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

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Date: Saturday 6 October 2001
Time: 12.00hrs - 14.00hrs
Venue: Zimbabwe High Commission
429 Strand Street
(Nearest tube Charing Cross).

The protest is organised by concerned Zimbabweans and supporters, Human rights campaigners, Church groups and organisations, gay rights organisations and environmentalists. Possibly the last protest outside Zimbabwe House before the end of the year 2001. This protest shall coincide with the CHOGM meeting/protests taking place in Brisbane Australia. The protest will focus on:

  • The cessation of all acts of violence against farm workers, farmers, the media, the judiciary, opposition parties, church organisations and gay activists.
  • The immediate return and respect to the rule of law and democratic rights, privileges and principles.

  • Call upon all Churches and governments throughout the world who have remained silent to finally stand up and speak out against the Zimbabwean the exploitation, injustice towards, and oppression of the poor, weak, defenceless, and innocent, particularly in the rural areas.

  • The cessation of intimidation and acts of violence on teachers, businesses, human rights organisations, NGO's, Christians and secular persons alike, who are involved in non-violent opposition to the government and daily face the threat of beatings, torture, abduction, rape, the illegal occupation and destruction of the owners property.

  • The rights of women and mothers of Zimbabwe seeking to protect their families livelihoods and homes, who are so exposed and susceptible, particularly in the rural areas, farming communities and outlying areas.

  • The immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all Zimbabwean troops/militia associated to Mugabe's exploitation and plunder of the Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC’s) forests ''one of the world's last great rain forests presently being laid to waste by logging operations and extraction of mineral resources''. The Congo has nearly half of Africa's and 6 percent of the world's, tropical rain forest. The immediate investigation of the nature and area of operations, quantifying soldiers of such forces and the return and location of the bodies of Zimbabwean soldiers to immediately be returned to Zimbabwe for decent burial.

  • Call upon the British Government, the Commonwealth and the European Union to impose selective sanctions on Zimbabwe government officials as introduced by the United States Senate in the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Bill. Approved by the Senate Committee on foreign relations on 12 July 2001 and tabled in the House of Representatives by September 2001.

  • Call upon the International Community to assist in reopening investigations into the Matabeleland and Midlands massacres. There is an extensive and carefully worded document compiled by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe and published in March 1997. The report investigates mass murders and other human rights violations that occurred during the conflicts that followed Robert Mugabe's rise to Presidency. The North Korean trained 5th-Brigade under direct control of Robert Mugabe with clear instructions to wage the '' War of ''GUKURAHUNDI'' to remove the chaff from the wheat. Why has this information been suppressed for so long, the conspiracy of silence must end.
  • Finally, an end to International cynicism and practices amongst the world's leadership that accepts conspiratorial alliances and exploitation which drastically affect or destroy Zimbabwe's economy and that of other African Countries, as part of the African way of life and looks elsewhere at the desperate plight of many African nations and shrugs it's shoulders and thinks things are not that bad in Zimbabwe. Here we wish to prevent Zimbabwe from becoming another Rwanda, Angola, Sierra Leone or Congo etc. Without International intervention Zimbabwe may well be heading for a civil war. Countries bordering Zimbabwe may well become places of refuge for thousands.


Albert Weidemann
1 Ambrose Road
North Yorkshire
Tel: 01765 607 900


Durani Rapozo
Mobile: 07740 437 667
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From News Limited (Australia)

Mugabe muscle on guard for CHOGM
Chris Griffith
BODYGUARDS trained in Libya at the command of leader Muammar Gaddafi are
reportedly heading to Brisbane for the Commonwealth Heads of Government
meeting to protect Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe.

President Mugabe, the protesters' most prominent target, has recruited
Libyan bodyguards and intelligence officers and sent bodyguards to Libya for
state-of-the-art personal security training.
A unit of Colonel Gaddafi's elite female guards is being dispatched to
Zimbabwe and the first two groups of Libyan-trained guards will be ready in
time for CHOGM.

The South African Financial Gazette also reported an advance party of at
least 20 Libyan-trained bodyguards was expected in Brisbane before CHOGM.

The Zimbabwe Standard, meanwhile, said a Russian instructor had spent three
months training six of President Mugabe's bodyguards in surveillance and
personal combat tactics as they could not carry weapons here.

Security is among reported recent deals between Mr Mugabe and Colonel
Gaddafi, which include Zimbabwe paying $680 million for Libya to relieve
Zimbabwe's fuel shortage and Colonel Gaddafi paying $170 million to Mr
Mugabe's election campaign.

A spokeswoman for the Zimbabwe Embassy in Australia yesterday said that
after more than 20 years in power, there was no need for Mr Mugabe to train
his already established elite bodyguards overseas.

She said Mr Mugabe would be relying on Australia as the CHOGM host country
to provide adequate security.

But Mr Mugabe faces being the prime target of thousands of anti-CHOGM
protesters and a third attempt at a citizen's arrest by Australian-born
British-based human rights activist Peter Tatchell.

In 1999, Mr Tatchell and three activists successfully ambushed Mr Mugabe's
motorcade in London, while this year in Brussels, Mr Tatchell was attacked
by Zimbabwe agents who allegedly also said they wanted to kill him.

Mr Tatchell last night called on a Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group
meeting in London this week to suspend Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth,
impose sanctions and freeze Mr Mugabe's overseas accounts.

Mr Tatchell said Mr Mugabe's Libyan-trained agents would be making a big
mistake if they harmed him.

"If I am beaten up or killed, the international outcry will only hasten the
demise of the Mugabe regime," Mr Tatchell told The Courier-Mail.

"Why is Mugabe so afraid of me that he needs all these super-trained

"Maybe he's afraid of a coup against him."

Mr Tatchell said he hoped authorities would not block him coming to
Australia to protest at CHOGM.
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From the Toronto Star

Zimbabwe isolated

Robert Mugabe has come full circle, from freedom fighter in 1980 to
subverter of democracy.

His cynical campaign to get himself re-elected president by pitting
Zimbabwe's black majority against a tiny white minority is tearing apart his
country and shattering its economy.

Canada should argue the case for shaming Mugabe at the Commonwealth leaders
summit in Australia on Oct. 6 to 9. Summit planning meetings begin in London
today, with Foreign Affairs Minister John Manley attending.

Canada, to its credit, has already made its views known. In May, Prime
Minister Jean Chrétien downgraded relations after James Wall, our high
commissioner, risked his life to rescue a Canadian aid worker who had been
dragged off by thugs from Mugabe's political party.

Chrétien froze aid, suspended military contacts, reconfirmed our ban on
weapon sales, and promised to alert the world to this lawlessness.

Commonwealth rules prevent Mugabe from being excluded at this stage. But he
can be made unwelcome.

Chrétien and the others can call attention to Zimbabwe's slide into
autocracy and chaos, and they can kick around proposals to deny Mugabe and
his cronies travel visas, to impose other sanctions, and to lend Zimbabwe's
opposition moral and financial support. That should get the point across.

Mugabe's crusade against white farmers has gone on for 18 months. Last year
they were "enemies of Zimbabwe." Mugabe recently compared them to Satan,
"who commands evil and resides in (the) inferno.''

Nine have been killed. Militants have taken over 1,700 of the 4,500
white-run farms. Most are slated for seizure.

Yet despite this lawlessness, Zimbabwe's 12 million blacks deserve the
greater sympathy. They suffer more than the 120,000 mostly privileged
whites. They are dying in greater numbers from political violence.

There's "blood flowing everywhere ... the wheels have come off," Tito
Mboweni, the influential head of South Africa's reserve bank, declared this
week. Zimbabwe's Christian clerics also have joined forces to denounce the
"monstrous" lawlessness.

Zimbabwe cannot afford Mugabe's destructive politics of rage. Some 4 million
people live on barely $1 (U.S.) a day. One worker in two is jobless. The
economy will shrink 10 per cent this year as hundreds of firms shut. Cruel
food and fuel shortages loom.

Many Zimbabweans resent the whites, who own most of the best land. But they
also hold Mugabe accountable for harassing political foes and the media, for
rigging elections, and for mismanaging the economy and discouraging
investment and aid.

People are turning in greater numbers to opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai, who promises a fresh start and clean government.

In last year's parliamentary elections Mugabe's party won a majority, but a
greatly reduced one. Before that, his blueprint for constitutional change
was rebuffed in a humiliating vote. Now Tsvangirai poses a threat in next
year's presidential campaign.

It's a trend to be encouraged. Mugabe is now 77, past retirement age. The
Commonwealth should suggest that it's time he bowed out, lest he ruin the
nation he helped found.
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From the ABC (Australia)

Commonwealth must take action on Zimbabwe - Downer

The Commonwealth could not ignore the terror campaign in Zimbabwe, Foreign
Minister Alexander Downer says.

Mr Downer, in London for a Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG)
meeting, said action was needed before Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe
arrived in Australia next month for the CHOGM summit.

Australian gay activist Peter Tatchell, who was knocked unconscious by
Mugabe's bodyguards when he tried to make a citizen's arrest in Brussels
last March, has called on police to arrest the African dictator when he
lands in Brisbane.

Mr Downer was tightlipped on what action the Commonwealth could take against
Mr Mugabe.

But he said the violence - which has led to white farmers being murdered and
black political opponents being tortured - could not be ignored.

"I don't think myself the Commonwealth can turn its back on what is
happening in Zimbabwe," Mr Downer said.

"For Australia the issue is the rule of law and the extent to which that is
being undermined in Zimbabwe.

"For Australia it is the issue of political harassment and intimidation.

"Those are the issues which are at the heart of our concerns about what's
happened in Zimbabwe and I think the Commonwealth needs to address it."

He expressed hope that action would be taken before the Commonwealth Heads
of Government Meeting in October.

"It's a big challenge for the Commonwealth and I'm not sure the extent to
which it will be a big issue in Brisbane yet," he said.

