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

Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Seattle Times

Thursday, August 26, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

Crisis tests resolve of Africans' new union

By Laurie Goering
Chicago Tribune

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - A decade ago, the Organization of African Unity
stood by as genocide in Rwanda claimed close to a million lives. Now a new
crisis in Darfur is testing Africa's promise to begin policing its own
conflicts, and leaders are showing early signs of stepping up to the
challenge, Africa analysts say.
Sudan's government and rebels from its western region of Darfur started
peace talks this week in Nigeria's capital, Abuja. Nigerian President
Olusegun Obasanjo, chairman of the new African Union, is host of the

The union, a replacement for the discredited and ineffective OAU, was
launched in 2002 with a key new power: the right to intervene militarily in
Africa's conflicts.

So far, that power has been used only once, to deploy a small contingent of
peacekeepers to tense Burundi. But Obasanjo would like to send 2,000 troops
to Darfur, a move strongly opposed by Sudan's government.

Whether African troops ultimately arrive in Darfur - or whether African
leaders such as Obasanjo can find another way to halt the conflict - will
say a great deal about whether the African Union is serious about bringing
change to the continent, analysts say.

            Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe has flouted criticism.

The African Union's record, up to now, has not been particularly strong. Two
years after he intimidated the opposition and stole democratic elections,
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe remains in office, despite promises by
South Africa that it is engaging in "quiet diplomacy" behind the scenes.

That failure has undermined the New Partnership for African Development, a
South African-led initiative that seeks greater foreign investment in Africa
in exchange for good governance and self-policing of conflicts.

Zimbabwe's traditional food surpluses, which once helped feed hungry
neighbors throughout southern Africa, have disappeared as Mugabe's
disastrous land-redistribution effort has left much of the country's rich
fields fallow.

The crisis in Darfur has attracted a stronger response from the African
Union for a variety of reasons. The U.S. and Europe, which recognize that
conflict zones in Africa could become breeding grounds for terror, have
pressed the African Union to find a resolution to the Sudan conflict and
have increasingly promised financial support for African peacekeeping

The growing push for intervention in Sudan also has been driven by Rwanda's
government, which - like many governments and world bodies - has promised to
stop genocide from recurring elsewhere.

African governments also have been spurred toward action in Darfur by
reports that most of the atrocities there - an estimated 30,000 dead,
widespread rape and the destruction of villages - have been perpetrated by
government-backed Arab militias against black Africans.

"The racial dimension is no doubt real. Sub-Saharan Africans don't like
their brothers and sisters being abused by Arabs," said John Stremlau, head
of international relations at the University of Witwatersrand in

But the biggest factor driving intervention in Darfur, a region under attack
for a year and a half, may simply be the increasing international spotlight,
which has embarrassed African leaders, who have promised to lead the way in
solving the continent's own problems, by military force if necessary.

That will be easier in coming years. The African Union is in the process of
creating a standby force of African peacekeepers capable of moving quickly
into conflict zones. That body - five brigades of troops spread across the
continent - is expected to be in place by 2010.

Until then, smaller forces from African nations will fill the gap. Rwanda
and Nigeria have offered to send troops to Darfur. Whether that will happen,
over Sudan's objections, remains to be seen.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

Back to the Top
Back to Index


      'Expansion of ties with Africa a priority': Minister

      Thursday, August 26, 2004 - ©2004

      LONDON, August 26 (IranMania) - Iranian Minister of cooperatives Ali
Soufi in a meeting with Zimbabwe Ambassador to Tehran Stephen Chiketa said
Wednesday that expansion of economic and trade relations with African
nations is among the priorities of Iran's cooperative sector.

      According to Iran's State News Agency (IRNA), The Ministry public
relations department quoted Soufi as calling on Zimbabwe for implementing
the agreements signed between the two nations.

      Also, an agreement, to remove double taxation is also being prepared,
which if approved will greatly contribute to boosting the trade volume
between the two nations, he added. Chiketa referred to the exports of first
batch of combines made in Iran, adding "other agreements between the two
nations are to be implemented in the near future."

      He also alluded to Iranian-sponsored projects to build a powerplant
and supply electricity to the African nations as schemes that his country
needs. The Iranian company should move to implement the project in the near
future, he added.

      Soufi in a meeting with Zimbabwe's Minister of Lands, Agriculture and
Rural Resettlement Joseph Made in May said regarding the promotion of the
agriculture sectors, the two countries could cooperate through signing a
memorandum of understanding (MoU).

      Soufi said that some articles of the MoU have been written for
expanding cooperation between Iran and Zimbabwe and some measures have been
taken in this regard.

      The Zimbabwean minister, for his part, said that his country has
allocated $1.5 mlns of credit to import such agricultural equipment as
tractors. Zimbabwe has so far held negotiations with Iran over exchanging
agricultural experts, cattle breeding, gardening and veterinary. So, some
appropriate activities will be carried out soon in this regard, he added.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


      Private airline in the offing

      Chris Muronzi
      8/26/2004 8:34:35 AM (GMT +2)

      A LOCAL private airline will take to the skies next year if an
application by Pioneer Airlines (PA) for a licence to operate a passenger
and cargo flight service is approved.

      PA is a subsidiary of Pioneer Development Company (PDC), which is
controlled by emergent Zimbabwean transport barons Hamish and Simon Rudland.

      PDC director Hamish Rudland confirmed that his firm had lodged its
application with the Air Services Board, the statutory body that grants air
service permits, under the Air Services Act.

      The application now awaits the mandatory 28 days, during which
objections can be raised over the application.

      "What we are doing is we are looking for a joint venture with local
and regional airline companies.

      "This is in anticipation of the influx locally of Chinese tourists,"
Rudland said.

      The airline, if granted an air service permit, would trade as Pioneer
Airlines (Private) Limited and would pose competition, particularly on the
local routes, to the country's troubled national airline, Air Zimbabwe,
which has suffered chronic capacity constraints in recent years.

      The company's application for an air services permit was published in
the Government Gazette of July 30 2004 "to carry out business as an airline,
air carrier and air transport operator, plying for hire or reward in the
carriage of passengers and goods of every description by air, in any part of
Zimbabwe or between Zimbabwe and any neighbouring or foreign country".

