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From The Guardian (UK), 10 February

Supreme court justice defies Mugabe threat

Harare - One of Zimbabwe's supreme court justices, Nick McNally, refused to cave in to threats from President Robert Mugabe's government yesterday and announced that he would stay on the bench until his retirement in December. Mr Justice McNally, 69, said he would not be bullied into resigning just one week after the Mugabe government forced out Anthony Gubbay, the chief justice of the five-member supreme court. Mr McNally confirmed that the justice minister, Patrick Chinamasa, urged him to take early retirement yesterday and issued a not-so-veiled threat if he decided to stay.

"I was told very politely and very nicely that I should go - take my leave and go, otherwise anything could happen. It was said very frankly that they didn't want me to come to any harm," he said. "I've been trying to think of a gesture that would be appreciated and not futile... I've decided not to go." Mr Chinamasa also paid a visit to the supreme court justice, Ahmed Ibrahim. It is not known if he decided to resign.

The Mugabe government is attacking the supreme court because it has reversed some of its policies. In December the court ruled that Mr Mugabe's "fast-track" land seizures were illegal and ordered the police to uphold the rule of law and remove squatters from privately owned farms. In January, it said that Mr Mugabe could not amend the law to prevent the results of parliamentary elections being challenged on the grounds of violence, intimidation and fraud. Mr Mugabe, cabinet ministers and the leader of the "war veterans", Chenjerai Hunzvi, have bitterly denounced the supreme court justices, calling them "relics of Rhodesia". It is understood that Mr Mugabe is to appoint a new, more compliant, supreme court.

"[Forcing Chief Justice Gubbay to retire] is a signal to the rest of the world that Zimbabwe's government fears the law and is determined to subvert it," the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper said yesterday. Harare's efforts to neutralise the courts coincide with its moves to muzzle the country's independent press. Two weeks ago it called for the critical Daily News to be closed down; an explosion then destroyed its printing presses. Harare's legal community, however, is taking heart at Justice McNally's stand. "It was distressing when Chief Justice Gubbay succumbed to the government's threats. If the chief justice cannot stand up for principle then who can?" one Harare lawyer, who did not want to be named, said. "That is why the legal community, lawyers both black and white, are so pleased that Justice McNally has decided to stand up for what is right."

From The Daily News, 9 February

Gubbay dismissal unlawful

The forced resignation of Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay was unconstitutional and illegal, senior lawyers said yesterday. Lovemore Madhuku, a University of Zimbabwe law lecturer, and Advocate Adrian de Bourbon, the chairman of the Bar Association of Zimbabwe, said other than through death or voluntary retirement, the Constitution clearly states procedures for the removal of a judge from office. Section 87 (2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, says: "If the President considers that the question of the removal from office of the Chief Justice ought to be investigated, the President shall appoint a tribunal to inquire into the matter."

Madhuku said: "In terms of the Constitution, no one can force a judge to resign. It is unlawful. A government can only remove a judge on the recommendations of a specially appointed tribunal." Gubbay was allegedly forced to leave after a tense meeting with Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa last week. Details of the meeting were not made public. His successor is yet to be appointed. De Bourbon, the chairman of the 35 advocates in the bar association, yesterday condemned the interference by the government in the Judiciary and what he called the perverse role played by the Executive in the forced early retirement of Gubbay. "This bodes ill for the future of our country and especially for the maintenance of the respect which is needed in the judicial system as a cornerstone of the democratic system in Zimbabwe," said de Bourbon.

The association said Gubbay's 22-year service to the Judiciary was exemplary. "His approach has always been without fear or favour, irrespective of colour, creed, political affiliation or race, despite suggestions to the contrary," de Bourbon said. Madhuku said if the government did not agree with certain judgments, or if they felt that Gubbay's interpretation of the law was wrong, they should have instituted a tribunal. Said Madhuku: "Where a judge makes a wrong decision, it is the prerogative of the Judiciary to make the final say on what the law should be. The Executive cannot come in and say it was a wrong judgment because if it does, it will be undermining the principle of the separation of powers." Madhuku said the government was capitalising on race to confuse issues. "They say those supporting Gubbay are puppets of whites, while those who support his removal are seen to be progressive," said Madhuku.

