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

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Zimbabwe seizes farmers' tractors
Zimbabwe farm
Very few farms remain white-owned
Zimbabwe has started to distribute white-owned farm machinery to black farmers who have been given their land.

The government said it had "acquired 140 tractors, seven combine harvesters... and 3,262 irrigation pipes" under rules introduced last year.

President Robert Mugabe speeded up his controversial land reform programme in 2000, seizing 90% of white-owned land.

Critics say the programme has caused food shortages, with more than half of the population going hungry.

Mr Mugabe denies that the land reform programme has led to food shortages, blaming years of poor rains.

In 2000, some 4,500 white farmers owned much of Zimbabwe's best farm-land. Now, just 400 remain on 3% of the land, the government says.

'Daylight robbery'

A presidential decree last December said that owners who sold, damaged or immobilised their machinery face an equivalent fine or up to two years imprisonment.

Baby recieving food aid
More than half of all Zimbabweans need food aid
"This equipment is owned by former commercial farmers who are largely hostile and unsupportive to the land reform programme," said Lands Minister John Nkomo.

When the decree was passed, farmers' representative John Worsely-Worswick called it "daylight robbery".

"It is suddenly a crime to have a piece of equipment you cannot use because you have been forced off your farm."

Although the government said it would pay compensation for all farm machinery, Mr Worsely-Worswick said owners of such equipment were sceptical because the government had yet to compensate for the seized farms.

He said the decree violated constitutional rights of ownership.

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ANC Sport

ZCU makes first concession

Zimbabwe's besieged cricket authorities have made the first concession in their attempts to solve the crisis which is tearing the sport apart.

The Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) changed the make-up of its selection panel which had been one of the key demands set down by former skipper Heath Streak who was sacked as national captain.

The new panel is: Peter Mangongo (convenor), Mpumulelo Mbangwa, Max Ebrahim and Richie Kaschula.

Mr Mangongo and Mr Ebrahim have been retained but Mr Mbangwa, one of the names suggested by Streak as a replacement, is knowledgeable and popular among all races, while Mr Kaschula was a noted spin bowler for Rhodesia in the 1970s.

The alterations to the panel, which were demanded by Streak and his 12 fellow rebels, are aimed at achieving a breakthrough following almost two weeks of tension.

The players, who earlier released an open letter in which they detailed a whole list of grievances and accused some members of the ZCU of intimidation, were still in talks with their lawyer to decide whether the ZCU move is enough to make themselves available to face Sri Lanka whose tour starts on Tuesday.

The white players are facing a tough deadline over whether or not to accept the new panel, as its first job will come soon when they are due to select the squad for the Sri Lanka series.

Wednesday's open letter 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," the statement said.

"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 Zimbabweans.

"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 journalist".

"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."

The players insist that their criticisms are not racially-motivated.

"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.

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

-- AFP

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More than 1500 farm workers and their families have been evicted by the Zimbabwe government from an export-processing farm in eastern Zimbabwe.

The farm workers were thrown off Kondozi farm over the Easter weekend by police, who claimed that the property belonged to a state-owned land agency.

The raid came a day after Information Minister Jonathan Moyo threatened that the farm would be taken from the private owner, despite a high court ruling in the farmer's favour.

A senior manager, who preferred anonymity, said yesterday that the evicted labourers were stranded in the open. He said the scene was reminiscent of events at the height of state-instigated farm invasions three years ago.

"Some state agents came to the farm last Thursday accompanied by antiriot police," the manager said. "They ordered us out and over the Easter holiday they came again to evict farm workers from the compounds."

Farm workers were now said to be "out in the open" with no food and water.

Kondozi farm is a 224ha horticultural product exporting concern with an annual turnover of 15 million. It is registered as an export-processing farm and is second only to Mitchell & Mitchell of Marondera in terms of horticultural production.

"We have approached the Red Cross for humanitarian assistance on food and accommodation for (the farm workers) but it has been prevented from helping out by the Manicaland provincial administrator," the manager said.

Moyo claimed last week that the seizure was in the "national interest to ensure Agricultural and Rural Development Authority gets on with the business of making that farm more productive".

Business Day
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Evening Standard
Streak hits out at 'racists'
By Wayne Veysey, Evening Standard
15 April 2004

Zimbabwe's selectors were due to meet today to choose what is set to be a novice squad following the dispute with 13 top players that threatens the future of international cricket in the country.

In a six-page statement issued yesterday, the rebels accused the Zimbabwe Cricket Union of "racial and ethnic discrimination" in their selection of the national team.

The group, headed by former captain Heath Streak, say they will not play international cricket again unless their concerns are addressed.

They claim "deserving players of all races" have been excluded from the team and criticise the " unprofessional manner of selection" that allows "interference of a non-sporting agenda".

The 13 players are all white and include only one who has not represented Zimbabwe at international level.

The ZCU refused to comment on the document and chief executive Vince Hogg was locked in talks last night with Streak to work out a compromise.

