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

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Zimbabwe's burning ....

This is being written after a week's thinking - whether or not I should
write.  But it is something that has not left my mind for the past week or
so, why ? Because so much damage has been done and seemingly nothing done
about it. Newspaper reports tell us varied reasons for the burning and
evictions, but what of the people ? They are angry now because they have no
homes, but what of the farmers before them - they too have no homes.

We read recently that a woman, who as far as I know, has little knowledge of
farming, has been given a productive farm, her acceptance by way of " I am
entitled to it, I am a Zimbabwean ", and these people are not ? Most of
these people, including the farm workers, have more knowledge of farming in
this country, than a city dweller would have in their baby finger, but these
are not the people who "are entitled" to the farms, It is those who are in
the political game, and who you know.

There is a verse in the bible that tells us, as you sow, you shall reap,
Galatians 6:7 -9. Our harvest shall reap as we have sown, we plant a bad
seed - we reap a bad harvest, we plant a good seed our harvest shall be
good. So consider then the harvest that shall be gained for people such as

ON Sunday the 12th September we drove through to Harare, I had an
appointment with a dentist. The drive from Kariba to Harare is long, and
normally pleasant. But this day proved an exception. This was a day of
smoke, blackness and soot, stench of burning and amazement. We were stunned,
truthfully I don't think in all the time I have lived in this country I have
seen such severe burning.

Karoi / Chinhoyi, possibly two farms, maybe three ( and I am being generous)
have not been burnt. I gather the firewood farmers have burnt their supplies
now. Before when passing by these farms, we would notice that trees have
been cut down on a huge scale, and firewood was being sold, nearly
everywhere we looked. This would have been due to the fact that paraffin, if
and when you are able to buy it, is no longer a cheap and viable commodity.
This is devastation on a scale I have never seen before now, but this was
before our return trip home on Wednesday the 15th.

We reached the Great Dyke area where the road stretches across three lanes,
we were forced to slow to snail pace, the smoke around us was blinding, we
could not see the sun above us, and the fire had crossed the road, the
burning was on both sides of the road. On exiting this tunnel, we emerged
into strange sunlight, looking behind us, it was black and burning the smoke
and soot rising several metres skyward - farmland no longer.

Coming back on the Wednesday, it was in the afternoon, fairly late but still
daylight. We saw more damage, and people standing on the roadsides with
their possessions, what they had left, elderly people, younger people and
children, age was not an issue here. Most of their homes and holdings were
still smoking, some of these people were trying to round up their animals,
others were watching listlessly. What type of person can burn people out of
house and home and leave them stranded with nothing other than what they can
carry ? No longer a breadwinner, you can see the families gather at the
roadside and wonder what they are to do. The smallholdings they had, the
food they had grown - is no longer.  I recall one woman, and elderly person,
attempting to clean her pots, she was filthy from soot, but you could see
her cheeks were marked from tears, a child sitting on a sack, not watching
anything other than what was in its mind.

How much more destruction and devastation does this country have to watch ?
What will these people do now ? What farms are left that have not been
destroyed and where will the food come to provide for this country ? We have
travelled around Zimbabwe a lot in the past year, from Mutare to Bulawayo,
Kariba to Harare, to Masvingo and what we have seen is nearly all
devastation, burning, fields overgrown with weeds, were crops were planted
the stalks are not destroyed correctly, or the crops were not good. We have
not seen too many farms that are hugely productive. We have seen huts /
homesteads placed as and where, and around the hut a small crop is planted.
It won't even be enough to keep that farmer in food for a season.

We have seen trees burnt, fields, homes - what is next ? How much more will
people accept before they do something ? How much more are they going to
watch ? What is left to burn ? Who gives the right to take what they want at
no consideration to the other ? Who is playing God ?
I wrote this article on the 22nd September, since then I have received
additional information. Those people who were evicted were new farmers
allocated those plots under the Land Redistribution program, now kicked off
and abandoned. There are approximately twelve households still on the
roadside, since last week Wednesday ! To say nothing of the ones not visible
from the road. The media was prevented from filming these incidents.
These people were supporters of the ruling party one wonders what they must
be thinking now. Surely they must have been better off before being
allocated those plots ?
Unfortunately there is no solid proof of what I have said, but what we have
seen and what we have heard, surely this is proof enough.

D 25/9/04
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Zim Online

Sat 25 September 2004

      HARARE - Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) party has warned of a growing "underground" resistance to state
repression which it said was a recipe for disaster.

      Addressing civic society groups on Thursday night, MDC secretary
general, Welshman Ncube said his party will push through popular mass action
for the opening up of closed democratic space and for free and fair
elections next year.

      But the opposition leader also ominously warned that Zimbabwe was
turning into "a nation full of underground operations and that is a recipe
for disaster for the regime."

