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

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A few days after the mass stayaway by the Zimbabwe Public- there was a government sponsored backlash against many of the residents in the high density suburbs, especially those that supported the MDC opposition party.
On the night of Saturday 22nd March, at approximately 2a.m. two Pumas (Armoured Personnel Carriers) full of soldiers parked outside Mr. Albert Gatsi's house in Mabvuku. They jumped over the wall into his property. The first to see them was the family dog "Shumba". A nine month old Collie Cross bitch who immediately started barking at them, obviously to protect her family. This incensed the soldiers - all in uniform, who started beating her with their rubber batons. Mr. Gatsi told me that he heard "Shumba" screaming and came out of his house to find his yard flooded with soldiers. They threw a dish of dog food in his face and when he attempted to wash his face at an outside sink the soldiers knocked him to the ground, made him roll in the mud and then both Mr. Gatsi and his wife were severely beaten, with chains , sticks, ammunition belts, batons etc. and left for dead.
The following day, one of their neighbours who had also been severely assaulted, reported to ZNSPCA that she had heard her neighbour's dog screaming and thought it's welfare should be checked out.
The ZNSPCA  team went into Mabvuku, the atmosphere was very tense, but were given a Police escort. We found "Shumba" with the Gatsi's son- His parents by now were lying in hospital. We took her straight to the 24 hour vet - I noticed that she immediately cringed as the vet went to put his hands on her. Fortunately, no permanent damage or injury could be found, although she was running a temperature and her back was obviously tender.
When we returned to Mabvuku later - we took with us a kennel and blanket for "Shumba" as she only had a very small kennel made out of flattened metal.
Some four weeks later I returned to Mabvuku to take Shumba to be spayed - I promised Mr. Gatsi that ZNSPCA would have this done at our expense.
But her ordeal was not over yet as the vet administered the anesthetic "Shumba's" heart stopped. After frantically working on her lifeless body for several minutes, he was able to get it re-started. Later, the vet explained that what happened was undoubtedly a result of the beating that she suffered, and that her heart and lungs would have been traumatized.
"Shumba" is still at the vets, but I will be collecting her today. She has a very friendly out going nature and thinks everyone is her friend - on the night of March 22nd 2003 "Shumba" found out that this is not always so.
Chief Inspector for ZNSPCA
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West sidelined as Africa walks hand in hand with Mugabe

Our series on Zimbabwe concludes by looking at why Britain will not heed
calls to 'do an Iraq'

Nicholas Watt and Rory Carroll in Johannesburg
Saturday April 26, 2003
The Guardian

Tony Blair is facing growing pressure from ministers and backbench Labour
MPs to intensify Britain's efforts to isolate Robert Mugabe's regime in
Zimbabwe while African leaders strive to do the opposite, arguing that
engagement would be more effective.
With the prime minister suggesting in private that he would dearly love to
see Mr Mugabe overthrown, one Labour MP has even suggested that a
Commonwealth army should be sent into Zimbabwe.

"Why can't there be a Commonwealth military force?," Derek Wyatt, the Labour
MP for Sittingbourne, asked. "We can go into Iraq, we can go into Kosovo.
But where there are 7.5 million people being deliberately starved to death,
we do nothing."

It is the sort of statement that enrages African leaders, who consider the
former colonial master hypocritical and part of the problem. South Africa,
in particular, has significant clout over Harare, but favours "quiet

While Downing Street insists that it would never sanction the use of force
in Zimbabwe, Mr Wyatt's frustration is shared by MPs and ministers.
Harrowing evidence of widespread hunger and state-sponsored violence has
convinced MPs of the need to put pressure on Zimbabwe and its neighbours, to
make Mr Mugabe hold proper elections.

Glenys Kinnock, the Labour MEP who recently published a pamphlet outlining
the "gangsterism" of the Mugabe regime, believes the EU should tighten its
sanctions, which already impose restrictions on members of the ruling
Zanu-PF party. "We should not offer health and education in Britain to the
families of Zanu-PF members. It is also time for the IMF to pull out of
Zimbabwe," she said.

