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Daily News - Feature

      For how long shall we endure this 'tomfoolery'?

      11/7/02 9:03:30 AM (GMT +2)

      LAST week's emotional announcement by President Mugabe that
multi-national oil companies should import fuel because his government will
not continue "cracking its head" on how to source foreign currency for fuel
which is subsequently sold to the multi-national companies which, in turn,
sell it at a profit was a thinly veiled admission of failure by a man who
once said no-one else could manage this country's economy better than

      Mugabe told an economic gathering in Gweru that it made no sense for
his government to "crack its head" importing fuel, incurring losses and yet
oil companies with well-built and attractive service stations sell the
commodity at a profit.

      He said the companies did not experience "headaches and stomach aches"
he experiences because of "cracking" his head about fuel supplies for the

      He said for 22 years he had been having what he termed tomfoolery, and
wondered for how much longer he could continue "superintending an
institution of tomfoolery".

      His remarks must have surprised a large number of people who have been
closely following the goings-on at the State oil company, the National Oil
Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim), its debts and allegations of possible fraud,
and fuel that went missing at the Mozambican port of Beira.

      The speech exposed how Mugabe's administration is either a one-man
affair or a real "institution of tomfoolery", as he himself stated.

      Calls and suggestions have been made since 1980 by various parties,
including prominent economic opinion-makers, that the government should
close down Noczim and let private enterprise import fuel as was the case
before Ian Smith's Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) on 11
November, 1965.

      Each time that suggestion was made, Mugabe's government strongly
opposed it, saying that petrol and other fuels were strategic commodities
which should not be controlled by private business corporations lest they,
the corporations, sabotage the country's security and economy.

      The rationale was, of course, a piece of "tomfoolery" in that the vast
majority of governments throughout the world do not get directly or
indirectly involved in the importation of fuels. That is done, like most
other goods, by appropriate business enterprises. The argument made economic
sense only to the economically senseless.

      The Zanu PF administration's psychology seemed to have been that if
Noczim's predecessor served the Smith regime successfully, it would do
likewise for the government of Zimbabwe. The Zanu PF leadership lost sight
of the fact that the Smith regime's era was characterised by virtual
universal hostility as represented by United Nations economic sanctions and
the fuel embargo against the UDI regime.

      It was vital for that regime to create an administrative apparatus to
ensure the procurement of fuels by hook or crook. That need fell off with
Zimbabwe's achievement of independence in 1980. That apparatus should have
been dismantled, and a normal business environment created to import fuel.

      Mugabe's habit of pointing an accusing finger at other people or
organisations but himself whenever there is a national problem, is a major
personality weakness of this man who, in 1980, was a political darling not
only of most Zimbabweans, but of most Third World nations.

      Today, he sees multi-national oil companies profiting from his
administration's "aches". What should they do? Sell the fuels at a loss?

      What he should emphasise is his government's folly to try and get into
trading because a government's duty is to administer, and not to buy and
sell. It is only a very few national requirements, such as arms, that should
be procured by an arm of a government.

      Mugabe's reference to "tomfoolery" was most significant, and can be
applied to other parastatals and some government departments such as the
police force which has been turned into an arm of Zanu PF.

      Instead of the Zimbabwe Republic Police paying their undivided
professional attention to the protection and promotion of the Constitution
of Zimbabwe, they are now concerned more with the protection and promotion
of Zanu PF interests against those of opposition parties, especially the

      It is sheer "tomfoolery" for a national police force to adopt a
partisan modus operandi because that prejudices them against some segments
of the nation whose Constitution they must vigorously uphold at all times.
Zimbabwe is constitutionally a multi-party state, and it is the duty of the
police, the judiciary and other arms of the State to acknowledge and respect
that fact.

      Another piece of "tomfoolery" in Zimbabwe occurs with incredible
regularity in the country's ministries of education where teachers are
treated with disdain and virtual contempt.

      How can a ministry remain as silent as a grave when its servants are
terrorised and harassed by people some of whom do not appreciate the value
of the services provided by those professional servants? That silence is
worse than "tomfoolery", to say the least.

      How does the Zimbabwean government find it just and acceptable to
suspend, sack and punish some of the country's teachers, while granting some
(university lecturers) their just demands? What is the rationale behind that
type of biased action?

      We also come across a lot of "tomfoolery" in parastatals such as the
Zimbabwe United Passenger Company(Zupco), a company whose transport services
used to be second to none a few years ago. What has it done?

      Rather, what has it not done? Zupco has dismally failed to upgrade its
vehicles and modernise services to cope with both competition and demand.
Instead, it has remained rooted in the past millennium when the rest of the
corporate world has moved with the times into the new millennium.

      We also come across a great deal of "tomfoolery" in the National
Railways of Zimbabwe, a massively loss-making parastatal whose services are
characterised by thievery and shoddy delivery.

      The former Posts and Telecommunications Corporation is yet another
institution where a great deal of "tomfoolery" was experienced a couple of
years ago when some form of restructuring led to retrenchments involving
unbelievable bonanzas of golden handshakes which the parastatal could

      The latest piece involved the State-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Corporation, where several hundred employees were laid off, only for the
financially gasping organisation to give them millions of dollars in
severance packages.

      I have always deeply wondered how a highly educated group of people
such as those comprising Mugabe's Cabinet can fail so palpably to run such a
small country as Zimbabwe.

      But now, Mugabe's speech at Gweru on 30 October 2002 seems to explain
why. It would appear that these people seldom, if ever, seriously put their
heads together to analyse the real causes and effects of the country's
socio-economic problems.

      They are obviously no more than superficial, public rally

      Do you remember Mugabe's Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural
Resettlement, Joseph Made, boasting that he had flown over the country and
had established that there was enough maize for the nation?

      If that was not unadulterated "tomfoolery", nothing is. But he is
still holding his portfolio in Mugabe's Cabinet.

      Mugabe's speech has also revealed that he and his ministers are very,
very slow thinkers. If they were not, they could have seen the wisdom of
winding up Noczim years ago, and let the fuel sector be run by appropriate
companies, and in that way save the nation billions of dollars.

      As it is now, Zimbabwe's socio-economic life is grinding to a halt -
all because of an inefficient government led by an audible paranoid, a
person who is so disillusioned about his ego that he sees persecutors in his

      For how long shall the nation endure his "institution of tomfoolery?"

