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

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Zim Standard - Feature

Insight with Chenjerai Hove—Zimbabwe the land of victims

Chenjerai Hove
JUST a few days ago, I watched the Clement Muchachi saga on television and
in the newspapers. It was all sad and pathetic. Imagine, a man who had put
all his energies to the service of the struggle for freedom, and when he has
fallen out with the system, he is left to live the remainder of his life
like a heap of rubbish. But when he dies, the desperate politicians of the
ruling party decide that it is time to make a graveside speech. They kidnap
the corpse and make shameless speeches about how the man was a shining
example of how we should all live. He died a pauper and everyone knows it.

“He was a simple man,” one politician said, giving the reason why he was
abandoned by those who even benefited from his personal sacrifices. But who
ever said simple people must be left to die as paupers, transported to the
clinic in a donkey cart and a wheelbarrow.

Zimbabwe is the land of victims and victimisers. Everyday this is confirmed
in so many ways. Once again, a corpse was kidnapped in order to create an
occasion for political speech-making. The philosophy seems to be: anything
which gives occasion for making crude political speeches should be taken as
it comes regardless of how vulgar it may appear in the eyes of the public.

In fact, the public eye is taken as a blind eye which does not even see when
sand drops into it. But the ruling party politicians do not know that the
people see and take time to think about obscene political gestures.

The people, ordinary citizens who want to live a decent life, are
hoodwinked. They are also kidnapped like the corpse which is all of a sudden
taken by helicopter from place to place. But when the man was alive, only
well-wishers dared come near him to take him to hospital or donate a cent.

Viewers of this saga become victims. And those who tell lies to the people
also become victims of their own lies and untruths. I call it the violence
of the imagination. When the people are made to hear lies upon lies, it is a
form of violence and victimisation.

Young people are sent to kill innocent people going about their daily lives.
And we are told that there is no violence in the country. It is true that
those who are on the right side of violence will never believe that there is
any violence in the land. A politician who is shown the bruised back of a
political opponent stands up in front of the cameras and tells the whole
nation that there was no violence in the constituency. The reason is simply
that he was not the one who received the torture and intimidation he
unleashed on the opponents.

When young people are made to kill in order for them to receive a few
dollars, they also become victims of political folly and expediency. Those
who send them to kill also become victims of their own political

These days, strangers in the villages are killed instead of being fed. The
politicians know that strangers bring new ideas to the village or the
township, and so they instruct that if you see a stranger you should kill
them. That is why it has become so difficult for the ordinary citizen to
visit his or her relatives in far away places. All against the ordinary
beliefs of the people. When we were growing up, we were told that a stranger
is the one you give special care. “Muenzi haapedzi dura, anodya achipfuura.”
(A stranger can never exhaust your granary since he will eat and go his

But, now we are being told a new political philosophy of killing all
strangers or barring them from arriving where they want to go. And even some
newspapers are banned in certain areas when we were told by our fathers that
you may disagree with a person, but you may not refuse to listen to them.
You listen first and then disagree. “Shoko harivhikwi.” You cannot shield
yourself from words.) “Chapinda munzeve chawaridza bonde.” (What has entered
the ear spreads its mat there.) Any attempt to shield oneself from words and
ideas makes one look extremely foolish.

Political opponents are an essential ingredient to our political goulash.
For, if we kill all our opponents, we become like the man who is dying to
climb Mount Kilimanjaro. When the man gets to the top, he is faced with the
boring task of climbing down since there is no longer any challenge. He
might actually fall to his death on his way down. Critics and political
opponents make our minds continue to think and work.

Unfortunately, the many years of lack of any political opponents in Zimbabwe
have made the ruling party so lazy that the leaders of that party never
engaged in serious political self-criticism. Once the party said it, it was
final and finished. That sort of life is artificial and should never be
allowed again. In other words, the ruling political party leaders decided to
make themselves victims of their own political games.

Those who delete human conscience from their political schemes do, indeed,
make themselves victims of their own schemes. Our parents told us that human
life ought to be respected. They did not put down any conditions.

All these murders, and all this torture on the land! My God, have we become
blind to the voices of our inner conscience? Have our hearts become pieces
of wood which do not respond to human compassion and love. All in the name
of political gain in order to perpetuate power in the hands of one clique
which seems to have forgotten its public moral responsibility.

We are all under siege. The victims and the victimisers are all in one
basket. We become worse victims when we have killed political opponents and
go away thinking that we are great. The ugliest human face and heart are
those that celebrate the pain that has been inflicted on others, political
opponents or whatever.

Violence can never be a recipe for political success.

*Chenjerai Hove is a renowned Zimbabwean writer.

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Times of India

White farmers see escalation in Zimbabwe violence

ARARE: White-owned farms in Zimbabwe have suffered a major escalation of
violence in recent weeks, despite a Commonwealth deal aimed at ending the
unrest, according to a new survey by the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU).

"Generally, we see a strong trend in escalation of farm invasions," CFU
president Colin Cloete said in presenting the survey's results. "A lot of it
has been directed at the farms since the Abuja agreement."

The survey took a snapshot of conditions on farms on September 25, and found
that 1,948 farms have been occupied by government supporters -- hundreds
more than earlier estimated.

Farmers also documented 829 violent or hostile incidents on the farms
between September 6-25. During that time, new occupiers arrived on 688
farms, although some of those farms already had some occupiers, the survey

Zimbabwe's government had agreed on September 6 to curb the violence in
exchange for British financing of President Robert Mugabe's land reforms,
under a deal brokered by a Commonwealth team in the Nigerian capital Abuja.

The report drew a swift and angry response from government, with lands
minister Joseph Made dismissing the survey's findings as "totally false" and
declaring the farmers behind the report "irrelevant to our society."
"They continue to cause despondency, and it is time for them to pack their
bags... They must go," he said.

The CFU survey was the first attempt to document violations of the Abuja
deal, which until now had been reported in isolated instances.

The number of occupiers has quadrupled already this year, rising to more
than 104,000 from an estimated 25,000 on December 31, 2000, the survey said.

As a result of the violence, 1,183 farms are not able to operate normally,
and farmers have been prevented from planting on 74,881 hectares of land
(185,034 acres).

An additional 1.6 million hectares (3.9 million acres) of grazing land has
been burnt, forcing farmers to slaughter 243,535 head of cattle that they
can no longer graze or manage, according to the survey.
Some 77 percent of the CFU's 3,514 current members responded to the survey.

Pro-government militants began invading white-owned farms in February 2000,
days after Mugabe suffered his first electoral defeat in a referendum on a
new consitution he had campaigned heavily for.

The occupations have been heavily tied to political violence, but Mugabe has
defended them as part of his land reforms to correct colonial-era inequities
that left whites owning a disportionate amount of land.
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Yahoo News

Sunday October 21 12:31 PM ET

Zimbabweans Trek to S.Africa in Desperate Job Search
By Allan Seccombe

WATERPOORT, South Africa (Reuters) - Four weary, sweat-stained Zimbabwean
men walk from farm to farm in South Africa's arid north, desperate for work
to feed their starving families back home.

They and thousands like them have left Zimbabwe, where there are no jobs to
be had.

The leader of the four, 27-year-old Alone Maguguza, asks farmer Andrew
McEwan for work and gets what has become the grizzled old Afrikaner's stock
answer: ``I have work here for you, but I cannot employ Zimbabweans anymore.
I'm very sorry.''

The four men seem to sag in the hot midday sun. McEwan tells his foreman,
also a Zimbabwean, to give the group watermelons and water before sending
them on their way.

``It's a crying shame. It really cuts me up inside seeing these guys. We get
dozens every day, begging for work, but there is nothing I can do,'' McEwan

While thousands of Zimbabweans stream into the region's economic powerhouse,
South Africa is trying to evict 15,500 Zimbabweans working on farms around
McEwan's 2,471 acres spread near Louis Trichardt in northern South Africa.

The government says it wants the jobs to go to South Africans. The state is
grappling with rising job losses and an unemployment rate of about 30

``A year or two ago it was just men, but now it's whole families that come
here looking for work. It's because the situation in Zimbabwe is so bad,''
McEwan adds.

Maguguza, in a grubby polyester suit and a broad-brimmed felt hat, says he
left his wife and two very young children at home in Chiredzi, southeastern
Zimbabwe, to find a job in South Africa for money to send home to feed his

``I left Zimbabwe because there are no jobs. Inflation is very high. I can't
buy food. My family is starving. I am starving,'' Maguguza told Reuters.


Zimbabwe's economy has slumped in recent years. A land grab led by
self-styled liberation war veterans since early last year on hundreds of
mainly white-owned farms has forced the decline.

Inflation is at a record high of 86.3 percent in the year to September and
economists predict it will rise even higher as a foreign exchange shortage
is felt.

President Robert Mugabe's government, in power since independence from
Britain in 1980, has imposed price controls on basic goods to curb soaring
costs, but businesses have warned there may be closures and further job

``I once worked on a farm, but we were expelled because the company was
going to close. I've been without a job for four months,'' said the softly
spoken Maguguza.

Regional security analysts predict more people could trek out of Zimbabwe to
countries with stronger economies.

``There is a reality of food shortages in Zimbabwe, of people in desperate
economic circumstances and little chance, given the state of the economy, of
rectifying that,'' said Greg Mills at the Johannesburg-based Institute of
International Affairs.

``Given the economic situation, the mass closure of businesses in Zimbabwe,
the decline of the agricultural sector, it would be surprising if the
trickle didn't turn to a flood,'' Mills predicted.

Last year South Africa deported 81,996 Zimbabweans. In the first six months
of 2001 it deported 23,178.

