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Zimbabwe this Week.

It’s Easter Sunday – resurrection day for Christians all over the world. I am a Christian by conversion and conviction and still clearly remember the night when I asked God, through Christ, to do something about my life. He did and it changed everything and that was 43 years ago. It is still new every morning.

Last Sunday, my wife and I went along to the last concert in a 4-day festival of music that is held annually in Bulawayo. It was a program with the Bulawayo Philharmonic Orchestra and included as soloists Nokuthula Ngwenyama (Viola), Leslie Howard (Piano) and members of the Odeion String Quartet from the Free State in South Africa. We heard two pieces by Mozart and one by Beethoven. It was a special event and the music was just great.

The lasting impressions however were not musical. Nokuthula (this means peace in Ndebele) was a beautiful, young American whose natural father had been a Ndebele man from Bulawayo. Raised in an American home with adoptive parents, she has become one of the world’s top viola players. Three years ago, after a long search, she found her Ndebele family in the form of her grandmother, an old Ndebele women who knows no English and must have been astonished by this sophisticated young lady of the world "out there". The organizers of the festival brought Nokuthula’s grandmother to the concert and at interval she came out and played a solo for her in the foyer. It was a special moment.

Then the sight of Nokuthula playing Mozart with Abrie de Wet on the violin. This big, bearded Afrikaner from the University of the Orange Free State next to the slight Nokuthula. The image of a new Africa where old enemies play music together and share a common heritage. The young sophisticated Afro-American meeting her grandmother who must seemed like someone from a distant, ancient past. The young, studying divinity at Harvard, the old, never having attended school. That is what makes living in Africa so special.

Its important to remember that these things are happening here – when you hear of the killings, the human rights abuses, the disregard for the rule of law and the violence, do not forget, we are continuing to hold things together as best we can. Musical interludes are important. I remember when the civil war here was at it’s height I instructed the staff at the Dairy Marketing Board that they were to "rattle the milk bottles" outside every home in the country every day. It was a sign that life goes on – despite the abnormality of being at war. One-night Zanla forces attacked the men protecting the Birchenough Bridge over the river Save. After hours of explosions and small arms fire, dawn finally came, and down the road came the Dairiboard ice cream vendor, rattling his bell. For the men in the trenches it was a reminder that life does go on, even when all around them there seems to be chaos.

If we determine that we will not be defeated by events, that we will not be deterred by the bad news, that we, in our own way will do something special every day, then you can be sure we will get through this and be able to look back and say it was worthwhile. Thank you Michael Bullivant, Debbie Barron and Derek Hudson for the music – and for Nokuthula’s grandmother.

Back in the trenches, it seems as if Pretoria is at last serious about doing something here to get things back to normal. The planned meeting with Mugabe has not taken place and this says two things – the proposals that spin doctor Makoni tried to put together after the meeting with counterparts in Pretoria three weeks ago have not been acceptable. It also means that efforts are continuing to try and put a package together which will allow the summit to take place and for some form of agreement to emerge. That is how these things are done.

Morgan has been out and about. He is in his home village this weekend but prior to that he held very successful rallies in a number of key rural constituencies. He is going to concentrate on this program for April and May before again going out to beat the drum externally. Not one word of any of these meetings was carried by any of the State media; it’s a disgrace. I was waiting in a long line of vehicles for diesel on Thursday when I spotted a ZBC vehicle also in the line. I approached him and berated him for the hogwash they serve us for news every day and for the failure to cover opposition events. His response was interesting – he said why was I concerned "nobody listens to us anyway". He also said that behind closed doors they had given the media mogul, Moyo a black eye or two in recent meetings. He also said it was terrible being an employee of ZBC because wherever he went people attacked him and the corporation for what they were not doing.

On the land front there is no relief in sight for the farmers. It now looks as if the winter wheat and barley crop will be smaller than last year and that this will mean even greater imports next year. We are quite capable of growing sufficient of both crops to meet our needs at costs significantly lower than the import parity, so this is another disaster caused by the selfish pursuit of power by Mugabe and his henchmen. The businessmen who are trying to put a compromise together in the belief that Mugabe will hold onto power whatever happens and therefore we must do a "deal" are simply not getting anywhere. They are not alone, neither is the rest of the world and Mbeki. It remains our view that Mugabe believes that the land issue is central to his strategy for survival and that there can be no compromise on the issue. Take that away from him and Zanu and they have nothing left except brute force.

During this past week there has been a lot of evidence that the government is continuing to try and foster violence in the cities. Despite the rhetoric, the Police were back into the Townships this past week knocking down vendors stalls and the shacks in which families have to live because of the shortage of housing (we have 2 million homeless people in the cities). The targets are the poorest and most over crowded areas in the hope that the desperate economic conditions in these areas, coupled to their past record for being flash points of public outrage, will again prove true and the government will get want they want – a State of Emergency coupled with a banning order against the MDC and its leadership.

What we want is quite simple – we want stability in the run up to the next election and an opportunity for each adult Zimbabwean to vote in secret for the presidential candidate of his or her choice. We are not demanding a change in the constitution – we will go to the polls under this constitution if that is what it takes, even though this constitution was the creation of this government and is deeply flawed. We want this because that is what we need and what Africa needs to confirm its new commitment to democracy and good governance. We do not what to overthrow Mugabe by force or through extra legal means, even though that would create great television. Just give us the chance to vote, freely and in secret, after all, that is what the founders of this nation, Nkomo, Sithole and hundreds of others fought for all their lives. It’s the one thing Mugabe fears most.

Eddie Cross

15th April 2001.

Please note that this note is personal and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Movement for Democratic Change.

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CFU Sitrep: Thursday 12 April 2001


Mashonaland Central
Mvurwi - Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare Officials are carrying out
the proposed survey on farms in the area which has in some cases resulted in
further harassment of labourers by invaders.
Mutepatepa - Work was prevented at Amanda Farm due to an ongoing dispute but
Police defused the situation.
Shamva - Two groups of invaders visited Bemberero Farm earlier this week,
one group to ask for land to plant vegetables and the other to inform the
owner that both Bemberero and Rusikana were to be resettled and he would not
be allowed to plant wheat.  This instruction was later confirmed by the DA
Mashonalnd West North
Chinhoyi - Many section 5 and 7 orders are currently being served on farmers
in the province.  The DA is advising people to move onto land in order to
qualify for plots of land.  A directirve has been issued in Harare
authorising local police to utilise government transport in moving settlers
onto farms.
Theft of diesel and livestock is rampant and increasing.
Independent farmers are being called to appear before the Land Committees
which can consist of six people or more, or the DA alone.  The farmers are
given the opportunity to defend their positions as to why their farms should
not be acquired.
Umboe - New invaders have moved onto Fupi and Urume and erection of
structures has commenced.

Mashonaland West South
The issuing of Section 8 orders continues in both Chegutu and Kadoma

Mashonaland East
Beatrice - At midday on Wednesday the Assistant DA told the owner of Victory
Farm that he had come to resettle the farm. The group visited the workers in
the farm village, took their ID numbers and left.  Police promised to
investiage a report of wood cutting on Carnethy.  This morning ZBC radio
reported that 202 families had been settled on Glorvina, Nengwa and
Carnethy, each having been allocated a 15ha plot.
Bromley/Ruwa/Enterprise - The DA and police have visited farms that have
previously received Section 8 Orders, advising them in writing not to
undertake any further land prep as the Government intend to actively utilise
their farms under the fast track resettlement programme.
Illegal occupiers have again interfered with cut flower operations on
Strathlorne. The group broke buckets and destroyed flowers on their way for
export. There is an estimated $30 000,00 worth of damage.
The Ministry of Labour has been visiting farms to ascertain  where the
labour want to be resettled or what they would prefer to do if a farm is
Macheke/Virginia - There are a total of 13 work stoppages in the district at
the moment.  Following maize thieves being detained on Welcome Home, road
blocks were set up restricting movement on the farm. Thieves continue to
steal maize and cook it on the side of the road. The police are unable to
react.  The problems on Castledene Pines are ongoing.
Wedza - Rapako Farm was reinvaded by about 30-40 squatters, mostly from the
original invaders from Wedza. The group was accompanied by warvets
Chigwedere, Zinyoro and the OIC Wedza. They moved from Rapako to Shaka. The
following day several people arrived to look at land with a view to
settling.  Shots were heard on Dean Farm last night.  Two perennial poachers
were arrested on Dudley Farm.  On Nelsons Farm the owner's wife was verbally
accosted by an illegal occupier because her cattle had eaten his maize. The
individuals then guarded the gate of the paddock with a panga threatening to
assault anyone who tried to gain entry.

Chipinge - On Groenvlei warvets hamstrung a Brahman cow and pedigree bull,
resulting in the farmer having to slaughter them and a loss $50,000.00 using
the old value to price the two cattle.

Masvingo East and Central Area - 30 - 40 new illegal occupiers who arrived
on Ballinahone Farm last night are demarcating plots and chopping trees.
All fencing has been removed from Wondedzo Farm in the absence of the owner.
Mwenezi Area - FA Chairman, Mwenezi, has informed this office that a
National Land Task Force from Harare visited certain farms in the Mwenezi
District.  The team consisted of a Major General Nyamboa, Air Vice Marshall
Muchena, Deputy Secretary from the Ministry of Lands, a Mr. Zvinoreva and
Deputy Commissioner for Crime ZRP,  Mr. Mutanga .  They are visiting farms
that are listed, but not yet acquired by Government. The DA also indicated
to the Chairman that a similar exercise would take place in the Gutu area.
The delegation was said to have visited Merrivale and Lumbergia  farms where
they met only with the illegal occupiers. Staff from Merrivale Farm were
chased away from the meetings. The owner of Lumbergia Farm was told by the
delegation that he had "an arrogant attitude and must live in harmony."
Generally the illegal occupiers were told that those presently on farms, or
had been issued with plots, should remain there and a further 2500 families
were to be settled by the end of April 2001.
On Wentzelhof Ranch a heifer was slaughtered in the kraal on the night of
the 9th April 2001 and only the hindquarters taken.  One heifer and some
impala were found in snares on Quagga Pan Ranch, to which police have not
yet reacted.
On the Chingwizi section of Nuanetsi Ranch cattle have eaten the crops of
illegal occupants resulting in threats to assault a worker. A warvet on the
property is armed with a pistol. One animal was slashed last week and one
worker assaulted.   A death threat was made at a meeting in the staff
quarters of Eureka Ranch on the night of 10th April 2001. The atmosphere on
this property is tense.
Save Conservancy Area - Minister Border Gezi, the Governor and the Chinese
Ambassador visited this area.
Chiredzi Area - Poaching, clearing of lands and demarcation of plots is
Gutu / Chatsworth Area - Tree cutting, clearing of lands and general
harassment continues.

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From the Daily News

Stamps joins Gara’s league of blasphemy

4/13/01 12:29:32 AM (GMT +2)

OFF THE RECORD with the Mole

WHEN you hear anyone saying he wants a certain job because he is driven
first and foremost by the selfless desire “to serve my country and my
fellow-men”, take that with a pinch of salt.

