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

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Zim Independent - Editor's Memo

The snake charmer
Vincent Kahiya
THERE was once a famous snake charmer who taught his giant snake to wrap
around him and retreat at his command. He'd say, "Coil!" The snake would
wrap around his body all the way up to his head where it would lick his
face. Then the snake charmer would say, "Retreat!" And the snake would shyly
uncoil and slither across the floor.

This became such a great trick that he went on tour where auditoriums
exploded at his artistry in dealing with the pet snake.

One night he and the snake went on stage in front of the biggest crowd ever.
It was his big night. Like always, he said, "COIL!" and the snake coiled
around him but it began to constrict him. Everyone gasped. Then he said
"RETREAT!" Nothing happened. Again he shouted, "RETREAT!"

Still nothing. "RETREAT, RETREAT!" And there in front of the crowd the snake
crushed him and began to swallow him headfirst. The crowd thought this was
the charmer's new trick. Enthralled, the audience jumped from their seats
and exploded into applause with calls of "encore" as the curtain came down.

After the show, backstage, the charmer's assistant remembered how the poor
man got the snake. It was just a baby - so small he could have crushed it in
his hand. He played with it, let it grow and it became a source of his
newfound fame. It finally crushed him and swallowed him.

President Robert Mugabe's pet has been his disastrous agrarian reform,
severe food shortages and the accompanying economic meltdown, which have
spawned inflation of 139,9% and forecast to touch 522% by the end of next
year. Debate on the implementation of the fast track land reform exercise
has made President Mugabe - a master of deception - a "star". He has charmed
audiences with his oratory prowess, especially when taking a cheap shot at
the British or any quarter that does not believe that he is the greatest
thing that ever walked on the African continent.

In the filled auditorium in Sandton during the Earth Summit, South Africa in
August and in September at the United Nations headquarters in New York,
audiences applauded the septuagenarian leader's tongue-lashing against
British interference in Zimbabwe's domestic affairs. Meanwhile the charmer's
snake has continued to grow as the audience lusts for more feats of

The applause that has rung in auditoriums for our dear leader appears to
have given Mugabe another layer of thick skin. But it has not changed poor
villagers' diet from wild fruits to the sadza they should eat, after people
in 2002 voted for a responsible president who promised that noone would
starve. The applause has not filled shop shelves with bread, mealie-meal,
cooking oil, margarine, flour, sugar etc (The shopping basket is already
full of emptiness). The applause has not provided tillage to the new farmers
nor has it provided seed and fertiliser. It has not opened closed factories
or reduced the unemployment rate from the conservative estimate of 70%.

There is a real threat of a drought this season, which means another famine
on top of an already unfolding humanitarian disaster induced by the agrarian
reform and fictitious estimates given by Lands and Agriculture minister,
Joseph Made. Remember the Bible says: "If a ruler listens to lies, all his
officials become wicked." (Proverbs 29:12)

President Mugabe has used the applause to confuse national values
manifesting themselves through land reform with the survival of his
political order and protection of personal projects. If anything, it has
strengthened his resolve to engage in acts of bravado with the snake that is

President Mugabe, currently bubbling with youthful enthusiasm not matched by
the requisite strength and resolve to deal with the simmering national
crisis, will yearn to carry his snake to more international capitals and do
more tricks. But then there is always the looming danger of the snake
growing big enough to want to try new tricks on its handler. "COIL" RETREAT,

l Iden is away somewhere on the streets of Manhattan, New York where he went
to receive his World Press Review award.

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Zim Independent

Border says $650 mln lost to fires
Staff writer
BORDER Timbers said a fire on Charter Estates two weeks ago that was started
by illegal occupiers, has destroyed 21700 cubic metres of timber valued at
$650 million.

In a statement to shareholders, Border said around 60% of the timber would
have been exported.

The fire was started on October 17 and resulted in the loss of 755 hectares
of estate, including 395ha of forest, the company said.

"This fire, before it could be contained, had spread to the neighbouring
Forestry Company of Zimbabwe plantations and engulfed a significant area."
Border noted that its properties had now been delisted as a result of the
protection afforded to the company under the German-Zimbabwe Investment
Protection Agreement, but illegal occupiers have still not been removed
despite "repeated requests" to the authorities.

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Zim Independent

Donnelly trashes claims of diplomatic stand-off
Dumisani Muleya
THE government has contrived a phoney diplomatic stand-off with Britain in a
bid to distract attention from its catalogue of problems at home, a senior
British envoy has said.

Commenting on Harare's political fall-out with London in the latest issue of
Britain & Zimbabwe magazine, British High Commissioner to Harare, Brian
Donnelly, said government created a "false fight" to camouflage the
deepening political and economic crisis.

"The last three months have seen official relations between Britain and
Zimbabwe sink to their lowest levels since Independence," he said. "The
government's rhetoric blaming Britain for the country's troubles has become
louder and shriller as its own responsibility for the decline of Zimbabwe
has become ever more evident to the rest of the world."

Donnelly said government's claim that Britain wanted to re-colonise Zimbabwe
was ridiculous.

"The notion that Britain wants to re-colonise Zimbabwe - always
implausible - has become simply absurd," he said. "Why would Britain want to
take on responsibility for a politically-polarised nation with one of the
fastest shrinking economies in the world?"

The crack British diplomat said Zimbabwe had a trade surplus with Britain,
and Zimbabweans in Britain remit around £15 million each month.

"So who is colonising who? British interests, however defined, are best
served by a Zimbabwe at peace with itself and with a thriving economy. The
rhetoric makes no sense and it just isn't true."

Donnelly said government was determined to obfuscate real issues through

"The intent is clear enough: to cast Britain as the scapegoat. But this is a
false fight," he said. "It is not a fight which Britain seeks or wants. And
it could be quickly ended if the government were to change course and put
into practice the democratic values it repeatedly says in believes in."

Government, he observed, would not change to avoid self-destruction.

"It (government) seems determined to continue to move in the opposite
direction. The democratic space is still being progressively reduced by
actions clearly designed to discourage or prevent legitimate opposition and
to curtail freedom of expression," he said.

"The continuation of unsustainable and chaotic land reform policies which
have brought unjustifiable pain and suffering to farmers and farm workers
alike, threatens to mortally wound the key sector of the economy."

Although Zimbabwe used to be self-sufficient, he said, it had now become a
basket case.

"And on top of all this the country now faces famine. We understand that
small farmers produce 70% of the maize crop and that they were badly hit by
drought. This is not at issue," he said.

"But it is mismanagement that causes a drought to become famine.

Inadequate preparations despite ample warning; inadequate response,
hamstrung by economic and political policies which create obstacles rather
than smoothing the path."

Donnelly said Britain would continue to help Zimbabweans go through the
current man-made food crisis.

"But it is a matter of profound disappointment that we have to spend £32
million on emergency aid and assistance when we would rather have invested
the money in sustainable development, including a viable land reform
programme, in a country as full of potential as Zimbabwe."

The British envoy said Britain would not withhold food aid to influence
local policies because the masses would suffer and not the ruling elite.

"It is undeniable that aid donors are filling the gap government should be
filling itself," he said. "Britain does not think it is right that the
poorest and most vulnerable sectors of society should pay that price."
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Zim Independent

Strike cripples health delivery services
Blessing Zulu
THE crisis at two of the country's major referral hospitals, Parirenyatwa
and Harare Central, has taken a turn for the worse due to the crippling
strike by health workers, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.

Health workers on strike include laboratory technicians, pharmacists and
radiographers. The workers, who had been on a go-slow, went on a full scale
strike last Friday.

They are accusing government of reneging on its earlier promise to award
them a pay increase in October.

Dr Howard Mutsando, president of the Hospital Doctors Association, said the
situation at the hospitals was not sustainable.

"Patients are having a very difficult time as medication is now very
expensive," said Mutsando.

"If a patient is very critical we cannot do anything except send him/her to
private laboratories first so that samples are taken.

"Those who cannot walk have to pay for an ambulance to go into town. There
is an erratic supply of drugs at the wards as pharmacists who order and
issue out the drugs are on strike," he said.

Investigations by the Independent revealed that patients had to fork out
huge amounts of money for medical expenses.

