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

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REPORT-BACK MEETING BY THE HON. DAVID COLTART M.P. on 27 June, 2003   (Up-dated 12 August 2003)
Mr Coltart said that it was a reflection of the state of our “democracy” that the last report-back meeting scheduled to be held in Barham Green had been banned.  Two other meetings: one a Christian meeting and the other to be hosted by Bulawayo Dialogue had both been similarly banned.  The last six months had seen deterioration in the Zimbabwean environment in many different ways.  People across the board had been affected and the level of gloom and depression was unprecedented.  Inflation had reached 300%; there continued to be a dramatic emigration of skills and a variety of institutions were under great threat.  Where such high levels of repression existed, it was inevitable that everyone was depressed.  When people awakened in the morning, they immediately had to confront these enormous strains in their lives.
Ironically, this stressful situation had been further unintentionally compounded by the actions of the MDC, who had wrongly raised expectations.   Some of the language relating to the mass action had been deliberately positive … it had been referred to as the “final push”.  Telling people to turn out in their millions had created expectations that a dramatic miracle would occur in the space of five days, which was hoped for but which did not materialise.  Mr Coltart had felt that the stay-away would be a success, but had experienced reservations about the prospect of thousands of people turning out to confront the regime.  The regime was vicious and levels of fear intense.  What had happened in June should rather be described as the beginning of the final push.
The stay-away in March had been a gamble.  Fortunately, people had responded and had sent out a powerful message internationally.  This had emboldened Zimbabweans.  A five day stay-away (such as that that took place from 2nd to 6nd June) was a very long time, and no civic or political organisation had succeeded before in doing this in Africa.  It had been a huge gamble asking people to stay away in their thousands.  Wealthy people and the middle class had been able to cope, but poor people without fridges and without stocks of food had struggled.  The Wednesday morning of the stay-away had been the real test.  At first it seemed to be waning, but then it strengthened by the end of the week.  Expectations had also been raised about people turning out in their thousands and hundreds of thousands to protest, but state repression prevented that.
There had been increased levels of brutality; increased levels of torture and an increase in the number of people being detained: signs that the regime was redoubling its efforts to oppress the Zimbabwean people.  In the 1930’s Dietrich Bonhoffer had opposed the Nazis and Hitler.  He had been detained in the early 1940’s in Berlin.  Two weeks prior to the collapse of Nazi Germany, far from releasing him, they had taken him to a concentration camp and had shot him.  This was one example of a tyrannical regime that got more vicious the closer it got to its demise.  One would expect such a regime to decrease its human rights abuses as it came closer to its end.   Increased oppression, however, was a desperate move to quell the opposition.  Ironically, we should feel encouraged by this.  The shortage of bank notes, the lack of fuel and the increase of human rights abuses were all signs of a regime on its last legs.
The reality was that ZANU PF was weaker and the opposition stronger.  The lowest ebb of the MDC was reached in January this year.  Zimbabwe had disappeared completely from the international radar screen.   Mr Coltart had been staggered by the arrogance displayed by ZANU PF during December 2002.  They were confident that the MDC would lose both Harare by-elections: those in Kuwadzana and Highfield, and that they would be able to crush the MDC.
In December, the NCA had called for stay-aways, which had been a total flop.
But, from the beginning of February 2003, things had changed dramatically.
Ironically, two events that ZANU PF had thought to capitalise on had had the opposite effect.  The first was the treason trial, and the second was the World Cup Cricket.  The intention of ZANU PF was to use the treason trial to put the MDC on the back foot.  They intended to show the world that Morgan Tsvangirai was involved in some nefarious activity.  They had seen the treason trial as something to relish – an opportunity to get the focus back on the characters of Morgan Tsvangirai and Welshman Ncube.  This was precisely what had happened, but not in the way they had anticipated.  From the dock, Morgan Tsvangirai had been able to shut down the country twice.  Having George Bisos to represent Morgan Tsvangirai and the others accused of treason had been a masterstroke, as constant linkage was made between Nelson Mandela’s trial and this one.  Mr Bisos was a fine advocate, who exposed evidence that relied on the testimony of a scoundrel.  The trial did not show ZANU PF in a good light especially in the minds of South Africans, but most importantly, it drew international attention back to Zimbabwe.