``There is a 275 km (170 miles)- long border with Zimbabwe and it's very
difficult to monitor it all. It's nearly impossible to say if there is an
increase or decrease in the number of illegals coming across,'' said a Home
Affairs Department official.

Zimbabwe's economy is forecast by analysts to shrink by 10 percent in 2001
against a 4.2 percent contraction in 2000.


An estimated 250,000 industrial and farm laborers of a 1.5 million workforce
in those sectors in Zimbabwe have lost their jobs since the start of last
year as farms and businesses buckle under adverse economic conditions,
analysts say.

``This is expected to rapidly increase given the farm invasions and the
decline in farm output -- already estimated down 50 percent this year,''
Mills said.

The four men hitched a ride on a truck to Beitbridge, the busy border post
between South Africa and its largest African trading partner and then
started to walk.

``We have walked for four days without food, only water. Sometimes we are
given water. We have been sleeping in the bush,'' says Maguguza.

The men have walked about 75 miles. The road south from the border town of
Messina is a thin strip of tar, bleached nearly white under the fierce sun.
It cuts a straight line through tough bush and fantastically shaped baobab
trees and across small tight bumps on the earth.

McEwan is one of 93 farmers in the area battling to keep some 15,500
Zimbabweans who are working on their citrus and vegetable farms irrigated by
the nearby Limpopo River.

McEwan says he cannot afford to send his 59 Zimbabwean workers back. He has
already sent nearly 30 back to Zimbabwe, but the remainder are trained in
picking his melons and specialty vegetables.

``If I have to send them back now I will have to close my farm,'' McEwan
said, adding it would take him at least three months to train local people.

The farmers won a temporary reprieve when a group of them won a court
interdict against the expulsion of their 5,500 Zimbabwean laborers when
their permits expired in mid-October.

The government has said it would delay expelling the other 10,000 -- of whom
7,000 are thought to be working illegally -- until it had determined
exceptional cases on the basis of irreplaceable skills or marriage to

The remaining Zimbabweans could be expelled by the end of October.

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The Sunday Mail... zimpapers

State snubs BBC

THE Government has snubbed an attempt by the British Broadcasting
Corporation to record a programme aimed at demeaning the Office of the
President under the guise of a panel discussion titled "Inside the Mind of

The programme was aimed at demonising and demeaning President Mugabe, with
panellists drawn from psychiatrists and psychologists carefully handpicked
by the BBC.

The programme was designed to refocus attention on Zimbabwe, which was
deflated by the postponement of the Brisbane Commonwealth meeting.

After failing to secure the participation of Information and Publicity
Minister, Professor Jonathan Moyo, the BBC contacted Manicaland Governor,
Cde Oppah Muchinguri, who turned down their request. They tried former
Information Minister Cde Chen Chimutengwende who saw no logic in discussing
his Head of State in a foreign land under the glare of a colonial television

The BBC then contacted the Zanu-PF secretary for external affairs Cde
Didymus Mutasa. In the request the BBC said the programme "seeks to take a
fresh look at President Mugabe, delving into the character and personality
of the man behind the external political image".

In his reply to the invitation written by Ms Candice Talberg of the BBC’s
News and Current Affairs, Cde Mutasa requested that he be furnished with
details of the other panelists. He also asked if the programme was connected
to this week’s Zimbabwe focus seminar at Chattam House. The BBC denied that
the programme had anything to do with Chattam House.

One of the panellists is MDC secretary for International Affairs Mrs Sekai
Holland, who has never worked with President Mugabe.

She was to be complemented on the programme by Ms Lupi Mushayakarara, who
last year formed a political party with Rhodesian prime minister Ian Smith,
which has since collapsed. Also on the panel is historian Mr Terence Ranger.

Professor Moyo described the BBC ploy as mischievous and smacking of British

"There is still that colonial master mentality whereby the BBC, whose
accreditation we have suspended because of their demonstration of lack of
balanced reporting, accuracy and objectivity, expects us to take part in
this charade.

"They want us to legitimise this charade. For two years the BBC has been
demonising President Mugabe and the people of Zimbabwe. And now they want us
to go before their psychologists to reinforce their anthropological thinking
that Africans do not think properly," said Professor Moyo.

Professor Moyo said the BBC is not the paragon of objective reporting and as
a state-controlled broadcaster whose government has been funding the
opposition in Zimbabwe, there was no logic in Government agreeing to such an

Chattam House, which is sponsored by the Westminster Foundation and Armani
Trust in some of its programmes, is running a focus on Zimbabwe this week.

Seminars have been lined up and among the invited speakers are MDC
secretary-general Professor Welshman Ncube and ZCTU secretary-general Mr
Wellington Chibhebhe. The discussions are centred on the theme "Which Way

In 1999 Chattam House held a similar seminar to map out strategies for the
parliamentary elections and find ways of helping the opposition parties in

Chattam House had also invited Vice-President Joseph Msika, Minister of Home
Affairs Cde John Nkomo, Cde Eddison Zvobgo and Finance and Economic
Development Minister, Cde Simba Makoni.

"How can we be part of a programme, where the Westminster Foundation, which
sponsored and was used as conduit to finance and help set up the MDC, now
claims to be objective ?

"The plan was to give tomorrow’s programme a big bang after the failure of
the kangaroo court expected in Brisbane. The postponement of Brisbane has
dampened the agenda at Chattam House and the BBC," said Professor Moyo.

He described the BBC as a station which has been churning out propaganda
against the Afghanistan government, and because of its state funding is a
mouthpiece for the Labour party’s propaganda.

"The CNN is better than the BBC. The BBC does not have adverts like CNN,
which has shareholders whilst the former uses British taxpayers’ money,"
said Professor Moyo.

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Zim Standard

Business News: Zimbabwe rated world’s worst performer

Cornelius Nduna
ZIMBABWE has been rated the world’s worst economically competitive country
among 75 countries studied by the Harvard University and the World Economic
Forum, results of a survey released on Thursday show.

The 352-page report, prepared by Harvard professors Jeffrey Sachs and
Michael Porter and the World Economic Forum, shows that Zimbabwe has slipped
from position 56 in the last survey to lie bottom of the list at 75 in the
current one.

The report, which forecasts high rates of economic growth, combines economic
data of about 75 countries with results of a survey of 4 600 business

Atop the list, Finland grabbed pole position rising from sixth position in
the last survey to dislodge the United States from position one.

Zimbabwe is going through its worst economic crisis which has been fueled by
commercial farm invasions thriving in an atmosphere of State sponsored

Food shortages are looming on the backdrop of the government’s failure to
create an atmosphere conducive to farming activities, which forced many
farmers to reduce their crop of cease farming altogether.

Last weekend President Mugabe announced his government was shifting from a
market economy to a command one. Following his statement, government
gazetted price controls of most basic commodities.

The state of lawlessness in the country has attracted international efforts
to whip Mugabe back into line with the United States leading the campaign
through its Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act 2001.

The proposed law seeks to formalise economic sanctions against Zimbabwe and
place travel bans on Mugabe, his ministers, service chiefs and their
European Union ministers meet next week to decide whether or not to slap
sanctions on Zimbabwe. The EU on 6 September called for economic sanctions
against Zimbabwe to protest the political mayhem and economic decline in the

The EU sanctions would ban Mugabe from visiting any country in the union,
freeze his assets and suspend aid to Zimbabwe.

Rankings of national economic growth prospects in the Global Competitiveness
Report 2001, published by the World Economic Forum of Geneva and Harvard
University Professors Jeffrey Sachs and Michael Porter. (Last year’s ratings
in brackets.)

1. Finland (6)
2. United States (1)
3. Canada (7)
4. Singapore (2)
5. Australia (12)
6. Norway (16)
7. Taiwan (11)
8. Netherlands (4)
9. Sweden (13)
10. New Zealand (20)
11. Ireland (5)
12. Britain (9)
13. Hong Kong (8)
14. Denmark (14)
15. Switzerland (10)
16. Iceland (24)
17. Germany (15)
18. Austria (18)
19. Belgium (17)
20. France (22)
21. Japan (21)
22. Spain (27)
23. South Korea (29)
24. Israel (19)
25. Portugal (23)
26. Italy (30)
27. Chile (28)
28. Hungary (26)
29. Estonia (-)
30. Malaysia (25)
31. Slovenia (-)
32. Mauritius (36)
33. Thailand (31)
34. South Africa (33)
35. Costa Rica (38)
36. Greece (34)
37. Czech Republic (32)
38. Trinidad and Tobago (-)
39. China (41)
40. Slovakia (39)
41. Poland (35)
42. Mexico (43)
43. Lithuania (-)
44. Brazil (46)
45. Jordan (47)
46. Uruguay (-)
47. Latvia (-)
48. Philippines (37)
49. Argentina (45)
50. Dominican Republic (-)
51. Egypt (42)
52. Jamaica (-)
53. Panama (-)
54. Turkey (40)
55. Peru (48)
56. Romania (-)
57. India (49)
58. El Salvador (50)
59. Bulgaria (58)
60. Vietnam (53)
61. Sri Lanka (-)
62. Venezuela (54)
63. Russia (55)
64. Indonesia (44)
65. Colombia (52)
66. Guatemala (-)
67. Bolivia (51)
68. Ecuador (59)
69. Ukraine (57)
70. Honduras (-)
71. Bangladesh (-)
72. Paraguay (-)
73. Nicaragua (-)
74. Nigeria (-)
75. Zimbabwe (56)
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Zim Standard

Mbigi is Communicator of the Year

Staff Writer
PROFESSOR Lovemore Mbigi is this year’s Communicator of the Year.