That should be, especially if the job they are aspiring to is one with a lot
of power and influence. More often than not, they will be after just that:
power and influence.
Don’t believe any of that “serving the country and fellowmen” crap.
True to Kwame Nkrumah’s famous dictum, they will be after serving number
one: self.
Nkrumah it was, the man who brought independence to Ghana, who said: “Seek
ye first political power and all else shall be given to you.”
When a number of whites accepted appointments to serve the government of
President Mugabe, most of their fellow whites must have seen their action as
“the great betrayal”, to borrow the title of Ian Smith’s book.
And yet there must also have been quite a few others, including many of us
blacks, who saw it as a show of great moral courage on their part, that they
were convinced their presence in Mugabe’s team could make a difference by
restraining the government from its extremist tendencies, which many people
knew were always lurking in the shadows somewhere not very far.
Disturbingly, however, evidence on the ground has shown that, save for one
exception, most of the whites jumped onto the bandwagon solely for what they
could get and not what they could give.
The exception being Denis Norman, who quit his ministerial post gracefully
because he could not reconcile his conscience with the government’s
increasingly repressive rule.
Among those whose participation in the Zanu PF government’s oppressive and
brutal rule must be a source of untold shame to the white community are
Professor Graham Hill and Dr Timothy Stamps, the Minister of Health and
Child Welfare.
The stifling of academic freedom at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) campus
by the government ever since Hill took over from Gordon Chavunduka as
Vice-Chancellor is unprecedented.
There was also the constant bludgeoning and tear-gassing of students to
suppress legitimate protests - no self-respecting administrative academic
could have stomached that.
Yet, instead of resigning in protest, Hill has not only eagerly overseen
government’s total denial of all forms of freedom for both students and
faculty alike, but has now capped his stewardship of the UZ by playing the
innocent witness to the cold-blooded murder of an innocent student on campus
by the brutal forces of a government to whom nothing matters except its own
political survival.
As for Stamps, a man who once commanded so much respect, he might as well
walk stark naked at high noon in First Street and would not attract to
himself any more shame than he is already in.
A few months after Mugabe sent troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo,
at great cost to the country, while our health delivery system was
crumbling, the media urged Stamps to resign to show his disgust at the way
Mugabe misplaced his government’s priorities.
Stamps refused.
Now, being the true disciple of Mugabe that he is, he has followed, to the
letter, the example of the master.
Reacting to MDC’s MP for Glen Norah, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga’s call
for him to resign, Stamps declared:
“I will not resign from my ministerial post.
“Only President Robert Mugabe and God can remove me from that post!”
With that single declaration, Stamps has inducted himself into Zimbabwe’s
political Hall of Infamy.
In one giant but decidedly false step, he has joined two leagues of
politicians with dubious distinctions.
First, he has become the second Handiende (I Will Not Go), after the Dear
Leader himself.
Second, by mentioning Mugabe and God in the same breath, he has implicitly
equated the two, elevating Mugabe to the lofty pedestal of deity.
Stamps thus joins the league of Tony Gara and Stan Mudenge, both of whom
have said Mugabe is another Jesus.
• The Mole was tickled to delirium with the crude reminders Jonathan Moyo
and Patrick Chinamasa got from intrepid MDC MPs in the House a week ago.
They were rudely reminded that they were not qualified to speak on behalf of
the people as it was not by the will of the people but of Mugabe, who
appointed them MPs, that they were in Parliament.
Chinamasa, breathing fire, had just launched himself into his now
too-familiar diatribe against the opposition, wagging an admonishing finger
at MDC MPs as he remonstrated against their boycott of young President
Joseph Kabila’s address to the Zimbabwe Parliament when a witty opposition
MP stopped him dead in mid-sentence with a rude, but truthful, retort.
Chinamasa was shouted down in Shona: “Nyarara iwe, hauna constituency” by an
MDC MP, telling him to “shut up because you don’t have a constituency” to
speak on behalf of.
But it was Motor Mouth who really got the rude awakening of the year, if not
the shock of his life.
During a heated debate in the House on Wednesday last week, St Mary’s MP,
Job Sikhala (MDC), told the Information and Publicity Minister, Moyo, who is
also a non-constituency MP, that he was “a disgrace to the nation” and would
not win a single vote in an election.
Visibly shaken by the unexpected statement of such an embarrassing truth
which should otherwise be best left unsaid, Moyo limply shot back.
Stating the obvious, he told Sikhala that he was appointed by the President.
As if anybody did not know that!
Undaunted, Sikhala pushed on full throttle.
Rubbing salt into the wound, he declared: “Unlike you, I was voted into
office. I can listen to Hunzvi, who was elected, but certainly not to you,
Jonah. I will give you my daughter if you win an election,” Sikhala vowed.
He fumed on: “You are only here because of the President, otherwise you
would not have been here.”
When Moyo said it was a constitutional right for the President to appoint
him, Sikhala retorted:
“You are only here representing the President!”

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From Chinese People's Daily

China Donates Agricultural Equipment to Zimbabwe

Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Hou Qingru, on behalf of the Chinese
government, Monday donated a batch of agricultural machinery worth 2 million
yuan (241,000 US dollars) to Zimbabwe to support the country's land reform

The equipment includes tractors, maize sowing machines, grain drilling
machines, bulldozers and diving water pumps.

At the hand-over ceremony held at the Institute of Agricultural Engineering
in Hatcliffe near Harare, Ambassador Hou said "China and Zimbabwe enjoy very
profound and traditional relations. China always regards Zimbabwe as her
reliable friend, and the Chinese government always helped the Zimbabwean
government and its people by providing aid within her own capability."

"Sino-Zimbabwean trade and economic cooperation is developing rapidly and
the scopes of the cooperation are expanding constantly. All these have laid
a very solid foundation for the further development of bilateral relations,"
he said.

On his side, Zimbabwean Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural
Resettlement Joseph Made said the machinery and equipment will be given to
the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority, District Development Fund
and the Zimbabwe Farmers Union to service farmers in resettlement areas.

"The Zimbabwean government is convinced that under the land reform and
redistribution program, success highly depends on mechanization, tillage and
technical support services," he said.

He said about 80,000 people will be resettled before June 30 this year and
many more before the end of the year.

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From Standard Bank Research (SA), 12 April

SA stiffens its policy on Zimbabwe

South Africa, growing increasingly exasperated at President Robert Mugabe's high-handed actions, is beginning to stiffen the soft "constructive engagement" line it has been taking on Zimbabwe. But the Mbeki Administration still wants to conduct its diplomacy quietly and avoid any public denunciation of Mugabe. The new turn of events began last month with a series of Cabinet workshops to reassess South Africa's policy towards Zimbabwe, culminating in a decision to become more pro-active. This was prompted by intelligence reports that Zimbabwe, which is almost clean out of foreign exchange and liquid fuels, could be facing a food crisis within the next two months as maize supplies run out, raising the prospect of thousands of refugees pouring across its borders. The Cabinet is also worried that Mugabe, who is reluctant to pull out of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where his agents have just concluded big cobalt and copper mining deals and where many of his senior-ranking army officers are reaping financial benefits from the resource-rich country, could stymie current efforts to negotiate a peace settlement there.

A blunt proposal

The upshot was a meeting in Pretoria three weeks ago between four members of Mugabe's Cabinet – Finance Minister Simba Makoni, Minerals and Energy Minister Sydney Sekeramayi, Land Minister Joseph Made and Trade and Industry Minister Nkosana Moyo – and their South African counterparts, led by Finance Minister Trevor Manuel. The South Africans put a blunt proposal to the Zimbabweans. South Africa would keep Zimbabwe supplied with fuel and electricity and would help mobilise financial aid from the European Union and other world bodies, provided Zimbabwe reverted to a 1998 agreement to carry out its land redistribution programme on a legal basis with fair compensation – and provided it undertook to conduct next year's presidential election on a free and fair basis.

Belligerent acts

But no sooner has the proposal been made than Mugabe has upped the ante once again, intensifying his campaign to intimidate and immobilise the opposition and stifle the media ahead of next year's Presidential election. In the past few days Mugabe has:

  • Ordered the arrest of the editor of the fast-growing Daily News, Geoffrey Nyarota, and two of his senior reporters on spurious charges of "criminal libel". They now face the possibility of heavy prison sentences from a gerrymandered judiciary. In January Mugabe sought to stop the Daily News publishing when elements of the Zimbabwe Army blew up its printing press with four boosted anti-tank landmines, but the paper has stubbornly continued to appear.

  • The ruling ZANU-PF party rammed a bill through Parliament to prohibit foreigners from entering the country's broadcasting industry, to require cable and satellite broadcasters to be licensed, and to stipulate that there can be only one national broadcaster in addition to the sycophantic state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation. Private community stations are to be tightly controlled: their licences can be withdrawn on a whim, they are barred from discussing political matters, and are required to give the government an hour each week to explain its policies.

  • The governing party rammed a second bill through Parliament to prohibit the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) receiving funds from abroad. Coupled with violent acts of intimidation against local funders, the government is trying to immobilise the MDC by cutting off all sources of financial support.

  • Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge warned during the Parliamentary debates that the government would declare a state of emergency and suspend all civil rights if the international community imposed sanctions against Zimbabwe.

  • Police stormed dormitories at the University of Zimbabwe, beat two students to death, injured many others and arrested 35 after the students staged a protest demonstration against sharp increases in catering services and a 100% increase in school fees. The government regards the university as an opposition stronghold.

  • The chairman of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Tawanda Hondora, was brutally assaulted by a group of ZANU-PF supporters, brazenly wearing their party's tee-shirts, when he went with two other human rights lawyers to interview witnesses in a court case involving one of the MDC's 37 challenges of constituency results in last year's parliamentary elections. Uniformed police offers stood by and watched the assault. Later Hondora was frog-marched to a police station where he was searched, interrogated and tortured by the police, including the station commander who lectured him on the evils of the MDC.

Political commissars

  • Most outrageous of all, Mugabe is appointing members of Chenjerai "Hitler" Hunzvi's notorious "War Veterans Association" as political commissars in the cities with instructions to crush the strong opposition support there. Joseph Chinotimba, the "veteran" who last month stormed into the office of Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay and threatened him with violence unless he resigned, has been appointed "political commissar" of Harare, the capital. Hunzvi is blunt about the purpose of the appointments, describing them as "the first phase" of an "aggressive plan" to win back the cities from the MDC ahead of the presidential election.

  • At a political rally in Matabeleland North, Mugabe repeated a statement he now makes with alarming frequency. "I am firmly asserting to you," he said, "that there will never come a day when the MDC will rule this country. Never ever." He went on declare that MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai would never be allowed to become President because "this is a country that cost us lives and a lot of suffering." In effect he is saying that he and ZANU-PF have a moral entitlement to continue ruling Zimbabwe indefinitely, and in other statements he has indicated that they would wage another "war of liberation" should the MDC win any election.

Government concern

The first indication of South Africa's growing concern at this increasing belligerence was the appearance of an observer from the High Commission in Harare in the Parliamentary gallery during last week's heated debates on the new Broadcasting Act and the Party Financing Act. This was followed by ANC secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe inviting the secretary-general of the MDC, Welcome Ncube, to a meeting in Pretoria on April 6. It was the second such meeting between the ANC and the Zimbabwean opposition party within a month. Both sides are keeping silent on what was discussed, but I understand Ncube met with several ANC figures and that the South Africans floated the idea of possibly trying to broker a government of national unity.

On the face of it the idea would seem to be a non-starter. While the opposition might be willing, it is hard to imagine the power-obsessed Mugabe giving it a moment's thought. However, the idea in itself is an indication of South Africa's shift in thinking. Another is the fact that Bulawayo has been without petrol and diesel for the past two weeks – an indication that Pretoria is now applying some physical pressure, since this southern Zimbabwean city gets all its liquid fuels from South Africa. But it remains difficult to see what effective policy South Africa might adopt. Diplomatic persuasion is clearly not working, but overt pressure might trigger an even more aggressive response and bring about a swifter economic collapse.

One possibility might be to encourage other like-minded SADC countries, such as Mozambique, Botswana and Zambia, to join South Africa in applying a combination of multilateral pressure and persuasion, while at the same time finding ways to help strengthen the opposition with more diplomatic recognition, organisational help and strategic advice. South African business, too, could seek ways to help the opposition build capacity through their counterparts in Zimbabwe. The shift in emphasis in Pretoria at least opens the way for more imaginative thinking.

