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Zimbabwe security minister repeats threats to shoot protesters

Zim Online

Tue 25 April 2006

      HARARE - Zimbabwe State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa has
reiterated threats that the government will use armed soldiers and police to
crush mass protests planned by the opposition for the winter.

      Speaking to ZimOnline at the weekend, Mutasa said no one should expect
the government to "keep its security organs in the camps" in the face of
opposition-instigated protests meant to oust it.

      The Security Minister, who oversees the state's spy Central
Intelligence Organisation (CIO) mocked at suggestions that security
commanders might refuse to order their men to use force to put down
protests, especially in the event Zimbabweans heeded opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai's call and turned out in the streets en masse.

      "We will not fold our arms while the country burns," said Mutasa, one
of the most influential members of President Robert Mugabe's Cabinet. In
addition to overseeing intelligence operations, Mutasa is also in charge of
land reform and food aid redistribution.

      Mutasa on April 12 told ZimOnline that the government would instruct
organs of security such as the army to use all resources at their disposal
"including guns" to stop opposition protests. But subsequent reports by the
Voice of America's Studio 7 suggested the Security Minister never said
"deadly force" would be used to prevent a Ukraine-style uprising in

      Asked at the weekend how the government would handle the planned
protests Mutasa replied: "Organs of security are there to maintain security
and no sane government in this world will keep its security organs in the
camps while some mischievous elements destabilise the country, even
threatening to remove a democratically elected government by force."

      When put to Mutasa that security commanders might refuse to order
their men to fire at civilians - as some political analysts have suggested
might happen if demonstrators turn out in the streets in sufficiently large
numbers - he responded: "Do you think disciplined forces like the CIO, the
army and the police would not listen to orders or let Tsvangirai have his

      "If Tsvangirai is brave as he says he is, then he should march alone,
along Samora Machel Avenue to the Head of State's offices. Then he shall see
that we mean business.

      "But he doesn't want to lead from the front. He wants to use others as
cannon fodder .. Tsvangirai is not a good leader because he wants to put
others on the firing line while he cheers from home."

      Tsvangirai, who says his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party
has lost faith in elections as a democratic tool to change the government
because Mugabe always rigs polls, has vowed to call mass anti-government
protests this winter to force the government to accept a new and democratic
constitution that would ensure free and fair polls.

      The MDC leader says he is ready to lead from the front in street
protests to force Mugabe to accept democracy even if this could lead to his
own death but last Sunday sounded frustrated that police and soldiers might
still obey orders to shoot at demonstrators.

      "They (police and soldiers) come to my house every day complaining
that they are suffering yet when Mugabe says crush the mass demonstration
they are ready to shoot the people," Tsvangirai said during a rally at
Zimbabwe Grounds in Harare, one of several he has held in major cities
recently to drum up support for protests.

      "You must not be used. The military, the police, the CIO and the war
veterans all of you should remember this when the day of the mass
demonstration comes," Tsvangirai added, in an attempt to appeal directly to
the security forces not to oppose the protests whose date he is yet to

      Mutasa's repeated threat to use deadly force to stop protests is in
line with similarly strongly worded threats by the government against
Tsvangirai and the MDC with Mugabe having warned the opposition leader last
month that he would be "dicing with death" if he tried to instigate mass

      Zimbabwe has been on edge since Tsvangirai and his MDC party resolved
at a congress last month that they would no longer limit themselves to
elections but would use what they called "people power" to pressure Mugabe
to embrace democracy.

      Analysts say the MDC that enjoys strong support in urban areas is best
placed to lead streets protests against the government, adding that with
strong leadership and organization, mass action could be successful.

      But they also caution that the opposition party is at the moment too
weakened to confront the government and its army in the streets after it
split into two rival camps last year.

      Besides the Tsvangirai-led MDC - that is widely seen as the main rival
to Mugabe and ZANU PF - there is another faction of the opposition party
that is led by former student activist Arthur Mutambara. - ZimOnline

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Tsvangirai tells soldiers not to shoot protesters

Zim Online

Tue 25 April 2006

      HARARE - Zimbabwe's main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Sunday
urged the army not to turn their guns on protesters demanding an end to
President Robert Mugabe's 26-year rule.

      Addressing about 7 000 supporters at a rally at Zimbabwe Grounds in
Harare, Tsvangirai said the armed forces should not be used to thwart street
protests his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party is planning to call
at a still to be announced date this winter.

      "The armed forces, the army, the police and the CIO (Central
Intelligence Organisation secret agents), you are all suffering just like
the majority of Zimbabweans here today," said Tsvangirai.

      In an appeal, certain to be ignored by senior commanders but that
might resonate with struggling foot soldiers in the lower rungs of the
security forces, the opposition leader said:  "When we go for the mass
resistance, you must remember that you are also poorly paid. You should not
be used by Mugabe to fight your people. I have in my possession pay slips of

      "They come to my house every day complaining that they are suffering
yet when Mugabe says crush the mass demonstration, you are ready to shoot
the people. You must not be used.

      "The military, the police, the CIO and the war veterans all of you
should remember this when the day of the mass demonstration comes."

      Tsvangirai, who has been touring the country mobilising Zimbabweans
for the street protests, has vowed to proceed with the demonstrations
despite warnings from Mugabe that he will be "dicing with death" if he
attempted to instigate mass revolt against the government.

      The opposition leader also used the Sunday rally to introduce his
party's candidate for the Budiriro House of Assembly by-election on May 20.

      Emmanuel Chisvuure will represent the Tsvangirai-led MDC while former
legislator for Harare South, Gabriel Chaibva will represent the other
faction of the MDC led by Professor Arthur Mutambara. Jeremiah Bvirindi will
represent the ruling ZANU PF party.

      "We are going to Budiriro not because the elections are free and fair
but to show ZANU PF and the other pretenders that the real MDC is made of
sterner stuff. We are going to beat them hands down," he said.

      Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, who quit Mutambara's faction last week, also
attended the rally. Nkomo was the deputy elections director in Mutambara's
camp. - ZimOnline

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Armed Zimbabwe police demolish squatter camp

Zim Online

Tue 25 April 2006

      MASVINGO - Armed police at the weekend raided a squatter camp on the
banks of Mucheke river in Masvingo city, burnt down the plastic shacks and
chased away more than 200 people including children who lived at the camp.

      The squatters, who watched in agony as their shacks and belongings
went up in smoke, had lived at the illegal camp since about 2001 and had
somehow escaped the government's controversial urban clean-up campaign last
year which the United Nations says left 700 000 people homeless after police
demolished shantytowns and city backyard cottages.

      Last Sunday's demolition comes barely a week after President Robert
Mugabe promised during his April 18 Independence Day speech to continue
demolishing illegal settlements in cities and towns.

      Masvingo police spokesman Charles Munhungei on Monday cited Mugabe's
independence speech in defending the police's demolition of the squatter

      He said: "We are just complying with the government policy to get rid
of illegal settlements in our urban areas. Even the President in his speech
at independence made it clear that illegal structures will be destroyed and
we are doing just that."

      The government last year demolished thousands of shantytown homes and
informal business kiosks in what Mugabe said was a campaign to smash crime
and to restore the beauty of Zimbabwe's cities and towns.

      The home demolition campaign codenamed Operation Murambatsvina (Drive
Out Trash) by the government drew the ire of the United Nations (UN),
Western governments, local and international human rights groups who said it
violated poor people's rights.

      UN special envoy Anna Tibaijuka, who flew to Harare to probe the
demolitions, said in a special report that the campaign may also have
violated international law. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe's ambassador to South Africa, Simon Khaya Moyo speaks on Carte Blanche

Zim Online

Tue 25 April 2006

      Extract used in the Carte Blanche programme

      Moky Makura: '26 years of democracy in Zimbabwe... What is there to

      Simon Khayo Moyo (Zimbabwean Ambassador): 'Well there is much to
celebrate. To start with, there is freedom itself.  And it must be viewed in
context. Because, as you know, Zimbabwe became independent in 1980 after
many years of  conflict. a liberation war. Naturally, it is known that we
lost over 50 000 people; over 100 000 were maimed; millions  were displaced.
Therefore, we feel that that was a great achievement to get independence.
But we are celebrating our  achievements in the sense that we have moved
away from our colonial past to a sovereign state. In that process our
people have had extensive education. We have built so many schools. We have
built so many clinics. A lot of jobs  were created and opportunities of
course arose. And what is most important is the land issue. We have now
regained  the land through our land reform program.'

      Moky: 'At what cost to your economy?'

      Simon: 'Well of course the economy must be viewed in the context of
the land. Without land, what economy are you  having? What was the struggle
about? The struggle was about land and about independence...     Complete
interview with the Zimbabwean Ambassador:  Simon Khaya Moyo Date : 23 April

      Moky Makura (Carte Blanche presenter): '26 years of democracy in
Zimbabwe... What is there to celebrate?'