The players, who are refusing to train, say they will only play in the one-day series against Sri Lanka, starting on Tuesday, if the ZCU overhauls its selection process.

If talks break down, it raises the prospect of new captain Tatenda Taibu leading out a second- or even third-string side in the forthcoming series against Sri Lanka and Australia, and against England in the autumn.

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      Zimbabwe squad hit by players' boycott

      Thu April 15, 2004 11:47 PM By Telford Vice
      DURBAN (Reuters) - Zimbabwe cricket was thrown into disarray on
Thursday when it was forced to select a second-string squad to take on Sri
Lanka next week after a players' rebellion.

      The Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) announced a 14-man squad after 13
leading players, all of them white and including former captain Heath
Streak, refused to play in the one-day and test series after a row over
selection policy.

      Only four of the selected squad, captained by 20-year-old wicketkeeper
Tatenda Taibu, played in Zimbabwe's last test and one-day side against
Bangladesh in February and March.

      The boycott was sparked earlier this month by a ZCU announcement that
Streak, a world-class bowler and the mainstay of the side, had quit all

      The board said he resigned because he was unhappy with the composition
of the selectors' panel although Streak's father denied his son had

      The 'rebel' players announced their boycott earlier on Thursday while
demanding that Streak be reinstated, one selector be sacked and that the
board apologise for a series of "transgressions".

      In a letter, they claimed there had been "threats of boycott, pitch
invasions and digging up of the pitch" by at least one board official if
more black players were not selected.

      They argued earlier in the week that there had been "racial and ethnic
discrimination" in team selection.

      The board attempted to defuse the affair by slimming down the
selection panel from five to four but they retained Max Ebrahim, who the
players oppose because he has not coached or played at first-class level.

      Zimbabwe, with few players to choose from and already struggling to
compete at the top level, are scheduled to play five one-dayers, the first
next Tuesday in Bulawayo, and two tests against Sri Lanka.

      The ZCU has championed a policy of trying to select up to five black
or coloured players in its side whenever possible to help promote the game
in the country.

      Its critics, however, argue the policy has been politicised and gone
too far.

      Earlier this week the International Cricket Council, the sport's
governing body, called for both sides to "act in the best interests of the
game" but said it would not intervene since it was a "domestic issue".

      This is not the first rebellion to rock Zimbabwe cricket.

      The team lost world-class wicketkeeper-batsman Andy Flower -- who
averaged 51.54 in 63 tests and played more than 200 one-dayers -- and seamer
Henry Olonga after last year's World Cup after the pair protested against
the "death of democracy" under President Robert Mugabe's government.

      Alistair Campbell and Guy Whittall, two more Zimbabwe regulars,
retired soon after to weaken the squad further.

      The 13 rebel players are Streak, Stuart Carlisle, Grant Flower --
Andy's brother -- Craig Wishart, Andy Blignaut, Raymond Price, Gary Brent,
Sean Ervine, Travis Friend, Barney Rogers, Trevor Gripper, Richard Sims and
Neil Ferreria.

      They face further confrontations with their board, which has
threatened to punish them if they fail to turn up to training on Friday.

      Taibu, who has played 14 tests and who Streak has praised as a fine
player, will become the youngest captain in test history when he leads
Zimbabwe against Sri Lanka in the first test next month.

      Zimbabwe squad to play Sri Lanka:

      Tatenda Taibu (captain), Dion Ebrahim, Vusi Sibanda, Elton Chigumbura,
Stuart Matsikenyeri, Alester Maregwede, Mluleki Nkala, Waddington Mwayenga,
Brendon Taylor, Douglas Hondo, Prosper Utseya, Tawanda Mpariwa, Edward
Rainsford, Tinashe Panyangara.
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'Mercenaries' to seek dismissal of Zim case

      April 15 2004 at 04:48PM

Harare - Lawyers for 70 suspected mercenaries charged in Zimbabwe with
plotting to topple the government of Equatorial Guinea said on Thursday they
would ask a court to dismiss the case next week.

The suspects - mainly South Africans, Angolans and Namibians - made their
third routine court appearance on Thursday at the high security prison where
Zimbabwe authorities have detained them since their arrest on March 7.

Their Zimbabwean lawyer Jonathan Samkange said the defence would ask the
court on April 23 to set them free.

"We want to make an application... for this court to refuse to place them on
further remand on the grounds that there is no reasonable suspicion,"
Samkange said.

Zimbabwe has held the 70 since impounding their plane in Harare during what
President Robert Mugabe's government says was a mission to depose Equatorial
Guinea leader Teodore Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.

The men have been charged under public order and security laws as well as
with immigration, firearms, and aviation offences.

Friends and relatives of the men waved and blew kisses as the prisoners were
herded into the makeshift prison courtroom on Thursday in handcuffs and leg

State lawyers have said they face life imprisonment if found guilty of the
initial charge, but the defence says they each face maximum fines of ZIM$200
000 (about R300) per charge.

