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EL man survives Zim gun attack
PRETORIA -- Seven South African businessmen, including Martin Cloete from East London, narrowly survived an attack by Zimbabwean gunmen near Bulawayo yesterday afternoon.
Cloete was on a fishing expedition to Kariba Dam with Neil van Zijl, Zeke Weaver and Albert Scholtz, all from Pretoria, Nick Joubert, Scottie Fenwick and Roger Blevin, from Johannesburg, all senior executives from Privest, when they were attacked.
''We've had a harrowing day," a severely traumatised Van Zijl said. "About 40km from Bulawayo we were pushed off the road by two cars with their occupants firing at us. They jumped into the car, ransacked all the valuables and made off again in the direction of Bulawayo.
''I was threatened with a pair of scissors and the driver, Martin Cloete, was staring down the barrel of a 9mm,'' Van Zijl said.
''It was helluva frightening; they just came up behind us and started shooting. We were in a kombi and trailer and had no power to pull away,'' he said.
He said Cloete had tried slowing down and then speeding again but a second car approached them from the front and forced them off the road.
''We were sitting ducks; these guys had been following us from the fuel station in Bulawayo; they knew we were South Africans."
He said they were stranded at the side of the road because the robbers also made off with their car keys, but not the car. However, help arrived in the form of a farmer's wife who took the men to her farm where they spent the night.
''We experienced total lawlessness today; those guys had fire in their eyes.''
Van Zijl said while the local police did not seem interested, police from Bulawayo were "concerned'' enough to drive out to the farm to find out what had happened. The police said it was an isolated incident and was new to the area, he said.
''The farmers have been so sympathetic, but they all feel powerless,'' he said.
The eight fishermen will reassess their situation this morning but are headed towards Victoria Falls, he said. -- DDC
Despite the assurances, the Zimbabwean media says the event is expected to be low-key because of Zimbabwe's economic woes worsened by fuel shortages.
Already the April 23-29 event is reported to have attracted 405 domestic and 15 foreign exhibitors.
This contrasts sharply with previous years when the event, once dubbed Zimbabwe's shop "window to the world," teemed with exhibitors from near and afar.
Further, the number of farmers exhibiting in the pedigree section of the Bulawayo Agricultural Show, which showcases the country's proud history as a farming nation, is said to have plummeted from last year's 260 to 220.
This is said to reflect what is happening on the farms as the government pushes ahead with its controversial land redistribution programme.
David Ndlovu, acting executive mayor of Bulawayo admits in Tuesday's issue of the Daily News that this year's fair comes at a difficult time when the country's image is going through tribulation and the economy is on its knees.
The trade fair, held under the theme "Southern Africa's Regional Trade and Investment Expo," he says, brings with it challenges for exhibitors and needs to be innovative so as to come up with exciting business initiatives that will stimulate the revival of the country's economy.
This is the 42nd successive year that the ZITF has been organised by Bulawayo, also known as the "City of Kings".
"We expect the people of Bulawayo and their business associations to be optimistic and gear themselves for improvement in the economy."
The aim of the show, whose patron is President Robert Mugabe, is to promote exports and investment.
But this is proving to be a tall order as the country slides deeper into an economic quagmire as its acrimonious relations with Britain, the former colonial master, worsens.
At least 400 Zimbabwean manufacturing firms are reported to have closed shop, while 750 companies laid off nearly 10 000 workers.
A recent study by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) says unemployment has zoomed 50 per cent while last year's average inflation rate of 55.7 per cent was four times the regional average.
To avoid retrenchments, many companies are said to have reduced their working hours to about three days a week from five, while some have chopped working schedules from 40 to about 25 hours.
For its part, Barclays Bank Zimbabwe says in its Economic Bulletin for March that "reduced production volumes, lower exports and foreign earnings, sharp falls in investment levels, falling tourist and essential import inflows, declining employment and serious cuts in purchasing power are all measures of the economic decline".
The bank says most economic activities had become increasingly difficult to maintain, social stress had mounted and the country had become progressively more isolated from international financial institutions.
However, it says while everyone agrees that Zimbabwe has never been in more desperate straits, they share a firm belief that the country could achieve a remarkably quick recovery if it made the necessary changes.
These are the restoration of law and order to bolster international perceptions and improve credibility, as well as a return to normal relations with the donor community.
Despite all these Mthuli Ncube, the incoming ZITF chairman, who took over from Simba Makone now Minister of Finance and Economic Development, says, "contrary to the doom-sayers, this year's event will be bigger and better".
He said exhibitors would be allowed, for the first time, to sell their wares on the last day of the show. BOPA
Moyo, in the country's second city to attend the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair which opened on Tuesday, held an hour-and-a-half-long meeting with journalists and senior management working at Zimpapers' daily Chronicle and weekly Sunday News.
Company sources who attended the meeting said Moyo made clear he was determined to sack workers who he said still harboured a colonial mentality.
"Because of the presence of our editors, journalists were afraid to articulate their concerns. People ended up zeroing in on a white manager at the firm who they accused of running the company like his personal shop," one of the workers said, prefe-rring not to be named.
Moyo is understood to have asked the workers not to leak the contents of the meeting to the indepe- ndent media. He is also said to have stated that he felt comfortable working with journalists who were born around the 1960s.
"He said those born around the 1960s and thereafter were easy to adapt to change," another source said. "It was an indication to our old edi-tors that their days are numbered."
Moyo has already axed some editors from Zimpapers' main branch in Harare, publishers of the flagship Herald daily, because he believes they are not embracing the government's new propaganda offensive against real and imaginary foes.
