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

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      Zimbabwean opposition demands for poll postponement 2004-09-26 04:37:04

          HARARE, Sept. 26 (Xinhuanet) -- Zimbabwean opposition's demanded
delay of next March's parliamentary elections was dismissed by thegovernment
on Sunday.

          The country's biggest opposition Movement for Democratic
Change(MDC) party has demanded that the polls, in which it hasn't decided
whether to participate, be pushed further back to June to allow more time
for electoral reforms to be carried out.

          But the government made its rejection to the call clear, as
theInformation Minister Jonathan Moyo said the government "would not give
in," dismissing the call as unwarranted.

          "It is crazy for them to think that they can tell us when we can
hold an election which they are boycotting," he said.

          MDC Secretary-General, Welshman Ncube said on Saturday the polls
in March must be delayed to "create a real, impartial and independent
electoral commission that will take charge of the voters' roll compilation,
among other important electoral roles."

          The MDC said last month it would boycott any poll not held under
reformed electoral laws, citing what it alleged as an unfairelectoral
playing field. It controls just under a third of the seats in Zimbabwe's
150-member parliament.

          MDC's leader Morgan Tsvangirai has said his party suspects the
government is "gerrymandering (manipulating) constituency boundaries in
favor of" the ruling ZANU-PF strongholds.

          Zimbabwe has introduced electoral reforms under guidelines and
standards adopted by the 14-nation Southern African Development Community
(SADC) at a recent summit in Mauritius.

          The government said it wants to complete the reform before
nextMarch's polls, with an independent electoral commission, a free press
and laws allowing free political campaign to be introduced.

          Zimbabwe's 2002 presidential polls have been accused by
Westerncountries and the opposition as largely rigged. Tsvangirai accusedthe
government of trying to implement "cosmetic electoral reforms"in an
interview last week. He was quoted as saying his party wouldparticipate in
the polls only if "real" reforms were carried out. Enditem

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Enough is Enough



We have a fundamental right to freedom of expression!

Sokwanele comment

21 September 2004

What is the correct title by which to address a Bishop of the Church ?  In some traditions the customary title is  “His grace the Bishop …”   To many parishioners in the Anglican Diocese of Harare however a more appropriate designation for the present incumbent might be “His disgrace Bishop Kunonga”.


Not only has Bishop Kunonga shown himself to be a servile supporter of ZANU PF and an obsequious fan of Robert Mugabe; he has also demonstrated a real greed for the material rewards bestowed on those who sacrifice principle for personal advantage.  His patron, who now treats the whole of Zimbabwe as his personal fiefdom to parcel out to supporters as he pleases, bestowed St Marnocks Farm in Nyabira on the errant bishop some time ago. The legal owners of the farm are the Hale family of that district, but under the current state of lawlessness, before being “given” to the Bishop the farm was occupied in turn by Attwell Seremani of the Boka Tobacco Floors, Mike Moyo of the War Veterans’ Association and Chris Pasipamiri.


What the irreverent gentleman has been given by way of political patronage, he has no intention of sharing with others either.  Accordingly on Friday (17th September) he arranged to send in the ZANU PF militia, the Black Boots, to evict all the farm workers and their families from the village on St Marnock’s Farm.  About 40 families were illegally evicted in this manner.  “These people do not work for me”, said the Bishop in apparent self-justification for this brutal action.  The Black Boots then proceeded to torch the humble dwellings of the farm workers, presumably to ensure that they would not try to return to the village.


St Marnocks was once a dream farm.  Its 600 hectares is mostly arable land and at one time 240 hectares was under wheat and another 240 hectares under soya beans.  A full centre pivot irrigation scheme once operated, yielding a crop of 1500 tons wheat and the same quantity of soya beans, twice yearly.  The value of these crops grown today would be in the region of  4,8 billion Zim dollars annually.  Under Bishop Kunonga’s neglectful stewardship however this once-thriving farm has been converted into a sea of weeds and grass. The boreholes no longer function. Electricity has been disconnected. The centre pivot stands idle in the middle of a derelict field.  In fact not one square meter of the 600 hectare farm is productive. Which adds more than a touch of irony to Kunonga’s statement that those unfortunates ejected from the village did not “work” for him.   “Work” is not a word that comes to mind readily in describing Kunonga’s  period of “ownership” of the farm.


Our reporter discovered that the evicted families were all employed by local agricultural businesses, including the Windmill, SeedCo, Freska and 600 Seeds’ factories.  Some of the former farm workers are still employed by Marcus Hale, and he has been doing his best to find them alternative accommodation elsewhere.  But even with outside help the evicted families face an uncertain and difficult future.

One can only wonder if the disgraceful Bishop feels more comfortable in his St Marnock’s home now that he has turned 40 other families out of their homes.


Nor it must be said is this Bishop the only one to bring disgrace on his church by abusing his position of authority and accepting the patronage of the ruling elite.  There are strong and persistent rumours that the retiring Bishop of the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe, Cephas Mukandi, was offered and accepted from the ZANU PF hierarchy to which he is closely aligned, a sugar estate near Triangle (name and details supplied).  This was no doubt considered no more than the Bishop’s due for his conspicuous silence on matters of politics and morality during the years of national crisis. Unfortunately for this would-be country squire though the owners of the farm refused to move and strenuously resisted the attempted unlawful eviction.  But Mukandi may still be offered another uncontested property elsewhere.  Undercover sources which report on the ruling party’s monitoring of church leaders and systematic attempts to neutralize the Church either by fear or favour,  advise that Mukandi remains in good standing with the party.  He is considered to be a safe cleric who deserves to be rewarded for his long-standing docility.


And how many others besides Kunonga and Mukandi …?


Which surely raises the question of how much longer the Church in Zimbabwe will continue to ignore the public scandal caused by those of their leaders who, for personal gain, collude with an evil and godless regime.




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Dear Family and Friends,

Despite targeted sanctions and travel bans, Zimbabwean President Robert
Mugabe was this week in New York where he addressed the United Nations
General Assembly. President Mugabe's characteristic attack against the
West and in particular against Bush, Blair and the Iraq war allies, drew
applause from delegates. Back home we didn't have much to clap about and
in fact, in my home town of Marondera, we've been wringing our hands in
despair, shaking our heads in wonder and muttering in disgust ever since
last Saturday.

It was the annual Marondera Show last weekend and part of the
entertainment involved displays by the army and airforce including a mock
battle. Under normal circumstances there would be helicopters and a lot of
noise and smoke but there shouldn't be blood or injuries. Like everything
else in Zimbabwe now, there was nothing normal about what went on in
Marondera last Saturday. No one really knows what happened but the mock
battle started and somehow a few live bullets had been loaded instead of
blanks and suddenly people in the crowd of spectators were being shot.
Eyewitnesses said that people were screaming and running in all directions
and that it was utter chaos. One eyewitness, a teacher accompanying school
students to the show, said she saw a woman who had been shot in the chest
and a man who appeared to have been shot in both legs. Two teenage girls
standing next to the army display were both shot in the legs. Others
reported seeing two soldiers being covered with white sheets and loaded
onto a helicopter but no one knows the condition of these men. There has
been very little news in the state media about the event, but at least 14
people were shot, four of whom appear to have been children.

All week the gossip and rumour in Marondera about the shooting has been
escalating and the quieter the government and army are, the more we have
speculated about what really went on. No one can understand how live
bullets accidentally got mixed in with blanks, or how any trained soldier
could mistakenly load a live cartridge instead of a blank. Some people
think it was just gross incompetence and negligence but others believe it
was actually an assassination attempt on the provincial Governor who was
one of the spectators.

The Commander of the Zimbabwe National Army, Major General Sibanda,
visited the injured at Marondera Hospital during the week and, according
to the Herald newspaper gave the patients Bibles, fruits and get well soon
cards and said: "What happened was an accident which has never happened
before since Independence. We have come here because we are human and feel
for the people who were injured in the accident."

A report in Thursday's Herald newspaper carries the headline : "Live
cartridge found at mock battle site." What just one? Is the question I ask

Dozens of people have emailed to ask if I had been hurt in the incident.
you for your concern. My son and I were at the Show but not at the time of

Until next week, love cathy.

Copyright cathy buckle  25th September 2004.
"African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" are available  from: ; ;
Australia and New Zealand: ;
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Zim Online

Mon 27 September 2004

      BULAWAYO - The government has assigned graduates of its controversial
national youth service training programme to guard traditional leaders and
chiefs in the Midlands, Matabeleland North and South provinces.