The men say they were on a mission to provide legitimate mine security in
the Democratic Republic of Congo.
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      Australians taking broader view on Zimbabwe

      Thu April 15, 2004 2:15 PM SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's cricketers
say they feel obliged to perform to their best on their tour of Zimbabwe
regardless of who the Africans select in their side.
      The world champions are overwhelming favourites to win the series even
if Zimbabwe pick their strongest side, but the player crisis there has
raised fears of a horrible mis-match.

      Senior Zimbabwe players have threatened a mass resignation because of
their concerns of alleged misconduct by officials, but Australia's players
say they owe it to the game to perform.

      The first of two tests starts on May 22 and the two teams will also
play three one-dayers from June 6.

      "You have to look beyond the results and the competition and ask what
it means for an Australian team to be travelling to Zimbabwe," opening
batsman Matthew Hayden told the Courier-Mail.

      "It's important that we put on a good show and make sure that cricket
in that community is strong.

      "It's part of why we stand together as a cricket community and,
ultimately, that's why cricket is flourishing throughout the world."

      Hayden scored 380 against Zimbabwe in Perth last year but lost his
world record to Brian Lara this week when the West Indies captain made an
unbeaten 400 against England.

      Hayden said he does not expect to get the record back but Australia
vice-captain Adam Gilchrist said he would not be surprised if he had a
another shot against the Africans.

      "He will push on and try and knock it off straight away," Gilchrist

      Gilchrist said he also supported Australia's plans to go ahead with
the tour, saying he feared Zimbabwe could be lost to test cricket if the
major playing countries started boycotting the African nation.

      "If a power like Australia does pull out it could be the end of
cricket for Zimbabwe - that's the last thing we want," he said.

      "There are several countries around where cricket is under pressure
from various factors and we don't need to be dropping off and losing teams."

      The Zimbabwe players have alleged "racial and ethnic discrimination in
the selection of the national team." The Zimbabwe Cricket Union has refused
to comment but says talks are continuing.

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New Zimbabwe

Zim traditional doctors abandon Aids research

      Aids kills at least 12000 Zimbabweans monthly

      . Lightning: African science at work
By Staff Reporter
Last updated: 04/16/2004 05:51:01
DONOR fatigue, largely blamed on the decline in democratic principles has
scuttled efforts by Zimbabwe's traditional healers' research into herbs that
can possibly cure the HIV virus.

The abandonment of the project comes as HIV-related deaths, compounded by
the ailing health system soar to 12 000 monthly.

Two years ago the Zimbabwe National Traditional Healer's Association
(ZINATHA) the country's grouping of herbalists, announced that it had made a
major breakthrough in its quest to find a traditional anti-retroviral. A
drug called gundamiti which was said to be able to reverse Aids symptoms had
discovered. What remained was further research which could render the herbal
cocktail effective to stop the virus.

However, finance for the research programme started dwindling two years ago
when President Robert Mugabe's government faced fierce criticism from the
international community over the acquisition of white-owned farms. Donors
have pulled out enmasse from the country.

Professor Gordon Chavhunduka, the ZINATHA president says it was unfortunate
that the government cannot finance the research at a time when thousands of
people are succumbing to the HIV virus.

"We only receive a small grant from the government to run the office but
nothing for the research," he said.

He is confident that if there had been further research into the drugs the
country could by now be having a cheaper alternative to expensive
anti-retroviral drugs whose costs are beyond the majority of many.

Says Chavhunduka: "There was a lot of progress and we could have been
talking a different story now. But right now there is no money because all
our donors have pulled out of the country."

He says for now people are relying on gundamiti, which was the first phase
of the reaserch.

Blessing Chebundo, the opposition MDC shadow minister of health who also
heads the parliamentary portfolio committee on health recently told
Parliament that the country's health institutions must intergrate
traditional medicine because conventional medicine has become very expensive
for the ordinary people who are languishing in poverty because of an
economic meltdown.

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Fenceless Border Creates Land Conflicts

Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique (Maputo)

April 15, 2004
Posted to the web April 15, 2004


The general commander of the Mozambican police, Miguel dos Santos, who is
also the chairperson of the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs
Organization (SARPCCO), said in Harare on Wednesday that the lack of
demarcation along the border between Mozambique and Zimbabwe has been
originating land conflicts between people living on both sides of the

Cited in Thursday's issue of the daily paper "Noticias", dos Santos said
that these land disputes have often led to physical assaults, and even to

Speaking to reporters on the third day of a visit to Zimbabwe, dos Santos
could neither give the exact extent of the unfenced stretch of the 4,212
kilometre long common border nor the number of victims of such disputes.

He said that to try and sort out the situation, the police are to submit a
formal request to the relevant authorities in both countries to make the
necessary demarcation.

Dos Santos also said that the police of both countries have agreed to
provide more resources to patrol the common border, particularly the
fenceless stretch, in order not only to prevent land disputes, but also to
combat all forms of contraband, including trafficking in vehicles, cattle
and firearms.

