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Tsvangirai acquitted
Fri 15 October 2004

HARARE - Judge President Paddington Garwe has acquitted opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai of high treason, in a surprise ending to a trial
his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party had said was orchestrated by
the government to sideline him from politics.

Tsvangirai was accused of seeking help from a Canadian-based political
consultant Ari Ben-Menashe to murder President Robert Mugabe ahead of March
2002 presidential election controversially won by Mugabe.

The opposition leader, who faced the death penalty had he been
convicted, had always maintained he was innocent saying he was framed by
state security agents working together with the shadowy Ben-Menashe.

Quashing the charges against Tsvangirai, Garwe said: "The state has
not been able to prove high treason beyond reasonable doubt."

However, Tsvangirai is due to appear in court again next month for a
second treason charge in which the opposition leader is accused of having
attempted to unconstitutionally remove the government from power when he
called for mass demonstrations by his supporters last year. The MDC has
described the second treason charges against its leader as less serious.

Garwe's ruling was a surprise to many observers who had expected
Mugabe to lean on the courts to at least jail Tsvangirai for a lengthy
period and paralyse the MDC which has emerged as the most potent threat to
the Zimbabwean leader's 24-year stranglehold on power.

Mugabe has in the last three years tightened his iron grip on power,
enacting tough Press and security laws severely restricting freedom of
speech and association.

The Zimbabwean leader also packed the bench with judges loyal to his
ZANU PF party of whom Garwe is considered to be one.

The highly-charged case centred on a grainy videotape secretly
recorded by Ben-Menashe of a meeting in December 2001 between the Canadian
consultant and Tsvangirai during which the opposition leader allegedly
sought help to murder Mugabe.

The defence said the barely audible tape was doctored as part of a
well-orchestrated plot to entrap Tsvangirai.

South African advocate George Bizos, who led Tsvangirai's defence team
called Ben-Menashe a "notorious and demonstrable liar" who was on the
payroll of the government and aimed to discredit the opposition leader ahead
of the March presidential poll.

During the trial, state prosecutors withdrew allegations Tsvangirai
asked Ben-Menashe's help to "murder" or "assassinate" Mugabe.

The opposition leader told the court he had only mentioned Mugabe's
elimination during his meeting with Ben-Menashe while referring to the
President's possible defeat in the election.

Tsvangirai said he had met Ben-Menashe wanting help to raise support
and funds for the MDC in the United States and Canada.

The MDC will hold a Press conference on the acquittal of its leader at
4 pm today.
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Zim Online

Sat 16 October 2004

HARARE - Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday said more
pressure was needed to end repression in Zimbabwe, saying his acquittal on
treason yesterday did not signal an improvement in the country's judicial or
political system.

Speaking hours after High Court Judge President Paddington Garwe
cleared him of charges of plotting to assassinate President Robert Mugabe in
2002, Tsvangirai said Mugabe was still using "terror" to hold on to power.

"We cannot celebrate because the political situation will not improve
because of this ruling. We cannot use this case as the basis that there is
now rule of law in Zimbabwe," the opposition leader said. "The real issues
still beckon and the political situation needs
to be changed through stopping violence and repression."

Tsvangirai, who faced the death sentence had he been convicted, also
played down talk that political pressure by the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) might have helped force the government not to convict him.

He said: "It would have been absurd or even ridiculous for any judge
to arrive at any other conclusion. If there was any political pressure from
the region, it had not been reflected in the judgment. It was facts rather
than political pressure, which were the
determining factors."

Paying tribute to his legal defence team that was led by famed South
African advocate, George Bizos, the opposition leader, said: "It was a great
relief (the acquittal). I owe much of this to an exceptional legal team led
by George Bizos."

Tsvangirai, who must return to court next month to face second treason
charges, said the MDC was now going to step up pressure on the government to
fully adopt electoral norms and standards set by SADC last August.

The MDC leader's second treason charges stem from mass protests he
called against the government last year, which the state prosecutors say
were an attempt to overthrow the government.

The MDC, which has emerged as the biggest threat to Mugabe's 24-year
hold on power, has said it will boycott a parliamentary election scheduled
for next year unless the government changed electoral laws to meet standards
set by SADC.

Regional leaders, including Mugabe, agreed that only independent
commissions should run elections in the region to ensure transparency and
fairness. Electoral processes and laws must also be fair and just while
human rights must be upheld during elections, the leaders agreed. -

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Zim Online

Army, police crush Tsvangirai celebrations
Sat 16 October 2004

HARARE - Heavily armed soldiers and police yesterday quelled jubilant
celebrations by supporters of opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) party leader Morgan Tsvangirai following his acquittal on treason
Charges in the High Court.

