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

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NZZ Switzerland

Swiss farmer suffers in Zimbabwe
“It’s like sitting on a time bomb – you never know when it’ll explode.”

This is how the husband of a Swiss farmer living in Zimbabwe describes life
in the southern African nation. However, people like the Walters want to
stay because they love the country.
We had been told to turn at milestone 102 and we almost missed the tiny,
dusty path leading through the lush outback.
Three women in colourful clothes walked along the side of the road. They
were carrying their goods on their heads: firewood, a bundle of sugarcane
and a water canister.
“Is this the way to the farm?” we asked them. They answered with a friendly
smile and confirmed that we were on the right track.
“They were resettlers,” my local guide told me as we continued on our
A short while later we were sitting behind the house having tea. Agnes
Walter* had baked a cake for the occasion. We watched the dogs chasing
cackling guinea fowl on the lawn.
In the fifties Agnes’ parents emigrated from Switzerland to Zimbabwe, which
was then Southern Rhodesia, where she was born the second of eight children.
She grew up during a time when white farmers were still rich and powerful.
Agnes remembers a carefree life, close to nature.
War of independence
Agnes’ parents returned to Switzerland in the seventies, when the war of
independence ravaged the country.
"Our farm was right in the line of fire,” Agnes’ father, who now breeds game
animals in central Switzerland, remembers.
Agnes, who was 14 at the time, always wanted to return to Zimbabwe. After
she had graduated from business school and spent one year working in
Switzerland, she went back to her roots.
“Don’t you dare fall in love immediately,” her mother told her on her
"I’ll only fall in love with the country and not with the people,” she
“It only took a few years and we received the wedding invitation through the
post,” Agnes’ mother remembers with a smile.
Agnes wanted her children to grow up the way she did, however, she says this
is no longer possible.
“For the past three years our sons have not been able to do the things they
love because of security.”
Work on the farm, which she manages with her husband, has also been
difficult in recent years. “We can’t use about two-thirds of our land,” she
Difficult times
The couple have acquired more than 400 new neighbours, most of them
squatters or resettlers. “The government does not care about
 infrastructure,” Agnes lamented.
“Everything which is not locked or constantly watched is being stolen,
animals are killed and trees cut down.”
A little later Agnes’ husband joined us. With his beard, shorts and green
broad-rimmed hat, he looked like the stereotype of a typical farmer. He is
the son of a pioneer’s family from four generations ago.
“Difficult times,” he replied when asked about the situation in the country.
“I constantly feel like I'm sitting on a time bomb.”
After a moment of silence he said: “At the end of the day everybody who has
worked hard for what they’ve got is a loser. There are no longer rules in
this country.”
swissinfo, Katharina Morello in Zimbabwe (translation: Billi Bierling)
*The name has been changed.
Copyright © Swissinfo / Neue Zürcher Zeitung AG
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Southern African press review

Wednesday September 24, 2003
The Guardian

"We will be back," announces the website of the Daily News. But not, it would seem, if Robert Mugabe can help it. The Harare independent daily was shut down last week, after the supreme court ruled that it was operating without a licence. Its application for registration was later denied by the Zimbabwean Media and Information Commission.

No surprises there, said Business Day. The court was "packed with Mr Mugabe's supporters", while the MIC was "set up by the president last year to muzzle Zimbabwe's teetering media". The tactics, reflected the South African paper, were transparent: "It is a crude attempt to silence critics amid a deepening socioeconomic and political crisis."

The weekly Financial Gazette is one of the few independent publications left in Zimbabwe, and Cyril Senda wrote in its pages last Thursday that the closure had "heightened fears that the government, subjected to unprecedented scrutiny, could be girding its loins for a renewed assault on ... free expression". The South African Sunday Times observed: "If freedom of expression and of the media are a vital barometer of the health of a nation, Zimbabwe is very ill indeed."

At the pro-Mugabe Zimbabwean Sunday Mirror, however, Tendai Chari was less upset to see the end of a paper he accused of being a servile mouthpiece of the opposition. It had, he said, been "deceptive and irresponsible" and "prone to ethical lapses".

The government-owned Herald, meanwhile, focused its coverage on the death of the vice-president, Simon Muzenda. An obituary described "a fatherly figure and political grandmaster who illuminated Zimbabwean life with an aura of composure, patriotism and calm wisdom". The editorial exhorted Zimbabweans to "follow in the footsteps" of a man "who encouraged all citizens of this country to persevere in spite of the current political and economic problems that the country is facing".