      Ncube said dialogue between the opposition party and the ruling ZANU
PF party had failed. He said a meeting between MDC officials and South
Africa's President Thabo Mbeki was not about arranging talks between ZANU PF
and the MDC but was merely to brief Mbeki on the Zimbabwean opposition's
decision to boycott elections next year.

      He said: "(The meeting with Mbeki) was not about dialogue with ZANU
PF. We were only telling him that the region has push to Mugabe to adopt
Southern African Development Community (SADC) (electoral) guidelines in
full. We never talked about dialogue and we will not as that will not bear

      The MDC was also going to meet SADC chairman, Mauritian Prime
Minister, Paul Berenger in the "next few weeks" to press him to ensure the
region pushed Harare to fully implement a regional protocol on free and fair

      SADC leaders, including Mugabe, agreed that independent commissions
run elections in the region. Electoral laws and processes must be fair and
transparent while the rule of law and human rights must be upheld during
elections under the SADC electoral norms and standards.

      The government has proposed the establishment of a new Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission which it says will independently run elections.

      But the MDC accuses the government of insincerity pointing out, for
example, that the proposed new commission will lack independence because its
chairman will be appointed by Mugabe.

      The opposition party also says the state's severely restrictive Press
and security laws must be repealed to create conditions conducive to the
holding of truly democratic elections.

      Ncube said while his party was lobbying the region to push for free
and fair elections in Zimbabwe it was also prepared to engage in "other
means of popular struggle (such as) stayaways, mass actions and a final push
until democratic space has been restored."

      Meanwhile Justice Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, told the state-run
Zimbabwe Television on Thursday that the SADC protocol on elections was not
legally binding on Harare.

      He said: "It is not a legal document for Zimbabwe, it is just a
political document or a road map to democracy. After all we are in the
leading pack in SADC in terms of democracy." - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Government seizes company-owned farms
Sat 25 September 2004

      HARARE - The government yesterday gave six companies and estate firms
90 days to give up more than one million hectares of land in a fresh
campaign to seize corporate-owned land.

      The conglomerates were issued with Section 8 Orders, which under the
government's Land Acquisition Act gives management and staff three months to
wind up operations and leave the properties.

      A list published in yesterday's government gazette showed that the
state was compulsorily acquiring subdivision E of Arlington estate,
measuring 530 255 hectares. The land is owned by cement manufacturing giant,
Portland Cement.

      The state also listed for seizure Lot 2 of Saturday Retreat estate,
measuring 22 077 hectares, the remainder of Cerney Township, measuring 46
233 hectares, and New Cennety Township 2, measuring 63,8 hectares.

      The three properties are owned by Crest Breeders, which in turn is
owned by CFI Holdings, a company in which embattled business mogul and
former ZANU PF ally, Mutumwa Mawere, has a major stake.

      The government has in the last three weeks seized Mawere's
multi-million dollar asbestos mines and other ventures after falling out
with the businessman.

      The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed Mashonaland Holdings is set to lose
Eyrecourt farm and Acorn Estates to the state, while the Zimbabwe Tobacco
Association, which brings together the country's mostly white large-scale
tobacco growers will have to give up its 605 809 hectare farm on the
outskirts of Harare.

      Cigarette maker, Rothmans will also have to surrender to the state 100
313 hectares of land in Lochinvar, just outside Harare city centre.

      The government did not give reasons why it was now turning on
corporate-owned farms most of which are productive commercial ventures or
were being reserved for expansion purposes.

      When the government launched its chaotic and often violent programme
to seize white-owned land for redistribution to blacks in 2000, it said it
was not going to take land owned by agro-based companies, plantation and
estate firms and churches.

      The government last month appeared to backtrack on its word when it
seized land owned by Mhangura Copper Mines and another farm owned by Buffalo
Range Properties.

      The government has also issued a Section 8 Order on Mkwasine Estate, a
sugar-growing estate jointly owned by South Africa's Anglo American
Corporation and Tongaat Hullet.

      Other companies that have also lost land to the government in the last
month include Zimbabwe's sole fertiliser manufacturing company, Sable

      The Wattle Company, which produces wattle trees used by Zimbabwe's
sole paper making company, Mutare Board and Paper, to manufacture paper had
some of its plantations also gazetted for acquisition.

      Executives at some of the firms, who did not want to be named, said
the seizure of their land had forced them to scale down operations on the
farms because of uncertainty.

      "Some of the companies have literally closed shop while others are
working out plans to move away to safe warehouses equipment on the farms
some of which was financed through loans," said one executive.

      Under state land acquisition laws, owners are not allowed to remove
equipment from a farm once the government has issued a Section 8 Order on
the property.

      Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe lost billions of dollars worth of equipment
invested at Kondozi Farm in Manicaland province, when the farm was taken
over by the state's Agricultural and Rural Development Authority earlier
this year. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Tourism sector still on downward spiral
Sat 25 September 2004

      HARARE - Zimbabwe's tourism industry continued on a downward spiral
with about 500 000 less arrivals in the first half of this year compared to
the same period last year, according to figures released by the Zimbabwe
Tourism Authority yesterday.

      Reflecting the decline in every other sector of the economy, the
industry recorded a drop to 827 245 visitors from January to June this year
compared to 1 303 901 visitors in the same period last year, the authority

      Political violence, the state's failure to uphold the rule of law,
shortages of fuel and food have been cited as the key factors driving
foreign visitors away from Zimbabwe.

      Industry sources told ZimOnline that more tourists fearing violence
were likely to shun the country in even greater numbers in the next six
months as the country prepares for a critical general election in March
2005. Political violence is at its worst in the country towards elections.

      Before the country's political and economic crisis worsened three
years ago, tourism was one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy.

      According to the authority's figures the United States and Britain
contributed more visitors to Zimbabwe than any other country in the last six
months. There were 23 300 visitors from the US and 19 892 visitors from

      China, courted by Harare as a possible replacement for the traditional
source markets the US and Britain, had 11 584 of its nationals visiting
Zimbabwe. Japan and Australia contributed 9 479 and 9 653 visitors
respectively. Zimonline

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Zim Online

HIV positive residents cry foul over stoppage of free anti-retroviral drugs
Sat 25 September 2004

      BULAWAYO - Nonjabulo Sithole (not her real name) is a 38-year old
widow who has been living positively with HIV for the past three years.

      In April this year, her prospects of improved health were boosted when
she was selected to be among the first 50 Bulawayo residents to receive free

      The patients were to receive the life-prolonging drugs free from the
state's Mpilo Central Hospital each month under a joint programme run by the
Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, Doctors Without Borders (MSF Spain)
and the Centre for Disease Control Atlanta.

      Now Sithole's hopes have been dashed. Government wants Sithole and
about 500 other residents who have joined the programme to pay for their
monthly supply of medicines.

      Dube says she was advised of the need to pay during a visit to the
clinic last week. She said she was advised to bring Z$50 000 to pay for the
drugs on her next visit to the hospital, money Sithole says she does not

      She told ZimOnline this week: "I have six children and I pay $50 000
for the one room I rent in Luveve (a poor suburb in the city). Each month I
struggle to raise the money for rent. Where will I get the money for the

      The Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr David Parirenyatwa has
said people will have to pay a subsidised fee of $50 000 for the drugs each

      The drug fee, though heavily subsidized by the state and donors is
still far too high for the average Zimbabwean worker who takes home about
$300 000 per month, which is less than half the Z$1 000 000 an average
family of five requires per month.

      But Sithole and other AIDS patients here in Bulawayo say their case is
even made worse by the fact that when the government first encouraged them
to take up the free drugs, it promised they would remain on the free course
for ever.

      "These people are playing with our lives," said an irate Agnes Dladla
(not her real name.) She added: "When they told me I have to take the drugs
for life, I asked the doctor whether they would be able to give me the drugs
for free for the rest of my life and they said yes, and now they are

      A widow, who lives with her four children in Bulawayo's Entumbane
suburb, Dladla said she was already struggling to meet her bills with a
meager Z$60 000 pension her late husband left her.

      Very much aware from the various counseling sessions she received from
the government and donor groups that once on an ARV course one must never
stop, Dladla now says she wishes she had never accepted the government offer
for free drugs in the first place.

      Parirenyatwa could not be reached to explain how the women had been
put on ARVs without establishing if they would be able to sustain the
treatment with their own resources once the government pulled out.

      But whatever might have happened, one thing is certain - unless
government reverses its decision that recipients of ARVs pay, then the poor
like Sithole and Dladla will drop out of the treatment. - ZimOnline

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The Scotsman

Fair game? Africa tries to turn back clock


OVER centuries they were hunted to the brink of extinction in the big game
safaris of southern Africa. Now the lion, elephant, leopard and the
rhinoceros are at risk again as impoverished states try to increase hunting
quotas and lift the ban on the ivory trade.

Proposals to allow big game hunters to kill more of Africa's wildlife will
be debated at a meeting about endangered species in Thailand this week.

Southern African countries want to put game trophies and ivory back on to
the world market and they will be pushing to increase quotas at the
Convention on International Trade of Endangered Special (CITES).

Animal conservation groups have condemned the moves and will lobby the 166
signatory countries of the CITES treaty, claiming that lifting the ban on
ivory will encourage more poaching and endanger the species further.

Of particular concern to Africa at the meeting in Bangkok from October 2 to
14, are proposals involving four of the so-called 'Big Five', the lion,
elephant, leopard and the rhinoceros. There are no calls for changes in
quotas for the fifth endangered animal - the buffalo.

