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A ruthless landlord, a good friend of Mugabe - and a killer

The Times, UK December 20, 2005

††††††††††† By Steve Bird
††††††††††† Nicholas van Hoogstraten was cleared of manslaughter in the
criminal courtsbut his victim's family persisted with a civil case that has
undermined the ruling

††††††††††† THE property baron who revelled in his reputation as a ruthless
businessman was declared a murderer by a High Court judge yesterday for his
part in the killing of a rival.

††††††††††† The landmark legal ruling against Nicholas van Hoogstraten came
despite the multi-millionaire being cleared of the manslaughter of Mohammed
Raja in the criminal courts.

††††††††††† Mr van Hoogstraten, who was not in court, said last night that
the case had been a time wasting exercise. He said: "If I wanted to get this
guy bumped off don't you think I would have made a better job of it?" Mr
Justice Lightman said that the tycoon had "recruited two highly dangerous"
henchmen to kill Mr Raja six years ago. The killing was aimed at stopping Mr
Raja, a businessman who refused to give into his tormentor's threats, from
suing him over a business deal.

††††††††††† Although Mr van Hoogstraten faces paying compensation, he will
not go to jail because the ruling has come from a civil court, not a
criminal one.

††††††††††† In the climax to a £6 million legal battle during which Mr Raja's
family tried to prove that Mr van Hoogstraten was a "psychopath", the dead
man's relatives praised the judgment, saying that it had been a devastating

††††††††††† Mr Raja, 62, was stabbed five times and shot at point blank
range after answering the doorbell at his home in Sutton, South London, in
July 1999. His killers, Robert Knapp, 57, and David Croke, 62, are serving
life for the murder.

††††††††††† Mr van Hoogstraten, 60, was sentenced to ten years at the Old
Bailey in 2002 for manslaughter but his conviction was later quashed by the
Court of Appeal because the original trial judge had misdirected the jury on
the law governing manslaughter.

††††††††††† The court held that he had failed to give them proper guidance
over the need to be sure that Mr van Hoogstraten envisaged and foresaw the
use of a loaded firearm by Croke and Knapp when they visited Mr Raja's home.
He spent 17 months in prison.

††††††††††† But Mr Justice Lightman said yesterday that he reached the
conclusion that Mr van Hoogstraten had ordered the killing "on the balance
of probabilities", the civil law standard of proof, "and indeed if it were
necessary, beyond reasonable doubt", the standard required in criminal law.

††††††††††† He said that Mr van Hoogstraten had even boasted of killing his
rival and threatened to repeat his actions if anyone else stood in his way.

††††††††††† The murder of Mr Raja had all "the hallmarks of a contract
killing by hit men" and there was no evidence that anyone other than Mr van
Hoogstraten had any motive.

††††††††††† The killers fired two shots at their victim, the first missed
and the second was fatal.

††††††††††† "I am satisfied that the recruitment of the two thugs was for
the purpose of murdering Mr Raja and not merely frightening or hurting him,"
the judge said. "The use of two violent thugs armed with a shotgun was more
than was needed to frighten or injure him. The second shot was deliberately
aimed at killing him.

††††††††††† "Mr Raja had at all times shown himself resilient, ready to
resist threats and to complain to the police. Nothing less than murder would
rid Mr van Hoogstraten of this thorn in his flesh."

The judge said: "Mr van Hoogstraten's purpose in murdering Mr Raja has not
been achieved because, contrary to his expectations, Mr Raja's family have
been as resilient as was Mr Raja in his lifetime in standing up to Mr van

Speaking on the steps of the High Court in London, Mr Raja's family said:
"Naturally, we are very pleased with the court's findings, but it has been a
devastating and uphill struggle to get here."

Mr van Hoogstraten speaking from the Courtland's Hotel in Brighton which he
owns, said last night: "This verdict is based on the conviction of two other
people. It ignores the fact that they are going back to the Court of Appeal
to have their convictions set aside. It's not if, it's when that happens.

"If I wanted to get this guy bumped off don't you think I would have made a
better job of it? I wouldn't have used one of my own tenants, it would have
been cleanly done with no way it could be traced back to me."

The judgment will only add to the businessman's brutal reputation. Known as
Mr H, he revels in his merciless reputation: his tenants are "filth",
ramblers trying to gain access to his land are "riffraff" and "nosy
†perverts" and he openly admits that his politics are "to the right of
Attila the Hun".

He has admitted exacting retribution, but always ensures that "the
punishment fits the crime". Estimated to be worth about £500 million, he has
made much of his wealth in Zimbabwe where he is one of the largest

He counts President Mugabe as a friend and praises him for being a "decent
and incorruptible" politician.

When Mr van Hoogstraten was released from jail after his conviction for
manslaughter, it was Mr Mugabe who was one of the first to congratulate him
for securing his freedom.

In recent years, the businessman became obsessed with Hamilton Palace, his
neo-classical, copper-domed mansion in Uckfield, East Sussex. At an
estimated cost of £40 million, it is believed to be one of the most
expensive homes built in the last century.

It is bigger than Buckingham Palace and has Louis XV furniture, a Holbein
painting, a 600ft art gallery and a mausoleum designed to hold Mr van
Hoogstraten's body after death for 5,000 years.

