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

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The Guardian

Unrest Continues On Zimbabwe Farms

Saturday November 3, 2001 6:40 PM

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - Wielding axes and sticks, ruling party militants
gathered on four white-owned farms and set up camps there Saturday despite
recent efforts to end the violent occupations of white-owned farms in

The militants beat a black farm worker after he refused to shout ruling
party slogans during the unrest in Guruve, said a spokesman for farmers in
the town, 100 miles north of Harare, Zimbabwe's capital.

The militants told hundreds of farm workers to stop working, saying they had
to make room for new black settlers on the land, said the spokesman, who
spoke on condition of anonymity saying he feared retribution.

White farm owners and managers of three of the farms locked themselves in
their homes for six hours, he said.

There were no arrests.

Police and government officials were not available for comment.

This most recent upheaval in the farming community comes despite a deal
signed Sept. 6 in Abuja, Nigeria, to end the violent occupations of
white-owned farms and political violence around Zimbabwe.

Farming leaders say they are also frustrated by the continued unrest, saying
they have offered to cooperate with the government in resettling landless

Zimbabwe's farming districts have been convulsed by chaos over the past 18
months, when ruling party militants began occupations of 1,700 white-owned
farms, demanding they be redistributed to landless blacks.

The government has since embarked on a plan to seize 5,000 farms - nearly
all the farms owned by whites - without paying compensation.

Opposition officials accuse the government of using land seizures to garner
support and intimidate opponents ahead of presidential elections scheduled
for next year.
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Land grab victims may get only £2,000
By Peta Thornycroft in Harare
(Filed: 02/11/2001)

WHITE farmers who receive compensation from the Zimbabwean government for
their illegally seized farms will be paid less than £2,000 each, according
to the annual budget announced yesterday.

The finance minister, Simba Makoni, said two billion Zimbabwe dollars had
been set aside for compensation in the land grab. With almost 5,000 farms
listed for seizure, and a free-market rate of 350 Zimbabwe dollars to the
pound, that equates to less than £2,000 per farm.

President Robert Mugabe has said he would pay no compensation for land, and
would pay for "improvements" over five years.

One prominent tobacco farmer, who asked not to be named, said: "The Zimbabwe
government is going to crook the valuations of our property, so we land up
with less than the costs of air tickets out of the country for ourselves and

David Haworth in Brussels writes: A group of MEPs is to seek to have eight
close political associates of Mr Mugabe banned from entering the European
Union, with any assets they have in the 15 countries frozen.

A British MEP, Nirj Deva, who is leading the initiative in which courts will
be asked to take action, said: "All of them should be made persona non grata
in Europe."

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'Just take it,' farmers say

News 24 - 2 November 2001

William T Bango, Media24 Africa Service

Harare - Zimbabwe's commercial farmers, desperate to get the government to
listen and let them continue staying on the land, on Friday surrendered 562
farms and R10 million for inputs under a scheme they call the Zimbabwe Joint
Resettlement Initiative (ZJRI).

Vice-President Joseph Msika accepted the donation, but castigated the white
farmers for "lying" to the Commonwealth Committee of ministries that there
were fresh farm invasions after March 2001.

Msika also attacked war veterans for occupying mission farms, plantations
and agro-industrial land as these are not supposed to be acquired

The Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) told the Commonwealth delegates who
visited Zimbabwe to assess the implementation of the Abuja agreement that
more than 800 commercial farms had been invaded after March 2001, when the
government was expected to halt new occupations after having accepted the
ZJRI initiative.

The CFU alleged more farms were being invaded, affecting operations and

The ZJRI is a joint programme between farmers and the private sector aimed
at offering an initial tranche of about one million for resettlement of more
than 20 000 families. It also seeks to create a revolving fund for the newly
resettled farmers.

Msika at the handover ceremony of the 562 farms measuring 1 038 000 hectares
at Retreat Farm in Bindura, 65 km north east of Harare said commercial
farmers gave the Commonwealth ministers exaggerated information in an effort
to discredit the government which wanted the Abuja Accord to work.

Msika said: "There are some people within CFU who are deliberately
misrepresenting the request for people to co-operate and work together
whilst some settlers are being removed and settled on other farms. Some of
these negative forces claim to be ZJRI members.

"Such people believe that the acceptance of the Abuja initiative means that
all problems should fall off within a day. I do not believe that because our
problems can be solved over a period of time by working together."

"If you (commercial farmers) are planting your crop and settlers come on
your farm, offer them a piece of land on the same farm for them to also
plant to avoid violence and confrontation," he said.

"To you settlers, do not touch the farm owner's property. Just remain there
and wait for the authorities to give you land using a shifting process."

This process, according to Msika, means that settlers may be moved from the
farms they initially occupied.

Dismissing Msika's allegations, ZJRI chairperson William Hughes said
disturbances continued in commercial farming areas.

The R10 million donated to the government is for crop and livestock inputs
packages s as a kick-start for new settlers on lawfully acquired farms.
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Threat of famine hangs over Zimbabwe

By Basildon Peta, in Harare

04 November 2001

Many Zimbabweans might not live to cast their ballots in a crucial presidential election early next year as a major risk of mass starvation continues to hover over this beleaguered southern African country.

A recent report by the privately owned Financial Gazette said nearly three million villagers had registered for food aid with the government. The worst-hit people had already started eating tree roots and leaves for lack of other food, said the newspaper.

Conceding that three-quarters of Zimbabwe's 12.5 million people were now living in abject poverty, the Finance Minister, Simba Makoni, warned last week that Zimbabwe urgently needed aid from abroad. But analysts say President Robert Mugabe will remain the major hurdle to efforts by some of his more moderate ministers to normalise ties with the donor community.

In his 2002 budget speech, Mr Makoni said the economy would shrink by 7.3 per cent in 2001. Inflation had reached 83.6 per cent – and that would be the average rate next year. But while Mr Makoni, a highly respected technocrat with no political weight, was urging Zimbabwe to re-establish ties with donors, the Foreign Minister, Stan Mudenge, one of Mr Mugabe's closest allies, was summoning British and European Union diplomats based in Harare to censure them for their countries' stance on Zimbabwe.

"It's as if the world owes Zimbabwe a living," said Lovemore Madhuku, a University of Zimbabwe law professor. "What all this proves is that Mugabe is determined to persist in telling the entire world that it's wrong and he is right."

At a meeting with the British High Commissioner and the ambassadors of Spain and Belgium, Mr Mudenge is said to have expressed dismay at the EU's "confrontational attitude" towards Zimbabwe. He also launched a broadside at Britain for violating the Abuja Accord, reached in September, on ending Zimbabwe's land crisis. The Foreign Minister wanted to know what Britain had done to release funds to pay for Zimbabwe's land reforms, and claimed Britain was mobilising international sanctions against Zimbabwe and supporting the opposition.

Given Zimbabwe's defiance, despite evidence of continual human rights abuses, Professor Madhuku said most Western countries were unlikely to be sympathetic to Zimbabwe's appeals for aid. But while Mr Mugabe has continued to condemn the donor community publicly, his government has in private appealed to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to help mobilise food aid worth £200m.

The president sent the Finance Minister to hold urgent private talks with Victor Angelo, the UNDP resident representative in Zimbabwe, reports said last week. But Masipula Sithole, a political scientist, said foreign donors were likely to go by Mr Mugabe's public statements, not his private appeals. "I don't see how the West can succumb to Mugabe's double dealings."