"The vacancy presents Mr Mugabe with the perfect opportunity," said the Sowetan, "[to] save his ailing country by bringing the MDC on board and salvage his legacy." But the South African daily was not confident the Zimbabwean leader "would even consider" appointing the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangarai, as vice-president. "It is a pity," lamented the tabloid, "that Mr Mugabe, a gifted intellectual, has lost so many great opportunities to show his determination to save his country from imploding." Toby Manhire

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The Star

      UN spots Mugabe's fraud
      September 24, 2003

      In your comment, "SA must heed Mugabe logic" (The Star, September 17),
you only touch on the question of Zimbabwe.

      The decision not to invite Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to the
Commonwealth summit in Nigeria in December has led to protest and
indignation from the South African presidency.

      The question that is constantly asked is why the African Union (AU)
keeps turning a blind eye to the events in Zimbabwe. But are they able to
question or criticise Mugabe?

      At a recent Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit, he
was applauded, and President Thabo Mbeki admitted that the AU had not
discussed the crisis in Zimbabwe. Surely there must be an explanation for
this behaviour by those one assumes to be responsible leaders?

      As members of the United Nations, they have all taken note of a
statement by the president of the Security Council that key, senior members
of the Zimbabwe government are to be investigated by the UN for allegedly
looting and illegally exploiting resources - including a fortune in
diamonds - in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

      The UN document titled The Final Report of the Panel of Experts on the
Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of DR
Congo, details how this "elite network" benefited from instability in the
Congo and sought to fuel it by supporting armed groups opposed to Rwanda and

      "The elite network of Congolese and Zimbabwean political, military and
commercial interests seeks to maintain its grip on the main mineral
resources - diamonds, cobalt, copper, germanium - of the
government-controlled area," the document says.

      "This network has transferred ownership of assets from the state
mining sector to private companies under its control in the past three years
with no compensation or benefit for the state treasury."

      On what this document refers to as "organised theft", Robert Mugabe
and several members of his cabinet feature prominently in the report.

      Furthermore, they refuse to co-operate with the UN, and like the AU,
SADC and the Commonwealth, there is little or nothing anyone can do about
it, particularly as Mugabe has support within those bodies.

      So you can expect silence on the atrocities by the infamous youth
militia the Green Bombers, whose members routinely rape young girls and
commit other atrocities. Rights groups say sexual assault is increasingly
used as a political weapon by the Zimbabwean government.

      Silence on the attacks on the press is also not surprising.

      Nor is it surprising that some African countries, led by Mbeki, have
been urging the Commonwealth to relax its sanctions on Zimbabwe.

      Mugabe is not a maniac. He knows exactly what he is doing and is so
deeply involved in the network in the DRC that he cannot, and will not,
relinquish power in Zimbabwe.

      The ploy to pour his burgeoning population onto the land grabbed from
white farmers is designed to quell the rising problem of where to
accommodate them. It makes no sense that they'd deliberately destroy the
agricultural economy if there weren't bigger issues at stake.

      This raises the question: how many people, in high positions in member
states of the AU and SADC, has Mugabe implicated in this plunder?

      Is it surprising that the poor countries in Africa rally behind
Zimbabwe, with an astute politician like Mugabe in the enviable position of
buying off any dissenting voices?
      So while all this is happening on South Africa's doorstep, there is a
convenient escape route from facing up to the situation. With the principle
that one is presumed innocent until proven guilty, whatever evidence mounts
against him, Comrade Bob has little to fear from his colleagues.
      Sid Robbins

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Tories: Make it clear Mugabe is not welcome

      September 24 2003 at 02:03PM

London - Britain's opposition Conservative Party demanded on Wednesday that
the government use its influence to bar Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe
from a European Union summit in Rome next month.

Michael Ancram, the party's foreign affairs spokesperson, said he had
learned from sources in Zimbabwe that Mugabe - who is accused by opponents
of widespread human rights abuses - plans to attend a meeting of fellow
African leaders organized by the EU's Italian presidency.

The African Caribbean Pacific-EU meeting is scheduled for October 11 to 15.

In a letter to Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, Ancram said: "Why have you not
made clear that the Zimbabwean regime will not be welcome?

"We were all appalled at the sickening sight of Mugabe shaking hands with
(French President)Jacques Chirac in Paris earlier this year. Britain must
use its influence to ensure that the EU never again rolls out the red carpet
for Mugabe," Ancram wrote.

