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

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CHRISTMAS MESSAGE 2002 to all Zimbabwean Christians
From Trudy Stevenson MP

We Zimbabweans are going to have a very lean Christmas this year.† Most of
us cannot visit our families, nor can we offer each other the gifts we would
normally give - there is no fuel and no money!† We will be lucky to have a
decent meal of any description on Christmas Day: there is no mealie meal, no
bread, no sugar, no salt, no margarine, no cooking oil . and now we hear
there is hardly any beef and that if we find a chicken we'll have to pay

We know whose fault all this is - the ZanuPF regime, whose Fast Track Land
destruction programme and now their Economic destruction programme have
ensured the destitution of the vast majority of Zimbabweans, all in the name
of holding onto POWER.

We Christians must not allow ourselves to be deprived of the joy of
Christmas.† We must not allow the illegitimate regime to destroy this
special time for us.

I believe that this is a golden opportunity for each of us to focus on the
real meaning of Christmas, the celebration of the Birth of Christ and the
gift He brings of Love to all mankind - and womankind!

I would like us to go to our various churches over this Christmas period,
and re-gain the religious aspect of this holiday.† Let us hear over and over
again the Christmas story of Bethlehem, of the poor couple fleeing for their
lives from the fanatical King Herod, and for whom there was no room in the
Inn - and so the Baby Jesus was born in a cattle shed.† How many poor
Zimbabweans have had to flee their homes these last three years since the
Referendum, as they have been persecuted for daring to support the
opposition, or simply because they were unfortunate enough to be living on a
commercial farm.

Let us remember all those persecuted Zimbabweans, and others who have been
and are persecuted in other ways.† Let each of us try to help at least one
other Zimbabwean who is less fortunate even than we ourselves are.† Yes, it
may take an effort - we will have to go out of our home and maybe to an area
we are not used to going - to a high-density area, or to a derelict farm
compound, or to a poor area of town, or to an old people's home.† But I can
assure you that if you go there with love for your fellow Zimbabweans, you
will be well rewarded with warmth and love in return.† If you can take an
old garment you no longer wear, or a kitchen or garden utensil you don't
really need, so much the better - or a toy or book that is no longer wanted,
or a packet of sweets or a tin of food no-one really needs in your family.
Go with your family, or with a friend or two - and share the real spirit of

Let this be our gift to each other this year - to get to know each other
better, and to help each other spend a Happy and Peaceful Christmas!

Not all the darkness in the world can put out the light of one small candle.
Let our candles burn bright, this Christmas - and remember that the greatest
gift of all is Love!

Trudy Stevenson MP
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Troubled Zimbabwe marks a cheerless Christmas


CHIRUNYA, Zimbabwe, Dec. 24 - Frail from hunger and desperate to quiet the
crying of her two starving children, Patricia Marapananga received a welcome
Christmas gift from international donors - a handout of corn meal.
†††††† ''They cry because I don't have anything to give them. But today we
are lucky,'' she said.
†††††† Zimbabweans, suffering their worst-ever economic crisis, faced a
bleak, cheerless holiday in this predominantly Christian nation plagued by
starvation, fuel shortages and a financial meltdown.
†††††† The economy has been crushed by nearly three years of political
violence. The government's seizure of thousands of white-owned commercial
farms has caused a collapse in agriculture, worsening the country's hunger.
†††††† Inflation hit a record 175 percent this month, according to the
government, but analysts say it is actually far higher.
†††††† Marapananga and another 1,470 families were given corn meal and
protein supplements by the World Food Program and the Christian Care charity
on Tuesday. But even that gift was bittersweet.
†††††† Marapananga received only half what she needs to feed her family for
the next month, when aid agencies will again bring food to this remote,
impoverished district 160 miles northeast of Harare.
†††††† ''There isn't enough to go round,'' said Hosea Muchapondwa, a
Christian Care project officer.
†††††† Donors have given only 60 percent of the food aid needed to help feed
the 6.7 million Zimbabweans - more than half the population - in danger of
starving, according to the World Food Program.
†††††† Addmore Mukumura, a Christian Care relief official, said careful
families might be able to squeeze one meal a day from the limited aid
rations. Interviews by relief officials in recent weeks showed some families
only scraped together one meal every two or three days.
†††††† ''There isn't the money in this area to buy food, even if it was
readily available,'' Mukumura said.
†††††† Many in the village have resorted to eating wild fruits and roots,
some of them chopped and repeatedly boiled to remove toxins.
†††††† Most years, relatives from Harare visit the village for Christmas,
bringing food, soft drinks, cigarettes and other gifts.
†††††† ''They are not coming. There's nothing to bring and they can't afford
the bus fare,'' said Brighton Hokonya, a father of eight.
†††††† Officials at Harare's main Mbare Msika bus station, which usually
ferries tens of thousands of city dwellers to their rural families on
Christmas Eve, have reported a sharp slump in passengers.
†††††† ''Business is very bad. Our buses haven't been able to get enough
fuel and people are worried if they get home they won't be able to get
back,'' said Johnson Kumbula, a ticket seller.
†††††† Long lines of vehicles still coiled around city blocks Tuesday as
motorists waited for promised gas deliveries the government said would ease
shortages ahead of the Christmas break.
†††††† Because drivers spend so much of the day waiting for gas, taxis have
stopped using their meters and buses have begun ignoring government-fixed
fares. Commuter fares have more than doubled in the past week.
†††††† In Chirunya, the traditional Christmas meal of bread, chicken and
rice is a distant dream for Marapananga's family this year.
†††††† Instead, she will mash seed pods from a stunted acacia tree to make a
sauce to go with the bland, boiled corn meal porridge she will cook over an
open fire.
†††††† ''There is nothing else,'' she said.
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Govt: We messed up

Harare - Zimbabwe's government has admitted failing to ensure adequate fuel
supplies for thousands of people to travel over the festive period.

Long and winding queues of cars formed at a few petrol stations that had the
scarce commodity in the capital on Wednesday while the majority went dry.

"I have to admit that the situation is bad," Reuben Marumahoko, the deputy
minister of energy and power development told the state daily The Herald in
a story on Wednesday.