It also emerged yesterday that Moyo had blasted the editors of the Chronicle for allegedly not prominencing a story about the opposition MDC's withdrawal of a court petition challenging the election in June of Vice President Simon Muzenda in Gutu North.
The story was placed on Page 10 of Tuesday's edition of the newspaper while another story quoting Learnmore Jongwe, the spokesman of the Movement for Demo-cratic Change (MDC), was splashed on the front page.
"He told the editors point-blank that they were giving mileage to the MDC instead of the ruling ZANU PF party," a source said.
Moyo could not be reached for comment.
Zanu PF to disrupt Workers’ Day
Firm pays $7m after war vets’ threats
ZRP drags heels over killings
‘I never saw Moyo in the struggle’ — Tekere
MINISTER of State for Information Jonathan Moyo’s record of participation in the liberation war has taken another knock with liberation war fighters, including former Zanu PF secretary-general Edgar Tekere, saying President Mugabe’s chief spokesman is unqualified to talk about the struggle.
Tekere last week fired a broadside at Moyo for claiming that a newspaper report about Vice-President Joseph Msika urging him (Tekere) to rejoin Zanu PF was false.
In his response to Tekere, Moyo said the veteran politician was his “senior in the struggle” for whom he had immense respect.
Tekere told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that he “never saw” Moyo in the struggle.
“Moyo can say he was my junior without having even gone to the struggle. But I do not know what that means,” Tekere said.
“Ndizvo zvandakataura kuti ndivo vanaMafikizolo. (As I said before, these are the newcomers.) They are trying to prove themselves now. You can judge from Moyo’s tone and utterances.
He is struggling to create the impression that he was also part of the struggle, bending over backwards. The genuine ones are known and do not need to prove anything,” he said.
Moyo reportedly said last year that the only people who could confirm his contribution to the struggle were ZBC assignments editor Happyson Muchechetere and district administrator Crispen Mataire, both former instructors at Mgagao military training camp in Tanzania.
Muchechetere refused to comment on Moyo’s liberation war credentials when approached this week.
“I do not wish to discuss other people’s personal matters,” Muchechetere said.
Wilfred Mhanda, whose liberation war name was Dzinashe Machingura, was the commander at Mgagao when Moyo went there for training.
Mhanda said Moyo came for training in 1974 and went AWOL (absent without leave) after about six weeks.
“I am wondering what he was doing after deserting military training when he claims he was in the struggle,” Mhanda said.
“Moyo was the first successful deserter of the struggle. Another guy he attempted to run away with, Clement, had mental problems and possibly found the going tough but we recaptured him,” Mhanda said.
“A third who also ran away with Moyo we recaptured and successfully re-integrated and he served the struggle faithfully and was even made an officer.”
In a contribution to the Financial Gazette this month, Moyo claimed that he met Masipula Sithole in Rhodesia between July and September of 1977.
This was three years after Moyo had allegedly run away from Mgagao.
“Quite a number of those that were captured and arrested for deserting the struggle openly confessed that they were agents of the enemy. We had to re-educate them about the noble values of the struggle,” Mhanda said.
“When we questioned Moyo on why he had run away, he said that he wanted to further his studies.
“I challenge Mataire and Muchechetere to come out in the open and tell the nation Moyo’s contribution at Mgagao,” Mhanda said.
“Mataire was an instructor, but he did not train Moyo.”
Mhanda said that Moyo was the least-qualified person to talk about the struggle.
“It is a totally spurious fabrication meant to enhance his standing. He should be exposed for what he is — a deserter from the struggle — and he has no legitimacy whatsoever to talk about the values and goals of the liberation struggle from which he ran away,” Mhanda said.
“His claims are an insult to genuine participants, trained and not trained, in the liberation struggle.”
Moyo had not responded to the Independent’s faxed inquiries on his liberation war history and experience at Mgagao by yesterday
In his book, Politics of Administration, published by Sapes, Moyo, under dedications, mentioned that he had a “sad experience” in Tanzania without elaborating.
Deputy Police Commissioner Griffiths Mpofu last October took a swipe at Moyo accusing him of being dishonest and having run away from the war.
Moyo had accused Mpofu of taking instructions from the British High Commission in a case involving a private radio station, Capital Radio.
“I fought for the liberation of this country. I did not run away like he did during the war,” Mpofu said.
Zanu PF drives MDC supporters off land
IMF says Zim in default, suspension possible
From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 27 April
Poll defeat of Mugabe opponent declared unlawful
Harare - A Zimbabwean courtroom erupted in cheers yesterday when the opposition leader won an appeal that overturned his defeat in last year's parliamentary election. Barely an hour after Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the MDC, emerged triumphant from the High Court, police raided his offices in Harare and arrested key party officials.
In a poll condemned by European Union observers as neither free nor fair, Mr Tsvangirai stood for the constituency of Buhera North and was beaten by Kenneth Manyonda, of the ruling Zanu-PF party, by 2,534 votes. During the campaign, Tichaona Chiminya, the opposition leader's driver, and Talent Mabika, an MDC official, were killed in a petrol bomb attack. The murderers drove a pick-up with "Zanu-PF Manicaland Province" stencilled on the side. Together with 36 other defeated MDC candidates, Mr Tsvangirai challenged the result in the High Court. Mr Justice James Devittie upheld his appeal, saying: "In terms of the Electoral Act, I certify that the respondent was not duly elected."