The CITES meeting, which is held every second or third year, comes a year
after the World Parks Congress held in South Africa at which the group
Conservation International warned of the possible extinction of hundreds of
species in the next 10 to 20 years. It said that if an extra 2.6% of the
world's land area was set aside for conservation, it would help stop the
imminent extinction of two-thirds of species.

South Africa and Namibia want to be allowed to export as hunting trophies
five and 10 Black Rhinoceros respectively. It has for many years been
forbidden to hunt these animals. Namibia wants to increase its quota for
leopard trophy hunting from 100 to 250 and South Africa from 75 to 150. The
two southern African countries also want amendments to regulations on trade
in elephant ivory.

A range of animal conservation groups which have observer status at the
meeting will lobby member governments on the various proposals. The
International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) for example, will urge member
states to reject the proposals by South Africa and Namibia.

"It is our moral obligation to ensure that we go out of our way to protect
these animals," said Jason Bell-Leask, IFAW's Southern Africa director who
will be joining 14 other IFAW officials from around the world at the meeting
to persuade government representatives to adopt measures to conserve various
animal species. "We are losing species at a rate of knots," he told Scotland
on Sunday.

IFAW will support Kenya's efforts to propose minimum conditions for the
export of registered stocks of ivory and to have a 20-year moratorium on all
ivory trade. The east African country will also propose stricter methods for
combating illegal trade in ivory and to control internal markets.

South Africa and Namibia seek amendments to regulations on trade in ivory
from elephant tusks which CITES banned in 1989. In 1997 and 2002, however,
it allowed the one-off sales from ivory stockpiles in South Africa, Botswana
and Namibia in recognition of the southern African region's good management
of elephant populations. These sales have been postponed until controls are
put in place in both importing and exporting countries.

Namibia wants to be able to export two tonnes a year of raw ivory, ivory
products and goods made from elephant leather and hair. It proposes that
these materials would come from elephants that have died naturally or those
culled in conservation programmes. South Africa is asking CITES to allow it
to trade for commercial purposes in products made from elephant hair and

IFAW, which is concerned that acceding to the requests will dramatically
increase poaching, will recommend that delegates reject both proposals.
Bell-Leask noted that there are "very, very active" domestic markets for
ivory in certain African countries, including those which do not have any
elephants. This means that those markets are being supplied by illegal
sources. "We see figures and reports coming out of various institutions that
illegal trade in wildlife is second to drugs and weapons," he said.

It is estimated that 97.6% of the world's black rhinoceros population is in
South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Kenya. The species is classified as
"critically endangered" by the World Conservation Union.

Both South Africa and Namibia have shown increases in numbers of the black
rhinoceros between 1980 and 2001 and both display high levels of investment
in conservation programmes and monitoring and law enforcement.

Swaziland wants a permit to export both live and trophy white rhinoceroses,
a species which was re-established in the southern African kingdom in 1965
after having become extinct. It claims that its current population of 61 is
approaching its carrying capacity and that it will plough back the earnings
into rhinoceros conservation. IFAW opposes this proposal.

The IFAW delegation will, however, support Kenya, which is asking for
increased protection of the African lion which it maintains is at risk from
civil unrest, trophy hunting, being poisoned or shot by farmers, the illegal
trade in body parts and the loss or destruction of its habitat. The lion has
disappeared from northern Africa and about 43% of the population occurs in
Tanzania, Botswana and South Africa. The species is further under threat
from diseases, including feline Aids, bovine tuberculosis and canine

Ireland, on behalf of the European Union, will propose various resolutions
to protect the great apes which are on the edge of extinction particularly
due to the increase of the trade in 'bushmeat'. Bushmeat is a common term
for the meat derived from animals such as apes, elephants and crocodiles.
IFAW supports Ireland's draft resolutions on the strengthening of

The great apes are further threatened by the destruction of their habitat by
logging and the conversion of land to agricultural use and the spread of the
Ebola virus.

While observer groups cannot vote at the CITES meeting, they suggest that
concerned members of the public lobby their own governments through
letter-writing campaigns.