An intravenous urogram (X-ray to check on urine flow) costs only $6 000 at
government hospitals but at private laboratories it costs $22 000.

Patients who are involved in road traffic accidents and need a scan (X-ray
to their skull) pay $21 000 at the referral hospitals and a staggering $90
000 at private hospitals.

One medical doctor at Parirenyatwa Hospital said they had no choice except
to revert back to the rudimentary methods of diagnosis.

"We have resorted to using 'bush methods' because no proper diagnosis can be
carried out when most workers are on strike," said the doctor.

Patients sometimes had no adequate food supplies.

"We are eating only one slice of bread these days," said one patient. "The
quality of food has been deteriorating although we are paying huge sums of

When the Independent visited the two hospitals this week, patients
complained that the situation was deteriorating each day.

Another patient said they were being compelled to buy syringes when they
wanted to be injected.

"Patients are being asked to provide syringes if they want to be injected,"
said Elton Mutsena, a relative of one critical patient.

"We have had to scrounge around for medicines as well and I am not sure
whether I will be able to continue to buy drugs. If this strike continues my
uncle will die," said Mutsena.

Dr David Parirenyatwa, the Minister of Health and Child Welfare, said he was
working flat out to rectify the problems afflicting health institutions.

"Tomorrow (today) I will be visiting all affected hospitals to assess the
situation on the ground," said Parirenyatwa.

"I will continue to negotiate with the paramedics and the Public Service
Commission to solve this amicably."

Parirenyatwa admitted that there were food shortages at some institutions.
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Zim Independent

Zimbabwe, SA to step up dialogue
Dumisani Muleya
ZIMBABWE and South Africa have agreed to step up talks to resolve the
deepening local crisis and tackle a range of other issues of mutual concern,
it emerged this week.

South African foreign ministry spokesperson Nomfanelo Kota said in an
interview this week the two countries agreed last month to engage in serious
dialogue after President Robert Mugabe met South African Foreign minister
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in Harare.

"They agreed that there is going to be a joint Zimbabwe-South Africa meeting
in six months," she said. "It was also agreed that there is need to continue
with the initial inter-ministerial initiative."

Dlamini-Zuma was in Zimbabwe on October 10-13 and met President Mugabe and
her counterpart, Stan Mudenge to discuss bilateral issues, including
Zimbabwe's deepening political and economic crisis.

South Africa was reported in the state media as having endorsed the Zanu PF
government's policy during Dlamini-Zuma's visit as she did not see "any

Kota said the two countries agreed to resuscitate the frozen
inter-ministerial talks, which failed to resolve the Zimbabwean emergency
due to lack of political will.

Zimbabwe and South African launched the inter-ministerial initiative after
the 2000 general election. South Africa had prepared a rescue package for
Zimbabwe but nothing materialised as only one meeting which included the
ministries of Finance, Agriculture, and Industry was held in Pretoria early
last year.

Kota clarified misrepresentations by the state media which claimed that
Dlamini-Zuma had said the media was exaggerating the Zimbabwe crisis.

"The minister was asked two questions by (ZBC's Reuben) Barwe," she said.
"One of them was: 'Minister do you believe the media determines the agenda
for Zimbabwe and South Africa?' She answered saying: 'I don't believe that
because the meeting we are having was not organised by the media'."

Kota said the state and private media which picked up the official press
stories misrepresented Dlamini-Zuma.

"She was interpreted wrongly," Kota said. "The other question from Barwe
was: 'Is there a looming bloodbath in Zimbabwe?' The minister answered
saying she didn't see any looming bloodbath. I have a transcript of that.
I'm very good in capturing what somebody says verbatim."

Kota said Dlamini-Zuma also said the media everywhere, including in South
Africa, wants to write negative stories.

This followed a leading question from Barwe, which claimed the independent
press in Zimbabwe painted a gloomy picture of the local crisis.

The leading questions and the responses thereof were reported in the
government media as original statements from Dlamini-Zuma.

"So tell me where was the attack on the media? Those issues were just blown
out of proportion," she said. "I have a record of what happened. There was
no press briefing as some media claimed. These questions were asked as we
were going into a lift after the minister paid a courtesy call on President
Mugabe at Zanu PF headquarters."
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Zim Independent

Zim elections a farce - analysts
Dumisani Muleya
ZIMBABWE'S engagement in antagonistic electoral politics is increasingly
becoming a farce and undermining prospects of economic recovery, analysts
said yesterday.

Commentators warned that as long as the country remained locked in hostile
and topsy-turvy politics, it would not emerge from international isolation
and its economic doldrums.

University of Zimbabwe (UZ) analyst Brian Raftopoulos said the current
volatile electoral politics could consign the country to a modern
totalitarian age.

"Clearly, what we are seeing is that these elections and by-elections are
becoming a farce," Raftopoulos said.

"We are confronted with an ominous re-emergence of one-party state politics
as a result of these seemingly endless elections which are diverting
national attention from real issues."

Zimbabwe has been gripped by bruising electoral combat since the February
2000 constitutional referendum. It looks set to continue on the same path
until 2008 due to forthcoming by-elections, mayoral polls, 2005 general
election and the presidential poll in six years' time.

The current political fever started during the constitutional reform
campaign and the subsequent referendum in which government suffered a shock
defeat at the hands of civic organisations in collaboration with the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Since the February 2000 referendum, the country has been reeling under
rancorous politics which have left bitterness all round.

Analysts say the legacy of the 2000 general election, the March presidential
poll, recent local government elections and on-going by-elections, has seen
serious divisions along political, racial and - apparently - ethnic lines.

Observers point out that Zimbabwe is now more fractured, fragmented and
rudderless than it was before 1999.

Although scores of people have died and thousands abused, the biggest
casualty of Zimbabwe's medieval politics, analysts say, has been the

UZ law lecturer and civic activist, Lovemore Madhuku, said resentful
politics were worsening the national emergency.

"We will not be able to do much in terms of dealing with national problems
if we keep involved in such elections," Madhuku said.

"For example, during the Insiza by-election, at least 10 ministers - from
the Vice-president right down - were camped there for about two weeks. That
is really unprogressive."

Government officials who swamped Insiza before the weekend by-election
included Vice-president Joseph Msika, Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi,
Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo, State Security minister Nicholas
Goche and Youth and Gender minister Eliot Manyika.

There was also Matabeleland South provincial governor Stephen Nkomo,
Masvingo provincial governor Josiah Hungwe and Information minister Jonathan
Moyo who, together with Zanu PF followers, literally garrisoned the

Madhuku said there was need for constitutional reform to revamp and
consolidate Zimbabwe's outdated electoral system.

"We can't continue to have this disjointed system in which you have
parliamentary, presidential, local government and mayoral elections at
different times," he said.

"In Kenya, for instance, all elections are held at the same time. That is
what we need."

Raftopoulos said the opposition should review its interest in bogus
elections to avoid damaging its image.

"The MDC should reconsider its participation in these elections because they
are being used to destroy it and to close the democratic space," he said.

"Zanu PF won't hold democratic elections because violence is central in its
strategy to continue clinging to power."

Madhuku said Zanu PF was now using "sophisticated forms of coercion and
violence" to win elections and pretend to be popular despite its economic
sabotage and thuggery.

He warned this sort of repression could end up producing extremist and
radical political groups.
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Zim Independent

Libyan fuel deal faces collapse
Vincent Kahiya/ Mthulisi Mathuthu
THE Libyan fuel deal has been mothballed amid revelations that government is
illegally availing itself of Independent Petroleum Group (IPG) fuel and has
to date built up a US$18 million debt in three months.

The Zimbabwe Independent has it on good authority that govern-ment
despatched a team to Kuwait, led by Noczim chairman Charles Chipato and
former intelligence operative Justin Mupamhanga to negotiate re-opening fuel
links with the Independent Petroleum Group of Kuwait. IPG last month
delivered, through the pipeline from Beira to the Mabvuku terminal, just
over 85 million litres of fuel.

This is more than the current consumption of between 60 and 70 million
litres per month.

No Libyan product has, however, been delivered in the past six weeks despite
last week's payment of US$9 million by the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe as
part payment of the US$65 million composite debt.