With regard to the World Cup Cricket, Mr Coltart had found himself at the time in a moral dilemma.  It had been clear that the morally correct stance was for countries to decline to come to Zimbabwe.  Yet, it was anticipated that, if national teams came, the world’s attention would be focused on Zimbabwe, and the country and the situation here would merit a couple of useful days’ coverage.  As it happened, the benefit derived from the teams coming here was immense.  The World Cup, in a powerful way, focused the world’s attention on Zimbabwe, and won us a powerful ally in the Caribbean block.  It was Henry Olonga’s statement and his subsequent treatment that led to their allying themselves with Jim McKinnon’s successful attempt to extend Zimbabwe’s suspension from the Council of Ministers in the Commonwealth.  Huge benefit was derived from ZANU PF’s treatment of a sporting icon.  Thus, in February, the world’s focus was back on Zimbabwe.
In March and April, Zimbabweans needed to demonstrate to the international community that they were not happy.  While the international community was deeply sympathetic, it was hamstrung in a variety of international fora, needing tangible evidence of the people’s dissatisfaction.  The stay-away in March changed its attitude.
It had become clear that people were not acting in good faith, and that certain leaders in Africa were paying lip service to calls for justice in Zimbabwe and trying to ignore the MDC.  After the stay-away, they could no longer do this.  The stay-away led to the extension of the Commonwealth ban.  The MDC went on to confound its critics and the prophets of doom by winning the two Harare by-elections.  Mr Coltart had not expected the MDC to win these – because of massive electoral fraud.
The significant event in March was the Iraq war, an event of short duration.  At the commencement of the war, both sides in Zimbabwe gambled.  ZANU PF nailed its colours to the mast early on in the proceedings.  Jonathon Moyo indicated publicly that the ZANU regime was against what was happening.  Mr Coltart reminded us of the way the Zimbabwean soldier, who died in Iraq, was treated by the regime. 
In contrast, Morgan Tsvangirai, on the day after the war started, when addressing diplomats at a meeting, thanked the United States for promoting democracy in his country for the last few decades.  In the early days of the war America was very isolated.  We had nailed our colours to the right mast.  This was the right and principled thing to do. It was necessary to rid the world of dictators and terrorism.  Colin Powell telephoned Morgan Tsvangirai in acknowledgement of the friendly statement made by him in a time of need.  This regime did not understand just how deep the wound created by the destruction of the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon was.  The stand taken by ZANU PF was noted by the American administration and would bode ill for them.  If one was seen to support the American government, as had been the case with the MDC, then enormous benefits would flow.  Long term ramifications would be evident.
In May, the first effects of the stay-away were seen in the reactions of Presidents Obasanjo, Mbeki and Maluzi.  President Mbeki met Morgan Tsvangirai for the first time.  These leaders stated that they wanted to meet someone who was on trial for allegedly wanting to assassinate a fellow “President”. Their action undermined the entire treason trial.  This would never have happened, but for the May stay-away and the two by-elections which forced Mbeki’s hand.  For all the support that the anti-apartheid movement achieved, they never closed down a single city in South Africa and Mbeki simply could not ignore the MDC’s power.
The stay-away resulted in a knee-jerk reaction from the regime.  Instead of trying to ignore it, they arrested Morgan Tsvangirai at the beginning of the week, just before the G8 Conference was to take place.  Then at the end of the week on Friday, the last day of the five-day stay-away, they detained him again.  Their action once again focused media attention on Zimbabwe. 
Everyone was desperately concerned for him and about his treatment in prison.  The reality of the situation, however, was that his detention had raised his profile and stature.  This was especially so in Zimbabwe.  He had been unfairly criticised for not leading the mass action more vigorously.  The attitude of the people changed to one of sympathy, as they realised that the road to State House went through prison.
In June Colin Powell wrote an article in “The New York Times” likening Morgan Tsvangirai to Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the opposition in Burma and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.  Mr Powell’s article was one of the most significant pieces of writing concerning Zimbabwe to come out since the struggle.  “The New York Times” sets the benchmark of American opinion.  Attention would thus be focused on Zimbabwe, just before President Bush embarked on his first trip to Africa.  President Mbeki had staked his reputation on NEPAD and hoped that billions of US$ flowing into Africa would boost his domestic standing. 
