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

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Daily News online edition

      Training centre turned into militia camp

      Date:30-Sep, 2004

      BULAWAYO - Community leaders in Zimbabwe's second largest city,
Bulawayo, are complaining over the recent establishment of a training centre
for members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), at the Ntabazinduna
Training Centre, about 40 kilometres north of the city.

      The centre, which will be the fourth in the country, after Morris
Depot, Thomlinson Depot and Chikurubi Training Centre, recently opened its
doors to more than 300 recruits drawn from parts of Matabeleland and
Midlands provinces.

      The youths are currently undergoing training in police duties. After
training, they would be deployed to all the provinces in the country just
before the country's general elections scheduled for March next year.

      Sources at the centre told Daily News Online that recruits would
receive specialised combat training similar to the one which was given to
members of the Korean-trained Five Brigade of the Zimbabwe National Army,
who left a trail of destruction during the infamous Gukurahundi massacres in
parts of Matabeleland and Midlands provinces.

      Leaders of the Zimbabwe National War Veterans Association in the area,
have equally registered their concern over the establishment of the centre.

      In an interview, one of the leaders, who refused to be named, said
they had forwarded their concerns to the party's top leadership, as people
were afraid that the centre would be turned into a torture chamber during
the forthcoming elections.

      He said the area of Ntabazinduna was known for its anti-Zanu PF stance
and therefore people were afraid that they may be targeted during the
election campaigns.

      "Militias under the National Youth Service caused havoc in the are
during the presidential elections and people are not prepared to be put in
that situation again," said the war veterans leader.

      Ntabazinduna Training Centre, which was originally established as a
skills training institute, has not been fully utilised over the years due to
lack of funding from the Ministry of National Affairs.

      It was later turned into a national youth training centre where
militias from the National Youth Service were trained. ZRP then took over
the centre with the militias being relocated to the Jairos Jiri Centre in

      An official at the Jairo Jiri Centre, Joseph Rusike, confirmed the
relocation of the youths and said the centre had reluctantly taken them in.

      In a recent visit to the training centre two weeks ago, police
commissioner Augustine Chihuri, told some of the training officers at the
institution that the establishment of a police training point in the area
was a political decision.

      Sources close to the centre, who accompanied Chihuri, said the police
commissioner also told staff at the centre that they should be prepared to
take orders from his office on how they were supposed to operate.

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      Desperate measures in Zimbabwe

            By Michael Hartnack
            BBC Focus on Africa magazine

      With 90% of the country's 11.8m people living on less than $1 a day,
Zimbabweans are trying to deal with extreme poverty in a number of desperate

      For two million people, the answer over the past four years has been
emigration, either the road to Harare International Airport, or to the
Beitbridge border post with South Africa.

      Along the route, prostitution flourishes, despite the threat posed by
HIV/Aids. Starving women sell their bodies for the deposit on a cool drink
bottle: U$14cents.

      Meanwhile roughly 500,000 former employees of evicted white farmers
are fending for themselves as hand-to-mouth goldpanners, vendors of stolen
firewood and odd-job-men.

      Turning to religion

      A spirit of war-weariness is settling upon the country once called
"the bread basket of Africa."

      National output and foreign currency earnings have crashed, and
inflation has hit 600%. Economists talk of "200% unemployment".

      Less than a million people have formal sector jobs. The National
Council for the Welfare of Children estimates there are at least 5,000
children living on the streets of the capital alone.

      In desperation, some are turning to the Vapostori, or apostles, a
religious sect which practice a mixture of Christianity and veneration of

      A seven-year old prophetess, Tespy, who says she is "the third voice
of Jesus," was once followed by 2,000 people on a donkey cart pilgrimage
from Guruve on the Zambezi Escarpment to Mazowe, 30km north of the capital.

      "Blacks, coloureds, whites, Muslims and born-again Christians - they
all come," Barbara Thomson, an Irish-born widow who has lived in Zimbabwe
for 45 years and says she is "consulted" by four or five people a day, told
BBC World Service's Focus on Africa magazine.

      "Money is their big worry."

      Frequent visitors are pensioners fearful that long-dead grandparents
and great-grandparents will be angered by the sale of family heirlooms.

      Every fourth week, Harare's Senior Citizens Club holds an auction
where its 200 members - mostly white septuagenarians - turn their treasures
into cash.

      Some receive pensions as low as US$10 cents a month and would starve
but for charity and remittances from relatives abroad.

      Groups of well-wishers, driven underground by a government clampdown
on independent voluntary organisations, distribute up to 700 meals a day to
private homes.

      In the same way, churches sneak relief food into townships to evade
pro-government militia and agents of the Central Intelligence Organisation.

      Broken spirits

      Meanwhile, the Harare-based Samaritans organisation, which used to
deal with hundreds of suicide emergency calls a month, has been hamstrung by
the soaring cost of phone calls - phone boxes no longer work because
hyperinflation has rendered coins worthless.

      The organisation cannot afford a toll-free number. It is also short of
volunteers, following the emigration of many educated, middle class
Zimbabweans who were their traditional recruitment pool.

      And a counsellor at the Samaritans said that many people are finding
they cannot face the poverty - and are giving up altogether as money-related
crises drive them to suicide.

      "Their spirits are broken by poverty," she said.

      "They give up and do not call us."

      Many elderly people deliberately kill themselves by refusing to eat.
Meanwhile children and teenagers are also driven by despair when their
families are unable to pay fees which range from US$ 60 cents a term at
government primary schools to US$12 at secondary schools.

      Some young girls buy anti-malarial tablets or steal pesticides, hoping
for a swift end but die after suffering weeks of agony as their liver and
kidneys are destroyed.

      "In the rural areas women hang themselves, or pour paraffin over
themselves and their children and set themselves alight," says the

      "In town they turn to poison. Families pretend it was an accident to
try and avoid the stigma and the expense of rituals to propitiate the

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The Telegraph

Tortured, evicted and persecuted by regime's thugs
By Peta Thornycroft in Harare
(Filed: 29/09/2004)

Of all the opposition MPs arrested, beaten or tortured since the Movement
for Democratic Change almost won against President Robert Mugabe in a
general election four years ago, the white farmer Roy Bennett is viewed by
colleagues as among the most persecuted.

Most MDC MPs have suffered at the hands of the regime, but 47-year-old Mr
Bennett's suffering is unusual. A month before the 2000 election, he was
away. His wife, Heather, then 36, was pregnant with their third child at
their Chimanimani homestead when pro-government thugs arrived.

"They came to her on the farm, stuck a panga at her neck, and beat the
workers in front of her. The next day she started to lose the baby. After
she lost the baby we decided it was not possible to have another child in
this Zimbabwe," he said. The Bennetts have two older children.