      That is the question.
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      Thursday, 7 November, 2002, 06:48 GMT
      Bishop calls on Mugabe to quit

      Reports say Mugabe's supporters are seizing food aid

            By Mike Donkin
            BBC correspondent recently in Zimbabwe 
      A leading Zimbabwean churchman has called on President Robert Mugabe to stand down because his controversial land reform programme is ruining the country's economy and putting millions at risk of hunger.
      The Bishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, says black farmworkers are the real victims when white farms are handed over to government supporters.

      Mr Mugabe, he says, seems ready to starve his own people to keep power.

      Travelling around Zimbabwe you cannot miss the effects of Robert Mugabe's land reforms:

        a.. Lorries are loaded with goods hastily cleared from their homes by white farmers

        b.. 6,000 commercial farms have now become 200

        c.. Up to one million black farmworkers who do not share in the re-distribution sleep rough or in refugee camps

      Most settlers moving onto white lands do not have the seeds, the tools or the know-how to grow crops so land lies bare and unploughed in this sowing season.
      Everywhere queues for basic foods like maize and bread get longer daily.

      Aid effort hampered

      The Bishop of Bulawayo told the BBC that Zimbabwe's economy was in tatters, with both professional people and the poor leaving the country in droves because of Mr Mugabe.

      He said the president did not care if his people starved and he should stand down.

      Aid agencies have already warned that up to six million Zimbabweans face severe hunger because of drought.

      They will admit privately that land reform has hastened a crisis but will not criticise the government publicly because it is drawing up laws to restrict, even ban, their operations if food is not distributed as it sees fit.

      That means it goes to government supporters, the evidence shows.
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Army captain in detention

      11/7/02 8:50:11 AM (GMT +2)

      By Pedzisai Ruhanya Chief Reporter

      CAPTAIN Ernest Moyowangu Chuma, missing from duty for eight months, is
reported to be detained without charge at Francistown State Prison.

      He has been detained since July, when he fled to Botswana after
allegedly being tortured for being a member of the MDC.

      Chuma fled the country soon after the controversial March presidential

      In Botswana, he met two Zimbabwean corporals from Bulawayo's Llewelyn
Barracks also detained by the Botswana authorities.

      They had escaped to the United Nations' Dukwe refugee camp after they
were allegedly interrogated by the army's counter-intelligence branch for
the same accusations - MDC membership.

      Corporals Irvine Ndou and Peter Kwanele Ntini are still at Dukwe
refugee camp but are not under arrest.

      It has also emerged that Chuma is not being ill-treated and is being
kept in prison in his civilian clothes.

      He is reportedly waiting to be cleared to obtain refugee status.

      At first it was alleged that Chuma could have been sent by the
Zimbabwean authorities to spy on Ntini and Ndou and was not a genuine asylum
seeker. The authorities accused him of lying that he was escaping from
political victimisation in Zimbabwe.

      Senior Superintendent Julius Thupe, the officer-in-charge of
Francistown State Prison, yesterday said he could not comment on Chuma's

      Thupe said: "I am not allowed to give news to any paper. I cannot give
you anything about that issue, even if you were a local reporter."

      Two months ago, former army spokesperson, Mbonisi Gatsheni, said the
army did not know Chuma's whereabouts but that he was still wanted for being
absent without official leave.

      Gathseni said then: "Chuma is a deserter. We do not know where he is.
The army has no information about people who have run away to seek political

      Ntini and Ndou were students in an environmental health course at the
Medical Training School at Llewellyn Barracks in Bulawayo, when their
difficulties began.

      After the presidential election while the two soldiers were on field
attachment in rural Matabeleland, they were allegedly visited by members of
the military intelligence who accused them of being MDC members.

      Ndou and Ntini escaped to Dukwe, which they wanted to use as a transit
point on their way to seeking refugee status in foreign countries, far from
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Daily News - Leader Page

      Nepad peer review: why it scares some leaders

      11/7/02 9:05:49 AM (GMT +2)

      IT would be understandable if there was deep scepticism among Africa
watchers about the universal acceptance among African leaders of the
provision for peer review as part of the New Plan for African Development

      Certainly, it came as no surprise to many that only 12 out of the
50-odd members of the African Union agreed last Sunday to subject their
governments to monitoring for performance and democracy.

      This key requirement for countries to qualify for the promised
development aid from the West was never going to be easy for many African
leaders to accept. Zimbabwe, for instance, would fail miserably if such
monitoring was conducted independently.

      The government is sceptical of Nepad, anyway, basically because of its
reliance on Western aid.

      The government has set itself on a political course against the West,
with the United States this week threatening to do more than just protest
against the unfair distribution of food aid.

      It is wrong-headed of the government to believe that there are no
Zimbabweans who are aggrieved by the use of food aid as a political weapon,
and that the accusation by the West is without foundation.

      It is just as wrong for the government to believe that all the
criticism and condemnation of its political and economic blunders is
confined to, or is influenced by, the West.

      There are millions of Zimbabweans facing starvation who blame the
government for their miserable situation. They don't need the West to tell
them when their empty stomachs are rumbling from hunger.

      Instead of stubbornly seeing a Western spy under every bed, the
government ought to open its eyes to the consequences of its policies. On
Nepad, it must put the welfare of the people before that of its political

      South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki had initially objected to the
inclusion of good, clean government as an integral aspect of the peer review
monitoring process. Many leaders, including President Mugabe, must hold the
same position.

      A scrutiny of how clean and fair the government is would prove
disastrous for Zimbabwe and other countries, where government is mostly of,
by and for the ruling parties.

      Many African governments are headed by leaders who somehow want to
perpetuate their rule even if, physically, this would be unwise. The example
of Kenya's aging Daniel arap Moi is a poignant one.

      Although he has signalled his intention to step down, he appears to
want to ensure that his style of government, including the sporadic
corruption, will continue under Uhuru Kenyatta, his would-be successor.

      The opposition, for the first time in many years, has rallied behind
one presidential candidate, Mwai Kibaki. If there is a free and fair
presidential election, the chances are that Kibaki will succeed Moi as

      Like Zimbabwe, Kenya alienated many Western donors and the
international donor agencies because of Moi's iron-fisted rule and the
endemic corruption in high places. Many such countries and agencies have
withheld assistance until there is a return to sound, transparent

      Good, clean governance is too high a mountain to climb for many
African countries who, nevertheless, pretend to be committed to fighting
poverty among their people.