      Simon Khayo Moyo (Zimbabwean Ambassador): 'Well there is much to
celebrate. To start with, there is freedom itself.  And it must be viewed in
context. Because, as you know, Zimbabwe became independent in 1980 after
many years of  conflict. a liberation war. Naturally, it is known that we
lost over 50 000 people; over 100 000 were maimed; millions  were displaced.
Therefore, we feel that that was a great achievement to get independence.
But we are celebrating our  achievements in the sense that we have moved
away from our colonial past to a sovereign state. In that process our
people have had extensive education. We have built so many schools. We have
built so many clinics. A lot of jobs  were created and opportunities of
course arose. And what is most important is the land issue. We have now
regained  the land through our land reform program.'

      Moky: 'At what cost to your economy?'

      Simon: 'Well of course the economy must be viewed in the context of
the land. Without land, what economy are you  having? What was the struggle
about? The struggle was about land and about independence. And for those of
you  who know what happened at Lancaster House during the talks with the
British government, the talks almost broke  down because of the land issue.
But the talks were rescued because the British government then came up with
a  package that they would establish a fund. The fund would be used to
purchase those farms from the white compatriots.  and those that had more
than one farm. Some had fifteen to twenty farms. And they were the
landlords. So it is  important - for you to develop an economy, you must own
the resources of your country. And land is the key. And we  believe that we
are on the right footing. We have said, and I have said several times, again
our struggle was not about  colour. And our policy about land, which I speak
about at the moment, is one farmer one farm, black or white. And it  must be
viewed in the context that we still have many of our white compatriots doing
wonderful work in the country as  [far as] farming is concerned.'

      Moky: 'Can we go back to some things that Mugabe said in his speech?'

      Simon: 'Sure.'

      Moky: 'He said, for example, that he is looking at the economy growing
between one and two percent. Is that realistic?'

      Simon: 'I think that is. Indeed, as you know, they have just announced
an economic blueprint called the National  Economy Development Priority
program, which falls under what we call the Zimbabwe National Security
Council  chaired by the president himself. And with a various number of
committees and a number of targets [having] been set.'

      Moky: 'A large number of economists have said that it is literally
impossible for Zimbabwe.'

      Simon: 'Well, it all depends what one understands by the new
blueprint. Some of them have not even seen it. But what  we are saying is
that there are targets that have been set. The emphasis is going to be
security. The emphasis is going  to be on agricultural production, exports,
foreign currency generation, and the promotion of tourism, because we have a
very great tourist country. And of course the mining sector, which is key.'

      Moky: 'You have just mentioned tourism there. I mean Zimbabweans
themselves are leaving the country in their droves.  Are you expecting
tourists to come into Zimbabwe now?'

      Simon: 'I don't know where that notion came from. in their droves. Who
has been going all over the world.? Zimbabwe  is a country where people
still come in, in great numbers as well, and this is not mentioned either.'

      Moky: 'Well it is fair to say that at least a thousand Zimbabweans
have been crossing the border into South Africa on a  monthly basis. About
600 of them are deported every single month. So there is a huge influx of
Zimbabweans into  South Africa.'

      Simon: 'Of course, that is not denied. But the point is that if you go
to the repatriation centre here called Lindela, and  see how many
Mozambicans are there, see how many Malawians are there, those are not
mentioned. See how many  Nigerians are there - they are not mentioned. It is
only Zimbabweans. I don't understand why?'

      Moky: 'There is a Methodist church in town. Apparently there are
hundreds of Zimbabweans sleeping on the floor  because they need to leave
Zimbabwe. They would rather come to South Africa and sleep on the floor of a
church  than stay in Zimbabwe. What do you think about that?'

      Simon: 'Are there only Zimbabweans sleeping on the floor of this

      Moky: 'Yes.'

      Simon: 'Are you sure? You go and see how many foreigners are in this
country from other countries. I don't see why  Zimbabwe is singled out.'

      Moky: 'So you don't think it is a problem that so many Zimbabweans are
coming here?'

      Simon: 'Well, we have never had a problem and we have always been
coming here. Even my father worked here for  years in the early forties.
There were thousands of migrants coming here to South Africa.'

      Moky: 'So you think there is nothing much wrong in Zimbabwe?'

      Simon: 'Well, the land reform program itself, the implementation was
viewed differently by our first world colonisers,  Britain. Instead of
handling the matter as a bilateral matter in Zimbabwe, they
internationalised it and imposed sanctions  on the country after we had gone
through four years of successive drought. And obviously the economy is
supposed to  be affected if such things happen. Investors were told not to
come to Zimbabwe, and we don't see why Britain had to  go all that way. And
we are saying Britain let us handle a bilateral matter bilaterally. Lets not
internationalise it. And as  far as we are concerned, at the moment we had a
very good rain season, the harvest was excellent and people are  going to
have enough food to eat. And a lot of money was diverted to purchase food.
And I am happy to say that our  white compatriots, led by the Commercial
Farmers Union, by Doug Taylor-Freeme and Trevor Gifford, issued a  statement
last week appealing to all farmers in the country, black and white, to work
together. We are proud of that  statement because we have said the policy is
'one farmer one farm', whether black or white. So let us farm together  and
let us develop the country together.'

      Moky: 'There are other issues in Zimbabwe; human rights, for example.
There has been a lot of talk about a really poor  human rights record. For
example, I have met somebody who said they were poisoned, people who have
said they  were beaten up. You know there is a lot of stuff in the media
about it. What do you say to it?'

      Simon: 'Again, we go back to the land reform. Before land reform,
President Mugabe was viewed as one of the greatest  statesmen by Britain
itself. Across the world Zimbabwe was viewed as a wonderful country - the
paradise of Africa. Of  course they did not accept land reform. Because it
affected their kith and kin, therefore Zimbabwe must be viewed as a  devil.
Zimbabwe must me demonised; Zimbabwe must be vilified. Just because of the
land issue.'

      Moky: 'Are you saying that there are no human rights abuses in

      Simon: 'There is no country which can say that - even Britain. We are
saying, to what scale are they? And what do you  have to say about all the
other countries in the entire world? . including the United States.'

      Moky: 'We interviewed someone from the Crisis Coalition. They are an
NGO in Harare and have an office here. They  have given us examples of
people who they have seen, met, spoken to who are being tortured, or who

      Simon: 'Of course those who are responsible for torture must be
brought to book. There is no doubt about that. They  must be reported. But
all I am trying to say to you is that it is not Zimbabwe [which] can be
pointed out alone to say  there have been human rights abuses. I mean even
America itself.'

      Moky: 'Okay, I understand what you are saying. I am not saying that
only Zimbabwe is wrong.'

      Simon: 'We don't condone. We don't condone.'

      Moky: 'But lets look at this on a micro level; we are not talking
about the world, we are talking about Zimbabwe. So,  with regard to
Zimbabwe, do you believe that there are human rights abuses happening in the
country right now?'

      Simon: 'Well it is possible that they could be there, but they must be
reported if they do exist. And those that are  responsible must be brought
in front of the law.'

      Moky: 'What about the fact that Mugabe has said in his speech again
that if the MDC do anything in the country he will  bring the full force of
the law down on them. People have taken that to be a threat to the
opposition party.'

      Simon: 'Well obviously, if you mention that you want a regime change,
that you are going to overthrow the government  - an elected government -
you are obviously involving yourself in treasonous activities. And it cannot
be left like this. No  country will allow its government to be overthrown
illegally just because of the opposition.'

      Moky: 'Lets look at the economy of Zimbabwe. Right now there is talk
of inflation rates of nearly a thousand percent.  How do everyday
Zimbabweans survive? '

      Simon: 'How many countries have you looked at? Some in Latin America
have figures of nearly three thousand percent  inflation. It has happened.
What I am saying is that it is not just Zimbabwe that has gone through such
things. It is not  normal; we are going through a revolution. It is land
reform which have brought all these problems, sanctions on  Zimbabwe. And we
are saying we are going to turn the economy around, because we have now got
things set straight.  The land is now in the hands of the majority of the
people and people are working on the land again.'

      Moky: 'There is nearly seventy percent unemployment in Zimbabwe.
Nobody has said anything about how you are  going to.'

      Simon: 'Nobody has said anything about self-employment in Zimbabwe. A
lot of people are self-employed in Zimbabwe,  doing very well in various
small-scaled businesses; doing exceedingly well. And I think it is important
to mention that  sector as well. That is why there is. why we have got a
Ministry for medium and small scaled industries and the  thousands and
thousands of people employed in that area.'

      Moky: 'Can we get back to what have. are referred to as Draconian
laws - laws that strengthen the ZANU PF party, or  strengthen personally
Robert Mugabe? Things like the media laws; things like the laws against
NGOs; constitutional  changes that reduced the senate. All of these things
have been made to look as though ZANU PF is holding on to  power.'