Industry sources this week said the Libyan suppliers were currently
secondary sources of the commodity as there were no real benefits from the
Libyan arrangement.

"In fact, the Libyan fuel is now 18% more expensive than what IPG is
charging," the source said.

He said Libyan suppliers had put a premium on the price because of
Zimbabwe's poor creditworthiness and their being prepared to bring fuel all
the way to the Mabvuku holding tanks without being paid.

The tenets of the deals between Zimbabwe and Libya have always been shrouded
in secrecy. The Libyans have reportedly protested that the oil-for-Zimbabwe
assets arrangement had not yielded the desired results, hence their fuel had
to be paid for in hard currency in line with supplies from other
international players.

The source said IPG was now doing exactly that but at a lower cost. However
relations are reportedly frosty following government's "theft" of IPG fuel.
More than 15 million litres have been illegally drawn down.

The Independent understands a consortium of Libyan businessmen, led by
Mustafa Tayeb Khattabi of the Libyan Arab African Investment Company.

The source said the government had kept the deal with the Libyans open for
the purpose of goodwill.

Zimbabwe and Libya this year renewed a US$360 million line of credit with a
Libyan bank for the supply of fuel. This has, however, failed to operate
normally because of Zimbabwe's failure to pay dues on time.

"It is now back to over-the-counter deals and the National Oil Company of
Zimbabwe is sourcing foreign currency on the black market to pay suppliers,"
the source said.

Libyan ambassador Mohammad Azzabi confirmed this week that a business
delegation from Tripoli was due in Harare "soon" but would not disclose
their names and mission.

"I don't know what they will discuss but we expect our people here soon,"
Azzabi said.

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JUNE 2002

The four female elephants that Alan Elliott refers to in his ‘Presidential Elephants of Zimbabwe’ coffee-table book are still sighted regularly on the Hwange Estate.
“Skew Tusk” (the matriarch of the “S” family group) is estimated now to be approximately 46 years old.  Her latest calf was born last July.  Having recently broken both of her tusks, she is less distinctive looking these days with her skewed tusk currently quite short.  She is, however, still doing well and is now totally at ease with vehicles, often wandering close to the research 4WD with her calf in tow.  Tuskless “Inkosikazi” (the matriarch of the “A” family group, who has been renamed “Annie” for study purposes), is now estimated to be approximately 50 years old.  Her latest calf is approximately 2 years old.  “Ridge” (the matriarch of the “W” family group, who, with a big “W” injury in her right ear, has been renamed “Wendy” for study purposes) also has a calf approximately 2 years old.  “Disc” (the matriarch of the “D” family group), still with her big floppy ear, seems to be spending increasing amounts of time on the Estate with her family group.
At least two of these elephants  -  “Skew Tusk” and “Inkosikazi”  -  based on the text of the ‘Presidential Elephants of Zimbabwe’ coffee-table book  -  have been known to be utilising the Hwange Estate as part of their home range for over 28 years, and still continue to do so.

The elephant groups are most regularly sighted around Konondo, Mpofu and Mtaka pans.  All three of these pans are pumped by ‘Touch the Wild’.  As long as water remains available, the elephants will no doubt continue to find refuge on the Hwange Estate.
The home range of the ‘Presidential Elephants’ is currently unknown, although it is believed that they spend time inside the National Park.  It is hoped, as part of the current ‘social structure and population dynamics’ study, that a number of elephants can eventually be collared (with microlites used for tracking purposes) in order to determine where the elephant groups go when they temporarily move off the Estate.

There is no doubt that the number of elephants on the Hwange Estate is increasing.  There is a predominance of young, with the current population seemingly dominated with calves under 10 years old.  There appears currently to also be an influx of calves under 12 months old.  Having witnessed, on a number of occasions over the past year, a clan of elephants at Konondo pan numbering in excess of 300, there is little doubt that their total number could currently lie somewhere in the vicinity of 400-500.
As soon as the in-progress photo identification library is more complete, an accurate population count will be determined.

Snared elephants are becoming an increasingly unwelcome sight.  Often effecting small calves, snares have been sighted around heads, around necks, around legs and around trunks.  Clearly, the poachers aren’t intending to catch an elephant, however it seems that the elephants are often the unfortunate victims.  Surprisingly, other animal species on the Hwange Estate are currently being sighted less frequently with snares.  Perhaps this is because the poachers are getting ‘better’ at setting their snares, and only the elephants are managing to break free from them.
Hopefully with funding from various local and international wildlife conservation agencies, and the advice of experts in the elephant field Africa-wide, we will be able to deal successfully with snare removal effecting the ‘Presidential Elephants’.  Plans are also in place to increase anti-poaching/anti-snare patrols on and around the Hwange Estate.

A study, separate to the long-term ‘social structure and population dynamics’ study, is currently underway to determine the impact of elephant on the vegetation of the Hwange Estate.  This PhD thesis is due to be written up by late-2003.

Mothers still routinely bring their new born babies for introductions.  Just last week one of the members of the “A” family group used her trunk to encourage her new-born (still pink behind the ears, with ears still flat against the head) to come just inches from the door of the research vehicle.  There was no doubt that the mother was encouraging her baby to have no fear.
We are continuing to foster an environment where there is, in fact, no fear for the “Presidential Elephants of Zimbabwe”.
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UPDATE  -  JUNE 2002 
       Prepared by SHARON PINCOTT
A thorough understanding of the social structure and population dynamics of the elephants on the Hwange Estate remain the key objectives of this project.
In order to be able to understand the population dynamics of the elephants on the Hwange Estate, sex and age structure estimates will ultimately be determined.  The age and sex composition of a population is influenced by such things as age at sexual maturity, age at birth of first calf, conception rates, birth and death rates, calf survival and interbirth intervals, all of which will be recorded.  Various behavioural and social characteristics such as changes in group size and composition will also be monitored.  
This is a study that would be impossible without first getting to know the individual elephants.  Individual identification is key to the findings that will ultimately follow.  Individually identifying hundreds of elephants is a time-consuming task, one that now, 7 months into my study, continues to dominate my daily observations.  Due to the severe frosts of last year, in combination with other factors unknown, the elephant families were only visibly active on the Hwange Estate for approximately 4 of these 7 study months.  Hence, individual identification still continues today, with good progress currently being made.
A formal naming convention has been instigated.  Elephants are being given names beginning with the letter assigned to their family group  -  e.g. all individuals in the ‘A’ family are being given names starting with the letter ‘A’.  A cross-reference to the adhoc elephant names previously assigned by past researchers is being maintained where practical.  Individual identification work continues.
Only when key identification is complete, will substantive data begin to emerge.
Some initial observations are summarised below, although it must be noted that longer-term, detailed observations of known individuals is required in order to be able to develop and substantiate early findings.  
Population Size
The ‘Presidential Elephants of Zimbabwe’ is an elephant population that can likely be expected to increase.  There is a predominance of young, with the current population seemingly dominated with calves under 10 years old.  There appears currently to also be an influx of calves under 12 months old.
A typical interbirth (calving) interval is said to be approximately 4 years (although this is yet to be confirmed for the elephants on the Hwange Estate).  It follows therefore that there could be birth peaks every 4 years or so, and that we are currently in the midst of one such peak. 
Trends in population size can, however, only be answered over time.  An accurate population count will ultimately be determined.
Elephants drinking multiple times each day
Because individuals on the Hwange Estate are known, it is possible to determine if the same elephants are returning to drink multiple times each day.  Family groups of elephants have been sighted drinking up to three times each day, often at the same, or closeby, pans.  The likely percentage of elephants returning multiple times to drink each day will be determined over time.  This has possible implications for waterhole game counts, given that when a population is not intimately known, the likelihood of counting elephants multiple times would appear to be high, resulting in over-estimates of elephant numbers.  
Oestrous, Musth and peak Calving periods
Previous records show that the peak conception period on the Hwange Estate is likely to be in January, at the height of the wet season when the cows are typically in top condition and many of the bulls are in musth.  With a 21.5 month gestation period, the majority of births, based on these previous records, would likely occur in October/November.  
Some of the older, highest-ranking males are currently in musth.  It has been documented in other African countries that high-ranking males time their musth period to coincide with the females aggregating into large groups, thereby increasing the probability that they will find an oestrous female.  My observations on the Hwange Estate to date suggest that May/June/July is a key period when large numbers of elephants often aggregate.  It is possible, therefore, that musth and oestrous periods will occur frequently during this current period when large aggregations of elephants can be observed.  Calves conceived during this period would be born during the months of February/March/April/May, which would coincide with the high number of small calves currently being sighted.
Three new-born babies, each only a few days old, were recently sighted on the same day.  They are amongst the high number of infants, all under just a few months old, currently being sighted regularly.  These three new-born calves would have been conceived in early-August 2000.  The rains were late in 2000.  The females would have presumably still been in good condition in early-August, and hence the frequency of oestrous in the females would likely have been high. 
More observations are necessary to determine peak conception/calving periods on the Hwange Estate, if indeed there is an actual ‘peak’. 
Family groups, Bond groups and Clans
When resources are plentiful, as they are currently, large aggregations of elephants can often be found on the Hwange Estate.  Many of the family groups combine to form what is generally referred to as a ‘bond group’, comprising a number of elephant families that are often related.  Bond groups combine to form even bigger groups known as ‘clans’, which comprise a number of family and bond groups that share the same home-range.  Elephants are not territorial.  As the dry season progresses these bond groups and clans will likely come together less often.  They will typically divide back into the smaller family groups in order to maintain foraging efficiency, as food becomes more and more scarce.  They may, however, congregate in large numbers for water. 
Greeting Ceremonies
Family groups are sometimes fragmented, even in current times of plenty, with some members of a family ‘missing’ from a group for lengthy periods of time.  An extraordinary greeting ceremony was witnessed recently when the matriarch of one family group was reunited with an adult female from the same family, likely to be her sister.  There was boisterous vocalisation combined with excited urination and emotional trunk entwining high into the air. 
Calf Mortality
Some calf mortality has been observed, with a number of deaths having occurred sometime during my end-December 2001 to end-April 2002 absence.  Calf mortality is said to be highest in the first 12 months of life.  Insufficient data has been collected to date to give calf mortality percentages, however this will be possible over time.  The factors appearing to impact calf survival will also be documented.
Twins & Suckling Another’s Calf
Twins are said to occur in less than 1% of conceptions.  There is at least one set of twins currently on the Estate.  These calves, one male and one female, are estimated to be approximately 1 year old, and are the calves of a matriarch.  They suckle her simultaneously.  One of the adult females in this same family group was recorded to have given birth in December 2001.  By May 2002 her calf was dead, but this adult female continues to lactate, and now occasionally suckles one, but never both, of the twins.  She is suckling calves that are not her own.  Ongoing observations are necessary to determine if such behaviour is common.

