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Daily Telegraph

Mugabe declares war on MDC after mass protest
By Peta Thornycroft in Harare
(Filed: 12/04/2003)

President Robert Mugabe's security forces have launching a purge of his
opponents since mass protests against his regime last month, Zimbabwe's main
opposition party said yesterday.

The Movement for Democratic Change said two senior opposition leaders were
among more than 500 people arrested.

A further 250 people have been taken to hospital and scores beaten and
tortured in police custody, it said. Welshman Ncube, the party's
secretary-general, said: "The attempt is to scare and intimidate the MDC

"The government is labouring under the mistaken belief that, because each
and every one of us is facing a charge or facing incarceration, the party
will retreat from its obligation to organise mass protests against this
dictatorship. Zanu-PF has learned nothing though history. They may postpone
it, but eventually freedom will come."

The number two in the MDC, and leader of the opposition in parliament,
Gibson Sibanda, was arrested in Bulawayo and is facing a 20-year-jail
sentence under Zimbabwe's notorious Public Order and Security Act.

He has been charged with undermining the constitution by inciting a two-day
general strike last month which paralysed commerce and industry.

After eight days in detention, he was released on record bail of about
£11,000. On the day of his release, the opposition's chief spokesman Paul
Themba-Nyathi, was arrested as he attended the court hearing. Mr
Themba-Nyathi was later released without charges.

While Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party continues its crackdown against the
opposition, its attacks on white farmers continue.

Alan Parsons, 44, returned to his farm in Karoi, 80 miles north of Harare
earlier this week to collect possessions left behind when he abandoned his
home last year during violence last year.

He went with a court order, under police protection and with a court
official, to force the release of his farm equipment, although much of it
had already been stolen.

A friend and fellow farmer, John Coast, also 44, who accompanied him, said
yesterday they were attacked and beaten by ruling party thugs, and had to
flee. A policeman who accompanied them, and the court official, were also

Mr Parsons is still in hospital in Harare. His wife, Jenny, was attacked by
the same mob three months ago, and police have now arrested its leader and
nine others.
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Daily News

      Terror gang netted

      4/12/2003 6:59:47 AM (GMT +2)

      By Precious Shumba

      ARMED riot police on Tuesday arrested 10 members of Chipangano, the
Zanu PF vigilante group which has been terrorising Mbare residents for
allegedly supporting the MDC.

      Before their arrest, the 10 had held hostage 11 tenants at Shawasha
Flats in Mbare for 10 hours during which time they ordered them to remain
seated until the police arrived on the scene.

      Last month Chipangano members force-marched commuters, Mbare residents
and commandeered vehicles to ferry people to demonstrate against Harare
Executive Mayor Elias Mudzuri at Town House.

      Last Saturday, the group harassed people who were buying from Mbare
Musika and force-marched them to their party's meeting in the suburb.

      When The Daily News published the activities of the terror gang,
senior Zanu PF officials denied any knowledge of its existence.

      On Wednesday, the group appeared before Mbare magistrate Nicodemus
Chivhunga facing assault charges.

      They were denied bail and remanded in custody to 28 April.

      The accused admitted to being members of a Zanu PF group code-named

      They are Zephania Ndhlovu, 43, Lovemore Mafukidze (age not given),
William Mangarai, 48, Charles Mangare, 49, Cleno Takawira, 40, Simbarashe
Mukorera, 38, Runesu Giwana, 31, Tafadzwa Gwara, 44, Fradreck Kunyarimwe, 40
and Rot Moto, 20.

      All reside at Block 9B Shawasha Flats.

      Ngoni Siveregi, for the State, told the court that on Monday, the
Chipangano members, who confessed to being Zanu PF activists, went to
Shawasha Flats and ordered the 11 tenants to vacate the flats because they
were "sell-outs".

      She said the tenants defied the orders and the group, acting in common
purpose, forcibly removed the tenants' property and heaped it outside the

      Simultaneously, the Chipangano members force-marched the complainants
to an open space outside the flats where they ordered them to sit next to
their heaped belongings, the State alleged.

      The court was told that the group then assaulted the tenants using
various weapons which included sticks, iron bars and stones fired from

      Throughout the night, the vigilantes allegedly held the tenants in
captivity until 6am when the police were alerted of the situation by one of
the tenants who had escaped.

      While they were being held hostage, the tenants were prohibited from
standing up or moving.

      All the time, they were being assaulted, the court heard.

      In their written submissions to the court opposing bail, the police
said they needed two weeks to complete their investigations because there
were still outstanding cases that needed verification.

      The police further said they needed time to check in their records if
the accused had previous convictions.

      "They are facing serious allegations and they are likely to interfere
with investigations since they are leaders of Chipangano group of youths,"
the police said.

      "The group is known to have terrorised residents of Mbare under the
guise of Zanu PF.

      "The same group is known to have been harassing commuters from
Kuwadzana at Mbare Musika."

      Eyewitnesses said the group accused them of being MDC supporters.

      "They demanded to know why we remained defiant by not submitting to
Zanu PF," one of the affected tenants said.

      "They ordered us to remove all our property because, according to
them, we were no longer entitled to occupy the flats.

      "The youths accused us of continuously refusing to attend Zanu PF
meetings yet Zanu PF built the flats."

      The tenant said Chipangano targeted residents occupying the B Floor at

      Among those who were thrown out was a retired army officer who escaped
and made a report to the police.

      After they evicted the tenants, the Chipangano members took away the
keys and locked the doors, indicating their intention to bring in new
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      Daily News

      MPs accuse Zanu PF of thwarting development

      4/12/2003 7:24:54 AM (GMT +2)

      By Kelvin Jakachira and Paidamoyo Chipunza

      MDC Members of Parliament have accused government officials and Zanu
PF activists of thwarting development projects they would have initiated in
their constituencies.

      The MPs also complained that influential local leaders such as
councillors, district administrators and mayors boycott their meetings.

      "The problem has deteriorated to the extent of creating barriers for
MPs," said Abedinico Bhebhe, the MP for Nkayi.

      They were speaking at a two-day workshop organised by the Public
Affairs and Parliamentary Support Trust (PAPST) in Mutare.

      "When I was elected into office I wanted to work with children because
the constituency had one of the highest failure rates," Bhebhe said, "but
when I approached Aeneas Chigwedere, the Minister of Education, Sports
Culture he was not co-operative."

      Bhebhe said an attempt to acquire an ambulance for the district
hospital in the constituency was also thwarted by Zanu PF activists.

      "When I went to the hospital to get a supporting letter, the hospital
administrator was chased away from the hospital," Bhebhe said.

      He said soldiers were deployed to man the hospital thereafter.

      Zanu PF activists and government officials again thwarted another
project, which was meant to provide clean water, he said.

      Bethel Makwembere, the MP (MDC) for Mkoba in Gweru said: "Our
political counterparts need to be educated that these developmental
workshops are non-political so that we can get a positive response from

      Sydney Mukwecheni, the MP for Mutare South (MDC), said: "When we call
for the meetings our political foes claim that they would want to be
consulted first," Mukwecheni said. "Normally they respond negatively."

      But Jorum Gumbo, the MP for Mberengwa West and Zanu PF's chief whip,
said he had not encountered such problems in his constituency.

      "These workshops are not political. I don't see any difficulties in
calling people for such meetings," said Gumbo.

      Mike Mataure, PAPST director, said the workshops were non-partisan.

      He urged MPs to work towards the development of the country.

      "We don't discriminate whether one is Zanu PF or MDC, we consider one'
s developmental leadership in the constituency," Mataure said.

      PAPST's objective is to empower and enhance the leadership capacity of
elected and appointed representatives in their respective constituencies.
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Daily News

Police, GMB impound maize

4/12/2003 7:25:23 AM (GMT +2)

      By Lawrence Paganga

      THE Grain Marketing Board with the assistance of the police, has set
up roadblocks along most major highways leading into cities and major towns
countrywide, impounding maize grain destined for other markets.

      The move is aimed at forcing producers to sell their grain to the
parastatal. Many unsuspecting travellers bringing maize grain from the rural
areas this week had their produce impounded at the roadblocks.

      Heaps of bags of maize that had been impounded by the police and GMB
inspectors were seen stacked beside the road at two roadblocks at Mabvuku
and Kuwadzana in Harare.

      A similar situation was observed in Gweru along the Mvuma-Gweru
highway and in Masvingo at Chartsworth turn-off and in the Masvingo
commercial farming area. The GMB/police operations got underway in Masvingo
and Gweru on Thursday.

