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From The Daily News, 2 December

Famine looms as commercial farms reduced to zero activity

Geoffrey Nyarota

As Flight SA020 descended in preparation for touchdown at Harare International Airport last Monday the intercom crackled into life overhead and an authoritative voice made an unusual announcement. "This is your captain speaking," the voice said. "Passengers occupying a window seat on either side may wish to look below to see how commercial farming is fast disappearing from Zimbabwe." Passengers, including those like me who were not occupying a window seat, responded and were reeled in shock. Their aerial inspection of the fast changing landscape below presented them with a forlorn picture of what the commercial farming sector has degenerated to in the 34 months since the first farm was invaded by a group of war veterans in the Masvingo area to signal the advent of government's agrarian reform programme, an exercise which has been marred by lawlessness and violence. What the passengers on Flight SA020 saw along their flight path was a scene of zero farming activity on commercial farms in the Beatrice and Harare South commercial farming area. While listeners and viewers of radio and television have been bombarded with the outrageous propaganda spewed out day and night by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation to extol the virtues of their country's new agrarian revolution spearheaded by the new farmers what the passengers on this flight and, no doubt, passengers on other flights, local and international see as they fly in and out of Harare is a totally different story. It is a story of desolation and total waste. Quite evidently there is little farming activity, let alone an agricultural revolution taking place on the commercial farms that once elevated Zimbabwe to the status of bread basket of the region along with South Africa. The new farmers in the Beatrice and Harare South areas are quite obviously not part of the new revolution that became the centrepiece of the optimistic propaganda that the draughtsmen at the Ministry of Information started to churn out before the first crop of the much anticipated rainy season had even taken root.

The resettlement programme has been bedevilled by a serious shortage of tractors, seed and fertilisers. There is a serious shortage of fertiliser in the country. A bank official who spoke on condition he was not identified said last week his bank's agric-business department was processing and approving, hundreds of applications from new farmers for loans. "Normally this process is over by August," he said. "But we are still processing hundreds of applications from people who say they want to buy tractors and other implements and inputs for this season. It's chaotic, but we are giving them the money, sometimes without full assessment of viability and without security." He said A2 Scheme farmers were receiving loans of up to $10 million. "Some government ministers are receiving up to $70 million. They say they want to buy combine harvesters. Some have old loans that they have not repaid or been servicing." In order to avoid jumping to a negative conclusion over government's much publicised agrarian reform on the basis of observations made from the air in only a part of the country, The Daily News last week chartered light aircraft to fly extensively over other commercial farming areas. This was to establish whether the pattern was the same there and to ascertain the extent or lack thereof of farming activity by the new settlers, many of them members of the war veteran community but others who are civilians resettled in orderly fashion as part of the A2 Scheme on productive land from which the previous white owners were forcibly, and in some cases, violently evicted over the past 34 months, as part of government's land resettlement programme. The chartered plane flew a Daily News photographer over the rich commercial farming area of Mazowe Valley to cover the Bindura and Concession areas, before veering off south east-wards to fly over the equally rich Marondera and Hwedza areas. A common observation in all areas was the almost total absence of land preparation for the new season in the commercial farming areas. It was also quite apparent that no winter crops were harvested. It was also evident that the occasional farming activity, which the traveller sometimes observes in the commercial farming districts is limited to the roadside, the favourite haunt of farm invaders.

The pictures published on this page are an example of what one sees from the air as one flies from Harare to Bindura via Concession and Glendale, where there is unequivocal evidence of almost zero farming activity. Similarly non-existent farming activity was observed in the Marondera/Hwedza area, despite the abundance of water, including irrigation schemes. The fact simply has to be accepted by the most ardent supporters of the current agrarian programme - it has been the cause of the total or near collapse of serious commercial farming activity in those areas covered by The Daily News flight. It becomes a logical assumption that it could be this serious decline in productive agriculture, rather than last season's drought situation that was the major cause of the current dire shortage of food, with little prospect that the haphazard planting of a few resource-strapped new farmers will make up for the national loss. Since the wave of government-sponsored farm invasions started in earnest in 2000 some 3 000 white commercial farmers have been evicted, some violently, from their farms. More than 10 members of the commercial farming community lost their lives in the period. Only 600 farmers remain on their farms, being engaged in full-scale or limited farming activity. There are unofficial reports that government is currently encouraging selected farmers either to return to their farms or to increase production. An estimated 900 000 farm workers have been displaced over the same period. The Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe, which is assisting displaced farm workers, reports that more than 150 000 farm workers and their families were displaced in August alone, when their employers were evicted by government's agrarian reform programme. Meanwhile, United Nations agencies estimate that 6,9 million Zimbabweans currently face starvation. The shortage of basic food stuffs has become acute in both rural and urban areas. There may be a deluge of rain this season. In the commercial farming sector the rains will fall, in most cases, on untilled land with little prospect of contributing towards the alleviation of the current spectre of starvation on a massive scale.

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Daily News

Leader Page

      Gezi must be in anguish at horror done in his name

      12/3/2002 8:50:48 AM (GMT +2)

      THERE will be thousands of children streaming out of senior schools
this week, looking for jobs, apprenticeships and training courses.

      All of these senior school graduates who wish to train as teachers,
doctors, nurses, policemen/women or even clerks in government departments
will have to undergo compulsory training at the Border Gezi National

      From everything we hear, the teenagers churned out by the Border Gezi
camps are not displaying loyal and patriotic behaviour. By all accounts, it
would seem that they are learning:
      - How to intimidate, harass and terrify ordinary citizens;
      - How to queue-jump without being lynched;
      - The quickest way to burn someone's house down;
      - How to beat up people two or even three times older than them;
      - How to physically abuse anyone who disagrees with them;
      - How to treat women as toys to be thrown away when they get bored;
      - How to establish the most profitable black market; and
      - How to destroy people's food.

