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Zimbabwe government to provide aid to two million hungry

Relief Web

Harare (dpa) - The Zimbabwe government will provide emergency food aid to more than two million out of its 12 million people between now and the next harvest, press reports said Wednesday.

Orphans, the elderly and the sick will benefit from the food handouts, the state-controlled Herald reported, quoting an official from the government's social welfare ministry.

"This year, the country experienced a severe drought and there will be people who require food assistance," Sydney Mhishi, the director of social welfare told a parliamentary committee in the capital Harare on Tuesday.

"About 2.2 million people would require food assistance because they have no money to buy maize," he added.

"The rest of the country's population can afford to buy maize which is being imported, although there are those who are vulnerable because of, maybe, chronic diseases and old age," Mhishi added.

Harare's figure of those in need of food aid is around half the number international agencies say require assistance before next year's harvest.

Zimbabwe has refused to appeal for international food aid, even though it has to import virtually its entire annual maize requirement of 1.8 million tonnes.

"An appeal means you declare a state of disaster. The magnitude of the food insecure households was such that there was no need for an international appeal," Mhishi was quoted by the private Daily Mirror as telling the parliamentary committee.

However, the paper reported Mhishi as saying the government was due to sign an agreement with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to provide 300,000 tonnes of food aid.

Zimbabwe is one of several southern African countries that are facing severe food shortages this year due to drought and failed harvests.

Aid agencies and critics blame Harare's five-year old land reform programme, in which white-owned commercial farms have been seized for redistribution among blacks, as a major contributor to Zimbabwe's recent food shortages.

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Firms tell how Zimbabwe raised cash for IMF loan

Cape Times

October 5, 2005

By Peta Thornycroft

Harare: Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank has paid a further US$15 million to the
International Monetary Fund, which led to a sharp devaluation last week of
the local currency on the parallel market.

The parallel or black market is now the only source of foreign currency for
importers, apart from about US$10m for the agricultural sector - a small
part of its needs for the summer season.
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono said he hoped the outstanding US$160m
would be paid to the IMF within a year.

Some details are emerging from the private sector on how some of the money
was raised last month by the central bank to pay the IMF US$120m to stave
off expulsion.

Some companies, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they had agreed to
exchange their foreign currency account balances at the official rate of
US$1 to Z$26 000 but were allowed to put the revenue from that into a select
fund that paid them 1 000% interest for a limited period to bring the rate
of return close to the parallel rate.

It was attractive to some companies because the near parity with the
parallel rate was legal. Even though the parallel market is the only source
of foreign currency, it is still illegal. Companies holding export proceeds
in foreign currency accounts have to exchange 50% of their forex immediately
at the official rate and spend the rest on imports within 30 days or it is
taken by the central bank at the official rate.

Many companies struggle to keep going because the official exchange rate
does not cover escalating running costs. Several companies say the short
term 1 000% interest was a lifeline.

The Reserve Bank has become a major purchaser of foreign currency for the
last three months.

Allocations via the largely defunct auction system remain unattainable by
local manufacturers, leading to a growing number of companies which have
ceased trading, like Dunlop in Bulawayo.

It has not closed down, as reported in the state media at the weekend, but
is unable to trade as it has no foreign currency to import components to
manufacture tyres.

Speculators say if any South African loan were to materialise, the parallel
rate could drop back to its level a week ago of about US$1 to Z$80 000.

However, if the loan were goods and services rather than cash, the rate
could remain at its present level or go slightly higher, which will in turn
push inflation to about 1 000% by year end.

Prices are shooting up in supermarkets daily. One major Harare supermarket
said prices on incoming stock over the last two weeks were up by 200%.

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Zimbabwe crackdowns will add to economic woes - IMF


Wed Oct 5, 2005 12:04 AM BST

By Lesley Wroughton
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's crackdown on urban slums to root out black
market trading threatened to inflame the country's already dire economic
problems, the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday.
The warning came as state media reported the arrest of 14,706 people in the
capital Harare on Monday, as the government continued a nationwide drive to
clean up shantytowns and drive out illegal vendors, leaving hundreds
President Robert Mugabe's government defended the original "Operation
Restore Order" crackdown in May saying it was meant to curb black market
trade in foreign currency and other scarce commodities.
IMF staff documents, released together with the fund's 2005 review of
Zimbabwe's economy, said such operations reduced informal market activity
and incomes and "could contribute to lower GDP and upward price pressures."
The IMF review said the pace of the country's economic deterioration slowed
last year but had resumed again in early 2005 due to rising inflation,
foreign exchange shortages and low agricultural output, crippled by drought
and a botched government land reform program.
It said gross domestic product should fall by 7 percent this year, further
than the 4 percent GDP decline in 2004.
Western critics blame Zimbabwe's economic crisis on Mugabe's policies that
collapsed agricultural output and led to unemployment of over 70 percent and
chronic food and fuel shortages.
Between 1997 and 2003, the Zimbabwean economy tumbled by almost 30 percent,
while agricultural production collapsed as white-owned farms were seized by
the government for redistribution to landless blacks. Investment fell
sharply and donors retreated.
The IMF said Zimbabwe's widening fiscal gap would contribute to money growth
and likely fuel year-on-year inflation to over 400 percent by the end of the
year from around 130 percent in January.
It said Zimbabwe needed a broad package of economic policies and reforms to
lower inflation and boost growth.
"Without a bold change in policy direction, the economic outlook will remain
bleak, with particularly detrimental effects on the poorest segments of the
population," the IMF said.
The IMF said a sharp tightening in Zimbabwe's 2006 budget was needed to
address mounting balance sheet losses.
"Given the high spending ratio, the bulk of the adjustment will need to come
from spending cuts, especially in the wage bill, and subsidy and transfer
payments" the fund added.
It said higher spending was likely to widen the fiscal gap in 2005 to 11.5
percent of GDP from 4.7 percent of GDP last year. The IMF urged the
government to lower the deficit to 5 percent of GDP.
The IMF urged Zimbabwe to tighten monetary policy, sufficiently to ensure an
inflation target of 80 percent by the end of 2005.
In IMF staff papers of their consultations with the government, the
Zimbabwean authorities had a different view of the country's economic
prospects and policies.
The IMF said the government estimated economic output declined only 2.5
percent last year and will grow by 2 percent this year, due to strong
performance in tobacco, wheat and mining.
The IMF said authorities believed support prices and subsidised credit
facilities for agriculture and manufacturing would stimulate a supply
response and increase flows into the official market.
The government also disagreed with the IMF's inflation outlook.
"Moreover, they stressed that in comparison to the peak in early 2004,
inflation had declined considerably by mid-2005 on account of their policies
to turn around the economy," the IMF said of its discussions with
The IMF said the authorities indicated they had limited room for manoeuvre
on the exchange rate, in part because of the lack of foreign financing and
concerns about the inflationary impact.
The IMF said Zimbabwe's debt burden was "unsustainable," with data showing
that about 70 percent of external debt is owed to official creditors with
half of the total in arrears.