There were two CMAG meetings - including tomorrow's summit - and another
gathering of Commonwealth foreign ministers before CHOGM at which decisions
could be made, he said.
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From the MDC

Local updates
Car needed for limited funds

We desperately need a vehicle for our National Media Coordinator. He has limited funds to contribute towards the purchase of the vehicle which will be required to make trips out to the rural areas. If you're able to assist by either partially subsidising this vehicle and/or have a suitable runaround for sale at a ridiculous price, please email

Bulawayo Mayoral Campaign update - Eddie Cross

I attended the rally at White City Stadium today (2nd September 2001) and report as follows.

The meeting was meant to start at 10.00 hrs, I got there at about 10.45 with my crew of local supporters. After being searched at the gate we were admitted to the stadium where a crowd of about 5000 was already waiting. At 11.30 the proceedings began - its difficult to estimate total numbers but the ground was full with people sitting down and the only stand was about half full. I would estimate 8 to 10 thousand people. The Zanu PF rally the previous day at the same venue must have had about 1500 people - mostly women. The MDC rally was 90 per cent men.

The atmosphere was relaxed - no police in sight although a general welcome was given to the CIO who were asked to report back to the "old man" that MDC was going to win the Bulawayo Mayors position and then was going to win the State House. After prayers, several senior MDC people spoke - youth, the chairperson of the women's league, Gibson and Morgan plus - the star of the day, Japhet Ncube who is standing for Mayor. All were given a tremendous welcome - Ncube is obviously liked and respected. Gibson spoke like the experienced Trade Union leader that he is and Morgan was given a standing welcome with open hands, red cards and whistles all over the stadium.

Sitting with the people we got a good feeling of the meeting - no tension at all and no dissenting voices. In fact there was lot of good hearted banter and laughter. Jonathan Moyo was given a roasting as were the Zanu leaders who had failed to deliver what they promised over the past 21 years.

Once Morgan had spoken the crown prayed and then sang Nkosi Sikelele Africa and went home. On our way home the crew sang all the way and we were greeted everywhere with the open hand sign. About 6 whites attended - as usual we were totally accepted in the crowd as just another group of people come to hear the new leaders of Zimbabwe.

What a contrast with the Zanu rally - full of racial hatred and xenophobia, violence and threats. Refusing to acknowledge their failures and boasting of their recent "generosity" towards the people of Bulawayo. However they know - Bulawayo; is a lost cause to Zanu PF and that is why Mugabe failed to show up for his star rally the previous day. That is also why there was no violence - this is a town that will no longer tolerate Zanu in any shape or form.

Eddie Cross

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From the CFU


On Monday 6th August a large number of farmers from the
Banket/Chinhoyi/Karoi areas were gathered in Chinhoyi for a report back from
our Regional chairman, Mr Jan Botes, concerning the recently ended
Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) annual congress which had been held in Harare
the previous Wednesday and Thursday. The meeting started at 0930 hrs and
went on until after midday.

At around 1000hrs, Mr Boet Pretorius received a telephone message to the
effect that his neighbour, Mr Tony Barkley, had been attacked at his home by
a group of 40+ settlers who were armed with axes, fence poles and rocks.

Boet called me out of the meeting and gave me this report. I immediately
phoned the Officer in charge of Chinhoyi Rural Police station, Inspector
MUDZIWAPASI, who is well known to most of us due to our involvement in
neighbourhood watch duties with the Police. I spoke to him on his direct
line and gave him a summary of the report we had received. I asked for
Police attendance to this scene as a matter of urgency emphasising that this
was not a conflict over land but an attack on a farmer in his residence. He
seemed most uninterested and eventually told me he had no transport. I
replied that he could easily borrow another vehicle from another Police
section or use one of my vehicles. His reply was that he would pass the
message to Shackleton Police Post and they would send a cyclist to the
scene. I reminded him that Shackleton was over twenty kilometres from the
farm in question and therefore he was telling us
that Police could not reach the scene for at least two hours. He said that
was his decision and rang off.

I turned to the farmers around me and informed me of this decision. We all
knew what this meant. We now had no option but to help Tony Barkley
ourselves. About six farmers left the meeting at this time and proceeded to
Tony Barkley's farm. I continued to phone other Police officers in an effort
to get help. The record of calls made, as provided by the cell-phone service
provider,will show that I phoned the Officer Commanding Police,  Mashonaland
West Province (no answer), the Deputy Officer Commanding  Police,
Mashonaland West Province, Assistant Commissioner PRITCHARDT, who told me he
was in Bulawayo and therefore unable to help, the Officer Commanding
Makonde District (said to be out of his office) and finally the
Deputy Officer Commanding Makonde District, Woman Superintendent CHEPATO
who turned out to be the only senior Police officer available. I passed the
report to her and told her that in view of Inspector MUDZIWAPASI's refusal
to attend this scene timeously, the neighbouring farmers were responding  to
assist Mr Barkley whose life we believed was in jeopardy. She promised to
get the Support Unit to attend. Note that at this time we still believed Mrs
Yvonne Barkley was in the home and therefore equally in danger- only  later
did we hear she had gone to Harare that morning before the attack commenced.

The Support Unit did not arrive for the next approximately two hours forcing
the farmers on the ground to make decisions in the belief that help would
not be forthcoming. A report on the radio back to those of us who were still
in Chinhoyi said that Mr Barkley was no longer responding to his radio and
it was feared he had been overpowered in his home and was now injured or
worse. The worst was feared for Mrs Barkley as well. A decision was made to
try and negotiate with the settlers to allow two farmers to enter the house
and check the Barkleys' well-being. Two farmers approached the group of
settlers (now estimated at over 50) The farmers were immediately attacked
with bricks, rocks, catapults and branches, both suffering moderate injuries
before escaping. The number of farmers in attendance had now risen to about
12 or 14. A decision was made to try and enter the house. A confrontation
followed by a violent clash followed
leaving approximately 5 persons injured on either side but leaving the
farmers in control of the house. Thankfully Mr Barkley was found unharmed -
he had not been able to respond to the radio calls as he had been holding
his front door against the attempted break-in by the settler groups.

The farmers immediately contacted us (the group who had remained in
Chinhoyi) and advised us that Tony was safe. The settlers reinforced until
they numbered around 70 had regrouped and were threatening the farmers
again. I continued to phone Woman Superintendent CHEPATO as Support Unit had
still not arrived at the scene. I then left the Chinhoyi Country Club where
we had been and I proceeded to the Police station where I went to see
Inspector MUDZIWAPASI -the Officer in charge. I gave him an update on events
on the farm and told him that several casualties had been suffered.
He seemed surprised and said that perhaps he better go and attend the scene.
We talked for a while and then I left.

Sometime between 12 and 1300hrs the Support Unit were reported to have
arrived. The report I received was that they picked up all, or most, of the
settlers in their armoured carrier and asked the farmers to follow to the
Police station to give statements as to what had happened. By this time the
Chinhoyi Farmers Association leadership, who had all been in Chinhoyi
attending the meeting, arrived on Liston Shields farm. Amongst them was Fred
Wallis, the chairman, and Duncan Moyes, the ex chairman. They all agreed to
follow and give statements. Most arrived at the Police station around 3pm
and were later detained. In the uncertainty surrounding events,
they were followed to the Police station by interested friends and relatives
including Mr Louis Fick, who was checking on his brother in law and was
immediately arrested. In the early evening Mr Jim Steele, 72, went to the
station with blankets for his son. He was also arrested. Neither of these
two had been involved in this incident in any way. None of those arrested
were informed of the reasons for their arrest and none were permitted to
communicate with lawyers or family. Neither were they fed for the first 24
hours of their detention.

At 0730 hours the following morning I arrived at the Police station and went
to see Inspector Mudziwapasi. I asked him what was happening and whether I
could see the detained persons. He told me that he was now taking the
farmers as accused persons as the information provided to him showed they
had caused the conflict. I asked him how that conclusion fitted with our
repeated requests for Police assistance and the threats to a farmer's life
and property. He said he was very busy.  I remained at the Police station
for the next hour, in full view of the settlers, making a few  phone calls
to advise other concerned people what was happening. Some time after 0800 a
Double-cab vehicle marked ZANU-PF had entered the station, disgorged  four
persons who began to stir up the settlers and other Zanu youth who had
gathered at the station. I was pulled out of my car by a person I have now
been informed is a Zanu councellor. His accomplices gathered around me in a
threatening manner and told me to go back to the office of the Police
station (I was parked in the grounds). Once inside the station these persons
accused me of being involved in the incident which had occurred the
previous day. I told them I had not been on the farm at any time and that
Inspector Mudziwapasi could confirm this.

We went into Inspector Mudziwapasi`s office and he did confirm that I had
been with him. The Zanu official insisted that I be detained. He now claimed
that a baton stick had been used by one of the farmers and because all my
guards carried baton sticks (standard issue for every security guard in
Zimbabwe) therefore I had obviously supplied the baton. Baton sticks are
readily available in most hardware stores in Zimbabwe. I said to Inspector
Mudziwapasi "It's your call, you know I could not have been involved, but do
you have the courage stand up for the truth?" His reply was to hold up his
hands in a sign of resignation/surrender and he told me to go and sit in the
charge office.  Although I was not advised I was under arrest I was no
longer free to go.  Within a few minutes I was taken to the mother Police
station (Chinhoyi Urban) where I was informed I was to be detained.

When I asked on what charge the detail at the counter turned back the page
in his Detention book and read out the allegation written against the name
of some of those detained the previous day: Public Violence. I was told to
remove my outer clothing,  including shoes and socks and then locked in a
cell. I was also not permitted a call to anyone. I asked to be allowed to
retain a jersey/coat because of the cold and was told I could keep my shirt
or my jersey but not both. All the other prisoners I found had been
similarly treated.

In my cell I found 7 other inmates, six of them farmers. (One of them,
Hamish Barkley,was arrested at the same time as myself when he arrived to
visit his father.) The eight of us shared only three blankets, besides three
dirty pieces of old blanket being used to cover the floor on which we sat.
There are no chairs, beds or windows and the toilet is an open hole in the
floor which has no flush mechanism or paper.