At a ceremony in Harare on Friday evening, the British American Tobacco
Zimbabwe (BATZ) association and the Zimbabwe Institute of Public Relations
(ZIPR) announced that the Zimbabwean-born author would succeed Daily News
editor-in-chief, Geoff Nyarota, to the award.

Professor Mbigi is a consultant, entrepreneur, philosopher and academic and
also a rainmaker. He is widely recognised as an exciting and creative
thinker, especially in the areas of transformation management in Zimbabwe
and southern Africa.

The executive director of Environment Africa, Charlene Hewatt, and
Commercial Farmers Union deputy director, Gerry Grant, were first and second
runners up respectively.

The event, attended by ZIPR president, Regis Nyamakanga and convened by the
organisation’s public relations councillor, Jacqu-eline Papenfus, is in its
21st year and is a highlight of the social/business calender in Zimbabwe.

The chairman of BATZ, Samuel Rushwaya, officiated at the event and called
for increased public/private sector co-operation and communication.

“Our role as sponsors is to promote communication and constructive dialogue.

Nowhere is this more needed in Zimbabwe, than between the private sector and
the public sector. When government and business leaders begin to draw closer
together and to engage in constructive dialogue without ego and vested
interests and to see each other’s points of view for the greater collective
good of Zimbabwe, that is when the magic will begin,” said Rushwaya.

Notable past winners of the award include MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai,
vice president Simon Muzenda and President Mugabe.
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Zim Standard

Grace Mugabe’s results story: An ethical dilemma or just another fuss?

Cornelius Nduna
It is a newspaper’s duty to print the news, and raise hell.—Wilbur Stoney.

LAST week’s publication of first lady Grace Mugabe’s University of London
Bachelor of Arts English examination results certainly set tongues wagging.
But more importantly, the results attracted the ire of the information and
publicity department in the president’s office which accused The Standard of
invading the first family’s privacy. The ethical question of whether or not
to publish what constitutes what is termed as the private life of a public
figure was immediately resuscitated.

The article was “a gross encroachment on and intrusion into her personal
life, that of her home, her family, correspondence and confidential data”,
argued the department in a statement. “(The first lady’s) decision to embark
on private studies, her performance in those studies and her correspondence
with or from her college raise no broader issues of public interest.”

Media lecturer, Isaac Nyashanu, begs to differ: “The First Lady put it on
the agenda and The Standard only followed it up. In light of the
developments concerning higher education funding, it’s rather interesting
that the first lady would spend her hard earned currency studying with a
British university rather than take advantage of the locally available
opportunities for distance education at the Zimbabwe Open University.

“It might well be that her difficulties arose not from her own inability but
from the relevance of the British curriculum she opted for. How relevant is
Shakespeare to Zimbabwe. If she had been studying Marechera, Vera, Chinodya
or Hove, she would have found it far much easier to comprehend. Most of us
can hardly pay our way for local education, therefore her decision to with a
British university raises interesting ethical questions.”

Darlington Nyakupinda, a media consultant, draws a very thin line between a
public figure’s private life and his or her public life.

Said Nyakupinda: “The public has a right to know about her life by virtue of
her being first lady. If she gives away blankets people need to know about
it about it... The public office makes her life her life very public.

“It’s nothing new, people knew she was studying. There is nothing wrong with
publishing her results as long as it was done with good intention. If she
had passed there would have been so much talk about it.”

A media lecturer with the National University of Science and Technology said
there was nothing new about the media scrutinising public figures.

Said the lecturer: “From a professional point of view, writing about the
first family is neither horrendous, horrifying nor shrewd. The media,
whether it’s a tabloid or broad sheet, has every right to publish whatever
stories of whatever nature about the first family just as it enjoys the same
right paupers and peasants.

“However, that right can be enjoyed and exercised only to the extent that
the stories are true, accurate and complete. Anywhere in the world members
of the first families are as newsworthy as a war, a pandemic or anything of
great consequence. They just have to learn to live with the media, if not
for the media, ” said the lecturer.

In a democracy, he said, news should be allowed to take various forms
whether it be about public figures, personalities, lifestyles or science and

A local weekly newspaper, The Mirror, also joined the fray and criticised
The Standard story thus: “Sometimes it becomes difficult to argue for a case
of press freedom in Zimbabwe, especially in the wake of irresponsible
reports that we as journalists publish. The case of The Standard’s front
page story is a good example, in our view.

“For a newspaper to preoccupy itself with the exam results of the spouse of
the Head of State, no matter under what circumstances, is grossly
simplistic, cheap and utterly go ahead and make news of the
fact that Mrs Grace Mugabe flopped her BA English exams is to be petty,
cheap and malicious.”

Acting editor of The Standard, Tendai Mutseyekwa, stood by the story on
Grace Mugabe saying the story passed all tests of news value.

“As a newspaper it is our right to publish news that we see fit for public
consumption. After all the Grace Mugabe story was simply a follow-up to what
the first lady told the nation two years ago. Would she not not have been
bragging about it if she had passed with flying colours.

“While we appreciate the concerns raised by some people, it is intriguing to
see some obscure rags devoting their time and space to a meaningless tirade
against The Standard. Surely for the anonymous author of The Mirror story,
who was hiding ‘behind the words’ to insinuate that this paper is manned by
staff who abandoned their studies or who have dubious qualifications is
hilarious in its lunacy. That is gutter journalism not befitting any
respectable publication. We challenge them to prove their allegations.”

A media lecturer with the Zimbabwe Open University who preferred anonymity
objected to The Standard’s use of the first lady’s story as the lead

“It was unfortunate that this story came in a week when there were more
important bread and butter issues like price controls which would have
appealed more to the man in the street,” he said.

As for the ethical question, the lecturer said the first lady should never
hope to escape public scrutiny in any matter because of her position in

“There is the element of privacy but that privacy is not absolute and there
is also the element of public interest. It appears the story has generated a
lot of excitement among people,” said the lecturer.

In its weekly media commentary, the Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe said:
“While it can be argued that the Mugabe story was of greater public interest
(than the suspension of MDC officials), it defines the paper’s news
selection as being one that relegates issues of national importance to
issues that are likely to be more sensational.

“This should not, in itself, affect the public’s perception of the quality
of the paper’s reporting... The subsequent attack on the paper by
information minister, Jonathan Moyo, was predictable, but cannot be defended
in light of the fact that Mrs Mugabe is indeed a prominent public figurewho
has publicly declared her interest in studying and is a subject of great

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Zim Standard

 Cartoonists resign over MDC smear campaign

Loughty Dube
BULAWAYO—Two respected cartoonists from the Zimbabwe Newspapers stable in
Bulawayo have resigned over demands by editor Stephen Ndlovu, to produce
cartoons ridiculing the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, The
Standard has learnt.

The two, Boyd Maliki of the Chronicle and Zenzo Ncube of the Sunday News,
openly refused to comply with the order.

First to go was Zenzo Ncube who informed Ndlovu when he was still editor of
the Sunday News, that he was not interested in producing political cartoons.

“The incident was very telling about the importance of ethics in the
journalism profession,” said a source within Zimpapers.

Maliki, a respected cartoonist of Nyathi import and export fame, resigned
from The Chronicle last week after turning down Ndlovu’s request to produce
a cartoon ridiculing the opposition.

“Maliki approached Ndlovu and told him in no uncertain terms that he would
not be involved in any political smear campaign that Ndlovu wanted to embark
on,” said the source.

Ndlovu, formerly Sunday News editor, became the editor of the Chronicle
after its former editor, Edna Machirori was fired by information and
publicity minister, Jonathan Moyo, earlier this month.

The two are amongst the first to give up their positions without first being
lured with incentives by other news organisations.

Efforts to obtain comment from the two cartoonists proved fruitless by the
time of going to press.

Meanwhile, the Ziana newsroom in Bulawayo is being manned by drivers after
all its reporters left to join either the ZBC or Zimpapers.

The organisation’s former bureau chief, Patrice Makova, left the
organisation last week to join the ZBC as their Mutare correspondent. Senior
reporter, Sibongile Ncube deserted Ziana and joined The Sunday News as
business editor.

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Zim Standard


Farai Mutsaka
THE Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has begun preparations for a violent
presidential election campaign and intends to spend millions on the purchase
of riot gear.

The force has invited tenders for the supply of riot gear which will include
gas masks, helmets, and shields for use during the run-up to next year’s
presidential election.

The latest tender comes hard on the heels of a $1 billion-dollar contract
awarded by government to an Israeli company earlier this year to supply
special vehicles and water cannons for use in riotous situations.

Tender form 194A—in The Standard’s possession—sho-ws that the force is
seeking unlimited quantities of riot gear to be supplied on an “as and when
required basis for the period, 01/01/2002 to 31/12/2002”.

Although no specific dates have been set for the election, the poll which
pits Zanu PF’s Robert Mugabe, 77, against the MDC’s Morgan Tsva-ngirai, 49,
is expected to be held in March next year.

Violence in last year’s parliamentary elections resulted in the deaths of
more than 30 opposition supporters.

Police spokesman, Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena, confirmed that
the ZRP would be purchasing riot equipment but said it was not strictly for
the elections. He said he could not tell how much the police had budgeted
for the purchase of the riot gear.

“We are always replenishing our equipment. It does not take an event to
occur for us to buy new equipment. We need to replenish our equipment
regularly and this includes vehicles and everything else we use in our
operations,” said Bvudzijena.

The intended beefing up of the police riot squad has alarmed the opposition
who-se members have been targets of police brutality. There are fears that
the riot squad could be used to suppress the opposition’s presidential

MDC shadow minister for defence, Giles Mutsekwa, said the government was
arming the police in order to fight the opposition.