Another bank analyst, who preferred anonymity, said: "We have seen mass starvation in African countries like Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia and parts of Kenya, with no or very little intervention from the West. This was mainly because of the donor community's discontent with the regimes in those countries, and I don't understand why Mugabe thinks that he will get sympathy."

Zimbabwe needs to import at least 700,000 tons of wheat and maize to avert shortages caused mainly by the seizures of white farms for peasant resettlement, but has no foreign currency to buy it. Farming experts have predicted a 40 per cent fall in agricultural output this year due to the communalisation of the commercial farming sector.

Bread, maize meal and other basic commodities have also run short. Manufacturers have ended or cut production in response to a recent price controls decree. This was among measures Mr Mugabe introduced to return Zimbabwe to the socialist policies he abandoned 10 years ago in favour of economic reforms inspired by the World Bank and IMF.

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Saturday, November 03, 2001 3:02 PM
Subject: "Children are being raped"

Dear family and friends,
This has been a monumental week for truth and justice in Zimbabwe. For the first time in 19 months the outside world has acknowledged, through a court of law, that Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu pf party will not be allowed to get away with murder and torture, rape and burning. Now, more than ever before we all have hope. Every single one of us who has been a victim of an atrocity in Zimbabwe this last year and a half, now knows that perhaps justice will in fact be done. This week a US Court ruled that Zanu pf was liable for murdering and torturing its political opponents in the run up to last years parliamentary elections. Ruling in favour of 5 extremely brave Zimbabweans who had sought justice for their murdered relations, Judge  Marrero said: "The prevailing trend teaches that the day comes to pass when those who violate their public trust are called upon, in this world, to render account for the wrongs they inflict on innocents." Two of the five Zimbabweans spoke after the ruling. One said: "This decision lets Mugabe and his henchmen know that the civilized world will not allow their political terror to go unpunished." The other said: "at least I can tell my children I did everything in my power."
In view of this ray of light perhaps there is hope too for the school children being abused and raped in little rural schools near Kadoma and Gweru this last fortnight. Last weeks Independent newspaper reported on the horrors, telling how secondary school teachers and students are being forced to attend Zanu pf rallies and chant political slogans. One teacher said of the perpetrators: "They are armed and the police are doing nothing.... there are no normal lessons going on in Vutika secondary school." 7 schools have been closed and scores of teachers have fled. A Human Rights Lawyer, Gabriel Shumba, said "they are raping some of the school children. What kind of society is it that condones such activities." Asked to comment on the allegations, Assistant Police Commissioner Bvuidzijena declined to speak saying he was "busy". Perhaps, in the not too distant future, charges will also be bought against the thousands of police officers across Zimbabwe who have refused to act, refused to comment, refused to do what they are paid to do. For 19 months black and white Zimbabweans, men and women, professionals and peasants have been making reports to the police. Reports ranging from trespass and intimidation to rape, torture and murder. The police have done nothing, the criminals walk free, the police say "it is political". Perhaps they will also be made to answer for their criminal behaviour in the months ahead.
Zimbabwe's Minister of Finance presented the budget to parliament this week and the facts are beyond belief, I will only relate some of them. Minister Makoni stated that "75% of the population are now living in abject poverty". He said Zimbabwe's economy was set to shrink by a further 7.3% in the coming year and that the situation was now "perilous". Minister Makoni said there was a "shortage of teaching and learning materials... high levels of emigration which are robbing the country of badly needed skilled personnel ...revenue sources such as taxes are declining ... substantial deterioration in the balance of payments and a build up of external payment arrears ... health services continue to deteriorate." Minister Makoni told us that inflation is now running at 86% and that the country's economy had a negative growth rate in all sectors except mining and finance/insurance. Towards the end of his budget presentation Minister Makoni made this little speech which I thought may be of interest to the many thousands of Zimbabweans who have been forced to flee the country in the last two years. I quote in full: "We believe that there is potential for the country to earn foreign exchange remittances from non resident Zimbabweans. Many countries have arrangements that effectively tap into the foreign exchange earnings of their non resident nationals. We shall therefore study ways of mobilizing these foreign exchange resources..." A frightening thought that people have been forced to leave Zimbabwe for economic reasons and may find themselves forced to come back now for the same reasons. One last comment for this week. I studied the Budget 2002 Supplement in the Herald, read it all, tried to take it in and tried to put myself into Minister Makoni shoes. One whole page of the supplement is taken up by graphs showing parts of the economy. I laughed out loud at a couple of the graphs as I thought the printers had inserted them upside down. Then I realised, those graphs aren't upside down, they are illustrating the decline, the negative growth. Every single person in the entire country is now personally affected by 19 months of insanity. Every single one of us must now bear the consequences of the policies and practices of a party who have been in power for 21 years, we are all paying the price of our silence. Until next week, cathy
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Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe
Media Update # 2001/43
Monday 22nd October to Monday 29th October 2001


This week the Media Monitoring Project focuses its attention on
the media coverage of the visit by the Commonwealth Ministerial
Action Group to Zimbabwe to assess the progress being made
towards the implementation of the conditions set out in the Abuja
agreement signed in the Nigerian capital on September 6th between
Britain and Zimbabwe.
The government-controlled media launched a propaganda blitz
promoting government's insistence that it is complying with the
terms of the Abuja Agreement. Wild and unsubstantiated
conspiracy theories, and accusations of racism and division
abounded in the government-owned Press and, perhaps to a lesser
extent, on ZBC's bulletins. These were clearly designed to distract
their audiences from the real issue of examining government's
performance in restoring the rule of law and conducting agrarian
reforms lawfully, all of which formed part of the conditions of Abuja
but which the government and its media struggled to sideline.
Simple logic must ask government and the state-controlled media
the obvious question: Why else was the delegation visiting
The privately owned press also devoted considerable space to the
topic, providing a more credible and realistic impression of the visit
and the situation on the ground.
These diametrically opposed viewpoints once again set the two
media sectors (public and private) poles apart, a condition that is
often employed in a generic way to describe the media in
Zimbabwe. But this is a slack and misleading description of the
state of the media that demands deeper analysis.
First of all, it implies that both sectors are somehow extremist and
equally to blame for the polarization of the sources of information
available to Zimbabweans. This is not the case.
Government officials have repeatedly stated that state-owned
media organizations are obliged to reflect government policy and
opinion. It is also fair to say that being nominally accountable to
the electorate, the government is anxious to ensure that the media
it controls portray its activities and opinions favourably.
This agenda therefore, binds government-controlled media
institutions to a single narrow perspective that destroys any claims
they may make of reflecting a genuinely diverse range of national
activity and opinion and places their news output at one political
The intensity with which the government-controlled media
manipulate the news to communicate this one-dimensionally
flattering image to its audiences depends on a number of factors.
But it is certain that impending national plebiscites create a virulent
response from government to promote its opinions and manipulate
news of its activities to such a degree that the distortion results in
the most severe lack of balance or fairness and bears little
resemblance to reality. MMPZ's research during last year's
referendum and parliamentary election campaigns clearly
demonstrates this fact. And there is no denying that history is
repeating itself as the week under review confirms.
The privately owned Press, on the other hand, have no other
agenda than to make profit, which depends on readership and
which, in turn, depends on the credibility of its news output. While
political opinion varies (although not very widely) in the private
Press, their success or failure depends on their ability to report
events and opinions accurately and fairly.
Often these basic standards are not met for various reasons. But
when a government resorts to subverting all the instruments of
democracy in order to manipulate the outcome of an election,
including the electoral process, the extremism has not been
introduced by the private Press, but by the government itself and
the media it controls, which is obliged to defend the indefensible.
This is what causes the polarization of the media in Zimbabwe