Speaking of SARPCCO activities, dos Santos said that the organization has
been instructed to speed up the process of returning to their rightful
owners stolen goods recovered by the police in any country within the
Southern African Development Community (SADC).

The idea is to harmonise legislation so that court cases concerning such
goods, seized in joint operations, are readily dealt with, since delays in
the process are blamed as the main stumbling block.

Dos Santos said that the meetings with his Zimbabwean counterparts concluded
that all decisions taken at a Maputo SARPCCO meeting on September last year
are being fully implemented.

To illustrate his point, he said that, for instance, joint operations
between Zambia and Zimbabwe managed to neutralise gangs of rustlers, and
groups of smugglers have been arrested between Zimbabwe and Botswana.
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Nujoma: Knowing When to Quit

Vanguard (Lagos)

April 15, 2004
Posted to the web April 15, 2004

TIGHT leaders are a common feature of Africa's political scene. Rather than
be blessing to their various countries, they have been a bane. Their few
supporters have said their longevity in office can be a source of stability
and economic prosperity. But we have failed to see an example that has been
in tandem with the claim.

Jean Bedel Bokassa made himself Emperor and consumed the economy of the
impoverished Central Africa in profligacy. Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire
converted the Zairean economy into a personal estate and personally was
richer than the state. Gnasingbe Eyadema is still very much in the saddle,
four decades or so after seizing power. He has, by subterfuges, remained in
power but he has not been able to guarantee political stability.

Kamuzu Banda held down Malawi for the decades he was in power. Malawi made
no economic headway and the peace it had was the peace of the grave yard.

There is a general trend that runs through the thread of sit-tight
leadership. They (leaders) are usually dictatorial, military or pretenders
to democracy.

We were surprised that there was speculation at all that Sam Nujoma,
President of Namibia, was being contemplated for a fourth term as the
President of the country.

Sam Nujoma who led his country's agitation for independence through SWAPO-
South-West Africa Peoples Organisation has been in the saddle now for three
consecutive terms which are expected to terminate next year.

For the third term, the Constitution had to be amended to accommodate the
extension the last time around. If he were to go for the fourth term, the
same process of tinkering with the Constitution will have to be done just as
Chiluba tried to do in Zambia. And it is a very feasible process: His
party -SWAPO, has a 75 per cent majority in the parliament.

Another term would net him five additional years in power and will bring him
into his 80th birthday.

Of course, he would not be the only 80-year old in government in Africa.
Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe is and Nelson Mandela was but there is a contrast
between both: the first has become a pariah and the latter has become a role
model. Mandela knew when to throw in the towel.

Happily Sam Nujoma knows it is good to quit when the ovation is loudest; he
would not ask for a fourth term.

We commend him for the courage to resist the temptation and counsel others
to learn from him.

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      Zimbabwean, Mozambican military to strengthen cooperation 2004-04-15 02:11:51

          HARARE, April 15 (Xinhuanet) -- Zimbabwe Defense Forces (ZDF)
Commander Constantine Chiwenga said here on Thursday that the defense forces
in Zimbabwe and Mozambique would look for cooperation in areas such as
disaster relief.

          He made the remarks while Mozambican Defense Forces (MDF) Chiefof
General Staff Lagos Henriques Lidimu arrived here as a special guest at
Zimbabwe's 24th independence anniversary at the weekend.

          General Lidimu was also in the country for routine consultations
in areas of cooperation between the ZDF and MDF.

          "Zimbabwe and Mozambique are one people and the coming of General
Lidimu is part of reciprocal visits we carry out from timeto time so that we
share ideas and problems we face," Chiwenga told reporters.

          Lidimu said he would want to know more about the situation in
Zimbabwe "in the spirit of our cooperation" during his stay in thecountry.
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Zimbabwe 13 pull plug and threaten tour

Telford Vice in Cape Town, Paul Kelso and David Hopps
Friday April 16, 2004
The Guardian

Two years of smouldering acrimony in Zimbabwean cricket burst into flame yesterday when 13 of the country's most experienced players refused to play in the imminent series against Sri Lanka. The resignations have cast a shadow over Zimbabwe's future at international level, to say nothing of England's proposed tour there this autumn.

The Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) vowed to take action against any contracted player who does not turn out for net practice in Harare this morning. That means 13 players, all of them white, who between them hold 262 Test caps will in all likelihood be lost to cricket. In their place the ZCU has named a squad of 14 players, all but one of them black, and only eight of whom have international experience, for the first of five one-day internationals in Bulawayo on Tuesday.

"There's no doubt about it, we're not budging; we will not be at nets," one of the players, who declined to be named, said yesterday.

The International Cricket Council has neither the right nor the inclination to intervene in disputes between boards and their players. The most it will do is volunteer to act in a peacemaking capacity and that offer is likely to be made early next week when the ZCU's hardline director Ozias Bvute and chairman Peter Chingoka arrive in London.

