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

Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index


Armed Police, Security Agents Take Over Top Zimbabwe Farm
Peta Thornycroft
14 Apr 2004, 15:55 UTC

A huge farm in eastern Zimbabwe that supplies vegetables to top British and
South African supermarkets has been overrun by armed police and security
agents, and thousands of workers and their children are reported to have
been evicted from their homes. The farm is probably the biggest vegetable
exporter in Africa and thousands of workers depend on it for survival.
The latest move on the farm, known as Kondozi, about 220 kilometers
southeast of Harare, began on last Friday. Millions of dollars' worth of
farm equipment and computers has been reported looted.

The farm's managers said they were barred by police roadblocks from getting
to Kondozi. They also said reports filtering from the vegetable produce and
packaging complex indicate that most employees there had been forced out of
their houses and had fled for safety in nearby hills.

The managers said others had sent messages saying they have been ordered to
work for the government.

The majority shareholder in the Kondozi complex, Edwin Moyo, is currently in

The company not only grows vegetables on its own land, but also assists
peasant farmers in the district and buys their produce, packages it, and
sends it to Britain and South Africa. The farm is the largest employer in
Manicaland Province and reportedly earns at least $15 million a year at a
time when Zimbabwe cannot afford to pay its foreign debt.

Most of Kondozi's management employees were evicted from their homesteads
last year by supporters of Zimbabwe's transport minister, Christopher
Mushowe. Zimbabwe's ongoing seizure of most commercial farmland is seen as
having helped lead to the worst economic crisis in the country's history.

The minister of agriculture was not available for comment, but a government
spokesman, George Charamba, said the land was needed by the government.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Fox Sports

Zimbabwe rebels go public
From correspondents in Harare
April 15, 2004

ZIMBABWE'S rebel cricketers have released an open letter in which they
accuse some members of the country's ruling body of intimidation and of
offering one white player cash to stand aside to allow a black teammate to
take his place.

The extraordinary statement details their nine points of disagreement with
the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) which have threatened to tear the sport
apart since skipper Heath Streak was sacked last week.

Streak wanted a shake-up of the selection process and complained of
political interference in the team.

The statement, issued today, was signed by 13 white players - Streak, Stuart
Carlisle, Grant Flower, Craig Wishart, Andy Blignaut, Raymond Price, Gary
Brent, Sean Irvine, Travis Friend, Barney Rodgers, Trevor Gripper, Richard
Simms and Niel Ferreria.

"We have been concerned for some time about what we consider to be the
unprofessional manner of selection. There has been interference of a
non-sporting nature," said the statement.

"There has, in our view, been racial and ethnic discrimination in the
selection of the national team. We believe that problems of this kind can be
rectified if minimum qualifications for selectors were introduced, as we
have suggested.

"We should also stress that the minimum qualifications proposed by the
players are not discriminatory and indeed it would in our view be easy for a
selection panel to be established with a majority of qualified black

"Names that come to mind would be Ethan Dube and Mpumelelo Mbangwa
(providing he is willing to give up his media commentary) both of whom are
qualified, ex-national players."

The players also angrily denounced 'intimidation of players and a

"We have been made aware that at least one black journalist and at least one
black player (who has asked us not to reveal his name for his own safety)
have been threatened by a member of the board not to side with Heath.

"We suspect that other black members of the team have been phoned and
threatened in the same manner.

"Once again, we have been reliably informed that a board member suggested
during a selection meeting that Mark Vermuelen be offered a double match
fee, NOT to play (in the fourth one-day international against Bangladesh).

"The suggestion was made to try and pave the way for Stuart Matsikanyeri,
who had been dropped, to play."

In conclusion, the players insisted that their criticisms are not

"We are deeply aware of the fact that this document may only be signed by
white players who are less susceptible to these threats and that our action
will be portrayed as racist," it said.

"Nothing could be further from the truth. We are all deeply patriotic to all
our colleagues and to Zimbabwean cricket supporters of all races. However,
we refuse to bow to this unacceptable conduct and we trust that reasonable
members of the Board and the ICC will support our stance.

"Cricket is our entire life and we all consider it a great honour to have
been able to represent our country.

"However, if we do not make a stand in support of our captain and the team
we believe that incalculable damage will be done to the game.

"We are deeply conscious of the effect that non-closure would have on the
game not only in Zimbabwe but also throughout the world, and believe that
unless we take action the cancer that is eroding the game in Zimbabwe will
not be dealt with."

Agence France-Presse

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Sunday Times (SA)

Zimbabwe sells off white farmers' machinery

Wednesday April 14, 2004 14:29 - (SA)

HARARE - The Zimbabwe government is selling to new black farmers tractors,
combines and other machinery formerly owned by white farmers whose land was
seized under President Robert Mugabe's controversial land reform programme,
state media said.

"This equipment is owned by former commercial farmers who are largely
hostile and unsupportive to the land reform programme," Lands Minister John
Nkomo said in a statement quoted by state-run daily The Herald.

Nkomo said government has so far "acquired 140 tractors, seven combine
harvesters ... and 3,262 irrigation pipes".

The equipment is now being sold to new black farmers who are growing wheat.

Mugabe's government in December ruled it would "compulsorily acquire" any
farming equipment and material left behind by white farmers.

Under the new regulations, it is an offence for a farmer to damage or get
rid off any equipment without the authorisation from the lands minister.

The government has accused white farmers who lost their land of trying to
export, lock up or destroy their equipment.

Four years ago, the government embarked on the controversial reform
programme to acquire millions of hectares (acres) of land from whites and
redistribute it to blacks.