      Under Nepad, they would receive aid to fight poverty and
underdevelopment but would, in return, have to ensure there was an end to
corruption and the brutal treatment of political parties, the judiciary, the
churches, the media, the legal fraternity and other groups or individuals
who hold different views from theirs.

      That is Zimbabwe in a microcosm: intolerance of dissent. What is so
tragic, for Zimbabwe and the other African countries which eschew true
pluralism, is that only for the sake of continuing in power until kingdom
come they will let their own people starve to death.

      Why should they feel alarmed when other countries, perhaps with
altruistic intentions or even with their own enlightened self-interests at
heart, threaten to act against them?

      Sovereignty which places little value on human life is not worth the
paper it is written on.
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Daily News - Leader Page

      Commercial agriculture now dead in Zimbabwe

      11/7/02 9:08:09 AM (GMT +2)

      THE present sad wrangling in the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) marks
an ignominious end to a century of progress and development. That this has
been brought about by the actions of yet another unstable African dictator
clinging to power is sad. It is, however, indicative of the problems facing
all efforts at development and the alleviation of poverty on the continent.

      It is my contention that real development can only take place when
those involved are residents and citizens of a country. Foreign aid agencies
and development programmes come and go, leaving nothing fundamentally

      A few local people get richer than they ever expected and a few
foreigners acquire a good sun tan or some interesting tropical diseases.
Otherwise, nothing changes. Often, matters get worse because naive
foreigners often emphasise the growing of cash crops at the expense of food

      In fact this seems very logical to them, since they all come from
countries with cash economies. Cash crops are indeed vital in Africa, but
only after a country is self-sufficient in food production.

      Commercial agriculture is now dead in Zimbabwe. It has been stated
that 95 percent of all commercial farms have been "seized", a polite
euphemism for stolen and distributed to Zanu PF supporters. As most of these
supporters are already wealthy it is obvious that they have no aptitude for
farming, otherwise they would have bought and farmed their own land years

      Instead we see "cellphone farmers" who visit their acquired estates on
weekends and holidays and have no conception at all as to what large-scale
farming is all about. These farms will produce nothing, owned and run as
they are by unqualified absentee landlords. Those farms that have been
divided up into small plots will also not produce anything for the nation,
because the new owners know nothing of even subsistence farming.

      They may just be able to sustain themselves in a good year, though
even this is very unlikely. Commercial agriculture is very different from
small-scale or subsistence farming.

      It is as different as a supermarket is from a tuckshop or rural store.
Both have their place, both fulfil a need but they are very different. Some
small-scale farmers may eventually graduate to larger farms, but the peasant
farmers never will. It is commercial agriculture with its irrigation,
fertiliser and crop management that produces the bulk of the food to feed
the urban population. It is almost solely the producer
      of export cash crops such as tobacco, flowers, and paprika.

      I admit to being a little confused as to what the retiring executive
of the CFU thought they could achieve by negotiating with a group that has
sworn to destroy them. Nearly 95 percent of all farms have been confiscated
with no valid compensation, and they still want to negotiate? I hope that
what they have done and are still doing was from honourable though possibly
mistaken conviction, because to think otherwise would be a terrible

      There will always be collaborators and sell-outs in any group; we can
see them emerging now. I read recently of a farmer who thought he had made a
"deal" with Elliot Manyika, only to have it all go horribly wrong. It is
said that an honourable politician is a politician who when bought, stays

      The Mafia too is said to honour an agreement. Unfortunately our own
politicians do not even live up to the ethical standards of la Cosa Nostra.
Consequently, we will see an increasing number of farmers "dealing" with
their local warlord in an effort to preserve their way of life. This
situation is dangerous, because they become totally expendable.

      There is talk of "profit-sharing" where the warlord takes an
ever-increasing cut of the profit from the farmer who owns and works the
farm. Elsewhere, this is called paying protection money. Some can do it, I
cannot. I do not have the stomach for it.

      The barefaced audacity is mind-boggling. Your property is stolen so
that it can be given to the thief's supporters and you are expected to pay
off your workers, made redundant by the very people who have stolen your

      It is a criminal offence to remove your own property because it must
be preserved intact for the thieves! It is a criminal offence to burn down
your own house in impotent rage, because it must be preserved so the thieves
can move into it. It is now not possible even to take your machinery out of
the country, bought and paid for by you, in order to start afresh in another

      And what about the workers? Again the cunning of the "party" comes to
the fore: make the farmer pay compensation to the workers so that they can
have a huge party, get drunk or hire a bevy of women.

      What about next year? What about the future? What about work in the
future? The "party" knows full well that exceedingly few peasants think more
than a day ahead. Nor do they.

      Will these people be "given" any of the stolen land? They at least
have worked the land. Not likely, as they are suspected of supporting the
MDC and therefore a chance of a better life ahead.

      As I see it, farmers now have three choices. Move, retire or deal. To
move is difficult if you cannot take your machinery.

      To retire may seem attractive, but with inflation heading for 1 000
percent how do you preserve the value of your money? You cannot invest it in
the stock market because industry is collapsing. You cannot bank it because
of the negative real interest rate.

      Perhaps the best way is to turn it into real money and hang on to
that? Of course, you can cut a deal if you have the stomach for it, but that
has its hazards too. Those you are dealing with are 100 percent
      untrustworthy and you are very likely to end up losing everything
anyway. Then there is the prospect of life after Zanu PF, when dealers are
not likely to be looked upon kindly.

      Personally, I would never let go of my title deeds, because in the
long run they will establish legal ownership. The current "laws" are
patently illegal and will not stand up in an international court or in the
future, when the rule of law is restored. I am not sure whether legal action
in Zimbabwe's courts has any validity, because many of the judges are
accused of receiving stolen land. However, such action in respected foreign
courts would indeed be a legitimate approach.

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Daily News

      CFU launches plan to seek unity in diversity

      11/7/02 9:09:49 AM (GMT +2)

      By Takaitei Bote Farming Editor

      THE Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU), currently rocked by divisions has
launched an "ABC plan", an effort to promote unity within the union, spruce
up its relationship with the government, and with farmers in other unions.

      The CFU launched the plan at a time when the union president, Colin
Cloete, and director, David Hasluck, resigned from their positions last week
following sustained pressure from the disgruntled membership.

      Some of the members who pressed Cloete and Hasluck to resign, wanted
the two to either resign or call for a vote to choose between litigation or
dialogue with the government in dealing with farm evictions.