From the low point in January, a progression of events had led us to a situation where the regime in Zimbabwe was in reactive rather than in proactive mode.  “The Chronicle” of Monday 23 June featured a collage of photographs of Mr Mugabe’s rally in Kezi.  Behind him on the dais was a huge sign that said “No to Mass Action – Enough is Enough”.  A political party needed to focus on its own message.  In the last few months, ZANU PF had been drawn into our territory and was re-acting to our policies as in their “No to Mass Action”.  Their message was no longer “Down with the Whites” and “Land for the People”.  Marketers’ skill lay in creating concepts and slogans that were easily remembered.  Thus the coverage that the MDC was getting in “The Chronicle” and “The Herald” was incredible.  The MDC’s name was being mentioned all the time.  One should not raise the profile of the enemy, a trap ZANU PF had fallen into.  The MDC was setting the agenda.  It had shut down the country and had been responsible for bringing out the airforce.  On the Saturday morning (after the stay-away ended at 5pm on the Friday), the helicopters went back to their bases.  The power to call out helicopters and to keep them at base thus lay with Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC.
Admittedly, Mugabe did control the military, but he did not control the people.  The following were two examples of the way ZANU PF was trying to control the situation:
1.      They had embarked on a series of campaign meetings, an indication that they were feeling jittery.  They were looking for encouragement, so shaken were they by the success of the stay-away.  Threats of closure of businesses had not worked.  People had been bussed to the meeting at Kezi – they had been forced to attend the meeting.  Their mood had been one of silent dissatisfaction.
2.      Nathan Shamyarira had announced that he was going to discuss a Government of National Unity.  This was a positive development, as it was the first sign of major weakness, very different from their attitude in December.  Whist the MDC would never participate in a Government of National Unity it was a sign that ZANU PF was now forced to deal with the MDC.
Mr Mugabe had flown to Libya to try to source fuel.  He would not be able to resolve the economic fundamentals, even if he succeeded in the short term.
The economic situation was unsustainable.  It was inevitable that if the productive sector was interfered with and productivity stopped and if the flow of foreign exchange was brought to a halt, the economy would collapse.  Inflation would continue to rise and bank notes would become even more scarce.  Only through this economic trial would this regime be brought to its knees.
What was the way ahead?  Mr Coltart said that we were close to the end of the nightmare.  Economic collapse was speeding up and international pressure was building.  This would lead to the collapse of the regime and to a restoration of democracy, the ultimate solution to our problems.
There had to be a transitional authority. The best solution would be for Mr Mugabe to resign and for a new election to be held in 90 days.  The bottom line was for a transitional authority to have a finite term of office. and a limited mandate.  There must not be a Government of National Unity. 
Under a transitional authority, Zimbabwe could not be governed in terms of POSA and other such restrictive laws.  Humanitarian relief must be allowed into the country.  Early signs of serious malnutrition were being seen in children in some rural areas.  While some areas had surplus crops, experts agreed that there was, overall, a massive food deficit.  Because the regime was living a lie, it had not taken the measures it needed to take in terms of humanitarian aid.  Our contact with the rest of the world must be restored.  The electoral playing field must be levelled, so that a free and fair election could take place.
America had called for exactly the same conditions as those mentioned above: Robert Mugabe’s resignation: transitional authority and new elections.  The United States had the power to call on African leaders to help to resolve the crisis.
Prior to 1976, Ian Smith was talking of “Never in a Thousand Years….”.  But after a meeting with Kissinger in Pretoria, he was forced to return speaking of majority rule.  Huge pressure had been brought to bear.  This was a typical example of the pressure and power the US is able to exert with regard to the Zimbabwean impasse.  This pressure will result in a solution to the crisis.
Mr Coltart said that we must remain true to our principles, the two most important being non-violence and the determination to go through the courts, even though they had been subverted.  He said that if we had moved into Robert Mugabe’s territory of violence, we would have been removed long ago.  He said that we had all been put to the test.  Fifty-two of the fifty-seven MP’s elected had been subjected either to detention, torture, oppression or imprisonment.  Despite this, the core of the MDC had remained intact.  Whilst in Zimbabwe, we were all hanging by a thread, we needed to go the final lap in our goal of bringing democracy to this country.
Since its formation on 11 September 2003, the MDC had been subjected to a baptism of fire: an unrelenting and vicious assault by ZANU PF, who had tortured, abducted, kidnapped and murdered its members.   Almost four years on, the MDC was not crushed; in fact the core of the party was stronger than ever.  Council elections were to be held in Bulawayo at the end of August. The MDC was in control of the cities in Zimbabwe, where 30/40% of the population was to be found.  The cities generated over half the GDP in the country, and therefore were an important power base.  There was great danger, however, that in the current climate of economic collapse, depression and apathy would prevail, a situation that would adversely affect voter turn-out.  (Urban councils the world over were blighted by voter apathy.)  ZANU PF would be delighted if there was a poor turn-out.  They must not be allowed to win by default.