A small group of about 4,500 whites farmers owned a third of the country's
land including 70% of prime farmland before the government launched the
program in February 2000.

Fewer than 400 white farmers now remain in Zimbabwe and own just 3% of the
country's land, according to a government audit of the land reform

A combination of factors, including poor planning, lack of resources,
HIV/AIDS and drought have led to a huge slump in Zimbabwe's agricultural

The government will pay, in batches, for the equipment it is acquiring, with
the first 25% paid out within 30 days of acquisition, and balance paid over
five years for equipment and 12 months for material.

But it has refused to pay for the land it took away from white farmers
saying it would only pay for improvements because that land was stolen from
Zimbabweans by colonial settlers.

Some farmers who have been offered compensation for the improvements on
their former properties have turned down the money, contesting the sums

Back to the Top
Back to Index



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


"However energetically society in general may strive to make all the
citizens equal and alike, the personal pride of each individual will always
make him try to escape from the common level, and he will form some
inequality somewhere to his own profit."

- Alexis De Tocqueville


Letter 1. Subject: No Joke Joe Bloke

Dear Jag, reported the following from the Sunday Tribune:

"We cannot go back to the pre 2000 situation where Mr. Joe Bloke who has
now run away, is in Australia, we say come and get back your land. We
cannot go back to that." (Leader of the MDC.)

There are conflicting signals here if one studies the time frame and the
emotion of the statement

Of more concern is the signal being transmitted to the the world about
perceptions of the importance attached to security of tenure in a free
market economy from such a statement. The colour of Joe Soap, and where he
might be should not have anything to do with it in terms of the
Constitution, and there should also be a totally Independent Judiciary.

The lack of proper law and order saw the murders of Martin Soap and David
Soap (read Olds and Stevens) and many more of all colours for a perceived
allegance to a Morgan Bloke. Zimbabweans, with the assistance of the world
at large must ensure that these people did not die in vain.

There are millions of Soaps all over the world now and I am one of them,
partly because I chose not to compromise my principles. There could well be
a fresh round of bigger and more protracted problems for our beloved
country if the Soaps are now deemed to be persona non grata. Our family
still owns land which it bought over a hundred years ago but was evicted
from two years ago. Is this very issue going to be up to this Morgan Bloke,
or the Judiciary? I wonder.

Joe Soap,

Letter 2.

Dear Joe

We have, not surprisingly, been inundated with messages of concern
regarding this statement. I too was concerned when I first read it but know
just how statements are taken in isolation, out of context or distorted. I
have not managed to speak to MT regarding the statement as he is in Harare
and I am in the civilized part of the country and I do not trust our
uncivilized regime's telephone system to speak confidentially to him
regarding the matter.

All I can do is attach our policy documents again which constitute our only
duly approved policy regarding land and all manner of things. You will note
one theme throughout the document - we are committed to the rule of law and
equity in all matters including land. I hope that you will be guided by
this document in its completeness and not by some half baked newspaper
report no doubt written by a journalist interested primarily in a
sensational angle on a story.

Believe you me - I am not working day and night in this country, putting my
life on the line, for irrational policies to be adopted which will not save
this country from utter collapse. The policy document is something I am
proud of and believe will eventually get us out of the deep hole the Mugabe
regime has got us into.

Best wishes, David Coltart


Letter 3

Despondency...What causes it and how to cope
Simon Spooner, Bulawayo, February 2004

Right now, we are all faced with one of the most important phases of our
lives in our country.

Against a background of real repression, where there is virtually no
freedom of speech, association or expression, we are forced to live in an
information void filled with what our masters want us to hear, view and
read. This enables them to have the opportunity to have us think what they
want. That is very dangerous and we must not fall into this trap.

This is the True Grit phase.

How do we cope with the doom and gloom, the depression and despondency
which results from this situation?

The way we think negatively is not necessarily based on fact but usually as
a result of what others, of us, say! Therefore we all have the power and
influence to counter this deliberate campaign to convince us of our failure
and the hopelessness of our plight.

We all have a responsibility to say what is necessary in the interests of
our joint welfare and not what suits us as individuals in our moments of
weakness. For the positive, they are inevitably propping up the negative
who lean heavily on their shoulders. They are often challenging them with
doom to seek reassurance in the hope that they receive a positive answer.
It's draining and tests conviction. The positives are after all human and
are influenced by others, negative and positive.

By controlling the information we receive is one thing, the other is to
deny us the truth. This of course leads to a great deal of guess work and
speculation and so many of us become least most of those that
are deliberately negative in their outlook. We all know that good news
seldom makes the headlines just as bad news usually attracts interest and
attention. It is the attention seekers who delight in spreading rumours
which plays directly into the hands of those that take the opposite view to
the ideals of freedom and democracy. It is they that have the means and
the power of the Tax Payer to deliver this unrelenting onslaught against
us. However they can be defeated by Thought Power, by us!

Those that wish to destroy our lives are creating an illusion of no hope to
make us give up the fight. They are endeavouring to convince us that they
are invincible and will be our masters forever - an attempt to make us
believe that we have lost. Every resource is deployed in this direction.

We must decide whether we are to be winners or losers. Which is it? Make
that decision and play to win or play to lose.

Most of their tactics are symptomatic of those that are about to
capitulate, the last desperate attempts to thwart our progress towards the
victory that is ours. Would they be behaving like this if this was not the
case? Do not be deceived.

There are those that are listening to you when you speak who are more
insecure and more vulnerable than you. There are those that admire and
respect you no matter what you might think. Your juniors and seniors. We
have a duty to choose what we say and how we say it. We must instill hope
and make them feel better... Unselfish in an opinion or comment to
positively influence others. Give them strength to carry on. We are all
exposed to despondency which is a condition of the mind, the result of mere
words of others uttered mostly from the mouths of unqualified people.