      Rudland, however, was reluctant to disclose the projected investment
into the airline business by his transport firm.

      "The cost of the project cannot be ascertained at the moment but if we
are not going to be able to lease, the cost will run into several millions
of American dollars. It will be a multi-billion-dollar project.

      "We are talking to some South African companies over the lease of
aircraft," Rudland said.

      He said operations were expected to begin during the first quarter of
next year, subject to regulatory approvals.

      The swashbuckling Rudlands have made a splash on the local transport
and logistics industry and are the controlling shareholders of Pioneer
Corporation Africa (PCA), which listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange last
year following the merger with Clan Transport.

      PCA has subsidiaries in the passenger, bulk cargo, container and
commodity transportation sector operating locally and in the region.

      It also has a presence in the courier and volumetric transportation
segments of the industry.

      However, the plan-ned venture by PDC into the airline business could
prove to be a major test of the Rudlands' business acumen.

      Several small private airlines which sought to provide an alternative
service to that provided by Air Zimbabwe have folded in their infancy.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


      Govt monitors diplomatic funds

      Njabulo Ncube and Thomas Madondoro
      8/26/2004 8:30:05 AM (GMT +2)

      THE increasingly paranoid ZANU PF government is now monitoring cash
flows to embassies to identify diplomatic missions suspected of bankrolling
the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and other civic
organisations it perceives to be dabbling in politics.

      The stalking of foreign missions, some of which house international
development agencies that in the past have channelled funds towards civic
organisations, comes amid concern from the Harare authorities over the
prevalence of what ZANU PF labelled dirty monies in an internal report
presented at the party's national conference back in 2002.

      The document identified non-governmental organisa-tions (NGOs),
selected private media, private companies, trade unions, banks, trusts,
foundations, development agencies and drought relief organisations as
"Trojan horses through which the dirty monies were being channelled".

      The government has, in the past couple of years, executed a war of
attrition against the private media and trade unions. It has recently turned
its attention on NGOs. Harare is in the middle of a diplomatic tiff with
Abuja over allegations that Nigeria had made a $200 million donation to the

      With the huge legal bills for court challenges that the MDC has
incurred since 2000, ruling party officials said its coffers should have
long dried up, but this has not been the case, according to intelligence

      The Daily News and its sister paper The Daily News on Sunday were
closed last September after failing to comply with the country's new
stringent media laws.

      Critics say the shutdown of the newspapers, followed by the
de-registration of The Tribune this year, was part of ZANU PF's long-term
strategy to close democratic space by permanently dealing with its perceived
enemies, among them banks, businesses and NGOs thought to be sympathetic to
the MDC.

      They said the government viewed the Associated Newspapers of
Zimbabwe's two publications as representing the voice of the MDC and other
dissenting voices.

      The ZANU PF secretary for external affairs, Didymus Mutasa, confirmed
that the government was wary of embassies and other foreign donor
organisations working in the country. Mutasa said the government would not
hesitate to cut ties with those embassies involved in opposition politics
with an agenda to effect regime change in Zimbabwe.

      He said the government was closely monitoring the operations of some
embassies, which he did not name.

      "Our intelligence arms are taking care of the situation on the ground.
It was exposed that some embassies are working with the opposition. The
funds are now being routed through various means. We are keeping our eyes
open," said Mutasa.

      He said those embassies reported to be working with the MDC and civic
organisations would be exposed, adding that the government was keeping track
of the source of the funds already in the coffers of the opposition.

      "Embassies must remember that they are here because we want to
strengthen our friendship. Isu hatiende kwavo tichinoita zvisina kunaka. (We
do not go to their countries to meddle). It is better for the Americans to
concentrate on regime change in their country, which is the worst, than to
come here and talk about regime change," he charged.

      MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi vehemently denied that the main
opposition party drew funds from overseas via embassies in Harare.

      "It is totally false that we are getting funds from embassies or
through the embassies. These are statements and strategies coming from
people that are frightened of the grassroots support that we have garnered
so far through our interactions with traditional leaders, including the
chiefs," said Nyathi.

      "No money is being given to us by foreigners. This is fact and ZANU PF
knows it. No embassy is willing to be seen violating its terms of operation
in Zimbabwe. We get our money from our local supporters and from the
Political Parties Finance Act," he said.

      He, however, could not disclose how much the party got under the
Political Parties Finance Act this year. The manoeuvres by the government to
monitor the embassies come against the backcloth of proposals to control the
operations of non-governmental organisations by enacting a stringent NGO law
that would ban foreign human rights organisations as well as restrict many
local charities.

      Local groups would also be banned from receiving funds from abroad to
finance work in such fields. President Robert Mugabe has repeatedly accused
NGOs of meddling in politics.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


      Cracks emerge in Byo City Council

      Charles Rukuni
      8/26/2004 8:41:50 AM (GMT +2)

      FORMER ZANU PF Bulawayo City councillors who switched sides after
being frustrated in the party and jumped onto the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) bandwagon, are reportedly fuelling divisions in the MDC amid
fears that Executive Mayor Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube's tenure could be in

      Ndabeni-Ncube has however, so far weathered the storm.

      One of the councillors, Matson Hlalo, has already been expelled from
the party while the axe is hanging over another councillor, Alderman Charles
Mpofu. Warning bells are also ringing for Stars Mathe, one of the few women
councillors in the all-MDC council.

      The councillors have been flagrantly violating the party's
constitution and disciplinary code with impunity. The councillors, who
joined the party when it was desperate to boost their numbers, are being
accused of fanning discord within the party through their utterances in the
state media.

      The MDC's publicity and information secretary for Bulawayo, Victor
Moyo, said the councillors were knowingly violating the party's code of
conduct because they were quite aware that the only people who should talk
to the media and on behalf of the party are those from the information

      "Members of Parliament can talk to the media if they are discussing
issues relating to their constituency. The same applies to councillors when
they are talking about their wards, or shadow ministers when they are
talking about their portfolios. But we don't expect a councillor to talk
about politics, especially to the state media. No one, in fact, should talk
to the state media unless authorised by the secretary-general of the party,"
Moyo said.

      Moyo's comments followed an outburst by Alderman Mpofu, Bulawayo's
former deputy mayor who lost his post recently. Mpofu described fellow
councillors as "dull and timid puppets".