Britain, she believes, has to perform a delicate balancing act to avoid
alienating Zimbabwe's neighbours and to work with its European partners to
ensure that EU sanctions remain in force. Jacques Chirac recently threatened
to lift sanctions altogether unless Mr Mugabe was allowed to attend a summit
in Paris.

But some MPs and ministers believe Downing Street should do more -
particularly by increasing the pressure on the South African president,
Thabo Mbeki.

One well-placed Labour MP said: "We should be getting a bit tougher with the
South African government. This is being dragged on because the South
Africans have not got the bottle. If South Africa pulled the plug on
utilities, on electricity, they could do something."

Downing Street is being told that it should use the New Partnership for
Africa's Development, which ties aid and business links to greater
transparency and democracy in Africa, as leverage.

To Pretoria's diplomats, the crisis looks rather different. Zimbabwe's land
remained too long in white hands partly because Britain went back on giving
aid to black Zimbabweans wanting farms, they say, and without dispossessed
whites there would not be such a fuss. How else to explain the west's
relative silence over human rights violations in such places as Swaziland,
Uganda and Rwanda?


White land ownership is an unresolved and emotive issue across the
continent. Emmerson Mnangagwa, a senior Mugabe official, was hugged and
cheered at the African National Congress's party conference last December.

Two other factors shape Pretoria's policy. To be seen siding with the west
against Harare would shred President Mbeki's standing with African leaders.
South Africa also fears that pulling the plug on Zimbabwe's economy would
unleash mayhem. It doubts that Zimbabwe's opposition, the Movement for
Democratic Change, could run the country. Better, then, to work behind the
scenes for a transition, with Mr Mugabe stepping down and a moderate
successor working with the MDC.

That policy has so far failed. Instead of being grateful, Harare has
insulted Pretoria, calling its citizens barbaric and dirty, and making Mr
Mbeki look foolish by not easing press restrictions as promised.

Nigeria, the other regional power, has also stood by Mr Mugabe, citing the
historical justice of land reform. And since President Olusegun Obasanjo was
criticised by western monitors over his election victory last week, he has
something else in common with Mr Mugabe.

Botswana and Kenya have broken African ranks and criticised Harare, but they
are respectively too small and too distant to count.

Britain opposed South Africa this month over its successful attempt to rally
African and Asian countries against an EU censure motion on Zimbabwe at the
UN human rights commission. But the Foreign Office says it cannot afford to
fall out with Pretoria before December's Commonwealth heads of government
meeting, at which South Africa has indicated that it would like to end
Harare's suspension. British diplomats privately admit they overplayed their
hand in recent years, taking a high-profile stance which Mr Mugabe portrayed
as neo-imperialism. "We've learned to tone it down," said one.

The Foreign Office says the Africa minister, Lady Amos, has singled out Mr
Mugabe for stinging criticism; but the government insists it cannot put any
more direct pressure on Zimbabwe - unless it were to invade the country, or
cut the 38m a year in aid which feeds 1.5m children.

Ministers have no intention of "doing an Iraq" in Zimbabwe. One said:
"Talking of the use of military force is mad. For a start we do not have a
Kuwait to invade from. Are Tories talking about the recolonisation of
Zimbabwe by sending in white armies?"

Talk to the Guardian's Zimbabwe correspondent, Andrew Meldrum, live online
on Thursday: post your questions at
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Washington Times