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Living in a Lunatic Asylum.

Yesterday we broke a milestone of sorts - the Zimbabwe dollar collapsed to
100 000 to 1 against the US dollar. Just three months ago it was about 25
000 to 1. A businessman in Harare told me that in his business, inflation
had been 600 per cent in six months. There is no sign of any stopping this
slide - if anything it is accelerating.

We are weeks away from the traditional planting season and there is still no
sign of significant land preparation or major movement of fertilizer and
other inputs. Last year Mr. Mugabe confidently predicted a 2,4 million tonne
harvest of maize - plus high levels of production of other crops including
160 000 tonnes of tobacco. We produced about 600 000 tonnes of maize and 70
000 tonnes of tobacco - half of it very poor quality.

This past week the Minister responsible for Social Welfare quietly signed a
letter urgently appealing to the international community for food to feed up
to 5 million people until the next harvest. Over the weekend Mugabe stated,
yet again, that Zimbabwe had enough food and did not need help.
Astonishingly the donor community agreed to keep the formal request for food
aid confidential - in deference to the government's sensitivity to the issue
and for fear that if it was made public they might not be "allowed" to give
Zimbabweans food!

On May the 19th the Zimbabwe government launched "Murambatsvina" and in the
subsequent three month period, with Khmer Rouge efficiency they destroyed
some 300 000 homes and made 2,4 million people homeless and at the same time
they destroyed up to 1 million small businesses and made 3 million people

Last week the Minister responsible for Local Government and technically,
Murambatsvina, wrote to donors asking them to fund the provision of tens of
thousands of garden sheds. The purpose - to replace the shacks knocked
down - many of which were in fact brick under asbestos or iron dwellings,
fitted with electricity and water. The crowning feature of this letter was
the suggestion that the government of Zimbabwe would nominate the supplier.

So get this into your head - they destroy the homes of millions of people,
destroy their livelihood and then ask donors to bring their hard earned
money into the country where it will be converted at a quarter of its real
value and then spent with a Zanu PF gravy train thug to give thousands of
people a wooden shack - which would probably be "leased" to them by some
corrupt official. The only sanity that accompanied this revelation was the
laughter of the officials recounting the story to me.

The fact that Chombo (the Minister in question) has the temerity to write
such a letter in the first place is astonishing - even more amazing is the
fact that he expected his request to receive serious attention. Oh did I
tell you that he also asked for aid to fund the clean up of the total mess
left in our townships by the campaign!

But I am not at all bemused at these developments for, after all, this past
weekend we saw the FAO and the United Nations spending millions of US
dollars on a conference in Harare attended by 170 delegates from 50
countries to discuss "food safety". Mr. Mugabe was asked to open the
conference - no doubt in recognition of the fact that he now has the world
community feeding half his population, one third of his population in exile
as economic and political refugees and has overseen the most precipitous
decline in life expectancy and life quality in any country in the world in
the past 50 years. No doubt the UN thinks that these achievements merit
granting the Mugabe regime this recognition. Just like putting Cuba and
other totalitarian States in charge of the Human Rights Commission of the
UN. If it were not so tragic it would be vastly amusing.

Then you have the specter of this smashed and abused country - like a mugged
man lying in the street and being run over by the passing traffic - actually
paying money to the IMF. Money taken from private schools and NGO's, food
agencies and exporters. $50 000 here, a million there. Money critically
required for food, drugs, fuel - all basic necessisities and the IMF has the
audacity to welcome the payments! Shown the source of the funds they express
shock and promise to investigate - but they still bank the cheques. I wrote
to the Fund and said send the money back - we need the stuff more than you
do to keep life and limb together - not even the courtesy of a reply.