Lawyers for Mr Manyonda announced an appeal. If it failed, a by-election would be held. Mr Tsvangirai said: "I hope [the ruling] tells the government that in future we must have a free and fair election, otherwise we will subvert the democratic process." Mr Justice Devittie also overturned Zanu-PF's victory in the constituency of Hurungwe East, heralding another by-election. The MDC has outstanding appeals against the results of 32 other constituencies. If it won three more cases - and the ensuing by-elections - it would hold an outright majority of the 120 elected seats in parliament. If the MDC won another 14, it would achieve an absolute majority of the 150-member house.
From ZimNews - in our update sent last evening, the BBC News report on this subject stated, wrongly, that the judge in this case was Kenneth Manyonda. Manyonda was, of course, the Zanu PF candidate in the Buhera North constituency, and the verdict was delivered by Justice James Devittie. We apologise for compounding the error.
From The Independent (UK), 27 April
Mugabe's war veterans say they will occupy embassies
Zimbabwe's crisis grew tenser still yesterday as a court upheld an opposition challenge to two seats won by President Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party in last year's election, while his war veterans threatened to take action against foreign embassies in Harare, Britain's almost certainly foremost among them. And in a third development, Mr Mugabe issued a new draft law that would prevent the courts from interfering in occupations of white-owned farms - thus, in effect, legalising them.
The ruling, which voids last June's result in two constituencies, is a massive victory for the MDC, which is disputing the outcome in 36 other seats. Just a few more such legal victories would give the MDC a majority of the 120 contested seats (although the 30 MPs nominated directly by the President would still keep overall control in the hands of Zanu-PF). Best of all from the MDC's point of view, one of the void results was the defeat of its leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who goes on trial next month for allegedly inciting violence by warning that Mr Mugabe faced overthrow if he did not resign of his own accord. Mr Tsvangirai said: "This proves the way the election was conducted was not conducive to a free and fair poll. Our position has been vindicated."
Although Zanu-PF will appeal against yesterday's ruling to higher courts, the setback could see a further intensification of Mr Mugabe's strong-arm tactics against the judiciary and the independent media. That is why, in the words of a Foreign Office spokesman, Britain is treating "extremely seriously" the thinly veiled threat by the veterans' leader Chenjerai Hunzvi to turn his attention to foreign diplomatic missions in the country. After "solving workers' problems" on the farms, Mr Hunzvi warned, "our next target will be to deal once and for all with the foreign embassies and NGOs [Non-Governmental Organisations]" who were funding the MDC.From Reuters, 26 April
Britain takes Zimbabwe warning "extremely seriously"
London - Britain has said it is taking "extremely seriously" a warning by Zimbabwe's war veterans that they would raid embassies of countries suspected of funding President Robert Mugabe's political opponents. "We take these reports extremely seriously and we will be taking them up urgently with the government of Zimbabwe," a Foreign Office spokesman said. Veterans' leader Chenjerai Hunzvi issued the warning as his followers stepped up attacks against businesses in a move to shatter opposition to Mugabe's re-election bid next year. Hunzvi did not name the embassies his members would target but the veterans have consistently blasted former colonial power Britain and the United States for the country's ills.Britain has led international criticism of Mugabe over the violent take-over of white-owned farms and what it says has been his systematic intimidation of the press and judiciary. A diplomatic source said Britain's high commissioner (ambassador) in Zimbabwe was conveying London's concern to authorities in Harare. Officials in London would also "remind the government of Zimbabwe of its responsibility to ensure the security of diplomatic missions in Zimbabwe", the source said. Foreign Office minister Brian Wilson told parliament late on Wednesday that he was deeply disturbed by attacks this week by the war veterans on firms which had laid off workers or were suspected of funding the opposition MDC. "Money has been extorted from the businesses, and staff have been detained and beaten by the veterans," he said. "The police have not intervened and that is a worrying development in circumstances that we all find deeply disturbing".
From The Star (SA), 26 April
Pretoria summons Zimbabwean high commissioner
South Africa summoned Zimbabwe's high commissioner on Thursday to protest about violent attacks on its businesses in Harare, a senior official said. It was Pretoria's strongest diplomatic censure so far of the political violence in its northern neighbour. Top Foreign Ministry official Sipho Pityana told reporters he had met High Commissioner Simon Moyo after receiving calls from South African companies in Harare that had been attacked by militants who called themselves war veterans. "Our concern is that within this situation South African businesses are entitled to protection," said Pityana, director general at the ministry. A number of people had been assaulted, and some were kidnapped "To that extent we are satisfied by the assurances given to us by the high commissioner on behalf of his government."
South African officials said eight South African companies and their staff had reported being attacked in a stepped-up campaign against businesses in a move to win urban votes for President Robert Mugabe's party. A number of people had been assaulted, although not seriously, they said. Others had been kidnapped and released after ransom was paid. South African President Thabo Mbeki has been criticised in Africa and beyond for what some see as his kid-gloves handling of Mugabe's economic and political policies.
From The Zimbabwe Independent, 27 April
Zanu PF drives MDC supporters off land
War veterans and Zanu PF supporters in Masvingo have started removing people they suspect of being MDC sympathisers from resettlement areas as they claim the exercise was meant exclusively for ruling party members, the Zimbabwe Independent established this week. Six families at Kuvamba resettlement scheme in Bikita district, Masvingo, were last week forcibly removed by war veterans who wanted to occupy the rich pieces of alluvial land. The villagers had been forced to quickly harvest all their produce and make way for war veterans before the 2002 agricultural season. Besides being forced into early harvests of their crops, the peasants, who included widows and orphans, were also made to demolish their huts.