Mr Bennett does not regret going into politics because it was "the right
thing to do. For all of us, ourselves, our children, all the children of
Zimbabwe, and all the people. We need democracy, an accountable government,
and that is not possible with Zanu-PF."

He holds MDC's only rural seat, in Chimanimani, among the mountains of
eastern Zimbabwe in what was a Zanu-PF stronghold.

Now the regime is threatening to jail him. Four months ago, he shoved the
justice minister, Patrick Chinamasa, who had taunted Mr Bennett over his
eviction from his home.

A disciplinary committee dominated by Zanu-PF has since recommended a year's
jail sentence. Parliament will hear the committee's report when it
reconvenes in a fortnight's time.

There have been many other incidents. Mr Bennet's farm workers have been
forcibly evicted, despite court orders allowing him to remain and some have
been killed, beaten, shot at or arrested because they work for him. He said:
"At least 300 people working for me have been beaten up and worse since I
was elected."

In October 2002, Mr Bennett was detained with his security guard and they
were both tortured for four days.

His 850 cattle have been mutilated, killed or stolen, his coffee beans
confiscated by the state and sold to Germany, and he and his workers were
forcibly evicted from a second farm he rented.

He does not even recall clearly the total financial loss he has suffered
since he entered politics. "Maybe its £1.5 million," he said.
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The Telegraph

Mugabe opponents 'betrayed' by England cricket tour decision
By Peta Thornycroft in Harare and Ben Fenton
(Filed: 29/09/2004)

Zimbabwe's opposition yesterday branded as "an appalling betrayal" the
decision of the English cricket authorities to tour the country to protect
the financial future of the game.

Human rights activists and MPs from the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change said they were disgusted that the England and Wales Cricket Board had
allowed money to influence its decision to tour Zimbabwe in November.

Senior English cricket officials have long argued that withdrawal would
result in swingeing fines from the sport's international governing body. One
unnamed ECB source was quoted as saying: "We have to do all we can to
protect the financial interests of the game."

In Zimbabwe, where attacks on those seeking to oppose the regime of
President Robert Mugabe have become ever more brutal, there was anger at the
idea that cricketing finance was more important than the propaganda boost
the tour offers the government.

Roy Bennett, a white MDC MP, said: "I will not watch an international
cricket game in Zimbabwe when there is so much suffering, and I love the
game. How can the British come here? It is an appalling betrayal."

Arnold Tsunga, the director of Lawyers for Human Rights, said: "Do English
cricket authorities simply not care about human rights? Is it only about
money now?"

Fidelis Mhashu, an MP and spokesman on sport for MDC, said: "We expect the
ECB to give us moral support, and not to talk about money. Why do they feel
comfortable to tour Zimbabwe? The patron of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union is
Mugabe. British sportsmen shunned apartheid, demonstrated against apartheid
in those days, but here, where everyone is suffering, the English come to
play sport for the sake of money."

A human rights activist in Bulawayo said: "Does anyone from the ECB remember
that people were tortured after they were arrested during peaceful protests
at the [cricket] World Cup here? Are they prepared for more of that this

While Aeneas Chigwedere, Zimbabwe's education minister, whose portfolio
includes sport, was not available for comment, Mr Mugabe has said
controversy over the British tour to Zimbabwe was caused by "that man Tony

Having said this month that no player with an ethical objection to taking
part in a tour that might be seen as condoning the Mugabe administration
would be punished, the ECB seemed to change tack on Monday.

Then David Morgan, the board's chairman, vetoed plans by Duncan Fletcher,
the England manager, and other selectors to allow key players to miss the
five-match tour.

The compromise reached allowed the announcement yesterday of a team without
three of its best players, but with Michael Vaughan, the captain, still at
the helm.

The omission of Steve Harmison, who said he had moral qualms about
travelling, Andrew Flintoff, who is believed to share those views, and
Marcus Trescothick, who needs a rest, was the most that the ECB would

Meanwhile, in a timely illustration of the everyday brutalities meted out by
the regime to opponents, a group of more than 50 women on the last leg of a
250-mile walk in searing heat to protest against proposed new laws to ban
human rights organisations were arrested by members of the riot police.

"We are going to be arrested any minute," said Jenni Williams, about 60
miles north of Harare when her cell phone cut out. Relatives and friends of
the group, Women of Zimbabwe Arise, Woza, waited anxiously for news in
Bulawayo, where the march began.

Another marcher, Magodonga Mahlangu is understood to have escaped and joined
a handful of women still heading towards Harare in their arduous march,
described as illegal under Zimbabwe's security laws.
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The Sun (UK)

Zimbabwe is horrific

ANDREW FLINTOFF was rested for the time-bomb tour to Zimbabwe - but then
revealed: "I wouldn't have gone anyway."

All-rounder Freddie has spoken for the first time on why his heart would not
allow him to play in the five one-dayers there in November.

And he is horrified by the thought innocent protesters or spectators could
be savagely beaten at an England cricket match.

Flintoff, 26, admitted his mind was made up 18 months ago when England had
three days of emotional meetings before boycotting their World Cup match
with Zimbabwe.

Several players were reduced to tears.

Freddie said: "I told the captain Michael Vaughan and coach Duncan Fletcher
last week that I wasn't available for the tour.

"Nothing has changed since all those meetings and problems we had in Cape
Town before the start of the last World Cup.

"In fact, from everything I read and heard, things have got worse in

"Most of us have seen images from the African country and the situation
looks horrific.

"I didn't want to go then - so why should I want to go now? Concern about
our safety was a factor 19 months ago but the main reason I didn't want to
go was the moral issue.

"One of the things we talked about then was what would happen to people who
might want to use our matches for peaceful demonstrations.

"Can you imagine how we'd have felt if we heard they had been treated badly?

"The same thoughts apply now - I wouldn't want that on my conscience.

"We had three days of meetings and it was a very draining time.

"It certainly wasn't the ideal way to prepare for the game's biggest
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The Telegraph

Discourtesy is the best that Mugabe could possibly hope for
By Stephen Robinson
(Filed: 29/09/2004)

Few of us can put our hands on our hearts and claim never to have lied at a
cocktail party. When confronted by a vaguely familiar face we cannot place,
we thrust our hand forward enthusiastically, and say, "Nice to see you",
just as Jack Straw did when he spied Robert Mugabe through the gloom of a UN
reception. (It was good to see Mr Straw deploying that old diplomatic
wording of nice to "see" you, rather than nice to "meet" you, as the latter
can prove so embarrassing when your interlocutor reminds you that you were
at university together.)