It is widely acknowledged that more information can often be obtained, with greater validity of results, if an elephant population is intimately known.
Individual identification and observations of known individuals continues.
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Business Day

UK to blame for Zimbabwe, claims ANC

Britain is just mouthpiece of Bush'
Parliamentary Editor

CAPE TOWN British defence secretary Geoffrey Hoon was taken to task by
African National Congress (ANC) MPs yesterday for Britain's failure to
fulfil its Lancaster House undertaking to fund land reform in Zimbabwe.

The harshly critical questions posed to Hoon during a briefing to
Parliament's defence and foreign affairs committees, was the most public
demonstration yet by members of the ruling party that they blame Britain for
the situation in Zimbabwe, and not President Robert Mugabe.

Hoon also came under fire from the MPs for Britain's failure to condemn the
military coup in Pakistan but for being highly critical of Mugabe and the
situation in Zimbabwe.

In reply Hoon said Britain was ready and willing to provide funds for land
reform in Zimbabwe but insisted it must be undertaken in terms of the rule
of law.

He said Britain was not prepared to hand over money that would end up in the
pockets of those exploiting the situation.

Hoon said Britain would honour its past undertakings if there was a chance
of real land reform in Zimbabwe.

The MPs accused Britain of having contributed to the "demise" of Zimbabwe
and of having "reneged" on Lancaster House undertakings.

Hoon said there was little evidence of the rule of law in Zimbabwe. Mugabe's
government had not been elected democratically and did not observe the rule
of law. He said Britain was pressing for democratic elections in Pakistan
and in Zimbabwe.

Britain was anxious about the situation in Zimbabwe out of its concern for
the people of the country. That was why the British contributed £32m in aid
to Zimbabwe last year.

Hoon was also criticised by the ANC over Britain's support for attacks on
Iraq, and was accused of being a mouthpiece for the Bush administration.

Hoon sharply rejected the suggestion and stressed that Britain had publicly
and loudly disagreed with the US on particular issues. He said Britain had
played "an enormously influential role" in persuading the US to go through a
United Nations (UN) process on Iraq.

He was proud of the role Britain had played and its position was that the
matter had to be determined by the UN and international law.

Hoon said any action against Iraq had to be in terms of international law,
otherwise Britain could not be part of it.

In reply to ANC MP Mewa Ramgobin, Hoon said that the world needed to take
the development of weapons of mass destruction very seriously.

"We could say we will wait but if left undisturbed they will develop nuclear

The UN resolutions had to be backed up by force "if not, what is the purpose
of the resolutions"? he asked.

Iraq and its leader, Saddam Hussein, had to understand that the
international community would use force to back up resolutions of the UN.

He said diplomacy should be the preferred way of dealing with the matter and
military action a last resort. "No decisions have been taken by the UK to
attack Iraq, I can guarantee that."

He said, however, that if threats of force were made then those making the
threats had to be prepared to "see it through".

ANC defence committee chairwoman Thandi Modise said there was concern in SA
over the increased US interest in Angola. She said there was a common thread
linking the US desire for attacks on Iraq and its interest in Angola and
that was oil.
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Business Day

Walkout widens rift in Zimbabwe farmers' union



HARARE Two leaders of Zimbabwe's Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), which
represents the country's white farmers, stood down as divisions deepen
within the union, it said yesterday.

In separate statements issued by the union yesterday, president Colin Cloete
and director David Hasluck are said to have resigned, but internal bickering
about how to respond to government's seizure of white farms has fuelled
speculation the two were forced to leave.

All has not been well within the ranks of the once powerful 4500member union
since the land reform exercise got underway, soon after voters rejected a
government-backed draft constitution in early 2000.

The draft constitution contained a clause that allowed the government of
President Robert Mugabe to seize white-owned farms without compensating the

Until then, the farmers enjoyed a good relationship with the government.

Mugabe on numerous occasions assured farmers their interests would be looked
after but all that changed after the rejection of the draft constitution,
when veterans of Zimbabwe's liberation war spearheaded often violent
invasions of white commercial farms.

Since the beginning of the crisis, the union has vacillated between dialogue
with the government and confrontation in the courts as the best means to
resolve the land seizure issue.

Cloete and Hasluck were seen as advocating dialogue while some union members
preferred the government to court.

In August, a group of farmers, disillusioned with the union's conciliatory
stance, broke away to form Justice for Agriculture (JAG) that is fighting
eviction orders issued to 95% of the white commercial farmers.

Hasluck raised eyebrows recently when he attacked former colonial power
Britain for ignoring the historical background to Zimbabwe's land reform
programme, and said Britain should help to pay compensation to white farmers
who have been forced off their land.

Mugabe took the bait and called on white farmers to join the government in
its "fight against Britain" over land reform.

Mugabe has accused Britain of reneging on a promise it made to fund land
reform in the country. Britain rejects the accusation, saying it will only
support land reform that is fair and transparent and reduces poverty.

So far 9154 whiteowned farms covering 17,4-million hectares have been
forcibly acquired by the government. The government says it has resettled
300000 landless blacks on the land.

While some farmers have complied with the eviction orders, the future of
those who have chosen to fight is in the balance as the government plugs the
legal holes whenever a farmer wins in court.
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      Of patriots, puppets and hypocrites

      10/31/02 10:42:46 AM (GMT +2)

      THE Herald, the authoritative voice on goings-on in the government,
quoted Information Minister Jonathan Moyo at length on September 27 this
year on the controversy surrounding elections that had been held two weeks
before by the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists.