      I believe Zimbabwe's chiefs, headmen and elders must be cringing in
shame when they hear of the horrors that these children are inflicting on
people around the country.

      It was with enormous shock that we read in The Daily News last week
that a group of Border Gezi products, accompanied by a Zanu PF ward
councillor and an acting village chief, had gone on the rampage in Cashel
Valley, Chimanimani.

      They slashed 15 fields of maize, amounting to 10 hectares of food,
that was almost ready to be harvested. The reason the maize crop was
destroyed by the products of the Border Gezi camps was because the people
who had grown it were suspected of supporting the MDC.

      At any time this would be regarded as pretty barbaric behaviour but
now, when people are literally starving to death, this is utterly obscene.

      The fact that they were accompanied by a chief, a man who should be a
respected leader, an elder, a man of wisdom and position, defies all belief.
Or perhaps it does make sense in view of the fact that last week President
Mugabe announced that from January all chiefs are to get a pay rise.

      These august traditional leaders will now get $50 000 a month, up from
the $18 000 they presently earn. Is slashing people's crops and condemning
them to starvation a fair exchange for a 300 percent pay rise?

      Old men are leading young men and together they are on a path of
destruction and it appears they will do anything for money. The youths
drilled at the Border Gezi training camps, some not even old enough to
shave, are strutting around our villages, towns and cities in their green
uniforms, exuding arrogance, spitting out venom and weaving a mosaic of

      When I look at these once proud and enthusiastic teenagers, I can see
too many frightening similarities between them and the child soldiers of
Angola, Somalia and other war-ravaged African countries.

      The only thing missing at the moment, in my comparative view, is that
the boys roaming our streets do not have guns in their hands, knives in
their belts and hand grenades in their pockets. I wonder how long these
appendages will be in coming.

      Our ancestors must be turning in their graves when they see what
respected elders are doing and what is becoming of their
great-grandchildren. All the traditional beliefs that Zimbabweans once held
as sacred, the things that made up the foundation stones of an ancient
culture, are being destroyed. There is no respect for elders anymore - how
can there be when it is the elders themselves leading children on raiding
and slashing parties?

      In exchange for money, old and young men alike are destroying homes
and crops. The youngsters do this under the name of the late Border Gezi.
He, too, is now one of our ancestors and I believe even he must be in
anguish at the horrors being perpetrated in his name.

      The question that must be asked is: what will happen in the years
ahead? When teenage boys and girls are taught and encouraged to destroy and
use force to get what they want, how do they later fit into an ordinary
society ?

      What values, principles and life skills will these teenage destroyers
of today have to pass on to their own children?

      We hear numerous reports of how child soldiers in other African
countries have to be re-trained and un-brainwashed to fit back into society
when the political wars are over. Is this what Zimbabwe too must prepare

      As parents, it is up to us to put a stop to this right now. For 16
years we give everything we have to our children. We feed, clothe and
educate them.

      The power is in our hands to stop our own children from destroying us.
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Daily News

Leader Page

      Soldiers always for, not against, people

      12/3/2002 8:45:04 AM (GMT +2)

      PRESIDENT Mugabe should not complain when people accuse him of running
a military regime disguised as a civilian government.

      In his address last Saturday to the soldiers who returned from the
civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he made this statement:
"Our forces have, therefore, gone that extra mile in terms of combat
readiness and would be more than prepared to use their experience and skills
in dealing with aggression either at home or elsewhere, when duty should

      Some would say the use of soldiers at home in any democratic society
would only be possible under extremely unusual circumstances, such as a
civil war in which Zimbabweans take up arms against the government.

      Others would say that in the Zimbabwean context, the use of soldiers
to kill and maim their own people does not necessarily require for the other
side to be armed.

      This is not specifically a reference to the massacre of innocents by
the notorious North Korean-trained 5 Brigade in the Gukurahundi massacres in
Matabeleland and Midlands provinces in the 1980s.

      After the parliamentary election in 2000, during which Zanu PF was
defeated in most urban centres, soldiers or people in military uniform went
around the towns and cities beating up patrons in bars and other places of

      Some of these misfits were heard to berate their victims for having
voted for the opposition, as they whipped them or kicked them with booted
feet. They were warned they would be given the same treatment if they
repeated their "mistake".

      In the presidential election two years later, these urban voters,
obviously unbowed by the beatings in 2000, still opted for the opposition
candidate. Again, people in army uniforms went around beating them up.

      In the late 1990s, as the people rose to protest against a whole
series of government disasters - including the monumental bungling of the
economy - the government called on the army to intervene, with the then
Minister of Home Affairs announcing on public television that the soldiers
had orders to "shoot to kill" any protesters.

      Indeed there were deaths. The army, whose prime function is to defend
the nation from foreign aggression, had been used again to kill its own

      The psychological impact on the individual soldier may be difficult to
gauge at this stage. But it would be hardly surprising if most of them now
feel that they can kill their own brothers and sisters on the orders of
their commander-in-chief if they believed their relatives constituted a
political threat to the President.

      Such relatives need not be armed at all; they need only to have
demonstrated in word or deed their opposition to the government.

      Many people have condemned the politicisation of the defence and
security forces. The three key leaders of the defence forces, the commander
of the defence forces - the commander of the army and the head of the air
force - are all war veterans. The heads of the Central Intelligence
Organisation and the prison services are similarly people who fought in the
liberation war.

      These men may eminently deserve the positions they hold, but it is
difficult not to conclude that Mugabe, a man now so unpopular the government
has decreed it is a crime to make a gesture of disapproval as his motorcade
passes by, may be keen to put the fear of God into the citizens' hearts.

      Saturday's lavish parade, seen against the backdrop of the six million
people facing starvation, was almost obscene. But if the intention was to
frighten the people, it may have succeeded, among the gullible and
weak-kneed citizens.