Zimbabwean gets no respect from Mugabe
By Geoff Hill

     JOHANNESBURG - A Zimbabwean soldier who died while serving with British
forces in Iraq has been vilified by the government of President Robert
Mugabe, and his family has been harassed by the country's notorious secret
     Pvt. Christopher Muzvuru, 21, was killed April 6 when his unit overran
the town of Basra. But in Harare, the Zimbabwean capital, the state media
have called him a mercenary and a sellout.
     "For a Zimbabwean, whose country is virtually at war with Britain, to
join the armed forces of an enemy is the highest level of selling out," was
the comment from the Daily Mirror in Harare, a paper owned by a member of
Mr. Mugabe's ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front
(ZANU-PF) party.
     "He should be buried in Britain," the paper said.
     The government-owned Herald newspaper likened Pvt. Muzvuru to the
buffalo soldiers in Bob Marley's reggae song about former slaves who fought
in the American Civil War.
     Pvt. Muzvuru's parents have declined to comment, but a friend of the
family told The Washington Times that they were living in terror in their
hometown of Gweru, in central Zimbabwe.
     "They have been visited by Mugabe's secret police and harassed by the
government, and it is very painful for them," said the man, who asked not to
be named for fear of reprisal.
     "They are in deep mourning for their son, and all the government can do
is portray the young man as a traitor and his family as enemies of the
     In London, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense confirmed that Pvt.
Muzvuru joined the army in February 2001 and was one of about 200
Zimbabweans in the British forces.
     He said other countries with significant numbers of nationals serving
in the British army include Australia, Canada, India, Ireland, Jamaica and
South Africa.
     For the past two years, the government of Mr. Mugabe, 79, has been at
loggerheads with the United States, Britain, Canada and much of the
Commonwealth because of attempts to suppress the opposition. Human rights
groups estimate that as many as 70,000 people were beaten or abused by
government agents in the past year.
     More than 600,000 Zimbabweans live in exile in Britain, and an
estimated 2 million have fled to neighboring South Africa.
     Mr. Mugabe, who has ruled the country since 1980, was returned to power
last year in an election marred by intimidation, and the results have not
been recognized by Britain or the United States.
     Zimbabwe's state-owned television did not show Iraqis celebrating the
fall of dictator Saddam Hussein and described the U.S.- and British-led
campaign as a "neocolonialist invasion against a sovereign state."
     But a story in an opposition newspaper in the capital, Harare, accused
the government of being too scared to screen pictures of a dictator being
toppled and said the Zimbabwean people "will also be dancing in the streets"
the day Mr. Mugabe leaves power.
     For now, Zimbabweans are lining up in the streets to buy scarce
supplies of fuel, flour, sugar, salt and the diet staple, cornmeal. A
disastrous land-redistribution exercise has ended commercial production on
most of the formerly white-owned farms.
     The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) charges that
instead of the land being handed over to black peasants, the best farms have
been given to Mr. Mugabe's friends and family.
     The farm seizures, combined with severe drought in parts of the
country, have caused food shortages and a sharp rise in inflation, crippling
the economy.
     Yesterday, police in Harare raided the MDC headquarters and arrested 30
persons on the third day of a nationwide strike against fuel-price
increases, Agence France-Presse reported.
     Most shops in Harare's central business district remained closed, but
some small businesses were open. Banks were closed, and hundreds of people
lined up outside to withdraw money from automatic teller machines.
     A military helicopter hovered overhead while riot police patrolled the
     Although the strike was called by the labor group Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions, the MDC has backed the action and promised more of its own.
     Earlier this week, police arrested 45 MDC supporters mourning the death
of a party activist who died after a suspected assault by police.
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Cosatu backs union-led strike in Zim

JOHANNESBURG -- The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) congratulated the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) yesterday on its three-day general

In a statement, spokesman Patrick Craven said: "The federation fully
supports its fellow workers in Zimbabwe in their struggle against an
excessive 200 percent fuel price increase, which means that many workers
have to pay more each day to travel to and from work than they earn in a

Cosatu also condemned the continuing arrests of trade unionists, including
those of the 16 ZCTU leading activists arrested in Bulawayo and Gweru on

"We demand that the (Zimbabwe) government immediately and unconditionally
release all those still in detention and refrain from any further arrests of
trade unionists and political opponents."

Cosatu also reaffirmed its opposition to the abuse of human and workers'
rights by the Zimbabwean government.

"We fully agree with the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions
that the detention of trade unionists, especially in the context of
industrial action, is a flagrant violation of international labour
standards, which are binding on the Zimbabwean government by virtue of its
membership in the International Labour Organisation," Craven said.