There was no immediate comment from the foreign office.

Opposition attempts to force Mugabe out of office have met with a swift and
violent crackdown.

The opposition blames Mugabe for sinking the country into political and
economic ruin. There are shortages of food, medicine, fuel, and currency,
and annual inflation rose to a record 426 percent in August. - Sapa-AP

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      Mugabe urges opponents to keep disputes 'in house'

      By Stella Mapenzauswa
      5:31 a.m. September 24, 2003

      HARARE – Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe extended a rare hand of
friendship to the main opposition party on Wednesday, saying it was free to
disagree with his rule but should not co-opt former colonial power Britain
into the debate.

      Mugabe has repeatedly denounced the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), which poses the greatest challenge to his 23-year grip on power, as
puppets of Britain and other Western countries keen to see him ousted over
controversial land reforms.

      But on Wednesday an unusually jovial Mugabe welcomed MDC members to
the state funeral of late Vice President Simon Muzenda and said he accepted
there would be disagreements between the two parties.

      "To our friends from the MDC who are here, we say you are welcome. You
are Zimbabweans. You eat the sadza (staple maize meal porridge) we eat. We
are sons of the soil together, and sons of the soil should...not rise
against each other," Mugabe said to applause from thousands of mourners.

      "True, there will be differences just like I would have arguments with
a younger brother. But we should keep the arguments within our house, not in
(British Prime Minister Tony) Blair's house. Outsiders must not see evidence
of differences between us," he added in the local Shona language.

      The MDC says controversial government policies, including its seizure
of white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to landless blacks, have
plunged what was once one of Africa's thriving economies into turmoil.

      Critics say the programme has mainly benefited senior officials from
the government and Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party.

      The southern African country is grappling with acute shortages of
food, fuel, foreign currency and local banknotes while the unemployment rate
is above 70 percent and inflation is nearing 430 percent.

      MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who faces charges of plotting to
assassinate Mugabe, is challenging the veteran leader's re-election last
year in a poll both the opposition and several Western powers say was
rigged. Mugabe insists he won fairly.

      On Wednesday, Mugabe took another swipe at former white farmers
affected by the land reforms, accusing them of lobbying for a European Union
ban on Zimbabwe beef exports. He said they were free to leave the country in
search of "Rhodesia," a reference to Zimbabwe's colonial name under white
minority rule.

      Mugabe denies charges of mismanagement levied against him, and argues
that his local and foreign opponents have sabotaged Zimbabwe's economy in
retaliation for the land seizures.

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Resettled Farmers Encounter Fallout From Economic Meltdown

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

September 24, 2003
Posted to the web September 24, 2003


The prospects for agricultural revival in Zimbabwe in the new farming season
have been thrown into doubt following reports that a parastatal charged with
implementing the tillage programme among resettled subsistence farmers, is
facing serious problems including the poor state of mechanised and other
farming implements and a chronic shortage of fuel.

District Development Fund (DDF) officials said more than half the tillage
fleet of tractors was in a state of disrepair due to the shortage of spare
parts, a situation which worsened early this year when Tanaka Power, a
Harare-based agricultural equipment and supplies company, withdrew its
services following DDF's failure to service its debt.

This year's crop farming season, which comes as the country is going through
a multi-faceted social and economic crisis, holds little promise for these
farmers. The DDF has said they will be required to pay Zim $32,000 (US $400)
upfront per hectare tilled, and buy their own fuel at a subsidised rate of
Zim $200 (US 25 cents) per litre.

Although the price is a remarkable climb-down from the current price of Zim
$2,000 (US $2.50) a litre, DDF officials in western Matabeleland province
said the farmers had complained, saying most of them could not afford the

"The situation in the tillage sections throughout the country is very bad.
It would be a dangerous gamble for farmers to look to the DDF, because the
tractors are in a state of disrepair. If they insist, they will find that
the few that are in working order have no fuel, which they will have to buy
themselves," said an official who refused to be named.

"Besides the impossibility of villagers securing fuel without government
help, the high cost of tillage charges can only be met by established,
highly productive commercial farmers, as opposed to those coming from a
subsistence background. Disc ploughs are also in short supply, while the few
that are there also need to be replaced or somehow repaired - so the DDF is
not ready for the tillage task and government is aware of that."

He said the DDF's plight worsened early this year when a Harare agricultural
equipment and spares distributor withdrew from a service and equipment
spares supply contract, citing the parastatal's failure to pay for services
rendered in last year's farming season.

