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

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Six Zim farmers arrested
27/08/2004 14:19  - (SA)

Harare - Zimbabwe police have arrested six white commercial farmers in the
northern tobacco-growing district of Karoi, about 260km north of Harare.

Police said the farmers had defied government orders to leave their farms
with immediate effect.

"Most of these farmers own more than one farm and they have been asked to
surrender the other farms and keep only one," said a police statement.

Meanwhile, the country's Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU), which represents
most white farmers, said it did not know if its members had been arrested.

"All I know is that one of them, Jan Kageler, was barricaded into his home
twice last week by war veterans," said CFU regional director Ben Kaschula.

"He has an expired order to leave his farm, but now has permission to farm
250ha and surrender the rest," Kaschula added.

The CFU said attacks against the few remaining white farmers in the district
had been co-ordinated by one self-styled war veteran, despite orders from
senior government officials to allow the farmers to continue farming.

Efforts by Sapa to contact the arrested farmers and their families were
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Zimbabwe convicts British man in illicit weapons deal
Copyright © 2004 Nando Media
Copyright © 2004 AP Online

By ANGUS SHAW, Associated Press

HARARE, Zimbabwe (August 27, 9:28 am ADT) - A former British special forces
operative who allegedly led a foiled coup plot in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea
was convicted Friday of trying to buy weapons from Zimbabwe's state arms
Sixty-six other suspected mercenaries were acquitted of the charge in
connection to a deal that officials initially said aimed to get weapons for
the planned coup plot, though the judge did not link them in his ruling

The convicted suspect, Simon Mann - an alumnus of the exclusive boarding
school Eton, a former British special forces member, and a one-time movie
actor - admitted trying to weapons from the Zimbabwe Defense Industries, an
offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Mann, however, contended the weapons, which included assault rifles,
grenades, anti-tank rocket launchers and other arms, were for a job
protecting a mining operation in war-torn eastern Congo.

Nineteen people, including a number of South Africans, are on trial in the
West African nation of Equatorial Guinea for the alleged coup plot.

Officials say the country's Spanish-based rebel leader, Severo Moto, offered
the mercenaries $1.8 million and oil rights to overthrow President Teodoro
Obiang Nguema.

Equatorial Guinea prosecutors said Friday that they were also seeking to
extradite Mark Thatcher, son of former British Prime Minister Margaret
Thatcher, who is under house arrest in South Africa for allegedly providing
financing for the plot.

The chief magistrate in the trial of Mann and the others in Zimbabwe
mentioned no link between the attempted arms purchase and the coup plot.
Magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe said Zimbabwean prosecutors failed to prove
their case against Mann's 66 co-defendants.

Sixty-four of the men were arrested when their Boeing 727 landed at Harare
International Airport on March 7, while two others were already in Zimbabwe
with Mann at the time, allegedly to inspect the weapons.

Those 64, as well as three crewmembers, have pleaded pleaded guilty to
immigration and aviation violations carrying a maximum penalty of two years
in jail and a fine.

Most of the defendants have South African citizenship.

Mann was acquitted of an additional charge of taking possession of the

Equatorial Guinea, on the Gulf of Guinea, is the continent's third-largest
oil producer. Its president, Nguema, has presided for 25 years over what is
widely considered one of the world's most corrupt and oppressive regimes.

A lawyer for the government, Lucie Bourthoumieux, said Friday that
Equatorial Guinea has "strong hopes" of winning the extradition of Thatcher,
who was arrested Wednesday.

"South Africa is cooperating, and they are willing to fight furiously
against all mercenaryism and terrorism," Bourthoumieux said.

However, South African officials said they had received no extradition
request from Equatorial Guinea. There is no extradition treaty between the
two countries.

The Equatorial Guinea government said it has not issued an arrest warrant
for Thatcher - among the usual first steps toward an extradition.

The U.S. State Department and international rights groups accuse Equatorial
Guinea of routine torture in prison and other rights abuses under Obiang.

Another coup suspect who had been facing trial in Equatorial Guinea, a
German man, died in custody after what Amnesty International said was

Thatcher's spokesman Lord Bell told British Broadcasting Corp. radio that
Thatcher's name had been dragged into the Equatorial Guinea affair because
of "guilt by association."

Thatcher and Mann were friends, "but it doesn't follow that because you are
friends with someone you are necessarily involved in what they are doing,"
Bell said, asserting that no documentary evidence shows Thatcher had
invested in Mann's business ventures.

Mark Thatcher, a former race-car driver, has had legal problems before.

He moved to Dallas in April 1984 after a controversy over reports he
represented a British construction firm that won a $600 million contract in
Oman while his mother was there on a trade-boosting trip in 1981.

While in Texas, he settled a civil racketeering lawsuit for an undisclosed
sum. He also faced charges from the Internal Revenue Service over his role
with a Dallas-based home security company that went bankrupt.

Thatcher was scrutinized by Britain's Parliament in 1994 over reports that
he was involved in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and Iraq while his mother was
prime minister. He moved his family to South Africa in 1995 after business
troubles in the United States.