      A GMB loss control officer, who refused to be identified said the
parastatal would continue monitoring the movement of grain in the country.

      She said the GMB would pay for all the grain impounded.

      "Those who have their maize impounded should give correct details to
the GMB inspectors so that we are able to make follow-ups and pay them," she

      Communal farmers have begun harvesting their crops. According to the
GMB it is an offence for a farmer not to deliver his maize to the board
within 14 days of harvesting.

      "Movement of maize and maize-meal from one specified area to another
without a permit is illegal," the board warned the public in a statement
last month.

      "The GMB reminds farmers and members of the public that failure to
comply would lead to prosecution."

      However, police spokesperson, Inspector Andrew Phiri, refused to
comment saying he does not give interviews to The Daily News.

      Bruce Mutumba, one of the affected people, said the police impounded
three bags of maize from him at Mabvuku turn-off on Wednesday as he returned
from his rural home in Rusape.

      "The move by the GMB is not justified because I did not intend to sell
the maize but had brought it for my family's consumption," he said.
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Daily News

      Relatives of arrested MP detained

      4/12/2003 7:28:53 AM (GMT +2)

      From Chris Gande in Bulawayo

      THE relatives of one of the two MDC MPs who were arrested on Wednesday
have been detained after they went to give food to the two legislators at
Bulawayo Central Police Station.

      The police yesterday refused to send to court MPs Jealous Sansole
(Hwange East) and David Mpala (Lupane) who continued to be held despite the
expiry of the stipulated maximum 48 hours within which detained persons must
be brought to court.

      Their lawyers only managed to locate them late last night. Sansole was
detained at Hillside Police Station while Mpala was at Entumbane Police

      One of the lawyers, Lucas Nkomo, yesterday said police detained Mhazha
Sansole the MP's brother and Cleopas Chirwa who had gone to give the two MPs
food at Bulawayo Central Police Station.

      Nkomo said the police told him that he should leave them while they do
their work.

      He said he was making an urgent application to the High Court to have
them released.

      The arrested pair was in the company of the MPs when they were
arrested as they drove from Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Airport.

      Nkomo said the police had abandoned the previous charges in which they
were saying Sansole had been found in possession of ballot box-sealing
material and spikes.

      He said the police were now accusing Sansole of being found in
possession of a booklet with the names of Zanu PF youths in Hwange.

      Nkomo said the police were also alleging that they had found a
hand-written letter threatening the Zanu PF youths.

      There was no specific charge levelled against Mpala.

      Several MDC MPs have been arrested over the past two weeks in a
crackdown that followed President Mugabe's order to the State security
agents to "crush" the MDC.
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Daily News

      Suspected Zanu PF youths bomb Kuwadzana tuckshop

      4/12/2003 7:28:10 AM (GMT +2)

      By Precious Shumba

      PROPERTY worth $4 million dollars went up in smoke on Thursday night
when suspected Zanu PF youths petrol-bombed a tuckshop owned by an MDC
activist in Kuwadzana Extension.

      Munyaradzi Guzha, 32, the owner of Extension Meats tuckshop, yesterday
said the Zanu PF youths had earlier threatened unspecified action if he
remained an MDC supporter.

      The tuckshop operates as a butchery and grocery shop.

      Suspected Zanu PF youths camped at a base about 500m away from the
scene of the incident towards the 29-30 March parliamentary by-election won
by Nelson Chamisa, the MDC national youth chairman.

      "They visited my tuckshop on Wednesday and made threats," he said. "I
made a report number OB1692/03 at Kuwadzana Extension Police Base but no
action was taken against the known Zanu PF militants."

      Yesterday, the police visited the scene of the arson attack and
recorded statements from Guzha. A police constable was interviewing Guzha
when this reporter visited the place.

      Guzha was the provincial president of the Zimbabwe National Students
Union for Manicaland in 1998-99 during his time at Mutare Technical College.

      The police at Kuwadzana Extension Police Base confirmed receiving a
report about the attack on Guzha's tuckshop. Inspector Wilbert Mashuro, the
officer-in-charge at Kuwadzana 2 Police Station visited the scene of the

      Two compressors worth about $400 000 each were burnt during the attack
including the butchery scale worth about $1,5 million.

      Langton Murwisi, 22, who usually slept in the tuckshop, yesterday said
the incident occurred around 10 pm.

      He said he was coming from his house when he saw the tuckshop on fire
"When I drew closer, I realised that the ridges of the roof had been moved.
We only managed to pull the refrigerator away from the fire."

      Sporadic cases of violence have broken out in Kuwadzana where
suspected Zanu PF youths have attacked suspected MDC supporters.

      Zanu PF supporters have also accused the MDC of attacking its

      Meanwhile, seven MDC youths who were arrested on Tuesday for allegedly
planning to overthrow President Mugabe's government, were on Thursday
released from Harare Central Police Station without charges.

      This was despite accusations by the police that the group was found in
possession of weapons of war to cause terror and rob residents.

      Their lawyer, Alec Muchadehama, has alleged that the MDC activists
were severely tortured.

      More than 200 MDC supporters including MPs have so far been arrested
and others allegedly tortured in custody following the two-day stayaway
called by the party last month to press President Mugabe to respect human
rights and restore the rule of law in the country.
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Daily News

      Chinamasa raps foreign states

      4/12/2003 7:29:22 AM (GMT +2)

      From Patience Nyangove in Mutare

      PATRICK Chinamasa, the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary
Affairs, on Wednesday accused foreign countries of threatening to "derail
Zimbabwe's young democracy".

      "They are sponsoring, financing and setting up political parties and
civic organisations to interfere and influence our internal democratic
process," Chinamasa said referring to unnamed Western powers.

      He was speaking during a two-day workshop organised by the Public
Affairs and Parliamentary Support Trust held in Mutare.

      "The major threats against our young democracy are foreign interests,
which are acting from purely selfish motives," he said.

      "World events in recent months point to the resurgence of imperialism,
colonialism and racism under the guise of neo-liberal philosophies, good
governance, human rights and so on," said Chinamasa.
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Daily News

      Will Mbeki, Obasanjo ever wake up to this deception?

      4/12/2003 6:58:08 AM (GMT +2)

      Following the continued clampdown on the opposition since the
successful two-day mass action on 18 and 19 March, there can be no doubt
that the situation in this country is far from normal.

      This has to be in spite of whatever information South African
President Thabo Mbeki and his Nigerian counterpart, Olusegun Obasanjo, have
to the contrary.

      These two leaders, both suspiciously latent or closet dictators, are
trying to make the rest of the world believe the rule of law is alive and
well in Zimbabwe. They rush to defend themselves by stating they are
protecting the sovereignty of Zimbabwe and are hedging against international
interference in the internal affairs of a so-called democratic country.

      The list of MDC MPs who have been arrested and continue to be arrested
is growing longer by the day. The latest are Jealous Sansole (Hwange East)
and David Mpala (Lupane) who were arrested on Wednesday following the
release of that party's spokesman, Paul Themba-Nyathi (Gwanda North).

      The police were compelled to release Nyathi after the High Court
declared his detention illegal. He had spent nearly four days in police
custody without charge. He was being held under the draconian Public Order
and Security Act (POSA) on allegations of organising the two-day mass

      Nyathi's arrest followed hard on the heels of the incarceration of
Gibson Sibanda (Nkulumane), the MDC's vice-president and leader of the
opposition in Parliament.

      More than 200 MDC supporters and legislators have been arrested since
the successful mass action. The MPs had stiff bail conditions imposed on
their release. Sibanda, for instance, was released on $1 million bail and
ordered to surrender his passport to the Clerk of the Criminal Court.

      These arrests appear to have no justification at all and most people
see their prime purpose as the psychological torture and intimidation of the
opposition leaders. They are locked up before investigations into the
allegations against them are completed, which is done only in those
countries where the strict application of rule of law is selective or

      The seemingly spurious charges against the MDC leaders and their
supporters always hinge on inciting the people to participate in mass action
to topple the highly unpopular Mugabe regime.

      Mbeki and Obasanjo need to be reminded that in a normal democratic
society the police do not arrest and detain people without first completing
investigations into the allegations against them.

      In a democratic society, suspects have their rights read to them
before being arrested. They are told that they have a right to remain
silent, and that anything they may say can and will be used against them in
a court of law during trial.