When will this nightmare end? I said to a friend that we live in a lunatic
asylum where the lunatics are in charge and the sane are the inmates.
Sometimes I think the UN is a bit like that as well. You can leave the UN -
you can walk in the front door and out the back and ignore its lunatic
activities but you cannot do that with your country. In fact right now, they
are contemplating removing even our freedom to flee. We are locked in and
must work things out for ourselves. It does not help however when the rest
of the world accepts the lunatics who run our country as sane and sensible
people. One day they will appreciate that by doing so they demean themselves
and give credence to what would otherwise be a clear case of collective

Thank goodness for market forces and the fact that no matter what the
management of this asylum does - they cannot fool the trade. No matter what
Mugabe and his cohorts do, the evidence of their failures are there in the
relentless slide in the value of the currency. Like white water rafting, the
rules in this game are simple, keep your life jacket tied tight and trust
its buoyancy to get you to the surface. Face downstream and put your feet
forward first to take any rocks or other obstacles. Enjoy the ride and get
back into the raft as soon as conditions permit. Work together and help each
other when conditions are really rough. The beauty of white water rafting is
that you do not need to know how to swim - just how to float, the water
eventually gets you where you want to go. For us - that is just around the

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 4th October 2005.

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Amnesty blames Mugabe for food insecurity in Zimbabwe


By Violet Gonda
4 October 2005
There has been an outcry from many quarters who have criticised the United
Nations for inviting Robert Mugabe to host a regional conference on food
safety for Africa. This conference was jointly organised by the Food and
Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
True to form, Mugabe used this platform to defend his chaotic land seizures
which resulted in nearly half the population depending on food aid. He
blamed the food shortages in Africa on weak food safety control systems and
droughts. Mugabe also accused the West of dumping genetically modified crops
on the developing world.
An Amnesty International spokesperson Audrey Gaughran says the food
shortages in Zimbabwe are a result of a combination of several factors and
some of those have to do with government policies. She said while there are
factors like HIV/AIDS, the government's Operation Murambatsvina internally
displaced thousands of people. The government's chaotic implementation of
the land reform programme has also contributed to the food shortages in
Amnesty International said the government of Zimbabwe under international
law is responsible for addressing the human rights of the people and that
nobody in Zimbabwe should go hungry. But the Mugabe regime deliberately
implemented policies which have prevented people from accessing food.
Gaughran hoped the food conference in Harare would shine a spotlight on the
very serious food situation in Zimbabwe. She also hoped that this would
force the Zimbabwe government to allow aid agencies, including the UN itself
to distribute food to affected areas.
Many observers have criticised the United Nations for continuing to give
Robert Mugabe such high profile platforms.
Political Commentator, Dr Stanford Mukasa said the UN report on Operation
Murambatsvina clearly holds the regime accountable for all the misery that
it has brought on its people. Mukasa said for the UN, which has this adverse
report, to invite Mugabe to open a conference on food security is one of the
greatest ironies of our time. "Common sense would dictate that for a person
who has wreaked such havoc, destroyed agriculture, reduced Zimbabwe from a
bread basket to a basket case and invite that person, is the height of
hypocrisy and creates serious doubts about the integrity of the United
On Monday, MDC spokesman on agriculture, Renson Gasela attacked the FAO and
WHO for allowing Mugabe to address the regional food conference. He asked
what someone like that would talk about when Zimbabweans are starving and
dying. Gasela blamed Mugabe's land reform exercise for killing agriculture
in Zimbabwe. He said the delegates will see what they choose to see in
Harare, but the signs of hunger are clearly there.
It's reported that The FAO said that Zimbabwe had offered to host the
conference and that African nations had accepted. Tom Cargill, the Africa
programme manager at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, said: "In
Africa he is still seen very much as the leader of a liberation movement
that took over from racist rule in the 1970s. There is a huge amount of
support, not necessarily for the policies he is pursuing but for his stand
against the West."

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Rural areas feel bite of hunger ahead of lean season


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

JOHANNESBURG, 4 October (IRIN) - Poor rural households in drought-ravaged
southern Zimbabwe have exhausted their food stocks and are resorting to
eating wild roots in a bid to stave off hunger.

Erratic supplies by the state's Grain Marketing Board (GMB) and the lack of
essential commodities in rural shops have combined to undermine food
security in the semi-arid Matabeleland region, aid workers told IRIN.

In the district of Tsholotsho, in Matabeleland North province, 49-year-old
widow Sharon Mpofu said she was foraging for wild roots, identified as fit
for consumption by an elder of the San clan from her village, to feed her
two children. The San are renowned for their survival skills.

The family had also begun to reap the rewards of a small community vegetable
garden, established as part of the NGO Christian Care's irrigation and
self-sufficiency programme.

"This has become our way of survival. Our maize-meal got finished last week;
it is not even available in the shops. In the past few weeks it was
available, although some of us would struggle to get the money, but these
days it is not there," said Mpofu.

A Christian Care aid worker told IRIN they had established that over 300,000
of Tsholotsho's population of around 600,000 were food insecure.

"We have done some research in readiness for food [aid] distributions ...
people are literally going for days without food and there is high risk of
malnutrition. Some are now eating wild roots - the situation is very dire,"
the aid official warned.

Tsholotsho Tjitatjawa's village headman, Nkosilathi Sibanda, said: "Although
no one has died as a direct result of hunger, people are starving - they
need food. Shops are empty and families are going for days without a decent
meal." He noted that supplies from the GMB were sporadic, and when
maize-meal was available it was often unaffordable.

A 50 kg bag of maize-meal normally sold for Zim $80,000 (US $3), which was
beyond the reach of most rural people.

"What we need at this point is assistance from [aid] organisations," Sibanda

Aid agencies had been waiting for authorisation from the government to begin
programmes in Zimbabwe.