Associated Press writers Ellen Knickmeyer in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, and
Alexandra Zavis in Johannesburg, South Africa, contributed to this report.
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International Herald Tribune

      Archbishop-critic gets under Mugabe's skin
         Sharon LaFraniere NYT  Friday, August 27, 2004

BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe Muttering softly, a man in a priest's collar, baggy
sweater and pants two inches too short for his legs puttered distractedly
about the office of the Roman Catholic archbishop, Pius Ncube, one recent
Saturday, getting things in order for the archbishop's next meeting.
He swept papers off one corner of a cluttered desk to create writing space.
He searched the dust-covered bookshelves for the archbishop's résumé. He
fixed a stubborn electrical outlet. He answered the phone when the
receptionist failed to pick it up.
He was so completely the spit-and-image of a preoccupied assistant that
nearly 10 minutes passed before it finally dawned upon a visitor that the
man was no assistant at all, but the archbishop himself.
Which drew a small smile. Ncube is accustomed to being underestimated.
For years, Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, treated the archbishop as
beneath his notice, even when he called him a liar, a cheat and a despot
willing to starve his own people to stay in power. Mugabe left it to aides
to pityingly characterize the clergyman as "quite unwell" or "mad."
But that was before this winter, when the archbishop began an all-out
assault on Mugabe beyond Zimbabwe's borders. In March, he began soliciting
foreign donations to a legal defense fund for Zimbabweans who allege human
rights abuse; he has collected about $130,000 so far. In July, he held a
press conference in London to argue that Mugabe was terrorizing Zimbabweans
and reducing them to paupers while the world looked the other way.
Now the gloves are off. In May, Mugabe called the archbishop "an unholy man"
and another Desmond Tutu, whom he dismissed as "an angry, evil and
embittered little bishop." Last week, Mugabe accused Ncube of "satanic"
betrayal of Zimbabwe, suggesting he had had invited the nation's archenemy,
Britain, to invade.
That is the nice version. In the state-controlled press, Ncube said, he is
vilified as gay, a rapist and HIV-positive.
Ncube's admirers also compare him to Desmond Tutu. But they mean it as high
praise. The retired Anglican archbishop won a Nobel Peace Prize for
challenging South Africa's apartheid regime and remains to many on this
continent the model of a clergyman as a moral leader.
Like Tutu, said Ray Motsi, the Baptist pastor in Bulawayo, "Pius is a beacon
of light. He is a very brave person, very single-minded. He has been able to
discern the moment and understand what is the most important role he can
play. That has been a very good thing for us."
Not all clergymen are so supportive. Many churches in Zimbabwe have been
torn are rent apart under Mugabe, torn divided among between those who back
him, fear him, openly oppose him or simply don't want to hear about politics
in a house of prayer.
The Catholic Church, the biggest of Zimbabwe's Christian denominations, is
no exception. For years it was split between Ncube of Bulawayo and
Archbishop Patrick Chakaipa of Harare, a friend of Mugabe. After Chakaipa
died last year, Pope John Paul II replaced him with a bishop much closer to
Church insiders tend to read that as a sign that the hierarchy in Rome
thinks the archbishop of Bulawayo is on the right path. But some Catholic
bishops, priests and nuns in Zimbabwe do not share that view. Ncube said
that some have asked him to back off.
"They think I am speaking too much, that I am too aggressive, not
diplomatic," he said, perched behind a simple wooden desk cluttered with
files. "I say I can not be diplomatic when there is so much suffering. I
have to talk straight."
"We must defend the people who are suffering. Who else will defend them?"
Pius Ncube was born in 1946 in a cattle-loading town about an hour south of
Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second-largest city. His parents were peasants who
raised sheep, goats and cattle. Catholic schools, Ncube has said, taught him
to put faith first. "After a year or two, you really knew what you
believed," he told an interviewer. He entered a Zimbabwean seminary at age
21. When his country won independence from Britain in 1980 and Mugabe came
to power, he was studying for his master's degree in theology in Rome.
But he was back home three years later when the new government went after
rebels from Ncube's own ethnic minority of Ndebeles in southeastern
Zimbabwe, then a stronghold for a rival political party. Ndebele leaders
claim thousands of innocent villagers were murdered.
That drew Ncube, then a parish priest, firmly into the human rights arena.
He helped the former archbishop of Bulawayo take statements from witnesses
but never managed to convince the Zimbabwe's bishops' council to endorse the
1997 account by a Catholic commission.
Ncube has now gone far beyond compiling reports to sit on a shelf. From his
archbishop's platform, he is perhaps the president's most vocal and powerful
critics - influential enough to make Mugabe insinuate that only his priestly
robes protect him from the treatment he deserves.
The archbishop accuses Mugabe's ZANU-PF party of torturing, beating,
imprisoning and murdering members of the opposition. He insists that the
government has forced the United Nations to scale back a feeding program so
it can use government stocks to reward supporters and punish dissidents.
"They burn homes," he said. "They kill people. They torture people with
electricity. They intimidate people to make them feel afraid." In a meeting
last year, he said, he and other Catholic bishops put the case directly to
Mugabe, who himself attended Catholic school and was married in the church.
"We told him to control this. It hasn't stopped," said the archbishop. "We
can not change this man."
The archbishop's solution is more international pressure from the United
Nations and from African countries, a position endorsed last week at a
regional conference of Catholic bishops. Eloquence and charisma are not in
the archbishop's repertoire. His sermons "are all over the place," said
Nigel Johnson, a Jesuit priest in Bulawayo.
"What he has got," Johnson said, "is a passion for the people of his
diocese." Thus when the ever-vigilant police pick up a dissident on a
trumped-up charge, Johnson and others say, the archbishop makes sure his
family is informed and has enough food.
He said he ignores the government intelligence officers, who sit in on all
of the church services, and who last year warned him that criticism of the
government was not allowed. When an emissary from the government last year
offered him a farm, he said, he sent her packing.
He answers not to Mugabe, he said, but to the book on his desk. One recent
Saturday, he flipped it open and he found Luke 4:16. "Free the oppressed,"
he read aloud. "This is our calling."
The New York Times

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IRINnews Africa, Fri 27 Aug 2004

Most of the suspected mercenaries are likely to be released soon

JOHANNESBURG, - All except one of the 67 suspected mercenaries held in
Zimbabwe were absolved on Friday of attempting to procure arms for an
alleged coup in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea.