Born in Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, Mr van Hoogstraten's father, Charles
was a brutal and dominating figure who was away for long periods.

Mr van Hoogstraten described his mother Edna as a "whining cow" whom he
"clipped around the ear".

At the age of nine, he bought and sold postage stamps at his school before
selling them to professional stamp dealers.

By 18, he had bought his first hotel in Bermuda, before returning to
England, buying six properties London, and then investing in the housing
market in his home county. At 22, he announced that he was Britain's
youngest self-made millionaire and celebrated by putting 'van' in his name.

But behind his image as a respectable entrepreneur, lay the sinister methods
he used to amass his millions.

††††††††††† He was convicted of malicious damage and demanding £2,000 with
menaces after a grenade exploded at the home of the father of a business
partner whom he had accused of stealing stock. The judge condemned him as
arrogant, a bully and someone "who thinks he is an emissary of Beelzebub".

††††††††††† When his sentence was cut from nine to five years, an Appeal
Court judge said that he would grow out of his menacing ways. However
despite amassing a fortune in the property boom of the 1980s, tenants
complained of being threatened, one said that he was knifed, and Mr van
Hoogstraten was accused of cutting off heat and lighting to an old people's

††††††††††† In 1972 he was convicted of corrupting a prison officer.

††††††††††† Three years ago he was fined £1,500 for contempt of court for
telling a barrister: "You dirty bastard . . . in due course, you are going
to have it."

††††††††††† When interviewed about the murder, Mr van Hoogstraten
volunteered the statement that he could not understand how the attackers
missed with their first shot, the judge said.

††††††††††† Peter Irvin, for the Raja family, told the judge: "Your judgment
shows Mr van Hoogstraten to be a cowardly and murderous thug who will stop
at nothing to preserve his miser's hoard."

††††††††††† The judge ordered Mr van Hoogstraten to pay £500,000 interim
costs on an "indemnity" basis - the highest scale of costs and often
regarded as punitive - within two weeks.

††††††††††† The lawsuit against Mr van Hoogstraten returns to court for a
procedural hearing next month. The judge aims to conclude the entire case by
the end of February.

††††††††††† A FAMILY'S FIGHT

††††††††††† July 2, 1999: Mohammed Raja, 62, is stabbed and shot at his home
in Sutton

††††††††††† July 19, 2002: Robert Knapp and David Croke are convicted of

††††††††††† July 22, 2002: Mr van Hoogstraten is cleared of murder, but
found guilty of manslaughter. He is jailed for ten years in October

††††††††††† December 12, 2002: Mr Raja's family wins £5 million in a suit by
Mr Raja against Mr Hoogstraten

††††††††††† July 23, 2003: The Court of Appeal quashes the manslaughter
conviction. It orders a retrial

††††††††††† December 8, 2003: The Appeal Court rules there is no foundation
for a manslaughter case. Mr van Hoogstraten is freed; the prosecution drops
its case

††††† November 23, 2005: A civil case brought by the family of Mr Raja
begins at the High Court

††††† December 19, 2005: The High Court holds Mr Hoogstraten responsible for
the death of Mr Raja

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UN Says Famine in Southern Africa Averted


††††† By Catherine Maddux
††††† Washington
††††† 20 December 2005

Officials from the U.S. Agency for International Development and the World
Food Program say enough food has been delivered to avert famine in southern

Michael Hess of the USAID says the food situation in southern Africa is
always precarious. "As you all know this chronic situation in southern
Africa, lot's of complications that have to do with chronic poverty and AIDS
that's endemic in this part of the world that leads to serious problems
almost every year," he said.

Mr. Hess says USAID and WFP were able to get food aid to six southern
African nations in a timely manner. With the United States contribution of
$280 million worth of aid, a total of 370,000 metric tons of food has been
delivered to the region, bringing hope for the estimated 12.5 million people
at risk of shortages.

The six southern African nations are Malawi, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Zambia,
Mozambique, and Swaziland.

The agencies say the food crisis is the result of a combination of prolonged
drought, chronic poverty, bad governance and the ongoing devastation of HIV
and AIDS.

"That means fewer people who can be farmers. ...many of them are just weak,
too weak. nowadays to do traditional farming. And therefore it is not a
crisis that is going to disappear in the coming few years unfortunately,
said Jean-Jacques Graisse, the deputy executive director for the World Food

Among the six nations, Malawi and Zimbabwe are the worst off, with an
estimated 10 million people in need in food aid.

Despite strained relations between the government of Zimbabwe, which earlier
this year refused to accept international food aid, and the World Food
Program, Mr. Graisse says he's confident a recent memorandum of
understanding will make it possible to get the aid to those who need it.

"We have good working relations with the government in the sense that they
have agreed with us on how we can do food distributions through, in our
case, mostly through international NGO's, so that we know where the food
goes, and there is clear agreement that they won't interfere with our
distributions," he said.

But Mr. Hess acknowledges that while famine was averted this year, the food
situation in the southern African region is always precarious and needs to

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Without homes to call their own, Zimbabwe's poor struggle

Boston Globe

Government, UN spar on ways to provide shelter
By Robyn Dixon, Los Angeles Times† |† December 20, 2005

KILLARNEY, Zimbabwe -- Six months after the government tore down her house,
Sifelani Lunga lies sweating in a dirt-floored shack on the same desolate
stretch of mud. Just coming back has made her a fugitive.