Mr Coltart reminded the meeting that Martin Luther King had said  “Freedom never comes without some form of sacrifice”.  Zimbabweans had never known true representative democracy.  Bulawayo’s elections were yet another step towards this goal.  The development of democracy was an incremental process.   
The MDC would not enter into a Government of National Unity.  After what happened to ZAPU in the 1980’s such a government was against the national interest.  ZANU PF was responsible for the absence of fuel, food and money.  They had created all the problems we were facing today.  The MDC would not be prepared to go down that route and be swallowed, as ZAPU was, only to have its bones spat out and its leadership corrupted.  The Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project was a pipe dream.  Not two sods of earth had been turned at the confluence of the Gwaai and the Zambezi.  Yet for ten or twelve years the subject had been talked of constantly and numerous promises had been made.  Nothing had happened.  Significantly, only a small percentage of the students at NUST, our University in Bulawayo, came from this region. 
The MDC envisaged a Transitional Authority – a Government of National Unity would simply be a continuation of ZANU PF.  A Transitional Authority (not a Government) had a limited mandate and would exist for a finite period, during which it would govern the country.  It would be a mandate to take the country through to free and fair elections.  It was imperative that the country be stabilised, law and order restored, the police force de-politicised, the youth militia disbanded and the way paved towards adhering to the SADC standards for free and fair elections.
With regard to the meeting between Presidents Bush and Mbeki in South Africa in July, ZANU PF had spewed out a lot of propaganda and lies.  Mr Coltart had been in South Africa at the time and had had two meetings with the Bush administration team.  Two very clear agreements had emerged from the Press Conference given by the two presidents.  Both men acknowledged that the Zimbabwean crisis required urgent resolution.  Both stated that they shared the same objectives.  President Bush had certainly not changed his objectives.  Secretary of State, Colin Powell, had clearly set out how the crisis needed to be resolved.  Mugabe needed to stand down, there should be a transitional authority and free and fair elections needed to be held.  Bush repeated these conditions in Botswana.  President Mbeki had never said what his objective was.  He had spoken of  “quiet diplomacy”, but had never offered a “road map”.  In essence, free and fair elections in the country were needed to resolve the crisis.  President Bush had said that he was not going to second-guess President Mbeki, but had referred to him as “my point-man”.  This term was a reference to American football and to an active not a passive role.  He meant you are the person in the region, and you must run with this. Bush had said that he believed that President Mbeki could be an honest broker not that he was an honest broker.  They would be reviewing the situation in September.  Bush had, in fact, secured two key concessions.  We could expect to see close co-operation.
ZANU PF was desperate for the MDC to recognise the legitimacy of Robert Mugabe as President of Zimbabwe.  The MDC had said that IF the International Community endorsed talks and they got underway and IF there was tangible evidence of ZANU PF’s demonstrating good faith, then the MDC would consider suspending the Presidential Challenge.  The trial was due to start only in November, so this gave interested parties a three-month window.  The Presidential Challenge was the best non-violent, lawful leverage the MDC had, and so it would not be discarded lightly.
Contracts entered into by ZANU PF that were not considered to be in the best interests of the country would not be honoured by the MDC.  The MDC had built a huge body of evidence that clearly demonstrated how the election was stolen from us.  The aim for the future was for Zimbabwe to have a government that represented the majority of the people and not a tiny, rich, corrupt elite.
ZANU PF was engaged in a vigorous process to elect a new leader.  It had been claimed that Robert Mugabe would stand down from his party position in December.  It should be noted, however, that this was different from standing down as president.  The South Africans, the MDC understood, wanted an election in Zimbabwe as early as March, not June, since the ANC had to fight an election themselves in June.  The MDC would fight an election only if the electoral process conformed to SADC and international standards. 
It was interesting that President Mbeki’s concluding remark was to thank President Bush for agreeing to invest in Zimbabwe’s “transitional’ current crisis ie rehabilitation. 
No investor would invest in Zimbabwe until we restored our judiciary.
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Concert for a free Zimbabwe from 7pm to midnight on 20 September 2003 at CONWAY HALL, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL (nearest underground: Holborn).  Zimbabwean musicians, Zimbabwean food.  Cheap beer, wine, soft drinks.  Tickets: £10 (includes food) - available from the Zimbabwe Vigil, 12.00 - 18.00 Saturdays - outside Zimbabwe High Commission, 429 Strand,  London WC2 (opp. Charing Cross) or email: or phone: 07941 980 139, 077799 60588.
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The Herald

