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Zimbabweans shun celebrations


      16/04/2006 12:13 PM

      Harare - Tariro Shumba plans to spend a quiet day at home with her
family on Zimbabwe's Independence Day, shunning celebrations hosted by
President Robert Mugabe's government at a stadium less than 20 minutes' walk
      Shumba is just one of thousands of Zimbabweans for whom Tuesday's
anniversary of 26 years of independence from Britain offers little cause for
joy in the face of an economic meltdown that has driven many into an abyss
of poverty.

      "For me it will be just another day. I don't really see what there is
to celebrate," shrugs the 45-year-old widowed mother of four, whose main
pre-occupation is how to keep her children in school in the face of soaring

      Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party has been touting the day as another
occasion to savour the country's triumph over British colonialism after a
bloody 1970s guerrilla war, and is laying on celebrations around the
country's 10 provinces.

      But for many the fanfare rings hollow against the background of
rocketing prices of basic commodity prices, house rents and transport costs
against static salaries in the country with the world's highest inflation
rate, unemployment of over 70%, and nagging shortages of food, foreign
currency and fuel.

      "We have nothing to show for our independence, except overwhelming
poverty," opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai
said in an anniversary message.

      The MDC has threatened countrywide protests at an as yet unnamed date
as a mark of anger against a crisis many blame on Mugabe's government.

      "There is no point in continuing to watch with trepidation a small
nationalistic class ... wreak havoc on the national cake," Tsvangirai said.

      "Only action and political pressure shall bring in the desired results
and lead us to resuscitate our failed state and our dying institutions."

      Political temperatures rising

      The political temperature could also be raised by an influx of
thousands of disgruntled nationals who fled to Britain in search of jobs
while others cited political persecution at home, but now face deportation
after the British government won a court ruling allowing it to eject failed
asylum seekers.

      Mugabe has rejected charges that he should bear responsibility for
Zimbabwe's economic malaise, and in turn points a finger at his foreign and
domestic opponents whom he says have sabotaged the country's wealth over his
land reforms.

      The veteran leader, one of Africa's longest-serving leaders, says the
land redistribution programme was necessary to redress ownership imbalances
caused by colonialism.

      Zimbabwe's key agricultural sector has performed badly, with critics
pointing to disruptions linked to the government's seizure of white-owned
commercial farms for blacks, which they say have compounded the effect of
drought, leaving southern Africa's former bread basket in need of food aid
since 2001.

      Manufacturing, tourism and the once-thriving mining sector have not
fared any better, leading to the economy shrinking 40% over the last eight

      Critics say Mugabe, bereft of ideas on how to rescue the economy, is
likely to use his traditional Independence Day speech to take another
pot-shot at his opponents, and take his supporters on another trip down
memory lane to the euphoria that surrounded the initial years of black

      "It is that time of the year once again when long-suffering
Zimbabweans have to bear with independence jingles and President Robert
Mugabe predictably going into overdrive about the ideals of the armed
struggle, national sovereignty and bringing freedom and democracy to
Zimbabwe," wrote columnist Bornwell Chakaodza in the private-owned Financial
Gazette newspaper.

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Arthur G.O. Mutambara: Independence Day Message

Arthur G.O. Mutambara

MDC President

Independence Day Message: The Case for the Resignation of the ZANU(PF)

18th April 2006; Harare, Zimbabwe


Fellow Zimbabweans, 18th April 1980 marked the dawn of a new era in our
country, the attainment of our independence and freedom from colonial rule.
We should salute and celebrate the gallant ZIPRA and ZANLA fighters, who
together with ordinary Zimbabweans, ushered in that dispensation. The war of
liberation was an anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist protracted armed
struggle, of which the land question was an integral factor. The principles
of that struggle included democracy, freedom, liberty, equality, universal
suffrage, justice, equity, and socio-economic justice. There should be
neither debate nor equivocation on the national importance and historical
significance of April 18th 1980.

The struggle for, and liberation of, Zimbabwe was a collective effort.
Hence, the liberation war legacy is a shared national legacy. It belongs to
all Zimbabweans and all political parties. It is within this context that
any political discourse about the state and future of our country should be
carried out. All Zimbabwean political parties must be Zimbabwean and African
in outlook and activity. We must be freedom fighters and soldiers for social
justice and democracy. Our struggle must be a continuation of the liberation
war tradition.

Zimbabwean political activists must stand on the shoulders of the founding
fathers of this nation; such as Nikita Mangena, Josiah Tongogara, Herbert
Chitepo, Leopold Takawira, Joshua Nkomo, and the pre-1980 Robert Mugabe. We
must salute and revere Mbuya Nehanda, Sekuru Kaguvi, and King Lobengula. Our
parties must be patriotic political formations that cherish and defend our
national, regional and Pan-African sovereignty.

State of the Nation

Twenty six years after independence, the people of Zimbabwe are not enjoying
the fruits of liberation. Instead, starvation, unemployment, deplorable
working conditions, unmitigated suffering, and unprecedented hopelessness
have become endemic. There is a litany of challenges: We live in an
undeclared state of emergency where our basic freedoms and liberties of
assembly, speech, movement, and association are heavily curtailed by
repressive legislation. Zimbabweans live in a state of collective fear of
violence, hunger, diseases and arrest. Basic and essential commodities are
either unavailable or unaffordable. School fees, property rates, rentals and
agricultural inputs are beyond reach. The crippling fuel crisis, erratic
power supply, destruction of commercial agriculture, food shortages, and
lack of housing are devastating the population. Inflation has soared to
record levels of 913%, unemployment is above 85%, while poverty levels are
above 90%. There is rampant corruption in both the private and public
sectors, accentuated by poor public sector and corporate governance.

Industries have either closed or are operating below capacity. Our terms of
trade as reflected by our balance of payments, are worsening every day.
There is acute foreign currency shortage. Investment spending has also
collapsed, thus depressing aggregate demand. Our budget deficits, arising
from the ZANU(PF) regime's insatiable appetite to spend, have been monetized
thus increasing money supply and hence inflation.

An estimated four million Zimbabweans are in desperate need of food while
more than 3 500 die a week due to HIV/AIDS related illnesses, including
malnutrition. Zimbabweans are now finding it very difficult to access or
afford healthcare or to send their children to school. To add insult to
injury the ZANU (PF) regime had the temerity to destroy the homes and
livelihood of 20% of the population through the so-called Operation

The root cause of the Zimbabwean crisis is the total collapse of the
organization and management of our national economy which has led to the
acute inability to deliver basic public and social services. In addition,
Zimbabwe has become a globally isolated pariah and failed state with a
debilitating impact on the performance of business enterprises and public
institutions. The Zimbabwean economy is in its 8th year of consecutive
economic decline and it is now estimated that our GDP has fallen by over 40%
over the last 8 years. Acute economic conditions have driven many
Zimbabweans into the Diaspora, where some are living in dehumanizing

What is so unique about the Zimbabwean economic meltdown is that it is
human-made by the misrule, incompetence, dictatorship, corruption and lack
of vision of ZANU(PF) under the leadership of Robert Mugabe. The Zimbabwean
people demand better custodians and defenders of their independence and
freedom than this regime, whose activities are a negation of the principles
and values of the liberation struggle.

The people of Zimbabwe are suffering. They are sick and tired of being sick
and tired.  They demand solutions now. There is a revolutionary mood
pregnant with expectations in the country. The people of Zimbabwe will not
accept anything short of a revolution. They do not what change tomorrow;
neither do they want it today. They demand it yesterday!

The Vision

Twenty six years after independence, Zimbabwe is in a crisis that requires
generational intervention. A new generation of Zimbabweans must step up to
the plate and be counted. History will never absolve them if they do not
rise to the challenge. This new mandate is an economic one that seeks to
transform Zimbabwe into a globally competitive and high performance economy.
It is not enough for Zimbabweans to aspire towards economic recovery,
stabilization and survival. We must thrive to rise up and grow into a global
economic superstar: the Singapore of Africa! In 1957 the GDP of Singapore
was the same as that of Ghana. Today the per capita income of Singapore is
greater than those of Germany, France and Britain.

The vision for our country should be for Zimbabwe to become the leading
democracy in Africa characterized by people-centered social development and
economic growth. Our GDP and per capita income should be in the top three in
Africa. We want a society where human rights, individual freedoms, property
rights, women rights, workers' rights, and economic rights are cherished and
respected. We want a nation of prosperity, economic opportunities,
affordable high quality public services, social justice, equity, and gender
justice. We want a country of business growth, productive commercial
agriculture, innovative entrepreneurship, creative managers, and productive
workers who are well paid.

In order to achieve this vision, Zimbabweans have to develop a strategy (the
game plan) that will take them to their desired promised land. This plan
consists of the initiatives they have to execute in the penultimate as they
struggle towards their vision. The required framework is characterized by a
two-pronged strategy dealing with governance and economic issues.

The Governance Imperative

It is imperative to address foundational issues of institution building, and
deepening of democratic values and principles in all sectors of our society.
We need to develop and live a new democratic culture. This will create the
basis for sustainable change that has both form and substance. A new,
people-driven democratic constitution is a critical pre-requisite to set the
national terms of reference. The process of making that constitution must
give confidence to all Zimbabweans that the outcome will reflect their will.
A contested document is no foundation for stable governance. Key elements of
this constitution should include; effective and functional separation of
powers, executive accountability to the legislature, entrenched independence
of the judiciary, a fair and transparent electoral framework, strong and
effective protection of  fundamental freedoms, liberties and human rights,
ensuring institutional capacity for such protection.

The legal, electoral and political environment demands the immediate repeal
of all repressive laws, such as AIPPA and POSA, so that people can enjoy the
full freedoms of information, association and assembly. Any pending
anti-democratic and draconian legislation such as the telecommunication
interception, anti-terrorism, and elections harmonization efforts must be
withdrawn immediately. On harmonization (mooted as Amendment 18 to the
Zimbabwean Constitution), the ZANU(PF) objective is to use its fraudulent
two thirds majority in the legislature to change the constitution in order
to combine the Parliamentary and Presidential elections in 2010, thus
denying the people an election in 2008. The idea is to have an unelected
ZANU(PF) transitional president who then gains the power of incumbency for
two years before being subjected to an election. The political demand should
be for harmonization in 2008 not 2010.

Contestation for power should be through political formations based on
democratic values and principles in consensus with the generality of the
people. It is essential that political parties have clear national vision,
macro-economic programs, strategic frameworks, organizational capacity,
leadership gravitas, and intellectual clarity. In addition political leaders
must walk the talk, and live party values through consistency, honesty and
integrity. Zimbabwe requires principled and democratic political parties
that are grounded in non-violence, tolerance, transparency, and

Civil society and civic organizations must be non-partisan, internally
democratic, and respectful of their own laws. Term limits should be strictly
adhered to in civic, party and national constitutions. There is need to
restore political freedoms, rule of law, personal security, and political
legitimacy in Zimbabwe. It should be understood that the Zimbabwean
political culture has been defined by Zanu(PF) for the past 26 years. We are
all cut from that same cloth, hence the tendency to replicate Zanu(PF)
undemocratic practices in all our organizations. We need to acknowledge this
and consciously create and live a new democratic value system.

The Economic Mandate

We need to stop the economic decline and the suffering of millions of
families in our country. The starting point is developing an economic
recovery and a stabilization program. A holistic approach that involves all
stakeholders and takes into account all economic factors must be the basis
of a multi-variable economic model for Zimbabwe's survival. There is also
need for economic structural reform, underpinned by economic transformation
that involves integration and coordination of the informal and formal
sectors. There is also need for effective macro-economic policy coordination
that systemically links monetary and fiscal policies.

Honest assessment of our current predicament and taking ownership of our
challenges will be the starting point. The ZANU(PF) regime is in self-denial
and does not appreciate the extent of our problems. The biggest imposer of
sanctions on Zimbabwe is the ZANU(PF) government; through misrule,
dictatorship, inept economic policies, misguided foreign policy, corruption,
and sheer incompetence. These sanctions must be lifted first before we ask
other nations to lift measures that they have imposed on us.

There is need to develop a medium term economic stabilization strategy which
will focus on fiscal discipline, poverty alleviation, viable social security
programs such as housing, healthcare, education, job creation,
infrastructural rehabilitation, and local authorities capacity building.

Beyond recovery and survival we need to develop long term strategic
initiatives, with sector specific programs, that enable Zimbabwe to emerge
as an industrialized, technology driven, competitive nation, fully
integrated into the global economy. We should use the existing capacity of
Zimbabweans and their natural resources to compete through the design and
construction of new and innovative products on the world market. While
building upon our national core competencies such as agriculture, mining and
tourism, emphasis should be on focused manufacturing and leveraging new
technologies. These include wireless telecommunication (e.g. Wireless
Fidelity (WiFi) and Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access
(WiMax)), biotechnology, wireless power (e.g. fuel cells and solar-thermal),
automation, nano-technology, micro-electronic and mechanical systems (MEMS),
and electronic commerce. Some of these new technology platforms are cheaper
and lend themselves better to countries with poor infrastructure than
advanced countries. Hence, there is a unique opportunity for Zimbabwe to run
where others walked. We can thus, leap-frog from the current economic crisis
into the globally competitive and knowledge-based economy. Zimbabwe needs an
effective science and technology strategy, rooted in regional integration
and linked to forces of globalization.

There is need to implement investor confidence building measures in order to
increase trade and investment. Of paramount importance is the respect for
property rights, rule of law, predictability and certainty of laws, and
consistency in the application of regulations. The economic strategy should
then be driven by extensive domestic investment (local and Diaspora),
foreign direct investment (FDI), processed exports, value adding economic
activities, business growth, and economic empowerment. There is need to
engage our strategic partners in Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas for
investment, partnerships and global outsourcing opportunities. Under
globalization there is no country that can thrive without dealing with the
international community including the multilateral institutions such as the
IMF and World Bank. We know that historically, these two specific
institutions have espoused anti-African and anti-poor people policies. What
is critical is to engage these institutions with the view to extract
favourable arrangements for our country. In the current global economy, the
IMF is ostensibly a gatekeeper. If they are not involved with your country,
there is no investment and trade that will occur there. We cannot go it

We need to engage everyone in the world community of nations. This misguided
and bankrupt Look East Policy must be rejected with the contempt that it
deserves. How can we look East when the East is looking West? The Chinese,
Singaporean, Malaysian, and Japanese economies are heavily dependent on, and
linked to, the USA and European economies. Zimbabwe needs strategic thinkers
who look everywhere for opportunities, not unimaginative despots typical of
failed and pariah States who seek economic opportunities from one
geographical location, out of desperation and lack of choice.

Zimbabwe's resource base and human capital (local and Diaspora) must be
mobilized and leveraged to benefit Zimbabweans. With a deliberate strategy
of beneficiation (value adding economic activities) we should build new
factories, create economic opportunities and attract investors for further
development. All our minerals must be processed locally and exported as
refined products. For example we need to build refinery plants and secondary
industries for our platinum, gold, and copper. In most developing economies,
remittances from, and economic involvement of the Diaspora have become key
strategic initiatives. We should seek to ensure that our fellow citizens in
the Diaspora have a meaningful role to play in the development of their
country by leveraging their remittances, expertise and networks. However,
there is no taxation without representation. We must allow people in the
Diaspora to vote in all national elections.

