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

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Despite government predictions, famine persists in Zimbabwe's remote

    Women collect food aid in Chitsungo, Zimbabwe, Wednesday, April 16,
2003. A small community, nearly 3,000 families living in hamlets of brick
and mud houses, gather each month for emergency food handouts to help them
        Erratic rains and the government's confiscation of white-owned farms
have led to the crisis here in Chitsungo, which like other rural towns is
struggling to survive on foreign food handouts. Some townspeople haven't
made it.
       ''They are buried outside the villages,'' said Joel Zonke, an
official with the charity Christian Care. ''The relatives come and tell us
the names of those who have passed away from hunger.''
       As Zimbabwe marks its 23rd anniversary of independence from British
colonial rule on Friday, there is little to celebrate here.
       Subsistence farmers have not been able to grow enough grain to feed
their families. Meager cotton crops will bring in some cash, but there is
nothing to buy with it in district stores.
       Women, some pushing wheelbarrows with babies on their backs, and
rickety carts hauled by emaciated cattle, head along paths and dusty tracks
toward this remote village of 3,000 families about 150 miles north of
       The United Nations' World Food Program is drastically scaling down
its food deliveries to Zimbabwe - from about 60,000 tons a month to 30,000
tons - as the first of the year's harvests begin to trickle in. But it will
continue to supply the people of Chitsungo with handouts of corn, the staple
food, said official Luis Clemens.
       The nation's deepening economic crisis has collapsed what aid
officials call ''marketing mechanisms'' that traditionally brought supplies
to the nation's most stressed areas.
       Zimbabwe, once known as ''the breadbasket of Africa,'' now suffers
record inflation and unemployment and acute shortages of food and gasoline.
       The WFP and foreign donors have called for the government to end the
monopoly of the state Grain Marketing Board and ease price controls on food.
These have worsened food shortages blamed on droughts and the land seizures.
       A lack of accurate forecasts on this year's harvest makes the future
equally uncertain for many across Zimbabwe, say aid officials and diplomats.
       Unofficial forecasts estimate that Zimbabwe will harvest 1.3 million
tons of food, slightly short of annual requirements but three times the
amount harvested last year, when massive food imports were needed.
       That figure is based largely on regional reports from state
agricultural officials believed to be under intense political pressure to
show the success of peasant farming after the often violent seizures of
thousands of white-owned commercial farms.
       The Commercial Farmers Union, which represents some 400 white farmers
still working on their land, estimates a maximum grain harvest from all
local sources this year of about 800,000 tons.
       ''I am convinced the country will need significant food assistance
for the rest of the year,'' said Didier Ferrand, the French ambassador to
Zimbabwe, who is involved in European Union aid efforts.
       The WFP says it too is waiting for the official crop forecast but has
cut aid imports because its officials in most districts estimate new
harvests will be sufficient for between two and six months.
       Last year, the agency said 7.2 million Zimbabweans, more than half
the population, needed food assistance. It fed nearly 5 million people last
month, averting mass starvation.
       The new danger, said WFP's Clemens, lies in ''food gaps'' that emerge
in coming weeks after aid supplies have been wound down.
       Donors were unlikely to commit more funds without seeing the
government's crop estimates, promised next month.
       ''It still takes three months from the donor's pledge to getting the
food into people's mouths,'' he said.
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Dispatch online

Zimbabwe marks 23rd Independence Day

What gift can SA give?

By Norman Reynolds

TODAY is the 23rd anniversary of Zimbabwe's Independence. The people of
Zimbabwe have refound their democratic strength. They have the Mugabe regime
on the run. Robert Mugabe's end game will soon be over. Nonetheless, the
daily horror and further economic collapse must be stopped ASAP.

Julius Nyerere has a lesson for President Thabo Mbeki. For over two long
years of national destruction and human rights abuses by a self-declared
"African Hitler", Zimbabweans have looked first and foremost to South Africa
for leadership and for clear signals that President Mbeki and the ANC (and
his avowedly apologist foreign minister) understood the nature of Mugabe's
illegal regime.

They expected Mbeki to act decisively to end the mayhem and to help restore
constitutional order (knowing that the South African Constitution should be
our great "gift" to Africa).

For some time now, Zimbabweans have come to realise that Mbeki's take on
Zimbabwe was never a question of some misunderstanding, of high-minded but
ineffectual behaviour. They have come to see that Mbeki's position was
deliberate and wrong.

It failed to back a whole nation against a small-minded, delusional but
vicious impostor and his army of cronies. There never was a land reform
programme, just the annihilation of the votes of farm labour. There is the
mass theft of assets by his family and cronies.

Mbeki's motives are now regarded as highly dubious. To Zimbabweans and to
many South Africans, Mbeki has positively supported Mugabe's dictatorship.
Moreover, he has done this while other African leaders have stood against

April 18 is not just a chance for Zimbabweans to topple Mugabe. It is, more
realistically, a chance for President Mbeki of democratic South Africa, the
head of the AU, the recent chair of NAM, the main force behind Nepad and its
demand for good governance in Africa, to be seen to act to restore
constitutional order to Zimbabwe.

The inspiration for what Mbeki must do is what that much revered and now
much missed African leader and statesman, Julius Nyerere, did to Indira

During the late 1980s, Indira Gandhi declared a "State of Emergency" to
avoid an election. It was a move not unlike Mugabe's stealing of both the
general and the presidential elections in Zimbabwe. In the midst of Gandhi's
emergency, Nyerere was awarded India's highest honour, the Nehru Peace

Nyerere was duly invited to New Delhi to receive the prize from Gandhi. She,
no doubt, looked forward to the legitimacy his presence would lend to her
declared state of emergency that had curtailed the democratic and other
rights of all Indians and which was universally hated by all Indians.

Many doubted that Nyerere would accept the prize and most Indians thought
that he might at the very least refuse to travel to India to receive it from

To the disappointment of the Indian public, Nyerere announced that he would
travel to India. He crossed the Indian Ocean and, to everyone's amazement,
he used the occasion to change the course of Indian history.

The Nehru Peace Prize was an evening ceremony in the biggest hall in New
Delhi. On the stage were two ornate chairs and two lecterns. In the audience
was the cream of Indian society, government and military, and international

Gandhi introduced Nyerere, spoke of the purpose of the prize and of previous
winners and then handed the prize to Nyerere.

Nyerere then quietly and determinedly, building the drama as he went, set
about reminding Gandhi and all Indians of the values that Jawaharlal Nehru
had stood for, of his interminable talks to vast audiences around the whole
of India in which he explained the what, the why and the how of democracy.