      Simon: 'Well there are elections in Zimbabwe every five years. Every
five years there are elections in Zimbabwe. And if  ZANU PF wins the
elections, I don't know why people complain. The opposition complains that
the elections were not  free and fair, but where they won seats the seats
are okay. What does that mean? Observers have come to Zimbabwe  from the AU,
the Non-aligned Movement, a lot of Eastern countries, and they have said
they are free and fair. Just  because Britain says they are not free and
fair therefore they must be seen to be not free and fair, that is not

      Moky: 'You don't believe that these laws are making it difficult for
opposition parties to exist in Zimbabwe?'

      Simon: 'The opposition parties are existing n Zimbabwe. They are
there. Full time. I don't see why they should be  complaining. Other
countries have banned opposition parties.'

      Moky: 'Let us look at the image of Zimbabwe in the media. You have
been here for six years. Do you believe that the  way South Africans report
about Zimbabwe is fair and is accurate?'

      Simon: 'Of course not!. because of the ownership of the media here. We
know who owns the media? Even to the  South African government it is not
fair reporting.'

      Moky: 'So what are they saying that is wrong? What are they saying
that is wrong about Zimbabwe?'

      Simon: 'No, nothing is right about Zimbabwe. That is the point. You
cannot have a media that has decided that nothing  will ever be right and
say it is right, because it is not.'

      Moky: 'So what is right about Zimbabwe?'

      Simon: 'We are saying that people must come to Zimbabwe and see for

      Moky: 'So if I went, what would I see?'

      Simon: 'Go and see. Go and see. You will see [the] opposite picture of
what you are reading about Zimbabwe.  Completely opposite picture.'

      Moky: 'But what about the Zimbabweans themselves that are coming over
here and who are telling us, we have got  people who.'

      Simon: 'Let us be frank. There are Zimbabweans that belong to the
opposition. Naturally, they won't say anything good  about it. That is fact.
Tony Leon is opposition to the government here; he has never said anything
good about his  government. Nobody would say that because Tony Leon says
that the government of South Africa is not doing good  therefore things are
bad. It is not correct.'

      Moky: 'I am not talking about politicians. I am talking about ordinary

      Simon: 'Yes there are ordinary Zimbabweans, but there are ordinary
people all over the world that say there is  something wrong with their

      Moky: 'Okay fine. What about the fact that people refer to Mugabe as
Mad Bob? I mean the image of Zimbabwe  overseas, internationally, is so bad.
How do you feel when you read things like that about your country, the
country you  represent?'

      Simon: 'I am not given, myself, to comment on tissues. I am more a man
who comments on issues. And such types of  people I just pray to God that he
can forgive them. Because they are the ones who are mad.'

      Moky: 'Does it make you angry?'

      Simon: 'No, not at all. It makes me laugh.'

      Moky: 'Okay. and the relationship between Zimbabwe and Britain? I mean
Tony Blair was quoted yesterday as saying  that what the regime is doing is
a disgrace.'

      Simon: 'Of course, we expect that from Tony Blair. I mean he is the
one who said, in parliament itself in June last year,  that he is working
with the opposition for a regime change. You know that he said that in
parliament - a very  irresponsible statement from a prime minister. He is
working with the opposition for a regime change. So what do you  expect from
such statements? . we were supported by the Conservative government in
actual fact. When the Labour  Party came to power in 1997, they were the
ones who said that they didn't recognise the agreement which we had  gone
into with the Conservative government. And therefore they were not prepared
to honour their obligation on the  land issue. Otherwise we could destroy
the whole thing. So obviously we expect such a statement from Tony Blair
unfortunately. But what can we do if that is his thinking? If he wants a
regime change then let him have it.'

      Moky: 'We keep on going back to the land redistribution.'

      Simon: 'Of course, that is the source of the problem.'

      Moky: 'That is the source of the problem and it had to be done. But do
you believe that the way it was done was the  best for Zimbabwe?'

      Simon: 'I don't see how any other way was possible when the government
responsible says that we are not honouring  any agreement. What do you do
when a colonial power says we are not honouring any agreement. Claire Short
herself  issued a statement soon. when they came into power, that she was
Irish and they were never a coloniser and therefore  they are not going to
honour any agreement with Zimbabwe. That is what she said. What do you do?
People cannot  fold their arms. We had actually gone over the issue of land
in 1990 after the ten years of the removal of trade  deplauses in the
Constitution. Emeka Anyaoku, who was then Secretary General of the
Commonwealth, had to come  to Zimbabwe and said, 'Please don't move on the
land issue now', because it was going to affect the independence of
Namibia; it was going to delay the independence of South Africa. So we
decided no, let us not do it now. Let us wait  until Namibia is free and
until South Africa is free. And that is what we did. Things would have been
different if we had  gone over the land issue in 1990.'

      Moky: 'The cost or the price you paid for this land redistribution was
quite a big price considering what has happened to  Zimbabwe now. Was it
worth it?'

      Simon: 'We are not working for today. We are working for tomorrow. And
we are saying, 'If tomorrow is going to be a  better day, let today be a bad

      Moky: 'Okay, tell me what is going to happen? What is a better day in

      Simon: 'A better day is that everybody is on the land now. And we are
saying, 'Wth a good rainy season like we have  had now, see the harvest' We
have never had. never had such a harvest. That is what we want. People must
eat.  People must be free.'

      Moky: 'So people are not eating now.'

      Simon: 'But we are harvesting now, that is what I am saying. You don't
plant now and eat immediately from the soil. You  have to harvest. And
people are harvesting now. That is what I am saying.'

      Moky: 'I have to admire you, because you are so positive about

      Simon: 'I am very positive.'

      Moky: 'I don't see it. I don't think any other people see it.'

      Simon: 'I spent fifteen years in the bush for the liberation struggle.
At one stage people said, 'Just forget about what you  are doing'. And we
said, 'No we can't. We have to fulfill this mission'. And we did. In South
Africa nobody would have  thought things would have happened the way they
happened by 1994. So you don't give up in this world.  You just have to do
the right thing for your people and make sure, by the end of the day, you
are the winner and the  people are the winner by the end of the day.'

      Moky: 'What [would] you like to say to Zimbabweans who are watching
this programme?. Zimbabweans who are  suffering or who have come over to
South Africa because they can't actually survive in their own country.'

      Simon: 'Zimbabweans must learn to unite; share ideas. Talk about their
future together, black or white. They must not  be running to other capitals
calling for sanctions on their country. It doesn't help them. Get together,
because once you  are united there is peace. When there is peace there is
development. When there is development there is prosperity.  So it is
important that nobody solves the problems of Zimbabwe except Zimbabweans
themselves. Running around to  Washington, to London and hoping that
something will happen from there is just a waste of time. Get together as
one  people, black or white. Get together as one people and address the
problems of your country.'

      Moky: 'What is the relationship between Zimbabwe and South Africa?'

      Simon: 'Excellent. Wonderful. Cordial relationship. We are neighbours,
we share a common history, a common culture,  a common destiny. We shared a
common liberation struggle, we shared the trenches. Excellent relations.'

      Moky: 'This thing of 'quiet' diplomacy that the South African
government has been practicing, what does it actually  mean?'

      Simon: 'I have never heard of anything called 'loud' diplomacy myself,
so I don't know. Those that want loud diplomacy,  let them try it.'

      Moky: 'But what is the South African government lobbying for? Because
they have said that they are talking to the  Zimbabwean government; they are
doing things behind the scenes that we might not know about.'

      Simon: 'Well of course they are talking to their brothers and sisters,
their next-door neighbours. When you solve your  problems as one family, you
don't go out the gate and say, 'Look, we didn't eat tonight'. You solve your
problems as  one family, and that is what South Africans believe. We as
Zimbabweans must get together and get our problems  sorted out as a family.'

      Moky: 'So right now you don't believe that there is anything that we
need to worry about when it comes to Zimbabwe?'

      Simon: 'No, of course there are challenges facing Zimbabwe. There is
no doubt about it. There are economic  challenges. That is why this new
program, the blueprint I talked about -which has just been announced last
week. We  want to turn the economy around certainly.'

      Moky: 'How long will it take to turn the economy around?'

      Simon: 'Well there are targets set and they are saying within six to
nine months the economy must be seen to be  moving in the right direction.'

      Moky: 'With all due respect, it took six years to get Zimbabwe into
the state that it is in now, and you want to turn it  around in nine

      Simon: 'After four years of successive droughts. what do you do when
there is no rainfall? And you have got sanctions  on top of that.'

      Moky: 'So you are saying that if there had not been droughts.'

      Simon: 'Of course. If the droughts had not been there, we would have
had a good harvest for the last four years.'

      Moky: 'But the fact that the commercial farmers have been booted off
the land.'

      Simon: 'They are there on the land. That is why I am talking about
Doug Taylor-Freeme and Trevor Gifford issuing a  statement from the
Commercial Farmers Union. There are many. over 1 500. commercial white
farmers in Zimbabwe.  But people don't want to speak about them because it
does not paint a good picture.'