There can hardly be a more classic example of this polarity
between the government-controlled and privately owned press than
the editions of The Sunday Mail and The Standard of October 28th.
Both newspapers led with reports on the outcome of the
Commonwealth team's visit to Zimbabwe, which was intended to
assess progress in the implementation of the Abuja agreement
under which Britain agreed to help fund a land reform programme
on condition that Zimbabwe conducted it in a lawful and orderly
manner, restored the rule of law and guaranteed a democratic
electoral process.
Under an entirely inaccurate headline, Thumbs-up for Zim, Club
ministers say State implementing its Abuja obligations, The
Sunday Mail's story charged that attempts by the opposition MDC
and other anti-government civic organizations to have Abuja
derailed had failed after the Commonwealth team  "confirmed that
the.Government was implementing its obligations".
But nowhere in the story was there a clear explanation, or even a
relevant quote from the Commonwealth team's communiqué to
support this claim. Instead, the paper distracted its readers from
this crucial issue by swamping them with allegations of racial
divisions within the Commonwealth team itself and how an MDC
MP had been "taken to task" by one of its delegates. It dismissed
the "pathetic" presentations from civic groups and the CFU,
describing them as "a flop", without presenting any evidence for
this, while the submissions of those groups supporting the
government line, were hailed as having "carried the day".
Its rival, The Standard, on the other hand, carried a straightforward
story under the heading, Government ordered to delist farms,
which was supported by relevant quotes from the Commonwealth
team's communiqué.
What none of the media managed to explain, or penetrate with any
great clarity, was the obscure diplomatic wording of the
communiqué. Nor did they provide a clear summary of the points it
made, or analyse whether it was indeed, a feeble fudging of the
issues the Commonwealth team had come to assess. But in its
calls on government to speed up the de-listing of farms and the
need to ".implement the entire process in accordance with
the laws and constitution of Zimbabwe," (ZTV 27/10 8pm)
among other appeals, The Standard fairly assessed that
"Government, through its failure to comply with the Abuja
accord, has, for the time being, effectively put paid to British
aid to fund land reform."
This was not the impression given by ZTV, although it initially aired
some footage of the Commonwealth group's chairman, Nigeria's
Sule Lamido, reading out some sections of the communiqué
without providing either comment or analysis. Viewers were left to
wrestle with the interpretation of the diplomatic jargon in the
communiqué until its main news bulletin the following evening when
it allowed the director of an obscure organization, Zimbabwe Land
Case Research, to do the hatchet job of providing an entirely
misleading analysis of the communiqué unchallenged.
ZTV's reporter, Judith Makwanya, allowed Noah Muzorori, the
ZLCR director, to endorse ZANU PF's perspective that Abuja was
only about funding Zimbabwe's land reforms when he said:
"(The) Abuja agreement is about the land issue as if affects
Zimbabwe-UK relations. These other issues of the rule of law,
electoral supervisors (sic) and the like, are peripheral
issues.These are issues which can be tackled in different
fora.We are looking at the Abuja agreement as it should
solve the Zimbabwe land issue."
Worse still, Muzorori was allowed to manipulate the
Commonwealth statement in such a way as to give the impression
that it had endorsed government's fast-track land reform when he
was quoted saying: "The communiqué stipulated that
Zimbabwe should solve the land issue within the context of
the law.That is what is happening."
No other analysis was sourced, although the national broadcaster
later adopted these claims and those made in The Sunday Mail as

Such distortions of reality provided the climax to a week of severe
manipulation in the government-controlled media.

Before the arrival of the Commonwealth committee, the state-
controlled media relied heavily on Foreign Affairs Minister, Stan
Mudenge, to promote the notion that Zimbabwe was implementing
the Abuja agreement.
ZTV gave a total of 38 minutes to the topic of the Commonwealth
team's visit in its Newshour bulletins during the week, representing
14% of the bulletin's total news time in the seven days. Stan
Mudenge alone was allocated 11 minutes. He first appeared on
Newshour (ZTV and all radio stations, 8pm) on October 23rd stating
that government ministers had visited a number of provinces to
monitor the situation in the commercial farming areas and ZTV
used this as proof that government was fulfilling its obligations.
MMPZ notes that accepting without question government ministers'
statements as truth has been the stock-in-trade of ZBC's coverage
of most issues relating to land reform.