      Each chief was assigned six youths to guard them round the clock while
headmen, who are ranked lower than chiefs were given three youths to protect
them, investigations by ZimOnline have established.

      It could not be established what sort of security services the youths
are supposed to provide to the chiefs and headmen, who are community
leaders. Chiefs have traditionally never required protection from their

      Acting director in the Ministry of Youth, Gender and Employment
Creation, which runs the youth training programme, Enias Muzarakuza,
declined to discuss the matter saying he wanted to check with officers in
the provinces before he could talk.

      He said: "I have not received such information (about youths guarding
traditional leaders) but I think I need to check with the provinces
mentioned to be sure whether that is true. All I can say is that the youth
training programme is all about imparting the youths with their history and
inculcating patriotism and good behaviour in the youngsters."

      Some civic groups in the three provinces and the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) said they feared the deployment of the youths at
the homes of traditional leaders could be a ploy to intimidate rural
communities into backing the ruling ZANU PF party in next year's critical
general election.

      Human rights groups and churches have accused the youths of
perpetrating violence and torture against suspected supporters of the
opposition, a charge denied by the government.

      "This is a political gimmick aimed at giving the ruling party an upper
hand in rural areas. We are totally against this," said Felix Mafa, who is
executive director of the Post-Independence Survivors Trust that helps
rehabilitate victims of torture.

      MDC official Victor Moyo said the deployment of the controversial
youths at homes of traditional leaders was a breach of the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) protocol on elections.

      The protocol among other things calls for free and transparent
electoral process in which voters are not intimidated to vote for certain
parties or candidates. - ZimOnline
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Zim Online

Parliamentary committee to quiz social security bosses
Mon 27 September 2004

      HARARE - Top management at the National Social Security Authority
(NSSA) will today appear before Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Public
Accounts to explain how among other things the authority was operating
without a general manager for the last four years.

      The NSSA is a compulsory social insurance scheme for all Zimbabwean

      Chairwoman of the parliamentary committee Priscilla
Misihairabwi-Mushonga said her committee was also going to quiz the
authority's management on issues related to its 2002 financial accounts
which so far remained a closely guarded secret.

      She said: "We want to know how the authority was being run without a
substantive general manager for all these years and also on their vast
investments, chiefly how the authority decides where to invest and who makes
the investment decisions."

      Senior management failed to attend a meeting with the House committee
last Monday sending in junior staff instead. However, the senior managers
are expected to be present at today's hearing after the committee demanded
that they explain the situation at the authority.

      Set up by the government, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and
business, the social security authority is intended to provide a cushion for
all workers on their retirement.

      But the authority has been bedevilled by poor management and
corruption for years forcing labour to threaten to pull out of the scheme.
There are reports that ruling ZANU PF party-linked businessmen have also
looted the scheme's funds through dubious investment projects. - ZimOnline
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Zim Online

Police dismiss squatter camp death claims
Mon 27 September 2004

      HARARE - Police yesterday denied reports by Amnesty International that
10 people died three weeks ago during clashes with police at Porta Farm
squatter camp 25 kilometres west of Harare.

      Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena challenged the international human
rights watchdog to produce names and hospital records of the people it
claimed were killed when police fired teargas into homes.

      Bvudzijena said: "We saw that statement (by Amnesty). But Amnesty must
provide the names of the people that it says died. If the people died at
hospital, then there should be a report from the hospital as evidence.

      "In this country the law doesn't allow people to bury the dead without
a police report and we have not received any reports of people dying in
homes. It is pointless to just claim that so many people died, without
providing the names."

      In a statement issued last week, Amnesty called for an independent
probe into the alleged deaths at Porta Farm. The international body, which
castigated the police for using tear smoke in confined places against
international law and standards, did not provide the names of the 10 people
it said had died during the clashes.

      It could not be established yesterday whether Amnesty was able to
provide the names of the deceased as requested by the police.

      Heavily armed police raided Porta Farm on September 2 burning down
houses in a bid to drive the squatters off the camp.

      Several residents of the camp were seriously injured during running
battles with the police and according to Amnesty at least 10 people died
from injuries sustained during the clashes and from over-exposure to tear
gas. - ZimOnline
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The Mercury

      No poll reforms in Zim, says Moyo
      September 27, 2004

      Harare: The government of Robert Mugabe would not delay parliamentary
elections to meet an opposition call to reform unfair electoral laws, state
media reported yesterday.

      Parliamentary polls are scheduled for March, but the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change has said it will boycott the polls unless
sweeping electoral reforms are made.

      The opposition also demanded an end to political violence and the
repeal of repressive media and security laws.

      The state Sunday Mail newspaper yesterday quoted Information Minister
Jonathan Moyo as saying it would be "treachery" to delay the elections,
which are traditionally held in March. Doing so risked overshadowing
celebrations in April of the country's independence from Britain 25 years

      "It will be treachery for us as a nation to celebrate our 25 years of
independence in the shadow of elections," Moyo said. "The silver jubilee
calls for special celebrations."

      Zimbabwe marks its 25th anniversary of independence from Britain on
April 18.

      Moyo said Mugabe called the March polls "the anti-Blair elections," a
reference to Mugabe's repeated accusations that British Prime Minister Tony
Blair and the former colonial power were backing the opposition.

      Though the government has announced some changes in polling practices,
the opposition has described them as cosmetic and falling far short of
regional election standards of the 14-nation Southern African Development

      Those standards call for an independent electoral commission to
supervise polling and election preparations.

      State officials and commissioners appointed by Mugabe and ruling-party
MPs who dominate the Harare parliament are still set to run the March poll.

      Stringent security and media laws have been used to crack down on
government opponents, ban political campaign meetings and deny the
opposition equal access to the state media.

      The country's only independent daily newspaper was banned last year.
The government controls the five main newspapers and the only television and
radio stations.

      The opposition party last week said that under the nation's
constitution, parliamentary elections could be delayed until the end of June
and that the government needed more time to introduce acceptable reforms,
enabling the opposition to participate.
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Emergency school feeding to expand in rural Zimbabwe
      27 Sep 2004 07:41:00 GMT

      Source: NGO latest
      Kristy Allen-Shirley, C-SAFE Communications Coordinator

C-SAFE (Consortium for the Southern Africa Food Security Emergency) - South
With the advent of the new school term in Zimbabwe, emergency school feeding
is supporting the nutritional needs of thousands of vulnerable children from
families struggling to cope with rising food insecurity.

USAID funded C-SAFE will be stepping up the feeding program through partners
Catholic Relief Services, World Vision and CARE, targeting 354,000 children
in 722 schools.

"Emergency school feeding allows us to fill a gap in the food needs of
vulnerable households. Daily food requirements have been harder to meet
since the cessation of general food distributions earlier in the year," says
Jason Sullivan of Catholic Relief Services (CRS). "Food scarce households
are surviving in the face of an absent or rapidly dwindling harvest, as well
as the instability of hyper-inflation. Rural communities report that cereal
is often unavailable for purchase or simply unaffordable in these areas."

The program's ration of corn-soy-blend and vegetable oil will provide one
nutritious porridge meal to school children each day.

CRS is assisting 31 schools across Chegutu District, south-west of Harare.
In Chegutu, Shirichena village's primary school is feeding hundreds of
children aged 6 to 14 years, many of whom are orphans, or children of
chronically ill parents.

A CRS Chegutu Field Coordinator explains, "Despite good rains, this year's
harvest was low, and in some areas, non-existent due to a lack of inputs
such as seeds and fertiliser. At the moment, people have to travel to Harare
or resettled commercial farms to buy maize for their household, which
currently sells for Z$20,000 (4USD) for a 20kg bag. Travel to urban areas to
purchase the maize is also expensive; they are charged at a high rate for
the ride as well as an additional fee for any maize they purchase."

Schools are often an insightful barometer of wider community crisis.
Teachers report that since general distributions were stopped in April, the
community's food security and nutritional status has deteriorated
noticeably. But despite the hunger experienced in the majority of
households, children are still keen to attend school. The school feeding
programme has provided an added incentive for both hungry children and
parents with limited capacity to produce or purchase food. At Shirichena
School, attendance of enrolled children is peaking at 90% with the school
feeding, as opposed to 50% before the program, when many children were too
weak to walk the long distances to the classroom.

The program, which recommenced last week to coincide with the school term,
has provided a welcome respite for vulnerable families, as many children
spent their school holidays collecting and selling firewood to purchase
maize, or simply survived on infrequent meals.