      Moky; 'But hasn't ZANU PF done a bit of a turnaround? In the papers
yesterday it said that the government has invited  farmers back and was
actually giving farmers back their land.'

      Simon: 'No, that statement was mischievous. Whoever issued that
statement. nobody has ever said that a white person  must leave; nobody has
ever said so. We have never been against any particular colour. We had white
compatriots in  the struggle.'

      Moky: 'Okay, people have reported that there are human rights abuses
going on. What do you say to that?'

      Simon: 'It depends who is reporting. Who is reporting, and where do
they report? Where have they reported?'

      Simon: 'Well, the point is that I know that there have been some
people who have been arrested, who have violated  human rights. If they
reported to the police, fine. But if they are reporting to Washington, then
Washington has no  police in Harare.'

      Moky: 'And what about Operation Restore Order that happened in

      Simon: 'Yes sure. We are not going to allow our people to live in
slums. We don't have that at all in Zimbabwe. It is not  our culture. Our
people must have decent accommodation. We have full time brigades building
houses across the  country. And the Ministry of Rural Housing and Amenities
was established last year for that particular purpose. People  must have
decent accommodation.'

      Moky: 'People were taken out of their homes. What was.'

      Simon: 'Those were not homes - those were shacks.'

      Moky: 'But that is where people lived. those were their homes.'

      Simon: 'But you can't have shacks built anywhere you like, even on.'

      Moky: 'But what alternatives did you offer people?'

      Simon: 'You see, people in Zimbabwe are different to a lot of other

      Moky: 'In what way?'

      Simon: 'I have got my home in the rural areas for instance. Every
Zimbabwean can tell you that they have a home and  we are saying that those
that want to live in town must live decently. And government has a
responsibility to find people  accommodation and they must build houses for
people. And that is exactly what the operation is all about. And that is
why we have got Operation Restore Order That operation is on massive house
building that is going on around the  country as I speak. And its program is
school targets. We don't want to see slums.'

      Moky: 'You know it is all very good to say that you want people to
have good homes, but at the same time you throw  people out of what they
consider to be their homes, and you are telling them to go back to a rural
area. If they had  money, or if they had a reason to stay in the rural area,
they would be there. The whole point is.'

      Simon: 'Go and see how many people are moving into their houses as I
speak. and how proud they are compared to  what they used to have?'

      Moky: 'Zimbabwe is not doing its own PR, because all these things that
you are telling us, we don't hear about them.  Why?'

      Simon: 'We say so, but the point is. who controls the media in the

      Moky: 'But you control the media in Zimbabwe. You have media laws that
literally shut down any dissenting media.'

      Simon: 'That is not true. We have so many independent papers in

      Moky: 'You have got the Herald which speaks for you.'

      Simon: 'You have got the Zimbabwe Independent which speaks for the
opposition. You have got the Gazette which  speaks for the opposition. You
have got the Standard that speaks for the opposition. You have got the
Mirror that  speaks for the opposition. But nobody wants to refer to those.
They only want to talk about the Herald. Why?'

      Moky: 'Can I talk about Zimbabweans here in South Africa. Do you speak
to them?'

      Simon: 'Oh we meet quite often.'

      Moky: 'So do you get feedback from Zimbabweans here?'

      Simon: 'Oh sure, everybody wants to get back home. They want to sort
things out. And we say, 'Lets talk'.' Some of  them go back for Christmas
and for holidays. Some of them are working here of course, and Zimbabweans
are very  industrious people - very honest, very hardworking. And we are
proud of them - those that are working here. They go  home and they develop
their homes exceedingly well. They are doing very well. And they are
contributing also to the  economy of South Africa. And we are saying that is
what should happen in SADAC. We should assist each other.  Those that have
skills, we don't care where they are, as long as they are within SADAC. Do
that, but don't rush to New  York. You will get yourself in trouble with the
winter there. Climate is good here.'

      Moky: 'Obviously you are representing the Zimbabwean government here.'

      Simon: 'Sure I am.'

      Moky: 'But can I appeal to you as an individual, as a person, as a
human being?'

      Simon: 'Absolutely.'

      Moky: 'Do you have family or relatives in Zimbabwe?'

      Simon: 'I have, ja.'

      Moky: 'Actually, so do I. And they know what is going on in Zimbabwe.
People cannot eat; they have no jobs; they  cannot buy food. What do you say
to these people?'

      Simon: 'I was watching the marathon the other day and Zimbabweans were
winning the race. Are these starving  people? . the Zimbabweans winning the
race here?'

      Moky: 'So you are saying there are no starving people?'

      Simon: 'I say, go to the rural areas now as I speak. Go to the rural
areas and see what harvest has been done. People  are getting on the mat.'

      Moky: 'People can afford to buy bread? People can afford to buy.'

      Simon: 'I said the turnaround economy was brought about because of the
challenges we faced. Because of the  sanctions, illegal sanctions which have
never gone through the United Nations - just enforced upon Zimbabwe.'

      Moky: 'So it is the sanctions that caused.'

      Simon: 'Sanctions and drought certainly. Those two are the major

      Moky: 'Nothing to do with party and power, and the way the land

      Simon: 'No. There was no other way we could have done it since Britain
said they were no longer responsible.'

      Moky: 'So do you just think that this is a process that Zimbabwe has
to go through?'

      Simon: 'It is a process like the armed struggle was a process and it
is going to be a wonderful day tomorrow.'

      Moky: 'But in the armed struggle people were fighting for freedom;
they were fighting for liberty. But now they are  fighting for food.'

      Simon: 'But some people are not fighting either. Some were saying give

      Moky: 'Is there anything you want to say to South Africans who are

      Simon: 'I want to tell the South Africans - those who are worried - go
to Zimbabwe, see exactly what is happening on  the ground. Don't read papers
that are there to vilify the government just because of the land reform
program that is not  good enough. Go and see what is happening on the ground
for yourself.'

      Moky: 'So are we welcome to come?'

      Simon: 'Yes, you are welcome indeed . you are invited.'

      * This interview appeared on South Africa's television programme Carte
Blache last Sunday.

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Zimbabwe announces 35 percent bonus to tobacco farmers

Zim Online

Mon 24 April 2006

      HARARE - Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono on Monday
announced a 35 percent bonus to farmers for early delivery of tobacco to the
auction floors in a bid to inspire quicker sales of the crop that generates
badly needed foreign currency.

      Farmers who delivered their crop before 31 July will get the full
bonus while those bringing their tobacco after July but before August 31
will get a reduced bonus of 15 percent. No bonus will be paid for deliveries
after August, the RBZ chief said.

      The central bank chief also said the government was cancelling a
special price support scheme that allowed growers to retain 15 percent of
their earnings in hard currency.

      Gono said: "The cut-off date of 31 July 2006 (for 35 percent bonus)
takes into account unanticipated logistical challenges experienced by
growers during the preparation of the crop for marketing.

      "Tobacco sales made after the cut-off date and before 31 August 2006
shall attract a reduced delivery bonus of 15 percent. Thereafter the element
of delivery bonus shall not apply."

      The RBZ chief, tasked by President Robert Mugabe to spearhead
Zimbabwe's economic recovery efforts, said farmers will be paid for their
crop in local currency at the prevailing interbank rate, adding that this
would allow growers to unlock working capital.

      He said: "Monetary authorities are aware that the tobacco industry
requires between US$30-35 million for inputs, and current initiatives to
mobilise foreign currency exchange are expected to improve availability of
this scarce resource in the market. This support frame work will allow
farmers to unlock working capital resources in preparation for the 2006/2007
tobacco growing season."

      The interbank market where the local dollar hovers around 99 000 to
the American unit lags behind the illegal but thriving foreign currency
black market where the green back fetches above Z$130 000.

      Most businesses and private citizens rely on the black market for
foreign currency. Zimbabwe expects to sell about 50 million kilogrammes of
tobacco this season compared to 200 million in 2000. Last year it sold 72
million kilogrammes.

      As with every other farm product, tobacco output has drastically
declined since Mugabe began seizing white farms for redistribution to
landless blacks six years ago. Failure by the government to give new black
farmers inputs support and skills training is blamed for falling production
on former white farms. - ZimOnline

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Opposition Leader Vows To Defy Mugabe's Threat

      By Ashenafi Abedje
      Washington, DC
      24 April 2006

Zimbabwe's main opposition leader says he'll defy President Robert Mugabe's
threat to crush mass protests by aggressively pursuing his anti-government
campaign. Morgan Tsvangirai is the president of the Movement for Democratic
Change, the MDC. He told supporters at a weekend rally he'll take his fight
into the ruling party's rural strongholds. Mr. Tsvangirai has called for
peaceful mass action to drive President Mugabe from power. But his call has
provoked threats from the Zimbabwean leader, who said his opponents were
playing with fire.

