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

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Misa urges government to intervene in Zimbabwe
September 29, 2003, 05:12 PM

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) has urged the government to
use it's influence and pressurise Robert Mugabe and his government to review
its draconian media laws.

The strict laws have resulted in the closure of Zimbabwe's biggest
independent newspaper, the daily news. Its journalists have all been

Bornwell Chakaodza the editor of The Standard, a sunday newspaper in
Zimbabwe, says he has been arrested six times in 18 months for telling it
like it is.

His sin-being seen as too critical of the Zanu-PF government. He says
independent journalist have become accustomed to torture, intimidation and
unlawful arrests.

Chakaodza is a man who has lived on both sides of the fence. He was once the
editor of the state-controlled Herald. Now he is with the private press he
is feeling the cool of the outside. He says yesterday it was the Daily News
tomorrow it could be The Standard.

Now the weighty organisations of Media Institute of Southern Africa and the
South African National Editors Forum have called on the government to act.
But the government prefers talking.

The Zimbabwean chapter of Misa is touring several countries to seek
solidarity and diplomatic pressure for press freedom in Zimbabwe. But there
is some hope.

Whatever happens to the closed down Daily News at least one South African
newspaper has promised to print its stories in its columns in the interests
of free speech.
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Zimbabwe’s Daily News battles on - online

Posted: 28 September 2003 By: Jemima Kiss

The Daily News, Zimbabwe's only independent newspaper, will be relaunched
online despite being banned by the government.

Just days after arrest warrants were issued for 45 Daily News journalists,
Ngunjiri Pascal Nderitu, web editor of the Daily News, told dotJournalism
that the internet would allow them to continue to reach their readership in

"Initially the editors felt scared that the government would take action if
we published on the web," he said.

"But we have now made the decision to recreate the newspaper online. And as
we will be publishing from Johannesburg, we will be outside the jurisdiction
of Zimbabwe's media law.

"This will be a very positive move for us."

Introduced in 2002, the Zimbabwean government's strict Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) requires all media firms to register
with the state-run Media Commission. The Daily News objects to the terms of
registration which they claim restrict the freedom of the press.

Production was forced to stop on 12 September when armed police raided the
newspaper's office in Harare. Staff were ordered from the premises and
computer equipment was confiscated.

Last week, Daily News executives eventually registered with the media
commission but the application was declined, effectively outlawing the

The closure of The Daily News, which is often critical of President Robert
Mugabe, has been seen as attempt to stifle government opposition.

However, Mr Nderitu said the publishers were confident that the government
would not be able to restrict access to the Daily News web site within
Zimbabwe, and that they are also considering changing the site’s domain -
currently - to remove any association with the country.

Many Daily News staff moved to Johannesburg in May this year to avoid
government action, and the site has been hosted in South Africa by Ecoweb
International since June 2003.

Shumba, the site's discussion forum, has remained active throughout the
difficulties, logging furious debates between readers.

"The Daily News is a criminal," posted one reader. "They must respect the
rule of law. The law requires that you register and you must do exactly

But many of those on the forum, including readers outside Zimbabwe,
responded in support of the newspaper.

"To obey the law is to be responsible in a democratic society. But in a
society where you can get in trouble with the law for the way you think,
things are different," said one Canadian reader.

"The move to shut down the Daily News only serves to prove the government's
moral and intellectual bankruptcy."

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The Australian

Mugabe builds case against himself
By Gavin du Venage, Cape Town
September 30, 2003
The Saddam Hussein-style palace being built by Robert Mugabe could be used
as proof in a corruption trial that the President plundered the country's
coffers while his people starved, critics say.

"It is not as unlikely as it sounds. He (Mugabe) could have his house
confiscated and turned into something useful, like a public building, when
he leaves office and loses the protection he had as President," said John
Makumbe, chairman of the Harare chapter of global corruption watchdog
Transparency International.

Work on the lavish three-storey retirement home began two years ago in the
plush northern Harare suburb of Borrowdale, home to the city's wealthy

The house is closely guarded, but Zimbabwe's independent media have reported
that the house covers 1000sqm, with an ornate Chinese temple facade,
ballrooms and hand-carved fittings.