Briton Simon Mann, who pleaded guilty to the charge, faces sentencing on 10
September. Mann is one of the founders of Executive Outcomes, a security
firm that closed down in 1999. The state has asked for a sentence of between
five and 15 years in prison for Mann, who has also been linked to Mark
Thatcher, son of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

Mark Thatcher was arrested in South Africa this week for allegedly financing
the coup attempt and is out on Rand 2 million (almost US $300,000) bail.

The suspected mercenaries, along with three flight-crew members, were
arrested on 7 March on board a plane that landed at Harare International
airport, and charged with violating the Public Order and Security Act, the
Firearms Act and the Immigration Act. All of them hold South African

The suspects' lawyer, Jonathan Samakange, told IRIN the 66 men had pleaded
guilty to violating the Immigration Act and were likely to be fined when the
magistrate handed down sentences on 10 September. The men have maintained
that they were contracted to guard mines in the Democratic Republic of

According to news agencies, Magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe ruled that Mann's
action amounted at most to an attempt to purchase firearms. Regarding the 66
accused, he reportedly found that the state had failed to prove their guilt

The detainees have been linked to 15 suspected coup plotters arrested in
Equatorial Guinea, one of whom has since died. Their trial began last week
in Malabo, capital of Equatorial Guinea, with the prosecutor announcing that
he would call for the death penalty for South African Nick du Toit, the
alleged leader of the coup-plotters.
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Zim Online

Sat 28 August 2004

      HARARE  - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is among the 10 worst
dictators in the world according to a list compiled by international human
rights activist, David Wallechinsky, in collaboration with Amnesty

      The United States-based pro-democracy groups Freedom House and Human
Rights Watch and the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders, also helped in
compiling the list of the planet's worst living tyrants. Reclusive North
Korean dictator Kim Il Jong leads the pack which includes no less than four
African rulers.

      At number four Mugabe, a former socialist guerilla leader, is ranked
higher than any of his African colleagues. Most notably Mugabe even beat
Equatorial Guinea's President Theodore Obiang Nguema, a ruthless autocrat
who is accused by his opponents of cannibalism.

      In his citation on Mugabe, Wallechinsky said: "Once the darling of the
West, Robert Mugabe has become increasingly dictatorial. His government has
killed or tortured and displaced more than 70 000 people. S The Supreme
Court (of
      Zimbabwe) has carried out the dictator's strategy of silencing
criticism and stamping on human rights, and has just blocked an official
report on the massacre of 20 000 civilians."

      Mugabe has publicly expressed regret over an army crackdown against an
armed insurrection in Zimbabwe's Matabeleland and Midlands provinces in the
early 80s that is believed to have left at least 20 000 mostly civilians
dead. But he has refused to make public a report by a commission he himself
appointed to probe the killings.

      A recent report by the African Commission on Human and People's Rights
also castigated Mugabe and his government for not ending human rights abuses
by ruling party ZANU PF supporters. The report was not debated at the
African Union summit earlier this month after Harare objected to its
tabling, saying it had not been given an opportunity to respond to the
commission's findings.

      The full list of dictators in their order of appearance is: Kim Il
Jong (North Korea), Than Shwe (Burma), Hu Jintao (China), Robert Mugabe
(Zimbabwe), Crown Prince Abdullah (Saudi Arabia), Theodore Obian Nguema
(Equatorial Guinea), Omar AlBashir (Sudan), Saparmurat Niyazur
(Turkmenistan), Fidel Castro (Cuba) and King Mswati III of Swaziland.

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Zim Online

ZANU PF faction sought to block Zvobgo's hero status
Sat 28 August 2004

      HARARE  -  Rivals of the late ZANU PF founder member, Eddison Zvobgo,
unsuccessfully tried to dissuade the party's politburo from conferring
national hero status on him.

      Zvobgo, a stalwart of ZANU PF who on many occasions publicly differed
with President Robert Mugabe on policy, died last Sunday. He will be buried
at the country's National Hero's Acre tomorrow (Sunday). Mugabe told
      that ZANU PF had unanimously decided to declare Zvobgo a hero.

      Party sources said a rival faction from Zvobgo's home province of
Masvingo, led by governor Josiah Hungwe,  strongly opposed the  decision.
Hungwe and his faction are said to have told the politburo not to honour
Zvobgo because
      he had on several occasions disagreed with Mugabe.

      They also accused Zvobgo of refusing to campaign for Mugabe during the
controversial 2002 presidential election.

      One of the sources told ZimOnline: "They compiled a dossier of what
they said were Zvobgo's misdeeds but by the time their dossier had reached
all senior ZANU PF members the politburo had already made a decision (to
make Zvobgo hero)".

      The politburo is ZANU PF's highest decision making body. Hungwe
refused to comment, only saying: "The politburo has already ruled on that

      Zvobgo's long-time friend Dzikamai Mavhaire, who is also a member of
ZANU PF's central committee,  confirmed there had been attempts to prevent
the politburo from honouring the late politician.  "They tried to campaign
against the decision but it was too late. Of course they were basing their
arguments on allegations that Dr Zvobgo had refused to campaign for Mugabe."

      A Harvard law graduate, Zvobgo spoke against violence and chaos in the
government's land reforms and criticised the harsh press laws passed by the
government as being unconstitutional.  ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Police raid squatter camp
Sat 28 August 2004

      HARARE -  Heavily armed police yesterday raided a squatter camp and
beat up the residents, including children and women, in a bid to drive them
off the settlement.