Earlier yesterday police arrested about 60 MDC supporters for refusing
to leave the High Court premises where they had gathered with others to show
solidarity with their leader. The MDC members were still in custody by late
last night.

Soon after High Court Judge President Paddington Garwe quashed charges
that Tsvangirai had plotted to assassinate President Robert Mugabe ahead of
the 2002 presidential election, thousands of the MDC supporters poured into
Harare's streets, chanting slogans and
hailing their party's leader.

Business ground to a virtual standstill in the capital's central
business district as the opposition supporters celebrated and marched
through the streets. Several hundreds more waved the MDC's open palm symbol
from office windows, while motorists blew their car

But about thirty minutes later soldiers and police descended on the
city centre indiscriminately beating up every one and ordering people off
the streets.

The security forces, who the government had earlier in the week warned
would be at hand to crush any public demonstrations after Tsvangirai's
verdict, then moved to the MDC's Harvest House headquarters in the capital
and threw teargas canisters into a crowd that had gathered there to

Elsewhere across Zimbabwe, Tsvangirai's acquittal was also received
with much jubilation but the heavy presence of the police and the army
prevented any wild scenes in much of the smaller towns.

Commenting on the freeing of Tsvangirai, constitutional law expert and
chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly Lovemore Madhuku said
Garwe's judgment was not a sign that the bench was independent.

Madhuku, whose assembly campaigns for a new and democratic
constitution for Zimbabwe said: "There were two scenarios for the
government: Either Tsvangirai is convicted and he gets sympathy from the
whole world and then Zimbabwe is seen as being very dictatorial.

"Or he was to be acquitted and then (the government would) later
disable his political ambitions. The latter is what has happened. But
Zimbabwe's needs are broader than Tsvangirai's acquittal. There is no
freedom of speech, freedom of the Press and freedom of association. That is
what is important, not the liberation of one person."

Acting Attorney-General, Bharat Patel, said it was too early to say
whether the government would appeal against the judgment. "We are going to
look at the judgment in its totality and see if there is a potential to make
an appeal at the Supreme Court."

Tsvangirai's lawyer, Advocate George Bizos, who last week won an
international award for his legal work, said he was happy with his defence
team. He said: "I am obviously excited by the ruling and I am happy with the
whole defence team and my innocent clients."

In the run up to Garwe's judgment yesterday, tension had remained high
in Harare with armed police stepping up patrols in the capital. The police
also set up roadblocks on all roads leading to the city centre where
motorists and pedestrians were thoroughly searched for any weapons that they
could use in the event riots broke out after the delivery of the judgment.

Earlier on Wednesday, Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi called a
Press conference to declare the army and police had been mobilised and were
ready to crush any possible public disturbances.

In a show of force air force fighter jets flew past the High Court on
several occasions forcing Garwe to briefly adjourn proceedings because of
noise from the planes.

Meanwhile, police early yesterday morning dispersed a group of MDC
women, who included all the party's female legislators, who had converged
just outside Harare city for an all-night prayer for divine intervention
ahead of Garwe's ruling. - ZimOnline

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Daily News online edition

Tsvangirai*s acquittal calls for justice probe

Date:16-Oct, 2004

MORGAN Tsvangirai's acquittal on a charge of treason must be viewed as
a challenge for the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.

A thorough investigation must be instituted into why a decision was
taken, apparently at the highest level, to proceed with the prosecution when
all the evidence pointed to a non-existent case.

Most analysts called this a political trial, part of Zanu PF's
sinister plot to enfeeble the most formidable opposition political party
since independence.

In the 2000 parliamentary election, this nine-month-old party had
snatched 57 seats from Zanu PF in an election marked by much violence. It
must have been decided that the treason trial would be a great opportunity
for Zanu PF to so mortally wound the MDC, it would not pose a challenge to
Zanu PF ever again.

Right from the beginning, there were grave doubts about the charge:
that Tsvangirai plotted the assassination of President Robert Mugabe. The
most bizarre aspect was that, to achieve this allegedly dastardly end, he
sought the assistance of a Canadian political consultancy firm run by Ari
Ben-Menashe, which had previously worked for Zanu PF.

There was a comic opera element in the trial, with Ben-Menashe, a
consummate showman, trying to run rings around defence witnesses.

The judgment to acquit Tsvangirai suggests strongly that justice is
still alive and well in Zimbabwe, that in spite of attempts by Zanu PF to
pack the Bench with blue-eyed party supporters, there are still men and
women of conscience who will act in accordance with the law, and not out of
warped party loyalty.