“The question we have to ask is: Are we going for an election or we are
going for a war? We in the MDC are under the assumption that we are going
into an election but Zanu PF is following a different path. Zanu PF is not
preparing for an election but for a war. They should be told that no amount
of force can change the people’s resolve to boot out this government. The
irony is that while the whole world is fighting terrorism, Mugabe is
promoting terrorism by incorporating untrained war veterans into the police
force and then arming them. This is compromising an otherwise professional
police force which is now being viewed as the enemy of the people. We are
aware of that agenda,” said Mutsekwa.

Zimbabwe’s former supplier of military and police equipment, Britain,
stopped selling Land Rover Defender utility vehicles to the ZRP after it
discovered that the vehicles were being used to suppress the opposition and
demonstrations by those civic groups perceived to be hostile to the

Of late, the police and the army have been integrated into the ruling party’
s campaign machinery.

Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri has publicly expressed his loyalty to
Zanu PF and has ordered other police officers to do the same or risk
ejection from the force.

There are also fears that the purchase of the equipment could be part of a
wider crackdown on the opposition. News of the police bid to beef up its
arsenal, comes soon after last week’s revelations that Zimbabwe was buying
huge quantities of arms and ammunition reportedly through the Namibians and
the Democratic Republic of Congo, in order to circumvent the international
arms embargo around the country.

The embargo, imposed by the European Union and the United States, was the
result of gross human rights violations by state agents who are currently
amassing an assortment of guns at army bases around the country.

Ruling party loyalists, including some war veterans, have threatened to go
to war if the opposition MDC wins next year’s presidential election.

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The Sunday Mail... zimpapers

Zimbabwean invents sadza cooker

A Zimbabwean has invented probably the world’s first robotic sadza cooker,
which he calls a Gwatamatic machine.

Mr William Gwata, who earns a living from his machines, developed his first
machine in 1997 and since then he has developed several other similar

The machine, mostly used in canteens, operates like a robot as it has been
programmed to cook sadza on its own.

The machine normally operates as a closed system from start to finish and
has an accurate automated meal delivery system.

Mr Gwata, who has a Bachelor’s Degree in Biochemistry and Accountancy, said
the machine requires 95 kg of mealie-meal to cook 400 litres of sadza in 30
minutes that can feed about 500 people.

Demonstrating to The Sunday Mail how the Gwatamatic machine works, Mr Gwata
said the machine does not only conserve valuable energy but also facilitates
better hygiene.

Just by switching on a push button, the machine starts cooking sadza after
pouring maize meal from the hopper into boiling water.

Automatically, the machine starts cooking sadza up to the simmering stage.

Mr Gwata, a product of the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom, said
during the simmering stage the machine compares the preset time with the
actual reading in the pot and when the two are equal it cuts off the feeding
of the mealie-meal into the pot.

When it starts cooking, the machine indicates how long it will take to cook
depending on the type of mealie-meal that would have been used.

Mr Gwata further explained that the machine is capable of censoring the
quality of the mealie-meal.

"If the mealie-meal is of poor quality, the machine feeds more so as to
bring the same viscosity that is programmed," he said.

He said when there is a problem, the machine is designed to put the process
on hold until the problem is rectified.

If all is functioning well, the machine continues cooking indicating each

The stages appear on a screen in the following order — final thickening,
kneading and auto shutdown of the machine.

Mr Gwata has installed the desired thickening type of sadza in his machine
and it can be adjusted to meet the thickness desired by any intended


"At first most people thought I was insane but now they have a better
understanding of how it operates and they are impressed.

"I don’t even have a wife because I am married to my Gwatamatic machine," he

Mr Gwata said the machine has been well received judging by the number of
machines he has installed and the inquiries he has received.

He said the machine is available for rent on a monthly basis and he charges
$600 every time the machine is used.

"The machine records how many times it has been used and I multiply that by
600, which gives me the monthly charges," he explained.

Mr Gwata said it takes him about 10 weeks to assemble the machine.

He said although the machine is highly scientific any ordinary person can
operate it.

Mr Gwata, who did O-level at Fletcher High School and completed A-level at
South London College in the United Kingdom, said that he would soon start
working on a household sadza cooker.

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The Sunday Mail... zimpapers

Hopes for bumper harvest run high

Farmers who have benefited from the fast-track settlement scheme are looking
forward to a bumper harvest as scientists have predicted a good rainy this

"I am directing all my efforts on farming to prove critics of land reform
wrong by producing good yields," said teacher Lovemore Kandenga of Chivhu.

"We are going to take this opportunity to prove that we can match what white
farmers have been doing on fertile soils," said settler Arnold Mapfeka of
Mashonaland West.

The Department of Meteorological Services has forecast a normal rainy
season, which points to a bumper harvest as well.

The Government put on line $1,4 billion for input credit and support to
smallholder farmers during the 2000 and 2001 season. For the new season the
Government beefed up the scheme to $6,5 billion for the crop and livestock
support in the smallholder sector.

The support would cover summer and winter crops and the provision of tillage
services would go a long way in alleviating one of the perennial headaches
among smallholder farmers.


"This put paid to accusations from some sections that the Government is not
committed to assisting the settlers," said an Agritex officer.

The farmers' morale got a major boost when the Government announced the new
pre-planting price for maize set at $15 000 a tonne. Zimbabwe is expected to
import 100 000 tonnes of maize to make up for the shortfall and has banned
the export of wheat to conserve the available stocks.

The Famine Early Warning System Network reported that maize imports would
cover two months before the 2001 harvest starts reaching the market in May.

Critics of the fast-track resettlement programme had been dubbing it a
gimmick of the ruling Zanu-PF to woo voters ahead of presidential elections
next year. Some of these same critics have since joined the queue for

Fears have been voiced that lack of infrastructure such as toilets, schools,
road network and hospitals could derail the programme.

"As long as the programme is people-oriented, I do not see anything wrong,"
said Mhondoro settler Tongai Pendengu.

Settler farmers, however, need to keep their fingers crossed as the
Commercial Farmers’ Union has challenged the constitutionality of the land
reforms in the Supreme Court.


The court has given an interim relief to the State to continue resettling
people pending the final determination.

Analysts say that the resettlement programme is a challenge and an
opportunity for smallholder farmers to prove their mettle. Analysts further
say there is need to train settlers on how to farm on a large scale and
diversify into other cash crops like wheat and tobacco, which is the
country's major perennial foreign currency earner.

At least 184 000 families have been settled since the beginning of the
fast-track resettlement programme in May last year on more than seven
million hectares.

More than 3 500 commercial farms have been gazetted for the resettlement
exercise so far as more and more peasants look forward to alleviating the
poverty afflicting them through increased farm production. — Ziana.

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The Sunday Mail... zimpapers

'Esap an albatross around our necks'

PRESIDENT Mugabe's announcement that Zimbabwe had finally dumped ESAP was
met with a lot of criticism in certain economic and political circles.
PHILIP MUGWAZA sought clarificatio from the Minister of State for
Information and Publicity in the President and Cabinet, Professor Jonathan

Q: Critics say the decision to dump Esap has to do with the coming
presidential elections? That you are trying to win back urban voters?

A: We are flattered that people and the opposition think that by dumping
Esap we are enhancing our chances in next year’s elections. In a democracy
parties must come up with policies and manifestos and surely no one should
accuse us of coming up with the scrapping of Esap as a policy. Elections are
about policies and programmes and it’s too bad that the opposition is
unashamedly peddling the discredited market-centred reform policy.

They should carry their own cross and not expect us to carry their cross.
Esap was born dead and it has taken a lot of good to make a bad thing
better. Maybe it could have worked if those who wanted it were honest people
who had used it to benefit business. But it turned out that it was a weapon
against the people and part of the criticism has not started today.

The people who sold us Esap have run away from their responsibilities. We
wanted oranges and they left us with lemons.

Q: Was Government ever sincere about Esap or it’s something that was forced
down your throats by the Bretton Woods institutions?

A: We have had Esap for 10 years and would have thrown it away after two
years. It has been an albatross around our necks for 10 years. Government
was sincere, but has the World Bank been sincere? Has the middle--class been

Q: There are those who say Esap failed because the Government did not follow
the programme to its letter and spirit?

A: What letters and of what alphabet? Esap has been an injection to a slow
death and each dose weakens the strength of Government. When you get
antibiotics you don’t get worse but better. Esap has proved that it weakens
the capacity of Government to provide services for its people. The
Zimbabwean currency has been devalued 300 times but exports have not
increased. People are now asking what is Government doing to us? There is no
economic growth and anyone who thinks market-centred policies work is mad.

The British Labour Party came into power by attracting voters with a claim
of the Third Way, more leaning towards socialism.

By removing the State we created artificial actors and manufactured a civil
society, which has existed for only 10 years during the period of Esap.
Civil society must be as old as the State. This civil society is opposed to
independence and its sovereignty. They criticise the liberation war as wrong
and having violated human rights. We need the restoration of genuine civil
societies and the revival of the state to intervene on behalf of everyone.

Q: Is there any precedent in Africa or the Third World, where countries have
dumped programmes similar to ours?

A: Yes, it has been everywhere. South Africa has refused it, Kenya has done
it many times, so has Tanzania. The World Bank has been known by its history
of having been dumped everywhere. Their programme is known as TINA (No
alternative), TINA was a ghost that has terrorised for no reason. There are
always alternatives. We should be grateful that Zanu-PF has remained
steadfast and very critical of Esap. The vision and articulation of the
party is something that has something to fall back on and we have an
alternative to Esap as a party.

The policies must be implemented through the party and it is important to
crystallise these policies through the party that people select. We have to
take our programme to the electorate to curb the extortionate prices,
closure of factories and reduction of employment.