Having laid out the national goals of India, Nyerere then turned and
addressed Gandhi directly across the large stage. He told her, to her face
and in front of the VIP audience present and the radio and TV audiences in
every town and village of India that, with her emergency, Gandhi was, he
implied, "burying her father".

As a close and old family friend, one who had known her as a child, he did
not, could not, approve of her emergency. Her father deserved better from
his daughter and heir.

It was a great, courageous and dramatic speech. The audience was transfixed.
No-one dared breathe. Gandhi sat grim-faced, her usually haughty beak-nosed
face turned ashen. When Nyerere finished, there was rapturous applause,
during which Gandhi quickly ended the evening and strode from the stage.

A few days later, Gandhi lifted the emergency and, by so doing, faced
elections she would undoubtedly lose. A new government would probably set up
a commission of inquiry and she and her family and cronies would then face
many accusations of human and democratic abuses. She might even have to go
to jail.

After Gandhi and Nehru, Nyerere is the most revered hero amongst Indians.

Might Mbeki, similarly, cross the Limpopo today to attend Zimbabwe's
Independence celebrations, celebrations Mugabe will undoubtedly hold to
bolster his regime, and will Mbeki, like Nyerere, use the event to change
the course of Zimbabwe's history?

President Mbeki has the same opportunity as Nyerere seized to demonstrate
courage and to place his and South Africa's authority behind the immediate
restoration of the rights of all Zimbabweans. It is an historic opportunity,
a moment that cannot be engineered at will.

It must be used. He owes it to the people of Zimbabwe, first and foremost,
but secondarily to all of Africa. It could be his defining moment.
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Daily News

      Landmark victory for Tsvangirai

      4/18/03 4:31:28 AM (GMT +2)

      By Fanuel Jongwe Court Reporter

      HIGH Court judge Ann-Marie Gowora has ordered the Electoral
Supervisory Commission (ESC) to release to the MDC's lawyers various
documents relating to the 2002 presidential election as requested by the
opposition party.

      Gowora also ordered that the ESC pay the legal costs incurred by the
MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, in seeking the court order.
      Tsvangirai was represented by Bryant Elliot.

      The documents include memoranda and other papers relating to the
appointment of members of the ESC secretariat, including Brigadier Douglas
Nyikayaramba, engaged to supervise the election.

      The documents are required by the opposition party for its petition to
seek the nullification of the election controversially won by President
Mugabe. The MDC contended that personnel employed by the ESC for the
election included members of the Zimbabwe National Army and that, as a
result, the army virtually ran the election.

      The opposition party said the General Laws Amendment Act, 2, of 2002,
gave the ESC the sole right to educate voters, a role previously played by
non-governmental organisations.

      "The applicant, therefore, requires that the memoranda and other
documents relating to the secretariat should be discovered by the
respondent," Gowora said. "I do not see any reason why the respondent should
not be ordered to discover the documents in question as they are relevant to
the matter in dispute in the main petition.

      "In my view, the assertion by the applicant that the respondent played
a pivotal role in the conduct of the Presidential Election cannot be
gainsaid. Such documents as the respondent might have in relation to the
same would, of course, be relevant to the conduct of the election. I can see
no justification for not granting the order sought by the respondent for
further discovery."

      In a related case, Justice Lavender Makoni ordered Tobaiwa Mudede, the
Registrar-General, on 12 October last year to direct all constituency
registrars countrywide to secure all ballot papers and counterfoils used in
the election in separate sealed packets and surrender the material together
with all voters' rolls to him for safe custody.

      Mudede allegedly defied the court order.
      Yvonne Dondo, of the Attorney-General's Office, said Mudede's office
did not have the transport to ferry the election residue to Harare and the
space to keep the material.

      In responding to another order granted by Justice Antonia Guvava to
make available documents and correspondence to the police and otherb
election "stakeholders", Mudede allegedly said all notices relating to
polling stations, voting hours and dates were published in newspapers and he
did not submit the requested correspondence.
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      Sikhala vows to stay put

      4/18/03 4:42:00 AM (GMT +2)

      Staff Reporter

      JOB Sikhala, the MDC MP for St Mary's has vowed that he will not go
into exile even though he feels that he is under threat from State agents
who are tracking down opposition members.

      When Sikhala left for Denmark for treatment last month there were
rumours that he would not come back.

      In an interview yesterday, a week after returning from Denmark, where
he had gone for treatment after he was allegedly tortured while in police
custody, Sikhala said: "Fear, torture, rape and murder will never be allowed
to triumph over people's convictions and their fight for freedom. I am
prepared to die rather than be exiled."

      "The five million Zimbabweans Mugabe exiled are enough. Our people
should be prepared to die for their country. There is no way I can run away
from my country."

      Since his election in 2000, Sikhala has been arrested more than 20
times. He has pending cases while some have been thrown away by the courts
for lack of evidence.

      Early, this year Sikhala wept in court as he narrated how he was
tortured by State security agents. He was arrested for allegedly plotting to
oust President Mugabe. The case was thrown out by magistrate, Caroline-Ann

      Yesterday, the MP said there shall come a time when those committing
crimes against humanity shall face the wrath of the law.

      "Those who are collaborators of this regime must be warned that they
shall be the Saddams," said Sikhala. Saddam Hussein is the ousted leader of

      Sikhala said he was fearing for his life as there were rumours that
some police officers had visited his home during his absence.
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      Muchinguri denies quizzing prosecutor

      4/18/03 4:44:08 AM (GMT +2)

      From Kelvin Jakachira in Mutare

      OPPAH Muchinguri, the Governor for Manicaland, has dismissed
allegations that last week she summoned Levison Chikafu, a Mutare-based
public prosecutor, demanding an explanation on why he granted 17 MDC members

      The MDC members included Giles Mutsekwa, the MP for Mutare North,
Patrick Chitaka, the MDC chairman for Mutare North and Pishai Muchauraya,
the party's provincial spokesman.

      They were charged under the Public Order and Security Act for
allegedly participating in organising last month's mass action.
      Muchinguri said, "Chikafu is my legal advisor. People always think of
negative things."

      Chikafu refused to comment on the matter. Sources said Chikafu was
questioned on why he granted bail to the MDC activists. The sources said the
meeting, held at the Governor's office, was also attended by a top CIO
officer identified only as Tapfuma and a senior police officer identified as
one Superintendent Gwata.

      The sources said a top army officer, whose identity could not be
immediately ascertained, was also present.
      "They wanted to know the circumstances in which the MDC members were
granted bail," said the source.