The expectation of many citizens is that this trend will continue,
that the judiciary can regain its respectable stature in our lives, as a
bulwark against any and all attempts to deny the people their inalienable
right to justice.

There must also be hope that political activity, particularly that of
the MDC, will be allowed to continue as freely as it ought to, in a

Tsvangirai and the MDC have won a great victory, but this is only one
small step. There are still many hurdles ahead. - LEADER
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Daily News online edition

Jubilation in Harare as Tsvangirai is acquitted

Date:16-Oct, 2004

News of the acquittal of the MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai on high
treason charges today was met with rollocking jubilation in Harare.

At Harvest House, the headquarters of the opposition party in Harare,
hundreds of youths ululated, danced and chanted revolutionary songs to
register their joy at the court ruling which they were waiting for.

Riot police with baton sticks, who had been on stand by since the
early hours of the day went into action and converged at the MDC offices to
disperse the youth members who could not hide their delight.

One Harare taxi driver said the ruling was a big relief to most people
and would benefit not only MDC and its millions of supporters but even Zanu
PF itself.

"The ruling is good for peace and harmony," said the young taxi

A salesman in a bookshop said he was surprised that the judge made the
ruling. "Honestly I didn't expect such a favourable ruling, going by what
has happened in the past. But this is good news for all of us," he said.

There had been fears that a negative ruling might result in chaos and
the MDC had urged its members to be on stand by to register their
displeasure should he ruling be otherwise.

The Air Force of Zimbabwe added a new twist to the whole incident
when, an hour before the ruling, it sent its two jet fighter planes on a
flight cross the city, as if to scare people.

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Commonwealth welcomes Tsvangirai's acquittal

October 15, 2004, 18:15

The Commonwealth welcomed the acquittal today of Morgan Tsvangirai,
Zimbabwe's opposition leader, and said it hoped the nation might in future
rejoin the group of mostly former British colonies. Zimbabwe's High Court
acquitted Tsvangirai on charges of plotting to assassinate Robert Mugabe,
the president, and seize power, a verdict that gives a boost to the

"We very much hope that this outcome will improve the political atmosphere
in Zimbabwe and open the way for genuine dialogue in the lead-up to next
year's parliamentary elections," Joel Kibazo, the Commonwealth spokesperson,
said. "Although Zimbabwe is no longer a member of the Commonwealth, we
continue to take an interest in developments there and hope that it will be
possible sooner rather than later for her to rejoin the association," he
said in a statement.

Last year Zimbabwe withdrew from the 54-nation Commonwealth after the group
extended its suspension, citing a violation of its democratic values. The
association had suspended the southern African nation on the grounds that
Mugabe had rigged his re-election in 2002 and persecuted opponents. Kibazo
said the Commonwealth had taken no concrete steps so far and that Zimbabwe
would have to approach the group first for any progress on readmission to be
made. - Reuters

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Mugabe rival urges reconciliation

Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has said he hopes his
acquittal of treason charges can pave the way for "national reconciliation".
He was speaking after a court cleared him of plotting to kill
President Robert Mugabe ahead of the 2002 poll.

Mr Tsvangirai, who could have faced the death penalty, told the BBC
the verdict was a morale boost for the opposition.

But the government condemned the acquittal, saying "a guilty man had
been allowed to walk free".

Mr Tsvangirai faces another separate treason charge which is due to go
to trial next month.

'Good basis'

"I feel really relieved. I feel vindicated," Mr Tsvangirai said in a
BBC interview after the verdict was announced. He had always maintained that
he was framed by state security agents.

Mr Tsvangirai said he believed the judgement may have set a good basis
for national reconciliation in the country, where political tensions are
rising ahead of the March 2005 elections.

Correspondents say Mr Tsvangirai's comments refer to a possible
revival of talks between his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the
governing Zanu-PF party.

But the chance of the two sides negotiating before the elections are
seen as slim, given Mr Mugabe's contemptuous dismissal of Morgan Tsvangirai
as a "pathetic puppet" of his Western opponents.

And in its first reaction, the Zimbabwean justice minister indicated
the government might appeal.

"After perusing the judgment, the government of Zimbabwe is of the
strong view that the accused, Morgan Tsvangirai, has been wrongly
acquitted," Patrick Chinamasa said in a statement.

Poll caution

The outcome was a surprise given that sections of Zimbabwe's judiciary
have been linked to the ruling party and Mr Mugabe, the BBC's Alastair
Leithead reports from neighbouring South Africa.

His trial began 20 months ago and the verdict had already been delayed
for two months.