Q: Does the end of Esap mean also the end of the Millennium Economic
Recovery Programme and if so how can you go into an election without an
economic programme?

A: The Millennium programme is a sub-programme with certain objectives
consistent with Esap. It has its own macro-economic fundamentals and as a
party we need to stabilise the macro- economic situation by bringing down
inflation which is now at 80 percent. We should have interest in those
objects that make economic sense by generating employment and stimulating
growth of our export earnings.

There has to be a radical change. And the most fundamental change is land
reform. The Millennium programme was very weak on land reform and failed to
acknowledge that progress did hinge on land. They assumed that tourism,
mining and manufacturing are answers. But we should get the land reform
right first and use it as a base for a new recovery.

The chief weakness of Esap was to ignore land reform. There was what we
called IDLE capacity because of the underutilisation of land,
non-utilisation and racial use of land. Most of the major programmes are
agro linked with mining, tourism and manufacturing.

Land has been regarded as a secondary issue but it is a pivotal issue and
the Abuja meeting realised this as the core of the problems. Every other
issue is consequential, like politics and economics.

The fast track land programme has seen 130 000 people being resettled and
people will now focus on empowering themselves economically in a manner in
which we get maximum benefit.

Q: By talking about socialism, is it not a case of going where others are
coming from?

A: Everyone is going that way, especially for the enlightened. The French
have elected a Prime Minister Mr Jospin who is a socialist to be part of
their government. What does this mean?

It is no longer the simplistic argument of socialism against capitalism. We
never had socialism in Zimbabwe. We tried to have it but enemies of the
people fought against it. We had a vision but we were not given the chance
to implement it. A person who says that socialism does not work is an
ignoramus. In Africa we have tried to spread socialism but faced formidable
opposition. But now government has the chance to implement it. We need such
social programmes like building public houses, public transport and people’s
stores. Imagine what the situation would have been like had bread been sold
at people’s stores during the days when bakeries where withholding bread

It’s not about socialism being a sloganeering tool but a powerful
fundamental economic weapon to address our problems

The kind of socialism we are talking about is meant to empower the people
economically. For 20 years we only resettled 70 000 people and yet in less
than two years we have resettled 190 000 households. After Esap chances of
resettling people were very low, when the engine was run by foreigners and
racists who don’t believe in the independence of a country.

Our socialism is land driven. The Third Chimurenga is part of socialism.

Q: Does the dumping of Esap mean that the Government will no longer engage
the IMF in discussions or it simply means things will be done according to
your terms?

A: It means that the IMF/WB engaged us under lopsided and unacceptable
terms. What we are looking at is people first and does the WB offer this?

We will be seeking alternatives to the IMF/WB and new partners.

Q: Are we then likely to see a reversal of some of the privatisation and
commercialisation of State institutions e.g. hospitals, universities that
are causing untold suffering to Zimbabweans?

A: The objective of our policy is that people must not suffer. And these
policies must be reviewed to ensure that people do not suffer. We have to
adjust and review. We should not mortgage our assets to policies that do not
benefit our people.

We should have a viable education system, and effective health delivery and
good economy, all which should be reviewed.

Zimbabwe is proud to have an elite skilled human resource base. Some of the
people are here and others in Malawi, South Africa, Zambia, Australia,
Canada and Britain.

Just look at the farm workers who are being deported and think of how many
skilled Zimbabweans are employed in South Africa. Some of them are making
inquiries to come back home. One day they will come back home.

Q: Is the current land and agrarian reform programme an economic programme
or just a political programme?

A: Land reform is political and fundamental in a sense. We have rights to
use land as our natural resource and for economic and political use. Land is
the final demonstration of our freedom, the emancipation, dislocation and
disenfranchisement can be corrected through land reform. It is the final
statement. It’s political but it also means economic and political freedom.

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The Sunday Mail... zimpapers

Editorial Comment

Come claen on agreement ..[their spelling...Ed B]

It is time that Britain stopped equivocating over the Abuja agreement and
come clean on where it stands.

It is becoming increasingly clear that before the ink had dried on the
agreement, Britain was already having second thoughts and looking for
excuses for not keeping their side of the bargain.

That is not a very difficult thing to do given the lack of goodwill among
some of the Zimbabweans involved in the land question, who have been feeding
the world with falsehoods regarding the situation on the farms.

Already we have the president of the MDC, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, going round
the world describing the agreement as a "dead duck", while commercial
farmers have teamed up with the hostile local and Western media to paint a
picture of lawlessness.

But those that have had an opportunity to review the land acquisition and
resettlement programme on the ground will testify that it has been a
resounding success, with the first phase aimed at decongesting communal
areas almost complete.

A staggering 130 000 families have already been resettled and are waiting
for the rains to start farming.

This clearly shows that no amount of grandstanding will reverse the
programme. Neither can we start talking about going back to some of the
demands of the 1998 donor conference, whose provisions Britain and other
countries inexplicably failed to adhere to.

Representatives of countries party to the Abuja agreement, due in Harare
this week, will have to come with open minds and be willing to see the
situation on the ground and not rely on the Western media reports, which are
stridently anti-land reform.

British High Commissioner to Zimbabwe Mr Brian Donnelly has not helped
matters either by simply pandering to the whims of these media and farming
forces. His behaviour has opened him to accusations of fanning instability
on farms.

We would have expected him to keep the Zimbabwe Government informed about
what the British government has been doing to promote the Abuja agreement,
if at all they have been doing anything.

Given the fact that Britain has twice broken agreements on the land issue –
the 1979 Lancaster commitment to fund land reform and the 1998 donor
commitment – Zimbabweans are justified to begin to treat Britain with

Elsewhere in this issue, Mr Donnelly responds at length to our story last
Sunday, which recorded anxiety in official circles about British lethargy on
the implementation of the Abuja agreement. His response merely tries to pass
the buck and does not confirm that Britain has done much to make the
agreement a reality. We do not underestimate the influence that Britain has
in the Western world and in organisations like the UNDP and therefore find
their effort in making Abuja work to be tepid.

However, Britain and its ally, the United States, has been enthusiastic
about changing Zimbabwe’s electoral process and imposing unwelcome election

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From The Zimbabwe Standard, 21 October

Mugabe back in the frying pan

Zimbabwe is set to bounce back into the international limelight, albeit for the wrong reasons, when the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), the internal disciplinary body of the Commonwealth, pays a visit to the country this week to assess the current political situation. The Commonwealth team, which includes British minister for African affairs, Baroness Amos, jets into the country on Wednesday to review the implementation of the Abuja agreement. Saudi-born terrorist, Osama bin Laden and his Taleban allies, for a while, stole the limelight from the Mugabe regime as the world focused its attention on the issue of international terrorism. But with the impending CMAG visit, sources told The Standard last week that the fact-finding mission would be unequivocal in its condemnation of the rampant lawlessness gripping the country. At Abuja, Zimbabwe agreed to end illegal farm seizures, stop attacks on the judiciary, restore the rule of law and return the country to a normal democratic state. For its part, the British government pledged to resume its funding of Zimbabwe’s land reform programme, on condition that Zimbabwe adhered to terms set down at Abuja.

However, since the signing of the Abuja agreement in September, government has intensified its terror campaign against members of the opposition and commercial farmers. The Commonwealth is convinced that the Zimbabwean authorities have failed to adhere to the agreement and the group’s fact finding mission is set to officialise that position. The Australian High Commissioner to Zimbabwe, John Brown, confirmed that the Commonwealth team would be in the country on Thursday and Friday, to review progress on the Abuja agreement. "The team will be here to discuss how they are going to implement the Abuja agreement. It is a commitment by Zimbabwe which they are honouring," said Brown. After it had earlier barred the team from entering Zimbabwe, the government made a U-turn at Abuja and agreed to scrutiny by the Commonwealth mission. A British Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman told The Standard on Friday that his office was finalising preparations for the visit. "I cannot say much at the moment, but we have been making preparations for the team’s visit possibly at the end of next week," he said. After the cancellation of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) scheduled for Brisbane earlier this month, the pressure on President Mugabe’s government to follow the rule of law, had eased. Mugabe survived censure and possible expulsion from the Commonwealth when the Brisbane summit was cancelled in the wake of the terrorist attacks on America.

"Mugabe cannot have his cake and eat it. So far, events on the ground point to the fact that Zimbabwe has failed to adhere to the agreement. Yet Zimbabwe still wants Britain to cough up funds for the land reform programme. The ministers are here to see for themselves that the government has no will to respect the agreement. The Abuja agreement is the only framework that we can use to sort out the Zimbabwean mess but the problem is that Mugabe has thrown the agreement into the bin," said a diplomatic source. Human rights lawyer, Brian Kagoro, on Friday said that the Abuja agreement’s main failing was that it was open to abuse by President Mugabe’s government. "It states that the British have to pay an unspecified amount of money to Zimbabwe without the dates of the payments being given. It asks Zimbabwe to do other things as well but no time frame is given. We don’t know who will wield the big stick if the parties breach the agreement," added Kagoro.

The onslaught on the agreement has continued unabated despite the assurances of government spin doctors that Zimbabwe was upholding the principles of the agreement. War veterans and Zanu PF supporters have continued to invade farms while justice minister, Patrick Chinamasa, has intensified attacks and purges on the judiciary. Violence against opposition members has risen, especially in rural areas, while the siege on the independent and foreign press continues with foreign journalists being deported and the media, in general, being consistently harassed by state agents. The Commonwealth team will meet officials of the MDC, farmers organisations, the press, lawyers, government and other stakeholders. The Commonwealth mission’s visit coincides with a European tour by an MDC delegation aimed at sensitising the international community on the shortcomings of the Abuja agreement.