Our country is uniquely endowed with natural wonders such as the awesome
Victoria Falls and the majestic Great Zimbabwe. As we return to the
international fold there is need to drive, optimize, and leverage the
tourism sector. We should make our currency valuable again, reduce the cost
of living for the suffering families and stop corruption and misuse of
money.  We need radical transformation to good governance with able and
efficient government at all levels in both the private and public sectors.
We should bring stability and prosperity to our country, which has been lost
in the years of decline and economic collapse.

We should ensure a fair, secure and effective use of land with new
strategies that will make the land green again. What is required is a
democratic and participatory framework that seeks to achieve equitable,
transparent, just, and economically efficient distribution and use of land.
This must have emphasis on productivity, food security and self-sufficiency.
Collateral value of land must be guaranteed by establishing security of
tenure through the provision of title or 99 year leases. Land should never
be used as an instrument of political patronage. With an effective land
revolution in Zimbabwe land owners should be motivated towards beneficiation
where emphasis is placed on secondary agriculture. Under this philosophy, we
should encourage exporting processed agricultural products and not raw
materials. For example; Export clothes not cotton, tinned vegetables not raw
vegetables, flour not wheat, and furniture not timber. Instead of selling
raw materials we should sell value added or finished products. This will
facilitate entrepreneurship, job creation, and thus ensure income for
Zimbabwean families and guarantee prosperity and food security for all.

In all these economic strategic initiatives, the underpinning and central
organizing values should be fiscal discipline, productivity, efficiency,
innovation, creativity, beneficiation and excellence.

Today, the 18th of April 2006, our sacred Independence Day, it is our humble
submission that the ZANU(PF) government under the leadership of Robert
Mugabe has violated all the principles of the liberation struggle leading to
this unprecedented economic collapse. They have totally failed to organize
and manage the affairs of our nation. They neither understand the causes of
the economic crisis, nor do they have a clear vision for the country. More
importantly, ZANU(PF) has neither the will, strategy nor capacity to deliver
our country from economic collapse to prosperity. We demand our human rights
and dignity today. We demand an end to the national economic crisis today.
We demand the immediate resignation of the entire ZANU(PF) government today.
The people of Zimbabwe must rule themselves again. Today, the hour has come
for us to reclaim our national birth right.

There will be neither Compromise, Retreat, nor Surrender.

Defeat is not on the Agenda.

The Struggle Continues Unabated.

Arthur G.O. Mutambara
MDC President

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Portraits from across the divide

The Sunday Times - Books

                                The Sunday Times April 16, 2006

                              Foreign Affairs

                              Reviewed by ANTHONY SATTIN

                              HOUSE OF STONE
                              The True Story of a Family Divided in War-Torn
                              by Christina Lamb

                              HarperPress £14.99 pp290

                              What is it about men, in this case African
men, when they get power? "They want it to put things right but then they
enjoy it too much. They like too much being the Big Man. They forget what is
real and what is not." These words come not from a bigoted former colonial,
but from a poorly educated, extremely wise woman called Aqui, living a life
of poverty in rural Zimbabwe, thinking back over the Robert Mugabe years.

                              Aqui is one of three central characters in
Christina Lamb's captivating personal history of Zimbabwe's recent past.
Another of the three has little more than a walk-on part, yet his shadow
hangs over everyone. Lamb has a good reason for keeping Mugabe in the wings:
since 2002, foreign journalists have been banned from Zimbabwe, and although
she has made many undercover visits, gaining access to the president would
have been difficult, especially as she has been named an enemy of the state.

                              The other main character in this devilish
dance is Nigel Hough, a white Zimbabwean whose story she tells alongside
that of Aqui. Hough was born and bred to wealthy farmer parents in Southern
Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), a country he regarded as his own. He "felt blessed
to have been born in such a place". Part of that blessing came in the form
of economic success. At 1,000 acres, the Houghs' farm provided a good living
on some of the most fertile land on that immensely fertile continent. By the
time Hough reached his teens, most African countries had won independence.
In Southern Rhodesia, however, the struggle was just beginning. Hough and
his friends were against the insurgents. They were no more racist than most
of their kind, but they regarded blacks as piccanins, "a kind of supporting
cast", even the most advanced of whom still had, in the words of Ian Smith,
the Rhodesian leader, "an awful long way to go". The journalist Max
Hastings, who covered the ensuing independence war, described it as "the
last stand of English suburban values in the midst of the African continent".
Hough was happy to fight to protect that little England, hoping to join the
all-white Rhodesian Light Infantry. But by then there was a newly
independent Zimbabwe and a new prime minister, Mugabe.

                              Since then, foreign journalists have reported
a string of calamities, from the collapse of the "Zim" dollar (now worth
less than one pence), to rising unemployment, the failure of education and
healthcare, the disastrous confiscation of white-owned farms (including the
Houghs'), which have reduced a country that once exported food to a state of
dependency. Add to that the abuse of human rights, the suppression of the
legal system and the consequences of Mugabe's failure to secure a majority
in the referendum on his new powers, which has led since 2000 to the
creation of despotic government.

                              Much of this has been widely reported in the
press and covered in political histories and memoirs, including those of
Zimbabwe exile Alexandra Fuller. Lamb's achievement is to present the modern
story of Zimbabwe through convincing portraits from across the racial
divide. It takes great insight and considerable imaginative powers to
describe the unfolding story from both sides, but this she manages with
complete conviction. So, with each twist of the tale, she flips from Hough
back to Aqui, who she charts from raped schoolgirl to abused wife to the
trusted and adored carer of the Hough children and then, in 2002, to a
member of the war veterans' group that ejects the Houghs from their home.

                              One of the most surprising things that Lamb
reveals is the inevitability of the tragedy. In 1977, at the height of the
independence struggle, Mugabe called whites "blood-sucking exploiters". A
quarter of a century later, he was still insisting that "the white man is
not indigenous to Africa" and should leave. The 6,000 white farmers who held
some two-thirds of the country's productive land, which Hough knew was "the
best farming land in Africa", must have known what was coming, especially
when independence talks at London's Lancaster House gave them only 10 years'

                              So why did the Houghs and thousands of other
white farmers stay on after independence? Part of the answer lies in the
land, and in Aqui's comment about men forgetting what is real and what is
not. The Houghs thought they were the world's luckiest people to be sitting
on such fertile and eye- poppingly gorgeous land. Black Africans thought
that, too. While Aqui's father had a job putting up wire fences around white
farms, Aqui grew up "sighing with pleasure" at the thought of owning one of
those farms herself.

                              But there was something beyond the rich
farmland that held and continues to hold the Houghs and many like them,
something in the African light, in its flora and fauna, in the life it
offers and, in spite of racial issues, in its people. And here, consummate
storyteller that she is, Lamb finds some ray of hope for her protagonists.
By the end, the Houghs have lost everything and Aqui has seen her dream of
rich farmland turn to dust, but a relationship has developed between them,
one that would have seemed unthinkable a few decades ago. And as long as
these people continue to talk and treat each other humanely, there is always
the possibility of another ending for the story of whites in Africa.

                              Hard times

                              For black Africans in Rhodesia, even the most
basic tasks, such as getting water, left, or medicine, were a trial. When
Aqui's baby brother fell ill, her mother had to carry him three hours to a
doctor. By the time they arrived, the boy was dead.

                              Available at the Books First price of £13.49
(including p&p) on 0870 165 8585

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Playing poker for our lives on a white farm

The Sunday Times April 16, 2006

            When the Hough family's maid took over their farm in Zimbabwe
they were horrified. But, says Christina Lamb, all was not as it seemed

            The two men stayed awake all night in the farmhouse, terrified
of what might happen. They opened a bottle of whisky but they drank little,
wanting to keep their wits about them, their guns ready. At times the sound
seemed to swell and they were sure the 50 war veterans singing and drumming
outside were going to burst in.
            "For two days we were locked in that house, being moved further
and further in," remembers Nigel Hough.

            It was August 2002. For two years white properties in Zimbabwe's
rich Wenimbi valley had fallen to land invasions unleashed by President
Robert Mugabe's regime. Only one white farm remained in its owners' hands:
Kendor, the home of Nigel, his wife Claire and their four children.

            Now the end was near. Claire and the children were safely away
from the farm but Nigel remained with his friend Pete Moore, a former member
of the Rhodesian SAS.

            "We were really scared, not sleeping, and thought in the end we'd
have to turn our weapons on them," said Nigel.

            Even worse than the land invasion was the fact that the Houghs'
much-loved maid and nanny, Aqui, who was virtually a member of the family,
had been transformed into the leader of the attackers.

            Nigel, who had paid for her children's education and had treated
her with a respect and admiration that was virtually unprecedented between a
white farmer and his maid in Zimbabwe, was shocked to hear her shouting "Get
out whites" and "Death to whites".

            "It was quite clear that Aqui was on the other side and I couldn't
bear to think about that," he told me later. "I wanted to kill her."

            After 48 hours the police took the two white men into nearby
Marondera for questioning. When they managed to slip away and return to the
farm they found the wrought-iron gates closed and barricaded. There was no
way they were going to get back in.

            Nigel imagined Aqui queening it over his house, having traded
places with him. But there was nothing he could do. He knew that they had
been lucky to escape with their lives.

            Left with only the clothes they were wearing, the Houghs were
desperate to retrieve some of their property. The police allowed Claire to
return with Barry Percival, the headmaster of a local Christian school.

            They arrived at the house to find that Aqui and some of the
others were having a barbecue on the lawn. The men had drunk all the beer.
The children of Netsai, the woman who had made the initial approach to the
house, claiming it for the war veterans, were wearing clothes belonging to
the Hough children and playing with their toys. Claire was furious.
Squatters followed her around closely. Each time she focused on something to
retrieve, Netsai would claim it was hers.

            "You work out very quickly what's important to you," said
Claire. "What I really regret is I didn't take things that were of personal
value to the children, their toys and little stuffed animals. Even today
Emma (one of her daughters) talks about her little zebra that got left
behind. It was their history too and I didn't think about that."

            All the time Aqui was identifying things and saying, "That's
mine, that's mine, I'm the most senior war vet here." As fast as Barry and
his workers loaded things onto the truck, others would remove them. Aqui was
flitting back and forth, handing round beers and grabbing things for

            That evening at Barry's home, Nigel began to think about the
future. Claire had recently started working as a teacher, so they would
scrape by on her salary for a while.

            "Compared to a lot of people, things could have been much worse.
But I did feel that my faith in human nature had been sorely shaken," said

            Suddenly his mobile phone rang. "Mr Hough, sir," came the
familiar voice. "It's Aqui."

            INSIDE the farm, things were not what they seemed. Aqui had been
in a quandary since the invaders arrived. She was a Mugabe supporter and a
former activist for his Zanu-PF movement in the liberation war that led to
black rule. But who were these veterans and the woman leading them, known as

            "I didn't know them . . . they wanted to intimidate me and get
me out so I told them, 'I'm also black and Zimbabwean and also a war vet. I
have all my rights. Why are you trying to intimidate me? If I want to stay
here I can. I participated a lot in the war and even after the war I carried
on and did a lot of work for the party. If I decide to work for the white
people that's my choice.'

            "I knew our people needed land and thought it was quite right
that the government take these farms and land but it should have been
properly worked out, not like this.

            "I saw the way these war vets intimidated people, made them
scared and wanted everything, even my things. So from the beginning I said,
'I'm not going to let you do anything to the property.' I told them, 'If you
start grabbing things from inside the house, that's stealing, that's not
land resettlement.' I told them this white person is God's being the same as
you and God doesn't want you to do these things, so call off your dogs.

            "I don't know how I did it but I was very firm. I felt I was a
Zimbabwean too. I even said, 'Some of you here weren't even war vets. Some
of you were sell-outs during the war'."

But it was clear that she, alone in her polka-dot apron, could not hold off
this gang of squatters with sticks and axes, many of whom were drunk. "It
was very dangerous because they were using youths, giving them dagga
(cannabis) to smoke to make them crazy. I was very aware that they could
turn on me.

"Then I thought, if I joined them, perhaps I could protect the Houghs so the
war vets didn't kill them and also save some of their things. I felt bad for
Boss Nigel because I could see what he thought of me when I was shouting
'Death to whites' and all those things.

"But I had to be more enthusiastic than the other war vets so they wouldn't
suspect me. I was used to motivating people from my days in the war so I
ended up leading the chants."

Once Nigel had gone, and Aqui was left alone with the squatters, she did
begin to wonder about seizing the farm for herself. "Why shouldn't I have it
rather than Netsai? I had worked for the party all those years whereas these
people had come from nowhere."

The farm was clearly going to be taken over anyway, which meant she would be
left without a job. She knew the Houghs had applied for visas to Australia,
so they would probably leave and forget all about her.

With all the whites leaving, there would be no more jobs for her despite her
new cordon bleu cooking qualification, paid for by the Houghs. Her children
would have to leave school without completing their education.

"Whites might lose their farms but they got on a plane and left to start a
new life some other place, while blacks lay down and tried to survive on
wild fruit."

Aqui thought about her son Wayne, almost 15 and at boarding school in
Harare, also paid for by the Houghs. He was a bright boy and she had big
plans for him to go to college and perhaps become a doctor or an accountant.
Her eldest, Heather, longed to go to London to study nursing. Then there was
Vanessa, who dreamt of being a top-flight secretary.

Aqui, whose own childhood ambition was to be a nurse, did not want them to
end up like herself. "My dreams hadn't come true. Maybe this was a way my
children's could." So she stayed inside the house with Netsai and the war
vets, watching and waiting for her opportunity. She did not think it would
be hard. Some of the invaders were starting to look up to her as a leader.

"They were not clever people . . . I cooked them meat from the deep freeze
and milk for their tea and mealie meal the Boss had given me so they ended
up loving me. In the meantime I managed to lock some of the Houghs' things
in the workers' rondavels (huts) while I figured out what to do." She was
haunted by the look of bitter betrayal Nigel had given her as he left the
farm. "Of course I felt it was unfair that the Houghs had this big house and
I was just a maid. I wished I had more things for my children.

"But I am what I am, God made me like this even if it's difficult. And after
a while I realised it would be wrong to take the farm for I wouldn't feel
comfortable with something I didn't work for. I didn't have a clue how to

Nor did she want the likes of Netsai and the squatters to take things to
which they had even less right than her. "I knew it was wrong what they were
doing and I decided to try and save some of the things of the Houghs. I put
them in the roundhouses where I had already put some things aside, like a

"While Madam Claire and Barry were trying to get things out, I took other
items that I knew were important to them and I had seen where Netsai had
hidden. I had to be careful and suddenly all these war vets came to grab
everything so I said, 'No I'm not going to let you, these are my things.'
But it wasn't working. They said, 'How do you have all these fancy things?'

"So I opened the deep freeze and asked them, 'Do you want some meat?' and
they said, 'Yes,' then I chucked these big ostrich steaks to the far-away
hedge so they all ran for it. I gave them lots of bottles of beer from the
house to get them drunk, for I knew they would kill me if they realised what
I was going to do."