From Pan African News Agency, 13 April

Minister Acknowledges Corruption

Harare - "Society has now become pervasively corrupt," Zimbabwe's Finance minister Simba Makoni lamented recently at a Transparency International seminar in Harare, adding that the basic challenge for the country was "to re-engineer society to live normally again." Unofficial estimates indicate a staggering 30 billion Zimbabwean dollars changes hands annually in shady deals in both the public and private sectors. Analysts say the country's present economic troubles, the worst since it gained independence from Britain in 1980, partly stem from deep-rooted top-level white-collar corruption.

Makoni, a former head of SADC, was last year forced to introduce a 10 per cent booty for whistle blowers on ill-gotten loot recovered, in a bid to stamp out the scourge. But the initiative, which was widely applauded, has yet to yield anything tangible, and seems to have been stymied in bureaucracy. "The battle against corruption will be the most difficult, if not impossible, for the government to win," said Andrew Taruvinga, a prominent University of Zimbabwe political analyst. He said Makoni's initiative, while well intended, also served to warn corrupt officials to cover their tracks much more carefully, making detection difficult.

Several high-profile corruption cases are due to come to trial shortly, the biggest involving a former government minister implicated in a multi-million dollar grain export scam. Former Agriculture Minister Kumbirayi Kangai is alleged to have profited to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars from a grain export deal to Malawi. He allegedly authorised the exports at a time Zimbabwe was short of grain, and was itself importing it from South Africa. A number of senior ministry officials are also implicated in the case, and their trial begins in the coming two months.

But by far the worst corruption case involves the alleged siphoning of more than 1 billion Zimbabwean dollars from a state-owned oil company by senior managers, leading to a national fuel crisis, which is still affecting the country. Top officials at the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe are alleged to have stolen fuel and sold it on the black market, and sourced the commodity at above market prices from suppliers who paid them hefty kickbacks. This resulted in the company, which enjoyed a monopoly in oil import, accumulating a staggering debt of 20 billion Zimbabwean dollars because of the unrealistically high price at which it procured the fuel.

In another case, the Sun City international hotel group abandoned multi-billion dollar plans to build hotels in Zimbabwe, and moved over to Zambia, after government officials allegedly persisted in demanding kickbacks to approve the project. The country, as a result, lost direct investment worth 5 billion Zimbabwean dollars, and estimated annual earnings from the project of more than 30 million US dollars.

"This economy is bleeding from corruption. Worse still, this is coming at a time when the fundamentals require shoring up," said Joseph Zulu, a bank economist. Zulu said this was particularly putting off a few foreign investors who are brave enough to want to invest in a country widely perceived internationally as unsafe due to political instability. Analysts say the situation had deteriorated to a level where no deal, especially in government, can be signed without money changing hands under the carpet. This, Taruvinga said, was partly to blame for production cost increases, and some of the general distortions in the economy. Alarmed at the fast pace at which graft was growing, Parliament is contemplating an anti-corruption agency, but few believe it would make headway, if Makoni's attractive offer of a 10 percent booty can come to nothing.

From News24 (SA), 13 April

SA bus rams Zim army truck

Harare - Seven people were killed and four seriously injured when a bus belonging to a South African regional passenger service rammed into a stationary Zimbabwean army truck outside Masvingo in southern Zimbabwe on Thursday morning, Harare police said on Friday. The Inter-Cape Mainliner coach bound for Johannesburg from Lusaka hit the broken-down armoured personnel carrier eight kilometres south of Masvingo just before dawn, Inspector Arthur Makanda said. Five of the dead were Zambians, one was South African and one a Zimbabwean. Sixteen passengers suffered minor injuries. The names of the dead are being withheld until their next of kin have been informed.

From The Daily News, 12 April

Student tells Minister off

Herbert Murerwa, the Minister of Higher Education and Technology, was yesterday dressed down in front of about 10 000 University of Zimbabwe (UZ) authorities and students at a memorial service for Batanai Hadzizi, the first year student who died in a room at Manfred Hodson hostel in the early hours of Monday after being allegedly brutally assaulted by the riot police.

Brilliant Mhlanga, the Students’ Executive Council (SEC) secretary-general, snatched the microphone from Reverend Charles Mugaviri, the acting dean of students, following Murerwa’s address to the students and got what he thought of the minister off his chest. "You are not the Minister of Higher Educations and Technology," said Mhlanga, to thunderous applause from the students. "I want to say it to you loud and clear: Doctor Murerwa, you are no longer the Minister of Higher Education." Shrugging off attempts by Dewa Mavhinga, the SEC president, to take the microphone from him, Mhlanga continued: "To me you stand as the Minister of National Parks because the UZ has been reduced to a national park where poachers can just kill elephants." He said all the students’ parents had participated in the liberation struggle and students, were, therefore, entitled to basic human rights such as the right to life. Initially not on the service’s programme, Murerwa had earlier been pressurised by the students to address them. They wanted him to apologise for Hadzizi’s death and to offer the government’s condolences. Even efforts by Mugaviri, who was a favourite with the students, failed to save Murerwa. "Please, for the sake of Hadzizi who was an intercessor, let us be calm," said Mugaviri, but the students insisted that Murerwa address them. The students, who demanded that Murerwa accept the government was to blame for Hadzizi’s death, repeatedly interrupted his speech with boos.

Earlier, students had prevented Elizabeth Karonga, the UZ’s director of information and public relations, from entering the UZ’s Great Hall where the service was held. She was only saved from further embarrassment by the arrival of Hadzizi’s body for the service. Even after that, however, Karonga did not attend the service. She left in the direction of the administration block. Students were angered by her claims that they had demonstrated over inadequate funding for the Zimbabwe University Students’ Association Games, scheduled for this week, and that no students were arrested in the demonstration. Thirty-four students were arrested and have appeared in court charged with public violence.

Students occasionally broke into song, accusing Augustine Chihuri, the Police Commissioner, of causing Hadzizi's death. The rest of the service was in a sombre mood with several students and Hadzizi's family members weeping. Hadzizi's post-mortem report gave the cause of death as "Asphyxia due to bilateral lung contusions and rib-cage soft tissue injuries caused by blunt force." Police have denied Hadzizi was fatally battered, saying he was trampled on by his fellow students in a stampede to flee from the hostels. The students were fleeing from teargas canisters fired into the hostels. Doctor Salvator Mapunda, a pathologist at Parirenyatwa Hospital, refused to comment further than saying that the full post-mortem report was expected to be released to Avondale Police Station after the Easter holidays and that doctors were still going through Hadzizi's medical records from the UZ Students' Clinic. Hadzizi had a history of asthma. He will be buried at his rural home at Chipara Village in Gutu today.

From The Zimbabwe Independent, 13 April

Farmers still waiting for alternative farms

Commercial farmers owning a single farm but listed under the controversial fast-track land reform are still waiting for government to provide them with an alternative farm, the Zimbabwe Independent has gathered. President Mugabe has said on several occasions, particularly when addressing foreign audiences, that the government will provide a replacement farm to any farmer who has had his only property acquired. A CFU official told the Independent that there were such farms which had been listed for acquisition but no replacements had been offered. "No farmer has been given alternative land for his single farm which has been listed," said the CFU official, who asked not to be named. "And there is no tangible demonstration to show commitment to replace those farms that have been incorrectly identified," he added.

According to the revised Land Acquisition Act passed in September last year, government could list farms abutting communal areas but had to immediately replace the listed farm with another one. However, since the land acquisition process began, landless people were hurriedly resettled with farmers left with nothing. "Any logic would tell one that the moment a single-owned farm has been listed, an alternative replacement should automatically be put in place. But that’s not the case," the official said. "Evidence of cases pending in the Administrative Courts indicates that the whole exercise was incorrectly done."

Farmers who spoke to the Independent said the major problem they were facing was that the land distribution exercise was wholly unfavourable to the plight of commercial farmers. "It’s clear in the Act that a single-owned farm, if listed, should be replaced, but no farmer was relocated despite having been promised this by government," said a tobacco farmer in a telephone interview from Macheke. "I have been a tobacco farmer for more than 15 years on my single farm and I enjoy farming. I don’t object to my farm being listed as long as I am transferred to another farm where I will continue growing my tobacco."

Critics blamed the government for using the land acquisition process for political gains while plunging the agro-based economy into turmoil. "Land reform has become a political instrument rather than a programme based on economic rationale, wealth redistribution and development," said the CFU in a working document prepared after an extraordinary meeting held at Art Farm on March 21. The CFU was worried that the continued disagreement on compensation would be a major stumbling block in crafting a way forward. Lands minister Joseph Made told the official media recently that the government had started compensating farmers, an issue which was categorically denied by commercial farmers whose farms have been listed.

From The Star (SA), 13 April

Zimbabwe soldiers back home from DRC

Harare - Zimbabwean Defence Minister Moven Mahachi formally welcomed 567 soldiers home on Thursday from the DRC, where they were deployed to fight alongside government forces. The returning contingent represents a small fraction of the estimated 12 000 Zimbabwean soldiers fighting the DRC along with troops from Angola and Namibia. But Mahachi praised their return as another sign of the progress in implementing a ceasefire that until this year was largely ignored. He praised the troops' mission "to assist that country's legitimate government to repel a foreign invasion by Rwanda and Uganda". Rwanda and Uganda back rebel movements who have fought the government for two-and-a-half years.

Mahachi insisted that Zimbabwe had no ulterior motives in deploying about one-third of its armed forces to the DRC. "There is nothing sinister or extraordinary about Zimbabwe's contribution to the DRC," Mahachi told the troops at a ceremony at the commando barracks in Harare. "Zimbabwe has no territorial ambitions," he said. "She only treasures peace and stability in southern Africa." The DRC war has generated a number of lucrative business interests for Zimbabwe, notably in energy, mining, transport and communications. Peace efforts in the DRC have stepped up since the January assassination of president Laurent Kabila by a bodyguard. His son Joseph Kabila succeeded him and immediately began pushing a ceasefire deal forward.

From SouthScan (UK), 13 April

Two Cheers for Small-Scale Withdrawal of Congo Troops

Harare - Zimbabwe has withdrawn the first contingent of 300 troops from the DR Congo under a disengagement plan to end the war there, but the government has ruled out 'total' withdrawal for the mean time. Most Zimbabweans remained unimpressed by the gesture, and many felt that only a speedy deployment of UN troops to the Congo would close a forgettable chapter that has all but destroyed their country. Analysts said the withdrawal was not likely to be felt by ordinary Zimbabweans and that the impact would have been greater if the troops were reduced by half. "At least there is a flicker of hope that there is a solution to this crisis and that ultimately, we will withdraw our forces in that country," Howard Sithole, chief economist with Kingdom Financial Holdings, commented.

Zimbabwe's defence minister, Moven Mahachi, said his government was reducing the number of its troops in the DRC but would not withdraw, adding that the situation had improved and peace prospects were high since Joseph Kabila took over the presidency. However, analysts say a major factor in the resistance to a withdrawal may concern the benefits the army officers are drawing from their occupation. The Ministry of Defence has a budgetary allocation of Z$13.2 billion this year, down from Z$15.3 billion for the previous year. Mahachi says that around 85 percent of the ministry's expenditure is in salaries and allowances. Junior officers like second lieutenants - over the past two years there has been an expansion in this category - earn globally as much as Z$1 million per month in allowances alone. Most cadet officers have had a tour of duty. The government says it spent Z$10 billion in the DRC war by August last year, a figure disputed by local economists who put the monthly figure at US$1.3 million per day. The expenditure, they said, precipitated the fall of Zimbabwe's economy, which now characterised by chronic shortages of fuel and foreign currency.

Mahachi refused to disclose the number of troops to be repatriated, saying it would compromise the security of the remaining troops. However, sources says about 2,000 Zimbabwean troops in the Equateur Province are expected to be sent home under the plan to end two-and-a-half years of fighting in the DRC which has sucked in six foreign armies. Mahachi confirmed that the government had reinforced its military presence in the Congo following the assassination of Laurent Kabila in January, adding to the 11,000 troops already there.

