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

Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Independent (UK)

Zimbabwean police arrest 300 activists ahead of banned march
By Basildon Peta Southern Africa Correspondent
23 October 2003

Zimbabwean police arrested about 300 people in central Harare yesterday as
they gathered to protest against increasing repression.

The activists from the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), an alliance
of civic groups seeking constitutional reform, had not forewarned the police
about their protest as required under draconian security laws.

Douglas Mwonzora, an NCA spokesman, said they had not told the authorities
because they did not want to be dispersed before they could begin the
protest, which has happened before.

But the strategy failed. Mr Mwonzora said several NCA members were beaten as
police sealed off the city centre.

Zimbabwe's security laws require protesters to seek police permission before
staging peaceful demonstrations. But this is never grantedand police take
advantage of any notice given to block venues before demonstrators assemble.

The NCA activists tried to congregate in Africa Unity Square in central
Harare - the equivalent of London's Trafalgar Square. They had planned to
march to protest against what Mr Mwonzora described as unmitigated
repression by the President, Robert Mugabe. But somehow the police had been
informed and arrested demonstrators as soon as the first batch had

Those arrested included the NCA's chairman, Lovemore Madhuku, who has become
Mr Mugabe's chief enemy in the civic society sector. Before his arrest, Mr
Madhuku told The Independent that Zimbabweans were now faced with a
difficult choice - either to die quietly of hunger in their homes or to risk
dying in the streets to save Zimbabwe from Mr Mugabe's tyranny.

In the absence of any help from the international community to rein in Mr
Mugabe, Mr Madhuku said Zimbabweans had to confront the regime head on.

The situation in Zimbabwe has worsened in the past week with the National
Oil Company of Zimbabwe announcing that it no longer has any fuel.

The fuel shortage has paralysed government departments, including the
ambulance service, which can no longer attend accident scenes and to very
sick patients.

Zimbabwean workers have been left with no alternative but to walk up to 45
miles to and from work every day.

Inflation has reached nearly 500 per cent and hunger is now hitting
Zimbabwean urban families hard.

According to one newspaper report at the weekend, 45 children have died of
malnutrition in the past few weeks. Many others are dropping out of school
because of hunger and lack of school fees.

Mr Mwonzora said the NCA would keep using public protests to call for a new
constitution for Zimbabwe leading to free and fair elections and a new
government for the country. Despite his policies bringing the country to its
knees, Mr Mugabe, 79, is not giving up on power. He has blamed Britain for
the crisis in his country.

Back to the Top
Back to Index
Zimbabwe’s Abysmal Decent

By Matthew Rusling on 10/22/03
Printer friendly version

Zimbabwe’s government has just reiterated its vow to resist international pressure to reopen the county’s last non-government newspaper, the Daily News. Last month, the newspaper was shut down under a law that restricts freedom of press. Zimbabwe has been slipping down the drain for about four years now, but it was not always like this.

When I first arrived in Zimbabwe in October 1999 as a Peace Corps volunteer, Zimbabwe was a backpacker’s paradise. There were cheap, clean youth hostels everywhere, huge nature reserves with Lions and Hippos and friendly locals. With a relatively low crime rate and a rapidly developing tourist industry and infrastructure, the country was well on its way to becoming one of sub-Saharan Africa’s few success stories.

That was 1999. But just four years later, Zimbabwe has descended into a state of unprecedented lawlessness, plummeting GDP and severe food shortages.

Beginning a few months before the parliamentary elections of the spring of 2000, President Robert Mugabe began recruiting destitute youth to invade white-owned farms throughout Zimbabwe. Desperate to cling to power amid increasing discontent with his kleptocratic rule, he gave his adolescent recruits full license to wreak havoc in the countryside by invading local white-owned farms. His professed intention was to allocate the confiscated properties back to the landless black majority. Little did many of the would-be recipients realize that most of these farms would be doled out to Mugabe’s relatives and ministers, as well as to himself.

White farmers were threatened, severely beaten and a few of them were murdered. A white farmer outside of Harare was allegedly forced to sing songs praising President Mugabe while a war veteran held a gun to the head of the farmer’s five-year-old son.

Just before I left Peace Corps Zimbabwe in July 2000, the city of Harare had metamorphosized. The streets were now empty and devoid of tourists. Restaurants lost business and Internet cafes were empty. Child beggars, who used to subside on what they begged from tourists, became increasingly aggressive and followed me wherever I went, shouting obscenities in English when I did not give them money. There were daily gasoline shortages. Cars waited in lines several blocks long for hours to get a few drops of fuel. Trucks could not deliver food to stores. Stores went broke. People went hungry.

Standing at a bus stop one day, a tired old woman with a baby in her arms asked me for money. We began talking. “When you go back to your country”, she said, “tell them we are suffering.”

Things got worse. A friend of mine, another Peace Corps volunteer who lived near the Zambian border, was pulled off of a bus and interrogated by a group of drunken thugs who had put up a roadblock near a white-owned tobacco farm. They insisted he was the son of a local white farmer. Only when several other passengers intervened was he let go.

Violence in the rural areas increased. Mugabe’s supporters murdered a white farmer right in front of a township police station while local officers allegedly stood idly by. Months earlier I had passed by this station on my way to visit another Peace Corps volunteer and asked a very friendly police officer with a wide smile for directions. It is difficult for me to imagine this same man standing helplessly by while observing the murder of an innocent civilian. Maybe he feared for his own life, demonstrating an ineptitude that reflected the helplessness felt by the entire country.