      The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), on Tuesday said they
were investigating allegations that Muchinguri and the top security agents
quizzed Chikafu.

      Arnold Tsunga, the director of the ZLHR said: "We have heard reports
that there was a problem between Chikafu and people identifying themselves
as war veterans and that he was summoned to the governor's office for
questioning on his conduct in executing his duties as a public prosecutor
and a representative of the Attorney-General's Office in Manicaland.

      "These reports have not yet been confirmed but we are carrying out an
independent investigation as a body with an interest in the independence of
the judiciary."

      Two weeks ago a group of war veterans bulldozed their way into Chikafu
's office demanding to know why he had granted bail to the 17 MDC members.
The MDC members were arrested and detained for six days for allegedly
organising last month's mass stay-away.

      More than 200 MDC supporters including the party's vice-president,
Gibson Sibanda, were arrested while others claimed they were tortured in
police custody for participating in the stayaway.

      Orders to crush the MDC were issued by President Mugabe at the burial
of Swithun Mombeshora, the late Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education.
      Mombeshora was interred at the National Heroes Acre last month.
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      Debunking Mugabe's false claims about Chakaipa

      4/18/03 4:36:01 AM (GMT +2)

      I am dedicating much of this week's column to last week's most
important event, the death of Archbishop Patrick Chakaipa and related

      Like most Zimbabweans, The Mole was not surprised at all that
President Mugabe made special efforts to be seen to be grieving with the
rest of the Catholics in Zimbabwe and elsewhere following Chakaipa's death.

      Mugabe made sure he was one of the first important people to send
messages of condolence, saying what a great loss to Zimbabwe Chakaipa's
death was and the usual other platitudes.

      Not only that - Mugabe was conspicuously present at the mass service
at Harare's City Sports Centre on Monday and at the burial in Chishawasha
later that day.

      After all, apart from the fact that Mugabe is, as far as we know,
himself still a practising Catholic who belongs to the Archdiocese of Harare
and so would have been expected to be sorrowing with the rest of the late
cleric's flock, we are told a special friendship existed between the two

      But it was, thank God, obviously not a friendship or an alliance of
the unholy kind that appears to exist between Mugabe and Anglican Bishop
Nolbert Kunonga, which is largely based on the latter unconditionally
endorsing Mugabe's insane policies.

      The friendship between the two men, whose personalities were as
different as chalk and cheese - one is impetuous, self-centred and
dictatorial, the other was mild-mannered, unassuming and accommodative - is
said to have developed when Chakaipa took the risk to solemnise Mugabe's
marriage to Grace despite strong misgivings among his colleagues in the
Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference (ZCBC).

      Some ordinary Catholics have said it was the only blot in Chakaipa's
sterling work in the service of the Lord. The Mole is not too sure about
that. But what can be said with certainty is that Mugabe tried to make it
look like Chakaipa was as approving, or even supportive, of his disastrous
land policy as Kunonga is. His statements before and at the funeral left no
one in any doubt about that.

      It was particularly unfortunate for him to say about the late
Archbishop: "Chakaipa's stance on the land question was unambiguous and
would for ever remain a quiet admonition to his peers who chose the side of
the unjust and the selfish."

      He was, of course, trying to employ his now well-known divide-and-rule
tactics to cause division in the Catholic Church by eulogising Chakaipa as
an ally who was firmly behind him in what he mistakenly thinks was a "just
war" against commercial farmers, while branding some of his "peers" - those
who publicly disagreed with the violence that accompanied land-grabbing - as
"siding with the unjust and the selfish".

      Knowing how Mugabe hates people who openly criticise him when he does
something wrong, it is not difficult to deduce that the one "peer" topmost
on his mind when he made that snide remark was Archbishop Pius Ncube, a
remarkably courageous and righteous man who has consistently been openly
critical of Mugabe's misrule.

      The Mole cannot put it past Mugabe to have been personally behind the
idea to have Chakaipa declared a national hero. It was a way of both
slighting Ncube and at the same time driving a wage between the Catholic
Church in Zimbabwe's senior clergy. But the attempt failed dismally because
Chakaipa's surviving colleagues saw the trick.

      Like one, they debunked Mugabe's claims regarding Chakaipa's supposed
supportive stance on Mugabe's totally unjust, unfair and violently
destructive land-grab exercise. Interviewed separately, ZCBC
Secretary-General Walter Nyatsanza, Bulawayo's Archbishop Ncube and Mutare's
Bishop Patrick Mutume, all said although Chakaipa "unwaveringly supported
the equal distribution of land, he was strongly concerned about the violent
manner in which it was implemented".

      There you have it, Mr President! Chakaipa may have made an error of
judgment in blessing what some people say had been an adulterous
relationship between you and Grace Marufu, but he certainly did not support
your violent land policy at all.

      Thank God the idea to declare him a national hero was stillborn. If he
had been interred at the National Heroes' Acre, Chakaipa would no doubt be
feeling very uncomfortable keeping company with some of the characters
buried there.

      Just what is it that has gotten into traditional leaders called
chiefs? We had one lunatic among them the other day, as they were gathered
in Bulawayo for their annual small talk not long ago, making an utter fool
of himself as he tried to fawn on Mugabe with childish mouthings to the
effect that chiefs want him to rule Zimbabwe for ever as if he was a

      Now we have another of their number, Chief Mutewo Chiweshe, who has
barred the burial of a National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) official at
his rural home in Chiweshe district.

      The NCA official, 42-year-old Clever Dimba, who was the provincial
chairman in Mashonaland Central, had to be buried in Mvurwi where he died
last Friday after Chief Chiweshe had sent a messenger there to inform
mourners that Dimba could not be buried in his area because of his links
with the NCA. Dimba was also known to be a strong supporter of the MDC.
That, no doubt, was his big crime in the tragically skewed view of the
chief, who must obviously be an overzealous supporter of Zanu PF.

      Now this is not just silly or absurd. It is obsequiousness gone
absolutely mad. The poor chief is obviously trying to show Zanu PF leaders
in the province how anti-MDC he is. The good chief must be reminded that as
a traditional leader, he has a duty to uphold his people's customs and
traditions. His first duty is to his people - not to pander to the dictates
of politicians.

      In Shona tradition, it is taboo to speak ill of the dead or treat dead
people with disrespect, which is what Chiweshe did.