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Just a short email to let you know that when my family applied for visas for a weeks stop over in Aussie to see my wife's family and a few friends in Perth on our way to New Zealand the High Commission in Harare was very reluctant to issue them.  Only when we told them to return our passports and not to worry as we would rather take another route did they sheepishly say we have to grant you visas you've paid for them.  They very kindly gave us a visa for one week (how generous) but charged us the same as if we were given the normal three month visa.  To cut a very long story short we came another route and are now happily settled in New Zealand and have permanent residency.  When applying for residency in Aus many times we were told we had no tertiary education and having two family members citizens of Aus made no difference.  Thank you to the Kiwis they have been fantastic.
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From The Zimbabwe Independent, 13 April

Tsvangirai addresses 10 000 in Tsholotsho

A massive turnout of 10 000 villagers yesterday defied threats from war veterans and ward councillors to attend a meeting addressed by Morgan Tsvangirai, the president of the opposition MDC, who was touring flood-hit Tsholotsho. The war veterans, who moved around the tented village at the Siphepha service centre, threatened the villagers with a "return to the Gukurahundi era" if they attended the meeting. However, the villagers at the makeshift camp defied the order and congregated at the hospital where they were addressed by Tsvangirai who donated five tonnes of maize.

An on-going land committee meeting organised by Zanu PF to distract the masses from the event did not deter the 10 000 crowd from attending Tsvangirai’s meeting. Tsvangirai, who was accompanied by MDC MPs, Welshman Ncube, Jealous Sansole, Fletcher Dulini, Mutoliki Sibanda and Esaph Mdlongwa, told the villagers that the MDC was not donating the maize to win votes but to address an impending calamity. "The food that Zanu PF is giving to the people is food coming from the taxpayer’s money despite claims from Zanu PF that it is from the party. But we as MDC are saying that the food is not for MDC supporters alone but for everyone affected by the disaster," Tsvangirai said.

He said the people should not be afraid of the war veterans. "I know most of you were afraid to attend this meeting because of the threats from the war veterans," Tsvangirai said. "You should not be afraid of the war veterans. They are our own people and we are grateful for the role they played in the liberation of this country." The MDC leader and his entourage later toured Siphepha hospital where most of the flood victims are temporarily housed. Tsvangirai also visited Mako village where a mass grave of 12 people massacred by the Fifth Brigade during the Gukurahundi era in the early 1980s is located. The site is one of 20 sites dotted around the district.

From The Daily News, 12 April

FBI tight-lipped on Moyo

The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Washington yesterday said, as a matter of policy, they would not disclose how far they had gone with investigations into the alleged money laundering and impersonation allegations against Jonathan Moyo, the Minister of State for Information and Publicity in the President's Office. Rex Tomb, of the FBI public affairs section in Washington, yesterday refused to disclose how far the investigations had gone. He referred questions to another FBI official identifying herself only as Tracey, who would not reveal details of the progress either. She said: "Normally, the confirmation you get from the person who wrote the letter is enough."

The FBI was commenting on a petition by Mutahi Ngunyi, the executive director of a Nairobi based non-governmental research organisation, the Series on Alternative Research in East Africa (Sareat). Ngunyi has petitioned the FBI investigations to cover Moyo and his former colleagues at the Ford Foundation in Kenya and New York on allegations of money laundering and impersonation. Ngunyi and Sareat are two of the five defendants, including Moyo, in a civil suit in which the donor is seeking to recover about $6 million in a suspected fraud. Ngunyi told the FBI that the civil suit that was still pending in Nairobi did not adequately address the overwhelming evidence of impersonation and fraud involving Moyo and his colleagues at Ford Foundation in Nairobi and New York.

From Pan African News Agency, 12 April

Zimbabwe Endures Fuel Crisis in Silence

Harare - Increasingly, motorists in Zimbabwe are having to go through an agonising hunt each day to lay their hands on what has become their most precious commodity: fuel. For more than a year and half the country has suffered fuel shortages due to lack of foreign currency to import sufficient quantities to meet local demand. Zimbabwe's hard currency tills have dried up since bilateral and multilateral donors withdrew key balance of payment support in 1999, in protest at the government's human rights abuses, suppression of dissent and support for forcible seizure of idle farms from white farmers by landless peasants.

The undeclared international sanctions have wreaked much havoc on Zimbabwe's economy, forcing it to contract by 4.2 per cent last year, and early indications this year point to a much bigger downturn. The most graphic illustration of the country's economic decay are long queues at fuel pump stations as desperate motorists spend agonising hours and even days to secure the commodity. But the fuel shortage has opened up business opportunities, both orthodox and otherwise, for some.

Meikles Hotel has entered into an unusual alliance with a local subsidiary of France's Total oil giant to entice customers with an offer of fuel. "Meikles Hotel brings you a total experience. Stay for two nights in a double room, with breakfast, newspapers, free parking, tea and coffee and 40 litres of fuel," runs an advertisement in a Zimbabwean newspaper. For many, especially business executives, the lure of 40 litres of fuel the hotel offers in exchange for staying at Meikles is far more attractive than queuing for long hours at an empty pump station waiting for the commodity, with no guarantee it would ever come, let alone of securing it if it did. "I've taken up the hotel's offer once a week for more than two months now and I find it more convenient to queuing. Besides the offer is for a double room and I will be with my wife," a company chief executive, who declined to be named, averred.

But the shortage has produced less safe business opportunities for others: vendors have joined the fray and are now selling fuel in the backyards and streets. Several houses, used as fuel storage facilities by street vendors, have gone up in smoke after fires were lit accidentally, claiming lives. In one such incident, an entire family, including small children, was burnt to death in an inferno when fuel tanks stored at their home caught fire. But the incidents have failed to deter people from the lucrative fuel-vending business, in which influential government officials and businessmen are suspected to be also deeply involved through third parties.

The business is hugely rewarding: the vendors sell the commodity at anything up to double the official retail price, and the demand still far outstrips supply. "On average I gross between 60 000 and 90 000 Zimbabwean dollars a day and could make much more if I can manage to get supplies that can last a whole day," says Elliot Mapika, a street vendor in the capital Harare. "Some of my customers are on contract and place orders twice or three times a week. I've had to turn down new customers because I can't meet demand," Mapika adds. As expected, he would neither reveal his source of supplies, nor explain why he always had supplies. This gives credence to reports of deliberate hoarding and the involvement of influential people in the backyard fuel business.

Fuel procurement in Zimbabwe has always been shrouded in secrecy, which has provided good breeding ground for top-level corruption. Last year, the government fired almost the entire top management of a state-owned oil company, after discovering they had allegedly siphoned off more than 1 billion Zimbabwean dollars from the firm through shady deals. This forced the authorities to strip the company of the monopoly to import fuel into the country, a move that was expected to improve supplies. But the fuel import liberalisation seems to have created new and worse problems, according to industry sources. They allege that some of the oil companies licensed by the government to import fuel, in competition with the state-owned company, are exclusively channelling their supplies to the black market, instead of the official one, to earn more. "A large portion of the fuel imported into this country is finding itself on the black market, and this is mainly coming from the new importers," said an official of one of Zimbabwe's long established oil retail companies. "That means production costs are going up, and the government doesn't seem to have any control of the situation," he added. But for Mapika and other street vendors, such concerns are immaterial, and are made by people "who have not done their market research."

From Business Day, 12 April

Rautenbach dealt blow as State wins first round

Legal technicalities should not get in the way of the purpose of the Proceeds of Organised Crime Act, the judge in the Billy Rautenbach case said on Thursday. The National Directorate of Public Prosecutions' Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) is pressing the Johannesburg High Court for a final restraint order to seize property worth R60 million from Hyundai distributor and fugitive Zimbabwean businessman Billy Rautenbach. Judge Jonathan Heher on Thursday ruled in favour of the unit's use of a tactical move to get past the fact that fraud allegations Rautenbach faced could not be tried in a South African court because the crimes had allegedly been perpetrated in Botswana. The unit, using the same facts, changed the allegations to contraventions of the Customs and Excise Act, alleging that Rautenbach had defeated the purposes of the Southern African Customs Union. Heher also ruled Rautenbach should be given time to answer to the charge, and the case is likely to be postponed for six weeks.

After the ruling Rautenbach's senior counsel Mike Maritz argued that in the time between Thursday morning's ruling and the resumption of the case, the R60 million worth of assets frozen and confiscated by the unit in September last year, including a wine farm in Paarl and a Falcon 10 private jet, should be returned to Rautenbach. Argument on this aspect continued after lunch. Rautenbach, the former head of the Wheels of Africa group, left SA in 1999, after a raid on his business and home. The Investigative Directorate: Serious Economic Offences and the South African Revenue Services seized three truckloads of Rautenbach's papers and computer data during the raid. Rautenbach has said he is the victim of a vendetta because he is a friend of former Zairian president Mobutu Sese Seko. Mobutu fled Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo embroiled in a civil war) amid escalating violence in 1998. He died in Europe. Rautenbach has interests in the DRC mining house Gecamines.


From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 13 April

DRC town struggles under siege

Nyunzu's 15 000 people, cut-off from the world by a blockade imposed by DRC government forces, lives from hand to mouth

The rusting train wagon was a welcome sight when it arrived late last week in this besieged town in southwest DRC. Pushed by a score of men along rails overrun with weeds, it was stuffed with cassavas, a local staple of which Nyunzu's 15 000 inhabitants have been largely deprived since December on account of a blockade imposed by forces loyal to the government in Kinshasa. The wagon was escorted by troops from Rwanda, which backs the rebel group whose front line lies some 200km to the west of the town. "Cut off from the world," except for the occasional rail deliveries that "manage to break through enemy lines with Kalashnikov fire," summed up the situation, said Dieudonne Moussera Kalunga, a local administration official.

Early in the morning of December 20, four battalions of pro-Kinshasa forces, made up mainly of Rwandan fighters from the Interahamwe – the Hutu extremist group that carried out the 1994 genocide – attacked Nyunzu. Fighting raged for almost a fortnight as the attacking forces reached the edges of Tchanga-Tchanga, "just a few hundred meters from the centre of town," recalled Moussera. During this period, mortar shells rained down on the town's old colonial villas and its mango tree-lined streets. "One hundred seventy-six bombs in 12 days," Moussera said. "Everybody hid in the houses. We had nothing to eat or drink. There was not an hour that passed without the sound of rifles."

Although the attack was repelled, the assailants managed to lay siege to Nyunzu, whose residents all gathered in central districts. Food shortages soon set in. "No sugar, no salt, no beer, hardly any cassava because nobody could go out to the fields. We really got to know about hunger," explained Nonda, a skinny man in his fifties. Oeople made do by cultivating any available earth within the town: between ruined public buildings, in private gardens, the grounds of a factory. Once an important centre of maize production, Nyunzu is now run down. The buildings on the main avenue appear abandoned or inhabited by displaced people. Many of those who venture out of the town to work the earth do not return: they are kidnapped or killed by the Interahamwe and their allies in the Mai Mai, another pro-Kinshasa militia.

The only ones with enough to eat are the Rwandan soldiers, who receive supplies from the occasional plane. Locals call their part of town Kigali, after the Rwandan capital. "When we arrived in February, the nutritional situation was serious," explained Achille Garavelli, an Italian doctor working with Nuova Frontiera-Alizei, the only foreign non-governmental organisation to have returned to Nyunzu. "The general malnutrition rate was more than 25%. This led to deaths and hundreds of skeletal children with swollen bellies," Garavelli said.