Not only did the political violence begin to increase, but so did the overall rate of violent crime, particularly against whites and foreigners. Two friends of mine were attacked in broad daylight outside of a crowded suburban shopping center in a wealthy Harare suburb. In the same neighborhood, a man driving a pickup truck stuck his hand out the window and grabbed the wrist of a British backpacker I knew. He dragged her two blocks down a city street on her back. In front of several onlookers, the truck finally stopped as two men jumped out of the back and kicked her in the head before taking all of her belongings. She spent the next two days in the hospital and the next month with bandages wrapped around her entire upper torso. Again, the police did nothing.

Several border countries endorsed the outcome of the March 2002 elections that Mugabe won by threats and violence against the opposition and its supporters. There may be many reasons for this, such as reluctance among African leaders to criticize an elder statesman. But another more ominous possibility is that leaders of some of the surrounding states might not quite disagree with his tactics.
Click here to send feedback to the author

Matthew Rusling is a native of Philadelphia, PA . He graduated 1999 from the University of Connecticut, with a Bachelors in German Studies. During his junior year he spent a year studying in Heidelberg, Germany. A few months after finishing college, he served in the US Peace Corps in Zimbabwe. After his group was evacuated due to politically motivated violence in Zimbabwe's rural areas, he returned to the US. He then worked for a small internet company in New York City. Currently, he is a freelance journalist and teaches English to business executives in South Korea.

Copyright © 2002-2003 Matthew Rusling.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


Top cop's victory scrapped
22/10/2003 17:43  - (SA)

Harare - A High Court judge on Wednesday annulled the election victory of
President Robert Mugabe's former secret police boss in parliamentary
elections in 2000.

Judge Paddington Garwe declared that Shadreck Chipango, the former head of
the Central Intelligence Organisation, "is not duly elected".

He said his reasons would be given in a full written judgment to be released
later this week.

However, it does not mean that the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change's candidate in the constituency would automatically take his place.
The judge said that "no-one else is entitled to be elected." Lawyers said it
meant that a by-election would have to be held to fill the vacancy.

The MDC came close to unseating Mugabe's government by winning 57 out of 120
elected parliamentary seats, although Zanu-PF secured a comfortable margin
of seats through a legal provision that allowed Mugabe to choose another 30
seats for the 150-seat parliamentary chamber.

The MDC challenged 39 of the constituencies won by Zanu-PF.

The party won eight of its petitions and another eight have been dismissed.
The remainder are either still stuck in the judicial system or the MDC
candidates have withdrawn their challenges.

However, lawyers said the MDC's court victories, including Wednesday's, made
little real difference to the balance of seats in parliament. None of the
eight Zanu-PF MPs who had their seats annulled have had to leave parliament
because they had appealed against the decision to the Supreme Court.

Despite electoral law that demands that election challenges be heard "as a
matter of urgency," not one of the appeals have been heard by the Supreme
Court since the first judgement was given 31 months ago.

It took Judge Garwe two years to deliver his ruling.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


Exodus of Professionals Worsens Health Care in Zimbabwe
Tendai Maphosa
21 Oct 2003, 17:09 UTC

The health delivery system in Zimbabwe is declining as medical personnel
leave the country in search of better working conditions and more money. The
exodus of nurses and doctors and other professionals from Zimbabwe for
economic reasons is accelerating, with most of those leaving going to
Britain, the country's former colonial master.
An increasing number of Zimbabweans are desperate to escape their country's
harsh economic conditions, and London is a favorite destination.

A senior doctor who spoke to VOA on condition of anonymity said junior
nurses and doctors in the state medical system see no future in Zimbabwe
because their salaries are so low. The doctor said that in Zimbabwe, they
cannot afford a car or even think of getting married.

The doctor, who works at one of the country's biggest hospitals, says
deliveries of essential drugs and supplies are erratic. She told VOA, "We
end up doing half, or none, of the operations we would do under normal

In an effort to stem the exodus of medical practitioners, the government
introduced a bonding system a few-years ago. Under that arrangement, doctors
and nurses undertake to work for the government for a certain period after
finishing their training.

But, the doctor said, doctors and nurses simply buy themselves out of the
contracts and leave anyway.

The Zimbabwe government has resorted to luring retired nurses back into
service and recruiting doctors and other health personnel from Cuba and the
Democratic Republic of the Congo. But these measures have fallen short of
addressing the situation.

The president of the Zimbabwe Medical Association, Dr. Billy Rigava, blamed
the healthcare crisis on the exodus of medical practitioners and a lack of
drugs and medical supplies, which the country cannot buy because of its
shortage of foreign currency.

Dr. Rigava told the South African Sunday Times that if it were not for the
private hospitals, the country would be facing what he described as a
catastrophe. The majority of Zimbabweans cannot afford private medical care.
The AIDS pandemic has further strained the nation's limited resources.
Zimbabwe has one of the highest HIV infection rates in the world, and
figures show that about 2,000 people die of AIDS-related illnesses every

In the early years of independence, President Robert Mugabe was widely
praised for ensuring that primary health care was available to all. Now,
after 23 years of his rule, it has joined the long list of failing or failed
services in Zimbabwe.

Mr. Mugabe blames external forces for the decay, including the former
colonial power, Britain, which he accuses of stealing medical personnel from

Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Herald

Tekere accepted invitation to rejoin Zanu-PF: Mutasa

Chief Reporter
Zanu-PF Manicaland provincial executive has agreed to co-opt former Zimbabwe
Unity Movement leader Mr Edgar Tekere into the ruling party’s provincial
leadership to enable him to attend the party’s annual conference in Masvingo
in December.

Zanu-PF party’s secretary for external affairs, Cde Didymus Mutasa, who is
also a Politburo member from the province, confirmed that Mr Tekere had
accepted an invitation to rejoin the party.