Some will sympathise with Mr Straw that his protracted photo-op with the
cameras from Newsnight backfired so spectacularly. Mr Straw has rebranded
himself of late, shedding his swotty spectacles in favour of new bifocal
contact lenses. He is doing something different with his hair. If one didn't
know about the internal traumas of New Labour, one might wonder whether the
Foreign Secretary had taken up with a younger woman.

But no, it seems that Mr Straw senses opportunity in the deadly fight
between the Prime Minister and the Chancellor, that he might just be able to
burst through on the inside should the two men destroy each other in their
deadly, undeclared leadership contest.

It was, as Mr Straw put it, "quite dark" at the end of the room where Mugabe
lurked. Shadows were falling across faces in a certain way, making
identification difficult. If Mr Straw were the worst type of saloon bar
bore, rather than a right-on Labour loyalist, he might have said: "Sorry,
squire, these African despots all look the same to me."

Instead, Mr Straw adopted a different defence, suggesting he was entirely on
the ball, perfectly capable of recognising the dictator of Zimbabwe. "The
fact that there is a serious disagreement between Zimbabwe and the UK," he
said primly, by way of justification for his limp handshake, "does not mean
that you should be discourteous or rude."

That is a very strange comment for an elected politician to make about the
president of a country that Britain has singled out for diplomatic
isolation. Diplomats are paid to be polite and courteous, to keep lines open
when bilateral relationships are imperilled by their bosses speaking
plainly. Our elected leaders are supposed to offer a certain moral
leadership. Foreign secretaries are supposed occasionally to kick over
tables; diplomats are paid to set them straight again.

Britain has been the prime mover behind European sanctions against the
corrupt Mugabe regime. Ministers have condemned Mugabe's confiscation of
white-owned farms and his ruthless oppression of the black opposition. This
newspaper has generally found common cause with the Government on Zimbabwe,
and deplored the willingness of President Chirac of France to waive EU
travel restrictions so that Mugabe could attend a conference in Paris.

Now Mr Straw seems to be saying that M Chirac was right. Just because
Mugabe's regime is destroying one of the most glorious and fertile countries
in Africa, just because he is leading a racially based attack on that
country's white inhabitants and seizing their farms, this is not good enough
reason to be "discourteous or rude".

Mr Straw's acute diplomatic embarrassment at the UN's HQ would not have been
so noteworthy had it not coincided with the latest chapter in the debate
about whether the England cricket team should play against Zimbabwe.

Like Mr Straw, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) cannot make up its
mind whether or not to be rude to Mugabe. Like Mugabe, the
government-controlled Zimbabwean Cricket Union (ZCU) has done everything it
can to cause domestic and international offence. It has dropped 13 white
Zimbabwean cricketers in a contrived racial dispute, and now plans to put up
a purged team of untried no-hopers against England in a series of
meaningless one-day internationals in Zimbabwe this autumn.

Why should the England players, tired after the longest domestic season in
memory, take part in a farcical series in Zimbabwe? The answer, apparently,
is money. The ECB has been told in stark terms by the International Cricket
Council (ICC) that it will face "serious'' financial sanctions if it fails
to send a team to this most pointless of encounters.

Eight months ago, the ECB announced it was introducing a "moral dimension"
to its consideration of whether to retain cricketing ties with Zimbabwe.
Some people at the time predicted this would lead to humiliation, and so it
has proved.

As soon as the ICC, dominated by "non-white" cricketing nations, spoke up,
the moral dimension was soon forgotten, and those who now question whether
it is right for our cricketers to play a team of youngsters handpicked by
the political masters of the ZCU are told to live in the real world. The
fast bowler Steve Harmison emerges with enormous credit for letting it be
known well in advance that he would not go to Zimbabwe for reasons of
conscience. Marcus Trescothick and Andrew Flintoff, it was announced
yesterday, will not be going for what are euphemistically described as
"cricketing reasons".

Michael Vaughan will apparently go, with some unhappiness, but he is captain
and perhaps rightly feels he should not be in open defiance of the ECB. But
what a mess, and what ridiculous pressure the ECB has put the players under.

A few dozen Zimbabwean women were yesterday dodging Robert Mugabe's riot
police as they tried to complete a 250-mile walk to protest at the recent
banning of human rights organisations. How alone they must have felt as they
pounded the potholed roads of their misruled country.

Cricket's administrators at Lord's first raised, then dropped, the notion of
a moral dimension in the consideration of sporting contacts with Zimbabwe.
And now Jack Straw is captured on video, hand in hand with Robert Mugabe,
telling the wretched people of that country that he is not prepared to be
discourteous to the monster who oppresses them.
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The Telegraph

Gough raises fears of tour defections
By Simon Briggs
(Filed: 28/09/2004)

Squad details

Officials at Lord's are desperate to draw a line under the turmoil that
preceded yesterday's announcement of a 14-man squad to tour Zimbabwe.

After tense discussions between team coach Duncan Fletcher and the England
and Wales Cricket Board chairman David Morgan, Michael Vaughan was named as
captain, while Andrew Flintoff and Marcus Trescothick were given leave to
sit the tour out. And that, the selectors must have hoped, was that.

But within a couple of hours Darren Gough was raising the spectre of further
defections from the team as he described his continuing uncertainty over the
Zimbabwe issue. "If the plane had left this morning I'd have gone," he said,
"but there's still a long way to go and a lot of things can happen. There
are a lot more conversations people have to have and they will be going on
over the next couple of months."

Gough's comments show how fragile the team's consensus is over this
benighted tour, which is once again tying English cricket in knots. The
players had originally hoped to present a united front, but the first
divisions broke out with Steve Harmison's decision to pull out on ethical
grounds, and now it seems they could continue until the day of departure on
Nov 16.

Gough's reservations are based on his friendships with many of the white
Zimbabwean players who have been forced out of the national team, one way or
another. His commitment to England is not in doubt after he turned down an
invitation last month to appear in the ITV reality show I'm A Celebrity, Get
Me Out of Here, which would have clashed with the Zimbabwe tour dates.

If Gough were to withdraw he would leave Paul Collingwood, with 59 caps, as
the most experienced one-day player in the squad, just ahead of Vaughan and
Ashley Giles. These three old hands will have to guide their novice
team-mates through the pitfalls of what is likely to be an anxious trip,
both on and off the field.

Vaughan must be glad of the presence of Giles, who turned down the
selectors' offer to rest him alongside Flintoff and Trescothick. The two
players keep such close company that Nasser Hussain used to refer to them
simply as the twins. And though Giles claimed yesterday that he was "keen to
retain my position in the team", he also acknowledged the importance of
supporting his captain and team-mates. Personal loyalty has largely
underpinned his decision.