Like thousands of people dumped in rural areas after the government razed
squatter shacks and street stalls, she crept back to the remains of this
settlement outside Zimbabwe's second-largest city, Bulawayo, because she
could not survive in the countryside.
As the Zimbabwe government and United Nations argue about providing shelter
for the people who have been thrown out of their homes, thousands like Lunga
have no secure refuge and live in fear of police raids.

The UN's top humanitarian affairs official, Jan Egeland, tried to persuade
President Robert Mugabe this month to accept tents for those left homeless
after the government implemented ''Operation Murambatsvina," a Shona phrase
meaning ''clean out the filth." The demolitions, which began in late May,
destroyed the homes of 700,000 people and affected 2.4 million people,
according to a critical UN report.

''The humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe is extremely serious, and it is
deteriorating," Egeland told journalists after his visit this month,
describing the evictions as ''one of the worst things at the worst possible
moment in Zimbabwe."

But Mugabe told Egeland, ''We are not a tents people. . . . We believe in
houses," reported presidential spokesman George Charamba, who was quoted in
the state-owned Herald newspaper.

The government has agreed, however, to accept food aid for 3 million hungry
people, almost a quarter of the country's population.

Zimbabwe announced a massive housing construction plan in the aftermath of
Operation Murambatsvina, but as December began only a few hundred houses had
been built and the program had ground to a halt. Human Rights Watch said the
program was unaffordable to the vast majority of displaced people because it
required proof of regular salary and payment of a deposit.

After riot police and bulldozers destroyed houses in Killarney, thousands of
displaced people found shelter in the city's churches until police evicted
them again. They were sent to the countryside in what critics call a
campaign to dismantle the opposition's urban support.

When Lunga, a 43-year-old widow with HIV, arrived in the village she'd been
exiled to, she found no food and no clinic. She struggled back to the ruins
of Killarney, along with hundreds of others, but she has no money for
transport to Bulawayo clinics or churches where food is handed out, and is
too ill to make the walk of nearly two hours.

She lay curled on a ragged blanket on the dank ground in a smoky, leaking
hut. She had a fever and had been vomiting for three days.

Pastor Albert Chatindo of the Christian Faith Fellowship Church is
coordinating efforts to trace those evicted and to feed the hungry, but he
said the churches did not have enough food or vehicles to feed those sent
into the country.

''I see the government has no love for the people. Since they moved them and
dumped them, they never followed up," he said. Chatindo said the demolitions
dismantled delicate social networks of support: Most people had no family or
friends in the rural areas they were sent to. Some had been rejected by
local chiefs.
''People are not accepting them. They are accused of being the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change," he said referring to the only significant
opposition party, now bitterly split. ''People say to us, 'Why are you
giving food and shelter to these people? They are not your children.' "

In Bulawayo, churches are not allowed to distribute food to the returning

''We can't take the food out there because if we do, we're confronting the
government structures. They must come and collect it," he said. ''But we
have defied the rules. I often take porridge or mealie [corn] meal to the
sick people. You have to save lives."

There is a furtive and frightened atmosphere amid the scattered makeshift
huts that several hundred people have hastily thrown up in Killarney and at
the Ingozi mine outside Bulawayo.

''When the police come, they'll definitely destroy these shacks," said one
returnee, Jutias Muleya, 37. ''We are not really safe here."

Chatindo said the number returning grows daily: ''People are flocking back
here. They could not make it where they were."

One who came back, Bernard Ncube, 52, has been unemployed for 10 years. He
used to scrape a living panning gold near Killarney to feed his four
children, but since the evictions there has been no way to make money.

He was sent to Mbembesi village, about 50 miles from Bulawayo, and stayed
three months, but he had no relatives or friends there and no work.

''It is far away. There was no way to live there. I came back here to find
money to buy food," he said, but he relies on Bulawayo churches for food.

''If I could find a job. . . . " He trailed off. ''But by now I can't get a
job. I can't do anything."

© Copyright 2005 Globe Newspaper Company.

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Czech noble family defending their farm in Zimbabwe

Prague Daily Monitor

PRAGUE, Dec 19 (CTK) - The family of former Czech noble woman Elisabeth von
Pezold, who is claiming the return of immense family property in the Czech
Republic, has so far resisted all efforts to expropriate their farm and
lands in Zimbabwe, the latest issue of the weekly Tyden writes.

In the past few years, gangs of alleged "war veterans" have forced dozens of
white farmers to leave their property in Zimbabwe in fears of death. It has
led to a steep decline of the country's economy based on farming as a tragic
consequence of President Robert Mugabe's "land reform," the weekly says.

In mid-April 2000 tens of "veterans" invaded the Pezolds' farm Forrester
Estate, situated 100 kilometres north of Zimbabwe's capital Harare, and they
threatened with violence to make the family leave their lands, Alzbeta
Pezold's son Heinrich recalled.

Luckily, their black employees armed with wooden sticks only defended the
Pezolds and pushed the intruders from the farm?.

The Pezold family employs 1,800-2,500 people at the farm covering 22-hectare
area where they can live with their families. The Pezolds have also built up
four schools for their employees' children. The family directly or
indirectly provides work for a total of 10,000 locals, Tyden writes.