Discover the passion, that is there, for your country and share it with
others. Consider its amazing achievements on the international stage.

Reflect on its incredible beauty. Be proud, as you should be.

Don't get exhausted in protracted debate or argument with those that suffer
from self inflicted misery, those that continually shoot themselves in the
foot. Rather spend your time and energy with those that will listen to your
point of view and may not necessarily agree. The Yes buts will always
counter your positivity with a negative consequence of what you have to say
no matter what.

Remember, it will make you feel better when you cheer up someone else.

Do not repeat negative, alarmist rumours for the sake of it. Ask yourself,
will this information (usually unsubstantiated) help the other person or
create fear and insecurity? Keep the bad news to yourself and promote the
good. It IS there!! Condition yourself and make it habit forming to react
to problems in a positive manner. That habit will ensure that all you want
to do is to solve the matter. It is only positive people that invent,
discover and create. It is the positive that win and achieve the
unachievable against seemingly insurmountable odds. A state of mind!

Are you a fighter? Are you going to win or accept defeat at the hands of a
most despicable enemy?

Value today. We all know that our immediate duty is survival. Give yourself
that chance by adopting the frame of mind that will guarantee you that
chance. Why exasperate matters that are problematic by re emphasizing the
negative statement or rumour that you have heard. Gain re assurance by
associating with those that are positive and strong and you will notice the
difference. This is the same effect that you can have on others.

For those not committed to prayer, try it and remember to pray for those
less fortunate than yourself will notice the difference in your day.
Think of a way to help others in a material way, how ever small. It will
take your mind away from self pity ..away from your own predicament and
restore your determination to win through by seeing the positive effects of
your own actions. The feel good factor.

There is an end to this battle and we must not be lured into the trap of
believing there is not. Don't judge your country or your own situation on
the present bizarre man made circumstances. Look to the realistic future of
prosperity, peace and happiness that is promised. Plan you next holiday
now. A visit to friends and family. Set your goals short, medium and long.
Focus ahead and not backwards. Get on with life and make sure it is as
close to normality as possible. Defy these cowards. Don't let those that
you despise beat you. Remember those that need you more than you need them.

The old, sick, lonely and traumatized. Those that have lost and suffered
more than you. Get committed for them.

When this is over, be able to reflect on your victory and be proud of it.

You did not concede and you won! You were part of history and helped build
the foundation of a great new country.

Think positive, be positive and create positivity for others.


Letter 4. Subject JAG Open Letter Forum 5th April 2004 - 253

Dear Jag -

I feel I must comment on Concerned Citizen's observations from this
posting - CONGRAULATIONS! I couldnt have said it better myself!

The state that Zimbabwe is currently in is all due to the meddling and
interference all those years ago, not just by Britain, but by the rest of
the so called 'free world'.

It will take action as seen in Iraq or pressure as applied to Rhodesia to
effect a change in Zimbabwe - unfortunatly Zimbabwe has neither oil nor a
sea port - so no one is interested unless they have family within the
country's borders!

In twenty years time (probably less) Zimbabwe will resemble Biafra in the
'60's - there will be minimal population, no one will be fit, strong or
educated to work - the western world will have to feed them
all.................and this is INDEPENDANCE???????????

Pam Crowther

Letter 5. Subject JAG Open Letter Forum 5th April 2004 - 253
QUESTION FOR Concerned Citizen Letter 3.

DO I HEAR THAT......... It is everybody elses fault but mine/ours ?

Carrie Lapham

Letter 6. Subject MDC Not To Return Land
The recent statement by the leader of MDC, Morgan Tsangvirai, that land
seized from white farmers will not be returned, solves quite a few

It now opens the door fair and square to ultimately hold the Zimbabwe
Government ( meaning the Zimbabwean taxpayer ) responsible for eventual
compensation, regardless of who caused the problem and who governs at the

Wynand Breytenbach (Living happily in Australia)

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

ABC Australia

Wednesday, April 14, 2004. 10:18am AEST
ICC to stay out of Zimbabwean cricket's meltdown

World cricket's governing body says it will not interfere in the row
threatening to derail Zimbabwe cricket.

A letter from 12 white Test players to the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) has
called for a shake-up of the way the game is managed.

The letter follows the dismissal of captain Heath Streak who was sacked when
he called for the removal of two selectors without first-class experience.

The rebel players called for an independent mediator working at a neutral
venue to resolve the crisis, amidst allegations that a quota system designed
to promote the prospects of black cricketers meant Zimbabwe were not always
fielding their strongest side.

But International Cricket Council (ICC) president Ehsan Mani said it was
powerless to intervene in the internal affairs of one of its members.

"The ICC is aware of the internal cricketing issues in Zimbabwe and I urge
all parties involved to act in the best interests of the game," said Mr

"The ICC is obviously concerned about the current dispute but would not seek
to intervene in this type of domestic issue as it is internal to the
Zimbabwe cricket community," the Pakistani added.

Mr Mani also said he would discuss the issue with Zimbabwe Cricket Union
(ZCU) chairman Peter Chingoka when he arrived in London later this month.

Mr Chingoka is due to address the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) at a
Lord's meeting on April 20 as they consider whether to go ahead with
England's tour of Zimbabwe in October.


ECB officials had hinted they would bow to British Government pressure and
boycott the trip in protest at the policies of Zimbabwe President Robert

However, under new ICC rules agreed in Auckland last month, England risk a
suspension from all international competition and potentially crippling
losses of up to $A133 million that has led ECB chiefs to indicate they will
now go ahead with the tour.