Trescothick had also made himself available for selection, as he explains in
The Daily Telegraph today. But the selectors told him on Monday that he was
being rested.

As for Flintoff, he had long been expected to join his own closest
associate, Harmison, on the sidelines for this tour. But unlike Harmison,
Flintoff is understood to have no major ethical objection to the trip. As
England's main all-rounder, he has worked harder than anyone to ensure the
team's success this summer, and fully deserves an extended break.

The absence of established names has opened the door for four one-day
debutants to be included in the party. Simon Jones and Ian Bell have played
Tests already, while Kevin Pietersen is a South African exile whose
performances in county cricket have given him a stature not far short of the
young Graeme Hick. The surprise is perhaps the selection of Matthew Prior,
Sussex's 22-year-old batsman-wicketkeeper, who often opens the batting in
National League games and averaged more than 40 in the competition.

Morgan yesterday defended his refusal to allow Vaughan to join the resting
players in grandiose style, saying: "As the ECB is a member of the global
cricket family, we have a duty to protect the integrity of the international
game and ensure that the level of competition on any England tour is not
diluted by the wholesale resting of players without good reason."

The irony here is that England actually fielded a still less experienced
team on the five-match tour of Zimbabwe in October 2001. Fletcher and
company picked an experimental side for that series, including five
debutants, without encountering any objections at all. But that was before
the shambles of England's no-show in Harare during last year's World Cup.
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The Telegraph

Rebels may boycott hearing
By Peta Thorneycroft in Harare
(Filed: 29/09/2004)

Zimbabwe's 13 rebel cricketers will not take part in the International
Cricket Council's hearing on racism today if the two-man panel allow a
controversial member of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union's board to be present
when they give evidence.

Late last night the rebels instructed their lawyer to withdraw their
participation in the racism inquiry if board member Ozias Bvute was allowed
to sit in on the hearings in Harare.

The cricketers, most of whom are now unemployed, decided that they would be
too "intimidated" if Bvute, who is now also acting managing director of the
ZCU, took part in the hearing. The ICC's in-house lawyer, Urvasi Naidoo,
said yesterday that the panel would decide before the hearing began who
would be present during proceedings.

All evidence in the ICC's hearing into allegations of racism in Zimbabwe
cricket will be heard in closed court. There was a pre-hearing conference
yesterday when lawyers for the players, all white, and a South African
barrister appearing for the ZCU, agreed that the proceedings be closed to
the press and public.

The identity of at least one witness will probably never be revealed,
according to sources close to the hearing, because of the sensitive nature
of the evidence to be presented.

The first witness who can be identified will be Heath Streak, the former
captain of Zimbabwe who was sacked in April because he said he objected to
the racist behaviour of several ZCU board members. It was his sacking that
sparked a boycott by the rebel players. The ZCU responded by ripping up
their contracts with the board.

Streak objected, on behalf of the players, to what he described as
unqualified selectors choosing the team, though he supported the ZCU's
policy of bringing more black players into the national side. He returned to
Zimbabwe four days ago after helping Warwickshire to win the County
Championship this summer.

"I hope that this hearing will result in a reflection of what went wrong, so
that there's a future for all Zimbabweans, regardless of their race, to feel
part of cricket," Streak said. "We ultimately want reconciliation, and that
would mean that the players are taken back without retribution, and that
selectors will choose teams irrespective of colour.

"We would also want those in control of cricket in Zimbabwe to treat us with
respect, so that nothing like this ever happens again.

"It was nice to be with Warwickshire away from the pressures of this
business. The question of my captaincy is not an issue, that's not

Others players who will give evidence to the ICC hearing are Trevor Gripper
and Stuart Carlisle.

The rebels were unable to afford to bring Zimbabwean barrister Adrian de
Bourbon from Cape Town to represent them. "I will represent them," said
Harare-based lawyer Chris Venturas. "Money from the International Cricket
Council became available too late."

The ZCU, which received financial support from the ICC, have brought in a
South African barrister, Norman Arendse, to argue their case.

It is not clear yet whether former ZCU managing director Vince Hogg will be
called to give evidence to the inquiry. He quit his job six weeks ago, and
reportedly is still unemployed. He was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Among the incidents which will come under scrutiny will be an allegation by
the ZCU that a group of unidentified white "outside forces" planned to
destroy cricket in Zimbabwe.

Another is that an official of the Mashonaland Cricket Union threatened to
dig up the pitch in Harare and lead a demonstration if three white players
were included in the Zimbabwe side after they were beaten by Bangladesh in

Behind the scenes, however, there are some in both camps who have been
working to try to effect some reconciliation. That would lead to a reworking
of the ZCU's constitution, which was amended to make it impossible for the
present board to be replaced. The ZCU refused to comment on the inquiry

The ICC's panel is made up of Goolam Vahanvati, India's solicitor-general,
and a South African high court judge, Steven Najiedt. They will preside over
the three-day hearing at a city centre hotel.
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Zim online

Wed 29 September 2004

      HARARE -Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) yesterday ruled out talks with the government unless it withdrew a
controversial electoral law reform Bill expected to be tabled in Parliament
next month.

      In a development that could scuttle renewed efforts by South African
President Thabo Mbeki to broker dialogue between the MDC and the ruling ZANU
PF party, the opposition party's secretary general Welshman Ncube said his
party wanted the Zimbabwe Electoral
      Commission Bill scrapped before it could co-operate.

      He said: "We have said and shall maintain our stance regarding these
reforms. That Bill is unacceptable. If ZANU PF wants to co-operate with us,
it has to withdraw that"

      Before the MDC's latest position the party had called for
unconditional talks with the ruling party to plot a way out of a grinding
economic and political crisis that has gripped Zimbabwe for the last four

      ZANU PF had instead set pre-conditions such as demanding that MDC
leader Morgan Tsvangirai withdraw a court application challenging President
Robert Mugabe's controversial re-election in 2002.

      The ruling party had also demanded that the MDC recognise Mugabe as
the legitimate President of Zimbabwe before the two parties could come to
the negotiating table.

      Reacting to the MDC's condition for talks, ZANU PF spokesman Nathan
Shamuyarira yesterday told ZimOnline that the opposition party had always
been insincere about dialogue. He said: "At one time they call for dialogue
and then go on to call for sanctions. Why
      don't they come back and work with others in solving the country's

      Mbeki, who is also chairman of the Southern African Development
Community's Organ on Politics and Defence, has been working behind the
scenes to bring the MDC and ZANU PF to the negotiating table.

      He met Mugabe last week on the sidelines of the United Nations general
assembly in New York and sources said he impressed upon the Zimbabwean
leader to pursue dialogue with the opposition to resolve the crisis now also
negatively affecting the entire region.