West to blame for hurried land reform: Mubako

Assistant Editor Moses Magadza
The man who served as a legal advisor to President Mugabe and Zanu-PF during
the Lancaster House Conference of 1979 in London has blamed Britain and
America for the "hurried but inevitable" manner in which Zimbabwe
implemented the land reform programme.

Dr Simbi Mubako, a former Zimbabwe High Court Judge and Minister of Justice,
Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, who is now the country’s Ambassador to the
United States, made the remarks in an exclusive interview with The Herald on

He said the violence, conflict and tension that characterised the initial
stages of the land reform exercise could have been averted had former
colonial master Britain and America kept their word on funding the

"The West is opposed to our land reform programme and argues that it was
accompanied by violence and was not properly planned, resulting in people
being resettled without adequate facilities.

"However, this issue has to be understood in its proper context. First of
all there was a delay of 22 years because Britain and the United States
broke the promises they made at Lancaster, leading to the end of the war.

"Zimbabweans were restive and the Government was left with no choice but to
compulsorily acquire land and distribute it among the people," Dr Mubako

He said the land issue was "central" to the Lancaster conference and had
Britain, with the help of America, not made the commitment it made — which
it later broke — the guns would not have fallen silent in Zimbabwe.

"I recall that there was so much heated debate and disagreement over the
implementation of land reforms in Zimbabwe.

"The Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF and Zapu) wanted Britain to provide money for
land reforms in Zimbabwe as it had done in Kenya.

"Britain, on the other hand, was saying it did not have money to fund such
reforms in Zimbabwe, which it feared would be on a grander scale than was
the case in Kenya.

"The Patriotic Front made it clear that they would not tax Zimbabweans to
buy back their land.

"After the parties failed to reach a consensus, the conference broke up for
two days and President Mugabe began to pack his bags to go back to the bush.
That’s how important the land issue was," Dr Mubako said.

He said word that the talks were about to collapse spread as far as America.

"(Former) American President Jimmy Carter then pledged to help Britain find
the money and sent a message to that effect to the conference through the US
embassy in London."

He said Britain undertook to provide money to acquire land, compensate white
farmers, resettle and finance new farmers.

At that time the cost of implementing a land reform programme in Zimbabwe
was estimated at US$2 billion.

As fate would have it, Mr Carter did not last and was replaced by Ronald
Regan, who was rabidly anti-Africa and refused to have anything to do with
his predecessor’s commitments.

"This left the British alone and for a while, to their credit, they provided
about 72 000 pounds which, however, fell far short of what was required and
enabled the Government to resettle a few people over a period of 10 years,"
Dr Mubako said.

The British then stopped providing any money citing budgetary constraints
and when Tony Blair’s Labour Government assumed power it dissociated itself
from the agreement made at Lancaster.

Said Dr Mubako: "Claire Short bluntly said the Labour government had no
obligation to pay for land reforms in Zimbabwe. This was a repudiation of an
undertaking made not just by the Conservative or Tory party but by the
British government."

He said for the Government and people of Zimbabwe, this was the last straw
that broke the camel’s back and increased the sparks flying between Harare
and Number 10 Downing Street.

The rest is history, he said.

On the hate campaign against Zimbabwe by Britain and America, the ambassador
said it was predictable but there was a noticeable realisation by the two
western governments that the land reform programme is not reversible.