The case centred on the testimony of Ari Ben-Menashe, a Canada-based

He testified that in a secretly-filmed meeting in December 2001, Mr
Tsvangirai asked him to arrange the assassination of President Mugabe.

The defence team said the grainy tape was doctored as part of a plot
to entrap Mr Tsvangirai, who lost the 2002 presidential election, accusing
Mr Mugabe of stealing it.

Sanctions, including a travel ban, were imposed on Mr Mugabe and other
Zimbabwe leaders, by the United States and the European Union, which also
accused him of stealing the ballot.

The MDC has threatened to boycott next year's poll, but Mr Tsvangirai
said he believed the vote was going to be "an opportunity and a challenge"
for them.

But he also sounded a note of caution.

"I'm sure that as long as [President Mugabe] is vindictive ...and not
tolerant towards the opposition he will always think of unorthodox means to
deal with the MDC."

Mr Tsvangirai's second treason trial next month relates to his call
last year for street protests to oust Mr Mugabe.

But he said he was "not so worried" about that case, calling the
charges "less serious".

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Activists, Analysts Examine Acquittal of Zimbabwe Opposition Leader
Challiss McDonough
15 Oct 2004, 15:28 UTC

Human rights activists and political analysts in South Africa are welcoming
the acquittal of Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who was
found not guilty of treason by the Harare High Court on Friday. But they are
cautious about taking too much satisfaction from the verdict.
While analysts and human rights campaigners are welcoming the acquittal of
Morgan Tsvangirai, they are also aware that the Zimbabwean opposition leader
still faces another treason trial on unrelated charges. So they have been
circumspect in their praise for the court decision, despite the joyful
celebrations by Mr. Tsvangirai's supporters in Harare.

The head of the South Africa chapter of the human rights advocacy group
Amnesty International is Samkelo Mokhine.

"Amnesty International welcomes the acquittal of Morgan Tsvangirai," he
said. "We were of the opinion that the case was based on a very weak basis.
The trial seemed to be a politically motivated one that formed part of the
bigger attack on civil society and the opposition that has been happening in

Mr. Mokhine says Amnesty International has long had serious concerns about
the impartiality and independence of the Zimbabwean judiciary, which he says
has been systematically undermined by the government. He says this verdict
indicates that there are still, in his words, "people of integrity on the
bench in Zimbabwe."

But some analysts believe this high-profile case does not represent the
overall condition of the Zimbabwean judicial system. And some say the
verdict will help the Zimbabwean government more than it will help Mr.

Regional analyst Noria Mashumba at the Pretoria-based Institute for Security
Studies is a former Zimbabwean prosecutor and human-rights worker. She
believes the Harare government will use Mr. Tsvangirai's acquittal to
counter the criticisms of the international community.

"It's a plus for the government, in terms of the general allegations that
the judiciary is no longer impartial, that it is an instrument used by the
government," she said. "The not guilty verdict for me looks like it's a very
strategic move on the part of the government because it will give a
reflection that the judiciary is impartial after all."

Even so, Ms. Mashumba believes the verdict is what she calls a "landmark"
for Mr. Tsvangirai's party, the Movement for Democratic Change. She thinks
it will enable the party and its embattled leader to devote more attention
to other matters, most notably the general election scheduled for early next
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Three journalists arrested in Zimb
From correspondents in Harare
October 15, 2004

THREE journalists were arrested shortly after a High Court cleared
Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai of treason charges today,
witnesses said.

Police could not immediately confirm the arrests of a correspondent for the
US Associated Press (AP) news agency and two photographers, one of whom
works for the country's only independent daily, the Daily Mirror. The other
photographer was not identified.

Angus Shaw of AP "was arrested by an unidentified person and taken away in
an unmarked Land Rover," said a witness who asked to remain nameless.

Desmond Kwande, the Daily Mirror photographer, was followed by a heavily
armed policeman as he walked to his office on the same road as the High
Court, where a judge acquitted Tsvangirai on high treason charges, a
colleague said.

Meanwhile, police issued a fresh warning against lawlessness in the
aftermath of the acquittal, which saw opposition supporters break into song
and dance on the streets of the capital.

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Zim cops fire teargas at MDC supporters
October 15 2004 at 02:31PM

Zimbabwe police on Friday fired teargas and used batons to disperse a
crowd of 200 opposition supporters who were celebrating the acquittal of
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai in a treason

The jubilant group was celebrating outside their offices minutes after
Judge Paddington Garwe pronounced Tsvangirai not guilty of plotting to kill
President Robert Mugabe.