That is why local workers are very loyal to the Pezold family. If the farm
were expropriated by veterans, they would lose their jobs and would be
expelled along with the white farmers.

Nevertheless, "veterans" have already occupied several areas on the Pezold
land and the family must "coexist" with them. The occupants' neglected plots
are easy to recognise from the cultivated neat tobacco fields and pastures
run be the Pezold farm, Tyden says.

Heinrich, who graduated from economics, history and philosophy, said he
feels understanding for their "new neighbours" who have to a certain extent
become "victims of propaganda and manipulations" and they suffered from
hunger and poverty.

The Pezolds bought the Forrester Estate farm in 1988 and they invested high
sums in its development, including the construction of large water
reservoirs of 27 million cubic metres that cost about six million dollars,
since the whole country is short of water sources.

The farm is situated in the middle of a beautiful hilly landscape with
picturesque rocks and caves with some ancient native paintings preserved.
However, the Pezolds have no time to enjoy the romantic scenery as they have
to fight hard for survival every day.

The Pezolds, who hold German citizenship, are among the now 24 German
farmers in Zimbabwe. Berlin is doing the utmost to protect their interests
during Mugabe's regime.

Most of the German farmers want to stay in this African country. They
believe that the situation will gradually improve. They usually bought their
farms and settled down in Zimbabwe after the country became independent, so
veterans cannot in their cases apply the practice of "just confiscations of
colonists' lands," Tyden points out.

Moreover, the German-Zimbabwe agreement on the protection of investments
plays into the farmers' hands, as it gives them the right to a full
financial compensation if their farms were expropriated.

"We are enormously grateful to Germany. Were it not for its embassy, we may
have not existed at all," Heinrich's father, Ruediger Pezold, told the

Heinrich said that they faced the first attempts to drive them out from the
land ten years ago and since then they have regularly met with veterans'
threats. Despite that they decided to resist.

Ruediger admits he cherishes hope in Zimbabwe's judiciary system, recalling
that the Supreme Court decided in their favour three times, calling all
attempts to expropriate their farm illegal.

"It costs a lot of efforts and tomorrow anything can happen, but you must
decide to hold on. Hold on and not to run away!" Ruediger stressed, adding
that 83 white farmers from the surroundings have given it up and their
nearest white neighbour lives 60 kilometres away.

The Pezolds are not willing to give up either their farm in Zimbabwe or the
family property in the Czech Lands confiscated after WW2. Elisabeth von
Pezold, heiress of the Schwarzenberg- Pezold noble family, has since 1992
led a number of restitution disputes, claiming the family estate in the
Czech Republic, including famous chateaus in UNESCO-listed Cesky Krumlov and
Hluboka, south Bohemia, and two palaces near Prague Castle.

So far their pictures at least decorate the walls of the Pezolds' Forrester
Estate in Zimbabwe, Tyden writes in conclusion.


This story copyright 2005 CTK Czech News Agency.
The Prague Daily Monitor and Monitor CE are not responsible for its content.

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Zimbabwe introduces road tolls

People's Daily

††††† Zimbabwean Minister of Transport and Communications Christopher
Mushohwe said on Monday that the government would soon introduce road tolls
at all border posts, a development that would see motorists being charged at
entry and exit points of the country.

††††† The fees will apply to both local and foreign-registered vehicles that
use the country's border posts, according to the minister.

††††† South Africa-registered lighter vehicles using the country's border
posts would have to pay 30 rand (about 4.6 US dollars) per entry and a
similar figure when exiting while the Botswana- registered lighter vehicles
would be charged 25 pula (about 4 dollars) per entry and exit.

††††† Other foreign-registered vehicles would be required to pay 5 US
dollars per entry and exit.

††††† For local light vehicles using the country's border posts, a charge of
150,000 Zimbabwean dollars (about 2 US dollars) would apply with local heavy
vehicles paying 300,000 Zimbabwean dollars (about 4 US dollars).

††††† "We are still carrying out infrastructural work before we start
charging tollgate fees for our local cities, and in three or so months time
we should start charging tollgate fees for the major cities," said the

††††† "The money that we would be charging would be used to rehabilitate and
maintain those roads," he said.

††††† Fee levels for foreign-registered heavy vehicles that have already
been paying the charge would be determined by load and distance.

††††† The introduction of levies has been a burning issue with
parliamentarians having to question Deputy Minister of Transport and
Communication Hubert Nyanhongo in the House in August this year on progress
over the matter.

††††† The deputy minister assured them then that preparations were at an
advanced stage.

††††† Road tolls would go a long way in improving road maintenance,
particularly the highways, where the fee would be chargeable.

††††† The system is used in many developed countries and others on the
continent such as South Africa where motorists driving on major highways pay
at certain points for the maintenance of the roads.

††††† Several towns and cities, including Harare and Masvingo, have had
long-standing plans to introduce road tolls, which is a common feature in
other countries but a relatively new concept in Zimbabwe.

††††† Source: Xinhua

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Beitbridge pile-up nightmare for travellers

New Zimbabwe

By Lebo Nkatazo
Last updated: 12/20/2005 17:58:39
THOUSANDS of holiday travelers have been left stranded at the Beitbridge
border post after South African customs officials got overwhelmed by the
number of people entering and exiting Zimbabwe.