      Lest I be accused of publishing falsehoods, the Herald quoted Moyo as

      "That is not an election. It's a farce. It's like Osama bin Laden
standing against George Bush for the presidency of Al Qaeda and waking up
the next day proclaiming resounding victory and having creamed the

      One may ask: who was being referred to as Bush and as Osama bin Laden
and which organisation was being compared to Al Qaeda? Food for thought.

      Since the year 2000, when political differences in Zimbabwe
heightened, various stakeholders with differing political views have been
involved in name-calling

      So polarised is Zimbabwe that you are viewed as either a puppet of the
West or a patriot, depending on how your opinions are interpreted by those
who want to maintain the status quo.

      Being a supporter of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU PF party qualifies
you to be called a patriot in Zimbabwe. That is the bottom line of the
definition of patriotism in this country today.

      If your beliefs are contrary to those of the ruling party, you are
labelled a puppet.

      Some among us, in striving to be more patriotic than others, have
become the worst hypocrites. Others have become bootlickers in their
praise-singing crusade.

      It's no wonder that the selective application of the law is the order
of the day. There are people within the political leadership of Zimbabwe who
have become a law unto themselves.

      As a country, we are reaching a stage where we are being schooled to
see and say no evil about the prevailing situation in Zimbabwe.

      In addition, the leadership in Zimbabwe now always sees a white person
in the background whenever any criticism is levelled against the government
by a black Zimbabwean.

      The government always sees the hand of so-called unrepentant
Rhodesians and the British.

      The problem with this theory is that it suggests that we, black
Zimbabweans, are incapable of publicly pointing out the ills that bedevil
our country without the help of a white man.

      It suggests a nation that suffers from an inferiority complex. It
suggests the leadership has little regard for the mental capacity of its own

      What is so superior about a white person?

      Do we Zimbabweans, need a white man to voice the concern that we are
starving in this country and that we have to queue for mealie-meal and
bread, which are in short supply, on a daily basis?

      Do we need a white person to complain about the general high cost of
living, which has resulted in wages chasing ever-rising inflation?

      Do we need a white person to tell us that the economy is crumbling and
operating on a parallel market?

      Do we need a white person to point out that health facilities are
collapsing and the cost of medical care is out of the reach of many
poverty-stricken Zimbabweans?

      Do we therefore need the help of whites to demand that the present
government acts to satisfy our needs and makes it possible for us to prosper
in our beloved Zimbabwe?

      The leadership in Zimbabwe should know that black Zimbabweans have the
capacity to think on their own and distinguish right from a wrong.

      The leadership should see problems for what they are and rectify them
and stop seeing the white person behind its own failings.

      In life, people - including leaders who are human beings anyway -
should accept failure and constructive criticism.

      One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter and, in the same
vein, one man's sell-out can be another's patriot.

      Rhodesians called Mugabe a terrorist at the height of the 1970s war of
liberation but the election results in1980 proved otherwise.

      In the light of recent name-calling and developments unfolding in our
beloved nation, history will best judge who are the true patriots and
sell-outs of our time.
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      The paradox of the land of milk and honey

      Canisio Mudzimu
      10/31/02 9:54:23 AM (GMT +2)

      In his world-acclaimed Nobel Prize acceptance speech of December 10
1964 in Oslo, Norway, Martin Luther King Junior elucidated his fervent dream
that "I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three
meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and
dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits".

      I do not know what King would have said today if he were still alive
to witness the limbo in Zimbabwe.

      Martin Luther King Junior was not alone in this dream as 16 years
later and on the eve of April 18 1980, Zimbabweans shared the same dream in
the midst of independence euphoria.

      The dream for many Zimbabweans was that the then Rhodesia, a "state
sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of
freedom and justice" in the independent country! The new political
dispensation was envisaged to usher in a gamut of opportunities for the
majority of rights-starved and economically sidelined Zimbabweans. It was an
adrenalin-pumping dream.

      Everyone ecstatically looked forward to an egalitarian country that
was "flowing with milk and honey", akin to the Biblical Promised Land of
Canaan which the "Israelites" had been promised by the powers that be soon
after being emancipated from the wrath of "Pharaoh"!

      It was purportedly going to be a country laden with abundance in every
respect: political sanity, food, economic impetus and development, human
rights and freedom, among many a sumptuous delicacies I cannot exhaust

      Zimbabweans were also promised to be extricated from the tentacles of
oppression and poverty but I am not at liberty to analyse the extent to
which these promises were fulfilled, or otherwise, lest I suffer from a
paralysis of analysis and be castigated an "unpatriotic" Zimbabwean.

      I should nonetheless, share with readers a quotation (that stole my
heart) by the talented William Shakespeare in Macbeth to the effect that "it
is a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury . signifying nothing".

      The unequivocal truth about Zimbabwe, 22 solid years after
"independence", is that the milk and honey are nowhere to be found and are
still nothing but unfulfilled promises. The painful reality about this
landlocked southern African country is that most people are regrettably
thinking of the days before "exodus" to the "Promised Land".

      All that the independent country has dished out in abundance are
hunger and starvation, escalating poverty, shortages and incessant queues!
Many things are in short supply in this sovereign country: sugar, cooking
oil, maize and maize meal, bread, foreign currency, tourists, democracy,
good governance and, worse still, common sense!

      Zimbabweans are dangerously and extremely hungry such that food has
become a prized phenomenon in the "New Canaan", just as ideas to salvage the
current comatose are to the powers that be of poor country. The hunger has
been exacerbated by the "sovereign" country's international relations that
are in utter shambles owing to the "patriots'" adherence to quick-fix
arrogant policies that are divorced from sanity.

      I am reminded of Exodus 9 verse 15 when God was determined to save the
Israelites from enslavement by Pharaoh and He made it unequivocally clear
that " for now I will stretch out my hand that I may smite thee and thy
people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the rest of the
earth". The only friends we are left with are our "brothers" the Libyans and
the Malaysians whose bona fides I am still to verify!

      Our international relations are in a deep quagmire because we have
stretched sovereignty too far and "spread patriotism too thin", to use
Theodore Roosevelt's words.

      It is a pity that the majority is suffering owing to demagogic
policies that are instituted by a few people who misconstrue this country as
a personal fiefdom.

      It boggles my mind as I reminisce the fate of many a Zimbabwean people
who made a "choice" and I do not quite know if Lucky Dube's words in "It's
Not Easy" apply in this context to the effect that "this choice I made didn'
t work out the way I thought it would"!

      The economy has been frog-marched towards the cliff-edge of
cataclysmic doom and all that is left is debris!

      Inflation is incessantly galloping towards horrendous heights;
unemployment levels are ballooning beyond elastic limit; the Zimbabwe dollar
is grossly overvalued (this has fuelled a thriving black market); and the
architects of this republic are Pharaoh-hearted about devaluing the Zimbabwe
dollar notwithstanding overwhelming economic indicators to that effect!

      I will not zero in on ever-plummeting real wages that have gone well
below the pre-1980 levels lest I be labelled an "unpatriotic" citizen!

      The agricultural sector of a country that once boasted being the bread
basket of southern Africa has been suffocated by a fast track land
resettlement programme that, prima facie, sought to alleviate poverty
through addressing the skewed land ownership in the country, but has
unfortunately aggravated the limbo by being everything but planned and sane!

      All that we have grown is hunger and the emaciation of the "liberated"
Zimbabweans. Luther's three-meals-a-day dream has been turned into a
nightmare for Zimbabweans who have been reduced to chronic patients of
anorexia nervosa!

      The promised freedom has "come" in form of the replacement of
draconian pieces of legislation with worse demonic indigenous ones that have
been overhauled through the august house of Parliament.

      This reminds one of Keith Richburg's assertions in Out of America when
he beamed that in most African countries, "power simply passed from a white
dictatorship to an indigenous black one and the end result has been more
repression, more brutality".

      My heart bleeds with pain when I reminisce the architects of this
republic's penchant determination to crush the opposition and turn this
country into a one-party state. I am equally incensed by the replacement of
the repressive Law and Order Maintenance Act (LOMA) with the Public Order
and Security Act (POSA) and a bonus shoddy one in form of the dreaded Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) which has dealt a fatal
blow to the journalism fraternity.

