emerging from the farm forests carrying
bundles of firewood and others armed with axes as they went about hunting
for the commodity.

Poverty was cited as one of the major reasons that had driven many
unemployed folk into this desperate measure.

But this is actually complicating matters that will be difficult to rectify
in future.

"Some of the young people are still very young and supposed to be in school
but you see them during school days pushing wheelbarrows of firewood for

"Others have already dropped out of school to engage in this activity after
both parents died," said village head Munyimi.

Buhera District, like many other areas in Zimbabwe is also hardest hit by
the HIV/Aids pandemic that is claiming at least 3 000 lives a week.

One villager admitted he cut down trees for sale as firewood as a source of

"I am aware that what I am doing is against the law but what other
alternative do I have to ensure my family and orphans from my two brothers
who died from Aids do not starve. It is a matter of life and death," he

A few years ago the University of Zimbabwe came up with a stove that would
use as little wood fuel as possible but it seems this idea was not marketed

The stove popularly known as Tsotso stove could also use cattle dung for

"It is important, therefore, that alternative sources of energy be
encouraged before more trees are lost," Mr Munyimi said.

He said unless villagers were given alternative options, trees would
continue to be chopped for various domestic purposes including erection of
open grain silos, thatching and fencing poles.

Unless the villagers are taught about the importance of conserving the
country's flora and fauna for sustainable development, there would be no
hope of salvaging the little that is left.

The availability of such information should facilitate formulation of
appropriate strategies and measures to combat deforestation, which has
resulted in many districts losing more than 80 percent of their woodland

"We have no option but to use firewood. Now the problem is where to find it.

"We can't sit back and relax when firewood is available in the farm," said
Ms Tarisai Mariseni of Murambinda growth point.

Although villagers are encouraged to grow quick maturing trees such as the
bamboo, it would seem there is no systematic approach to ensuring this goal
is achieved.

The Tree Planting Day which, is commemorated on December 1 is a platform to
remind the nation of the need to conserve nature but it would seem there is
no concerted effort by stakeholders to ensure replanting of forests.

The Natural Resources Board played a very big role in providing seedlings
for woodlots for a very long time since independence but it seems there is
not much being done in that area anymore.

They held competitions every year where villages that had showed efforts to
conserve their natural resources were rewarded in both cash and kind.

However, environmental conservation is gaining prominence in Zimbabwe and
legal reforms aimed at strengthening the monitoring systems are also

Environment Africa a non-governmental organisation has launched a campaign
against deforestation by encouraging planting of more trees in both rural
and urban settings.

The organisation has so far planted both indigenous and exotic trees in
Guruve, Victoria Falls and at some schools in Harare.

Environment Africa information officer Mr Andrew Hartnack said their main
aim was to cover all rural areas.

"We are planting and distributing Jatropha seeds, an exotic tree which is
used in oil and candle manufacturing.

"We are also distributing seeds for fruit trees and shade trees," Mr
Hartnack said.

Environment Africa also gives lecturers at various schools on how best
Zimbabwe can save the environment.

In an effort to raise environmental awareness among all citizens, the
Ministry of Environment and Tourism in conjunction with the Institute of
Environmental Studies at the University of Zimbabwe are also working on a
national environmental policy document.

The Minister of Environment and Tourism, Cde Francis Nhema recently urged
all sectors of the economy to invest in public environment awareness

Cde Nhema urged everyone to take concerted measures to ensure that people
who engage in illegal activities that affect the environment such as gold
panning and poaching were dealt with according to the law.

The Environmental Management Act, which was passed by Parliament last year,
also has a provision for environmentally friendly projects.

Members of Parliament have been tasked to reinforce these messages to their
various constituencies as they played a major role in ensuring that the
multilateral environmental agreements that the Government has ratified are

However, the fact remains that for as long as there is no immediate solution
to the indiscriminate cutting of trees, Zimbabwe is set for a natural

Gulleys and siltation in Buhera's major rivers like the Save are a clear
example of massive land degradation and deforestation.