Then she picked up the phone to explain everything to Nigel. He didn't
believe her.

WHEN Nigel heard Aqui's voice on the phone telling him that she had rescued
some of his furniture he at first thought it was a trap.

"After what she had done I had decided I would never speak to her again," he
said. "I was very bitter." He knew that some war vets who had seized farms
had turned round and asked the owners for money, and he thought Aqui
probably wanted the same. "They take over these farms then realise that just
the fact of having a farm does not buy you food and pay the school fees."

In the following weeks things got worse. War vets tried to abduct Claire
five times. Nigel was surrounded in his car and only escaped by driving
through them. It was so terrifying that the Houghs ended up moving to
Harare. "It seemed to me that there were no happy endings in this story," he

In the end, however, his friend Barry went to the farm and found that Aqui
did indeed have a pile of their belongings locked in one of the workers'
huts. She had been telling the truth.

Soon afterwards Barry was abducted by Zanu-PF thugs to one of their torture
centres in Marondera. The local police inspector warned Nigel: "We're going
to kill your friend." But the ever-resourceful headmaster managed to escape
and left the country for England with his wife and children.

Aqui didn't stay on at Kendor farm. Her warm, vivacious personality led to
her being talent-spotted for a television soap opera set in a restaurant.
She played Marjorie, a hard-nosed magazine editor always threatening to
write a bad review of the food. Like most things in Zimbabwe, the production
ran out of finance.

She is now back living in her old shack in Marondera, sleeping under the
kitchen shelf and sharing the three shoebox-sized rooms with an assortment
of her own children, her sister and her sister's new baby. Surviving on
money sent back from England by her eldest daughter, who works in a care
home in Southend and longs to study nursing, she endures the collapse of the
Zimbabwean economy and can no longer remember the last time the shops had
cooking oil, milk, sugar or flour.

Reconciled with the Houghs, she now works for them part time. They live back
in Marondera on the campus of the school where Claire teaches. A new baby,
Ollie, joined the family in 2004, so there are seven Houghs squashed into a
tiny three-bedroom bungalow furnished with the items Aqui rescued from the

It is a far cry from their sprawling farmhouse, and there's a battle every
morning for the one minuscule bathroom. But it is a happy home, full of
beautiful blond-haired, blue-eyed children reading, drawing or playing, and
the comforting smell of a chicken roasting - at least until one of the many
daily power cuts turns off the oven. Recently the Houghs all went to Sun
City in South Africa for a holiday and took Aqui with them. It was the first
time that she had flown or indeed gone on vacation.

"I went in a big plane with them and stayed in an amazing room with a
bathroom as big as my house. We all ate at the same table and they treated
me like a sister. It was like a dream come true."

The Houghs have arranged visas for Australia but are reluctant to leave. "I
really think it's dangerous to mope about the past," said Nigel. "The good
thing about what has happened is that it makes you focus on what really
matters, and that's your relationships with God and family. And of course
Aqui. On one side there's still a big cultural divide and our lifestyles are
so different. But I feel like a barrier has been broken down. It's no longer
just an employer-employee relationship but a friendship."

Aqui insists she wasn't tempted to keep their farm. "It wasn't mine," she
laughs. "Anyway I don't want a palace; I just want to be comfortable."

Although Aqui firmly believes that the land should be returned to the
blacks, and she was recently elected to a position in the Zanu-PF Women's
League, she is sure that what her old hero Mugabe has done is not the

"There's no point having a farm if you don't know how to farm," she says.
"Before, when I would get the bus along the road to the Houghs' farm, I
would just see green the other side, fields of mealie maize, and some nice
plump jersey cows. Instead, now if at all you see maize, it is short and
yellow, because it has not been fertilised and not planted at the right time
and there are no cows. Mostly the fields are black and burnt."

When I visit Marondera, Nigel books me into a small local lodge, and at
lunch, perhaps to impress me, he orders sadza (maize porridge) which comes
in thick wads. He tells me that when he was at school this would have been
"kaffir food" that no white would dream of eating.

One day we pass his old farm, still occupied by Netsai, and he slows down.
"Do you think you'll ever get it back?"

He thinks for a moment. "No, you just have to move on."

Not everyone has moved on. Later at Nigel's house Aqui is upset when one of
his white friends drops by and speaks over her head to me as if she were not

"You see things haven't changed at all," she says. "They still think they
are the masters." Then, ever ready to give the benefit of the doubt, she
adds: "Maybe he is one of those who lost his farm. And of course there are
also blacks like that who won't go near whites; they just hate them."

© Christina Lamb 2006

Extracted from House of Stone by Christina Lamb to be published by
HarperCollins on Tuesday at £14.99. Copies can be ordered for £13.19
including postage from The Sunday Times BooksFirst on 0870 165 8585

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Media body says Harare's new stance on self regulation welcome

Zim Online

Mon 17 April 2006

      BULAWAYO - The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) has applauded
the Zimbabwe government's decision to support moves by local journalists to
set up a self-regulatory media council.

      In a letter to Information Minister Tichaona Jokonya, MISA director
Luckson Chipare, commented the government for accepting voluntary regulation
by the media, adding that his organisation believed that self regulation was
critical to building trust and confidence between the media industry and the

      Last month, Media and Information Commission (MIC) chairman Tafataona
Mahoso told a parliamentary committee that his commission, which is tasked
with regulating the operations of the media in Zimbabwe, would welcome the
voluntary regulation of the media.

      "Such a process (setting up of voluntary media regulatory council) is
sure to build the necessary trust and confidence between the media industry
and the government.

      "MISA has, since its establishment in 1992, been a strong advocate for
the establishment of independent media councils that enforce
industry-designed and accredited codes of conduct. "We maintain that
self-regulation is the best system for promoting high standards in the
media," reads the letter.

      MISA also expressed concern over the government's failure to repeal
the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) which has
been used to shut down four newspapers over the past three years.

      "We therefore stand ready to provide you with our input on amendments
to AIPPA as you requested when you first took office almost a year ago,"
reads the letter.

      Human rights and media organisations in Zimbabwe accuse the MIC of
being a partisan body that has been used by the government to stifle the
country's small but vibrant independent media.

      Zimbabwe, described by the World Association of Newspapers as one of
the worst places for journalists in the world, has some of the toughest
media laws in the world.

      The government has until recently been opposed to self regulation by
journalists fearing such a process might undermine the MIC because the state
council is widely perceived as not being fair or professional. - ZimOnline

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Blind beggars rely on song as coins vanish

Zim Online

Mon 17 April 2006

      BULAWAYO - It is morning rush hour in Zimbabwe's second biggest city
of Bulawayo.

      At the corner of Jason Moyo and Eight Avenue, 54-year old Tamion
Mhlope breaks into a soulful religious hymn as he solicits donations from
passers-by who appear detached and buried in their own personal pursuits.

      For Mhlope, who is blind, the challenge is how to coax these hundreds
of individuals - who themselves look just as hard-pressed as himself - to
drop a note or whatever they can give away into his alms bowl.

      "I cannot rattle a begging bowl now that coins are hard to come by,"
he says interrupting his song in mid-verse.

      Zimbabwe, in its sixth year of a severe economic meltdown which has
seen inflation shooting beyond 900 percent, has virtually phased out the use
of coins as legal tender.

      But the disappearance of coins from public circulation has also
presented new challenges to street beggars who are on the increase due to
the economic crisis.

      "It used to be easier just to rattle the begging bowl containing a few
coins. Now I have devised a way of attracting the sympathy and benevolence
of the public - I sing as loud as I can," Mhlope says.

      "The only currency of value is in note form which one cannot jangle in
a plate," he says before breaking into song again.

      Mhlope is among thousands of blind beggars who have been forced into
the streets in a desperate bid to keep body and soul together. With each
passing day signalling a toughening of the crisis, begging has become much
more desperate here in Bulawayo - in Zimbabwe's southern Matabeleland

      Surprisingly, just across the street, another blind beggar, 45-year
old Moline Sibanda clanks a few coins in a plate pleading for assistance
from the public.

      "I feel relieved that I kept these coins. They have come in handy. My
colleagues are finding it tough to beg without these coins" she says.   But
she says she does not expect any sympathisers to give her coins.

      "Everyone knows they are worthless. The public don't even bother
throwing coins at poor people like us unless it is meant as an insult. Times
are tough," says Sibanda.

      Last week, the Zimbabwe government's Central Statistical Office said
inflation had shot to a new all-time high of 913.6 percent as it continues
its relentless march towards breaking the 1 000 percent barrier.

      Economic experts say Zimbabwe's inflation, dubbed the "country's
number one enemy" by President Robert Mugabe, is the highest outside a war

      The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party and
major Western governments blame the crisis on wrong policies and
mismanagement by Mugabe and his government particularly his seizure of
white-owned land for redistribution to landless blacks six years ago.

      The farm seizures destabilised the key agricultural sector which was
one of Zimbabwe's biggest foreign currency earners. Mugabe however denies
ruining the country's economy blaming the crisis on sabotage by Britain and
her allies whom he says are punishing his government for initiating the land

      The worsening economic hardships have had a knock-on effect on the
generosity of the public.

      "I can't blame the public when they appear tight-fisted," says Mhlope.

      "These are difficult times but I cannot give up coming on the streets
to beg even though the chances of getting any donation of significance at
the end of the day are getting slimmer and slimmer every day," he says with
a sense of resignation. - ZimOnline

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Bureaucratic heart of darkness

Washington Times

By Marian L. Tupy
April 16, 2006

Sometimes even the most pessimistic observer of African affairs is forced to
admit to being surprised just how low a particular African regime has sunk
in its treatment of its own people. The latest chapter in the tragic story
that is Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe has all the usual ingredients:
incompetence, callousness, greed and barefaced lies.
    Zimbabwe's economic meltdown has been so impoverishing that the women of
Zimbabwe can no longer afford to buy even the most basic hygienic products.
Poor substitutes lead to infections that can be fatal in a country where
health care has collapsed. International donors have tried to provide
relief, but they have encountered a major obstacle: Zimbabwe's officialdom.
    In 2000, Robert Mugabe embarked on a course that led his country to
economic ruin. By expropriating Zimbabwe's farmers, he destroyed his
country's ability to feed itself. Famine rages in the countryside, despite
efforts of international aid agencies. Mr. Mugabe's evisceration of private
property rights in agriculture fatally undermined other sectors of the
economy, such as manufacture and financial services.
    With private sector production rapidly declining, Zimbabwe can no longer
sell enough goods overseas and earn the foreign currency it needs. Most
imported items, including gas, have become nearly impossible to obtain. The
government has also lost most of the revenue it needs to pay the wages in
the public sector. It therefore resorted to printing money. Inflation runs
at 600 percent, and doctors, nurses, lawyers and businessmen are fleeing in
droves. More than 2 million Zimbabweans found a new home in South Africa
    One of the more mundane, but telling examples of skyrocketing poverty in
the country is the fact even the most basic everyday necessities, such as
feminine hygienic pads, have become a luxury most Zimbabwean women can no
longer afford. The country has 80 percent unemployment. People who are lucky
enough to work earn a meager salary that averages $21 per month. A month's
supply of pads, unfortunately, costs $5.
    Use of unsanitary substitutes has spread disease. The Zimbabwean
Congress of Trades Unions has requested, and secured, donations of free
hygiene pads from donors in South Africa and Great Britain.
    In a farcical twist, the Zimbabwean authorities refused to award the
shipments duty-free treatment, demanding the cargo first be quality-tested.
It may seem astonishing that government officials in a country undergoing
social and economic implosion should think twice before exempting the
much-needed products from an import tariff or that they should have the
nerve to demand quality-testing for imports from a comparatively affluent
and well-run country like South Africa. But bureaucrats have no shame and in
Africa doubly so.
    After all, Zimbabwe is a country where life expectancy fell from 56
years in 1993 to 30 years in 2005, yet where the government taxes foreign
medicines at an average rate of 22? percent.
    No doubt, greed also plays a role. Africa has an army of customs
officials, whose job it is to collect import duties. With wages low and
deteriorating rapidly in real value due to inflation, customs officials rely
on bribes to speed shipments through or look the other way altogether.
    Thus, when a group of South African churches and nongovernmental
organizations raised money to purchase emergency aid for the people of
Zimbabwe in the winter months of 2005, the Zimbabwean customs officials
demanded that import tariffs be paid. South African blankets and food
languished at the Johannesburg airport for weeks.
    Worse, the government's Propaganda Ministry is in full swing denying
that anything out of the ordinary is happening in Zimbabwe. The deputy
minister of information, Bright Matonga, told the BBC's "Focus on Africa"
that people were "creating a crisis that does not exit."
    "The Zimbabwe government won't sit back and let women suffer. We care
about our women," Mr. Matonga said. Perish the thought. In fact, Zimbabwe's
government must hold a record for barefaced lying.

Take operation "Murambatsvina" in May 2005, during which Zimbabwe's security
leveled entire townships, leaving some 700,000 people homeless. The
operation caused international outcry prompting even the United Nations,
usually less-than-vocal on African governments' human-rights abuses, to
condemn Zimbabwe for violating international law and urging prosecution of
those responsible. Kofi Annan, U.N. secretary-general, called the policy a
"catastrophic injustice." In response, the government promised to find the
displaced people alternative housing. Reports from Zimbabwe make it clear
nothing of the sort was done.
    Zimbabwe has clearly reached a point where authoritarianism stops and
tyranny begins. It is now an Orwellian society where government officials
engage in a all-out war against reality and where "Room 101" is a very real
place for many of the government's opponents.
    It was, therefore, with a sense of disbelief that many have learned that
Gideon Gono, governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and a man whom the
Zimbabwean human-rights activists call a "linchpin" of the Mugabe regime,
was given a U.S. Capitol reception by the National Black Leadership
Roundtable last week and that Rep. Diane Watson, California Democrat, and
member of the House International Relations subcommittee on Africa, made an
appearance there. Zimbabwean people deserve better.

    Marian L. Tupy is assistant director of the Cato Institute's Project on
Global Economic Liberty specializing in the study of Europe and sub-Saharan

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Update - Zimbabwe Pension Entitlements

To All Supporters

Memory overload has resulted in a change to our petition address. It is now

The Petition will be delivered to the British Minister of State on the 30th of June 2006. Almost 2000 signatures will be on it.

In May I will be lobbying for support in accordance with the Action Plan.

From now, and until this matter has been satisfactorily resolved, I ask all supporters to visit our recently established Blog Page to comment on the distress and suffering being endured by many Zimbabwe pensioners and their families. Your comments will provide material for my weekly Blog summary and analysis.

The Blog Page will be available to bloggers worldwide. If you want their support, make your comments. Keep them brief, to the point, but significant and effective to arouse the sympathetic support we need.

Please encourage all and sundry to visit this page. It is a forum, which could become a court of public opinion, anyone with a computer can log in, comment, exchange viewpoints, or offer support.

I remind supporters that we are petitioning for payment at the historic rate of Z$2 to one pound Stirling, as recorded in the British House of Lords debate in 2001.