"We want him back and he has already accepted the invitation to rejoin the
party. We have written to the party’s secretary for administration, Cde
Emmerson Mnangagwa, who accepted the province’s request," said Cde Mutasa.

He said there was a likelihood of Mr Tekere bouncing back into the
provincial party structures in time for the annual conference in December.

Cde Mutasa said there were many people who were expelled from the party or
abandoned it but later rejoined and were now holding Cabinet positions.

"There is nothing peculiar about Tekere. We have already started working
with him and he is quite a familiar figure at our offices in Mutare," Cde
Mutasa said.

Contacted for comment, Mr Tekere confirmed that he had been approached by
senior Zanu-PF officials in the province and had no qualms with rejoining

"Yes, all those people you are mentioning have talked to me but at this
moment I can’t say much because it’s still on an unofficial level," he said.

Mr Tekere was expelled from Zanu-PF in 1989 for his public utterances which
were not in line with the party’s policies.

Nicknamed Twoboy in 1947 by schoolmates at St Faith’s Mission near Rusape
because of his rough tackling in a game of football, Mr Tekere has always
been shrouded in controversy before and after independence.

Soon after independence in 1980, he and seven bodyguards appeared at the
High Court in a high profile trial facing charges of murdering Mr Gerald
William Adams. Mr Adams was shot at a farm near Harare.

Mr Tekere and his bodyguards were acquitted by the High Court.

The maverick politician was one of the architects of the liberation struggle
that brought independence in 1980.

Mr Tekere was involved in the recruiting of Zanu cadres for the war until
April 1975 when he crossed into Mozambique with President Mugabe.

He was a member of the Zanu-PF delegation at the Lancaster House talks and
returned to Harare for the general elections in 1980.

He was the first Minister of Man-power, Planning and Development, a ministry
set up to accelerate training to ensure that black Zimbabweans became
Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Herald

Fuel shortages affect court proceedings

Court Reporters
PROCEEDINGS at the Mbare, Chitungwiza and Harare magistrates’ courts were
yesterday disrupted after the Zimbabwe Prison Services failed to bring
prisoners to court due to the shortage of fuel.

An official at the Rotten Row courts said Harare Remand Prison and Chikurubi
Maximum Security Prison vehicles had run out of fuel.

"This is the second day now. There is no fuel. Prisoners have to be remanded
in absentia," the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

The official said the situation was now desperate as they had on several
occasions failed to bring prisoners because sometimes they did not have

The court building, which is usually packed, was deserted, with only a few
people milling around.

The two regional courts, which were sitting, had to postpone some of the
cases that were supposed to be finalised while cases set to commence
yesterday failed to kick off.

It was the same with the provincial courts, which also deferred cases to
later dates.

Another official said this would further increase the backlog of cases at
Rotten Row courts, which are also facing a severe shortage of magistrates.

"There is a severe shortage of magistrates and the failure by the ZPS to
bring prisoners would worsen the backlog of cases," said the official.

At the Chitungwiza Magistrates’ Court, business was also low, with a few
cases being heard after the ZPS also failed to bring in prisoners.

On Monday, the ZPS also failed to bring prisoners to the courts and trials
had to be postponed.

A prisons official who spoke to The Herald on condition of anonymity said
their vehicles were queuing for fuel at the Central Mechanical Department.

The situation was also the same at Mbare courts with a few prisoners

A prisons officer said for the past two weeks, the ZPS was not bringing
prisoners from both Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison and Harare Remand
Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Herald

Fuel shortage persists

Herald Reporter
THE fuel shortage gripping the country continues with most commuters in
Harare still struggling to find transport to and from work.

The situation has been compounded by rains that fell over most of the city
in the past two days further worsening the plight of commuters.

Commuter omnibus operators continued to take advantage of the desperate
commuters caught in the rains to charge high fares.

Most commuters were being charged amounts of up to $1 000 irrespective of
the distances and because of the rains, had no choice but to pay.

Warren Park residents who normally pay $500 for a trip into town complained
that they were recently forced to pay $1 000.

The Government last week announced new fares that range from $400 to $1 000
depending on distance.

Commuters from Machipisa, Mufakose, Sunningdale, Cranborne, Hatfield, Glen
View and Glen Norah also complained that they were being charged high fares.

In some extreme cases, commuters from Mabvuku, Old Tafara and Chitungwiza
had to pay between $1 500 and $3 000.

This was despite a heavy police presence on most roads leading into the

Police spokesperson Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka said the police would be
on full alert to apprehend overcharging commuter omnibus operators.

He urged commuters to play their part by reporting any cases of

Commuters, however, said they were not reporting the cases because they were
desperate to get to work and back home in good time.

"Our situation is bad. Transport in unavailable and when it is available,
the money to pay for it is unavailable.

"Prices of basic commodities are going up everyday and our plight continues
to worsen," said Mrs Sylvia Mwendo of Kambuzuma.

Others appealed to the Government to urgently address the plight of the
people saying they had suffered enough.

"It cannot be a hassle to go to work and to go back home.

"Our lives have become a constant source of suffering," said one man.

By 7pm on Monday evening, commuters could be seen standing at different bus
stops with the rains pounding them.

There were few vehicles on the road as a result of the unavailability of
fuel at filling stations designated to sell at the gazetted prices of $200
per litre for diesel and 450 per litre for petrol.

The National Oil Company of Zimbabwe has run dry paralysing the public
transport sector and almost all Government and quasi Government department
Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Herald
100 000t maize lying idle

By Lovemore Mataire
AN estimated 100 000 tonnes of maize is lying idle in Mashonaland West
Province owing to lack of transport to ferry it to the Grain Marketing
Board, prompting the Zimbabwe Farmers Union to approach the army for trucks
to move the grain.