Nelson Chamisa is the spokesman for the MDC. He told English to Africa
reporter Ashenafi Abedje his party has adopted a "paradigm shift" in its
campaign to unseat President Mugabe. Chamisa says the shift in approach came
after Mr. Tsvangirai "held a series of meetings across the country, and
rallies, which were well-attended." He says the MDC leader "is trying to
respond to the hemorrhage of the economy, social impoverishment and
suffering of the people. That's why the party is now coming out strong."

Chamisa says, "Any struggle is a process and not an event. We have learned
from our mistakes and hope to build on our strengths. He says, "From here
on, the leadership of our party will be leading from the front, the Martin
Luther King kind of leadership, the Mandela type of leadership, leaders who
are going to be at the forefront." Regarding the party's recent leadership
crisis, Chamisa says, "Everything is now falling into place, with a
consensus on the way forward. The MDC is now bigger, better and sharper,
with a renewed leadership and a renewed institution."

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Rally Pictures

MDC Rally

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Sunday 23rd May told his party faithful to remain optimistic and resolute in their determination to confront the dictatorship.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said over 30 000 people thronged the Zimbabwe grounds in Highfields to hear the party leader say the real test for the ‘big fight’ was now on the horizon. Tsvangirai said the main challenge for his party now was to confront Zanu (PF) ‘head on’ by taking the fight to its rural strongholds.

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Zim tobacco auction set for bleak start

Business Report

April 24, 2006

Harare - Zimbabwe's tobacco auction floors will Tuesday open for the annual
selling season, but farmers say the crop will the lowest since independence
in the southern African country.

Once a leading exporter, tobacco farming has fallen on hard times which
economists blame on land seizures, fuel and fertilizer shortages and
disputes over pricing.

"This year's crop is the lowest since 1980," said Rodney Ambrose, chief
executive officer of the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association.

"The sector has suffered over the years because of viability problems,"
Ambrose told AFP ahead of Tuesday's opening.

Tobacco has seen a drop in production and quality and it is estimated that
this year's crop will come in at 47 to 50-million kg.

Output rebounded to 73 million kg last year after dropping to 64 million in
2004, but was still a far cry from the record 237-million kg of tobacco
moved off the auction floors in 2000.

Tuesday's auction opening is being overshadowed by problems over pricing.

Farmers on Monday also clashed with Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono over
prices for this year's crop after the central bank backtracked on an earlier
announcement that it would pay a fixed price per kilogramme.

Zimbabwe's central bank has promised a guaranteed floor price of $1.80
(about R10.90) per kg, but later withdrew the offer saying that the price
would be determined by the market as auctioning started.

Farmers said they were upset about the withdrawal of the guaranteed price,
which also came with the promise of a top-up should tobacco fetch lower than
$1.80 per kilogramme.

They said the lack of a fixed price ahead of the season created uncertainty
in the market and they were worried that their crops might be valued at less
than the set price.

Zimbabwe needs more than $223-million to finance its next tobacco crop,
Agriculture Secretary Simon Pazvakavambwa told a parliamentary portfolio
committee earlier this month.

The farming season for tobacco this year starts in August.

Tobacco used to be the largest foreign exchange earner after gold, but the
sector is now a shadow of its former self, blamed by critics on Zimbabwe's
contentious land seizures, drought, and a lack of foreign currency and fuel.

Zimbabwe's land seizure programme, which started in 2000, had a major
negative impact on tobacco production.

Some 4 000 commercial farms were seized, at least 17 of them large-scale
tobacco producers. - Sapa-AFP

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Touts Fuelling Corruption At Border: Zimra Official

The Herald (Harare)

April 21, 2006
Posted to the web April 24, 2006


THE influx of touts at Beitbridge Border Post is fuelling corruption and
scaring away potential tourists to Zimbabwe, a parliamentary portfolio
committee heard yesterday.

Zimbabwe Revenue Authority acting commissioner-general Ms Faith Mazani told
the parliamentary portfolio committee on mines, environment and tourism that
as a result of scores of people who loiter and sometimes engage in corrupt
activities at the border post, Zimra had requested Government to treat
Beitbridge as a security area. "Fines for the touts are small and every
time, they come back. They are promoting corruption and are a menace to
tourists" said Ms Mazani. She was giving oral evidence before the 20-member
committee on why tourists who intended to come to Zimbabwe and other
travellers had to wait at the border post for hours before they can enter
the country.

Ms Mazani said because of the unfavourable economic climate prevailing in
the country, there had been an influx of cross border traders that had
created challenges as some people wanted to smuggle goods to avoid paying
duty. That development, she said, had forced Zimra to be strict with
controls at all the country 's border posts. She said even business people,
mostly of Indian nationality, were paying scores of traders to bring goods
into the country on their behalf to avoid paying duty. "Our functions at the
border do not discriminate on tourists and other travellers. When they
(tourists) come with cars, they also have to pay carbon tax and road levies.
That is sometimes conflicting our policies of encouraging tourists," said Ms

Acting chairperson of the committee, Kadoma West Member of the House of
Assembly Cde Zacharia Ziyambi (Zanu-PF) asked Ms Mazani whether she was
aware that some people had started to use the Victoria Falls route passing
through Botswana or Zambia, running away from delays at Beitbridge Border
Post. "Yes I am aware of that. These are challenges we are facing and they
need to be addressed," she said. She said when Zimbabwe introduced a US$10
charge for each vehicle coming into the country to improve foreign currency
flows, Zambia retaliated by introduci ng a US$30 per car fee for any vehicle
coming to Zimbabwe. "We need foreign currency and when we introduce these
fees, our counterparts in other countries feel they should retaliate," she

She said Zimra also wanted to increase its staff complement at Beitbridge
Border Post but was experiencing accommodation problems. "We currently have
about 15 officers staying in a hotel at Beitbridge because of accommodation
shortages," she said. Last year, she said, Zimra fired 44 trained officers
for corruption and it was difficult to replace them. On smuggling, Ms Mazani
said Zimra had to intensify its body searches to thwart smuggling especially
of foreign currency.

"In 2002, some women in Victoria Falls were caught hiding meat and bread
between their legs. We are driven to that when we want to survive but we are
also dealing with legislation that says we must search to curb smuggling,"
said Ms Mazani.

Meanwhile, the portfolio committee on Foreign Affairs, Industry and
Internatio nal Trade also received evidence in camera on the future of the
country's sugar industry from former Minister of Finance and Economic
Development and now business consultant, Dr Simba Makoni.

Dr Makoni told journalists after the meeting that he was assisting the sugar
industry in the country to lay down the foundation of the future in the long
term. "I came to solicit the views of the honourable members on how they
would like to see us guaranteeing the future of the industry in the long
term. "We were discussing with members of the committee, a strategic
framework with which we can guarantee what should be done for the industry,"
he said.

Chairman of the 16-member committee, Chipinge South Member of the House of
Assembly Cde Enock Porusingazi (Zanu-PF) said Dr Makoni came to share ideas
with the committee on the challenges faced by the sugar industry. "Sugar
plays a major role in the lives of the people. It is used in brewing, in
households and also employs a considerable nu mber of workers," he said. Cde
Porusingazi said the country should look at the long-term effects of the
industry in that sugarcane growers, millers, refiners and traders were
supported. "We should also look at what the industry means to the domestic
and international trade and what should be done for the industry and by whom
to keep it viable," said Cde Porusingazi.

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Govt after Bennett's head - MDC

Zim Independent

            HARARE - Roy Bennett, a former opposition member of Zimbabwe's
Parliament, is seeking political asylum in South Africa because he fears for
his life, a party spokesperson said on Monday.

            Bennett, a senior member of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), was released from prison in June last year after
serving eight months for shoving the justice minister during a heated debate
in Parliament.

            He fled Zimbabwe last month afer police said they wanted to
question him following the security services' discovery of an arms cache in
eastern Zimbabwe that they claimed was to be used to overthrown President
Robert Mugabe's government.

            "It's true he is looking for political asylum in South Africa,"
said MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa.

            "The regime is after his head. We can not afford to have a dead
hero," Chamisa told Agence France-Presse.

            Bennett was elected treasurer last month of one faction of the
split MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai.

            "He (Bennett) will continue to serve as the treasurer of the
party" from South Africa, Chamisa said.

            "Location is not a factor, but the critical thing is the
contribution of the struggle."

            Bennett was in October 2004 sentenced to a year in prison after
he pushed Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa to the floor during a rowdy
exchange over land reform in Parliament.

            Bennett lost his large coffee plantation in eastern Zimbabwe
during Mugabe's land reform programme launched in 2000 which saw nearly 4
000 of the 4 500 white Zimbabwean large-scale commercial farmers evicted
from their land which was given to landless Zimbabweans.

            The feisty lawmaker was in trouble again last month after the
discovery of a huge arms cache, in which a former white soldier Mike Peter
Hitschmann was identified as the kingpin, and fled the country to avoid

            State authorities said Hitschmann, whom they described as a
member of a shadowy organisation called the Zimbabwe Freedom Movement, was
involved in stashing arms at various locations in the country.