Twelve-year-old Rejoice attests to the immediate physical and mental
improvement brought about by a mid-morning bowl of CSB porridge. "The
porridge makes me feel full, but not like sadza (hard, maize porridge),
which makes me sleepy. I have energy and participate in my class activities.
My friends and I can play at lunch-time and in the afternoon, when I would
normally be weak and tired, and I can concentrate on my lessons."

With the onset of the traditional "hungry season" last month, the near
future could be despairing for many Zimbabwean families. Even if there are
good rains for next April's harvest, many people will be battling fatigue or
sickness due to nine months of mounting food insecurity, and will be unable
to work the crops. CRS' Jason Sullivan states, "Given the serious situation
in many communities, C-SAFE would ideally like to expand the programme to
assist more vulnerable school children through-out the country.
School-feeding is a practical way to deliver daily meals to a great number
of children in Zimbabwe's most vulnerable communities."

The Consortium for Southern Africa Food Security Emergency (C-SAFE)
addresses the food security needs of targeted vulnerable groups in Zimbabwe
using a "developmental relief" approach. C-SAFE is funded by USAID Food For
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Financial Mail

      24 September 2004

      Questions & Answers


      By Welshman Ncube

      On a recent visit to SA, Welshman Ncube, secretary-general of the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), member of parliament in Zimbabwe and
advocate of that country's high court, spoke to Thandeka Gqubule.

      Tell me about the MDC's decision to boycott the coming elections.

      No, we need to clarify that we are not on boycott. We prefer to say
that we have decided to suspend participation in the pending elections until
there is compliance with the SADC (Southern African Development Community)
protocol on how elections ought to be conducted. Zimbabwe is currently in
violation of every aspect of the protocol. So, we are calling on Zimbabwe to
comply. Zimbabwe is signatory to the protocol and so we are simply asking
that they comply with the obligation that has been assumed.

      Institutionalised violence continues, repressive pieces of legislation
designed to further close political space are proceeding, access to public
media by all is grossly skewed, basic democratic freedoms and rights
continue to be violated. In fact, the general restoration of political
freedom is not on the table for discussion as we approach this election.

      Regarding our suspension of participation, we have received a
ground-swell of support. We have been to all the provinces across the
country and the suspension has been enthusiastically received. I have just
spoken in my own constituency in Bulawayo East and the reception of the
position we are taking has been very good indeed. After all, we already have
a few disputed elections under the belt; why would we go for more?

      Have you canvassed your position on the suspension of participation in
this election beyond Zimbabwe?

      Yes, we are in a round of meetings with all the heads of state in the
SADC region. All the leaders in the region are basically in agreement on
what is wrong, yet what seems unresolved is what action should be taken.
There is still a reliance on persuasion and quiet diplomacy. Such diplomacy
normally takes place behind closed doors, so I am uncertain what is going on
behind those doors. What I can confirm is that we are not experiencing the
results of quiet diplomacy. It also remains clear that Zanu-PF does not
desire dialogue.

      You had a meeting with President Thabo Mbeki on Saturday evening. How
did that go?

      All the meetings with heads of the SADC have been frank, constructive
and open. Our meeting with President Mbeki was in this spirit.

      How would you describe the political and social climate in Zimbabwe at
the moment?

      The environment is worse than at any time in our history as a country.
The situation is characterised by violence in various parts of the country,
like Mutasa. We have also seen Zanu-upon-Zanu violence in some regions. The
introduction of legislation to shut down and silence nongovernmental
organisations is proceeding. This will be one of the most insidious pieces
of legislation to date. It aims to further close political space by
preventing the existence of social and other organs of civil society from
publicly raising human rights issues and governance concerns. Further, the
legislation will be a crackdown on churches - they will not be able to
embark on social-extension ministries and will be confined to preaching
about heaven only.

      What of the future?

      Well, if there is no intervention we will see the deepening of poverty
and the political isolation of Zimbabwe. We will see increased shortages in
a number of basic and essential products. We will also experience a general
economic meltdown. This is why we should ensure adequate international
pressure on Mugabe and his regime and organise internal pressure to achieve
concessions to ensure we live in a more democratic environment.
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Business Day

      Poll delay 'treachery' says Zimbabwe media

      HARARE The government of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe would not
delay parliamentary elections to meet an opposition call to reform unfair
electoral laws, state media said yesterday.
      Parliamentary polls are scheduled for March, but the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change has said it will boycott the polls unless
sweeping electoral reforms are made.

      The opposition has demanded an end to political violence and repeal of
repressive media and security laws.

      The state-controlled newspaper The Mail on Sunday quoted Information
Minister Jonathan Moyo as saying it would be "treachery" to delay the
elections, which were traditionally held in March, because of the risk of
overshadowing celebrations in April of the country's independence from
Britain 25 years ago.

      "It will be treachery for us as a nation to celebrate our 25 years of
independence in the shadow of elections," Moyo said. "The silver jubilee
calls for special celebrations."

      Moyo said Mugabe called the March polls "the anti-Blair elections", a
reference to Mugabe's repeated accusations that British Prime Minister Tony
Blair and the former colonial power are backing the opposition.

      Though the government has announced some changes in polling practices,
the opposition has described them as cosmetic and falling far short of
regional election standards of the Southern African Development Community.

      Those standards call for an independent election commission to
supervise polling and election preparations. State officials and
commissioners appointed by Mugabe and rulingparty legislators who dominate
the Harare parliament are still set to run the March poll.

      Western nations have cut development aid to protest at human rights
violations and disputed presidential elections in 2002 that gave Mugabe
another six-year term. Independent observers said voting in that poll and a
parliamentary election in 2000 was swayed by intimidation, violence and
vote-rigging. Sapa-AFP
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Subject: Free Zimbabwe Concert

Hello to all concerned people…..


In recent months I have become more and more interested in the confusion and madness happening in my home country of Zimbabwe. It is both saddening and fascinating at the same time. On the one hand I am tempted to write it off as a typical African phenomenon, and on the other I am compelled to stand up and be counted as someone who disagrees. In the passed, African dictators have literally gotten away with murder. When will all this craziness stop? What made it stop else where is what I ask myself. It took most of eastern Europe 50 years to muster the courage to say enough! When the people of a region decide that they will no longer be exploited, energy starts to build. Soon the place in question becomes a focal point of attention for all freedom loving people. Love your neighbor as yourself. That means, if you would not be happy living under those circumstances, why let it happen to the guy next door. If you where walking down the road and you saw somebody getting beaten up, would you get involved?  Mass benign movements in the 60’s and the 90’s changed the world for the better. But the job is not finished yet.

I am doing what I can in my own limited way to make a difference, and I ask you to join me. Being in the music business, I am throwing a ‘Free  Zimbabwe’ concert on the 27th of November in Johannesburg S.A. Even if I’m the only guy in front of the speakers, I have to do it.

It’s happening at John Orr Tech school on Empire road in JHB. So far I have Brassie vannie Kaap, who are not shy to be political, I am working on other acts and I believe that critical mass will be reached soon. The Bishop of Bulawayo, the only church person to stand up to ZANU PF is on our side.

It is going to be a free concert, and let me be frank, I cannot finance the entire thing by myself. I need help. I am including bank details below, and would appreciate any contributions toward a successful event. I want to make as much noise as is africanly possible. Please call me if you want to get involved, and if you can’t, send this e-mail to somebody you think might.

My name is Gregory van den Berg, and I am an African.

Evil thrives while good people do nothing.


083 4507107


Bank details:

First National bank

Melville branch 256505

Acc # : 62018251546

Acc name : Who’s your daddy


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From The Daily Mirror, 27 September

No cash at banks

Daily Mirror reporter

Most Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) in Harare ran out of cash at the
weekend, as panicking depositors stormed financial houses to withdraw their
savings, amid reports that at least eight banks will be closed by the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) on Thursday, for failing to meet the central
bank's capital adequacy requirements. A survey carried out in the city
centre yesterday showed scores of the banking public forming long queues to
withdraw their savings as uncertainty in the banking sector increased.
Security guards at the ATMs confirmed that there had been an unusually high
number of people withdrawing cash as confidence by depositors in the banking
sector declined following the placing of Trust Bank under curatorship. A
security guard manning the ATMs of a building society in the First Street
mall said the cash dispensers had not been giving out cash for some time,
while lengthy queues were evident at outlets that had cash. "The situation
in the banking sector is not encouraging and I just have to withdraw my
salary before anything happens to my hard-earned money," said Memory
Mutewera, a civil servant from Kambuzuma.