After attracting lead story status in the government owned
Zimpapers' titles the following morning (The Herald and The
Chronicle 24/10) for his rejection of European Union demands to
send observers to next year's presidential election, ZBC (ZTV,
24/10, 8pm) accorded Mudenge another five minutes 30 seconds to
expand on his conspiracy theory about the motives of the EU that
appeared at the end of The Herald's story. Evidently taken from the
same interview, ZTV quoted Mudenge as saying: "That's how they
got rid of Milosovic (of Yugoslavia). They used the time they
got to organize the opposition, to pay for the opposition and
defeat Milosovic. That's what we don't want" Surprisingly,
Mudenge admitted that his argument relied on The Herald, a paper
whose credibility has been severely eroded by its unwavering bias
in support of government policies. Any professional broadcaster
would have sought comment from the EU, but not ZBC.
Mudenge's outburst was meant to reinforce increasingly strident
government accusations that Britain, a member of the EU with a
representative in the Commonwealth's "Abuja" committee, had a
hidden political agenda to persuade its partner states to impose
sanctions against Zimbabwe and contribute to the overthrow of the
This too, had been contained in another front-page story of the
same edition of The Herald ostensibly announcing the expected
arrival of the Commonwealth delegates. But once it had this piece
of information out of the way, the story degenerated into
speculative propaganda quoting "diplomatic sources" saying
"Britain was now trying to hijack the Abuja agreement and
'turn it on its head'".
Apart from attempting to discredit Commonwealth secretary-
general, Don McKinnon, for attempting to insist on a restoration of
the rule of law, the paper stated: "Fears abound that Abuja
would be 'abused' to divide African countries by Britain and its
allies in the 'white' Commonwealth."
The paper provided no evidence for any of this deranged racial
innuendo other than reporting that Mudenge believed "some forces
were working to undermine the Abuja agreement."
This attempt to undermine the Commonwealth delegation was a
theme Zimpapers pursued the next day when The Herald (25/10)
accused Britain, Jamaica and South Africa of not sending as high-
ranking officials as those at Abuja. Unnamed sources, as was the
case in most of the paper's stories under review, were used to
support this: "This is a way of making sure that no real
progress is made," they claimed. An editorial in the same edition
of the paper, EU's double standards abominable, transformed the
EU's demand to have election observers attend the presidential
election into a conflict between African, Caribbean and Pacific
(ACP) countries and Europe. Said the paper: "If demands and
ultimatums become the modus operandi of the EU-ACP
relationship, then the ACP countries have every reason to
believe that the partnership is only in word, and the reality is
worse than during the colonial era."
The article also seemed to have been calculated to gag the
Commonwealth team from pressing government to adhere to its
Abuja promise of guaranteeing a democratic electoral process,
among other conditions.
The Financial Gazette's (25/10) Zim threatens to dump Abuja,
underlined government's preoccupation with the possible damage
the Abuja agreement was likely to inflict on President Mugabe's
chances of winning next year's presidential election. In the story,
government is reported to have threatened to dump Abuja if the
Commonwealth team arm-twisted Harare into sticking to the pact.
It was no surprise then, that the next day, The Herald (26/10) led
with Stick to Abuja, in which the paper again reported Stan
Mudenge, warning the Commonwealth team against working
"outside the parameters of the Abuja agreement".
Mudenge also tried to squeeze out other visiting non-African
Commonwealth members by claiming that "the Abuja pact was
an African initiative by Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo".
"The countries involved in the initiative should not derail the
Abuja agreement in the name of the Commonwealth," the
paper reported him as saying. They should "serve both the intent
and substance of what President Obasanjo sent us to do".
Warned Mudenge: "The postman who takes it upon himself to
edit the love letter he is delivering has tragically misread his
service charter. Our ministerial committee must, while
laughing at this silly postman, be careful to eschew his
wayward way."
In fact, an earlier story in The Herald (22/10) reported a planned
"major" protest by the United States-based Friends of Africa to
thwart MDC, British, and American plans to push through the
proposed Zimbabwe Democracy Bill.
The story, speculative and mostly editorialized, relied on claims
made by an unnamed spokesperson of Friends of Africa and
supported by nameless diplomatic sources.
Speculated the paper: "The opposition MDC that engineered
and supported the Bill was now caught in internal squabbles,
violence and bickering, which militated against the Bill¹s
assertions that the ruling ZANU PF government was
responsible for political violence in the country."
The story also tried to convince the visiting Commonwealth team
that events had stabilized in Zimbabwe. "The fast-track
programme has virtually ended with the resettlement of over
130 000 families and that the Abuja agreement was holding on
the ground, not withstanding a smear campaign by the
Commercial Farmers' Union".  The private press responded to
this entirely notional claim with its own story: Mugabe ups
propaganda to dupe the world, The Financial Gazette (25/10).
This report claimed - without providing any source - that before the
Commonwealth delegation¹s visit, the Cabinet Action Committee
on Land, led by Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo, had
urged militant settlers to scale down their activities and create a
picture of calm on the farms.  At the same time, he issued an
ultimatum to all resettled farmers to move onto land allocated to
them or lose out in a bid to enable government to show that it has
a properly run land reform exercise.
The Reuters news agency story, Commonwealth mission may get
right words, but no action from Mugabe, in The Daily News (26/10)
also warned: "Mugabe¹s government has mixed charm with
belligerence ahead of the visit, promising total co-operation
with the Commonwealth, while attacking white farmers who
have questioned its commitment to the deals".
In its front-page comment No more games, The Financial Gazette
cited various cases in which government had contravened the
terms of the Abuja agreement. Noted the comment: "Thus the
visiting Commonwealth team and the entire community bear
the gravest moral and legal responsibility to ensure that not
only are these acts of madness stopped without delay but that
Zimbabweans do have minimum conditions under which a
free and fair ballot can be staged."
The Zimbabwe Independent (26/10) comment, Open letter to
Commonwealth ministers, chronicled the problems besieging the
Only the private press carried stories of the continuing violence and
intimidation in the commercial farming areas ahead of the
Commonwealth team's visit.
The Financial Gazette's stories recorded continued incidents of
violence on commercial farms and its effects on both farmers and
the workers.
Other examples are: ZANU PF supporters attack Madzimure¹s
house again, The Daily News (23/10); ZANU PF arms war vets, re-
ignites terror, The Zimbabwe Independent (26/10); Land invaders
assault Nyabira farm workers, and War vets impound maize, The
Daily News (26/10).
Allegations of racism characterized coverage of the Commonwealth
team' s activities in The Daily News and The Herald (27/10). In an
article nonsensically headlined, Fits of racial bigotry, The Herald
brazenly concocted a story about white commercial farmers who
"went into fits of racial bigotry" after they had been goaded  "to
mislead Club delegates" by one of the Commonwealth team's
delegates, Canadian Secretary of State for Africa, David Kilgour,
during a visit to one farm.
However, the newspaper, like ZTV's report the previous evening,
failed to provide a shred of evidence for its absurd allegations of
racism or bigotry against the farmers, let alone "fits". And the worst
crime it could find evidence for against Kilgour was his apparent
intervention in selecting a spokesman for the farmers in the area.
According to the paper, he had "stunned everyone" when he took
over the chairmanship of the meeting from Nigeria's Sule Lamido
and picked on Johannes Jackson to represent commercial farmers.
But the paper contradicted its own allegation when it quoted the
initial representative of the farmers in the area, Handrieks Erasmus,
as saying his replacement by Jackson was not at the behest of
Kilgour, but with the agreement of his colleagues.
In ZTV's story (26/10 8pm), Reuben Barwe reported that Kilgour
had invited the farmers' spokesman ".to paint another bad
picture about the whole resettlement programme," but denied
audiences the opportunity of hearing what he actually said.
ZTV's grossly biased coverage was again reflected the following
evening during Judith Makwanya's voice-over (ZTV, 27/10, 8pm).
Makwanya alleged that the committee was divided along racial
lines when ".the black committee realised that land is at the
core of the problems in Zimbabwe while Britain, Canada and
Australia were pushing for change of government." and
stated that white members had consulted on their own during the
delegation's meetings.
No comment was accessed from the members of the committee to
corroborate Makwanya's claims. Instead, the reporter went on to
quote unnamed 'reliable sources' who were quoted as having said
the "divisions emerged on the rule of law, good governance
and whether Zimbabwe had adhered to the provisions of the
Abuja pact since its signing..."

The Daily News' War vets attack whites (27/10) highlighted the
comments of the war veterans' representative who was quoted
openly threatening the white commercial farmers and warned them
to change their attitude or risk trouble.
The same story also linked the Commonwealth group¹s visit to the
European Union¹s demand that it be allowed to send observers to
the presidential election. Without referring to the clause in the
Abuja accord relating to the government 's commitment to ensuring
democratic elections, the story reported Commonwealth Secretary-
General, Don McKinnon, as saying the Commonwealth would not
insist on sending observers unless it was invited to do so by
It also carried a denial from McKinnon of unattributed allegations
contained in The Herald (24/10), claiming that he was part of a
group, led by Britain, that wanted to "hijack" Abuja in an effort to
drum up support for the opposition and oust the present
government. This effort to obtain some rebuttal of The Herald¹s
propaganda would have been most welcome, except for the fact
that The Daily News reporter included an allegation not contained in
The Herald story ­ that McKinnon was "raising funds to ensure
the Zanu PF government is ousted from power".
This prevailing belligerent atmosphere was reinforced in The Herald
comment, CFU lies: Time for final showdown (27/10).
The same issue of The Herald was awash with conspiracy
theories, including, Whites determined to see Abuja fail and, MDC
to get $10.2m UK funding. The first story, used belatedly, was a
warning to both the Commonwealth team and the impending visit
by a delegation from the UNDP that farmers were conspiring with
Britain, the foreign media, and some sections of the local media to
derail Abuja. The story was simplistic, propagandist and lacked
supporting facts.  In the second story, the paper again attempted
to portray Britain as a double-dealing country that publicly
supported Abuja, but was clandestinely sponsoring the MDC in
breach of Zimbabwe's Political Parties (Finance) Act. The story
conveniently used the bias of omission by denying both the MDC
and British authorities the right of reply.