The Petition Site will close on the 30th of June. The Blog Page will remain as a website for comment, discussion and, hopefully, offers of pro bono legal help. It will be our only means of communication and the only way to continue the fight for our pensions entitlements. The torch has been lit by one very old man; now, all of you must keep it burning.

Raymond Billington

To post comments on the blog site:

First cllick on the web site given above. Once the site has opened, click on "Comments"(found next to the small white square envelope with a black arrow and yellow pencil symbol).

Then a new panel will be revealed entitled "Leave Your Comments" with a flashing cursor ready for your message.

When you have completed your typed message, click on "Publish Your Comment"in the rectangular blue box at the bottom of the page.

Finally, to view your posted comments on the update page, click on "Comments found from the Petition", which is located in the column with the hand-symbol, towards the bottom of the screen.


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Opposition camps trade accusations

Zim Standard

            By Foster Dongozi

            THE pro-Senate faction of the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) has accused the Morgan Tsvangirai-led anti-Senate camp of threatening
its members so that they defect.

            Kwekwe MP Blessing Chebundo, Binga legislator Joel Gabbuza, and
newspaper boss Sam Sipepa Nkomo are among high profile members to dump
Arthur Mutambara's faction.

            While Tsvangirai's camp said more MPs and other senior members
were set to defect from the pro-Senate faction, the deputy secretary general
of the pro-Senate group, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, said both the
State and the anti-Senate camp were working tirelessly to destroy their

            She said it was difficult not to find anything suspicious about
Nkomo's defection and the revival of corruption charges against him last

            Misihairabwi-Mushonga was reacting to reports that the
Mutambara-led faction was collapsing following the three resignations amid
mounting speculation that other high profile members of the faction,
including national chairman Gift Chimanikire, would soon cross the floor.

            Chimanikire was not immediately reachable as he was reported to
have gone to his rural home.

            "That business of defections is a very old and tired Zanu PF
strategy," Misihairabwi-Mushonga said. "I need not remind you that Zanu PF
has used that tactic for many years during which people are made to say they
have left the MDC to rejoin Zanu PF.

            "What makes me very sad is that some of our colleagues are
mimicking what Zanu PF does. It is a sign that they admire Zanu PF."

            Her reaction comes as the Tsvangirai faction is planning to hold
rallies in the constituencies of MPs in the Mutambara camp.

            Tsvangirai's faction is widely expected to unveil a timetable
for mass action aimed at forcing the government to abandon its undemocratic

            Tsvangirai is planning rallies in Dzivarasekwa where the
pro-Senate's Edwin Mushoriwa is MP, Harare North where Trudy Stevenson is
MP, Mbare where Chimanikire is the legislator, and Glen Norah which is under

            Sources in Tsvangirai's faction said Chebundo defected just in
time as a rally was being planned in Kwekwe to gauge the people's support.

            However, in an interview with The Standard, Chebundo said: "I
was not pressured by anybody to cross the floor. The decision to cross was
taken after consultations with the people."

            Last week, Tsvangirai held a rally at Huruyadzo Centre in
Chitungwiza, the perceived stronghold of pro-Senate legislator Job Sikhala,
and attracted a large crowd.

            Nelson Chamisa, the spokesperson for Tsvangirai's camp, said:
"Our MDC does not believe in the politics of violence and intimidation. What
we are simply saying is that there are some absentee MPs who are now afraid
to face the people. The people expect feedback on the congress resolutions
but their representatives are afraid to face them."

            Misihairabwi-Mushonga said: "I have no problem with Tsvangirai's
people coming to my constituency as long as it is going to advance the
democratic struggle. It is strange that they should want to come to my
constituency, which is already in the hands of the opposition. Why don't
they go to Mt Darwin and give feedback in the middle of Zanu PF

            Insiders in the Tsvangirai camp said those defecting would not
receive special treatment.

            Chebundo said: "There is no way I could have been influenced by
intimidation. Remember Zanu PF supporters burnt and destroyed my businesses
in Kwekwe in 2000 so nothing can intimidate me any more. I do not agree with
the assertion that I crossed over because there were more people who were
most likely to side with the anti-Senate faction."

            Nkomo and Gabbuza were not immediately available for comment.

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Mozambicans turn against Zimbabweans

Zim Standard

            By our staff

            MUTARE - Zimbabweans visiting Mozambique on business complain
that police and ordinary citizens from that country are harassing them.

            This has prompted top Zanu PF politicians from Manicaland
Province to call for urgent action to stop the alleged abuses, which are
sometimes carried out by Mozambique police.

            Zimbabweans, unable to come to terms with the deteriorating
economic environment in the country, have resorted to cross-border trading
for survival.

            The majority of the cross border traders are civil servants,
especially teachers, whose earnings have been seriously eroded by inflation.

            During a recent workshop held by top Zanu PF politicians in
Manicaland, villagers complained they could no longer stomach the harassment
at the hands of the Mozambican police and ordinary citizens.

            The workshop, attended by Oppah Muchinguri, who is also the MP
for Mutasa South, and Mandi Chimene a senator for the area, was organised to
impart business skills to villagers in Mutasa.

            The cross-border traders complained that Mozambican police
detain Zimbabweans for no apparent reasons. Others say they solicited for
bribes and sexual favours from female cross-border traders in exchange for
freedom to operate freely. Failure to comply with their orders can be
disastrous, the cross-border traders say.

            "I have stopped," said Angeline Makande, "I could not stand it
anymore. I was treated as if I am not a human being."
            "Cross-border traders are finding it difficult to operate in
Mozambique because we are being ill-treated by both the police and ordinary
citizens," said Thomas Mambo, a cross-border trader.

            Christopher Munyama, another cross-border trader, said: "What is
most disturbing is that the police in Mozambique treat us as if we do not
have any rights at all."

            A female cross-border trader from Mutare, who refused to be
named, said she has since stopped doing business in Mozambique after the
police harassed her. She also said Mozambican police at times sexually
harassed Zimbabwean women.

            Zimbabweans sell basic goods in Mozambique. Goods popular in the
neighbouring country include sugar, cooking oil, maize meal, flour and milk.

            Mozambicans prefer Zimbabwean products, especially sugar, ahead
of their own. They say Zimbabwean products are more refined.

            An official from the Mozambican consulate in Mutare denied that
harassment was taking place.

            He, however, said companies in Mozambique had approached the
government complaining about cross-border traders who were flooding the
market with Zimbabwean products.

            "The problem is that we want to protect our industries as well.
We cannot allow cross-border traders to flood our markets with Zimbabwean
products. That will affect our companies," the official said.

            Muchinguri promised to take the matter further up to protect

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Police beat up Gweru revellers

Zim Standard

            By our staff

            POLICE in Gweru beat up revelers and workers who were returning
home from work on Friday night 10 days ago for unspecified reasons.

            Newsnet's bureau chief for the Midlands, Moses Gumbo, was among
those who were assaulted by police at a nightclub in the city centre. Gumbo
confirmed he was assaulted but would not give further details.

            A man who asked not to be identified was also among those beaten
up by the police at another nightclub in the city's central business
district. He said baton-wielding police from the Support Unit just descended
on the place and started beating up everyone indiscriminately.

            "There was panic and confusion when the police appeared from
nowhere and started beating up people. As people tried to seek explanation
for what was going on, the police said they were beating us up for 'lying'.
They said Zimbabweans are always complaining that life has become tough and
yet we could afford to drink at nightclubs," he said.

            At popular drinking places in the high-density suburbs of Mkoba
1 and Mkoba 6, people were also beaten up on the same day and Saturday

            Workers from a cement manufacturing company on the outskirts of
the city, who had dropped off a company bus in Mkoba 1, were also caught up
in the blitz.

            Midlands police spokesperson Patrick Chademana was not
immediately available for comment, but a Sergeant Bande at Gweru Central
Police Station's community relations office said he had had similar
inquiries from members of the public about the incidents.

            "There are other people who have asked us about this but I have
not heard about these incidents nor do I know of any police involvement in
them," Bande said.

            Speculation is however rife that the assaults were the State
security's pre-emptive measure of dissuading the public from engaging in the
opposition's threatened mass action.

            Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai urged Gweru residents to
brace for mass action when he addressed a well-attended rally at Gweru's
Mkoba Stadium a fortnight ago.

            It was estimated about 15 000 people turned up to listen to

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'Garikai' hopefuls to lose out

Zim Standard

            By Valentine Maponga

            PEOPLE who had been promised houses built under "Operation
Garikai" at Whitecliff stand to lose out because the government does not
have the money needed to clear boulders at the farm.

            Harare City Council architect Claudious Kurauvone, heavily
involved in the project, said the area initially meant for Phase 1 was
abandoned because it had a lot of boulders.

            "A lot of stands had been pegged in this area but now we will
have to re-plan and make them a bit bigger so that those people with money
and are on the housing waiting list can blast the rocks on their own," said

            Initially the area had about 8 000 stands pegged and a list of
beneficiaries published in the newspapers,  but because of the re-planning a
number of people will not be able to get the stands.

            "The suggestion was that out of the 8 000 stands, 2 000 would be
given to the uniformed forces and a total of about 3 000 given to the people
affected by Operation Murambatsvina," Kurauvone said. "However, some people
are going to be displaced because the stands have to be re-pegged under
Phase 3."

            He was responding to questions from members of the Parliamentary
Portfolio Committee on Local Government on Tuesday who toured the project.

            Kurauvone, however, could not reveal the beneficiaries of the
almost finished houses.

            "All the stakeholders involved in this project are going to be
called for a special meeting to discuss the issue of allocations. About 319
houses have reached roof level out of 459 being built under Phase 1," said
Kurauvone responding to a question by Mutare Central MP Innocent Gonese

            Chairman of "Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle" Task Force for
Harare Metropolitan Province Colonel Kallisto Gwanetsa said the major thrust
of the Whitecliff project at the moment was to complete the sewer system.

            "Right now I don't have any problems of funds disbursement and
if the reticulation system is over, these houses would be ready for takeover
by the end of July," Gwanetsa said.

            The 16-member committee also toured Hatcliffe and Hopley housing
projects. At Hatcliffe only 109 houses have been built out of a target of
524. Some of the beneficiaries have already moved in.

            Occupants of core-houses built at Hopley were using Blair
toilets while awaiting connection of water and sewer pipes to the houses.
About 209 houses have been roofed, 20 are just about to be roofed, 80 are at
window level and 291 foundations have been dug.

            Gwanetsa said the majority of people affected by the clean-up
exercise in Harare were being housed at Hopley.

            Chairperson of the portfolio committee who is  Mazowe West MP
Margaret Zinyemba (Zanu-PF) however concluded that the committee was
satisfied that the projects were "progressing well despite numerous

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More poverty at 26

Zim Standard

            By Valentine Maponga

            GOVERNMENT'S efforts to rectify its man-made catastrophe -
"Operation Garikai/ Hlalani Kuhle" - have failed to bear fruits as hundreds
are still sleeping out in the cold, a few weeks before winter sets in.

            For many this year's Independence Day celebrations are a
non-event since they are more worried about survival. Many victims of
"Murambatsvina" are still sleeping in the open and are not assured of their
next meal.

            Victims have built shacks using plastics and broken pieces of
furniture, which they use as their houses. Parents and their children sleep
in the open, covered with either plastics or cardboard boxes.

            Homeless people told The Standard that they had lost hope.

            Israel Mugova stays in an open area between Glen Norah C and
Mukuvisi River where they drink contaminated water from the river and use
the bush as latrines. He said they have failed to secure stands under
"Operation Garikai" after the officials told him that no one was permitted
to stay within the "illegal" light industries, razed by police during the
clean up exercise.

            "I went to Hopley several times but I could not get a stand.
Life is very difficult after Murambatsvina. We just don't know what to do
next," said a dejected Mugova, busy sewing jackets meant for the market.

            He said before "Murambatsvina" struck, he worked as a blacksmith
and could feed his family and afford a few luxuries.

            "I used to make tins for sale and could feed my family from the
proceeds. I think Murambatsvina was there to make us poorer than we were" he

            Mugova stays with his wife and three children. For several
months they tried to find alternative accommodation but failed.

            Another young man who spends most of his time crushing stones
for survival said there would be nothing to celebrate, come Independence

            "I sell these stones to construction companies for survival
because there is nothing else I can do. Municipal police occasionally raid
us and confiscate our wares and the police have also threatened us with
arrest. We have no option but to continue struggling to make ends meet,"
said the young man, who declined to be named.

            Henricas Amone Cheiro said she does not even remember when she
came to Zimbabwe from Mozambique but ended up being part of the impoverished
community after "Murambatsvina".

            "After Murambatsvina we were told to go back where we came from,
but I don't remember my way back because I came here with my late brother.
We have not benefited from "Operation Garikai," Cheiro said.

            These people are some of the 700 000 who lost their livelihoods
through "Operation Murambatsvina" as reported by the UN Secretary General's
Special Envoy Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka.

            The majority of the people affected by "Murambatsvina" are now
living in destitution. Most of them have just built temporary structures
since they can't afford the rental fees in the city.

            Combined Harare Residents' Association information officer,
Precious Shumba, said more than a thousand families were still finding it
difficult to get decent accommodation after "Murambatsvina".

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Assistant DA remains defiant

Zim Standard

            By Godfrey Mutimba

            MASVINGO - Assistant District Administrator, James Murapa, is
under fire from newly resettled farmers, mainly war veterans in Mazare
resettlement area, for allegedly defying government orders to vacate a
farmhouse earmarked for a class room block.

            Murapa admitted that he was occupying the farmhouse as a
"caretaker" but denied that there was any dispute between him and the war
veterans over the issue.

            "I am occupying the house as a caretaker but I am not aware that
the house is a property of the satellite school. No one has communicated the
issue to me and if it is the position, I will have to wait to hear it from
the District Land Committee which is the relevant authority,'' he said.

            The farmers say the move has affected several schoolchildren
from five farms in the area that were partitioned into plots. The
schoolchildren from Beza, Biuri, Behulane, Desmondell and Testwood farms are
learning in the open, facing harsh weather conditions as winter fast

            War veterans from Mazare told The Standard that Murapa, who
grabbed the  farmhouse from a former commercial farmer at the height of the
chaotic land invasions, had since been given orders to vacate the house to
pave way for schoolchildren who are learning in the open.

            "He was told to vacate the farmhouse to make way for our
children who are learning in the open since we were resettled here five
years ago but he is holding on to the house. We have since appealed to the
relevant authorities but no action has been taken so far because he is being
protected by senior government and party officials,'' said Garikai Chando
from Beza farm.

            Another farmer, Tsungirai Tinarwo, feared children could miss
their examination.

            "Our children will not write their examination if nothing is
done soon because Zimsec has indicated to the school authorities that
examinations can not be conducted in the open. Our children cannot be
affected because of one selfish man whose children go to better schools in
town,'' she said.

            Masvingo District Administrator, James Mazvidza, confirmed the
misunderstanding over Murapa's continued occupancy of the house.

            "Yes it's true that the Assistant DA is occupying a farm house
which needs to be used as a school. I am coming from a meeting to discuss
the issue and I have been assigned to talk to him while we are waiting for a
resolution to be passed soon, so I can not tell you the position now,''
Mazvidza said.