ZFU vice president Mr Wilfanos Mashingaidze said not less than 100 000
tonnes of maize grain was at homes of communal farmers in the province.

He said this was discovered during a ZFU tour of the province to check on
farmers’ preparations for the coming season.

Each farmer told ZFU officials of the amount of maize they were failing to
deliver to the GMB because of lack of transport.

Mr Mashingaidze said farmers in Mashonaland East and Mashonaland Central
were also failing to transport their maize to the GMB, but the problem was
most prevalent in Mashonaland West.

"Something must seriously be done to ensure that the maize is delivered to
the GMB otherwise it will just rot.

"The maize is more than enough to fill the nearest depot at Makwichi and can
go a long way in averting hunger at a time when the Government is importing
grain at a very expensive price," said Mr Mashingaidze.

He said his organisation had already appealed to the Government through the
taskforce on Inputs Procurement and Distribution for army trucks to ferry
the grain to the market.

A GMB official yesterday said they were aware of the transport problems that
were being faced by farmers in outlying areas of the country.

The official said the GMB had so far collected more than 200 000 tonnes of
maize and was carrying out a mopping up exercise to collect the remaining

"I think you will appreciate that just like any other organisation in the
country we are also facing fuel problems. Trucks are lined up ready to
collect the grain but we don’t have enough fuel," said the official.

Mr Mashingaidze said farmers in Kapiri, Kadunga, Kazangare, Deve, Karuru,
Chundu, Nyadza, Vhuti, Sengwe and Chidamoyo were the most affected.

He said the failure to transport the grain to the market had disillusioned
farmers most of whom were supplied with inputs by the Government last

"The farmers are not able to buy any inputs for this season, which has
already started, because they have not received any returns from last year’s

"There is no incentive for them to prepare for this season when their grain
has not yet been collected," Mr Mashinga-idze said.

He said the collection of the grain could save the Government a lot of funds
as it had invested a lot in the farmers by giving them inputs.

Most farmers, he said, had not built secure storage facilities for huge
stocks as they expected to sell to the GMB.

He said a manager at the GMB’s Makwichi depot had told them that the depot
was incapacitated by lack of transport.

The GMB recently said maize deliveries had improved after the announcement
by the Government of the new producer prices of maize and wheat.

The response by farmers to the new maize producer price was immediate.

However, the major problem faced by farmers in delivering maize to the GMB
remained that of transport because of the shortage of fuel.

The Government has increased the producer price of maize from $130 000 a
tonne to $300 00 a tonne for the 2003/2004 marketing season.

The producer price of wheat was also increased from $150 000 a tonne to $400
000 a tonne.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Sunday Times (SA)

Zimbabwean farmers request military aid

Wednesday October 22, 2003 18:55 - (SA)

HARARE - Zimbabwe's farmers facing a crippling fuel shortage have appealed
to the military to help transport to market more than 100,000 tonnes of
maize harvested some six months ago, state media said today.

Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) vice president Wilfanos Mashingaidze said the
grain was discovered in several rural villages, some 200 kilometres
northeast of Harare.

He warned that the maize would rot unless it was collected  immediately.

The appeal came amid UN humanitarian reports of a worsening food crisis in
the southern African country where stocks have been exhausted in most

An estimated 5.5 million Zimbabweans will require emergency food  aid by
early next year, out of a population of 11 million.

Maize is a controlled crop and can only be moved by or with special
permission of the country's state-owned Grain Marketing  Board (GMB).

An official of the GMB was quoted by the state-run Herald paper as admitting
that the organisation's operations had been hard hit by the critical fuel
shortage affecting most sectors of Zimbabwe's economy.

Zimbabwe has experienced shortages of petroleum-based fuel since 1999 when
the country started running short of foreign exchange to import fuel.

Countries such as Libya that had come to Zimbabwe's rescue under special
barter trade agreements turned off the fuel supply taps after Harare failed
to honour its side of the deal.

The fuel shortage has in recent weeks grounded thousands of public commuter
buses, stranding hundreds of thousands of workers.

Last week the country's railways suspended commuter train  services for a
few days due to lack of diesel.

The World Food Programme (WFP) early this month said it had  received only a
quarter of the funds it is seeking to feed millions  of starving people in
southern Africa, most of them in Zimbabwe.


Back to the Top
Back to Index


Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to with "For Open Letter Forum" in the subject line.


Letter 1: The Real Enemy

For many the real enemy in Zimbabwe is Zanu PF; for others it is the
Mbeki/Mugabe alliance; for others it is the wishy washiness of the donor
community; for others it may be the MDC or the British imperialists.  It
may surprise some if I say that none of these are the real enemy.  The real
enemy is corruption.

Transparency International ranked Zimbabwe 43rd of 133 countries in 1998.
By 2000 it had moved down to 45th.  Then in 2002 is plummeted to 71.  The
latest report sees Zimbabwe fallen to 106.

There are a number of factors involved with corruption.  I believe they are
just symptoms of the sickness - but as symptoms they are there to see and
are measurable to one degree or another (so long as there are honest people
out there measuring them).  Some of the main symptoms of corruption within
a country are:

· Lack of involvement with civic society or a political opposition.
· Restrictions of a free independent media.
· The selective access to information controlled by "the State".
· The lack of judicial independence.
· The partisan approach of police and other armed forces.
· The passing of unconstitutional laws.
· The partisan control of teachers and the youth and children.
· The "nationalisation" or undue interference by the State with private

Nobody can agree that these symptoms of corruption are not prevalent in
Zimbabwe today.  They lead to a climate of paranoid fear and of political
patronage.  Much of the debate recently on the Open Letters Forum has
centred around which farmers are "dealing".  This form of corruption
involves signing away bits of land to appease the oppressor; paying off
officials in the same cause; enforced assistance to the new "owners" with
ploughing, etc; bringing in Zanu PF heavyweights into their businesses for
the sake of self preservation; paying off "protection rackets" within the
party, etc.  We all know that it's being done and we've seen the fat cats
get fatter on it.  In some communities it's even talked about openly as the
norm now.