Something has to be done as a matter of urgency to rectify this land

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Dispatch online

Mugabe dangles political carrots

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangira announcing in Harare last Wednesday that his
party wanted regional leaders to broker a deal to get President Robert
Mugabe to the negotiating table. RIGHT: Mugabe addresses a state funeral on
the previous Friday, at the time of a three-day strike against fuel price
hikes, once again blaming Western powers for "fuelling" dissent against him.
IF Zimbabwe were to institute honours similar to the new ones in South
Africa, our highest should be "The Order of the Dangling Carrot". Presidents
Thabo Mbeki and Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria ought to be told they are the
first foreign heads of state in line to receive it.
After Robert Mugabe's 45 years in politics, starting as secretary for youth
(and organiser of mob violence) for Joshua Nkomo, and ending up as state
president heading his own party, his methods have become only too well known
to Zimbabweans. The US State Department's Richard Kansteiner, making
excursions to Africa from his base in Washington 12 000km away, has also
seen through them.
But it seems the Nigerians, the ANC, and some South African commentators
from expensive addresses in Cape Town and Johannesburg, have yet to catch
on. They still cling to illusions (which Mugabe takes great pains to foster)
that round after round of talks and "fact-finding visits" may produce a
compromise and relieve them of responsibility for giving him past tacit
Yet another South African delegation came (ahead of this week's
Mbeki/Obasanjo pilgrimage) to study "land reform" -- as if the thousands of
derelict hectares, the empty supermarket shelves and the continuing exodus
of Zimbabwean economic refugees did not speak for themselves.
Over a year ago, in February 2002, Mbeki said he was "tired of the so-called
crisis in Zimbabwe". He mouthed meaningless plattitudes about the
"tremendous progress" made by Mugabe "in addressing issues raised" (by Mbeki
and Obasanjo). Mbeki repeated his confidence -- which must now, surely, be
seen to be misplaced -- that remaining problems "can be resolved within
Africa's conflict resolution mechanisms".
If the West was not satisfied with that, then its concern was "not for
democracy but control", Mbeki declared.
South African commentators believe the success of the April 23-25 national
strike, called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, has weakened
Mugabe's resolve and made the country ripe for reform. Last week's summary
(and illegal) removal of Harare's elected opposition mayor, on trumped up
charges of abuse of office, does not suggest a regime eager to negotiate, or
even open to reason.
It would be incorrect to describe Mugabe's tactics as classic "carrot and
In talks that never get anywhere, the promise of that tantalising carrot is
kept hanging with the consummate art of the born showman and salesman.
Ultimately, however, all his opponents' efforts to placate him merely place
them at the mercy of the stick, which is then ruthlessly applied.
Those who do not know Mugabe are agog with the latest hint, put out in an
interview broadcast here on April 21, that he might at last be prepared to
consider going into retirement peacefully, thus breaking the political
logjam of the last five disastrous years.
Describing the seizure of 5 000 white-owned farms as his "greatest
achievement", he said: "We are getting to a stage where we shall say 'Ah, we
have settled the matter and people can retire'." (In moments of euphoria
Mugabe always describes himself as if he were a mass gathering of all 13
million Zimbabweans: it reflects the way he thinks -- he is the only
Zimbabwean entitled to have an opinion, and speaks for all).
His latest trick is to make Mbeki and Obasanjo believe that all they have to
do is pressure Morgan Tsvangirai's opposition Movement for Democratic Change
to accept the legitimacy of the blatantly rigged 2002 presidential
elections, drop their legal action, throw away their volumes of irrefutable
evidence, and guarantee Mugabe a blissful retirement.
And then Mugabe will go; the rampages by the Mugabe war veterans and "green
bomber" youth militia, with all the harm they are doing to Nepad and the
economy of the continent, will then stop; there will be new, free and fair
Zimbabwean elections, producing a president with whom Pretoria -- and
Abuja -- can work.
However, those who know Mugabe know that if Tsvangirai succumbs to
Mbeki-Obasanjo pressure to sign away his moral and legal right to the
presidency and the bringing to book of all those responsible for murders,
rapes, beatings and arson attacks, Mugabe will deem these concessions to be
Mugabe plans to hang on until his term ends in 2008, offering only cosmetic
changes. He declared in the April 21 interview he will on no account forgo
right of veto over matters of "principle". He will hang onto this veto by
remaining head of the ruling party, by delegating power to mere figureheads.
Mugabe's "Means of Terror" will be left intact, ready to be unleashed as
they were in 2000 (under the guise of agitation for land reform).
Mugabe is counting on the despair of ordinary Zimbabwean voters for any real
prospect of reform, a return to weary acceptance that the Mugabe dynasty
(young Robert Junior is 12) must rule forever over an insular, politically
and ethnically homogenous society.
Mugabe's talk at independence aniversary celebrations over April 17-18 about
the importance of "unity", "maintaining Zimbabwe's sovereignty at all costs"
translates that he will never accept any member of any ethnic minority, or
any known supporter of a political minority, except as a temporary,
insecure, junior partner in any business arrangement -- a landless
These are the "principles" over which Mugabe aims to retain right of veto,
just as he and his family aim to retain control over the Means of Terror
until 2008 and beyond. Mbeki and Obasanjo must face this fact squarely.
Obasanjo, returning from a visit to Pretoria earlier this year, indicated he
and Mbeki are eager to see Mugabe retire. "We must help Zimbabwe out of its
predicament and problem," said Obasanjo. "We cannot do that if we become
unduly and unnecessarily critical and antagonistic. If there are points to
be raised with Zimbabwe, like brothers we put ourselves in a room, we lock
the door and we tell ourselves the truth. If we emerge with a frown, it
means progress has been made."
Obasanjo said despite his own quest for a further term (now gained, but
after exceedingly controversial elections) he hoped to set an example by
casting Nigerians' thoughts forward to the time he bows out.
The retirement issue is, however, secondary until Mbeki and Obasanjo can get
the Means of Terror out of the hands of the Mugabe coterie -- better still,
irreversibly eradicated from Zimbabwean society. The looting of Baghdad and
other Iraqi cities should have brought home how urgent this is.
Despite dire shortages of all staples from petrol to bread, there is little
danger ordinary Zimbabweans will take to the streets and fight Mugabe's
security forces with their bare hands. A certain element in South Africa who
spent the armed struggle ensconced in the arm chairs of the Rand Club tend
to sneer at Zimbabweans for their "cowardice" compared to the youth of
Soweto in 1976. It is not lack of courage, but knowledge that violence will
merely breed another generation of barbarians, that holds Zimbabweans back.
We have too many already, bred by Mugabe.
No, the danger for Zimbabwe, the region and Africa is that Mugabe's
barbarian warlords, long imbued with a culture of impunity, will turn from
their present extortion rackets and black marketeering to open looting of
stores, of filling stations, wholesalers, fuel depots, public institutions
and private homes.
From the criminals' point of view, it is a small step from plundering farms
while police protest "this is a political matter -- we cannot interfere" to
seizing the goods in the central business district of Harare.
These are the carrots they see, and Mbeki and Obasanjo must ask themselves
where the stick will be, and who will have to wield it, when these warlords
move to seize them.

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There's still a glimmer of hope for Zimbabwe

      May 06 2003 at 06:11AM

By Basildon Peta and Brian Latham

Hopes of a dramatic breakthrough in the Zimbabwe crisis have hit a snag
after talks in Harare deadlocked.

However, South African President Thabo Mbeki emerged from the rescue mission
with improved relations with the opposition, whose leaders hailed a new
sense of urgency among African peace brokers.

Mbeki joined his Nigerian and Malawian counterparts, Olusegun Obasanjo and
Bakili Muluzi, for talks with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in Harare
on Monday morning.

      'Does the MDC now say they recognise me?'
In the afternoon they met with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

The mission was marred by the arrest of at least 10 Movement for Democratic
Change supporters who were demonstrating in Harare.

The three African presidents visited Zimbabwe with a plan to resume dialogue
between the ruling Zanu-PF and the opposition MDC in the hope that this
could secure a deal for Mugabe's retirement.

It is reliably understood that the leaders now accept Mugabe's retirement as
the first realistic step towards resolving the crisis.

Tsvangirai said he was happy with the sincerity of the three leaders. Last
week, he had accused Mbeki of being a dishonest broker.

      Mugabe is vehemently opposed to an early election
However, after Monday's discussions, he said he believed the South African
president was serious about trying to thrash out a solution to the crisis.

Mugabe told the three leaders that he wanted to be recognised as the
legitimate leader of Zimbabwe by Tsvangirai and his MDC before he would
engage in any dialogue with them.

"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 can start talking," Mugabe

However, Tsvangirai flatly rejected the demand. He said he wanted dialogue
with Mugabe to resolve the crisis in the country, but he insisted that this
had to be unconditional dialogue.

The African leaders want 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 would include presidential and
parliamentary elections, to be held in 2005.

However, a constitutional amendment would be required to achieve this - and
this amendment needs the support of the opposition because Mugabe does not
command a two-thirds majority in parliament.

Without the amendment, a new election would have to be held in 90 days if
Mugabe retired.

However, Mugabe is vehemently opposed to an early election.

The opposition has so far insisted on an immediate rerun of last year's
presidential poll.

Obasanjo said the three leaders would work hard to iron out the sticking
points and achieve a resumption of the dialogue. He did not say when talks
would continue. - Independent Foreign Service

  a.. This article was originally published on page 1 of The Star on 06 May
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JAG Legal Communique dated 06 May 2003

The principle.
It is an accepted fact that farmers and farm workers have suffered
mentally, physically and financially due to the unacceptable implementation
of the fast track land redistribution exercise.  This amounts to human
rights abuse trauma.