      What people like Chief Chiweshe - and they many, including those in
the police, the army, war veterans and Zanu PF militias - need to know is
that the leaders in whose name they are committing inhumane acts against
fellow Zimbabweans are not going to be around for ever to protect them.
Neither will Zanu PF. The law will eventually catch up with them.

      It must have been with these people in mind that the MDC, for several
days, ran the following warning in the Press to members of the public: "We
wish to remind perpetrators of human rights violations that we have begun to
compile a detailed list of their activities. If you are part of the Border
Gezi militia, please be reminded that there will be no State protection
against the crimes that you are committing in the name of Zanu PF. You alone
will have to answer for your actions in a court of law."
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Leader Page

      Mugabe must chastise errant Chief Chiweshe

      4/18/03 4:32:05 AM (GMT +2)

      Under normal circumstances, chiefs are the custodians of the people's
culture and traditions. They should be wedded to the clan's beliefs and way
of life which they are expected to guard jealously.

      What we are witnessing in Zimbabwe today is that instead of doing
that, some of our traditional leaders are going a step beyond their
prescribed mandate and taking the law into their hands and this, with the
full blessing of the government.

      Yesterday, we carried the story of Chief Mutewo Munyonga Chiweshe of
Mashonaland Central, who is reported to have barred the burial last week of
Clever Dimba, a member of the National Constitutional Assembly, a civic
group that is lobbying for a new people-driven constitution, among other

      The self-styled chief, who has gained national notoriety for his
questionable and unorthodox behaviour, unilaterally ruled that Clever Dimba,
who was the NCA chairman in Mashonaland Central province, should not be
buried in his rural home of Chiweshe.

      He was instead buried last Sunday at Mvurwi Cemetery.

      Some of Dimba's relatives could not attend his burial as they feared
victimisation, according to NCA officials.

      Apart from being unAfrican, the chief's deplorable conduct runs
against the rule of law and clearly violates accepted international human
rights laws.

      This is the same chief who, on 15 April 2001, stirred a hornet's nest
when he led a group of Zanu PF militia in disrupting the funeral of Ndoga
Mupesa, an MDC member in Centenary.

      So incensed where Mupesa's relatives that they severely beat up the
militia and the chief in defence of their constitutional rights. The chief,
a known Zanu PF official, sustained serious injuries and was subsequently
admitted to St Albert's Mission Hospital.

      Several acts of political violence took place soon after the incident,
within Centenary, obviously at the instigation of Zanu PF and in retaliation
for the assault on the chief.

      Two MDC supporters, Show Goriati and Arunero Mawachi, had their houses
razed to the ground by Zanu PF supporters two days later.

      But the irony of this madness was that President Mugabe used the 2001
Independence celebrations, not to condemn the violence, but to express his
support for the wayward traditional leader.

      He told Zanu PF supporters at the National Sports Stadium that it was
unheard of for a chief to be beaten up by his subjects and blamed the MDC
for the attack.

      He did not realise that it was also unheard of, for a national leader
of Mugabe's stature, to condone lawlessness by people who should be
protecting peace and promoting harmony.

      Early this month, Chief Chiweshe was ordered by the High Court to
return money and property amounting to more than $2 million that he seized
last year from a villager he had accused of inciting people to attack him at
the Mupesa funeral.

      Chief Chiweshe is reported to have ganged up with others on 26 January
last year and impounded property belonging to Jack Kankuni of Chigwida
village in Centenary. He also seized $350 000 in cash from Ernest Muridzi
and Tinapi Diwura of Chitungwiza.

      Last August, Tafadzwa Musekiwa, the Member of Parliament for Zengeza
(MDC), could not attend the burial of his father in Chikomba after threats
from Zanu PF youths. The young legislator has since sought refuge in the
United Kingdom after being tortured and beaten up and receiving death

      Both Musekiwa and Dimba's cases are clear examples of what can happen
if a country is led by people who do not have the interest of the majority
at heart.

      Mugabe, who has boasted of having many degrees in violence, should use
the Independence celebrations this weekend to chastise his errant subject,
Chief Chiweshe.
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Leader Page

      Chakaipa was no Zanu PF lackey

      4/18/03 4:32:42 AM (GMT +2)

      By Magari Mandebvu

      In spite of anything I may have said earlier, we do sometimes watch
the ZTV news in our house. Once in a while is usually enough to put us off
for another week or two, and this Sunday was one of those occasions.

      When the newsreader announced that the Zanu PF central committee would
be considering whether to declare Archbishop Patrick Chakaipa a national
hero, a gasp of horror went up from the whole room.

      We were not horrified at the idea that the archbishop might have been
a hero, but at the notion that someone was trying to hijack his memory by
declaring him a Zanu PF hero. The late archbishop was a brave man, and he
was dedicated to serving his people, but that isn't what this national hero
business is about.

      There are many brave men and women who suffered for freedom but did
not make it to Heroes' Acre, some of them because they belonged to the
"wrong party".

      "National Hero" means, as we all know by now, "a safe member of Zanu
PF", one who never disagreed with the party leadership. Some of those who
did make it to Heroes' Acre never had a chance to show how brave they might
have been if they had faced enemy bullets, but they were safe, loyal members
of the party.

      Whatever he was, Patrick Chakaipa was not that.

      I remember in 1980 when I was much more enthusiastic about Zanu PF,
being disappointed that when the new Prime Minister asked to see the
archbishop, Chakaipa took a fortnight to reply. That disappointed some of us
then, but maybe he knew something we didn't know at that stage.

      Later, he did seem to warm up to the party just as many of us were
cooling towards it, but, for example, his agreement to preside at the
wedding of Robert Mugabe and Grace Marufu did not prove he was a Zanu PF

      Their behaviour before their marriage may have left something to be
desired, but I can understand, even if I disagreed at the time and still
disagree, with the archbishop's view that the man was a Catholic and his
asking for a church wedding showed that he wanted to put things right so a
good priest (and we all knew Chakaipa was that) could not refuse him the
blessing and help of the church.

      It is simply untrue to say he was the strongest supporter of the
"Third Chimurenga" among the bishops. When it began, he was already a sick
man and, if we criticised him, it was for not speaking against the
violence - something he may have been incapable of by then. At least he did
not defend the way the land-grab was carried out. Some of his colleagues did
go as far as to approve Mugabe's theft of the 2002 presidential election by
attending and blessing his inauguration, but not Chakaipa.

      There is another aspect to the "national hero" business that the
archbishop might have recognised and not approved.