      For the rest, it could only have been a confirmation of their
suspicions that Mugabe has now become so desperate to frighten his critics
he will stoop to melodrama to drive his point home. The soldiers themselves
need to examine their consciences: their national duty is to defend Zimbabwe
and its people. It can never be to work against the people's wishes.
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Daily News

      Government in move to tax informal sector

      12/3/2002 (GMT +2)

      By Colleen Gwari recently in Nyanga

      DESPERATE to broaden its revenue base, the government is seeking to
incorporate and tax the informal sector. Speaking in Nyanga over the weekend
during the Institute of Administration and Commerce of Southern Africa
(IACSA), Zimbabwe chapter's annual conference, Evelyn Ndlovu, the secretary
for the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises, said the government was
working towards a framework that would within the foreseeable future see
players in the informal sector being subject to taxation.

      Ndlovu said the national cake was getting smaller, hence the need for
the informal sector to contribute towards evelopment. She said: "It is high
time those in the informal sector contribute to the national cake." Ndlovu
said government was working on modalities that would compel the informal
sector to pay tax. Company closures and massive retrenchments in Zimbabwe's
deteriorating economy have seen the government's revenue base shrink
considerably over the years. Ndlovu said given the fact that the country was
being isolated by the international community, the $1,5 billion set aside
for the informal sector in the 2003 National Budget was reasonable.

      A majority of retrenchees had joined the informal sector following
massive retrenchments as economic decline continued. The informal sector had
not made any significant contribution to revenue collection as it was not
subject to taxation. It is believed that government continues to lose
millions of dollars in revenue through the non-contribution of the informal
sector. Participants at the IACSA annual conference said the small-to-medium
scale enterprises played a critical role in the development of economies
across the world.

      In Japan and the United States, small-to-medium scale enterprises
constitute more than 60 percent of the corporate world. Large conglomerates
across the world were scaling down operations, shedding off non-core
activities. The move has seen millions becoming redundant, thus opening up
opportunities for smaller organisations. Though Ndlovu could not give a
specific time-frame, she said efforts were underway for the informal sector
to play a meaningful role. She urged the government to create an enabling
environment favourable to the growth of small enterprises. The Permanent
Secretary bemoaned the country's legal environment saying over-regulation
was a threat to competitiveness.

      "Yet there should be laws governing operations, let us guard against
over-regulation as it can be a threat to competitiveness," Ndlovu said.
Players in the informal sector called upon government to deal with
bureaucratic tendencies prevalent at border posts. They also called for
incentives such as tax relief to enhance growth in the face of stiff
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Daily News


      Dulibadzimu's two contrasting faces of squalor and luxury

      12/3/2002 (GMT +2)

      From Oscar Nkala in Beitbridge

      IN most Zimbabwean urban centres it is unusual to see donkeys roaming
the town centre, but in Beitbridge's Dulibadzimu suburb, popularly known as
Elokitshini (location), the beasts of burden have a purely hygienic role
which they play with astonishing efficiency.

      They have taken the role of environmental health technicians, doing
exactly what the struggling council's health services department should be
doing - cleaning the town.

      Instead of brooms and mops, the donkeys in Dulibadzimu eat as much of
the rubbish as their appetite demands.

      "We are proud of all the domestic animals that roam this place," says
Malebogo Sihwa, a vendor at the Dulibadzimu country bus terminus.

      "The council has not collected refuse in three years, if I am not
mistaken. But these animals are our refuse removal managers. They eat most
of the rubbish that comes from around the main bus terminus.

      "Without the donkeys this place would be worse than it is now. We also
hope the solar eclipse tourists will come to see this place raw as it is.
The sight of donkeys reminds one of the time when Bulawayo's Old Pumula
suburb was nicknamed Emadonkini (a place for donkeys)."

      This was not only because of the large number of donkeys foraging in
the dustbins, even today, but also because there was indeed a time in the
mid-1980s when illegal meat dealers slaughtered the donkeys and sold the
meat to unsuspecting residents.

      There was a very high demand for the affordable meat, until police got
wind of the scandal and saved the donkeys. It is not unusual at Dulibadzimu,
situated at the border town of Beitbridge in Matabeleland South, to find
cattle and goats wandering at the crowded bus terminus. Two narrow streets
away, a bullock dodges a bus. It is an unsettling and incongruous sight to
watch the herd of goats, with prominent, protuberant backbones and rickety
legs, scatter under attack from a sugar cane vendor intent on protecting his
day's wares. A bus enters the terminus, kicking up a huge cloud of red dust
that takes its time to disperse in a lazy, luxuriant fashion. But the
business goes on among stall traders at Dulibadzimu's country bus terminus.

      Other vendors agree and do not mince their words when talking about
endemic inefficiency and corruption in the Beitbridge Rural District

      They even allege that Zanu PF has the council under remote control
and, therefore, view the ruling party as the foundation of all the problems
affecting the town.

      The flowing river of raw sewage passes a few metres away from the row
of women seated facing their wares and all buses approaching the rank from
the west splash across it, carrying the stench all the way to the loading
bay of the terminus.

      "The sewage effluent has been flowing like this for years," another
vendor says. "It is only visitors like you who bother about it. Where do you
come from?"

      Dulibadzimu is a place of many faces. On one side are the slums, the
exact replica of a squatter camp. A network of narrow paths winds through
the shacks and everyone seems to know the other as they exchange greetings
more often than in any other urban centre.

      This is the squalid section of the pole-and-mud shacks. But in the
shacks in Soweto - a special section accommodating the "haves" - a pleasant
surprise awaits. Some of the shacks are technology centres where remote
controlled big screens, video cassette recorders and five CD changers share
the small space inside the ramshackle structures. Cookers and refrigerators
bearing South African labels are squeezed into the other small room, while
expensive furniture, including real antiques, occupy what serves as the
sitting room.