Only now, four months after the assault, is the situation easing. The road to Kabalo, 130km to the west, has been reopened. "But people are still afraid," Moussera said, explaining that only a few brave cyclists dared use the road. The Rwandans are expected soon to hook up with compatriots based in Kalemie, a town about 190km by road to the east, on the shore of Lake Tanganyika. "With improvements to the security situation, we are getting a better understanding of the humanitarian problem, not only in the town but around it as well," Garavelli said. "People in the bush are also hungry because they are often taken hostage. Such people are pouring into the hospital's nutritional centre," he said.

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MDC Statement
Condolence message and statement on police violence

The Movement for Democratic Change condemns the brutal murder of Batanai
Hadzisi, a first year BSc student at the University of Zimbabwe by members
of the Zimbabwe Republic police. We send our sincere condolences to the
Hadzisi family and friends at their painful loss.
Members of the police beat young Hadzisi to death in the early hours of
Monday morning at the University campus. The police in Zimbabwe have
become synonymous with murder. Unlike the professional police outfits the
world over, the local police continues to abdicate its duty to protect law
abiding citizens, preferring instead to be used as willing tools by the
Zanu PF government. The government itself must not be absolved of blame in
this case. This government has become so paranoid that it feels threatened
even by innocent children of this country. It is this same government that
has compromised the professional discharge of duty by the police by
subjecting the force to its own interests.
While we do not condone some rowdy elements that allegedly looted a
supermarket on campus and destroyed property and vehicles belonging to
visitors, we believe that the police used excessive force in dealing with
the unrest.
The police exhibited high insensitivity and unprofessional conduct by
indiscriminately throwing teargas into the halls of residences well after
midnight while most of the students were asleep. It is very sad that under
the circumstances innocent students, in particular those handicapped
students including the blind and physically handicapped students are the
worst victims of that insensitivity as their mobility is severely impaired.
As we reflect on the loss of yet another precious life, people of Zimbabwe
have to realise that the power to change the state of affairs is in their
hands. Lets us complete the change we started in the June elections by
making sure we give a decisive mandate to people who are concerned about
the our safety, poverty and health.
The people of Zimbabwe today are struggling to put food on the table for
their families. The people need jobs, affordable health care and education
for their children. That is what the people of Zimbabwe are crying for.
However, the present government is so bent on holding on to power by force
that it has resorted to instilling fear on the people of Zimbabwe. The
people do not feel safe in the face of a reign of terror by Zanu PF thugs
and state agent all with the blessing of the Zanu PF government.
The MDC calls for an immediate investigation of the circumstances that led
to the death of Batanai, so as to ensure that the culprits are brought to
 Welshman Ncube
 Shadow Minister of Home Affairs.

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From The Daily News, 11 April

FBI asked to probe Moyo

The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Washington has been asked to investigate Jonathan Moyo, the Minister of State for Information and Publicity in the President’s Office. Their investigations would also cover Moyo’s former colleagues at Ford Foundation in Kenya and in the US on allegations of money laundering and impersonation. The call for the investigation is contained in a petition to the US authorities by Mutahi Ngunyi, the executive director of a Nairobi-based non-governmental research organisation, the Series on Alternative Research in East Africa(Sareat). Robert Wright, attached to the FBI regional offices in Pretoria, yesterday said he could only give details on the matter if he was granted permission by his superiors and clearance from the US embassy in Harare. Ngunyi initially wrote to the FBI in New York, but The Daily News has obtained a copy of a letter in which the Office of the Inspector-General of the Department of Justice in New York referred Ngunyi’s allegations of money laundering to the Criminal Investigation Department of the FBI in Washington. Ngunyi and Sareat are two of the five defendants, including Moyo, in a civil suit filed by the Ford Foundation in Kenya, in which the donor is seeking to recover about $6 million in a suspected fraud.

Yesterday, Moyo said he was not aware the FBI had taken up the matter. "I am only aware of the pending civil suit. I am not aware of what Mutahi is doing or not doing. I only know that he has been named as a defendant in the Ford case." But Ngunyi, in his letter to the FBI in New York, said though a civil suit on the matter was still pending in Nairobi, it did not adequately address the overwhelming evidence of impersonation and fraud involving Moyo and his colleagues at Ford Foundation in Nairobi and New York. Part of his letter reads: "The purpose of our writing is to request for an investigation into a money laundering case involving the Ford Foundation offices in Nairobi, Kenya, with the beneficiary being the Zimbabwe Minister of Information and Publicity, Jonathan Moyo."

Ngunyi says the Ford Foundation, for which Moyo worked, created his (Ngunyi's) organisation, Sareat. He said it was in the process of creating Sareat and providing funds for it to set up offices in East Africa that the Ford Foundation loaded extra funds to his organisation. He said an audit by PriceWaterhouse-Coopers last year revealed that officials at Ford in Kenya would forge letters and budgets purportedly coming from Sareat, but on disbursement of the funds, instructions would be given to them to transfer the extra funds to, among others, Moyo. Ngunyi says the audit noted that on one occasion, Sareat had asked for US$200 000 but was instead given US$287 000. "The extra US$87 000 was loaded by officials in New York and Sareat was instructed by Ford officials in Nairobi to transfer the moneys to a bank account in South Africa. These are the funds that later went to benefit the Zimbabwe politician," reads Ngunyi’s letter to the FBI.

He said he believes Ford officials in both Nairobi and New York were using his organisation as a conduit to siphon funds. Reference is made to a Ford Foundation inter-office memo, dated 17 December 1997, which Moyo wrote to Gower Rivzi, the then New-York based Deputy Director of the Civil Society Program. In the memo, Moyo makes the following proposal to Rivzi: "My suggestion is that we see if the Sareat grant has been processed, if not then you can see whether you can add to the grant’s existing budget lines the $88 000 . . . I believe it is still possible to modify the pending grant. However, and this is very important, all of this would have to be informal." The memo concludes: ". . . I have discussed all this with Nick (Nick Menezes, the then Ford acting representative in Eastern Africa) but he does not want to 'know’ anything - officially, that is."

Ngunyi said further correspondence between Moyo and Rivzi showed that within the New York offices, several officials had authorised the disbursements of the extra grants. Moyo yesterday refused to comment on the memo, saying all internal documents were with the Ford Foundation in Kenya. He later phoned to say the matter was sub judice and threatened to sue The Daily News if it reported on the investigation. He advised the newspaper to concentrate on the civil suit. Ngunyi’s letter to the FBI says in conclusion: "Our request, therefore, is that your good office institutes a criminal investigation on the forgery of Sareat grants application letters and budgets both in the Nairobi and New York offices of the Ford Foundation in order to load extra funds to be downloaded off-shore by the Ford accountant and the Zimbabwe politician."

From The Guardian (UK), 12 April

Lawyers beaten by Mugabe followers

Harare - Zimbabwe's spreading lawlessness was again highlighted by news yesterday of a brutal attack by police and other supporters of President Robert Mugabe's ruling party on the chairman of a prominent lawyers' group. Tawanda Hondora's jaw was broken and he was left badly bruised. The three-hour assault on the chairman of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights took place in the Sadza area, about 50 miles south of Harare.

Violence by Mr Mugabe's supporters, including police, has been reported across the country as the ruling party, the Zanu-PF, tries to stamp out support for the opposition MDC before presidential elections next year. Mr Hondora went to Sadza at the weekend with two other lawyers to investigate reports that police were assaulting people scheduled to testify in a court case challenging the victory in last year's parliamentary election of a Zanu-PF candidate, the war veterans' leader Chenjerai Hunzvi. They saw about 30 people, most wearing Zanu-PF T shirts, beating Nelson Chivanga, one of the witnesses in the case, a statement issued by the lawyers' group said. Uniformed police officers stood by and watched, it said.

The assailants then turned on the three lawyers, calling them "foreigners", although they are black Zimbabweans. Mr Hondora was kicked, slapped, punched, whipped and hit behind the ear with a stone. He was forced to chant Zanu-PF slogans while marching to the police station, where he and Mr Chivanga were further tortured by police, the statement said. At the station, the police told them that the MDC was just a front for white people. The lawyers' group said yesterday it was "outraged by the continued brutality, lack of respect for fundamental human rights and political partisanship of the Zimbabwe Republic Police". "We condemn police involvement with the vigilante groups of Zanu-PF supporters who are creating a reign of terror in Zimbabwe."

From News24 (SA), 12 April

UZ students mourn colleague

Harare - About 3000 students from the University of Zimbabwe on Wednesday held a sombre memorial service, interrupted by outbursts of anger against President Robert Mugabe's regime, for a fellow student allegedly beaten to death by heavily-armed police this week. The Great Hall of the university was filled to capacity with students singing hymns as the body of Batanai Hadzizi, 21, a first-year-student, was carried in.

Tension rose sharply after Higher Education Minister Herbert Murerwa agreed to students' demands to address them but was angrily jeered when he refused to apologise, and instead expressed his "regret". The students also stood up and chanted "ZBC out" when a camera crew from the state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation walked into the hall. There were fears that the service would ignite anti-government rage on the campus after a weekend of police violence there, but the service continued without incident. "It was very tense, but the students handled it very maturely," said Dr Charles Mugariri, the dean of students. "It's a very terrible time for all of us."

Hadzizi died after scores of riot police raided the campus on Sunday midnight - for the second day in a row – storming the hostels, firing teargas into rooms and whipping students with batons. Student representatives and university officials have reacted angrily to police claims that Hadzizi died from being trampled in a stampede at his residence. Hostel colleagues claim they witnessed the assault, and relatives say they saw weals all over Hadzizi's body, left apparently by the long, heavy rubber batons used by the riot squad. The memorial service started an hour late, delayed until the end of a post mortem examination carried out on the body. The results are expected to confirm whether Hadzizi died of assault or, as authorities claim, was crushed by panicking students fleeing the police in the narrow halls of the hostels. "We can only hope this will bring the culprits to book," said Mugariri.

The raids were in answer to scattered outbreaks of violence at the weekend when demonstrations against low state payments to students turned unruly. Unrest continued on Monday with the announcement of Hadzizi's death, when again police used teargas and batons to disperse several hundred demonstrators marching towards town. Thirty-four students arrested during the weekend were charged with public violence and released from prison yesterday. Police also arrested Innocent Mupara, president of the Students Representative Council, on allegations of incitement to violence, but released him after questioning. A total of 28 students were treated for injuries, university authorities said.

From The Financial Gazette, 12 April

SA in bid to extradite Zim tycoon

South African authorities this week said they had started proceedings to extradite Zimbabwean billionaire Billy Rautenbach to stand trial in Johannesburg on customs fraud, theft and corruption involving R100 million ($800 million), among several charges. But media reports in South Africa say Pretoria will have a rough time trying to extradite Rautenbach, the former head of Hyundai and Volvo distribution and Wheels of Africa businesses in South Africa, because of his top political connections in Zimbabwe.

Rautenbach, whose South Africa-based companies have been liquidated since Pretoria raided the tycoon’s homes and properties last November, has been linked to President Robert Mugabe and the Speaker of Parliament, Emmerson Mnangagwa. Moves to have Rautenbach extradited were begun after the arrest of his former associate, John Dewar, at his home in Fourways in Johannesburg last Wednesday. Dewar has since been granted R20 000 bail by the Germiston Magistrates Court in Johannesburg. The spokesman for South Africa’s investigating directorate of serious economic offences department, Sipho Ngwema, told the South African media his department had this week started the paperwork to extradite Rautenbach. Dewar is the fifth person arrested on charges connected with Rautenbach. Ngwema said his department was now turning its attention on Rautenbach and would approach Zimbabwe once it had finalised the paperwork involved.