Corruption and patronage have got a stranglehold grip and slowly,
systematically the lifeblood of the nation is being cut off.

But these too are just symptoms of corruption.

Corruption itself is something deeper; something far more personal.
Corruption is an individual choice.

Every society, race, group or individual has the propensity to become
corrupt.  As the propensity and opportunities increase so the trust
decreases, and so systems have to be put in place to reduce it.  An
anti-corruption system though is only as good as the people who are running
it and the temptation or fear levels put their way.

When all is said and done the real enemy is the corruption within each one
of us.  A corrupt man, group or party will only get away with as much as he
or they are allowed to get away with by those around.  The less integrity
there is in those around, the more corruption forces its way into the
hearts of the individuals in the society we exist in.  Once a critical mass
of corrupt hearts have been established the road to deteriorating living
conditions, civil strife, genocide and civil war is often a quick one.

Zimbabwe is surely moving fast towards the establishment of a critical mass
of corrupt hearts.  People who can't say "NO".  Men with integrity, when
the pressure comes, are becoming harder to find.  They would rather bow;
appease; stand idly by for the sake of self-preservation and dishonest
gain.  Once the shoot of corruption is established it tends to grow very
quickly.  The brakes are off.  The train smash is coming.

In Genesis 6 verse 11 it says "Now the Earth was corrupt in God's sight and
was full of violence.  God saw how corrupt the Earth had become for all the
people on Earth had corrupted their ways.  So God said to Noah, "I am going
to put an end to all people for the Earth is filled with violence because
of them".  The first murder, that of Abel by his brother Cain, had
escalated amongst the world's people into something endemic.

The history of the world continues to repeat itself.  As corruption grows
the people either destroy themselves or get destroyed.  People become
corrupt, often for the sake of self-preservation, and end up
self-destructing.  That's the sad irony of where we are in Zimbabwe today.
Many continue to defend their positions in the system of corruption and
patronage as they dig their pits deeper.

Zimbabwe needs something far more that anti-corruption commissions; truth
and justice commissions; MDC governments and the like.  Zimbabwe needs
honest men, and right now they're a scarce commodity.  Only God can bring a
man back from the brink; but before that a choice has to be made - the
choice to repent of the past.  That choice is not just for some - the very
bad ones - it's for every single one of us however self-righteous we might

Ben Freeth


Letter 2:

The following is an example of why we are still in Zimbabwe - because we
have an awesome future generation!!

On Friday night our son Bruce, and two of his friends were involved in a
road accident.  The driver and passenger fortunately had seat belts on and
only the driver sustained lacerations on his right arm. The passenger was
not injured, and in spite of the shock kept cool and calm. Bruce was
sleeping in the back and was thrown out. Judging by the state of his back,
leg and elbows he gave the tarmac a run for its money.  The back of his
head required suturing and it appears that he was unconscious for a short
time after "landing".  We thank God for their lives.  We also thank God for
the amazing response from their mates.  Within a few minutes about 30 kids
were on the scene, not going hysterical, but quietly getting on with the
job at hand.

One of the boys (from St. Johns School) had done a MARS course and had his
medical kit with him.  He immobilised Bruce's head and neck in case of
spinal injury, then attended to the other injuries and called for a MARS
Ambulance.  They then followed the Ambulance to the Avenues Clinic to
support their injured mates until family arrived.

Out of every negative comes a great positive!!  I believe that we have in
Zimbabwe, the best youth in the world - they are well-mannered, hard
working, empathetic, kind, considerate and very sensible.  What more could
we want in our future generation?

I hope that this letter will encourage more youth at schools to take the
MARS Basic course and in so doing be able to do what the St. Johns young
man did for our son.

Kerry Kay.


Letter 3:

Dear all,

I am back again and I wish to start by saying that if I have offended
anyone with my literary ramblings then I unreservedly apologize. My
intention all along has been to spark debate amongst the farmers, we all
want to see them recover from their ordeals, lick their wounds,
re-establish their rights and become better and stronger in the future,
whether or not they wish to stay in Zimbabwe.

An integral part of any democracy is that people who hold divergent views
are encouraged to express those views and debate them. In a few of the
replies, it appears that some people wish that I would not express my views
on the grounds that I might offend a portion of the community. In
particular I would like to take Michael Chingoka to task on some of the
points he makes in his reply. 1. He states that some of the opposing views
expressed are "Fighting amongst the White Zimbabweans", I contend that this
is not fighting but normal expression of different opinions that should be
expressed on a daily basis in any functioning democracy.

2. Michael infers that the MDC is a "white" party, it is not, it is only
the black people of Zimbabwe that have the ability to effect change of
government in this country, The whites are politically irrelevant BUT! Many
of us are very vocal in condemning Mugabe and his abuses.

3. He also says that we should not be aggressive towards Mugabe. Since when
has standing up for your rights become aggression? Why should you be
conciliatory towards the person who has stolen something from you. (In this
case ZANU-PF and Mugabe). What is Michael's suggestion? Do we just roll
over and let the thugs do what they want? I say that the owner of any
property, land or otherwise has every right to that property and he has the
right to redress in the courts if someone takes that property away from
him.  Standing up for one's legal rights can hardly be construed as either
being aggressive or confrontational.