      If there is anything that Zimbabweans have had in commendable
abundance, then it is suffering and worse suffering, proving Winston
Churchill's saying correct that the land of milk and honey is nothing but
"blood, toil, tears and sweat"!

    a.. Canisio Mudzimu is a freelance writer. He can be contacted on
e-mail address
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      The hour for martyrs has dawned

      Taungana Ndoro
      10/31/02 9:52:02 AM (GMT +2)

      The outcome of the Insiza by-elections and the recent local government
elections did not show that the ruling party is gaining popularity, it also
did not show that the opposition is losing support but what it did show is
that apathy and cowardice amongst us have become the backbone of Robert
Mugabe's undemocratic hold on the country.

      Apathy is clear when people just do not go and vote and cowardice is
obvious when people refuse to act; first by being fearful of going to vote
and secondly by lacking the bravery to stage a palpable protest to end the
rot which is feeding on their happiness.

      At this juncture it is undisputable that the law of this land does not
apply to citizens with voices that oppose the ruling party and it is now
cause for great concern when the opposition continues to rely on these
courts yet a violent hand has clearly written on the wall that it will not
tolerate voices that call for democracy, human rights, good governance and
national development.

      Opposition supporters, including the late Learnmore Jongwe, have been
subjected to serious violence because there is no law to protect them in
this country.

      It is therefore shocking that whenever the oppposition is brutally
attacked it rushes to the very same courts that have failed to protect them.

      The Shona will say "kwadzinorohwa matumbu ndiko kwadzinomhanyira"
meaning opposition supporters always seek solace from the very courts that
treat them like dirt.

      The opposition seems to be filled with slow learners who erroneously
believe that democracy will be dished to them on a silver plate.

      The MDC leaders in particular, must spare a sobering thought and ask
themselves why a cloud of apathy and cowardice has suddenly engulfed the
people. No one will ever convince us that it is not the intimidation by ZANU
PF that is causing apathy and that it is not the lack of courage by MDC
leaders that is causing cowardice.

      It follows that to fight apathy the people must fight intimidation by
stubbornly refusing to show fear.

      Perhaps a small quote from Malcolm X will help clarify the suggestion
here: "It doesn't mean that I advocate violence, but at the same time I am
not against using violence in self-defence. I don't call it violence when it
's self-defence, I call it intelligence."

      Therefore to fight cowardice MDC leaders must be courageous enough to
use Malcolm X's beautiful notion of intelligence.

      That notion also wavers on the premise that if the people are given a
thorough understanding of the vile nature of what confronts them and the
basic causes that produce that wickedness (in our case Mugabe and ZANU PF)
then they create a sound agenda based on a workable action plan.

      Nobody must wait for hunger to drive them mad because although a
hungry man is an angry one, he is also the feeblest and feeble people cannot
protest. Thus feeble people in Insiza could not have protested when they
were being intimidated to vote for the ruling party.

      An objective analysis of the miserable events taking place in this
country today can only but point towards some ultimate showdown with the
shameless government.

      One may call it mass action, a revolution, a stayaway, a go-slow or a
political showdown or even a confrontation between the oppressed and the
oppressors, the haves and the have nots, whatever way one may wish to define
it - that stand-off is here!

      The hour for martyrs has dawned and if I am to be one, it will be for
the cause of democracy.

      Learnmore Jongwe - God bless his soul - was a martyr, even at his age.
There is therefore, no reason why the people should continue to weep and
gnash their teeth when they can sacrifice their lives for the good of their

      Martyrs die for what they believe in and so if there is anyone who
believes that the present government must go, then I must repeat - the hour
for martyrs has dawned!

      It is not the time to endorse a decaying system of governance that has
seen us fatigued in long winding queues for all the basic commodities. It is
certainly not the time to tolerate such a system but to destroy it.

      That is the only thing that can save this country.

      People are wallowing in dire poverty and hunger has crept past their
thresholds and it will not depart before families disintegrate.

      Hunger will not depart before Mugabe is gone and Mugabe will not
depart unless the people mobilise to dethrone him in any way that ensures
his exit.

      Civic groups such as the National Constitutional Assembly and the Free
Zimbabwe Movement must be seen organising the opposition and the people of
this starving nation to form one thick queue facing State House rather than
supermarket warehouses.

      If hunger can make people so systematic that they form orderly queues
for crucial foods, then why is it that a sense of justice and dignity cannot
make them methodical enough to combine these various queues into one solid
march enroute to Chancellor Avenue and petition the President for a few
minor favours?

      Such a realistic favour as his resignation is hardly too much to ask
for since it is abundantly clear that he has failed to govern even beyond
his cronies' doubt.

      The people in the urban areas are Zimbabwe's last hope. They have been
silent because hunger had not yet made a meaningful mark in their
households. Now it has spread from the rural areas to the cities and towns
where it is making the loudest and most horrendous impression.

      Nobody needs to be advised that a protest, which will dwarf the 1998
food riots a hundred-fold, remains the final resort for redemption.

      This showdown is here and if you are not prepared to die, then remove
the word "food" from your vocabulary.

       a.. Taungana Ndoro can be contacted at
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      Will the troops shoot to kill eight months after? (Part 2)

      10/31/02 10:40:30 AM (GMT +2)

      THIS is a continuation of the theme we were discussing last week.

      The question is: what is the likely behaviour of men and women in
uniform and dark glasses eight months from the March 2002 controversial
presidential election?

      By way of recapitulation, we made the observation last week that:

        a.. Beyond the uniform and dark glasses, men and women in uniform
and dark glasses were fellow citizens who have a sense of right and wrong
just like you and me;
        b.. Unless there is a coherent and credible plan to get the country
out of the political and economic mess it is in, time is coming soon when
the troops will not shoot at fellow citizens legitimately protesting the
government's ineptitude;
        c.. By responding with the recent wave of "Rhodesian-like" draconian
legislation, those that are responsible for advising the government in this
crisis have either become bankrupt of ideas or they are reactionaries of the
worst kind;
        d.. The eight months since the controversial presidential election
have allowed us all to reflect and take an audit on our rulers;
        e.. The country is fast reaching a consensus about the source of its
misery; and
      Men and women in uniform and dark glasses are part of this emerging
consensus since they are part of the general citizenry.

      What else is there to say about the likely behaviour of men and women
in uniform and dark glasses, you might ask? It is as follows:

      Institutionally, men and women in uniform and dark glasses are the
last guarantors of constitutional order and good governance in any society
before the general citizenry takes steps to demand a new social contract or
social ordering of things.

      As other institutions of good governance - parliament, judiciary and
executive - fail or get perverted, the military (if it does not also become
perverted) begins to assess the situation with a view to executing its
constitutional duty to protect the country and sovereignty of the people and
their right to be governed well. This is generally difficult without a
national consensus that the affairs of the country are being poorly run.

      My view is that Zimbabwe has reached that national consensus that the
affairs of the country are being run or managed badly.

      But the problem arises from the fact that, in Zimbabwe's case, the
military as an institution may have been perverted or corrupted by the
political guardians deliberately to gain their loyalty when things come to a
head. The show of support on the eve of the March presidential election is a
case in point to support this hypothesis.

      This possibility is real if what we hear of "goings-on" with diamond
rackets in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is true. Even if the
United Nations report about our top army commanders' involvement in "blood
diamonds" were half-true, it reflects and smells very badly of an army that
was once praised as one of the finest by international standards of the same

      (By the way, I learn of late that DRC stands for the "Diamonds"
Republic of the Congo. How apt a name!)

      About three weeks ago, the Daily "Truth" came out with a front page
story from a Spanish newspaper (El Pais) and we asked what one would expect
from Geoff Nyarota and his contacts in foreign papers.

      Today we hear the same unpatriotic stories from the world body, the
UN. All we can say is that the UN report is "the work of groups that were
opposed to Zimbabwe's involvement in the DRC in the first place".

      This is unsatisfactory. Maybe they had opposed our involvement,
precisely because they suspected our reaction to the sight of diamonds.
Apparently they were right.