      "We are not as poor as some people seem to believe," says a woman who
preferred to be identified only as Sis Beatrice. "I bought all this property
in all the 10 years my husband and I worked in South Africa. We lived for 10
years in Alexandra township on the outskirts of Johannesburg. That is where
the best and cheapest second-hand goods are. I have lived most of my adult
life in these shacks, but I do not regret it. I raised all my kids from here
and they are now supporting me from Johannesburg. I live in a shack yes, but
I am not poor."

      Sis Beatrice runs a shebeen which she says complements her husband's
income from selling oranges in Messina, just across the border.

      "He sells his oranges as far as Polokwane because he has good
connections," said Sis Beatrice grinning at the mention of her husband's
good links which had already been confirmed by the expensive furnishing.

      "That is why we have resisted council efforts to evict us. The other
part was destroyed because the people there have nothing to lose in terms of
property. But this side no one will allow council to do that. They will only
move us when they have the houses to accommodate us."

      The council has started a programme of demolishing illegal shacks to
give a semblance of order ahead of the arrival of solar eclipse enthusiasts
on 4 December.

      An estimated 3 000 people were thrown into further destitution. The
majority of those who were evicted are now squatters along the banks of the
Limpopo River. The squalid appearance of shacks in the Soweto zone is
contrasted by the swanky vehicles parked at shebeens. "We serve classy
clients," said Sis Beatrice. "You should be here on weekends to see our
South African clients who cross from Messina and nearby to buy Zimbabwean
beers which are cheaper for them." A vibrant night life in all its colours
is what revellers can get in Beitbridge. Dulibadzimu is a fast-life place
where corruption oils most of the deals that thrive even where others
falter. But the residents are not pleased that it is viewed as a haven for
criminals in all their forms. The residents frown at hearing that border
jumpers, thieves, prostitutes, car-jackers and other fugitives of a worse
order make up the majority of shack dwellers. They dispute it.

      Says Edwin Mashiri, a resident: "The problem is just like in your own
town. Don't you have thieves, prostitutes, car-jackers and drug peddlers?
People do not understand us and the less they do, the better."

      Dulibadzimu is unique in that it is the melting pot for Venda, Sotho,
Ndebele, Shichangani, Shona and English speakers."We are the best hosts
because when you come here we speak your language. Where else have you found
that much of hospitality?" says Mashiri. The radio and television services
are exclusively South African. Beitbridge receives clear signals from four
South African Broadcasting Corporation radio stations and three television
signals. There is no Zimbabwe television and the only way to listen to
Zimbabwe radio is by tuning to shortwave.

      "We know nothing about what happens in Zimbabwe," said Carol Noko, a
hotel receptionist.

      "We consider ourselves blessed at least because we are not subjected
to the Hondo Yeminda propaganda which Zanu PF dishes to you people every
hour through Zimbabwean radio and television. On good days we also receive
Botswana TV in addition to the radio services. Don't forget that we do not
buy any licences for all the services. It's one of the privileges of being a
border community." Beitbridge enjoys the biggest international cellular
phone network, according to Noko.

      "We are covered by Vodacom and MTN from South Africa. Zimbabwean
service providers Econet Wireless, Net One and Telecel are also competing
for customers, but poor service has made them losers. Most people here would
rather cross into Messina and buy juice MTN and Vodacom cards than wait for
the few days when Zimbabwean networks are operational."

      Just as the Botswana Broadcasting Corporation radio and television
services are available free of charge to residents of Plumtree and Matobo
districts, South African radio, television and cellular phone services
extend about 160km into south-western Zimbabwe covering Beitbridge and
Gwanda South.

      The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC)'s obsolete signal
transmission equipment has ensured that most border communities receive
foreign radio and television broadcasts.

      As a visitor leaves Beitbridge, one memorable word to carry away is
Nda-aa, a Venda word for "thank you" which the residents use to give thanks
for the slightest favours.
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Daily News

      Dealers vow to bypass forex restrictions

      12/3/2002 9:26:38 AM (GMT +2)

      From Oscar Nkala in Bulawayo

      ZIMBABWEANS working in the United Kingdom, the United States and other
non-African countries have reacted to the closure of foreign exchange
agencies by sponsoring the immigration of trusted relatives and friends to
Botswana and South Africa from where they will bring foreign currency by
road into Zimbabwe.

      The aim is to bypass the new restrictions by changing the currency at
the black market rates. The move is a reaction to the government closure of
foreign exchange agencies to force people to change foreign currency in
commercial banks at the official rates.

      In interviews in Bulawayo, several residents with relatives working
abroad said families were preparing to send trusted family members to
countries such as Botswana and South Africa to receive money from outside
Africa and bring it into the country.

      "A lot of people are planning to facilitate the relocation of
relatives who will open bank accounts in those countries," said Tracy Moyo
whose two brothers work in Canada. "Overseas-based relatives will deposit
some money into those accounts. No one will change their hard-earned
currency at the paltry bank official rates."

      At government controlled rates, the South African rand is exchanged
for Z$5 and the Botswana pula fetches only Z$9.

      But on the black market, one pula fetches Z$240, and the South African
rand gets Z$120.

      "Minister Murerwa is merely wasting his time. Many people are already
using that method to avoid sending their cash through banks. It will still
get to the black market at home," said Moyo.

      Herbert Murerwa, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development,
presenting his 2003 Budget in Parliament last month, announced the closure
of the foreign exchange agencies.

      Foreign currency dealers on Bulawayo streets have been quoted by the
media as saying they were preparing for brisk business following the closure
of the foreign exchange agencies.

      "We are heading for big business," said one trader who declined to be
named. "The closures will promote our business, and customers should expect
higher exchange rates from January 2003. At present the rates are down
because South Africa and Botswana-based Zimbabweans have already started
arriving in large numbers and are flooding the market with their respective

      "The rates will increase when the market runs dry in January. As for
the threat to crack down on us, the government should remember that this is
not the first time they have tried to stop us. They shall fail as before."