Craven said Cosatu would continue to extend its solidarity and support to
the ZCTU in any further action it takes in support of legitimate demands for
price reductions and the end of human rights abuses. -- Sapa
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Dear Family and Friends,
This week, for the first time in three years, I became a farmer again, although only for a day. Battling to survive the massive inflation and the price of food, I had reared 24 chicks from fluffy yellow day olds to plump chickens for the table. Sam, whose name I've changed for his own safety, was the foreman on our farm before we were evicted, and we work well together. He sat on an empty and upturned fuel container and I on an empty blue milk crate. We both had knives and buckets of water, his scalding hot and mine very cold. George chopped and plucked and then I gutted and cleaned. What an exhausting but memorable day it was, filled with a lot of talk and shared memories;  many of which made us laugh one minute and then wipe away tears the next. Just working in the sun side by side bought back a lot of reminders of hundreds of occasions just like this, three years ago. Whether it was dosing sheep or dipping cows, cutting off lambs tails or putting tags in calves ears, stacking timber or picking vegetables, I had forgotten how good it was to get utterly involved in a physical job and how satisfying when the task had been completed. I'd also forgotten how much I miss the ordinary gossip and chat that was so much a part of my life as a farmer.
Sam had lots of stories to tell about what's happening now on our occupied farm and others in the neighbourhood and, frankly, it's both shocking and disgusting to hear what's going on, on all those highly productive farms since the Zimbabwe government took them over. On our farm the borehole has been destroyed so there's no piped water anymore. The house looks scruffy and the garden unkempt. The solar water panels and tanks have been stolen and the huge water reservoir stands permanently empty. Most of the huge gum tree plantations have been felled for firewood and the fences, poles and wire have long since gone. The dairy no longer sees cows with udders heavy in milk but only lines of thin clothes hung up to dry on the milking stalls. The tobacco barns are derelict: doors, flues, furnace covers and bricks slowly being stolen bit by bit. A handful of huts are dotted in the fields and next to them stand little patches of scraggly, yellowing maize plants which may feed a family or two for a few weeks at the most. The people there are hungry, the children go and beg from the kitchens of a nearby boarding school and the adults queue up for World Food Programme maize, beans and cooking oil when the big trucks come.
Largely the 1000 acres of our farm is a neglected wasteland, the fields empty except for a few painfully thin cattle which are never dipped, de-wormed or de-horned.
Over the road on what was only one year ago a thriving beef and chicken producing farm there is absolutely nothing going on. A local village chief has moved into the once beautiful house and there he lives entirely alone. He has not held out his hand to his fellow villagers and said: come share and work this land with me, instead, he struts around arrogantly, Lord of his new Manor. He will not allow any of the neighbouring villagers to walk through the farm or even graze their cattle there. He says they are trespassing on his farm. Nothing whatsoever is being grown or produced on the land and slowly the bush is reclaiming the cattle dip and chicken runs, but the Chief is happy, in his eyes he is now the landowner.
Between these two farms two dozen people were employed and produced milk, timber, beef, lamb, wool, chickens, eggs, fruit and vegetables for the town of Marondera and paid out millions of dollars in telephone and electricity charges, road rates, drought and Aids levies, stock feed and farming equipment. Now, nothing is produced for sale, no one is gainfully employed, nothing comes onto or goes off the farms and there is no more running water. Neither of the farms were ever served with acquisition papers by the government of Zimbabwe, both just seized by men hungry for power and status. Right next to these two farms there is still a very overcrowded communal village, those people, the genuinely land hungry peasants, have not gained at all from the seizure of productive land.
Edward, the war veteran who spearheaded the invasion of these two farms and a dozen others nearby, is a permanent drunk in the neighbourhood's bar. He lives off his government war veterans' pension which have this week been increased by 166% so there's plenty of money for beer and of course he already has his own farm, also given to him by the government 6 years ago so he has a very good life. Edward's got a broken arm at the moment, the result of a drunken fall, but he's not worried about this or his children's school fees because the government pays for these too. Sam told me there's a lot of resentment amongst the locals for Edward - the man who destroyed everything, got paid for doing it and now gets paid to get drunk every night.  This is the result of our government's land re-distribution programme three years down the road and these were the things George and I talked about as we slaughtered chickens all day. 
We also talked about what's happened this week in Zimbabwe, how the country has again come to a standstill in a 3 day national strike and how the people are all so very angry with the empty promises of the government. No one, not even barely literate peasants, believes that this crumbling decayed country we call home has collapsed in order to correct land imbalances. Everyone sees the massive violence every day now. They see policemen invading funerals and arresting 55 mourners; they see police turning their backs on rape, torture, murder and arson and they all know this was neither about land nor race but about hanging on to political power. Until next week, with love, cathy
Copyright cathy buckle, 26th April 2003.
"African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" are now available from , , and and linked at my website:
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Zimbabwe strikers return to work
News sign
The unions are claiming victory
Shops, banks and factories have reopened in Zimbabwe after a three-day national strike called by the main labour movement.