"The company said it was failing to cope with the increasing ... [quantity]
of equipment requiring service as the parastatal's debt soared, so they
turned back all the DDF equipment. The situation, as it prevails now, is
that even if the farmers manage to pay, they will not get the service. So
failure by the farmers to pay would be a blessing in disguise for the DDF,
because it has no capacity to deliver tillage services at the moment," he

He added that under normal conditions, the DDF should have at least seven
tractors assigned to tillage per district, but some districts still did not
have any. "The highest number you can find working in the districts in
Matabeleland will be two, but they also do not have fuel and the tillage
programme has not started."

Farmers are required to organise themselves into groups and approach the
Agricultural Rural Extension Services (AREX), which would in turn visit them
individually to assess the hectarage they want tilled, and then calculate
the amount and cost of the fuel required.

AREX is charged with procuring the fuel, while the local rural district
council is required to provide fuel storage facilities in the area where the
tractors would be working.

Given the new maize seed prices announced by the government last week, and
the overall cost of tillage, a farmer has to fork out a total of $Zim
133,000 (US $166) to till and plant one hectare of farmland.

A 10 kg bag of seed maize, enough for 1 hectare, now costs Zim $21,000 (US
$26), it takes Zim $80,000 (US $100) to fill the fuel tank of a tractor, and
the cost of tillage will stand at Zim $32,000 (US $40).

The DDF Director of Operations declined to give details on their state of
preparedness and referred IRIN to the DDF Director-General, who was not
immediately available for comment.

The managing director (MD) of Tanaka Power refused to expand on the
circumstances surrounding the withdrawal of their contract with DDF, and
referred IRIN back to the DDF. "This is a government contract and such
issues are sensitive. DDF would be the best people to discuss that with."

The government announced new maize seed prices, which were roundly condemned
as unaffordable to farmers, following a submission to parliament by seed
companies citing the low government-controlled prices as one of the major
factors that could threaten their viability and, therefore, the
sustainability of seed supplies in the new season.

In the past two weeks the majority of stakeholders in the farm inputs and
other agro-supplies sectors have pointed out that the combination of factors
making up the Zimbabwean crisis would most likely scuttle any effort at
agricultural revival, unless government acts to address the economic
meltdown in the country.

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24 September 2003


For Further Information Please Contact:


Nkanyiso Maqeda, MDC Director of Information: 0263 91 248 570

Grace Kwinjeh, MDC EU Representative: 0032 494 181 621

James Littleton: 00 27 727 310 554





“On behalf of the national executive committee of the MDC, the national council, our Members of Parliament and all our supporters, I wish to extend my heartfelt condolences to you, Amai Muzenda, the Muzenda family and the people of Zimbabwe over the loss of a humble nationalist, a father and a veteran politician,” MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai (22 September)



“Yesterday a statement was released by SAPA alleging that an agreement had been signed between Zanu PF and the MDC, providing for the drafting of a new constitution that would pave the way for a transitional government…The story carried by SAPA is therefore entirely false, and should be dismissed with the contempt that it deserves,” said Paul Themba Nyathi, MDC Secretary for Information and Publicity (23 September)



“The move by the illegitimate regime Mugabe to shut down The Daily News is not only a violent blow to freedom, but a confirmation of the lawlessness of the regime…In light of this anti-democratic move, those calling for Zimbabwe’s suspension from the Commonwealth to be lifted, and for other punitive measures to be rescinded, must now think again. It is morally reprehensible and woefully misguided to rehabilitate the Mugabe regime into the community of nations,” said Paul Themba Nyathi (13 September)



“For the MDC and for the majority of ordinary Zimbabweans, our beloved country is a far cry from being a 'real democracy'. Contrary to the thinking of Mr Mudenge and his Zanu PF colleagues a 'real democracy' is not characterised by violent youth militias, anti-democratic legislation, violent attacks on opposition legislators and supporters, a politicised police force and a judiciary which regularly abdicates its non-partisan role and acts on behalf of the ruling party,” said Paul Themba Nyathi (12 September)









The draconian and anti-democratic move by the Mugabe regime to close the independent Daily News has been well documented over the past ten days. Yet again we witnessed police refusal to obey a court order and the contempt with which the regime regards freedom of expression, the rule of law and adherence to due process. The forced closure of the Daily News denies the people their democratic right to information, their right to the truth, and their right to express and read alternative perspectives. In the absence of a credible alternative the people will now be subjected to the propaganda and lies that emanate from the state media on a daily basis.