            State media reports said a Kalashnikov 47 assault rifle, seven
Uzi machine guns, four FN rifles, 11 shotguns, six CZ pistols, four
revolvers, 15 tear gas canisters and several thousand rounds of ammunition
had been found at Hitschmann's home.

            The MDC has denied any links to Hitschmann and claims he is a
police reservist.

            Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi said there were no grounds
for South Africa to grant Bennett political asylum.

            "We have never persecuted anybody in Zimbabwe," said Mohadi.

            Mohadi said it was "peculiar" that Bennett was seeking asylum
abroad "yet his boss Tsvangirai is in the country making all the useless

            South African foreign ministry officials could not be
immediately reached for comment. -- Sapa-AFP

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Letter from America

      Nepal demonstrations just what Zimbabwe needs
      April 24, 2006

      In Letter from America Dr. Stan Mukasa reminds Zimbabweans that the
people of Nepal, in South Central Asia, have staged an increasingly
successful mass demonstration against their King. Dr Mukasa said this is a
situation that can be replicated in Zimbabwe against Mugabe.
      Zimbabweans will hopefully be encouraged to know that in a small but
densely populated kingdom of Nepal hundreds of thousands of demonstrators,
have for more than three weeks now been on the streets protesting against
the king whom they accuse of having turned into a dictator.
      The King has his back against the wall and analysts say it is a matter
of time before the king falls.
      Imagine if this situation was in Zimbabwe. Imagine if hundreds of
thousands of Zimbabweans were to go into the streets, Mugabe would now be
hidden in the State House with all indications that he was about to
      That can still be a distinct possibility.
      Zimbabweans have in recent weeks made a rare demonstration of anger
and determination to get rid of Mugabe, and in a way that has never been
experienced for many years now.
      The MDC congress in March appears to have rejuvenated the party,
judging by the weekly rallies which have drawn thousands of supporters.
      The Zimbabweans have confounded predictions by analysts that they are
too weak and too hungry and too poor to stage any meaningful protest against
Mugabe. But the energy and enthusiasm the Zimbabweans demonstrated showed
that they have the ability and power in numbers to stage an effective
demonstration that could topple Mugabe and his cronies. That kind of
strength was acknowledged by Mugabe's military chiefs.
      Ever since a splinter group led by Mutambara broke away, the MDC
appears, contrary to predictions, to have emerged even more determined than
ever to mobilize the mass protest against Mugabe.
      People who persistently and consistently analyze MDC and the
opposition movement as having been weakened by the leadership split have not
shown any evidence of the weakness by the main MDC led by Tsvangirai. There
is plenty of evidence that the Mutambara-led splinter group, riddled with
defections could collapse on its weight.
      What is keeping the Mutambara splinter movement afloat now is South
African President Thabo Mbeki. Mbeki is now pushing for a plan for a
government of national unity in which he hopes the Mutambara faction will
gain equal recognition with the Real MDC. Even Mbeki has apparently now
accepted that Tsvangirai is the legitimate leader of the MDC and that he
cannot be replaced, especially now that the MDC congress unanimously
re-elected him.
      Details are beginning to emerge right now about the roadmap towards
the government of national unity proposed by Mbeki and apparently supported
by the western countries.
      The original plan to replace Tsvangirai with either Welshman Ncube or
Mutambara has now given way to giving both factions, as they like to call
them, an equal status in the government of national unity.
      Another change of plan would appear to be a recognition that MDC
enjoys far more popular support than was ever imagined. The idea therefore
of creating a government of national unity in which MDC is a junior partner
is being revised in recognition of the populist strength of Tsvangirai.
      What is not yet known now is how the government of national unity will
be formed. It is believed that Mugabe has made a number of demands on the
government of national unity.
      First, Mugabe reportedly wants to be granted complete immunity from
criminal persecution on all the crimes he has committed against humanity in
      Next, Mugabe wants to control for four years key ministries in the
government of national unity.
      Mugabe also wants the right to appoint his successor in 2008 and to
postpone elections until 2010.
      Mugabe is also demanding a generous retirement package.
      He is also demanding that sanctions against him be lifted and that the
financial aid and loans must be granted to Zimbabwe immediately.
      It is within this context that Mugabe has made some so-called
confidence building measures where he has expressed willingness to talk to
Tsvangirayi and work out an agreement on the formation of the government of
national unity.
      Mugabe, whose Security Minister Didymus Mutasa had only recently given
the remaining white farmers a deadline to vacate their farms, has, in a
remarkable U turn now invited the same whites back to their farms!
      In the meantime, Mugabe's Economic Planning Minister Rugare Gumbo, was
unveiling what he called an economic recovery program.
      But Mugabe could not resist issuing a stern warning to leaders of the
opposition movement if they should launch street demonstrations against him.
      In a rambling and incoherent speech Mugabe then predicted that the
economy would grow by about two percent this year. With that kind of logic
Mugabe might as well as have predicted that inflation would be reduced to
two percent at the end of the year!
      Next, Mugabe called on Zimbabweans in Diaspora to come back hom,
stating that he did not want to improve conditions at home by himself! Were
this not a serious issue Mugabe's outbursts would be laughable nonsense.
      In the first place Zimbabweans are leaving the country because of the
repression Mugabe has created. They have suffered political persecution for
opposing him. Mugabe's dreaded militia thugs, the CIO, police and the army
have gained notoriety for beating people, torturing, kidnapping and
murdering Zimbabweans. The death toll directly attributed to Mugabe's army
and other agents stands at over 30,000 since the early 1980s.
      Mugabe has also created conditions of hardship. Zimbabwean economy is
in a free fall with unemployment reaching a record high of nearly 80
      And not long ago Mugabe's Justice Minister announced a plan to form a
human rights commission. Some people compared Mugabe's setting up a human
rights commission to the Devil establishing a Christian prayer group in
      All these pie-in-the-sky promises were undoubtedly an effort by Mugabe
to avoid the mass demonstration. His logic is that if he can make rapid
promises on the eve of a mass protest people will change their minds about
participating in mass protests.
      He also hopes that the international community will be satisfied by
these half measures and reverse its targeted sanctions and encourage a flow
of investments and aid to the country.
      The MDC as the leading opposition party in the country will have to
decide whether to participate in the government of national unity and on
what terms. There is a very strong sentiment against participating in the
government of national unity, especially on Mugabe's terms.
      One argument is: How can the same Mugabe and his cronies who reduced
Zimbabwe to a miserable wreck be expected to participate in the
reconstruction of the same country.
      Even as Zimbabwe was sinking Mugabe never made any real and genuine
effort to reverse the economic free fall. He was part of the problem. And he
continues to be part of the problem. How can he possibly be part of the
solution unless he makes a genuine admission of his guilt and shows that he
is ready to work for change.
      As the situation stands now Mugabe is highly unlikely to modify his
conditions for a government of national unity. The MDC will be signing its
own political death warrant of it agrees to Mugabe's terms for a government
of national unity.
      Mugabe knows that his terms for a government of national unity are not
acceptable to the MDC. He will hold out to his terms for as long as possible
because he has a huge task of finding a successor. And he needs more time.
Joyce Mujuru is not popular even within ZANU PF. And there is no one in ZANU
PF who will be able to continue Mugabe's agenda and hold the party together
at the same time.
      MDC must, of course, reject Mugabe's terms for a government of
national unity. Zimbabweans cannot afford another four years of Mugabe's
misrule. The mass action will therefore be MDC's way of asserting its
      Mugabe is very good at designing ways of getting out of a difficult
situation. It is obvious that his agreeing to talk to the MDC is partly a
result of pressure. What is needed now is more pressure to force Mugabe to
make meaningful and substantial concessions.
      The time to increase that pressure on Mugabe is now. The masses in
Nepal have managed to push their King to a corner. Thanks to the power of
      Zimbabweans, like the people of Nepal, can push Mugabe out of office
if they make the decision that enough is enough and that the time to act is

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Quiet Diplomacy Is A Euphemism For Double Standards

Mmegi, Botswana

            GUEST COLUMN
            BOTSALO NTUANE
            4/24/2006 2:42:41 PM (GMT +2)

            Seven days ago, Zimbabwe observed 26 years of independence.
Independence arrived as the final piece in a jigsaw puzzle of great
complexity. The territory was first occupied by the British South Africa
Company in the aftermath of the Berlin Conference. In 1923, it was annexed
to become a British colony. In 1961, a constitution was formulated that
favoured the white settlers against the aspirations of the black majority.
In response to pressure by nationalists and Britain for a more accommodative
dispensation, the white settlers consolidated themselves into a state by
unilaterally declaring independence from Britain in 1965.