Ironically, the ECB's increasing resolve to go to Zimbabwe comes at the very
moment the country's international side appears to be imploding.

But the players' lawyer Chris Venturas, who handed over the letter to ZCU
chief executive Vince Hogg, told AFP in Harare that his clients were willing
to resolve the dispute.

"The players want to try and fix this matter. They want to play. They want
to go the extra mile for that. They are dedicated to the sport in Zimbabwe
and are keen to find a solution.

"And so they, and Streak as well, are willing to play under new captain
Tatenda Taibu.

"But they do want to see considerable changes made to the ZCU
administration, in particular the make-up of the selection panel.

"They see the way forward as being through negotiations conducted in a calm
atmosphere by an independent mediator and at a neutral venue. We believe
that is a natural and proper course of action, even at this stage."

Mr Venturas said it was "no longer possible to talk directly to the ZCU
after what happened at our meeting last Thursday," which he described as
"shutting the door in our faces with much hollering and hostility.

"We (Streak, and fellow senior players Grant Flower and Andy Blignaut) went
to negotiate but it was not proper to carry on the way they did," Mr
Venturas said.

"And so we believe that at this stage we need to have a calm approach to the
problem with an acceptable independent person examining all the issues, if
we can find a way for that to happen."

Backdown unlikely

The ZCU is unlikely to back down, even though the players have put forward
the names of Ethan Dube and Mpumulelo Mbangwa, who have Test cricket
experience, as selectors. Both are black.

The selectors must choose the squad to face Sri Lanka in two Tests and five
ODIs, beginning on April 20 in Bulawayo.

Before any further negotiations can get under way they must decide whether
to include all or most of the established whites, or bypass them with an
entirely new squad.

ZCU chairman Peter Chingoka was not immediately available for comment.

Streak is set to be replaced by Taibu, a 20-year-old wicket-keeper, who will
become the youngest ever international captain if he leads Zimbabwe out to
face Sri Lanka in the first Test in Harare on May 6.

Streak, who has played 59 Tests and 183 one-dayers, was recently signed by
English county Warwickshire for the coming season.

He made his international debut against Pakistan in 1993/94 and has career
Test wickets of 202 and best bowling figures of 6 for 87. He also made more
than 1,000 Test runs with a top score of 127 not out.

Streak - the first Zimbabwean to play county cricket when he turned out for
Hampshire in the 90s - has also taken 234 one-day wickets with a best of 5
for 32 and hit 2,752 runs with a highest score of 79 not out.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zimbabwe: Attempts to Boost Falling Tobacco Production

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

April 14, 2004
Posted to the web April 14, 2004


As Zimbabwe's burley tobacco output continues to fall, the Air Cured Tobacco
Association (ACTA) has resolved to take direct charge of marketing the crop
in bid to restore price competitiveness and woo back farmers who abandoned
it in favour of the flue-cured variety.

According to ACTA chief executive officer David Shack, small-scale tobacco
farmers have been steadily abandoning air-cured burley because of low
returns, opting for the higher-priced flue-cured variety and its firmer
market prices.

He said the trend had contributed to a decline in the country's annual
burley output: last year the country produced an estimated 1.5 million kg,
but this was expected to decline to one million kg in 2004.

"They [burley farmers] are also moving to other crops whose inputs are
easily accessible and supported by farmer groupings," said Shack.

ACTA was expected to assume responsibility for direct marketing of the
product, as annual mass production had fallen to levels that could barely
sustain a viable auction system.

"By re-assessing the marketing strategy we also hope to maximise profits and
lure back most of the farmers, because burley production is cheaper," Shack
was quoted as saying in local newspapers.

Shack also said ACTA would engage the government in working out how
small-scale burley farmers could improve access to inputs.

Meanwhile, the start of this year's selling season was characterised by
farmers threatening to boycott auctions in protest against the low prices,
blamed on the depressed exchange rate.

About 68,000 kg of flue-cured tobacco worth Zim $449 million (US $128,000)
had been sold by the close of the first week of business last Thursday. This
marked a year-on-year decline of 7,000 kg for the first week of the
auctions, from 75,000 kg to 68,000 kg.

The major buyers were Burley Marketing Zimbabwe (BMZ), the Zimbabwe
Industrial Tobacco Auction Centre (ZITAC) and Tobacco Sales Floors (TSF).

Deliveries to the auction floors were affected by late deliveries of coal
for the curing process, a situation reminiscent of last year when late
deliveries were caused by the fuel crisis.

Zimbabwe has dropped from being the region's leading tobacco producer to
rank fifth after Zambia and Malawi, among other new producers.

Both these countries have recorded significant growth in agricultural
production as a result of absorbing specialised and experienced Zimbabwean
commercial farmers, who were dispossessed of their farms under the
government's controversial land seizure programme from early 2000 onwards.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Tobacco Contract Sales Postponed

The Herald (Harare)

April 14, 2004
Posted to the web April 14, 2004


TOBACCO contract sales which were expected to start last week have been
postponed again to a date yet to be announced as contractors are yet to meet
some of the stipulated conditions, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board
has said.

Inaugural contract sales were expected to start a day after the auction
floors opened on March 30 but there have been delays due to a few
outstanding issues.

One of the major problems that have emerged has to do with the quantity of
crop financed by specific contractors given the fact that some contractors
only financed part of the crop.

The Government has said that contractors are only entitled to the crop they

"Contract sales that were expected to start this (last) week were delayed to
a date to be announced as contractors are still to fulfil some conditions
required of them to be able to buy tobacco," said TIMB last week.