      The camp's name is Porta Farm and it is located 25 kilometers west of

      The police also attempted to load the squatters' property onto their
trucks and reportedly wanted to ferry it away to two nearby farms acquired
by the government  under its land reform programme.

      By late last night the squatters, numbering more than 3 000, were
still resisting the attempt to remove them from the farm where they were
originally taken  by the government in 1991.

      It was not immediately clear if any of the Porta Farm residents had
been injured in the clashes with the police or if there had been serious
damage to property.

      Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena yesterday defended the police's
strong arm tactics against the squatters saying, "The government has said
they must leave the Farm."

      Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo last week ordered the
squatters to vacate their home of 14 years saying they should move to nearby
land acquired by the government from former white farmers but which now lies

      The squatters had been relocated to Porta Farm from illegal
settlements in Harare city in a bid to clean up "Sunshine City" ahead of the
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Zimbabwe's capital in 1991.
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Zim Online

Author makes use of sarcasm to grapple with Zim crisis
Sat 28 August 2004

      BULAWAYO - Author John Eppel can still laugh about life in Zimbabwe
albeit tongue in cheek. Eppel has just published his ninth book, "The Caruso
of Collen Bawn and Other Short Writings".

      The collection of 35 short stories and poems about life in Zimbabwe
today is published by amaBooks. Eppel writes about the daily struggles that
ordinary Zimbabweans are enduring while trying to get documents such as
passports and basic commodities such as the staple maize-meal. He takes a
candid look at how the country's new rich and political elite is abusing
power. The prose and verse reflect the truth, both enjoyable and painful,
about life in the country.  The perspectives of blacks, whites, civil
servants, gardeners and orphans are all included.

      Publisher Jane Morris says, 'The Caruso of Collen Bawn and Other Short
Writings' is an attempt to keep the country's literature circles alive
despite the prevailing repression. "Eppel is saying things that need
saying.. He is writing about the world we are living in," said Morris.

      "The Victim" is a particularly poignant piece about an orphan who
commits suicide after being sodomised in prison where he was doing time for
dealing in foreign currency on the streets of Bulawayo.

      Morris told ZimOnline that the book, released early this month, is
selling well,  especially as a gift for relatives living in the Diaspora.
Several booksellers in South Africa and the United Kingdom have ordered

      Eppel was born in South Africa in 1947 and moved to the mining town of
the Collen Bawn in Matabeleland South at the age of four.  He lives in
Bulawayo where he writes and teaches English.  He was awarded the Ingrid
Jonker Prize for his collection of poetry, Spoils of War (1989) and the
M-Net prize for his first novel, DGG Berry's The Great North Road. Eppel is
currently in
      South Africa giving lectures on creative writing. ZimOnline

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The real Mann
27/08/2004 21:25  - (SA)

Harare - Simon Mann, educated at one Britain's top private schools and a
former member of the crack SAS troops, was equally at home in London's best
drawing rooms as in less salubrious spots in Africa where his firm provided

Mann was convicted on Friday of attempting to purchase weapons for an
alleged plot to overthrow President Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial
Guinea, where newly discovered oil reserves have attracted several foreign
firms and generated great international interest.

The prosecution has asked that he be given between five and 15 years in
prison when the court hands down a sentence on September 10.

Mann's lawyers said he and 69 men being detained with him in Zimbabwe, where
they were arrested in March when their plane stopped over to pick up arms,
were on their way to provide security at diamond mines in the Democratic
Republic of Congo (DRC).

The greying 51-year-old, who has been held in solitary confinement in
Harare's Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison, is linked to mercenary and
security outfits set up in the early 1990s.

He and Nick du Toit, a South African being held as a co-conspirator in
Equatorial Guinea, set up Executive Outcomes, which operated from Pretoria
in South Africa and helped the Angolan government protect its oil
installations from rebels during that country's long civil war.

The son of an English cricket captain, Mann - who holds both British and
South African passports - was educated at Eton. He went on for officer
training at the prestigious Sandhurst Academy.

He joined the Special Air Service (SAS) and is reported to have served in
Cyprus, Germany, Norway, Canada, central America and Northern Ireland before
leaving the army in 1981.

Mann, who lived in the posh Cape Town suburb of Constantia - also home to
Earl Spencer, the brother of the late Diana, and Mark Thatcher, the son of
the former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher - allegedly used the
"old boy" network to finance his deals, media reports say.

Thatcher, who was arrested in South Africa on Wednesday for allegedly
bankrolling the coup plot in Equatorial Guinea, had admitted to his
friendship with Mann but denied involvement in the supposed coup.

Thatcher's name was dragged in after Mann allegedly smuggled out a letter
from jail urging that those supposedly involved in the plot, including
"Scratcher" -- a presumed reference to Thatcher -- should "pull their
weight, media reports said.

"Our situation is not very good and very URGENT. This is not going well. I
must say once again: what will get out is MAJOR CLOUT ... We need heavy
influence of the sort that ... Scratcher" and other people allegedly
involved, have.

Mann reportedly said bribes could settle the affair, evoking a call for a
"large splodge of wonga" and adding: "Now it's bad times and everyone has to
pull their f*****g weight."

Reports say Mann worked briefly selling advanced computer software before
accepting contracts for security work.

He is also featured in a film reconstruction for British television of the
Bloody Sunday massacre in northern Ireland in 1972.

Mann is used to the high life. In England, he is reported to own Inchmery,
an estate that once belonged to the world-famous Rothschild banking family.

But imprisoned in Harare's top jail and granted only one basic meal a day,
Mann's circumstances have now changed beyond recognition.