The continuous assault on the independent media leaves the recent comment by Zimbabwe’s Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge that Zimbabwe is a ‘true democracy’ open to ridicule. The notion that a vibrant free press is an essential ingredient of a functioning democracy is clearly anathema to Mr Mudenge.


What has become clear over the past ten days is that the Mugabe regime’s desire to strip Zimbabweans of their basic and hard earned freedoms shows no signs of abatement. It makes a mockery of promises given by Mugabe last year that he intended to dilute draconian pieces of legislation that infringed upon press freedom. Unable to tolerate dissent, the regime has been waiting for an opportunity to exploit powers provide for under the anti-democratic Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act to close down the Daily News.


The closure of the Daily News is not only a blow to press freedom it also represents a further contraction of Zimbabwe’s narrow democratic space. This sinister development has justifiably provoked international dismay and anger and provides compelling grounds for strengthening and broadening the existing targeted measures that are in place against senior members and close supporters of the regime. It is hoped that pressure is brought to bear that facilitates the reopening of the Daily News; in its absence the suffering of the people of Zimbabwe is likely to go unnoticed by a large proportion of the outside world, a factor that has no doubt not been lost on the more extreme elements within the Mugabe regime. 





Interim Chair of the African Editors’ Forum, Mathatma Tsedu said: “The Africa Editors’ Forum condemns this high handed measure by the Zimbabwean government…We further call on all African governments who have committed themselves to free speech in terms of the African Union charter to voice their displeasure at the action taken by the Zimbabwean government.”


The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) condemned the closure and expressed solidarity with the Daily News and with the ‘millions of Zimbabweans who depend on the publication for independent information’.


The Commonwealth slammed the closure as ‘a major attack on the freedom of the press’.


The Zimbabwe chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) said, “The closure robs the country of one of the few alternative voices in an increasingly restricted space where Zimbabweans can freely express themselves.”


The SA Sunday Times observed: “If freedom of expression and of the media are a vital barometer of the health of a nation, Zimbabwe is very ill indeed.”







Political Violence/Intimidation


A recent report published by ‘The solidarity Peace Trust’ [1] provides an informed and disturbing insight into the activities of the notorious youth militias that have been trained and assiduously deployed by the Mugabe regime over the past two years. The in-depth report confirms the central role of these violent militias in advancing Zanu PF’s sinister political agenda. It illustrates the role played by the militias in the areas of voter intimidation, political violence and food aid manipulation and underlines the deliberate strategy of the Mugabe regime to corrupt the minds of the nation’s youth and turn them into violent defenders of a corrupt and tyrannical regime.




“The youth militias so created are used as instruments of the ruling party, to maintain their hold on power by whatever means necessary, including torture, rape, murder and arson. Having been thoroughly brain-washed, the youth militias are deployed to carry out whatever instructions they receive from their political commissars, on the understanding that they will never be called to account by this regime for any of their deeds.”




“I had to beat them because they were selling their carvings by the roadside. They were attracting whites by doing this. As a result, they need to be beaten up so that they stop that. It was said that such people that have links with whites are MDC supporters. So they needed a beating so they could be stopped once and for all.”








At its recent national congress, COSATU stated that it would lobby the South African government to pressure their Zimbabwe counterparts to accede to trade union demands for democracy and freedom of the press.


“We will send a fact finding mission, comprising all affiliate representatives, to Zimbabwe to gain at first hand information about what is really taking place there…we also support the call of the international community for free political activity, the repeal of the draconian laws that limit freedom of speech and free political activity, and the restoration of the rule of law in Zimbabwe,”  said COSATU President Willy Madisha



MDC Diplomatic Offensive

During the past three weeks MDC Chairman, Isaac Matongo and MDC Secretary General, Professor Welshman Ncube, have made representations to the Presidents of Malawi, Tanzania and Mozambique to talk about the crisis in Zimbabwe.


Professor Ncube has also recently met with ANC Secretary-General, Kgalema Motlanthe.




“Zimbabwe was suspended from the Club [Commonwealth] last year after Mr Mugabe was re-elected amid allegations of widespread vote rigging and human rights abuses. Nothing has changed in Zimbabwe since. If anything, the recent assaults on media freedom and all other oppressive behaviour of the Mugabe regime plainly show that things have actually taken a turn for the worse…The entire world, Africa included, is trying to rid itself of inflexible, repressive dinosaurs of Mugabe’s sort, and siding with the man for spurious reasons just won’t do” – Comment, The Daily Nation (Kenya), 18 September.