It is believed to be modelled closely on one of the palaces of former Iraqi
dictator Hussein, a man whom Mr Mugabe admires openly.

Dozens of dark, arched windows with pale wooden trim and deep blue roofing
tiles can be seen above the high security walls. The tiles are said to have
been imported from Shanghai. China has long backed Mr Mugabe, and the
Chinese embassy is one of Harare's most important diplomatic homes.

Mr Mugabe is regularly seen inspecting progress on the site. His
free-spending wife, Grace, also is a regular visitor and is believed to have
taken personal charge of decorating the estate.

"Zambian president Frederic Chiluba was put on trial for corruption by his
own party when he gave up power. The same thing could well happen to Mugabe
when he goes," said Mr Makumbe.

There are already indications that not all in Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party
approve of the way the country is being run. These party members would like
to see some of the excesses of the current leadership curbed.

Mrs Mugabe was forced in 2001 to sell a lavish home she owned nearby, dubbed
Graceland, after she was accused of plundering a low-cost housing scheme for
civil servants to build it.

Complaints from war veterans associations have also forced the President to
demand an audit of confiscated farms and to make public the names of
officials who have grabbed some of the best land available.

The new building is estimated to have cost at least $US3million
($4.45million) - far exceeding Mr Mugabe's government salary, which is
officially recorded as $Zim20.2million, or $US11,000 a year. "This is
peanuts compared to what is being spent on the house," said Mr Makumbe.

He hopes the establishment of a corruption commission to investigate the
misuse of public funds by political office-bearers, to which senior Zanu-PF
members have already agreed, could some day hold Mr Mugabe to account.

As President, Mr Mugabe is exempt from judicial process. But once he
relinquishes his position, he could be hauled before the commission and put
on trial for corruption.

If that were to happen, the Mugabes could be evicted, although their
extensive landholdings mean it is unlikely they will ever be homeless.
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Zim paper still out of action
29/09/2003 18:33  - (SA)

Harare - A Zimbabwe court on Monday postponed till later this week a ruling
on an application by the country's only independent daily newspaper to have
confiscated equipment returned, a company official said.

The Daily News had made an urgent court application to have equipment
returned that was seized by police more than a week ago after the paper was
found to be operating illegally.

Gugulethu Moyo, the paper's legal director, said the judge on Monday told
Daily News lawyers that before he could make a ruling they had to first
serve court papers on the magistrate who issued police with a warrant to
seize the equipment.

The paper is seeking to have that warrant overturned.

Moyo said the matter had now been postponed until 15:00 on Wednesday.

The Daily News was shut down two weeks ago because it had not registered
with a state-appointed media commission, as required under strict press

When the paper subsequently applied to register it was turned down.

Moyo said a court in Harare was Wednesday also due to hear an application by
the Daily News to have an appeal against the media commission's refusal to
register it heard urgently.

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Business Day

UN food aid hope rests on Harare agreement


International Affairs Editor

THE United Nations (UN) World Food Programme (WFP) is hoping that its accord
with the Zimbabwean government last week will pave the way for donors to
ease the agency's funding crisis.

The memorandum of understanding has assured donors there will not be
political interference in the distribution of food aid, which is handled by
local nongovernmental organisations (NGOs).

Since early last month, when Zimbabwe said it would restrict NGOs
distributing food, no donors have given funding for the WFP appeal. The WFP
has warned that millions in the region will face imminent and massive food
shortages, especially in Zimbabwe and drought-struck Mozambique.

Given the current funding level, the WFP says the entire region is expected
to experience shortages of emergency food early next year. This will be
during the lean season when the number of those in need will be highest and
the overall food deficit greatest, the UN agency says.

SA has not given any indication of whether it will match a donation made in
February this year of R170m to last year's appeal.

The foreign affairs department said yesterday that to its knowledge its
earlier donation to the WFP's southern African relief appeal had not yet
been used, but it was monitoring the food situation in the region.

However, the regional head of the WFP, Mike Sackett, said yesterday that
"every single ton of maize has been used, and every single rand has been
spent", of the South African donation.

The WFP says it is too late for food aid to arrive from overseas to meet the
needs over the next two months.