My cell mates had been in custody for 16 hours and had not been fed or
allowed to receive the food brought to them by visitors. They had also been
refused use of the blankets brought to them by relatives. I was informed
that the farmers had been divided into three groups and sent to different
Police stations around the district, namely Banket and Zvimba. Later I heard
the Police at Banket had allowed the prisoners detained there to receive
food. All the prisoners reported extreme cold conditions and a lack of
blankets and deprivation of their warm clothing.

At about 1000hrs we were removed from the cell and handed over to CID
officers who began to conduct an identification parade using the settlers as
witnesses. Of the total of 22 of us only seven were identified.

Amongst those seven were Jim Steel, Hamish Barkley and others who had never
on the farm during the whole day in question. Also identified was Tony
Barkley who had never got out of his house. Clearly the settlers were
confused or merely identifying farmers known to them (most of those
identified live in the Alaska area close to Liston Shields farm).

The parade continued until around 1600 hrs when we were offered a communal
bowl of sadza and a small plate of about 150 grams of kapenta (to share
between 22). Most prisoners had now been without food for 34 hours (24 of
those in Police custody) The Police now told us they wished to take us to
Liston Shields for further identification by other settlers. We agreed to
forego lunch to expedite this and were loaded into three vehicles. Half way
to the farm the plan was changed and we returned to the Police station.

Upon our return we were allowed to consult with lawyers who had arrived
during the id parade and the Police began to record individual warned and
cautioned statements and fingerprints from all of us. At around 1800 hours
food was brought to the station by family and friends and we were allowed to
eat. The recording of statements went on until around 1930 hours.

During this time the CID arrested two relatives who had tried to provide us
with warm clothing and blankets. (Incidentally, in the presence of the
lawyers I had complained about the lack of blankets and the officer in
charge CID had agreed we should be supplied with more- this was not adhered
to). No prisoners up to that time, to my knowledge, had been beaten or
physically mistreated. However Zanu officials from time to time would
approach us and taunt us or lecture us. A few Police officers, not those
directly involved in the investigation, also chose to insult and taunt the
prisoners and give us a bit of a political education.

At around 2000hrs those of us who had been held at Chinhoyi Police station
were taken away from the CID block and returned to the cell. As we entered
the cell I was called and told to return to the CID office. Some time later
I was told I would be released. When I asked why it was suggested to me that
I had been detained for my own safety. I did not push the issue and left the
Police station sometime around 100hrs.

The following morning I went to work a bit later than usual but was informed
by some of my staff that Zanu youth were looking for me as they were not
happy with the Police decision to release me. I decided to take my family
away from Chinhoyi that evening.

We have been warned to remove all valuable things from our home as it is
likely to be trashed etc, I pray it will not...



  1.. On 06/08/01 ten resettled farmers at Liston Shields farm owned by
George Anthony BARKLEY under Makonde district were severely assaulted by
about 70 white farmers after they had gone to see BARKLEY to discuss
problems of water and cattle movements which were affecting them.
  2.. BARKLEY made the resettled farmers to wait for him outside his
farmhouse under the pretext that he wanted to call the District
Administrator to be present.  Instead BARKLEY summoned his fellow farmers
who immediately came and descended on the unsuspecting resettled farmers
whom they severely assaulted using baton sticks, logs and chains.  So severe
were the assaults that one of the resettled farmers is still battling for
his life in hospital.
  3.. Following this heinous attack, 22 of the about 70 commercial farmers
involved were arrested and detained in police custody awaiting trial.
During the same period part of the commercial farmers who evaded arrest fled
from their farms in the Chinhoyi area on the pretext that they feared for
their lives and sought refugee (sic) among colleagues in the Doma and
Mhangura farming areas.
  4.. They got sanctuary at Greenfields, Kismet, Windel Range and Glen Louie
farms owned by fellow farmers Detoit, Johannes Style, Hansen Keith, and
Leslie THOMAS respectively.
  5.. It is pertinent to note that it was at these farms that the idea to
stage-manage mass looting was mooted by the white farmers in their bid to
attract international press attention purporting that there was lawlessness
in the country and that whites were victims on their rightful properties.
  6.. The families of the arrested white farmers and those who had evaded
arrest stayed at the above farms between the period 6 to 12/08/01 thus
taking advantage of the Heroes and Defense forces holiday to coincide with
their premeditated and stage managed looting.
  7.. Investigations into the forces behind the mass looting have since
established that the farmers instructed their farm workers to randomly loot
their properties whilst two fixed wing aircraft and a helicopter equipped
with powerful photographic and transmitting gadgets hoovered (sic) above
recording all the activities which in turn were beamed on BBC, CNN and other
western TV and radio networks.
  8.. That the said aircraft were transmitting to those on the ground
coincided with an approach to Governor Chanetsa by the British High
Commissioner BRIAN DONNLEY who insisted on proceeding to the Doma/Mhangura
area to assess the situation.
  9.. These developments would therefore indicatge (sic) that recording of
the stage-managed looting was a preplanned (sic) move specifically designed
to give the false impression of mass victimisation of whites and lawlessness
hence justify execution of the much talked about evacuation plan.
  10.. The allegation by the farmers that the police did nothing in the face
of the looting is not true because as soon as the reports of looting were
received police deployments were made in the affected areas, arrests were
made and the looted property was recovered.
  11.. To date a total of 123 people the majority being farm workers have
been arrested and convicted of theft of property.  One hundred and ten of
these have been convicted while thirteen were remanded for trial later this
  12.. Relevations (sic) by farm workers when they appeared in court clearly
exposed the white commercial farmers' involvement in inciting the looting
and that the entire setup was premeditated.  Some of the farmers approached
state prosecution requesting to have charges withdrawn.  This was however
turned down to give the law a chance to take its course, and when this was
done they paid fines of bail for the convicted farm workers.
  13.. It is pertinent to note that the 22 arrested farmers were denied bail
by a Chinhoyi Magistrate on very valid grounds notably that:
    1.. they would abscond given the gravity of charges preferred against
    2.. they would interfere with witnesses since most of them are their
    3.. they could perpetrate similar acts should they be released and
    4.. it was in the interest of their security and safety that they remain
in custody because the Chinhoyi community was calling for their blood.
  14.. They were eventually allowed bail on 20/08/01 by the High Court.

Visit the CFU Website

The opinions in this message do not necessarily reflect those of the CFU
which does not accept any legal responsibility for them.

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MDC predicts victory, ZANU (PF) says no way

Chronicle Reporter
THE president of the MDC, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, told a crowd of about 5 000 people at a campaign rally yesterday that the party would win this weekend's Bulawayo mayoral and council by-elections.

But ZANU (PF’s) acting national secretary for the commissariat, Dr Sikhanyiso Duke Ndlovu, dismissed Mr Tsvangirai’s statements as "wishful thinking".

"That is wishful thinking. They know that they will lose dismally. Today we have addressed big rallies in five townships of Bulawayo. Most of those people they think were MDC supporters were actually ZANU (PF) people we had sent to see what was happening there," said Dr Ndlovu.

The aim of the MDC rally, held at White City Stadium, was to drum up support for the party’s mayoral candidate, Mr Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube, who will face Cde George Mlilo of ZANU (PF) and Mr Jabulani Ndlovu of the Liberty Party of Zimbabwe.

"We have been changing things stage by stage. Last year it was the Parliamentary elections, this time it is the mayoral elections and next year it will be the Presidential election – we will remove them – and I will come here soon to install into office Mr Ncube as the new executive mayor of Bulawayo," he said

Mr Tsvangirai said his party was not prepared to surrender its support base in Bulawayo to ZANU (PF). The MDC won all Parliamentary seats in Bulawayo last year.

Mr Tsvangirai alleged that the ruling party was already rigging the mayoral by-elections by registering resettled people from the city’s outskirts to vote in elections to elect a mayor and seven councillors.

Said Dr Ndlovu: "This time the people will not be fooled. Today (yesterday) we were invited to speak to 10 different churches. The people have also been telling us that when they voted for the MDC it was a protest vote but they have realised that the MDC is not consistent and the people have promised us a thank you vote."

Dr Ndlovu said ZANU (PF) had conducted surveys in the city, which revealed that most youths had realised that they were being fooled by the MDC.

"Most of these factory owners have come to us and said look here we want to work with the Government of the day as long as our investment is secure, that is what we want. We have met the Greeks and the Asians," he said.

He said ZANU (PF) would cruise to victory because the residents of Bulawayo wanted development and they had realised that the party has a people-oriented development agenda.

Tsvangirai steals show in Bulawayo

9/3/01 8:37:15 AM (GMT +2)

From Mduduzi Mathuthu in Bulawayo

IF the two weekend rallies held in Bulawayo by Zanu PF and the MDC are a measure of the support enjoyed by the two parties, the ruling party has major obstacles to overcome, despite its spirited campaign to court voters by liberally disbursing funds for projects in the city.