Police moved in within minutes to disperse them, sending supporters
and passers-by scurrying for cover in nearby shops and food courts. One
teargas canister landed on the roof of a bank opposite a food court.

Opposition supporters had tried to stage a sit-in outside the High
Court in Harare city centre before the session started but were chased away
by police.

There was tight security across Harare earlier on Friday as police and
paramilitary forces patrolled areas around the High Court - which is
opposite key government buildings, and mounted roadblocks on streets leading
to the court complex.

Tension had mounted ahead of the ruling with both the MDC and
government accusing each other of trying to unleash violence. - Sapa-AFP
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From The Cape Argus (SA), 14 October

Activists set their sights on Mugabe

By Bheko Madlala

A group of former anti-apartheid activists from across the globe, who
gathered in Durban this week, has made an impassioned plea to the South
African government to take decisive action against President Robert Mugabe's
regime to ensure that the next year's elections in Zimbabwe will be free and
fair. The plea was made yesterday at the end of the International
Anti-Apartheid Movement Conference which reflected on the role played by the
global community to drum up support for the country's struggle against
apartheid. The conference, the first since 1994, was attended by delegates
from countries such as the UK, US and Sweden. The delegates urged the South
African government to put pressure on Mugabe's regime to ensure that the
people of Zimbabwe are able to vote for the party of their choice during the
parliamentary elections. Said Mai Palmberg, who was one of the delegates
from Sweden: "I have a feeling that the South African government is afraid
to deal with Mugabe because he is seen as a symbol of defiance against White
interests." One of the proposals which were made at the conference by the
delegates, is to hold an international conference which will specifically
deal with the political crisis in Zimbabwe.

The conference was addressed by Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad
who came down hard on the critics of the government's quiet diplomacy
approach to the political meltdown in Zimbabwe. Answering a question on what
is the South African policy on Zimbabwe at the end of the conference, Pahad
said South Africa was intensifying its efforts to ensure that the elections
in Zimbabwe would be free and fair. "I believe that there are problem in
Zimbabwe ... there is an assumption that we accept everything that the other
side says, there is also an assumption that being diplomatic is not being
critical. "The word quiet diplomacy is a fake, you either take the process
of diplomacy or go to war. What ever we do we must help the Zimbabweans to
find a solution to their crisis and the process must be led by the
Zimbabweans as it happened in South Africa," he said, adding that Zimbabwe
was not "an academic exercise for South Africa".

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15 October 2004


The High Court today acquitted MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai of charges of treason. Tsvangirai had been accused, along with MDC Secretary General Professor Welshman Ncube and MDC Shadow Agriculture Minister Renson Gasela of plotting to assassinate Robert Mugabe. Ncube and Gasela were acquitted at the close of the state case.

His acquittal is a victory for the people of Zimbabwe and a huge blow to the forces of tyranny.

The ruling sends out a message of hope to all those struggling for freedom and democracy both inside and outside Zimbabwe.

The MDC salutes the resoluteness and strength of character that Morgan Tsvangirai has demonstrated throughout the 18 month period of his trial and would like to thank the people of Zimbabwe for the support and solidarity that they have shown.

The MDC and the people of Zimbabwe have never had any doubt about the innocence of Morgan Tsvangirai and have always remained confident that justice would eventually prevail; people were not fooled by the states desperate attempt to smear the image of the MDC and its leadership.

The treason charge, and the unrelenting campaign of violence and intimidation against the MDC exposes clearly the level of panic that the emergence and growth of the MDC, as the leaders of Zimbabwes social liberation movement, has caused within Zanu PF.

Zanu PFs distorted view of democracy tolerates no threat to its power base and the attempt to decapitate the opposition by laying an elaborate trap in order to level charges of treason against the MDC leadership, illustrates the lengths to which this regime is prepared to go in order to preserve its coercive grip on the country.

The verdict represents a serious indictment of the actions of Mugabe and his Zanu PF government.

This is the third time that Mugabe has attempted to destroy one of his rivals by putting them on trial to face trumped up charges of treason. First Dr Joshua Nkomo had to flee in 1983, then Lookout Masuku and Dumiso Dabengwa, then Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole in 1992 and now Morgan Tsvangirai.

Since the trial began on 3 February 2003 it has not only been Morgan Tsvangirai that has been on trial but also Zimbabwe itself and the values and principles that we stand for as a country; values which guided the agenda of the liberation struggle.

Todays ruling therefore is a victory for the democratic values cherished and espoused by the majority of Zimbabweans and it is a ruling that will galvanise the democratic struggle in Zimbabwe.

Our collective resolve for change has been strengthened by todays events; we are now firmly set on the road to victory.