      This is never done by the security agents of a government on whose
behalf Mbeki and Obasanjo are fighting against the rest of the world,

      Things cannot be normal in a country where elected leaders are
arrested and detained while their whereabouts remain privy only to their

      Even serial killers have rights. They can be arrested and detained,
but they will still have the right to legal representation. Their
whereabouts will also be common knowledge to their relatives, friends and
legal representatives. This is not the case here.

      It seems the law enforcement agents in this country are a law unto
themselves. They ensure whoever they detain on trumped-up charges under POSA
are incarcerated in places which only State agents have knowledge of and
access to. This seems more like the State agents themselves are guilty of
preventing and hindering the course of justice.

      Mbeki and Obasanjo must know such disregard for the rule of law
occurred in their own countries, respectively, during the apartheid era and
during the military regimes.

      In Zimbabwe, there is continued and wanton trampling of human rights
and that the two latest victims of that repression are being detained
incommunicado speaks volumes of this regime's lack of willingness to turn
over a new leaf.
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Daily News


      One-hundred days with Robert Mugabe

      4/12/2003 6:56:56 AM (GMT +2)

      By Alexander Kanengoni

      Doris Lessing is a towering literary figure. Her classical novel, The
Grass is Singing, helped me to understand how whites think and behave in
relation to blacks more than all the social interaction that I had had with

      She inspires me. That was why I read her recent contribution to The
Daily News about President Mugabe with avid interest.

      The picture of Robert Mugabe that she painted in her contribution was
dark and depressing. It is understandable. It is only an indication of
different people's sometimes conflicting views of the man.

      Perhaps, the different perceptions of the man have to do with the
position where one is standing, looking at him.

      I lived with Mugabe for over three months, eating from the same pot,
perched on top of the same hut to thatch it, slept in the same room at a
remote base called Saguranca in central Mozambique in 1975, and the man left
such a deep impression on my mind - nothing will erase it.

      I can already see people like Iden Wetherell raising their eyebrows
saying, "O-oh o-oh, there goes that Zanu PF apologist", but for me, the
important thing about what I write is that it is honest and I believe it.

      Mugabe arrived one night at the secluded Frelimo base accompanied by
Edgar Tekere and three other people I no longer remember and found the place
in turmoil.

      Earlier that evening, the base commander, Kanyawu, had read an
instruction from "above" to send the 40 or so of us back to Rhodesia because
our colleagues in Zambia had killed Herbert Chitepo.

      For a moment, the arrogant Frelimo commander was confused by the
respect we accorded Mugabe and Mugabe lost his composure, but he quickly
regained it and threatened to beat him up, whoever he was, if he tried to
undermine his authority.

      After countless reassurances and apologies that almost took the whole
night, an uneasy truce was reached when Mugabe declared we would rather die
at the hands of Frelimo than give the Rhodesians the immeasurable pleasure
of killing us.

      Thereafter, he quickly organised political lessons for us that he
personally conducted.

      On the other hand, Tekere was always the wild and unpredictable fellow
who laughed very easily and stood at the edge of the class as Mugabe took us
through the lessons: the history of Zimbabwe, the growth of African
nationalism, the reasons for resorting to an armed confrontation with Ian
Smith and the painful shortcomings of the Kenneth Kaunda-John Vorster-driven
detente exercise that had virtually ground the war to a standstill and we
had all become victims of.

      And throughout all that rather academic process, there was not a
single book, a single piece of paper, a single pen.

      What I found quite fascinating about him was how he had his facts at
the tips of his fingers. But that was before the hunger and the hopelessness
sneaked in.

      Once the horrible twins arrived, driving us mad, Mugabe moved around
calmly, urging us to keep fixing our eyes on tomorrow because no one knew
the promises it held. He was an extraordinary man.

      The man was obsessed with the issue of land.

      And, unlike what Lessing said was foolish on his part to promise land
to everyone, there was no way he could avoid it because it was the basis
upon which the war was fought. The majority of Zimbabweans are rural living
directly off the land and their foremost reason for fighting the war was so
that they could have adequate land to grow crops and graze their animals.

      I remember one afternoon as our section (the late Gaylord Hlatshwayo
was the commander and Mugabe was an ordinary member of the section) bathed
down a small stream outside the base. He told us about the possibility of
nationalising land to make it more readily available to the people. Even
amidst all the confusion today, I do not believe by people he meant his
relatives, friends and cronies.

      Perhaps it is pointless to mention such distant and almost obscure
recollections, but for me, this is the man behind the monster the world is
made to see.

      Because Frelimo was still a transitional government and the Portuguese
still in control, very little supplies trickled to the remote base and there
was hunger. We got virtually all the food from the villages in exchange of
our personal items. First, it was the wristwatches, then the jerseys and the
jackets and then the shoes, but soon there was nothing left to give away.

      Gilbert, I don't know whether he eventually survived the war because I
have not seen him since, exchanged his shirt and for two days he walked with
his tummy exposed until someone gave him his vest.

      The teacher, for that was how we affectionately called Mugabe, had a
beautiful pair of maroon corduroy trousers and jacket and one day, the
jacket disappeared. Rumour had it that Gilbert and the late Kirkstone
Mavhera had something to do with the disappearance.

      And strangely, the name of Edgar Tekere also became linked with the
disappearance because it was argued such kind of an act could not have
succeeded without "inside" assistance.

      And throughout the bizarre incident, Mugabe maintained his trademark
detachment, as if it was not his jacket that had been stolen. And that
evening, Gilbert and Kirkstone brought a few measly mealie-cobs from the
village, hardly able to stand, plastered blind with mudzepete, a potent
concoction even the villagers were reluctant to drink, fermented from the
sap of the roots and fruit of some wild tree.

      And we shared the cobs and Robert Mugabe politely received his share
as if he did not know it was the prize of his maroon jacket. Perhaps he no
longer remembers some of these tiny details, but I do. The man was a myth.

      To kill the boredom and forget a bit about the gnawing hunger and the
stifling hopelessness, we stayed permanently high on mbanje (marijuana) that
we got cheaply from the villages and it worried him.

      "I know we are going through a tough time," he told us one morning,
"but it will be over soon."

      "Once we get to our own camps in Tanzania, you will forget you have
been through this."

      He smiled, one of the few times he ever did.

      "In Tanzania, there are vast fields of dagga (marijuana), but of
course the smoking is strictly controlled."

      We looked at him sceptically through glazed eyes.

      The teacher was advising us to reserve our energy for the huge blow in
Tanzania! Of course, there was nothing like that there.

      He was afraid we were slowly approaching the edge.

      In fact, Freddy (he is now an officer in the army) slipped over the
edge and for a month we kept him chained to a tree.

      And every night we sat around a fire, holding our lice-infested
clothes over the flames to kill the rampant parasites and I remember that
was the only time he ever mentioned his stolen jacket when he joked that for
him, it was minus one item to hold over the fire to burn the lice.

      It was an incredible time, he was an extraordinary man.

      Then one afternoon as we went down the river to fetch water for our
evening meal, he told us, without anybody asking him, that he had dedicated
his life to see that no one in Zimbabwe was disadvantaged on the basis of
their skin colour and that everyone had access to the resources of the

      When I look at him now - 23 years later - the man has not changed
because what he told us then is still what he is saying now.

      Perhaps the only difference is, whereas he was telling the odd 40 or
so of us then, he is telling an entire nation now.

      For me, programmes like land reform and affirmative action, in spite
of their teething problems and sometimes glaring weaknesses, are all part of
the focus that he told us during that time.

      Doris Lessing, like so many other people including the British
government, argue that the problems facing Zimbabwe are a result of bad
governance on the part of Robert Mugabe.

      I have just a single question to ask: How come this crisis of bad
governance only surfaced during the last five years to coincide with the
accelerated land reform programme when in 1994, Queen Elizabeth II had
conferred knighthood on Mugabe on the recommendation of the same British

      What calamity had befallen Zimbabwe between 1995 and the formation of
the MDC (to rescue the country from the calamity we are told) except the
land reform programme?

      It is true that the country is faced with enormous problems, but to
say, as Lessing does, that it is all because of Robert Mugabe is not
entirely correct.

      Every one of us must accept the part we are playing in bringing about
the "disgrace, dishonour and ruin" that Lessing says the country has become.

      For instance, we must accept that the sanctions that some of us called
for and are openly supporting are contributing immensely to the mess that we
find ourselves in.