Both South Africa and Zimbabwe are bound by the Commonwealth Agreement for the Rendition of Fugitive Offenders. Dewar will stand trial with two co-accused, John Anderson and Konstant Claasen, who are also on R20 000 bail each. The three are accused of conspiring with Rautenbach to fraudulently reduce the tax liability of Wheels Parts Distributors, a subsidiary of Wheels of Africa, by R11 million. They are alleged to have "written off" a R30 million debt to Wheels Parts Distributors by its sister company, Swedish Truck Distributors, in August 1999. Wheels Parts Distributors supplied Swedish Truck Distributors with Hyundai and Volvo parts. They are also alleged to have issued false credit notes for R30 million to reduce the company’s tax liability and to reduce Swedish Truck Distributors’ book debt from R57 million to R27 million. The charge sheet alleges that the write-off was intended to increase the net asset value of Swedish Truck Distributors, which Rautenbach was trying to sell to AB Volvo in Sweden. The sale did not materialise and the company has been liquidated alongside other Rautenbach-owned companies in South Africa. The liquidations were granted after the investigating directorate raided Rautenbach’s home and premises in November 1999.

Last month the head of customs in South Africa’s Mpumalanga and Northern Province, Dolfe Harmse, became the first person to be convicted in connection with Rautenbach’s cases. He was convicted in the Pietersburg regional court of corruption for receiving two Hyundai vehicles from Rautenbach in exchange for a favour which in effect saved Rautenbach R300 000. He was sentenced to six years in jail and refused leave to appeal. Jean Charles-Pirlet, a former senior vice president in charge of the corporate division at ABN Amro Bank, was also arrested on charges of fraud and corruption relating to Rautenbach in November last year. He has since resigned from the bank and is on R50 000 bail. South Africa’s Asset Forfeiture Unit last year seized Rautenbach’s property worth R60 million. Among the assets seized were a helicopter, a house and six flats in Sandton, a Cape wine farm and another farm in KwaZulu Natal. The unit was this week expected to apply for a final restraint order allowing it to keep the property. The Johannesburg High Court ruled last month that a provisional order allowing the unit to keep the property would stand. Rautenbach had opposed the order on the grounds that it had been issued in his absence. He asked the court to overturn it as "it was defective" but the court refused.

South Africa’s Sunday Independent newspaper said this week there was no hope of the South African courts ever reaching the fugitive Rautenbach because he is "nestling in (President) Mugabe’s bosom". The newspaper referred to a statement last year in which Mnangagwa declared that he was close to Rautenbach and that he had helped the transport mogul in his business dealings in the Congo. The newspaper said Rautenbach was close to Mugabe and these political connections would make it difficult to have him extradited to South Africa. Rautenbach still operates his Wheels of Africa business in Harare, although he has been keeping a low profile in Zimbabwe since his ordeals began in South Africa and the Congo, where he was fired as the head of mining parastatal Gecamines by the late president Laurent Kabila. He also owns a farm in Karoi. Persistent efforts to interview Rautenbach have proved fruitless. He has not answered questions submitted to him in writing by this newspaper two weeks ago.

From IRIN (UN), 11 April

Botswana Worried About Zimbabwe State of Emergency Threat

Nairobi - Reports that the Zimbabwean government may declare a state of emergency have been met with concern by authorities in Botswana. Minister of Commerce and Industry Tebelelo Seretse was quoted as saying in reports on Wednesday that "it indeed would not augur well and it would be unfortunate" if the state of emergency was declared in Zimbabwe. Seretse said a state of emergency would affect tourism not only in Botswana but the region as a whole. "We would have to look at the situation and see how we can protect our people who deal with Zimbabwe. We also have Batswana children who go to school in Zimbabwe," she said. Last Friday, two Zimbabwean newspapers carried stories that the government was considering a state of emergency.

From The Financial Gazette, 12 April

CIO boss faces the axe

Vice President Simon Muzenda, the brains behind the ruling ZANU PF’s succession plan and key appointments in the government, is masterminding the removal of CIO director-general Elisha Muzonzini, it was established this week. Muzonzini’s removal from the dreaded spy agency, used by the government to neutralise political opponents, was apparently due to take effect at the end of February. But it now appears to have been shelved after a government committee overseeing defence and security expressed concern at having a fresh purge of the CIO, reshuffled only a year ago, months before next year’s crucial presidential election, official sources said this week. The rank and leadership of the intelligence agency were purged last September, when several directors were re-assigned while others were seconded to Zimbabwe’s foreign missions. The purge was carried out after the CIO was accused of failing to correctly monitor and inform the government about the activities of the opposition MDC, which nearly defeated ZANU PF in the landmark general elections last June.

"Vice President Muzenda is behind the scheme to get Muzonzini out," a senior government source privy to the plan told the Financial Gazette. "It is all being done in the scheme of succession because the government wants to put a figure in the CIO who works in line with the succession. Unfortunately the CIO boss does not come from the right camp so they want him out," the source said, speaking on condition of not being named for fear of possible victimisation. Muzenda apparently wants Muzonzini to be replaced by Happyton Bonyongwe, the present CIO deputy director-general. Efforts to get comment from Muzenda’s office this week on the reported goings-on at the CIO proved fruitless. His spokesman, H Ndanga, could also not be reached.

The sources said the succession plan aimed to promote officers who are supportive of the elevation in the government of Parliamentary Speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa to succeed President Robert Mugabe when he retires. Muzenda and Mugabe agree on Mnangagwa as the suitable candidate to eventually take over the leadership of ZANU PF and of the country. Muzonzini, named CIO head in 1998 together with his deputy Bonyongwe, is believed to be linked to retired army general Solomon Mujuru’s camp, which is against Mnangagwa’s promotion. The sources said it was not clear, at least this week, if the plan to dismiss Muzonzini had been merely put on hold or completely aborted in the light of concerns from some senior security and defence officials.

Muzenda, who has become a trouble-shooter and a kingmaker in Mugabe’s government, was behind the appointment last year of key ministers in the new Cabinet, including Security Minister Nicholas Goche, who is a relative. Goche replaced Sydney Sekeramayi, now Mines and Energy Minister. Besides Goche, Muzenda pushed for the appointment of Cabinet ministers Samuel Mumbengegwi, Flora Buka, July Moyo, Border Gezi, Stan Mudenge and Shuvai Mahofa, as well as that of permanent secretaries Willard Chiwewe and Nicholas Kitikiti. He also campaigned for Mnangagwa’s appointment to head ZANU PF’s administration. Soon after the June parliamentary poll, senior politicians in ZANU PF and prominent businessmen made numerous visits to Muzenda’s homestead in Zvavahera in Gutu to lobby for appointment to Cabinet positions. Muzenda, who has business interests in the energy and transport sectors, successfully plotted the removal of Eddison Zvobgo from ZANU PF’s supreme Politburo organ and the government. The two men had been locked in a long-running power struggle for control of Zimbabwe’s most populous Masvingo province, their political power base and birth place.

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Msika convoy victim in coma

Busani Bafana
A TSHOLOTSHO man who was hit by a car from Vice-President Joseph Msika’s motorcade two weeks ago is in a critical condition in Bulawayo’s Mpilo Central Hospital, contrary to earlier reports that he had escaped
with minor injuries, the Zimbabwe Independent learnt this week.

Sam Tshuma (40), a nurse orderly, was struck by a vehicle driven by Lloyd Mapfumo, permanent secretary in Msika’s office, during the vice-president’s trip to Tsholotsho a fortnight ago.

Mapfumo’s car was part of the motorcade that took Msika to Siphepha Clinic in Tsholotsho where the vice-president donated $20 000 to flood victims and addressed a small gathering. Tshuma was seriously injured in the accident which occurred a few kilometers from the Tsholotsho Shopping Ce-ntre.

The government media reported that Tshuma was in a stable condition in hospital after the accident.

However, this week it was established that Tshuma was in fact in a coma in the Intensive Care Unit of Mpilo Central Hospital. His family said it was worried he may not pull through.

Tshuma reportedly sustained six broken ribs and serious head and body injuries. He is on an oxygen machine to help him breathe.

Expressing disappointment, the family said there had been no official acknowledgment from either the permanent secretary or the police about the accident. They were not aware if a docket had been opened to facilitate the investigation into the accident which occurred on Saturday, March 31.

“I am not blaming anyone if this was an accident as we have heard, but what hurts me and my family is that no one has come to apologise or to comfort me about this accident,” said Annah Moyo, Sam Tshuma’s mother.

Flanked by three of her other children, Moyo said she was puzzled by the police’s silence on the cause of the accident.

Relating events leading to the accident, the family said Tshuma had been with a friend, identified only as Mahlangu, on the morning of the accident.

Unconfirmed reports said Tshuma was thrown from his bicycle onto the windscreen of the car which was damaged on impact.

The family has been trying to locate Mahlangu without any success raising fears that he has gone into hiding.

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War vets displace ZCTU

Vincent Kahiya
ZANU PF, in a bid to weaken the power base of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and consequently that of the opposition MDC, is positioning itself as a de facto labour conflict resolution agency. The move is designed to lure urban voters to Zanu PF which is now posing as a messiah for the workers in their fight against retrenchments.
War veterans have recently invaded a number of companies claiming to be acting on behalf of workers.

In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday, Zanu PF Harare province secretary-general Chris Mutsvangwa said Zanu PF found itself in the current position of arbitrator in labour disputes because the ZCTU had forfeited its role of representing the workers and had instead become a political outfit.

“It is by default that workers are increasingly coming to Zanu PF with labour issues because a vacuum has been created in labour relations, with the workers feeling that the ZCTU is not properly representing them,” said Mutsvangwa, himself a war veteran and prominent businessman in the telecoms sector.

“The situation is almost like soon after Independence in 1980 when workers rushed to Zanu PF to solve labour disputes.
“Because the ZCTU has turned political, it has created a vacuum and there is now the unholy alliance between it and the employers. This has disenchanted the workers,” he said.

The MDC draws its support from the urban working class which has currently been hit by retrenchments and the ever-increasing cost of goods.

Mutsvangwa denied the interventions were a Zanu PF tactic to usurp the role of the labour union. He said the party had to act because in some instances the workers had genuine concerns.

“Some of the grievances brought to us are real and in some instances the employers have owned up and paid the workers.

“The ZCTU should not try to have a bigger agenda of trying to remove the present government but instead concentrate on labour issues,” he said.
Converting urban voters, who voted overwhelmingly for the MDC in the last election, is crucial to the designs of Zanu PF.

Zanu PF-sponsored candidates failed to secure influential positions in the ZCTU at the beginning of the year, putting paid to attempts to take over the labour body.

Zanu PF and the war veterans have in the past two months moved against companies to deal with labour disputes. In all instances the party argued that it had been approached by the workers who had exhausted other channels of airing their grievances.

But this certainly was not the case at Lobels last week where agreement on wages had already been reached with the workers’ committee. Interve- ntion there was specifically targeted at the MDC.

The closure of companies due to the slump in the economy has resulted in massive retrenchme-nts. Zanu PF is convinced that the closures are a deliberate ploy by owners to tighten the screws on government and ensure Mugabe is not retained in the presidential poll next year.

ZCTU president Wellington Chibhebhe said the intervention was part of a broader agenda and the accusations that the umbrella body had negated its role were unfounded.

“We may not know their real agenda but we will continue with our work,” said Chibhebhe.

“Those who need to know the role of the ZCTU should go to the Ministry of Labour and see the backlog of cases that are being dealt with by the retrenchment committee, the employers and the government.

“The accusations that we are not doing anything is being raised by people who are ignorant of the role of the ZCTU. We do not negotiate at company level but in the tripartite forum,” he said.

There is a growing inventory of cases in which the war veterans and Zanu PF have intervened. Last week chairman of the war veterans in Harare Joseph Chinotimba confiscated equipment worth $4 million from Resource Drilling in Msasa after the company’s management refused to pay retrenchment packages and attempted to reduce the working week.

The veterans also confiscated commuter minibuses belonging to Imran Chaudry of Leno Trading after the workers at the company could not agree with management over a pay dispute.

The veterans, led by Chinotimba, last week invaded Lobels Bakery to weed out suspected MDC supporters. They demanded the dissolution of the workers’ committee, which they said was full of MDC supporters.