Gibson Sibanda

MDC Vice-President.

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The underground weather report

Harare has been gray and overcast for the last five days but the sun broke through the clouds as Morgan Tsvangirai (MT) was acquitted in the High Court. Supporters who came to witness the appearance of MT were barred from being close to the courthouse, or they were aggressively "moved on" by the black booted riot police who were out in full force.

The mugabe regime went all out today to intimidate and harass ordinary Zimbabweans who have a right to assemble and participate in national events. Fighter planes buzzed the city centre several times.

After the acquittal jubilant Zimbabweans clapped, whistled and gave the MDC open hand salute. However the Malaysian backed zanu pf denied Zimbabweans the chance to celebrate in the streets. They are so scared even of some peaceful and happy expressions. As we are writing this two MDC councilors are detained in Harare Central Police station for refusing to disperse. Since when has celebrating been against the law?

The force of the zpf storm started to gather outside Harvest House, the MDC's headquarters where the regime deployed two water canons and several Santana's filled with riot police. Land rovers containing gun toting riot police were seen to be driving down Angwa Street threatening to fire tiger on casual passers-by.

It is important that we are not lulled into any sense that the judiciary is impartial and accountable. The acquittal was orchestrated by the regime to make our country seem law abiding and democratic. The regime is desperate to be seen to be upstanding and to win favour with SADC, the AU and the international community ahead of next year's elections.

The center of Harare as well as all high-density areas were covered over in a sea of MDC posters that advertised the trial today. All of Zvakwana hopes that the MDC will find some new energy and go all out to help us get a better life in Zimbabwe. We do not want fighter planes circling the skies or hundreds of black boots on the street; we want jobs, food, good education and health care.

The country will come alive in celebrations of all shapes and sizes tonight. The regime can only stomp out a few fires, but they cannot dampen the spirit of change that Zimbabweans are seeking. Celebrate MT's acquittal tonight in whichever way you can and make a commitment with your friends and family that you will participate in the fight for democracy.

And now the sky grows dark again and thunder is rumbling around reminding us that we are not yet free. Join hands in chasing this regime out.

One time.


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SADC Trio to Hunt Black Rhino

The Herald (Harare)

October 15, 2004
Posted to the web October 15, 2004

Wisdom Mdzungairi

THE parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
(Cites) have granted Namibia, Swaziland and South Africa permission to hunt
five of the once highly endangered black rhino population annually for
sustainable utilisation of the wildlife resource.

Representatives of over 166 countries here agreed by consensus to allow the
export of five black rhinoceros hunting trophies each from Swaziland,
Namibia and South Africa, marking the first time in many decades that
hunting of this species has been approved by the UN body.

Cites also agreed to almost triple Namibia*s leopard hunting export quota
from 100 to 250 animals a year and double South Africa*s leopard quota from
75 to 150 animals a year, again acknowledging that conservation efforts have
been so successful in the region that hunting could sustainably increase.

Even a suggestion by Kenya and its allies in the donor fraternity that if
the three Sadc countries would raise US$1 million from hunts - Western donor
countries and non-governmental organisations were prepared to raise that
amount and buy the rhinos to stop hunting - could not sustain the argument
to ban hunting of the flourishing species.

This would boost tourism receipts, not only in the respective countries, but
in the whole region as this means that it is only in the Sadc region where
hunting enthusiasts can now hunt the big five - lion, elephant, buffalo,
leopard/cheetah and rhino.

Safari Club International and other wildlife conservation bodies were
instrumental in helping make hunting an important part of the management of
two important African wildlife species - the elephant and the black rhino -
resulting in permits for black rhinos and added permits for leopards being

Although the black rhino was on Cites Appendix I (which bans trade), Cites
parties noted that the black rhino populations were increasing in Southern
Africa, hence, the permission to manage the growing population through one
of the most scientifically favoured conservation methods - sport hunting.

Environment and Tourism Minister Francis Nhema said the region was rewarded
for good wildlife management practices through sustainable utilisation of
the resource.

"If the wildlife resource can look after itself, the better. We will commit
limited resources to them and still let the few hunted animals benefit both
the communities and the people living alongside them," Cde Nhema said

Although the decisions have disappointed some animal protectionist groups,
Cde Nhema insisted the money raised from the sales would pay for improved
conservation efforts as Zimbabwe has always done.