"Britain and America are beginning to realise that the programme can not be
reversed without igniting a new uprising. Even at Lancaster they conceded
that the status quo, where vast tracts of land were in the hands of minority
whites, could not be sustained. The justice of the programme is, therefore,
common cause."

Dr Mubako said his general observation was that the west was no longer
supporting and funding the MDC as zealously as it did towards the
parliamentary and presidential polls.

"Then they were trying to halt a process that would result in their kith and
kin abruptly losing land on which they were making millions of dollars. They
were under the illusion that there would be a quick fall of the Government
of Zimbabwe."

He said rather than admit that they were wrong, Britain and America were
waiting for an opportunity to break their evil union with the MDC and
normalise relations with Zimbabwe.

He hazarded that the proposed talks between Zanu PF and MDC could present
such an opportunity.

"In my view the west does not want to continue spending money fanning
conflicts in the country because, unlike Iraq, we are not of any strategic
importance. We have neither oil nor weapons of mass destruction."

Dr Mubako said the main objective of the proposed talks should be to develop
a common purpose and show that Zimbabweans could fight their political
battles and resolve them on their own within their borders.

He said thanks to the lies being peddled by MDC activists and some
Zimbabweans masquerading as asylum seekers when they were economic refugees,
the country’s reputation had taken an unprecedented battering.

The wrong message had been sent and received in the west, he said, that
Zimbabwe was a pariah state and the onus was on all Zimbabweans to correct
that impression.

"I hope people have learnt a lesson (not to rubbish their own country). Now
we are under sanctions, which are hurting everybody from the Government to
the opposition.

We should learn to be patriotic and united, even from our foes. In the US
Republicans and Democrats fight each other but when they leave the US they
are united as Americans. In Britain it is the same with Labour,
Conservatives and Democrats."
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The Herald

Peri-urban farmers to get State assistance — Made

Herald Reporter
The Government will finance the purchase of agricultural inputs by
peri-urban farmers under the existing crop input scheme as part of measures
to increase food production in the country, the Minister of Lands
Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, Cde Joseph Made said yesterday.

It would also provide tillage services and the necessary extension and
research support needed by the farmers.

The financial and technical assistance is expected to boost urban farming
which, despite its significant contribution to national food security,
continues to be marginalised.

Cde Made said urban agriculture was a vital component of the country's food
production sector and as such should be given all the necessary support to
ensure its success.

"The decision to provide this form of assistance for peri-urban agriculture
is long overdue and we intend to implement the programme in all cities
throughout the country.

"The Government fully supports peri-urban agriculture and has come up with a
number of initiatives to increase the capacity of urban farmers," he said.

The decision by Government to finance urban farming activities comes at a
time when the country together with 11 others in the region recently signed
a regional declaration on urban and peri-urban agriculture.

The declaration to be known as the Harare Declaration on Urban and
Peri-urban Agriculture was mooted at a two-day regional conference on urban
agriculture held in the country last week to come up with strategies to
enhance urban food security in the region.

The declaration is expected to encourage local authorities to promote urban
and peri-urban farming in their cities, develop appropriate incentives and
other policies necessary for growth.

It is also expected to promote collection and dissemination of information
on urban agriculture activities in their territorial planning areas.

The declaration would encourage participating governments to include urban
agriculture in their programmes to alleviate poverty and economic
development, food security, promotion of local economic development,
environmental and health improvement.

It was signed by Botswana, Lesotho, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Ethiopia
and Zimbabwe.

The Government has over the years rallied behind organised and well-planned
urban farming and has helped with the allocation of land to those intending
to grow crops.

Two years ago, the Government allocated 60 hectares of land for urban
farming in Harare. It also pledged to apportion more land for the activity
should the need arises.

This was after the Government realised that many families in the urban areas
were surviving on the maize and other foodstuffs planted on the small
patches of land.

Economic hardships being faced by the majority of people in urban areas and
high levels of unemployment exacerbated the demand for land in urban areas
with some residents cultivating on prohibited places.

Families who had no patches of land before have invaded areas like community
patches, dump sites and any unused piece of land.

Urban farming continues to grow every year and it is estimated that about
100 000 tonnes of maize are realised from peri-urban agriculture every year.
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The Herald

      Last Updated: Monday, 1 September 2003
      President leaves for UN conference in Cuba

      Deputy News Editor
      President Mugabe left Harare yesterday for Havana, Cuba, to attend the
sixth United Nations Conference on Desertification and Drought.