At least three banks along First Street mall had run out of cash while long
queues were a common feature at other banks in the city centre. The security
guards said most clients were thronging the ATMs withdrawing the maximum
amounts of cash allowed. One bank with two ATMs at Karigamombe Centre had
run out of cash by 2 pm. "The first ATM ran out of cash around 11 am. When
other clients heard that the bank's other ATM along First Street had also
run out of money, most of them rushed to withdraw their cash from the second
ATM at Karigamombe Centre," said the guard. At least five banks, some of
them in the mall, and another along Robert Mugabe Road, had no cash.
Zimbabwe experienced severe cash shortages, which started in December 2002
and ended in June 2003, because of escalating inflation and foreign currency
shortages, which had hampered attempts to import the special paper needed to
print banknotes. The shortages resulted in a parallel market for the local
currency, in which cash-rich individuals and businesses were selling money
at a premium. The central bank initially introduced local travellers'
cheques to alleviate the problem, but to no avail. The situation only
normalised when the RBZ introduced high-denomination bearer's cheques.
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Daily News Online

      Bank clients in panicky withdrawals

      Date:28-Sep, 2004

      INDIGENOUS commercial banks are suffering a run on deposits as
panicking depositors move their money from vulnerable commercial banks to
established ones.

      International banks, which at one time were considered "elitist" by
the investing public, are now in vogue as their long history of stability is
now the drawcard.

      Standard Chartered, Stanbic and Barclays are getting the bulk of the
deposits, with indigenous banks CBZ, Finhold and Kingdom holding their
ground in the rush.

      The run comes ahead of the September 30 deadline set by Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono for commercial banks to raise their
minimum capital base to $10 billion under new banking regulations.

      The base for finance and discount house has been pegged at $7,5
billion. The capital base will represent the last line of defence of any
financial institution in the event of potential exposure to risk.

      Zimbabwe's banking sector comprises 41 banking institutions of which
six are under curatorship; two under liquidation while four operate under
the Troubled Bank Fund.

      Gono warned on Monday that nine institutions might fail to meet this
deadline. His warning that nine banks might fail raised the prospect that
more blood may yet spill across the sector.

      Much of the worry will be on discount and finance houses, many of whom
have suffered quietly, but will go out with a blast if banks are exposed to

      The run has not been restricted to individual depositors alone, but
also to corporates. Traditional lenders to indigenous banks - such as
pension funds and insurance companies - have also withdrawn lending to some
of the smaller institutions because of fear of exposure, said banking

      Gono in July promised an "exit strategy" to enable exposed
institutions to leave the sector with minimum disruption to the sector. This
was supposed to be ready by the end of August. To date, the plan has not

      The best bank profits have had more to do with capital flight from
perceived weaker banks than some new, bright business strategy. Forecast
beater Jewel Bank showed analysts and reporters a chart of how rivals had
lost deposits, and how they had grown their own deposit market share from 10
percent to 16 percent.

      Interim profit reports up to June indicate that Barclays and Standard
Chartered - both British-owned - reported an after-tax historical cost
profit of Z$196,5 billion and Z$190 billion respectively while the South
African owned Stanbic recorded an after tax historical cost profit of
Z$114,9 billion.

      Barclays' customer deposits rose from $170 billion to $960 billion
while lending to customers increased to $676 billion in the period up to

      Kingdom Financial Holdings Limited (KFHL), one of the stable
indigenous banks, says its savings and current account deposit base has
doubled during the past nine months to the extent that it was opening a new
corporate branch in Graniteside.

      "Indigenous banks have been hurt by (Reserve Bank Governor) Gono's
monetary policy which is why traditional banks have made abnormal profits
while robbing the saver," says Tendai Biti the Movement for Democratic
Change secretary for economic affairs.

      Gono has said in the past that he was forced to move on the banks
because they had departed from core business and were busy at speculation,
fuelling high inflation.

      The RBZ recommended that banks merge so that they are able to meet the
new capital requirements. This was widely accepted as the best - perhaps
only - way forward.

      But the uncertainty and speculation that ensued never gave players a
minute's respite; who is merging with whom? Who is launching a hostile
takeover on whom? Who is weak? Who is strong? And who is getting arrested?

      One thing is clear though: the banking sector will never the same
after Thursday 30 September.

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      Future ZANU PF way - Muzenda or Zvobgo

      Date:28-Sep, 2004

      Monday 27 September 2004

      PEOPLE who can still afford the price of imported medicines, to cure
dizziness, temporary blindness, dyspepsia, heartburn, respiratory trauma,
stomach ulcers or heart palpitations, after watching the ZTV news, must have
rushed to the medicine cabinets recently.

      We have to forgive them. This was after watching footage of Simon
Muzenda, who died last year, shortly after that of Eddison Zvobgo, who died
early this month.

      It might have been coincidence, but most people are political animals.
The sequence set them wondering. Muzenda-Zvobgo or Zvobgo-Muzenda? There
might even be heated debate on whose name comes first. An intriguing thought
occurred to one viewer: State-owned TV could not run so much footage of
Zvobgo without balancing it with footage of his rival, Muzenda - even in

      That just would not be politically correct, would it? The Muzenda
footage was publicity for the 18 September bira in his honour. But it was
interspersed with footage of condolences to the Zvobgo family.

      Someone in Shake-Shake building must have pondered long over this: the
two Zanu PF camps in Masvingo had to be appeased. So, there was a celluloid
re-enactment of the two men's political rivalry: "The Soul of the Nation"
and "the great nationalist".

      Most of us had never heard Muzenda being glorified as The Soul of the
Nation while he was alive. It was different with Joshua Nkomo: Umdala Wethu
or Father Zimbabwe before, and ditto after death.

      You don't want to sound morbid, but what will they call Robert Mugabe,
Joseph Msika, and Joseph Chinotimba in death?

      Muzenda and Zvobgo fought epic political battles over the hearts and
minds of Masvingo province. In fact, you might even go so far as to say they
represented two sides of this party.

      Whoever wins Zvobgo's vacant seat in the by-election could determine
which direction this party is going to take, not only in Masvingo but in the
country at large.

      There is always the chance that the MDC could take it, if they decide
to feature in the by-election. The executive mayor of Masvingo is a member
of the MDC, as is one MP in the area.

      The Muzenda way could be the Mugabe way because Mugabe backed Muzenda
to the hilt. He may not have shouted his support from the rooftops, but it
was no great secret that he was more comfortable with the loyal

      Muzenda by his side, than with the acid-tongued Zvobgo, sniping at his

      Those who make it their business to analyse these events, said Mugabe
sounded a little preoccupied, even diffident, as he delivered his speech at
Zvobgo's burial.

      Not so at Muzenda's; he was truly in his element "speaking from the
heart", they said.

      The cause of the rivalry between Muzenda and Zvobgo probably had its
origins in Mozambique, during the struggle. With his incisive intellect,
Zvobgo could be more reflective, more philosophical and more eloquent while
commenting on an issue as the "bush" politburo met.

      Muzenda did not lack these qualities. But he placed them behind his
loyalty to the party, to the struggle and, eventually to Robert Mugabe.

      Mugabe demands absolute loyalty from his colleagues, as do other
leaders, but with Mugabe its absence or mildness can provoke unpredictable

      In Zvobgo's case, it manifested itself in suspicion: Zvobgo was
gunning for his job.

      Shortly before his death, the anti-Zvobgo brigade seemed about to
score its greatest triumph. Zvobgo would be brought before a top-ranking
disciplinary committee and probably be expelled from the party.

      His bitter rivals hoped he would then join the MDC which, for some
reason, they believed had become his natural political habitat.

      A few insiders thought if Zvobgo, rather than the political greenhorn
Patrick Chinamasa, had palavered with the MDC's Welshman Ncube on a
rapprochement between Zanu PF and the MDC, the result might have been a
surprise all-round.

      Muzenda never made waves in the party. He was The Ultimate Party Man.
Nothing the party did could be faulted. He discouraged debate on Mugabe's

      "People would fight each other," he warned, as if that would be weird
in this power game of politics.

      Some thought he was a harmless, avuncular grand old man who liked
everything in its proper place, including his own position in Zanu PF -
right there next to Mugabe.

      Only in the 1990 elections did others begin to have qualms. They
detected a different and chilling side to his character.

      There was never any concrete evidence of his participation in the
attempted assassination of his rival for the Gweru seat, Patrick Kombayi.