      There are two clear divisions within the union: one arm calls for
dialogue with the government, while the other advocates for litigation in
handling farm evictions.

      Cloete and Hasluck were calling for dialogue before they resigned.
About 95 percent of the CFU's 4 300 members have been slapped with evictions
notices, despite the fact that some of them own single farms.

      The CFU council launched the "ABC plan" at a closed meeting in Harare
on Tuesday night and about 200 commercial farmers attended.
      In a statement, a CFU spokesperson said: "The plan is a broad-based,
strategic document that promotes unity in diversity and encompasses the
needs of all CFU members regardless of whether they are farming or not. It
takes into account the needs of the government, the new farmers and other
farmers' unions in Zimbabwe."

      Out of the 2 900 commercial farmers issued with eviction orders this
year, 30 percent have left the country, while the rest have either remained
on the farms or now live in towns.

      In the statement, CFU vice-president Doug Taylor-Freeme said the union
now awaited feedback from members who were asked to fill in slips for their
opinions and contributions.

      The plan covers, the bigger picture of the agriculture sector,
building of infrastructure, food resources and networks and the creation of
a conducive climate to farm and for compensation.
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Daily News

      MDC urges Maputo summit to censure Mugabe

      11/7/02 9:00:54 AM (GMT +2)

      Political Editor

      WELSHMAN Ncube, the MDC secretary-general, yesterday said the European
Union (EU)-Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) ministers' meeting
in Maputo, Mozambique, should focus attention on the deteriorating situation
in Zimbabwe, which is negatively affecting the region.

      Ncube said Dr Stan Mudenge, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who left
for the Maputo summit yesterday, should be censured and reminded that
President Mugabe was "an illegitimate leader" of Zimbabwe.

      "Mugabe's irresponsible and violent actions are a scar on the Sadc
region and potentially pose a threat to the stability of neighbouring
states, in particular Mozambique and Botswana," Ncube said.

      "We sincerely hope that EU-Sadc ministers use this opportunity to
focus their minds on the regional implications of the crisis in Zimbabwe and
not sweep Zimbabwe under the carpet as part of a strategic sacrifice to make
progress on other issues. Any discussion on democracy, peace and stability
cannot ignore the crisis in Zimbabwe. "The summit in Maputo was originally
scheduled for Copenhagen, Denmark. The EU initially said Zimbabwe would not
be allowed to take part in the deliberations, since its leaders are facing
targeted sanctions for human rights violations.

      The EU buckled and gave in to pressure from Sadc leaders, who
threatened to boycott the meeting if Zimbabwe was not allowed to attend.

      A compromise was eventually struck, with the summit being relocated to

      Ncube said yesterday the crisis in Zimbabwe was not about land, but
about the legitimacy of Mugabe who controversially won the presidential

      "Mugabe's policies will create an unmanageable and potentially
destabilising refugee crisis in neighbouring countries and haemorrhage the
foreign investment needed to help sustain economic growth within the
 region," Ncube said.
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Daily News

      Zanu PF bends the rules to elect councillor

      11/7/02 8:52:28 AM (GMT +2)

      Staff Reporter

      ZANU PF officials in Mashonaland West Province yesterday defended the
nomination and subsequent election as councillor of Patrick Bayana for Ward
21 in the September rural district council elections despite him having a
criminal record.

      According to the Rural District Councils Act, a person shall be
disqualified from being nominated as a candidate if he has been convicted of
an offence involving dishonesty in connection with any funds or other
property. Bayana appeared in court at Chegutu Magistrates' Court facing
charges of theft on 25 November 1985 and was convicted.

      John Mafa, the vice-chairman of Zanu PF in Mashonaland West province,
yesterday said they were now discouraging primary elections when selecting
party candidates because it divided the party.

      Mafa, who is the chairman of Chegutu Rural District Council, confirmed
there was disgruntlement from some people when Bayana was introduced at the
meeting held at Dombwe Hall on 1 November.

      "One person at the meeting, a Mr Chakoma said Bayana was not a party
member and had a criminal record," he said. "But Bayana is the councillor
for Ward 21. He is working with his people and they are happy with him.
People can say anything."

      Mafa said even if Bayana had a criminal record, there was a time limit
when a person was suspended from participating in elections.

      Alderman James Tetani, from the Chegutu council confirmed the meeting
took place. He said: "Whoever leaked this story to you is trying to destroy
the party."

      Sources at the meeting alleged that Mafa ordered the party faithfuls
in Chegutu to support Bayana despite his record.

      Bayana was given an option of a five-day prison term or a $5 fine. He
opted for the fine and the receipt number, according to court records, is

      According to the court record, Reference Number CH 938/85, Bayana was
arrested by the Selous police on 19 November 1985 for stealing a plough
share and supporting bolts and two cartons of matches from Msengezi
Co-operative Store, where he was employed.

      Last week, Phillip Chiyangwa, the Zanu PF chairman for Mashonaland
West, under which Chegutu falls, said he was unaware Bayana had a criminal
record. "I still have to meet all the new councillors. I understand that
candidates are first screened at district level," he said.
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Daily News

      Nkala murder trial to begin

      11/7/02 8:43:20 AM (GMT +2)

      From Our Correspondent in Bulawayo

      THE trial of six MDC supporters accused of killing Cain Nkala, a
Bulawayo war veteran leader, opens in the Harare High Court on Monday with
23 State witnesses expected to testify.

      Sixteen of them are police officers, while two are Nkala's widow,
Sikhumbuzo, and daughter, Zenzele.

      Three affidavits from doctors will be produced in court, according to
court records.

      They include one which disputes allegations that one suspect, Khethani
Sibanda, was bitten on the arm by Nkala when he was abducted from his home.
Nkala was allegedly abducted from his Magwegwe West home in Bulawayo on 5
November last year. He was subsequently murdered and buried in a shallow
grave at Norwood Farm near Solusi University, about 40km out of Bulawayo.

      The State alleges Nkala was murdered to avenge the death of Patrick
Nabanyama, an MDC activist abducted from his home before the June 2000
parliamentary election. Nabanyama has not been seen since and is presumed

      Six war veterans positively identified as having abducted Nabanyama
were acquitted of murder in June this year.

      A five-member legal defence team represents the six now facing charges
of kidnapping and murdering Nkala.