Some 12 000 MDC supporters packed the White City Stadium in Bulawayo yesterday to hear the party’s president, Morgan Tsvangirai, bemoan the closure of industries in the city which he said had increased unemployment.
On Saturday, the highly-publicised Zanu PF rally at the same venue attracted about 2 000 people, who were addressed by Vice-President Joseph Msika, standing in for President Mugabe who flew to Libya.
The Zanu PF rally, which was scheduled to start at 10am, only got underway at 2pm after eight Zupco buses sent to transport people to the stadium returned half empty.
Msika claimed at the rally that the MDC wanted to give the country back to the whites.
The two rallies were held ahead of next weekend’s mayoral election, which pits George Mlilo of Zanu PF against Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube of the MDC.
Jabulani Ndlovu of the Liberty Party is the third contestant for the mayorship.
Yesterday, a buoyant Tsvangirai said Zanu PF had failed to find a solution to the unemployment in the country.
He said: “We are certainly not happy with the way industries are relocating and the growth in the number of people who are unemployed in the city.”
Tsvangirai, who pledged his party’s full commitment to go by priorities if it came into power, lashed out at Zanu PF, accusing it of vote-buying.
The MDC leader arrived in the city straight from his rural home in Buhera North constituency.
“The government believes that money can be spent lavishly on unnecessary expenses while people are dying in hospitals. We are dealing with a government which has totally failed to prioritise issues,” said Tsvangirai.
Tsvangirai was accompanied by his deputy, Gibson Sibanda, his shadow minister for agriculture, Renson Gasela, the shadow minister for justice, legal and constitutional affairs, David Coltart, the newly elected mayor for Masvingo, Alois Chaimiti, several MPs and national executive members.
Sibanda said their supporters had braved threats of physical harm and intimidation by State agents and Zanu PF mobs. He appealed to the MDC supporters not to retaliate if attacked.
“Our government has become too insensitive to the plight of its citizens such that sponsoring football is now more important than ensuring that the health system is stopped from crumbling,” said Sibanda in reference to the government-sponsored $13 million Zifa Unity Cup, which was recently launched in Bulawayo.
Nurses and doctors at government hospitals have been on strike for more than 40 days. Although only 50 people are reported to have lost their lives as a result of the industrial action, hundreds of people are estimated to have died.
Ndabeni-Ncube, the MDC mayoral candidate, and the seven ward councillors who will represent the MDC in the election were introduced at the rally.
Ndabeni-Ncube said there was need to urgently find a solution to the company closures, the housing problem and the flight of investment from the city.

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From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 3 September

Mugabe thugs turn on gold mines

President Mugabe’s supporters have launched a fresh wave of assaults on Zimbabwe's Matabeleland province, occupying gold mines, setting fire to land and warning whites that they must leave the country or die. Matabeleland, where the opposition Movement For Democratic Change won 21 of the 23 seats in last year's election, has come under siege while international attention has been focused on attacks on farms around Harare. At least three gold mines in the Esigodeni area, south-west of Bulawayo, have been occupied by armed gangs and their owners have been told that they will be killed if they return. Owners are too frightened to speak openly. Matabeleland is a major gold-producing area and, although there have been sporadic occupations by squatters and incursions by gangs, this occupation marks a serious escalation. More than 30 per cent of the province's farmland was set on fire over the weekend, the Commercial Farmers' Union said. Breeding herds of cattle have been driven away and crops destroyed. Farmers have also been ordered not to water the maize and say much of the harvest will be ruined.

Mac Crawford, the Matabeleland CFU president, calls it "a scorched earth policy" that will wreck the beef industry and worsen grain shortages. The campaign is an attempt to intimidate people before Friday's mayoral election in Bulawayo, in which the MDC candidate would normally be expected to defeat his opponent from Mr Mugabe's party, Zanu-PF. Residents, black and white, are bracing themselves for more violence and expect further strikes in the city's factories as workers struggle to make ends meet. The price of staples rises almost daily: inflation is nearly 80 per cent. Even by the destructive standards of the government's so-called land resettlement programme, the latest attacks appear particularly vindictive. One cattle farmer said the fires had destroyed grazing for his prize-winning breeding herd. He said he would have to slaughter the 300 animals.

The Goosens, who employ more than 80 workers on their ostrich farm and who were setting up a water and agricultural project for 25,000 people, were subjected to a two-day assault by more than 60 thugs and had to seek refuge at their daughter's home in Bulawayo. Nan Goosen said she and her husband, Peter, ran from a group of axe-wielding assailants, barricaded themselves in their farm office and withstood a 15-minute attack. "Peter held the door as they tried to push their way in. They were shouting, `Chop his hands off. Bulala (kill). Bulala.' One grabbed Peter's belt and tried to pull him out through the door. I thought we were finished then. I called for help on the radio. Then I pulled out a can of pepper spray and pointed it at them through the doorway, which was half-open by now. They recognised it, shouted `Spray! Spray!' and backed away. As they fell back, a convoy of farmers and friends from Bulawayo arrived and we were saved. These people intended to murder us."

A friend, Dave Joubert, was arrested and charged with grievous bodily harm after trying to fight off a gang of 30 invaders. No charges were levelled against his attackers, although Mr Joubert was badly beaten. His workers surrounded the farmhouse to protect his family. Like many Ndebele farm workers, they see the gangs not as liberators, as Mr Mugabe's propagandists claim, but as enemies who threaten to turn them into jobless itinerants.

Matabeleland is home to an Ndebele minority which has already suffered greatly at the hands of Zanu PF militants. In the 1980s an estimated 30,000 Ndebele were murdered by Mr Mugabe's North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade in a wave of terror. In the general election last June they voted most local Zanu PF MPs out of office. In a Matabeleland North constituency, the hated Obert Mpofu was voted out, but was then installed by Mr Mugabe as the provincial governor. Farmers believe he is behind the new campaign. "This is only the beginning," a black post office worker said in Bulawayo. "It is only the mayoral election. Then we have the presidential election. That will be much worse. God help us."

From The Zimbabwe Standard, 2 September

Economists hail MDC recovery programme

Economists have hailed the Economic Stabilisation and Recovery Programme unveiled by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), last week. They say, if implemented, the 1 000-page economic blueprint could see Zimbabwe emerge from its economic turmoil. The document details the recovery scheme the party plans for the period to 2004, if Tsvangirai wins the presidential election. Speaking to The Standard after the unveiling of the document, economists said with the possibility of inflation reaching a peak of 100% by year end, the MDC - previously accused by Zanu PF of having no alternative economic programme - had demonstrated its capacity to pull the country out of its economic rut.

The MDC programme, unveiled on Tuesday, seeks to re-attract foreign investment and foreign aid and thus promote a multi-lateral approach towards the tackling of the spiralling debt which is widely expected to exceed US$10 million by April 2002. The party also aims at resuscitating domestic production. The MDC declares itself committed to a well-planned land reform programme spearheaded by a land commission, one which would see resettled farmers becoming more productive. "The MDC government will go beyond the narrow concept of land reform to a comprehensive programme of agrarian reform, designed to raise the productivity and income generation potential of all small-scale farmers, whether located in communal areas or on new resettlement schemes," says the document. "To reduce poverty, land resettlement is a crucial starting point, but even the most successful resettlement programme would still leave the bulk of the rural population living in communal areas in a state of abject poverty, said the MDC. Tsvangirai said his party would not remove farmers already settled under the current haphazard Zanu PF fast track programme, but would seek to ensure that land use was intensified in a country in which 50% of the economy was agro-based.

Respected economist, John Robertson said the document gave hope for the future. "Their land policy is succinct, it focuses on the commercialisation of agriculture, not the Zanu PF way of converting commercial farms into communal areas with no technical or financial back up," said Robertson. "No sane investor would want to invest in a nation where there is no guarantee for property rights and where there is no rule of law," he added. Howard Sithole, an economist with Kingdom Financial Holdings had this to say about the blueprint: "It’s superior to that being offered by government. Instead of addressing high interest rates and fixing the exchange rate, the MDC document looks at the underlying causes."

Said Ngoni Chibukire, an economist with the Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe: "Zimbabweans are known to come up with good documents but when it comes to implementation, it becomes a different story. The contents of the programme reflect that it’s a well-researched, time-bound programme with specific objectives and targets, and clear ways of achieving them." An economist with the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Godfrey Kanyenze, hailed the blueprint as progressive. "It is very sound, well-prepared and quite convincing. It is not necessarily new but is in line with what we all agree on. The economic position is not in doubt. It is logical," said Kanyenze adding that it offered a positive way forward. "All the politics and rhetoric aside, their land programme is good in that it is stake holders driven. What they are saying is, "let’s go back to what was agreed at the 1998 donor conference. They are calling for a land commission involving all stake holders. The problem is that government is pulling away from that position, scaring away donors and thus dealing a blow to land reform. With the current stand-off between government and donors, we need new brooms," said Kanyenze.

One of the country’s leading economists, Anthony Hawkins, said the MDC’s economic programme had "all the ingredients of making Zimbabwe a success story". "It identifies the crucial points and specific ways to accomplish prosperity. It offers an exit point for Zimbabwe. Zanu PF has offered nothing and instead the people of Zimbabwe are assured of more violence, more poverty and more hunger so there is a key difference between the two schemes," said Hawkins. An independent economic consultant who refused to be identified, was critical of the document. "It is going to rely heavily on foreign funding and if that funding does not materialise, then it poses serious problems," he said.

From ZWNEWS: If you would like us to send you a copy of the programme, please let us know. It will be sent as Word and Excel attachments. The size of the documents is around 300 Kb - six times the size of the average daily ZWNEWS.

From The Zimbabwe Standard, 2 September

SADC heads' visit "a waste of time"

President Mugabe last week stepped up efforts to win regional support for his controversial land reform amid growing isolation from the international community. A desperate Mugabe, short of allies, this week invited SADC leaders to Zimbabwe later this month "to assess the situation for themselves". The invitation follows serious criticism from SADC, hitherto Mugabe's only remaining allies. Analysts, however, said Mugabe's invitation was a desperate attempt to woo back SADC leaders who appear to be shifting from their stance of quiet diplomacy. The SADC leaders have of late begun to speak out against Mugabe, joining the international chorus against the troubled Zimbabwean leader.

The European Union and the Commonwealth are some of the bodies that have publicly reprimanded Mugabe over his programme. The United States government is set to impose personal sanctions against Mugabe, members of his cabinet and service chiefs under the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act set to be passed by the House of Representatives this month. Despite mounting evidence of state sponsored violence, intimidation of the opposition and of the press and a chaotic land reform, regional countries had either turned a blind eye to Zimbabwe's problems, or at worst supported their comrade.

However, the last month has seen SADC leaders openly criticising Mugabe. South African President Thabo Mbeki publicly admitted that his preferred quiet diplomacy had failed, while Swaziland's King Mswati III was even more blunt: "We have already appointed three heads of state to deal with Mugabe on the land grab issue. We felt that what our colleague is doing was beyond the premises of democracy and he has to be stopped," Mswati told a South African newspaper last month. At a SADC summit in Malawi recently, the regional leaders told Mugabe they were unhappy with his conduct. Sources privy to the Malawi summit told The Standard that Mbeki, Mswati, Chissano and Botswana President Festus Mogae were seriously critical of Mugabe's conduct, which they believe will affect the whole region.