The World Food Programme (WFP) received written authorisation from the
Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to begin food
distributions to targeted vulnerable groups in 49 districts around the
country on 29 September.

"Through this programme, an estimated three million food insecure people
will receive a monthly ration of cereal and pulses. WFP will work with 11
NGO cooperating partners. Distributions will begin as soon as possible and
continue through to April 2006," the aid agency said in its latest situation

An official from the GMB, who wished to remain anonymous, said although the
state grain procurement agency's silos in both Matabeleland North and South
regions were fast running empty, "the ministry of agriculture says there are
several tonnes of maize in transit from South Africa".

"We are aware of the dire situation facing many people, and we hope food
security will improve if we are to get such deliveries," the official added.

A recent report by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network and the WFP on
informal cross-border food trade quoted the South African Grain Information
Service as saying that by the end of August, the GMB had imported 403,000 mt
from South Africa at a rate of 86,000 mt per month.

"A rate which is 28 percent below the planned monthly import of 120,000 mt
per month - Zimbabwe requires a total of 1.2 million mt of maize before the
next harvest," the researchers commented.

Thubalami Mkhosi, a grain miller in the Mangwe district of Matabeleland
North, told IRIN: "The last time I got supplies from the GMB was in early
August, but now their reserves have gone dry, there is virtually nothing in
some of them [the silos]. This means that we are out of business, and that
people are going hungry because there is no mealie-meal [maize-meal]."

Aid agencies have estimated that some four million people will require food
aid in Zimbabwe in the months ahead.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation has also warned that prospects for
the 2006 agricultural season are being seriously threatened by the short
supply and high costs of inputs such as seeds, fuel, and fertiliser.


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ZIMBABWE: Government determined to keep city ''clean''

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

JOHANNESBURG, 4 October (IRIN) - The Combined Harare Residents Association
(CHRA) said on Tuesday that the arrest of thousands of informal traders over
the past two weeks was likely to exacerbate the economic crisis in the
capital city.

On Monday the official newspaper, The Herald, reported that around 14,000
illegal vendors and foreign currency and fuel dealers had been arrested
during a follow-up operation to the urban clean-up campaign earlier this

"Yes, we have launched Operation Siyapambili, Hatidzokereshure (Going
forward, No turning back). [It] aims to make follow-ups to monitor the city
so that we deal with any of those who are returning to the city and
conducting shady dealings," police spokesman Loveless Rupere was reported as

The police claimed that the most recent campaign had brought Zim $782
million (US $30,000) into the city coffers in fines.

However, CHRA chairman Mike Davies told IRIN he was unsure whether the
latest arrests were informal traders who had returned after being evicted by
Operation Murambatsvina ('Drive Out Filth') or other traders who had come to
set up shop in their stead.

"There is an assumption that those who were arrested are people returning to
their stalls, but it is still unclear because there is very little
information. We do not have access to the records of the arrests, or if
people have just been given a spot fine and then released," Davies said.

"Fines are supposed to act as a deterrent and not be seen as an income
generating exercise," he pointed out. "Furthermore, we have learnt that even
though the trader may be breaking city by-laws, the proceeds from the fines
are being sent to the national government."

A UN report estimated that Operation Murambatsvina - which the government
said was aimed at clearing slums and flushing out criminals - had left more
than 700,000 people homeless or without a livelihood after kicking off in

IRIN reported last month that although traders were slowly returning to the
city to do business, a new set of stringent by-laws had made it difficult
for them to make a living.


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into our general email folder. Please do not hesitate to contact us at with any comments or questions you may have

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humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views
of the United Nations. For further information, free subscriptions, or
to change your keywords, contact e-mail: or Web: . If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post
this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Reposting by commercial
sites requires written IRIN permission.]

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Zimbabwe soldiers tell of hunger

Millions now need food aid
Soldiers in Zimbabwe have spoken of being sent on forced leave, as the army
was unable to provide them with food.
The country is already struggling to feed an estimated 3.8m starving people
in the rural areas, and has to import at least 37,000 tons of maize a week.
The army denies that the forced leave was the result of food shortages.
According to soldiers in Bulawayo, the food shortages began early this year
which forced their superiors at times to buy maize on the black market.
The soldiers told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme there were serious
shortages of food in barracks.
They believe that 300 soldiers have been forced to take leave in Bulawayo,
and 2,000 countrywide.
Black market
"Sometimes we are forced to buy our own food for lunch because of
shortages," said one of the soldiers from Imbizo Barracks, 20 km from
Imbizo Barracks produced some of the best infantry soldiers and fighting
units of the Rhodesian army during Zimbabwe's independence war.
"Some of our colleagues have been told to commute to work everyday because
of food and transport problems facing the army," said another soldier from
A large number of soldiers have also been affected at Braddy Barracks, which
trained soldiers who fought for Britain in World War II.
An army spokesman, Agrey Wushe, denied that the soldiers were sent on forced
leave because of food shortages.
'Rest days'
In an interview with the weekly Standard newspaper he said the soldiers were
only asked to take their leave days in order to rest.
"We have enough food to feed the soldiers until our next financial year.
It's not true that there are shortages of food," he told the newspaper.
Soldiers who spoke to the BBC dismissed the army's version.
The Zimbabwe government has a regular army of 30,000, supported by 5,000
militiamen who support the governing Zanu-PF party.
Elinor Sisulu of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition described the situation in
the country as "catastrophic".
Mrs Sisulu told the BBC of acute shortages of fuel, a breakdown in garbage
collection, and police so short of food they have taken to looting from
ordinary people.
Reports from Zimbabwe also say the food shortages in prisons are getting
worse, with relatives of prisoners being told to bring food in for inmates
Armed prison guards are commonly seen walking with prisoners on the way to
court, because of fuel shortages.