      We must also accept that the black market and the rampant shortages
were not entirely created by price controls, but by manufacturers as they
avoided the formal system and those among us who quickly emptied the shelves
of the few commodities that trickled there in order to make that extra

      Yes, Robert Mugabe is all sorts of things to all sorts of people, but
I think what is important to realise is that he is also human with

      I don't think he is a frightened man, as Lessing says - no. Taking a
country through such a difficult and turbulent time like the one we are
going through requires a lot of courage and decisiveness and certainly not

      As for Tekere, well, the man has lived exactly the way we whispered
during the nights as we tried to hurry sleep, for once to dream eating a
full-bloodied meal, perhaps chicken and rice, but unfortunately, such dreams
never came: only horrible nightmares of ambushes by the Rhodesians.

      A few weeks ago I made a small contribution to The Daily News about a
conversation that I had had with a white commercial farmer and it generated
a lot of debate.

      One lady phoned to say it was untrue that the blacks that whites
really knew are farm labourers and domestic workers. The blacks in Doris
Lessing's classical novel, The Grass is Singing, are all farm labourers!
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Dear Family and Friends,
The school holidays have started in Zimbabwe and there was an almost audible nationwide sigh of relief. It's been a chaotic three months of school for parents when every day we've struggled to find bread to put in the lunch box, battled to afford the most basic of stationery let alone replacement items of uniforms or school shoes. Talking to other mums on the last day of term it was tragic to have to say final good-byes to yet more black and white families who are emigrating because they simply cannot afford to support their families and educate their children here. Some are going to the UK, others to Botswana and South Africa and some to Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Living with shortages of basic foodstuffs and surviving a 220% inflation rate is a nightmare. Things that we always took for granted  are either not available or have become luxury items and it gets harder and harder to keep our children healthy, let alone provide them with occasional treats. The stress of living like this, day after day wears you down so much that in the end it's easier to just leave. The skills drain from the country is now very noticeable and has affected every aspect of our lives - from teachers, doctors, vets and lawyers to engineers, electricians and plumbers. 
For me the biggest relief of the end of the school term was finding the petrol to actually get Richard there every day. Fuel shortages throughout the country have bought us almost to a standstill. Yesterday, with my car running on the smell of an oil rag, I joined a massive petrol queue in Marondera town. It's the first time there's been a queue for over two weeks and people are getting pretty desperate. I don't know how far back I was in the line but I couldn't even see the petrol station and guessed at about 50 cars ahead of me. Usually I find things to amuse myself with in the queue but after 4 hours I'd written my newspaper column, read two magazines from cover to cover and got hotter and hotter until sweat dripped out of every pore. It wasn't the usual friendly queue either because when people get desperate the law of the jungle takes over. At least ten vehicles pushed into the queue during my four and a half hour wait. You feel like a helpless pawn when a car just pulls up alongside you , blocks your path and then pushes in. It doesn't matter how close you get to the car in front - these queue jumpers are professionals, they get a man to stand in front of you and short of physically running him over you have to sit and watch as a car pushes in front of you. There were a lot of angry voices and one exchange which almost ended in physical violence but it seems if you use the name of the ruling political party you can get away with anything in Zimbabwe. I never did reach the front of the queue, the petrol ran out and I got home hot, exhausted and extremely depressed just before dark.
Like the rest of the world we've been watching the Iraq war and cannot help but compare the situation there with that in Zimbabwe. When a political party infiltrates every single aspect of society, ordinary people become completely and utterly helpless. The government, either directly through their Ministers and officials, or indirectly through their secret police, war veterans, youth brigades or security personnel control almost everything in Zimbabwe. They control the telephones and television, the railways and airport, the food supply and it's distribution, the electricity and water, the fuel and gas. They now occupy and control almost all of the land, nature reserves and conservancies. Anyone who gets in their way is simply stamped on and the Minister of Information just goes on and on peddling his propaganda. Seeing TV images of underground cells and torture chambers in Baghdad and hearing people tell of their relatives who were tortured, disappeared or died in the bowels of these state institutions is chillingly familiar. Of particular interest to us here is what happened to all those Iraqi Ministers and state agents and supporters when they finally realised their time was up. Where did they run to, where are they hiding, will they ever be made to answer for their crimes against their own brothers and sisters. Or will they be given sanctuary in other countries like Mengistu is in Zimbabwe or Idi Amin - wherever he is? 
Zimbabwe hasn't got oil or any other vital natural wealth so we don't expect anyone to come roaring in to help us but still we cry out for help - what else can we do. Until next week, with love, cathy. Copyright cathy buckle 12th April 2003.
"African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" are available from and  
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Power Fuels inform us that the information which we communicated
in yesterday's CFU Report is incorrect.  They don't sell fuel totally
in Zim Dollars as this would contravene the price controls.
Our apologies to everyone concerned for this misinformation.

The following information is applicable:
32 US cents per litre plus +/-10 US cents per litre
transport to be paid direct to supplier and transporter.
Local component covering duties, levies, insurance etc - Z$26.74 per litre.
Contact Stubbs Chifodwa, Marketing Director,
Power Fuels on 799407/8 for further information.

Unless specifically stated that this message is a Commercial Farmers' Union
communique, or that it is being issued or forwarded to you by the sender in
an official CFU capacity, the opinions contained therein are private.
Private messages also include those sent on behalf of any organisation not
directly affiliated to the Union.  The CFU does not accept any legal
responsibility for private messages and opinions held by the sender and
transmitted over its local area network to other CFU network users and/or to
external addresses.
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Dead Zim soldier a 'mercenary'
12/04/2003 13:44  - (SA)

Harare - A Zimbabwean soldier in the British army, who died this week
serving in Iraq, has been condemned as a "mercenary" and a "sell-out" by
President Robert Mugabe's state media.

The British ministry of defence confirmed this week that Christopher Muzvuru
(21) of the Irish Guards had been killed on Sunday in Basra.

He was the first of a small contingent of Zimbabweans serving in the British
armed forces to be killed in the Iraq war.

The Daily Mirror, owned by a member of the ruling Zanu-PF party, urged that
authorities to bar Muzvuru's body from being returned home for burial.

"It should be buried in Britain, the country that he chose to die for," the
newspaper said.

"For a Zimbabwean, whose country is virtually at war with Britain over land
redistribution, to join the armed forces of an 'enemy' who is literally
besieging your country is the highest level of selling out."

"Buffalo soldier," read a cartoon of the dead soldier, in a reference to the
nickname of an American post-civil war cavalry regiment made up of blacks
that was used to fight Indians as settlers swept to occupy the west of the

Muzvuru was among the thousands of young Zimbabweans who fled Zimbabwe in
the last three years of lawlessness, violent state repression and economic
collapse to find a future in Britain.

The defence ministry said he enlisted in the army in February 2001, and
became a member of the Irish Guards' First Battalion bagpipe band after
training as a piper in the Piping School in Edinburgh.

According to Zimbabwean education authorities, between 15 and 20 young
Zimbabweans of all races, mostly from the country's elite private schools,
are accepted into the British army each year.

The state-controlled media has portrayed the American and British war on the
Iraqi regime as a "neo-imperialist invasion" aimed solely at seizing the
country's oil assets.

State television has suppressed coverage of the Iraq war, and most
Zimbabweans - except for the tiny minority able to afford satellite
television - were denied the extraordinary footage of thousands of Iraqis
joyously toppling statues and taking off their shoes to beat portraits of
their erstwhile leader. - Sapa-DPA
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From The Daily Dispatch (SA), 11 April

New protests as Zim opposition grows bolder

Harare - Zimbabwe's opposition cranked up an anti-government publicity
campaign yesterday ahead of a new round of planned protests against the
increasingly authoritarian rule of President Robert Mugabe. The opposition
Movement for Democratic Change placed advertisements in two independent
newspapers warning of growing frustration among the people of the country.
An advertisement in the independent Daily News warned of public anger and
possible retribution against officials, troops and police seen to be
"sustaining and oiling the dictatorship" of Mugabe. It also listed several
ousted African and foreign dictators who fled their countries but left
behind their functionaries, supporters and beneficiaries. "If you are
supporting the dictatorship in Zimbabwe today, it is important to know you
will be left alone to look after yourself and your family," the
advertisement said. The opposition has said it is determined to proceed with
planned protests despite a crackdown on government opponents and the arrests
of several opposition leaders in the wake of last month's successful
anti-government strike. Two other bold colour advertisements appeared
yesterday in the weekly Financial Gazette showing photographs of victims of
alleged beatings and torture by state agents and soldiers under the words
"Change demands action". Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri dismissed the
advertisements as "intimidation" against his officers. "They want to instil
fear in members of the security forces and their families. It won't work,"
he said. Opposition spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi, meanwhile, was released
yesterday on the order of high court judge Mathios Cheda in Bulawayo. He was
arrested on Monday under the nation's strict security laws for his
involvement in organising the anti-government strike. The government
declared the strike illegal. Cheda said the police failed to justify
Nyathi's continued detention and ordered him released without charge to be
summoned back to court later if required, Nyathi's lawyer Nicholas Mathonsi said.
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Zim Standard

      Chakaipa against violent land grab
      By Itai Dzamara

      THE late Archbishop Patrick Chakaipa, reputedly a friend of President
Robert Mugabe, was vehemently opposed to the Zanu PF leader's violent land
seizures, an investigation by The Standard has established.