The southern African country has experienced intermittent fuel shortages
since December 1999.

The acute shortages have been attributed to lack of foreign exchange to
import petroleum-based fuels and to corruption at the sole oil procuring
parastatal, National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM).

Despite promises by the government last week that it had acquired supplies
to ease the shortages over the Christmas holidays, petrol remained
critically scarce in Harare.

The shortage of fuel has led some public transport operators to raise their
fares to four times the normal rates.

The government announced last week that it had bought fuel worth more than
$15m from Independent Petroleum Group (IPG) of Kuwait, Sasol and Engen of
South Africa and Sandstone of Mozambique.


A vital fuel deal that President Robert Mugabe struck with Libya appears to
have run into problems of late.

Over the past two years, Tamoil, Libya's international oil firm had become
the single largest fuel supplier to Zimbabwe, accounting for about 70% of
the country's needs.

Under the deal Zimbabwe paid for fuel in local currency paid into a
Zimbabwean bank account. The payments would be offset with exports of beef,
tobacco, sugar and other selected products to Libya.

But the energy minister last week said "because of the reality on the
ground, we have not been able to meet Libya's requirements."

Zimbabwe is also experiencing shortages of basic commodities such as sugar
and beef, among others. - Sapa-AFP
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Poverty Driving Rural Zimbabweans to Desperate Measures

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

December 24, 2002
Posted to the web December 24, 2002


The poverty that has accompanied Zimbabwe's economic crisis has driven many
desperate rural people to prostitution, robbery and gold panning to survive,
the latest Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) report said.

"Cross border trading with neighbours Mozambique, Zambia and Botswana is
also on the increase as households try to find any way they can to make ends
meet," the report said.

With maize and wheat being sold at eight times the government-set price, and
oil, salt and rice prices escalating, income generating opportunities were
diminishing for rural households, FEWS NET said.

The demand for casual labour, which provided one of the few sources of cash,
had declined in 90 percent of rural villages while 96 percent of villages
reported a decrease in the flow of remittances from urban areas, researchers

As a result, 80 percent of rural households reported eating wild foods they
did not normally consume, which increased the risk of poisoning.

Preliminary results from a recent assessment trip by NGOs found that the
government-controlled Grain Marketing Board (GMB) and food aid sources were
supplying only about 40 percent of food needs in the rural areas, with the
remainder being met through parallel markets, wild foods, gifts and

Prospects were not much better in urban areas where workers battled
inflation and many did not even receive their traditional Christmas bonus.

The government's decision to provide relief by freezing the prices on a long
list of commodities saw prices shoot up on the parallel markets due to
shortages and demand.

The Zambia Post reported on Tuesday that the Zambian government had lifted
an anti-dumping import ban on certain commodities that speculators with
foreign currency were buying in Zimbabwe and selling cheaply in Zambia. A
set of controls would prevent further "dumping", the newspaper reported.

In addition to current food shortages, comparisons with previous planting
patterns and harvests, combined with predicted rainfall patterns and a
moderate El Nino, were causing concern over next year's food security

The total area under cultivation for food crops was less than 50 percent of
the 1990s average and for cash crops like tobacco, a vital foreign currency
earner, it was less than 25 percent of the average, FEWS NET said.

Over the past year, foreign exchange shortages have caused disruptions to
fuel supplies and the import of fertilisers and agricultural chemicals.

Agricultural production was also adversely affected by a lack of seed and
fertiliser, and a lack of energy among farmers too malnourished to plant

The land redistribution exercise had also created an environment of
uncertainty in the farming sector.

"If things do not improve, food security will once again be of major concern
in 2003-2004," FEWS NET said.

It urged the government to review its grain distribution system and said the
procurement and distribution of food aid needed to be stepped up urgently to
address the unmet needs of rural households.
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Fuel rationing grips Zimbabwe before Christmas

By Cris Chinaka

HARARE, Dec. 24 - Zimbabwean filling stations were extending petrol
rationing on Tuesday in response to an acute fuel shortage that has crippled
public transport and prevented many Christmas family reunions.
†††††† Oil industry sources said emergency imports were flowing in to ease
the three-week-old crisis, but shortages were still serious and thousands of
motorists and people returning to rural homes for Christmas were stranded in
towns across Zimbabwe.
†††††† Media said even burials had had to be postponed because mortuaries
were running out of fuel for their hearses.
†††††† ''Because there are no signs we are going to get the kind of fuel we
need, service stations have from today been forced to introduce strict
rationing measures,'' one service station attendant told Reuters.
†††††† Fuel company officials were not available to comment.
†††††† Energy and Power Development Minister Amos Midzi said on Monday that
Zimbabwe's state oil procurement monopoly NOCZIM had released nearly three
million litres of petrol (gasoline) onto the market on Saturday and Sunday.
†††††† He said another 1.9 million litres would hit the streets on Monday
and Tuesday, and that NOCZIM would go on importing fuel to ease the fuel
†††††† But industry officials have said the fresh supplies are too scanty to
cover Zimbabwe's needs, let alone an outbreak of panic buying. Midzi was
unavailable for comment on Tuesday.
†††††† In the capital Harare, about a dozen filling stations had fuel on
Tuesday and bus stations were choked with commuters looking for transport to
their rural homes.
†††††† Midzi has said a deal with Libya to supply 70 percent of the
country's fuel ran into problems because Zimbabwe was unable to supply the
beef, sugar and tobacco agreed as payment. He said Zimbabwe had no foreign
currency for other oil import deals.
†††††† The fuel crisis has deepened Zimbabwe's economic woes and sparked
public anger against President Robert Mugabe's government, in power since
independence from Britain in 1980.
†††††† Zimbabweans already face shortages of staples including bread, milk,
cooking oil and sugar. Relief agencies say nearly half the 14 million
population are going hungry.
†††††† Critics say the crisis has been made worse by Mugabe's seizures of
white-owned farms which have disrupted commercial farming. The 78-year-old
former guerrilla leader blames drought and sabotage by foreign and domestic
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Baltimore Sun
Zimbabweans scrabble along as economy erodes underfoot
Shortages: Despite ingenuity in the face of drought and hunger, a nation is increasingly divided into a few wealthy and many very poor.
By John Murphy
Sun Foreign Staff
Originally published December 24, 2002

HARARE, Zimbabwe -- From the Mercedes-Benz he drives to work to his new three-story mansion set in the hills outside the city, it is clear that Zimbabwe refrigerator manufacturer Callisto Jokonya is having a good year.

