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

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From ABC International

Posted: 17/09/01 7:30:20

Zimbabwean farmer charged with murder

A white Zimbabwean farmer and several of his workers have been charged with
murder after the killing of two government supporters.

The government supporters died during unrest in the rural district of

Farm owner John Bibbey and 17 of his employees have each been charged with
two counts of murder.

The charges were laid after two pro-government activists were killed.

But Mr Bibbey's lawyer says the activists fell off a truck, and were run
over by a vehicle driven by their own colleagues.

The deaths come after renewed unrest, despite Government promises to punish
those responsible for violence.

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From Business Day

Zimbabwe banks fined for black market forex deals

HARARE - Zimbabwe's central bank said on Sunday it has fined three local
commercial banks Z$11m ($198 900) for allegedly buying scarce foreign
currency on the black market.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe spokesman Ignatius Mabasa confirmed a story in the
state-owned Sunday Mail newspaper that the three banks had recently been
caught violating rules against trading on the informal parallel market.

Mabasa said the banks had been penalised on 11 counts, with each count
attracting a fine of Z$1m. But he declined to give further details.

A severe foreign currency shortage has forced many traders to buy the few
dollars available at an informal parallel market rate of 350 Zimbabwe
dollars per US dollar against the formal rate of 55:1.

President Robert Mugabe's government has held the Zimbabwe dollar at 55 to
the US dollar since November 2000, arguing that a devaluation will not help
correct the country's economic woes.

Zimbabwe is struggling with its worst economic crisis since the southern
African country gained independence from Britain in 1980, which many blame
on mismanagement by Mugabe's government.

Foreign investment and international aid has all but dried up in the past
two years as Mugabe has pressed ahead with a controversial programme to
seize white-owned farm land for black resettlement.

Political and economic analysts say the government fears that devaluation
may work against Mugabe by stoking inflation and angering voters ahead of
presidential elections due by April next year. - Reuters.

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ZIMBABWE: NCA threatens mass action if govt shuns free, fair poll proposals

JOHANNESBURG, 13 September (IRIN) - The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) said it would mobilise Zimbabweans to embark on mass action, and would also lobby international support against the government, if it refused to implement the NCA's proposals to guarantee free and fair presidential polls scheduled for next year, the 'Financial Gazette' reported on Thursday.

NCA chairman Lovemore Madhuku said the implementation of minimum requirements needed to guarantee free and fair elections was a matter of life and death for the NCA and that the civic group would not back down. "We won't give up. We will die on that one," he was quoted as saying. Madhuka said the NCA would present two options to the government.

"The first option will be for the government to adopt and enact our draft constitution which we will present to them by December. The draft constitution has permanent mechanisms to guarantee free and fair elections. If for some reason the government decides to postpone the issue of the constitution until after the presidential elections, then it would have to implement the minimum requirements that we have suggested for the holding of free and fair elections. That will be a fair compromise and we will agree to that," he told the 'Financial Gazette'.

Madhuka added that if the government did not adopt the NCA constitution, the organisation wanted an independent electoral commission to run the elections. He said that the NCA wanted the voters roll to be updated and verified well in advance of the elections and for equal air time and space to be given to the opposition in the public media. "It's either that the government enacts the new constitution or effects these minimum requirements or we will take to the streets," Madhuku said.

He said the NCA would also lobby the United Nations, the Commonwealth, the European Union and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) to apply pressure on the government to ensure the implementation of the minimum conditions. The NCA wanted to make representations on these issues to the SADC leaders from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Malawi and Mozambique who met in Harare on the land crisis this week, but was excluded from civic groups which met the leaders, the report said.
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ZIMBABWE: MDC, ZANU-PF in secret talks

NAIROBI, 13 September (IRIN) - Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party and the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) were engaged in secret talks to find a common plan to steer the country away from the current crisis over land, the economy and political violence, the 'Financial Gazette' reported on Thursday.

The report quoted sources as saying that the talks were still at a "low level" and had not involved direct contact between the two leaders of the respective parties. The sources said dialogue between ZANU-PF and the MDC would focus on how to end Zimbabwe's isolation by the international community and on how to rebuild confidence in the country by resolving contentious national issues such as land redistribution, unemployment and the economic decline.

They said the talks would ultimately lead to discussions over the possibility of the formation of a government of national unity, but that the issue was not the focus of talks so far. MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was quoted as saying that he would not deny or confirm that his party was involved in low-level talks with ZANU PF. "I cannot deny or confirm that, but low-level contact is not talks," he said.
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ZIMBABWE: Misa calls for more consultation on new Information Bill

JOHANNESBURG, 13 September (IRIN) - The Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) this week said that the Zimbabwean government should invite media practitioners and other civic stakeholders to make recommendations on the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Bill to ensure that it did not serve the interests of the executive arm of government only.

Rashweat Mukundu, an officer with Misa-Zimbabwe, said in a MISA alert that his organisation had submitted recommendations to the department of information and publicity in the president's office in the absence of an official invitation. But Misa-Zimbabwe would still want the public to contribute to the Bill before it was tabled in parliament, he said.