            But the flame of nationalism had been lit, and the black
majority sought freedom, dignity and self-determination. In a country as
endowed in natural resources as Zimbabwe, the quest for independence was
never going to be easy. The minority government and its constituency which
had dispossessed the indigenous population had too much to lose. It
therefore was determined not to hand over control on a silver platter as had
been the case with much poorer colonies. This intransigence triggered a
liberation struggle that finally culminated in the Lancaster House talks of
1979 which facilitated a transitional administration that would pave way for
democratic elections under universal suffrage. Hence, Zimbabwe attained her
independence under a popularly elected majority government in 1980 and took
her rightful place alongside the international community of nations. In the
period following independence, Zimbabwe has experienced a fluctuation in
fortunes that could be defined as remarkable, were they not, latterly, so
tragic. The dawn of independence ushered in a golden period of economic
growth and the roll out of people-centred development projects and policies
that were to become the envy and a model to many countries on how the
benefits of independence should be distributed to the citizenry. In the
field of education, the country saw an exponential rise in enrolment figures
at all levels of the education system so much so that by the nineties,
Zimbabwe had the highest literacy rates in Africa. Its system produced
trained professionals in various disciplines whose qualities were recognised
and welcomed in many countries, some of whom had attained independence long
before Zimbabwe. Even more significantly, Zimbabwe could feed herself in
addition to being the breadbasket of the region. But as the country observes
its 26th birthday, many of these accomplishments have been eroded over the
past seven years. Today public and social services are barely functioning.
The sum effect of the economic meltdown is that citizens of a once proud
nation have been reduced to hewers of wood and drawers of water. Allied to
the dire socio-economic situation are a closure of political space and an
erosion of the rights and civil liberties of many citizens and
organisations. This in particular applies to those that pursue an agenda at
variance with that of the dominant political establishment. It would be
purely academic to seek to argue the causes of the crisis in that country.
Only the fool-hardy can dispute the view that many of Zimbabwe's problems
have their origins in a deficit of good governance. But much more
fundamentally the problems of Zimbabwe have exposed the double standards of
African governments when it comes to dealing with disreputable African
governments via-a-vis delinquent minority settler regimes. In 1652 when the
first white settlers arrived in South Africa, the oppressed black majority
embarked on a struggle that was waged until the attainment of liberation in
1994. It was a long and painful episode. But throughout the prosecution of
the struggle, and particularly in the immediate post independence era, the
black nationalist movements were given succour and could rely on many
African governments for both material and political support. With very few
exceptions, all African governments and many in the international community
supported the fight against apartheid in the knowledge that they were on the
side of moral right. For countries in the Frontline states, and principally
for those who shared borders and relied economically on apartheid South
Africa, their voice was always heard in international forums castigating the
apartheid regime and calling for justice and equality. Such support was
forthcoming even in the face of much intimidation and cross border attacks.
Similar support was extended to liberation movements in Namibia, Mozambique,
and ironically Zimbabwe herself. At this moment, prospects of finding a
solution to the cascade of problems engulfing our neighbour seem bleak. In
the meantime, countries such as Botswana and South Africa have been affected
by the influx of immigrants from that country with its attendant negative
consequences. But more affected are the citizens of Zimbabwe. On the
occasion of the 26th year of independence, it is only proper for those of us
in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe to stand up and be counted by
making our voices heard on the situation in that country. Our voices might
not be powerful enough to bring about a reversal of fortunes. But negligible
as our voices might be, the mere expression of support will demonstrate to
those at the coal face of unmitigated suffering that we are not indifferent
to their grim circumstances. It also remains our moral duty to continue
exerting pressure on our governments and leaders to jettison the notion of
'see no evil, hear no evil' when it comes to issues involving indigenous
African governments. For too long, innocent Africans have suffered at the
hands of despotic governments, and in the guise of defference for national
sovereignity, no action is taken nor expressions of regret directed at them.
If it was right to take on the might of the National Party apartheid regime
by condemning them at international forums, and agitating for a just
dispensation, why can the same not be done with erring African governments?
But sadly, in expressing our solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe, we must
note that the oft used phrase 'quiet diplomacy' which seems to be the
favoured method of engagement by leaders and governments in the African
Union and SADC is but a diplomatic construct that provides a pretext for not
calling to order African governments that undermine fundamental values and
ethics. Quiet diplomacy has not borne fruit. Ultimately, 'quiet diplomacy'
is but a euphemism for inertia and double standards.

        © Mmegi, 2002

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Belgium grants visa to Zimbabwean minister


      Mon Apr 24, 2006 4:47 PM GMT

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's finance minister will be allowed to travel
to Belgium this week to meet African and Caribbean peers despite a European
Union-wide ban on visas for officials from his country.

The EU in January extended for another 12 months a series of sanctions
including an arms embargo and travel ban against officials from Zimbabwe,
which the bloc accuses of violating human rights, freedom of speech and
freedom of assembly.

But Belgium has granted a visa to Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa to allow
him to attend a meeting of ministers from Africa, the Caribbean and the
Pacific on Thursday and Friday in Brussels, the Belgian Foreign Ministry

"Within the EU sanctions there is a provision saying that for this kind of
meeting, visas can be delivered," a ministry spokesman said.

The other EU countries have been informed and there was a consensus on
granting the visa, the spokesman said, adding that Murerwa would not meet
Belgian officials.

The EU list of visa bans and freezing of assets includes President Robert
Mugabe and more than a hundred ministers and officials.

The sanctions were initially triggered by Zimbabwe's controversial land
redistribution plan, which confiscated white-owned commercial farms, and
Mugabe's disputed re-election in 2002.

Zimbabwe's white farmers said last week they had been invited to apply for
land, a move that could mark a policy shift by the government which had
vowed not to return seized farms.

Critics say the land seizures have reduced Zimbabwe's commercial agriculture
by 40 percent, hitting exports and partly causing food shortages that have
gripped the country since 2001.

Agriculture output fell by 12.8 percent in 2005, but government officials
say the sector will grow by 9 percent this year, boosting the ailing

Zimbabwe is in the throes of a deepening economic crisis, highlighted by
shortages of foreign exchange, fuel and food, the world's highest inflation
rate at 917 percent and 70 percent unemployment.

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Ethiopia plans monument for Mengistu terror victims


      Mon Apr 24, 2006 2:24 PM GMT

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Ethiopia said on Monday it would build a monument to
honour thousands of people killed during the 1977-78 "Red Terror" purge by
Marxist Dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam.

"The Mausoleum will shelter 27 caskets bearing remains of 55,000 Red Terror
victims, exhumed from different mass graves in and around Addis Ababa city,"
an official said.

A committee entrusted with the construction of the $1 million mausoleum to
be located at the Maskel Square next to the Addis Ababa Museum, said it
would also incorporate a library and a meeting hall.

A verdict in a genocide trial against Mengistu is due on May 23 after 14
years of proceedings.

The former dictator, who fled to Zimbabwe in 1991 after guerrilla forces led
by now Prime Minister Meles Zenawi ousted his 17-year-old Marxist regime, is
being tried in absentia.

Mengistu and other members of a notoriously brutal military junta are
accused of killing more than 1,000 people in the so- called "Red Terror"
purges, including former Emperor Haile Selassie whom he dethroned in 1974.

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$3 trillion needed for indigenisation in mining

The Chronicle

      Business Reporter

      Indigenous businesspeople aspiring would need to raise more than $3
trillion (US$30 million) to buy significant stakes in foreign owned mining
companies, an official said last week.

      This comes after President Mugabe last week ratcheted the debate over
indigenisation in the sector, saying Zimbabweans have to control over
non-renewable resources.
      "The proposed reforms in terms of control and ownership of mines are
really positive, but it means that both the Government and locals will have
to fork out at least $3 trillion in sealing the joint ventures with foreign
mining conglomerates," said a Chamber of Mines official.
      "Government should come up with a format of mobilising funds so that
those keen to embark in the joint ventures are well geared for the process,"
he said.
      Last month, the Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Cde Amos
Midzi sparked an uproar in the mining industry, especially those under the
control of foreigners when proposed to localise 51 percent of the
shareholding in energy minerals such as coal, gold, platinum and emeralds.
      Under his proposals, Government would own 25 percent, for which it
would not pay while local entrepreneurs would hold 26 percent, with payments
spread over seven years.
      However, Government has since said the consultation process was still
on going and that no final figures have been put forward.
      The mining official said Government, through consultations with the
Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, Ministry of
Indigenisation and Empowerment and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe should
formulate strategies for funding the indigenisation process.
      Foreign multinationals have dominated the mining sector, and have
proposed to give up to 30 percent to indigenous entrepreneurs.

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Commission investigates senior Govt officials

The Chronicle

Chronicle Reporter

THE Anti-Corruption Commission has embarked on an extensive investigation on
the abuse of public resources by senior Government officials in a move meant
to restore accountability in the operations of both the Government and
private institutions, a Cabinet Minister has said.