      Before the New York trip, Mbeki had met Ncube and senior MDC members
and reportedly told them to resume talks with ZANU PF.
      The MDC has already announced it will not participate in next year's
general election unless the government fully implements a SADC electoral
protocol adopted in August.

      The protocol calls for the establishment of independent commissions to
run elections. Under the protocol, the electoral process must be
sufficiently fair and transparent while the rule of law, human and
individual rights must be respected during elections.

      The government's electoral law reform Bill proposes the setting up of
a new commission which it says will independently run elections in the
country. The MDC says the new commission will lack independence because its
chairman will be appointed by Mugabe.

      Meanwhile, the MDC chief whip, Innocent Gonese yesterday said his
party was going to mount stiff resistance to the proposed electoral law
reform Bill and another controversial Bill that seeks to severely restrict
Non-Governmental Organisations in Zimbabwe.

      Gonese said: "We will do our best to stop these Bills. Even if ZANU PF
tries to use its majority to push the Bills through, we will take a stronger
stance to demonstrate our disapproval. There will be fireworks and we will
carry out the mandate we have from the electorate to try and stop
dictatorship." - ZimOnline
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Zim online

Social security authority loses US$10 million in botched deal
Wed 29 September 2004

      HARARE - The National Social Security Authority (NSSA) lost about
US$10 million in a botched up project to upgrade the authority's information
technology system two years ago, Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Public
Accounts was told earlier this week.

      Management at the authority had commissioned the project without
approval from the Ministry of Finance as is required by law. The NSSA is a
social security scheme set up by the government in 1994 with the aim of
providing basic comprehensive protection and coverage to all Zimbabwean
workers. Every worker in the country is required by law to join the scheme.

      Authority chairman Edwin Manikai on Monday told the parliamentary
committee that an information technology company, IT Design, was hired in
2002 to upgrade the network at the authority.

      The project had to be aborted after it was established that the system
the company sought to instal would not be compatible with other network
hardware servers already in place at the authority.

      Manikai did not say how IT Design had been hired in the first place
without establishing whether their products would be compatible with the
computer network already installed at the authority's offices.

      He also shrugged off questions about why the authority had gone ahead
with the project without government approval saying the Finance Ministry
delayed in approving projects forcing his board to sometimes go ahead
without the necessary approval.

      Manikai said: "Nothing is forthcoming from the Finance Ministry, we
just submit as a matter of policy but they do not respond. Sometimes the
finance ministry officials tell us that our applications for approval were
misplaced and we need to resend."

      Since its establishment, the social insurance scheme has been riddled
with corruption and mismanagement with powerful ruling ZANU PF party and
government politicians accused of milking the scheme through shady
investment projects.

      The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions has threatened to quit the
authority's board to protest what it says is the looting of workers'
investments at the authority. - ZimOnline
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Business Report

      Zimbabwe tries to stop run on several troubled banks
      September 29, 2004

      Zimbabwe's central bank tried yesterday to stem panic withdrawals from
several troubled banks, saying it would not let the finance houses collapse,
state radio reported.

      A run on banks has been triggered by a September 30 deadline set by
the central bank for all financial institutions to declare their capital
reserves and show that they have enough liquidity to continue operating, or
face being shut down.

      State radio quoted central bank governor Gideon Gono saying banks
showing inadequate capital reserves would be helped to "regularise in a
manner that is non-disruptive".

      Central bank officials would work with shareholders, directors and
managers to keep troubled institutions afloat by recapitalising them, Gono

      "The market is, therefore, being advised to continue conducting
banking business in a calm manner ... The deadline would not translate into
a free-fall Armageddon for the banking system as some have been
speculating," he said.

      A rush for cash emptied many automatic teller machines in Harare at
the weekend.
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JAG CLASSIFIED: Updated 28th September 2004

Please send any classified adverts for publication in this newsletter to:
JAG Classifieds:

1.  Advert Received 19th September 2004



PHONE: 013-41656
CELL: 023 297 231

2.  Advert Received 21st September 2004



512 RAM

Tel: 494720 or Cell : 091 247001

3.  Advert Received 21st September 2004

HEALTH WALKER - $1 million
SPEED QUEEN TUMBLE DRYER (1 year old) - $4.5 million
Contact: Fiona on 023891912 or Frans on 011806619

4.  Advert Received 22nd September 2004

Wanted - registered male Rotweiller pup.

Please contact Victor Faustino on .

5.  Advert Received 23rd September 2004

For Sale: Used Hitachi VCR

    What offers?

Please contact Alannah 091 229 234 (day time) or 490051 (early evening).

6.  Advert Received 23rd September 2004

For Sale

3 General purpose saddles - well used

1 Old one fully dressed
2 newer with 2 girths each and stirrups
Reasonable offers please

Contact -Paddy Taylor on or phone Odzi (0204) 2288

7.  Advert Received 24th September 2004

New Zealand Government desperate for skilled migrants
Pass mark plummets as a result
Iain McLeod, Director of Protea Pacific Ltd, will be travelling to Zimbabwe
in OCTOBER for the purposes of conducting consultations and possible
seminar to those interested in emigrating to New Zealand.
Iain will be visiting both Harare and Bulawayo:
HARARE 29th - 31st 31 October
BULAWAYO 1st - 3rd November
If you or family members or friends are interested in having an individual
consultation with Iain, please contact Paulette Resink either on email, mobile 011 606 671 or home after hours 885473.
Bookings for consultations do tend to fill quite quickly and if you are
interested please book as soon as possible.
A seminar will be confirmed once there is an adequate number of people to
attend - require a minimum of 20 persons.

8.  Advert Received 25th September 2004

"William Evans 12 Bore Shotgun (Serial No: 14469); side by side barrels,
sidelock and beautifully engraved.  Manufactured in 1926 and recently
valued (2003) by Maker (William Evans Limited) in UK; approx. 50 rounds of
ammunition; chambered for 2 1/2 ammo.  The Shotgun is in pristine
condition - this firearm is licenced until 1.4.2005"
If interested please contact me on e-mail:

9.  Advert Received 25th September 2004

Furnished house to rent from 1st of October. Quiet Close, Walking distance
of Borrowdale Village. $4m per month. Please phone Jim 883339

10.  Advert Received 25th September 2004

Sony Playstation2 (6 mnths old)
Satin Silver Edition
2 controls
1 memory card
3 games - Desert Storm 2; Prince of Persia; Need for Speed Underground.
10 dvds
Samsung SGH-V200 cell phone (has camera - 65000 colour)
2 batteries; charger; hands free; easy GPRS disk and cable.
Phone 011 601581.