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From The Financial Mail (SA), 17 September

For Zimbabwe, time to listen

Morgan Tsvangirai sees Mozambique's Joaquim Chissano as an acceptable broker
of talks with Robert Mugabe

By Jenny Cargill

Returning to my country of exile, Zimbabwe, after 15 years, the words of
Beyers Naudé resonated. I was there to show our film, Memories of Rain, in
which he participated. I had heard his comments many times before, but only
then did I feel the full impact of his profundity: "I deliberately set aside
time to listen . . ." A couple of days later he died, and I reflected on
what his world view means to the unfolding crisis across our border. First,
I have no doubt, Beyers Naudé would have listened to all parties, and
second, his commitment to justice, peace and tolerance would have
underpinned his understanding of Zimbabwe and the basis on which to find a
solution. But it is just this that appears absent from the Zimbabwe
discourse. The debate has been driven by gut reaction, with Robert Mugabe
resurrecting the sentiments of sovereignty, liberation politics and
longstanding colonial grievances. By so doing, he has created inertia in the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) in dealing with the crisis

The impression therefore is one of African governments being prepared to
watch the breakdown of the rule of law and the free fall of an economy
without critical or principled engagement. As a result, Zimbabwe's
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) appears isolated from the
African political arena. The MDC claims a paid-up membership of 2,6m and
control of nearly all the urban councils (which is being stripped away by
administrative fiat). Its members are harassed, detained and tortured. Laws
are being passed to curtail the operations of "troublesome" NGOs. I had the
opportunity to discuss with MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai why it is so
difficult for his party to get an adequate hearing among governments of the
region. After all, there is greater political synergy between the ANC and
the MDC than between the ANC and Zanu PF. Tsvangirai talks of having to
stand by universal principles of democracy and human rights if Africa wants
to be respected globally. The defensive citing by many states of Africa's
right to choose its own way has resulted in Africa positioning itself
according to the "lowest common denominator", Tsvangirai says. SA's
political construct, however, is based on the same universal principles that
Tsvangirai refers to, and which are absent under Zanu.

The rule of law and justice must be the first requirement of normalising
Zimbabwe, Tsvangirai says. This too was a key element of SA's political
transformation. The MDC heads a broad alliance of opposition groups. Yet
such diverse support has triggered condemnation of the MDC for being
foreign- and/or white-controlled. Too often the crisis is dismissed as a
justified assault on white economic dominance. Yet the struggle against
apartheid rested on a similar broad alliance, rooted in nonracialism. A
crucial difference between the MDC and the ANC is the MDC's policy of
nonviolence to effect change. Tsvangirai says it is uncompromisingly
committed to civic rather than violent action. The MDC has earned little
credit for this. SA's policy of "quiet diplomacy" is said to be in
recognition of the need to steer Zimbabwe clear of a path of violent
political change. But in the absence of any visible results, the continuance
of the policy has favoured Mugabe only, allowing for an escalation in state

The SADC electoral charter offers a lever for change through peaceful means.
However, it is difficult to imagine this taking place without a peace
broker. SA and Thabo Mbeki tend to be seen as the obvious choice, but
Tsvangirai disagrees. The person has to be acceptable to both sides as an
honest broker, he says. The SADC leadership troika offers possibilities: new
chairman Paul Berenger of Mauritius has set a different tone, backed by
Botswana's Festus Mogae. But it is unlikely that either would secure
Mugabe's support. The third, Mozambique's Joaquim Chissano, probably would.
Tsvangirai believes they could work with him. With parliamentary elections
due next March, there is a renewed focus on Zimbabwe, and there will be a
repositioning of political forces. But it is difficult to imagine that
repositioning resulting in a positive outcome without a direct intervention
to broker a more stable environment. That could come from SADC, but more
likely from individual leaders. However such intervention manifests itself,
it would be worth bearing in mind Naudé's legacy: the importance of creating
the space to listen, ensuring that expectations and fears are heard and
elevating principles rather than political expediency to guide solutions.

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From The Daily Mail (UK), 25 September

England plan to leave stars at home

By Mike Dickson

England's cricket authorities are considering the surprise withdrawal of
several senior players from their controversial one-day tour of Zimbabwe
this autumn. Paceman Steve Harmison has already declared himself unavailable
for the tour and more players may also be absent for a trip which continues
to dog English cricket. As England prepare for today's ICC Champions Trophy
Final against the West Indies, major discussions are still going on behind
the scenes about the make-up of the squad that will travel to southern
Africa. Andrew Flintoff has been widely expected to join Harmison in
refusing to go, but he might now be one of several players stood down as
much for cricketing reasons as anything else. Ashley Giles and Marcus
Trescothick could also be among the group told to save their energies for
the arduous tour of South Africa that follows, which will feature five Test
matches in barely seven weeks. The pair are among those to have agreed -
extremely reluctantly - to tour Zimbabwe, but would be delighted if the
selectors took the decision out of their hands.