      Last Friday, a group of youths from the so-called national service
raided illegal foreign currency dealers in Bulawayo, but the raid turned
into a robbery spree, resulting in the arrest of at least eight of the

      Some of the foreign currency dealers claimed that $600 000 was stolen
from them by the youths who had been deployed on the streets as early as 8am
that day.
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Daily News

      Solar eclipse warning

      12/3/2002 (GMT +2)

      From Sandra Mujokoroin Bulawayo

      A total eclipse will be experienced in the Maphisa, Kezi, Marula,
Plumtree, Guyu areas and parts of Hwange and Beitbridge tomorrow. The sun
can be viewed safely with the naked eye only during the brief period of
total eclipse.

      Partial eclipses and partial phases of total eclipses are not safe to
watch without special precautions as that could lead to permanent eye

      Even when 99 percent of the sun's surface is obscured during the
partial phases of a total eclipse, the remaining photospheric crescent is
intensely bright and cannot be viewed safely without eye protection.

      Dr Francis Podmore of the Department of Physics at the University of
Zimbabwe said the next total solar eclipse is on 23 November 2003 over the
Antarctica. Zimbabwe will have to wait until 2 June 2095 for the next total
solar eclipse.

      An annular eclipse will cross over Mutare on 4 October 2070. This
refers to an eclipse in which a considerable rim of the sun is still visible
around the edge of the moon, and occurs when the moon is farthest from the

      According to the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa, a total
eclipse of the sun takes place when the moon passes between the sun and the
earth, and its shadow is cast onto the earth's surface. Outside this path of
totality, there is a broad area where the sun is partially covered or

      This partial eclipse will be seen within the much broader path of what
is referred to as the moon's penumbral shadow, which includes most of
Africa, (excluding the north), parts of Indonesia, Australia and eastern
Antarctica. After crossing the southern Indian Ocean, the path will sweep
through southern Australia where the eclipse will end at sunset.

      A total solar eclipse can be viewed within a distance of around 38km
of the centreline which can be drawn on a map to run directly through
Plumtree and Beitbridge. The further from the centreline, the shorter the
duration of the eclipse.

      At Plumtree, it will last for approximately one minute and 17 seconds.
But in areas on the outskirts of the town, it will last for a few seconds.

      At Plumtree and Marula, the eclipse will occur at approximately 8:15
in the morning, and at Beitbridge, at about 8:18am. Bulawayo will experience
a 99 percent partial eclipse.

      Preparations to host this event are almost complete as areas that will
experience the total eclipse prepare to welcome the thousands of expected

      Most hotels, lodges and campsites have reported full bookings, mostly
by local tourists.
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      NCA applauds demo participants

      12/3/2002 (GMT +2)

      From Ntungamili Nkomo in Bulawayo

      The National Constitutional Assembly's (NCA) nationwide demonstrations
that took place over the weekend were described as a success by Felix Mafa,
the organisation's vice-president.

      The demonstrations were part of the civil body's ongoing campaign to
lobby for constitutional reforms that it hopes will lead to a presidential
election rerun and the restoration of the rule of law.

      The NCA is one of several organisations that maintain that the
government, which has been accused of rigging the March presidential
election, is illegitimate.

      Mafa commended the people who participated in the demonstrations for
their courage in defying the Public Order and Security Act, describing it as
"infamous legislation", and for exercising their right to demonstrate
publicly. He said no reports of arrests had been made to him by Sunday.

      Mafa said: "We wish to applaud the people of Zimbabwe for their
courage and determination against repressive laws such as the Public Order
and Security Act which infringe upon their right to freedom of association."

      He said they had managed to circumvent the police because they had
adopted strategies to wrong-foot the police.

      "Our strategies were far above the police intelligence. Many people
took part, and as I had said before, our demonstration started in the
high-density suburbs, while the police were busy patrolling in the city
centre," said Mafa.

      "That action was only the beginning. People are disgruntled and fed up
and, therefore, are prepared to take up any action possible to challenge the
oppressive Mugabe government."

      The NCA has been in the forefront agitating for a new constitution,
and some of its members have been arrested or beaten up in the process by
State security agents.

      Lovemore Madhuku, the NCA chairman, has been arrested on a number of
occasions. Last Friday the police in Harare raided the NCA offices, arrested
17 of the organisation's members, and confiscated documents, money and
campaign material.

      They had a search warrant, and said they were searching for
"subversive and offensive material".
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Daily News

      MDC activists arrested at cricket match

      12/3/2002 (GMT +2)

      Staff Reporter

      EDDISON Mukwasi, the MDC youth chairman for Harare province, was on
Saturday arrested by the police together with five other people while
watching a cricket match on allegations of distributing offensive material
to incite violence.

      Mukwasi, Fidelis Kanyemba of Warren Park D and five others, including
a family that had travelled from Bindura for the fourth one day cricket
international match between Zimbabwe and Pakistan, said they spent two
nights at the police holding cells at the Harare Central Police Station.

      Mukwasi said: "The police accused us of possessing and distributing
pamphlets which called for the stripping of Zimbabwe's hosting of the
Cricket World Cup next year, because of the political and economic meltdown
in the country.

      "They also queried our presence at a cricket match saying that it was
suspicious for blacks to watch a 'white man's game' and accused us of being
agents of neo-colonialists. Being an MDC activist, the police 'advised' me
to change alliance while it was still day."

      Some of the pamphlets reportedly read: We Are Victims Of Political
Violence, Move The Cricket World Cup To South Africa and Mugabe Must Go.

      Mukwasi said after they were arrested they were taken to the police
station where they were tortured and interrogated. He said they were
brutally assaulted by officers named only as Jena and Sergeant Chikande.