11.  Advert Received 27th September 2004

LIONS DEN BUTCHERY is still OPEN and has great biltong, wors and meat!

Tiger Tournament people - we can arrange for you to collect your orders
from 6.30am till 6.30pm at your request.

Located on main Kariba road 139kms from Harare.

Phone Bruce or Pat on 067-23356 or cell 011 616612.

12.  Advert Received 27th September 2004

Fibreglass Trailer Moulds for making Luggage trailers ... Worth 200 Mill
but will accept an offer.  Come and have a look.

Phone Jack Palmer

13.  Advert Received 28thSeptember 2004

Wanted! - Nissan 2,7 Diesel.  Double Cab with canopy and must be well
looked after with fairly low mileage.

Phone Jack Palmer with offers.
For the latest listings of accommodation available for farmers, contact
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From: Nick Holme []
Monday, 27 September 2004 6:13 p.m.
 Subject: Zimbabwean farmers
  Dear Zimbabweans, ex-Zimbabwens, friends of Zimbabweans and all
 those with any connection with Zimbabwe whatsoever!
 Now that Zimbabwe's commercial farmers have virtually all been
 forcibly evicted from their land, it is time to place on record
 the enormous trials and tribulations faced by farmers in that
 country, as well as the good times - from the early pioneering days
 of Cecil Rhodes et al, through two world wars and our own civil war,
 to the current crisis facing the future of Zimbabwe's commercial
 To that end I am gathering as much research material as I can, in
 order to write the most comprehensive book possible on the every day
 lives of people who could be considered frontline farmers virtually
 all the time.
 Before I go any further, for those of you who don't know me, I too
 was a farmer in
Zimbabwe, was chairman of the Headlands Farmers'
 Association, Chairman of the Commercial Farmers' Union Environment
 Committee, Mashonaland East CFU Regional Executive, sat on the board
 of Wensleydale Trust (an agricultural training institute) and was
 Editor of The Farmer magazine.
 One of the most efficient ways to gather in stories from all four
 corners of the globe is via the internet and email. I would be very
 grateful if you could either contact me at with
 your own farming experiences and occurrences that played an important
 part in your life, or forward this email to as many friends and
 contacts around the world who may have even a slight connection with
 Zimbabwean farming, so that I can get as much information as possible.
 What am I looking for?
 Firstly, all information sent to me will be treated in the strictest
 confidence and will only make its appearance when the book is
 published. The aim of the book is to create as comprehensive a history
 and personal accounts of farming in
Zimbabwe and so the sort of things
 I am looking for are:
   a.. Your own personal experiences
   b.. Any historical information you might have, going back as far as
       when commercial farming first started in the country
   c.. Funny, sad, exciting, despairing, jubilant, rags-to-riches,
       riches-to-rags, every day, war time, peace time - virtually
       any experience to do with farming that made an impact on you, or
       people you know, either as a child, an adult, a mother,
       a father, a brother, a sister or a friend, etc.
   d.. Anything that you might consider a worthwhile contribution to the
       recording of
Zimbabwe's frontline farmers, from the early
       pioneering days to the present day. We have all played a part in
       the forming of
Zimbabwe and there are so many fascinating aspects
       to Zimbabwean farming life that I feel it is essential to place as
       much of it as possible on record, in one book, for the world to see
       and to preserve the history of a courageous and enterprising group
       of people.
 If you have any queries or concerns, then please don't hesitate to
contact  me at and I will reply as soon as I possibly can.
If  you have material that is not emailable, eg. books, but which you would
 like me to look at, then do contact me via the email address above and we
 can make alternative arrangements. With very many thanks and I really
look  forward to receiving your stories, anecdotes and experiences.
 Yours sincerely
 Nick Holme
 P.S. As I am not yet on broadband, could I ask if you have any
photographs  you would like to send, that you hold on to them for the time being and I
 will contact you at a later date when I have the facility to receive large

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From The Daily Mirror, 29 September

Nkomo denies hand in evictions

The Minister of State responsible for Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement,
John Nkomo has distanced his ministry from the on-going farm evictions
throughout the country and laid the responsibility squarely on the shoulders
of provincial governors and resident ministers and their administrative
structures. The recent wave of farm evictions - some of which have been
challenged in the court - has triggered a chorus of angry voices from the
settlers who have since accused senior government officials of corruption.
In an interview yesterday, the Zanu PF national chairman said it was the
responsibility of provincial leaderships to look into the matter and then
appraise his ministry on the progress made. "The governors are the ones on
the ground and know the farms that fall under their jurisdiction," Nkomo
said. "They know the manner in which people were resettled. Before evictions
take place, they (governors) consult with district administrators in their
provinces and see where the problem lies and then go in and solve it." He
added that after the evictions, the governors would then appraise his office
so that the farms are properly distributed or in some cases handed over to
those with offer letters. Masvingo Provincial Governor and Resident Minister
Josaya Hungwe said: "Dumping people in the bush and leaving them to suffer
has serious implications and connotations that give opportunists the chance
to soil the land reform programme and make it appear as if it is chaotic.
"There is need for the government to give the settlers alternative places
where they can stay whilst they are finding their feet." Hungwe argued that
the problem lay with some new farmers who have resisted relocation after it
emerged that they would have been wrongfully resettled.
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proudly  present




Something for every lover of the art of dance


…… an exciting and varied programme featuring……….

ballet, modern, jazz, tap, acrobatic…. and….

some surprises to titillate your senses


an evening of enjoyment under a

starlit sky


Please tell as many of your friends as possible………….
                    …………… the dancers and teachers deserve our support


VENUE:      National Ballet Centre,            (between REPS and Roundtable)


WHEN:       Nightly from Wednesday 29th September through till Sunday 3rd October


TIME:         Programme starts  7:15 pm.


we make it an evening of enjoyable fellowship on

Saturday 2nd October

(Some of us will be there at 5:30 pm so we are assured of a good spot to set out our picnic...sorry we cannot book spaces........first there will get the better positions.........)


BRING:    folding chairs, wine/refreshments, picnic baskets, blanket/something warm  



PRICES                 Adults: $  30 000           

                           Children: $  15 000

                        Pensioners: $    5 000

                   Season Ticket: $100 000

Tickets available at the gate only


GUARDED PARKING:…….. in the REPScarpark.