In any other country, such success would not be remarkable. But this is Zimbabwe, a country on the verge of economic collapse, where half the population is threatened by starvation and even the wealthy suffer from acute shortages of everything from milk to beef to cooking oil.

Jokonya acknowledges that his fortune defies logic: Why would Zimbabweans be buying refrigerators when they have no food to put inside?

The answer reveals less about what Jo- konya is doing right as a businessman than how much has gone wrong in Zimbabwe.

The country of 12 million people, once the breadbasket of Africa, has slid into its worst economic, political and humanitarian crisis since independence in 1980.

President Robert G. Mugabe's seizure of the country's white-owned farms -- launched more than two years ago -- has unraveled the agriculture-based economy, disrupted food production and left thousands of people out of work.

If that were not enough, Zimbabwe is one of six southern African countries hit by the worst regional drought in more than a decade, threatening the lives of 14 million people -- nearly half of them in Zimbabwe.

"Zimbabwe is at the epicenter of the crisis in southern Africa. It's the country where everything is at its worst," said Stephen Lewis, a United Nations special envoy to Africa, during a recent Zimbabwe visit.

To enter Zimbabwe today is to see a country turned upside down: Where 6.7 million people face starvation in a nation that was once celebrated for its ability to produce surplus food.

Where a severe fuel shortage has crippled transportation in the country, creating long lines of cars, taxis and buses waiting to fill up at gas stations nationwide. Where Zimbabweans not waiting for fuel spend much of their days and nights standing in equally long queues for such basic commodities as bread, sugar, salt and maize.

Where inflation is so high -- 144 percent this year and predicted to jump to 500 percent next year -- that some stores announce hourly price increases over loudspeakers.

Where, according to one recent economic report, workers who earned $150 a month in 1980 take home less than $15 today.

Where that worker would be considered lucky because more than 60 percent of the country's population is unemployed.

And where 10 percent to 20 percent of the population, frustrated with life here, has fled the country.

The Zimbabweans left behind, no longer trusting their currency, are scrambling to put whatever meager savings they have into assets that might keep their value: cars, bicycles, cell phones, houses and -- much to Jokonya's benefit this business year -- refrigerators.

"If I buy a fridge and I don't even use it, two months down the line it will be worth more," says Jokonya, who has invested his savings in apartments, an extra car and a second house.

The absurdities of Zimbabwe's economy are not limited to refrigerator sales. Although the vast majority of the country is hopelessly poor, there is a small group of people getting rich.

The stock market is booming. So is the property market, with housing costs up 400 percent in the past two years. Both, like the refrigerators, are viewed as investments that might keep pace with the runaway inflation.

No more middle class

There is a bizarre mix of affluence and poverty. Zimbabwe's well-to-do drive sports cars, build summer homes and flock to Harare's finest restaurants for three-course meals of filet mignon, prawns and goose. The poor flirt with a devastating famine.

"There are two classes of people in Zimbabwe today: the low class and the high class. There is no more middle class; they have fallen away to the low class," says Fungai Mutizhe, a used car dealer who is doing a brisk business this year. "In these hard times, there are people doing well taking advantage of the situation."

What's driving these economic distortions is the government's refusal to acknowledge the collapse of the currency. Officially, one U.S. dollar is worth 55 of Zimbabwe's currency. But on the black market, one U.S. dollar fetches 30 times that much.

The government, however, has bristled at calls for it to devalue the currency, blaming the crisis on enemies of the state. Inflation? That's the result of greedy money traders and businessmen. Shortages? Whites and opposition party leaders must be hoarding goods.

In an effort to curb inflation, the government recently slapped price controls on almost every imaginable item, from toilet paper to television sets, and shut down all foreign exchange dealers.

These measures only made life more difficult. Unable to sell their products at a profit with price controls, manufacturers are either closing their factories or selling their goods on the black market at hugely marked-up prices.

One Zimbabwe family complained that it spent one quarter of its $4 weekly income on a bar of soap.

Everyone, it seems, from flower sellers to restaurant owners to bellhops, is involved in the underground trade. No one appears to be afraid to get caught because, traders say, government officials are heavily involved in it themselves.

The only concern for currency traders is that the higher inflation grows, so does the weight of the Zimbabwe dollars they must haul around town.

"Have you ever carried 3 million Zimbabwe dollars [about $3,000]?" asked Krishna Makurumidze, a black market money trader. "It's heavy. You have to use a shoulder bag to carry it."

Problems acknowledged

One measure of just how far Zimbabwe has fallen is that Mugabe's government freely admits that the country has problems. Not too long ago, government officials offered perpetually sunny forecasts for the economy and the country's harvests.

Speaking this month at a conference of his ruling party, the Zanu-PF, Mugabe appealed to the country to work together to reverse the economic decline and end the shortages of food and almost all other goods. But he did not accept responsibility for any of these problems.

Instead he blamed a regional drought and his growing list of enemies: the British, the West, members of the country's main opposition party and, as always, the country's white population.

"We wish that more would join us as we seek common solutions to the hardships imposed on us by our detractors," Mugabe told his party leaders. The solution to all the country's challenges is land reform, Mugabe said.

But what's clear, critics say, is that land reform is the source of the country's ills.

Consider the case of Stan Magutakuona, 55, a peasant farmer who tilled a small patch of inferior farmland while he watched his white neighbors grow rich with their large commercial farms.

Like most Zimbabweans, Magutakuona wanted the government to correct the historic imbalance of land ownership that left former white colonists -- who make up less than 1 percent of the population -- with the majority of the best farmland.