      "We were warned not to visit The Daily News offices or else we would
be picked up again. The police alleged that we were accomplices of Tawanda
Spicer who they suspected to have printed the messages on the pamphlets,"
Mukwasi said.

      "I was denied medication even though I showed them evidence that I was
suffering from chest pains, instead they made me sleep in a room that was
teeming with insects and lice."

      Kanyemba said the six had initially been brought under a charge of
contravening section 15 of the repressive Public Order and Security Act.
However, when they were released yesterday, the charge stated on their
Admission of Guilt forms had changed to: "(committing) conduct likely to
provoke breach of peace".

      The police refused to comment on the arrest.
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Daily News

      Hill accused of corruption

      12/3/2002 9:24:23 AM (GMT +2)

      By Pedzisai Ruhanya Chief Reporter

      THE outgoing Vice-Chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe (UZ),
Professor Graham Hill, has been implicated in the illegal externalisation of
foreign currency and awarding himself loans and salary advances.

      Hill is also accused of directing his officials not to pay tax and of
violating government tender regulations.

      He allegedly engaged university lawyers without following laid-down
procedures and used UZ funds to refurbish his private residence, according
to papers filed in the High Court by William Mapani, the institution's
former bursar, dismissed from his job by Hill two weeks ago.

      Hill will be replaced by his deputy, Professor Levi Nyagura, who will
assume office on 1 January 2003, the government announced over the weekend.

      Nyagura has been appointed despite a damning parliamentary report
which recommended that he and Hill be investigated on corruption charges for
alleged maladministration, including abuse of UZ funds.

      Mapani was demoted to deputy bursar by the UZ Staff Disciplinary
Committee on allegations of wrongfully and unlawfully authorising the
purchase of curtains and permitting payment of about $11 million to a
company called Branchycombe.

      The parliamentary report said Nyagura irresponsibly approved the

      But Hill, using his powers under the University of Zimbabwe Amendment
Act, overturned the ruling of the committee and unilaterally dismissed
Mapani without any benefits, a measure Mapani said was unlawful.

      Mapani's lawyer, Selby Hwacha, said yesterday Hill was yet to file his
opposing affidavits. Hwacha said Hill has a week to do so.

      Mapani is challenging both the committee and Hill's decisions, arguing
the measures were unlawful and that Hill wanted to punish him for revealing
to a parliamentary committee that the departing Vice-Chancellor was involved
in corrupt activities at the institution.

      "I should state at this point in time that all the events are factual
and the relevant documentary evidence can be obtained from the UZ offices
and, of course, both Hill and myself to the Parliamentary Committee under

      "Hill is afraid that if he does not quickly dispose of me, and/or
create an impression that I am guilty of wrongdoing, I will expose with my
defence numerous irregular financial transactions that he made for his
personal benefit," Mapani said in his affidavit.

      Mapani wanted his case heard by an impartial body and not the one
headed by Professor Obert Maravanyika, who is part of Hill's administration
and allegedly involved in carrying out decisions that violated the
Government Tender Board regulations in the procurement of goods at UZ.

      In his affidavit, Mapani said following the damning parliamentary
report, which is still under debate, the police approached him to be
      a witness in the event of the prosecution of the individuals accused
of corruption at UZ.

      He charged that Hill was determined to fire him following his
submissions to the parliamentary committee.

      On 19 September 2002, Mapani wrote a letter to Dr Hope Sadza, the
chairperson of the UZ Council, expressing his fears that Hill wanted to
expel him.

      The letter read: "I would like to bring to the attention of the
council very disturbing developments coming out of the UZ Vice-Chancellor's
Office. Hill has on a number of occasions been quoted as saying even if
Mapani may not have a case to answer, 'I will make sure he will not come
back because he embarrassed me'."

      In his court application, Mapani then listed cases of alleged corrupt
practices by Hill. He charged that the Vice-Chancellor wanted to have the
cases swept under the carpet, hence his determination to dismiss him.

      He charged that Hill had illegally awarded himself loan and salary

      The papers before the High Court show that on 13 October 1999, Mapani
wrote a letter to Gideon Gono, the then Chairman of the UZ Council,
informing him that Hill had instructed him to stop remitting tax.

      The letter reads: "I am seeking your guidance on the attached
directive by Hill not to pay PAYE starting from the month of October.

      "In view of the fact that PAYE is a statutory obligation, I am
inclined to think that this instruction from Hill is illegal in terms of the
Finance Act, the Income Tax Act and the Audit and Exchequer Act."

      Hill had written to Mapani on 8 October 1999, saying: "I note that the
monthly current disbursement from the government once again does not include
$11 million required to pay the Cabinet-approved academic staff salary

      "In order to avoid further strain on the University's financial
resources, you are directed not to pay the University's PAYE contributions
this month and until further notice."

      Mapani also alleged that Hill wanted him out because of his knowledge
about his alleged abuse of foreign currency. The parliamentary report
recommended that Hill should be investigated for externalisation foreign
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From IRIN (UN), 2 December