Developments are being watched closely at Lord's, where the England and Wales Cricket Board will next week consider its options over its proposed autumn tour. Bvute and Chingoka are due at Lord's on Tuesday where they will address the ECB's management board.

England had looked set to tour but the machinations in Harare will certainly strengthen the belief that the ZCU is a political body which relies on the patronage of the president Robert Mugabe's regime. It is already widely held that Bvute's actions have placed its chief executive Vince Hogg in an impossible position.

Bute reportedly sacked five players for failing to play in a first-class fixture last weekend, despite all five having been given permission by Hogg to miss the game. Much will depend on the ICC's next move. Officially the governing body cannot interfere in the internal workings of an individual board but there are concerns that, unless some of the 13 can be tempted back to the side, the series against Sri Lanka may be so one-sided that the integrity of the game will be called into question.

Only a groundswell of opinion among cricket's international community could lead to Zimbabwe's relegation as a full Test nation - and the apparent appetite for expansion at any cost would make that a last resort.

Zimbabwe's cricket base has never been broader - 60,000 regular players is the official ICC estimate - but there is little strength in depth and there are fears that, with players of Minor Counties standard filling eight places in the team, Tests may be over in two days.

Were that the case, and with Australia due to play a series in Zimbabwe in May, the ICC might be forced to act for the good of the game, something its president Ehsan Mani referred to when earlier this week he urged both sides to reach a resolution.

If England do decide to tour, the ECB is likely to give its contracted players the chance to pull out. Any charge by the ZCU that they are not bringing a full-strength team would be undermined were its own side to feature as few as three Test-class players.

The 13 players yesterday reiterated their demands that Heath Streak be reinstated to the Zimbabwe captaincy and that the ZCU owns up to incidents of misconduct the players say have been committed by board members.

These include alleged threats to dig up pitches if more black players are not included in teams, selected and ratified XIs being vetoed by individual board members on racial grounds, and a claim that the batsman Mark Vermeulen was offered twice his match fee to withdraw from a one-day international he had been selected to play in to allow a black player to take his place.

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Dow Jones Wire
15 Apr 2004 19:11 GMT DJ Zimbabwe Avoids UN Censure Over Political Violence, Media

Copyright © 2004, Dow Jones Newswires

GENEVA (AP)--Zimbabwe avoided the top U.N. human rights watchdog's censure Thursday over media restrictions imposed by President Robert Mugabe's autocratic regime and political violence plaguing the increasingly impoverished country.

The U.N. Human Rights Commission voted 27-24 to block the E.U.-sponsored resolution with a proedural "no-action" motion.

The resolution had expressed concern at "politically motivated violence including killings; torture; sexual and other forms of violence against women; incidents of arbitrary arrest; restrictions on the independence of the judiciary; and restrictions on the freedom of opinion, expression, association and assembly."

Mugabe's government has sought to crack down on dissent since his disputed re-election in 2002 amid reports of vote rigging and intimidation.

Opposition leaders, trade unionists and independent journalists have been arrested, and the country's only independent daily newspaper has been shut down under tough new media laws. Mugabe has also been accused of packing the courts with sympathetic judges.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 15, 2004 15:11 ET (19:11 GMT)

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Kuwait News
‏No action motion blocks vote on violations of human rights ‏  

‏ No action motion blocks vote on violations of human rights‏  
‏ GENEVA, April 15 (KUNA) -- Both China and Zimbabwe escaped Thursday
‏resolutions targeted by the Western countries to condemn human rights ‏  
‏practices in both countries.‏  
‏ Diplomats from both countries considered the "no action motion" as a ‏  
‏diplomatic victory.‏  
‏ The draft resolution on China was blocked by a no action motion of 28 yes, ‏  
‏16 no, and 9 abstentions for the no action motion.‏  
‏ While the draft resolution on Zimbabwe was blocked by another no action ‏  
‏motion of 27 yes, 24 no, 2 abstentions for the no action motion. (end)‏  
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Mozambican defense chief arrives in Zimbabwe for independence anniversary 2004-04-15 04:12:08

    HARARE, April 15 (Xinhuanet) -- Mozambican Defense Forces (MDF) chief of general staff, General Lagos Henriques Lidimu arrived here on Thursday as a special guest at Zimbabwe's 24th independence anniversary at the weekend.

    Zimbabwe Defense Forces (ZDF) Commander Constantine Chiwenga told reporters General Lidimu was also in the country for routine consultations in areas of cooperation between the ZDF and MDF.

    "Zimbabwe and Mozambique are one people and the coming of General Lidimu is part of reciprocal visits we carry out from timeto time so that we share ideas and problems we face," he said.

    Chiwenga said the two defense forces would also look at furthercooperation in areas such as disaster relief.

    Lidimu said he would want to know more about the situation in Zimbabwe "in the spirit of our cooperation" during his stay in thecountry.