But few were prepared for the tactics employed by Mugabe. His popularity waning in 2000, Mugabe unleashed bands of so-called "war veterans" on the countryside who seized the country's richest commercial farms for redistribution to black peasants. Of the country's 4,500 white-owned farms, about 4,000 were shut down in this way.

In the winter of 2000, Magutakuona was one of several dozen peasants who each received 30-acre plots of prime land on Rona Farm, a large white-owned commercial farm north of Harare. Magutakuona left behind his smaller, inferior piece of communal farmland nearby and moved his family onto his new property.

He was overjoyed, he recalled, at the prospect of perhaps living someday as well as the previous owner. But two years later, that dream, he says, is gone.

On a recent morning, Magutakuona emerged from the mud hut where he lives with his wife and two children. He was barefoot and dressed in a torn suit coat and tattered pants. His land grant did not include the white owner's home, his farm equipment or any guidance.

Tilling the land with an ox-drawn plow, Magutakuona produced 10 tons of maize last year. That harvest gave him enough for his family and a little left over to sell. He hoped to grow more, but without modern farming equipment it was difficult, he said. This year about half of his property was left fallow.

"Giving the black man the land is a noble idea, but the government must understand that we are in need of help," says Magutakuona. "It's not what I dreamt of."

Without the capital to invest in tractors, seed and fertilizer to plant, many resettled farmers have found it difficult to grow crops. They can't go to a bank for a loan because the government has not given the resettled farmers title to the property.

In the hands of a commercial farmer, who could use modern agricultural techniques, Magutakuona's plot might have produced more than 10 times that amount of maize.

Now repeat this exercise across thousands of pieces of farmland and it is easy to see why Zimbabweans -- even without a drought -- will be hungry, critics say.

"A single resettled farmer will be able to feed his own family, whereas the farmer he replaced could have fed thousands of families," says John Robertson, a Harare-based economist.

Deep political divide

Despite the clear shortcomings of the land-reform program, Mugabe has clung to it as the central policy of his government. Anyone who disagrees with him is dismissed as a supporter of the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, or MDC.

"They are the enemies of the people and our government. We must be on our guard. Our survival is an ongoing war," Mugabe said at the party conference this month.

A deep political divide separates the ruling party and the opposition. Just how deep it has become is clear in the town of Chegutu, about a two-hour drive southwest of Harare.

A year ago, Francis Dhlakama, a former primary school teacher and member of the MDC, won the mayoral race in Chegutu, an agricultural and mining community of 50,000 people. He defeated a member of Mugabe's Zanu-PF.

But winning the office was not as difficult as taking it. Members of the Zanu-PF refused to allow the newly elected mayor to enter City Hall, blocking the entries to him for more than a month. When he finally got in, the mayor discovered that the deputy mayor, a Zanu-PF member, had taken over the mayoral office. Later, the deputy mayor also seized the mayoral car.

His year in office has been hazardous work. When he tried to clean up corruption in the town finance department and reshuffle members of various departments, a band of Zanu-PF supporters tossed a gasoline bomb in his window.

When he went to the news media last month to voice his complaints, his house was pelted with rocks and his bushes were burned down.

The next day when he showed up at City Hall for work, a mob of 30 Zanu-PF supporters wielding pickaxes and iron bars attacked him. He barricaded himself inside the office until riot police arrived an hour later. He has not returned to City Hall since that day.

"I'm afraid of going to the office," said Dhlakama, in an interview from his Chegutu home, where he has been hiding for much of the past month. Two guards stood watch outside. "I'm trying to evacuate my family out of the country."

"Zanu-PF's strategy is to crush the opposition and crush them into insignificance," said a Western diplomat in Harare. "But even if they crush the MDC, they can't crush the opposition because at least half of the population, or more than half, is unhappy with the government."

In these times of hunger, whether you eat is political, too. In Chegutu, members of the Zanu-PF party who sit on the City Council receive government food to distribute in their districts; the mayor and the one opposition party council member receive none. MDC members here accuse the ruling party of handing out the food only to party supporters.

Food and politics

Chegutu is not the only place where such accusations have been made. Aid groups have accused Zimbabwe's government of withholding food from opposition party supporters. In October, the United Nations' World Food Program suspended operations in the southwestern district of Insiza when members of Mugabe's party seized tons of donated grain. The WFP, which has warned that it would not tolerate any politicization of its food, has since agreed to restart distribution.

There is a joke told on the streets of Zimbabwe these days: One Zimbabwean says to another: "Have you heard that Zimbabweans have the highest IQs in the world?"

"Really?" says the second Zimbabwean.

"Yes. I queue for gasoline. I queue for bread. I queue for sugar. I queue for maize. I queue for" (the latest item in short supply). The ability to joke in times of crisis reveals one of the oddities of the country. For all the problems here, people manage to limp along.

"The collapse of the Zimbabwean economy has seemed imminent for several years but, the more bleak things look from the outside, the more ways to survive are found in this resilient country," concludes a report released this month by South African Institute of International Affairs.

Closer look

From a distance, it could almost appear that nothing is wrong in the capital, Harare. Despite the fuel shortages, business carries on. Despite having to depend on a line of credit for electricity, the government held a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony. While hungry rural dwellers forage for roots and leaves and grow more dependent on international aid, the country's elite hold elaborate year-end banquets and dances in Harare's five-star hotels.

But look closer, and all the hardships come into view. In the past month, Harare residents worried about the safety of drinking water because the government lacked hard currency to import chemicals to keep the water clean. Dozens of companies were considering shutting down because they could no longer afford to do business. A Harare woman tried to bite off the lip of a man who tried to steal her two loaves of bread.

At Jokonya's refrigerator manufacturing plant in the outskirts of Harare, Jokonya remains open for business despite all the uncertainties. When there were food shortages, he started giving his 200 employees a free lunch so they would be able to work. When there were fuel shortages, he bought his entire staff bicycles so they would show up at work.

He learned recently that the government price controls will apply to his refrigerators. That will no doubt hurt his sales to people looking for a hedge against inflation.

He is not so sure business will be as good next year. That is part of the unsettling future he can already see.