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Zimbabwe judge's husband grabs farm in fresh land seizures

Zim Online, 4 October

Makoni - The husband of Zimbabwe High Court Judge Annie-Marie Gowora has
grabbed a farm as a fresh wave of farm seizures spreads across the country.

In papers filed at the High Court last month, white farmer Ben
Purcell-Gilpin says the judge's husband only identified as Mr. S. Gowora
seized his Helensvale Estate also known as Nyamera Farm in Makoni district
in Manicaland province. Gowora, who told Purcell-Gilpin that he would never
get his farm back even if he went to court, allegedly seized the farm with
the help of Agriculture and Justice Ministers Joseph Made and Patrick
Chinamasa respectively. The farmer says in his court papers that Gowora has
since taken over the farm house, seized farm produce that was ready for
marketing, as well as equipment valued at several billions of dollars.
Gowora has also hired a private security firm to keep guard at the farm and
ensure Purcell-Gilpin is prevented from entering the property.

The farmer's workers had also been barred from carrying their duties while
at one time Gowora is said to have ordered that sheep at the farm be
confined to their pens without access to water or food. The sheep were
released from the pens by the police. "Although he has continued to remain
in occupation of my house he has done little to farm the place himself .
Mr. Gowora has done little other than to take my house and diesel (that was
stored at the farm)," read part of a court affidavit by Purcell-Gilpin.
Justice Gowora and her husband could not be reached for comment on the
matter yesterday.

According to the displaced farmer, Gowora did not have an official letter
from the government showing the state was acquiring the farm and allocating
it to him. Under the government's Land Acquisition Act, blacks allocated
land seized from whites are given official letters stating which specific
farms they have been allocated. A new constitutional amendment signed into
law by President Robert Mugabe last month bars courts from hearing appeals
by white farmers whose land has been seized by the state. But the new law
requires the government to pay compensation for improvements such as dams,
roads and houses constructed on seized farms. It also requires the state to
pay for farm equipment. Purcell-Gilpin said Gowora had barred him from
preparing an inventory of equipment and farm improvements for which he
could claim compensation from the state. "Mr. Gowora appeared on the scene
claiming that he was now the new owner and demanding that I stop farming
and leave everything for him," wrote Purcell-Gilpin in his affidavit to

More than 4 000 white farmers have been expelled off their land by the
government and its supporters under a chaotic and often violent land reform
programme that destabilised the agricultural sector causing a massive drop
in food production. Zimbabwe has grappled severe food shortages since the
farm seizures began five years ago.

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Mugabe wanted to stop a revolution

Source: SW Radio Africa

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe ordered mass arrests of street traders and demolition of houses in May as a pre-emptive strike against opponents before they could attempt a popular revolution, a state-controlled newspaper reported Tuesday.

The Herald said that Western agents had hoped to instigate mass demonstrations similar to those in Ukraine which forced new elections earlier this year.

"Somehow, Zimbabwe's Central Intelligence Organization, one of the best spy agencies on the continent, if not the world, got wind of the impending operation -- and they must have panicked because they chose to deal with it in a most unusual way -- nip the danger in the bud by dispersing the slum dwellers via the demolition of their habitats," said The Herald.

"The security agency quickly got hold of the president, showed him the evidence ... and sold him the hasty solution," the paper said.

Nearly 92,500 dwellings were destroyed in Operation Murambatsvina, or Restore Order, according to U.N. special envoy Anna Tibaijuka, who said some 570,000 people were left homeless as a result of the three-month blitz that started in May.

The Herald article said it "could now reveal that the operation was the brainchild of Zimbabwe's intelligence community, which felt it had to move quickly to nip in the bud a Ukrainian-style revolution ... then being planned and funded by the same Western countries who paid for Ukraine's so called 'Orange Revolution' earlier this year."

"They had hoped Zimbabweans would do it by themselves in the aftermath of the March 31 parliamentary elections ... The metropolitan powers upped the ante by secretly channeling funds for an insurrection via opposition elements who were going to use vulnerable slum dwellers to confront the government in what they hoped would be bloody street clashes," it said.

Some criticism 'justified'
The operation was launched without going through the normal route of Cabinet discussion and approval, it said.
Picture (Metafile)[It] is very revealing, and a major embarrassment to the government. Picture (Metafile)
-- John Makumbe, University of Zimbabwe lecturer
"As the security services drove the operation ... serious errors were made, leading to international outcry and condemnation," said the article. "Therefore some of the criticisms contained in Tibaijuka's U.N. report were justified."

Mugabe previously dismissed Tibaijuka's findings as "biased" and a product of Western pressures.
John Makumbe, a lecturer in public administration at the University of Zimbabwe, said the article, reproduced from New African magazine, could never have been published in the Herald without approval from Mugabe's office.

"That is very revealing, and a major embarrassment to the government," said Makumbe. "I am surprised The Herald actually printed it. I think there is credibility in the story."

Makumbe said Operation Murambatsvina temporarily succeeded in intimidating urban Zimbabweans and they were still not prepared to confront ruthless security force violence on the streets.