      He said the councillors lacked leadership qualities and were afraid of
the mayor who, he said, lacked knowledge on council issues. Ndabeni-Ncube is
a former deputy director of housing in the Bulawayo City Council.

      Sources said Mpofu was likely to face disciplinary action for his
sentiments as he already had other charges pending against him.

      According to the party's disciplinary code of conduct, anyone who
brings the name of the party into disrepute or ridicule; or unduly
interferes with the operational capacity or efficiency of the party;
obstructs members or employees of the party from performing lawful functions
and duties will have violated the code.

      Other offences include impeding the work or activities of the party;
creating or promoting division within the ranks of the party; collaborating
with another political organisation in a manner which is contrary to the
achievements of the aims and objectives of the MDC; or collaborating with
any intelligence organisation or security service against the interests or
members of the party.

      It is also an offence to participate in organised factional activity
which threatens the unity of the party, or lobbying based on factionalism
and which goes beyond the recognised norms of canvassing or free debate.

      The same applies to provoking serious divisions or a breakdown of
unity within the party; undermining respect for or impeding the functioning
of the structures of the party at any level and promoting or practising
racism, sexism, tribalism, religious or political intolerance or
discrimination, or regionalism.

      Mpofu said he was not aware that he was not allowed to talk to the
state media. "I am a politician in my own right," he said. "I don't want
people to be oppressive just because they want to protect one person, who
happens to be the mayor, who is messing things up. They want to create
monsters within the MDC just like ZANU PF has created monsters. We don't
want to create demigods."

      He went on: "In politics, you are not employed. And I have refused to
be a puppet to anybody. I will not be anyone's boy. When we are in council
we are governed by the Urban Councils Act and not by the party constitution.
So I will not shut up because people who are narrow-minded and have nothing
to offer say so. Over my dead body."

      Mpofu was elected to the council in 1991 on a ZANU PF ticket but left
the party in the run-up to the 2000 parliamentary elections when the party
barred him from contesting against Deputy Minister of Mines Zenzo Nsimbi. He
left the party and contested the council elections as an independent, won
the elections and joined the MDC after the 2000 parliamentary elections.

      Hlalo, who left ZANU PF at the same time with Mpofu and followed the
same process of becoming an independent before joining the MDC, is not as
lucky as Mpofu. He has been expelled from the party for allegedly organising
a demonstration against Makokoba Member of Parliament Thoko Khupe. Hlalo
denies organising the demonstration, insisting that it was the people of
Mzilikazi that did so.

      "What people forget is the type of people who live in Mzilikazi. They
are very enlightened. I have been a councillor for that area for 10 years so
whatever happens there is linked to me. Unfortunately a lot of it is on the
negative side on my part."

      Hlalo has eyed the Makokoba seat for some time and had running battles
with ZANU PF's Sithembiso Nyoni when she was MP for the area. He contested
the seat as an independent in the 2000 elections but lost. He polled 1 773
votes against Khupe's 12 901, and was even beaten by Nyoni who polled 2 196

      Asked whether he was a political opportunist who had joined the MDC to
contest the Makokoba seat at the next elections, Hlalo said: "That is not
fair. Maybe I have a different perspective of politics. When you go into
politics you accept to be led and you can also lead if you are elected. My
view is that in any political dispensation, what people want is what they
should get," he said.

      A former ZANU PF chairman, however, insisted that though Mpofu, Hlalo
and Mike Parira Mpofu, who was expelled from the party at the same time as
the other two, were now MDC, deep down they were ZANU PF. They were just
frustrated out of the party by people who were flouting the party
constitution to protect their own positions.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


      Govt appoints land compensation body

      Njabulo Ncube
      8/26/2004 8:35:06 AM (GMT +2)

      The government, which is forging ahead with its four-year-old
controversial land reform despite vehement opposition from some quarters,
has appointed a 10-member Compensation Committee to refund nearly
      3 500 white commercial farmers forcibly removed from their properties
since the exercise started in 2000.

      The appointment of the Compensation Committee by John Nkomo, the
Minister of Special Affairs in the Office of the President and Cabinet in
Charge of Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement, comes amid revelations that
the former farmers were unhappy with figures being offered by the

      About 3 500 white farmers have been removed from their properties as
the government soldiers on with its programme to redistribute land to
landless blacks.

      About 75 percent of Zimbabwe's prime land has been in the hands of
less than 4 000 commercial farmers. Slightly over 1 000 have been left on
the land as the government's land reform surges ahead.

      Nkomo confirmed the appointment of members of the Compensation
Committee, which came into effect at the beginning of last month. But he
declined to discuss any figures, saying it would be premature to do so.

      Simon Pazvakava-mbwa, the permanent secretary in Nkomo's ministry,
chairs the 10-member committee. Nkomo also appointed four alternate members.

      "A Compensation Committee has been appointed and is now in place. It
is presently looking at evaluation reports of the properties in question.
After assessing the evaluation reports, it can then move forward and work on
the logistics of compensating the farmers," said Nkomo.

      "We are going to compensate all of them (commercial farmers) that have
been affected. We want them to pay their debts with the banks and others,"
he said.

      Nkomo, who is also the ruling ZANU PF party's chairman, declined to
disclose how much the government had budgeted for this purpose.

      "What is important is that the committee to deal with compensation is
there and they are doing their job. Period," he said.

      He added: "The committee fully knows its mandate and they will

      The 10-member Compensation Committee, appointed in terms of Section
29A of the Land Acquisition Act (Chapter 20; 10), has a three-year tenure.

      Apart from Pazvaka-vambwa, other members are D Mangota, WL Manungo, Dr
D Sibanda, SC Tsvakwi, E Samuriwo, Dr SS Mlambo, Z Murungweni, L Chimba and
S Moyo.

      Four alternate members have also been appointed and these are ZR
Churu, J Mukaratirwa, OJ Zishiri and A Matake.

      Nkomo could not immediately say how many white commercial farmers had
applied for compensation, except that the government would reimburse all the
deserving cases.

      Compensation for farms seized under the government's agrarian reform
has been a thorny issue since the first land invasions in 2000 by Zimbabwe's
liberation war veterans.

      According to a representative of the white commercial farmers, 99
percent of commercial farmland in the country had been listed for compulsory
acquisition by the government.