Commentators said by appointing three heads of state Mogae, Malawi's Bakili Muluzi and Chissano, the SADC leaders had shown that they were running out of patience with Mugabe. They, however, said Mugabe's latest overtures of inviting SADC leaders to witness a stage-managed "peaceful" resettlement programme in Zimbabwe would not work until an end was brought to the current state-sponsored lawlessness and return the country returned to a sound democracy. The visit by the SADC leaders would be a mere formality as the region already had a clear picture of the situation in Zimbabwe, the commentators said.

"The good thing is that SADC leaders already know the events on the ground so the visit would just be formality. I don't think the visit would change the stance taken by SADC now. They want Mugabe to change and they will stick by that. What they have realised is that if they continue treating Mugabe with kid gloves then they will sink with him," said the secretary for African affairs for the Prague-based International Union Students, Charlton Hwende. "This is just another Zanu PF propaganda gimmick which will not work. If Mugabe wants the SADC leaders to have a clearer picture of events taking place in the country then he should facilitate that the leaders meet other players, such as farmers and the opposition. This should be a golden opportunity for SADC to witness first hand what is happening in Zimbabwe," said Hwende.

Inviting the two SADC presidents, Mugabe said he wanted the leaders to see the role of the war veterans and the "negative" role of the commercial farmers. Political scientist and Transparency International-Zimbabwe chairman, John Makumbe, said civic society should be included on the itinerary of the visiting leaders. "They are likely to be taken on a tour of carefully selected farms where there are some crops and livestock and told that the resettlement has been successful. This is the time for civic society to be involved to give more accurate information. We should be included on the itinerary. Civic society, business and the opposition should take this opportunity to give SADC the true picture." Makumbe said the invitation would not help restore confidence among the SADC leaders. "It is going to backfire on Mugabe. It is not going to restore any confidence in the Mugabe regime. What Mugabe is supposed to do is quickly tell the war veterans to move off farms that have not been acquired. That is the way out," said Makumbe.

Professor Welshman Ncube, the MDC secretary-general, said SADC should force Mugabe to uphold the rule of law. "What they will see when they come here is the continued refusal by government to uphold the rule of law, the violence, the declining living standards, economic decay and all the ills facing our country. These are facts on the ground and cannot be hidden. This government has refused to uphold the rule of law and has continued abusing its people," said Ncube.

A Rusape businessman, Tichaona Muchapera, concurred with Makumbe that the exercise would not yield any results. "The SADC leaders should be careful not to be swayed from their stance. Their mission should be broad-based. However, from the look of things, these countries have already made up their minds. Their economies are beginning to feel the pinch and some of the countries have been making contingency measures for Zimbabwean refugees. All this means they have a firm understanding of the situation here," he said.

From The New York Times, 2 September

Namibia pulls out of Congo

Kinshsha - Namibia confirmed Sunday that its troops had withdrawn from all of Congo but the capital, making it the first of five foreign African nations to pull out of Congo's ruinous, three-year war. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in Congo to try to push the war to a close, welcomed the pullout and a recent partial withdrawal by Uganda. Namibia, a southern African nation fighting on the side of Congo's government, had by far the smallest contingent -an estimated 2,000 troops - in the war. Namibia had said over the past week it would bring the last of its troops home in days. Annan gave first official word that Namibia had done so, telling reporters Sunday morning, "Namibia has just withdrawn its troops." Namibian Ambassador Eddy Amkongo confirmed that the last of the troops had withdrawn from Congo's countryside. He said Namibian troops remained only in Congo's government-held capital, Kinshasa. He refused to say how many, but the Namibian contingent there clearly numbers no more than a few dozen.

Congo's war started in 1998 when Congolese rebels backed by the armies of Rwanda and Uganda started fighting to topple then-President Laurent Kabila. They accused Kabila of harboring militias that threatened security of Congo's neighbors. Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia entered the war on the side of Congo's government, won over partly by government mining concessions for diamonds, gold, copper and other minerals. Congo today is divided into rebel- and government-held sides. International relief agencies estimate up to 2.5 million Congolese have died in the war, most of them civilians succumbing to hunger and disease because rival armies have cut off supply routes for food and medical care.

A 1999 peace plan, signed but long flouted, calls for all foreign forces to withdraw and the start of a national dialogue to lead toward democracy in the vast country, which is the size of Western Europe. A cease-fire has held since the January assassination of Laurent Kabila and the succession of his son, Joseph. Congolese officials, rebels, opposition groups and others agreed last month to start the multiparty political talks on Oct. 15 - a decision that was welcomed by Annan. "If the Congolese work together, I believe that it will encourage foreigners to leave the country," Annan said Sunday with Joseph Kabila by his side.

Uganda, a much more significant party in the conflict than Namibia, has repeatedly announced full withdrawal of its troops from Congo, only to renege. On Sunday, army spokesman Lt. Col. Phinehas Katirima in Kampala, Uganda, said Uganda had withdrawn six of its 10 battalions and is in the process of pulling out two more. However, Uganda says it is leaving two battalions - each with around 1,000 men - in Congo close to the Uganda border around the Ruenzori Mountains to guard against rebel infiltration into Uganda. Katirima said the last Ugandan battalions would stay in Congo until the 1999 peace accord is fully implemented -- including, he said, deployment of U.N. troops and disarmament of Congo-based militias. "The inter-Congolese dialogue will also be going on and we hope they provide a solution to our border security," Katirima said. Rwanda has been even more adamant about staying than Uganda, saying it would remain in Congo until the threat of attacks from Congo-based militias ends. Rwandan-backed rebels now hold Congo's third-largest city, the diamond center of Kisangani. Annan travels to Kisangani on Sunday to talk with rebels there.

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From the Daily News
Farm invaders brutally assault elderly couple on Mvurwi farm

8/31/01 9:23:47 AM (GMT +2)

Staff Reporter

WESSEL Weller, 72, his wife Loekie, 66, of Mvurwi and six of their workers on Wednesday sustained serious injuries when they were assaulted at Msoneddi Estates by about 50 farm invaders and Zanu PF supporters.

Weller sustained deep cuts on the hands, legs, head and back, while his wife sustained a cut on the left finger as she tried to block a log aimed at her husband. Weller said they were held hostage for about seven hours before the police at Mvurwi police station intervened and persuaded the invaders to free them.
“It is unfortunate that you cannot have access to Mvurwi Hospital because two of my workers have been admitted there with serious body injuries. They were attacked very badly,” he said.
By yesterday afternoon, Weller had not gone to the hospital because he needed a medical report from Mvurwi police station before he could receive treatment. Weller later went to the police station to make a statement to the officer-in-charge who refused to comment to reporters. Aston Ngwenya, a farm worker, said his colleagues were accused of “behaving like Weller’s children” when they worked on the farm. “How are we supposed to get instructions from our employer?” he asked. “If you are seen near Weller you will be attacked.” Ngwenya said a co-worker, Shadreck Chimbewe, was among the six employees seriously injured in the attack. “They accuse us of supporting the MDC, but beating us up is not the best way to persuade us to vote for Zanu PF,” he said. Ngwenya said he was surprised that when the police came they did not arrest the farm invaders, who caused the violence on the farm.
“But if one of the workers retaliates, they are quickly arrested,” Ngwenya said. The trouble began when the war veterans and Zanu PF supporters occupying the farm since last year started pegging land in the estate’s paddocks. Weller and his workers were attacked while trying to stop them. He said Msoneddi Estates was once listed for compulsory acquisition, but was later delisted. Weller, a Dutch national, said he reported the incident to the Netherlands Embassy in Harare. On Wednesday, Lily Talapessy, the embassy’s Press secretary, said: “We are aware of the situation, but I cannot comment.”

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From the Daily News

Six ministers behind violence, says report

8/31/01 8:23:15 AM (GMT +2)

Staff Reporter

The names of six former and sitting Cabinet ministers have been irectly
linked to violence in their constituencies in the run-up to last year’s
parliamentary election.

A report recently issued by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum names a
number of other MPs and scores of prominent Zanu PF officials as being
involved in political violence in seven provinces.
Entitled Who Is Responsible?, the 46-page report paints an ugly picture of
how violence and gross human rights violations, on the orders of Zanu PF
supporters and their leaders, marred the parliamentary election in June last
year. The report covers Harare, Masvingo, Manicaland, Midlands, Mashonaland
East, Mashonaland West and Mashonaland Central provinces.
Herbert Murerwa, Minister of Industry and International Trade, Chen
Chimutengwende, former Minister of Information, Posts and
Telecommunications, Joyce Mujuru, the Minister of Rural Resources and Water
Development, Nicholas Goche, the Minister of State Security, Border Gezi,
the late Minister of Youth Development, Gender and Employment Creation,
Chris Kuruneri, the Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Development,
Rugare Gumbo, the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, and the former Deputy
Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Tony Gara,
are identified as being directly linked to violence.
Former MPs Gladys Hokoyo and Sabina Thembani, and sitting MPs Shadreck
Chipanga, Saviour Kasukuwere, Joel Matiza, Joseph Roy Kaukonde, Paddington
Zhanda, Marko Madiro, David Chapfika, Nobbie Dzinzi and the late war
veterans’ leader, Chenjerai Hunzvi, appear among the alleged perpetrators of
In Bindura, the late Gezi is reported to have driven youths to a rally in
Manhenga and to have urged them to beat up MDC supporters.
Gezi was assisted by Zhanda, who provided his personal vehicles to carry
youths around to beat up MDC supporters in the same area.
One victim named Kasukuwere, Goche and Chimutengwende as having urged youths
to burn down MDC members’ houses near Glendale.
Kasukuwere is reported to have fired seven shots in Mt Darwin during clashes
between Zanu PF youths and MDC supporters. No one was hit.
In Dande, one victim said he narrowly escaped death after Mujuru allegedly
ordered Zanu PF supporters to kill him.
Unfortunately, says the report, none of these alleged perpetrators of
violence are likely to stand trial.
The General Amnesty for Politically-Motivated Crimes, which was gazetted on
6 October last year, absolved most of such perpetrators from prosecution.
Between February and June last year, Zanu PF was engaged “in a systematic
campaign of intimidation aimed at crushing support for opposition parties²,
says the report.
Some of the violence documented includes the dragging of farm workers and
villagers from their homes at night and the severe beating and raping of
opposition supporters.
Out of the 704 victims who reported to the compilers of the report, 609 were
MDC supporters, 65 were of unknown political affiliation, 21 belonged to
United Parties, five to Zanu PF and six were from the Zimbabwe Union of
A total of 1 097 cases of violence and human rights abuse were recorded. Of
these, 484 were of assault, 159 of property damage and destruction, 72 of
arson, while 36 were cases of torture.
Also recorded were 46 cases of kidnapping and disappearance, 78 of threats,
85 of theft, 28 of unlawful detention and 14 of unlawful killing, while the
remainder covered political intimidation and victimisation, arbitrary and
unlawful arrest, rape, unlawful detention and attempted unlawful killing.
The primary source of the report were statements taken from victims of the
violence by members of the NGO Forum and other reliable and independent
reports on the election.
In one typical case of torture in Mberengwa East, a female victim said her
assailants were led by Biggie Chitoro, a war veteran currently facing a
murder charge. The attackers forced an iron rod into her genitals and
ordered her to simulate sexual motions. Her assailants later urinated in a
cup and forced her to drink the urine.
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From the Peoples Daily (China) Monday Sept 3rd, 2001