Donors have given less than a quarter of the 308m the WFP says it needs to
feed 6,5-million people with 540000 tons of food for the year to June next

In the June 2002-June 2003 period, the WFP raised $443m in funding, but says
that donors feel stretched this year due to the situation in Iraq, and
Liberia and other west African countries. While donors stress that they will
continue with emergency aid to Zimbabwe, disgust with the Mugabe government
is also hurting the appeal.

So far the US has given 37m and the EC-Europe Aid $28,5m.
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Business Day

Harare court relaxes broadcasting law

HARARE The top court in Zimbabwe had struck down a section of the country's
controversial broadcasting law that gave the information minister power to
license would-be broadcasters, a newspaper said at the weekend.
The law, which was passed in 2000, is seen by rights activists in Zimbabwe
as part of a raft of recent laws that are inhibiting freedom of expression
and assembly.

The state-controlled Herald newspaper said the court struck down section 6
of the Broadcasting Services Act, which gives the minister the authority to
license broadcasters.

"I, accordingly, hold the view that section 6 of the Act is unconstitutional
because it totally subordinates the regulatory authority to the minister in
the process of granting broadcasting licenses," Chief Justice Godfrey
Chidyausiku was quoted as saying in his ruling.

Media freedom in Zimbabwe has been in the spotlight since the recent closure
of the country's only privately-owned daily, Daily News, after the supreme
court ruled the paper was operating illegally.

The ruling on the broadcasting law was made after Capital Radio, a private
station that was closed down by armed police in 2000, applied to the supreme
court to have sections of the law declared unconstitutional.

The radio station filed its application after being refused a broadcasting

Meanwhile, a newspaper reported yesterday that drug shortages had hit
Zimbabwe's cashstrapped medical facilities. Patients deemed to be in
nonemergency condition were being refused operations in the second city of

Only "life-threatening" conditions were being operated upon, the Sunday Mail
said, citing shortages of anaesthetics. A medical official told the paper
the lack of foreign currency crippling Zimbabwe meant drugs could not be
imported. Sapa-AFP
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Doubts over new land claims
28/09/2003 22:06  - (SA)

Barnie Louw

Cape Town - Rumours that the Zimbabwean government now plans to expropriate
urban properties belonging to whites are "highly questionable" says Hermann
Hanekom of the Africa Institute.

But, he says, anything is possible as far as President Robert Mugabe is

Other analysts also warned that reports in weekend newspapers, suggesting
that the Zimbabwean government was now turning its attention to land in
urban areas, should not be accepted as truth on face value and that rumours
like these regularly cropped up.

White farmers in Zimbabwe claim the latest expropriations of white property
is part of a government project, Project Clean Sweep, geared at getting rid
of the last white property owners in the country.

Since Mugabe launched his controversial land reform programme in 2000, the
land of more than 4 000 farmers has been appropriated.

Meanwhile, reports also surfaced that the governing Zanu-PF party and the
opposition, the MDC, have agreed that the country needs a new constitution.

The reports suggested that officials of these two parties have been meeting
regularly since March to address issues that must be in place for official
negotiations between the two parties to start.

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ZANU PF Youth League signs agreement with Cuban youths

30 September 2003
The ZANU PF Youth League and the Young Communist Party from Cuba have signed
an agreement that seeks to enhance cooperation between youths of the two

The agreement was signed by ZANU PF Secretary for Youth, Cde Absolom
Sikhosana and the Young Communist Party first secretary, Cde Otto Rivero
Toress at the ZANU PF headquarters in Harare Monday morning.

Cde Sikhosana said Zimbabwe will help Cuba in its quest to have five of its
citizens released by the Americans.

Cde Tores said Zimbabwe and Cuba enjoy cordial relations dating back to the
days of the liberation struggle.

The two countries are facing similar threats from imperialist forces
following their stance against unipolar systems.
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African Editors Flay Zimbabwe Over Harrassment of Journalists

This Day (Lagos)

September 29, 2003
Posted to the web September 29, 2003

Amarachukwu Ona

The African Editors Forum (TAEF) has condemned the high-handed measure by
the Zimbabwean Government over the denial of a licence to publish Zimbabwe's
Daily News by a government commission.