Back to the Top
Back to Index



      Expel rogue states

      8/26/2004 9:22:09 AM (GMT +2)

      The Southern African Development Community (Sadc)'s belated new
guidelines and principles on democratic elections, which will certainly
pierce self-serving veils of fundamentally flawed and undemocratic electoral
laws, can only be a welcome development, especially given Zimbabwe's quest
for untainted, indisputable, free and fair elections.

      We are not here suggesting that the guidelines and principles were
formulated specifically with Zimbabwe in mind. Nor that they will complete
the critical encirclement around the country's leadership, repeatedly
accused of stealing elections. But that they will have a significant
positive impact on Zimbabwe's political life where political attack dogs
have ruined families by committing murder and destroying property.

      Not without reason, for Zimbabweans, every election is preceded by a
deep sense of trepidation. Be they Presidential, Parliamentary or Local
Government elections, it is the same old, sad and tragic story - instead of
hope there is fear of the worst against a background of deep-seated
political bigotry that has often given rise "to chaos, brutality and
purposeless sadism".

      The past five years in particular have witnessed heightened violent
political battling together with the attendant psychological crises and
permanent emotional scars. What with the characteristic hatred for
compromise, growing political intolerance, deepening violent confrontation
and the resultant senseless shootings and bloodshed in the run-up to and
during elections.

      The nation's political life has indeed become poisoned, thanks to the
egotism of the country's politicians who do not seem to realise that
difference is a real factor in politics and have continued to encourage
political zealotry through their strong populist phraseologies which they
employ with reckless abandon as if it is some political innovation.

      As a result the long-suffering Zimbabweans, whose main desire is to
achieve peace, stability and freedom of choice, have not, especially in the
past five years, been given half a chance to exercise their universal
suffrage without enduring pain, grief, sorrow and worse through callous
murders, wanton destruction of property, maiming and raping.

      The trauma spawned by the avoidable violence during election time,
which will inevitably haunt the victims and indeed the nation for years to
come, has left many askance as to why it seems so difficult for Zimbabwe to
have violence-free elections where those rejected by the electorate smile,
shake hands and retreat to their farms, country or suburbia homes! The
systematic bullying and intimidation against political opponents make a
mockery of the country's democratic achievements, which were hard to come by
but could easily be destroyed in a second.

      This is why we think that news from the Indian Ocean island of
Mauritius that Sadc, of which Zimbabwe is a key member, has not only
ratified but also adopted new guidelines and principles on democratic
elections could only have been greeted with a deep sigh of relief. It gives
cause for hope when people did not have any high hopes for it. Up until now,
the longer the people waited for comprehensive electoral changes the less
they hoped. It brings with it a sigh of relief for Zimbabweans who felt that
free and fair elections could be a long reach but will now take comfort in
that it is not just a question of being a signatory but respecting the
spirit and letter of the guidelines that should underline the most decisive
rupture with the reproachable bloody past.

      Indeed the refreshing winds of change blowing through the rugged
regional political landscape signal the proverbial silver lining in Zimbabwe
's dark political cloud for people yearning to be rid of a violent past and
the emotions their historical situation prescribed. Adherence to the
guidelines will mean that Zimbabweans, for whom even a single death due to
political violence is one too many, will not have to suffer the anguish that
political violence at election time visited on the nation.

      The long-awaited changes' obvious merit is that the guidelines are
not, as is usually the case with such documents, punctuated with
high-sounding phrases and empty declarations but have real content. They go
beyond just electoral reforms and in fact demand more open, democratic and
responsive governments.

      It is also heartening to note that Sadc, previously seen as a watchdog
that not only sleeps on the job but which also barks more than than it
bites, is taking a more assertive approach. Thabo Mbeki, the South African
President, is on record as having said that those that do not abide by the
new guidelines and principles would be booted out of the regional body. This
is the way to go.

      Those who stifle democratic space and do not want to renounce their
monopoly on power or at least keep power in a democratic way, should be
squeezed until they conform to the regional electoral guidelines and

      We say so because there should not be a gap between the
democratisation of the SADC community and its new values, on one hand and
the anti-democratic nature of some of its member states who have
totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, on the other. Such a hardline stance
would not only give enough teeth to the regional grouping but also call to
account those governments that signed the document peremptorily because they
never thought that some day the guidelines and principles would have to be
fulfilled. Only this way, will the changes not be viewed as nothing more
than paper reforms.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


      Poor prices send burley tobacco yields tumbling

      Allen Chifokoyo
      8/26/2004 9:16:05 AM (GMT +2)

      BURLEY tobacco yields have fallen drastically over the past five years
and it is estimated that the country will realise 750 000 kg of the crop
this year, down from a peak of 8.2 million kg in 1999.

      Speaking at an Air Cured Tobacco Association (ACTA) congress held last
week, association president George Molebaleng said the whole tobacco
industry was going through extremely difficult times and burley tobacco
farming was worse.

      Molebaleng said many farmers were abandoning burley tobacco farming
because of the poor prices being offered for the crop.

      "I am strongly of the opinion that the most important reason for the
reduction in the size of the burley crop is the poor price offered which
does not make it financially viable to the farmer," Molebaleng said.

      The ACTA president also said that flue-cured tobacco was offering
attractive returns and as a result many small and large-scale farmers had
abandoned burley tobacco farming.

      He cited Burma Valley in Manicaland as an example of an area where
many farmers had resorted to flue-cured tobacco and he warned that if this
trend continued, "it (Burma Valley) soon might not grow any air-cured

      However, Molebaleng said burley could still be successfully produced
despite the challenges so long as right incentives and financial assistance
were provided.

      He also urged farmers to enter into direct contracts with farmers with
buyers where, hopefully, they would be provided with some financial

      Virginia flue-cured tobacco is also expected to fall by 75 percent
this season from 237 million kg in 1999 to around 60 million kg.

      In 2002, the country earned US$226 million from tobacco exports - a 20
percent decline from 2001.

      At its peak in 1999, tobacco netted US$600 million before the
government's chaotic land reform exercise which kicked off in February 2000
and saw most commercial farmers, who produced 90 percent of the crop, being
evicted to make way for the landless blacks.