Inflation in Zimbabwe reached a record high of 426.6% for the year up to the end of August, according to figures published by the regime’s Central Statistical Office last Monday. The figures released revealed that household maintenance costs were up 39%, bread and cereals were up 30.4% whilst the cost of meat increased by 24%. Over the past 12 months the CSO figure confirmed that cooking oil had gone up 759% and public transport by 460%.


It is important to note however, that these figures are at best conservative and conceal the real picture. As most basic commodities are now only available on the black market the inflation rate for these goods is much higher than the official statistics suggest. The unprecedented and continuous price inflation that is afflicting the lives of most ordinary Zimbabweans is indicative of the systematic mismanagement of the economy by the Mugabe regime. It is clear that they have no policy solutions to tackle the economic crisis.


Zimbabwe’s tobacco crop, traditionally the country’s biggest source of foreign currency, is projected to decline to a mere 55 million kgs, a decrease of 45.5% compared to this year’s 80 million kgs.



Zimbabwe’s major fertiliser and seed companies have warned that they will not be able to meet the demand for seed for this year’s farming season that begins next month unless the Mugabe regime provides urgent solutions to the shortage of foreign currency, raw materials and alternatives to price controls.


Zimbabwe’s external debt has spiralled to US$1.6 billion. The arrears, which stood at US$1.3 billion I December, surged to US$1.6 billion by the end of June.




General News


Mudede Appeal Fails

Ø      The High Court recently dismissed, with costs, an application by Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede for the court to rescind a ruling compelling him to move to Harare electoral material from fraudulent March 2002 Presidential Election. High Court Judge Moses Chinhengo said that Mudede had a statutory obligation to move the papers from the constituencies.


Land Report

Ø      A recently published government report into Zimbabwe’s controversial land reform programme has underlined that scale of corruption that has taken place. The report revealed the extent to which leading Zanu PF officials and close associates of the regime had seized a number of farms for themselves at the expense of those suffering from genuine land hunger.


Mugabe responded to the report by demanding that those who had taken more than one farm must surrender their extra farms to the state. A month after the expiry of the two-week deadline set by Mugabe only one politician has handed back his extra farms to the state.




[1] The Solidarity Peace Trust consists of church leaders of Southern Africa and is dedicated to promoting the rights of victims of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. The Trust was founded in 2003

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Comment from ZWNEWS, 24 September

They can't hide the evidence

By Michael Hartnack

Zimbabwe's state-run daily newspaper The Herald celebrated the suppression
of the privately-owned Daily News by increasing its price from Zimbabwe $300
to $500, despite years of plummeting readership. For the first time since
1999, the Herald's publishers, Zimbabwe Newspapers, are back with a monopoly
over the market for dailies, thanks to the September 12 forced closure of
the Daily News. From a circulation topping 130 000 a morning in the 1980s,
the Herald is now down to 45 000, according to advertising industry sources,
while the Daily News last year managed 120 000 print runs before the
shortage of cash and newsprint caused cutbacks. Sam Sipepa Nkomo, chief
executive of Associated Newspapers Zimbabwe which published the Daily News,
said when police moved in on Sept. 12 the paper was publishing 70 000 a
morning, reaching a 940 000 readership through many poor families sharing
copies. The Daily News overtook the century-old Herald despite the January
2001 blowing up of its presses in a military-style operation, and thugs of
Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF party placing informal bans on its
circulation in many rural areas. They have frequently beaten vendors and
seized copies while police looked on. The Daily News lured profitable
classified advertising where rival Modus publications' Daily Gazette failed
in the early 1990s (burdening Modus with a $40 million loss). Many firms and
individuals refused to place business with Zimpapers as it became filled
with slavish Zanu PF propaganda.