      Top clergymen within the Roman Catholic Church said Chakaipa had been
deeply concerned at the wanton destruction Mugabe's land reform programme
had caused.

      Chakaipa who died on Tuesday last week aged 70, "unwaveringly
supported the equal distribution of land", senior members of the Catholic
church said but, like his colleagues in the church leadership, was strongly
concerned about the violent manner in which it was being implemented.

      Father Walter Nyatsanza, the secretary general of the Zimbabwe
Catholic Bishops' Conference, said at the time of his death Chakaipa was
concerned about the violence, disunity and social breakdown that Mugabe's
land reforms had caused.

      "He was very strongly concerned about the situation the country finds
itself in. He had always been committed to the resolution of the land
distribution imbalance. However, he was concerned with the manner in which
the programme was being implemented, which had led to violence," said

      In his condolence message, Mugabe claimed that Chakaipa-who solemnised
his marriage to Grace Marufu in 1996-had supported his chaotic land reforms
and used the opportunity of the message to launch an attack on clergymen who
have publicly condemned the exercise.

      "Chakaipa's stance on the land question was unambiguous and would
forever remain a quiet admonition to his peers who chose the side of the
unjust and the selfish," Mugabe was quoted as saying by the state-controlled
Herald newspaper.

      Within the local Catholic leadership, Pius Ncube-the Bishop of
Bulawayo-has openly criticised Mugabe's violent and chaotic land seizures,
thus earning himself the wrath of the 79-year-old Zanu PF leader.

      Ncube said that although Chakaipa-usually a very reserved person-had
not been too keen on publicly commenting on the chaos resulting from the
government's destruction of agriculture, he had nevertheless been against

      Said Ncube: "He was against the violent land seizures although he
never publicly commented on them. He wished for the day when the black
people in the communal areas would be relieved from the congestion. He
always regretted that in most communal areas people plough just by their
huts. He, however, condemned the violence that is associated with the land

      Bishop Patrick Mutume of the Mutare diocese, said: "He had the
grassroots people at heart. As a result, he was deeply concerned about the
crisis in the country because it affects the grassroots people more than
anyone else. He was saddened by the violence characterising the land reform
programme and its heavy impact on the grassroots people."

      Mugabe's chaotic land reforms, embarked upon abruptly after the
rejection of his party's constitutional proposals in February 2000, claimed
hundreds of lives as ragtag armies of so-called war veterans invaded and
violently took over former white commercial farms.

      Meanwhile, the Catholic Church says mass will be held for the late
Archbishop today at the St Mary's Cathedral in Harare and will be followed
by body viewing. He will be buried at Chishawasha Mission tomorrow.
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Zim Standard

      Mumbengegwi ditches Hungwe for Zvobgo
      By Parker Graham

      MASVINGO: All is not well within the Josiah Hungwe faction of Zanu PF
with reports that Samuel Mumbengegwi, the party's provincial chairman, has
defected to the rival faction of former minister, Eddison Zvobgo.

      Hungwe, who has the backing of Vice President Simon Muzenda, a
relative of his, has fought a long and bitter turf war over control of Zanu
PF's Masvingo Province, with Zvobgo, once considered the heir apparent of
President Robert Mugabe.

      Mumbengegwi, the minister of Industry and International Trade who is
regarded as the protege and "home boy" of Hungwe-the governor of the
province-led a crusade to weaken Zvobgo's political influence in Masvingo
two years ago.

      With the assistance of Foreign Affairs minister Stan Mudenge, deputy
minister of Youth, Gender and Employment Creation Shuvai Mahofa and Chief
Fortune Charumbira, Mumbengegwi went around the province setting up party
executive structures loyal to Hungwe and ensuring that the faction, which
also enjoys the support of Mugabe, had total control of Masvingo.

      The Standard has, however, learnt that Hungwe is bitter about "home
boy" Mumbengegwi's apparent move to the Zvobgo faction.

      Hungwe fought tooth and nail to help Mumbengegwi-then a political
nonentity on the fractious provincial political landscape-to win the Chivi
North parliamentary seat in the 2000 general elections. Mumbengegwi was
subsequently appointed a minister in Mugabe's Cabinet.

      Hungwe is also credited with having ensured that Mumbengegwi took over
the Zanu PF Masvingo provincial chairmanship after he cooked up a plot which
led to the then chairman Dzikamai Mavhaire, a member of the Zvobgo faction,
being unceremoniously removed from office by a section of independence war
veterans under the leadership of the militant Edmore Hwarari.

      Zanu PF's secretary for information and publicity in the Masvingo
Province, Raymond Takavarasha-a member of the Hungwe faction-confirmed that
all was not well within the party.

      "I don't understand what is really going on between Governor Hungwe
and the chairman Mumbengegwi, but what I can confirm is that chiefs,
headmen, village heads and thousands of followers of the Hungwe faction are
demanding that Mumbengegwi makes his position clear before the forthcoming
Zanu PF provincial elections," Takavarasha told The Standard.

      Already, chiefs, headmen, councillors and village heads in the Chivi
district have petitioned Hungwe to "deal" with Mumbengwegwi, he added.

      Neither Hungwe nor Mumbengegwi could be reached for comment.

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Zim Standard

      ZCTU's May Day under threat
      By Henry Makiwa

      THE police and some Zanu PF-led town councillors, are allegedly
conniving to bar the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) from holding
its traditional Workers' Day celebrations at some national stadiums, The
Standard has learnt.

      The ZCTU, the country's largest labour union, last week complained
that there was evidence of a concerted effort by the police and Zanu
PF-dominated town councils in Chinhoyi, Kadoma and Mutare, to stop the union
from staging the customary May Day commemorations.

      The ZCTU alleges that the venues are being hired out to its rival, the
Zanu PF-aligned Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU) led by war
veteran and former security guard, Joseph Chinotimba.

      Tapiwa Chishakwe, the ZCTU vice-chairman for Manicaland province,
accused the Mutare Town Council of throwing into turmoil their preparations
for the Workers' Day event.

      He said the city's authorities were plotting to repeat last year's
fiasco when at the very last minute, the go ahead for celebrations at
Sakubva Stadium was granted to the ZFTU instead of the ZCTU.

      Chishakwe said: "The decision to frustrate us in this manner is
apparently politically-motivated. The ZCTU has for long been associated with
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), and it is feared that
everyone affiliated to them is an MDC supporter.

      "We have been applying to the Mutare City Council for a venue since
February but time and again, the authorities have come up with some flimsy
excuse to deny us the right to hold an event which is observed across the
entire globe."

      He said the council had refused to grant them a venue on the grounds
that the ZCTU should have first sought police clearance, while the police
for their part, were reluctant to issue the clearance on the grounds that it
was "unnecessary".

      "Some of our members actually work for the Mutare City Council and
they are alleging that they are being victimised, and that there have been
instructions from top council officials to frustrate our efforts to hire
Sakubva Stadium and to reserve it for the ZFTU instead," said Chishakwe.

      The ZCTU was again denied an early booking for Chinhoyi Stadium. They
had applied for the venue in January.

      March Makanya, the ZCTU chairman for Chinhoyi, said on making
enquiries at the town council early last month, they were told that the
stadium was free but that a booking had to be made at a later stage.
However, they were exasperated to later learn that the venue had been
granted to the ZFTU.

      "The town authorities here are playing hide and seek with us. We were
the first to request the venue and yet they have discarded us in favour of
the pro-Zanu PF ZFTU," said Makanya.

      "These are all political gimmicks meant to frustrate the workers. This
situation may now force us to use Cook's Hall which is too small for our
large membership," added Makanya.

      ZCTU secretary general Wellington Chibhebhe accused the police of
employing political strategies to bar his union from celebrating May Day
with the workers.