Zanu PF Masvingo provincial political commissar Admore Hwarari said this week he did not regret the move to evict the villagers, arguing the victims were pro-MDC. "We are not going back on this issue. Whoever is found to be an MDC supporter should be bundled out of the new lands," said Hwarari in an interview. "Remember these MDC supporters were even calling for economic sanctions against Zimbabwe. We have to be tough on them. In other words, they should wait for their leader Morgan Tsvangirai to come into power so that they will be given new land where they are going to stay," he said. Zanu PF leaders have repeatedly denied that the land distribution exercise is based on party loyalty. Hwarari said those who did not participate in the land invasions and those without Zanu PF cards should not be allowed to benefit from the on-going land redistribution programme. "They are working in cahoots with the whites so that the country is economically sanctioned or isolated, yet on the other hand they need our help. Our position is very clear on the land issue," said Hwarari.
From The Daily News, 26 April
Reporter sues Information Minister
Lawyers representing Sandra Nyaira, The Daily News political reporter, on Tuesday gave Jonathan Moyo, the Minister of State for Information and Publicity in the President’s Office, and The Herald newspaper three days to retract a defamatory story the paper carried, or jointly face a $250 000 defamation lawsuit. Nyaira’s legal action follows a story published by The Herald last week in which Moyo castigated Nyaira for reporting that Vice-President Joseph Msika, at a housewarming party hosted by Saviour Kasukuwere, the MP for Mount Darwin South, had begged Edgar Tekere to rejoin Zanu PF.
Moyo said the report was outrageous and that because of the story, The Daily News was now beyond redemption as it had lost all capacity to tell the truth. In a letter to Moyo, Nyaira’s lawyer, Oscar Ziweni of Ziweni and Company said: "In the circumstances, because your publication under reference was clearly actuated by malice and was deliberately meant to demean and injure our client’s reputation as a journalist, we are instructed to demand a retraction of your offending article within three days from the date of this demand to avert litigation, which is impending, for defamatory damages against yourself."
He said Nyaira has prospects of success when she litigates against Moyo and the newspaper because her article was legitimised by, and she was vindicated in consequence when, Tekere, the former secretary-general of Zanu PF, issued a statement which intimated that Moyo’s utterances in The Herald were false. "In the absence of an unequivocal retraction and apology as demanded we shall proceed with litigation without further notice to yourself and our client shall be claiming defamatory damages in the sum of $250 000 against yourself conjointly with The Herald," Ziweni said. Ziweni said Nyaira’s claims for damages in the absence of a retraction would be aggravated by the fact that Moyo threatened Nyaira with unspecified harm when he said: "You ain’t seen nothing yet." Ziweni said: "The retraction has to be published in The Herald and has to unequivocally rebut all allegations, indirect references, imputations and insinuations contained in the offending article."
He said Moyo’s article was defamatory in that it suggested to members of the public that Nyaira was dishonest, corrupt, journalistically incompetent and unsuitable to work as a political reporter for The Daily News. "You further wrongfully refer to our client as a fumbling political reporter in circumstances where there was no good cause, thereby implying that she is degenerate and inefficient in the execution of her professional duties," Ziweni said. He said Nyaira is being shunned and exposed to hatred, ridicule and contempt by members of the public who now view her in the light of Moyo’s attacks. In a separate letter to Pikirayi Deketeke, the Editor of The Herald, Ziweni said the paper was liable for publishing a false and defamatory story. He said the paper should have verified the story with both Nyaira and Tekere before publishing it.
From The Zimbabwe Independent, 27 April
"I never saw Moyo in the struggle" – Tekere
Minister of State for Information Jonathan Moyo’s record of participation in the liberation war has taken another knock with liberation war fighters, including former Zanu PF secretary-general Edgar Tekere, saying President Mugabe’s chief spokesman is unqualified to talk about the struggle. Tekere last week fired a broadside at Moyo for claiming that a newspaper report about Vice-President Joseph Msika urging him (Tekere) to rejoin Zanu PF was false.
In his response to Tekere, Moyo said the veteran politician was his "senior in the struggle" for whom he had immense respect. Tekere told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that he "never saw" Moyo in the struggle. "Moyo can say he was my junior without having even gone to the struggle. But I do not know what that means," Tekere said. "Ndizvo zvandakataura kuti ndivo vanaMafikizolo. (As I said before, these are the newcomers.) They are trying to prove themselves now. You can judge from Moyo’s tone and utterances. He is struggling to create the impression that he was also part of the struggle, bending over backwards. The genuine ones are known and do not need to prove anything," he said.
Moyo reportedly said last year that the only people who could confirm his contribution to the struggle were ZBC assignments editor Happyson Muchechetere and district administrator Crispen Mataire, both former instructors at Mgagao military training camp in Tanzania. Muchechetere refused to comment on Moyo’s liberation war credentials when approached this week. "I do not wish to discuss other people’s personal matters," Muchechetere said.
Wilfred Mhanda, whose liberation war name was Dzinashe Machingura, was the commander at Mgagao when Moyo went there for training. Mhanda said Moyo came for training in 1974 and went AWOL (absent without leave) after about six weeks. "I am wondering what he was doing after deserting military training when he claims he was in the struggle," Mhanda said. "Moyo was the first successful deserter of the struggle. Another guy he attempted to run away with, Clement, had mental problems and possibly found the going tough but we recaptured him," Mhanda said. "A third who also ran away with Moyo we recaptured and successfully re-integrated and he served the struggle faithfully and was even made an officer."