From MMPZ- We appreciate your observations. MMPZ's reports
focus on the week covered, although reference is made to stories
outside the week where this is required.
We invite our subscribers to submit their observations on these
and other issues to MMPZ. Please keep your letters brief.

The MEDIA UPDATE is produced and circulated by the Media
Monitorng Project Zimbabwe, 15 Duthie Avenue, Alexandra Park,
Harare, Tel/fax: 263 4 703702, E-mail: { HYPERLINK
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Daily News

Government cannot have its cake and eat it

11/2/01 8:08:54 AM (GMT +2)

The behaviour of the government, as seen through Foreign Minister Stan
Mudenge’s totally irrational reactions to demands for it to make certain
minimum concessions in the on-going dispute between it and the rest of world
seems to suggest it is in no mood at all to compromise.

Mudenge’s tendency, which has become standard now, to cast aspersions and
level all manner of calumny at anyone and everyone who dares to demand that
Zimbabwe fulfils its side of whatever bargain it enters into is cause for
great concern.

All indications are that the government is determined to have its cake and
eat it.

It is an open secret that the wholesale forcible occupation of white-owned
commercial farms, glibly justified on the grounds that war veterans had
become impatient at the slow pace the government was acquiring farms for
resettlement, was a well-orchestrated political strategy to create an
atmosphere conducive to planting, without compunction, militant Zanu PF
elements in all rural areas to destroy support for the opposition by violent

That, precisely, is why one of the key clauses in the Abuja Agreements
compels the government to end all farm invasions, remove all farm invaders
from non-designated farms and restore the rule of law.

In other words the government is required, essentially as a quid pro quo for
financial assistance from Britain and its allies, to return the country to
its pre-February 2000 state.

But the government, through Mudenge, does not seem to see things that way.

Although in his own words, as reported in newspapers throughout the world on
7 September, Zimbabwe committed itself to ending farm invasions, it
continues to do the opposite.

We quote Mudenge: “The agreement we reached yesterday is a compromise. It is
a commitment by Zimbabwe to end land occupations and a commitment by Britain
and the international community to come to the aid of Zimbabwe in land

The reciprocal nature of the agreement could not have been made any clearer
than that.

The agreement makes it plain by its very terms that the onus of taking the
first move towards rescuing this country from its self-created economic and
political quagmire rests squarely on the shoulders of the government of

It would be to put the cart before the horse if Britain and its allies were
to be required to provide the money Zimbabwe is asking for to enable it to
carry out its land redistribution plans before they are satisfied that the
government of Zimbabwe has complied with its side of the bargain as spelt
out in the Abuja accord, as the government itself so mischievously insists.

Money from Britain and the international community will only start to flow
when there is visible evidence that the government has restored the rule of
law, stopped illegal farm occupations and ended political violence disguised
as a struggle for economic empowerment the so-called Third Chimurenga. In
fact international financial assistance is absolutely conditional upon the
government fulfilling those conditions and not the other way round.

Which is why the European Union, Britain’s indispensable partner in the
bargain, has made it a condition of future harmonious relations with
Zimbabwe our acceptance of its demands, among other things, to station
election monitors in this country almost with immediate effect.

That is the only way the international community can satisfy itself that the
government’s claims that it is complying with the Abuja Agreement are true.

For Mudenge to turn around and say, “we don’t want them to come here because
they will undermine the system in support of the opposition” is to be absurd
in the extreme.

What he really means is that the government has a lot to hide. How then can
it expect anyone to trust it?
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Daily News

Commonwealth lets us down - again!

11/2/01 11:58:17 AM (GMT +2)

Once again, Zimbabweans are seething with anger and feeling treacherously
betrayed by a Commonwealth team on which they had pinned all their hopes of
getting the whole civilised world to know the unbelievable, State-sponsored
lawlessness and violence they are living under.

More by design than by accident, we carried in this newspaper, on the second
working day of the Committee of Commonwealth Ministers on Zimbabwe, an
editorial comment pointedly headlined "Team must remember the McKinnon

In it we warned the committee against getting caught in the same trap as Don
McKinnon was when he and another Commonwealth fact-finding team came here in
May last year amid frightening reports of political violence perpetrated by
the ruling party against supporters of the
opposition MDC in the run-up to the June parliamentary election.

McKinnon had been hoodwinked into believing all was peaceful in Zimbabwe
after being prevented from seeing the mayhem taking place all over the
country. And so, we were pleading with the latest itinerants to avoid
similar pitfalls.

Editorials in The Financial Gazette and The Zimbabwe Independent were in
exactly the same vein. But, if the team's acutely disappointing communiqué
is anything to go by, those warnings and pleas were contemptuously ignored
by the Nigerian Foreign Minister, Sule Lamido-led band of merrymen.

The Mole strongly suspects that all that sorry mess came to us courtesy of
Stan Mudenge, who must have done "something" to the black
members of the committee - with the notable exception of the incorruptible
Baroness Amos - to ensure they all looked the other way each time the team
came face-to-face with damning evidence of the government's all-too-evident
systematic violations of the Abuja Agreement.

As a matter of fact, following the team's heavily sanitised and falsified
communique, Harare, for ever notorious as it is for rumour-
mongering, was abuzz with rumour that Mudenge had exploited a weakness
associated with Nigerians throughout the world to get Lamido "into the
government's pocket". "What with all that buddy-buddy, hearty jokes and
affectionate back-slappings between Mudenge and Lamido!" was the common
remark in the city's pubs.

In a way, it could be said that from the moment Mudenge concluded his
nakedly patronising address at the opening of the committee's two-day
meeting the team's exercise became largely academic because their
findings were already a forgone conclusion.

They were more or less told: "You cannot afford to report negatively on what
we are doing to fulfil our part of the Abuja agreement because you are
practically envoys of President Obasanjo who is a friend of President Mugabe
and you should not be seen to destroy that friendship."

In other words the team was merely being used to rubber-stamp a fait
accompli. That must be what infuriated intelligent members of the committee
such as Canada's Foreign Minister.

Well, if you don't agree with that interpretation of mine of
Mudenge's speech, then hear it for yourself and see if you can take it to
mean anything else. This is what Mudenge said to them: "We must keep on
reminding ourselves of the parameters within which we must work in order to
serve both the intent and the substance of what President Obasanjo sent us
to do.

"The postman who takes it upon himself to edit the love letter he is
delivering has tragically misread his service charter. Our ministerial
committee must, while laughing at this silly postman, be careful to
eschew his wayward habit. Abuja (Agreement), the love letter that this
committee is carrying to Zimbabwe, is complete as it is and carries all the
sentiments that Zimbabwe can warm up to."

There you have it, in black and white. Things are just fine the way they
are, so the committee was told. Please, don't rock the boat.

Enjoy yourselves during this all-expenses paid little holiday to Zimbabwe
and we will bid you farewell with hearty handshakes and broad "African

The team did just that and pretended to be extraordinarily woolly-minded
when it delivered its communique - which suited Mudenge and Mugabe fine.