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Sydney Morning Herald

Panic letter from jail tied big names to coup plot
By Jamie Wilson, David Pallister and Paul Lashmar
August 28, 2004

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Languishing in solitary confinement in Zimbabwe's maximum security Chikurubi
prison in March, Simon Mann was getting desperate. The former British SAS
officer had been arrested at Harare airport two weeks earlier with a plane
load of mercenaries after landing to pick up a consignment of AK-47 rifles,
mortar bombs and 75,000 rounds of ammunition.

The men on board the Boeing 727-100 had allegedly been on their way to mount
a coup in Equatorial Guinea, a small, malarial country in west Africa ruled
by a tyrant, but newly and filthily rich in offshore oil.

Instead of a coup amid untold riches, Mann found himself staring down the
barrel of a long prison sentence - or even execution if an extradition
request from Equatorial Guinea was successful.

So he penned a letter on scraps of paper to his wife and lawyers, insisting
they should marshal rich and influential friends to get him released.

But his letter linked the coup adventure to a coterie of right-wing
businessmen with links to the highest echelons of the British establishment.

Mann's letter referred to a contact called Scratcher, his nickname for the
controversial businessman Sir Mark Thatcher, son of the former prime
minister Margaret (now Lady) Thatcher.
When the note was intercepted by the intelligence services on its way out of
the prison a train of events was set in motion that led this week to the
raid on Thatcher's Cape Town home.

"Our situation is not good and it is very URGENT," Mann wrote. "They [the
lawyers] get no reply from Smelly and Scratcher [who] asked them to ring
back after the Grand Prix race was over! This is not going well."

Mann went on: "It may be that getting us out comes down to a large splodge
of wonga! Of course investors did not think this would happen. Did I? Do
they think they can be part of something like this with only upside
potential - no hardship or risk of this going wrong. Anyone and everyone in
this is in it - good times or bad. Now its bad times and everyone has to
F---ing well pull their full weight."

He left what would appear to be the most incriminating detail to last:
"Anyway [another contact] was expecting project funds inwards to Logo
[Mann's firm] from Scratcher (200) ... If there is not enough, then present
investors must come up with more."

While the letter suggests Mann was expecting Thatcher to make a £111,000
($282,000) investment, he does not specify that it was for the coup.

Since the coup plot was alleged at Harare airport on March 7 there have been
murmurings about Thatcher's involvement. He and Mann were close friends who
owned substantial properties in Constantia, the Cape Town suburb popular
with rich expat Britons.

It remains unclear what evidence the South Africans have to tie Thatcher
directly to the coup, beyond Mann's letter. There have been rumours he made
an investment in Mann's Logo Ltd company through a South African company,
Triple A Aviation, which in January signed a contract with Logo to provide
aircraft and aviation services.

According to his lawyer this week, Thatcher was arrested on suspicion of
financing a helicopter linked to the coup plot.

However, friends of Thatcher in South Africa, say he had entered into a
separate contract with Triple A to provide an air ambulance helicopter for
work in Equatorial Guinea.

"I don't think he knew what he was getting into," one said.

According to Mann's witness statement, the plot began to take shape in
January last year when he was introduced to Eli Calil, a London-based
businessman and friend and financier of Severo Moto, leader of the Party for
Progress of Equatorial Guinea and president of the Guinean government in
exile in Madrid.

Mr Calil has denied any knowledge or involvement in the coup, and his
lawyers have suggested that the confessions of Mann and his alleged
co-conspirator, the South African arms dealer Nick du Toit, now on trial in
Equatorial Guinea, were extracted under torture.

Mann wrote in his signed statement after his arrest: "Calil asked me if I
would like to meet Severo Moto ... I met Severo Moto in Madrid. ... At this
stage they asked me if I could help escort Severo Moto home at a given
moment while simultaneously there would an uprising of both military and
civilians against [President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo] ... I agreed to
try and help the cause."

Preparations for the coup were soon set in motion by Mann through two
companies based in Guernsey, Logo Ltd and Systems Design Limited. Mann sold
some of his shares and put in more than $A500,000 to cover the cost of a
converted Boeing 727 that was bought a week before the coup attempt from a
firm in Kansas.

Using his military and arms dealing contacts, du Toit helped to recruit the
mercenaries - apartheid-era soldiers in South Africa - and to introduce Mann
to the head of the Zimbabwean Defence Industry in Harare.

According to du Toit the plan was for the aircraft to pick up the 64
mercenaries near Pretoria and then fly on to Pietersburg international
airport to clear customs for Harare. In Harare the aircraft would refuel and
pick up the arms.

The plane should have flown to the Equatorial Guinean capital, Malabo, and
landed at 2.30am on March 8, with Mann in Harare keeping in touch with du
Toit in Malabo by satellite phone. Once the mercenaries had landed one team
was designated to secure the airport. The rest were to be driven to town
with guides and vehicles provided by du Toit.

Teams would set up road blocks to halt the military, and another group would
capture a minister, Antonio Javier, du Toit's business partner, who would
guide them to the sleeping President. The President would then be taken to
the airport and, "if not killed in this operation", would be flown to Spain.

Meanwhile, Mr Moto would have landed in Malabo, 30 minutes after the
mercenaries. He would call backers in the military and ask them to take
control. By sunrise the new leader of Equatorial Guinea would be addressing
his people on radio and television.