      The decline in tobacco output has had a ripple effect on Zimbabwe's
agro-based economy, as tobacco is the country's largest foreign currency

      Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy and accounts for at least
40 percent of the gross domestic product and also provides at least 60
percent of inputs used in the manufacturing industry.

      At its peak, the tobacco industry employed 800 000 workers in the
country but it has since decreased by two-thirds.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


      NGOs have critical role to play in development

      8/26/2004 9:21:22 AM (GMT +2)

      In drought years, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have been
pivotal in the distribution of food to the hungry, in giving social
assistance and in the provision of safety nets to communities under

      The evidence is there for everyone to see. NGOs have bee critical in
the provision of training, civic education, rehabilitation, leadership
development, environmental protection, promotion of sustainable development,
HIV/AIDS support programmes, caring for orphans, provision of legal aid,
human rights education and protection and small-scale agricultural support,
among many other development programmes.

      In most cases, NGOs compliement government efforts and stand ready to
give critical solidarity to governments in many countries. In Zimbabwe, the
NGO sector is major contributor to economic development, employment and the

      One needs to do an analysis of the contribution of NGOs to national
revenues. It is an employment sector which the government will be better
advised to promote rather than under mine if it cares about the welfare of
the country and its people as it routinely claims.

      In many places, the NGO sector has been at the centre of calling for
social justice in development, challenging the global economic (dis) order,
campaigning for debt relief for poor countries, and demanding accountability
from inter-governmental institutions such as the International Monetary Fund
(IMF), the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the World Bank on the one side
and national and local governments on the other.

      We saw how the Seattle anti-WTO demonstrations raised the issue of
trade and economic justice, while the Washington demonstrations against the
Word Bank and IMF-supported structural adjustment programmes gave prominence
to social movements and NGOs calling for global economic justice, equitable
and fair trade as well as human-centred development approaches.

      The Group of Eight developed countries, the Bretton Woods institutions
and the WTO have all had to rethink where they meet and how they meet
because civil society and social movements have taken an active interest in
these meetings and have voiced their concern to the point of almost wanting
to disrupt meetings.

      We have seen pitched battles between the police of host countries in
Genoe, Prague, and Washington as protests have been mounted around global
injustices brought by the uneven and unequal globalisation phenomenon.
Developing countries have found new allies in the form of NGOs protesting
against the programmes being promoted and driven by the World Bank and IMF,
the WTO and other global insutuions.

      The United Nations, in many of its General Assembly resolutions and
conventions, acknowledges the role of civil society in the promotion of
human development, environmental and human rights protection, democracy and
good governance. The Millennium Development Goals are very clear in this

      Successive human development reports by the United Nations Development
Programme acknowledge this critical role of civil society. Zimbabwe's own
human development reports from 1998 onwards acknowledge the critical role of
civil society, which is constituted by NGOs and social movements, in

      The African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP)-European Union Cotonou
Convention, the successor to the Lome IV Convention, acknowledges the
critical role of non-state actors in development. In fact, the whole concept
of decentralised cooperation is an affirmation of the role of civil society
in development.

      Many ACP countries have benefited from development assistance
channelLed via the avenue of non-state actors, through the framework of
decentralised cooperation. The African Union, in its New Partnership for
Africa's Development (NEPAD) framework and in its constitutive Act,
acknowledges the role of civil society in development.

      Democracy and good governance are seen as the pillar of the NEPAD and
the peer review framework is seen as an innovative way of self-policing in
pursuit of good governance and democracy.

      Why the NGO Bill?

      One of the mischiefs that the NGO Bill seeks to regulate is the issue
of registration. The government would like to register every NGO under one
law. Private voluntary organisations (PVOs) registered in terms on the
current PVO Act, trusts registered with the High Court in terms of the trust
laws of Zimbabwe, international organisations doing their business based on
memoranda of understanding with various ministries of government are all
supposed to come under one law, based on a narrow definition of NGOs.

      The problem lies in the attempt to create a registration regime that
excludes instead of including, a registration regime that outlaws certain
organisations whose mandate is human rights and governance, and a
registration regime whose real purpose is to de-register in stead of

      The other mischief that the government purportedly seeks to deal with
is the regulation of activities of NGOs so that it has greater control of
them, policing them to ensure compliance with their own constitutions and
the general wellbeing of the sovereign state of Zimbabwe, among other

      In The Herald of April 5 2004, the Minister of Labour and Social
Welfare, Paul Mangwana, is quoted as saying;

      "Some NGOs and churches are causing too much confusion the country
because they are converting their humanitarian programmes into politics . .
. The government cannot allow that to happen, so we are saying they should
go under scrutiny where we revise the modalities of their operations in the

      This is a transparent display of the real intentions of the
government. Politics - whatever the government means by that - is for our
leaders the preserve of some selected few, to be closely guarded.

      The identification of foreign funding as a key problem is faulty and
mischievous. It is premised on the false assumption that NGOs are the ones
taking the money that is being denied to central government.

      The government seeks to ban NGOs that receive foreign funding if their
primary purpose is the promotion of human rights and governance. This is
shameless and dangerous. The government is treating governance issues and
promotion of human rights as criminal activities that cannot funded by

      The liberation struggle sought to install a regime that would promote
good governance and human rights. NGOs working to promoting these are doing
so in pursuit of the values, ethos and norms of the spirit of human
liberation. To try and restrict people from pursuing an internationally
acclaimed good such as human rights promotion and good governance is not
only to violate United Nations conventions and General Assembly resolutions
but is to attack the very basis of the democracy that so many lost their
lives for. It is to attack the very constitution of Zimbabwe, which
guarantees rights and freedoms to all people.

      The talk that NGOs need to be accountable, to respect their
constitution, submit work plans to a council appointed by a minister and the
thought that this will improve efficiency and transparency in the sector is
as insincere as it is false.

      Giving too much power to a government minister, with all that we now
know of how power makes some drunk, is neither an attractive option nor one
that inspires confidence in the NGO sector. We have seen how Tafataona
Mahoso and the Media and Information Commission have transformed themselves
into some kind of gods among journalists and media house owners. The NGO
Council is a cousin of the media commission and will certainly take a lot of
notes on how to deal with "errant" subjects.