      They include Bulawayo lawyers Josphat Tshuma and Nicholas Mathonsi,
with Pearson Nherere, Dipak Mehta and Edith Mushore from Harare coming in as
the instructing advocates.

      Initially, 14 people were arrested in connection with Nkala's murder
and that of Limukani Luphahla, a Zanu PF activist in Lupane.

      The six who remain charged are Khethani Sibanda, Sonny Masera,
Fletcher Dulini-Ncube, the MP for Lobengula-Magwegwe, Army Zulu, Remember
Moyo and Sazini Mpofu Sibanda.

      In July, the State defied High Court and Supreme Court orders to
release Sibanda, Moyo and Mpofu on bail.

      The other eight suspects were freed after the State failed to prove
they had a case to answer as there was no evidence linking them to the

      But the State has refused to release three of the suspects,
Dulini-Ncube, Zulu and Masera despite not having evidence linking them to
the crime.

      The State is relying on a statement made by Sibanda, which he later
denied making, during the bail application of Simon Spooner, saying he had
made it under duress.

      Spooner had initially been implicated in the murder.
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Daily News

      UZ suspends exams as strike continues

      11/7/02 8:58:25 AM (GMT +2)

      Staff Reporter

      PROFESSOR Graham Hill, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of
Zimbabwe (UZ) has said there will be no end-of-first semester examinations
for students because of the continuing strike by lecturers.

      In a statement, Hill said: "Where courses have lost three weeks-plus
of teaching, there will be no end-of-first semester examinations.
Arrangements will be made to hold the examinations at the beginning of the
second semester in March 2003."

      About 900 university lecturers went on strike early in October
demanding improved working conditions, salary adjustments, commensurate with
their qualifications and equal to the rate of inflation.

      Donald Mashingaidze, the acting president of the Association of
University Teachers (AUT) has on several occasions demanded that the
Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education put their pledges to the
disgruntled lecturers on paper.

      Hill said the University Council received a report at a meeting held
last Saturday that the executive of the AUT, lecturers' representatives,
agreed to return to work on Monday.

      He said at the meeting, Dr Swithun Mombeshora, the Minister of Higher
and Tertiary Education, assured the AUT that the Ministry of Finance and
Economic Development had been co-operative in addressing the lecturers'

      "Mombeshora assured the lecturers that substantial progress had been
made so far and an announcement would be made following the national budget
to be presented to Parliament on 14 November," Hill said.

      He said they were concerned with the continued strike by the
lecturers, contrary to their alleged agreement to return to work.

      He said: "This development is very disturbing especially given the
fact that students have now spent more than three weeks without lectures and
examinations start on 19 November. This situation has serious implications
on the academic calendar and the financial resources of the students."

      On Monday, UZ students, concerned with the unending strike by their
lecturers, held a meeting to discuss their problems.

      The meeting was however interrupted by UZ security guards who pulled
Students Executive Council leaders who were addressing the students, from
the podium.

      This enraged the students who attacked the guards. Some riot
policemen, who had been watching the situation from a distance, threw
tear-gas and students retaliated.

      Some student leaders were injured in the ensuing melee.

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Daily News

      Tribalism alleged in evictions

      11/7/02 8:47:10 AM (GMT +2)

      Staff Reporter

      THE eviction of the Karangas in Muzarabani in Mashonaland Central
province have intensified with reports that several homes belonging to MDC
supporters were burnt in recent weeks allegedly at the instigation of an MP
from the ruling Zanu PF.

      Nobbie Dzinzi, the MP for Muzarabani, has been implicated as the
mastermind behind the evictions Dzinzi denies the allegations.

      The MP allegedly addressed a rally at Gunduza Business Centre on 20
September and encouraged his supporters to evict the Karangas, because they
allegedly spread MDC politics in the province.

      Yesterday, eight MDC activists, including two teachers from Chadereka
Primary School, described the situation in Muzarabani as "ethnic cleansing".

      "The situation should be stopped now. Muzarabani is hell. The country
will regret it." said Joe Chamba, 38.

      Chamba was the deputy headmaster at Chadereka Primary School until 29
September when he was forcibly ousted by Zanu PF supporters who accused him
of belonging to the MDC.

      "My life was saved by people who informed me just before the attack
that I would be abducted and taken to Chimoio base and be killed," he said.
"I escaped to Chief Hwata's area."

      He said in October, Zanu PF supporters went to his rural home in
Chadereka and burnt down his home and stole four goats, five bags of
groundnuts and 15 chickens.

      Rabson Masiya, another teacher at Chadereka Primary School whose home
is at Marisamhuka village in Muzarabani has also fled the area.
      "They ordered me to leave the school and the area with nothing. They
      aid the Karangas, had benefited from a Korekore area."

      Wayne Bvudzijena, the police spokesman refused to comment on the
alleged evictions of Karangas from Muzarabani.

      Masiya's brother, Boniface, said he escaped from Muzarabani's
Marisamhuka village following a crackdown on villagers by Zanu PF militants
and war veterans in September. The Masiyas are originally from Bikita in

      He said the youths were led by Nelson Changata, a so-called war
veteran leader in the area who ordered them to go to Britain or to Harare,
"where the MDC had support".

      A Zanu PF aspiring councillor, Felix Chikandwa, a Karanga, was
allegedly stripped of his "victory" in the Zanu PF primary elections for
allegedly being an MDC supporter.

      Chikandwa had won the primaries against the incumbent councillor
Sarudzai Keche, a Korekore, but his victory was allegedly overturned by the
ruling party leadership on account of his ethnicity.

      Tariro Shumba, an MDC spokesperson, yesterday confirmed that "ethnic
cleansing" was rife and needed urgent government attention.

      Shumba said: "Most MDC activists in Muzarabani have escaped to various
parts of the country after receiving death threats. The MDC is trying to
find alternative accommodation for them."

      Philip Makwara, 32, Ramos Mukaro, both of Nzungu village, Evangelista
Makurumure, 23 of Dzonya village, Samuel Masiya, 31 were others who fled
their homes after they were accused of being Karangas in an area indigenous
to the Korekore people.

      The MDC activists allegedly spent 11 days at Gunduza, Gumboreshumba
Primary School and Chimoio bases set up by Zanu PF.

      The victims said they made several reports at Chadereka Police base to
a Constable Mukuna but nothing was done.