The Minister of State Enterprises, Anti Monopolies and AntiCorruption, Cde
Paul Mangwana, said that the Commission was in the process of examining
irregular business dealings.
"The Commission is carrying out its duties as mandated by the State in
ensuring transparency in the management of public and private assets," he
Cde Mangwana said that the public should assist the Commission in detecting
instances of unlawful business dealings.
The Minister declined to cite specific cases but said the commission had
widened investigations.
However, officials in the Ministry disclosed that the abuse of fuel and
fertiliser was under investigation. The investigation is being carried out
in conjunction with the Zimbabwe Republic Police.
Cde Mangwana said that the Commission would soon finalise a national
anticorruption strategy to counter all the activities that continue to
hamper socio economic development.
The Commission has in the past few weeks been investigating instances of
alleged abuse of public wealth by top officials in local authorities, the
private sector and the Government.
Some members of the Commission have visited some public institutions to
gather evidence on specific cases.
Zimbabwe has instituted a war against corruption after it was identified as
one of the main causes of the country's economic decline in the past five
The Government plans to unveil a $10 billion national baseline survey on
corruption to facilitate the formulation of a national anti corruption

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Women pin hopes on domestic violence bill

      By Rhoda Mashavave

      THE Domestic Violence bill which is before the Parliament of Zimbabwe
is the only answer to problems women are facing in the country.

      Women in Zimbabwe continue to suffer  all forms of violence
perpetrated by men.

      My heart bleeds as I continue to read the stories of women who have
suffered or died at the hands of their 'loved' ones.

      At times I wonder if love still ever exists between couples and

      For a very long time, violence has been used  by men as a way of
'disciplining'. In essence, it comes down to blatant abuse of women. Most
men tend to hide behind culture, tradition and religion to perpetrate
physical abuse. They want to control or punish women.

      When I was a little kid, I thought it was normal for men to beat up
women. I grew up witnessing or hearing about the beatings of women.

      It was just like one of those things; we thought it was part of life.
Right now I can not imagine marrying or living with a man who abuses and
beats me up. Never.

      With no law to protect them, Zimbabwean women have over the years
found themselves vulnerable to all forms of abuse. Although there are cases
reported of domestic violence perpetrated by women  it is a fact that the
overwhelming majority of cases are by men against women.

      In reality, domestic violence is in practice discriminatory by sex.

      According to the definition by the United Nations, The Declaration on
the Elimination of Violence against Women (1993) defines violence against
women as "any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to
result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including
threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether
occurring in public or in private life."

      Women constitute 52 percent of the 12, 9 million population in
Zimbabwe. There are hopes this year that the Domestic Violence Bill will be
made into law and hopefully this will be a turning point in the lives of the
many and long suffering women in my country.

       The Bill makes domestic violence a crime and covers areas like
economic, psychological abuse, intimidation and stalking. Cultural practises
like virginity testing, female genital mutilation, wife inheritance and
custom of offering young girls as compensatory payment in interfamily
disputes that degrade women will become criminal.

      It is rather unfortunate, however, that the Bill will not cover
state-sponsored violence which continues to stalk women. Take a look at the
case of the Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), the resilient women's pressure
group. The women have been on the fore-front, protesting against high food
prices and human rights abuses in the country. As a result, these women have
become jailbirds as they continue to be arrested each time they hold
peaceful demonstrations. They have been harassed and beaten up by the police
in the process.

      Many women continue to bear the brunt of state-sponsored violence when
they demonstrate against the shortage of basic necessities such as food,
sanitary pads, as well as poor governance. Instead of addressing the plight
women, the government of Zimbabwe, finds pleasure in beating them up and
arresting them. Come to think of it - all this with a woman as vice
president in our country. It is so disheartening that vice president Joice
Mujuru continues to distance herself and does not condemn the abuse and
violence against women by the state.

      During the run-up to elections women who support the opposition
political parties are abused physicall. Some women have been raped, beaten
and tortured by the ruling party youths. These youths use rape as a weapon
to punish women who do not support them. It is unacceptable that that women
should be abused for their different views in politics.

      It has taken years for women's organisations to convince the
government to pass Domestic Violence Bill into law.

      Cases of domestic violence against women continue to rise yearly. For
example, on 17 January 2006, the media in Zimbabwe reported that a woman was
killed for failure to breastfeed; she was killed by her husband and father-
in-law.The 'crime' committed by this woman was simply that she had failed to
breastfeed, therefore she was accused of witchcraft. And in a recent case in
March, a student aged 17 was murdered by her boyfriend.

      There are many cases of violence against women which have gone
unreported by the press or have not even been reported to the police. There
isn't even a specific crime called domestic violence. It falls under common
assault. Even when someone is convicted of assault, the sentence is usually
based on the degree of injury, so this means that some degrees of violence
are accepted.

      At times when women report their cases to the police, the policemen
tend to treat the cases lightly at times they advice the woman to look for
other solutions like talking to relatives of the men or church members.

      I hope the Domestic Violence Bill will be made into law soon; it will
go a long way in protecting us women. The saddest part is that domestic
violence is rising at an alarming rate becauseof the economic hardships in
the country.Women are facing problems in their marriages and workplaces.
Recently the United Nations reported that Zimbabwean women have an average
life expectancy of 34 years and men were pegged at 37 years. According to
the report Zimbabwean women have the lowest life expectancy in the world.

      If there was a law protecting women against domestic violence I guess
it would have helped somehow but with the inflation rate running at 913, 16
percent , life is hard in Zimbabwe. Life has become so unbearable for both
women and men in Zimbabwe. It is not far-fetched to state that poor fiscal
management by President  Mugabe's regime is a contributory factor to
domestic violence. With so many peopple jobless, families are facing a lot
of financial problems so much that some men tend to vent their anger on
their wives. Men have become more aggressive that they beat up their wives
or use abusive language on them.

      According to a UNICEF analysis, Zimbabwe's increases in gender-based
violence appear to arise from traditional practices and principles that
include the subjugation of women, and that it is culturally permissible for
a man to physically "discipline" his wife and children; Zimbabwe's worsening
economic times have meant more and more women are becoming the breadwinners
while the men have been forced to remain at home; and Zimbabwe has a high
HIV prevalence rate, at 20.1 percent, and more than half of these are women
and girls. However the media in Zimbabwe is increasingly reporting incidents
of rape, incest, and sexual abuse of women. Women are being raped, beaten up
and killed by their partners or former partners.

      During 2003 in Zimbabwe for example, there were three vivid cases of
violence against women. The late Learnmore Jongwe was a well respected
politician from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, stabbed his
wife to death for alleged infidelity; a Harare man burnt his wife to death
for alleged extra marital affair and another incident in Norton where a man
shot his girlfriend and mother of his son, her father and her sister. The
cases of women who died because of domestic violence are endless.

      Despite all these problems Zimbabwean women face they continue to
shine under these difficult conditions they live. Hopefully, Mujuru, the
first female Vice President , will at least make sure that the Domestic Bill
becomes law this year. She was recently quoted in the Zimbabwean media
condemning domestic violence saying: "We, as women, do not deserve to be
treated the way some men are treating us. We were created by God to carry
your babies for nine months, something not easy at all. We leave our homes
to come and try to correct you as a person, fix the areas that your mother
would have failed.

      "We love our men very much, that is why we leave our homes to join
their families so we should enjoy our relationships with them."

      Time will tell if Mujuru is truly committed to ending violence women
are facing. I am a bit sceptical because she has been mum on state-sponsored
violence against fellow women.

      My only prayer for now is for the Domestic Violence Bill to be passed
into law this year, not next year.

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Zim teachers convicted after brutal canings

Cape Argus

      April 24, 2006

      By Sapa- DPA and Reuters

      Teachers at a school in rural Zimbabwe have been convicted of assault
after a brutal caning spree during which they beat about 300 children with
broomsticks for being late for lessons, breaking one girl's arm, reports

      The incident had occurred before Easter at Rambanepasi High School in
eastern Hwedza district, said the state-controlled Herald newspaper.

      Angered by the continual lateness of their pupils, three teachers and
the acting headmaster, Herbert Muradza, had caned all but 33 of them with
broomsticks, said the report.

      "We were ordered to stand in four lines and each teacher was assigned
to his own line," one girl told the paper.

      Other teachers and the non-teaching staff, who could not intervene,
watched helplessly throughout the three-hour ordeal that saw pupils who had
a reputation for notoriety being beaten several times by different teachers,
she said.

      Villagers who heard the children's cries rushed to the school and
tried to stop the beatings but failed, she added.

      The 33 children who were spared the beating apparently had a
reputation for being punctual.

       Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has defied President
Robert Mugabe's threat to crush mass protests, saying he will confront the
challenge head on by taking his fight into the ruling party's rural

      Tsvangirai, president of the Movement for Democratic Change, has
called for peaceful mass action to drive Mugabe from power, but his call
provoked threats from the president, who said his opponents were "playing
with fire". - Sapa- DPA and Reuters

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