            Masvingo Provincial Administrator, Felix Chikovo, said under the
A1 farm policy all farm buildings were occupied on a caretaker basis and no
person was allowed to continue occupying a property if it is required for
use by the community for the public good.

            "It's unfortunate that the policy for A1 farms is administered
by the Ministry of Lands. Under normal circumstances the houses are
allocated to people on temporary basis under caretakership. If there is need
for that property to be used by the community for public good, the people
are allowed to inform the local authorities through the DA's office so that
it can serve the community,'' Chikovo said.

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Rural households resort to wild foods

Zim Standard


            BULAWAYO - THE food situation in Zimbabwe has deteriorated
significantly with rural households surviving on wild foods such as
mushrooms and amacimbi/madora (edible worms), says the latest Famine Early
Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) report.

            According to the FEWSNET report, Matabeleland South is the most
severely affected region where villagers are now surviving on amacimbi.

            "The food security situation throughout Zimbabwe remained
precarious during January and February 2006. Wild fruits such as mushrooms
and edible worms did not only make a marked contribution to many rural
households food needs but also brought in cash income.

            "The households in the districts of Matabeleland South were
among the populations that experienced the most severe maize meal shortages
in the country. Amacimbi emerged as expected in December and January 2006 in
the southern areas of Gwanda, Kezi and Mwenezi. Many households in these
areas harvested amacimbi for consumption . . ." says FEWSNET, a United
States-based food security watchdog.

            Food aid programmes by the World Food Programme and other
non-governmental organisations "were the only dependable source of maize for
about 52% of the rural population," noted FEWSNET.

            The organisation estimates that Zimbabwe needs 1 420 000  tonnes
of maize while grappling with a maize deficit of 197 000 tonnes stemming
from poor harvests during the 2005 agricultural season.

            The government started importing maize from South Africa early
last year in a bid to bridge the maize deficit and according to FEWSNET the
South African Grain Information Services has indicated that maize imports
average 19 670  tonnes a week.

            However, FEWSNET has warned that even if current imports are
maintained, the country would still have a deficit of 40 000  tonnes by the
end of 2006.

            "Despite considerable maize imports, the scarcity of maize and
maize meal has intensified significantly throughout all the rural
 districts," says the report.

            On maize production, FEWSNET says this year the country would
record a marginal growth from last year's 550 000  tonnes.
            The government has said that it would record a bumper harvest
due to significant rains received across the country during the 2005/06
rainfall season.

            However, FEWSNET argues that the agricultural production still
falls far below that of the 1990's. "Preliminary investigations reveal that
this year's maize production will be greater than last year's but well below
the 1990s average."

            Zimbabwe used to be a net exporter of agricultural produce but
after the 2000 land reform programme which saw President Robert Mugabe's
government grabbing prime farming land from commercial farmers and parceling
it to mostly ruling party supporters and zealots, the country has been
gripped with a yearly food crisis.

            Some international organisations have also come to the aid of
the government by providing food relief to villagers facing starvation
although the State claims that Zimbabweans have enough food supplies.

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Militarisation to rescue economy - government

Zim Standard

            JOHANNESBURG - The Zimbabwean government has defended using
security and intelligence personnel to oversee the revival of the economy,
described as the fastest shrinking in the world outside of a war zone.

            Last month local media reported that a new economic and food
security revival body, known as the Zimbabwe National Security Council
(ZNSC), which includes officials from the Central Intelligence Organisation,
the army, police, prison services and the Registrar-General's office, had
been set up to oversee and enhance the capacity of ministries.

            "There is nothing sinister with involving security force
personnel in areas like the economy and food security: the government is
doing what is best for Zimbabwe. Any complaints to the contrary are only
meant to rubbish a genuine economic revival and food security programme,"
Obert Mpofu, the Minister of Industry and International Trade, told IRIN.

            Henri Boschoff, a military analyst at the Institute for Security
Studies, an African think-tank, said the Zimbabwean government's decision to
involve the security services in governance was two-pronged. "It helps to
stem any chance of a revolt from within its ranks by taking control and
keeping those in authority informed, but the security forces with their
trained personnel will also provide much needed leadership and management
capacity to drive each sector."

            The ZNSC, headed by President Robert Mugabe, is a key component
of a National Economic Development Priority Plan, comprising sub-committees
responsible for various issues such as mobilising foreign exchange and
tourism, restructuring public enterprises, and managing local authorities
and food security, according to the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper.

            Zimbabwe has been grappling with food shortages for the past
four years, mainly due to erratic weather conditions and the impact of the
chaotic fast-track land reform programme on the agricultural sector.

            A current inflation rate of more than 900 percent is proving a
considerable hurdle, while the lack of foreign currency has affected the
country's capacity to import even basic requirements such as fuel,
fertiliser and medicines.

            The sub-committee responsible for mobilising foreign exchange
has reportedly been asked to raise a minimum of US$2.5b in three months,
beginning from March.

            Contrary to popular opinion that the flurry of stopgap measures
indicated a slide into total economic collapse, the sub-committees would
enable government to stay in touch with all the key sectors of the economy,
said Mpofu. He denied there had been a militarisation of basic government

            Didymus Mutasa, Minister of National Security, said the
deployment of security personnel to civilian ministries was to ensure that
"things move"; the government needed to closely monitor the performance of
all sectors of the economy to ensure that the goal of recovery was met. -

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Murambatsvina victims sleep in night club

Zim Standard

            By Caiphas Chimhete

            PEOPLE dislodged by the government's clean-up exercise are
sleeping in a bar in Harare's Kuwadzana high-density suburb almost a year
after the controversial operation, The Standard can reveal.

            About 10 people, who were working and staying at Kuwadzana 5
home industry sites before demolitions of structures by the government
started last May, failed to secure affordable alternative accommodation.

            They pay $20 000 a night for overnight shelter in the bar.

            One person, who says he lost all his property when bulldozers
razed his carpentry shop - which doubled as his home - said he had been
sleeping in the bar for the past nine months.

            "We come to sleep here daily after patrons and staff have gone
home at around 11PM. Some sleep on benches while others are on the floor. It's
not good to be here, but at least we have a roof over our heads," said one
of the victims who identified himself only as Nigel.

            The people, who carry bags containing their clothes and
blankets, wake up early in the morning every day to avoid detection by city

            Another victim, who requested anonymity, said he was too poor to
afford the high rentals charged in homes in the suburb.

            Renting a single room in the crowded suburb costs between $2
million and $3 million a month. But for sleeping in the bar, they only pay
about $300 000 for the whole month.

            The owner of the bar said she was "renting out" to the victims
of the clean up operation out of sheer sympathy.

            "I was just helping these people. It's not that I want money
from them. From now on, they will not sleep here anymore because I will be
trouble with the authorities," said the owner, who also declined
identification for security reasons.

            Harare City Council spokesperson, Madenyika Magwenjere,
professed ignorance of the presence of people rendered homeless after the

            "We will send our inspectors because it's illegal for people to
sleep in a bar. It's a health hazard," said Magwenjere, who added the
council had no obligation to provide accommodation to victims of the
clean-up exercise.

            According to the United Nations secretary general's special
envoy Anna Tibaijuka's final report, 700 000 people lost their livelihoods
as a direct result of the internationally condemned operation.

            But the government has done very little to provide people
affected by the operation with food, water, sanitation or health services.

            The government has also failed to address the desperate
situation of vulnerable groups that were particularly hit hard by the
evictions. These include widows, orphans, households headed by women or
children, and the chronically ill or elderly.

            Some children have developed malnutrition due to lack of food,
while others have fallen ill with pneumonia after months of sleeping out in
the open.

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SA steal the thunder from ZIBFA

Zim Standard


            SOUTH Africa is going all out to demonstrate that it should be
the centre of the continent's literary and publishing marketplace, The
Standard can reveal.

            With only two months before the curtain goes up on the Cape Town
Book Fair, the event has already officially been sold out in terms of space
available at the Cape Town Convention Centre where it will be held.

            Persistent failure by the Zimbabwe International Book Fair
Association (ZIBFA) to rise up to international expectations on critical
issues gave rise to the Cape Town Book Fair. Zimbabwe's loss, once again,
becomes South Africa's gain.

            Africa University's Professor Rukudzo Murapa, who was the chair
of the ZIBFA, yesterday said he had long ago resigned. It was not
immediately clear who is now in charge.

            His counterpart at the University of Cape Town, Professor
Njabulo Ndebele, has had a long association with the ZIBFA and was on the
panel of jurists for ZIBFA's recent and most successful project, Best Books
for Africa.

            The second challenge for ZIBFA is that while its showpiece runs
from the end of July to the first week of August, the Cape Town Book Fair is
making sure no one will steal its thunder.

            Its inaugural Book Fair will run from 17 - 20 June, forcing the
world's literary and publishing fraternity to decide whether to make one or
two trips to the region. For now, the new kid on the block looks likely to
attract more attention.

            Cape Town's advantage is that it has the technical support,
marketing guidance and organisational savvy of the largest Book Fair in the
world, the Frankfurt Book Fair.

            Buoyed by the unprecedented support it has received so far, the
organisers last week told The Standard: "The Fair will become an annual
event and generate unprecedented interest in African writing, reading and

            Given the novelty factor on its side, coupled with the world's
fascination with South Africa, Zimbabwe and the ZIBFA can only look on with

            Running under the theme "Celebrate Africa", organisers told The
Standard that the event had already attracted the attention of the best
selling local and international writers as well as South African and
international publishers - key factors that worked as selling points for the
ZIBFA, which made sure the event was a crossroads of the world's best
writers, publishers, booksellers, buyers, librarians and agents.

            Vanessa Badroodein, the director of the Cape Town Book Fair,
said: "It is important to recognise that Africa is not a continent producing
an easily identifiable homogenous literature. There is about as much
commonality between South Africa and Ghana as there is between Germany and
Ghana. When we committed ourselves to Celebrate Africa, we committed
ourselves to a celebration of the literary diversity of this continent.

            Just to demonstrate its pull factor, a number of literary awards
ceremonies will be taking place during the Cape Town Book Fair - an major
vote of confidence.

            The first will be the Mnet/Via-Afrika Awards, followed by the
Sunday Times' prestigious Alan Paton Award for non-fiction and the Sunday
Times Fiction Award two days after the book fair opens.

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Midzi signs!

Zim Standard

            By Deborah-Fay Ndhlovu

            THE Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Amos Midzi, last
week signed a Special Grant allowing Lowenbrau to mine uranium in Kanyemba
following a story published in Standardbusiness that his delay to give
approval on projects was irking investors.

            Midzi declined to comment on the issue saying signing of special
grants was out of his jurisdiction.

            "Those are administrative matters that are the responsibility of
the Mining  Affairs Board," Midzi said before referring questions to MAB
chairman, Titus Nyatsanga, who was said to be out of the country on
business.But Standardbusiness has it on authority that a Special Grant given
to any investor cannot be implemented without the approval of the Minister
and that Midzi signed it after we broke the story.

            "The MAB only recommends and it's up to the Minister to give the
final approval. Nothing can be implemented without his final approval," a
source said.

            The Standardbusiness published a story last week that Midzi was
delaying to sign the special grant (No 10/05 HM) amid reports that
government was lobbying Russian investors to take up the project.

            Sources said Midzi - who is already under fire from his
colleagues for announcing a 51% take-over of foreign companies by locals -
was in his office on Sunday and going through files on his desk, including
the Lowenbrau proposal. The Australian company made the application last
November and hopes to invest US$5 million for initial exploration.

            Lowenbrau is a partnership between Omega Corp Limited and an
Australian company with 70 % shareholding and locals who include Robert
Zhuwao, Roderick Mlauzi, Nkonzo Chikosi and Charles Matezu.

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Mirage of flood of Far Eastern tourist arrivals evaporates

Zim Standard


            FACTS can be really stubborn. After years of flirting with the
"Look East" policy and promises of waves of tourist arrivals from that
region, reality has finally caught up with us.

            The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has conceded that despite
the country being accorded "Approved Tourism Destination" status by China,
tourist arrivals from that country declined by 70% - the sharpest decline
recorded from any source market.

            And as if to add insult to injury, after all of Zimbabwe's
efforts, the Chinese tourists are voting with their feet preferring
neighbouring South Africa and Zambia.

            London, our authorities will be infuriated to know, is their
favourite destination!

            But ever the masters at refusing to confront reality, the ZTA
likes to believe the decline in tourist arrivals from China is a result of
Zimbabwe failing to prepare adequately for visitors from that region.

            It is a damning indictment of those in charge of attracting
tourists. For example, when Zimbabwe was granted "Approved Tourism
Destination" did the country not undertake a needs assessment survey among
the Chinese and other potential tourist source markets from that region?

            To what extent was this drive undertaken in concert with the
other countries in the region since there are greater prospects of
attracting tourists to the region than to a single country?

            It is our view that South Africa and Zambia offer an image of
countries that are at peace with themselves and that, unlike Zimbabwe, they
do not suffer from disruptions to their power supplies to the extent
Zimbabwe does. They also do not suffer from shortages of basic commodities
or price volatility. And they uphold the rule of law.

            Facile explanations that attribute the sharp decline to lack of
appropriate marketing strategies and inadequate market research conveniently
overlook two critical points: For years the Chinese have maintained a
diplomatic mission in Zimbabwe; and a number of Chinese travel writers
Zimbabwe has hosted. These would have suggested specific preferences for
Chinese tourists.

            But, of course, such explanations overlook the fact that tourist
traffic peaked at some point and that this was the result of a marketing
drive. What defies logic is that there can be a peak and then a sharp
decline because every satisfied tourist leaving Zimbabwe becomes a potential
ally in marketing Zimbabwe. That this is not happening must be cause for

            Reduced tourist traffic translates into declining foreign
currency generation and this year Zimbabwe needs foreign currency
desperately because tobacco exports will be insignificant after only a fifth
of the crop produced six years ago is earmarked for the auction floors,
while the mining sector has been rattled by threats of partial
nationalisation of companies.

            The foreign currency generation outlook will continue for some
time because there is limited planning on how to increase earnings.

            Most of the countries in the region are already preparing to
capitalise on South Africa hosting the 2010 Fifa World Soccer competition.
There will be considerable traffic from tourists and football teams anxious
to come early and camp in the region.

            Zimbabwe risks losing out on the God-sent foreign currency
earnings because, where other countries already have made a head start, it
is still to decide what role it is going to play.  The crisis in Zimbabwe's
soccer will also cost the country an opportunity to bid for the 2010 African
Cup of Nations and the attendant tourist traffic.

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Independence without peace, security

Zim Standard

            sundayopinion by Webster M Zambara

            NEVER have we celebrated Independence Day with so much stress
since 1980. Everything that can go wrong seems to have gone wrong now.

            We have the highest inflation rate in the world, at 913.6%. On
second position is Iraq whose rate of inflation is 40%.

            Teachers now earn one salary a term, spread over three months.
Yes, because if the poverty datum line is $35m and a teacher's salary is
$12m then that's it!

            Bread and beverages have gone up, again. Medical fees have shot
through the roof. Our health institutions are empty, and three thousand
people die every week. While this list is endless, the question that arises
is, are we secure and at peace?