The Guardian

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From The Daily News Online Edition, 27 August

Mutasa implicated in terror campaign

Nearly 70 people were injured and at least 26 Zanu PF members were arrested
in violent disturbances in Makoni North and East last weekend. The violence,
instigated by Zanu PF supporters loyal to Didymus Mutasa, the party's Member
of Parliament for Makoni North and Shadreck Chipanga, the MP for Makoni
East, was against fellow Zanu PF supporters believed to be backing two other
senior party officials in the same constituencies in primary elections
slated for October. According to sources in the police and at the Rusape
Magistrates Court, those injured include Viola Chitura, the former Zanu PF
district coordinator for Makoni and retired Major James Kaunye, the aspirant
MP for Makoni North and the wife of Nathaniel Mhiripiri, the aspirant MP for
Makoni East. Authoritative Zanu PF officials and war veterans in Makoni
District said Mutasa and Chipanga drove to the homes of Mhiripiri and Kaunye
on Thursday noon and advised the two men to withdraw themselves from the
election campaign or face unspecified "disciplinary measures". "On that
Thursday, Mutasa and Chipanga gathered Zanu PF militants from the
"Chinyavada" terror group," the official said. "Later in the day, the two
ministers assigned Everisto Bosha and Albert Nyakuedzwa to take the
militants to Mayo and start disciplining Kaunye's supporters. Mutasa and
Chipanga went to Mayo in their own cars with more Zanu PF militants to
launch their violent campaign. People were beaten up. Most were injured and
were admitted at Rusape General Hospital." The official said Mutasa
participated in the beatings of Kaunye's supporters, threatening them with
immediate expulsion if they continued backing the war veterans' leader.

It is alleged the terror spread to Chiendambuya Business Centre where Mutasa
called traditional leaders and some Zanu PF supporters in the area and told
them that they risked being expelled from Makoni District if they continued
rallying behind Kaunye. "Cde Mutasa said he was set to become Zanu PF's vice
president behind Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa at the party's December congress,"
the official said. "While he spoke, the other people in Bosha's and
Nyakuedzwa's cars went into the villages and rounded up suspected Kaunye's
friends and brought them to the shopping centre where they were thoroughly
beaten up before everyone." The violence moved to Headlands where Mutasa and
Chipanga allegedly led their crew to Headlands Hotel where Kaunye's
supporters were gathered to map a way forward in the wake of repeated
threats by Mutasa. They beat them up and made death threats. However, the
officials said the police at Headlands intervened and fought running battles
with Mutasa's supporters before they managed to overcome them, leading to
the subsequent arrest of 26 members of the terror group.

Policemen told The Daily News Online yesterday that they now feared for
their lives and jobs after Mutasa ordered them to release the suspects
without sending them to court. A police officer who asked not to be named
said: "When the police arrested the group in Headlands, other Zanu PF
militants went to Mabvazuva residential area and Vengere Township and
flushed out all people suspected to be supporting Mhiripiri and Kaunye. "The
police intervened but had to escape to the police station after they came
under attack. The Zanu PF supporters came and demonstrated outside the
police station. "They actually beat up Inspector Tomukai, the
officer-in-charge for Crime and confiscated his car keys. Minister Mutasa
took the keys with him." On Tuesday, the 26-man terror gang appeared before
Rusape magistrate Mark Dzira to answer to charges of public violence,
malicious injury to property and grievous bodily harm. According to court
officials who refused to be named, Mutasa, Chipanga and Mike Madiro, the
Zanu PF chairman for Manicaland sat out during the court proceedings which
began at about 3pm until about 9pm. Dzira granted them $300 000 bail each
and Mutasa paid the total of $7,8 million. The court officials said all the
26 bail receipts bear the signature of Mutasa, who is also the Minister of
Anti-Corruption and Anti-Monopolies in President Robert Mugabe's "War
Cabinet". They will appear again in court in a fortnight at Rusape
magistrates court before Dzira.

Police sources said Cabinet Ministers Patrick Chinamasa, the Minister of
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Joseph Made, the Minister of
Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, the Deputy Minister of Home
Affairs, Chipanga and Mutasa brought food and warm clothing to the arrested
Zanu PF supporters while in police custody. Among those charged and
subsequently appeared in court are Maxwell Chinzambwa, a war veteran,
Gilbert Zowa, the Chiendambuya councillor for Ward 5 in Makoni Rural
District Council, a war veteran, Nyakuedzwa, the chairman for the MRDC and
the provincial manager for the Grain Marketing Board, Happiness Mafuratidze,
Mutasa's niece, Bosha, the owner of Chovhakaira Bookshop in Rusape. The
District Criminal Investigations Officer for Rusape District Police,
Superintendent Mildred Muza confirmed the violent clashes but insisted the
police were able to arrest the culprits. "The attempts by some people to
control the police force were resisted and will continue to be resisted,"
she said. "We arrested the 26 suspects and despite their resistance, we sent
them to court. We will not be intimidated. Suspects would be treated the
same no matter who backs them or what positions they hold in society."

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From IRIN (UN), 25 August

With ARVs beyond reach, rural folk resort to herbs

Bulawayo - Moketsi Nleya, a subsistence farmer in rural Madlambuzi, western
Zimbabwe, painfully retrieves a bunch of thin brown roots from under his
pillow, which he breaks into tiny fragments and chews, followed by a cupful
of an analgesic herbal concoction that also acts as a sedative. Nleya, 55,
is among a growing number of HIV/AIDS patients in rural Zimbabwe who have to
resort to traditional medicine because they have no direct access to
antiretroviral (ARV) therapy. "Ours is a delicate and desperate case. Some
people tell us that our condition could improve only if we could get
antiretroviral drugs. The pain is unbearable, but when you take some of
these herbs you do get a decent sleep, at least for a night," Nleya said.
His scrawny body showed the signs of fast-deteriorating health. Some of
Madlambuzi's residents said the Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers
Association (ZINATHA), a body representing traditional healers and
herbalists, encouraged them to seek herbal therapy while waiting for the
government's announcement on rolling out ARVs in rural areas.