      Rine manyanga haripu-tirwe. You can't conceal the truth forever,
particularly where so many are involved. Even if it were a small group - and
48 people is a crowd!

      They will start squealing on you as you fail to meet their demands for
payment to keep quiet. Some will squeal to clear their conscience, even
among chefs. It has happened before when Eddison Zvobgo, then minister
without portfolio, came clear on the excesses of the Gukurahundi in

      The strategy that we will silence them by giving them "40 acres of
land and a mule" (the "mombe mbiri nemadhongi mashanhu" strategy) won't
work. In fact, it adds pain to injury when those who never fought in the DRC
war, or in any war for that matter, allocate themselves huge farms and build
mansions for their families from these reportedly "illicit diamonds".

      Lithi abantu ababoni? Bayabona vele. Munoti vanhu havaoni? Vanoona
mbune. You think people don't see? They see very clearly.

      Prior to its involvement in the DRC, our military had performed its
international duties with exemplary excellence. You name it: Somalia,
Rwanda, Kosovo, Mozambique and so on (even RENAMO is still dumbfounded with
what happened at Gorongoza in 1985!).

      Until the DRC, the UN has been citing the Zimbabwe Defence Forces with
high praise in its international missions. Namuhla sokwenzenjani? Ko nhasi
zvaita sei? What has happened today that the same UN singles us out for

      No, no, no, don't give us that Blair and Bush nonsense because Britain
and America are not new arrivals at the United Nations. They have always
been there. Tirikushaisha veduwe-e-e; let's admit we are mistaken, people.

      A parallel discourse or debate about these issues and contradictions
is raging among men and women in uniform and those in dark glasses. Like in
the civilian debate, there are basically two camps: those who want the
status quo to continue. Like in its civilian counterpart, this group is
getting smaller and smaller.

      And there are those who are for change. Similarly, like their civilian
counterparts, they are getting more and more numerous.

      Like in the civilian discourse, the debate is beginning to narrow down
to individual and institutional responsibility.

      Seemingly, all is well in Parliament, but it is not; it cannot be.
Seemingly, all is well within the judiciary, but it is not; it cannot be.
Seemingly, all is well within the presidency, but it is not; it cannot be.
And again all is seemingly well within the uniformed forces, but it is not;
it just can't be.

      It is the strain of contradictions in the latter that is often the
straw that broke the camel's back. It is about to. But in what direction
should the camel run to?

      People make mistakes. For goodness sake, why not admit making mistakes
and we move ahead? (Part Three? Maybe).

      Professor Masipula Sithole is a lecturer of political science at the
University of Zimbabwe and director of the Harare-based Mass Public Opinion
Institute. While he is currently on sabbatical leave in the United States of
America, Sithole can be contacted at e-mail address and
telephone number (202) 429 3819.
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FinGaz - Comment

      Insiza's wake-up call

      10/31/02 9:58:48 AM (GMT +2)

      INSIZA'S parliamentary by-election result is a final wake-up call to
the opposition MDC to urgently re-think the wisdom of its participation in
Zimbabwe's national elections that are held under the present uneven playing

      The MDC's participation in these polls, while understandable by all
democrats, has merely served to confer a semblance of legitimacy and
respectability to such elections.

      As shown once again by events in Insiza, these elections are almost
always accompanied by political violence meant to influence the outcome of

      Furthermore, the very electoral rules under which these plebiscites
are held are patently unfair if only because they virtually appoint the
ruling ZANU PF, one of the contestants, to be the prosecutor, jury and judge
at the same time.

      In reality, the election rules favour the governing party, which in
turn ensures that the entire election machinery is staffed by personnel who
either belong to ZANU PF or are its fervent sympathisers.

      In the case of Insiza, one of the MDC's campaigners, Darlington
Kadengu, was shot at in violence that must surely have intimidated him and
other opposition followers.

      Then, one of the MDC's chief election strategists in the area claims
to have been ordered out of the province until after balloting after being
accused of fomenting violence there.

      The MDC's own election candidate for Insiza, Siyabonga Ncube, had to
flee the constituency for his safety after being twice attacked by groups he
and other witnesses said were ZANU PF members.

      Ncube has quoted police as saying they could not guarantee his safety
if he remained in Insiza, a claim so far not repudiated by the law
enforcement agency.

      Then we had the issue of food handouts in the famine-hit area. The
internationally respected World Food Programme (WFP), a United Nations
agency, publicly accused ZANU PF youths of seizing three metric tonnes of
its maize which it said were later dished out to ruling party followers in

      The UN agency subsequently halted the food distribution. The
government, which accused WFP's food distribution partner in Insiza of being
an MDC sympathiser, then decided to increase its maize handouts there at a
time when most villagers had no food.

      It then became a case of "hungry voters choosing between the MDC and
maize", as one Zimbabwean newspaper, the Daily News, reported on Tuesday.

      We note that both police and election officials have publicly said
that the actual balloting at the weekend went off peacefully and yet
questions must indeed be asked on the effect of the pre-poll violence
against MDC officials on the actual election result.

      Could the large number of Insiza voters who did not turn up to cast
their ballots - more than half of the registered voters - have anything to
do with the fear of retribution, as happened after both the 2000
parliamentary election and this year's presidential ballot?

      ZANU PF's use of violence as a tool in elections, plus the highly
flawed electoral rules which cry out for an immediate overhaul, must surely
make the point to the MDC that its participation in polls to try to bring
about democratic change is not serving any purpose.

      In other words, the opposition party must go back to the drawing board
to examine its options in the face of very serious challenges that it faces.

      But what could the party do, many are asking, pointing to a virtual
government ban on industrial strikes and mass stayaways which the MDC and
its supporting partners have in the past used as a political weapon?

      In the circumstances, others searching for a possible solution are
asking whether there could be a compromise government of national unity
between the MDC and ZANU PF, at least as suggested by presidents Thabo Mbeki
and Olusegun Obasanjo of South Africa and Nigeria respectively.

      But a quick and sharp answer to this suggestion, at least from ZANU PF
's perspective, has all but killed this thinking. President Robert Mugabe
has made clear that such a government is not only a non-starter but that
ZANU PF will not countenance it.

      So the MDC has been left with very few, if any, other viable options.
Many in the land, clearly tired and angered by ZANU PF's misrule of two
decades, are anxiously waiting for answers.

      We ask: could the opposition party be facing possible annihilation by
an entrenched ZANU PF, which is determined to use everything and anything to
remain in power?
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      Striking teachers barred from leaving Zimbabwe

      10/31/02 10:06:44 AM (GMT +2)

      JOHANNESBURG - The impasse between striking teachers in Zimbabwe and
the government over better pay continued this week as a further 230 teachers
were served with letters of suspension.

      So far close to 700 teachers have been ordered not to turn up for work
following a break-down in talks between the government and the Progressive
Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), the union said.

      "Contrary to reports, none of the 627 teachers that were fired had
been reinstated. In fact, just today (Tuesday) 230 of our members received
letters of suspension. They have been ordered to stay away from schools,"
PTUZ spokesman Macdonald Mangauzani said.

      Mangauzani added that the suspension held for three months and that
teachers would not be remunerated during this time. Moreover, teaching staff
would not be allowed to leave the country without the permission of the
ministry of education and could not seek other employment while under

      The teachers, who began the nationwide strike on October 8, are
demanding a 100 percent salary increment backdated to January this year and
another 100 percent cost of living adjustment backdated to June.

      On Monday, Education Minister Aeneas Chigwedere announced that the
government would assess the conditions of service for teachers in a move
that will see them receiving hefty salary increments in January next year,
the state-controlled Herald newspaper reported.

      Zimbabwean teachers are among the poorest paid in the region. A high
school teacher takes home $20 000 (US $365) a month - IRIN
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      11 MDC Insiza poll agents assaulted

      10/31/02 10:06:13 AM (GMT +2)

      BULAWAYO - Eleven election agents of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) in the just-ended Insiza parliamentary by-election
were rounded up on Monday night and severely assaulted by suspected ruling
ZANU PF supporters, an MDC spokesman said this week.

      But police in Gwanda, the provincial capital of Matabeleland South
where Insiza is located, said they were not aware of the alleged attack.