      The men convicted but later pardoned by Mugabe for that bloody caper,
never implicated Muzenda. But people thought describing Muzenda as "a
harmless old man" after that could be deadly deceptive.

      Muzenda lived for the party. To him, disloyalty to the party called
for the severest punishment. After his death, some spoke of how good he was
at reconciling disparate positions in the party.

      Others spoke of his quaint, peasant sense of humour. But Muzenda was,
from beginning to end, a loyal member of Zanu PF, a loyal lieutenant of
Robert Mugabe.

      His attitude could be said to have been that of East was east and West
was west - never would the twain meet. To many, such absolute loyalty is
dangerous, in the end.

      Zvobgo's loyalty to Zanu PF was different. He believed it had to be
tampered with realism. Mugabe was fallible and needed to be reminded, to his
face if need be, that he was fallible.

      Men such as James Dambaza Chikerema will tell you that Mugabe doesn't
take kindly to such honesty. Mostly, he will take it as a personal insult.
And you insult Mugabe at your own peril, as George W Bush and Tony Blair,
are discovering.

      For Zanu PF and perhaps for Zimbabwe, whose legacy is worth embracing?
Muzenda's legacy of total loyalty is tantamount to the patriotism which says
"my country, right or wrong".

      Zvobgo's role in creating the monster that became the Executive
Presidency cannot be ignored in any analysis of his political legacy to this

      But during his last days, there was a suggestion he wanted to come
clean, that he wanted to make up for this big blunder. He seemed ready to do
penance for that act of betrayal.

      It is possible his speech to the disciplinary committee might have
turned out to be his moment of truth, where he would have unburdened

      Zanu PF has done enormous political and economic damage to Zimbabwe.
It is completely unrepentant and is destined to continue embracing The
Muzenda Way of politics, which is essentially The Mugabe Way.

      This has become an anachronism, now rotten enough to be consigned by
the voters to the political dustbin of history. - Loving It Always

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Daily News Online

      MDC official thrown out of home

      Date:28-Sep, 2004

      Monday 27 September 2004

      MARONDERA - Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) youth
chairman for Marondera East constituency Jimmy Jalifu has been thrown out of
his rented accommodation following his detention by Zanu PF youth and police

      Jalifu said his landlord in the Paradise Park suburb threw him out for
fear of having his house destroyed by Zanu PF youths.

      "My property was thrown out when I was still in police custody. My
landlord told me that if I continued living in his house, the youths could
destroy it," said Jalifu.

      He said he had nowhere to live and was contemplating going back to his
rural home as most landlords did not want to risk their properties by
accommodating him.

      Jalifu said he symphathised with his former landlord because during
his stay in the custody of the Zanu PF youths and police, the youths had
also gone to the house and threatened him if he "continued to keep me at his

      The youth chairman told the Daily News Online that the Zanu PF youths
has picked him in town together with a fellow MDC member Stenford Chigumbura
on accusations of attacking a Zanu PF vehicle during an MDC rally in Wedza
in August.

      The incident occurred on September 6 and they were kept by the youths
at the war veterans' offices in First Street, Marondera for three days
before they were handed over to the police law and order section and the
Central Intelligence Organisation officers.

      He said after days in custody they were taken to Marondera magistrate's
court where they did not appear in court after the prosecution told the
police to investigate and proceed by way of summons if evidence warranting
prosecution was found.

      MDC national executive member for Mashonaland East province, Masimba
Ruzvidzo confirmed the incident and that a number of his party's members had
been thrown out of their lodgings for political reasons.

      "We urge landlords to understand our cause. We also appeal to our
members to be careful in the manner they conduct their business so that
people's properties are not destroyed because of us," Ruzvidzo said.

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Daily News Online

      TALKING POINT: Can you believe anything they say?

      Date:27-Sep, 2004

      It is no wonder that we don't see the Herald or its sister papers in
our house, except when the boys want sports news at the weekend. It is not
surprising that nobody listens to what passes for news from ZBC.

      If the boys don't put on one of their well-worn videos, or if everyone
doesn't go somewhere else as soon as they finish their supper, the volume is
kept so low that I couldn't hear what the so-called 'news' readers are
saying if I wanted to.

      I say it is no wonder and no surprise, because when I do see a bit of
what Johnno's propaganda machine is putting out, I find inconsistencies like
this: Youth minister Ambrose Mutinhiri told a press conference that,
contrary to a recent BBC-TV documentary, the government would never adopt
torture because that was "used by the white regime during our struggle for
democracy and dignity".

      But High Court judge Sandra Mungwira has thrown out the "confessions"
of six Zimbabwean opposition activists charged with murdering a Cain Nkala,
claiming that they had been tortured.

      She said that 14 out of 15 police witnesses had "shamelessly lied".

      Police had assaulted the activists and their relatives, deprived them
of sleep and food and threatened them with guns. The six had also been
prevented from seeing lawyers or receiving medical attention.

      Well, that is an example of a government minister and a judge
disagreeing with each other. Like any other two individuals, they are free
to do that. The reports come from different sources, and we know there are a
lot of people around with different opinions on the relative reliability of
different sources.

      Some wouldn't believe if ZTV announced the sun had just set unless
they looked out the window the check on it. Some believe that every
newspaper and radio station in the world outside our borders is paid by Tony
Blair to bring our government down.

      Those are extreme positions, but many people will prefer one side to
the other to some degree. You make your own choice as to which of them you
want to believe, but look at this example of a minister contradicting
himself in parliament and getting full coverage in the Herald for his
performance: The Green Bombers are not taught torture and rape, they are
taught useful skills like carpentry and motor mechanics, we are told. But
the Herald on 11 March 2004 reported that Elliot Manyika, then Minister of
Youth etc, reported the following figures to parliament:

      Of the total 18 180 graduating from 2001 to 31/12/2003, the following
placements were made: 1 755 were absorbed into government ministries,
including 1 004 in the ministry of youth etc. (are these trainers for the
next generation of Green Bombers?)

      1 115 went into other government departments and parastatals, listed
as: government stores, ZISCO, prison officers (300 graduates), airborne
(250), CIO (84), GMB (212), Forestry Commission, National Archives, National
Parks, Department of Veterinary Services, Air Zimbabwe, ZRA, CMED, AREX,

      276 got jobs with security companies, 98 with local councils, 395
became temporary teachers, 2453 went for training: 1 721 as teachers, 406 as
nurses and the rest to vocational and polytechnic colleges, 1 502 went into
brick making, 362 into paraffin projects, 257 into commodity broking, 523
into other projects i.e. a total of 8 736 placements, leaving 9 444
unaccounted for.

      In addition, 389 teachers went through the teachers' reorientation

      That leaves 51.9 percent with no placement known to the organisers of
the programme. There may be a lot of carpenters among those, but, if
carpentry was an important part of the programme, surely they would know
about a few of their graduates who found themselves work in this important

      And the only graduates who look as if they may have become motor
mechanics or started working where they would advance in this career would
seem to be the six who went to the CMED.

      Since the Ministry took the trouble to list even 'other projects', it
looks as if the 51.9 percent of graduates they can't account for are
probably mostly unemployed.

      This doesn't quite square with the minister's statement in parliament
that day that more than 11 000 of them have been absorbed in various
Government ministries, parastatals, uniformed forces, private companies and
tertiary colleges.

      Taking brick making, commodity broking (i.e. buying and selling
things: are they now street vendors?), paraffin projects (whatever those
are) and other projects out of the list above, I make the total 6 092.

      That is 5 000 short of the claimed 11 000. That means about 45 percent
of the graduate Green Bombers are in government employment, employed by
companies or doing tertiary studies that the minister doesn't account for.

      Someone here isn't quite accurate. I'm not accusing him or the people
who wrote his report for him of lying. Maybe they didn't give him a page
with the missing figures.

      Maybe they just can't count or add up. But would you believe much that
comes from a newspaper that publishes figures that don't add up?

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      Mbeki's flip-flops boring

      Date:27-Sep, 2004

      WHAT is President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa up to this time?
Publicly he has said he would like to have another go at bringing Zanu PF
and the MDC together.

      Why? There is a parliamentary election in 2005. Could Mbeki be trying
to help polish up President Robert Mugabe's image of an elder statesman
ready to accommodate all viewpoints, regardless of his dark record of

      Or is Mbeki seriously trying to get Mugabe to accept that a free and
fair election is just that - nothing more, nothing less? There can be no
half-measures: everybody, the voter, the foreign and the local observer,
must be satisfied that the elections are truly free and fair.