Zimbabwe's New Money Deteriorates Economic Crisis

Zimbabwe's new money denominations, the 500 Zimbabwean dollar note and five
Zimbabwean dollar coin, launched by President Robert Mugabe on Friday, have
received mixed reactions by users because of a deepening economic crisis
billed to be the worst in two decades, Zimbabwe News Agency reported on

The 500 Zimbabwean dollar note has particularly posed problems between
service providers and the paying public as people have been tendering it for
purchase of even small commodities requiring a large amount of change, said
the report.

Eddie Choga, an advertising executive, was quoted as saying that the new
note would fuel inflation because prices of basic commodities will go up.

The five Zimbabwean dollar coin is also set to cause an inflation of
commodity prices, particularly by vendors.

Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Leonard Tsumba said it had become
necessary to have the new note which is Zimbabwe's biggest because of high
inflation, citing that the inflation rate in July this year was 70.4

Tsumba said the Zimbabwean dollar was now worth only six cents compared to
1990, making the 100 Zimbabwean dollar note inconvenient to big

The Zimbabwean dollar has considerably lost its face value to hard
currencies and was trading at about 300 Zimbabwean dollars to the U.S.
dollar on the parallel market because of a foreign currency shortage in the
country, while the official exchange rate is now 56 Zimbabwean dollars
against one U.S. dollar.
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From News24

Queen 'concerned' on Zim

London - Britain's Queen Elizabeth II is to discuss the escalating crisis in
Zimbabwe this weekend at her annual meeting with British Prime Minister Tony
Blair, British media reported on Sunday.

According to The Mail on Sunday newspaper, the queen is understood to be
concerned that growing violence in the former British colony will overshadow
next month's Commonwealth leaders' summit.

The newspaper says President Robert Mugabe's campaign against white farmers
will make him an unpopular guest at the meeting in Brisbane, Australia.

Blair travelled on Saturday to Balmoral Castle, the queen's summer
residence, where he will take a traditional stroll with the royal figurehead
to discuss sensitive issues, which this year are expected to include

A Downing Street source told the newspaper: "The queen, as head of the
Commonwealth, takes her duties very seriously. Zimbabwe is the biggest
crisis facing the organisation in some years."

Blair is set to put forward plans which would allow the Commonwealth to
punish members guilty of human rights abuses.

However, those proposals will be too late to use against Mugabe before the
summit. - AFP
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Sent: 21 April 1998 21:52
Subject: The situation as it is.

Dear Everyone, thanks so much for all your calls and concern and thanks for
all the emails.  We are refugeeing in the most wonderful house in Chinhoyi
and people have been so generous.  Thanks so much to all the people who have
donated so many wonderful things and time.  We attended a wonderful stress
clinic and thanks so much for the aromotherapy absolutely fantastic.  We
spent three days canoeing down the zambezi thanks to jg and l
and it was out of this world, paddling down that lazy river with the honking
of the hippo it was hard to imagine that everything was far from perfect.  I
don't know what we would do without all our wonderful friends and relations
and our wonderful farming community there is no doubt that this is the best
and most wonderful country in the world and P and I are so proud to be
part of it.  Nobody can take that away. This whole experience has been very
humbling and as CA tells me say thank you for the lessons learnt.
We don't know whats round the corner and don't even dare to think but we
know we will get through all this and its a big thanks to all our friends. A
special thank you to ls and cj for taking such great
care of us and to all the other very special people out there.  We love you.
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September 4, 2001


Zim loggers to ravage rainforest

Robert Mugabe’s army will help fell trees in 34-million hectares of the Congo. But the people of both nations are unlikely to see any benefits from the deal



ne of the world’s last great rainforests is to be laid waste by loggers working for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his ruling clique.

Associates of the increasingly despotic 77-year-old are planning the biggest-ever logging operation in the precious tropical rainforests of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The 34-million hectares that Mugabe hopes to exploit are the heart of an area recently designated one of the most important forests on the planet by the United Nations.

Mugabe has already been attacked for the corruption of his regime and its brutal repression of political dissent. He faces United States sanctions and growing international censure for his increasingly violent brand of authoritarian government. Now he faces the wrath of environmentalists too.

“The long-term impacts on local people’s livelihoods and on rare wildlife such as the gorilla will be devastating,” said Patrick Alley, director of the human rights and environmental campaign group Global Witness. “This is forest the world can ill afford to lose.”

The rights have been conceded by the DRC’s government to representatives of the Zimbabwean president in return for military aid against rebels in the east of the country. The war in the DRC has killed about 2,5-million people in the past three years.

The logging operation is to be run by the Zimbabwean army and Forestry Commission and is expected to bring in profits of £200-million over the two to three years it will take to clear the concessions of the most valuable timber.

Little of the logging money is expected to reach the Zimbabwean people, though their army’s involvement in Congo is bankrupting the country. Inflation is running at 170%, unemployment is at 60% and millions live in poverty.

Instead, the logging revenues are likely to be shared by a small clique of senior generals and politicians.

The funds will also swell the war chest of the Zanu-PF party, Mugabe’s primary political vehicle, which has led the recent violent crackdown on the growing democratic opposition.

Zanu-PF need funds to expand its brutal campaign against the challengers to Mugabe’s power in the run-up to next year’s presidential elections.

The effect of such a huge logging operation will be devastating. Congo has nearly half of Africa’s, and 6% of the world’s, tropical rainforest. Until recently poor communications and the continuing conflict had largely spared the area from the attention of commercial tropical timber firms. But a German company has been granted a 2,6-million hectare concession by the desperately poor Congolese government and a series of deals with Malaysian and Chinese companies has also been concluded.

Mugabe’s concession has been granted to Socebo, a Zimbabwe-registered company whose board includes senior Zanu-PF and military figures. The deal was negotiated in 1999. Socebo was established last year.

Its publicity claims that the company “aims to be the world leader in trading tropical hardwoods — Sustainable forestry management is our business”. It is based in Kinshasa and is a subsidiary of another firm called Cosleg (Pvt) Ltd. Cosleg is itself a joint venture between Operation for Sovereign Legitimacy (Osleg), a company largely controlled by the Zimbabwean military, and Comiex-Congo, a Kinshasa-based firm partly owned by the family of Joseph Kabila, the president of the DRC.

Two previous projects — a cobalt mining enterprise and a diamond extraction venture — have been disappointments for the Zimbabweans. The cobalt proved less profitable than predicted, and Oryx Diamonds was unable to float on the London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investment Index following recent measures aimed at banning the trade in so-called “conflict diamonds”.

However, several other ventures have been very lucrative. Analysts believe the vastly profitable opportunities to extract valuable gemstones, minerals, metals and timber from Congo have drawn regional powers into the war there.

At least six countries have bartered military support for one or other side in the conflict for the right to exploit some of the country’s vast resources.

One United Nations committee, set up to investigate what has been dubbed “The New Scramble for Africa”, alleged that Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, like Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, all hope to exploit the conflict for their own financial gain. The armies of Angola and Namibia are also involved in the war.

Last week leaders from all the warring factions met in Botswana in a bid to negotiate an end to the fighting. They have agreed to meet again in October, but few are optimistic that the war will be ended soon.

The leader of the Rwandan-backed Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD) says his party is adamant that it will not accept the withdrawal of foreign troops as a precondition to inter-Congolese dialogue.

Dr Adolphe Onusumba Yemba, who was in Johannesburg recently, says his party will not accept the withdrawal as he believes the Zimbabwean troops will not follow suit. “The Zimbabweans have various business interests — several partnership deals with government — so it will not withdraw just as yet.”

Yemba was in South Africa to garner support to influence Kabila not to impose the “precondition” of withdrawal of troops as “it would be a stumbling block” to the entire peace initiative.

“Zimbabwe’s logging deal provides a strong motive for Mugabe to keep his troops committed,” said Alley, whose organisation will publish a report on Mugabe’s logging operation next week. “That could threaten the whole peace process, and is yet another example of the way in which natural resources are fuelling conflict across Africa and the world.”

Zimbabwe’s involvement in Congo, which has cost about £300-million so far, started three years ago when Laurent Kabila, the former president who was then leader of the rebels, requested Mugabe’s assistance in ousting president Mobutu Sese Seko. A spokesperson at the Zimbabwean High Commission said the commission knew nothing about any logging in the DRC and had no comment to make.

Additional reporting by Jaspreet Kindra

-- The Mail&Guardian, September 4, 2001.