    Zimbabwe won independence in 1980 after a protracted liberationstruggle and April 18 was set as the country's independence day.

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Engineering News SA
Former Zimplats man pursues PGM prospects in South Africa
London-listed Southern African Resources (SAR), which has appointed well-known Zimbabwean mining personality Roy Pitch- ford as its CE, will consider buying into existing mining companies in addition to acquiring exploration projects.

Pitchford, who assumed his new position at the beginning of this month and will continue to live in Harare, says SAR will focus on platinum-group metals (PGMs) in Africa.

The company’s main project in South Africa is an exploration-drilling programme in the North West on land and mineral rights owned by the Bakwena Ba Mogopa tribe to raise the confidence level of a PGM resource which was previously scrutinised by Rand Mines.

The drilling programme is scheduled for completion in November and will be followed by a bankable feasibility study if it produces favourable results.

SAR is responsible for the full cost of the programme, which could be in the region of R20-million, but the Bakwena will have a right to negotiate the terms of an agreement regarding their participation in a future mining venture.

A bankable feasibility study, if it is deemed neces-sary at the conclusion of the drilling programme, will take at least six months, while sinking the envisaged 900-m shaft will take up to two years. More time will be required for development work before mining starts.

Before a prospecting licence was issued by the Department of Minerals and Energy, consulting firm Snowden completed financial and platinum-resource evaluation exercises which confirmed the potential to produce 300 000 oz/y from 240 000 t of ore processed every month.

Pitchford tells Mining Weekly that SAR is also scrutinising the Molopo Farms complex in Botswana, but cannot be drawn to provide further details.

“It is early days, but I hope that we will be successful in finding and developing new mining operations,” says Pitchford, who stresses that the search for mineral deposits will not be confined to South Africa.

Apart from a stint as the head of Malawi’s Press Corporation, Pitch-ford has held top positions in the Zim-babwean mining industry since 1990.

He was the MD of what is now Ashanti Goldfields Zimbabwe, the owner and operator of Freda-Rebecca, that country’s largest gold-mine.

He also headed up Masasa Mines, a subsidiary of Australian-listed Delta Gold, before it split its gold and PGM interests into Delta Gold Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Platinum Mines (Zimplats) respectively. When his contract with Press Corporation expired, Pitchford retraced his steps to the Zimbabwean mining sector and became the MD of Zimplats, which is now majority-owned by South Africa’s Impala Platinum.

Zimplats owns and operates Ngezi mine, which it intends to underground-mine in addition to the existing opencast mine. The company has title to vast PGM reserves on the Zimbabwean Great Dyke, the largest known PGM deposit after South Africa’s Bushveld Complex.

Responding to a suggestion that his departure from Zimplats indicates that he is worried that President Robert Mugabe’s government may introduce policies and laws which may be detrimental to the nascent PGM industry there, he says: “No, the opportunity to develop new mining operations was a challenge I felt I wanted to pursue.” There was a stir at the beginning of this month when it came to light that the Zimbabwean government was considering making it mandatory for private mining companies to have 49% of their equity in the hands of black Zimbabweans within three years.

The government has moved fast to assure worried investors that it will consult widely before taking this proposal to Parliament.
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Last Updated: Friday, 16 April 2004

Zim-EU relations need to be revisited — Mumbengegwi

Business Reporter
TRADE relations between Zimbabwe and the European Union need to be revisited so as to create a win-win situation that would benefit all the parties involved, the Minister of Industry and International Trade, Dr Samuel Mumbengegwi, has said.

Addressing delegates who were attending a one-day workshop on National Awareness Workshop on the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the European Union, Dr Mumbengegwi said trade relations should never be allowed to benefit other parties to the disadvantage of another.

"There is going to be stiff competition ahead in the face of stronger and technologically advanced nations within the trade arrangement.

"The enlargement will increase opportunities, but will also stiffen competition since other parties are technologically developed," said Dr Mumbengegwi.

The Cotonou agreement, which was signed by African, Caribbean and pacific (ACP) countries in the year 2000, is expected to bring about a new partnership between the grouping and European Union in all areas of co-operation.

Dr Mumbengegwi said the prepared negotiation should be centred on call for trade on reciprocal basis.

"The trading arrangement will call for trade on a reciprocal basis.

"It should be borne in mind that for our nation to progress and attain the desired industrialisation, there is need for the Government and the private sector to come and work together in negotiating issues for the benefit of our society," said Dr Mumbengegwi.

The European Union is Zimbabwe’s oldest trading partner.

Any changes that affect the trading arrangements with the EU is set to negatively impact on our business transactions and also the economy, said Dr Mumbengegwi.

The Cotonou agreement should be operationalised through Economic Partnership Agreements, which will be negotiated with each regional economic grouping within the ACP countries.

Zimbabwe is a member of two regional groupings, namely, Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa).

Turning to the issue of belonging to the EPAs, the Minister said each Sadc member would make the decision since countries in the EPA grouping configure under a single geographical grouping.