      Mbeki must know that previous elections in Zimbabwe, in spite of Zanu
PF's boast to the contrary, have never been free or fair. People have died
trying to cast their ballots.

      Some have not cast their ballots or have been coerced into voting for
Zanu PF. The last two elections, in 2000 and 2002, were so violent they
resulted in Zimbabwe being punished by a number of countries.

      Mbeki, if he is serious this time, must insist that Zanu PF abide by
the letter and spirit of the Sadc electoral guidelines agreed in Mauritius.

      Above all, there must be no intimidation of the voters. The war
veterans, hired by Zanu PF in 2000 to cause mayhem, must be kept on a tight

      Perhaps the jailing of two of their leaders recently will be a
salutary lesson for the rank and file. They are not above the law. The
latest to be imprisoned is Endy Mhlanga, as cocky as the rest of them.

      He was convicted of theft by false pretences and corruption. One war
veteran leader to watch out for is Joseph Chinotimba. There are reports he
is keen to be a Zanu PF candidate. His record suggests he could be a

      He lost the Highfield by-election and may be preparing to ensure
victory this time around by using methods which may not be entirely in
conformity with the Sadc guidelines.

      The Police Commissioner, Augustine Chihuri, himself a war veteran, has
warned the police will deal firmly with any people engaging in violent

      If we had not heard this bland assurance in the past, we would be
comfortable. But Chihuri has spoken like this before and his police force
watched from the sidelines as Zanu PF's version of "The Janjaweed" have
rampaged across the country, frightening, intimidating and beating up

      In the past, Mbeki has disappointed many Zimbabweans with his
vacillation on the crucial issues confronting this country.

      The question of good governance remains the core of the impasse
between the MDC and Zanu PF.

      Mbeki must convince Mugabe he is now running a whole country, not a
one-party guerilla training camp in the jungles of Mozambique.

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Another blow to local banks

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

HARARE, 27 Sep 2004 (IRIN) - When Silibaziso Msipa and her husband got
married three years ago, they did what many young Zimbabwean professionals
did: opened accounts with the mushrooming local banks to take advantage of
the easy terms.

"As newly weds we did not have a lot of money to throw around. Rather than
open accounts with the established international banks, we opted for the
indigenous banks, which required very little money to open a savings
account," Silibaziso, a teacher at one of the affluent private schools in
the capital, Harare, told IRIN.

Last week, however, panic gripped depositors as they rushed to withdraw
their savings, unsure of the stability of Zimbabwean-owned banks.

The mass withdrawal was triggered by the unexpected collapse of Trust Bank
on Thursday, which left thousands of people unable to access their September
salaries or savings. The bank was placed under the management of a firm of
accountants and all accounts are to be frozen for six months.

The panic was also triggered by the approach of a 30 September deadline
imposed by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), by which time all financial
institutions must have improved their liquidity levels to Zim $10 billion
[US $1.8 million] to protect depositors. RBZ governor Gideon Gono warned
last week that as many as nine banks could fail that test.

An IRIN survey of established banks like Barclays, Standard Chartered and
Stanbic, revealed that queues of people wanting to open new accounts had
started forming by the end of last week. "I have come to the realisation
that it is safer to bank with established international banks than some of
the local banks, which have caused a lot of suffering to debositors,"
explained Siphosami Manyumbu.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has blamed the
government for the difficulties faced by the local industry. "The operations
of indigenously owned banks have been affected by the monetary policies
which have only benefited traditional banks, which have made huge profits,"
the MDC secretary for economic affairs, Tendai Biti, told IRIN.

Gono took over at RBZ in December last year with a mandate to end the crisis
in the financial sector, which had seen several local banks fold as a result
of cash shortages, high inflation, a weak local currency and

With the prospect of the collapse of more banks imminent, the RBZ stepped in
with an injection of funds, on condition that the rescued banks made changes
to their management, and the central bank was given better oversight of
their operations.
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More settlers evicted from commercial farms

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

BULAWAYO, 27 Sep 2004 (IRIN) - The Zimbabwe government has continued a
campaign against "illegal" settlers on former commercial farms with the
eviction of about 200 families from a property 10 km north of Bulawayo, the
country's second city.

Similar evictions have taken place at several farms on the outskirts of the
capital, Harare, in the past few weeks, with soldiers and police tearing
down the homes of people who answered the government's call in 2000 to
occupy commercial farms.

Scores of villagers, evicted from Mfazimithi farm outside Bulawayo on
Thursday and Friday last week, are now camped by the roadside along the
Bulawayo-Nkayi highway, where they have put up makeshift plastic shacks.

"Most people blame the government for taking us for a ride during farm
invasions as we were encouraged to stay put, but I think we are also to
blame for failing to read between the lines and see our future was uncertain
when the government had achieved whatever it wanted to achieve. It was
purely political, and now it has dawned on everyone as we are being driven
out of the farms. This is sad, sad indeed," said Methuseli Sibanda, one of
the evictees, as he gathered his belongings on Sunday.

The government has defended its actions, saying it had warned the settlers
against erecting permanent structures on the farms they had occupied under
the land redistribution programme. It pointed out that a rationalisation
exercise was needed, as many did not have the skills to exploit the
potential of the commercial farms they had taken over.

Lands minister Joseph Made told IRIN that, despite the outcry by the evicted
families and civil society groups, the evictions would continue: "We are
certainly not going back. It's an ongoing process."

But an official of the parastatal Agricultural Rural Development Authority,
who spoke to IRIN on condition he was not named, warned that a serious
health hazard was looming at Mfazimithi, as the settlers camped by the
roadside had no running water or sanitation facilities.

"It's a sad and unfortunate situation: children have since stopped going to
school, and all these people have nowhere to go - they are virtually
stranded and the authorities have not given them any alternative place to
live. Many people have lost their domestic animals as they were not allowed
to round them up, and most of them are running out of food."

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Anthrax Kills 1,500 Game Animals in Zimbabwe
VOA News
27 Sep 2004, 13:23 UTC

The director of Zimbabwe's veterinary services says an anthrax outbreak has
killed 1,500 wild animals on game preserves in southeastern Zimbabwe.
Stuart Hargreaves said Monday the outbreak has mostly affected small
antelope-like animals called kudus, on the Malangwe and Save preserves.

He says veterinary teams have vaccinated about 700 wild rhinoceros and
buffalo in the parks, as well as cattle herds in the area.

Workers have also burned the carcasses of many infected animals to prevent
the spread of the spore-forming bacteria.

There was no immediate explanation for the anthrax outbreak, which was first
detected about three weeks ago.

Humans are also vulnerable to anthrax spores, but Zimbabwe officials say no
recent deaths have been blamed on the outbreak.
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Zimbabwe: Mixing Politics With Food

Inter Press Service (Johannesburg)

September 27, 2004
Posted to the web September 27, 2004

Wilson Johwa

Food and politics, as Zimbabweans are finding out, are not always mutually
exclusive. If they were, what would explain official claims of a bumper
harvest when independent assessments suggest otherwise?

The clue seems to be parliamentary elections - now only six months away.

The last presidential poll, as well as subsequent by-elections, was mired in
dispute partly because the ruling party was accused of baiting needy rural
voters with subsidised or free food. It is widely believed that, once again,
the state is pursuing a similar strategy which demands it controls as much
of the country's food stocks as possible before next March's election.

A UN-led assessment mission says about five million of the southern African
country's 12 million people will need food aid before the next harvest in

Yet in the last four months the government repeatedly stated Zimbabwe will
not need food assistance this year. As a result, international donors, like
the World Food Programme (WFP), responded by scaling down relief assistance
which had been in place in the last three years due to the destructive
effects of drought and the land-reform programme, which began in 2000.

"By the time of the elections (the ruling party) ZANU-PF will control all
staple food supplies and we fully anticipate that they will use food as a
weapon of intimidation and coercion," says Eddie Cross, economic advisor to
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

A law restricting the activities of non-governmental organisations (NGOs),
especially on governance issues, is also expected to be passed next month.
Its effects, critics say, will be to control those likely to interfere with
the government's election plans.

In the last four years, the country has been caught up in a political crisis
triggered by the disputed parliamentary and presidential polls of 2000 and
2002. An accompanying land-reform programme -- meant to redistribute farms
owned by 4,500 whites to black peasants -- has precipitated an economic

Last month the MDC announced it was suspending participation in elections.
It argued that repressive laws, state-sponsored political violence as well
as biased electoral machinery, tilted the environment in favour of the
ruling party. However, the MDC expects to have finished selecting candidates
for all the 120 constituencies by the end of September.