      Essentially, the Bill serves political rather than administrative

      Tongai Muchena is an independent writer and member of the Zimbabwe
Economics Society. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily
reflect those of the society.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


      What Kirsty Coventry taught the nation

      8/26/2004 9:17:54 AM (GMT +2)

      "What Kirsty Coventry taught the nation" is a good title for a book
someone could write in the future about the young athlete who has
single-handedly put Zimbabwe on the world map at the Olympic Games in

      The 21-year-old United States-based university student has enabled
Zimbabweans to once again experience, after a very long time, how good it is
to feel good about their country.

      After years of being force-fed a monotonous diet of poisonous and
vitriolic propaganda that divides the world starkly into white and black
blocs of THEM against US, Zimbabweans were only too happy to embrace a "good
news" story that spoke for itself.

      No cunning and deceptive embellishments were necessary to tell the
story of Coventry's dazzling success on the world stage. Her achievement of
excellence has made us all feel that we are part of the community of

      And if we are honest with ourselves, hearing the Zimbabwean national
anthem being played on global television broadcasts triggered a groundswell
of pride and patriotism that a million words of propaganda on our pariah
state sovereignty can never evoke.

      One lesson we can learn from Coventry's achievements is that we can
only be genuinely proud of success achieved fairly by playing by the rules.

      Not many of us, I am sure, would have wanted to be associated with the
young and talented athlete if she had thrown a mighty tantrum in Athens,
demanding the bending of the Olympic Games rules to suit her particular
needs as someone from a sovereign state.

      Each time Coventry won any of her three medals, I jumped about like a
kid, shouting words of praise and admiration at my television. At these
moments, I neither cared what colour this young ambassador was nor gave a
damn what her parents' politics might be. Lesson number two: success is
sweet and good for Zimbabwe regardless of who achieves it on behalf of the

      Imagine how many own goals we score against ourselves and how many
achievers are held back when politicians resort to the pettiness of
excluding certain segments of the population from participating in various
fields of endeavour on the basis of their colour or political affiliation.

      Coventry's achievement of excellence also reminded us of the
importance and integrity of spontaneity as opposed to stage-managed
expressions of one-sided politically correct views. Even the head of state,
President Robert Mugabe, was moved to send a congratulatory message that was
broadcast by ZTV.

      Mr President, the nation would appreciate more spontaneous gestures
like this that show you understand and feel ordinary human emotions like the
rest of us. Up to date, your combative propagandists have barricaded you
behind a wall of angry epithets from which we glimpse you as a remote and
aloof figure.

      Now that this young athlete has charmed you out, don't go back to that
cocoon which keeps you out of touch with the aspirations of ordinary

      The Athens Olympic Games were attended by athletes from 202 nations.
It was a truly "rainbow" gathering of humans of every hue, language and
culture. Such a diversity of languages is represented in Athens that it must
be a challenge for the radio and TV commentators to pronounce the more
exotic names of some of the athletes correctly.

      Something worth remembering for us in Zimbabwe is that all 202
countries represented in Greece are sovereign states. However, none of them
advertise or wear their sovereignty on their sleeve as our government
officials do here at home. What is so special about Zimbabwe's sovereignty
that it has to be rammed down people's throats ad nauseum?

      The truth is that "sovereignty" is being used as an excuse for the
government to avoid tackling problems that other nations are not afraid to
confront. But how long can our rulers bury their heads in the sand in a bid
to live by their own rules in a world that is becoming more united by
universal democratic values?

      At the time of writing this piece, Coventry had yet to arrive home to
present her medals to the nation. So far, her moment of glory in Athens is
being milked for all it is worth on local radio and television. This has
remained tolerable for me only because it is not being used to gloat or
deceive in a bid to gain political mileage for a political party.

      One last lesson to be learned from Coventry's Olympic feat is that it
is more politically astute to use such dazzling moments as a rallying point
to untie the nation rather than to polarise the populace as we have seen too
often in the past. Welcome home Kirsty and thank you for rekindling some
nostalgic feelings in us and reminding us of some truths we can only
continue to ignore at our peril as a nation.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


      Traditional leaders are excess baggage

      8/26/2004 9:17:16 AM (GMT +2)

      Our Constitution has a provision that allows for the existence of
traditional leaders and, as such, the government passed the Traditional
Leaders Act 25 of 1998, which replaced the colonial Chiefs and Headman Act
to comply with requirements of the country's supreme law.

      Traditional leaders are, therefore, part and parcel of our law,
co-existing with other local leaders such as councillors, whose existence
emanates from both the Constitution and variously constituted statutes
currently in existence.

      But since the advent of colonialism, which ushered in modern-day
constitutional governments, chiefs and their kith and kin have never played
any meaningful role in substantive governance issues. Their absolutism in
terms of power was usurped by contemporary national governments and, since
then, they have been wandering in the political wilderness, groping for
openings to get power.

      Their role has mainly been ceremonial because the law delegates to
them trivial judicial and administrative matters.

      The Customary Law and Local Courts Act (Chapter 7:05) is there to deal
with customary matters. It provides for the existence of magistrates and
presiding officers. The government has therefore attempted to have a
dualisation of customary law tribunals, if we consider chiefs' judicial
powers in the Traditional Leaders Act.

      However, while the majority of judicial officers under the former Act
are legally trained, traditional leaders lack such judicial training. It
also appears that there have been no seminars or crash courses that have
been staged to acquaint chiefs and their headmen with basic modern-day
judicial knowledge. They, therefore, continue to operate, albeit dealing
with trivialities, effectively as kangaroo courts.

      One wonders at the logic behind having, on one hand, a traditional
court with trained magistrates and presiding officers and, on the other, one
with at times illiterate, unsophisticated, aged chiefs and headmen.

      We can also find that traditional leaders have meaningless
administrative duties. Such duties have been thrust on them despite the
existence of local government machinery, in the form of governors,
provincial and district administrators as well as local councillors. The
duties of the latter are well defined, and recognisable, while those of
chiefs are conspicuously next to zero.

      The reason why traditional leaders have found themselves being
sidelined to meaningless, peripheral matters is because they are essentially

      Contemporary constitutionalism and democratic setup has pushed asunder
traditional leadership role-playing, almost rendering it redundant. The
attempt to reconcile this institution with modern-day administrative
machinery is not bringing any noticeable effectiveness.