The strike shut down most businesses and was hailed as a huge success by the Zimbabwe's Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).

It said that 90% of its members had stayed at home in protest at the decision of Robert Mugabe's government to triple the price of petrol.

The government announced a rise in the minimum wage to compensate for the fuel rises.

Some 26 people arrested in the capital, Harare, during a raid on the offices of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have been released.

The MDC - which supported the strike and is planning its own mass protests - said the police raid was part of a campaign of government intimidation.

In March, the MDC organised a wide scale two-day strike in protest against what it described as President Mugabe's oppressive rule.

Economic protest

Many shops, businesses and factories across Zimbabwe shut down during week's strike - which the government had declared illegal.

President Robert Mugabe
Mugabe faces domestic and foreign pressure
Lovemore Macomb, head of the ZCTU, said that the strike could resume next week if the government did not reverse its the fuel price rise.

The economy is in desperate trouble with inflation running at more than 200%, soaring unemployment and shortages of fuel and foreign currency.

The ZCTU argues that for many workers it will now cost almost as much to get to work as they earn in a day.

The organisation's deputy secretary general, Colleen GIGO, told the BBC the strike was "largely an economic protest" rather than a political one.

"It has been a bread-and-butter campaign... every person who has the effect of the fuel increases would realise that it is unreasonable," he said.

The government said the 200% rise in petrol prices was necessary to help pay for fuel imports which have become scarce since shipments from Libya stopped last year.

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Mugabe's visit to posh hotel sparks protest

      April 25 2003 at 11:41PM

By Zondi Mahlangu

They came to picket against the presence of Zimbabwean First Lady Grace
Mugabe, but security personnel at Caesars Palace dispersed the 20 protesters
in less than five minutes.

The group, calling themselves Concerned Zimbabweans Abroad, converged on the
hotel after reports that Mugabe had booked into the hotel. They held
placards saying "Mugabe is not the people's choice" and "Mugabe must go".

According to Radio 702 news editor Stephen Grootes, the station received
information that Mugabe was at Caesars. "We received information and acted
upon it. Our reporter actually had a short conversation with her. She
dropped the phone as soon as he mentioned he was from 702."

However when Saturday Star contacted the hotel we were told the name Grace
Mugabe was not on their guest list.

Jay Sibanda, president of Concerned Zimbabweans Abroad, said: "We are having
the wife of the president come stay in a five-star hotel. It is five star
against poverty. The reality is that the people of Zimbabwe are suffering.

"Mrs Mugabe is the right target of this protest. There is nothing more
embarrassing for a man than having your wife come home and tell you that her
shopping has been disrupted by disgruntled people. Wherever these people go
shopping anywhere else in the world, the peaceloving people of the world
must tell them to leave," said Sibanda.

Reacting to the 702 report, the Democratic Alliance called the visit "a

"While Mrs Mugabe is living it up here in South Africa, most shops in
Harare's central business district are closed.