In seeking compensation it is important to work out formulae by which we
can value these losses and formulate a procedure for compensation of these

Compensation/restitution will be achieved through various avenues but the
two main ones being litigation and/or negotiation.

The function of litigation is to prove that farmers have a legal right to
compensation and it will clearly identify the guilty parties and what they
are culpable for.

Negotiation will identify the people that are willing and able to support
and contribute to the principle of compensation and their conditions if

It is strategically better to have a standardized well laid out document
that must be completed by all farmers and those they might represent. This
document includes all claims and should be done for all properties.

The total valuation must include:

· Land and improvements. (Title deeds and valuation done through the
valuators consortium)

· Movable assets (Asset register with current cost valuation)

· Loss of profits (Previous and projected trading accounts or profit

· Consequential Losses and Trauma (Chronology and diary of events leading
up to and pertaining to all losses.)

· Relocation. (Cost schedule verified and substantiated by chronology)

The Professionals:
To guarantee a professional and acceptable audited presentation it will be
necessary to employ the right people at various stages of the process.


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Open Letters Forum No. 73 dated 06 May 2003 Internet:

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


Letter 1:

To some generations, much is given. From some generations, much is
expected. This generation has a rendezvous with destiny.

- Franklin D. Roosevelt 1936

In Zimbabwe today we have such critical problems that will not go away
without collective vision, dedication and effort. There is so much
injustice, and such a conspiracy not to the real issues.  We need a deep
collective understanding of our problems, and we must apply ourselves to
these problems with a concentration and a sense of purpose that we do not
always summon in more normal times. Cynicism and anger will always lead us
away from resolving our problems.

Greed and violence is considered legitimate now, compassion is not. This is
an unacceptable violation. We need restoration of our collective conscience
- and turn it into a strong and powerful political will. Imposed violence,
injustice, hypocrisy, systemic racism, paranoia, and exalted state
terrorism are eating all of us from the inside, like a malignant tumor.
Despair, malaise and an all pervasive deep depression are the symptoms. We
lie bleeding and abandoned and with no help in sight.  We have collectively
allowed this to happen, and some painful, self-corrective surgery is
needed. And we need it now.

First, we must begin an archaeological dig into our collective Zimbabwean
psyche, and retrieve the truths that set us free. This is not an easy
assignment. The layers of our denial are thick and encrusted.  The brutal
system that we have allowed to oppress us has invested heavily in our not
seeing our own circumstances clearly. Then in our blindness, we continue
supporting the very system that blocks our vision. Never in our history has
it been more imperative for the average citizen to think for his or
herself. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.
Everyone in Zimbabwe has opinions today, but too few of us are doing our
very best thinking. Fuzzy thinking is just one step above not thinking at

Second, we all need courage, strength and a common vision of where we want
to go, and who we want to be. Our old and tattered baggage must finally be
abandoned. Jettisoned forever. This baggage is heavy with the weight of
guilt, subjectivity, selfishness, prejudice, greed, cynicism, disregard for
our fellow citizens, all of it heavily laden with the stench of
disempowerment and fear. Then, and only then, can we move forward on our
route into the future. After all, we have no choice but to travel together,
every one of us. The future does not leave anyone behind. Not the poor, the
ill educated, the abused, the disempowered, the brainwashed, the
traumatized, nor the angry. Especially not the angry.

Third, we need to assess where we are on the map. A clear vision of the
route toward our desired destination is essential.  We need to stand back
just long enough to see ourselves as others see us. Just a moment of this
enlightenment will help us shed our desperate frustration and glimpse a
wider picture. To do this we need tough minds and tender hearts, and this
time there is a calling in the heart of the critical mass. It is the voice
of group conscience and citizen activism. A new consciousness. Too many
greedy people have tough minds, but too many tender hearts lack
intellectual acumen and courage.

Last, but not least, we must harness and pool our collective intellectual
and emotional strengths to resolve our national distress. We must retrieve
hope and find a way to put the two together.  Out of this union, we can
create the most powerful political force.  We have the intelligence. But to
move forward this vehicle needs collective effort. Our only true enemy is
not some people, or a dying regime, but the fear laden thoughts that cling
to our insides, and sap our strength.

A government is a creature of the people. We want, and need, a creature of
the people, by the people and for the people.  And a shining new
constitution as our scared tablets. But a constitution, like our country,
to be alive, needs us.

Well and good, I hear you cry.  Fine words. But dream on. It's too late.
Things have gone too far. Maybe. But I ask you this: what other choice do
we have.  In the end, the silent 'we' is the only engine of real change
available to us.  The days we could afford the luxury of entertaining the
whims of warm and fuzzy liberalism or cold hard ideology are long gone. Our
crisis is real and it is happening. We are in the time of the clear
thinkers, courageous doers, and the pure selfless spirit. Armchair
philosophy of any kind is a feeble minded and is a dangerous distraction
and guilt is a wholly useless emotion.

Before us, a fundamental paradigm that has ruled one era of our history is
about to pass and give way to another.  We need to stand ready to be reborn
without first having to die. It is a baptism of fire, on this you can rely.
But is the task of our generation to break through this wall before us, to
atone for our collective errors, whilst reactivating our commitment to the
promulgation of our strengths. There is a quiet, but steady, powerful
strength to be harnessed from this adversity.

We will match your capacity to inflict suffering with our capacity to
endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. We will
not hate you, but we cannot, in all good conscience, obey your unjust laws.

So we will soon wear you down by our capacity to suffer. And in winning our
freedom, we will so appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win
your freedom as well
- Martin Luther King Jnr. (1964)


Letter 2: Pam Crowther

I left Zimbabwe twenty years ago - it still feels like yesterday. Through
the access to the internet I follow the news of my homeland....and the mind
casts back all those years ago.  Here is an article I have written on the
value of $1:

The Value of a Dollar?

Twenty years ago we made the choice to leave - leave our home, leave our
family, leave our heritage and leave most of our possessions.

The emigration laws in Zimbabwe were pretty strict in those days and a
family leaving the country - or a married couple, were only allowed $1000
Zimbabwean to start over.  However cars over 4 years old were considered
acceptable as was second hand furniture and other personal possessions.
Many realised the value of vintage or classic cars and there was no limit
on the age of the vehicle being taken out of the country - where there was
a will there was a way!

A few months prior to our departure, and after all the red-tape for our
emigration had been approved, we received the heartbreaking news that an
elderly relative in South Africa had passed away suddenly.

Money not being too much of a concern (hey, we couldn't take it with us!)
We bought tickets and with $50 in our pockets for the weekend, flew to
Durban to be with our rapidly diminishing family.

We spent a peaceful yet sad weekend with the family and returned on the
Sunday evening, ready for work the following day, the memories of the trip
tucked safely away, to be taken out and dusted off in the future when
family members were divided by continents and oceans.

A few months later when we were finalising our departure arrangements, we
received a letter from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, stating that it had
been `brought to their attention' that we had left the country for a period
of 48 hours - less than 12 months ago.  As such were not entitled to take
any funds when we left in December!