            These issues punctuated  the year-long celebrations of our
Silver Jubilee, and as we approach Independence Day,  issues of peace and
security will be at the centre of our leaders' adumbrations.

            We have learnt to think of security mainly in terms of our
ability to use or threaten force to hold our enemies at bay. This we have a
distinction, no doubt.

            However, much as national security is very relevant to the
extent that maintaining the integrity of the state is an effective way of
maintaining the security of the people who live within its jurisdiction, it
seems a little odd that we spend so much time talking about protecting the
nation, and so little time talking about whether the policies we follow in
pursuit of that objective actually increase the security of the individuals
who live within it.

            It should be noted that there has been a paradigm shift in terms
of how security is defined since the inception of state security advocated
in the 17th century. Simply said, it has been broadened, and as a people we
should move with the changing times. Attention has shifted from security of
the state to security of the people - human security.

            In its definition of human security, the United Nations
Commission on Human Security (1993) underscores the need to protect the
vital core of all human lives in ways that enhance human freedoms and human

             Human security means protecting fundamental freedoms - freedoms
that are the essence of life. It means protecting people from critical
(severe) and pervasive (widespread) threats and situations. It means using
processes that build on people's strengths and aspirations. It means
creating political, social, environmental, economic, military and cultural
systems that together give people the building blocks for survival,
livelihood and dignity.

            As UN Secretary General Koffi Annan pointed out during his
recent trip to Africa, human security joins the main agenda items of peace,
security and development.

            Annan postulated that much as human security is comprehensive in
the sense that it integrates the above items, in its broadest sense it
embraces far more than the absence of violent conflict.

            It encompasses human rights, good governance, access to
education and health care, and ensures that each individual has
opportunities and choices to fulfil his or her own potential. Every step in
this direction is also a step towards reducing poverty, achieving economic
growth and preventing violent conflict.

            Human security thus brodens the focus from the security of
boarders to the lives of people and communities inside and across those
borders. The idea is for people to be secure, not just for territories
within boarders.

            The UNDP (1993) identifies seven aspects, that is, economic,
food, health, environmental, personal, community and political security as
vital aspects of a secure populace.

            Human security implies the ability to carry on a normal flow of
life activities without constant stress or worry. A person, who is
continually struggling to meet basic material needs, living in a precarious
balance between income and outflow, can scarcely be said to be secure.

            Similarly, a person who must constantly weigh every opinion
he/she expresses against the possibility of punishment for having spoken out
is also not secure. Thus, societies organised in ways that perpetuate
poverty and inhibit free expression cannot be considered conducive to
personal security.

            They are not at peace. In sum then, human security requires at
least a decent material standard of living, along with reasonable assurance
that it will continue (or improve). It means being protected against
arbitrary imprisonment or punishment for the exercise of basic human rights
in ways that do not injure others or prevent them from exercising these same

            And, of course, human security most certainly includes
protection against illness, injury and death, especially from "unnatural"
causes such as criminal activity, repression or attack by foreigners. This
is what results in peace.

            Only if a nation successfully provides security to the
individuals who live within its borders is there meaningful linkage between
human and national security.

            Only then is the protection of the artificial entity we call
"the nation" a legitimate and viable means of protecting the real people who
give it life.

            A nation that protects its people against subjugation, illness,
injury and death arising from attacks by hostile forces, but fails to
prevent them against preventable disease and malnourishment or exposes them
to imminent danger of being arbitrarily arrested, assaulted or murdered
while doing about their day-to-day lives is certainly not keeping them

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Ethnic politics and common sense

Zim Standard

            sundayopinion by Marko Phiri

            ETHNICITY has somewhat always defined the hue, nature and
philosophy of African politics, and some students of African politics insist
the white settler communities planted these seeds of ethnic hostilities.

            Since the dawn of independence, ethnicity finds itself
straddling the continent from Cape to Cairo with little or no attempts to
define political space outside the ethnic frame.

            We hear some say Jacob Zuma is being crucified because of the
delicate ethnic politics within the ANC, but obviously anti-rape activists
think not.

            For Zimbabwe, however, many years after the coming of majority
rule, the splintered Movement for Democratic Change has seemingly
resuscitated the polemics of ethnic politics and sucked the pro-Senate
faction into the ethnicity whirlpool, something seen for years now within
the ruling party with the breaking down of the Shona into numerous dialectal

            What should interest anybody concerning all the Ndebele-Shona
claptrap is that for ages now the people of Matabeleland, even during the
days of luminaries like the late Sidney Malunga, have complained about the
(deliberate) marginalisation of the region by central government? And, of
course, that government being Shona-led, is thus for some (ethnic based)
reason reluctant to devote itself to developing the region.

            By the ethnicity argument one would therefore imagine that any
other political "force" that emerges from the region would claim the hearts
and minds of the region's denizens.

            It is important that all the talk about ethnicity defining how
Zimbabwe's political course is charted would naturally extend also to votes
and we don't need students of psychology to tell us what the outcome would
thus read. Is it not ironic then, for example, that the splintered MDC has a
pro-Senate faction reportedly led by Ndebeles but still with a Shona leader,
and if this is meant as a balancing act, this group still cannot claim
support of the Ndebeles?

            The Ndebele warriors whose loyalties are now ostensibly claimed,
it is interesting to note, are a constituency solely claimed by geographical
location not the type deliberately opting for the Ndebele leaders.

            Before brickbats are hurled, this is based on the largely
ignored rallies called by the pro-Senate faction in the City of (Ndebele)
Kings. The very fact that an explicitly pro-Ndebele (albeit obscure)
political party was launched in the city this year to join others that
failed to attract any votes, seemingly as attempts to woo the Ndebele vote
points at many things being wrong with defining politics along ethnic

            How many times have pro-Ndebele and federalist parties emerged
since 1980 claiming the Ndebele vote but went largely ignored? That every
political party has to be national in its outlook is a truism, and attempts
to deliberately thus fashion any outfit only serve to expose the flawed
reading of the circumstances and, of course, zeitgeist.

            If all voters were so malleable and gullible this is the stuff
that could easily stoke the rabid ethno-centricity that has left many
unmarked graves on the African continent.

            What Zanu PF has done over the years that nascent political
parties would envy is take on board men and women it previously battered and
bruised because they belonged to the wrong political party and wrong ethnic

            Those who expected them to be loyal to the Ndebele cause -
whatever it is - have inevitably labelled these same Ndebele men and women

            As others still have opined, the olive branch was accepted in
1987 because the Ndebele leaders wanted to protect "their" people from a
government that defined political loyalties through tribal and ethnic lines.

            And here, some will always refer to and recall a "secret"
document authored in the late 1970s by rabid Shonas reportedly celebrating
the group's ethnic superiority.

            It is not the scope of this discussion to delve into that
document, but if Zimbabwe's history is to be written proper, it would be
interesting to note that even during the formative years of the nationalist
movement one would find Shonas in Zapu for example, and how then are these
facts reconciled with the obsession with defining a party as belonging to a
particular group of people?

            And in the process, as seen in the pro-Senate MDC, there is
inevitability where imagined voters are patronised through appeasement.

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Willowgate revisited two decades later

Zim Standard

            sunday view by Geof Nyarota

            I WRITE in response to an article by columnist David Masunda,
who wrote as Woodpecker in last week's issue of The Standard, wherein it is
stated that Chronicle reporter Tichaona Mukuku, now late, was responsible
for putting together the Willowgate story back in 1988 but was never
accorded recognition for his effort and achievement.

            The same allegation was previously published in The Standard's
sister paper, The Zimbabwe Independent.

            This allegation is completely false. The following, in the
public interest and in the interest of truthful reporting and fair play, are
the accurate facts pertaining to the Willowgate investigation.

            Early in 1988 Mukuku was appointed crime reporter on the
Chronicle, where I was the editor. I was tipped off by Obert Mpofu, then
general manager of the Zimbabwe Grain Bag Company in Bulawayo and now a
government minister, about the possibility of a scandal unfolding over the
allocation of new motor vehicles to government officials, especially
ministers, by Willowvale Motors in Harare.

            I assigned our crime reporter Mukuku to investigate what would
have been the biggest story of his professional career. I provided him with
the necessary leads.

            Over a number of weeks Mukuku informed the editors that he was
trying his best. He made very little progress, however, and in due course
the investigation effectively ground to a halt.

            Word reached my ear that Mukuku (May his soul rest in peace),
far from investigating the chief suspect, Enos Nkala, as directed by myself,
had somehow befriended him. He had allegedly been a guest at the dinner
table of the powerful and much feared Minister of defence.

            Before I acted on this information, Mukuku himself approached
me. He asked to be withdrawn from this particular assignment. In my dismay I
confronted him with the allegations of his alleged unwholesome liaison with

            Mukuku confessed that he and Mrs Mukuku had, indeed, been guests
in the house of Nkala at the time when he was seeking to investigate him. He
disclosed that the couple had been the recipients of certain gifts from the
Minister. I withhold details at this stage.

            Mukuku then tendered his resignation from the Chronicle.

            Because of the failure of our ace investigative reporter to
unravel what appeared to be a fascinating story, because of the sensitive
nature of the investigation and because of the potential risk involved now
that the targets of our investigation were aware of our interest in them, I
took the decision, acting in consultation with the senior editors of the
paper, to pursue the matter myself.

            I worked hand-in-hand with Davison Maruziva, who had just joined
the Chronicle as Deputy Editor, and is now the editor of The Standard.

            As was widely reported from October to December 1988, Maruziva
personally investigated Nkala, Jacob Mudenda who was then governor of
Matabeleland North and a number of officials in Harare. Mudenda had
purchased a 30-tonne Scania P112 mechanical horse, ostensibly for his father's
refuse removal business in the small town of Dete.

            Jonathan Maphenduka, then business editor of the Chronicle,
contributed to the Willowgate investigation when he traveled to Dete to
probe the Mudenda family garbage removal enterprise. Maphenduka unearthed
the astonishing fact that the Scania was, in fact, due to replace a
donkey-drawn cart. In any case, Mudenda sold the truck in question to Treger's
Holdings, a Bulawayo-based company and made a huge profit.

            Meanwhile I quizzed Dave Gibson, then managing director of
Willowvale Motors and the factory manager, Dudley Wilde. I then pursued
Callistus Ndlovu to Romania by phone. He was the Minister of Industry and
Technology. I spoke on several occasions to Elias Mabhena, the deputy
permanent secretary for the same ministry. He and his Minister were the men
at the center of the whole scandal.

            On his return from Romania Ndlovu called a Press conference,
where he launched a scathing attack on me, claiming I had an unspecified
vendetta against him. He also accused me of targeting Ndebele politicians.
The truth was that more Shona politicians than Ndebele were exposed in
connection with the Willowgate Scandal.

            Mabhena warned me that the story was a hot potato. When he
appeared before the Sandura Commission, appointed by President Robert Mugabe
to investigate the Willowgate Scandal, Mabhena claimed he made such
statements because he was acting under undue pressure from me.

            Above all, I obtained from Willowvale employees the full list of
vehicles that had been allocated to government ministers and officials. This
list formed the basis of the story.

            I then persuaded a senior police officer to furnish me with a
corresponding list which the police had compiled at the request of President
Mugabe when the Willowgate story initially broke. The police were dismayed
that no action was taken after they submitted the comprehensive list of
offenders. After he retires, the policeman in question may want to claim
credit for his role.

            I interviewed Bulawayo businessman, Manharlal Naran, who
financed some of the purchases of vehicles from Willowvale by politicians. I
interviewed Ashrat Aktar, the manager of the then Bank of Credit and
Commerce in Bulawayo, who issued some of the cheques to Willowvale Motors. I
made a breakthrough when I spoke to Don Ndlovu, Naran's accountant, who
bought and collected from Willowvale a vehicle that he had no intention of
acquiring and which he surrendered to Naran. Callistus Ndlovu had arranged
the deal.

            I then contacted Zidco Motors, a subsidiary of Zidco Holdings;
Zanu-PF's trading company. I had information that several vehicles were
diverted there on behalf of Minister Nkala. I spoke to the managing
director, Jayant Manlal Joshi on the same day that Maruziva confronted

            All hell literally broke loose. That day was 13 December 1988.
In fear of instant arrest, as threatened by Nkala, we suspended further
investigation and went public on the information so far amassed.

            Mukuku had long departed from the Chronicle.

            When he eventually went public on the issue at a Press
conference, Nkala complained bitterly about being "pestered by little
Nyarota, who phoned Ministers day and night wanting to know what they did
with their cars".

            He never said "little Mukuku".

            After the Sandura Commission vindicated the Chronicle, Maruziva
and myself, President Mugabe called a Press conference where he admitted
grudgingly that the Chronicle had done a good job, but suggested that I had
been "overzealous in lumping all Ministers under one corruption headline".

            He never made any reference to the now alleged enterprise of

            It is a matter of public record which two journalists unearthed
the Willowgate Scandal, notwithstanding frenzied efforts to re-write
Zimbabwe's media history two decades later. Their personal bylines, not
Mukuku's, consistently accompanied the Willowgate stories.

            In recognition of their enterprise they were punished by
Zimbabwe Newspapers, acting on the instructions of Davidson Sadza, chairman
of the Zimbabwe Mass Media Trust, who in turn received instructions from the
late Witness Mangwende, who was then minister of information. Mangwende was
under pressure from high up.

            Nkala declared in anger on television that I would be dealt
with. I was, in due course, removed from my position as editor of the
Chronicle and promoted to the previously non-existent position of Group
Public Relations Executive for Zimbabwe Newspapers.

            I subsequently resigned from the company. Maruziva was also
removed from the Chronicle, being transferred to the Herald, where it was
expected, no doubt, that somebody would keep an eye on him.

            Byron Hove, the former fiery Zanu-PF backbencher, now late,
protested vehemently in Parliament over the ruthless treatment of the
Chronicle editors. He tabled a motion calling on the august house to condemn
unreservedly the removal of Maruziva and myself from the Chronicle and to
protest at the threat to press freedom in Zimbabwe.

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Zim Standard Letters

      Women's coalition group applauds The Standard
            THE Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) applauds the print
media in Zimbabwe for publicising issues of violence against women,
especially the alleged rape of a maid by Obadiah Msindo.

            Of special note is The Standard that published WCoZ's threat to
demonstrate if Musindo was not tried for his alleged crimes.  We note that
it might be intimidating for the police and justice delivery system to
incarcerate and try people of high profile for cases of gender violence.
The same applies for media houses that might fear the unknown by writing
about such cases.

            The Women's Coalition is a network of women's rights activists
and 30 women's organizations with national structures such as Girl Child
Network, Federation of Africa Media Women, Women's Action Group, Women in
Parliament Support Unit, Zimbabwe Women Resource Centre and Network and
Musasa Project, to name just a few.

            The members of the Coalition work in diverse fields including
health, legal aid, access to education, gender-based violence, torture,
skills training, poverty reduction, research, property rights and women in
governance issues.  The Coalition has chapters in Bulawayo, Masvingo and

            We call on the police to be vigilant and arrest alleged rapists
so that they face the wrath of the law.  We note with alarm the increased
number of reported rape cases especially of minors.  This is mostly done
under the mistaken belief that sex with virgins cures HIV/AIDS.  Our
children become targets of rapists who tragically believe virgin blood will
cleanse them.