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Email received

I don't know whether or not you remember writing about a man called Spero
Landos who was accused of murder when he had been attacked on HIS farm by a
group of militant warvets.  You may be interested to know he spent three
months in jail with two broken arms and stab wounds in his legs and groin
and a head injury.  They had to strip every night and spend a couple of
hours walking around in the nude before being given one lice infested
blanket and locked up for the night.  The good news is he was released on
bail a week ago and has had his one arm rebroken and reset.  We are all
hoping that his case will eventually be dropped as the prosecution has no
evidence except for self defence.  He lives in Mutare (they have been kicked
off the farm now and are in town with a few possessions).
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Daily News online edition

      Fuss over handshake as silly as fuss over values

      Date:29-Sep, 2004

      THE British foreign secretary, Jack Straw, must have discovered with
some alarm he had to defend himself for shaking hands with Mugabe during a
visit to New York for the United Nations general assembly opening last week.

      It was as if he had shaken hands with the Devil, or Adolf Hitler while
Nazi bombs rained on London during World War II.

      Still, Straw must have appreciated the funny side of the fuss: Did it
signify a thawing of Britain's indignation with Mugabe's human rights

      Would Her Majesty's government now vote in favour of lifting Zimbabwe's
suspension from the councils of the Commonwealth?

      If diplomacy is now being conducted through handshakes rather than the
ping pong of US-China relations decades ago, then new textbooks on the
subject may be overdue.

      The fuss over the handshake was as silly as Jonathan Moyo's
preposterous contention that Zimbabweans would not be allowed to celebrate
"American and British values" because it would make them "more vulnerable".

      Vulnerable to what? To Coca-Cola, Michael Jackson, jazz or Oprah

      Moyo, speaking to Zimbabwean and Chinese army officers at Great
Zimbabwe this week, seemed to suggest all this had become necessary in view
of the events of four years ago.

      One statistic which he neglected to mention - conveniently, it would
seem - was that this was the year in which Zanu PF lost the constitutional
referendum and 57 seats in the parliamentary elections.

      Like all Zanu PF zealots, Moyo preferred to dwell on the murderous
farm seizures of the same year. Most of the farms seized belonged to
descendants of the British colonial settlers.

      But most of the 40-something people killed during the election
campaign that followed were black Zimbabweans, including a policemen.

      In so many words, Moyo was saying that laws such as his pet project,
the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) were
introduced to protect Zimbabwean "values" against Western pollution.

      Even for the Chinese army officers, coming from one of the few
communist countries left in the world, this must have sounded bizarre.

      What are Zimbabwean values? Certainly, the suggestion that they
include criminalising journalism and harassing all journalists not working
for the state media must make even the Chinese wonder.

      China's communism is, by the way, no longer the rigid, monolithic
dogma which called for the stifling of all individual enterprise.

      Today, that country is being warned against an "overheating economy" -
and that has nothing to do with the state control of the economy.

      The rift between Zimbabwe, on the one hand, and the European Union and
the United States, on the other, stems from Mugabe's refusal to give the
opposition more space in the political arena.

      Mugabe wants democracy to be redefined in his own terms: it's a
democracy in which only his party must win every election. Any other party
doing so would have to be backed by the West and must be anti-Zimbabwean.

      There are even African countries which find this proposition repugnant
in the extreme.

      Jack Straw has no reason to defend his handshake with Mugabe. It's
Mugabe who must wonder why shaking hands with him can raise such a storm.

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Zimbabwe racism hearing ends early after row
Wed 29 September, 2004 17:12

DURBAN, Sept 29 (Reuters) - The first day of an International Cricket
Council (ICC) hearing in Harare on racism in Zimbabwean cricket ended
abruptly on Wednesday when the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) did not accept a
ruling barring some of its officials from being present when witnesses

The three-day closed hearing first stalled when Chris Venturas, the lawyer
representing the 15 rebel players who have alleged the ZCU is racist,
objected to the presence of ZCU officials who have been implicated in the
players' allegations.

Two ZCU board members, Ozias Bvute and Max Ebrahim, and the chairman of the
provincial Mashonaland Cricket Association, Tavengwa Mkuhlani, were present
at the hearing.

According to witnesses Venturas sought to have the three men excluded after
Norman Arendse, the ZCU's lawyer, made an inflammatory comment to the first
witness while the witness was giving testimony.

During an adjournment, and in view of reporters outside the hearing room,
Venturas challenged another member of the ZCU's legal team about Arendse's
comment. Arendse appeared to respond by grabbing Venturas' shoulder.

Venturas then asked the ICC panel, which consists of India's solicitor
general Goolam Vahanvati and South African high court judge Steven Majiedt,
to have the three officials excluded.

The panel ruled the three should not be present to hear witnesses'
testimony. The ZCU would not accept the decision and threatened to withdraw
from the hearing.

The day's proceedings ended soon afterwards and the hearing is scheduled to
resume at 0700 GMT on Thursday.

The ZCU declined to comment while Venturas said: "I have been gagged."

The hearing is the latest development in a saga that started on April 2 when
the ZCU removed Heath Streak as captain and replaced him with Tatenda Taibu.
Streak had questioned the composition of Zimbabwe's selection panel.

The 15 white rebels demanded Streak's reinstatement, a new selection panel
and that the ZCU acknowledge a series of transgressions, including racism,
they say were committed by ZCU officials.

Zimbabwe were then forced to select an inexperienced squad who lost 10
consecutive matches before the ICC suspended their test programme until the
end of the year.

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Zimbabwe hearing adjourns for the day after panel rules on player submission

Stephanie Beltrame

September 29, 2004

The following is a media release issued by the International Cricket Council

The ICC hearing into allegations of racism in Zimbabwe cricket has been
adjourned for the day after the panel investigating the allegations ruled
that three members of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union who had allegations
levelled against them should not be allowed into the proceedings during the
recording of certain evidence.

India's Solicitor General, Goolam Vahanvati, and South African High Court
Judge, Steve Majiedt made the ruling after hearing submissions from the
players to have the officials excluded from parts of the hearing.

"There is before this panel a rather unusual and unprecedented application
made on behalf of the players," said the panel in its ruling.

"We are at the stage when the evidence of the players is about to start. The
players apply that whilst their evidence is being recorded, three members of
the ZCU Board should not remain present in the room. They may remain in the
Hotel, they say, whilst the evidence is being recorded and may rejoin the
proceedings after the players evidence is concluded, but they insist that
during the time their evidence is being recorded, these three persons should
not remain present.

"They base this application on the apprehension that they would feel
intimidated by these persons and that they would feel threatened by the
presence of these persons.

"The ZCU strenuously opposes this application. They submit that the fears
are entirely unjustified. The allegations are known and have been made
earlier. They feel that the exclusion of such persons would prejudice the
handling of their case and would be contrary to natural justice.