Government denies tensions with Botswana

Johannesburg - Zimbabwe on Monday said a decision to recall its high commissioner to Botswana was part of a broader government reshuffle and had nothing to do with President Festus Mogae's recent criticism of the country's political and economic policies. "A number of ambassadors have been affected by the changes and reports suggesting that the commissioner in Gaborone was recalled because of some kind of worsening relationship between Zimbabwe and Botswana is simply not true," political counsellor at Zimbabwe's High Commission in Botswana, Tamuka Muranga told IRIN. But one analyst said Mogae's comments would have certainly angered Zimbabwean authorities and the removal of High Commissioner, Zenso Nsimbi, from Gaborone was evidence of that. Last month Mogae told the London-based African Business magazine that Zimbabwe's deepening political crisis was due to a "drought of good governance". "Mogae is the only African president who has publicly raised concern over the political upheavals in Zimbabwe. By recalling the high commissioner from Botswana, President Robert Mugabe certainly wants to send a clear message to Gaborone that Harare will not tolerate criticism," a senior researcher at the Institute of Security Studies Chris Maroleng said. Meanwhile, the Botswana Guardian reported that Nsimbi had been recalled following his inaction regarding complaints that Zimbabweans fleeing economic hardships in their country were being ill treated by Botswana authorities. Responding to the accusations, Mogae was quoted as saying: "This is a humanitarian crisis. We are trying to handle it as humanely as possible. But within the limits of our capacity, of our resources. We have no choice." Maroleng said Nsimbi's replacement would certainly be a "Zanu PF hardliner, somebody who could be tougher when it comes to defending the government's human rights record abroad". "It is unlikely that there would be total breakdown in diplomatic relations between Zimbabwe and Botswana as there are diplomatic channels through which these tensions can be discussed. But what Mogae's comments makes clear is that not all African leaders support what is going on in Zimbabwe," Maroleng said.

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From The Financial Times (UK), 2 December

Mugabe 'to blame for region's woes'

By Nicol Degli Innocenti in Johannesburg

The crisis in Zimbabwe is hurting the economies of the region, damaging trade relations and undermining efforts to reach closer integration, Pascal Lamy, the European Union trade commissioner, said at the weekend. "Southern African countries are paying a high price," Mr Lamy said at the end of a trip to southern Africa. "They know Zimbabwe is a mess, an absolute shambles. Their solidarity has cost them very dear. They have lost a lot of trade." Mr Lamy met ministers in all the Southern African Development Community countries, including the representative from Harare, to outline EU policy, boost trade co-operation talks and explain the benefits of trade liberalisation. Last week a meeting between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific countries had to be cancelled when the ACP representatives objected to the EU's exclusion of two Zimbabwean officials. The SADC has also criticised EU sanctions against Zimbabwe. But despite shows of unity, SADC is deeply divided over Zimbabwe. Botswana and Mozambique have been critical of President Robert Mugabe's policies, which they believe are undermining efforts at promoting good governance, developing their economies and attracting investment.

South Africa has focused on engaging with Mr Mugabe and keeping the channels of communication open. Yet South Africa's exports to Zimbabwe have dwindled and Mozambique has replaced it as its biggest African trading partner. "Peer pressure is the only way to address the crisis in Zimbabwe," Mr Lamy said. "SADC is the right forum to deal with the Zimbabwe problem. The main focus of my trip has been the encouragement and promotion of regional integration," Mr Lamy said. "It is the only way southern African countries can hope to compete with the strong economies of the developed world." Mr Lamy's trip is part of a renewed effort by the EU to improve relations with African countries. The lingering resentment towards the EU was partly due to a communications problem, Mr Lamy said, and partly to history: "The EU is seen as the former colonial power and the US is not. It boils down to a psychological thing. But in general, there is no doubt we are much more open than the US to South African imports."

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Comment from ZWNEWS, 3 December


By Michael Hartnack

Orders went out quietly from Robert Mugabe's Cabinet in late November: "Jambanja (smash-and-grab) is over. It is time for return to the rule of law. We wanted something. Now we have got it so jambanja is finished." This seems in harmony with noises coming from the South African government that "even if mistakes were made" in the seizure of 5 000 white-owned farms and violent suppression of the opposition, Mugabe deserves a fresh start. Squatters building houses on unzoned land were ordered to move off; district administrators were told that although all whites served with seizure and eviction notices would have to quit, no more indiscriminate seizures of farms would be permitted. Harare sources say the inspiration behind this is Leonard Tsumba, governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, who, with undoubted South African backing, is urging reconciliation with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to regain access to budgetary support, end the foreign currency crisis, and curb 142 percent inflation which the IMF believes will soar to 522 percent next year.

But "Jambanja is over" is easier to say than to accomplish, even with the good offices of the South African government. In reality, relations with Western nations, and thus the international monetary institutions, go from bad to worse; the economy is crashing; ordinary people are desperate; UN bodies warn of mass deaths from starvation within months; and the political manipulation of food aid is increasingly blatant. Last Saturday, at the National Sports Stadium, Mugabe himself spelled out how he views the "end of jambanja" when he reviewed the armed forces following their withdrawal from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At the height of four-year involvement, 14 000 Zimbabwean troops were deployed there. With attack helicopters and armoured personnel carriers on display for the first time, Mugabe made clear the menacing weaponry was intended for counter-insurgency duties at home. "Our forces have gone that extra mile in terms of combat readiness and would be more than prepared to use their experience and skill in dealing with aggression either at home or elsewhere." He still refused to reveal the cost either in cash or casualties, made the usual cracks about British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and told returning troops they would receive white-owned farms seized in their absence – "So you needn't worry, there is still a lot of land to parcel out."

The World Food Programme warned last Thursday 6,7 million people are at risk of dying before the next harvests. The WFP had aimed to feed three million people during November but failed. "We will all have to work non-stop over the coming months if we are to prevent millions from starving," said Kevin Farrell, the WFP chief representative. Families were surviving on wild fruits and filling their bellies with semi-poisonous tubers. WFP field monitors say many schoolchildren arrive at classes without having eaten, and commonly faint. Some children have dropped out altogether because of hunger, and many older pupils have quit school to seek work as casual labourers. Even those in formal employment were suffering due to omnipresent shortages of maize meal, bread, milk and sugar, said the WFP. Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo says that 160 have already starved to death in Matabeleland. And the next few months may be only the start. Even if good rains fall -and  brilliant blue skies make this look increasingly unlikely - a maize crop cut to 800 000 tonnes by political disruption will not meet the 1,8 million tonne 2003-4 demand. No one now mentions the protestations of Agriculture Minister Joseph Made well into 2002 that the country had adequate food stocks and might not need to import any if grain "hoarded by whites" was seized. With Made-style disregard for the truth, the regime this week claimed it had succeeded in forcing down black currency market rates from Z$1 700 to Z$600 to one U.S. dollar. All that happened was that Zimbabweans trying to sell foreign currency were offered Z$600-US$1, to compensate for the greater risk faced by traders if found out, while those wanting to buy were asked upwards of Z$2 200-US$1. The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange crashed as officials tried to enforce impracticable price controls and exporters were ordered to surrender earnings to the authorities at the official rate of Z$55-US$1, while having to buy imported inputs at Z$2 200.