ZINATHA has called for the acceptance of traditional medicines at health
institutions and is lobbying government to allow its members to work with
doctors and nurses to tackle the AIDS pandemic. Dr Gordon Chavhunduka,
president of ZINATHA, told IRIN that in the fight against the virus, all
medical practitioners should work together for the benefit of the patient.
"We have been lobbying the government for the past two decades to
incorporate traditional healers' knowledge and practice into the country's
health delivery system, without much success. It has always been the norm
and custom among African communities to use traditional medicine in whatever
circumstances, and indeed, people infected with HIV/AIDS are among those who
use them," Chavhunduka said. Official figures indicate that AIDS-related
illnesses claim more than 2,500 lives every week. Faced with empty coffers,
a fast-crumbling health delivery system, isolation from the international
community and shortages of foreign currency to buy drugs, Zimbabwe is
grappling with the epidemic that has reduced life expectancy to 35 years.
The population of children orphaned by AIDS is estimated to be hovering at
above one million.

Last month the Geneva-based Global Fund turned down Zimbabwe's request for
US $218 million of assistance, the bulk of which was meant to support ARV
rollout programmes in both rural and urban areas. Estimates indicate that
while almost 25 percent of Zimbabwe's 11 million population are
HIV-positive, only 5,000 are on ARVs. The government set aside about Zim $15
billion (US $2.6 million) for the purchase of ARVs at the beginning of the
year, but critics said the amount was completely inadequate. Because of the
desperate situation unfolding in rural areas, some NGOs have stepped in with
medical assistance: Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) intends rolling out ARVs
to rural people in Matabeleland in the southwest of the country. "At the
moment we are setting up an HIV/AIDS project in rural Tsholotsho. Basically,
our intention is to start running opportunistic infection clinics, together
with the staff from the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare. When that has
been done, we will then provide ARVs just to those in need," said MSF
spokesperson, Monique Van de Kar.

ARVs would initially be available at the Tsholotsho hospital, with three
other health centers in the Matabeleland North province - Sipepa, Mkhunzi
and Pumula - following suit. "AIDS has had a devastating effect on most
parts of Africa and, in some instances, rural people have been the hardest
hit. People in rural areas have difficulty traveling to urban centers for
ARVs and this is the main reason why we have chosen this rural area," Van de
Kar added. MSF is already working with Mpilo Hospital in Zimbabwe's second
city of Bulawayo in Matabeleland North to administer ARVs to patients.
According to a government health specialist based in Matabeleland, the
plight of people infected with the disease was further compounded by the
shortage of simple suppressants that could play a major role in reducing
some opportunistic infections. "It is so painful to see people flocking to
hospitals for treatment every day, only to be turned away because there are
no drugs - [not even] simple painkillers ... The situation is so desperate,"
said Ostine Dube, a nurse at a government hospital in the province.

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Business Day

Malawi backs Zimbabwe farm seizures


HARARE - Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika, visiting Zimbabwe to
officially open the Harare Agricultural Show on Friday, says he supports the
seizure of white-owned farms in the country.

"I believe that land should be owned by the people. Malawi is sympathetic
and supportive of the stance taken by Zimbabwe on this issue," said

Since February 2000, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF government
has seized about 90 percent of Zimbabwe's white-owned land, apparently
displacing as many as 300,000 farm workers in a violent campaign to allocate
farms to peasants and members of the ruling elite.

Meanwhile, the Malawian president told reporters the Southern African
Development Community should "stand together" against the international

"It's time that we started closing ranks and stand by each other and fight
for each other because that is what it means to be a community," Mutharika

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Sunday Times (SA)

UK ready to spend R500m on Zimbabwe

Friday August 27, 2004 07:05 - (SA)

About R500 million was still on the table to fund land reform in Zimbabwe if
a political settlement was found in that country, British Foreign Secretary
Jack Straw said yesterday.

Straw rejected any suggestion that Britain had reneged on the undertakings
that were made at Lancaster House, when the independence of Zimbabwe was

He said Britain stood by the Lancaster House view that land reform was at
the heart of the problem in Zimbabwe.

Straw said that he had been involved in negotiations three years ago in
Abuja, when it was agreed to undertake a land reform programme in Zimbabwe
within the rule of law. Britain had made £45 million available for this.

He also attempted to lay to rest another of Zimbabwe President Robert
Mugabe's favourite attacks, that Britain supported the official opposition
in Zimbabwe, the Movement for Democratic Change. "We do not support any
political parties in Zimbabwe," Straw said.

Straw said that in addition to conflicts in Africa, there were some areas
where there was "cold war" between the government and the governed.

"Zimbabwe is not the only country in Africa where a repressive government is
pursuing policies which are damaging its people. But it is a place where the
damage is particularly severe.

"More than 7-million Zimbabweans, more than half the total population, are
now dependent on food aid, while the government denies the need for
international assistance," Straw said.

The region had suffered as a result, from economic costs such as deferred
investment, and social costs when Zimbabweans migrating to neighbouring
countries imposed additional strains on them.

"There needs to be an environment for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe
which fully reflects the new SADC (Southern African Development Community)
principles and guidelines for democratic elections, so I warmly welcome SA's
sustained efforts to resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe. It remains important
that you and the rest of Africa stay engaged to help the people of Zimbabwe
return their country to health," Straw said.

Attempts to get comment from the Zimbabwe high commission in Pretoria and
the office of Information Minister Jonathan Moyo in Harare proved fruitless.
A secretary said Moyo could not be reached until today.

In Harare, a Zimbabwe magistrate is expected to hand down verdicts today
when the trial resumes of 70 suspected mercenaries held on charges of
plotting a coup in Equatorial Guinea.