The Mole is in full agreement with the sentiments of a journalist
colleague who, looking thoroughly angry and nonplussed, remarked:
"Except for Baroness Amos and that single-minded Canadian fellow called
David something, the whole lot were shameless sell-outs. I am sure their
palms were heavily greased."
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Daily news

Foot-and-mouth scare sends Nyamandlovu farmers into panic

11/1/01 7:19:53 AM (GMT +2)

From Our Correspondent in Bulawayo

FARMERS in Nyamandlovu, about 60km west of Bulawayo were in a state of panic
yesterday after a fresh outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease was detected on
Redbank Farm.

The Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU) and the Department of Veterinary
Services, yesterday confirmed the outbreak which threatens to throw the
country’s beef industry into crisis when it is already weighed down by new
price control regulations.

Ben Zietsman, the CFU regional director said the outbreak had been detected
on Redbank Farm which is owned by Mark Martins and the farmers’ union was
working together with the Department of Veterinary Services to contain the

“We are all concerned but we are hopeful it will be contained,” said

Foot-and-mouth disease was first detected in August this year at Willsgrove
Feedlot, which is about 15km outside Bulawayo.

The feedlot is owned by the Cold Storage Company which suspended its beef
exports when the disease spread to various parts of the country including
Masvingo and Beitbridge.

In previous years, Zimbabwe has struggled to meet the European Union beef
quota exports of 9 000 tonnes and a further 5 000 tonnes to South Africa.

The country had, however been expected to meet the requirements this year.
Beef exports to the European Union earn the country over $2 billion in
foreign currency annually.
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From ZWNEWS, 3 November

Frantic lobbying frenzy falls flat

The flight home to Harare by the government representatives must have been dismal. A week of frenetic lobbying by a Zanu PF delegation in Brussels last week had fallen completely flat, with the EU Council of Ministers invoking Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement, and European and developing country parliamentarians failing to deliver the support the Zimbabwe government had been expecting, and relying upon. The recent setbacks began with the snub delivered to the Belgian foreign minister, Louis Michel, by Stan Mudenge, his Zimbabwean counterpart the week before. The Belgians, who are the current holders of the rotating EU Presidency, had met with Mudenge to discuss whether Zimbabwe would allow an EU observer team to monitor the run-up to the presidential election, and the poll itself, which must be held by 17 March 2002. "We will not accept demands…," Mudenge said on his arrival back in Harare on 24 October. "We want to tell them don’t try the Milosevic in Zimbabwe" – a statement which clearly angered the Belgian government. The spat set the tone for the meeting of the EU Council of Ministers the following Monday, 29 October.

Under EU rules, relations between the 15 EU member states and the rest of the world are not a matter of majority voting, but must be unanimously accepted by all 15 EU foreign ministers. Any single country can therefore veto changes to EU foreign policy. The Zimbabwe government had been relying on the French government to come to their rescue, as it has done so many times in the past. French foreign policy towards Africa has traditionally been driven by two factors : their desire to maintain influence in former French colonies, and, the more cynical of European commentators would say, the more important aim of destabilising the influence of the British in the rest of the continent. More recently, France’s poor relationship with the current government of Rwanda (dating back to French support for the Hutu side in the Interwehamwe massacres) has also left them as natural allies of Zimbabwe in the DRC war. This time, however, the "Alliance Francaise" broke down. On the Monday, the French voted with all other EU states to invoke Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement - the treaty which governs relationships between the EU and former European colonies. A letter will be sent shortly asking for talks on the human rights situation, and a 60-day deadline has been set, after which punitive measures will be considered. The Zimbabweans were stunned.

The remainder of this last week was taken up with a joint sitting of the EU/ACP parliamentary group – linking parliamentarians from the 15 European countries and 54 nations from Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific. Decisions from this group cannot override policy by the EU council of ministers, but the Zimbabwe government was nevertheless determined to get some moral backing from the joint sitting. Further frenetic lobbying by the Zimbabweans, backed by the Namibians, began. Two motions had been put to the session. One, drawn up by European MPs, contained sharply-worded condemnations of the human rights record of the Zimbabwe government. It "insisted" that the EU council of ministers introduce travel bans and the freezing of the personal assets of President Mugabe and top Zanu PF politicians, that poll observers be allowed into Zimbabwe, that a special Commonwealth summit on Zimbabwe be called, and that there be close supervision of food aid to prevent it being used by the Zimbabwe government as an electoral tool. A second resolution, drawn up by Zimbabwe and Namibia, "deplored" the decision by the EU ministers to invoke Article 96, and offered general support for the Zanu PF view of the world.

The rules of the EU/ACP sessions are that resolutions can only be adopted if there is majority support in both the EU and ACP groupings – an overall majority is not sufficient. With two such diametrically opposed motions before the meeting, it was unlikely from the start that either would win support within both camps. With EU MPs backing their own motion, it would have required 27 of the ACP nations to vote with the EU for the resolution condemning the Zimbabwe government, and insisting on targeted punitive measures, to have been adopted overall. The Zimbabweans and Namibians were confident that their persuasive powers would result in the voting splitting neatly into voting blocs, with the ACP nations overwhelmingly backing their cause.

Not so. During the debate itself, speaker after speaker, from both EU and ACP groupings, stood up to condemn the behaviour of the Zimbabwe government towards its own people over the last two years. Zanu PF MP Edward Chindori-Chininga spoke in defence of his government’s actions, but, in an unprecedented move, MDC MP Abednico Bhebhe, was allowed to answer the Zanu PF claims. Mr Bhebhe is the MP for Nkayi who was abducted earlier this year by Zanu PF thugs and tortured for several days. Never before has an opposition MP been allowed to speak in rebuttal of his own government’s representative. Mr Chindori-Chininga then asked to reply, but was turned down. The voting confirmed the government’s fears. Out of 54 ACP nations, 17 voted with the EU MPs to condemn the Zimbabwe government – ten short of the required majority within the ACP group for the resolution to be adopted overall, but nevertheless nowhere near the solid backing the government had been expecting. There was also another defeat for the Zanu PF representatives. A compromise resolution, which, in the event, was never voted upon, was drafted by MDC MPs at the session and was backed by South Africa, Zambia, Botswana and Lesotho. It concentrated on the forthcoming elections, and set out a strict, dated, timetable for measures to ensure a free and fair poll. As the old adage says: "Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you".

From IRIN (UN), 2 November

IRIN Focus On Impact of Political Violence

As the shadows of the evening lengthen, the children still play freely out in the fields, but the elders huddle in their huts, speaking in low tones. You do not need to look hard to notice the unease that has settled over Mudzi, a rural communal area about 200 km northeast of the capital, Harare. More than 15 months after political violence rocked Zimbabwe during the run up to the country's parliamentary election, the memories are still fresh in Mudzi - one of the areas worst hit by the unrest. At least 35 people, most of them opposition supporters, died across the country in the violence that marred the country's watershed poll in which the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) offered the first credible challenge to the ruling Zanu PF's political domination.

The human cost of those events are still being felt in Mudzi. There is a suspicion of strangers and a guardedness that seems to reflect a new mood in the communal area as a result of the political campaign last year and the renewed politicking around Zimbabwe's upcoming presidential poll due in early 2002. At Katsande primary school near Nyamhanga village, one of the school teachers who would identify himself only as "Mr Chiwanza", told IRIN that the school had experienced no disturbances during the upheavals last year. Chiwanza insisted that he and his colleagues felt free and secure at the school, but he refused to give his full identity because, he said: "That would be just testing my luck too far, you never know what might happen."