      Do you remember when that MP declared Mugabe the Son of God? I am sure
that Mugabe does not want to be God. He'd rather be Pope, because that
carries more obvious power. If we, or his own thugs, offend God, we have
rather a long time to wait before we face judgment for that, but the Pope
has power over his own followers here and now and a lot of people who are
not his followers admit he has tremendous influence over them.

      That is the power Mugabe wants, not the power to send us to Hell when
we die. He would rather control us here and now.

      And, when you think about it, declaring national heroes is one way
that he tries to claim the sort of power the Pope has. The nearest parallel
I can think of is the way the Pope declares saints in a canonisation
ceremony. This is a way of saying that the dead person led a life that shows
they can be safely venerated and imitated by the faithful, and isn't that
very similar to what is being said when someone is declared a national hero?
They are saying: "This man may have been a greedy, self-serving thug, but he
was a loyal member of the party, and we want you all to be like that, even
if it doesn't reward you so well. To prove your loyalty, you may venerate
him by naming streets after him."

      That is a kind of power over our minds that many politicians would
love to exercise, and the gentleman in State House revels in it.

      If the dead really did turn in their graves, there would be permanent
earth tremors at Heroes' Acre as men like Rekayi Tangwena, Herbert Chitepo
and Guy Clutton-Brock protested at the kind of company they are forced to
keep there. If anyone had the impertinence to bury Chakaipa there, he also
would turn in his grave. He was a faithful enough follower of the Pope to
recognise when power-hungry politicians were using a ritual that he believed
only the Pope could use, and using it to boost their own power.

      Archbishop Chakaipa may have been quiet when people expected him to
speak out against the evils that have been unleashed on our land in recent
years, but what could he have done when he was dying of cancer? It doesn't
make him a lackey of the party or of the mad professor or of the man who
used to wear a grass hat.

      He was also a very humble man, who would not be fooled by cheap
honours. National hero? He'd have wanted none of that.

      May he rest in peace.

      Magari Mandebvu is a Catholic priest who writes on political and
social issues.
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Daily News


      We'll recover shopping spree and farm booty!

      4/18/03 4:38:07 AM (GMT +2)

      Please, get the likes of Jocelyn Chiwenga, Jonathan Moyo and Robert
Mugabe to know that the public is recording all the evil they are doing.

      I can only hope that these men and women have no children, for if they
had any, they at least would be worried about the future bequeath on those
children. Grace Mugabe, for instance, had to withdraw her children from St
George's College.

      Soon Zimbabweans will recover the taxpayers' money that was spent on
shopping sprees overseas and the proceeds from farm produce confiscated in
the name of land reform.

      If independence was all about violence by Zanu PF top men moving
around with a large following of bodyguards, then I feel sorry for these
leaders. A few years ago they could freely do their shopping along First
Street without even a toy gun in their bags. Now they have the blood of so
many innocent people on their hands. They have tortured so many people and
have sponsored murder, torture and rape through their racist propaganda and
hatred of the MDC.

      They will never be free in their own country again. Their children are
not likely to be free either. Ian Douglas Smith, who was the white leader
during the armed struggle, is a free man today. Everyone knows where he
lives. He is a free man despite the fact that most of us lost our relatives
during the war of liberation.

      To the likes of Moyo, Chiwenga and Mugabe, the legacy you leave behind
is a shame to your grandchildren, if at all you have children.

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The Spectator
  19 April 2003
Stop this evil tour

Simon Heffer on why the England cricket team must not go to Zimbabwe next
year  In what used to be thought to be the gentleman's game of cricket, a
brisk handshake was usually enough to end any disagreements. With the
Zimbabwean team scheduled to arrive here on 29 April to play two Test
matches, various one-day internationals and games against some counties, you
might think that doctrine was once again in operation. After all, it was
only a few weeks ago that England threw world cricket into what the sports
pages call 'turmoil' by refusing, for security reasons, to play a one-day
match in Harare. Some Zimbabweans were outraged. A swingeing fine, thought
to approach a seven-figure sterling sum, is being negotiated with the
International Cricket Council. The total costs to England of not playing the
game are said to approach 2 million. It seemed that cricketing relations
between Zimbabwe and England would never be the same again, at least so long
as the tyrant Mugabe remained enthroned in that country.

Indeed, in the middle of last month it was rumoured that Zimbabwe would, in
fact, call off their tour in retaliation for the recent boycott. Some of us,
knowing a little about the precarious finances of world cricket, knew this
would be highly unlikely. Poor countries like Zimbabwe rely heavily on the
earnings from overseas tours, which can be several millions, to keep the
game going at home. England and Australia are the two most lucrative venues.
If Zimbabwe did not come here for the next couple of months, they certainly
could not go to Australia instead to keep the meter ticking over. Even if
the Australians were happy to help out (and that country takes an identical
view of Zimbabwe to ours) there is the little problem of it being winter

No: Zimbabwe were always coming, whatever the impotent bluster of some of
the country's more bellicose cricket officials, or the feelings of the
president of the country's Cricket Union. In a demonstration of the
separation of powers that makes Zimbabwe such a happy ship, Mugabe holds
that job too. Three years ago, when Zimbabwe last came here, he harrumphed
shortly before the trip of the possibility of it not happening; but it did.
Cricket is an important propaganda tool for the tyrant. Scenes being beamed
around the world of white-clad Zimbabweans playing the great game at the
highest level help him to create the impression that things cannot be so
awful as it is claimed. Even though the next sight of them will be on
English grounds, we are nonetheless helping him in this charade.

Vince Hogg, the managing director of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union, told the
BBC last month that his country had been 'hurt' when England cancelled in
February. 'We were hurt by their non-arrival and there was some ill feeling.
We gave every assurance about security and we felt let down. We don't
believe that they were justified. We thought it was the wrong decision.'
Rather alarmingly, he added, 'England have learned from the experience as
well and they expressed regret for not fulfilling their fixture here. I'm
sure they don't want to repeat that. We are not in the game of suits and
counter-suits.' In other words, Zimbabwe will come here later this month,
but in return there can be no question of England not fulfilling their
obligations to tour there.