Within days of the clampdown, prices of bread and maize meal, Zimbabweans' staple diet, were increased up to 51 percent. Similar price hikes in 1998 triggered countrywide food riots which only ended when troops and tanks were deployed in townships, killing at least six people.

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'Mad' Zimbabwe war vet starts fund for Katrina victims

Mail & Guardian

Harare, Zimbabwe
04 October 2005 02:36

  A former veteran of Zimbabwe's independence war who led invasions of
white-owned farms has come under fierce criticism for setting up a fund to
help the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association said it had taken
over the fund set up by controversial former guerrilla Joseph Chinotimba who
wanted to raise Z$30-billion ($1,1-million) for victims of Katrina, the
privately-owned Daily Mirror reported.

Chinotimba, who led fellow veterans in farm invasions in 2000, said he
planned to travel to New Orleans to witness the destruction caused by the
hurricane which struck on August 29.

But spokesperson Andrew Ndlovu of the war vets association said the money
would be better spent helping Zimbabweans.

"It's folly of the highest order for him to say we want to donate 30-billion
dollars to the Americans when some of our own comrades and spouses of
deceased war veterans are living in abject poverty," Ndlovu was quoted as

Chinotimba dismissed Ndlovu as "mad" saying that the money would come from
private donors, not from the Zimbabwean government.

"Spouses of late war veterans are receiving pensions from the government. If
Ndlovu wants to help them he must give them money from his own pocket,"
Chinotimba said.

President Robert Mugabe, last month attacked the US government for its slow
response to the hurricane disaster.

"A whole community of mainly non-whites was deliberately abandoned to the
ravages of Hurricane Katrina as sacrificial lambs," he said.

'I will hear these screams for the rest of my life'
Meanwhile, US authorities said on Monday they arrested a man who allegedly
ran a fake charity for Katrina victims by claiming he was airlifting
emergency supplies and evacuating sick children from affected areas.

The scam allegedly earned Florida resident Gary Kraser $40 000 in charitable
donations, according to the US State Attorney's Office in Miami.

Kraser used a website to claim he and other compassionate Florida pilots
were flying volunteer missions to Louisiana, and needed more funds to
continue delivering medical supplies and evacuating sick children.

"I saw people on their roofs ... waving at us as if we were Air Rescue ... I
will hear these screams for the rest of my life," Kraser said in one appeal
for donations, according to his indictment.

In a blog meant as a diary of his missions of mercy, he claimed he spotted
Air Force One over Louisiana and tipped the wings of his aircraft to salute
the US president.

But authorities say Kraser made the whole thing up and doesn't even have a
pilot's licence.

"It is simply unconscionable and intolerable that anyone would seek a
personal financial benefit from the horrible human tragedy caused by
Hurricane Katrina," said US Attorney Alexander Acosta.

Kraser could face up to 20 years behind bars if he is found guilty on all
four counts of wire fraud, Acosta said at a news conference in Miami.

Authorities said several other Katrina charity fraud cases were being
investigated. - Sapa-AFP

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


Letter 1:

Dear JAG,

Re: Stuart Chappell

Fancy those silly silly whites becoming involved in African politics. You
don't see black or Asian people involved in British or American politics,
thank God, or ethnic Chinese involved in Malaysian or Indonesian politics
or Kurds involved in Turkish politics. Or having the downright cheek to buy
property on the open market in a country in which they are a racial
minority or.....hang on.  Actually, you do.

White people living in Africa, whether as residents or citizens, have the
same rights as everyone else and that includes the right to participate in
a nation's political life and to own and enjoy property. The whites who
shake their heads wisely and mutter 'never get involved in African
politics' are foolishly short-sighted. Why should the likes of Mugabe
respect rights that those whites deny themselves?

Africa can and will only improve through the actions of good and wise and
public-spirited people and those people may as well be white as anything
else. Step forward the Coulthards and the Stevensons.  And well done to

As for the rest of Mr Chappell's nonsense: many British Labour MPs did not,
and do not, like white farmers in Africa. Their opinion reflects that same
sort of values as those of people who say that whites should not get
involved in 'African' politics and are about as valid. But the UK did not
cease to fund land reform out of spite but because it could see that funds
provided through the 1990s, actually quite small annual sums, had been
misappropriated or had gone to waste. Even if they had continued to provide
funds to buy white farms such funds would have been eggshells on the road
before the steamroller of Mugabe's Fast Track. And that Fast Track, we
cannot remember too often, had nothing to do with land, or a colonial
legacy that had all but disappeared, or Lancaster House, and everything to
do with power.

No sums of money could have stopped Mugabe once he had resolved to
sacrifice Zimbabwe to political obsession.  The problem is not that whites
became involved in African politics. It is the contemptible nature of
Mugabe's politics.

Simon Pirbright


Letter 2:

Dear JAG,

Stuart Chappell's letter was interesting, but he got quite a few facts

1. It was called Zimbabwe Rhodesia, not Rhodesia Zimbabwe.

2. The land was not taken by the white settlers, but by the BSA Company,
which paid the settlers for their work in occupying the country with land
grants and they sold land to the other white settlers.

3. Did the British Government actually pay money for land reform?  I think
they agreed to it, but did not pay because the agreement reached between
the farmers and government was thrown out by government.

4. The main reason the land grab started in 2000 was because the war vets
were becoming restless and Mugabe had to appease them.  Hunzvi was one of
the few people who opposed him and got away with it.  In fact the war vet
who occupied my farm told me that it was the war vets that started the farm
invasions and then government "legalised" them.