From The Zimbabwe Independent, 19 October

Donors, govt in new clash

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the agency expected to take a lead in mobilising resources for Zimbabwe’s land reform under the Abuja agreement, has once again proposed an alternative approach which in effect requires Harare to drop the internationally condemned fast-track policy. UNDP administrator Mark Malloch Brown last month wrote to the government laying out international expectations before multi-lateral donors will fund the land reform programme. The contents of Malloch Brown’s letter are not new but they have poured cold water on President Mugabe’s hopes that the Abuja agreement signalled international acceptance of his land policy and that donors would be coming on board waving large cheques.

The indications are that the UNDP would like the 1998 land donors conference resolutions dusted off and tried once more. UNDP resident representative Victor Angelo in an interview on Wednesday confirmed the world body had sent a letter to foreign minister Stan Mudenge as a follow-up to the loosely-worded Abuja accord. The government responded to the letter on Tuesday but Angelo was reluctant to furnish details of Zimbabwe’s response. "The letter (from Zimbabwe) is being discussed as we speak," said Angelo. "I cannot give you details about the contents but I can say that the government did not answer all the issues raised in the letter. It is a delicate matter at the moment," he said.

Yesterday, Angelo was locked in marathon meetings with diplomats from SADC, donor countries and G77 members to acquaint them with the latest diplomatic initiative to save the situation in Zimbabwe. The move is thought necessary as an air of mistrust between Harare and London has started to build up again with Zimbabwe saying Britain is not moving to implement the Abuja agreement. The UNDP, however, says the successful implementation of the agreement hinges on the willingness of Zimbabwe to be flexible and accept recommendations from the international community.

In its letter to government the UNDP said it wanted to send another technical team to Zimbabwe to assess the current agrarian reform under the fast-track exercise. Angelo said the international community was not really aware of what was happening on the ground, especially regarding the number of people who have been resettled and their productivity. "We have to come up with an assessment of the situation on the ground," said Angelo. "We have to find out what is happening on the farms...We hear 30 000 or 60 000 and some say 100 000 farmers have been resettled but these are just numbers - we have to ensure that there is accurate information," he said. Angelo said the UNDP had indicated in the letter that after the assessment stakeholders - the government, farmers and donors - had to agree on a general framework which would then be developed into a fully-fledged land reform programme with the support of multi-lateral financiers.

Observers said the strategy adopted by the UNDP mirrored the views of key Western donors, including the European Union and former colonial power Britain, which had all made it clear that they would not put their money into the current government land policy. The key donors want a structured exercise which would be implemented in stages with results evaluated. Before they could be involved, sources said, the donors would want a proper audit of the government’s fast-track scheme, hence the UNDP’s request to send a technical team. "The donors cannot just make a leap in the dark because they have taxpayers’ money to account for," said a Western diplomat.

From ZWNEWS, 21 October

Land: Out with the old

It had to happen. As of 14 October Zimbabwean ministers began to whisper to their tame media that the British were backing away from the Abuja agreement. This was provoked by the non-arrival of the large and indiscriminate cheques for land that some in Zanu PF had been anticipating. What, in fact, the British, and the other members of the Abuja Commonwealth team, have so far failed to do is offer financial support to a land acquisition process that is not just barbaric and destructive, not just wholly incompatible with the Abuja agreement, but also unconstitutional and illegal under Zimbabwean law and the Zimbabwean constitution and incompatible with the oft-repeated statements of the Zanu PF leadership. The only land acquisition programme that the Commonwealth, or anybody else, should pay for must be a wholly reformed one. It’s time to start again.

The vast majority of farms that have received preliminary notice of acquisition - that have been, in effect, listed (about 90% of all commercial farms) fall outside the criteria for acquisition, the ‘set criteria’ of the Abuja agreement. Those criteria are that a farm is one of two or more owned by a single owner, that the owner is an ‘absentee’ (i.e. living abroad) landlord, that the farm land is not being used productively, or that the farm is on the edge of a communal area. President Mugabe repeated these criteria on 3 May 2000 and promised that any farmer who wished to carry on farming, and whose farm was acquired by virtue of the communal land criterion, would be found a farm elsewhere. The criteria appeared again in the August 2000 Accelerated Resettlement Plan. Mugabe repeated them publicly the same month. Minister Goche repeated them to the EU/SADC conference in Gaborone in November 2000 and they were even written into the final memorandum. On 15 October this year government media reported that Mugabe had again promised that any white farmer who wanted to farm would be able to. Most of the farms listed and occupied (and currently in a state of enforced idleness) should be left alone not just according to the UNDP or to the Abuja committee but according to the Zimbabwean government and to Mugabe himself.

Next the law. The Zimbabwean law has taken a hammering over the last 18 months, nowhere more so than over the land issue. The Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) regulations of May 2000 were illegal. The Land Acquisition Act Amendment Bill of November 2000 was passed illegally and unconstitutionally and is unconstitutional. The Rural Land Occupiers Bill of May 2001 is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has ruled the Fast Track programme illegal and it remains so, despite the enabling order of September this year handed down by the new Zanu PF-heavy Supreme Court. Not only the land occupations themselves but the legislation that now supports them drive a Mercedes Benz through the basic human rights to privacy and freedom of association enshrined in the Zimbabwean constitution. But the current land occupations are also, for the most part, illegal under existing Zimbabwean law, however skewed that law might be.

Any farmer whose farm is to be acquired must receive an acquisition order. Many have not. Once that order is acquired the farmer may contest it in the administrative court. Most farmers are still waiting in the queue. Even if the administrative court, or a higher court if the farmer wishes to appeal (either on the grounds that the acquisition is unnecessary or flawed, or that is farm does not meet the set criteria, or on valuation) finds against the farmer he must still receive a three month notice to quit and may continue farming during that period. Under Zimbabwean law interruption of farming activities is clearly illegal, every threat, or instruction outside the process described above, aimed at making a farmer leave a farm is illegal, even the vast majority of squatter occupations are illegal.

The Abuja agreement is by no means perfect – few such documents are. It does, through political necessity perhaps, blame the Zimbabwean crisis on the land issue rather than upon Mugabe’s reluctance to cede power. But on the land issue itself it is clear: land reform must be ‘just’, ‘sustainable’, ‘in the interest of all the people of Zimbabwe’, ‘within the law and constitution’, ‘meaningful’, ‘orderly’ and carried out with ‘due regard to human rights, rule of law, transparency and democratic principles.’ It would be difficult to come up with a set of adjectives and descriptions less easily applied to Zimbabwe’s current land fiasco. Furthermore the government of Zimbabwe, the international community and the UNDP are committed by Abuja to produce a land reform programme based on the UNDP proposals of December 2000. These proposals, it would appear, embrace all the things that Fast Track does not and, in so doing, take us back to the 1998 donors conference – the last beacon of good sense on the way before darkness covered the land.

The UNDP should seek to start the process with the 700,000 hectares of farmland already in government hands and, as yet, un–resettled. It may then resettle such farms as are offered up for purchase, ensuring that a fair price is promptly paid. Next it may target only those farms that meet the set criteria and will give all the corresponding farmers the right to a fair hearing. If the courts find against them, the farmers will receive either fair and timely compensation or another farm. The beneficiaries will be the genuinely landless and there will be help to get them started. All resettlement will be fair and transparent and orderly, and properly documented and will respect the basic human rights of all protagonists.

The piecemeal, corrupt, localised chaos of Fast Track is wholly incompatible with any sort of programme the UNDP could conceivably support. Many have suffered through Fast Track – many people have found themselves dumped on unsuitable land and urged to grow crops with little or no assistance and surrounded by an understandably resentful local population. Many productive farm workers have been driven from their homes. Fast Track has been a crime. The UNDP and its partners should not abandon these accidental settlers, indeed may even need to support them until a viable home can be found for them. But equally the UNDP should not be conned or bullied into signing up to a programme just because it is there. Ironically, a proper UNDP programme can and will produce results far more quickly that the absurdly named ‘Fast Track’.

An enduring mystery is that of why Mugabe and his gang were so dismissive of the 1998 offer. The donors were prepared to fund the transfer of millions of hectares of farmland from one group of Zimbabweans to another on the basis of the colour of their skin. They accepted that there might be some compulsory purchase. Funds were ready and waiting. Mugabe could now be electioneering through millions of hectares of resettled farmland with the international community picking up the bill. But it was not to be. Possibly Zanu PF grew weary of protests about the endless donations of farms to Zanu PF apparatchiks. Possibly the administrative will and expertise were lacking. Possibly Mugabe wanted to keep the land issue for a rainy day. Whatever the reason let us put the intervening years, with all their brutality and folly, to one side and hope that the Abuja signatories, and the UNDP have the courage and will to give Zimbabwe a fair, honourable and, above all, new land reform programme.

From The Star (SA), 20 October

Kinshasa pulls out of DRC peace talks

Addis Ababa- The government delegation of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Friday walked out of talks here about the future of the war-ravaged republic, complaining that the meeting was nothing but a "masquerade". A senior DRC team-member said his government had decided "to put an end to the masquerade taking place in Addis Ababa". A key feature of a DRC ceasefire agreement signed in 1999, the so-called inter-Congolese dialogue here is meant to pave the way for new political solutions following a civil war that has pitted troops of President Joseph Kabila's government against foreign-backed rebel forces. The Friday session was suspended after the Kinshasa team left the conference hall. DRC Foreign Minister Leonard She Okitundu could not immediately confirm whether his delegation's departure was definitive or whether it might return to the conference table. He said his team regretted that the required conditions for the conference had not been fulfilled, "particularly the basic question of participation". The Addis Ababa talks opened on Monday with just 80 participants instead of the planned 330.