Editorial from The Financial Gazette, 8 February

Signs Of The End

Harare - A terrified government sensing the end has launched an unprecedented assault on fundamental freedoms of all Zimbabweans, hoping to stave off the inevitable. The onslaught against dissenting political voices has scaled new heights in both ferocity and magnitude since the governing ZANU PF party was stunned by a near defeat in last June's parliamentary ballot. It is clear that law-abiding Zimbabweans, who sought the only legal route possible to get rid of a failed party, are now the targets of its venom and terror.

Township residents live in fear of midnight raids by soldiers and police officers whose actions are reminiscent of the last days of Ian Smith's cruel regime. In ZANU PF's desperation to cling to power, not even opposition legislators are spared the humiliating beatings which have become a common treatment of residents of the townships. The men in uniform, whose missions are increasingly being executed under the cover of darkness, this week came back to haunt the residents of Chitungwiza's St Mary's suburb, viciously assaulting legislator Job Sikhala, his pregnant wife and even the couple's housemaid.

But the assault on MDC legislators - and indeed on all peace-loving Zimbabweans - is a strategy just beginning to unfold. It is quite evident that some members of the police, at best toothless bulldogs when challenged to act against well-documented crimes committed by ruling party members, have another new role. Typical of their blind faith to ZANU PF, the police have started to round up the most effective members of the opposition and to employ the draconian Law and Order Maintenance Act that Smith used so effectively against the majority blacks. That is why this week MDC leaders Gibson Sibanda and Nelson Chamisa were quizzed for ostensibly inciting violence and have been charged over the alleged offence.

And yet an impartial police force not intent on a relentless pursuit of selective justice would have long arrested ZANU PF stalwarts such as war veterans leader Chenjerai Hunzvi and his followers for openly preaching violence too many times before. If the law was indeed being applied fairly and fully, President Robert Mugabe would have been the very first to stand trial for repeatedly inciting violence against political rivals. He should have been censured for his hate speech in Bindura just before the June poll when he threatened death and violence on the MDC - his latest at the time. Then at ZANU PF's congress in December, he urged his supporters "to strike fear into the hearts" of some Zimbabweans - and they have done exactly this since then! Then and now, no one has acted against him for not only wilfully inciting violence but violating his own oath of office and Zimbabwe's constitution, an impeachable offence.

With most Zimbabweans cowed by the iron fist, the government has turned its focus on the remaining bulwarks of democracy and freedom: the judiciary and the media. Journalists have been assaulted and harassed to prevent them from doing their work; newspapers have been burnt in front of law enforcement officers by known and organised mobs and a printing press of a newspaper critical of the government has been bombed out of action. Zimbabweans also rightly view last week's forced departure of Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay as the greatest assault on the judiciary - that pillar of democracy which so far has refused to bend the rules to accommodate tyranny. ZANU PF hawks saw Justice Gubbay as an impediment to the party's chaotic land policy that is meant to benefit cronies because he chose to stick to the law authored by none other than the government itself.

The disruption by police of a peaceful march by journalists protesting against rising lawlessness is another sign that the time for pretence is over: the government is determined to ban all protests unless organised by itself and its war veterans. Although Zimbabweans should obviously defend themselves against the violence wherever possible, they should tread carefully and not fall into the government's trap. The violence, intimidation and assaults on the nation's freedoms are a calculated ploy to plunge Zimbabwe into chaos and create room for a declaration of martial law ahead of next year's presidential plebiscite.

Law-abiding Zimbabweans should remain resolute and keep the faith in the face of this provocation and be ready to use the only weapon that is left at their disposal: to vote overwhelmingly in that ballot to end tyranny and mayhem. These acts they are witnessing are the last acts of a regime on its way out and are meant to divert their attention from the country's collapse.

From The Financial Times (UK), 10 February

Zimbabwe in new exchange controls

Harare - Zimbabwe on Friday announced exchange controls which require all export earnings to be paid to the central bank or the state-owned National Oil Company. In a surprise announcement, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe said existing foreign exchange regulations had been suspended and that 75 per cent of all export earnings must be paid to the central bank "to meet embassy payments" and the balance to NocZim to finance imports of fuel.

Initial market reaction was one of disbelief. The suggestion that the country needs $125m (£85.60m) a month to pay its offshore embassy costs was greeted with derision. Instead, market operators believe the panic measure was introduced to finance fuel imports when even the official, government-owned media admits there is a shortage of petrol and diesel. But central bank officials insisted otherwise and said the controls (effective immediately) would last for no more than a week to 10 days.