      The summit comes at a time when desertification has become an
economic, social and environmental problem that is threatening human life.

      Because of woodland deforestation, inappropriate use of farming
technology and the reduction of organic material in the soil, the size of
land suitable for agriculture is falling every year.

      This is threatening the food security of one billion people,
increasing poverty and extending environmental deterioration.

      At least 25 million people in the world are suffering directly from
the effects of desertification and a third of the earth’s surface — more
than 4 billion hectares — is under threat.

      The subsistence of 1,2 billion people in 110 countries who depend on
soil is in danger.

      More than 170 countries are participating at the conference which
began on Monday last week and runs until Friday.

      Last week, meetings focussed on measures to implement the UN
Convention on Combating Desertification and Drought.

      Discussions also centred on exchange of information on traditional
knowledge and warning systems to strengthen the scientific capacity of
parties to the convention in anti-desertification efforts.

      President Mugabe will join about 20 heads of state and governments who
are expected to attend the summit. At least 3 000 delegates, including
government ministers, representatives of international organisations,
non-governmental organisations, environmental experts and journalists are
attending the conference.

      Heads of state and governments will share views on ways of
strengthening development in rural areas and the link between poverty and

      The summit is expected to come up with resolutions to cement measures
taken at last year’s World Summit on Sustainable Development.

      It will also take important decisions to reinforce the global
anti-desertification fight.

      Previous summits have been held in Rome (Italy), Dakar (Senegal),
Recife (Brazil), Bonn (Germany) and Geneva (Switzerland).

      The UN Convention on Combating Desertification and drought was adopted
in 1994 and came into force in 1996 and 187 countries have ratified the
convention to date.

      Zimbabwe and other southern African countries have been experiencing
droughts over the past few years as a result of poor rains and floods.

      Desertification is also a problem in the region and in Zimbabwe new
challenges are presented by the on-going land reform programme with the need
to raise awareness among new farmers to preserve the environment.

      Cde Mugabe is being accompanied by the First Lady, Cde Grace Mugabe,
the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Cde Francis Nhema and senior
Government officials.

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Financial Times

      Price rises hold the key to Zimbabwe's fiscal riddle
      By Tony Hawkins
      Published: September 1 2003 5:00 | Last Updated: September 1 2003 5:00

      On the face of it, Herbert Murerwa, Zimbabwe's finance minister,
should be the envy of his counterparts around the world. How many of them
could virtually double public spending without raising taxes, and
simultaneously reduce the budget deficit from 11.5 per cent to 7.3 per cent
of GDP?,p>     The answer to the riddle, however, is that Mr Murerwa's supplementary
budget, presented last week, is driven primarily by inflation. The projected
fall in the budget deficit as a ratio of GDP was achieved by doubling the
GDP forecast for 2003 on the back of expected average inflation of 400 per

      Real GDP has fallen some 37 per cent from its 1998 peak so that real
per capita incomes will be little different from those of mid-1960s.

      Even optimistic growth projections for a post-Mugabe Zimbabwe suggest
that it will take 15-20 years to regain the living standards of the

      "The social consequences of the economic collapse are dire," the IMF
warned in a recent report on Zimbabwe. Shortages of basic goods, fuel,
electricity and foreign exchange are "pervasive".

      There is little productive investment, two-thirds of the population
needed food aid last year and in the months ahead the World Food Programme
says 5.5m people (47 per cent of the population) will need food aid.

      Amid signs of chaos and collapse - banks without bank notes, let alone
foreign currency, filling stations without fuel and supermarkets without
basic foods or with supplies at prices that only a minority can afford - the
Mugabe government continues to insist that its unorthodox policies will save
the day.

      Mr Mugabe wants banks to cut interest rates, currently 95 per cent -
less than a quarter of the inflation rate.

      Last week's partial relaxation of fuel price controls and import
restrictions may help ease shortages and restrict the budgetary cost of
subsidising fuel.

      However, the Murerwa budget excludes such subsidies, described by the
IMF as "quasi-fiscal" and forecast by the fund at Z$440bn ($550m, £350m,
€503m) this year. If included, that would lift the actual budget deficit to
about 18 per cent of GDP.