Copyright © 2002, The Baltimore Sun

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The Age

Threat to dig up cup pitches in Zimbabwe
December 25 2002
By Neil Manthorp
Cape Town

As England's cricketers face increasing pressure to take a moral stand by
boycotting their opening match of the World Cup in Zimbabwe on February 13,
a protest group is threatening to dig up the pitches in Harare and Bulawayo.

A human-rights group called Zimactivism has been phoning Zimbabwe players,
urging them to pull out of the tournament in protest at President Robert
Mugabe's regime.

A senior player said threats had been made to "dig up the cricket fields to
plant maize for starving people", while other callers said they would "cut
holes in the covers" at the World Cup venues in Bulawayo and Harare.

The International Cricket Council said last week that last month's
fact-finding trip to Zimbabwe had assured it that there would be no danger
to players and officials, and that the home side's six matches - three in
Harare, against Namibia, England and India, and three in Bulawayo, against
Australia, Holland and Pakistan - would proceed as planned.

But it did admit that there were contingency plans to switch the games to
South Africa, the main host, if violence escalated.

Frank Field, the British Labour MP for Birkenhead and former welfare reform
minister, is calling on England's players to refuse to go and has formed an
all-party group of MPs to protest against the Zimbabwean regime.

He said: "The players can no longer say it is just a game of cricket - the
policy of genocide under Robert Mugabe is totally unacceptable, and I hope
players from all sides stand up and say they don't want to go there.

"The English Cricket Board and the ICC have become so blinded by this notion
that they are not bound to make political judgments, but it is obvious
Mugabe will milk the World Cup for all it is worth to take attention off his
murderous policies. It will be surprising if some of the players don't speak
out, and then I hope the dyke will crumble."

Former England player Gladstone Small, who works for the Professional
Cricketers Association, said Nasser Hussain and his team should stand up and
be counted. "The cricket authorities have made their decision - it now comes
down to individual players," he said.

- Sunday Telegraph
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Seed shortages hit Zim farmers
Posted Tue, 24 Dec 2002

Production of the staple food crop in Zimbabwe, where eight million are
facing famine, is threatened by an acute shortage of maize seed and
fertiliser, according to a report published on Tuesday.

The Agricultural Research and Extension Services (Arex) said in their latest
crop and livestock report, cited by the state-run Herald newspaper that "the
problems associated with seed, fertiliser and draught power shortages
persist" throughout the country.

But Agriculture Minister Joseph Made accused commercial seed producers of
holding back inputs in a bid to undermine President Robert Mugabe's
controversial land reform programme.

"We are aware that some companies are holding on to the seed crop because
they do not want to complement the government's efforts under the land
reform programme," Made told the Herald.

"All these are efforts meant to frustrate the ongoing land reform
programme," he added.

Zimbabwe, which is threatened by one of the worst famines in living memory,
with more than two thirds of its 11.6 million people at risk, is almost half
way through its current agricultural season.

Zimbabwe is the worst-hit among six southern African countries also facing

Foreign aid agencies say the problem here has been exacerbated by
disruptions to agriculture on white-owned farms acquired by the government
for resettlement of new black farmers under a chaotic land reform programme.

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The Herald

Monitor Food Production Chain

The Herald (Harare)

December 24, 2002
Posted to the web December 24, 2002


With the farming season now almost halfway through, alarm bells are being
raised over a possible below normal maize produce due to the shortage of
seed and fertilisers.

The Government has already put in place measures to deal with the threat of
another drought by establishing an irrigation department within the Ministry
of Rural Resources and Water Development to ensure the country has constant
supplies of water for urban, industrial, mining, agricultural and rural use.

As reported elsewhere in this newspaper, the Deputy Minister of Rural
Resources and Water Develop-ment, Cde Tinos Rusere, said the Government
wanted to guarantee the nation a stable and secure food supply all year
round through irrigation.

Irrigable areas on existing estates would increase as the Government was
identifying new land across the country for irrigation programmes as a
contingency measure should drought hit the region again.

The Masvingo winter maize crop initiative has proved that the country could
be self-sufficient even when there is a drought and that farmers can grow
three crops a year under irrigation.

The country has enough water and a proper and regularised resource
management strategy by all farmers was needed to ensure there were adequate
supplies to all.

However, this could all come to naught due to the acute shortage of seed and
fertiliser that has seen the area put under the maize crop throughout the
country falling below normal almost halfway into the farming season.

According to the Department of Agricultural Research and Extension Services,
farmers were being forced to carry on with their agricultural activities
without the necessary inputs such as fertiliser.

It is, therefore, imperative that the Government should move with speed to
plug all the loopholes that could be detrimental to a successful harvest.

Another food crisis next year could cripple the economy as billions of
dollars would have to be diverted from other crucial economic areas to cover
food imports.

As it is, Government has had to mobilise over $8,6 billion to import food
and avert starvation at the expense of other crucial imports such as fuel
and other inputs required by the manufacturing sector.

A good harvest will unlock these resources to other productive sectors.

There is, therefore, an urgent need to set up a multi-sectoral committee to
monitor the food production chain, from identifying irrigable land, ensuring
that all the available land has been put to good use, sourcing extra seed
and fertiliser inputs to the final harvesting of this produce.

The Masvingo food initiative has already shown that maize can be grown all
year round, which means farmers can continue to plant maize to satisfy
domestic demand.

Although the rains have been patchy in some areas, the situation looks quite
good in most good agricultural belts that have received almost 80 percent of
their normal requirements. The current challenges are unwittingly forcing
Zimba-bweans to start thinking for themselves about how to overcome these
problems, thereby ushering in a new era of truly home-grown solutions to our
economic turnaround.

Once we take control of all the factors associated with our productive
processes, then we are home and dry.
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New Farmers Not Paying for Irrigation Water

The Herald (Harare)

December 24, 2002
Posted to the web December 24, 2002


New farmers are not paying for water used for irrigation, threatening the
operations of catchment councils.

The chairman of the Mazowe Catchment Council, Mr Jerry Gotora, said many
farmers were not aware that water used for irrigation has to be paid for.