5. Smith actually reached several agreements with Harold Wilson's
government, some of which the British reneged on and some others were
thrown out by the Rhodesian electorate.

6. Was the land "rightfully theirs"?  Treaties were signed with Lobengula
and other chiefs and there was a very small black population which was
mainly nomadic.  As Tony Blair (Mugabe's bete noir) said, most countries
have been occupied by foreign powers at some stage in their history - and
been improved by them!  Where would Britain have been without the Romans?

I don't think white Rhodesians have anything to apologise for, except that
they should have pushed birth control much harder.  The poverty comes from
over population, not the whites grabbing the best land.  Look at the farms
that have been occupied in the last five years and see how they have

The idea of white Zimbabweans paying for the land they hold now falls away,
as government has nationalized it all.  What we need is payment for our
improvements and equipment, then we can get on with our lives!

Colleen Taylor


Letter 3:

Dear JAG

In reply to Stuart Chappell's letter, if I remember correctly in 1998,
British government representatives came to a Land Conference in Zimbabwe.

A way forward was worked out and the British agreed to pay, once the
Zimbabwean government had done its part.

The Zimbabwean government did not comply with its side of the bargain, so
there were no positive developments.

I stand to be corrected.

As for us paying the government, what for?



Letter 4:

Hi there,The appropriated land has nothing to do with British non payments.
It was always a foregone conclusion that Mugabe hated the whites and was
only waiting for the ten years to be up before he could thieve the land
from the whites. An awful lot of whom had in fact paid for it over the
years. Yes, originally, the land was given, PLEASE NOTE, given to the
whites by a black leader. A far cry from the land being taken from
them!What is happening there today is simply politics by Mugabe. Support my
rule, or die of hunger!!!!! This not aimed at the white population, but at
his own kind. (We, the whites can get out, albeit with nothing that we have
worked and paid for and saved. Lots of us are pensioners that have had to
leave everything behind). They, the majority of blacks who have nowhere to
go, are the people suffering the most, and for what? to appease M's wife
and party supporters. Where is their humanity? They simply do not have any
HUMANITY. This is a monster of note, just as bad as Hitler, only in a
different coloured coat. How many more are to die before the world takes
notice? Those of you that support his monstrous regime still have a higher
power to face at the end of your lives. Show your face and humanity if you

Letter 5:

Dear JAG,

In response to the letter & opinions published today, from Stuart Chappell,
British Citizen wanting to live and buy property in Zimbabwe.

Let us say: Please DO come, live and buy property, hopefully a farm, in
Zimbabwe, and under Zimbabwe's freshest Constitution changes.

Paul Broad.


Letter 6:

Dear JAG,

We have just been looking at a programme on CNN at 13 : 15 hrs.this
afternoon with Robert G Mugabe concerning the situation in Zimbabwe. There
is not a single word that is anywhere near the truth about Zimbabwe.

Can you please send a copy of my letter to the Prime Minister of Great
Britain and another copy to the president of the United States of America
requesting their comments, as a programme on the world TV for all to hear
and see. At the same time could a copy of the CNN programme be sent to
both these important men.

Retired Farmer - Campbell Smith


Letter 7:

Dear Jag

As a Non-African, I am sure that Stuart Chappell (British Citizen wanting
to live and buy property in Zimbabwe - Jag open letters forum no 384) will
not mind having his property returned to it's rightful owners once he has
invested a life-time's work, effort, blood, sweat and tears into this
country called Zimbabwe.  And I am also sure that he will not expect a
single cent from our Government in compensation.

Veronica Scott
Zimbabwean Born Citizen living and owning property in Zimbabwe


Letter 8:


Derek Sparrow's suggestion that farmers in Zimbabwe should now "serve as
latter day pioneers and take another substantial risk by participating in
the leasehold system.....with a democratic regime which would administer
the leasehold system satisfactorily" is a most encouraging view point.

However, it is interesting to note that Derek left Zambia at about the same
time as the farms and the mines were all nationalised. My reading of the
economic and social results of that nationalisation indicates that it
actually acted as a bench mark for Zimbabwe's results but simply occurred
thirty five years before the wonderful Third Chimurenga.

My concern is that Derek's idea is based on what I learnt from my late
father sitting by the fireside at night in Matabeleland, on the farm that
his father bought for eight hundred pounds - over one hundred years ago.
"Willy my boy, what you must realise is that an Englishman is liberal
abroad but conservative at home" he would inform me over a sundowner.

Is it just possible we now again experiencing "liberalism abroad" from an
ex Zambian who left forty years ago for the conservative preserve of Her
Majesty's Government in Westminster? Sadly, history tells us (David
Dimbleby BBC) that Margaret Thatcher, Lord Carrington and Lord Soames "were
ever so jolly" and said "Cheers to the foreign office" on the installation
of one Marxist Robert Mugabe in 1980. Dimbleby was also very explicit as to
the origins of the problem - the Victoria Falls conference where "RAB"
Butler was also "ever so jolly and nice" to win support from Southern
Rhodesia to dissolve the Federation. Later, so jolly was Her Majesty's
Government with Marxist Robert that he was invited for a State visit years
after he had dispatched Perence Shiri to Matabeleland with the Fifth
Brigade to execute a highly effective and well documented ethnic cleansing

Mugabe has never been in any doubt of the threat posed to him by Title - in
the 80s Norman Reynolds (the former Govt. chief economist) drew up a
financial system to convert villages into trust companies - which was
adopted by all fifty five district councils. Mugabe simply cast it aside
saying "it is not in the interest of Zanu because no one need vote for us

Simply, the title for the whole of Zimbabwe is now held by one man - Robert
Mugabe - with a facade of democracy in the form of 103 or so Mujibas who
know full well what happened to Tongogara, Mahachi and Nyagumbo. Hitler,
Stalin, Castro and Chaka, bless them, all helped write his script. Derek's
"latter day pioneer's" leases (like those of an international tycoon) will
all be from one landlord.