South Africa, Zimbabwe’s major trading partner, has negotiated a Trade and Economic Co-operation Agreement with the EU, which saw the Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) countries coming aboard.

Sacu is made up of South Africa, Swaziland, Namibia and Lesotho
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Last Updated: Friday, 16 April 2004

Zesa reduces tariffs by up to 45pc

By Farai Mabeza
THE Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) has reduced its tariffs by between 29 and 45 percent following an outcry from the business community.

The latest development is likely to bring a lot of relief to the business community, which has in recent weeks complained over the high tariffs that was imposed at the beginning of the year.

Company executives complained that the 400 percent tariff increment threatened the viability of most organisations.

Zesa corporate affairs manager Mr Obert Nyatanga said several meetings were held at various fora during which the contentious issue of the tariff levels was discussed.

"We are pleased to advise that the Government (through the Ministry of Energy and Power Development) and Zesa have granted an interim tariff relief effective 1 April 2004," he said.

Mr Nyatanga said Zesa had hired a consultant to undertake an energy pricing study.

Each customer’s category or classification and the movement of some customers from a monthly maximum demand tariff to a daily maximum demand tariff would determine the percentage that would be levied.

Mr Nyatanga said the tariff relief was applicable starting from March 2004 bills.

"It is hoped that this relief will go a long way to address the financial distress currently being faced by the mining, industrial and commercial consumers," Mr Nyatanga said.

He also expressed hope that organisations, whose electricity bills — both foreign and local currency denominated — have gone into arrears, would reciprocate this gesture by bringing their accounts up to date.

Problems with the new tariff structure came to a head in March when the Association for Business in Zimbabwe (Abuz) took Zesa to the High Court on behalf of several businesses in Bulawayo.

Abuz won an injunction stating that the massive tariff increases were null and void and the power authority was ordered to reconnect supplies.

The increments were so huge that for some businesses, electricity bills were chewing as much as 90 percent of total expenses.

"Due to the increases, our electricity bill jumped from around $150 million in December to more than $700 million in February.

"This had a huge effect on the operations of most companies," said the president of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, Mr Anthony Mandiwanza.

One company reported a jump from around $500 million to between $1,5 and $2 billion.

O’Connoly and Company, a Bulawayo-based company ceased operations when its electricity was cut off after failing to settle a $400 million bill and was only granted relief after taking its case to the High Court together with Nimr and Chapman, which had been threatened with disconnection.

The mining sector had also taken a beating from the new tariffs with reports that some mines had even had their power switched off for failing to settle their bills while some miners were underground, endangering their safety.
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Positive corporate events boost financial counters

By Jeffrey Gogo
STRUGGLING financial counters on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange have gained a mini-sparkle over the past week buoyed by positive corporate events.

A sizeable number of listed banking institutions, which had hit record lows owing to varying disturbances within the industry recorded significant gains in the past fortnight as positive news of prudent deals in the sector filtered through.

Century Holdings share price climbed a magnificent 60 percent gaining $3,75 to close at $10 on Wednesday this week as news that the company was on the verge of concluding its merger talks with CFX Merchant Bank reached the market.

Century, which has been dogged by serious solvency constraints, is reportedly engaged in negotiations for a possible alliance with CFX and the transaction is said to have reached an advanced stage.

The new party is expected to adequately capitalise Century, a motion investors have received as positive for the continued operation of the bank in a sector where other troubled institutions have either closed or placed under curatorship.

Century stocks, which have been hovering at a cheap $4 at the end of February, have suffered from sector-wide negative investor perception, but recorded some major gains last month on rumours that punters were eager to acquire a majority stake in the firm.

The Jewel Bank, formerly Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe, also jumped a commendable 30 percent from $20 to $26 as the bank is understood to be one of the few institutions be in a stable and sound financial position.

Investors have been rapidly driving away from indigenous-owned banks to established entities that are deemed secure and steady in the wake of the present revolutions within the local banking industry.

Recently, Trust Holdings’ shares surged 100 percent in only four days of trading on the local bourse spurred by market watchers’ reports of ongoing capital injection talks between Old Mutual and the bank.

The local bank share price was trading at $20 two and a half weeks ago but rose to $41 as at Monday last week.

This week, Trust officials confirmed that the bank had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Old Mutual and Nedcor of South Africa to engineer formal negotiations for a possible merger.

Early this year Trust Bank was on the brink of collapse following revelations that it had lost over 30 percent of its depositors due to the liquidity problems that besieged the institution.

The financial sector has been targeted by the central bank for fuelling inflation through its participation in the foreign currency black market, as well as engaging in non-banking activities

It is expected that if the deal goes through it would make Trust Bank probably the largest locally born bank.

Market analysts said current efforts to build investor confidence within the financial services segment had rejuvenated interest in financial counters and the pattern is anticipated to persist in the short-term.

"Confidence is slowly being built in financial institutions specifically indigenous financial institutions as the central bank implements recommendations made in the monetary policy," said an investment analyst form a local stock broking firm.