"The land resettlement exercise saw a drastic change of property ownership
as some farmers had left and their addresses were no longer functional. This
means most of our forms are lying somewhere in disused post office boxes,"
he said.

Mr Gotora said plans were in place to launch an awareness campaign next year
so that the farmers understood the importance of paying water levies.

New farmers are being encouraged by the Government to use all available
irrigable land for crop production. Many responded to the call and grew
wheat this year.

However, they have not been paying water levies, creating problems for
councils which manage catchment areas. With yet another drought looming, the
Government is placing heavy emphasis on irrigation development. It has since
established an irrigation department within the Ministry of Rural Resources
and Water Development to ensure the country has constant supplies of water
for urban, industrial, mining, agricultural and rural use even in times of

The Deputy Minister of Rural Resources and Water Development, Cde Tinos
Rusere, said the Government wanted to guarantee the nation a stable and
secure food supply all year round through irrigation. The ministry had
established the department in response to the drought challenge.

Cde Rusere said irrigable areas on existing estates would increase as his
ministry was identifying new land across the country for irrigation
programmes. The Government was identifying land for irrigation as a
contingency measure should drought hit the region again.

"We have already secured finances from the Government just for this
exercise," the deputy minister said at the second Annual General Meeting of
the Mazowe Catchment Council last week.

The Masvingo winter maize crop initiative had proved that the country could
be self-sufficient even when there is a drought and that farmers can grow
three crops a year under irrigation. The country is experiencing severe food
shortages as a result of the drought.

The country has enough water and a proper and regularised resource
management strategy by all farmers was needed to ensure there were adequate
supplies to all.

"The issue of water resource management and allocation is very topical,
especially with the land redistribution exercise which saw new players
coming onto the farming scene," said Cde Rusere.

"The water sector reforms came up with comprehensive strategies on the
management of water resources with an overall view of improving equity of
access and security of supply for sustainable development within the sector.

"Gone are the days of water rights and priorities where a minority group had
a monopolistic overbearing over control of water."

Cde Rusere urged farmers to pay for the water they use for irrigation.

He said the Water Act and the various supporting Statutory Instru-ments were
there to protect farmers.

"Everyone who uses water for commercial purposes or pollutes the river
systems is required by law to pay the gazetted fees and levies," Cde Rusere

He said failure to adhere to the regulations would result in legal
proceedings being taken.

"Only through proper and sound internal revenue generation and collection
can you be self-sustaining, thereby reducing your dependence on direct
allocations from the Government," he said.

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17 people killed, 112 injured in road accidents in Zimbabwe


††††† Xinhuanet 2002-12-24 21:46:51

††††† HARARE, Dec. 24 (Xinhuanet) -- Seventeen people were killed and 112
others were injured in 214 accidents recorded on the highways from Friday to
Monday in Zimbabwe, police said here on Tuesday.

††††† Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said five of the people were
killed in Masingo and another five in Matebeleland North.

††††† "A total of 5,410 tickets were issued to motorists who paid deposit
fines amounting to 13.1 Zimbabwean dollars (about 238,182 US dollars)" he

††††† Most of the road accidents occurring on black spots were being
caused through speeding, inattention or misjudgment, stationery vehicles
with inadequate warning signs or overtaking error.

††††† There were 68 black spots which had been identified on the country's

††††† "Travelers should expect to encounter police road blocks along the
country's highways. The traveling public should cooperate withpolice at
these roadblocks as they were meant for the protection of all and to check
on both safety of vehicles and the carrying ofillegal items," said

††††† The highway patrol was out in full force to ensure that speeding and
drunken drivers were brought to book. Enditem
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Zim fuel imports flood in
Cris Chinaka
Posted Tue, 24 Dec 2002

Zimbabwe said on Monday emergency fuel imports were pouring in to ease a
severe fuel crisis which stranded thousands returning to rural homes for
Christmas, but oil industry sources said there were still serious shortages.

Energy and Power Development Minister Amos Midzi told Zimbabwe government
media that state oil procurement monopoly NOCZIM had bought and released
onto the market nearly three million litres of petrol (gasoline) on Saturday
and Sunday.

But industry sources said that was enough to supply Zimbabwe's needs for
just three days in normal conditions - even without the panic buying that
the crisis has triggered.

Midzi said another 1.9 million litres would hit the streets on Monday and
Tuesday, and that NOCZIM would go on importing fuel to ease the three-week
fuel shortage.

The crisis has angered a nation already grappling with a deepening economic
crisis blamed on President Robert Mugabe's government.

Fuel shortages stranded thousands of people at bus stations across the
southern African country at the weekend, waiting for transport to their home
villages for the festive season.

Last week Mugabe's government said Zimbabwe had ordered fuel worth over $15
million from Kuwait and South Africa, but oil industry officials said the
supplies that had come in so far were too small to make a major difference.

"The problem we have at the moment is that almost every motorist has been
waiting for fuel and the government will have to double the supplies coming
in for the next three days if we are to see a major difference," one
official told Reuters.

Midzi was unavailable for further comment on Monday.

The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation quoted him as saying fuel flows via
the government's oil pipeline from the Mozambican port city of Beira had
improved and would ease the situation. Midzi told the official Herald
newspaper that emergency fuel imports were being distributed countrywide but
the government did not have the capacity reach every place at the same time.
In the capital Harare, only a handful of filling stations had fuel on Monday
and thousands still waited at bus stations across the country. Midzi said on
Thursday a barter fuel deal with Libya to supply 70 percent of the country's
fuel had run into problems because Zimbabwe was unable to supply the beef,
sugar and tobacco it agreed to supply under the deal. He said Zimbabwe had
no foreign currency for other oil import deals.

The fuel crisis has deepened Zimbabwe's economic woes and sparked public
anger against Mugabe's government, in power since independence from Britain
in 1980.

Zimbabweans are grappling with shortages of many basic consumers goods,
including bread, milk, cooking oil and sugar.

Nearly half of the country's 14 million people are threatened by severe food

Mugabe blames hunger on drought but critics say the crisis been made worse
by Mugabe's seizures of white-owned farms which has disrupted the key
commercial agricultural sector.