Under the terms of the 1999 ceasefire accord the inter-Congolese dialogue is meant to deliver a "new political dispensation", an army integrating rebel fighters and to pave the way for democratic elections as well as a new constitution. The DRC war began in August 1998, when rebels rose up with the backing of Uganda and Rwanda. Later troops from Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia were sent to help the government. Azerias Ruberoa, Secretary-General of the Rwanda-backed Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD), one of the two principal rebel movements, said on Friday: "Kinshasa has shut the door and it's a clear plan to resume the war." But Ruberoa said the armed opposition was "prepared to continue the work in Addis Ababa". Olivier Kamitatu of another opposition group, the Congo Liberation Movement (MLC), said of the DRC withdrawal: "This is a serious political matter." Hopes that the long-postponed and cash-strapped dialogue would move the DRC peace process forward faded even before Monday's opening ceremony, which was boycotted by President Kabila and subsequently by the leaders of the two rebel movements. The first week of talks in Addis Ababa was meant to be dedicated only to procedural issues but began on Tuesday with fierce arguments over whether to postpone the dialogue and change its venue.

Both rebel movements accuse Kinshasa of seeking to maintain the current nebulous state between war and peace and of doing all it could to prevent the dialogue making any real progress. On Wednesday, rebel delegates described the talks as deadlocked only a day after they began, and accused Kinshasa of stonewalling. "We have reached an impasse. Kinshasa is totally blocking all ways of moving forward," said Ruberoa. His opposite number in the Congolese Liberation Movement, which is backed by Uganda, called on the DRC government to deliver a "clear and firm" position on whether they want the talks to go ahead. On Thursday, the talks reached a third day of rows and confusion. A plenary session on procedural issues was cancelled after the government delegation failed to show up. There was general agreement among delegations from the government, the opposition, civil society and rebel groups that South Africa would be a better venue. But parties differed as to how long the talks should be interrupted. The rebels want issues such as an agenda, a timetable and representation settled as soon as possible.

From The Daily News, 20 October

Soldiers to remain in DRC, says Sekeramayi

Zimbabwe will not withdraw totally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) where fresh fighting has been reported over the past few weeks, a government minister said on Thursday. Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi said the deployment of more United Nations peacekeeping forces will determine the time-frame for the total pull-out of Zimbabwean troops from the DRC. The Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) deployed about 12 000 troops in the DRC in August 1998 to help prevent the government of the then president, Laurent Kabila, from being toppled by rebels supported by Rwanda and Uganda. About 4 000 Zimbabwean soldiers from three battalions have been pulled out since April, but the exercise has been halted to allow the deployment of a UN peace-keeping force. There have also been reports of new deployment but Sekeramayi said this was not true. He said fresh troops were relieving their colleagues in the DRC. Sources in the government say the government’s reluctance to withdraw the soldiers from the DRC was to ensure that private and public money-spinning ventures established in that country are protected. ZDF supremos, notably General Vitalis Zvinavashe, the Commander, are involved in billion-dollar deals in companies such as Sengamines, Oryx Diamonds Limited and Osleg Private Limited. The DRC conflict has been dubbed the new scramble for Africa with the ZDF last month getting into a $16 billion deal to fell trees in the Congo. The logging operation is expected to bring in profits of over $2 billion over the next two to three years.

Angola and Namibia - Zimbabwe's allies in the Congo - withdrew all their troops after three years of intense fighting that prevented the fall of Kinshasa to the rebels. An official from the Namibian Defence Ministry, Frans Nghitila, was last week quoted as saying his country would not send its troops back to the DRC despite renewed attacks by Rwandan-backed rebels there. But Sekeramayi dismissed the article saying this was part of "indirect British pressure" to put Zimbabwe in bad light by pushing articles that suggested that all the allies had pulled out of the DRC. He said: "There is a lot of disinformation that is going on at the moment. The Namibians have written to us and said they are prepared to send back their troops to the DRC if the situation deteriorated. What has been happening is that the British have been pushing these stories and exerting this indirect pressure with some British citizens who are on the UN mission going to the extent of provoking our soldiers in the DRC expecting them to retaliate."

He said the British wanted the soldiers to react and then "publish stories saying Zimbabweans in the Congo are in conflict with the UN and all this is calculated to damage our reputation". "Zimbabwean soldiers will remain in the DRC until enough UN peacekeepers have been deployed," said Sekeramayi. "We will comply with their timetable of withdrawal to the letter. It is the UN that is delaying our total withdrawal." Sekeramayi said the DRC peace accord was holding at the moment because of the presence of Zimbabwean soldiers who could not afford to lose the ground gained so far. But Nghitila told The Namibian newspaper on Wednesday last week that Namibia had accomplished its mission in the DRC by successfully preventing the rebels from taking over the government. He said all Namibian troops and equipment had now been withdrawn under the Lusaka ceasefire agreement. Namibian President Sam Nujoma had earlier told Joseph Kabila, the DRC president, that though the withdrawal had started, Namibia was ready to continue to assist if the international community failed to ensure the successful deployment of UN forces. There have been incidents of heavy clashes between rebels and government-backed forces in areas like Fizi on the shores of Lake Tanganyika dealing a blow to the fragile Lusaka ceasefire agreement. "Our involvement was to create a conducive environment for elections. That we have achieved and I don’t see us going back. The rebels must come to their senses," Nghitila said. Sekeramayi was tight-lipped on how much Zimbabwe had spent on the DRC war so far. At one stage the military intervention was estimated to cost US$2 million a day

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Mugabe back in the frying pan

Staff Writers
ZIMBABWE is set to bounce back into the international limelight, albeit for the wrong reasons, when the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), the internal disciplinary body of the Commonwealth, pays a visit to the country this week to assess the current political situation.

The Commonwealth team, which includes British minister for African affairs, Baroness Amos, jets into the country on Wednesday to review the implementation of the Abuja agreement.

Saudi-born terrorist, Osama bin Laden and his Taleban allies, for a while, stole the limelight from the Mugabe regime as the world focused its attention on the issue of international terrorism.

But with the impending CMAG visit, sources told The Standard last week that the fact-finding mission would be unequivocal in its condemnation of the rampant lawlessness gripping the country.

At Abuja, Zimbabwe agreed to end illegal farm seizures, stop attacks on the judiciary, restore the rule of law and return the country to a normal democratic state.

For its part, the British government pledged to resume its funding of Zimbabwe’s land reform programme, on condition that Zimbabwe adhered to terms set down at Abuja.

However, since the signing of the Abuja agreement in September, government has intensified its terror campaign against members of the opposition and commercial farmers.

The Commonwealth is convinced that the Zimbabwean authorities have failed to adhere to the agreement and the group’s fact finding mission is set to officialise that position.

The Australian High Commissioner to Zimbabwe, John Brown, confirmed that the Commonwealth team would be in the country on Thursday and Friday, to review progress on the Abuja agreement.

“The team will be here to discuss how they are going to implement the Abuja agreement. It is a commitment by Zimbabwe which they are honouring,” said Brown.

After it had earlier barred the team from entering Zimbabwe, the government made a U-turn at Abuja and agreed to scrutiny by the Commonwealth mission.

A British foreign and commonwealth office spokesman told The Standard on Friday that his office was finalising preparations for the visit. “I cannot say much at the moment, but we have been making preparations for the team’s visit possibly at the end of next week,” he said.

After the cancellation of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) scheduled for Brisbane earlier this month, the pressure on President Mugabe’s government to follow the rule of law, had eased.

Mugabe survived censure and possible expulsion from the Commonwealth when the Brisbane summit was cancelled in the wake of the terrorist attacks on America.

“Mugabe cannot have his cake and eat it. So far, events on the ground point to the fact that Zimbabwe has failed to adhere to the agreement. Yet Zimbabwe still wants Britain to cough up funds for the land reform programme. The ministers are here to see for themselves that the government has no will to respect the agreement.

“The Abuja agreement is the only framework that we can use to sort out the Zimbabwean mess but the problem is that Mugabe has thrown the agreement into the bin,” said a diplomatic source.

Human rights lawyer, Brian Kagoro, on Friday said that the Abuja agreement’s main failing was that it was open to abuse by President Mugabe’s government.

“It states that the British have to pay an unspecified amount of money to Zimbabwe without the dates of the payments being given. It asks Zimbabwe to do other things,as well but no time frame is given. We don’t know who will wield the big stick if the parties breach the agreement,” added Kagoro.

The onslaught on the agreement has continued unabated despite the assurances of government spin doctors that Zimbabwe was upholding the principles of the agreement.

War veterans and Zanu PF supporters have continued to invade farms while justice minister, Patrick Chinamasa, has intensified attacks and purges on the judiciary.

Violence against opposition members has risen, especially in rural areas, while the siege on the independent and foreign press continues with foreign journalists being deported and the media, in general, being consistently harassed by state agents.

The Commonwealth team will meet officials of the MDC, farmers organisations, the press, lawyers, government and other stake holders. The Commonwealth mission’s visit coincides with a European tour by an MDC delegation aimed at sensitising the international community on the shortcomings of the Abuja agreement.

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To the Point—Zimbabwe’s history of political intolerance

Arufeya Gungumakushe
SINCE February 2000, Zimbabwe has been sliding into a state of anarchy. The sheer scale of the violence and the often questionable response of normally disciplined and helpful members of the uniformed services suggests that many peace-loving and rational citizens find themselves actually committing or implicated in activities they would normally shun.