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Dire straits for Zimbabwean workers, firms

HARARE Zimbabwe's ravaged economy which has seen more than 500 companies close down in the past year continued to deteriorate, despite government measures to arrest the decline, Finance Minister Simba Makoni said yesterday.

Makoni said at a pre-budget seminar in Harare that the government had managed only to slow down the pace of the economic decline and that more than 10000 people had lost their jobs since the beginning of the year.

Analysts also warned yesterday that Zimbabwe's severe foreign currency shortage was likely to continue unabated as the government remained resolute against devaluing the local dollar, fuelling a thriving parallel market.

Makoni said the current situation called for all Zimbabweans to pull together to ensure that the economy "clawed itself out of the pit".

Makoni also admitted the state would not achieve its expenditure targets this year because of unforeseen spending on imported food to meet domestic shortfalls.

He said indications were that Zimbabwe, once considered the granary of the region, would have to import both white maize and wheat to avoid famine in a country where more than 90% of a population of more than 12-million reside in rural areas.

"The bottom line is that whether we quarrel or not, there is not enough grain to last the season," Makoni said, putting a damper on strenuous denials by Agriculture Minister Joseph Made that the country had enough food.

Many manufacturing companies are either operating at well below capacity or have introduced short working hours, while several are considering closing down due to the biting shortage of hard currency, which has resulted in the US dollar fetching as much as Z350 on the "parallel" or black market.

Despite a critical shortage sparked by low exports in 1999, the local dollar has been officially pegged at Z55 to the US dollar since last year, after the government devalued it by almost a third.

Yesterday, currency traders said last week's threats by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to cancel the licences of commercial banks making transactions outside the official exchange rate had done little to check a thriving informal parallel market.

"There are very few people willing to bring currency to banks at the official rate and we strongly believe, despite the Reserve Bank saying it is monitoring the situation, most people are still selling forex on the black market," a trader with a commercial bank said.

The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries urged the government to put in place a "long-term sustainable and predictable exchange rate policy that should be part of measures designed to bring stability to the economy".

Sep 04 2001 12:00:00:000AM Own Correspondent and Reuters Business Day 1st Edition

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Comrade Bob

When Robert Mugabe came to power he was an African hero and the toast of the liberal world. Now he is a lonely, frail despot, seen as an embarrassment even by his former allies. So what became of the intellectual revolutionary once described as Africa's Clem Attlee?

Gary Younge
Tuesday September 4, 2001
The Guardian

Six years ago at the opening of the new bridge across the Limpopo river which links South Africa to Zimbabwe, two men who have dominated the African political landscape for 40 years stood on ceremony. Nelson Mandela and Robert Mugabe watched as a group of schoolchildren sang their praises. Once they had finished Mandela took centre stage.

"He did what Mandela does best," says one dignitary who attended. "He called the school- master over, had a few words with him and then shook each of the children by the hand. They loved it. It made their afternoon and it made the event."

Meanwhile Mugabe looked on, expressionless, from his seat, a spectator in a play in which he was billed as the co-star. His temper was frayed, his ego diminished and his face taut - desperately withholding any hint of emotion.

"He just sat there and if you knew him you could tell that he was mad," says one longstanding colleague within Mugabe's Zanu PF party. "But there was nothing he could do. He was being upstaged by the world's most popular politician on his home turf."

Mugabe holds an intense jealousy for Mandela. And it is not difficult to see why. Although it is difficult to imagine it now, Mugabe was once not only the pride of Africa but the toast of the liberal world. In the press he was hailed as "Southern Africa's Clem Attlee" and "The thinking man's guerrilla."

Bob Marley, one of the few artists to be invited to the Zimbabwe independence celebrations in 1980, named a song after the new nation and when he got there found that the guerrillas already knew the words.

"Natty Dread it ina Zimbabwe

Set it up ina Zimbabwe

Mash it up ina Zimbabwe

Africans a liberate a Zimbabwe."

Of course not all were happy. White Rhodesians and the British government, believing their own propaganda, were convinced Mugabe was a communist, white-hating psychopath who would lose the elections. Just to make sure, they used precisely the tactics of intimidation and petty harassment that they accuse him of today. In March 1980, the Guardian talked of "the delays in allowing [Joshua] Nkomo and Mugabe to import their election cars, and publicity material, the hold-ups in providing them with telephones, the dawn searches of hotel rooms and campaign offices, the confiscation of pamphlets and posters, the arrests of campaign workers and candidates". Twice, in the run-up to the first elections, Mugabe narrowly escaped death at the hands of pro-Rhodesian hardliners, courtesy of British-made landmines.

When he won a resounding victory the white Rhodesians had no idea what to do. The day after the election, recalls one, some white children were sent to school with bags packed for a flight, in case rumours of his victory were true.

It was 1980 - four years after the Soweto uprisings in neighbouring South Africa had seen hundreds of young black people killed by the apartheid regime; a year after Margaret Thatcher had come to power in Great Britain and a year before Ronald Reagan would be sworn in as US president. Not exactly a propitious time for a self-confessed Marxist to take over from a white minority in the mineral-rich, fertile soil of Southern Africa. And yet Comrade Bob, as he was affectionately known, had done it.

As reactionaries fled, idealists poured in to help build a new Jerusalem. "A third of my class, which graduated in 1980, came straight here," says one Zimbabwean who was studying in England at the time. "For anybody who cared about Africa there was just a huge optimism about the country."

Mugabe was then the embodiment of that optimism, giving hope to a generation born too young to be carried away by the idealism of the 60s, but too early to be moulded by the cynicism of the 80s.

Now he is the man whom Desmond Tutu, the former archbishop of Cape Town, once described as "almost a caricature of all the things people think black African leaders do". So he accelerates up the league table of international pariahs, a lonely, desperate and ill man. Lonely, because many of those he counted among his friends, at home or abroad, have either retired or died. His first wife and intellectual, political and romantic partner, Sally, who had been with him since before his incarceration and right through to in dependence, died nine years ago. In her place came Grace, 40 years his junior and more dedicated to extravagant shopping than ascetic socialism.

"Sally was really the one he could talk to and more importantly one who could talk to him," says one person who knows him well. "She used to organise his social life too and do all the entertaining. I don't see his relationship with Grace as one of equals."

Lonely too - and far more worrying for the country - because his increasingly despotic tendencies have left him isolated. Those he once counted as comrades are now either alienated, cowered into sycophancy or effectively silenced. Not even the few who only have good things to say about him will speak on the record. "Bob is an intellectual and he used to love to just talk," says one former confidante. "He would talk about anything, particularly to do with the continent and was open to new ideas. But anything he considers a threat he just shuts out now. You are either with him or against him and the only people who want a relationship like that are those who need something from him and they, by definition, can't be trusted."

While he has not managed to keep the fact that he is ill out of the public domain - he has fainted twice on official visits over the past 18 months - rumours vary as to the precise nature of the illness, ranging from cancer of the throat to the prostate. And this has left him grappling with his mortality and therefore his legacy. "This is the big thing for Bob," says one well-placed Zanu PF politician. "What he will leave the country when he goes. I believe the new constitution was going to be his parting gift, but when the voters rejected that he turned to land. He does not want to be remembered as the man who ruined the country but just couldn't go. But by staying he becomes precisely that."

And so he found himself with Mandela on the banks of the Limpopo, sitting where he thought the limelight should be, in a pool of resentment. "It was a really important moment that day," says one of Mugabe's former friends. "Mugabe had been in power 14 years and here was Mandela saying I'll only be around for one term. Mandela has retired and Bob is still there."

Mugabe was always different from most other African leaders of his generation in two respects. His experience was entirely in Africa, and he was an intellectual rather than a soldier. While others had been educated in exile and sometimes trained in either the east or the west, Mugabe had spent his entire time in Africa. Born in 1924 to a carpenter and domestic labourer in the village of Kutama, 60 miles north of Harare, he was educated at the local Jesuit-run school where he was remembered as a highly intelligent, industrious plodder. Says one of the fathers at the mission: "He was one of those quiet solid workers who used every minute of his time. He wasn't inclined to laugh much even then."

Back then the tentacles of Rhodesian racism reached into every crevice of civil society. His childhood friend, Edison Mpfumgo, recalls being invited to the mission superintendent's house for tea. "We sat on the sofas, and just as we were walking out, we actually saw his wife come down with a fumigator and fumigating the seats in which we had been sitting just a few moments ago. I went out and cried."

Mugabe finished his secondary education, and then started to teach before winning a scholarship to the University of Fort Hare, an all-black institution in South Africa's eastern Cape Province. Fort Hare was more than just a university - it was a vehicle for a new generation of black leadership that had been raised under racism but trained to overcome it. Among Mugabe's contemporaries there were Mandela, Mangosouthu Buthelezi and the late Oliver Tambo.

If anything, his education there was political as much as it was academic. "I came to Fort Hare," Mugabe has said, "from a country where most black people had accepted European rule as such. Most of us believed that all that should be done was to remove our grievances within the system. After Fort Hare there was a radical change in my views."

Shortly afterwards he headed to Ghana - a country recently liberated by Kwame Nkrumah, a leader from whom Mugabe later professed to have learned much, but clearly not enough. Nkrumah, who came to power on a tide of enthusiasm throughout the continent, became increasingly autocratic until he was finally ousted in a coup.

Mugabe was imprisoned in 1964, following his famous "cowboy" speech, in which he slammed Ian Smith and his entourage as cowboys both because of their wild behaviour and their penchant for wide-brimmed hats. During his 10 years in jail his only son by Sally died of cerebral malaria. His pleas for compassionate leave to be by his son's side during his final hours and his funeral were denied by the Rhodesian regime.

Mugabe was an intellectual. While others of his generation (such as Mozambique's Samora Machel or Zambia's Kenneth Kaunda) were essentially military men, Mugabe was never a fighter himself. One ex-combatant who knew him during the war of independence recalls that his principal contribution to the military struggle was strategic rather than practical.

"You never knew what he was thinking, but you knew he was always thinking," he says. "Then one day he would just decide on some form of action. He would explain - but only once - and then just move. But even in the field he always kept his distance."