"We have given anxious consideration to this application. Prima facie, we
are of the opinion that the apprehensions expressed by the players do not
seem to be justified. It cannot be forgotten that the players themselves
concede that what the players will say has already been said substantially

"Besides, all the persons concerned, both the players and the ZCU have had a
long association together and have interacted closely. In this view of the
matter, we would have been inclined not to allow this application, but we
find ourselves in a difficult situation.

"We asked Mr Venturas to indicate what his clients would do if the
application were not allowed. He indicated that on the basis of the
available instructions from his clients, he could not make any commitment.
We have been shown an article published today which quotes the players as
stating that they will withdraw from this enquiry if a person is allowed to
sit in the hearings.

"In the circumstances, we are left with no choice but to request the three
persons not to be present in the room while the player's evidence is being

"We do so making it clear that this request is made only with a view to
ensuring that the investigation proceeds further and does not in any way
amount to our acceptance of the correctness of the allegations made and of
the apprehensions expressed."

After handing down the ruling, the panel adjourned the hearing for the day
to allow both parties to consider the decision before resuming the
proceedings tomorrow morning.

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IMF paints grim Zim picture
29/09/2004 20:05  - (SA)

Washington - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on forecast Wednesday a
substantial jump in economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa this year and
next, saying the outlook for the region was better than in years.

The IMF, in its just released World Economic Outlook report, said gross
domestic product was expected to expand 4.6% in 2004, after 3.7% in 2003,
and a strong 5.8% in 2005.

"The outlook is better than it has been for some time," the IMF said, citing
greater macroe-conomic stability, strong demand for commodities at higher
prices, easing debt burdens and improved access to industrial markets.

While the countries that export oil are likely to record the largest net
improvements, "for the majority of countries, gains from higher-priced
non-fuel exports are roughly equivalent to losses from higher-priced oil
imports", the report said.

It warned though that a sharp downturn in China, a major importer, could
pose a risk to many African exporters of non-fuel commodities.

The IMF urged African policymakers, given the volatility of commodity
prices, to build up "precautionary savings" at a time when such prices are

It called for further reductions in government involvement in the economy
and urged authorities to promote private investment, develop infrastructure
and deepen institutional reforms.

The IMF predicted growth of 2.5% in South Africa this year and 3.25% in
2005, supported by low interest rates and government spending.

But it cautioned that inflationary pressures could be aggravated by the
strength of domestic demand, a recent spurt in money-supply growth and wage
settlements that have exceeded productivity gains.

Such trends, it added, "will likely require an increase in policy interest
rates over the coming year".

It said that any further rise in social spending should be accompanied by
increased tax revenues or cuts in lower priority expenditures.

In Nigeria, growth is likely to slow to four to 6% in 2004-2005 from 10.7%
in 2003 "as the boom in oil production in 2003 wanes".

The IMF recommended that the government carry out privatisation and trade
liberalisation measures as well as civil service reform.

Elsewhere GDP is projected to surge to 11% this year in Angola from 3.4% in
2003 in response to increased oil output.

A grimmer picture was painted for Zimbabwe, where the IMF said "the economy
is in sharp decline, with the disorderly land reform reducing agricultural
production and concerns about governance discouraging investment and
promoting capital flight and emigration".

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Pay-out for freedom fighters
29/09/2004 21:19  - (SA)

Harare - Zimbabwe's government is planning to pay hefty rewards to about 5
000 former political prisoners and detainees of the country's independence
struggle, state radio reported on Wednesday.

Social welfare minister Paul Mangwana told the Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Corporation (ZBC) that the government had published a bill which, if passed
by parliament, would allow it to pay the ex-prisoners gratuities and

"Vetting of beneficiaries has been completed and about 5 000 ex-political
prisoners, detainees and restrictees qualified to receive the gratuities,"
the report said.

Former political prisoners - who were imprisoned, detained or had their
movements restricted by the white minority government between 1959 and
independence in 1980 - have been lobbying for the payments for several

The radio report did not indicate the amount each beneficiary would receive,
but private media have estimated that each person could get a one-off
payment of up to ZIM$10m (US$1 785).

The bill was due to be debated in parliament next month, the ZBC said.

In 1997 the government paid out hefty sums to war veterans, a move that was
blamed for putting a strain on the country's economy.

Economists have warned that unbudgeted payments now could put a similar
strain on the economy.

Zimbabwe's economy has been on the decline for the past five years, and the
country has been battling with high annual inflation rates, currently more
than 300%, as well as increasing poverty and unemployment.
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Zim police: Protesters lied
29/09/2004 14:14  - (SA)

Harare - A group of 46 women arrested on the last stage of a marathon peace
and protest march were under investigation for organising and holding an
illegal political demonstration, police said on Wednesday.

The marchers, calling for democratic reforms and the scrapping of a proposed
law that will curb human rights campaigning in Zimbabwe, were stopped by
police Tuesday about 60km west of the capital, Harare.

Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena said the women face charges under
sweeping security laws requiring police clearance to hold political

The charges carry a penalty of up to six months in jail.

Did not have political clearance

The women, who did not have police clearance, were expected to apply for
their release on bail at the magistrate's court at Chegutu - close to where
the march was stopped - later on Wednesday.

Bvudzijena said women participants told police they were church members on a
sponsored walk to raise funds for charity.

As they approached Harare they were found with political materials,
Bvudzijena said.

Organisers said police told them authorities feared the march could gain
momentum as it approached the capital by attracting participants from
impoverished townships surrounding Harare that are opposition strongholds.

Jenni Williams, one of the organisers in the Women of Zimbabwe Arise group,
said a small group of women not arrested Tuesday were trying to restart the
march on Wednesday.

She said the marchers were calling on the government to abandon proposed
legislation due for approval in the ruling-party-dominated parliament in
October restricting the activities of human rights and nongovernment groups
and charities, including the women's organisation itself.

The Non-Governmental Organisations bill seeks to ban foreign human rights
groups and local advocacy groups campaigning on "issues of governance."

Calling for lower food prices

With demonstrations routinely banned by the authorities, the women's group
has in the past protested food shortages, with mothers banging empty pots
and pans in the streets. It has organised hymn singing and prayer vigils for
the victims of political violence.

Since the group was founded two years ago, at least 300 of its members have
been arrested during demonstrations in which they handed out red roses
symbolising peace on Valentine's Day and distributed tea to the poor while
calling for the lowering of food prices.

On United Nations World Refugee Day earlier this year, 72 women were
arrested for illegally protesting the plight of tens of thousands of
internally displaced Zimbabweans forced from their homes by four years of
political and economic turmoil.

Most of the women were fined after being briefly detained.
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Mail and Guardian

Mixing politics with food in Zimbabwe

      Wilson Johwa | Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

      29 September 2004 08:59

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, called 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

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." -- IPS
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