Police officers stood by as veterans broke into the premises and searched for information in computers. When they found MDC e-mails in the computer of manager Ian Nel, they had police arrest and detain him.

They also assaulted company managers at Dezign Incorporated after the company sacked workers who had gone on strike. This week they raided Delta Corporation’s Mandel training centre in Marlborough and attacked staff.

The translocation of violence from the farms to the boardrooms of commercial companies will put a further dent in the country’s image.
MDC MP for Harare East and labour lawyer Tendai Biti said the latest developments were detrimental to industry.

“It is a reflection of how battered and assaulted the rule of law is in Zimbabwe because it undermines the Labour Relations Tribunal and the trade unions,” he said.

“The workers whom Zanu PF purport to represent will not be fooled come election time,” he said.

Economists have pointed to the damage the company invasions are likely to do to investor sentiment.

“Zimbabwe is in the process of being written off as a basket case,” one economist said this week. “This could be the final nail in the coffin.”

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Gono accuses Noczim of wasting time, money

Barnabas Thondhlana
THE plethora of opportunities lost by oil procurer National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim), whether through failure to understand the severity of the fuel crisis or simple intransigence, is alarming, documents in the possession of the Zimbabwe Independent show.

Such has been the procrastination that decisions requiring immediate responses were allowed to gather dust in trays, only to be lost with the passage of time.

For instance, in the case of a deal valued at US$20 million for the procurement of fuel, Noczim first turned the offer down because it was too expensive, only to return a week later asking for its resuscitation because they did not have any alternative in hand. However, the resuscitated deal also took time to action. In the meanwhile the country ran out of fuel.

“The intransigence adopted by Noczim is inching the deal close to a collapse and quite honestly we do not see any reason why all the time we have to keep propping it up,” wrote MJ Aziz, managing director of Eastpac International LLC to Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe CEO Gideon Gono on July 27 last year. CBZ had arranged a US$20 million line of credit with Eastpac.
It subsequently collapsed.

Gono wrote to Noczim managing director Webster Muriritirwa on October 9 regarding lines of credit submitted to Noczim for approval.

“Specifically, there is the MacRich facility for US$490 million and the Afrieximbank US$15 million facility whose term sheets are with you. Most of these facilities are time-sensitive and have to be accepted or rejected within a very short space of time. The Afrieximbank facility offer is likely to expire this week...

“As long as we take our sweet time and behave as if the world out there is at a standstill for Zimbabwe or Noczim, we will never win the battle out there, let alone the economic war against Noczim and the country at large.”
Gono said it was not right for Noczim to be blaming the fuel situation on forex shortages all the time without them “examining themselves against the altar of internal efficiencies and effectiveness”.

“Unless there are fundamental and far-reaching changes in the mentality of people at the helm of Noczim and the way things are done in Noczim; unless a sense of urgency is instilled into Noczim management; unless people are made to adhere to certain minimum standards of efficiency and effectiveness in Noczim and unless people in Noczim start to better appreciate their national/strategic importance, the fuel situation will never improve in this country even if tonnes and tonnes of forex is ma-de available,” said Gono.

“Noczim cannot behave as it pleases or take its sweet time to make decisions because you are not the only ones with a name or reputation on the block. We are involved, the President’s Office is involved, the Reserve Bank is involved, your parent ministry is involved and the whole country.

“Some of us treasure those reputations or whatever little we have left, to simply smile while things are not being done properly.”

The relationship between the bank and Noczim has at most times been fraught. In one instance, Muriritirwa and Gono clashed after Gono had demanded that the Independent Petroleum Group (IPG) of Kuwait reimburse Noczim for the delivery of tainted fuel, an issue which the Noczim boss shot down “to the pleasure of IPG”.

“I have been raising the issue of disappearing fuel at the Beira tanks — the 20 000 metric tonnes, the 17 000 metric tonnes etc, for which no satisfactory answers were forthcoming,” wrote Gono.

On his part, Muriritirwa said CBZ’s mandate to purchase fuel at parallel market rates had expired. Noczim then entered the market on March 13 this year, purchasing forex at $97,1 to the greenback. The purchase was made from Lendarai Associates.

CBZ spokesman Sunsleey Chamunorwa, who spoke on behalf of Gono who is out of the country, said Noczim could not have its cake and eat it too.

“As a bank we are going around selling risk. Our reputation is on the line,” Chamunorwa said.

“Noczim cannot have the luxury of riding on our back without the responsibility of accountability. We cannot have a situation where we sour-ce lines of credit for Noczim, which then turns around and says it cannot deposit any accrued monies with us because we are not their bankers. We are actually being sued by some of the fuel suppliers for non-payment.

“For as long as Noczim and its fuel people are there, the fuel situation in the country will never improve,” he said.

He said CBZ had made recommendations, among many others, that fuel from coal was the only answer to a sustainable fuel supply situation in the country.

“We have sponsored studies on this matter, which studies have been forwarded to Noczim but they are gathering dust in spite of the existence of interested investors.

“Our MD (Gono) led an investment team to Berlin to look for investors who showed a lot of interest in such a project. The investors are now asking what has happened to the proposal,” he said.

Chamunorwa said CBZ had suffered a lot
of abuse with suppliers, the local market/outside press and from some Noczim staff alike, “but we have taken all this in our stride”.

Last week a parliamentary report accused CBZ of milking Noczim of
$345 million, stemming mostly from sourcing foreign currency at premium rates.

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THE Zimbabwe Union of Journalists seems to have got itself in a tangle over foreign ownership of the media. It all started with a story in the Herald on March 31 claiming that “the British government has ‘interests’ in the Daily News and is making frantic efforts to send a new printing press to replace the one destroyed during the bombing incident in Harare last month”.

In fact the bombing was in January. And the only “interests” the British government has are in ensuring the machine is not subject
to arbitrary obstacles placed in its way by the Harare authorities. This is the same line of inquiry any government pursues by way of safeguarding its investors. That’s why we have
investment protection agreements with our main trading partners.

The word “interests” usually means a stake or holding. In this case the word has been used to imply that the British government has a financial stake in the Daily News. It doesn’t. British and Commonwealth investors have a minority holding. A newspaper, the Sunday Times, has established a fund to support the Daily News and the amount raised will be used to purchase a new printing press.

An “intelligence source” was quoted by the Herald as saying “the money will come from the British government. Otherwise why would their government be interested in a private investment? This is worrying from a security point of view.”

Actually, this level of “intelligence” in our security service is worry- ing from any point of view! Here is an officer, probably the one who fed the false story to the Herald in the first place, who doesn’t understand that governments have a duty to protect their investors abroad; that Zimbabwe has a reputation for arbitrary deci- sions and lawlessness which make it a problematic destination for business people.

There is another point here. The intelligence operative quoted either doesn’t know that the British government has no investments in foreign newspapers or he is deliberately misleading the Herald’s readers on behalf of the ruling party. That is a serious matter. What other disinformation stories is the CIO putting out? And should the Herald be retailing them when it knows they are false?

Then we had “a statement” from the ZUJ, but which appears to have emanated from its president, Mathew Takaona, saying “journalists were incensed at the fact that the British have interests in the Daily News”.

So what started its life as a rather clumsy lie had the following week become a “fact” thanks to a journalist who was clearly happy to adva-nce the state’s deceitful agenda. The National Association of Freelance Journalists, which reports suggest is actually run by the CIO, also jumped on board.

The Herald, delighted by the knock-on effect of its original claim, proceeded to repeat it.

“Sources in Zimbabwe and London said the money would not be raised from donations, but would be channelled from public funds and then made to appear as if it was donated.”

The Herald should be told that the authorities may be able to get away with that sort of thing in Zimbabwe but would have great difficulty doing so in Britain. The subscribers to the Sunday Times fund, all of them recorded, will want to see how their money was spent. In other words, the Sunday Times will have to account for it.

Clearly, the Herald’s intelligence source is familiar with diverting funds to shadowy organisations, but these things are not so easily managed in other societies where the public has eyes.

We will leave the ZUJ to deal with Takaona, but next time he makes a statement he could at least check to see if the story he is being asked to support has a shred of accuracy. After all, he is supposed to be a journalist!

We were amused by Patrick Chinamasa’s statement this week repudiating a Standard story on the NCA meeting two weeks ago. He said the claim that thousands had defied government’s “No” campaign must have been an April Fool’s joke.

“It is not true that thousands of people attended the conference, nor is it true that the conference was a success,” he said.

Chinamasa said he wasn’t present at any point. While flattered to think that the success of the conference hinged on his presence, China-masa said TV footage suggested a lack of enthusiasm, “clearly indicating that those who attended may have been part of a hired crowd”.

Chinamasa knows wh-at he is talking about. He would certainly know a hired crowd if he saw one. And, like his colleague Jonathan Moyo, he is an expert at saying exactly how many people were present — even when he wasn’t!

Moyo is also, it seems, an expert on other
people’s qualifications. Asked by the Financial Gazette about the deportation of Joseph Winter and Mercedes Sayagues, he replied that “Mer- cedes Sayagues was not a journalist but an activist”.

In fact Sayagues has a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University whose Master’s programme is considered one of the best in the United States.

Moyo went on to claim that Winter’s work permit was issued “irregularly by an officer who is not entitled to do so”. In fact it was issued in the normal way by the Immigration department after a senior officer in the former Information ministry had submitted a covering letter. He had done the same thing for other journalists as part of his job over a number of years. He asked for a two-year permit and
the Immigration department issued a one-year permit as they had done with dozens of other applications.

This was a routine procedure. But Moyo went ballistic when he found the old Ministry of Information was continuing to follow standard procedures. The minister wanted to place himself at the centre of the process so he could advertise his power to the foreign media. And Winter and Sayagues became victims of his vaulting ambitions. It is as simple as that.

“We also discovered,” Moyo said, “that the interest which the British intelligence had in (Winter) here was not normal and the protection they tried to give him by shielding him from access by Immigration officers gave a very clear impression that there was more to his work here than meets the eye.”

Such defamatory innuendo comes easily to Moyo who shrieks with indignation when the press question his record.

It was not “British intelligence” who protected Winter as Moyo disingenuously suggests. It was the British High Commission’s duty offi-cer. He was chosen according to that night’s roster! And he sought to protect Winter, not from an Immigration officer, but from government thugs travelling in a car with false number plates who were terrorising Winter’s wife and baby.

Moyo is not the only person spreading false stories about journalists. In Dar-es-Salaam in February President Mugabe said the following: “There have been these two journalists — one British journalist and I say journalist in quotes, but he was doing many other things than journalism; then one who was reporting for the Mail & Guardian of South Africa, and also she was doing lots of other things... Journalists haven’t got the freedom to offend against others or to violate the laws and you must know that.”

What “lots of other things” were they doing? And what laws did they break? We are not aware that they were accused of breaking any laws.

The president must learn to substantiate his accusations. In March 1999, after the kidnapping and detention of two Standard journalists, Mugabe told a rally that “we are going to arrest all these lying journalists”.

Our question is, what do we do about lying politicians who invent stories about journalists simply in order to justify illegal attacks on them — just as they did with the judiciary?

When the Commonwealth fact-finding mission comes here its first duty must be to seek evidence as to what laws Winter and Sayagues broke — apart of course from exposing Mugabe and his cronies as a gang of political delinquents who will stop at nothing to remain in power.

We liked the funny little piece in the Herald this week by a German journalist called Udo Froese who managed to place a novel spin on the government’s dispute with the judges. When Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay offered to resign at his meeting with Acting President Simon Muzenda in January, lawyers following the debate understood the move to have been an expression of his exasperation, particular-ly with the scurrilous document being circulated by Zanu PF.

Those present declined his offer saying it wasn’t necessary. Only subsequently did a couple of opportunists, reviewing a record of the meeting, see their chance to seize on this gesture and transform it into a formal offer which the president then “accepted”.