Contractors who, for the first time, financed some tobacco farmers this
season, have assumed the role of both the auctioneer and the merchant.

While the crop under the contract system is still to be sold, there was
increased activity at the country's three auction floors last week.

Comparative statistics have shown that the quality of the crop is
significantly better than that of last year.

"The quality of tobacco on offer so far promises to be better than last

"Favourable tobacco styles that our market is known to produce were
evident," added TIMB.

A total of 800 000 kilograms of tobacco worth US$1,5 million had gone under
the hammer by close of business on Wednesday, a figure that was 200 000 kg
better than that delivered over the same period last year.

The average price was US$1,76 per kg.

Tobacco growers have maintained that the current blend rate, where 75
percent of their earnings is paid at the auction rate while 25 percent is
paid at $824 to the US dollar, may push them out of production.

"Whilst prices in US$ terms for majority grades were slightly above those in
a similar period in the previous season, growers were not happy with the
prices as is evidenced by a high percentage of torn tickets for price
consideration that constituted nine percent of the total offerings," said

A grower may withdraw crop on the auction floor if the price offered in not

Most of the farmers said they were hopeful that the responsible authorities
would look into the issue of the blend rate and compensate for their losses.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Preps for 2005 Polls On Course

The Herald (Harare)

April 14, 2004
Posted to the web April 14, 2004


THE Electoral Supervisory Commission has stepped up preparations for the
forthcoming general elections pencilled for March next year.

The training of monitors is already underway, with at least 10 monitors
expected to have been trained in every district by the end of the month.

A statement by the commission said training had already been completed in
Harare, Manicaland, Masvingo, Midlands, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland
East and Mashonaland West provinces.

ESC chairman Cde Sobusa Gula-Ndebele is currently visiting Bulawayo,
Matabelaland North and South to oversee the training of monitors and
supervise the sitting of the nomination court to receive candidates for the
Lupane parliamentary by-election.

The nomination court for the Lupane by-election - to be held on 15 and 16
May - sits today at the District Administrator's Complex in Lupane.

The training of district monitors comes a few weeks after the commission
carried out a training programme for 40 provincial co-ordinators, which was
held in February.

The provincial co-ordinators and district monitors are expected to spearhead
the commission's preparations for next year's elections, which include
carrying out civic and voter education for the registration of voters
scheduled for May and June this year.

The provincial co-ordinators and district monitors would also be tasked with
the recruitment and training of thousands of election monitors required for
the March 2005 polls.

The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Cde Patrick
Chinamasa, last month indicated that preparations for the general elections
were at an advanced stage.

He made the remarks after a tour of the Registrar-General's Office by the
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary

He said preparations had gone well except for Harare and Bulawayo, which
needed to be delimited into districts headed by district administrators
following the appointment of resident ministers for the two cities.

Cde Chinamasa said the demarcation of Harare and Bulawayo would enhance
progress in the preparations for the parliamentary elections.

During the tour of the Registrar-General's Office complex, the committee's
members were taken around the various offices to see for themselves the
computer network and developments underway to ensure that the elections
would be conducted in a manner that would be free of irregularities.

All the election data is being computerised and the voters' roll has been
improved, after the Registrar-General's Office came up with a "Blockers

A Blockers Manual is a book, which contains names of people, addresses,
national identity numbers and any other requisite information for voter

The new process of "blocking" constituencies by sub-dividing wards was
expected to facilitate easy counting of voters in the wards.

The Government has proposed a number of amendments to the Electoral Act
ahead of the parliamentary elections.

This comes in the wake of wide debate on the pending general elections, with
the opposition MDC threatening to boycott the polls.

The Electoral Amendment Bill, which was published in the Government Gazette
released last month, proposes to amend a number of clauses concerning issues
such as voter education, the voters' roll and postal ballots, among others.

The Bill will be presented to Parliament for debate and approval.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Supreme Court Postpones Paradza's Appeal Indefinitely

The Herald (Harare)

April 14, 2004
Posted to the web April 14, 2004


THE Supreme Court yesterday postponed indefinitely an urgent appeal by
suspended High Court judge, Justice Benjamin Paradza, in which he is
challenging the composition of a three-member tribunal probing him for
alleged misconduct.

Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, sitting with Justices Vernanda Ziyambi
and Elizabeth Gwaunza, ruled that the parties should arrange for another
date for the next hearing but the tribunal probing Justice Paradza would
continue with its work.

The judges were at pains to comprehend what Justice Paradza's lawyer,
Advocate Bryant Elliot, wanted the court to do.

Adv Elliot had asked the court to postpone the matter to today because Mr
Jonathan Samkange of Byron, Venturas and Partners, who was instructing him,
was tied up at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison in another matter.

He suddenly made a U-turn asking the court to postpone the matter to
Thursday next week, saying Justice Paradza's other lawyer, Advocate Jeremy
Gauntlet of South Africa, would have arrived in the country by then.

Mrs Fatima Maxwell of the Attorney General's Office, who was being assisted
by Mrs Loice Matanda-Moyo and Mr Nelson Mutsonziwa, said she was not opposed
to the postponement of the matter by one day.

However, Chief Justice Chidyausiku said the request for deferring the matter
for hearing to next week was inconveniencing the court considering that the
case had been indicated to be an urgent matter.

Said the Chief Justice: "I had to ask one of the judges not to go on leave
until this matter is heard and there is no way I can deal with the matter
when the judges are not there because the court is also now on vacation."

Mrs Maxwell said postponing the matter to next week would inconvenience the
tribunal because witnesses had already been called to start giving evidence
today. The court was at pains to comprehend what Adv Elliot was seeking afte
r he failed to make himself clear as to whether he was prepared to argue the
case or not.