4. If Black Zimbabweans feel that the Land was stolen from them, the
international courts are there for them to reclaim that land from the
people who stole that land from them originally. Why do they not try to
claim recompense from the British Government by virtue of the fact that the
British South Africa Company who were acting under a mandate granted by
Queen Victoria in 1890 dispossessed them of the land.

What is certain is that ZANU-PF with their band of connected Public
Servants, Warlords and Soldiers cannot by force just help themselves to
private property as they are currently doing. The Western Democracies will
not recognize a government brought to power through flawed elections or
government sponsored murder and barbarity: and nor should they. What
sanctions have been put on Zimbabwe anyway?

1. The international banks will not lend money to Mugabe because he and his
mates just steal it.

2. The democracies of the world do not want Mugabe, his cronies and their
dependents coming to their countries spending the money that they have

Are these really tough on the people of Zimbabwe?  Do they have any effect
on the ordinary citizens of Zimbabwe at all?

Deliberate suppression of the aspirations of the majority should never be
tolerated, they were not tolerated when perpetrated by Ian Smith so why
should the democratic countries of the West tolerate Mugabe doing the same?

Mugabe has destroyed in 23 years what it took 90 years to build all in the
name of liberation.

He has gifted his people with worse grinding poverty than was imaginable in
Smith's years.

I challenge Michael Chingoka to point out any part of Zimbabwe society that
is better off now than it was in 1980. Any of the following? Health,
Education, Employment, Roads, Tourism, Environment, Agriculture.

Finally Democracy?

Do you think that the murder of Talent Mabika and the scores of MDC
activists who have been murdered is democracy at work?

Mugabe has educated most of his people up to Form 2 level, but then expects
them to pick up a badza and toil in the fields. As I have said before,
these poor people have been desperately trying to educate their children so
that they can get off the land. Now they cannot even afford to feed or
educate themselves. In the Kadoma, Shamva, Shurugwe and many other areas,
highly skilled electricians, welders and farmers are forced to spend months
on end digging gold reefs with their bare hands just to earn enough to put
sadza on the table for their families. Even then they are forced to pay a
50% tithe to self proclaimed, politically connected petty warlords who
control the Gold trade and have become unimaginably wealthy. This has
nothing to do with White Zimbabweans, it is slavery being perpetrated by
the very people who claim to be the Liberators of the Black Zimbabweans.

The fiasco last weekend in Kadoma of the ruling party trying to select a
candidate to contest the Kadoma Central by-election was obscenity at its
worst. Bands of drugged or drunk youths driving around screaming and
shouting and spraying the walls with the name of a candidate who has paid
them to do it. The choice ZANU-PF gave to the people of Kadoma was between
2 people.

· An illiterate thug who calls himself "Chou en Lai" who controls all the
aforementioned gold trading in Kadoma and who has stolen at least 2 farms.

· An equally brutal thug who owns grinding mills and a bakery and was one
of the favored few (until it ran out!) allowed to purchase GMB maize at
$540 per 50kg bag and sell it to the povo at $22,500 for a 50kg bag of
meal. Who incidentally also owns 2 farms.

These 2 fine pillars of democracy were the best that ZANU-PF could come up
with to present to the people of Kadoma to represent them in parliament.

What Africa needs to learn (and especially ZANU-PF) is that the West does
not need Africa. In fact they do not give a toss about what happens here.
In many cases they wish that Africa could disappear altogether.

One of Michael's points really rankles, He says that I am the one holding
out the begging bowl?? Get real! The starvation that stalks this country is
a wholly African problem. The White farmers are not the ones holding out
the begging bowl, hundreds of them have created new lives in other
countries and are quite comfortable.

Why should the rich western countries bail out corrupt, brutal regimes?
Mugabe pours insults on Britain, the USA and anyone who criticizes ZANU-PF
and then he is the one who holds out the begging bowl because his people
are starving. There are certain agreements that were signed not so long ago
called the "Harare Declaration" and the "Abuja Agreement". Mugabe tore up
those bits of paper before the ink was dry and never had any intention of
sticking to them.

How will history look at Mugabe and his cronies?

When they are finally toppled and their power broken, the truth will come

When these excesses are finally documented, I guarantee that they will be
viewed as one of the most brutal regimes on the African continent. Mugabe
and his henchmen will have to find a very quiet place to hide. They will be
looked upon with the same disgust that Amin, Mobutu and Bokassa are.

Half of the problem in Zimbabwe is that individuals who wish to express
their views are brutally oppressed. Another thing is that people like
Michael Chingoka have a massive chip on their shoulder which manifests
itself whenever Race, Colonialism, or Liberation are mentioned. Until that
chip is removed and we are able to debate contentious issues as adults
without resorting to personal insults we will not move forward as a nation.

Unless the Zimbabwean people lose that "Ndipo" attitude and take their
destiny away from their oppressors they are doomed to poverty. The West is
comfortable to have the poor Africans begging at their doorstep for food as
it gives them leverage to tell them what to do. They are now unable to tell
the likes of Taiwan, China or India how to run their countries because they
have become so economically strong that they are not dependent on the west
in any way.

I guess that I have got carried away, and lost the plot. The whole point is
that debate is good for the soul and that no matter what names anyone calls
me I will express my views!

John Kinnaird.

All letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions
of the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice
for Agriculture.

Back to the Top
Back to Index




A few months ago a farmer responded to the Governments call in the Herald
for compensation.  He was offered Z$29 million over 7 years for his farm
improvements.  25% paid when handing over the title deeds, 25% in two years
time, and the remaining 50% five years later !!