      Nathan Shamuyarira, the Zanu PF national secretary for information and
publicity, denied any knowledge of the alleged ethnic cleansing in

      "I would need more information before l can make any comment. I have
not heard of that. It could be coming from people manufacturing
 information," he said.
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Daily News

      CCZ calls for consumer boycott of beef

      11/7/02 8:44:20 AM (GMT +2)

      From Brian Mangwende in Mutare

      THE Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) is urging consumers to stop
buying beef for a week starting next Monday to force a price reduction as
most families say they can no longer afford it.

      The boycott is aimed at pressing the government to scrap increases in
the prices of basic commodities. The price of beef went up by 100 percent
from Monday at a time when the country faces its worst economic crisis,
coupled with rampant shortages of basic commodities.

      Elizabeth Nerwande, the CCZ's director, said yesterday: "We have
called for the boycott with effect from Monday next week. All along we have
not been calling for boycotts, but the situation has gone out of hand - an
increase of 100 percent is too much."

      She said such hikes were likely to encourage crimes such as
      She said the CCZ, together with other interested groups, would lobby
Parliament to pass into law the Product Liability Act to maintain checks on
unreasonable price increments.

      The CCZ's senior manager, Victor Chisi, said the boycott would run
from 11 to 17 November. "Consumers need to make a point," he said. "They
need to go this far in sacrificing and assuming their responsibilities of
solidarity, to make their situation heard and addressed."
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Business Day

Mugabe given second pay rise in a year

HARARE President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has been given a 20% salary
increase, his second pay rise this year, a newspaper reported yesterday.
Government ministers and legislators from Mugabe's ruling ZanuPF, as well as
parliamentarians from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
will also receive pay increases.

The paper quoted a government notice published last week announcing that
Mugabe's annual salary would be increased to Z1,6m from Z1,3m.

Mugabe, who received a pay increase in February, will have the latest salary
increment backdated to July, the paper said.

Zimbabwe is in the middle of its worst economic crisis with inflation close
to 140%. About 80% of Zimbabweans live in poverty. Sapa-AFP
Nov 06 2002 12:00:00:000AM  Business Day 1st Edition
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US may intervene to save Zimbabweans

Top official says administration is considering defying Mugabe and
delivering food to starving opposition areas

Andrew Meldrum in Harare
Thursday November 7, 2002
The Guardian

The US government warned yesterday that it might take "intrusive,
interventionist measures" to deliver food aid directly to millions of
famine-hit Zimbabweans if President Robert Mugabe continues to starve his
political opponents.
Washington is considering measures that would challenge Zimbabwe's
sovereignty, the Guardian was told by Mark Bellamy, the principal deputy
assistant secretary of state for Africa. Such drastic measures are being
studied because the Mugabe regime is aggravating the effects of a
region-wide famine by blocking food from areas which support the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), he added.

"We may have to be prepared to take some very intrusive, interventionist
measures to ensure aid delivery to Zimbabwe," Mr Bellamy said by telephone
from Washington.

The plan was disclosed in the Zimbabwean state-owned Herald newspaper under
the headline "US plans to invade Harare".

A spokesman for Mr Mugabe said other African countries should take heed of
"the mad talk of intrusive and interventionist challenges to Zimbabwe's
sovereignty. Today it is about Zimbabwe. Heaven knows who is next", he said.

Mr Bellamy, who develops US policy on Africa, said: "We have disturbing
reports of food being used as a political weapon by the Mugabe government,
of food aid being diverted and food being denied to millions of opposition

"For the sake of those hungry people it may be necessary for us to undertake
intrusive delivery and monitoring of food. The dilemmas in the next six
months may bring us face to face with Zimbabwe's sovereignty."

He said Mr Mugabe was "holding his people hostage the way Saddam Hussein is
holding his people hostage".

Mr Mugabe and other Zimbabwean officials deny using aid as a political
weapon. They maintain that food relief is distributed freely and fairly.

The government has however outlawed the private importation of food, leaving
the state grain marketing board with a monopoly on the importation and
wholesale deliveries of the staple maize meal. Aid agencies and government
critics claim that this gives the marketing board a stranglehold on food
availability throughout the country.

The Catholic Agency for Overseas Development has failed to get permission to
import 100 tonnes of food aid, which sits at the Beitbridge border post with
South Africa. The MDC has also been refused permission to import food.

The marketing board's depots refuse to sell maize meal to people identified
as opposition supporters, according to accounts from across the country. In
addition, police roadblocks stop the MDC and ordinary individuals from
transporting all but the smallest parcels of maize meal to hungry areas,
numerous witnesses claim.

Mr Bellamy refused to specify what the US could do to deliver food aid to
Zimbabweans against the will of the government, but said the Bush
administration was "considering all approaches". Aid experts suggested the
possibility of air drops, such as in Sudan and to Kurdish rebels in Iraq.

"At the very least we need to see aggressive, assertive monitoring to ensure
that food is being distributed fairly throughout Zimbabwe, in an
even-handed, humanitarian way," Mr Bellamy said. "We may have to make hard
choices. We will press for food to be distributed freely in all areas of the
country. We cannot take government assurances at face value, we must monitor
it and confirm it for ourselves."

Washington provides about 50% of the food aid being distributed in Zimbabwe
by the UN world food programme.

Zimbabwe was until recently considered the breadbasket of southern Africa,
but Mr Mugabe's violent and chaotic land seizures, combined with drought,
have resulted in a crippling food shortage.

Zimbabwe is by far the worst affected of the six southern African countries
threatened with famine. Of the 14 million people at risk of starvation
throughout southern Africa, 6.7 million are Zimbabwean, nearly half the
country's population.

Washington's hard stance comes after other warnings from the Bush
administration. The US representative to the UN food and agricultural
organisation, Tony Hall, visited Zimbabwe last month and criticised the
government for preventing respected international charities, such as Save
the Children and Oxfam, from distributing food relief.

The US does not consider Mr Mugabe to be the "democratically legitimate
leader of his country", Walter Kansteiner, US assistant secretary of state
for Africa, said.

He cited widespread state-sponsored violence in the March presidential
election, and evidence of large-scale vote-rigging.
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ABC Australia

Thu, Nov 7 2002 11:08 AM AEDT

UN talks begin on African food, AIDS crisis

United Nations and humanitarian groups have begun talks in South Africa on
the worsening food shortages on the continent and the AIDS epidemic.

UN officials say more than 14 million people are now at risk of starvation
across southern Africa.

Delegates are gathering in Johannesburg for an emergency meeting.