The sickening feeling of utter despair bordering on panic filled my stomach
and sent my head spinning into a kaleidoscope of frenzied mayhem! A
cacophony of voices screaming in me head "No!"

The very thought of leaving my home, giving up all my worldly possession,
my job, my friends and family - everything familiar to me - to travel half
way around the planet, to a country where I knew no one, had no one to meet
me, no known place to stay, no job, no guarantees, and not even a few
dollars in my pocket to start a new life - made me physically weak at the
knees and bile filled my throat as I was bordered hysteria.

I decided to appeal to the logic of the Government Official in the
department at the Reserve Bank - I know - that sentence make no sense at
all - Government Officials do no have Logic - it is not a pre-requisite of
their professional credentials.  Miracles do happen - and there was a
Government employee who had a portion of logic in his / her intellect and
after my plea for reconsideration on behalf of the Government of Zimbabwe,
they kindly relented and allocated us $500 Zimbabwean dollars with which to
start a new life.  (Maybe it was the smudges on my signature from tears of
despair that swayed someone - I don't know).

After all I had explained to them that we were going to a country that we
had only vaguely learnt about in Geography lessons at school! How I
regretted not paying more attention in Mrs Thomson's class - I would have
realised there was more to Australian than Wombats and Wallabies, Sheep and
Ayres Rock! I had explained to the faceless Government Official, that we
had no family or friends to meet us there! No job to start on Monday
morning - and no where to sleep the night we arrived - no contact at all.
No one was expecting us to arrive, no one would miss us if we didn't.

Many friends and family members thought we were daft travelling so far to
find the end of the proverbial rainbow. My parents were frightened for us,
but considering my father had done the same when he left the UK with just
his tool box and twenty pounds shortly after the 2nd world war concluded -
they understood why we had to go. We were survivors and pioneers of our own
futures - first and last generation Rhodesians and with and new future to
build for the next generation - whatever nationality and flag they would be
born under.

Hobart airport greeted us on a gloomy evening, persistent drizzle added to
the atmosphere of despair. The reality of our situation hit me like a bolt
of lightening, as the lights in the airport terminal started to flicker and
die. Shadows lengthened and employees began to evacuate the building,
heading under umbrellas to their cars. They were on their way home to hot
dinners, cosy fires and warm beds.  I didn't even own an umbrella!! We had
just endured a drought in Zimbabwe for four or five years and hadn't seen a
drop of rain - I had no need for an umbrella! I needed my Mum!

**..Looking back on that evening so many years ago, I know the only
security that we had in that first week was our own determination to
succeed and our $500 Zimbabwean dollars - you see back then our $500
Zimbabwean dollars bought us $462.18 Australian currency.  This was enough
money to pay for a taxi ride into Hobart ($18) bed and breakfast ($25 a
night) a few bus rides trips around Hobart, the deposit on a furnished
flat, two weeks rent and a week's groceries.

We found gainful employment within the first week and were completely `at
home' amidst the drizzle, clouds, snow and sunshine of Tasmania.

All thanks to $500 Zimbabwean dollars!

Now, I gaze at the official exchange rate of this pitiful currency and
reflect on what my $500 Zimbabwean would buy me in Australia to-day.

To-day the official rate is Z$502: A1 - the mind spins in chaotic turmoil!

It might buy me a phone call at a public phone box, maybe 500ml of milk, a
piece of fruit or half a loaf of bread - or a litre a petrol!

At least it would buy me these things - In Zimbabwe if I had that money I
would probably still not be able to buy them!

We left because we had the courage and the means to do so, many still in
Zimbabwe probably have the courage, but with worthless currency, the means
to do so are ripped from their grasp in a cruel and heartless manner beyond
the comprehension of those living beyond her borders.

Hold tightly on to your courage, your belief in what is right and the
determination to succeed - for in Zimbabwe - that is all you have - it
cannot be bought or sold and no currency will devalue it either!

It is priceless!


Letter 3: Henry Sommer

We are being booted off Oldham Estates, Chegutu and require grazing for up
to 200 cows & about 119 calves. Can you advise on what might be available
or recommended course of action.


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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Zvakwana Newsletter #23 - The way of truth and love has always won
May 02, 2003

When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall -- think of it, ALWAYS.
~ Mahatma Gandhi

Join WOZA (Women of Zimbabwe Arise) Mother’s Day March

The time has come to put our house, Zimbabwe, in order so we will carry grass brooms to symbolise sweeping away the dirt that has piled up. We demand freedom of expression and the right to meet and discuss issues. POSA must be cancelled! Our families need peace. Stop violence, rape and torture. Restore law and order!

Date: Saturday, 10th May
Time: 10am sharp
Venues: Harare - Africa Unity Square, and Bulawayo - City Hall Car Park

Come dressed to walk. Police have been notified.

Contact WOZA: Jenni 011 213 885 or Getrude 011 411 842

Harare Central Constituents - inspect the voters' roll and get ready to vote

The MP for Harare Central, Mike Auret has resigned from parliament due to ill health, so a by-election is due. If you live and vote in Harare Central constituency, please make sure you are still on the voters' roll. You can inspect the Voters' Roll and register at the following places:

Admiral Tait Primary School
Alex Park Primary School
Avondale Primary School
Beit Hall - Tomlinson Depot
Belgravia Sports Club
Belvedere Primary School
Blakiston Primary School
David Livingston Primary School
Mount Pleasant Primary School




Please do not miss this opportunity to exercise your democratic right.
Please forward this e-mail to anyone you know in Harare Central.

If you have any difficulties in inspecting or registering, please contact the Zimbabwe Election Support Network -

Alarm bells are ringing very loudly for mugabe

The suspension of the unanimously elected Executive Mayor of Harare, Elias Mudzuri is yet another example of the mugabe regime getting the shake shakes. These sorts of desperate actions only signal the heralding of mugabe and his cronies exit from power. At this time strategic civil disobedience campaigns are being organised to show chombo and the cabinet of clowns that the residents of Harare will not accept their action.

Messages of support can be emailed to Mudzuri at or write to him c/o your local district office. You can use the sample letter provided by Combined Harare Residents' Association (CHRA). You will find it at the end of this newsletter or on our website

Please also visit our web site and download the Petition to Reinstate the Mayor. Print this document and gather as many signatures as you can.

Thousands of postal workers are fired

Just two days before Workers’ Day, Zimbabwe's state-owned post office dismissed 2 800 workers " for failing to report for work during the illegal three-day Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) stayaway." Although these workers have now been reinstated, if civil servants previously believed that they were one of the few groups immune to mugabe’s tactics then they must now think again. It is clear that there is no group that is safe from zanu pf and it is high time that we become united in our total condemnation of the mugabe regime.

Let us remember Lovemore Matombo’s recent words:

"(Workers) should grow in the confidence that if they stand firm their demands will be heeded."