      "There are people within the police force who will not clear us to
hold our celebrations in Mutare, Kadoma and Chinhoyi because they hold a
myopic judgmental position that we (the ZCTU) are purely MDC.

      "It is baffling for the police in Mutare and Chinhoyi to refuse to
co-operate with us when everywhere else, the police have been very
forthcoming. We suspect that it is part of the ZFTU strategy to destroy the
ZCTU as they were loudly instructed to do by Zanu PF last year," said
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Zim Standard

      Villagers dress down Obert Mpofu
      By Tracy Mpofu

      BULAWAYO-Pandemonium broke out at a field day in Bubi district on
Wednesday when angry Inkosikazi villagers vehemently disputed claims by
Matabeleland North governor, Obert Mpofu, that the government was providing
them with cash under the food-for-work relief programme.

      Mpofu, who was the guest of honour at a field day of the Agricultural
Recovery Programme (ARP), organised by World Vision-a relief organisation
that is assisting vulnerable communities with farming inputs-was stunned
when villagers openly challenged his claims.

      In a glowing speech about how his government was helping the starving
masses, Mpofu said: "We embarked on the food for work programme in a bid to
assist Zimbabweans throughout the country in fending for their families. The
money that villagers are getting in this programme is going a long way in
assisting their plight..."

      Mpofu had hardly finished delivering his speech when angry villagers
interrupted him, vehemently dismissing his claims that they were being paid
for the work.

      "We are tired of hearing the same old song because we have waited
patiently for our payment but to no avail," shouted one frustrated villager.

      "Ask the councillor of Ward Seven, she knows what we are talking
about," shouted another, to a chorus of approval from the rest.

      Yet another unimpressed villager had this to say: "We engaged in this
programme because we are hungry, but if the council decides to pocket the
money we have sweated for, that will be very unfair. How are we going to
feed our families?"

      To save face, Mpofu said he would raise the matter with the council.

      "I didn't know that you were not getting your payments but I will look
into the matter with the councillors," said the governor.

      Under the food for work programme, villagers are supposed to do manual
work such as repairing roads and low level bridges in return for cash which
will enable them to buy food.

      Villagers told The Standard that they were, however, happy with World
Vision's efforts at empowering them.

      Under the ARF, a body funded by the Canadian International Development
Agency (CIDA), which donated US$615 000 last year, villagers have received
agricultural inputs that were previously hard to come by.

      "Since February 2002, we have embarked on a number of projects that
will be of assistance to the community and will empower villagers not to
rely simply on relief food but also work hard to feed their families," said
Sipho Dube, the national financial director of World Vision.

      At the function, the Inkosikazi Area Development Programme (ADP)
handed over to the community, agricultural equipment comprising a tractor, a
plough and a trailer, all worth more than $43m.
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Zim Standard

      Zanu PF land grabbing and looting to be exposed
      By Itai Dzamara

      THE massive and systematic looting of former white commercial farms,
is the work of senior Zanu PF and government officials, and the land reform
programme has become chaotic, some members of the Parliamentary Portfolio
Committee-expected to table its report to the House next month-have

      Members of the Portfolio Committee told The Standard that their report
revealed "systematic looting" of commercial land by top government officials
and well connected people, especially those within the ruling Zanu PF party.

      Said one member of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee: "The
findings of the committee after it went around the provinces, were that the
land reform programme was utterly chaotic. Top government officials and
well-connected people have used their influence to grab rich farmland at the
expense of the landless people. We are ready to table the report when the
House resumes sitting next month."

      President Robert Mugabe has tried to downplay the report whose
findings were leaked to the international media last month and which created
a lot of controversy when reported in the local media.

      Mugabe did acknowledge that all was not well with the land reform
exercise but in an apparent bid to protect his close colleagues and
ministers, said he would instigate another land audit and have the report
presented to him.

      Zimbabwe's land reforms have been blasted by the international
community and the United Nations for their lack of transparency and for
destroying what was once a major agribusiness in Africa.

      The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee's audit, which has been largely
shrouded in secrecy but whose findings have been partially leaked out, has
created much anxiety among Mugabe's inner circle with many of his closest
aides, including some of his family, accused of having grabbed more than one
commercial farm and of looting others.

      Daniel Mackenzie Ncube, the Zanu PF MP for Zhombe, who heads the
portfolio committee, was not available for comment yesterday.

      However, Innocent Gonese, the chief whip for the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change, said he hoped the report would be tabled in
Parliament to shed light on the manner in which the land issue has been

      Said Gonese: "Once the report has been tabled, we will debate on
matters of principle. We hope that the Portfolio Committee did its job
properly and will lay the ground for us to push for practical solutions on
the controversial manner in which the land reform was implemented."

      Gonese scoffed at Mugabe's decision to have a second audit that would
be handled by his office and whose participants would report directly to

      "Mugabe's government has never been serious about its inquiries and
audits. Having another audit whilst ignoring the first one, is a sheer waste
of time," said Gonese.

      "It is a time-buying gimmick. We will therefore stand up to our
responsibility and duty of highlighting the importance of achieving an
urgent solution to the land crisis and of moving on from there."

      Joram Gumbo, the Zanu PF chief whip said: "I haven't seen the report.
I will only respond when it's tabled. I am aware that there is a lot of
interest in the land reform exercise and we hope that the report will answer
a lot of questions and clarify issues on the land reform."
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Zim Standard

      Zimbabwe nationals warned to stay straight
      By Loughty Dube

      BULAWAYO-THE Zimbabwean high commissioner to Botswana and 70 other
Zimbabweans living in that country were this week summoned to a local court
and warned against engaging in illegal activities while in that country.

      The latest incident adds to reports of a diplomatic wrangle between
Zimbabwe and Botswana and is set to worsen the allegedly frosty relations
already existing between the nationals of the two countries.

      According to press reports from Botswana, the Zimbabwean high
commissioner in Gaberone, Phelekezela Mphoko, was summoned to the Batlokwa
customary court by Chief Moshibisu Gaborone, where he was forced to address
compatriots accused of having committed crimes.

      The Tswana allege that Zimbabweans living in that country or visiting,
are engaging in prostitution and other criminal activities.

      During his address, Mphoko pleaded with Zimbabweans in Botswana to
stop their illegal activities.

      "If you misbehave, you must know that other people are bound to react
the way they want," warned Mphoko.

      "Why are you practising prostitution here in Botswana when you know
that in Zimbabwe it is illegal? Can't you see that you are destroying the
good name of our country?"

      Chief Gaborone warned Zimbabweans that if found on the wrong side of
the law, they would be severely punished.

      The summoning of the Zimbabweans came after police in that country had
arrested three locals in connection with a scam involving the illegal sale
to foreigners of Botswana national identity cards.

      The Botswana authorities say they are looking for 11 other Zimbabweans
in connection with the scam.

      The Zimbabweans are alleged to be charging 1 200 Pula for the
fraudulent documents which are highly sought after by Zimbabweans and other
nationals such as Nigerians and Congolese, who are in Botswana illegally but
are seeking permanent residence in the diamond-rich country.

      The officer in charge of national registration in Maha-lapye, Dinah
Matsha-bo, said they were alreay investigating 16 cases of Zimbabweans
believed to have illegally obtained Botswana identity cards.
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Zim Standard

      Little to cheer as impoverished Zim turns 23
      newsfocus By Michael Kariati

      INDEPENDENCE Day during the euphoric 1980s and early 1990s was a day
most Zimbabweans looked forward to.

      The young and the old, the rich and the poor, would gather at stadiums
around the country to watch traditional dancers and magnificent drum
majorettes strutting their stuff, but above all, to drink, eat and make

      Before the merrymaking, there would be the presidential speech which
everyone wanted to listen to because it normally ushered in a new policy
direction, or contained an important statement.

      "Nyarara iwe, tinoda kunzwa kuti President vari kuti kudii (Keep
quiet, we want to hear what the President is saying)," were words commonly
spoken as President Robert Mugabe either read his speech or someone else
high up in government or the ruling Zanu PF party echelons did so on his
behalf, in areas outside Harare.

      Eighteenth April was a day which made Zimbabweans proud to be
Zimbabwean. Mugabe used the occasion to expound his policies for the
following year.

      "Gore rino igore rekugutsa ruzhinji (This is the year to ensure noone
goes hungry)," he would declare to resounding cheers from the listeners.