The Sept. 23 issue of The Herald was largely devoted to funeral arrangements
for Mugabe's vice president, Simon Muzenda. With no Daily News, Zimbabweans
will have to wait until weeklies are published to read resolutions highly
critical of Mugabe's regime, passed at the South African trade union
(COSATU) congress in Midrand on Sept. 22. COSATU President Willy Madisha
announced it would send a delegation to Zimbabwe and pressure President
Thabo Mbeki for policy change. COSATU also endorsed demands by the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trades Unions for an interim government, a new democratic
constitution, restoration of the rule of law, and repeal of repressive
legislation such as the draconian press law, the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act. The Herald reported none of this. The Herald has
also ignored international jurists' censure of the Supreme Court for its
Sept. 11 ruling the Daily News should have registered under the Access to
Information Act before it has the right to challenge the Act as an
infringement of constitutional rights of free expression. Jurists said the
judges, newly appointed by Mugabe to replace a formerly independent-minded
bench, undermined their credibility with a decision based on case law not
cited by the Daily News or the regime. The judges had become extra counsel
for the state, critics alleged, giving Daily News' lawyers no chance to
comment on the fresh case law they raised. "Had we been challenging the
death penalty we would have had to hang first and appeal from hell," said
Daily News legal adviser Gugulethu Moyo.

The day after the ruling, police pounced on 100 computers, chasing staff
from the ANZ building, and warning of prosecution for "publishing
illegally". Five directors have been charged, and face possible two-year
jail terms. The company obtained an injunction from Judge Yunis Omerjee for
return of its equipment and resumption of publication, pending registration
with the Media and Information Commission required by the Supreme Court.
Police openly defied the judge’s order, keeping ANZ's offices sealed. They
pleaded lack of transport to return the seized computers and said officers
who knew where they were stored, and had the keys, had gone on leave. The
computers were miraculously discovered the following day when Media
Commission chairman Tafataona Mahoso announced the ANZ registration
application had been considered and rejected - in record time. He claimed
ANZ had missed the 2003 deadline. The French-based Rapporteurs Sans
Frontiers slated Mahoso's speedy decision as conspiracy with the regime to
deprive Zimbabweans of alternative news sources. Secretary-general Robert
Renard noted that in the past it had taken months for Mahoso to announce
decisions. ANZ has now lodged a second appeal to the Supreme Court, against
Mahoso's refusal of registration, while Mahoso is seeking a ruling the Daily
News must stay off the streets until the registration appeal it heard. The
jobs of 300 members of staff hang in the balance, with the company having to
meet overheads while no revenues come in.

Brian Raftopoulos of the Crisis Coalition, a grouping of church and civic
organisations, said: "Zimbabweans are left with only the virulent propaganda
disseminated by the state media. A key part of the Mugabe regime's strategy
is to silence dissent and criticism of its abuse of power." Professor Anton
Harber of Wits University contrasted the backing South Africa's independent
press got under apartheid, with Mbeki's "quiet diplomacy" reponse to
Mugabe's onslaught. The Movement for Democratic Change has called for
advertisers and readers to boycott the state media until the Daily News is
allowed to resume publication. However, sources requesting anonymity suggest
Zimbabweans should now turn to "underground newspapers" as South Africans
did during apartheid. New legislation allows the authorities to impose
sweeping controls on operators of electronic services but experts believe it
might be impossible for them to prevent fax as well as e-mail transmission
of uncensored news. Wealthier Zimbabweans buy satellite dishes and their
poorer countrymen tune to foreign radio stations. But the ordeal of trying
to make ends meet tells them a daily story of chronic misgovernance that
Mugabe cannot hide from anyone.

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Cape Argus

      Mbeki 'won't insist on Mugabe invite'
      September 24, 2003

      South Africa has defused a potential showdown at December's
Commonwealth summit by accepting that Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe
will not be invited, diplomatic and official sources said yesterday.

      The political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe threatened to dominate
the summit in Abuja, Nigeria.

      But the sources said President Thabo Mbeki would not make a stand over
the issue of Zimbabwe's participation, depriving Mugabe of his only powerful

      Host Nigeria has already said Mugabe will not receive an invitation
and Mbeki has avoided a confrontation with his friend and ally, Nigerian
President Olusegun Obasanjo.

      "We will not oppose Nigeria's decision not to invite Mugabe. We accept
that he will not be there," one senior South African official said.

      Only last week Mbeki told parliament that technically Zimbabwe was no
longer suspended from the Commonwealth and therefore was entitled to attend
the summit.

      The Commonwealth secretariat and Britain and Australia insist Zimbabwe
is still suspended, 18 months after he was declared the victor in national
elections considered rigged by observers. - Reuters

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Media watchdog fights Zim law
24/09/2003 20:59  - (SA)

Harare - The Zimbabwe branch of a regional media advocacy group said on
Wednesday it had filed a court application challenging the legality of the
state-appointed Media and Information Commission (MIC) here.

The Media Institute of Southern Africa - Zimbabwe (Misa-Zimbabwe) said it
had filed late on Tuesday the application against the commission, which
licences media in the southern African country.