Mugabe (78) denies he has grossly mismanaged the economy and says the
country is a victim of sabotage by domestic and foreign opponents opposed to
his distribution of white farms to blacks.
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No cheers in Zimbabwe this Christmas

BEFORE the 2000 Zimbabwean parliamentary elections, in which the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) almost trounced President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu (PF), even the most humble family used to celebrate Christmas.

This usually consisted of meals of chicken and rice on Christmas Day and Boxing Day and new clothes for the entire family. If times were tight, the adults did without new clothes, giving their growing families the special pleasure of donning clothes that had been brought specially for them.

But this year, for up to 85% of the country's adult population and their children, Christmas will pass them by.

The minimum wage for a domestic worker in Zimbabwe is Z4000. One meagre chicken, enough to feed six people at a stretch, costs $2000. A kilogram of rice costs another 2000. Forget the vegetables, which are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain, now that the last few remaining market gardeners are being evicted from their farms.

It is hard to explain to a child that Christmas will be a nonevent this year but for many Zimbabweans, particularly in the rural areas, just making it alive past Christmas will be an achievement.

Morgan Tsvangirai, president of the MDC and Mugabe's arch-opponent, remembers his childhood Christmases with affection. "We were very poor, but my father always made a point of giving us something that day that was out of the ordinary. Often we used to get bread, a special treat, to take to the fields with us as we herded the cattle."

But even bread is now out of reach of almost all Zimbabweans, even those somewhat better off than the Tsvangirai family in the 1950s. "I would have to say that in a material sense, Christmas this year is cancelled for the majority of my countrymen," he says.

"People are dying here. It amazed me when SA's foreign minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, recently came to Harare and said she did now know what the fuss about Zimbabwe was as she had not seen bloodshed on the streets of Harare," Tsvangirai says.

"This is a war being fought against rural people in desperately poor constituencies. The chief weapon here is food."

Loughty Dube, a reporter for the Zimbabwe Independent in Bulawayo and chairman of the Bulawayo branch of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, says: "I am one of the more fortunate ones as, in Zimbabwean terms, I earn a good salary.

"Yet I cannot eat breakfast anymore you cannot buy bread, it takes hours to queue for just one loaf and then it costs nearly $200. Milk also costs 200. I wait until lunchtime and buy myself a plate of sadza (pap), meat and vegetables. That sets me back $600 each day. I can only come to the conclusion that the majority of people in this country are not getting a single meal each day," he says.

Pius Ncube, Archbishop of Bulawayo, is a frustrated and angry man. He cannot understand how Mugabe's government "can be so cruel".

"A family of six needs the equivalent of US150 to live, and 80%-85% of the population do not have this," he says.

"The government is pretending things are okay. Yet they have not ensured there is seed maize available for planting. If you do not have a party card, you are not allowed to purchase food, even if you have the money.

"Aid organisations are being prevented from distributing food. The Catholic Church hall in Gwanda South is full of rotting food because Zanu (PF) is preventing the church and aid workers from distributing the food to the hungry," Ncube says.

Ncube, who makes a point of travelling to a number of different parishes in his diocese each week, says his priests are being forced to watch people die of hunger all because they do not support Zanu (PF).

"One of my parish priests recently gave his last maize meal to a parishioner who had not been able to feed her family for three days," he said.

"When Save the Children Fund is prevented from feeding starving people by Mugabe's government, and people cannot receive maize meal from the Grain Marketing Board unless they have a Zanu (PF) party card, one can only say that these acts are pure evil'."

When Ncube was ordained four years ago, Robert Mugabe attended his ordination and presented him with a gift a cheap copper clocks in the shape of Zimbabwe. The clock stopped more than two years ago at about the time that Mugabe set Zimbabwe on its present course.

This Christmas, Ncube will be praying for rain and for a change in government. "I believe strongly that good will triumph over evil for what we are dealing with here is a cruel evil of the worst kind."

David Coltart, an MDC MP and the party's shadow minister of justice, has recently returned from a meeting of all world's leading parliamentarians in Canada

"The United Nations is taking a special interest in Zimbabwe," he says. "Not because the Zimbabwean regime is illegal in that it stole the March presidential election through massive rigging and intimidation, but because its ruling party is one of the few governments in history that has sought to retain power by starving its people.

Mugabe is seen as joining ranks with Stalin, among the few leaders in modern times who have used food as a weapon to retain political power."

The general feeling in Zimbabwe is that this is the beginning of the end for the Mugabe regime. Tsvangirai says things are moving fast and that the already perceptible divide within the ranks of Zanu (PF) is becoming a vast chasm.

"If Mugabe does not offer to resign soon, God help Zimbabwe," he says.

And how will Mugabe be spending Christmas Day? More than likely, he will start by attending a Christmas mass to receive communion from his friend, the Archbishop of Harare, Patrick Chakaipa.

After mass, his children will receive their numerous Christmas presents. This will be followed by Christmas lunch of turkey, ham and all the trimmings at which the bishop will offer a prayer of thanks for the wonderful meal and abundance of life in Zimbabwe.

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The Times - letter

††††††††††† December 24, 2002

††††††††††† Mugabe's next victims in Zimbabwe
††††††††††† From Mr Patrick Duncombe

††††††††††† Sir, I recently returned from Zimbabwe (letters, December 23), a
country I last visited in July 2000 at a time when the seeds of the genocide
that is now beginning to unfold were already being liberally sown by the
ruling party. At that time and until recently the major press focus of
Western countries has been the violence suffered by the minority white
commercial farmers.
††††††††††† Times have changed. The first stage of Mugabe's revolution is
now all but complete: the whites have mostly jumped ship. The regime is now
turning its attention exclusively towards its own people.

††††††††††† That Mugabe is bent on the wholesale destruction of clearly
identifiable groups in Zimbabwe is now blindingly obvious. He has got rid of
the whites without having to kill too many of them and without arousing too
much in the way of international outrage. The path is now open for him to
annihilate his three remaining target groups: his rural opposition (the
black farmworkers); his political opposition (the Movement for Democratic
Change, with its largely urban support base); his tribal opposition (the
Ndebele and Tonga peoples).