TAEF, representing editors and senior editorial executives from more than 35
countries in the African continent, said the action is a regrettable and
unfortunate occurrence signalling a hardening of attitude by the Zimbabwean

In another development, TAEF said the unprecedented step taken by nine
Algerian editors not to publish their newspapers this Monday should signal
to the Algerian government how their persistent harassment was being viewed.

The nine publications, El Khabar, Er-Rai, Akher Saa, El Fadjr, El Watan,
L'_Expression, Liberte, Le Soir d'Algerie and Le Matin, claimed that
pressure had mounted on newspapers since the publication of allegations of
corruption against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, his relatives and a
number of cabinet ministers.

These were made known to THISDAY through an e-mail chat by the interim
chairperson of TAEF, Mathatha Tsedu.

The Zimbabwe Daily News was first closed down last week after it lost a
court battle to challenge the validity of a repressive set of laws known
euphemistically as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act

The laws require newspapers to register anew and also provide for the annual
registration of journalists by government.

The Daily News has since lodged an application for registration, a measure
that even in terms of the draconian act, should allow it to resume
publication. A court order last Thursday granting the paper permission to
resume printing has been ignored by the police, who aborted a hand over of
confiscated equipment such as computers.

It has now emerged that the Media and Information Commission has
"unanimously agreed not to register the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe
(ANZ), publishers of The Daily News, as a mass media service," the Herald
newspaper reported yesterday in Harare.

The Daily News has been a thorn on the sides of the Zimbabwean government
but that is no reason to stop it from publishing.

Tsedu said the ban, if made permanent, would have the effect of shutting
down the voices of dissent in a country where democratic gains of the
liberation struggle were being rolled back significantly in the past three
to four years.

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PR COMMUNIQUE - September 29, 2003



AGRIZIM. The Way Forward.

Gwynne Dyer wrote an article in The Zimbabwe Independent headed:


There are a number of points brought up by Gwynne Dyer that all Zimbabweans
need to give some thought to.

1.  "When Western factories shut down and shift production to Mexico or
Taiwan Western Governments generally accept their arguments about
competitiveness and efficiency, so why not apply the same logic to the
farming industry?"

2.  "No more than 2 or 3% of the population live on the land in any Western
country these days, but it's only a century since more than half of them

3.  "The rich countries want to preserve the family farms because they make
cultural, ecological and even aesthetic sense. The real goal is to preserve
the rural society and landscape, and change the system. Subsidise the
farmer, not the food."

A study of the Government agricultural policy over the last four years
would show it to be the very OPPOSITE of that of Western Governments and
rich countries. The results also appear to have been accordingly
predictable - POVERTY CREATING rather than wealth creating.

*A well developed, skilled and highly competitive agricultural production
system has been replaced by a system phased out by the Western countries,
over the last one hundred years.

*Areas formally utilized by this skilled and productive group of the
population have been used to facilitate this reversal, at the expense of
that group, the industry and ironically the nation as a whole - with the
fastest shrinking economy in the world, hyper inflation and enormous job
loss as well as loss of skilled personnel.

*Aesthetic, cultural, ecological and agricultural value of the rural
landscape has been traded for political expediency.

*But the most fascinating aspect of this reversal of Western policy, (of
wealth creation and environmental sustainability) is the support it has
received from the allegedly professional leadership of the skilled and
productive agricultural sector.

A visit by these professionals to some of the Communal Lands in Regions 4 &
5 is likely to test their theory fully (and maybe even their consciences if
they can see the humanitarian repercussions of their theory put into

*Will these "professionals" be proud to join the Government's demand on the
West for Food Aid - (from the 2 to 3% that live in the rural landscape of
the West) to feed America and Africa? Or are they infatuated by their
(temporary) feeling of importance as custodians of the diminutive bread
basket of Zimbabwe?

Whilst AGRIZIM acknowledges the need for sound Agricultural Policy - and
continues to work towards it - it also acknowledge that NATIONALLY a huge
part of the relief for the people of Zimbabwe will have to come from JOB
CREATION in COMMERCE and INDUSTRY, and MINING - in conjunction with

This is only likely to come after INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION as per the
requirements of the Crisis Coalition.

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Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to with "For Open Letter Forum" in the subject line.