The party says it will revoke its boycott when the government implements
protocols on free and fair elections it acceded to in August at a summit of
the 13-member Southern African Development Community (SADC) held in the
Indian Ocean island of Mauritius. They include setting up a truly
independent electoral commission, granting the opposition media space and
the right to campaign.

MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube says the election protocol does not
make specific reference to the manipulation of food except in broad terms
when it alludes to freedom of voter choice and non-abuse of state assets.
"The whole idea of shutting out donors is that when food availability will
be at its most critical, ZANU-PF will be able to strangulate voters in
exchange for votes, saying 'it's either you vote for us or starve'," he

In the meantime, however, conflicting figures of food stocks are keeping
Zimbabweans guessing.

Earlier September the head of the state monopoly Grain Marketing Board (GMB)
told parliamentarians the organisation had grain stocks of only 298,000
tonnes, or the equivalent to two months supply. Even after accounting for
anticipated seasonal deliveries of another 5,000 tonnes of the staple maize
crop, it seems the country would be short of at least half its annual grain
requirements of 1.8 million tonnes.

Yet government officials persist with the claim that 2.4 million tonnes of
grain, mainly maize, will be realised this year.

Meanwhile reports, quoting local officials, say 162 malnutrition-related
deaths have occurred in the country's second city, Bulawayo since January.

Such data has not been music to the ears of government officials. That the
local authority is run by the opposition doesn't help matters. In spite of
the city's reputation for relative competence and transparency, the
government claims it is playing politics, not least to discredit the
controversial land-reform programme.

Brian Raftopoulos, a professor of development studies at the Zimbabwe
Institute of Development Studies, says the government could well be holding
more food than it admits. "I think they are keeping the food situation very
close to their chest," he says.

Although the government has denied augmenting supplies with imports, it is
believed grain is secretly being brought in from neighbouring South Africa.
Cross says the World Food Programme is known to have asked Zambia to hold on
to 100,000 tonnes of maize for possible procurement, while contracts are
reported to have been signed with South Africa and Argentina. "I understand
that 200,000 tonnes is being imported," he says. "It may have already
arrived as we are seeing maize wagons every week."

Even though reports of food manipulation are beginning to accompany each
major election in Zimbabwe, it appears over the last two years simmering
political tensions have spilt into food distribution.

"What we know is that there are areas which still need a lot of food," says
David Chimhini, the director of the Zimbabwe Civic and Education Trust, an
NGO that operates across the country. "I think the government should start
distributing food now and not at a particular time," he says.

In a report released at the end of last year, Human Rights Watch, based in
New York, found that Zimbabwean authorities discriminated against perceived
political opponents by denying them access to food programmes.

The 51-page report, "Not Eligible: The politicisation of food in Zimbabwe",
documents how food is denied to members of the MDC, and to employees of
former commercial farmers, resettled under the controversial land-reform
programme. The report also examines the widespread politicisation of the
government's subsidised grain programme, managed by the GMB as well as the
far less extensive manipulation of international food aid.

Raftopoulos says while food will be important in the coming election,
especially if the MDC decides to participate, the decisive factor will be a
combination of other issues. They will include the flawed electoral system,
state control of the media, the incapacitation of the MDC and civic society
as well as the demoralisation of the population.

He warns that even if the state is earnestly short of food, Zimbabweans
"shouldn't underestimate the capacity of these guys to get the food they
need to use during the elections".
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Flintoff and Strauss close to withdrawing from tour

Lawrence Booth
Monday September 27, 2004
The Guardian

England's talismanic allrounder Andrew Flintoff is expected to announce
today that he will follow the example set by his close friend Steve Harmison
and withdraw from the one-day squad for the tour of Zimbabwe in November.
And as last night's deadline approached for players to make themselves
available for selection, Andrew Strauss admitted that Flintoff was not alone
in having misgivings about playing cricket in a country that is being torn
apart by Robert Mugabe.

"All the players have deep-rooted moral problems with going on the tour," he
told BBC Online. "It's not an easy situation for us to be in. The England
and Wales Cricket Board is going to be sending out a cricket team to
Zimbabwe - it's just a question of which personnel go. I can only speak for
myself and I haven't made up my mind yet."

Strauss's comments were another twist in the build-up to the announcement of
the 14-man squad, which will be named on the ECB website at 2.30pm tomorrow.
And they followed newspaper speculation about a disagreement in the England
hierarchy concerning selection policy.

Whereas the coach Duncan Fletcher is reportedly keen to rest key players
before the five-Test tour of South Africa starting in December, the chairman
of the ECB, David Morgan, is keen for the selectors to pick their best
side - including Flintoff, who is known to have strong reservations about
making the trip. England's standing in the international community plummeted
last year when they withdrew from their World Cup fixture in Zimbabwe, and
Morgan does not want to risk further censure by sending an understrength

David Graveney, the England chairman of selectors, yesterday played down
rumours of a rift and insisted that Harmison remained the only player to
have indicated that he would not be going to Zimbabwe.
But in an allusion to the bone spur that prevented Flintoff from bowling
during the NatWest Series in June and July, Graveney said that the make-up
of the side "is subject to fitness, and a number of players have been
carrying injuries this summer.

"The core players have been on the road playing constant international
cricket for a long time. The tour of Zimbabwe gives us an opportunity to
rotate a little more." He added that the squad might contain "one or two"

The generalities in which Graveney spoke might be intended to leave the door
open for Flintoff and other senior players to opt out at the last moment.

And yesterday it was clear that a complex situation remained unresolved.
"The selectors are still talking with the management committee of the ECB
about the make-up of the squad," said the players' representative Richard

Finding out exactly who thinks what has not been made easier by the fact
that the England captain Michael Vaughan has asked his players to toe the
ECB line and make themselves available because of the risk of ICC sanctions.

One report yesterday claimed that Vaughan had been unhappy that Harmison had
jumped the gun by announcing his withdrawal from the tour on moral grounds
after England's win over Sri Lanka in the ICC Champions Trophy nine days
ago. It quoted a team insider as saying: "Harmy kicked a hole in the dam and
raised the possibility of division within the camp."

But Vaughan will at least be comforted by the knowledge that Marcus
Trescothick, who hit 104 in England's nail-biting two-wicket defeat by West
Indies in the final of the Champions Trophy on Saturday, has publicly
declared himself available to make the trip, although he admitted that it
was "hard to judge" whether England's top players could do with a break
before the South Africa series.

"There are several weeks now until the start of the Zimbabwe trip," he said.
"That should be a long enough break, but we'll only really know at the end
of the South Africa tour."

The ECB has said all along that no individual would be penalised for opting
out of the Zimbabwe tour for moral reasons. The ICC's hearing into alleged
racism in Zimbabwe cricket, scheduled to start on Wednesday, may yet take
the issue out of the board's hands. But if Flintoff and others do pull out,
the ECB may have to reiterate its commendable public stance through gritted

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      Zimbabwe to back limited ivory sales at CITES 2004-09-28 03:00:45

          HARARE, Sept. 27 (Xinhuanet) -- Zimbabwe, with an elephant
population of almost three times its carrying capacity, will back South
Africa and Namibia's proposals for resumption of limited sales of ivory at
the next Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES),
officials said here Monday.

          A high-powered delegation is expected to leave the country on
Tuesday to join other countries at the 13th Conference of the Parties of
CITES from Oct. 2 to 15 in Bangkok, Thailand.

          Environment and Tourism Minister Francis Nhema will lead the
delegation that comprises senior officials from the ministry as well as
those from parks, Wildlife Management Authority and the Association of Rural
District Councils.

          Nhema said he would be part of the delegation to the CITES
meeting, which is held once every two years.

          The Parks and Wildlife Management Authority director general,
Morrison Mutsambiwa, who will also be in the delegation, said the Zimbabwean
government would not be presenting any proposals to themeeting.

          "We are going to support proposals by other Southern African
Development Community countries," he said.

          Mutsambiwa said Zimbabwe would support proposals by Namibia
andSouth Africa who want permission to sell a quarter of their ivory
stockpiles as well to hold annual sales.

          Zimbabwe would also back proposals by the two countries to support
the promotion of commercial trade in worked ivory, he said.

          At the moment, Zimbabwe is the only country allowed to sell worked
ivory to tourists for personal use, not for commercial purposes.

          Tourists are allowed to purchase pieces of worked ivory such
asnecklaces whose value does not exceed 500 US dollars.