The men, among them Briton Simon Mann, are accused of being at the heart of
a conspiracy that allegedly includes Mark Thatcher, son of former UK prime
minister Margaret Thatcher.

Mark Thatcher, a friend and neighbour of Mann's, was arrested at his Cape
Town home on Wednesday and charged under SA 's Foreign Military Assistance
Act, which bars mercenary activity, for allegedly bankrolling the coup plot.
He denied the charges and was released on bail.

Business Day

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Hello all,

I can highly recommend Sharon's book....I have been extremely privileged to receive some of her delightful narratives over the last few years(some of you will have read the ones I shared). I can never get enough! They make one laugh & cry, sometimes at the same time!!. They are gauranteed to stir deep emotions in all those who have a love of the African bush. The many & varied tales are vivid, poignant, & entrancing. The book will have particular relevance for those to whom Hwange National Park is a very special place. If elephants are as spectacular & special to you, as they are to me, Sharon's evocative book is a 'must read'. Her excellent descriptive style will put you right there, next to her, as she reveals the daily joys, dramas & tragedies of Africa's gentle giants, as they unfold.

Don't wait, as soon as it hits the shelves, rush out & buy a copy! From Sharon's letter below it appears that the book will only be available in Zim., unfortunately. For those of you outside Zim., let me know asap if you want a copy, & I will arrange to buy , with the funds we left in the country. We can always sort the exchange out later.

Personally, I can't wait for my copy! It will also serve as a record of a specific space in time of Zim's turbulant history....which has, unfortunately, impacted enormously on the flora & fauna of our beloved country.....the future of which is still so uncertain.

Best wishes,

Col. (address available from the authors of this website)



BACK COVER of Sharon Pincott’s Book , titled:


In An Elephant’s Rumble

Life Amongst ‘The Presidential Elephants of Zimbabwe’



A poignant account of Sharon's journey from her life as a successful career woman 'Down Under' to realising her ultimate dream living amongst the most majestic of all beasts.  Beautifully written, Sharon eloquently conveys the sheer joy and privilege of this unique existence in sharp contrast to the anguish of living in a country facing difficult times.  Her passion, courage and determination will move you to laughter and tears, and to the vivid realisation that even the most unlikely dreams can come true.

Andrea McKain, Fellow Information Technology Professional, Auckland, New Zealand


Sharon Pincott vividly portrays both the tragedies and joys of a sometimes harsh world.  She writes engagingly about all of the animals that she encounters, but it is her descriptions of elephant behaviour that are truly outstanding.  I felt that I was there with her among the elephants that she cares so passionately about.  I could see and smell and feel what she described.  Zimbabwe’s ‘Presidential Elephants’ are fortunate indeed to have such a dedicated advocate.

Cynthia Moss, Director, Amboseli Elephant Research Project, Kenya


This is an evocative tale of untamed Africa, illustrated throughout to afford us a privileged glimpse into Sharon’s special flair for wildlife photography, in which she pays due homage to her hero.

Mandy Keating, Singer/Songwriter/Musician, Melbourne, Australia     


An inspiring and delightful account of Sharon's many and varied experiences while studying Zimbabwe’s unique elephant clan, clearly demonstrating her passion and concern for these magnificent creatures.  Her amusing portrayals of the antics of the animals are pleasantly reminiscent of Gerald Durrell, awarded conservationist and best-selling author dating back to the 1950s.  Written with a relaxed natural charm, this memoir embodies not only Sharon’s love for the elephants, but for everything ‘Out of Africa’.

Colin Gillies, Vice President, ‘Wildlife and Environment Zimbabwe’


As a fellow elephant lover, I was deeply moved by Sharon's account of her day-to-day life amongst the ‘Presidential’ giants, particularly by the elephants' sensitive reaction to her assistance in the face of horrific snaring injuries.  I felt her pain and frustrations during the times that she was unable to help and shared her joys when things went well and lives were saved.  There can be no doubting Sharon's dedication, and her great love of wild Africa.

Barbara Westbrook, Secretary, ‘Elefriends Australia’, 1995-2003


Evident throughout this memoir lies an impassioned plea for the perpetual wellbeing of ‘The Presidential Elephants of Zimbabwe’.  Their future is uncertain.  Hopefully Sharon’s timely publication will generate a greater awareness of what we all stand to lose should they cease to exist as a secure and specially protected population. 

Alan Elliott, Founder of ‘The Presidential Elephants of Zimbabwe’



Profits from the sale of this book will aid wildlife conservation in Africa







After the death of a Zimbabwean friend, Sharon Pincott abandoned her career as an Information Technology Consultant ‘Down Under’ to live amongst the elephants of Africa.  So began her life in wild Africa and her love affair with ‘The Presidential Elephants of Zimbabwe’. 


Instead of keeping a daily journal, Sharon wrote regular narratives vividly capturing her day-to-day life in the African bush.  Surrounded by wildlife, she studied the elephants, getting to know them individually on land bordering Hwange National Park in western Zimbabwe.  These elephants quickly ranked amongst her closest companions. 


During her first three years monitoring and recording the lives of the elephant families, Sharon experienced all facets of life in the African bush, from the wonder and joy of the wildlife and the wild places to the trials and tribulations of the same.  Whilst witnessing the heartbreaking effect that Zimbabwe’s decline in the early 2000s was having on the wild beauty surrounding her, she wrote of her new life:  “In an elephant’s rumble and in the feel of living ivory, I have found a life of meaning from which there can be no escape.”


This is a chronological collection of the true tales that Sharon recorded from her home in the Zimbabwean bush.


Experience life in untamed Africa through these extraordinary accounts.  You too may be tempted.


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