At the opening of parliament last month, President Robert Mugabe said that the Bill should improve information availability to the public by making "its release a mandatory requirement in situations of demonstrable public interest". "The Bill also seeks to improve the quality of information which is available to every citizen by insisting on integrity and professionalism within the media which should be able to source information from most sectors on the strength of the proposed Bill, but without undermining the citizen's rights to privacy, as well as other competing rights, including those related to national security and the protection of children," Mugabe told parliamentarians.

Mukundu said: "We still believe there is need for an official invitation from the government, for media practitioners, stakeholders and the general public to make their input into the Bill. This can be done through a process of public hearings or making available the draft Bill to media houses, journalists' unions and civic society organisations so that they can equally make their input before the Bill is taken to Parliament."
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From the Times (UK)
September 16 2001 AFRICA

The exodus option: farmers are looking at escape routes
Photograph: Obed Zilwa

Security firms offer whites Zimbabwe exit

Tom Walker, Diplomatic Correspondent

PRIVATE security firms are offering Zimbabwe's wealthy whites the chance of armed escorts and elaborate escape plans in the event of an all-out push by President Robert Mugabe to take over the country's commercial farming.

There has been a fall in violence in rural areas since Mugabe signed an accord with Commonwealth leaders in the Nigerian capital Abuja 10 days ago ending farm occupations, but few in farming or business say the uneasy peace will hold.

As the so-called war veterans refuse to leave most of the 900 farms that they occupy, former Rhodesian special forces troops are quietly offering their services in the event of an upsurge in violence before the elections early in 2002 which Mugabe hopes will allow him to cling to power for another four years.

"There's no way Bob can keep to the Abuja agreement and things are bound to get worse," said one former marksman with the Rhodesian army who fought Mugabe's guerrillas before the Lancaster House agreement that led to an independent Zimbabwe in 1980. "You're daft if you don't have some plan for escape."

One security company offers an armoured car and troops to get a maximum of 24 clients to a secret bush airstrip and out of the country by private aircraft.

"There are 10 good men - most of them with experience of European armies - and they have approached companies and the richer whites for business," the former soldier said.

Other sources confirmed that former Rhodesian SAS officers were forming their own security details. One said: "A rescue operation for wealthy whites is feasible. The Zimbabwe army would look the other way if confronted by armed escorts."

United Nations planners deny rumours of a plan to cope with an exodus of Zimbabwe's 50,000 whites. It says that in any civil conflict most people would flee to richer countries such as South Africa or Botswana, with some going to Zambia and Mozambique.

The UN refugee agency said: "We don't differentiate between colours. But we expect most whites would fly out."

The British defence ministry last year finalised contingency plans to rescue 25,000 passport holders, using reconnaissance units to assess border crossing points. Other European countries have evacuation plans.

The Abuja agreement envisages the handover of an initial tranche of 2.5m acres of white-owned land to the government, with Britain offering up to 36m in compensation. Mugabe wants five times that.Before Abuja his farm ministry had earmarked 95% of the 21m acres of white-owned land for seizure.

The accord was endorsed on Tuesday by regional leaders including Thabo Mbeki, the South African president, whose government is tired of Mugabe's violent land grabs and state-sponsored anarchy. The Zimbabwean leader was obliged to listen to complaints that the often violent campaign to seize white-owned farms was hurting the region's economies.

Tendai Biti, spokesman for Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change, said in London yesterday that "it would be misplaced and naive to expect Mugabe to implement anything".

Tony Blair will host informal talks with Botswana, Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal and Tanzania this week, at which the issue of Zimbabwe will again be raised.

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Mugabe Reported to Meet UN Official on DRC Mineral Looting
VOA News
16 Sep 2001 02:08 UTC

A Harare newspaper is reporting that the head of a U.N. mission exploring the looting of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo met Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe Friday.

Egypt's U.N. Ambassador, Mahmoud Kassem, told the pro-government "Herald" his team wants to update the information contained in a 56-page report released in April. President Mugabe made no comments after the meeting.

The U.N. report blamed the belligerents in Congo's three-year-old war for plundering minerals and other natural resources. It sharply criticized the governments of Uganda and Rwanda, which have troops in Congo supporting rebel movements.

Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia have also sent soldiers to Congo to support the country's government.

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More unrest in Zimbabwe

There has been renewed unrest in Zimbabwe, where the homes of farm workers have been set alight.

Africa Correspondent Sally Sara reports, men claiming to be war veterans stormed a white owned farm 100 kilometres south-east of the capital, Harare.

At least two people were seriously injured during the violent confrontation. War veterans and ruling party supporters invaded the property, forcing the farm owner to lock himself inside a secure compound surrounding his house. The veterans burned several homes belonging to farm workers and destroyed an office building. The unrest took place desite assurances by the Zimbabwean government that it would put an end to the illegal occupation of white-owned land. Last week, President Mugabe endorsed a proposal put forward by Commonwealth leaders to ensure compensation for white farmers in exchange for a return to law and order.

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