          The size of the elephant population in Zimbabwe has exceeded the
normal carrying capacity of its national parks. It is estimated that there
are more than 100,000 elephants in the national parks, whose carrying
capacity is 40,000.

          The excess population is causing serious damage to the environment
and affecting other ecosystems, with small animal species slowly

          Pressure from animal rights groups has however prevented CITES
from authorizing measures to reduce the size of the elephant herd.

          "They should not think that when we want to reduce the population
of elephants, we want to sell ivory," he said.

          The Campfire Association director, Charles Jonga, said
Zimbabwewould oppose the proposal by Kenya to have lions lifted from
Appendix 1 to Appendix 2.

          Kenya is arguing that its population of lions is facing

          "The ban won't serve any purpose except to reposition the lion as
a pest," he said.

          The debate over resumption of a legal ivory trade has gained heat
before the CITES' Bangkok conference, at which the CITES Standing Committee
will decide whether Botswana, Namibia and SouthAfrica can sell off their
registered stocks as agreed at the previous conference and Namibia will
propose an annual quota for ivory trade.

          Pros to the proposal of enlarged legal ivory trade said the
resumption of the trade will provide much-needed cash to many African
countries that lack financial support for economic and social development.

          Cons noted poaching of wild elephants will deteriorate with
theresumption of legal ivory trade, for it's difficulty to track the origin
of ivory for lack of efficient trade controls.

          In a bid to save its elephant from poaching, Kenya will lead some
central and western African countries in the conference to propose a 20-year
moratorium of any trade of raw and worked ivory,if the coming conference
approves Botswana, Namibia and South Africa to proceed with their trading of
stocked ivory.

          Kenya, which lost about 85 percent of its elephant population due
to poaching before 1989, has seen its elephants increasing from 60,000 to
more than 100,000 due to a total ban on ivory tradeeffective in 1989.

          About 100 proposals and resolutions to protect various species of
plants and animals will be discussed at this year's CITES meeting, which
will be attended by delegations from 166 nations and regions. Enditem

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Kwara's Agrarian Revolution And the Zimbabwean Farmers

Vanguard (Lagos)

September 26, 2004
Posted to the web September 27, 2004

Dayo Omotoso

BEYOND paying lip service to fighting poverty and ensuring food sufficiency,
Kwara State government is pioneering an agrarian revolution in Nigeria.
Tuesday, 27 July, Governor Bukola Saraki signed a business agreement with 15
commercial farmers, members of the Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe.

By embracing commercial agriculture, Saraki said his administration was
truly maximizing its comparative advantage and tapping natural
opportunities; a move which, he said, would put Kwara State on the map of
the world. His words: "We are convinced that Africa can only achieve
sustainable development by first achieving food security. We are also
convinced that it is only in the agriculture and agro-allied economy that
Africa can begin to claim its space in the global market arena".

The governor assured the Zimbabwean farmers of their safety and the security
of their investment. He also charged the expatriate farmers to give their
best to the project. The major pivot of the agreement was the allocation of
1,000 hectares of land to each of the 15 pioneer farmers on a 25-year
leasehold renewable for another 25-year term. The state government will
provide basic infrastructure such as road, borehole and electricity to the
farms and also ensure adequate security at the farm-house. The white farmers
are required to incorporate a company and commence operations not later than
the first week of October, this year, and speed up significant development
of their allotted portions over a period of three years. The commercial
farmers will source 90 per cent of local manpower from indigenes of Kwara
State and obey the nation's labour laws. They will patronize local suppliers
for agricultural and agro-allied inputs and raw materials.

The agreement provides for the establishment of a community trust fund,
jointly by all stakeholders, for the creation of social facilities and
infrastructure for the welfare of members of the host communities. The fund
will be financed by a special levy fixed at one per cent of the gross turn
over of the farmers. In addition, the government will establish a school,
managed by the union, to transfer skills and technology to local

While justifying government's bold attempt at making Kwara the food basket
of the nation, Saraki described the investment as a wise, inevitable option
since it was becoming unrealistic to depend largely on oil revenue.

In his estimation, commercial agriculture would provide an alternative
economic base for Nigeria as the international oil economy becomes
increasingly volatile and unpredictable. The governor assured the people
that the government would protect their interests and urged them to make
friends with the white farmers and learn from their expertise. The governor
showered encomiums on President Olusegun Obasanjo and the Federal Government
for initiating and supporting policies that favoured the bilateral

Responding on behalf of his colleagues, the project co-ordinator of the
Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe, Alan Jack, expressed satisfaction with
the negotiations started in March, this year, which culminated in the July
Agreement. Jack said the Zimbabwean farmers were highly optimistic because
of the warm reception and cooperation from the host government. He promised
that his union will work with local farmers and share experience on dairy,
poultry, rice and vegetable cultivation and general mixed farming.

Kwara State Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Alhaji
Mohammed Boriya, blamed the reduction in the population of peasant farmers
in Nigeria on urbanization but emphasized the need to modernize the local
system of farming. An elated Boriya disclosed that nine states initiated the
invitation of commercial farmers into the country to invest in agriculture,
adding that Kwara state served on the technical committee which produced the
working document for the Federal Government. He described the gains and
expected benefits from the scheme as "unending" in the short and long run.

The commissioner allayed the fears of host communities by assuring them that
the commercial farming programme was not designed to supplant small scale
farming. Rather it will explore the vast resources available in the state to
boost agricultural production. Alhaji Boriya, therefore, charged the
commercial farmers and their host communities to work in partnership to
ensure the success of the project. The initiative of Kwara State Government
can be described as historic and a bold attempt at attaining food security
and fighting rural poverty.

Agriculture is the mainstay of the state's economy as over 70 per cent of
the population are peasant farmers. The agricultural sector does not only
produce food for the populace, it also provides the essential raw materials
for the state's agro-allied industries. With a total land area of 34,600
square kilometers and an annual rainfall of 1,500mm, Kwara State is
naturally blessed to produce large quantity of arable crops.

Unfortunately, agriculture had suffered serious neglect before Saraki became
governor. In order to redress the anomaly and remove the stagnation in
agricultural development in the state, the governor initiated various
programmes to increase food production and ensure food security for the

In July, last year, he started a pilot project which he called Back-to-Farm
scheme. It was designed to provide gainful employment for the army of
unemployed youths who had hitherto been engaged in anti-social activities
and to ensure food sufficiency in the state. Within a short period of one
year, the pilot project has become a full blown programme with the
acquisition of 5,000 hectares of land spread across the state where about
5,000 youths are now gainfully employed. To assist the young farmers, the
government bought 28 new tractors and repaired three old bulldozers, two low
loaders and one Hyab crane. It also hired additional bulldozers and low
loaders to complement those refurbished.

The government has also substantially solved the perennial problem of
inadequate supply of farm inputs to farmers at the right time and at
affordable prices by promptly releasing money for procurement of such farm
inputs. The money was used to purchase 18.5 metric tones of Soya beans seed,
1,000 bundles on improved variety of cassava and 40,000 bundles of the local
variety which were distributed to farmers at highly subsidized prices.

At the beginning of the 2004 planting season, the government committed about
25 million naira to land clearing and preparation, so as to make land
available to farmers. The government procured farm inputs and agro-allied
chemicals worth 30 million naira for distribution to farmers to enhance
their production capacity and save them from insect menace and pest

Extension agents

In the last one year, the Saraki government had given approval for the
recruitment of 50 additional extension agents to complement the existing
ones who had been assisting farmers in their efforts to attain good yield; a
major goal of the Back-to-farm programme.

Kwara State has also attained high level of success in rice production
despite late commencement of the scheme. In order to improve upon the
achievement recorded so far, 2,500 hectares of rice have been cultivated
with the repair of the earth dam and rehabilitation of the strategic Duku
Lade Irrigation scheme at a cost of 65 million naira. The Patigi Rice Mill
which had been grounded for years has been revived with the purchase of 10
de-stoning machines, five cottage rice mills and storage chemicals.

It is worthy of note that just as Governor Saraki has been making waves at
home with his agricultural policy, recognition has come from abroad. In
appreciation of his immense contributions to the growth of agriculture in
Kwara State, Dr Bukola Saraki was honoured by the European Marketing
Research Centre, Brussels, Belgium, in April during the 2004 Agric Business
Forum. And with the signing of a business between Kwara State and the
Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe and the adoption of modern agricultural
technology, sustained government support and stable developmental policies,
it is certain that agriculture will revolutionize and improve the living
standard of the people of Kwara State.

Omotosho, a public commentator, resides in Ibadan
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