Tempers were running high at the Beitbridge border post in Limpopo, the SABC
reported Sunday.

Motorists wanting to enter Zimbabwe were having to wait in long queues while
their documents are processed. Some travellers told the public broadcaster
they have been waiting more than 24 hours.

A reporter on the scene said stationary vehicles stretched back some 12km
from the frontier.

On Monday, South African officials said an additional 12 customs officials
had been rushed to the busy border post to help clear the backlog.

Nkosana Sibuyi, the home affairs spokesperson, says this time of the year
always poses a challenge.

He said customs authorities were continuing to try to normalise the

South Africa is Zimbabwe's biggest trade neighbour. South African officials
estimate that there is close to 2,5 million Zimbabweans on their soil - most
of them illegal immigrants fleeing Zimbabwe's economic decline.

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Bail for 'thieving' Zanu PF editor

New Zimbabwe

By Lebo Nkatazo
Last updated: 12/20/2005 18:01:07
THE editor of the official newspaper for Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu PF party has
been bailed by a magistrate after appearing in court charged with theft by

Lovemore Mataire, editor of The Voice and close confidante of Zimbabwe's
ruling elite is accused of diverting $6 million from the publication into
his personal savings account over a period of 14 months.

State prosecutors say Mataire instructed the newspaper's street vendors to
deposit money generated through sales into his personal account between
April 2004 and October 2005.

Harare magistrate Robin Mzyece released the journalist on $500 000 bail and
ordered him to return to court on January 3, 2006.

State prosecutor, Blessing Mhande, told the court Thursday that Mataire
instructed vendors to deposit money realised from sales into his Central
African Building Society (CABS), which he went on to withdraw and use.

Since he took over the editorship of the paper two years ago, Mataire has
found himself at the end of accusations of not being up to the task.

In one scathing attack, President Robert Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba
savaged the former Herald reporter, calling him a "failed and incompetent
editor who makes spectacular political and editorial goofs".

Mataire, who escaped prosecution two years ago after causing the death of a
Central Intelligence Officer in an accident while driving a Zanu PF car is
said to enjoy the support of Zanu PF's information supremo, Nathan

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Soldiers to become farmers in Zim food crisis


††† Basildon Peta
††††††††† December 20 2005 at 09:48AM

††††† The Zimbabwean government has begun to deploy thousands of soldiers to
state-owned commercial farms where they are expected to produce food under a
new farming operation called "command agriculture".

††††† Following his unprecedented admission that his land-grab policies had
not ensured food security, President Robert Mugabe told Zanu-PF's annual
conference recently that the government should now be at the forefront of

††††† Officials in the Zimbabwe National Army said more than 5 000 soldiers
would be deployed on farms owned by the state-owned Agricultural and Rural
Development Agency (Arda) to produce food under a plan called Operation Food

††††† They said the deployment had already started on farms in the three
Mashonaland provinces and in Manicaland.

††††† "We have a professional army with multi-skilled officers in
engineering, agriculture, construction and many other sectors of the
economy. Whenever there is a disaster, the army is called upon by the
government to intervene and help the civilian operation," said an army
officer who did not want to be named.

††††† "It goes without saying that there is a crisis in the country - a
serious food crisis - and it only makes sense that the government wants to
use the army's expertise to ameliorate this situation.

††††† "We are not at war and have all the time to work on farms."

††††† Officials in the army's public relations directorate did not return
calls for comment.

††††† But State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa, who is also in charge of
land reform and food-aid distribution, has confirmed and defended the use of
soldiers in farming in an interview with a Zimbabwean publication.

††††† "They (the army) have been helping in other government operations. The
army has agricultural experts and the manpower, and we are sure they will
come in handy," Mutasa said.

††††† It is understood that the government plans to re-confiscate some of
the under-utilised farms allocated to mostly government supporters and put
them under the army's control.

††††† Mugabe has already expressed frustration with what he calls "cellphone
farmers", whom he says have not put their allocated land to good use.

††††† But farming experts are pessimistic.

††††† A chief executive at a major farming supplies company dismissed the
plan as "an indirect admission of failure".

††††† He said: "I don't exactly understand why they think they can convert
soldiers into farmers." - Independent Foreign Service

††††† This article was originally published on page 2 of The Star on
December 20, 2005

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'More should be done' for Zim


20/12/2005 08:04† - (SA)

Copenhagen - Denmark, a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, on
Monday called on the African Union and the Southern African Development
Community to step up the search for a solution to the humanitarian crisis in

"We would like to make it clear that we call on the African Union and SADC
to become more involved in finding a solution to the crisis in Zimbabwe,"
Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller said ahead of a Security Council
meeting on Africa.

According to the United Nations, some 700 000 Zimbabweans were left homeless
or without income or both, while another 2.4 million were affected in
varying degrees during a house demolition campaign that began in May and
ended in July this year.

Zimbabwe police and recruits used bulldozers and sledgehammers to demolish
shacks, homes, market stalls and small businesses in poor areas across the
country during what was dubbed Operation Murambatsvina, or "Drive Out

"I would ... like to urge President (Robert) Mugabe to allow the UN to hand
out food aid," Moeller said on Monday, adding that Zimbabwe was in the grips
of a "human-made catastrophe with serious human rights abuses".