            We also call on the justice delivery system to mete out fair
punishment on rapists.  Many times the sentences for rape are so lenient and
insignificant that they do not act as a deterrent for potential offenders.
Of note is the Macheke Primary School rapist who got 22 years for raping
four children.  Such lenient sentences convey the message that we tolerate
rape in Zimbabwe.

            The Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe would like to grudgingly
applaud the police force for finally making sure that Msindo has been
brought before the courts to answer to charges of rape.   We hope the police
force will also move in to arrest other alleged high profile rapists who
have evaded the long (or is it short here) arm of the law.

            Women and girl rights organisations have a long list of alleged
offenders who have not been brought before the courts because they have very
high and intimidating profiles.

            We urge the whole Zimbabwean community to adopt a zero tolerance
to sexual and other types of violence against women.  We are pushing the
Domestic Violence Bill, which if adhered to, will make domestic violence
history in the Zimbabwean community and homes.  You are called on to support
the cause of women.
            No more violence!

            Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe Co-ordinating Committee,


      This is the 'independence' we are celebrating
            ON Monday last week we lost power early in the morning. We hadn't
had breakfast at all. Electricity supplies came back just before lunch, our
domestic helpers informed us later.

            In the evening, we rushed from work expecting to prepare a meal
to compensate for the loss of breakfast.

            However, our expectations were dashed. As we approached
Lomagundi Road, heading north, darkness greeted us. We prayed that our
suburb was unaffected since we had lost power in the morning. We were wrong.

            Our domestic helpers said the area had lost power around 5.00PM.
At that point we realised the hopelessness of putting our eggs in one
basket. We were angry yet helpless.

            We consoled ourselves believing that our turn for the week was
over, but on Tuesday evening we rushed home to be greeted by another power
cut. As I write this letter it is after 10.00PM and we are still without
electricity. The same happened on Wednesday.

            This crisis started me thinking. One of these days we are going
to wake up to find ourselves without power not for hours, not for days, not
for weeks, but for months. Then, perhaps, we will wake up to the reality
that we have tolerated and sometimes cheered this gradual erosion of our

            This is what we will be asked to celebrate on Tuesday this week.
Not even the most pessimistic amongst us ever dreamt that things would
plummet this far.

            There are two explanations: No one among those we entrusted with
power has any idea of how to take us from where we are, and the other is
that this state of affairs profits them.

            F A M
            Mt Pleasant

      Workers deserve realistic wages for their toil
            I WRITE in reference to recent comments and statements regarding
farm workers' wages. In one statement, the Minister of Public Service,
Labour and Social Welfare, Nicholas Goche, was quoted as saying the agreed
remuneration was $1,3m.

            Up to now, I am still wondering if those who agreed to the
paltry sum live in Zimbabwe because if they do, I would like to remind them
that in Zimbabwe a two-1itre bottle of cooking oil costs $850 000, 2kg of
sugar is $250 000 but in short supply, while the Poverty Datum Line is
pegged at $35m.

            In South Africa, the same farm worker earns R998, which is about

            The examples I cite above indicate the scenario in Zimbabwe as
regards wages. Workers in general are being exploited by this new form of
slave wage. While the employers agree that they need to review remunerations
nothing is being done when the cost of virtually every commodity is going

            The government agrees as indicated by President Mugabe's shock
when he heard how much the teachers were getting, but nothing is being done.

            Maybe it is like one of those promises made in relation to the
supply of fuel when the President said fuel would be available in a few
weeks, but is it?

            My advice to employers is that workers do not buy from shops
specifically set up to cater for low-income buyers. Therefore, when dealing
with the issue of remuneration there is need to move with speed because of

            A situation where a select few drive posh vehicles while the
majority suffer from grinding poverty is not healthy for any country. It is
foolhardy for our leaders to believe that workers should be patriotic when
the same workers cannot afford to feed their families.

            One does not feed on patriotism. Workers, too, need all the
basic commodities in order for them to work whole-heartedly.

            Let me appeal to all employers to be realistic, while to the
workers, my advice is that we should not allow the majority to enjoy the
fruits of our sweat at our expense.

            This is what Josiah Magama Tongogara denounced when he said the
liberation struggle was not about the skin of an individual but was a fight
against a system that was unfair.

            F Munyaradzi

      Loss deprived Mugabe of intelligent adviser
            I HAVE observed with alarm the rapid decline in education
standards in this country.

            During the early years of independence, this country took the
world by surprise because of the high quality of education.

            Hundreds of new primary, secondary and tertiary schools were
built in record time. Every child and adult was given a chance to attend
school. Children from other countries came to Zimbabwe because of the
quality of its education.

            Zanu PF was the party for the people because it cared for the
well-being of every Zimbabwean. The Prime Minister and later President of
Zimbabwe was welcomed everywhere on earth because of his democratic

            Robert Mugabe and his party made education affordable and
millions of children went beyond Form III. The whole country was on an
upward trend of prosperity.

            Then, without any warning to the majority of Zimbabweans, the
First Lady, Sally Mugabe, died leaving behind a leader with changing ideas.
Mugabe began to lose direction in governing the country and dictatorial
tendencies began to surface.

            Petty offences such as insulting the President and his passing
motorcade resulted in one being dragged before the courts to face unfair
treatment from a judiciary already infiltrated by Zanu PF backtracking on

            Independent newspapers and anyone assumed to be against the
President were labelled enemies of the State.

            It appears as if our education died with Sally Mugabe, who was a
beacon of educational light as she was involved in numerous educational
projects, many of which collapsed after her passing away. Our education
system became the first casualty of Mugabe's policies and universities
became targets of the government's evil control.

            Student leaders were persecuted and fees for universities were
revised making sure  only a few students would be enrolled. Thousands of
possible students have been leaving the country to attend universities in
other countries.

            The next targets were school teachers because they were
suspected of decampaigning Zanu PF and Mugabe. Teachers became the butt of
sick jokes by everybody, including the "Hwindis" at bus stops.

            The low salaries awarded teachers have been Mugabe's tactical
move to force teachers to remain docile or out of the service.

            Thousands of teachers have gone to neighbouring countries or
abroad in search of employment opportunities. Unfortunately this has hurt
the education system in this country - once a shining example of educational
advancement. Millions of children have been withdrawn from schools because
of high fees re-introduced in all government schools.

            Private schools have always been a preserve for the small elite
but even these have lost many children because of high fees.

            General political instability in the country has also played an
important role in the decline of our education system. A glaring example has
been the "Murambatsvina" operation, which left thousands of families

            From these homeless families are millions of schoolchildren who
can no longer attend school.

            The surprising thing has been the grave-like silence of our
elected MPs and government ministers. Not a single one has been brave enough
to question Mugabe's new policies. The behaviour of the education ministers
is difficult to comprehend. This situation reminds me of the late Dr
Hastings Kamuzu Banda, who was dreaded by his ministers because he allegedly
owned a very powerful and evil talisman.

            The loss of Sally deprived Mugabe of an intelligent adviser. The
President is now relying on dim-witted advisers, who are helping in leading
the country to a catastrophe.

            Maybe Didymus Mutasa's idea of getting rid of half of Zimbabwe's
population is in most of Mugabe's ministers' minds, otherwise why should the
so-called advisers lead the President astray?

            Zimbabwe has lost thousands of pupils from other countries who
used to bring a diversity of cultures and the much sought after foreign
currency. Our teachers have no incentives to work hard. Our school graduates
keep on adding to the millions of jobless former graduates.

            Old furniture and books have not been replaced in thousands of
schools, making learning very difficult. Hundreds of schools on the farms
have been closed, depriving millions of children of an education because of
the government's policy.

            Zanu PF was once a great party which formulated people-friendly
policies. However, the party has been hijacked by a group of power-hungry
people whose only interest is to make more money and to become more

            Let us all pray that Zimbabweans are not made to believe that
their only salvation is through another armed struggle. Our President and
the ruling party should not make it impossible for peaceful change by
passing laws which ban critical thinking.

            In God's name, I ask Mugabe to leave office peacefully without
plunging the country into a civil war, which will also engulf him.

            Education critic

      Where's the seized Boeing?
            ON Sunday 7 March 2004 around 7.30PM a Boeing 727-100 cargo
plane flew into Zimbabwe from Polokwane Airport in South Africa and landed
at the Harare International Airport where it refuelled.

            The white plane with a blue stripe, belonging to Dodson Aviation
of South Africa and marked N4610 later proceeded to Manyame Air Base where
it was bound to collect a consignment of weapons they had bought from the
Zimbabwe Defence Industries.

            Upon landing, however, the Boeing flight crew had switched off
lights in the passenger cabin of the plane, raising suspicion among the
airport security details that later pounced during the pre-loading
inspection of the weapons - arresting 70 men and seizing the Boeing.

            It lwas later claimed that the men arrested were South African
mercenaries on their way to Equatorial Guinea to topple the government of
President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.

            The Boeing 727-100 worth about US$3m was forfeited to the
government of Zimbabwe in September 2004. The media's coverage of the
mercenary saga was frenzied but as soon as the mercenaries were jailed and
their plane forfeited reports on the story fizzled out.

            What became of the Boeing 727-100 that the state forfeited from
the South African mercenaries? Could it still be parked in the open and
exposed to the elements  at Manyame Air Base since March 2004?

            Or it has been conscripted into one of the Air Force of Zimbabwe
squadrons? It's now two years since the plane was seized and from the look
of things, it seems the issue has been swept under the carpet and forgotten

            Cassius Sande

A laughing stock

AT last the cat is out of the bag! The nation at large can see for itself
that Zimbabwe's best known political prostitute Sekesai Makwavarara is what
her first name stands for - a laughing stock.

She conspired with Ignatious Chombo, the Minister of Local Government, to
hound the popularly elected mayor of Harare, Engineer Elias Mudzuri, out of

While Harare is descending into a state of decay, she is trying to spend
$35b on curtains and furniture and now she has already splashed $100m of
ratepayers' money on satellite television. She does not have to ask anyone
for approval.

At this rate how can we be sure that she has not gone ahead and purchased
the furniture and curtains she attempted to because these surprise expenses
only surface at the stage they are supposed to be paid for?

Maybe she is delaying presentation of the receipts until the dust has
settled down. It is time long-suffering residents of Harare demanded their
rights back from Chombo and made Makwavarara more accountable to them.
Failure to take these steps can only indicate that they are not suffering.

Frank Matandirotya

What secret does she know

CAN you imagine what would have happened if an opposition mayor moved into a
guest house without council approval and shortly afterwards embarked on a
spending spree and proceeded to employ a dozen staff to work at the house
without the approval of council?

As if that is not enough the opposition mayor would go on a furniture and
curtain buying spree and state-of-the-art satellite television, while
residents of Harare watch.

Would Ignatious Chombo, the Minister of Local Government, look the other way
while all this was happening? No way! He would celebrate this God-sent
opportunity and fire the whole lot.

Now what is it that Sekesai Makwavarara knows about Zanu PF and the minister
that renders them impotent in the face of her flagrant abuse of ratepayers'
funds, while proving she is ill-suited to head the authority running the

It is my view that even in Zanu PF she has served her usefulness, whatever
that may be. Her days are numbered - thanks to her incompetent bungling.

Tirivanhu Mhofu
Emerald Hill


      There's only one legitimate MDC
            DO we need unity among opposition parties? I do not think so. I
am surprised by a few people who  have now found  voices to preach unity
among opposition parties when they were the very people who brought disunity
through their actions.

            These advocates of unity were  silent when they thought that the
MDC had been destroyed.

            Now that the Bulawayo MDC has proved what it really is - an
ethnic clique and very unpopular at that - panicky so-called analysts of
political affairs are clamouring for unity among political parties.

            What opposition political parties do we have in the country? Why
should the real MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai unite with a failed rebellious
ethnic clique?

            Had government political plotters succeeded in destroying the
real MDC, the likes of Silas Mangono would have remained happily silent.
When Mangono went independent, during the last general election, was he not
aware of the importance of unity in the MDC?

            For me, Mangono does not qualify to speak of unity (Masvingo
Mirror 21-24 March 2006) among opposition parties because he is a real
political grasshopper.

            As far as the people of Zimbabwe are concerned, they have only
one legitimate opposition party and that is the one led by Tsvangirai. Past
general elections have proved and supported my point - no genuine opposition
party has ever mounted any serious challenge to Zanu PF in the same manner
that the MDC has.

            With or without their support, the MDC led by Tsvangirai will
win any election, if fairly organised.

            I suggest that Mangono talks of giving the real MDC full support
and avoids confusing the people of this country through the formation of
government-sponsored parties.

            No confusion anymore

      Gono needs serious economic lectures
            I AM very disappointed with Dr Gideon Gono, the Governor of the
Reserve Bank, such that if he were a manager in my company I would have
fired him not only without salary and benefits, but I would have gone
further to demand repayment of all the salaries and benefits he enjoyed
since December 2003.

             How could he go about blaming everyone else including some
astute captains of industry, bankers, journalists and others for
accelerating the economic meltdown when he knew all along that it was  the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe that was sending this country towards the edge of
the cliff by keeping the local currency printing press busy 24 four hours a

            I am very disappointed with all his economists and so-called
personal advisers at RBZ for complicity and keeping quiet, or sheepishly
agreeing that Gono was doing the right thing when they knew (if at all they
are that clever) what the consequences of his actions would be.

             Picture this: inflation and interest rates are almost at the
same record level that they got to in 2003 (at least by official
pronouncements); the dollar official exchange rate compared to foreign
currencies has weakened by more than 3 000% since 2003; the economy has
broken world records by being the fastest shrinking outside a war zone; the
banking sector has never recovered from his tsunami.

            I could go on and on but the simple question I ask the Governor
is: "What have you really achieved since taking office?" From your heart of
hearts can you still confidently feed us the trash that "failure is not an

            Of late we have had the Troubled Banks Resolution framework
thrown into the dustbin as there will not be any more curatorships, the
foreign currency fuel coupons system cancelled, exchange rate liberalisation
technically frozen in its footsteps, introduction of the primary dealership
system postponed indefinitely. What's the meaning of all this?

            I hear now you are being strong-headed about linking the banks'
capital bases to the US dollar  - which becomes a moving target. By June
2006, we will certainly be having a run on banks reminiscent of 2003/2004
but at what cost to the economy sir? And to think that the RBZ is seriously
undercapitalised, yet you were dishing out all those billions to parastatals
and local authorities!

            If you ask me, this is dismal failure! Gono needs to attend
serious economics lectures so that he may understand the phenomenon of
market forces and the reality that you can never fight them and win.

            There, he will learn that chopping off three, six or nine zeros
from the Zimbabwe dollar and introducing a new currency is an exercise in
futility if the basic economic fundamentals are in disarray.

            He will then get to grasp the exact distinction between monetary
and fiscal activities. He will also learn that financing government
debt/deficit through the banking system raises interest rates and crowds out
private sector investment; printing money which is not backed by any
productive activity causes inflation; you do not kill inflation and
"speculation" by using only one economic weapon (hiking interest rates) -
you need a combination of complementary fiscal and monetary policies which
are realistically implemented and not just talked about.