Although the Zimbabwe team at the Champions Trophy played above themselves
last week, seeing their obvious weakness first-hand raised questions in some
quarters about whether England would not be better served by giving some
fringe players a taste of international cricket. The issue is likely to have
been discussed when the selectors met this week, but their hands could be
tied by the hierarchy at Lord's. England and Wales Cricket Board chairman
David Morgan is always anxious not to offend the other cricketing nations,
who may not be impressed by an under-strength team travelling to Zimbabwe.
However, the International Cricket Council is now pre-occupied with bigger
issues over touring, such as Australia threatening to pull out of their
upcoming tour against India unless television contract matters are sorted
out to their satisfaction. England are likely to finally announce the
make-up of their Zimbabwe squad early next week.
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The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe

Monday September 13th – Sunday September 19th 2004

Weekly Media Update 2004-37










1. General comment


THE urgent need for additional alternative daily sources of information, including an independent national broadcaster, was reinforced by the government-controlled media’s censorship of the persistent human rights abuses in the country. As a result, those who rely on these media, which have become the main sources of information most readily accessible to Zimbabweans since the closure of The Daily News, are in the dark on such important matters. Only those able to access the private Press and those who are able to listen to independent short wave radio broadcasts would have picked up the continuing intimidation, harassment and assault of the citizenry by suspected ruling party activists and state security agents.

For example, SW Radio Africa (13/9) and Studio 7 (15/9) reported Porta Farm settlers alleging that seven people had died due to teargas smoke during their violent eviction from the farm by government. The settlers also claimed that they had been assaulted by the police, war veterans and suspected ZANU PF supporters. However, their reports lacked comment from the police. Although these stations have previously reported the police as usually hostile towards their reporters who sought comments from them, it is important that they continue to inform their audiences about whether or not they have tried to seek official police comment every time they report such events because failing to do so gives the impression that they are unbalanced in their coverage of such topical issues.


In another related matter, SW Radio Africa (16/9), the Zimbabwe Independent and The Daily Mirror (17/9) reported that hundreds of Little England Farm settlers were left homeless after they were violently evicted from the farm by soldiers and riot police who burnt down their homes. SW Radio Africa quoted the settlers claiming that one person had died during the eviction. However, there was no independent confirmation of this.


Although the private media regularly expose such gross human rights violations, which in most cases are ignored by the government media, their role as effective watchdogs of the authorities’ excesses is often limited by the fact that they are niche market news messengers with vastly smaller audiences than the mainstream government controlled media. Also, the effectiveness of these media as reliable sources of information has been compromised by the country’s repressive media laws, which the authorities have used selectively to arrest and harass journalists. The latest example of this harrassment was the arrest and detention of the Zimbabwe Independent’s Editor, Vincent Kahiya, reporter Augustine Mukaro and the group’s general manager Raphael Khumalo. They were reportedly charged under AIPPA for a story published at the end of July. As a result of such assaults on the public democratic discourse, Zimbabweans have fewer alternative sources of information to assist them obtain an accurate picture of issues affecting their livelihoods.

It is against this background that civic organisations have called on government to restore and protect media diversity to allow the timely free flow of information for the benefit of Zimbabwe’s citizenry.



2. Electoral Reform Proposals


THE government-controlled media’s status as toothless watchdogs of government policies was reconfirmed in the week by their passive coverage of government’s planned electoral reforms ahead of the country’s 2005 general elections. None of them scrutinised the gazetting of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) Bill, which seeks to establish an independent electoral commission that would conduct the elections. Neither did they fully discuss how the commission would relate to other existing government bodies that are also tasked with running the polls such as the Election Directorate, the Registrar General’s Office, the Electoral Supervisory Commission and the recently appointed Delimitation Commission.


The uncritical nature of these media was also exposed by their inability to analyse government’s apparent militarization of the electoral process as demonstrated by the fact that half of the newly appointed four-member Delimitation Commission (DC) have a military background. Rather, the government media simply endorsed these developments as conforming to the SADC Protocol on elections in the region without even carrying a comparative analysis.


More informative analyses only appeared in the private media. They quoted independent observers and opposition leaders highlighting the undemocratic nature of these reforms, which they dismissed as a “smokescreen” meant to give the impression that government was standardising its electoral process according to regional norms. The government media, as demonstrated by the Chronicle (16/9), remained timid. The paper merely reproduced the ZEC Bill in full without subjecting it to analysis. Only The Zimbabwe Independent (17/9) and The Standard (19/9) did.

The Independent, for example, noted that the introduction of the reforms through an Act of Parliament and not constitutional amendments meant that the current discredited bodies that have been running elections would still be in charge. It quoted MDC secretary general, Welshman Ncube, describing the reforms as a “sham” that did not “meet even the most rudimentary standards of democratic elections”. He noted that ZEC  “will only have legal responsibility but no effective control” because “the same old institutions and faces who stand accused of electoral fraud and manipulation will remain in place”.

The Standard (19/9) agreed. It pointed out that Zimbabwe’s current electoral bodies, “widely seen as pro-ZANU PF”, will continue to “to run all elections but reporting to the ZEC, whose chairperson is appointed by President Mugabe”. This would render “ZEC a mere political superstructure”. 