After a brief adjournment at his request, he suddenly asked Chief Justice
Chidyausiku why he was hearing the matter now when last year after Justice
Paradza's arrest he had recused himself.

"You recused yourself at the hearing of the constitutional matter, but today
you are sitting here," said Adv Elliot.

The Chief Justice said he recused himself earlier on after holding a meeting
with all judges of the High Court after Justice Paradza's arrest.

He said if Justice Paradza's defence team wanted to apply for his recusal,
they could go ahead because it was their right to do so.

Adv Elliot said if the tribunal proceeded with its work without Adv
Gauntlet's presence, Justice Paradza's rights would be fundamentally

Mrs Maxwell contested Adv Elliot's contention on the basis that Justice
Paradza's defence team filed their papers saying the matter was urgent but
they were now changing that stance.

Chief Justice Chidyausiku said he had given everyone an opportunity for the
matter to be heard but nothing tangible materialised.

Last week, High Court judge Justice Lavender Makoni dismissed an application
by Justice Paradza seeking an interdict to stop the tribunal's hearings
until the Supreme Court heard his challenge to the composition of the

The tribunal was appointed by President Mugabe to hear evidence of how
Justice Paradza allegedly attempted to defeat the course of justice in
February last year.

The tribunal comprises Justices Dennis Konani Chirwa of Zambia, who is
chairing it, John Mroso of Tanzania and Isaac Mtambo of Malawi. The three
are practicing Supreme Court judges in their respective countries.

Charges against Justice Paradza arose between January 15 and 23 last year
when he allegedly tried to influence his Bulawayo-based colleagues to
release the passport of Russel Labuschagne, his business partner in a
safari-hunting venture.

Labuschagne was at the time on bail on charges of murdering a fisherman he
had found poaching fish at his camp in Binga.

He has since been convicted and sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment.

The suspended judge allegedly phoned Justices Mafios Cheda, George Chiweshe
and Lawrence Kamocha, asking them to release Labuschagne's passport, which
was being held by the court as part of his bail conditions.

Justice Paradza, it is alleged, said he risked losing $3,5 million if
Labus-chagne's passport was not released for him to travel to Europe.

The tribunal is expected to take about three weeks to complete its
investigations on whether the conduct of the judge constituted misbehaviour
in terms of the Constitution and then make recommendations to the President.

The inquiry, which initially started behind closed doors, will now be open
to the public after representations were made and acceded to.

President Mugabe amended the terms of reference of the tribunal to allow the
hearing to be held in public.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Companies Reviewing Issue of Joint Venture to Procure Fuel

The Herald (Harare)

April 14, 2004
Posted to the web April 14, 2004


Indigenous oil companies are still reviewing the issue of a joint venture to
procure fuel for themselves, which was mooted by the Petroleum Marketers
Association of Zimbabwe.

According to the chairman of the Indigenous Petroleum Marketers Association,
Mr Gordon Musarira, there are still concerns about the Special Purpose
Vehicle Company that is supposed to be the company through which the fuel
would be procured.

"As fuel companies that have gone a long way to improve and assure national
supply, we feel that the SPVC must be properly understood so that there is
no threat to the national supplies as what happened in the past.

"We also call upon the multinational companies to be patriotic and
committed. Security of supplies must be assured and double standards are not
acceptable," he said.

Mr Musarira said that as indigenous oil companies, together with the
National Oil Company of Zimbabwe, they believed that irreversible progress
had been made to steady supplies and that the cost of importing fuel should
be reviewed for the benefit of vehicle owners.

"We assure the nation that efforts to improve supplies continue and large
stocks are coming into the country with the support of the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe," he said.

The Special Purpose Vehicle Company, which was registered last month, was
expected to be given preferential treatment at the foreign currency auction
floors, thereby making it easier for it to purchase fuel from outside the

The company was expected to solve the issue of different companies bidding
for foreign currency at different prices on the auction floor, which was
resulting in some companies being successful while others were not.

The new company was also expected to bring sanity to the pricing system
because individual companies were currently bidding at different prices and
buying fuel from different sources, resulting in different pump prices being
charged by different service stations.

Petrol prices are ranging between $2 900 and $3 000 a litre while the price
for diesel was between $2 700 and $2 900 a litre.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

From Islam Online (Qatar), 13 April

Lightning can strike twice

By Wilson Johwa

The sight of dark cumulonimbus clouds building up over drought-prone areas
of Zimbabwe is enough to raise hopes of a better cropping season. In late
October when the first rains break, the long, dry months are quickly
forgotten as the sparse, golden brown stubbles of grass turn a resplendent
green. However, the onset of the rainy season brings with it a frightening
phenomenon that claims dozens of lives until the season ends in April.
Zimbabwe is one of the world's most lightning-prone countries: the holder of
a world record in lightning-related fatalities. During the rainy season,
lightning strikes normally kill up to 100 people, mostly rural children.
Many more people are maimed and countless livestock lost. Yet the
Meteorological Services Department of Zimbabwe says it is possible that
lightning deaths in the country might actually be under-reported by 20 to 30
percent and lightning injuries by more than 40 percent, as many deaths and
injuries go unreported.