      MDC officials in Bulawayo named the victims as Khumbulani Mlotshwa,
Themba Moyo, Fiso Nyathi, Thulani Ncube, Nkululeko Sibanda, Mester Sibanda,
Oxford Nyoni, Agnes Sibanda, Keziya Dube, Simbarashe Ncube and Zodwa Mathe.

      MDC provincial spokesman Victor Nyoni said the 11, who served as
polling agents during last weekend's Insiza parliamentary by-election won by
ZANU PF, were rounded up from their homesteads in Fort Rixon on Monday night
by ZANU PF militia.

      They were then allegedly detained and assaulted at a secret location
in the area. They were reportedly released yesterday morning.

      "They are seriously injured. I have personally ferried all the injured
to a private hospital in Bulawayo. They are all in bad shape," Nyoni said.

      ZANU PF officials in Matabeleland South this week said they were too
busy celebrating their party's Insiza victory to comment on the matter.

      "Call Britain for comment," said one ruling party official in the
Gwanda office, repeating government and ZANU PF claims that the MDC is
backed by Britain.

      "My bosses are out celebrating this sweet victory. Go away."

      In Bulawayo, ZANU PF youths clad in green military fatigues of militia
being trained under the guise of national youth service stoned the regional
offices of the MDC during their victory celebrations earlier this week,
leading to running battles with opposition supporters.

      The façade of the MDC offices and several vehicles, including those
belonging to passersby, were extensively damaged in the hour-long
skirmishes. MDC youths retaliated by stoning ZIDECO, a private college owned
by ZANU PF's deputy commissar Sikhanyiso Ndlovu.

      - Staff Reporter
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      CFU refuses to hold ballot on evictions

      Staff Reporter
      10/31/02 10:04:58 AM (GMT +2)

      THE Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) national executive this week threw
out requests by members to hold a referendum to determine whether the union
should launch litigation against the government's mass eviction of farmers
from their properties.

      CFU vice president Doug Taylor Freeme said the union, rocked by
squabbles which culminated in the resignation of CFU president Colin Cloete
and director David Hasluck earlier this week, had refused to heed calls by
many of its members to call for a referendum. He declined to comment

      Most of the CFU members had expected the council to call for a
referendum after Tuesday's meeting so that members could vote on whether
they wanted the union to represent them in challenging the government's
eviction notices.

      "We are not going to have any referendum on the issue," Freeme told
the Financial Gazette after Tuesday's meeting.

      A senior official in the council said the union's leadership was
afraid that members would have overwhelmingly voted for the CFU to represent
the white farmers in litigation against the government.

      The insiders said some remaining members were threatening to pull out
and cease their subscriptions, the mainstay of the CFU, if the leadership
continued to refuse to yield to their demands.

      Figures from the CFU show that between 600 and 1 000 members out of an
original 4 500 registered farmers two years ago are still farming. The rest
have been evicted from their farms by the government under its controversial
land reforms.

      The official said members questioned the leadership's wisdom in trying
to engage the government in the face of forcible evictions and when
President Robert Mugabe and his senior officials had already ruled out talks
with the CFU.

      The government says the CFU leadership should drop all court action as
a precondition for dialogue, which the white farmers' body had done after
the March presidential elections.

      But the CFU only found to its grief that the government sought to use
this to accelerate its land reforms of seizing more farms without paying

      In November 2000, the Supreme Court ruled that the government's land
acquisition programme was illegal. But last year in November, the same
court - this time headed by newly appointed Chief Justice Godfrey
Chidyausiku - ruled that the programme was legal.

      CFU insiders say following the government's amendment of the Land
Acquisition Act in which farmers were given 90 days to wind up their
operations by mid-August this year, members then approached its leadership
to challenge the evictions, but Cloete's executive refused hoping for an
amicable end to the matter.

      A CFU official said: "The leadership argues that why use the courts in
a country where justice has been perverted and where we will be
steam-rolled, but members are saying it still does not help to do nothing as
very few farmers are still on the land.

      "Members say that the policy of remaining quiet or of appeasing the
aggressor has not worked, hence the need for the CFU to spearhead the court

      Meanwhile it emerged this week that Taylor Freeme is tipped to take
over the presidency of the union from Cloete, while Jerry Grant - currently
deputy director for commodities - would be appointed to the position of full
CFU director to replace Hasluck
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                  Rautenbach's DRC role

                  10/31/02 10:04:17 AM (GMT +2)

                  LAST week we published an article regarding a report
submitted to the United Nations' Security Council by the panel of experts on
the illegal exploitation of natural resources and other forms of wealth of
the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

                  In our article, we summarised parts of the report which
were relevant to Zimbabwe. Inter alia we said:

                  "The UN investigators said a network of Zimbabweans led by
Mnangangwa and also including controversial private businessmen such as
Billy Rautenbach, a Zimbabwean facing criminal charges in South Africa, had
turned Harare ' into a significant illicit diamond trading centre'".

                  Following publication of the story by the Financial
Gazette, Mr Rautenbach telephoned our offices and spoke on separate
occasions to our Assistant Editor Nqobile Nyathi, who was then acting as
Editor-in-Chief, and our News Editor Abel Mutsakani.

                  He told both that he had not been involved in any trade in
diamonds from the DRC and that he was not mentioned at all in the report. He
said that the UN investigators who had compiled the report had cleared his
company of any wrongdoing.

                  Mr Rautenbach also told us that it was not correct to say
that he had a case to answer in South Africa. He said that the courts in
South Africa had recently cleared him, as was evident by a recent court
order requiring South African authorities to release a number of his assets
that had been seized pending the determination of various allegations
against him.

                  Mr Rautenbach felt that our report had tarnished his name
and demanded that we publish a satisfactory correction. We suggested that Mr
Rautenbach, or his lawyers, should provide us with the correction which he
required to be published but Mr Rautenbach declined to do so.

                  We would like to clarify the fact that there is no
statement in this report suggesting that Mr Rautenbach was involved in any
diamond trading.

                  However the report, which makes a number of adverse
comments in regard to the involvement of Zimbabweans in mining concessions
in the DRC, does in fact mention Mr Rautenbach, contrary to his allegations.

                  What it says about Mr Rautenbach is the following:

                  "Zimbabwean Billy Rautenbach headed a joint venture cobalt
mining company and was Chief Executive of Gecamines from November 1998 to
March 2000. Although stripped of his cobalt concessions in Katanga, Mr
Rautenbach told the panel that the government of the DRC had offered his
company, Ridgepoint International, mining rights to Gecamines concessions at
Shinkolobwe, which include substantial deposits of uranium, copper and
cobalt. Mr Rautenbach's representatives said that any new agreement would be
subject to the new mining code of the DRC and any uranium mining operations
would be open to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency."

                  Immediately following these statements, the report goes on
to say:

                  "Such high levels of mineral exploitation would be
impossible without the collusion of highly placed government officials who
provide mining licences and export permits in return for private gain. The
panel has compiled extensive documentation of such facilitation."

                  These statements were intended to refer to the reported
deals of Zimbabweans and others in mineral exploitation in the DRC.

                  The report also states:

                  "Although Ridgepoint International, run by Mr Rautenbach,
the previous foreign investor in the Kababankola concessions, had to operate
with much more dilapidated processing plants, it generated more than $20
million profit within eighteen months of taking over."

                  The dollars referred to in this report are US dollars.

                  As to Mr Rautenbach's suggestion that the recent South
African judgment, which released his assets previously held by South African
authorities, effectively cleared him of all allegations, it is our
understanding that this is not entirely correct.

                  Firstly, we understand that the South African court
ordered the release of Mr Rautenbach's assets inter alia on the grounds of
procedural irregularities in the seizure thereof.

                  Secondly, we understand that that order is the subject of
appeal on the part of the authorities.

                  Thirdly, we understand that it has not been possible for
the South African authorities to make any progress with the prosecution of
the allegations which they have against Mr Rautenbach due to his continued
absence from South Africa since late 2000.

                  South African authorities have repeatedly stated that they
would like to have Mr Rautenbach extradited to South Africa to enable them
to complete their investigations and prosecute the allegations to
completion, but that their efforts have not been successful.
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