      People would even joke about the tragedies that had occurred at
similar national events such as the man who died after falling into a beer
container, or those seriously injured in the rush for the abundant free food
at the stadiums. The people would leave with their stomachs full and with
Mugabe once again entrenched in their minds as the real Messiah.

      But, as Zanu PF's economic policies began to hit them hard, the
picture gradually began to change for many Zimbabweans and Mugabe steadily
lost his Messiah status. The attitude towards Independence Day and Mugabe
began to change.

      Instead of filling up the stadiums in their thousands by 8.00am, the
crowds began to arrive only around 3.00pm, not for the Independence Day
celebrations or Mugabe's speech, but for the free soccer finals arranged for
the day.

      The situation gradually changed from bad to worse as the economy
suffered and the standard of living deteriorated. Even the free football
matches could no longer attract as many people as they used to do.

      "Ndinoenda kunoitei. Unoda kuti ndinorohwa nemasoja," (Why should I go
there. Do you want me to be beaten by soldiers), said Marko Gusvusvu, a
Kuwadzana resident still recovering from injuries sustained after beatings
at the hands of soldiers during last month's Kuwadzana parliamentary

      Zimbabwe is now a country of queues and many people say they would
rather spend the day queuing for petrol, diesel or basic commodities than
listen to Mugabe's speech.

      Because of mounting poverty, Zimbabweans find there is no longer
anything to celebrate as far as Independence Day is concerned. Supermarket
shelves are empty and basic commodities like sugar, mealie meal, margarine,
cooking oil and bread have become scarce.

      The government has clearly failed to solve the fuel crisis and will
not do so in the foreseeable future as long as it retains its international
pariah status.

      "Ndino celebreta chii, ndisina chekudya? (Why should I celebrate when
I don't have anything to eat)," asks Maxwell Gopo, a Mbare resident.

      When asked whether he would contribute some money to the national
celebrations as he would have done before, Gopo said he would only do so
when the Zanu PF government was gone.

      "They have impoverished me. How can I give them my hard earned cash?
What for?"

      Gopo is not alone. Many of the people who spoke to The Standard said
it was now meaningless to celebrate Independence Day.

      Others said they preferred to spend their time at bottle stores
drinking with friends and talking football, or discussing the woes of the

      Some said they would take advantage of the holiday to scout around the
capital for sugar and mealie meal instead of "wasting time" listening to
Mugabe's speech.

      "Kangani tichinzi tichazokuitirai izvi neizvi as zvingani
zvakabudirira? (How many times have we been promised this or that only for
nothing to materialise?)" asked a Harare resident, Fanuel Banda.

      The situation is no better in the rural areas where thousands are
expected to spend the day in queues, waiting for relief food supplies that
might never come.

      But it is not just the food shortages and the petrol queues that worry
many Zimbabweans as the country turns 23 years of age.

      Many in the townships and the rural areas say they are bound to be at
the mercy of the ruthless soldiers and policemen, who have been terrorising
them since the watershed June 2000 election, which saw the emergence of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) as a political force to be
reckoned with.

      Zanu PF, like a raging bull, has vented its anger at the success of
the MDC, on opposition party supporters and ordinary Zimbabweans suspected
of being sympathetic towards the new party.

      Zanu PF's notorious militia, known as Green Bombers, have been
rampaging around the country, killing, raping and torturing at will, those
they suspect of being members of the MDC.

      So, save for a privileged few and those close to the ruling Zanu PF
class, there is very little-if anything at all-to celebrate as Zimbabwe
turns 23.
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      Degradation, deprivation and decimation

      ZIMBABWE is now all about degradation, deprivation and decimation.
Take it from 40 paintings by Lovemore Kambudzi, Patrick Makumbe and Misheck
Masamvu which offer an extra-ordinary testimony to the socio-political and
economic state of the nation. The paintings comprise Gallery Delta's
contribution to Hifa of the work of young artists.

      "The young painters explore the way people feel and think by
presenting revealing images of what it means to live with degradation,
decimation and deprivation-conditions which, according to a contemporary
Danish sculptor, Jens Christophersen, give birth to an animal of very low
instincts which he calls the 'inner beast'," says Chiedza Musengezi,
director of Zimbabwe Women Writers who visited the exhibition at Gallery

      Christophersen argues that given the right conditions, the 'inner
beast' can reside in you and I or any individual anywhere in the world: it
attacks the foundation of one's ethical and moral values so that
intolerance, xenophobia and racism take over.

      Kambudzi, Makumbe and Masamvu bring us face to face with our "inner
beast". Their paintings reflect the themes of poverty, destruction and moral

      Kambudzi said he painted the pictures on exhibition because
"Handingavanze chokwadi (I can't hide the truth)".

      He presents us with the reality of the poor conditions of the poor in
today's Zimbabwe, conditions which do not inspire hope but rather, a violent
rejection that has the potential to generate the physical and emotional
energy for dealing with the problem.

      Makumbe's paintings convey a deep concern with eroded morals. Female
figures dominate his compositions. Nudes, with make-up on their faces and
large hoops in their ears, are laid out before viewers in a variety of
postures, all of which suggest sexual availability.

      The male figures in Mukumbe's paintings also reinforce debasement. The
man in the picture, Love Triangle, wears a black suit and a black hat, holds
a briefcase in one hand and has two women in lacy bikinis draped on either
side of him-proof of his indulgence in sexual pleasures.

      Of the three painters on show, Masamvu best captures the violence and
destruction that characterised Zimbabwe's preelection period last year when
the exhibition was first mounted.

      With his disturbingly powerful images of decapitated heads, severed
limbs, torsos and blood he condemns the destruction of human life and the
uncompromising harshness of youth. Some of his images are gruesome-but so
indeed were some of the politically motivated events that he commemorates.
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      Zimbabwe at 23
      By Chido Makunike

      HERE we are on the eve of the 23rd anniversary of our independence.
This should be a time for taking stock of things that would have inevitably
gone wrong for a new nation trying to get used to self determination, and of
celebrating many other achievements.

      Instead, we find ourselves at our lowest ebb by just about every
objective measure. People are weary and hungry; they are worried; they are
afraid. Never has our confidence and self esteem been so low.

      The President remains largely in hiding, coming out only occasionally
to issue threats against one group or another. He insists the people are
with him, but does so with little conviction. He continues to maintain a
tight grip over them, but at great cost to himself. The size of the
veritable army he travels with everywhere, continues to grow as he becomes
more afraid of the growing clamour against him. The people have little
confidence in their government. Once again, as before independence, the
police are becoming more a force for oppression than for the protection of
the citizens. They display far more enthusiasm and skill at arresting
perceived opponents of the government than at preventing crime.

      On the major highways from Harare to Mutare, Kariba or Bulawayo, it
used to be a joy to see all the signs of agricultural activity as one drove
by. Now, one sees more grass and weeds than anything else on what used to be
prime productive farmland. It will take many years to recover this lost
productivity, as we are still more on the path of destruction than

      Zimbabwe is now one of the very few countries in the world in which
you cannot just drive up to a service station and fill up your vehicle with
fuel. Days spent in long queues for the basics of a modern economy, petrol
and diesel, have become the norm. All our towns have become filthy and
unkempt. Grocery shelves are either largely empty, or are filled with rows
of just two or three products because of the shortage of so many different
things. Prices go up by large margins, by the week.

      Rape, torture, arbitrary arrest and beatings are now common place
instruments of humiliation and control, often committed by agents of the
state. There is no where that one can go to go to seek reprieve from these
abuses because those who should be protecting us are the ones we have reason
to be most afraid of.

      A few thrive on the chaos of a distorted, dysfunctional economy, but
the vast majority lose ground every day. More people are unemployed as
increasing numbers of companies shut down. The productivity of the few who
are employed continues to decline because of time lost searching for fuel,
hours spent in queues for transport to and from work, and the stress of the
growing number of financial obligations they cannot meet.

      What kind of "independence" is this? Certainly, we continue to be
happy that we are no longer ruled by foreigners, but the quality of the
independence we experience under the vicious, incompetent rule of Mugabe is
far lower than we are entitled to as sons and daughters of the soil. Why
must I be afraid of telling a cruel despot he is bloody useless? Mugabe is
just an ordinary person, munhu zvakewo. Nothing but a man. We did not expect
that so soon after experiencing racial tyranny we would again be living in
fear for our thoughts and words.