In a contribution to the Financial Gazette this month, Moyo claimed that he met Masipula Sithole in Rhodesia between July and September of 1977. This was three years after Moyo had allegedly run away from Mgagao. "Quite a number of those that were captured and arrested for deserting the struggle openly confessed that they were agents of the enemy. We had to re-educate them about the noble values of the struggle," Mhanda said. "When we questioned Moyo on why he had run away, he said that he wanted to further his studies. I challenge Mataire and Muchechetere to come out in the open and tell the nation Moyo’s contribution at Mgagao," Mhanda said. "Mataire was an instructor, but he did not train Moyo." Mhanda said that Moyo was the least-qualified person to talk about the struggle. "It is a totally spurious fabrication meant to enhance his standing. He should be exposed for what he is - a deserter from the struggle - and he has no legitimacy whatsoever to talk about the values and goals of the liberation struggle from which he ran away," Mhanda said. "His claims are an insult to genuine participants, trained and not trained, in the liberation struggle."
Moyo had not responded to the Independent’s faxed inquiries on his liberation war history and experience at Mgagao by yesterday. In his book, Politics of Administration, published by Sapes, Moyo, under dedications, mentioned that he had a "sad experience" in Tanzania without elaborating. Deputy Police Commissioner Griffiths Mpofu last October took a swipe at Moyo accusing him of being dishonest and having run away from the war. Moyo had accused Mpofu of taking instructions from the British High Commission in a case involving a private radio station, Capital Radio. "I fought for the liberation of this country. I did not run away like he did during the war," Mpofu said.
From The Guardian (UK), 27 April
Mandela scorns claims of plot against president
Johannesburg - The crisis in South Africa's government deepened yesterday as Nelson Mandela threw his support behind three leading anti-apartheid politicians under investigation for allegedly plotting to harm and oust President Thabo Mbeki. Mr Mandela was joined by other powerful voices, including the ruling African National Congress's influential trade union allies, in pouring scorn on the supposed conspiracy and warning the government not to abuse its power. Mr Mbeki tried to wash his hands of responsibility for the controversial and vague allegations by his security minister. But the row refused to die as one of the accused men struck back by saying that the accusations were "101% political", and implicitly warning that Mr Mbeki might pay a high price if the claims persist.
On Tuesday, the security minister, Steve Tshwete, said a special police unit had been appointed to investigate claims that Cyril Ramaphosa, the ANC's former secretary general, and two former provincial premiers, Tokyo Sexwale and Mathews Phosa, were plotting against the president. All three are now businessmen and Mr Ramaphosa is an international monitor of the IRA's weapons dumps. Among the allegations were claims that the men were spreading a rumour that Mr Mbeki had a hand in the murder of Chris Hani, the popular Communist party leader who was assassinated in 1993.
But Mr Mandela was unequivocal in his support. "The three comrades that have been mentioned ... until there is evidence to substantiate the allegations, I will always regard them in high esteem," he said. "Cyril Ramaphosa led our negotiating team [in talks with the apartheid regime]. It is him who is really responsible for the settlement that led to a democratic South Africa." "Tokyo Sexwale was with me on Robben Island and he is a comrade I respect very highly, as well as Mathews Phosa." The trade union confederation, Cosatu, a key ally of the ANC, criticised the naming of the men by Mr Tshwete as "highly irresponsible".
As support for the accused men rallied, Mr Mbeki tried to distance himself from his minister's accusations. He denied that his government was in trouble, saying: "There is no crisis either for government or for the ANC." But more troubles may lie ahead. In an interview with a local radio station, Mr Phosa said the accusations against the three were being circulated in documents within the ANC by a female journalist whose name has been frequently mentioned in connection with claims that Mr Mbeki is a "womaniser".
From CNN, 27 April
Fighting continues in northern Congo province, Kabila says
Luanda - The warring factions in Congo are mostly observing a cease-fire though fighting continues in a northern province, Congo's President Joseph Kabila said Thursday. Kabila said in a speech to Angola's Parliament that on the whole the cease-fire is "satisfactory" but violations are occurring in Equateur province. He did not elaborate. The United Nations recently began deploying a 3,000-strong force in Congo to monitor a 1999 peace deal. Kabila was on a 24-hour visit to Angola, which has deployed troops in Congo to support the government. Zimbabwe and Namibia also joined the fight in support of Kabila against insurgents backed by Rwanda and Uganda.
Comment from The Financial Gazette, 26 April
Nowhere to hide
When rented mobs of ruling ZANU PF thugs seized private farms and terrorised farmers and workers last year, some in Zimbabwe merely shrugged off the anarchy as a passing phase occasioned by land hunger. Then the thugs, emboldened by the nation's fear and silence, viciously descended on the rural areas in the name of re-educating villagers to vote for ZANU PF in the landmark general elections held last June. The toll at the end of the unprecedented assault on the country was at least 35 innocents killed in cold blood, an unknown number of women raped and hundreds of thousands turned into refugees in their own homeland.
When this and other independent newspapers spoke out against the rampage, government apologists and their propagandistic media predictably branded the criticism as treasonous. Several civic groups and churches whose duty it is to stand up when the rights of citizens are being trampled upon were conspicuous by their stony silence while old and newly established appendages of ZANU PF tragically lauded the very death of the nation.