He added that the belief was based on the understanding that the Sadc
countries were working together to establish wildlife conservation

Zimbabwe was working with Mozambique and South Africa on the Great Limpopo
Transfrontier Park, the Four Corners programme which includes Botswana,
Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia, Luangwa Conservation Programme
(Zambia-Zimbabwe-Mozambique) and Okavango Transfrontier Conservation Park

The black rhino had been on the decline since the 1970s due to hunting, war
and increasing demand for land. It suffered a near-catastrophic decline from
about 65 000 animals in the 1970s to only 2 400 in the mid-1990s.

Poachers sought rhino horn because of the high prices it fetched in the
traditional medicine markets of the Far East. In the Middle East, the horn
has also traditionally been carved and polished to make dagger handles.

But according to a major study released earlier this year, numbers of the
species in Southern Africa have risen by around 40 percent over the last
decade. As a result, the Sadc region believes the time is right to introduce
very limited hunting.

Each country would be allowed to export products from five animals only each
year, and they would all be elderly males. The application was supported by
the scientists and technocrats of the Cites Secretariat, who believe that
taking elderly males could actually help herds to expand.

There are an estimated 3 600 black rhinos in Africa with 80 percent of the
endangered species found in the Southern African region.

Zimbabwe, which has four black rhino intensive protection zones in Matopo,
Sinamatela, Chipinge and Matusadona, has seen its population increase to
between 500 and 1 000 animals. Some of the wildlife species was also found
in the country*s 11 major animal sanctuaries.

"It*s important to realise that black rhinos are on Appendix I and they are
staying on Appendix I; their status has not changed," said Mr Michael
Williams, spokesman for United Nations Environment Programme.

In an interview, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority
director-general Dr Morris Mtsambiwa said the Zimbabwe delegation were most
interested in the parties to grant the permits as that meant that once there
was a precedent, Zimbabwe would put a proposal for the black rhino at the
next Cites meeting.

Apart from the black rhino, Dr Mtsambiwa said, Zimbabwe almost had no
endangered species and once "we are granted permission to hunt the rhino
that will boost our hunting industry revenue base as well as the enthusiasm
to hunt in Zimbabwe".

Sport hunting was a cash cow for Zimbabwe and its neighbours, contributing
80 percent of the total revenue for the respective countries* tourism

Swaziland proposed that its population of the southern white rhinoceros be
transferred from Appendix I to Appendix II to permit the export of live
animals and trophies while Namibia and South Africa requested approval for
the export of five black rhinos as hunting trophies. The white rhino was
re-established in Swaziland in 1965 after earlier becoming extinct there and
now numbers some 61 animals.

Pro-sustainable use delegates here viewed this historic decision as yet
another clear indication this century that Cites had succeeded in making
science triumph over the esoteric interests of powerful Western NGOs who
fight against sustainable use. Revenue from rhino hunting would be used for
rhino conservation.

Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (Campfire)
director Mr Charles Jonga said anti-use NGOs could fight the spirit of
sustainable use, but they could not stop it hence "our win is their loss".
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Zim Online

Inflation rate drops to 251.5 percent
Sat 16 October 2004
HARARE - Zimbabwe's inflation rate dropped by 62.9 percentage points
to 251.5 percent in September down from 314.4 the previous month.

The drop is the eighth time in a row that the consumer price index has
retreated since hitting an all-time record high of 622.8 percent in January.

The government's Central Statistical Office attributed the slowdown in
the year-on-year inflation to a lower rate of increase in the average price
of commodities.

But the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe played down the decrease in
inflation saying families now required to spend more to survive now than
before because of ever-increasing prices of basic commodities.

In a statement yesterday the council said: "During the month of
August, a family of six (mother, farther and children) required about $1 407
800 to purchase basic commodities and essential services.

"However, in September the same family required about $1 494 700,
indicating a 6.6 percentage increase. The increase in the overall monthly
budget is largely as a result of an increase in food items, such as sugar,
meat, cooking oil and milk."

The consumer rights watchdog said recent increases in the prices of
fuel and phone tariffs had triggered a fresh wave of price hikes across the
economy, placing survival commodities beyond the reach of many Zimbabweans.

The decline in inflation registered in September is in line with
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono's goal of whittling down the
annual figure to or below 200 percent by December.

Analysts however pointed out there were still far too many
inflationary pressures in the economy that could still push up the rate.

An economist with one Harare bank said the upward pressure on prices
of goods could still reverse efforts by Gono to bring down inflation.

The analyst also noted that the decline could be short-lived once
Zimbabwe's central bank allowed the local dollar to freely float against the
United States dollar.

The bank has unofficially pegged the Zimbabwe dollar at $5 600 to the
greenback while on the illegal but thriving black market the US unit fetches
at least Z$7600. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

International Cricket Council boss raps rebel players
Sat 16 October 2004
HARARE - International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Malcolm
Speed has blasted white Zimbabwe rebel cricketers for attempting to
undermine an inquiry into racism allegations before a report on the probe is
presented this weekend.