      Twenty three years after "independence" there are many ways in which
we are not free. We have far more uncertainty in virtually all aspects of
our lives than ever before. Even those who are relatively well to do must
now barricade themselves in their homes, making them virtual prisons,
because of the lawlessness that Mugabe has spawned in his bid to intimidate
and control us in order to retain power. At the same time, he and his
cronies nauseatingly talk about "the rule of law, law and order." That rule
of law is so arbitrarily and cynically applied, few people respect it. How
can we, when many of the law makers and implementers are themselves known
criminals; thieves, liars, rapists, murderers? We know who you are, your day
of reckoning is coming.

      "Independence" not only means freedom from foreign domination, it also
implies dignity. Yet we are losing our dignity as a people as we suffer more
deprivation under the regime of Mugabe. We work harder, but fall further
behind because of a skewed economy. We try to be honest, but see ourselves
being laughed at and left behind by the crooks who rule us and their
relatives and associates. There is no dignity in having to drive all over a
city looking for bread or milk, and then having to sheepishly queue for it,
only to be told that day's allotment is finished, or to be scolded like a
child for daring to ask for more than two units of the item. This is not how
independence is supposed to look like, 23 years later.

      So crude and contemptuous of the people is the independence government
that we are fed a diet of the most moronic lies, in the state media. The
conspiracy theories and propaganda are so outlandish, and so at odds with
what we see and experience for ourselves, that you are shocked and offended
at its insulting stupidity. We are treated like fools by our government, and
we have become the laughing stock of the world.

      Nor is there relief from the taint of the indignities we experience by
emigrating. There is the large extended family left behind whose safety and
holistic well-being must be a constant source of worry. Then there is the
ever-present stain of being forced to run away from one's homeland because
you have failed to make it work for yourself, and as a people. You cannot
divorce yourself from the shame.

      We will mark the 23rd anniversary of no longer being ruled by the
British, but let us be honest, there is not much to celebrate this year.
While reconstruction will take the concerted efforts of all of us after we
eventually hit bottom and begin to rise again, we will simply not be able to
even begin to look up as long as President Mugabe rules us because of his
negative legacy and alienation from so much of the world.

      Pity poor Zimbabwe, we hoped for and deserve a better "independence"
than this.
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Zim Standard

      What the people want on April 18

      THERE is no doubt that the best independence present Zimbabweans
expect on Friday as the country turns 23 is a statement from President
Robert Mugabe that he has failed and is finally calling it quits.

      Sadly, there is more likelihood for the sun to rise in the West-or as
Vice President Simon Muzenda would say "for donkeys to grow horns"-than for
Gushungo to do the most honourable thing that would for once have him
commended the world over.

      Mugabe still boasts that he is as fit as a fiddle, "or two at least",
as he says, and is obviously oblivious of the resentment Zanu PF has
generated among Zimbabweans whose lot has worsened since he came into power
all those years ago.

      He remains like the ostrich that has buried its head in the sand and
listens only to the lies peddled to him by the spy Central Intelligence
Organisation and his close advisers who tell him Zimbabweans still love him
to bits and expect him to rule forever.

      Does Mugabe ever ask these spooks why, if he is that popular, they don
't allow him to walk freely along the streets of Harare, or any other city?
Unlike in 1980, or even 10 years later in 1990, we now have to queue for
almost everything and that has made people angry.

      We queue for food; we queue for petrol and diesel, and we even queue
to be buried. That is the state of the nation under Mugabe, 23 years on.

      Of course, Mugabe and his henchmen will boast that they brought us
independence, but everyone knows the independence struggle was a collective
effort that involved almost every Zimbabwean family.

      They will also boast that they brought us free education and free
health and that is why we are so educated that Blair's UK companies can
steal personnel from Zimbabwe.

      These are empty boasts. Where is the free health system now? Where is
the free education? Why are young, well-educated Zimbabweans fleeing the
country in their droves to the UK and South Africa, among other countries?

      It is against this background of gross mismanagement of the Zimbabwean
economy that the people look to the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) for salvation, at least by the next independence anniversary.

      It is inevitable that there should be a lot of soul searching within
the MDC on which action to take against Mugabe, especially after the
successful two-day stayaway last month.

      It is clear that within the ranks of the opposition party there are
those who yearn for the most decisive way to deal with Zanu PF, which, for
them, means organising a major confrontation with the ruling party that
would be led by the people.

      This camp believes that the only message Zanu PF and Mugabe understand
is a massive showdown of strength: a people's power protest of the magnitude
that removed despots like Ferdinand Marcos and Slobodan Milosevic from

      The other camp within the MDC still feels that there is scope to talk
to Zanu PF and Mugabe and make them see reason and perhaps agree to some
power sharing arrangement of some sort.

      This group is of the opinion that enough pressure-exerted both
internally and externally-can drag the Zanu PF leader screaming and kicking
to the negotiation table that he scorned last year.

      While it is always better to "jaw jaw than to war war", experience has
shown that Mugabe regards every other Third World leader-except perhaps
Muammar Gadaffi, Fidel Castro and Mahathir Muhammad-with disdain; if not
utter contempt.

      Despite what many South African politicians, and others in the MDC,
might believe about Thabo Mbeki's perceived influence over Mugabe, the truth
is that the Zanu PF leader has no respect for any of the current crop of
African leaders.

      He sees them as protégés of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and
United States President George W Bush and therefore, easily manipulated by
the Western countries, his bitter enemies.

      So there we are Zimbabweans: at 23 years of age, our country is in a
terrible mess.

      We are being led by a ruthless regime that will only relinquish power
through excessive force, and nothing else.

      On the other hand, we have an opposition party that is divided over
whether to confront Mugabe with a massive show of people power or try to
engage him in reconciliation talks.

      We are, as they, between the devil and the deep blue sea.
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      Under the weather
      overthetop By Brian Latham

      OVER The Top is under the weather. Even events in Iraq where another
grotesque dictator met his demise, if not his maker, has failed to raise the

      Further appearances by that country's delightful, charming and erudite
misinformation minister may have helped, but that wasn't to be. The
gentleman, who must surely now be the heartthrob of millions of
dysfunctional women the world over, took to his heals at the last moment.
(At least two women of OTT's once close acquaintance are reported to be
jetting off to Syria even as you read this, hoping the first-class
fabricator has sought refuge in that neighbouring dictatorship. Good luck to

      Still, you have to give him due praise. He cut it extraordinarily fine
and the world will have to credit him, not just with being able to lie with
admirable panaché (a splendid quality in that line of business), but with
truly heroic bravery.

      He is, without doubt, the winner of OTT's award for Excellence in
Misinformation. Were OTT a dysfunctional woman, as opposed to a
dysfunctional man, the race to find him would surely be on.

      One could learn a great deal from someone who denies the Yanks are
coming when they are clearly visible on the other side of the river. And the
lies.Never in my entire existence of listening to lies spewing forth from
misinformation ministers have I heard anything quite so marvelously,
courageously put forth.

      And quite apart from anything else, he provided welcome relief from
the misinformation minister in a troubled central African country. That
gentleman's latest wheeze, surely the weirdest even in the realm of weird
politics, is to accuse the More Drink Coming party of hiring soldiers to
beat up its own members.

      It's one thing to lie with a straight face, but it's another to be so
wildly implausible that even your own government winces with
embarrassment-as happened last week in the troubled central African regime.

      If the minister of misinformation in the troubled central African
dictatorship thought he was taking lessons from his Iraqi counterpart, he
was sadly deluded. That man in Iraq was the master, while his troubled
central African counterpart is struggling in the remedial class for
misinformation ministers with learning difficulties.

      And if you doubt such a class exists, just go back to last week's
papers and read those ridiculous stories.

      Still, despite all this hilarity, Over The Top remains under the
weather. Even witnessing a failed Zany party riot failed to lift the
spirits. Actually, that's not exactly true. The failed riot was impossible
to witness because it failed, so there was nothing to witness.

      And while the sight of Mr Sadly Insane's statues being toppled across
Iraq while gleeful sons of the sand danced and spat on his likeness lifted
the mood, the delight was short lived.

      True, the troubled central African country has been gripped of late by
national ennui and depression, but even that's not it. Sorry. Actually, OTT
finds the troubled central African nation a splendid place to live. Few
places on the planet offer the same opportunity to study weird politics,
partisan policing and free booting as the troubled central African country,
so it has to be good.

      Besides, it has to be studied now, because while Sadly Insane's
statues may be falling fast in Iraq, the Zany party, which has no statues
because it can't afford them, seems destined to follow sooner rather than

      No, we're under the weather because. oh, never mind.
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