"The high number of lightning confirmation claims forwarded to the
Department for processing by property insurance companies, confirms that
damage to equipment supplying electric power and telecommunications
services, as well as to business and domestic premises is quite immense,"
says meteorologist Desmond Manatsa. Zimbabwe has the uncanny distinction of
being one of lightning's most favorite places. It is even cited in the
Guinness Book of World Records as the country where a single bolt of
lightning claimed its largest number of victims. This occurred in a village
near the eastern border town of Mutare in 1975 when 21 people were killed
while sheltering in a hut. The majority of lightning-related fatalities and
injuries in the country are usually recorded in rural rather than urban
areas. This is simply because large buildings provide protection for those
within due to the metal frame of the building and specially designed
lightning conductors. People in buses and cars are also safe because of the
metal frames around them.

Lightning has continued to be a worrying blight in the country. For
instance, it struck and killed 10 people attending a church service on a
Sunday afternoon in November 2002. Sixty-one others attending the service in
the town of Chitungwiza, 35 kilometers south of the capital Harare, were
hospitalized with burns. The dead and injured were members of the Johane
Masowe sect, the country's largest religious group, which normally conducts
meetings in the open air, often under trees. So far in the current season,
39 deaths attributed to lightning have been reported. Police say most of the
dead are children sheltering under trees. Study results released by the
University of Zimbabwe in 1991 after research spanning seven years showed
that lightning fatalities in the country average 90 to 120 per annum. Of all
the districts, Gutu, which is quite populous, led with about 10 fatalities
per annum. Binga, Marondera and Rusape follow a long way behind with three
to four deaths per annum.

Amazingly, lightning figures recorded in Zimbabwe (150,873 sq. miles-
390,761 sq. km.) were higher than those recorded in the whole of the USA.
(3,537,441 sq. miles- 9,161,972 sq. km.) where, according to the Lightning
Safety Tips Board of America, the phenomenon kills an average of 73 people
per year. Since the surface area of Zimbabwe is many times smaller than that
of the United States, these statistics stick out prominently on the global
scale. "Even when comparing us to our neighboring South Africa, whose storms
are just as fierce as ours, we still find that it has a record of a total of
400 fatalities in 10 years," Manatsa says. The high lightning toll in
Zimbabwe can be explained by the prevalence of granite outcrops all over the
country. The University of Zimbabwe established that granite is radioactive
and discharges gamma rays up to the cloud, thus ionizing the air molecules.
Abundant granite outcrops, together with soot from the numerous kitchen
huts, offer the much-needed opposite charge on the ground, while tall
objects offer the easiest route for electrical discharges to steer its way
to the ground.

Manatsa says a point was also found in the Rhino and Lion Game Reserve in
northeastern South Africa where lightning struck repeatedly and had been
doing so since the beginning of time. Here, unusually high concentrations of
dolomite rock draw 15 lightning strikes a month. In 1996, lightning struck
and killed an 18-foot (5,5m) tall giraffe while standing on a hill in the
reserve. A year later, lightning electrocuted his mate. Shortly afterwards,
lightning struck and injured a young giraffe in the park. Consequently, the
reserve sold its last giraffe in 1998 and turned down more. An additional
explanation of the high number of deaths attributable to lightning is the
effect deforestation has had on leaving huts and standing people as the
highest objects around. The Zimbabwe power corporation has, as a result,
designed a simple, cheap lightning conductor to protect huts and small
buildings. The high lightning incidence in Zimbabwe has its own traditional
explanations. Among the Shona-speaking people, the traditional belief is
that healers can control the phenomenon, directing it to foes as they
please. Samuel Moyana is one such traditionalist who believes lightning is
not just a force of nature. He says lightning does not kill anyone without
having been sent by an adversary. "God's lightning, which is normally
accompanied by a storm," he explains, "does not attack people but will
strike a tree."
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim, Zambian Sex Workers in Wrangle Over Rates

The Post (Lusaka)

April 14, 2004
Posted to the web April 14, 2004

Ruth Banda

LIVINGSTONE town clerk George Kalenga yesterday disclosed that a wrangle has
erupted between Zambian and Zimbabwean commercial sex workers who cross into

In response to a question from Livingstone councillor Harrington during the
councillors' capacity building workshop at Wasawange Lodge, Kalenga said
there was a wrangle because Zimbabwean sex workers offered lower rates than
their Zambian counterparts.

Harrington wanted to know why the HIV/AIDS rate remained high in Livingstone
despite having a lot of non-governmental organisations working to fight the

"A wrangle has broken out in Livingstone between Zambian commercial sex
workers and Zimbabwean commercial sex workers who are now crossing over into
Livingstone and offering lower rates," Kalenga said. "Our local commercial
sex workers have mobilised themselves and are chasing away the international
sex workers to compounds and suburbs, while they hold authority in town."

Without revealing his sources, Kalenga said the Zambian commercial sex
workers have complained that men preferred Zimbabwean sex workers who
offered lower rates.

He said most of the Zimbabwean sex commercial workers crossed into Zambia as
marketeers and their influx has continued despite Livingstone City Council
charging them K10,000 as a deterrent.

And Livingstone district AIDS task force chairperson Michael Biemba said
Livingstone's geographical position also contributed to the high rate of

Biemba said the city is close to Victoria Falls town in Zimbabwe which has a
55 per cent rate of HIV/AIDS, adding that Kasane in Botswana and Katima
Mulio in Namibia which were only a few hours away, also have a high rate of

Former Livingstone mayor Frederick Mwendapole said the poverty that has
resulted from the closure of more than 60 industries in

Livingstone has left many residents with no option but to engage in whatever
would earn them a living.

"That is why most women are engaged in cross border trade where they
sometimes have to use truck and taxi drivers to smuggle their merchandise
into their country, which makes them vulnerable," said Mwendapole.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Suspected Mercenaries Further Remanded

The Herald (Harare)

April 14, 2004
Posted to the web April 14, 2004


THE 70 suspected mercenaries, arrested last month in connection with the
foiled coup in the Equatorial Guinea, were yesterday further remanded in
custody to tomorrow.