The United Nations Aids Organisation says food shortages are exacerbating
the HIV-AIDS epidemic.

UN AIDS officials say in many cases, AIDS sufferers are too weak to plant
crops or search for food.

The UN is also distributing emergency rations in Lesotho, Malawi,
Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

It is estimated that almost 6 million people are HIV positive in the worst
affected countries.

AIDS groups from across the region are taking part in the talks which finish
later today.
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Chipinge Magistrate Relocated to Mutare

The Daily News (Harare)

November 6, 2002
Posted to the web November 6, 2002

Brian Mangwende in Mutare

Walter Chikwanha, the former Chipinge magistrate brutally assaulted by a
group of alleged war veterans in August, has been relocated to the Mutare
Magistrates' Court as the head of the Civil Division.

Yesterday, Chikwanha refused to comment on his relocation and new
appointment, referring all questions to senior court officials.

In August, he was allegedly dragged out of his courtroom by a group of war
veterans and was beaten up severely after he dismissed an application by the
State to remand in custody five MDC officials.

It was not clear yesterday whether any arrests had been made in connection
with the assault.

The Manicaland police spokesman, Edmund Maingire, was out of the office,
attending a workshop.

Magistrates and prosecutors in Manicaland, protesting against the assault,
abandoned work and demanded an immediate solution to Chikwanha's plight.

Chikwanha had granted $20 000 bail each to seven people, among them five MDC
officials, in a case in which they were accused of burning two government
tractors in Chipinge.

A few days after their release, the five were re-arrested, but Chikwanha
declined to remand them in custody, saying the State did not have enough
evidence to warrant the detention.

Chikwanha and his family were whisked to Mutare in five vehicles about four
hours after the incident.

Soon after attacking the magistrate, the ex-fighters allegedly proceeded to
a law firm, Matutu, Kwirira and Associates, the accused's lawyers, in search
of Langton Mhungu.

Mhungu fled to Masvingo after his car was damaged. It could not be
immediately confirmed yesterday if Mhungu had returned to Chipinge, as the
situation in the town remains tense.
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Doctor Flees Hospital After Zanu Pf Threats

The Daily News (Harare)

November 6, 2002
Posted to the web November 6, 2002

Correspondent in Masvingo

NESHURO District Hospital in Mwenezi has been operating without a doctor for
almost six months after suspected Zanu PF supporters including a top party
official chased the doctor away for allegedly supporting the MDC.

The doctor, identified only as Ringirai, was forced to flee the hospital
after a group of suspected Zanu PF supporters threatened to beat him up.

Since Ringirai's forced departure no doctors are willing to be deployed at
the only referral district health institution in the area because they are
afraid of suffering the same fate.

The hospital is currently manned by nurses and scores of seriously ill
villagers are transferred to Masvingo Provincial Hospital where there are

Zanu PF supporters accused the doctor of giving preferential treatment to
patients suspected to be MDC supporters.

Some villagers in the area have expressed concern over the sudden departure
of the doctor saying they now have to travel long distances to seek medical

Charles Muzenda, a Mwenezi businessman said: "Zanu PF people want to involve
politics in every department, no matter how crucial it might be.

"We are now suffering because of a mistake made by some people who had their
own interests.

"Probably they want a doctor with a Zanu PF card, which is not possible. The
doctor was a professional man. "The problem is with the local Zanu PF
leadership, including the senior official who chased him away."

Enias Musungashe, a Mwenezi resident said: "It does not make any sense to
chase a doctor away because even those Zanu PF activists fall ill. It shows
how barbaric some of these Zanu PF youths are."

Tapuwa Magure, the Masvingo provincial medical director, could not be
reached for comment yesterday since he was reported to be out of office.

Officials from the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare yesterday confirmed
the doctor was chased away but refused to give details.

"The doctor is no longer there and no one is willing to be deployed at the
hospital. He was chased away for political reasons," said the official.
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Zim Independent

Watchdog postpones release of Zim human rights report
Mthulisi Mathuthu
THE recent session of the African Commission on Human and People's Rights
(ACHPR) which was held in Banjul from October 17-23, postponed the release
of the report of the commission's findings on alleged human rights abuses in

The report will now be tabled at the commission's next session in Niger. It
has emerged that ACHPR was forced to postpone the release of the
much-awaited report to May next year after the Gambian government reduced
the days of the session from the original 15 to seven due to financial

The report is eagerly awaited in Zimbabwe following the ACHPR fact finding
team's admission in June that they had received 20 kilograms of evidence of
human rights abuses.

Noel Kututwa of the Human Rights Trust of Southern Africa who attended the
meeting in Gambia said the postponement of the report led to an outcry from
the Zimbabwean delegation.

"The delegation from the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum was not pleased
with the postponement of its communication to the next session," said

The Zimbabwean government, blamed for massive human rights violations,
failed to send the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Justice, David
Mangota, to the Banjul meeting as previously agreed.

Human rights NGOs were represented by Albert Musarurwa of the Legal
Resources Foundation, Arnold Tsunga of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human
Rights, and Blessing Chimhini who is the forum's head of legal unit.

The 32nd ACHPR session called on all African countries to ratify treaties
which outlaw torture such as the UN Convention against Torture and accession
to the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

ANGOLA, SWAZILAND, ZIMBABWE: Human Rights Watch calls for intervention
in region
      IRINnews Africa, Wed 6 Nov 2002


      SADC and EU ministers urged to act

      JOHANNESBURG, - Ahead of the upcoming ministerial meeting between the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the European Union (EU) in
Maputo, Mozambique, Human Rights Watch has called for urgent action on
several crises in the region.

      The group pointed to Angola, Zimbabwe and Swaziland as countries where
rights abuses needed to be addressed. The EU/SADC meeting takes place on 7-8

      "It is vital that the SADC take unambiguous and decisive actions on
human rights issues. Only then will the organisation's stated commitments to
human rights be taken seriously," Bronwen Manby, Human Rights Watch deputy
director for Africa, said in a statement on Wednesday.

      The EU-SADC meeting "should pursue actions against Swaziland's highly
oppressive monarchy" as "civil liberties are basically non-existent and
civil society is severely restricted in Swaziland".

      "The monarchy also maintains tight control over the media," said

      A constitution had been in development since 1996 but it was widely
believed that the monarchy would use it to permanently enshrine its absolute
power and to prevent future political opposition.