Even though Zimbabwe were never not going to tour, England and Wales Cricket
Board officials have made yet another cardinal error in their conduct of the
international game. Money is the driving force behind international cricket.
Were the Zimbabwean tour cancelled, some ECB officials privately estimated
the cost of cancellation could have been as high as 10 million. Even if
this were true, the idea that another Third World country could not have
been found to fill the gap in the schedule and have an unexpected pay-day in
England beggars belief; Pakistan were reported as being in line to do just
that. However, in an effort to ensure that the Zimbabwe tour did take place,
a promise was given that England would tour Zimbabwe at the end of 2004. The
promise took the form of what has been called 'a qualified assurance'.
'Subject to safety and security concerns it is fully our intention to
undertake that tour to Zimbabwe in November 2004,' the ECB's chief
executive, Tim Lamb, announced. Yet again, the principle of playing a sport
in a country stricken by famine, run by a genocidal maniac, whose people are
being systematically denied their human rights, rings no moral alarm bells
with the England cricket authorities. So long as their boys aren't harmed,
and the cheque arrives at the end of the day, nothing else appears to

This was madness on several levels. First, financial reality meant that no
such promise had to be given. Second, if players are worried about security,
it is going to be far harder to secure it over a period of several weeks
than it would have been for the couple of days our team was scheduled to be
in that country during February. Third, and most importantly, the political
problems in Zimbabwe which triggered the February crisis - and which, late
in the day, caused our Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary and Secretary of
State for International Development to say the match should not take place -
are not going to get any better by late next year unless Mugabe dies. In the
manner of many of the world's most repulsive dictators, he shows no sign of
doing so. And, as the Foreign Office minister Baroness Amos told the House
of Lords a fortnight ago, regime change in Harare is not a diplomatic aim of
Her Majesty's Government. Therefore, it would seem that we have an almighty
problem coming up, and it is yet another self-inflicted wound by the twerps
who run English cricket.

The Zimbabwe Cricket Union had a board meeting on 29 March at which it
discussed the impending tour, and what was described as 'government
pressure' to call it off. The chairman, Peter Chingoka, indicated that his
organisation was likely to go ahead with the tour. However, the final
decision was not his. All international tours by sporting organisations in
Zimbabwe have to be sanctioned by the government-appointed Sports
Commission. Last Monday that approval was forthcoming. Now, the onus is on
our cricketers to fulfil their part of the deal and tour there in 18 months'

With a war on it is hardly surprising that those politicians who became so
exercised about the February match should have kept quiet about the 2004
tour. However, if they are to be logical about this, certain implications
now flow from their existing policies. If Mr Blair, Mr Straw and Miss Short
felt so strongly that our cricketers should not play one one-day match in
Zimbabwe this year, they cannot possibly support a whole tour there next
year. Last time, the politicians caused anger by making their intervention
so late in the day, barely six weeks before the Harare match was due to take
place. Now, they are on 18 months' notice. What is more, given that they
have no intention of forcing regime change in Harare, they know from past
experience that things will be even worse in Zimbabwe by the autumn of next
year than they are now. The Mugabe-inspired famine will be more widespread
and will have killed more people. More white farmers will have been murdered
for racist reasons and more of their property stolen. More opponents of the
regime will have been arrested, tortured and imprisoned on trumped-up
charges. Order will be enforced in Zimbabwe only by means of an even more
brutal repression. One no longer expects the idiots who run English cricket
to see that this is a problem. The government, however, certainly should.

Perhaps now conscious of their almost demented ignorance of politics, the
England and Wales Cricket Board have, somewhat late in the day, decided to
see whether they can do something about having to play cricket against
countries with such barbaric governments as Zimbabwe. On 7 April, the ECB
presented a draft protocol to national representatives from football, rugby
and tennis. It proposed the creation of a committee whose purpose would be
to seek early government approval to fulfil tours in politically sensitive
countries. This is not just because of worries about Zimbabwe. This October,
England tour Bangladesh, where the Foreign Office already warns tourists to
exercise 'extreme vigilance' because of strong feelings by some Muslims
against Westerners. The FO advice goes on to advise that Britons keep a
'very low profile' due to an 'increased risk for British nationals from
international terrorism in the region'. The advice adds that 'large
demonstrations against US and UK policy in Iraq have already occurred in
Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet'.

So perhaps England won't tour Bangladesh, but at least such a decision would
be clear-cut and to do with safety. Meanwhile, things are becoming worse in
Zimbabwe, where political considerations remain paramount. The country's
fast bowler, Henry Olonga, the first black man to play for Zimbabwe, wore a
black armband during the World Cup 'to mourn the death of democracy' in his
country. Following threats, he now fears returning home until the political
climate has changed. He has no regrets at what he did. 'I don't believe if
you stand up for something that is right that you can [have] regret.... I'm
just suffering the consequences at the moment. I don't think in a year,
possibly, that the world can tolerate the type of leadership that we see in
Zimbabwe. Six million people may be faced with starvation. I will try and
get a work permit and see where I can fit, and when things come right, I'll
go back.'

Olonga is a brave man, but fails to understand the cowardice and moral
blindness of the rest of the world. Despite the strong British national
interest, a government happy to secure regime change in Baghdad will not
seek to do so in the far softer target of Zimbabwe. Motivated by money, and
as a result wilfully blind to the political considerations, the cricket
authorities refuse to take any moral stand. They are pitifully tarnished as
a result, for they seem to have sacrificed their very humanity. The
International Cricket Council, like the United Nations, is dominated by
Third World countries with an agenda shaped by a very different definition
of right and wrong to that held by most of us, and the ECB fears confronting

It is not the British government's place to tell the cricket authorities
what to do, but the same senior ministers who let their objections to the
World Cup match be known should now repeat them with added force. The
cricket authorities should be told that public opinion will not tolerate
them giving a propaganda coup to Mugabe next year simply because they are
too greedy and stupid to avoid doing so. But let us have this debate now,
and seek to embarrass these foolish men into doing the right thing, rather
than to leave it until the jumbo jet is revving up on the runway at

Simon Heffer is a columnist for the Daily Mail.

2003 The
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Mugabe says Britain trying to colonise Zimbabwe

By Cris Chinaka
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has accused Britain
and the United States of trying to "recolonise" the southern African country
by leading an international campaign against his policies.

In a defiant speech marking the country's independence from Britain 23 years
ago, Mugabe said on Friday that Western opposition to his seizure of
white-owned farms for landless blacks was part of a drive to keep the Third
World poor.

"We abhor imperialistic machinations and iniquitous efforts by Britain and
its ally, the United States, to recolonise us and we stand ready to resist
such attempts," the 79-year-old Mugabe told an independence rally in Harare.

"Africa is for Africans and Zimbabwe is for Zimbabweans... Our land, our
dear Zimbabwe will never again fall into foreign hands. Never, never, never
again will Zimbabwe be a colony," he said to loud applause from 20,000
supporters in a stadium draped in posters declaring "Zimbabwe is our

But many other Zimbabweans say they have little to celebrate.