Months later and for the very same reason - ZANU PF's fear of being thrown out by people power - the governing party has not only perfected its terror but has widened and brought it to bear on the restive urban population which backs the opposition. Company bosses and managers across the country are now being assaulted almost daily and money extorted from them in the full glare of the police, ironically funded to uphold basic law and order by the very public that is writhing from terror. Not too long from now, as the campaign for presidential elections intensifies, some lives could be lost, all in the name of resolving workers' problems.
Are Zimbabweans to assume that the country's labour laws and courts, both put in place by the very government that has now resorted to lawlessness to gain cheap political support, failed in their duty to resolve labour disputes? If they have, why should Zimbabweans allow illegal kangaroo courts that operate from ZANU PF's headquarters to take over law and order? We should indeed ask: has ZANU PF become the law and overthrown established order in Zimbabwe?
Unfortunately, these questions are merely academic now because the events on the ground are clear to all. To say that the rule of law and democracy in Zimbabwe are gravely imperilled by the government - as stated by the International Bar Association this week - is a gross understatement that needs no amplification. Zimbabwe is under an unparalleled siege from the forces of darkness and evil which want to plunge it into the chaos and dismemberment that has sadly marked post-independence in some African nations such as Somalia, the Congo and Liberia.
And the reason why these apostles of death are thriving and even widening their violence is simply that there are still some in Zimbabwe who tragically believe that their silence could save them from the inevitable. Somehow they believe and trust that they can protect the little that they have by colluding with and aiding the forces of anarchy, just as some helped and cheered on Adolf Hitler's Nazis during the dark days of World War Two. The anarchy which some Zimbabweans brushed off as affecting only the hapless farmers and villagers has truly come to town, but we fear that the worst is still to come because ZANU PF is determined to steal the presidential ballot at any cost.
There is no place to hide anymore, not even for the cowardly praise singers. Whither Zimbabwe?From The Financial Gazette, 26 April
Hunzvi targets embassies, NGOs
Chenjerai Hunzvi's war veterans warned this week that they will soon raid foreign missions and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) based in Zimbabwe which are suspected of funding the opposition MDC. Hunzvi, leader of the veterans, issued the grim warning as his members widened a campaign of raiding Zimbabwean-based companies and attacking their bosses who they accuse of ill-treating workers in a fresh wave of violence that is engulfing the country. He told the Financial Gazette his militia, which led a violent campaign against the opposition and in support of the ruling ZANU PF in last year's general elections, would not tolerate Harare-based embassies that backed the MDC.
"Our next target after solving workers' problems in factories and companies will be to deal once and for all with foreign embassies and non-governmental organisations who are funding the MDC," Hunzvi declared. "We will be visiting them soon to express our displeasure and to warn them to stop interfering with our internal matters. No one can stop us in our second phase," he added. He did not name the embassies or NGOs his members are targeting nor the specific type of action that will be taken against those alleged to be funding the MDC, which threatens to unseat President Robert Mugabe in crucial elections due next year.
Hunzvi's veterans have already forced the closure of several companies in the past month, worsening Zimbabwe's record joblessness of 60 percent. The veterans, who have assaulted several company managers are accusing the firms of either under-paying their workers or ill-treating them. They have forced most of those raided to pay "compensation" to the affected employees. Hunzvi, a Polish-trained medical doctor and Member of Parliament, said his members had resolved not to tolerate any foreign nations which were working to unseat Mugabe, in power since Zimbabwe's independence from Britain in 1980. "We will use whatever means we have to deal with these foreign nations here who want to install a puppet regime in Zimbabwe," he warned.
Mugabe has accused Britain, the 15-nation European Union and the United States of creating and funding the MDC to topple his government, accusations which they deny. He has also personally warned international aid donors "to stop meddling" in the country's internal politics, especially after the MDC lost by a slim margin to his ZANU PF in last June's parliamentary plebiscite. The 77-year-old president, who has ruled with an iron fist, faces the stiffest challenge to his reign of two decades from veteran trade unionist and MDC head Morgan Tsvangirai in next year's presidential ballot. Hunzvi's faction of war veterans have even threatened to go to war should Mugabe lose that election but most analysts have brushed off the threat as hot air because no southern African country is likely to allow them to operate from their territory. Hunzvi's threat to invade NGOs is however being taken seriously following an attack on the Harare offices of Germany's Fredrick Ebert Stiftung (FES), an NGO, this week. The veterans stormed the FES offices on Monday and forced the NGO to pay $600 000 to two sacked workers whose cases are still being dealt with by the courts.
FES officials, who included constitutional rights activist Lovemore Madhuku, had to seek the protection of Home Affairs Minister John Nkomo and National Security Minister Nicholas Goche during the raid. The veterans accused the FES of funding the MDC and ordered the organisation to stop helping the opposition party, charges denied by the German NGO. Hunzvi, who is touring Matabeleland, said his association would now move to all the country's 10 provinces to solve pending labour disputes because, he said, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, the umbrella body for all trade unions, had become political. His comments follow a warning by Mugabe last week that he will take drastic action against companies which are closing down in the midst of a grinding economic crisis, itself blamed on the government's mismanagement and corruption. At least 400 local companies shut their doors last year and retrenched more than 10 000 workers as they fight to survive under unprecedented shortages of foreign currency, fuel and power triggered by Zimbabwe's economic meltdown. The closures have fuelled rising public discontent against the government in a country where 80 percent of the population of 13 million lives below the poverty line.