"Banks are closed and hundreds of people queued to withdraw money from
automatic teller machines," said the party's chairperson and MP Joe
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Independent (UK)

Zimbabwe face trial by protest
'It is time for a boycott along the lines of that which was instigated
against apartheid in South Africa'
By Stephen Brenkley
27 April 2003

Zimbabwe will arrive in England on Thursday for a tour that is certain to be
marred by protests and civil unrest. There will be demonstrations outside
grounds, and the real prospect exists of the two Test matches being
disrupted by campaigners anxious to draw attention to the plight of

Any cricket that is played by Heath Streak's team is likely to be utterly
overshadowed either by pitch incursions and sit-downs, or by the sort of
security presence to prevent them that might outnumber paying spectators.

Peter Tatchell, the head of the Stop The Tour group, declined to reveal
detailed plans, but the England and Wales Cricket Board are well aware that
he has a history of direct action. Earlier this year he laid siege to Lord's
and disrupted a meeting organised to discuss England's contentious World Cup
match in Harare.

Tatchell demanded the sacking of the ECB's two leading officials, Tim Lamb
and David Morgan, and claimed they have nakedly commercial motives. He also
appealed to England players to refuse to play Zimbabwe on moral grounds and
called on the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, to grant refuge to any of the
Zimbabweans who seek it. The players are unlikely to heed the call. Richard
Bevan, chief executive of the Professional Cricketers' Association, said
they had no comment on the moral issue.

The ECB at least may be comforted by the fact that, so far, Tatchell's group
is a lone voice. When England were scheduled to play in Harare in February
both the Government and Opposition brought pressure to bear to withdraw.
England at first resisted that, but then refused to play the game because of
safety and security concerns.

Tessa Jowell, the Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport, has written to
Lamb reassuring him that there is no objection to the tour: "As you know,
there are no sporting sanctions against Zimbabwe, nor general sanctions
against its citizens." She said the Government objected to the World Cup
game because of the propaganda opportunities that it could have afforded the
regime of President Robert Mugabe, but did not wish to prevent Zimbabwean
teams competing in Britain.

But opposition to the tour could mount as it goes on. First, circumstances
in Zimbabwe could become visibly worse. Second, the ECB may have made a
tactical error (let alone a moral one) in apparently agreeing to fulfil
England's scheduled tour of Zimbabwe in the autumn of 2004 in return for
their trip here this summer. Millions of pounds of television money would
have to be forfeited if the tour was called off. The ECB already face heavy
penalties for England's failure to play the World Cup fixture.

The political position in Zimbabwe is reliably reported to have worsened
since February. Millions are starving and thousands have been tortured for
opposing the regime. Thousands of workers joined a strike last week
objecting to fuel increases of 210 per cent, and a dozen members of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change were arrested during a police raid
on their offices on Friday.

The Zimbabwean team are aware of what awaits them in England but appear
resigned to it. The tour manager, Babu Meman, said: "We have been told about
the possibility of protests but have been assured that there will be full
security at all grounds. It is unfortunate that cricket has to be played in
circumstances like this, but we have no concerns."

Streak, the captain, has regularly played down events in his country,
although his father, Dennis, a farmer, was briefly jailed last year. The
only two Zimbabwean cricketers to have spoken out publicly, Andy Flower and
Henry Olonga, have now retired from international cricket and are in
England. At the World Cup, they both sported black armbands "mourning the
death of democracy" in their country.

Both are now seeking to keep a lower profile as they try to rebuild their
lives away from home. Olonga, especially, fears reprisals. Privately, they
might back the tour - and, perversely, the demonstrations - because these
will keep the deteriorating situation in their country in the public eye and
might help provoke change.

Tatchell, who has been campaigning against Zimbabwe since 1997, is an
implacable opponent of the regime and the tour. Nobody should underestimate
the depth of his feelings or his determination to make his point. "It is
time for a boycott along the lines of that which was instigated against the
apartheid regime in South Africa, which ultimately helped to bring it down,"
he said. "That should be commercial, cultural and sporting. It's going to be
very difficult to stop this tour but we are determined to make things
difficult by protesting."