Letter 1:

Could we please have John Kinnaird's letter published again? I have been
following with interest the letters following it, but seem to have erased
his message. It might be a good time for us all to read it again in the
light of the other thoughts expressed through your bulletins.

Many thanks,

Linda Costa

Herewith John Kinnaird's original letter by popular request; for those who
missed it the first time round or those who would like to revisit it in the
light of recent debate and have deleted it.  It certainly has stirred up
interest and debate which is the whole purpose of this Open Letter Forum
and we salute John for his convictions and stand and thank him for his
participation.  Well done.


Monday, September 29, 2003

- Farming Today???
I have been reading with some interest the various viewpoints being
expressed by many farmers. There is a wide diversity of opinions being
expressed on the whole CFU vs JAG Question.

I am not a farmer but I feel that the great pity is that the farming
community has been torn apart by the whole messy business. It undoubtedly
has been the intention of ZANU-PF all along to break the close knit farming
community apart.

- Why was this done?
The thousands of close knit commercial farms with their gainfully employed,
well regulated, fed, educated and housed communities were difficult for the
cadres of ZANU-PF bully boys to penetrate. To all intents they were closed
to communist / socialist style intimidation that the communal residents are
vulnerable to.

One must never forget that every one of the hundreds of thousands adults
resident on the commercial farms is a voter.  The commercial farmer had to
be removed from the equation in order for the political commissars and
party activists to gain access to the farm workers. Many of our commercial
farmers have thought that it was about land, it never has been!

It was vital that there was not a free and fair vote on the commercial
farms. The farmers had to be stopped from influencing the way that their
employees voted. If this did not happen, ZANU-PF would have taken a severe
beating in both the 2000 general elections and the 2002 Presidential

- How did ZANU-PF achieve his?
There had to be a deliberate breakdown of Law & Order created. The most
obvious manifestation of this was the barbaric, deliberate and sanctioned
murder of David Stevens, Martin Olds, Alan Dunn and the many others. These
fine people were killed as a test to see whether the farmers would react as
one voice and take decisive and unanimous action. They did not!
Once ZANU-PF saw that selfishness would prevail, the remaining farmers
were, and are being picked off one at a time and their possessions and land
deliberately stolen by the Chefs.

- Why have some farmers been untouched?
The only white commercial farmers who have been left alone are those
influential members who may have had the personality, wealth and influence
to cause the other farmers to act as one. Many of them have stood by whilst
their friends and neighbors were forced off their farms and their property
robbed. Had all farmers acted in a concerted and selfless manner, we as a
country would today be in a very different situation.

- What are some of those farmers who are still farming thinking?
§ Perhaps they think that by saying "I am not the one" they will be ignored
§ If they turn a blind eye to the plight of their friends maybe they will
be left alone.
§ Maybe they feel that if they do not rock the boat they will be one of the
favored ones.
§ Do they think that if they allow themselves to be blackmailed, bribe the
D.A's and ply the greedy chefs with food and money, they will be allowed to
stay on their farms
§ If they send their tractors to plow the land and sow the fields that
they know has been stolen from their neighbors, by a Judge, Bank manager or
Foreign Office diplomat they can continue farming.?
§ If they give maize and slaughter a cow for the party at heroes day, they
will become invisible.

They will not! Just ask any of the displaced farmers who have spent
millions in desperation trying to feed the bloodsuckers and were still
kicked off their farms.

- Where do we go from here?
Robert Mugabe has stated that he intends to drive every white farmer off
the land and I see nothing to indicate that he has diverted from his path
in any way. He has to do this because if he were to allow the farmers to
return, he will lose face and influence. In addition, the farm workers will
once again be removed from his influence. There will be no return to the
farms as long as ZANU-PF is in power in Zimbabwe.

- It has nothing to do with the land.
It has everything to do with sowing terror into the hearts and minds of the
rural population. One has only to look at the unwillingness of the
government to allow the World Food Program to feed the rural people without
ensuring that only the loyal party members are being fed.

- The Liberation War leaders cannot admit failure.
These people are battling for their own survival, they have to apportion
blame to someone else for the starvation that is ravaging the Zimbabwe
people. The survival of ZANU-PF depends on them having to constantly remind
the populace that they liberated the country. There is a constant barrage
of propaganda emanating from ZBC. "Rambayi Makashinga" has been played
every 30 minutes for the last 6 months over the radio to persuade the
people that the land is the basis of their liberation.