In what he calls the untold story, Froese renders that episode as follows: “However, the acting president could not accept the resignation at the meeting without the concurrence of the president.” How very neat!

But how about this explanation: “The acting president used an analogy to dramatise the reasons why the executive no longer had confidence in the bench. The judges maintained that in law two plus two is four, whereas the acting president felt it could be anything.”

Of course he did. He can’t count. Which explains the state of his bank account and the economy. It has nothing to do with “analogies”!

We particularly enjoyed Muzenda’s other “analogy” about the contract killer. Was this anybody he knew?

Froese reached the following conclusion on Muzenda’s rhetorical ramblings: “Acting President Muzenda, who has been involved in Zimbabwe politics for over 40 years, gave a brief history that made Justice Gubbay realise he had no further role to play in the transformation process in Zimbabwe.”

Oh, so that’s what happened! No wonder Froese’s story remains “untold”. None of it is true, including the silly little bit about denying war veterans the right to de-monstrate! Froese needs to come to Zimbabwe and see what is happening for himself instead of sitting in Johannesburg and acting as a gullible receptacle for Zimbabwe’s official rubbish.

Is Zimbabwe isolated or not? Threatening to invoke emergency powers last week, Stan Mudenge suggested Zimbabwe faced international sanctions. Economic analysts were hauled in by the Herald to explain that the country was “already under (sic) international isolation”.

But then, on the same day that this story was reported, the same paper told us Britain’s efforts to impose sanctions had been “foiled”.

This was based on an interview with Kumbirai Kangai whom the government seems to think is an appropriate representative of Zimbabwe abroad, on this occasion at a meeting of the EU/ACP forum which was recently held in Libreville.

“The meeting was very fruitful and the Europeans understood Zimbabwe’s position,” Ka-ngai claimed. He managed to fend off sanctions, we are told, by claiming that it was wrong to think the government was infringing on the rights of opposition candidates to be heard in the courts. MDC petitions challenging the outcome in a number of constituencies were currently being heard, he said.

This is dishonest in the extreme. Did the government not try to block those petitions? Did it not then launch a vicious campaign against the judiciary when it upheld the right of appeal? Are the petitions not being heard despite the government’s efforts, not because of them?

Let’s hope the EU MPs will not be taken in. Glenys Kinnock certainly wasn’t.
“We discussed at length with the Zimbabwean delegation in Gabon the worsening position of Zimbabweans in all sectors,” she said.

She cited the treatment of the judiciary and the bombing of the Daily News printing press, the skewed land reform programme and the breakdown in law and order.

“The Zimbabweans denied everything,” she said, asking why no opposition MPs were present. Kinnock said the EU MPs had told the Zimbabwean delegation that if the situation did not improve immediately, they would apply Article 96 of the Cotonou protocol which calls for full economic sanctions.

“Things are going backwards in Zimbabwe. Not only has progress stopped but it is going in reverse,” Kinnock said.

All rather different from Kangai’s account! Kangai cited the presence in Zimbabwe of an independent press as an example of the government’s observance of freedom of expression. But he called on EU MPs to use “credible and verifiable sources on the situation in Zimbabwe so there is no distortion of facts”.

That would appear to rule him out!

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Ruzvidzo Mufudza
AND a river runs through it. A murky, polluted, river called Mukuvisi. It has not always been like this, of course — whatever is? So, yes, once it was a clean flowing river where you could have a picnic on its banks while the children splashed merrily in its clear waters.

But now... now it carries sludge and affluent in its bosom. You can even find dumped babies, mugged corpses floating on its muddy surface... and more frequently than not, a kachasu drunk lolling precariously on its edges. A down-and-out drunk, desperately trying to outrun the night- mare of his/her existence, but failing miserably.

There is another symbolic Mukuvisi, of course, apart from the physical river that runs through Harare. It is the Mukuvisi of our politics and economics, once so full of promise, but now, tragically murky and, alas, stagnant.

The land is full of walking corpses who have been mugged of their right to freedom of choice and expression. They have been or are still being bludgeoned into submission, silence and acquiescence — all in the name of patriotism.

Democracy has been waylaid not under the cover of darkness but in broad daylight. Severely assaulted, it lies almost lifeless in that intensive care unit in the care of the few who still posses a conscience.

But even then there are shadows of demagoguery lurking in the corridors, disguised as competent physicians waiting for a chance to pull the plug. For them, democracy is a liability. Even the very act of reading a paper of one’s choice becomes hazardous.

In 1933, a torchlight parade of students marched to a square in Berlin on Unter den Linden and made a bonfire of some 20 000 books, among them some of the great works of 19th century thought and literature.

“In the words of a student proclamation, any book was condemned to the flames which acts subversively on or strikes at the root of thought, our home and the driving forces of our people.

“The book burning, that abiding metaphor for censorship that would light the way for the holocaust, had begun.” (Ursula Owen, “Editorial: Whose rights, whose freedom?” Index on Censorship, 1/2, 1994.)

Sounds eerily familiar doesn’t it?

In the Mukuvisi basin they burned a newspaper and bombed its press. But what is the difference, the burning of books or newspapers, it all heralds the height of intolerance. It is the mark of the lowest depths to which a nation can sink. From burning and banning papers, it is but a short step to ripping out people’s heart and entrails.

Adam Michnik in his essay An Anatomy of Dictatorship writes that “Democracy is uncertainty, risk and responsibility, but it seldom enforces its policies through violence. Dictatorship means violence daily; it is fear, humiliation and silence.”

Here, where violence has become a way of life, not even football clubs are safe.

It is a horrible sensation, drowning in a filthy stagnant river. There is the gnawing fear of impeding disaster and the accompanying paralysis as a feeling of helplessness overwhelms one. In the meantime: “the intimidation of the independent press is supported by a vicious propaganda campaign waged in the pages of the government-owned publications: the private press are falsely accused of siding with real or imagined opposition forces, of not publishing materials favourable to (the ruling party), of being irresponsible, unobjective, etc” (Adewale Maja-Pearce, Press Intimida- tion).

The anatomy of dictatorship is the same the world over. But we all hope that its inception will not happen to us. Not all of us are that lucky, of course. There are those of us who end up drowning in the Mukuvisi rivers of politics. A nation is callously assigned to a rule of terror, and citizens live in perpetual dread.

Yet, polluted rivers can be reclaimed. It might take time, but it can be done — all it needs is will-power. One of the greatest gifts that we possess as human beings is the will to live, the will to freedom. This is what has ensured our survival as a species thus far.

The newly incepted white regime of the 1890s forgot this and was taken by surprise when the Shona rebelled. Assuming that they knew best, the settlers had thought the Shona docile. But they were not, and they quietly planned their uprising. All evil and dictatorial regimes suffer from the blindness brought about by a misplaced sense of supremacy and arroga-nce.

This is why Smith’s Africans were “the happiest Africans in the world”. Dictatorships have a tendency to see themselves as the saviours of a nation under siege from hordes of imagined barbarians at the gates. More often than not, of course, the barbarians are already within.

Dictators often delude themselves into believing that they are guardians of a fragile peace. They never, of course, realise or admit they are the ones who are mauling the nation to death, leaving peace in bloody tatters.

All it takes to paraphrase Martin Luther King (Jnr), for evil to triumph is the silence and acquiescence of the good. Because of their defening silence, the river is choked to death by corruption — corruption of both body and soul. There is a traditional Shona song sung at funerals called Waora Mutengeni:

Mushauri: Waora mu-tengeni
Vadaviri: Kashiri ka-mambo mutengeni
Mushauri: Mutengeni
Vadaviri: uya uone mutengeni
Kashiri kamambo mu-tengeni
Alec JC Pongweni, in his book Songs That Won The Liberation War, interprets the song as follows:
“The Mutengeni is one of the most resilient tree types in the African bush; it does not succumb to the frost or to drought. It does not rot.
“Its ability to survive under the most adverse atmospheric conditions is paralleled only by the immortality of the black man’s spirit, his determination to continue the struggle for life and the restoration of human dignity against apparently overwhelming odds.

“The death of one’s relative is a set-back to one’s eternal optimism. The dead man’s spirit flies like a bird to deliver a message to God asking for his guidance and strength for those remaining behind. The little bird (kashiri kaMambo — God’s little bird) is the traditional messenger linking mankind to Mwari (God).”

So, today, the Mutengeni tree is rotten. Our eternal optimism has eb-bed. Our spirit as a nation has been resilient for far too long. When does silent resilience become cowardice and docility?

Perhaps, all those who have perished have flown to God and interceded on our behalf. But there must be a kashiri kaMambo in the souls of the living so that they can take control of their own lives and destiny. God’s (if he exists at all) answer might have already come and we are not listening: “I created you in my image, with the power to choose, to think and reason — what more do you want from me?”

What more, indeed. Whatever it is, it definitely cannot be summoned by prayer — only by courage and the will to live by our own terms. Sitting around and mopping while waiting for God to send a bolt of lightning to rid us of the shadows of evil among us will not bring us deliverance. It never has and never will.

“By the rivers of Babylon we sat down and wept... They that led us captive required of us a song (and the kongonya dance), and melody in our heaviness... how shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?”

For this is a strange land in which we now reside. A land of failed politicians who butcher their own people, and cowardly churches, that stand by and watch.

“Let’s close our eyes and pray,” they command, but closing your eyes to evil will not make it disappear, it simply condones it and allows it to grow like a cancer. All the time, Mukuvisi gets murkier and bleeds to death.

Perhaps, as human beings we put too much faith in the intervention of the divine and those who presume to represent it on earth. Perhaps, as citizens we invest too much in those we elect into power and give up the right and will to shape and influence our own lives. Perhaps as a people we depend too much on the goodwill and ire of the international community to deliver us from the evil in our midst.

Perhaps it is time we realised that none but ourselves can free our land and heal its wounds. The meek and the righteous are not blessed if and when they watch the innocent die. The pastors are not guaranteed a safe and direct passage to some mythical heaven if they blissfully drive past the dead and the dying in blood-soaked streets and villages. “Chow, man!” curse the Jamaicans — where is our heart, where is our wisdom, where is our courage?

The people are the answer. It is not sanctions. It is not being cosy with that butcher of the east, Dhlakama. It is not the embrace of Robin Cook.

Neither is it George Bush, no matter how many “Ws” and nuclear warheads he has.

The answer lies with the people of this country, Guruuswa, the fabled land of milk and honey. O nyika yamadzibaba — land of the ancestors — indeed! Surely they are hiding their faces in shame. They are turning away from this naked barbarism and mousy resilience.

In 1978, in a bid to raise funds for what was then a revolutionary party, Edgar Tekere approached Bob Marley and asked him if he could stage a concert towards this end. An avo- wed Pan-Africanist (note, not “African-panist”) with a sentimental attachment to the motherland — Africa — Marley was only glad to oblige. He composed one of his most radical and enduring songs, Zimbabwe. He sang:

Divide and rule could only tear us apart
In every man’s chest
There beats a heart,
So soon we’ll find out who is the revolutionary,
And I don’t want my people to be tricked by mercenaries...

Well, now we are finding out, aren’t we? The mercenaries have come out of the woodwork haven’t they? Nehanda’s bones must be shuddering in their grave.

Mukuvisi runs through it, and the river is dying. In order to reclaim it we need to remember Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It states that: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

Perhaps this is something that we all ought to dedicate our lives to in order to preserve it and, if need be, be prepared to die for.

None of us should rest or sleep easy until the following, among other things, are a reality:

The right to be safe and secure;
The right to participate in national politics;
The right to earn a decent income.

Let the voice of the people speak and their will be done, here on earth, in this great house of stone, Zimbabwe. We do not only owe ourselves this, but the future demands it of us.

l Mupfudza is a high school teacher and social commentator currently completing his MA.

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