Cynics that follow the theory of the New World Order might well contend
that what is happening in Zimbabwe today is in fact going exactly to plan
when Henry Kissinger promised to "protect" BJ Vorster's regime if he put
the screws on the Rhodesian Front. Again this was shown in Dimbleby's BBC
documentary. Vorster - according to the documentary - happily played along
with Kissinger thinking blissfully that it would save his Republic from the
international money lenders - forgetting that it had been destroyed by them
in the Boer War some 75 years earlier because Oom Paul just had too much
gold for his own good!

J.L. Robinson.


Letter 9:

Re your insert on 1/10/05 - writer was Stuart Chappell a British Citizen
wanting to live and buy property in Zimbabwe.

What an absolute load of c rap this man talks.

The British Gov't put the money there for purchase of farms for people.
When it found only politicians were benefiting from the scheme it pulled
the plug.  Most of the dispossessed farmers had "no interest" certificates
from the Zim. Gov't.  The land was taken to get election results, not
better crops OR for the people.

No wonder the world is confused with liars like this around.

Please ensure this gets back to him.

Amazed reader - not a farmer!


Letter 10:

Dear Jag:

I help to run a small web-based conservation group called ZimConservation
( that gets about 3000 unique visits and over 8000
hits per month . I have been trying to find someone who could write an
opinion piece for the site about the effects of the land reform on
Zimbabwean game-farms and the game-farming industry. If any experts in the
JAG network would volunteer to write a 1500-word opinion piece for the
website I would be most grateful, or if you know anyone who is up to the
job, please let me know.

I am also asking people to send me their personal stories that I can
compile as a composite piece to give an overall impression of the issues
being faced in different parts of the country.

ZimConservation sends out a bi-monthly conservation news update, if you
would like to subscribe please write to

Best wishes,

Brian Gratwicke


Letter 11:

Dear JAG,

Re Stuart Chappell

This guy is real and looks at the reality of things. Thanks very much for
your version and its down to earthiness. If there were more of you around
or better still in Britain, things would have been different. I hope the
others who seem to deny the truth will learn from you. Thanks once more.



Letter 12:

Subject: Car Jackers

Last night at around 8.30pm as I was coming from a church meeting I was
nearly car jacked. As I approached our gate, I noticed a car driving behind
me and decided to drive past our gate in order to make sure the black
Mercedes Benz was not following me. As our gate is manual I would have had
to park by the gate and get out to open the gate and could not risk this if
the people behind me were indeed car jackers.  I'm always cautious of cars
driving behind me so I took a couple of turns to make sure this car wasn't
following me. After making the first turn I started to panic as this car
seemed to pick up speed and was in close pursuit of me. After the 2nd and
3rd turns and I still had them bearing down on me I was in full panic and
tried to call home.  I couldn't get our home number correct though, as I
tried to manoeuvre round the bends while keeping my car running (my car has
a problem with the fuel pump and often cuts out went I slow down at
intersections). I now realize the importance of setting the important
numbers on speed dial. By then I'd run out of ideas and I'd gone full
circle round my block. Not knowing what else to do, I decided to just hoot
incessantly hoping someone would hear and come to my rescue!!!! I drove
past our house again and wasn't even sure what to do now and just carried
on driving as I headed towards Enterprise road. By then for some reason
they seemed to slow down and I pulled away from them just hoping there'd be
no traffic that would hinder me from turning into Enterprise road quickly.
I quickly cut though a little dust road leading onto the main road and only
felt reasonably safe once I was on Enterprise road. Since I was now a bit
calmer I managed to call home and told them I was being followed and they
should wait for me by the gate. I got to the gate and Dad was waiting with
his shot gun in hand and finally I could actually breathe!!!!  I suspect
that these car-jackers pulled away and figured I'd go round the block again
and they could catch me on the other side of the block. Luckily I thought
fast and didn't go back the way I'd come. Needless to say I am now
terrified of driving alone at night. I am glad, though, that I was
observant enough to notice that a suspicious looking car was driving behind
me and that I had the presence of mind to think quickly.

Please learn from my experience and always be observant of cars driving
behind you.

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.

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JAG Death Notices




Mrs.Peggy Nelson, ex Wengi Farm Concession, died at Malvern House, Mvurwi
on Wednesday, 28 September at the age of nearly 97.  Her memorial Service
will be held at Malvern House, Mvurwi on Saturday, 8 October at 10 a.m.
Mrs. Nelson was a much loved and well respected member of the community for
many years.


Dear Jag,

A short note to advise that my father, CLIVE HAYES, passed away in George
on 01 October 2005.

Brian Hayes


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           PUBLIC MEETING: At the Anglican Cathedral Yard
           Date: Wednesday, October 5, 2005              Time: 1-2pm
Harare Residents!
You are cordially invited to attend an important public meeting on the State of the City of Harare. Please come and air your views on this crucial public discussion. Issues to cover service delivery, Operation Murambatsvina, and the Commission running the affairs of Harare.
Speakers:       Open Public Discussion

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