      In an effort to recoup something from the controversial land
resettlement programme - fewer than 400 commercial farmers are still
operating out of the previous 4,500 - the budget includes Z$27bn to provide
cheap inputs to the new farmers.

      But with seed companies announcing maize seed prices up 645 per cent
over the year, such subsidies are unlikely to pump-prime the promised
agrarian revolution. Indeed, the Zimbabwe Farmers Union, which represents
smallholders, says that the government needs to provide Z$600bn in pre-crop

      While the finance minister claims that, the 30 per cent collapse in
commercial production notwithstanding, agricultural output will increase 2.3
per cent this year, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, an NGO, says
prospects for the coming season - planting will start in October - are
"bleak", regardless of weather conditions.

      Ironically, the heavy cost of land resettlement is exposing the
government to new economic pressures and forcing it into policies bitterly
opposed by Mr Mugabe himself, such as devaluation.

      The small-scale tobacco growers are leading the charge in demanding
the official exchange rate of Z$824 to the US dollar be devalued to at least
Z$1,600, if not Z$2,000. The black market rate is at least Z$5,500. Outside
the tight circle of Mugabe loyalists and those able to "work the system" -
speculating in foreign currency, fuel, food, real estate and bank notes,
which trade at a premium of 20 per cent and more over their face value -
there is a sense that the economy is nearing "tipping point".

      In its own way Mr Murerwa's budget validates this view by highlighting
not only the degree to which the government depends on inflation to finance
public spending, but also the fact that the authorities have run out of

      For all his promises to tackle inflation, the finance minister knows
that a serious anti-inflationary stance would bring the whole rickety
edifice crashing down.

      It seems that inflation, which economists expect to reach at least 700
per cent by year end, is a price that the Mugabe government is willing to
pay for political survival.
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Zimbabwe shuns urban polls

Reuters in Harare
Monday September 1, 2003
The Guardian

A low turnout in Zimbabwe's municipal elections at the weekend - probably no
more than 30% of registered voters - was blamed last night on apathy and the
long-running economic crisis.
Analysts said the poor showing might favour President Robert Mugabe's party,
Zanu-PF, in the 16 towns where it was contesting some mayoralties and 130
council seats with the Movement for Democratic Change, because its urban
activists have been more dedicated voters since the MDC was formed in 1999.

The MDC took the majority in the parliamentary elections in 2000. But even
if it manages to strengthen its position in the urban elections the victory
will be mainly symbolic, since the Zanu-PF central government exercises
control through the sweeping powers held by the minister of local government

The MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, who is on bail awaiting trial charged
with plotting to assassinate Mr Mugabe, said after casting his ballot on
Saturday that many people were more concerned with bread and butter issues
than with voting.

On Saturday thousands were stuck in bank queues waiting for cash, the latest
everyday item put in short supply by the economic crisis.

But a political analyst at the Zimbabwe Institute of Development Studies
said: "Yes, there is some truth that the economic crisis has affected the
turnout ... but today is a Sunday and people are still not voting, and that
to me is because of general apathy. It's apathy from people who are saying
that these elections are not that important."

Before polling began the MDC accused Zanu-PF of violence, intimidation and
tampering with the voter register.

The party denied the charges.

On Saturday the MDC information secretary, Paul Themba-Nyathi, said voting
had been marred by violence in some districts, including the stoning of a
vehicle driven by an opposition MP and an assault on some party activists.

The electoral supervisory commission said yesterday that the elections had
largely been smooth but it was "looking at a couple of complaints".
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The Star

      Ambitious regional fiscal plan
      September 1, 2003

      By Vernon Wessels

    The 14 members of the Southern Africa Development Community have
agreed on single-digit inflation targets.

      Limits on budget and current account deficits are part of an ambitious
plan to integrate the region's fiscal and monetary policies, according to
Tito Mboweni, the Reserve Bank governor.

      Nations in the area would need to cut inflation to single digits
between 2004 and 2008, cut government debt to below 60% of gross domestic
product, reduce fiscal deficits to below 5% of GDP and ensure the deficit on
the current account on the balance of payments was about 3%.,p>     Me'chanisms for peer review still needed to be established. Mboweni
said the approach would not be punitive. Zimbabwe did not send a
representative to Friday's meeting.

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