Tatchell accused the Government of double standards after changing their
stance. Opponents of the World Cup have fallen silent over the tour. One of
the most vocal, the Overseas Development Minister, Clare Short, refused to
make any comment on the tour.

The Conservative MP Michael Ancram, who was also a leading opponent of the
World Cup game, said he was not against the tour. But he said: "If the ECB
have agreed unconditionally to go to Zimbabwe next year in return for this
visit that is a shabby deal. I am totally against that and will continue to
say so."

Lamb repeated his winter line that sport in general and cricket in
particular should not be used to make political points. "There are no
blanket sanctions and companies continue to trade. People have a right to
protest, of course, as long as they do so peacefully, but we have plans to
deal with them. The cost of this tour not going ahead would have a
catastrophic effect on English cricket at all levels." But Tatchell warned
that there was no justification for financial gain when people were being
tortured. "I would hope that the TV companies would recognise the dire human
situation in Zimbabwe and waive their penalty clauses," he said. "It would
be unforgivable to allow this tour to pass without protest."

Tatchell will not go away. The first tour of the summer could be memorable.
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Zimbabwean business people assured of continuity in DRC

Zimbabweans wishing to pursue business ventures in the DRC have been assured
of continuity of state even when a new transitional government is put in
place in the central African country.

The assurance was made by the DRC information minister and press minister,
Kikaya Bin Karubi at a joint press conference in Harare on Saturday.

Kikaya Bib Karubi said the two sides have been made considerable progress of
removing obstacles that had hindered the free movement of goods and people
as well as the promotion of investment between the two countries.

The conference comes after the end of the 4th ordinary session of the joint
ministerial commission of the DRC-Zimbabwe Momorandum of Understanding on
military economic co-operation, which opened on Wednesday.

The minister of Defence, Cde Sydney Sekeramayi said the purpose of the
meeting is to review progress made in the implementation of the Memorandum
of Understanding between the two countries.

The joint commission noted with assistance the significant progress made by
the two countries.
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      Inheritance dispute Kinshasa-style

      The BBC's Mark Dummett reports from Kinshasa in the Democratic
Republic of Congo where he is at the centre of an unseemly battle over the
estate of his late landlord.
      My landlord Jean-Pierre died several months ago, but his impoverished
family are still fighting a civil war for control of my rent money.

      It started the day he died. Jean-Pierre had the misfortune to pass
away at the end of the month, when the money was due.

      Even as the rest of the family was wailing or praying by the side of
his coffin, a succession of uncles, brothers, and sons came to knock on my
gate, each one declaring he was now the rightful owner of the house, and
demanding the cash.

      The law courts do not count for much here in Kinshasa. Their judges
are as underpaid and as easily corrupted as most other civil servants.

      So the dispute over who is the rightful owner of the house, and how
the rent money is shared out just rumbles on and on, with no prospect of a
just settlement.

      Sins of the parents

      Every so often it threatens to get violent, though so far only the
youngest members of the family, the children, have come to blows.

      Normally they play football together in the dusty yard in front of my
house, but recently they have started to get caught up in their parents'
battle for the money.

      What has made the conflict worse is that they all live together - 16
people, across three generations, in four squalid rooms.

      The mood is appallingly tense, since Jean-Pierre's widow accused his
brothers of having murdered him with witchcraft.

      With the rent question unresolved, no-one can afford enough food to

      Drodro massacre

      Jean-Pierre's family has suffered a lot since the war in the
Democratic Republic of Congo started more than four years ago.

      They're from the north-eastern region, near the border with Uganda,
which has been in the news recently because of a series of massacres.

      At the beginning of April survivors in one small, isolated town called
Drodro, described to UN peacekeepers how a militia from a rival ethnic group
hacked to death several hundred civilians in the space of three hours. The
killers were men, women and children.

      Back at the beginning of the war, Jean-Pierre's family was just about
able to get out in time, though not before an elderly aunt and uncle were
murdered by some rebel soldiers.