"The re-opening of Intermarket Building Society and the extent to which the authorities are trying to be transparent about the banking sector scenario has seen financial counters begin to recover."

Intermarket, which has been under curatorship since early March was re-opened last week following recommendations from bank curator Mr Ngoni Kudenga that the society was in a position to conduct business.

On the other hand, the Reserve Bank has been issuing confidence building statements describing the financial sector as fundamentally sound and stable.

Most banks on the domestic bourse have continued to lose their glitter as negative investor perception coupled with current liquidity quandaries in the sector continue to wreck havoc on the respective share prices.

The equities market has generally continued on its free-fall as a result of the uncertainty within the financial sector, which was the main driving force behind the astronomical surge of the stock market for the better part of last year.

The financial sector had some of the best performing counters on the local bourse last year despite operating in an environment characterised by increasing net interest margins and rapidly declining real exchange rates.

The stocks were the envy of every investor following their posting of above normal profits, as they proved to be the main force behind the bull run on the ZSE with the main index reaching an all time high of over 700 000 percent in August.

There are nearly ten listed banking institutions on the local bourse, which heavily drove the main index to high levels.

The banks include CBZ, Trust, NMBZ, Century, ABC, Finhold, Barbican, Barclays, Kingdom and First Bank.

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Last Updated: Friday, 16 April 2004

Future of unregistered asset firms unclear

Business Reporter
THE future of unregistered asset management firms might be hanging by a thread as the two-week grace period granted by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe draws to a close.

The central bank recently extended the expiry date for the issuing of operating licences to asset managers by a fortnight. The new deadline elapses today.

Initially, the RBZ had set the last day for registration at March 31, but extended the deadline after it emerged the central bank was yet to complete its inspections.

In the meantime, the unlicensed institutions have continued to operate.

To date, only two firms — Old Mutual Asset Management and Kingdom Asset Management — have been granted licences out of more than 100 companies that have mushroomed over the past year.

Market sources said indications were that the central bank was inclined towards granting licences to asset management companies associated with banks and insurance firms "and probably between 10 and 15 companies would be issued with licences".

Asset managers interviewed by The Herald Business said the RBZ has been silent on the issue and the authorities were yet to come back to the respective companies, informing them on their fate despite having lodged applications with the bank.

"The Reserve Bank has not informed us on the state of our application for registration and, as such, we are still in operation," said an employee with an asset management firm who spoke on condition of anonymity.

At the time of going to press, Reserve Bank officials had not yet responded to questions sent to them early this week.

It, therefore, remains unclear whether the country would be serviced by only two asset managers as a great number of institutions are understood to have failed to meet the new RBZ registration requirements.

Stockbrokers on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange have lately been lamenting the delays in the issuance of licences to asset management firms, saying this was dampening activity on the domestic bourse.

Registration fees for one to operate as either a fund manager or portfolio manager or both now stand at $500 million.

The companies are expected to present a certificate of incorporation, memorandum and articles of association and paid-up share capital of $500 million, which should not be borrowed funds.

Asset management firms are also required to furnish the central bank with past financial performance statements, proof of capital, details of directors and the management structures and tax clearance certificates, among other requirements.

The RBZ has previously been reported to have been undertaking a thorough inspection of asset firms with the intention of drastically scaling down the number of companies presently in operation while simultaneously ensuring the institutions would stick to their core businesses.
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Last Updated: Friday, 16 April 2004

Arda secures joint venture deal with Chinese firm

The Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) has clinched a joint venture deal with a Chinese company to produce and export tobacco to the Asian country, an official has said.

Arda chief executive Mr Joseph Matowanyika said the agreement involves co-financing of the crop’s production in Zimbabwe, and would be exported to China outside existing tobacco marketing arrangements.

China is one of the biggest importers of Zimbabwe’s tobacco, and companies from the Asian nation are now interested in investing in the sector as well to secure long-term supplies of the commodity.

"Our partnership with the Chinese company is working well, and we plan to increase production and become a major producer of tobacco," said Mr Matowanyika.

In the current marketing season, Arda expects to sell two million kilogrammes of tobacco, much of which, if not all, will be directly exported to China.

The Arda chief said the two parties planned to increase output under the joint venture to 10 million kilogrammes next year, and to between 20 and 30 million kilogrammes in the next two years.

"We plan to become a major producer of tobacco, to increase the country’s export earnings, and our revenue streams," he said.

Tobacco is the country’s biggest single export, but until now, Arda did not produce the crop.

Mr Matowanyika said Arda also planned to start exporting garlic, baby corn, onions and cotton, among other agricultural products, to Egypt.

He said the North African country had expressed interest in a variety of Zimbabwean agricultural commodities, and Arda had the capacity to start exports to Egypt in the near future.

The two countries signed a co-operation agreement in the agricultural sector two weeks ago, covering export of farming implements and commodities. — New Ziana.

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