From The Guardian (UK), 26 April
Food aid looted in Zimbabwean political violence
Harare - A mob led by Zimbabwean independence-war veterans stole 140 tonnes of food aid from an EU warehouse, intended for flood victims, in an escalating campaign of apparently state-sanctioned violence. The police took no action to stop the looting of the warehouse in the eastern town of Bumba on April 19 and 20. A police vehicle was used to transport some of the stolen food, according to witnesses who took down its licence number. Throwing stones, the mob injured three employees of Help, the German charity distributing the food, and damaged two of its vehicles.
The theft is part of a wave of increased lawlessness and intimidation by the war veterans, supporters of President Robert Mugabe, in an attempt to weaken support for the MDC. Earlier this week they invaded factories and a hospital in Harare, demanding money under threat of violence. In Bumba a Help employee, James Mukwaya, said: "I asked police to stop the theft because it was their duty, but they said they had been ordered not to protect the warehouse. They told me to turn the food over to the war vets. There is still intimidation, because the war vets and other Zanu-PF supporters are threatening to beat up people who legitimately received our aid and burn their homes. They charge that we support the MDC, but all our recipients were identified by the local government."
Witnesses said the looters were led by a war veteran called "Ngosi". The EU and Germany have demanded an urgent explanations. "I have been instructed by headquarters to demand that legal action be taken against the perpetrators, that they be found, arrested and brought to court," said Asger Pilegaard, head of the EU delegation to Zimbabwe. "We cannot accept that humanitarian aid financed by European taxpayers is not given to the people for whom it was intended. We want assurances it will not happen again." The EU and most European donors, with the exception of France, have stopped direct aid to the Mugabe government because of corruption and economic mismanagement. Help is now channelled through non-governmental organisations (NGOs), but this is threatened by the looting.
"This warehouse was filled to the rafters with bags of maize meal, dried beans and salt and containers of cooking oil," said Gladman Sithole who was in charge of the aid distribution in Bumba. "Now look," he said, pointing to the empty depot. A legitimate recipient of aid, John Neshiri, said: "I have been threatened by the war veterans, who say they will not rest until bullets are lodged in my head and those of other people - members of the MDC – who have received food aid. Ngosi is my neighbour and knows that I am a ward chairman of the MDC. He started to politicise this food aid, yet war veterans and supporters of the ruling party have also benefited." Grey-haired and missing an arm, Mr Neshiri said he was frightened for his family. "We are scared that if these war veterans keep on building up this murderous spirit things will only get worse as we move to towards the presidential elections next year. The government is not helping us, maybe because we voted for the opposition. But is it right for the ruling party to take away the food donated by well-wishers from abroad?"
In Harare yesterday factories and businesses were reeling. Barbours department store remained closed for a second day after war veterans demanded that all employees join Zanu-PF, the government party. Several factory managers were taken to Zanu-PF headquarters and many of them were beaten. The Avenues Clinic, Zimbabwe's biggest private hospital, and the offices of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, a German charity promoting social democracy, were invaded on Tuesday, as were several factories. "This arbitrary, intimidatory activity shows complete disregard for Zimbabwean laws and will drive the nation into total anarchy and irreparable damage to industry," the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries said. "Our members call on government to act now!"
From The Star (SA), 25 April
Zimbabwe militants cause havoc at aid agency
Harare - Business leaders warned on Wednesday that raids by ruling party militants on businesses and a German aid agency threatened to collapse the already crumbling economy. Militants forced their way into offices of a Harare trucking company Wednesday and demanded pay increases for workers. The black chief executive at Barbours, a luxury downtown department store, was forced by militants to chant ruling party slogans after workers called him a "front" for the white store owners, managers said. The store was closed Wednesday.
Executives at a gold mine near Kadoma, 140km southwest of Harare, said Wednesday they received a written notice from militants that threatened occupation of mines owned by white companies. No occupation had occurred, but the notice said militants were willing to "negotiate" for a stake in the mine. Militants on Tuesday assaulted managers at another downtown department store owned by the nation's largest retailing chain and also occupied offices of a private hospital and a steel firm. Executives said the militants demanded the rehiring of fired employees or large compensation payouts.
Also Tuesday at least 20 militants stormed the office of a German aid agency and forced its officials to pay Z$600 000 to two Zimbabwean employees laid off in 1999. The two former employees had a case pending before the state labour tribunal. "It was extortion," said Felix Schmidt, head of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, an educational charity. Schmidt said he and staff members were threatened with assault during the six hour occupation and that he paid the money to avoid violence and bloodshed. Fritz Flimm, the German ambassador, called government officials but no action was taken to stop the occupation. Police were present but did not intervene, saying the militants were negotiating in a labour dispute, Schmidt said. Flimm later sent a formal protest note to the government. Another German aid agency, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, was closed Wednesday after its officials received telephone threats late on Tuesday.
After a spate of such incidents in the past two weeks, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, representing thousands of factories and commercial businesses, said Wednesday it had been inundated with reports from its members "external interference in labour matters". Zed Rusike, the head of the confederation, urged authorities in a statement to "stop this latest trend with extreme urgency." He said the intimidation shows "complete disregard for "Zimbabwean laws and will drive the nation into total anarchy and (do) irreparable damage to industry." He said the actions would hasten the closure of companies and raise unemployment…
From The Star (SA), 26 April
Militants invade textile plant in Bulawayo
Harare - Zimbabwe's militants, led by Chenjerai Hunzvi, invaded a troubled textile firm in Bulawayo on Wednesday and demanded that management reinstate 600 workers retrenched last year due to the drastic downturn in the economy. Having conquered the countryside under Hunzvi's leadership, militants calling themselves war veterans and other supporters of the Zanu-PF party began a campaign earlier this month to win over the cities by force for President Robert Mugabe. Mugabe, whose party lost all constituencies in the cities in parliamentary elections in June 2000, announced last week he would be running again for president next year.