Zimbabwe is in a severe economic crisis, with some 80% of the population
living under the poverty threshold, more than 70% jobless and inflation
running at over 400%.

The United Nations estimates that some 4.3 million Zimbabweans are in need
of food aid.

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CIO To Be Deployed To High Schools To Curb Exam Fraud

Zim Daily

††††††††††† Tuesday, December 20 2005 @ 12:49 AM GMT
††††††††††† Contributed by: correspondent
††††††††††† Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) agents will next year be
deployed to secondary schools around the country to investigate and
eradicate corruption and fraud in the Zimsec O and A Level examinations.
Education ministry sources said CIO spies would be used to infiltrate
syndicates trading in illegal and leaked exam material. Zimdaily heard that
the agents will among other things "monitor certain schools in order to
expose individuals and syndicates involved in illegal trade of exam related

††††††††††† Education ministry permanent secretary Stephen Mahere could
neither confirm nor deny that CIO spies would be unleashed on schools but
said it was "standard procedure" to conduct security clearance and that
other security measures were confidential. Top Education ministry sources
said an army of CIO spies would be deployed to carry out security clearance
on all invigilators. Zimdaily heard that other agents would be assigned to
Chester House, Zimsec's Harare offices, to monitor the storage and movement
of exam material.

††††††††††† The move is in line with recommendations made by an unnamed
"exams quality assurer" enlisted by the Education ministry during the
November final exams to monitor the running of the exams. The explosive
report, shown to zimdaily, among other things cites laxity of invigilation,
a high prevalence of exam fraud and general decline in the standard of
exams. The damning report, also implicates 73 schools including 21 private
schools in irregularities related to exam invigilation. Some of the schools
were found guilty of allowing pupils to cheat on their exams.

††††††††††† The dossier slams the "improper invigilation" and "general
sloppiness" in exam management and recommends the trawling of security
measures in the management of exams. Reports abound of leaked exam papers
ever since Zimbabwe localised its O and A Level exams. In fact statistics
reveal a growing number of teachers barred from conducting marking for the
next five years. Several people have been jailed for leaking exam papers
while others have been fired after being caught engaged in irregularities,
zimdaily heard.

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Exclusive: The Letter That Made Harare Back Down On Passport Seizure

Zim Daily

††††††††††† Tuesday, December 20 2005 @ 12:50 AM GMT
††††††††††† Contributed by: correspondent

††††††††††† Last week we revealed how Acting President Joseph Msika was
pressured by South African President Thabo Mbeki to climb down on the
controversial passport seizure regulation. For the sake of our readers,
zimdaily exclusively reveals the letter sent to Mbeki lobbying him to
intervene in the passport seizure case. Please note that the letter was also
copied to the European Commission President Josť Manuel Barroso, UN
secretary general Kofi Annan and the World Bank president John Wolfowitz.

††††††††††† H.E. Thabo Mbeki
††††††††††† President of South Africa
††††††††††† The Presidency
††††††††††† Union Buildings, West Wing
††††††††††† Government Avenue
††††††††††† Pretoria 0001
††††††††††† Republic of South Africa

††††††††††† Fax: (+ 2712) 323 82 46 / 2573

††††††††††† Vienna, 14 December 2005

††††††††††† Your Excellency,

††††††††††† The International Press Institute (IPI), the global network of
editors, leading journalists and media executives in over 110 countries,
invites you to use your office to raise the issue of press freedom in
neighbouring Zimbabwe at the highest levels of the Zimbabwean government. In
particular, IPI calls on Your Excellency to express the concerns of the
South African government and the wider international community at the
confiscation of publisher Trevor Ncube's passport and the growing evidence
that the Zimbabwean government intends to target a list of around 60 people
in the same manner under an amendment to the Zimbabwean Constitution.

††††††††††† The list of those apparently targeted is a disturbing roll call
of individuals committed to defending press freedom and freedom of
expression within Zimbabwe. They include editors and journalists, human
rights lawyers, poets and politicians. All of them risk having their
passports and travel documents confiscated by the authorities for merely
attempting to travel. The Zimbabwean government's decision to act in this
manner represents not only an effective ban on free movement, but is also
strong evidence of its desire to persecute and confine those who have
struggled hardest to maintain a semblance of freedom of expression within
the country. When examining the dire situation in Zimbabwe, IPI is convinced
that Your Excellency and the South African government must now show the
necessary leadership in this increasingly worrying matter.

††††††††††† It is IPI's opinion that Your Excellency and the South African
government are uniquely positioned to provide this leadership. Given South
Africa's modern history of overthrowing apartheid, and its many brutalities
and intimidations, no other country in Southern Africa is better placed to
remind the Zimbabwean government of the need to uphold fundamental human
rights and freedoms, including freedom of expression. Moreover, while subtle
diplomacy has its place, IPI believes that, as the pressures on the media
and many others increase almost daily, the time has now come for Your
Excellency to forcibly speak out and to give effective leadership to others
in their own condemnation of these repressive actions.