- The Ruling party have not achieved anything else in the 22 years that
they have been in power.
They may claim that ZANU-PF has educated two generations of students to
grade 7 or better.
What they have not done is to give this partially educated mass of people
anything else to look forward to for the rest of their lives. There are no
jobs and the price of higher education is so high that only the politically
connected or the children of the war veterans are able to afford it.

They have to convince every Man, Woman & Child in this country that they
must go and work the land.

- Nearly two generations of people from the communal lands have been trying
to get off the land.
All they want is to give themselves and their children a brighter future
than that offered by subsistence agriculture. ZANU-PF are now trying to
convince the whole populace that it is their duty to pick up their Badzas,
Yoke up their Oxen and till the nearest piece of arable land. It is
expected of the peasant that he be able to feed the nation with no inputs,
no money and no agricultural experience. The rural resettled A2 farmer has
seen complete crop failure in the last two seasons and his heart is sore
and almost broken and his family is slowly starving to death. If Mugabe is
unable to convince these subsistence farmers to stay on the land, it means
that he would have to admit the failure of his whole party policy.

- Mugabe in his heart knows that he has failed his people.
No civilized person is able to comprehend that leaders can be so desperate
to hold on to power that they will allow innocent people to starve to death
rather than admit the failure of the communist ideology.

ZANU-PF and the Coterie of people around Mugabe will not allow him to admit
failure because to do so would be to sign their own death warrant. They do
not have a clue what to do about the disaster that now faces this country.

- What do the White commercial Farmers now do?
I urge the couple of hundred still farming to look at their conscience. If
your conscience is clear and you know that you have not aided and abetted
the suffering of your friends then fine! If your conscience is not clear
then beware, you will be judged at some future time, whether in this world
or the next.

- What about the hundreds of farmers staying in town?
§ Fill in your loss claim documents, make a plan to survive this madness,
your skills will be desperately needed in the future.
§ If you want to stay and your children want to continue farming, keep
your Title Deeds secure.
§ Mugabe is breaking his own Laws. He has not convinced any of the
international community that he is morally or legally correct to do what he
is doing. Zimbabwe is desperate for recognition, he needs the west more
than the west needs him. Nobody except dictators in their own countries
have yet to come out in support. We can wait it out!
§ Mugabe, Muzenda and Msipa are sick old men, and the next generation of
ZANU-PF leaders are unable to get elected in any urban constituency.
§ The Zimbabwe people have had enough and will one way or another get rid
of this Leech.

John Kinnaird

All letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions
of the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice
for Agriculture.

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Comment from The Sunday Mail, 28 September

What’s the big deal?

Much has been made and said of the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of
Government Meeting (Chogm) in Abuja, Nigeria. There has been that feeling in
certain quarters that Zimbabwe will be spited if not invited. These
sentiments have been emanating mostly from the white section of the
Commonwealth led by the garrulous Australian Prime Minister, John Howard,
and the now strangely silent Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister. We
think whether or not Zimbabwe is invited to Chogm is immaterial and
inconsequential. We don’t see why Zimbabwe should be bothered with Chogm. It
should get its priorities right and pay attention to only those meetings and
programmes that add value to the country, the continent and the rest of the
world. Zimbabwe should actually not attend the Commonwealth summit because
it is not worth anything anymore. Since Don McKinnon became the
secretary-general, the Commonwealth is no longer the same institution that
it was under the leadership of Sir Shridath Ramphal or Chief Ameka Anyaoku.
There isn’t much of a Commonwealth anymore. The organisation has visibly
moved away from its development agenda and been turned into an extension of
British foreign policy. We now have a Commonwealth that is not ashamed to
champion British and American imperialism through the positions it takes in
situations such as the invasion of Iraq. Howard, Blair and McKinnon have
clearly killed the spirit of consensus that marked previous Commonwealth
positions and meetings such as the one Zimbabwe had the pleasure of hosting
in 1991.