Zimbabwe is facing its worst crisis in more than two decades, with soaring
unemployment and shortages of fuel, foreign exchange and food which many
blame on Mugabe's policies. Inflation hit a record 228 percent in March.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) accuses Mugabe of
stealing last year's presidential election and has vowed to lead street
protests in a bid to drive him from office.

"This is a very difficult day for many people. On one hand there is the
invaluable gift of independence and on the other we have very serious
problems economically, socially and politically," said human rights activist
Brian Kagoro.


Mugabe, the country's sole ruler since the former Rhodesia gained
independence in 1980, says the economy has been sabotaged by domestic and
Western opponents of his land campaign aimed at redressing past colonial

Britain and the United States have slapped sanctions on Mugabe and his inner
circle. They deny allegations by Zimbabwean leaders that their opposition to
Mugabe is "racist" and aimed at controlling the country's natural resources.

A top U.S. official this week repeated Washington's call for a transitional
government leading to fresh polls. Mugabe's victory last year was condemned
as fraudulent by some Western nations, which also accuse his government of
rights abuses.

But Zimbabwe escaped censure from the United Nations' top human rights body
in Geneva this week.

The European Union, with U.S. backing, had proposed a motion to the
Commission on Human Rights condemning rights violations in Zimbabwe. But
African countries voted to block the EU call.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai said this week his party would soon end the
suffering of Zimbabweans.

Police detained and later released about 500 MDC members last month after
one of the biggest protests since Mugabe came to power. Many said they were
tortured, but the authorities deny the allegations.

In his speech, Mugabe said he would not tolerate unrest.

"Those who reject democracy and choose the road of violence to achieve their
political goals are the enemies, indeed evil enemies of Zimbabwe and will
not be allowed to succeed."

But analysts say the intimidation is unlikely to prevent more protests.
Union leaders said this week's hike in fuel prices could trigger more public

The government said the increase, which saw the price of a litre of petrol
more than double, was necessary to import fuel supplies scarce since a deal
with Libya collapsed last year.

Mugabe said his government was working to revive the economy and ease fuel
shortages that have left thousands stranded for transport during the Easter
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            Zimbabweans march on Pretoria High Commission
            April 18, 2003, 14:15

            Several hundreds Zimbabweans living in South Africa, marched on
their High Commission in Pretoria today. They were protesting against what
they described as the repressive policies of the Robert Mugabe regime, and
the collapse of the Zimbabwean economy.

            They called on President Robert Mugabe to hand over political
power to the majority of Zimbabweans. The mood was upbeat among the hundreds
who marched on the Zimbabwean High Commission near the Union Buildings.
However, no sympathy was forthcoming from the Zimbabwean authorities. No one
arrived to receive the petition from the protesters.

            The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Zimbabwe's main
opposition, said more than three million Zimbabweans are now forced to live
outside the country. According to the party, misrule, hunger, starvation and
the death of democracy are some of the reasons that have forced Zimbabweans
into exile.

            The march co-incided with the day Zimbabweans celebrate the
collapse of a racist minority rule 23 years ago. According to the MDC,
Zimbabweans have nothing to celebrate. The party said human rights
violations have reached appalling proportions.
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Ban Creates Crisis In Old 'Colonies' Club

Mail & Guardian (Johannesburg)

March 24, 2003
Posted to the web April 18, 2003

Jean-Jacques Cornish

The extension of Zimbabwe's suspension from the Commonwealth is a slap in
the face for President Thabo Mbeki and Nigerian leader Olusegun Obassanjo,
who were hoping this punitive measure would wither on the vine.

Commonwealth Secretary General Don McKinnon's announcement in the third week
of March that Zimbabwe will be left out in the cold until the heads of
government meeting in Nigeria in December has created a crisis in this club
of former British colonies.

Mbeki strongly disputes McKinnon's assertion that the South African and
Nigerian leaders agreed with his action.

Mbeki and Obasanjo maintain they merely told the secretary general to seek
wider support for extending the suspension slapped on President Robert
Mugabe's government when Commonwealth heads of government met in Australia
last year.

A limited sanction was a tough enough measure to show Commonwealth concern
at human rights abuses and stealing an election, the South African and
Nigerian presidents felt.

McKinnon's move has shown them they are out of step with the wider
Commonwealth feeling that Zimbabwe be excluded until Mugabe's government is
seen to be taking steps to apply democratic norms and obey the rule of law.

McKinnon got a particularly strong message from the Australian and New
Zealand governments that have unilaterally imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard is the third member of the troika,
with Mbeki and Obasanjo, charged with deciding how to express Commonwealth
displeasure with Zimbabwe.

Howard made no secret of the fact that when the troika met again, as was
scheduled this month, he would be pushing for something tougher than

Mbeki and Obasanjo responded by calling off the meeting. This is yet another
instance of African leaders insisting that they call the shots on dealing
with a recalcitrant colleague.

"They present it to us as part of the New Programme for African Development
(Nepad)," said a European diplomat in the third week of March.

"They will get their house in order, and then we must take them seriously
and commit to development aid and promoting investment. It is a wonderful
idea but it all falls down at the Zimbabwe hurdle.

"If the African powers cannot take effective action against what amounts to
an illegitimate leader who is enriching himself while beating and starving
his people, then how seriously must we take them on other issues?" the
diplomat asked.

He said that this stubborn refusal to face up to Mugabe has sabotaged years
of hard work building meaningful cooperation between Europe and Africa.

"The Euro-African summit scheduled for Lisbon this summer has fallen victim
to this. African leaders would rather scrap this important meeting than
allow some Europeans to express their displeasure at what it is happening in

"As a result the whole Euro-African development machine has slowed to a
crawl. We are particularly disappointed in the South African position. Mbeki
quite justifiably takes a vocal moral stand on a range of international
issues that he cannot possibly change," the diplomat said.

"Yet he remains quiet on Zimbabwe over which he has real influence. Worse,
he allows his foreign minister to make statements reassuring Mugabe that he
is immune to South African criticism."

Mbeki's bid to get French assistance on Zimbabwe has fallen victim to the
war on Iraq. At last month's Franco-African summit, Mbeki asked French
President Jacques Chirac for some unspecified help on Zimbabwe.

The French leader, who had broken European sanctions on Zimbabwe by inviting
Mugabe to Paris for the meeting, said he would do what he could. Mbeki's
thinking was the France might be able to help thaw the freeze between Harare
and European capitals - particularly Britain.

"Can you think of anyone worse?" said a European envoy referring to the
widening chasm between Paris and London over Iraq.