Observers believe he has unleashed the militants to win back the cities, as they won the countryside for him last year. In February 2000, the 'war veterans' began invading white-owned commercial farms and disrupted the most important sector of the economy, contributing to a drastic dive in the economy. Now they are invading business premises in the cities, destroying property and preventing the companies from laying off workers, cutting back on salary increases or closing down operations.
Meanwhile, the European Union has taken the Zimbabwean government to task after suspected militants and government supporters looted aid worth more than R8-million. Asger Pilegaard, the EU's head of delegation to Zimbabwe, demanded that the theft be investigated thoroughly. "We cannot accept that the humanitarian aid financed by European taxpayers is not arriving to the people for whom it was originally intended," he said.
From The Financial Gazette, 26 April
Govt puts on brave face as ZITF flops
Bulawayo - The Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) entered its second day yesterday with about 70 percent of exhibition space empty, pointing to yet another disaster for the beleaguered government which wants to use the event to shore up its battered image. A total of 542 exhibitors from 18 "friendly" countries were listed as taking part in the annual trade show compared to 622 exhibitors and 19 nations last year, itself a flop by the ZITF's normal standards. Several participants among the 542 exhibitors were yesterday still putting last-minute touches to their wares.
"This is the hardest year that I have had at the ZITF," acknowledged Graham Rowe, the organisation's general manager of the past 25 years. Exhibitors have taken up three halls instead of the entire six, as has been the case in successful years such as in 1995. The traditional market place, Hall Five, had acres of unoccupied space. Several nations cancelled their bookings at ZITF 2001, citing as the reason state-led lawlessness that is unfolding in both urban and rural areas as Zimbabwe prepares to hold its most crucial presidential ballot in 10 months from now.
Although government officials here put on a brave face on the failure of the fair, visitors and exhibitors agreed that only a few business deals were likely to be clinched because few business visitors had shown interest on the first two days of the show, its main business days. ZITF officials yesterday said they had so far not compiled attendance figures to the show, due to be officially opened by Botswana President Festus Mogae tomorrow. South African business executive Sakhumuzi Macozoma, who was scheduled to be the guest of honour at a business luncheon yesterday after-noon, excused himself at the 11th hour.
From The Financial Gazette, 26 April
US lawmakers rush Zim Bill
United States lawmakers are due this week to present the Zimbabwe Democracy Bill, seeking to punish Zimbabwe government officials behind the country's anarchy, in the House of Representatives, it was learnt yesterday. Congressional sources said the action to fast-track the passage of the Bill, which has received overwhelming support from members of the US Congress, had been prompted by the rapidly deteriorating political climate in Zimbabwe.
Supporters of President Robert Mugabe this week intensified their month-old attacks on private companies they accuse of ill-treating or underpaying workers across the country, which is preparing to hold crucial presidential elections early next year. Mugabe's followers last year seized hundreds of private farms in a violent campaign that killed at least 35 people, most of them opposition members, ahead of general elections held in June.
The Zimbabwe Democracy Bill, introduced in the Senate in March this year, is co-sponsored by senators Bill Frist, a powerful Republican, and Russell Feingold, a Democrat. Officials following the proposed US legislation said this week that once the Bill was presented to the House of Representatives, parallel debates would now take place in the two houses of the American legislature in order to expedite its passage. "The Bill will be presented to the House of Representatives this week. The whole aim is to expedite the process for its passing since there is unanimity on it," one official in Washington told the Financial Gazette by telephone. The Bill had been due to be debated in the Senate first and then passed before being taken to the House of Representatives.
The Bill seeks to suspend bilateral assistance to the Zimbabwe government and debt reduction until the government embraces the rule of law and restores democratic institutions, both suspended since the June ballot. Exceptions will be made for humanitarian and other aid meant for HIV/AIDS and demining so long as they do not benefit the government, also threatened with sanctions by the European Union and the Commonwealth for fomenting violence against foes. The Bill will also impose visa restrictions on Zimbabwe government officials and politicians responsible for promoting the violence
Opposition win in Zimbabwe court
The high court in Zimbabwe has nullified the result of last year's election in the constituency contested and lost by the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai. Mr Tsvangirai's MDC has challenged the results in 37 constituencies, saying the election was marred by a systematic campaign of intimidation and violence, orchestrated by the ruling Zanu-PF party. The result was the first successful court challenge, and reduces Mr Mugabe's ruling party's narrow elected majority in parliament. The court is also expected to rule on challenges by the MDC to the results in three other constituencies. "It is my duty to pronounce that the respondent [Zanu-PF candidate] was not duly elected and that therefore no one was duly elected," said Judge Kenneth Manyonda in delivering his verdict. As a result of the decision, a by-election must be held.
"First let me say that our position has been vindicated and that we can't wait for a re-run of that seat," said Mr Tsvangirai, speaking to reporters outside the courtroom shortly after the ruling was issued. He added: "I'm very confident that justice has been delivered, and that's why we came here in the first place." At least 32 people were killed in the run-up to last June's parliamentary elections. One previous MDC challenge was rejected by the courts, while in recent days another MDC case was withdrawn. Zanu-PF party won 63 of the 120 elected seats in parliament, whilst the MDC won 56. Another 30 seats in the parliament are uncontested ones.