A Silhouette

His eyes are see-through.
Through them I see
a yawning empty bread bin
a fridge stands
by its chilling emptiness
a stove, cold,
sits huddled in a corner
finds nothing to warm up
for mice swept the pantry
before seeking refuge
in refuse pits
in the neighbourhood.
Cockroaches left jackets
on hangers of webs
bills are forming
a small mound
on a formica table.

Yet - whenever I ask
How he is doing
he replies:
'Fine. And you?'

~ Julius Chingono, Zimbabwean poet

Everyone is suffering in Zimbabwe, but the workers are mostly affected

We know that stayaways prove to be a very destabilising occurrence not just for the ruling party but also for all the businesses struggling to keep operating. It is clear that small businesses are close to extinction. However the foundation for this extinction was first moulded by the mugabe regime through economic mismanagement and unrealistic trading conditions. We must be careful about who we blame for the situation we find ourselves in.

Employers should recognise that the average Zimbabwean worker is starving and at the end of their rope. It is not the worker who demands a living wage and who abides by the call for mass stayaways who should get penalised. Their demands and actions are understandable.

Now, more than ever before it is important that the private sector, and the men and women leading industry, are united to remove the cancer that is the mugabe regime.

Zvakwana has been interviewing many people on the street during the past few weeks. All the time it is said that there is only a few dollars left at the end of each month after having to pay transport costs.

Security guards at a hotel in Harare city centre receive $20 000.00 per month. Transport costs grab away $16 000.00 of that wage. What can anyone do with $4000.00 per month. NOTHING!

Meanwhile inside this five star hotel that proudly displays the portrait of the illegitimate squatter mugabe, a cream tea is costing 6.5 thousand. Meanwhile a worker helping to keep this establishment running is left with $4000 to survive on each month.

Living wages NOW. mugabe out NOW!

Obasanjo and democracy – nigerian style

Obasanjo, who travels around the African continent speaking big ideals on democracy has just been re-elected in Nigeria amid a great deal of controversy. Let us remind you that the Nigerian Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence for Amina Lawal, condemned for the crime of adultery on August 19th 2002, to be buried up to her neck and stoned to death. Her death was postponed so that she could continue to nurse her baby. Execution is now set for June 3rd.

Telephone your protest to the Nigerian Embassy in Harare: 253900-4

Or fax them on Harare: 253904
Or write to them: PO Box 4742, Harare

Visit this link and send the Nigerian govt. a protest email:

The Executive Mayor Eng E. Mudzuri

c/o The District Officer

________________________ District



Dear Sir

Re: Suspension of the Executive Mayor

I wish to express my support for you as elected mayor of the City of Harare.

I strongly protest your suspension by the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.

The Minister claims that he is acting in the interests of the residents and that he has consulted us. I reject both assertions.

The Government refused to hold elections for the post of Mayor and it was our association, Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) that compelled the Government to hold the elections.

I appreciate that the Executive Mayor has tried to carry out his duties despite constant interference from the Minister. Council has been denied access to funds for capital projects and attempts to rid the municipality of incompetent employees have been frustrated. Your efforts to engage the public have resulted in not only your arrest but the arrest of residents who sought to bring their issues to your attention.

I call upon the Minister to immediately rescind the order for your suspension and to stop interfering with our democratically elected Council.

Yours in support

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Published: Tue, 6 May 2003 01:00:00 UTC  Author:  Chris Smith

            UN won't solve Zimbabwe crisis warns Straw

                 The United Nations would be unlikely to agree to action
against Zimbabwe, the foreign secretary has warned.

                  Jack Straw told MPs on Tuesday that despite the
deteriorating situation under Robert Mugabe's regime, the United Nations
could end up following the same sequence of events seen during the Iraq

                  He argued that if the international community failed to
unite it would hand a propaganda victory to the Mugabe regime.

                  "I would be the first to have this taken before the
security council if I thought we could have a safe outcome. If we were to
try and were to fail, that would plainly be regarded by Mugabe as a victory
for him," said Straw.

                  His comments followed a meeting of senior African leaders
which had sought to engineer Mugabe's retirement.

                  While the outcome of those talks was inconclusive, the
foreign secretary has warned that the crisis is threatening to destabilise
the region.

                  "I am in no doubt that those three heads of government are
fully aware of the damage that the Mugabe regime has done," he said.

                  His comments followed accusations by shadow foreign
secretary Michael Ancram that the government was "walking by on the other

                  For the Liberal Democrats, Menzies Campbell also called
for action because "some of the poorest people in Africa have to pay for the
excesses of the Mugabe regime".

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Mbeki: SA will not tell Mugabe what to do
May 06, 2003, 15:30
Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Robert Mugabe met in Harare yesterday

Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Robert Mugabe met in Harare yesterday

South Africa has not changed its stance of quiet diplomacy towards Zimbabwe. President Thabo Mbeki says the solution to Zimbabwe's problem rests in the hands of Zimbabweans and will not come from South Africa, England or any other country in the world.

Addressing the first Disability African Regional Conference held in Sandton, Mbeki said those who thought his one day visit was to tell president Robert Mugabe what to do, were wrong and they were misleading the nation.

"The other people who had said we had gone to Zimbabwe for other things had cooked up their own agenda and listened to some people from outside the continent. Who had said this is what the agenda ought to be and we are saying to them, never mind what you think it ought to be, this is what the agenda is," Mbeki explained.

He said together with his counterparts from Nigeria and Malawi, they were hopeful that the Zimbabweans recognise the urgency to come together and deal with the issue.
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Catholic Institute for International Relations

Zimbabwe: CIIR supports Catholic Bishops' condemnation of Mugabe

6 5 2003

CIIR strongly supports the Lenten pastoral letter of April 2003 of the
Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference (ZCBC) condemning the 'frightening'
corruption, lawlessness and abuses of power committed by the Mugabe
government in Zimbabwe.

The ZCBC accused president Robert Mugabe of failing 'to provide leadership
that enables the creation of an environment that enhances truth, justice,
love and freedom'.

It pointed to government responsibility for the poverty of Zimbabwe's
citizens, blaming 'corrupt practices, poor planning and bureaucracy' for
food shortages that threaten seven million people. The letter also condemned
the politicisation of government food aid 'while people are starving':
people queuing for food are only served if they can prove they are members
of the ruling party.

The statement warned that most Zimbabweans were 'drowning in abject
poverty', 'suffering social and political violence', and harassed by
officials who 'have placed themselves above the law'.

CIIR also supports the demands of the ZCBC and other partners in Zimbabwe
for 'meaningful dialogue' with the political opposition party and all
significant sectors of Zimbabwean society.

In an unprecedented move, more than 200 lay Roman Catholics in Harare have
passed a no-confidence vote on Mugabe. Their statement urged 'the present
government [to] step down and hand over to those who are prepared to serve
the country and all its people'.