Maria (not her real name) has been more seriously affected. She says she sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night screaming and calling her husband's name. She told IRIN she has "this constant fear and anxiety, which is sometimes accompanied by headaches and it never goes away". In May last year, at the height of the violence, a group of about 20 pro-government "veterans" arrived outside her homestead demanding that everybody should come out. They allegedly dragged her half-dressed husband out of the hut, accusing him of supporting the opposition MDC and started beating him with logs and iron clubs. Maria's husband died on the spot while her eldest son was left for dead. He died the next morning.

Francis Lovemore, a University of Zimbabwe (UZ) trained medical doctor, provides counselling to victims of violence and believes that the symptoms Maria reports are trauma-related. He heads the clinical department at Amani Trust, a Harare-based non-governmental organisation that has led research into political violence and torture in Zimbabwe. The psychological impact of Zimbabwe's political crisis is only slowly being realised. Of the several thousands of clients Amani has dealt with in the last 20 months, Lovemore said 75 percent required specialised counselling in stress management. He believes that much more needs to be done to address the growing numbers of socially damaging violence-related disorders.

The police say they are still investigating the death of Maria's husband and son. But the villagers in Nyamhanga IRIN spoke to said they could identify the killers if asked. Many of them are allegedly unemployed youths from the area. "There is a general perception among some people that the police are not doing enough to bring some of these culprits to book, but we are doing all we can to ensure justice is done," police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena told IRIN. Bvudzijena could not provide details of the investigation into the murders of Maria's husband and son, but he insisted that the police "are making impressive progress in all these cases".

Villager Samuel Chiromo has a different perspective. "The government has always regarded us as gullible and illiterate," he alleged. "It appears that after wrecking our lives so we could vote it back into power, we have been abandoned. No one can tell us who murdered our relatives or let alone do something about the killings." According to Lovemore, when victims "get the impression that nothing is being done against the perpetrators of violence, it only worsens their situation. But by far the main problem in rural areas is the lack of facilities or qualified personnel to deal with the various cases of stress disorder left behind by political violence." Deputy Health Minister David Parirenyatwa, himself a medical doctor, told IRIN that the public health system - the only source of health services for more than 95 percent of rural people - could in most cases only adequately deal with the physical injuries of victims of violence. "The physical aspect of it can in most cases be dealt with at the district hospitals. It is the mental scarring, the stress that results from the physical wound, that is difficult to handle," said Parirenyatwa.

From The Washington Post, 2 November

Al Qaeda cash tied to diamond trade

Freetown, Sierra Leone - The terrorist network led by Osama bin Laden has reaped millions of dollars in the past three years from the illicit sale of diamonds mined by rebels in Sierra Leone, according to US and European intelligence officials and two sources with direct knowledge of events. Diamond dealers working directly with men named by the FBI as key operatives in bin Laden's al Qaeda network bought gems from the rebels at below-market prices and sold them for large profits in Europe. Investigators in the United States and Europe are still trying to determine how much money al Qaeda derived from its dealings with the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), but they estimated the amount to be in the millions.

Since July, the sources said, the diamond dealers have changed their tactics, buying far more diamonds than usual and paying premium prices for them. Investigators said that is a strong indication that al Qaeda, perhaps anticipating its accounts would be frozen after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, sought to protect its money by sinking it into gemstones, a commodity that can be easily hidden, holds its value and remains almost untraceable. "When prices go up and supply goes up, it means someone is seeking to launder or hide cash, and we believe that is the case here," a US official said. "Diamonds don't set off alarms at airports, they can't be sniffed by dogs, they are easy to hide, and are highly convertible to cash. It makes perfect sense."

US and European intelligence officials, overwhelmed after Sept. 11 and with very few agents in West Africa, said they realized only recently how important the diamond flow was to fund al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. "I now believe that to cut off al Qaeda funds and laundering activities you have to cut off the diamond pipeline," said a European investigator. "We are talking about millions and maybe tens of millions of dollars in profits and laundering." The diamonds are mined by RUF rebels, who became infamous during Sierra Leone's civil war for hacking off the arms and legs of civilians and abducting thousands of children and forcing them to fight as combatants. The country's alluvial diamond fields, some of the richest in the world, were the principal prize in the civil war, and they have been under RUF control for the past four years.

Small packets of diamonds, often wrapped in rags or plastic sheets, are taken by senior RUF commanders across the porous Liberian border to Monrovia, according to sources. There, at a safe house protected by the Liberian government, the diamonds are exchanged for briefcases of cash brought by diamond dealers who fly several times a month from Belgium to Monrovia, where they are escorted by special state security through customs and immigration control. The diamond dealers are selected by Ibrahim Bah, a Libyan-trained former Senegalese rebel and the RUF's principal diamond dealer, the sources said. The buyers' identities are known only to Bah and a few others. Bah's contacts and sympathies were forged on the battlefield, according to intelligence reports and sources who know him well. After fighting with the Casamance separatist movement in Senegal in the 1970s, Bah trained in Libya under the protection of Col. Moammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader.

Like bin Laden, he spent several years in the early 1980s fighting alongside Muslim guerrillas against Soviet forces in Afghanistan. Bah then joined the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia to fight Israeli forces in southern Lebanon before returning to Libya at the end of the 1980s. In Libya, Bah met and trained several men who would go on to lead rebellions in West Africa, including Charles Taylor of Liberia and Foday Sankoh of Sierra Leone, the RUF's founder. Bah himself later fought in both Liberia and Sierra Leone.

According to intelligence sources and two people who have worked with him, Bah now acts as a conduit between senior RUF commanders and the buyers from both al Qaeda and Hezbollah, a Shiite Muslim organization linked to Lebanese activists who have kidnapped numerous Americans, hijacked airplanes and carried out car bomb attacks on U.S. installations in Beirut. Bah, who lives in the capital of Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou, declined through intermediaries to be interviewed for this article. In the past, he has refused to talk to UN investigators probing the region's weapons-for-diamonds trade. Senior RUF officials, who are overseeing the disarmament of the rebel movement as part of a U.N.-brokered peace agreement, said this week in response to a query from The Washington Post that they were shocked by allegations of Bah's dealings with terrorist organizations and would thoroughly investigate the matter.

How much money terrorist organizations made in diamond sales brokered by Bah is difficult to ascertain. A UN panel of experts estimated the market value of RUF "blood diamonds" sold in 1999 at about $75 million. But since the government of Sierra Leone and the RUF agreed to a cease-fire last year, diamond mining has greatly accelerated. Sources in the diamond trade estimate that the RUF receives less than 10 percent of market value for the diamonds it sells, paid mostly in the form of weapons, food and medicine. Taylor, who is now Liberia's president, receives a commission on each transaction in Monrovia, and Bah and the other brokers share the rest, according to sources involved in the dealings. Taylor repeatedly has denied involvement in illicit diamond dealings.