      In Europe, the fight to wipe out traditional leaders, as represented
by monarchs, started with the French Revolution of 1789.

      In Russia, a cruel and arrogant Tsar was deposed by communists in

      Throughout Europe and many other progressive parts of the world,
traditional leaders have been elbowed out of political systems. Where they
still exist, they have been given ceremonial powers. Only the conservative
British and Swaziland still cling to the feudalistic monarchs. However, the
Queen of England's powers have been pruned and she is no longer an absolute
monarch like King Mswati.

      It is astonishing that while some countries flushed out the
institution of the traditional leader more than 200 years ago, our own
government is seen vigorously attempting to explore ways of consolidating
the position of chiefs.

      This is because our politicians appear to prefer political expediency
rather than economic expediency. They obstinately refuse to realise that
only sound economic policies shall redeem us from our current self-created

      Traditional leaders are a remnant of feudalism who belong more to the
distant past than the present. The government must not, therefore, be seen
spending valuable resources on individuals in desperate search for elusive
political glory.

      In Parliament, chiefs have found seats as direct political appointees.
This is in terms of Section 38 (1) (C) of the Constitution.

      The President appoints 10 of their representatives on the advice of
the Council of Chiefs. And because these 10 owe their political life to the
President, they always of necessity support the ruling party in Parliament.

      None of these traditional leaders has been seen initiating and/or
participating in meaningful debates. Their most prominent role has been to
warm the benches and wait to raise their heads when told to do so in support
of at times unconstitutional legislation.

      Chiefs and headmen, as well as village heads, who in their official
capacity take sides in the political game, embarrass, degrade and tarnish
their office. This is because the sanctity and dignity of a traditional
leadership demands political neutrality in modern-day politics.

      A reflection back into history will show that our chiefs easily get
swayed by any existing political tide. During the colonial era, a number of
them formed a satanic partnership with colonialists and zealously supported
the oppression of their own people.

      A noticeable exception is the late Rekayi Tangwena, who unflinchingly
and with unparalleled dedication defended the rights of his subjects against
the machinations of the colonialists.

      During the colonial era, chiefs and their headmen eagerly collected
taxes and were the eyes and ears of the colonial government in detecting
revolt and suppressing it. To some extent, history always repeats itself, as
traditional leaders have at times had a tendency to work against the
interests of their own people.

      The time might be nigh when traditional leaders must be jettisoned
from government because they are irrelevant excess baggage. The law must
exist and provide for institutions that are consistent with democratic

      As observed earlier, the juxtapositioning of chiefs with district
administrators, governors and councillors is an unnecessary duplication.
Chiefs are illiterate, they lack the training in matters of governance and
only exist to confuse and gobble tax payers' money.

      In 2003, the government passed a statutory instrument increasing
chiefs' allowances. It has gone to the extent of providing them with
vehicles when hospitals lack ambulances and the police service has no
sufficient vehicles to operate effectively.

      Anyway, the misplacing of resources has been the hallmark of the
government's practice since independence.

      lVote Muza is a legal practitioner with Gutu & Chikowero law firm.

      Contact e-mail address:

      Gutu & Chikowero'sweb address:

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Business Report

      Zimbabwean dollar plunges to new low
      August 26, 2004

      The Zimbabwe dollar hit a new low for the year against the US dollar
yesterday, as the central bank rejected higher-priced bids at its bi-weekly

      The local dollar dropped for a 14th consecutive time, sliding to Z$5
610.46 per US dollar, the lowest since the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe started
the auctions on January 12, when $1 fetched Z$4 196.58.

      Yesterday, $10 million was sold, the same amount as at the previous
auction, the bank said.

      The bank rejected 318 out of 544 bids compared with 1 050 rejections
out of 1 376 offers at the previous auction.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Scotsman

Thatcher and the plot straight out of fiction


IT IS a real-life Dogs of War plot that Frederick Forsyth or Graham Greene
might have found too preposterous to try to sell as a novel.

An Eton-educated Scots Guardsman, who happens to be the son of an England
cricket captain, allegedly takes a million dollars from the son of a
renowned British prime minister to overthrow a cannibalistic African
dictator in an oil-rich former Spanish African territory with the help of
South African mercenaries.

Believe it or not though, that is the alleged background to the arrest
yesterday of Mark Thatcher on charges of breaching South African legislation
that outlaws mercenary activities. Thatcher was released on bail of £160,000
and ordered to reappear in Cape Town's Wynberg Regional Court on 25

The plot, had it succeeded, might have been applauded around the world
because its target, Teodoro Obiang Nguema, the president of Equatorial
Guinea, has an appalling human rights record. Opponents disappear regularly
in his tiny, oil-rich state. His brother is a top internal security officer
and, according to Amnesty International and United States State Department
reports, a torturer whose minions throw buckets of urine over their victims,
slice off their ears with razor blades and rub oil into their bodies to
attract soldier ants.

But it was an alleged plot that went wrong almost from the start. At its
heart was Simon Mann, schooled at Eton and Sandhurst and who served in the
Scots Guards, the British regiment most closely associated with the
upper-strata of British society, and the SAS.

At birth, 51 years ago, Mann, the son of former MCC president and England
cricket captain George Mann, was an unlikely candidate to end up in chains
and shackles in one of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe's fetid prisons,
where he languishes today.

It was on 7 March this year that an aging Boeing-727, purchased by Mann's IT
company, Logo Logistics, took off from a little-used airfield north of
Pretoria, in South Africa, carrying 69 men, most of them black Angolan
soldiers in South Africa's former crack foreign legion outfit, 32 Battalion.

It landed after darkness at Harare international airport, taxied to a far
corner of the airfield and waited for the arrival of Mann, who had purchased
a large consignment of weapons from Zimbabwe Defence Industries, the weapons
trading company of Mr Mugabe's government. Mann failed to show up. Instead,
soldiers and police swarmed on to the aircraft, arrested the men and
detained them at the notorious Chikurubi Prison, just outside Harare, where
they were joined by Mann, who had arrived in the Zimbabwean capital a few
days earlier.

Mann and his men were charged with plotting to overthrow Mr Nguema. They
have denied the charges, arguing they were en route to the Congo to fulfil a
contract to guard a mine in that war-torn country.