These statements contrast with the recent actions of the South African
government that successfully lobbied the United Nations Commission for Human
Rights in Geneva not to look into human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. CIIR
advocacy coordinator for Africa and Yemen Dr Steve Kibble said the decision
'was a setback for the cause of human rights, which casts doubt on the
usefulness of the work of the Commission itself'.

CIIR supports those who suggest that ratification of key human rights
treaties must be a pre-requisite for membership of the Commission. Candidate
governments should also ensure compliance with reporting obligations; give
open invitations to UN human rights experts to visit their countries; and
not have been recently condemned by the Commission for human rights
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MDC rejects Mugabe's condition for talks

      May 06 2003 at 03:18PM

Harare - Zimbabwe's opposition party on Tuesday rejected President Robert
Mugabe's demand that the Movement for Democratic Change recognise him as the
legitimately elected president before he engages in talks to try to resolve
the country's crisis.

The MDC also warned that the stalled negotiations and the international
shuttle diplomacy begun by three African presidents in Harare on Monday
would not stop the party's planned campaign of "mass action" against Mugabe.

"When Mugabe talks about recognising him, that's a pre-condition," said MDC
spokesperson Paul Themba Nyathi. "There is no way we are going to consider

He expected international and regional attempts to bring the two parties
together would continue, but added: "That doesn't stop us as a party
exerting our own pressure."

He was referring to the MDC's plans for "people's power" demonstrations to
force Mugabe to step down.

Mugabe, 79, on Monday poured cold water on widespread expectations that
South African President Thabo Mbeki, Malawian President Bakili Muluzi and
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo would be able to bring the two parties
to the negotiating table.

After more than two hours of talks with the three leaders, Mugabe said he
was willing to talk with MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, but only if the MDC
withdrew its court challenge to the results of the controversial
presidential election last year that declared him the winner.

Most Western governments, the Commonwealth and the parliamentary observer
group of the Southern African Development Community said Mugabe's victory in
the poll in March last year was the result of violent intimidation by
Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party and rigging of the voting procedures and
results by the government.

Soon after the election, the MDC lodged an application in the High Court for
the result to be overturned.

Mbeki and Obasanjo persuaded the MDC and Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party to
open talks immediately after the election, but they were abandoned after
five weeks by Zanu-PF when the MDC lodged its court petition.

"I am the president of the country, I have legitimacy, which the MDC doesn't
recognise," Mugabe said on Monday. "Does the MDC now say they recognise me?

"That is the issue. If they do, that means the MDC court action has to be
withdrawn and we can start talks."

Tsvangirai, who met the three leaders for 90 minutes on Monday, said in a
statement afterwards that the MDC was "ready for unconditional dialogue".

Nyathi said on Tuesday: "That means unconditional on both sides." Professor
Eliphas Mokonoweshuro of the political science department of the University
of Zimbabwe said agreement to Mugabe's precondition would remove the basic
reason for the MDC's demand for talks.

"The cause of the political dispute between the MDC and Zanu-PF is the
elections and the legality of Mugabe's presidency," he said.

"So how do you engage in negotiations when you say the heart of the dispute
cannot be questioned?"

The MDC is calling for a transitional government to be followed shortly
after by free and fair internationally supervised elections.

Analysts say Mugabe and most members of his party believe that they would
lose a ballot if they were not able to manipulate it. - Sapa
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      Straw: Zimbabwe tour goes ahead

      Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has dismissed calls to stop the Zimbabwe
cricket team's tour of England.

      Mr Straw said to cancel the tour would only punish "ordinary

      Zimbabwe are scheduled to play two Tests, at Lord's and Durham, and a
one-day triangular series against England and South Africa in May and June.

      During a series of tough question time exchanges on the escalating
problems in Zimbabwe, Tory MP Henry Bellingham upbraided the Government for
sanctioning an event which would "only bolster" the Mugabe regime".

      But Mr Straw told him: "I've always taken the view, so far as visiting
sports people from Zimbabwe are concerned, if we had the powers to stop them
from visiting we would be punishing ordinary Zimbabweans - we would not be
punishing the regime."

      To heckling from Tory benches, he added: "Henry Olonga - a great man -
said it is right for the cricketers of his country to be here in the UK."

      The fast bowler, who has been in exile here since his black-armband
protest during the World Cup in February, has said the tour should go ahead.

      Shadow foreign secretary Michael Ancram said Monday's visit to
Zimbabwe by a delegation of African leaders was a "belated but welcome
initiative", but branded its outcome "predictably disappointing".

      South African President Thabo Mbeki, Nigerian President Olusegun
Obasanjo and Malawi President Bakili Muluzi held talks aimed at resolving
the crisis with President Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

      Calling for the "restoration of democracy and the rule of law", Mr
Ancram said the situation was no longer "just a domestic problem, but a
matter of regional security and humanitarian crisis."
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Mugabe, Zimbabwe's democratically elected leader- Mumbengegwi

Zimbabwean High Commissioner to Britain Cde Simbarashe Mumbengegwi has
strongly condemned the notion of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

Speaking on a live television programme, Hard Talk, in the British capital,
London, Cde Mumbengegwi said the notion of human rights abuses is being
peddled by enemies of the Zimbabwean government.

"Attempts by the detractors of the government to internationalise the issue
of human rights have been rightly rejected by the United Nations, the
African Union and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and
Sadc," he said.

Cde Mumbengegwi also told the British that president Robert Mugabe won a
six-year mandate from the Zimbabwean electorate to serve the country for the
full term as the legitimate constitutionally elected president of Zimbabwe.

He said the land reform programme is a national programme that the
government initiated to benefit all Zimbabweans who want to engage into

To date about 4 000 families have benefited from the successful land reform
programme with the country now focusing on the National Economic Revival
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Presentation to Journalists on World Press Freedom Day

3rd May 2003 - ZITF VIP Lounge Bulawayo

© Jenni Williams

Peter L. Walker, renowned communications fundi talked of our
communications vocation in this way.. "It can create confidence,
dispel illusion, and restore stability. We are credited with the
ability to topple governments, sell anything, to ruin (or rescue) the
reputation of companies or would be kings and queens of hearts. Can we
continue to be undervalued, misunderstood - even discredited? A
positive, sustained campaign is needed to counter this nonsense."

Good Afternoon. I am speaking to you today as Jenni Williams, a public
relations practitioner and newsmaker. The views I share with you are
my own.

Firstly let me frame my presentation. To do this I remind you of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights resolution adopted unanimously
in December 1948 by the UN General Assembly.

This resolution of which Zimbabwe is a part seeks to promote respect
for human rights and fundamental freedoms. These rights are only
limited by recognition for the rights and freedoms of others and the
requirements of morality, public order, and general welfare.

The pertinent points are:

to freedom from interference with the privacy of one's home and

to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, opinion, and expression;

to association, peaceful assembly, and participation in government;

to freedom from arbitrary arrest;

Our Zimbabwean Declaration of Rights found in the Constitution terms
freedom of expression as the right to hold opinions, to express ideas
and pass on ideas and information. The only limitations being in terms
of defamation laws, and protection of sources, mailing, telephones and
broadcasting restrictions.