In place of consensus now we have the megaphone diplomacy of the likes of
Howard, which has not only irritated Zimbabwe but also other countries,
notably South Africa. The white Common-wealth so boldly speaks about
democracy, pointing a speck in black Africa’s eyes and yet ignoring the log
in their own. When one hears them speak about matters of democracy and
equity one would be surprised to realise that they are the same countries
that do not practise what they preach. One would only need to hear from the
Aborigines in Australia or the Maoris in New Zealand to understand the level
of hypocrisy and to understand that in the case of Zimbabwe their agenda is
to derail the land reform programme. Therefore Zimbabwe has a choice between
going to the Abuja meeting and keeping the gains of its independence as
enunciated in the land reform programme. It may as well say to hell with
Chogm and concentrate on getting the land reform programme to work
effectively. Going to Chogm would be to simply give Howard and Blair an
undeserved opportunity to exert pressure on Zimbabwe and distract it from
its programmes at a time it should be focused. The Common-wealth is too
divided to be useful and we doubt if anything will come out of the Abuja
meeting. The Commonwealth must be reminded that unless it works to achieve
unity of purpose and returns to its development agenda it will be one
organisation that is not worth losing sleep over.

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From The Guardian (UK), 29 September

'It is like losing a son'

The only dissenting daily newspaper in Zimbabwe was closed down by the
government 10 days ago. Wilf Mbanga, founder of the Daily News, describes
how it lost its fight against Mugabe's regime

From the moment I boarded a plane to Britain in early 1998 to seek investors
for an independent daily in Zimbabwe, I knew that we had embarked upon a
collision course with President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF government. But we
had to give it our best shot - there was so much at stake. The country had
begun to slide into a morass of political and economic chaos and corruption.
The government-owned mass media had lost all credibility and degenerated
into a propaganda machine. There was a desperate need for an alternative
voice, for the facts, for fair comment and fearless reporting.

The Daily News was launched in 1999 to be that voice. Bound by a code of
ethics, the paper pledged to observe the highest standards of integrity and
fairness and to produce a quality newspaper that would strive to "tell it
like it is". It would go on to play a key role in the emergence of the
opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in 1999, the
national referendum on constitutional reforms in February 2000 and the
general elections later that year. It informed the world of the vicious
government crackdown on the opposition before, during and after the election
and exposed the massive electoral fraud involved in 2000 and the
presidential election in 2002. The battle lines had been drawn in 1998 when
potential investors were threatened by government ministers and hastily
withdrew. As a result, the company faced serious financial problems early in
its life, but was rescued by an enterprising Zimbabwean, Strive Masiyiwa,
one of a new breed of uncorruptible black businessmen. He now owns 60% of
the company, while 32% is held by the original British investors and the
balance by a few Zimbabweans. Soon after the paper hit the streets in 1999,
it surpassed the circulation figures of the government-owned national daily,
The Herald. People queued to buy copies of the Daily News, whose print run
for many months was limited to 60,000 by the capacity of its press and
availability of newsprint. This later rose to 120,000. Advertising industry
statistics indicated that every copy was read by at least seven people. Its
readership encompassed the entire spectrum of Zimbabweans: young and old,
men and women, urban and rural, black and white.

The Daily News kept the Zimbabwean public accurately informed of the
activities of Zanu PF's corrupt and murderous leadership, breaking such
stories as the president and the cabinet's 1,150% salary hikes when 80% of
Zimbabweans were living below the poverty line; the first lady's
multi-million dollar shopping sprees abroad while industry ground to a halt
for lack of foreign exchange; the allocation of grabbed white farms to
political cronies and defence force officers; and desperate shortages of
fuel, bread, maize meal and bank notes. The year 2000 saw the appointment of
Jonathan Moyo as the minister of state for information and publicity. An
avowed enemy of the independent media, this man was to preside over its
destruction. He wasted no time in drafting the legislation for the banning
of the Daily News - the misnamed Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act (AIPPA). (In my vernacular, Shona, the language of Mugabe and
75% of Zimbabweans, this acronym means "he has gone bad"). However, the
legislation was only enacted in 2002, and in the intervening months the
government's pursuit of the paper took many turns.