At the same time, 13 alleged fellow mercenaries, led by Nick du Toit, a
former 32 Battalion officer, were arrested in Equatorial Guinea itself. They
were accused of planning to team up with Mann's men on an island near
Equatorial Guinea before launching the coup.

According to reports in the Spanish media, the exiled dissident politician
Severo Moto, a resident for several years in Madrid, would have been
installed in Malabo, the Equatorial Guinea capital, within 30 minutes of the
coup beginning.

The trial of du Toit and his co-accused in Malabo is expected to be wrapped
up this week. They could face death by firing squad if found guilty of
plotting Mr Nguema's overthrow.

Reports say that du Toit admits to having met Mann and Thatcher. He said
Mann brought him and Thatcher together, but testified that Lady Thatcher's
son expressed interest only in buying military helicopters for a mining deal
in Sudan.

The fundamental flaw in the coup plot was that, by late 2003, it was one of
the worst-kept secrets in Africa.

Western powers are jittery about Mr Nguema's regime. His country was once
one of the poorest in Africa. Now, after the recent discovery of huge
offshore oil reserves, it is, in per capita terms, one of the richest. It
has been dubbed the Kuwait of Africa, with the world's fastest growing
economy, and is expected soon to provide 5 per cent of US oil needs. Most
western countries, as well as Spain, doubt the stability of a country ruled
by a president who is widely accused of eating his opponents' body parts and
who sits on an oil output of more than 250,000 barrels a day, and rising.

He also accused Eli Calil, a Nigerian-born Lebanese businessmen who lives in
a £20 million house in Chelsea, of being the main financier of the coup. Mr
Calil and Mr Moto are friends, and Mr Calil is also a friend of Mark

At some point, according to many accounts, friends of Mr Calil are alleged
to have contacted Mann and asked him to put together the coup operation.
Mann was a good potential candidate. Despite his privileged and comfortable
upbringing, he had a low boredom threshold and a taste for adventure. He
passed the harrowing selection procedures of the SAS at the first attempt. .

Mann resigned from the army and established his own security company which,
among other ventures, provided bodyguards to wealthy Arabs to protect their
Scottish Highland estates. However, he was so much a member of the
Establishment and so highly thought of that General Sir Peter de la
Billière, the commander of British forces during the 1990 Gulf war, recalled
Mann to uniform to be his right-hand man.

After the war, Mann became a mercenary soldier. He put together a deal for
the former Marxist Leninist-turned-capitalist government of Angola that
resulted in a major victory against guerrilla rebels, ending a 30-year war.
The fee was more than £20 million. Mann retired to the upmarket Constantia
suburb, where his neighbour, in a £4.5 million, five-bedroom house with
swimming pool and tennis court at No 10 Dawn Street, was Mark Thatcher.

Affair throws up 'rogues gallery'

MARK Thatcher, Jeffrey Archer, Peter Mandelson - the list of names
associated in some way in the tale of the alleged coup plot in Equatorial
Guinea reads like a rogues gallery of public figures the public loves to

Mr Mandelson probably has the least to worry about. His involvement is
peripheral at best, though it does have echoes of his past mishaps.

The man who lost his place in the Cabinet in 1998 for failing to disclose
that he used a loan from fellow minister Geoffrey Robinson to buy a flat in
Notting Hill, London, turns out to have rented a £500,000 one-bedroom flat
in nearby Holland Park from one Eli Calil, who is being sued for allegedly
helping to fund the coup attempt.

The new Brussels trade commissioner has refused to talk about his
relationship with Mr Calil, other than to say that he paid the proper rent
personally for the flat and that he has no knowledge of any coup plot.

For Lord Archer, things are a little more awkward. Calil, he acknowledges,
is a family friend. The Nigerian-born oil trader also is a former financial
adviser to the disgraced peer.

Documents linked to the coup case appear to show that a payment of more than
£100,000 was made in the name of one J.H. (the peer's initials) Archer to an
offshore bank account belonging to Simon Mann, the old Etonian former SAS
man turned mercenary accused of organising the coup attempt.

Lord Archer's lawyers, however, have insisted that he had no dealings with
Mann or his firm, Logo Limited.

And then there is Sir Mark himself. Although it is by no means his first
scrape, it may yet prove to be the most serious.

He first came to national prominence when, in 1981, his role in securing a
£600 million contract for the Cementation company to build a university in
Oman came under scrutiny.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

CHRA Statement on the Mass Resignation of Harare City Councillors

26 August 2004

The Combined Harare Residents Association applauds the determined action of
the MDC Councillors who have tendered their resignations from Harare City
Council. Their principled stand in refusing to be abused any longer by the
mugabe regime should be an example to all citizens who wish to see a
peaceful, free and prosperous Zimbabwe.

The regime's co-called Minister of Local Government has treated Harare as
his personal fiefdom and as the property of Zanu-pf. Chombo and his cronies
Mangwende and Makwavarara have sought to deny the democratic voice of the
residents who voted overwhelmingly in 2002 against his party and for a
democratic, accountable and transparent local government. The litany of
partisan interventions by the regime is long: from the saga of Mayor Mudzuri
to the electoral betrayal by Makwavarara and others, the regime has never
allowed our elected representatives to do the job for which we elected them.
The latest moves to run the council through the back door using the
so-called "advisory committee" headed by James Kurasha in collusion with
Mangwende are the final straw.

CHRA calls upon all councillors to show solidarity with this action. Those
that refuse to do so should be regarded as members of zanu-pf. Councillors
should return to their wards and work with local residents associations to
address the needs of our impoverished people at grassroots level. We need
councillors who are embedded in the communities that elect them, not
opportunists using the people for personal gain. When we are able to elect
our Council in free and fair elections under recognised standards, those
councillors who are vana vevanhu will be elected.

CHRA calls upon all citizens of the capital city to reject the machinations
of the regime. No more rates until we have democracy restored in our city.
We will not give our hard-earned money to a coterie of anti-democratic,
unaccountable and opaque zanu-pf functionaries. The city is ours and we will
use the power of our pockets to reclaim it from the thieves who are sitting
at Town House.


Combined Harare Residents Association
11 Armagh Avenue
P.O.Box HR7870
Back to the Top
Back to Index