There are new reports of political interference in the distribution of food: children of suspected opposition supporters barred from supplementary feeding schemes in schools, food sales in which only those with ruling party cards dated before the disputed presidential election in March are allowed to take part. In Buhera, rural home of Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Chief Makumbe told workers for Christian Care who were about to distribute relief: "I don't want any food from the people who are sponsoring Tsvangirai to oust our legitimate leader, Mugabe. Go to other areas." American embassy staff assessing the food crisis among homeless and starving former farm workers near Harare were set upon by Mugabe's militants. The regime ignored US protests and responded by saying the USalan personnel were "trespassing," and that displaced farm workers do not exist. Finally, in a detailed report last week, Danish Physicians for Human Rights said the situation in Zimbabwe might be summoned up in a four-word slogan: "Vote Zanu PF or Starve!" "Starvation and death will occur on party political lines," warned the Danes. Among all the official truth-twisting statements, one smacks of the truth: the chilling announcement earlier this year by former Parliamentary Speaker Didymus Mutasa, now Zanu PF secretary for administration, that the party would rather see the population halved to six million - if they are all loyal supporters.

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Magistrate Mandinde Resigns, Joins Misa

The Herald (Harare)

December 2, 2002
Posted to the web December 3, 2002

Peter Matambanadzo

HARARE magistrate Mr Wilbert Mandinde, accused of having improperly granted
an application by former High Court Judge Justice Fergus Blackie to have his
bail conditions relaxed, resigned early last week.

Mr Mandinde tendered his resignation to the Ministry of Justice, Legal and
Parliamentary Affairs on Monday last week and has since joined the Media
Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), as a legal officer.

In a statement last week, MISA confirmed Mr Mandinde's appointment adding
that his mandate would be to deal with broader issues of media law.

MISA is a Non-Governmental Organisation that purports to promote freedom of
expression in Zimbabwe.

The organisation, however, has been advancing the cause of the opposition
media in the country and is against land reforms and the Government.

In an interview, Mr Mandinde said that after handling the retired judge's
case, he was offered a job by MISA.

He, however, denied mishandling cases to boost his curriculum vitae.

Two weeks ago, Mr Mandinde relaxed Justice Blackie's bail conditions.

The judge is facing charges of obstructing the course of justice for
allegedly improperly freeing Tara White who had been jailed for stealing
from her employer.

The Attorney-General's Office has rebuked Mr Mandinde and described his
conduct as grossly irregular and ill-use of judicial discretion.

The AG's Office has since filed an appeal against the lower court's ruling
at the High Court.

It has pointed out in the application that the magistrate granted the order
without hearing the State's side.

Mr Mandinde and Justice Blackie are listed as respondents in an urgent
application by the AG's Office seeking the setting aside of the magistrate's

In the ruling, Mr Mandinde ordered that Justice Blackie be given his
passport back and cancelled his reporting conditions to allow him to travel
to South Africa.

Earlier Mr Mandinde had freed St Mary's Member of Parliament Job Sikhala who
had been accused of having telephoned the Minister of State for Information
and Publicity Professor Jonathan Moyo and threatened him with death.

Last month Mr Mandinde released four suspected armed robbers on free bail
after they had claimed to have been assaulted by police.

A few days after the gang was released, some of its members were re-arrested
in Mabelreign, Harare, for housebreaking.
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Mail and Guardian

Zimbabwe says relations with Botswana haven't soured


      03 December 2002 10:50

Zimbabwe on Monday said a decision to recall its high commissioner to
Botswana was part of a broader government reshuffle and had nothing to do
with President Festus Mogae's recent criticism of the country's political
and economic policies.

"A number of ambassadors have been affected by the changes and reports
suggesting that the commissioner in Gaborone was recalled because of some
kind of worsening relationship between Zimbabwe and Botswana is simply not
true," said political counsellor at Zimbabwe's High Commission in Botswana,
Tamuka Muranga.

But one analyst said Mogae's comments would have certainly angered
Zimbabwean authorities and the removal of High Commissioner, Zenso Nsimbi,
from Gaborone was evidence of that.

Last month Mogae told the London-based African Business magazine that
Zimbabwe's deepening political crisis was due to a "drought of good

"Mogae is the only African president who has publicly raised concern over
the political upheavals in Zimbabwe. By recalling the high commissioner from
Botswana, President Robert Mugabe certainly wants to send a clear message to
Gaborone that Harare will not tolerate criticism," a senior researcher at
the Institute of Security Studies Chris Maroleng said.

Meanwhile, the Botswana Guardian reported that Nsimbi had been recalled
following his inaction regarding complaints that Zimbabweans fleeing
economic hardships in their country were being ill treated by Botswana

Responding to the accusations, Mogae was quoted as saying: "This is a
humanitarian crisis. We are trying to handle it as humanely as possible. But
within the limits of our capacity, of our resources. We have no choice."

Maroleng said Nsimbi's replacement would certainly be a "Zanu-PF hardliner,
somebody who could be tougher when it comes to defending the government's
human rights record abroad".

"It is unlikely that there would be total breakdown in diplomatic relations
between Zimbabwe and Botswana as there are diplomatic channels through which
these tensions can be discussed. But what Mogae's comments makes clear is
that not all African leaders support what is going on in Zimbabwe," Maroleng
said - Irin
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