      Chief Justices of the SADC region recently issued a statement
concerning threats to the independence of the judiciary after senior
government officials attempted to interfere with court proceedings on the
alleged abduction of a young woman, by royal aides, to become the king's
10th wife.

      In Angola "despite the ceasefire implemented this year and ongoing
peace efforts, 1.7 million internally displaced people [IDPs] remain at
substantial risk of abuse by government officials as well as demobilised
soldiers", Human Rights Watch said.

      Humanitarian agencies had repeatedly stressed the need for greater
support for Angola's IDPs but both the United Nations and the EU had "done
little to ameliorate the situation", the group charged.

      "Human Rights Watch is especially concerned by reports that some
people have been forced to return to their areas of origin despite the
ongoing danger in those regions," said Manby.

      However, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Angola, Eric de Mul, told IRIN
that such comments were "ill-informed and unhelpful".

      "If they [Human Rights Watch] want to have a better idea of what UN
agencies are doing [in Angola] they should make a little effort to come and
talk to us and find out," De Mul said.

      Human Rights Watch said the EU had specifically pledged support for
rehabilitation and reintegration efforts and called on the EU to renew this
commitment at the meeting in Maputo.

      The group also urged SADC and the EU to "speak out publicly and
privately against the violence and harassment that had characterised
Zimbabwean elections".

      In recent weeks, a parliamentary by-election in Matabeleland South was
marred by allegations of intimidation of the opposition and there were
reports of government forces harassing NGOs and the media.

      The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO forum had reported 58 murders in
political violence during 2002.

      "Those present at the Maputo meeting should work towards a quick
intervention before the situation gets even worse," Manby added.
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Asian Tribune

      Zimbabwe to lose $160m in Lankan arms deal
      by Bandula Jayasekara - The Island

      The Island:According to a recent report in the Financial Gazette, the
Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI) could lose nearly $160 million dollars
because a middleman it engaged five years ago to run weapons to Sri Lanka on
its behalf has refused to forward monies paid for the supplies. The
Financial Times has established that the Sri Lankan army, which made a down
payment of about $99 million for the weapons, is said to have also refused
to pay the outstanding debt.

      According to the report the ZDI in 1997 contracted a South Korean
company, Kolon International, to move thousands of rounds of mortar bombs
and other contraband to the Sri Lankan army which urgently needed the bombs
to repel an offensive by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The
ZDI had entered the deal with the Singapore branch of the Korean firm. The
Sri Lankans had paid US$1.8 million (about $99 million at the current
official exchange rate) as down payment for the consignment. But Kolon did
not transfer the money to ZDI, saying it had used the money to pay
commissions to Sri Lankan army officials who had facilitated the arms supply

      The report added that efforts by the ZDI to recover its monies from
Kolon have hit a brick wall after a Singapore law firm Katter Hwang &
Partner, hired in 1999 by the Zimbabwean company to take the Koreans to the
International Arbitration Centre, refused last year to handle the matter
almost at the eleventh hour. The Gazette says it could not be established
why the Singaporean lawyers turned down the ZDI case.

      ZDI chief executive Tshinga Dube had confirmed the botched-up arms
supply deal. A retired Zimbabwe army colonel, Dube has said that Sri Lankan
army officers had recommended Kolon to the Zimbabweans and he suspected that
the Asians might have acted in collusion to rip off ZDI.

      The Sri Lankan government is also refusing to pay the outstanding debt
for the bombs. While another lot of bombs valued at about $45 million and
destined for Colombo was reportedly intercepted at sea by the LTTE in 1997,
Dube had told the Financial Gazette that ZDI had successfully sent other
consignments to Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankans are refusing to pay even for
the bombs they have received. Dube had added that Investigations by Interpol
on the missing bombs, which an Israeli company known only as Bentso was
shipping to Colombo on behalf of ZDI, have not yielded anything. According
to Dube the ZDI was now working on suing the Israeli firm for the lost
weapons. Sri Lankan defence correspondent Iqbal Athas was the first to break
the story on the missing arms shipment in his weekly defence column in The
Sunday Times at the time.

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      Wednesday, 6 November, 2002, 23:24 GMT
      Zimbabwe accuses US of invasion threat

      Reports say Mugabe's supporters seized food aid

      Zimbabwe has accused the United States of planning to invade the country under the pretext of guaranteeing the distribution of food aid.
      The accusation - carried by a state-owned newspaper - comes after remarks in a newspaper interview in which US State Department official Mark Bellamy was quoted as saying America might have to take "very intrusive interventionist measures" to ensure food aid was delivered.

            The United States is planning to invade Zimbabwe within the next six months on the pretext of bringing aid relief
            Herald newspaper 
      Opposition groups and aid agencies have accused Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe of only allowing the foreign aid to reach his own supporters.

      Nearly seven million Zimbabweans face starvation after a drop in maize production, which critics have blamed on Mr Mugabe's expropriation of white-owned farms.

      The Zimbabwean Government has said the decline in agricultural output is due to a lengthy drought.

      Food 'seized'

      The government-controlled Herald newspaper ran a front page story on Wednesday accusing America of plotting against Zimbabwe.

            Millions of Zimbabweans face starvation

      "The United States is planning to invade Zimbabwe within the next six months on the pretext of bringing aid relief to people who were allegedly being denied food on political grounds," it said.

      It follows reports that supporters of the ruling Zanu-PF party seized emergency food aid ahead of a crucial by-election last month and were only distributing supplies to people with party membership cards.

      The UN's World Food Programme indefinitely suspended its food aid deliveries in a Harare district as a result.

      Zimbabwean Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge told state television that reports that the aid was blocked were "a fandango of a fairy tale of lies" concocted by opponents of the government.

      'Mad talk'

      An unnamed Zimbabwe Government spokesman was quoted as telling the Herald that any US plans to invade were "mad talk".

            Critics blame Mugabe's land policies for food shortages

      "This little fellow [Mark Bellamy] was either blank, mad or both, and if he was speaking for his government the same will apply to it," he was quoted as saying.

      US officials denied America had any intention of invading Zimbabwe, but said food aid must not be used as a political tool.

      "No US Government official has made such a threat. We believe that only the people of Zimbabwe can solve their nation's problems," the US embassy in Harare said in a statement.

      Zimbabwe, like southern Africa as a whole, is in the throes of a severe food shortage.

      Currently some four and a half million Zimbabweans need food aid, a number which is expected to soar to 6.7 million by next March.
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