"Even if only 10 percent went to terrorist organizations, you are talking about millions of dollars in virtually untraceable funds, every year," said a European investigator. "That is enough to keep a lot of people going." European and American intelligence sources have long known that Hezbollah has raised significant amounts of money in West Africa through the largely Shiite Muslim Lebanese communities in Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Togo. There are an estimated 120,000 Lebanese in West Africa, mostly involved in import-export businesses. "Hezbollah is active in all these countries and are deeply involved in many businesses across the region," said one European official tracking the movement. "It is only a small part of the Lebanese community that is sympathetic, but many people contribute to them just to keep Hezbollah off their backs."

For at least 20 years, Hezbollah had also raised some cash through the sale of diamonds from Sierra Leone, intelligence sources said. Bah, they said, was long suspected of brokering diamond deals through buyers connected to Hezbollah, assisted by sympathetic Lebanese businessmen across the region. After Sept. 11, US officials began focusing more intently on the West African diamond network. Transcripts from court cases against al Qaeda members contained evidence that the network has people with expertise in the diamond business and who previously dabbled in the gemstone trade in Tanzania.

The connection to al Qaeda was cemented in September 1998, when Bah arranged for Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah to visit Monrovia, according to two sources. Abdullah was described on the FBI's recent poster of most wanted terrorists as a "top bin Laden adviser" who "helped plan a number of Al Qaeda's attacks." After spending one night in Monrovia, the sources said, Bah and Abdullah flew in a Liberian government helicopter to the town of Foya, on the border with Sierra Leone. There Abdullah met with a senior RUF commander, Sam Bockerie, better known as Mosquito, to discuss buying diamonds on a regular basis. The sources said the RUF did not know who Abdullah was but agreed to do business with him because of Bah's presence.

A few weeks later Bah arranged a visit for two more al Qaeda operatives now on the FBI list, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani and Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, the sources said. Together, they also met Bockerie, taking him $100,000 in cash and receiving a parcel of diamonds in an introductory deal, the sources said. Ghailani, the FBI alleges, is an al Qaeda operative from Tanzania who helped buy the truck used in the 1998 bomb attack on the US Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Fazul, from the Comoros Islands, is identified by the FBI as the "head of Al Qaeda's Kenyan cell" who had trained at a bin Laden camp.

Since the 1998 contact was made, Bah, through several Lebanese businessmen based in Belgium, has steadily expanded his operations in Monrovia. Sources identified the key brokers working with Bah as Aziz Nassur and Sammy Ossailly, two Lebanese diamond dealers based in Antwerp, Belgium. Nassur did not respond to numerous messages left on his voice mail. Ossailly's telephone was not in service. By the summer of 2000, Ossailly had moved to Monrovia, the Liberian capital, to oversee Bah and Nassur's diamond operation, according to people who knew them. He stayed until April.

Last January, Bah and the diamond buyers signed a three-year lease on a four-bedroom house in Monrovia. Ghailani and Fazul, who had left the region, returned to Liberia, then spent at least two weeks in the Kono mining fields in Sierra Leone, according to RUF members who identified them from photographs. They said the two had a satellite telephone they used to talk to "Alpha Zulu," the code name given to Nassur, according to sources. Sources said that because Ghailani and Fazul were light-skinned strangers who spoke little English, and therefore attracted attention, Bah asked Nassur to send in darker-skinned people, at which time he brought in Africans from Senegal. The Senegalese now staff the Monrovia safe house, where they watch videos of Hezbollah suicide attacks on Israeli troops and have plastered the walls with pictures of bin Laden and Hezbollah posters, according to two people who visited the house.

Two sources with direct knowledge of a meeting at the Monrovia safe house in mid-July said Nassur visited and asked the RUF to step up its mining activities. "At the meeting, Aziz Nassur, whom we call Alpha Zulu, asked the RUF to double its mining production and offered to pay a better price for what we mined," a source said. "General Bah sent Nassur to Monrovia to meet with us because he said it was very important." Nassur, according to the sources, was met at the airport by senior Liberian security officials and escorted through the VIP lounge without going through immigration or customs formalities. Now, said a US investigator, "Antwerp is awash in Sierra Leonean diamonds, and they are going through Monrovia."

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Letter to editor of Zim Ind.

Dear Editor,

MY horoscope in the Standard (October 28) told me that “ Monday would be my
lucky day”!

Several years ago, I vowed never to fly Air Zimbabwe due to numerous and
ongoing problems with huge delays, cancelled flights, double bookings to
name a few incidents.

However, since they are now the only airline that you can purchase tickets
and pay for in Zimdollars, I recently succumbed, naively forgetting all my
previous experiences, and booked a flight to Johannesburg for Monday,
October 29. This is where the nightmare of flying with a carrier that just
simply does not care about its paying passengers started.

I had phoned the airport in the morning to be informed that the flight was
on schedule, so made my way there at 5.45 am. Checking in took longer than
normal as the queuing system is still not up to scratch.

Boarding passes were hand written! Once inside the departure lounge, we
waited patiently for our flight. And waited, and waited. As a matter of
interest, in the toilets there were no hand or paper towels nor did the hand
dryer work!

This after only a few months of the new airport being commissioned! Once we
realised that the plane would be delayed, we asked for an explanation, but
none was forthcoming from any of the ground crew. Eventually we were
sheepishly told that the captain was late!

Not at any time was an official announcement made over the PA system,
passengers merely waited. When the captain eventually arrived two hours
later, he casually strolled through the terminal and onto the plane. (He may
have been another captain.)

Our two-hour delay meant we missed our first and most important meeting in
Johannesburg, and had to wait another two hours to join our associates. If
the captain apologised on the plane, we could not have heard as the PA was
inaudible. One crew member was rude and abrupt.

Later that day, we phoned Air Zimbabwe to enquire about the departure time
of the evening return flight. Again, we were assured that it would be on
time and that we should check in as normal.

Once inside the departure lounge we were informed, after having been told to
proceed to the departure gate, that the flight had been delayed by
one-and-a-half hours until 19.45. At 20.00 hours we boarded our bus, and
were made to wait there for another 45 minutes.
At 20.45 we were asked to go back into the terminal building and wait for an
explanation for the delay. There was no Air Zimbabwe ground crew to assist
us, nor were there any announcements as to why we were experiencing a delay.

Only when some of the passengers became hostile did an Air Zimbabwe official
appear in an attempt to rescue the situation. He too could at first give no
reason for the delay.

Finally, we were informed that the crew were unable to fly back to Harare as
they had exceeded their air hours quota for the day. They would need to
obtain permission from Harare before they could proceed. We were given no
indication if this permission would be forthcoming at all, suggesting that
we may need to spend the night in Johannesburg.

We were simply told to wait until they had received some feedback. No
refreshments were offered, and those passengers asking to disembark were
told that they could do this at their own expense.
Finally, at 22.15 hours we were told that we would be taking off, the whole
process having taken over six hours from time of check in! We finally
arrived in Harare just before midnight to find passengers for another Air
Zim International flight sleeping in the departure lounge. So much for this
being “my lucky day”!

I have only briefly described the events of the day, leaving out the anguish
caused by Air Zimbabwe’s inability to communicate effectively with its
passengers and its total lack and disregard for basic customer care.
Passengers travelling with small children were not shown any due attention,
and no offer of food for these children was made.

I will never fly Air Zimbabwe again. I would rather pay extra and fly with
reputable airlines who go out of their way to ensure customer enjoyment.
This I believe, will sadly never be achieved by our national carrier.

Never AirZim!
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