They are being charged under the Public Order and Security Act, the Firearms
Act and the Immigration Act.

The group briefly appeared before provincial magistrate Mr Mishrod Guvamombe
at a court convened at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison where they are

The suspects' lawyers are tomorrow expected to make an application for
refusal of remand.

Clad in khaki prison garb, the suspected terrorists were escorted from the
prison cells into the big make-shift court under tight security.

They walked into the court in pairs with their hands handcuffed and legs

Some of them waved to friends and relatives who sat in the court gallery
which had about 40 people there to witness the hearing.

Among the friends and relatives were two women who wept as the suspects
entered the court.

Charges against the group - comprising 10 whites, two coloureds and 58
blacks - stem from June 2003, when Simon Francis Mann was allegedly
contracted by Severo Moto, an exiled Equatorial Guinean opposition political
leader, to assist in toppling the president of that country through a
violent coup.

Mann and one Nick du Toit recruited 69 men with military backgrounds to
carry out the task, the State alleges.

The 70 suspects allegedly conspired to possess dangerous weapons which were
to be used in the process.

In furtherance of their intentions, it is alleged, they underwent vigorous
refresher courses in weapon handling and urban warfare.

On February 10 this year, Mann and Du Toit came to Zimbabwe and approached
the Zimbabwe Defence Industries, a local arms and ammunition maker and
supplier, and purchased dangerous weapons.

These included 61 AK rifles, 300 offensive hand grenades, 45 000 AK ammuniti
on rounds, 20 PKM light machine guns, 30 000 PKM ammunition rounds, 100 RPG
7 anti-tank launchers, two 60mm mortar tubes, 5 080 60mm mortar bombs, 20
flares, 500 boxes of 7.62 by 54mm ammunition, 1 000 boxes of 7.62 by 39mm
ammunition, 1 000 rounds of RPG anti-tank ammunition and 50 PRM machine

It is further alleged that on March 6 this year, Mann, Laurens Jacobus Horne
and Jacob Hermunus Carlse came to Zimbabwe as an advance team to finalise
the gathering of the weapons that were going to be collected the following

On that day, the State alleges, the remaining 67 suspects, aboard a Boeing
727 aircraft marked N4610, landed at Harare International Airport to collect
the weapons.

Before they could conduct pre-loading inspection of the weapons, the
suspects were arrested.

The suspects unlawfully attempted to possess the aforesaid weapons, the
State alleges.

Under the Firearms Act, the suspects face two counts.

They are being charged with conspiracy to purchase and possess firearms
without certificates, and conspiracy to purchase and possess ammunition
without a certificate.

The State further alleges that the suspects conspired to carry out a coup in
the West African state of Equatorial Guinea and arranged and purchased arms
from ZDI in Zimbabwe.

On March 7, the plane belonging to Dodson Aviation, South Africa, left
Pelokwane Airport in South Africa for Zimbabwe.

On board were three crew members and 64 passengers, the State alleges.

On arrival at Harare International Airport, the suspects refuelled their
plane and proceeded to Manyame Airbase where they intended to collect the
arms and ammunition, that also included 10 Browning pistols and 20 flares,
the charge reads.

According to the State, the arms and ammunition had been purchased on
February 10 by Mann and Du Toit.

Mann was not aboard the plane, but had come to Zimbabwe in March as part of
the advance team with Carles and Horne.

The three --- Carles, Mann and Horne --- are facing separate charges of
allegedly planning to acquire the weapons, arm the mercenaries and proceed
to Equatorial Guinea to launch the coup.

It is also alleged that they failed to show firearms certificates for the
arms and ammunition when they were asked to do so upon their arrest.

For breaching the Immigration Act, the suspects are facing allegations of
"entering or assisting any person remaining in or departing from Zimbabwe
and making false statements".

The 67 men are from Britain, South Africa, Angola, Namibia and the
Democratic Republic of Congo with one Zimbabwean in the group.

It is alleged the crew had no manifests of passengers and they falsely gave
out that they were carrying cargo.

They also misrepresented to the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe that
there were only three crew members and four loaders on board, the State

The passengers, alleges the State, had specific instructions to switch off
the lights on landing, remain still and not to allow anyone to enter the
plane to avoid detection.

As a result of the false declaration, it is alleged, the passengers and crew
members managed to enter Zimbabwe without the knowledge of immigration

The suspects are also charged with contravening the Aviation (Air
Navigation) Regulations by allegedly making a false statement or declaration
to a CAAZ official.

Chief law officers Mrs Mary Zimba Dube, Mr Lawrence Phiri and Mr Stephen
Musona represent the State, while Mr Jonathan Samkange of Byron Venturas and
Partners, instructed by South African lawyers Advocate Joubert and Arwin
Griebenow, represents the suspected terrorists.
Back to the Top
Back to Index


Zimbabwe bags 15m in EU aid

Brussels has pledged 15 million in EU humanitarian aid for the troubled
state of Zimbabwe.

The money will go towards maintaining aid programmes which provide water,
sanitation and health support.

EU development commissioner Poul Nielson highlighted epidemics of AIDS,
cholera and dysentery which must be combated "so that the further
development of this looming crisis can be prevented."

Food security is also on the EU list with Nielson hoping to secure seeds for
farmers and adequate supplies to schools and hospitals.

Water sanitation projects will be rehabilitated as well as campaigns
undertaken to educate Zimbabweans about AIDS prevention.

The EU estimates about 3.5m people will benefit from this hand-out.
Back to the Top
Back to Index