††††††††††† At the IPI 43rd Annual Assembly in 1993, your predecessor,
President Nelson Mandela, when addressing the IPI Congress, said, "A
critical, independent and investigative press is the lifeblood of any
democracy. The press must be free from state interference." Later in the
same year, when writing in the U.S. journal Foreign Affairs, President
Mandela wrote, "South Africa's future foreign relations will be based on our
belief that human rights should be the core concern of international
relations, and we are ready to play a role in fostering peace and prosperity
in the world we share with the community of nations."

††††††††††† IPI believes that President Mandela's words represent statements
of intent to be applied by the South African government everywhere,
including Zimbabwe, where the "lifeblood" of the independent press has been
thinned by persistent and repressive state interference. It should also be
recognised that a failure to take a committed stance on the matter of
freedom of expression in Zimbabwe also has potential risks for South Africa.
Throughout the world, a free and independent media operates as a barometer
of national events. Taking into account the grave economic conditions within
Zimbabwe, there is a danger that, without a free media to give warning, a
sudden crisis will occur that could have an unforeseen impact on South

††††††††††† Since its formation in 1950, IPI has supported freedom of
expression within South Africa and we are proud that the long years of
apartheid have given way to the open policies of a democratic government
committed to upholding human rights. However, we invite Your Excellency to
think back to a time when there remained an urgent need for vocal and
forcible international condemnation of apartheid and it was not always

††††††††††† As in yesteryear, there is now a growing need for international
condemnation of the repressive actions of a single country and we urge Your
Excellency to take the lead by coordinating this action, thereby reminding
the world that South Africa supports the right of ordinary citizens in every
country to express themselves without fear of intimidation.

††††††††††† We thank you for your attention.

††††††††††† Yours sincerely,

††††††††††† Johann P. Fritz
††††††††††† Director

††††††††††† International Press Institute (IPI)
††††††††††† Spiegelgasse 2/29
††††††††††† A-1010 Vienna
††††††††††† Austria
††††††††††† Tel: + 431-512 90 11
††††††††††† Fax: + 431-512 90 14
††††††††††† E-mail:

††††††††††† CC
††††††††††† H.E. Kofi Annan
††††††††††† Secretary-General
††††††††††† Office of the Secretary-General
††††††††††† United Nations
††††††††††† One, United Nations Plaza
††††††††††† New York, N.Y. 10017, USA
††††††††††† Fax: (+1212) 963-1921

††††††††††† H.E. Josť Manuel Barroso
††††††††††† President
††††††††††† European Commission
††††††††††† 200 rue de la Loi
††††††††††† 1049 Brussels, Belgium
††††††††††† Fax: (+ 322) 295 01 38

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14 African leaders to witness Tanzanian presidential swear-in


††††† 2005-12-20 13:49:52

††††††††† DAR ES SALAAM, Dec. 20 (Xinhuanet) -- Thirteen presidents and one
king all from Africa will witness the swear-in by the next Tanzanian
president on Wednesday, according to a Foreign Ministry statement.

††††††††† The Tanzanian Foreign Ministry, whose incumbent portfolio chiefis
most likely the candidate to be announced as the president-elect, said that
these heads of state would come from Botswana, Burundi, Comoros, the
Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South
Africa, Sudan, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

††††††††† The king will come from Lesotho while the Namibian prime minister
and Swazi deputy prime minister are among the dozens of other dignitaries
that include foreign ministers and special envoys from such institutions as
the African Union, the East African Community, the Southern African
Development Community and the World Bank.

††††††††† China, the United States, Egypt, Japan and South Korea are sending
their special well-wishers to Tanzania for Wednesday's swear-in ceremony.

††††††††† Tanzanian Foreign Minister Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete has been returned
as the leader of the presidential polls, with 80.23 percent of the total
valid votes cast last Wednesday to his credit.

††††††††† His nearest rival was Ibrahim Haruna Lipumba representing the
country's largest opposition party of Civic United Front with 11.61 percent
of the total votes under his tally.

††††††††† Tanzania last Wednesday held its third multiparty general
elections with 72.28 percent of the 16,399,169 registered voters having
turned out to cast their ballots. Enditem

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Zimbabwe bans jatropha tree exports

People's Daily

††††† The Zimbabwean Agriculture Ministry has banned its jatropha tree
export and adopted the tree along with cassava as major development crops
for the next five years, according to a local press report on Tuesday.

††††† Joseph Made, the minister of agriculture, said on Monday his ministry
would also work to increase production of sugarcane, castor bean and soy
bean, as it seeks to develop crops which can be used to develop bio-fuel.

††††† "This means that the crops, which we are calling new crops, will be
developed with great vigor and a lot of energy will be put in the planting,
marketing and funding of the crops," he said.

††††† "Special emphasis will, however, be placed on jatropha because of the
quantity of bio-fuel it can produce," said Made.

††††† "In addition, the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim) will
become the sole buyer of the crop while the Grain Marketing Board will be
involved in the distribution of the seeds because we want them to be
distributed widely," said the minister.

††††† He said although the country had conducted some useful research on
jatropha, a team of agronomists and researchers would be sent to India,
Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo for further explore the
optimum capacity of the plant.

††††† He said his ministry would begin vigorously promoting the crop next
year, adding that they were already making budgetary considerations for the

††††† Jatropha is a shrub-like tree which grows naturally in all regions of
the country. Its seed have between 30 and 40 percent oil content, which has
great potential in bio-diesel production.