Building costs at the moment are in the region of Z$1million/square meter
so the amount offered may just cover their double garage !  A sink mix tap
that was Z$4700,00 two years ago, now sells at Z$220,000 !!

What would the last remaining 50% be worth in seven years time and what
would it buy !?

Back to the Top
Back to Index

From Business Day (SA), 22 October

MDC pins its hopes on court challenge of poll

Case could form part of deal with Zanu PF

International Affairs Editor

Eighteen months after the main opposition party in Zimbabwe, the Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC), initially sought to have the March 2002
presidential election declared invalid, the country's high court is due to
hear the case early next month. It is likely to be a long, drawn-out case
that could become part of a deal between the MDC and the ruling Zanu PF
party, if one is ultimately reached. But the current strained political
climate gives little indication that such a deal is imminent. Last weekend
security guards at the MDC headquarters in Harare were shot and the MDC says
its members continue to face prosecution and intimidation. MDC spokesman
Paul Themba-Nyathi said yesterday that the party would consider withdrawing
the case if it were to reach an agreement with the ruling party that could
ensure free and fair presidential elections. Zanu PF broke off talks with
the opposition party when the original petition to have the election
declared invalid was brought. Themba-Nyathi said that while there were
contacts with Zanu PF, brokered by church groups and the South African high
commission, there were no formal talks. He said the contacts were aimed at
narrowing the topics to be discussed should formal talks begin.

While the party's shadow minister for legal and constitutional affairs,
David Coltart, had concerns about the independence of the judiciary, he said
it was still important that the party place before the public what he
described as overwhelming evidence of a rigged election. The party said it
had hundreds of witnesses who could give evidence of election abuses,
including voters being turned away from the polls and the stuffing of
ballots. Coltart said nearly 30 of the party's election agents were
abducted. All of them were in constituencies where the MDC was expected to
win a majority of the vote. Mugabe won 1,6-million votes and the MDC
candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, gained 1,2-million votes. A decision by the
court to declare the elections invalid would embarrass observer missions
including those from SA and what was then the Organisation for African
Unity, now the African Union, that declared the poll substantially free and
fair. Election observer missions from the Commonwealth, the Southern African
Development Community parliamentary forum and the Norwegian observer
mission, said it was neither free nor fair. The European Union's observer
mission was not allowed into the country as Zanu PF banned its British,
German, Dutch and Swedish members.

At the five-day hearing starting on November 3 the court will hear the legal
arguments from MDC lawyers, led by South African advocate Jeremy Gauntlett,
as to why the election was invalid. Should the court make a finding in
favour of the MDC, a fresh election will have to be held within three months
of the ruling. In the second part of the case the MDC intends to present
evidence of the violence around the polls and the stuffing of ballots.
Although Mugabe has tightened his control of the judiciary over the past 18
months, the MDC is convinced any judge who decides against it will have to
give a ruling that will not stand up to scrutiny. Since the election the
party has been struggling to obtain copies of the voters roll and ballot
papers that were used in the election. Despite a series of judgments in its
favour the MDC has been unable to obtain these. Coltart said the records
would bolster the MDC's case, but even without them there was sufficient
evidence that Zanu PF committed substantial fraud in the election.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Comment from ZWNEWS, 22 October

Bringing down the hammer

By Michael Hartnack

Zimbabwe's annual tobacco auctions used to have a holiday atmosphere -
boisterous families, the nasal droning of the auctioneers, international
buyers fingering the contents of the bales. At the end of this selling
season a gloomy mood hung over the cavernous auction floors. Just two small,
solemn groups of white farmers breakfasted at the cafe overlooking the
lines. Out among the bales a shabbily dressed black peasant farmer and his
wife argued with an official. Peasant farmers twice brought auctions to a
halt during the past season in mass protests against the Z$800 - US$1
exchange rate that the government imposed on the proceeds of sales, which
averaged US2.26c/kg. This did not even match the official Z$824 - US$1
exchange rate, and was vastly below the Z$7 000 - US$1 "parallel" or black
market rate at which farmers have to buy imported inputs such as tractor
spares. State radio, obsessed with racial paranoia, accused the peasant
farmers of being a front for disgruntled whites. Traditionally, Virginia
flue-cured tobacco was the country's largest single export, with gold
trailing second. The biggest recorded crop, in 2000, was 237 million kg and
fetched US$600 million. Earnings from tobacco exports paid for imports of
petrol, diesel, paraffin and aviation fuel. Even in the searing drought year
of 1981, some 1 500 large-scale commercial growers managed to produce 87
million kg which fetched US$141 million. This year, a crop of a mere 78,5m
kg was sold for US $191 million, although weather was favourable and
production had been opened up to thousands of peasant farmers. Peasants grew
12 million kg and may double this in the next two years, but they say they
need an exchange rate of Z$7 500 - US $1 exchange rate to break even.

As the auctions drew to an end, details leaked of a confidential audit on
the so-called "fast track land reform" performed by Charles Utete, recently
Secretary to the Cabinet, a fanatical Mugabe loyalist, and himself the
recipient of one of the farms seized from 5 000 farmers over the past three
turbulent years. Utete’s objectivity is thus questionable. Sources say that
in the report presented to Mugabe last month, Utete blamed the failure of
the programme on the economic crisis in Zimbabwe, rather than acknowledging
the economic crisis is a result of the land seizures. He said the seizures
were necessary because "white farmers routinely resorted to legal action to
protect their ownership rights". He ignored the fact that Mugabe abandoned
the peaceful, internationally-funded reform plan agreed with the U.N.
Development Programme at a conference in Harare in 1998. And Utete blamed
European Union and US "sanctions" for drying up of investment and export
revenues. That’s the favourite Mugabe explanation. However, he did admit
that Mugabe's oft-repeated claim that 300 000 black families have been
successfully resettled is untrue. No more than 134 000 have received
identifiable plots or farms, and 40 percent of these have failed to take
them up.