Another recalls: "Militant he certainly was, but a military man, never. Mugabe's arsenal is in his mind. He is a revolutionary theorist, not a soldier."

During his 10-year stretch in prison courtesy of the Smith regime, he studied for three degrees by correspondence to add to the two he already had. "He knew exactly what he wanted to do," recalls one of his tutors at the London School of Economics, from which he obtained a postgraduate degree in international economic law. "So much so that it became quite a struggle to impress on him that for the purpose of this exercise, I - not he - was the boss . . . I got the very clear impression that he was equipping his intellect for the tasks that lay ahead." One speech writer recalled how drafts would always be re turned not only with changes for content, but pedantic corrections of grammar.

If he is punctilious about his language then he is no less particular about other aspects of his life. He drinks neither alcohol, tea, nor coffee and when he is on tour often insists on bringing cooks who can prepare simple African dishes. He is also incredibly fastidious about clothing. Men may not enter a Zimbabwe court or the public gallery of parliament without a shirt, tie and jacket. When some argued that African country MPs and spectators should at least be allowed to wear African clothes, such as robes and jellabahs, a minor concession was made - safari suits are now allowed. "There is no mix and match around Bob," says one former colleague. "Everything has to be ironed flat, sharp, coordinated and very conservative."

His recent conversion to a far more lavish lifestyle is said to have arrived shortly after his marriage to Grace. Before, he was fiercely critical of the kind of wanton ostentation that had plundered the public purses of so many other countries on the continent. Back in 1983 he slammed those ministers who "under one guise or another, proceeded to acquire huge properties by way of commercial farms and other business concerns".

It is one of the more intriguing facets of British coverage and understanding of Africa that it concentrates not on the needs, experiences and aspirations of the vast majority of those who have always lived there but on the comparatively small number of whites who have settled on the continent over the past 400 years.

And so it is that rivers, towns and mountains do not exist until they have been "discovered" by white explorers; leaders are judged not by their ability to deliver their election promises to the majority but by their willingness to preserve the privileges of the minority; and that events simply do not happen unless they happen to white people. This warped perspective deprives black Africans not only of their wealth, citizenship and dignity, but of their history as well.

Not that whites in Africa are not important. As the racial group which until relatively recently held a monopoly on both political power, and in much of the continent, still holds a vastly disproportionate amount of wealth, it would be foolish to ignore it. Moreover, as an ethnic minority, they have basic human rights which should be secured and defended.

But the determination to dwell on the needs and priorities of a privileged few at the expense of the impoverished many continues to distort the continent beyond all recognition. And in few places more so than Zimbabwe, where white people make up less than 0.5% of the population, own 70% of the best land and employ 65% of the people. One of the more bizarre upshots of the current spate of trouble in Zimbabwe is that it should take place against a backdrop of the racism conference in Durban, where Britain's strident tone against Mugabe's regime contrasts unfavourably with its weasel words over colonialism and slavery, as though the two situations were not linked.

As the leader of first the liberation and then the country, Mugabe has therefore been through many incarnations, depending on the anxieties and hopes of the white Zimabweans and the British establishment.

In 1978, according to the News of the World's front page, he was the "Black Hitler" - an analogy which presumably cast the racist white minority enforcing their own version of apartheid as Jews. After he won the election and urged reconciliation, the Daily Mail's front page illustrated a changed tone. "Mugabe - So meek and mild," it read. As long as he preaches "reconciliation" to, and forgiveness for, whites, he is liked. As long as he expresses rage at their racism and privilege, he is loathed. Nothing else counts. "Satan or Saviour?" asked the Sunday Times in 1980. There is, it seems, nothing in between.

Throughout the years of the mkuruhundu - the massacres in the Matabeleland in the mid-80s - we heard precious little, since the thousands that he murdered, with the assistance of the North Koreans, were black. Rarely did we hear news of the reasonably successful battles against illiteracy, disease and impoverishment which he led that empowered so many Zimbabweans through the 80s and early 90s.

But now he is back. The supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change whom he is intimidating, torturing and murdering are his true target, but sadly, not the stuff that inflammatory headlines are made of here. Nor, sadly, are the lesbians and gays he has been harassing and incriminating. Instead the spotlight shines on him and his country only when it turns its ire on whites. And we have an impressive candidate for what Gore Vidal calls "the enemy of the month club" - the farm-seizing, land-grabbing, white-hating, lunatic of the new millennium.

Ask those who know or support him where it all went wrong and they will shrug. There were signs, particularly during the Matabeleland massacres, which no one wanted to heed. Liberals concede that when reports started to surface of the mass murder of the N'debele in the area, they would not or could not believe it. "It wasn't just that we didn't want to believe it," says one London-based expert. "But his explanation for it - that South African forces were trying to destabilise the country - were completely plausible. The apartheid regime was killing people all over the frontline states during the 80s so why not in Zimbabwe?"

In 1985, Zimbabwe, which this year will be forced to import maize to stave off a food crisis, was one of the few African countries in a position to send drought relief to Ethiopia. In 1990, Mandela gave Mugabe and his party a clean bill of health, when he arrived during an election campaign. "Robert Mugabe and Zanu have made Zimbabwe an example for us," Mandela said shortly after his release on a visit to Harare.

One of Mugabe's sternest critics, Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition MDC, who will challenge him for the presidency in March, says that if Mugabe had gone before the last presidential election things would have been different: "If Mugabe had left government in 1995, he would have gone with his reputation intact, but the past five years have been a disaster."

Some within Zanu date his degradation to his defeat in the referendum for a new constitution early last year. "That was a real shock to him because he always thought he had the people with him," says one. "When they voted no he decided he would carry on the transformation without them because it was in their interests."

But perhaps the most plausible explanation is that Mugabe hasn't changed - the rest of the world has."You cannot understand what is happening now without taking into account that violence in Zimbabwe's political culture stretches a long way back," says a professor at the university of Zimbabwe. "The Smith regime was violent and the resistance to it was violent as well. What Mugabe is doing is continuing and entrenching a tradition."

The battle for independence in Zimbabwe was indeed a bloody and bitter one, not only between the state and the guerrillas but also between the various factions of guerrillas themselves. Like other freedom fighters in the area Mugabe declared himself a Marxist; but unlike them he was closer to China - home of Mao's mantra "political power grows out of the barrel of a gun" - than to the Soviet Union - that had long adopted a policy of "peaceful coexistence" with the west. When it came to alliances with other organisations Zanu was closer to the Pan-Africanist Congress, which preached revenge with the slogan "One settler, one bullet", than with Mandela's African National Congress, which advocated multiracial democracy.

His relationship with white Zimbabweans has been volatile and informed by mutual suspicion. For if he is unreconstructed, then so are many of them. When 15 out of 20 seats reserved for whites went to Smith's Rhodesian Front in 1985, Mugabe lashed out. "The whites are still the racists of the past," he said. "We showed them love, they showed us hatred; we forgave them, they thought we were stupid; we regarded them as friends but they were wicked witches."

As a liberation leader Mugabe was at home in the world of vanguardism, tight security and summary justice. Comfortable at a time when those who were not with you were against you and politics meant not coalition-building but action. He assumed control of Zanu in a coup carried out while he was still in prison. During the mid-80s he turned on his former mentor and comrade in arms, Joshua Nkomo, and forced him into exile. Mugabe's party always had to be nudged to the negotiating table by other Southern African leaders and, like their Rhodesian opponents, always kept a finger on the trigger. When Mugabe was released from jail in 1974 amid calls for detente, he called for his army: "To intensify the war and ignore persistent calls for a ceasefire. An intensified recruitment campaign [has] to be mounted to build up the army."

This he managed to sustain for a considerable time after independence. His advocacy of a one-party state in the interests of nation-building made sense in a continent where other countries were disintegrating and his was making great economic and social strides.

Like his old foe Thatcher, he had captured a national mood in the early 80s that had alienated many but enthused most; and, like her, he entered a new millennium clutching to certainties that had long gone. But while Thatcher operated in a longstanding democratic tradition that could get rid of her, Mugabe does not. It is a sign of how steeped Zanu is in a bygone culture that its principal decision-making body is still called the Politburo.

His old friends, such as Kaunda, were forced out. New allies, such as Mandela, outshone him with a new and brighter message for the future. Mugabe still talks to and of the past. One of the principal constituencies of the MDC is the young - the so-called Born Frees, who knew not the war he fought, but the freedom it brought.

By diverting attention away from his democratic deficiencies to the issue of land, he hoped to rekindle the spirit of independence and provide himself with a legacy. Concentrating his ire on a privileged minority and a former colonial power he hoped he could reinvigorate his flagging popularity. But the more he tries the worse it gets. The country has moved on.

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Commonwealth rules change on Zimbabwe

Jon Hibbs Political Editor

COMMONWEALTH foreign ministers gathered in London last night amid growing pressure to take powers to intervene in strife-torn Zimbabwe.

Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, joined other members of the Commonwealth Ministers Action Group to review trouble-spots in the organisation ahead of the biennial summit in Australia next month.

Under the unwritten Commonwealth constitution, CMAG is currently only allowed to take action in cases where recognised governments have been overthrown in a coup.

Technically therefore the group cannot discuss what is happening in Zimbabwe.

However moves are already underway to change the rules, fuelled by the latest controversy over President Robert Mugabe’s land reforms and allegations of human rights abuses.

Mr Straw will fly to the Nigerian capital Abuja later this week for separate talks about Zimbabwe with African members of the Commonwealth concerned about its stability.

In the tortuous world of Commonwealth diplomacy, the results of this meeting will be reported back to CMAG in the expectation that a revised and streamlined procedure can be agreed by Tony Blair and his fellow Commonwealth leaders at the Brisbane summit.

Meanwhile the CMAG meeting at Marlborough House today will concentrate instead on the fate of two member states struggling to restore democracy, Pakistan and Fiji.

As the administrations in both countries have drawn up plans for the restoration of democracy, it is expected that CMAG will recommend that neither state be suspended.
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