The rebels, whose walk-out on the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) six
months ago led to their dismissal, this week filed an official letter of
complaint to the ICC over the conduct of the racism hearing in Harare a
fortnight ago.

The ICC-instigated probe into the racism allegations in Zimbabwe
cricket, heard before India's solicitor-general Goolam Vahanvati and South
African High Court judge Steven Majiedt, was prematurely called off when the
ZCU and the white players reached a stalemate.

The ICC panel had to rely on written submissions from both parties,
findings of which will be presented to the ICC executive board in Lahore,
Pakistan, tomorrow.

The rebels' letter of appeal, addressed directly to Speed, outlines
grievances about the way in which the short-lived inquiry was conducted,
when less than half a day of the scheduled three-day hearing took place.

"We had 12 witnesses waiting, some who had travelled great distances.
The inquiry could still have proceeded with certain witnesses giving
evidence in front of all the directors. They were never given the chance,"
the letter, quoted in The Guardian, states.

The rebels argue that much of the written evidence presented by their
witnesses would be dismissed as "irrelevant and speculative" without oral
testimony to provide background and context.

But responding to the letter, Speed said that the inquiry had provided
the rebels' lawyer Chris Venturas with every opportunity to submit any
evidence he had to substantiate the allegations and that any failure to do
so was Venturas's responsibility.

"These allegations (of racism) are amongst the gravest claims that can
be made against an individual or an institution," Speed said in a statement
yesterday. "The process that the ICC put in place has provided you and your
clients with repeated opportunities, beyond a single hearing in Zimbabwe, to
provide this essential evidence to support your claims.

"Your letter is premature and pre-empts the finding of the panel. The
decision to provide it to the media is another schoolboy attempt to
manipulate public opinion in your favour to the detriment of finding a

"In reading your letter I am dismayed that much of your concern now
seems to be about allegations, witnesses or evidence that you have failed to
disclose. Clearly, this material should have been in your written submission
to allow both the panel and the ZCU to understand the nature of the
allegations and what evidence there was to support them."

"If you have failed in your obligation to provide this material, it is
not the fault of the panel or the responsibility of the ICC. The ICC and the
panel provided the opportunity; it is up to you to take it.

"In your letter, you also now claim that there were several witnesses
who were prepared to testify in front of the ZCU directors.

"With the greatest of respect, what is the use of telling me that now?
This information should have been provided to the Panel when you were
standing in front of it in Zimbabwe only two weeks ago."

Speed added that at the time of responding to the rebel's letter he
had not read the panel's report but that he would do so with an open mind in
advance of the ICC board meeting in Lahore.

"It is unfortunate that I have had to make the contents of this letter
public but given the circumstances I feel I have been left with little
choice," said Speed. - ZimOnline.

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GMB Impounds 108 Tonnes of Maize

The Herald (Harare)

October 15, 2004
Posted to the web October 15, 2004


The Grain Marketing Board (GMB) has since April impounded 108 tonnes of
maize at roadblocks manned by police on major roads leading into Harare.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cde Joseph Made told
Parliament on Wednesday that the impounded maize had been forfeited to the
State in terms of the GMB Act.

He was responding to a question from Gweru Rural Member of Parliament Mr
Renson Gasela (MDC), who wanted to know whether some major roads leading
into Harare had permanent police roadblocks where GMB personnel, with police
assistance, routinely impound maize coming into the capital city.

"The law is clear; when you want to move maize, you can apply for a permit.
There is a minimum amount you can move into urban areas," said Dr Made.

"He said of the total maize impounded, 46 tonnes were confiscated along
Harare-Shamva road, 24 tonnes along the Harare-Masvingo road and 38 tonnes
along the Bindura-Mazowe road.

According to the GMB Act, one is required to acquire a permit to move maize
or wheat exceeding 250kg.

Answering another question from Kambuzuma MP Mr Willias Madzimure (MDC) who
wanted to know whether enough maize will be delivered to the GMB's Strategic
Grain Reserves, Dr Made said the board was still receiving maize and the
parastatal was concentrating on making sure that there was enough grain to
take the nation through to the next harvest.

Projections were that the GMB would receive between 500 000 and 750 000
tonnes before the end of the staple grain's marketing season at the end of
March next year.

The country was expected to have produced more than 2 million tonnes of
maize, enough to last until the next harvesting season, but not all would be
delivered to the GMB as farmers kept some for their own consumption.

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