First it was zealous Zanu PF functionaries who "banned" the Daily News -
confiscating, burning and tearing up copies on a daily basis. Readers were
beaten up by party faithfuls, while vendors were arrested by the police for
"blocking traffic". Then the government began arresting Daily News reporters
and denying them access to government information. Arrests of the editors,
management and local investors followed. Although I had left the newspaper a
year earlier, I was arrested, together with the editor-in-chief of the
paper, Geoff Nyarota. From the start it was obvious that the police did not
have a case against us, but we were detained overnight in a tiny, stinking
cell. The magistrate had no difficulty in dismissing the case as being
without substance. This did not deter the government from appealing to the
high court, where once again the case was dismissed. In January 2001 Moyo
went on record as saying the Daily News had become a threat to national
security and should be silenced. Within 48 hours, the printing presses of
the newspaper lay in a twisted, tangled heap, destroyed by anti-tank
explosives. Later that year, the paper's offices in central Harare were
bombed. There have been no arrests.

Then came AIPPA. It introduced a system of mandatory licensing of the mass
media and individual journalists through a media and information commission
(MIC) whose board is appointed by and reports to Moyo. Significantly, all
government mass media are exempt from registration. From the outset it was
obvious that AIPPA was unconstitutional, in that it breached the provision
of the Zimbabwe constitution guaranteeing freedom of speech. It was also
patently obvious that the law had been passed to get rid of the Daily News
and that even if we applied for registration, this would be denied. The
Independent Journalists Association (IJA) and the Daily News immediately
mounted a legal challenge on these grounds and decided not to apply for
registration - thereby buying time to continue publishing. In the first nine
months of AIPPA, 44 journalists from the private, independent media corps
(out of around 100) were arrested. Of these, only two were actually
prosecuted to completion and the government lost both cases. Six had charges
withdrawn, 22 were released without charge after spending time in police
custody, one was deported after being acquitted (the Guardian correspondent,
Andrew Meldrum) and 13 cases are still pending. Not one journalist from the
state-owned newspapers has ever been arrested or harassed in any way.

With the skill and patience of a seasoned hunter, the government has been
stalking the newspaper for a long time. It carefully manoeuvred into a
position of strength before its final attack. Having gotten away with the
land-grab, the impoverishment of most Zimbabweans through wanton destruction
of the economy, the disenfranchisement and exile of the majority of the
white population, blatantly fraudulent elections and the killing, maiming
and raping of thousands of opposition supporters - it pounced for the kill.
It finally cornered its quarry 10 days ago when the supreme court ruled that
the Daily News could not seek legal protection while breaking the law in
question. No sooner had judgment been passed than the police moved with
uncharacteristic speed to seize equipment, block staff from entering the
building and prevent the paper from appearing. Despite heroic efforts by the
staff, the paper has not been produced since then. Finally, the coup de
grace: the paper's application for registration, made as soon as high court
judgment was received, has been turned down by the MIC, as we knew all along
that it would be. It was denied on the grounds that the paper had not
followed proper procedures and had published illegally for eight months
after enactment of AIPPA without seeking registration.

Human rights are under siege in Zimbabwe. Freedom of expression is next on
the list. In the words of Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the MDC:
"Repression is sure to increase if the Daily News is silenced. Nearly every
edition of the Daily News had reports of the state abusing our citizens and
inflicting violence on innocent people. Without that regular exposure, the
state may step up its brutal campaign because all the other dailies are
owned by the government and they do not criticise the regime or expose its
violence. Without the Daily News the future is bleak indeed." This whole
saga raises this question: Why did the Mugabe regime not simply ban the
Daily News years ago, either at its inception or as soon as it became
evident that the paper would expose the government's corrupt and repressive
rule? Why the convoluted legal niceties? Why the four-year delay? The only
answer must be that Mugabe likes legal niceties. He did two law degrees
while imprisoned by the Rhodesians during 1964-1974. Throughout his rule, he
has taken great pains to ensure that new legislation is passed to facilitate
his most illegal activities. For example, he amended the Electoral Act to
load the dice in his favour by disenfranchising thousands while allowing
11,000 soldiers in the DRC to vote.

And so the Daily News is not banned - it has merely been refused
registration to operate as a newspaper because it has failed to comply with
the requirements of the newspaper registration law of Zimbabwe. Effectively
the paper I founded is over. Killed by the regime. It is like losing a son.
I loved that paper. It makes you weep.

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