            I am prepared to offer these lectures for free at his house any
time as long as he promises to listen, follow instructions and do

            PhD Economist

      Women want to have it easy all the time
            I would like to respond to Albert Mlambo ("MDC factions lack
gender sensitivity",  The Standard, 9 April) by way of an open letter to
Grace Kwinjeh, Lucia Matibenga, Getrude Mthombeni and others.

            I'm sure everyone is sick and tired of hearing women in this
country moaning about "gender sensitivity", "gender blindness", "male
chauvinism", "meaningful roles" - I could go on.

            The fact of the matter is that there are no such things.

            Women always want to have it easy, hence they create these
labels. All of these labels are never pro-men, incidentally.
            The women of this country want to be given quotas in everything.

            I say to all women seeking preferential treatment for political
office; get off your high horses and get a life!

            The only way to get political clout is to stop moaning, go out
there, and form your own women's political party. After all, there is no law
preventing you from doing just that, is there? Besides, women are 52% of the

            When you have done that, don't forget to reserve a third of the
seats for men. I will even join the party and rise through the ranks.


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I'm not quitting: Mugabe's Deputy

      April 16, 2006

      By Andnetwork .com

      Zimbabwe Vice-President Joseph Msika says he is still fit and is not
even contemplating quitting active politics.

      He says the country's leadership will not quit active politics now
because they do not want to leave the country in the hands of "half-baked"
revolutionaries who will not safeguard the gains of independence.

      In a wide-ranging interview at his Harare home yesterday, Cde Msika
declared: "I am still in it." He said when it is time for him to quit active
politics, he will inform the people first.

      He dismissed media reports that he was suffering from a heart ailment.
He said this was the work of speculative journalists who were being used by

      "As you can see, I am quite, quite fit. I did have some ailments, you
can call them, but far from being cardiac ailments. I have never suffered
from heart problems. My doctors checked my heart and it was okay, my lungs
were quite okay, my liver quite okay.

      "I don't know where they get this kind of information that I am
suffering from a heart problem," he said.

      Turning to reports that he wanted to quit active politics, the
Vice-President said he would not quit active politics until the people say
he should do so.

      "As far as I am concerned, I am still in it. I am in politics. I don't
have to desert the people. If at any time I feel like retiring from
politics, I don't have to hide it.

      "If people say I should retire, I will, but if they say I should not,
I will not quit, because it would be tantamount to deserting the people.

      "I have no intention to retire and I have never thought of quitting. I
don't understand where they get all this information.

      "I know what this is all about. This is speculative journalism. They
want to see the experienced old guard quitting, getting out of the party
(Zanu-PF) so that they can infiltrate it and run Zanu-PF the way they want.
Fortunately and thank God they will not succeed," said the Vice-President.

      He said the Government had a challenge to instill a sense of
patriotism in the youths.

      "This is a major challenge and that is why we don't want to go. We
realise that we still have a lot to do. We don't want to leave this country
in the hands of half-baked revolutionaries and half-baked nationalists.

      "We want to leave this country in the hands of young people who will
say if Cde Nkomo did it, I will do it better, if President Mugabe did it, I
will do it better. If this happens, then I can retire," he said.

      Turning to the country's attainment of independence in 1980, Cde Msika
said the differences between Rhodesia and Zimbabwe are too glaring.

      "Rhodesia was a regime that had one purpose to colonise the people of
Zimbabwe. Colonise them and subject them to inhuman treatment, subject them
to all kinds of treatment as they wanted them to feel that the white skin is
a sign of superiority and that white imperialism was superior.

      "They wanted to maintain white supremacy and leave

      Zimbabweans to live like underdogs," he said adding that fortunately
"we liberated ourselves and today we are free."

      He, however, said he was not calling for the replacement of white
supremacy with black supremacy adding that there were white people who
played a positive role during the liberation struggle.

      He said the liberation of the people in 1980 and the land reform
programme carried out in the last six years were the major achievements of
the ruling party.

      However, he was quick to add: "I am not happy with productivity on the
farms. I am not happy at all but land productivity is a process. For us to
reach the level of productivity we want, it will take a long time."

      He said the country's youths "take the liberation struggle for granted
and they subject themselves to the traps set by the imperialists. This is
one of the most disturbing concerns.

      "If we have achieved our objective I would want to see our youths, our
young cadres more revolutionary than President Mugabe, more revolutionary
than Joshua Nkomo, more revolutionary than Jason Moyo, more revolutionary
than Herbert Chitepo. This we have not yet achieved but we will continue to

      The Vice-President thanked Zimbabweans for their resilience as they
have managed to stand firm against persistent pressure from the West.

      He said the Government has not yet instilled a sense of self-reliance
among the youths and efforts were being made to address this anomaly.

      He castigated some civil servants that he said were letting the
Government down by engaging in corrupt activities to "fatten their pockets".

      The Sunday Mail

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The man who might have been great

'He could become the most prolific batsman since the great Don Bradman,'
said one top cricket writer long before the young man from Zimbabwe was
picked by England - and then dropped 11 times. Looking back, says Hick in
this revealing interview ahead of his final season, he has no regrets

Kevin Mitchell
Sunday April 16, 2006
The Observer

Graeme Hick scored his first hundred 33 years ago. He was six years old in
what was then Salisbury, Rhodesia. If this summer is his last in cricket -
and it looks that way - the player who was a prodigy too long almost
certainly will add a couple more. And that will be it. The man who might
have rivalled Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara among the modern giants of the
game, but did not remotely approach that level, will amble quietly out of
cricket as big an enigma as when he began.
There will be moments of reflection when he will know he could have done
better had the selectors shown more faith in him, had he done so himself.
But not many. Hick, about to start his twenty-third season with
Worcestershire, does not see himself the way others do.

'You know, I have never thought of myself as a great player,' he says,
shifting like a cornered deer. 'I would be standing at slip watching some
other player batting wonderfully and think to myself, "I can't do that". I
have a very uncomplicated style. With hindsight, when I started playing for
England in 1991, I could tell I was not as comfortable with my batting as I
normally am.'

It is a view as simple as his batting. No flourish. Very direct. Yet hinting
at fragility. At 39, Hick can look back with equanimity, partly because the
end is near, partly because the evidence screams out from the pages of the
scorebook: 128 first-class centuries in 22 seasons (nobody currently playing
has scored more, and only eight have in the history of cricket), 38,437 runs
at 52.79 - but a Test record of stark ordinariness.

Hick was dropped 11 times in a decade (he thought it was more) and averaged
only a touch over 31 for England, placing him 25 runs per innings behind
Tendulkar, 22 below Lara. Between Hick and that pair lie hundreds of batsmen
with less talent but better suited to the job.

The statistics, though, are only the sketchy outline of a tale about a shy
and sensitive man who happened to be simultaneously blessed and cursed with
a gift for scoring runs almost without thinking. Because his talent was
innate, he found it impossible to tinker with when it let him down. And when
it let him down there was no shortage of people ready to let him know.

There is no escaping the only question that matters: why?

Hick has heard it so many times, you wait for the programmed response. But
he is polite enough to give it proper consideration, to put it in a wider

'I've been very fortunate, I think. Really, I didn't expect to be here more
than a year when I first came. Looking at the bigger picture now, I took the
opportunity after that. I have to say, too, that I was a little bit
frustrated over the years. It's been a bit up and down. That said, I'm not
one for looking back over my life. I did the best I could at the time and
and I'm proud of what I achieved.'

Surely, though, there were reasons. Hick thinks it had a lot to do with the
sort of person he is, the background he comes from.

'I arrived on a scholarship provided by the cricket association back in
Zimbabwe. My parents said it would be a good idea to come over. I had not
done that well at school. I had a good year in league cricket in Birmingham,
so I decided to stay for a second term after I dropped out of school.

'I have to say it was a bit of an eye-opener for me. I'd come straight from
a completely different life, a schoolkid really, who'd grown up in a
disciplined society. I was 17, 18... and I looked on it as a great
adventure. It took me a couple of weeks to find my feet. I remember when I
came to Worcester, I arrived on Saturday and went straight into a match.'

Worcestershire can have no complaints. They have given him a testimonial to
go with the benefit he had a few years ago.

If this season - starting against Nottinghamshire in the C&G Trophy next
Sunday - is his last, he will not be going anywhere else. He has a Level 4
coaching certificate, although he would find it hard to move straight from
playing to telling others how to do it.

One reason, he thinks, that he failed to score the Test runs people thought
him capable of is that he spent seven years, from 1984 until 1991, in the
'comfort zone' of the county game, completing a qualification period in
order to be eligible to play for England. It took the edge off his
development as a batsman.

'I think young guys now, they come through the system differently, the A
team, the academy, all of that, so that by the time they are picked to play
for England in the Test team, they know each other already. It makes it much
easier for them. They feel at home with other young players who have come

'If you're starting your international career now, the structure is
completely different. It's far better than it was in the Nineties.' Then he
adds: 'Also, I was the first player to come into the side from Zimbabwe.'

That is the nub of it. Hick was always an outsider. He knew it. His
team-mates knew it. The media and the fans knew it. He has not been back to
Zimbabwe since 1999 and is saddened that they are now out of international
cricket. But this is his home, the place where he and Jackie and their two
children are comfortable.

Yet English coldness made it tough for him. 'I found it a strange
environment when I came, a dressing room in a new team. I'd come into the
England side and I'd sit quietly in the corner, minding my own business. The
others were older, more experienced Test players. Perhaps it was a bit
cliquish too. Different personnel. Also, at times the team's results weren't
that great, and that creates tension.'

Hick agrees there is little doubt he would have done better now with central
contracts, a more competitive county championship, the academy, a
sympathetic England coach in Duncan Fletcher (his captain in Zimbabwe's 1983
World Cup squad) - and no Ray Illingworth.

Illingworth, chairman of the England selectors from 1994 to 1997, was
unforgiving with Hick, even revealing the player had cried after Mike
Atherton told him he had been dropped. 'That's just the way I am,' Hick
says. 'I'm not ashamed of it. I show my emotions.'

It cut no ice with the too-tough Yorkshireman. He publicly humiliated Hick
on more than one occasion. It got to him, no question. As did the moment at
the Sydney Cricket Ground on the awful 1994-95 tour when Atherton called him
in on 98.

It was the most miserable of times for England. One banner said it all: 'If
the Poms bat first, tell the taxi to wait.' Morale was low, getting lower -
and Atherton's declaration, although not without merit in cricketing terms,
did not help.

To this day, it rankles with Hick and remains an embarrassment for Atherton.

Keith Fletcher, the then England coach, recalls in his autobiography: 'Hick
should have been given more specific instructions and not scratched around
as he did, but he was too sensitive over the whole issue. Atherton didn't
consult me over his declaration, which I was somewhat peeved about, but Hick
hardly spoke to me for a month. He thought I was party to this decision and
I never disabused him because I felt I had to stand by the captain's

The former Somerset player Peter Roebuck wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald:
'England's declaration seemed about right. Slow in the morning, they hurried
impressively after lunch. That Hick fell short of his third Test century is
neither here nor there. It is a team game, and England had batted long
enough. Hick had his chance, and failed to score from his last three balls.'

Hick, who had batted for nearly four-and-half hours, sees it this way: 'To
say I was disappointed would be putting it very politely. It created a bad
atmosphere in the dressing room. It went very quiet. And even when we took
the field, it was very flat. Athers has said since maybe it wasn't the right
decision. We spoke about it that evening. I wasn't happy. I've got a lot of
respect for Athers, though, and it's no big deal now. We've talked about it

'However, if I was in his position, I'd let the chap get his hundred. We
didn't have a lot to cheer about at the time and I think a player scoring a
hundred would have given us something to feel good about, a bit of a lift.
We had dominated the Test and could have won it.'

Atherton liked Hick and wrote later: 'Not easy to draw out of himself,
problems tend to remain deep inside and confrontation is rare. I was in the
manager's room at Trent Bridge in 1995 when Ray Illingworth accused him of
being soft. He did not say much before slamming the door on the way out,
but, far more importantly, he then went out to score a Test match hundred
the next day.'

Hick could do that. He did not lack passion. He lacked confidence - which is
hard for mortals to understand. How could someone with so much talent
disappoint so often? At the Wisden dinner last week, a casual straw poll
reached the consensus that Hick cared too much, not too little. He wanted to
please, but his inner fears stifled his game.

A friend of his remarked: 'He was capable of the most amazing things on the
cricket field. But he didn't want a fuss. It embarrassed him.'

This, after all, was the same player who scored 405 for Worcestershire
against Somerset at Taunton in 1988, a day that opponents and team-mates
alike will never forget. Roebuck recalls him 'running his partner's singles
every bit as hard as he ran his own. It was a tremendous team performance
too, not just an individual one.'

'I can't imagine you will ever see a greater innings than Graeme's today,'
Ian Botham observed. 'He's certainly the best white batsman I've seen.'

Christopher Martin-Jenkins wrote in the Daily Telegraph: 'Possibly he will
become the most prolific [batsman] since the great Don Bradman.'

The player himself did not even know he had posted the best championship
score since the 424 of Archie MacLaren (also at Taunton) in 1895. Here was
an ingenu who might just bludgeon his way to the top. He became the youngest
player ever to score 2,000 runs in an English season. England could hardly
wait for him to qualify. And Hick knew with each passing season his game was
losing its sharpness. It was too easy. He desperately wanted to test
himself. Yet, when the call came, he was guarded. 'I hope people don't
expect too much of me,' he said.

We did. Inevitably.

Atherton's view that Hick shies away from confrontation is not entirely
true. He has had rows, most notably with Tom Moody in the Australian's last
season as Worcestershire's coach in 2005.

'I've got mixed feelings about all that, really. When he left... let's just
say... let's leave it. It's a different environment in county cricket
sometimes and you have to feel comfortable in the dressing room. I enjoyed
it, though. I've been here 21 years and I can remember only three or four
big bust-ups. Generally, we get on very well.'

Moody would rather leave it, too. He is coaching Sri Lanka - 'moved on' in
the game's argot - but there is no denying that the game creates unique
pressures, with players living and working so close to each other for six
days a week, all summer, often away from home. It is a scene not always
suited to reasoned relationships between adults.

And it is Hick's life. Totally. He has done nothing else. Will he be able to
cope when he leaves his 'comfort zone'? He is not sure himself, although he
does not seem unduly worried. He has dinners and golf days to host in his
testimonial year and there will be time to think about the future later, if
the runs dry up and his hand is forced.

But what if he rediscovers his touch? In the most extreme of circumstances,
what if England, still struggling in the one-day game, need him one more
time, for the World Cup in West Indies next year (Hick remains one of the
best limited-overs bangers in cricket)?

'Hmm. I can't see that happening, to be honest. Let's just say, if the phone
rang and they asked me I'd certainly go, but I think it would be a backward
step. I'm not saying I'm not still as good or better than some of the
younger players... but it wouldn't be the right thing for them to do.'

That sort of sums up Graeme Hick. He could have been a great cricketer. But
he will settle for being a decent human being.

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