The government media remained indifferent to these issues. Their attitude was further illustrated by their docile announcement of President Mugabe’s appointment of members of the DC without fully explaining their relationship with ZEC, ZTV (14/9, 6pm), Radio Zimbabwe and Power FM (14/9, 8pm) and The Herald (15/9). Besides, none of them queried Mugabe’s unilateral selection of the commission, and whether it conformed to the SADC Charter’s calls for “full participation of the citizens in the political process”. Instead, ZTV (14/9, 6pm), Radio Zimbabwe (14/9, 8pm) and Power FM (14/9 8pm) defended Mugabe’s action, arguing it was in terms of Section 59 of Zimbabwe’s Constitution.


The private media however, were more inquisitive. For example, SW Radio Africa (15/9 and 16/9) and the Independent cited opposition party leaders criticising the composition of the DC because they felt it merely comprised pro-ruling Zanu PF functionaries. But The Daily Mirror (16/9), like the government media, did not see anything wrong with the commissioners. It claimed that their “names suggest that they are principled men of integrity.” 

Still, SW Radio Africa (15/9) quoted MDC’s director of elections Remius Makuwaza saying his party was uncomfortable with the fact that the DC would get most of its information from the Registrar General (RG) for it to delimit constituencies since the RG was “Zanu PF chief strategist on election rigging”. He further told SW Radio Africa (16/9) that this was particularly so because the DC, whose mandate is to determine the boundaries of constituencies based on the number of registered voters in those constituencies ahead of the elections, would be “using the same voters roll that has been a source of worry” to the MDC over the years. Said Makuwaza: “The voters roll is in a shambles and this is tantamount to manipulation of the whole electoral process…”


The Daily Mirror (15/9) nonetheless cited Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa dismissing the opposition’s concerns saying it would “cause chaos to the whole process” if political parties were involved in the delimitation exercise. But The Financial Gazette (16/9) reported that the MDC remained so unimpressed with government’s electoral reforms that it had “embarked on an intensive lobbying of regional leaders to ratchet-up pressure on President Mugabe” on the issue. The paper quoted the party’s spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi confirming this, saying his party wanted to inform regional leaders on the real situation on the ground so that they “are not hoodwinked” by government’s public posturing.


And according to the Independent, the MDC and the Democratic Party (DP) also expressed annoyance at government plans to order ZBC to allocate them airtime ahead of the elections because they felt this was just an attempt to mislead “ the world whilst the public media continues to campaign against them”. DP leader Wurayayi Zembe told the paper that their rights were “not dependent on the benevolence of Zanu PF…Access to the public media is every citizen’s right enshrined in the constitution”. Agreed Ncube: “What we need is a public media that is accessible to all political parties all the time, not just 10 days before the election date”.


Despite government’s promise to enable the opposition access to the State broadcaster, the reporting pattern of the government media remained unchanged. ZTV, (14/9, 8pm), for example, merely used Mugabe’s handpicking of the DC to give pro-government commentators Tafataona Mahoso and Goodson Nguni platforms to attack the MDC without allowing the opposition party the right of reply. Nguni was granted about five minutes just to hurl abuses at the MDC rather than comment helpfully on what he thought of Zimbabwe’s electoral system.

Similarly, the government Press carried 10 stories, all of which sought to denigrate the MDC as an alternative to ZANU PF. Interestingly, the Sunday News’ (19/9) columnist Mzala Joe defended the blackout of MDC activities on ZTV on the grounds that the opposition party was “closely working” with British Prime Minister Tony Blair “to effect regime change” in Zimbabwe. Giving it airtime was thus “equivalent to al-Qaeda gaining access to free-to-air television in America or Britain…” The columnist misleadingly claimed that the MDC had refused access to ZTV “…in the 2002 Presidential election, preferring to use the BSAP (British Satanic Apartheid Press) and the likes of Studio Seven”.

And to give the public broadcaster’s unprofessional conduct a veneer of legality, the columnist then narrowly interpreted the Broadcasting Services Act and claimed that since  “the MDC is boycotting elections…by law it cannot gain access to TV as a political party.

Mzala Joe’s claims were amplified in the paper’s Goings-On column. It claimed that “Blair’s political puppets” enjoyed a “lion’s share of the media coverage” on the BBC, CNN, “apartheid Press and whole coterie of anti-Zimbabwe Internet services” so much that “it is Zanu PF that should be complaining”.



3. Economic issues and inflation


THE government media’s uncritical reporting of official pronouncements also manifested itself in the way they glossed over Zimbabwe’s deep-seated economic problems by over-simplifying the impact the decline in inflation has had on the country’s economic fortunes. 

This was in spite of private media coverage that highlighted the economy as still in recession.