The most disturbing aspect is that some people actually believe that the violence has to do with liberating their country, preventing it from being recolonised by former colonial forces with the assistance of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, or simply reclaiming their land. The MDC dismisses the accusations as hogwash, but there are many Zimbabweans who have swallowed state propaganda hook, line and sinker.

Many feel justified in doing anything to save their fatherland from foreign domination. They are not all illiterate. Some are normally very rational people. What could be happening to them?

This is the second time this siege mentality has been evoked to destabilise a new and promising party in Zimbabwe. In 1963, a group of banned Zapu executives led by Ndabaningi Sithole, Leopold Takawira and Robert Mugabe decided to rejuvenate the nationalist leadership and form a new political party called Zanu. Still immensely popular, their former leader, Joshua Nkomo, launched the People’s Caretaker Council (PCC) specifically to prevent the formation of any other nationalist party. The PCC declared him ‘Life President of the Struggle’. To ensure that Zanu would not get to the grassroots, Nkomo formed a youth brigade called Zhanda, to brutally descend on anyone suspected of sympa-
thising with Zanu, which Nkomo claimed to have ‘banned'.

Zhanda dancers would sing in a threatening manner: “ChiZanu tabhana, chizano chemari, itai kuti pwee, muchiona, makachitarisa muchiona”. (We have banned Zanu. A mere idea (zano) for making money. Right to your face, while you look. Dare you say a word?) PCC leaders deliberately misled Zimbabweans into believing that Zanu were a bunch of ‘sellouts’ funded by Americans to disrupt the liberation struggle. Through violence and forced defections, Zhanda nearly succeeded in destroying Zanu in its first two years by measures such as stone throwing and physical assault against its members. During all night parties called madiro (Zapu’s will), young thugs would help themselves to frightened girls in the presence of helpless parents in African townships. The African Daily News was forced to publish daily defections “back to” the PCC. Eventually, Zanu only survived the violence by going underground, thus escaping both Joshua Nkomo’s Zhanda thugs and Ian Smith’s police. Smith banned both Zanu and PCC in 1965.

In 1980, after winning the first popular election in independent Zimbabwe, Mugabe asked Nkomo to join Zanu PF in a government of ‘national unity’. Reason seemed to prevail. When a bloody skirmish between Zanla and Zipra guerrilla forces erupted at Entumbane in Bulawayo, it was, ironically, the former Rhodesian soldiers who separated them before restoring peace. Order was restored. Again reason seemed to prevail.

Within a few months, the truce broke down again. Nkomo and his Zapu colleagues were fired from cabinet. Could they survive as a loyal opposition? Some Zipra guerrillas went back into the bush and carried out sporadic attacks. This time, a resurgent Zanu PF used the state military machine to subdue a resilient Zapu.

Some Zanu PF partisans thought it was their turn to teach their once intolerant rivals a lesson. Hoping to eliminate Zapu once and for all, Zanu PF went for overkill. Horrendous atrocities were visited upon innocent Zimbabweans in Matabeleland and Midlands during that campaign. It was sheer madness again.

After that orgy of bloodshed, Mugabe and Nkomo joined their ‘sellout’ parties into one big patriotic front, perhaps too ‘patriotic’ for democracy to prevail. For Nkomo, coming second best to his former information aide, Mugabe, was a bitter pill to swallow. He really needed a ‘big heart’ to become second to another Zimbabwean. After doing so much to ensure that Zimbabweans were scared of joining Zanu, Nkomo died second only to one man in the hierarchy of that very ‘sellout’ party he had ‘banned’ in 1963.

For Mugabe, having no other party to compete with for the hearts and minds of Zimbabweans, was the crowning moment in his history. After that, Mugabe, like Nkomo in 1963, would not tolerate the formation of any other new parties. With all those painful memories of Zapu violence on Zanu in the early 1960s, and Zanu PF violence on Zapu in the 1980s, Zimbabwe’s current leadership must surely have learned something about political tolerance. The return of anti-new party violence 20 years after independence raises questions about the veteran nationalist’s ability to become mature, to handle self-determination and to uphold democratic rights.

For Zanu supporters, rejoining forces with Zapu had its costs. The 1987 ‘Unity Accord’ marked a return to the “father of the nation” syndrome, personified by:

1 The fanatical Zhanda (Zapu) party cadre, the Hunzvi type, whose trade mark is the uncritical adoration of the dear leader and father of the nation;

2 the foul-mouthed senior official, the Msika type, brought up on a political diet of senseless denigration of opponents as ‘sellouts’ and migodhoyi, with reference to Sithole and Mugabe in 1963 and Tsvangirai in 2001, just for forming a new party, and l a culture of suspicion and violence towards anyone capable of independent thought.

It marked a return to the politics of witch and head hunting. In that culture, our politicians become so afraid of innovation that they always identify the ‘colonial master’—Britain, whites, commercial farmers—in any new political development. In the formation of every new party, our current leadership—Nkomo in 1963, Mugabe in 2000—encourages us to see nothing but a towering white ghost rolling out endless reams of dollars and pounds to selfish black puppets. Why is our leadership afraid of being sold out? Is it because somewhere down the line they also fell for those dollars and pounds and sold their fatherland to the highest bidder?

The presidential election campaign has just started. Both Zanu and Zapu veterans know that the mere arrival of another party is not the end of their world, unless of course their exit is overdue. However, it is amazing how Zanu PF leaders from both old parties still hysterically try to sell the crazy idea that all new parties are formed by ‘sellouts’ funded by foreigners, implicitly suggesting that Zimbabweans cannot form their own political parties and contest elections peacefully.

The nationalist old guard and its young rocket spinners blissfully live with the contradiction between explicitly asserting and implicitly undermining our sovereignty. If no Zimbabwean can independently form a political party and contest elections without risking life and limb, then what ‘sovereignty’ is there to talk about?

Most observers of Zimbabwe’s current crisis tend to personalise it by focusing on Mugabe’s continued pursuit of political office. Is it not possible that the man himself might be tired and eager to go at the earliest opportunity? If that were to happen, would his young lieutenants be any more tolerant towards the opposition? Some of these are educated people who should be more rational in their approach to life than the nationalist old guard brought up on the violence of colonial political jails.

Yet the new generation in Zanu PF does not seem to be any more enlightened. In fact, Zanu PF’s new generation shows even more irrational and pathological hatred for law and order, opposition and aliens than the old chaps ever could muster on their own.

With Chinhoyi MP Philip Chiyangwa uttering, “Kana uri MDC, shaikwa!” (If you happen to be MDC, disappear!) at the launching of the Mugabe 2002 campaign in Mashonaland West, indications are that irrational appeals to hatred and violence will be the main course in the incumbent’s campaign.

Why though? Why does a party of so much historical experience, grassroots appeal and education prefer to engage opponents in personal attacks than in rational analysis and debate of real issues? Claiming that ‘land’ is Zimbabwe’s sole issue, amounts to abrogation of all rational political deliberation. How can African nationalism become so irrational? Why has a movement that made so much sense in the late 20th Century become so irrational at this point in time?

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Back Into the Lost Decade

Financial Gazette (Harare)

October 19, 2001
Posted to the web October 19, 2001


A combative President Robert Mugabe this week plunged Zimbabwe back into the lost decade of his command-style economics of 1980-1990, dramatically reversing market reforms which promised to heal and lift a shattered land.

In ditching the reforms which could have succeeded but for half-hearted implementation by his government, Mugabe firmly returned to his roots just as he prepared for a possible exit in a landmark presidential ballot due next year.

In many ways, he appears to want to have his end-game the way he started it, and his latest action merely confirms that deep inside him he had never changed.

In re-imposing price controls and threatening to nationalise loss-making companies that close down, he has come clean and signalled the re-introduction of his cherished socialist dream which collapsed in his face as a new brave world marched on.

But then and now, he faces the same insurmountable roadblocks which killed off his dream simply because his policies are not workable.

The President's action and several others taken this week by members of his governing ZANU PF party show a determined leader who will do all to hang on to power, whatever the cost to a country already on its bended knees.

Mugabe's announcement capped a week in which more private farms were seized by ZANU PF mobs in a stark challenge to the much-trumpeted Abuja accord on Zimbabwe's land crisis; when three ZANU PF legislators publicly chastised business leaders over their conduct in the full glare of state television cameras and when teachers going about their work had to flee their schools in Gokwe North.

Thus, the scrapping of the market reforms was not an isolated action but part of a synchronised campaign in support of Mugabe's last-ditch effort to retain power by any means.

Whether these acts will indeed deliver him the victory he so badly needs remains to be seen. What is clear though is that in one stroke, Mugabe could have sealed his own political demise.

When Zimbabwe's already battered commerce and industry start closing down and retrenching workers, on top of the 60 percent joblessness that exists, all will know who is fully culpable.

Never mind the food shortages that were looming and whose advent has now been hastened.

No government anywhere in the world, however much financial muscle it has, can miraculously take over all these firms and ensure the instant re-employment of the jobless, and this is where Mugabe's problems just begin.

With Abuja all but dead because of the continuing and widening lawlessness, it does look as if Zimbabwe's presidential ballot will indeed be held - if it is held at all - under the most testing of times.

Whether Zimbabweans and the international community will accept the verdict of elections held under chaos remains to be seen - and this is another mountain Mugabe must climb if he is indeed declared the victor.

Meanwhile hard-pressed Zimbabweans must surely brace themselves for harsher and bitter times ahead, both on the economic and political fronts.

Zimbabwe is already shun-ned by much of the world and, with Mugabe's latest step, the nation looks a very long way off from ever getting any meaningful international aid or investment.

It must be a foreboding thought to the army of the jobless already on the streets who, early next year, will be called upon to join others in making their most momentous decision since uhuru in 1980.

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