      They took the last plane to Kinshasa, a bumpy six-hour flight across
Congo's vast forest.

      Soon afterwards the rebels, led, armed and trained by the country's
neighbours Uganda and Rwanda, captured half the country.

      An enormous frontline, running diagonally through the middle of Congo,
has divided east from west ever since.

      Families, businesses and the country's great trade route, the Congo
River, have all been carved in two, devastating what was already a deeply
poor and traumatised society.

      Scrambling for riches

      As soon as the war reached stalemate, however, the peace talks began.

      A ceasefire was signed, and the foreign troops - not only the rebel
backers, but also Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia, who came to the rescue of
the government - agreed to withdraw.

      Progress was desperately slow, as like the greedy uncles competing for
their share of my rent money, the rebel leaders, government ministers and
their foreign friends have been scrambling to get their hands on Congo's
incredible natural wealth.

      Diamonds, gold, timber, coffee and a mineral called Coltan, which is
used to make mobile phones, have all been looted in vast quantities.

      At the same time the country's infrastructure - roads, hospitals and
schools - have been destroyed.

      Warlords, ethnic militias and bandits have got their hands on guns,
and taken over huge areas of forest.

      An American aid agency estimates that more than three million people
have died during Congo's war - mostly through hunger and disease - making
this Africa's most costly war.

      Little faith in leaders

      There have, however, been recent glimmers of hope.

      Most of the foreign troops have now indeed left, and the rebels and
government of President Joseph Kabila have recently agreed to form a
power-sharing administration before elections are held in two years' time.

      To be honest, few people in Congo have much faith in their leaders'
sincerity, and everyone knows that rebuilding this country will be a
formidable task.

      But already there have been slight improvements. Earlier this week one
of Jean-Pierre's sons flew back to eastern Congo on one the first commercial
flights now travelling between government and rebel held territory.

      He wants his mother and sisters to join him there so that they can
rebuild their lives - but to do that they need money.

      So they have decided to sell my house. But if the battle with the rest
of their family for the rent money was a tough one, the fighting over the
proceeds of the house sale promises to be a real war.
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The Age

Australia tells Africa it must save itself
April 27 2003
By Tom Nevin

Australia is emerging as a champion of impoverished African and other Third
World countries as they try to break down developed nations' protectionist
policies, tariff barriers and agricultural production subsidies.

Canberra, at the same time, is saying Africa must play the most crucial role
if it wants to win economic salvation.

In sweeping trade concessions and debt relief, Australia, from July 1, will
waive duty and quotas on imports from the world's 49 least-developed

A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra said
the policy "will be applied to all sectors, including agriculture and
textiles... important areas of production for LDCs (less developed

Also, Australia will continue with a "limited aid program in Africa, linked
to increasing industry viability, such as programs related to food

Responding to questions from The Sunday Age, the department said Australia
was looking to the African Union's "new economic partnership for Africa's
development" to deliver on its promised political and economic clean-up of
the continent.

The department said this would allow Africa to focus on securing and reaping
the benefits of trade liberalisation, help eradicate poverty and encourage
sustainable development.

"The primary responsibility for lifting much of Africa out of poverty
through sustainable development lies with Africa itself," the department
spokesman said. "Development has to be underpinned by a strong commitment to
international standards of good governance, sound economic management,
respect for human rights and the rule of law, peace and security."

Despite the Zimbabwe Government's "reckless land and economic policies", the
department said, Zimbabwe still did "good business with Australia, enjoying
a $12.5 million trade surplus in 2000-01".

Australia had imposed no restrictions on trade with Zimbabwe other than on
exports to Zimbabwe of defence-related material, it said.

In implementing bilateral "smart sanctions" against the Mugabe regime,
"Australia has made every effort to avoid harm to the people of Zimbabwe,
who are already suffering a humanitarian crisis brought about by their
Government's reckless land and economic policies".

The spokesman said: "To promote foreign trade, Zimbabwe's Government must
address the fundamental problems of the Zimbabwean economy and ensure
respect for property rights, private investment and the rule of law."
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