In addition, 50 000 families were supposed to receive larger A2 commercial
holdings. But, Utete reported, only 7 260 did. These, say Mugabe's critics,
included recipients of the prime estates seized by members of the elite and
their relatives. Some of them seized farms with the aid of violent thugs and
made a quick profit by marketing the evicted owners’ crops, including
tobacco, as their own. Many hold top state jobs, including military and
police chiefs, or own businesses linked to Mugabe’s Zanu PF party. Utete
said farms were seized to alleviate poverty - as opposed to the view of
critics that land reform was a cover for violent intimidation by a corrupt
and incompetent regime. There is less disagreement about the result. The
Financial Gazette, now run by a consortium of pro-Mugabe businessmen,
reported: "swathes of productive land were left lying idle...this not only
compromised the country's food security situation but also had a negative
effect on the feeble economy." Oliver Gawe, spokesman for the Zimbabwe
Tobacco Association, which says it is non-political, said the new growers
wanted security. "They ask to be left alone when they plant a crop (a
hectare costs up to Z$30 million to bring to reaping stage) yet they are
under a lot of political pressure still." Economics consultant John
Robertson put it less coyly: farmers, including the few hundred surviving
white tobacco growers who have committed themselves to a further season, are
still being summarily thrown off. Robertson says only 30 million kg may be
produced in the coming season. Gawe hopes for 60 million kg and says
Zimbabwe must restore a crop of at least 80 million kg by 2004-5 to maintain
international buyers' interest. "If we don't, that could spell doom for the
industry," Gawe concedes.

So why has production fallen calamitously under the fast track land reform
which Mugabe and Utete claim has been a resounding success? "It was a
chapter of unfulfilled promises," says Jerry Davidson, chief executive of
the Commercial Farmers Union. Apart from broken pledges that white farmers
would each be left with at least one farm, incoming black recipients did not
get free ploughing, soil preparation, seed and fertiliser. "There was bad
planning and bad implementation," adds Davidson. "People were just dumped in
the bush where there is no water and no housing. They have no means of
accessing the development capital to open up the land and get it working for
them." Even the wealthy recipients of A2 model farms all assumed they were
going to take over a fully running farm, he added. And even Davidson Mugabe,
president of the Indigenous Commercial Farmers' Union, and a fan of farm
seizures, is complaining. He says his 2 000 members - established farmers -
were unable to get diesel and seed, adding, "This has left most of them
stranded." Mugabe propagates the fallacy that a farm or a plot of land
represents a cash cow for the recipient. However, the 134 000 who were
allocated holdings were not given freehold title. Any suggestion of
political disloyalty, and party bosses will have their leases cancelled,
regardless of whether they have incurred a Z$30 million overdraft to grow a
hectare of crops. It is, therefore, not just whites who are too insecure to
produce. It is the same for all - and so the nation goes hungry and lacks

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Maternal Mortality Stubbornly High

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

October 22, 2003
Posted to the web October 22, 2003


Women in sub-Saharan Africa face the highest maternal mortality rates in the
world, with up to one in 16 women running the risk of dying in pregnancy or
childbirth, a new study has found.

The study, conducted by the World Health Organisation, the UN Children's
Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), found that in Angola and
Malawi one in seven women faced the risk of dying due to pregnancy or
childbirth, compared with one in 2,800 for a woman from a developed region.

In Zimbabwe, where researchers estimated that one in 16 women were at risk,
the introduction in 1995 of user fees at clinics is thought to have been
partly responsible for the high risks associated with childbirth.

"At the same time, the health authorities stopped training traditional birth
attendants (TBAs), to encourage women to attend the clinics for their
ante-natal health care," UNICEF information officer Chantha Bloemen told
IRIN on Wednesday.

Although this policy has been reversed - medical care is free for pregnant
women and children under five, and TBA training has been revived - health
services had deteriorated due to inadequate funding and training, Bloemen

"Women would go the clinic and receive poor services, and so decided to just
do things the way their mothers did - with TBAs." In addition, Bloemen
noted, the per capita allocation for the health sector had dropped from US
$26 in 1991 to $14 in 2001.

"On top of that, there's a brain drain of health workers moving across the
border, so the services that are available are not so good.

Zimbabwe's food crisis earlier this year, which left half the country's
population dependent on food aid, also left many women anaemic and not
strong enough for childbirth. Other causes of maternal mortality included
women bleeding to death during childbirth, infections not healing and
inadequately trained medical staff, especially in rural health centres, that
were unable to cope with complications.

HIV/AIDS had also left many women too weak to fight infections, or anaemic,
Bloemen said. An estimated 33.7 percent of Zimbabwean adults are

In Angola, now emerging from three decades of civil war, researchers found
that women delayed seeking treatment at the country's clinics, which were
short of drugs and trained staff.

"There are 3.3 million displaced people returning home and, although they
have got incredible spirit, they are going to areas that don't have
services - some are just ghost towns," said James Elder, UNICEF spokesman in

"These new estimates indicate an unacceptably high number of women dying in
childbirth, and an urgent need for increased access to emergency obstetric
care, especially in sub-Saharan Africa," UNICEF Executive Director Carol
Bellamy said in a statement. "The widespread provision of emergency
obstetric care is essential if we want to reduce maternal deaths."

Back to the Top
Back to Index