"[Prime Minister] Tony Blair and others are blaming Chirac for taking the
pressure off Saddam Hussein and forcing them to go to war.

"France will be at full stretch mending its fences with it own allies. For
the foreseeable [future] there is no chance of it being able to make any
running on Zimbabwe's behalf."
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Courier Mail

Elephant kills Aussie tourist

A RAMPAGING elephant has trampled to death an Australian woman on her dream
trip to Africa.

Kerrie Morrow, 29, was enjoying a horseback safari at Victoria Falls in
Zimbabwe when she fell from her frightened pony and was charged by a female
elephant and killed.

Kerrie Morrow, of Sunshine, in Melbourne's west, flew out of Johannesburg on
April 10 and travelled to Victoria Falls, on the Zimbabwean border with
Zambia, where she did a 111m bungy jump.

Her stunned family yesterday told of the adventurous woman whose appetite
for travel could not be reined in.

"She wanted to do everything. She loved life and had so much to share," her
older sister, Michelle Morrow, said.

"Kerrie just wanted to see the world. Australia was not big enough for her."

She had travelled across the globe, visiting Scotland, the US, Turkey,
Germany, Rome, Spain, Amsterdam, Ireland and Paris.

Michelle Morrow said her sister phoned home before heading out on the safari
on Monday. She died later that day.

"She said, 'I'm here, I'm safe, I've made some friends. I'm alive and
everything is wonderful'," Ms Morrow said.

"All we know is that she came off the horse and a female elephant with calf
charged her."

Ms Morrow said her sister had planned to go on to Scotland and then see the
running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain.

"She did travel alone but she had a lot of travel friends," Ms Morrow said.

"She made a lot of friends all over the world."

After finishing school, Kerrie was bitten by the travel bug.

To finance her jaunts, she would take whatever work she could find.

"She used to work two or three jobs," Ms Morrow said.

Kerrie's family - her mother, Pat, her father, Bob, Michelle and her other
sister, Jenny - are desperate for her body to be returned to Melbourne from
Harare. "We need her home so we can say goodbye," they said.
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            Ancram calls for UN action on Zimbabwe

                 The opposition has warned the UN that it cannot ignore
Zimbabwe's human rights record.

                  The warning came after the UN human rights commission
voted to throw out a EU resolution criticising Robert Mugabe's human rights

                  Shadow foreign secretary Michael Ancram said on Friday:
"The UN cannot turn a blind eye to the abuses of Robert Mugabe and nor can
South Africa, which is beginning to be affected financially and politically
by what is happening."

                  Ancram is also warning that Zimbabwe has the potential to
destabilise the whole region.

                  "This crisis is not confined to Zimbabwe. What we are
seeing is a humanitarian crisis that is spreading beyond its borders," he

                  "Refugees are pouring into Botswana and the northern part
of South Africa."

                  The Conservatives say there is "a very strong case" for
involving the UN in the country.

                  "UN observers should be sent into Zimbabwe to ensure that
food is properly distributed to starving people," said Ancram.

                  "I would also like to see a resolution before the UN
Security Council, preferably moved by Britain and backed by the United
States, and I would like to see the whole question internationalised."

                  The intervention follows a leaked report from Commonwealth
secretary general Don McKinnon which listed a catalogue of human rights

                  McKinnon noted that "overall the general political,
economic and social situation in Zimbabwe has deteriorated since March
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Mugabe hails land grabs on Independence Day

April 18 2003 at 02:12PM

Harare - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe congratulated Zimbabweans on Friday for regaining their land from white farmers, in a defiant speech to mark 23 years of independence.

"Dear Zimbabweans, it gives me immense pleasure to be able to tell you that the land that for over a century we yearned to recover has come back to us. It is your land, my land," Mugabe told crowds at Harare's National Sports Stadium.

People also gathered on Friday morning in Zimbabwe's nine provinces for celebrations to mark the anniversary of independence from white Rhodesian rule.

But current economic problems and heightened political tensions have cast a shadow over the holiday for many.

'The nation has been robbed of hope and the country has been reduced to wasteland'
This week, as petrol prices nearly trebled and inflation hit 228 percent, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) confirmed it would stage mass action to protest alleged misgovernance.

In an apparent reference to those threats Mugabe warned: "Those who reject democracy and choose the road of violence to achieve their political goals are the enemy of Zimbabwe, and will not be allowed to succeed."

Mugabe, who fought in the 1970s war against the white regime of Prime Minister Ian Smith, said the country remained conscious of the "painful struggle and huge sacrifices made by our people" to achieve independence.

And he hit out at Western nations who have criticised the southern African country for its land reform programme, as well as for alleged human rights abuses.

Three years ago Zimbabwe launched a controversial land reform programme, which has seen 300 000 black families settled on 11-million hectares of former white-owned land, according to official figures.

'ZANU-PF has brought torture and hunger to Zimbabwe'
"The so-called unipolar world would like us to accept deprivation," he told cheering crowds in a speech made after lighting the Independence Flame, as he does each year.

But he acknowledged that "we need to make the land productive". Nearly eight million Zimbabweans have faced food shortages, a crisis Mugabe's government blames on drought but critics pin partly on land reform.

Friday's celebrations featured military displays, a fly-past by the air force and performances by youth drama groups. New police vehicles were also in evidence. State radio said they were to "quell any violence".

"Because we have affirmed our sovereignty, we are regarded as a great threat to powerful nations," Mugabe said.

The government has been angered by Zimbabwe's continued suspension from the Commonwealth, announced by Secretary General Don McKinnon last month.

The MDC, meanwhile, has said there is nothing to celebrate this Independence Day. It has complained that scores of its supporters have been arrested or assaulted since a widely supported stayaway in March.

In an Easter and Independence Day message, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who is facing treason charges over an alleged plot to kill Mugabe, said: "The nation has been robbed of hope and the country has been reduced to wasteland."

"The democratic space has been effectively abolished and peaceful protest is answered with bullets, teargas and bayonets."

In a graphic advertisement published in the private Daily News newspaper, the MDC showed a photograph of the badly scarred torso of an MDC supporter.

The party said he had been brutally tortured by a group of 20 armed ZANU-PF supporters.

"ZANU-PF has brought torture and hunger to Zimbabwe," the MDC said.

Independence celebrations this year come as many Zimbabweans face an upward struggle to survive.

At least 80 percent of the country's 11,6 million people live well below the poverty line, and the recent fuel price increases are bound to plunge many Zimbabweans even deeper into poverty and misery.


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