The official media ignored such stories and instead used the drop in the inflation rate from 362,9 percent in July to 314,4 percent in July to argue that the macro-economic fundamentals were on the mend. For example, the Chronicle (15/9) hailed the drop in inflation saying, “Even some of the Government’s fierce critics admitted yesterday the State was on course to achieve its targets”.  It even tried to downplay the ripple effects of the recent fuel prices increases on the economy saying “economists” had said the “net effect was likely to be felt next year”. 


Although ZTV (15/9, 8pm) attempted to give a balanced story by sourcing various commentators’ views on the matter, their editorial thrust also appeared to be bent on overplaying the significance of the decrease in the inflation. Consequently, ZTV (15/9, 8pm) newsreader claimed that because of the decline in inflation the Zimbabwean economy was therefore “on a path to recovery” while a reporter on ZTV (19/9, 8pm) noted that concerted efforts by the monetary authorities and other stakeholders have “helped stabilise the economy as there are signs that the efforts are beginning to yield fruits in many parts of the economy.” This was despite observations by economist David Mupamhadzi on ZTV (15/9, 8pm) that the fall in inflation was just “technical since the day-to-day rise of prices is not being captured by monthly figures”  This irony was more pronounced as the station, Power FM and Radio Zimbabwe (15/9, 1pm), The Herald (14/9 and 15/9) and the Chronicle (15/9) failed to interpret stories it carried on resurgent transport problems and government’s upward review of civil servants’ transport and accommodation allowances as symptomatic of a troubled economy.


The private media were less optimistic about the perceived ‘Midas touch’ effect of the reduced inflation on the economy. The Daily Mirror (15/9) reported that though the inflation rate had dropped it was still high and continued “to erode household purchasing power”.

The paper, SW Radio Africa (14/9), the Independent and The Sunday Mirror (19/9) quoted Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) officials saying because living conditions in the country continued to deteriorate a family of six now required at least $1,4m a month for basic needs. This amount, said the officials, was beyond many workers.

In fact, one of the CCZ officials quoted by SW Radio blamed Zimbabwe’s hyperinflationary environment on government’s mismanagement of its debt and financial issues, including its monetary and fiscal policies.


But despite such concerns, The Financial Gazette revealed that government intended to dole out unbudgeted funds to compensate former liberation war prisoners, detainees and restrictees. The paper reported that government had set aside $200 billion for this purpose.

However, it did not seek comments from economists on the likely impact of such payments on the country’s economy but only fleetingly referred to the “havoc” caused by a similar payment made to war veterans seven years ago. The Independent also highlighted the negative impact of government’s decision to dish out unbudgeted funds to parastatals and troubled private companies, which they noted was a drain on the fiscus.


But The Herald (14/9), Radio Zimbabwe (15/9, 6am) and ZTV (15/9, 7am) appeared reluctant to demand accountability from the authorities as illustrated by their unquestioning announcement of President Mugabe’s plans to acquire a minimum 50 percent shareholding in mines and the manufacturing sector in the name of assuming “absolute ownership of resources”.

As a result, there was no analysis on the legality of such a move or its implication on investor confidence in Zimbabwe.


However, SW Radio Africa (15/9) and the Independent warned of the dire consequences of such takeovers. While the Independent summed its feelings on the issue through its comment headlined, Another disaster waiting to happen, SW Radio Africa (15/9) cited MDC’s Tendai Biti describing government’s threat as a desperate move: “They are frustrated because they are presiding over an economy with a domestic debt of over  $1,5 trillion and a foreign debt of US $5billion. That frustration drives them to do crazy things like nationalising everything.” According to SW Radio Africa (17/9), this had not been helped either by government’s relentless drive to take over farms even at the risk of discouraging foreign investors with large profitable properties.


The government media still refused to address these issues. The Chronicle (16/9), for example, still maintained that the central bank’s monetary policy had ensured a “stable” supply of foreign currency. This contradicted The Sunday Mirror’s remarks that foreign currency offers at the country’s auctions had badly outstripped demand and hence created serious shortfalls.



The MEDIA UPDATE was produced and circulated by the Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe, 15 Duthie Avenue, Alexandra Park, Harare, Tel/fax: 263 4 703702, E-mail:


Feel free to write to MMPZ. We may not able to respond to everything but we will look at each message.  For previous MMPZ reports, and more information about the Project, please visit our website at

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Business Report

      Anglo to challenge Zimbabwe's plan to seize estate
      September 26, 2004

      Anglo American, the world's second-biggest mining company, said on
Thursday it was contesting Zimbabwean government plans to seize the Mkwasine
Estate, a sugar and wheat joint venture between Anglo and the Tongaat-Hulett
Group, which is 53 percent owned by Anglo.

      Mkwasine has 4 600ha under cultivation. It was designated by the
government for seizure on July 23.

      The government is also threatening to seize Hippo Valley Estates,
which is 49 percent owned by Anglo and whose shares trade on the Zimbabwe
stock exchange. - Bloomberg, Johannesburg
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