Its application also seeks to have the requirement of an operating licence
declared unconstitutional.

The move comes amid intense international and local concern over a
government crackdown on Zimbabwe's last independent daily, which was shut
earlier this month over the licencing issue.

Police were preparing to charge about 45 journalists of the Daily News for
working without accreditation, and the paper's owners were charged on Monday
for not having an operating permit.

Misa-Zimbabwe has also asked in its court application whether, as an
advocacy body, it is also obliged to register with the commission.

Are we mass media?

"We asking the High Court to determine whether we are a mass media house or
not. We want it to determine our character," group chairperson Reyhana
Master-Smith told AFP.

Misa is an arm of a regional non-governmental organisation promoting media
pluralism and independence which has branches in all southern African

Misa believes the Media and Information Commission "is not duly constituted
in terms of... the Act (law) and as such it cannot exercise any of the
functions as stipulated" by the law.

The commission licences media services and journalists who operate in the
country under the media law which came into effect last year shortly after
President Robert Mugabe was re-elected to office in disputed polls.

The law states that at least three of the maximum seven MIC board members
should be nominated by an association of journalists and an association of
media houses.

Misa argues that neither an association of journalists nor any of the media
houses had forwarded any names for the commission.

"The board is therefore improperly and unlawfully constituted rendering any
purported exercise of the functions and powers conferred upon... (it) null
and void," the advocacy group said.

The requirement for media organisations to register "places an undue
restriction on the free flow of information by requiring organisations to
register with a politically compromised body before disseminating
information", it charged.

Meantime the Daily News, which has been closed for 12 days after the Supreme
Court ruled it was illegal, has filed applications with the Zimbabwean
courts seeking an overturn of the MIC decision to deny it a licence.

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Zimbabwe Alert Update

Media Institute of Southern Africa (Windhoek)

September 24, 2003
Posted to the web September 24, 2003

Associated Newspapers Group, publishers of the Daily News and the Daily News
on Sunday, yesterday (September 23) filed an application at the
Administrative Court challenging the refusal by the Media and Information
Commission (MIC) to grant them a licence to operate.

MIC chairman Dr Tafataona Mahoso confirmed that the ANZ filed its
application yesterday afternoon. He said a copy of the ANZ application was
served to their office just before the close of business yesterday.

In its application, Dr Mahoso said, ANZ was seeking the court to overturn
the commission's decision not to register them as a media service provider.
The ANZ was claiming that the commission was completely biased, arguing the
decision it took in not granting them a licence was not arrived at on
factual basis. In An interview with the Herald Mahoso dismissed the ANZ
allegations as frivolous and vexatious.

On Monday, September 22, ANZ director of corporate affairs Gugulethu Moyo
was quoted in a Media Institute of Southern Africa-Zimbabwe publication as
saying they would argue at the Administrative Court that the MIC was
improperly constituted as no associations of media houses and journalists
were consulted when it was appointed. According to the Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act, associations of media houses and journalists
nominate three people to sit in the MIC, she said.

In a related development the Zimbabwe chapter of the Media Institute of
Southern Africa (MISA-Zimbabwe) yesterday filed an application at the High
Court challenging certain sections of AIPPA. The director of the Civil
Division in the Attorney General's Office, Loyce Matanda-Moyo, confirmed
that MISA-Zimbabwe lodged the application.

Matanda-Moyo said MISA-Zimbabwe was claiming that it was not covered under
AIPPA and was therefore not compelled to register with MIC. However, Dr
Mahoso described the court action by MISA-Zimbabwe as hostile. "MISA has
taken a hostile move. What they should do is simply to apply for
registration and apologise for the delay," said Dr Mahoso.

He said the commission was not hostile to MISA-Zimbabwe but the media house
was placing hostility upon the MIC through its activities, which he said
only helped to antagonise people who were trying to treat them as a neutral


MISA Zimbabwe is a non-governmental organisation and is one of 10 country
offices of the regional MISA organisation. MISA is member-driven network of
national chapters, co-ordinated by a professional regional secretariat which
seeks - through monitoring, training, capacity-building, research and the
distribution of information - to foster free, independent and diverse media
throughout Southern Africa in the service of democracy and development. The
organisation was formed and created by southern African journalists in late

In MISA-Zimbabwe's application to the High Court it requested a Declarator,
thereby asking the High Court to determine whether it is a mass media house
and if it qualifies for registration with the MIC.

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