††††† Cassava, which has also been targeted for development, is rich in
starch and ethanol. It is a high-energy plant, which is suitable for both
human and animal consumption.

††††† Source: Xinhua

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San fight attempts to move them

The Mercury

††††† Botswana's hunter-gatherers want to stay in spite of others' plans to
build a game reserve and possibly do some diamond mining on their ancestral
††††† December 20, 2005

††††† For more than 20 000 years, clans of hunter-gathers have survived in
central Botswana's stark desert plains. Now, a handful are left, locked in a
bitter dispute over their right to remain in what has been declared a
wildlife reserve.

††††† Botswana's efforts to remove two small ethnic Basarwa communities from
the Central Kalahari Game Reserve is the latest chapter in a long history of
dislocation and loss. Government officials argue that the Basarwas' changing
lifestyle is incompatible with wildlife conservation. They want the last
holdouts - estimated at just 30 - to be resettled where they can access
modern services such as schools and clinics.

††††† Basarwa activists accuse the government of forcing them off their
ancestral land at gunpoint to make way for diamond mining - charges denied
by authorities. Letsema Tshotlego, a member of the First People of the
Kalahari group, said he left the reserve in October to seek medical help for
his grandmother and had not been allowed back.

††††† "It hurts," he said, touching his heart. "My whole life is there. A
person never forgets where he comes from."

††††† Tshotlego's people, who speak a variety of the distinctive "click"
languages, were the original inhabitants of a vast area stretching from the
tip of South Africa to the Zambezi valley in Zambia and Zimbabwe. Their rock
paintings, wildlife knowledge and ability to survive in one of the harshest
environments on Earth have fascinated scholars. They were even the subject
of a hit movie, The Gods must be crazy. Also known as San or Bushmen, they
were driven to near extinction by tribes that started pushing south from
central Africa about 1 500 years ago and the Europeans who followed 350
years ago.

††††† The settlers took the most fertile land and the Basarwa retreated into
the Kalahari. Only an estimated 100 000 are left today, most living in
poverty on society's fringes. British colonial authorities set up the
Central Kalahari Game Reserve in 1961 to protect an area surprisingly rich
in wildlife and a fast disappearing way of life.

††††† Vehicles

††††† Botswana supported traditional communities after independence in 1966,
providing water, food and mobile clinics. With time, however, once-nomadic
families began building permanent settlements, raising goats and planting
crops. Instead of hunting on foot, their bows and arrows tipped with poison,
they started using horses and four-wheel-drive vehicles. The meat once
shared among the community was dried and sold as biltong.

††††† By 1985, wildlife officials were worried about environmental damage,
while district administrators were complaining about the cost of bringing
services to the remote settlements. It was decided to consolidate the
Basarwa in villages outside the reserve where they could "enjoy the fruits
of independence", said Ringo Ipoteng, council secretary in the district that
includes the park. About 2 000 Basarwa had relocated since 1997, most
persuaded by the offer of livestock and financial compensation, he said.

††††† Pogiso Ithuteng was among the first to leave, drawn by the promise of
education for his children. He now heads the village committee in Kaudwane
and uses his tracking skills to help tag leopards and lions in the reserve.

††††† "We can still teach our children to hunt. We can still teach our
children which wild fruits to gather," he said. "What can't we do?"
††††† Others, however, quickly became disillusioned with life in the bleak,
concrete block village on the reserve's southern edge. There is a clinic,
school, piped water and toilets. Job training is offered, but most of the
more than 500 residents rely on government handouts. Alcoholism,
prostitution and Aids are growing concerns. A small outdoor tavern is full
of people whiling away long, sweltering hours playing cards and drinking
beer under the trees.

††††† Prison

††††† Monday Mokwena tried farming, but says little grows in the sandy soil.
He wants to go back to the reserve, but is afraid of armed paramilitary

††††† "There we were free," he said, sipping tea from a tin cup outside a
traditional shelter made of thatch and branches.

††††† "Here we feel like we are in prison."

††††† As resistance mounted, officials adopted strong-arm tactics. Food and
water distribution were stopped and hunting licences withdrawn in the
reserve. Survival International, a British-based group campaigning for
indigenous peoples around the world, accuses officials of beatings and
torture - charges angrily denied by the government. In September authorities
closed the park's southern and central sections, saying this was necessary
to keep a skin disease from spreading from domestic goats to wildlife.
Tshotlego said his family's goats were trucked away. Relatives outside the
reserve were barred from bringing food and water.

††††† Police acknowledge they fired rubber bullets at Basarwa activists
trying to break through their blockades in October. One person was shot in
the jaw and another in the leg, witnesses say. Underlining the increasingly
bitter conflict is the possibility that diamonds glitter beneath the
shifting sands. Survival International has backed a legal case by about 240
Basarwa accusing the government of destroying their traditional way of life
to make way for mining, which accounts for three quarters of Botswana's
export earnings.

††††† It has also urged an international boycott of the De Beers diamond
giant, which along with the government controls Botswana mines.
††††† Officials say all mineral rights already belong to the government, and
the scattered Basarwa communities are unlikely to get in the way of
production in an area the size of Switzerland. The case will resume in

††††† - Sapa-AP

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