We stand accuse as having alternative views and are attacked,
brutalised, vilified, arrested, underpaid, overworked and under
acknowledged - one of the most dangerous occupations in the world and
especially so in Zimbabwe.

I saw Reporters without Borders report that attacks on journalist rose
by 40% in 2002. 25 journalists were killed in 2002 and already we have
12 killed in 2003. We mourn them.

Let me describe the current state of the media by referring to a
Brothers Grimm fairy tale - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Snow White was a beautiful daughter being raised by her ugly Step
Mother, the Queen who was also a witch. The Queen hated Snow White
because she was so beautiful and beloved by her father.

The Queen had a magic mirror and filled with jealousy she went to the
Mirror and said, "Mirror Mirror on the wall who is the fairest of us
all". The mirror replied, SNOW WHITE."

Now the Queen wanted her man to love her and only her, so she connived
and schemed on how to get rid of Snow White. She hired a huntsman and
paid him to abduct the girl and murder her.

The huntsman abducted Snow White but upon seeing her beauty decided to
allow her to flee into the forest. He found the heart of a deer and
took this to the Queen as evidence that he had completed the job.

Snow White wandered around the forest and came upon a tiny home. Seven
Dwarfs named Dopey, Grumpy, Happy, Doc, Sneezy, Sleepy, and Bashful
lived there. Snow White told the about her wicked stepmother and asked
them to keep her until the handsome prince of her dreams would come to
claim her.

After some days the Queen went to her magic mirror and asked, "Mirror
Mirror on the wall who is the fairest of us all". The mirror replied,
SNOW WHITE is still the fairest". The Queen was very cross and bashed
the mirror and accused it of lying. In its defence, the mirror showed
a picture of Snow White deep in the forest with the Dwarfs.

So the Queen plotted to visit disguised as an old women selling
apples. She poisoned an apple and was prepared to offer it to Snow
White to kill her. She was successful but the Seven Dwarfs had faith
that Snow Whites dream of a handsome Prince would come true one day
and so they keep her body in a glass case.

The handsome price did show up on his white horse brings Snow White
back to life. The wicked Queen gets her just desserts.

In Zimbabwe we are not far off relating to fairy tales to get our
points made.

I cast the MEDIA - the custodians of opinion as SNOW WHITE pure and
blameless, this is the way we like to regard ourselves!

And the Seven Dwarfs represent the way we respond to the situation,
some of us are Dopey, and many are Grumpy, Sleepy, and Bashful. Some
Sneeze but do little more. There are those that are Happy to be
corrupted whilst some of us become Doc and prescribe a new medicine.

The wicked stepmother - the Queen is the architect of the evil and
non-democratic instruments like AIPPA. He who wants to be FAIRER than
SNOW WHITE. He who wants to be the only voice speaking into the

The handsome prince, slow to arrive, is the public voice -

But enough of storytelling lets get to the grim reality.

WHAT MEDIA DO WE NEED? The only answer is one that communicates more
not less and leads the way in getting the nation to endorse this

Journalists must be explorers of every angle and purveyors of diverse
views from a cross section of sources! The state is on a campaign to
turn us all into robots, the tyranny of thought, now even 75% local
content is not enough, we must have 100% so we have no freedom of
choice left. I ask are we so lacking in confidence in our own identify
that we must eradicate any other views and become a xenophobic island,
silent in thought and voice, zombie like.

What is the level of morale in the ZBC and Zimpapers offices as they
daily become more employed as tools of a violent and oppressive
regime? How many more like Eric Knight will try to reinvent

1. Firstly we must go back to the basics. Media professionals are
working under stressful conditions and so need to have their training
modules at their fingertips.

2. Secondly, we should remember that we the media are the FAIREST and
do our duty no matter who or what. Shake away the fear and clothe
ourselves in confidence of knowing WHO, WHAT, WHY, WHEN and WHERE we

Lets us examine a recent Herald report regarding whether HE IS OR HE
ISNT. Journalists were doing what the president commanded - opening
debate but the statement was obviously issued to stop further debate
that had blossomed..

I have paraphrased it...

"All the President did in the recent interview ... to invite national
debate on a range of national questions including that of succession.
But sadly, so far, there has been no debate or debaters, serve for
flippant speculations and crazy scenario building," the Department
Information and Publicity.

The normal linking of such reports followed, yes the British and their
newsmen had "inspired and originated" this debate. And, a further
insult to the thinking black Zimbabweans - the reports had also been
written in defence of white interests in Zimbabwe and southern Africa.
Do black Zimbabweans have not interests to protect?

The statement went further to show its agenda in stopping freedom of
expression and render it propaganda as opposed to news by continuing.

"The Zimbabwe Government restates that Zimbabwe has a living
constitution, which has consistently shaped and guided its politics
since the end of British colonial rule in 1980."

The media must teach Zimbabweans to look beyond the words at the
actions. If the Constitution is in fighting fit form then why do we
have POSA and AIPPA?

The report went on to mention the visit of Presidents Mbeki, Obasanjo
and Muluzi to work out President Mugabe's "exit plan".

With tears in my eyes, I ask why do we need them to practice our
democracy -  the crisis is Zimbabwean made. Is their real agenda not
to FIND LIFE AFTER DEATH for politicians who could not pass muster in
a free and fair election?

The statement continued, "For all the self-serving biased coverage,
the people of Zimbabwe have not expressed a wish to withdraw the
mandate they gave to the present Government."

In normal times a rider would automatically have raised the
authenticity of such a statement and opened debate by asking if the
people had recently been consulted? After all DID they not stay away
in March and April and is this not proof enough that they have indeed
expressed that any imagined or real mandate is withdrawn. Some
supporting or opposing comment was definitely needed?

3. We shall shortly be entering a revitalization mode - I am referring
here to the need for economic recovery under any political

The biggest challenge that the media in Zimbabwe will face is how they
will recreate themselves along with Zimbabweans and lead the
revitalization process. We have the power to lead this phase. I argue
that study of any country's opinion makers; you will find some sort of
communications/ information personality. Robert Mugabe himself was
once a Publicity Secretary; Look at the last stand made by Muhammad Al
Sarif in Iraq, while Saddam made haste his departure, Al Sarif spun
his yarns. The information people are powerful because there is always
power were communication channels converge.

I will share some thoughts on how you can be good revitalization
leaders. Leadership is in a state of stagnation in Zimbabwe and Africa
as a whole. The media will have to put into the public arena
information that will help ordinary citizens see how their leaders are
conducting the balancing act between what we want to be as Zimbabweans
and the reality that exists on the ground. In your articles debate the
efficacy of stay-aways - are they destructive or a necessary tool of
the struggling masses? Government and Zanu PF argue that stay aways
destroy wealth - ZCTU and MDC say whose wealth, there is great poverty
and hunger in Zimbabwe already?