††††††††††† In Zimbabwe's case I fear that it will be the vested interests
of other corrupt African regimes, and the shuffling diplomacy of a British
Government ill at ease with the colonial tensions that our forceful
intervention would arouse, that will allow Mugabe's programme of genocide to
go unchallenged.

††††††††††† That Mrs Grace Mugabe may now have to dispatch her butler to
Harrods rather than buy her hats in person is doubtless of trifling
inconvenience to her; that this charade of "targeted sanctions" is the best
our Foreign Office could come up with in the face of widespread torture,
starvation and unfolding genocide is not merely risible. It is obscene.

††††††††††† Yours faithfully,
††††††††††† Duncombe Park, Helmsley,
††††††††††† York, North Yorkshire YO62 5EB.
††††††††††† December 23.

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From ZWNEWS, with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore
'Tis the night before Christmas
'Tis the night before Christmas, and all through State House
not a creature is sleeping, not even my spouse.
An intractable problem's defying my might:
there's no petrol in Zim and no shipment in sight.
I've spoken to Muscat, Tehran and Riyadh,
Caracas and Qatar, Kuwait and Baghdad.
I've searched in Jakarta, Bahrain and Algiers,
but my pleas have been falling on stoney-deaf ears.
I've begged and I've bargained, I've offered†our soil,
and still no-one's willing to send me some oil.
I've faxed and I've e-mailed, used the post, used the phone,
but none will oblige with a small long-term loan.
It's that scoundrel in London, that gay gangster Blair.
He's been queering my pitch, which is very unfair.
And those guys in the White House - they're also to blame.
Powell and Bush - they've besmirched my good name.
All those Kinnocks and Pattens, McKinnons and Royces,
all those Ancrams and Hains - they've been raising their voices
to plot and prevent what I truly deserve:
some petrol and lubricants, AVGAS and DERV.
And the Clarks and the Howards, the Danes and the Swedes.
They've all been conspiring to frustrate my needs.
Norwegians and Dutchmen! They've launched an attack.
And Festus had better start watching his back.
And don't forget Midzi, and all of those bankers.
I've bent over backwards, but no-one will thank us.
The aches in my stomach and head - I digress...
How on earth am I going to get out of this mess?
Now Thabo! Bakili!
Muammar and Sam!
Now Fidel! Mahathir!
Eduardo and Jiang!
Now Joaquim and Levy!
Olusegun and Joe!
Won't you stump up some cash for a fellow you know?
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From The Times (UK), 24 December 24

Mugabe's land of penury and propaganda

From Michael Hartnack in Harare

The light of the African dawn breaks through the canopy of umbrella thorns, and a skein of ibis wing overhead. Guinea fowl and Heuglinís robins call from surrounding gardens. The idyll is dispelled by the sound of radios from the cars queueing for petrol. For the third morning I have arrived at a service station in suburban Harare hoping to find fuel. It is 4.30am and there are 70 vehicles ahead of me. The previous day, 12 hoursí queueing for a turn at the pumps yielded nothing. At 5am the drivers turn down the hymn of hate against whites Chave Chimurenga! (Civil war has come) - Our land is our prosperity!" which state stations are ordered to broadcast every 20 minutes. Some with shortwave switch to the BBC, or to a religious station broadcasting carols about goodwill, humanity, love, compassion, peace. There is no mention on the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation news of the threat to eight million Zimbabweans of starvation, the 22 years of corruption and mismanagement that have caused the crisis in what used to be called "Africaís breadbasket".

The young mother ahead of me is desperate for petrol to seek presents for her two young sons. "We just havenít got the money to have a proper Christmas this year," she says, although her husband, a vet, earns enough to stave off the worst deprivation. For many families in the capitalís crowded townships Christmas dinner will be sweet potatoes with peanut butter and spinach followed by mangoes. With inflation officially at 175 per cent, most cannot pay black market prices for maize meal, bread and cooking oil. President Mugabeís "return to socialism" has now brought the withdrawal of meat from the shops after the state ordered it to be sold at prices 30-50 per cent below cost. Like other scarce goods, including petrol, diesel and paraffin (used for cooking), it is sold under the counter for up to 20 times the controlled price.

After so much queueing the battery in my car has given out and it is necessary to push when, miraculously, a tanker arrives. The attendants start serving at 6.30am, by which time 100 cars are jostling for position behind mine. A 4X4 containing four burly young blacks who are waving beer bottles and evidently drunk tries to push ahead of me, but, encouraged by the drivers behind me, I frantically close the gap. "Hey, white man! You must ******* move your car quicker, you ******* useless old ****!" the four men shout at me. A middle-aged black woman tears them off a strip while an angry knot of motorists, all black. back her up. The would-be queue-jumpers roar off, leaving a powerful feeling of social solidarity that banishes any sense of racial antagonism left by the loudmouths. "They should make Mugabeís ministers queue like this for petrol and bread," the woman says. "Then they would learn about this country."

We talk about the Kenyan elections which bear an ugly resemblance to our rigged polls, in which the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was cheated of office. "They will go to any length to get power and keep power," a man in his thirties says, "but when they have got it, they arenít competent to exercise it." He is a doctor finishing a masterís degree in surgery. This Christmas he will be on duty in a government hospital struggling to cope without adequate supplies. Even in Botswana, he could earn 30 times the 60,000 Zimbabwean dollars (£30 at a realistic exchange rate) he takes home each month. The bonds of the extended family keep him here, together with a feeling that he is gaining far more clinical experience than would be available in somewhere like Britain. "You feel needed - your work has value," he says. After three and a half hours we near the front of the queue. Our stomach muscles tighten with fear lest the attendants say the tanks are empty, but our luck holds. It feels like the dissolution of a longstanding comradeship when we leave. We shake hands and wish each other well.

Correction - In yesterday's issue, in the article entitled 'To have or have not', we erroneously referred†to the award-winning Zimbabwean novelist as Chenjerai Hunzwi. The award-winning novelist is, of course, Chenjerai Hove. This was an editing, not an†authorial, error. Our†apologies to all concerned.
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