Media men and women must balance their stories with the thinking vs.
the doing of politicians. Public opinion is the wide chasm between the
thinking and the doing and we can find many a story within this gap.

We must have many outlets for our expectations - this is the only way
that we can prevent the country being wheel chaired into a time of
intensive care rather than a time of renewal.

4. What tools do we need to communicate our expectations?

We only have 4 independent newspapers, we could do with 40? We have 3
state radio stations - and two private stations that have to beam into
Zimbabwe from foreign soil. When will Capital, Radio Dialogue and
others be given licenses and free the airwaves. When we take the lid
off this pressure cooker, there is going to be a lot to say and the
media better be ready to expand fast.

If permitted to communicate freely, Zimbabweans will also need to
articulate a new vision for the country. These will be an exciting
time and communicators will have to participate in publishing thoughts
on our refreshed Zimbabwean identify.

5. The Media must examine the past, present and future power gods
rather than be employed by them?

In the new Zimbabwe, we must be more adept at understanding nuances,
idiosyncrasies, and culture and examine track record and credibility
of subjects. Accountability for the past will be a major news point.
If we feel we are over controlled it is because we did not do an
investigating job early on. Lets have more investigative journalists
trained and free to operate.

No longer must we allow leaders to cop out by casting the spotlight on
past historic imbalances to deflect attention from their own
wrongdoings. An illiterate and naive populace who are ignorant of the
bigger picture become the pawn and their minds the new battleground.

When shameless corruption is visible across the sectors, there is need
to look upwards and allow law and order to be generally applied. The
bringing to book of Nazi war criminals is an example of what must
happen to public servants and their leaders lest they abuse power.
True power is empowering others to gain in true understanding.

The constant battle to must remain above politics, as that is not
their official platform of reform. Lets us have more courageous
coverage - a campaign called 'bring back the booty to Zimbabwe'.

6. The Media must help to strike a balance between embracing the
information age of fast and furious communications with ensuring that
even the Batonka tribesman can be informed.

As much as we value our Zimbabwean identity, we must realise that the
world is on our backdoor step. The information or knowledge age is
with us, it is called the Third Wave agenda.

Countries like Zimbabwe have been cloistered for years and more so in
the last 2 years that our airwaves have been held hostage by
politicians. The Internet has proved its worth and some of our minds
have been save by it. Imagine having no Internet to communicate freely
in the last 2 years?

However, Assembly line thinking has already begun to wane and a
growing awareness of the fact that intellectual capital is the new
commodity has already dawned in various progressive countries.
Journalists must regard each day's work as building of their
'intellectual capital'.

The ability to communicate anywhere at any time with a vast number of
target audiences has sped up transfer of knowledge to such a degree
that giants, clumsy and heavy cannot match lean fast thinkers who can
take advantage of any situation. They are the new age thinkers.

The age of the consumer and his right to variety must be fully
acknowledged. Small exclusive de-massed groupings that have been
active participants in fighting a silent war against constraint and
straightjacketing must complete the process and bring forth new rules
and agreements by the people, for the people and with the people. The
sheer volume of free thinkers means that there can be no turning back
to control as these individuals. More and more are speaking out and
refusing point blank to be suppressed.

Media workers and communications professionals must themselves be free
thinkers and must promote freethinking, enfold, nurture and inspire
those who display signs of being able to ride the new wave

7. This brings me to my last point - Professional snobbery.

Working as I do with all levels of media I have been able to see
instances of this up close and personal. If you call yourself a
national paper be one and do not marginalize stories. If it fits the
definition of news run it as such. Please work as a team and do not
play favorites.

Team building can be a way to turn management goals into a spirit of
play, which can create healthy internal competition that often reaps
good results. Snobbery is a disease that also affects the circulation
of information.

Zimbabweans are currently very demoralized, there are queues galore
and disposable income is nonexistent, time and energy is wasted on
non-money making tasks. Neighbours who once loaned us a cup of sugar
now sell it to us at black market rates. The Media must help to lift
this morale by helping us to reach for the stars but anchoring us in
reality. Help establish a ' readiness for change', lest we stagnate in
our miserablesness. The role and concept of Journalist is to be the
conductor of the winds of change. Do not shy away from this role.

In closing I will quote Frances Wright. In 1829, over 200 years ago
she said,  "Persecution for opinion is the master vice of Society."

The media must lead us in championing our right to freely express our
views. The battle is on for freedom of expression, we must aid and
abet it, advocate and support it, foster and nurture its application,
boost and sponsor it, beat the drum for it, and more importantly we
must live it and anyone who does not like it can GO HANG!

I thank you for your time and your attention.

© Jenni Williams copyright 3 May 2003

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ZIMBABWE: Tobacco farmers want assurances for next year

JOHANNESBURG, 6 May 2003 (IRIN) - Tobacco farmers in Zimbabwe say they need
assurances that fuel and input shortages that reduced production this season
will not have to be faced next year.

"We got through this season, but not without difficulties," Zimbabwe Tobacco
Association president, Duncan Millar, told IRIN on Tuesday.

Shortages of coal needed to power the leaf-drying curing process pushed
prices of the fossil fuel to levels many farmers could not afford. In
addition, a shortage of railway wagons and reduced coal production forced
many tobacco growers to fetch their own coal from the supplier in Hwange, in
the west of the country.

"It has been tight for a while but it became consistently worse and farmers
had to pay over the odds for the coal," Millar explained.

Farmers also battled to access supplies of diesel and petrol to run their
farming equipment and deliver tobacco to the auction floors.

Zimbabwe faces a severe shortage of foreign currency, affecting almost every
sector and impeding the country's ability to import items necessary for the
agriculture and manufacturing industries.

A report in Zimbabwe's Financial Gazette last week said the National Oil
Company of Zimbabwe needed to raise between Zim $120 billion (US 148
million) and Zim $150 billion (US 185 million) to import fuel this year.

"It was very difficult for the newly settled farmers [the beneficiaries of
the government's land reform programme], because besides fuel, they also had
to deal with galloping inflation," Millar added.

Deliveries to the auction floors have been slow due to a drier growing
season but are expected to pick up by the end of May. Prices were about the
same as last year and quality was better, but production was still expected
to come in at a low 85 million mt compared with last year's 165 million mt,
and 238 million mt three years ago.

Millar said tobacco farmers had begun preparations for next year's tobacco
crops but needed assurances that conditions would improve.

"We need to know that we will have fuel and we need to have the confidence
that we won't face road haulage problems again next year," he said. He urged
the government and the Tobacco Growers' Trust - a representative body
allocated 20 percent of the foreign currency generated on auction floors for
distribution among its members - to prioritise sourcing fuel for tobacco

"We generate most of the country's foreign currency, so we deserve to be
given greater priority. There's no point in finding us tractors if we have
no fuel to run them with," Millar concluded.


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