Business leaders were also shocked by the announcement. Exporters said that until now they had been able to sell the bulk of their export proceeds in the parallel market at exchange rates of around Z$75 to Z$80 to the US dollar. But as long as the new regulations are operational they will have to sell to the central bank at only $55 to the US unit. The official claim that the measures are only temporary was seen as yet another attempt to disguise the severity of Zimbabwe's foreign currency crisis. "The truth," said one money market dealer, "is that no one trusts this government. If the move is only temporary, you can bet that exporters will delay repatriating their earnings until the policy is changed."

Bankers said they believed the move foreshadowed devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar as well as the imposition of selective currency controls. In the equity market, the price of Old Mutual shares in Harare compared with their price on the London Stock Exchange implies an exchange rate of Z$150 to the pound, compared with the official exchange rate of Z$79.5, one analyst noted. Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe government intensified its campaign against the judiciary, when its 63 members of parliament passed a vote of no confidence in the Supreme Court. The vote was prompted by a Supreme Court decision overturning an order by President Robert Mugabe, preventing opposition parties from challenging the results in 37 constituencies at last June's general elections.

From The Cape Argus (SA), 9 February

Global Economist Predicts Catastrophe

Cape Town - The situation in Zimbabwe is "pre-revolutionary" and developments there could send "a great shadow" across the entire SADC region unless drastic action is taken soon. This is the view of David Hale, chief global economist for the Zurich Insurance Group in Chicago, who was delivering the keynote address at the Investing in Africa Mining Indaba 2001 Conference in Cape Town yesterday.

In a speech entitled A View of Africa 2001 and Beyond the American economist, who has just spent nearly a week in "simmering" Zimbabwe having discussions with leading role players, predicted catastrophe unless firm steps were taken to democratise the country, or even oust President Robert Mugabe. Hale said he had been in Indonesia before really serious strife broke out there, and he knew the signs. He called on President Thabo Mbeki and other regional leaders to act constructively and aggressively to change the direction in which Zimbabwe was headed.

Hale said Mbeki had done tremendous damage to himself and South Africa by not taking a firmer stand early on. He suggested Mbeki should now threaten to hold back subsidies unless there were changes in Zimbabwe. "Mbeki should say: 'Get rid of political intimidation, or get a new leader.' South Africa has tremendous influence". He said a drought had taken hold in Zimbabwe and wide-scale starvation and ensuing protest action seemed imminent. This could result in martial law. "They are facing a showdown. Something has to give."

Zimbabwe had lost about 1.2 million people to emigration in the past couple of years, he said. South Africa faced the prospect of hosting a million refugees in 12 to 18 months. What was happening in Zimbabwe had a negative economic effect on South Africa. Even though the situation in the two countries was vastly different, many overseas investors said that if things could go so wrong in one country, the same could happen in the other. The partial destruction of the farming industry and the closure of a number of mines in Zimbabwe had caused a serious drop in that country's foreign exchange..

But Hale said Zimbabwe had the potential for a great comeback if the political situation improved. Earlier at the conference Titus Nyatsanga, director of promotions and development for the Zimbabwean government's mining ministry, said the country was going through a tough period but it would be "shortlived". He said a new fiscal regime would increase business interest.

From The Star (SA), 9 February

Kabila's killer still at large, says paper

Paris - The killer of Congolese President Laurent Kabila escaped from the scene of the shooting in Kinshasa's presidential palace and was not killed as stated by Congolese authorities, a French newspaper said on Friday. The daily Le Monde, in a long two-page report, did not give the name of the killer but said he was accompanied by a Second Lieutenant Rachidi Kasereka, a member of the presidential guard, who was shot dead covering the killer's escape. Le Monde said much of its information about the January 16 killing came from a plot leader it identified as Second Lieutenant AH. The newspaper published a hand-scrawled three-page note which AH said was the plan for the killing and involved several dozen men who wanted to overthrow the government.

Le Monde said the killers were former "kadogos", or child soldiers who had served Kabila for many years but the only age it gave for any of them was that of AH who was 27. According to the newspaper the soldier who killed Kabila went over as if to speak to him in his office and then shot him once in the neck, twice in the chest and once in the leg before running away. AH told le Monde he was stationed outside the palace with 35 men who gave covering fire but then fled when it was became clear armed loyalists were firing back at the killers. Le Monde said some of the conspirators had crossed into the Congo Republic but others had remained in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The new Congolese President, Joseph Kabila, set up a commission of inquiry this week to look into the circumstances of his father's assassination. Congolese authorities have said Kabila was shot by one of his bodyguards who was himself shot before he could shed any light on the motive for the killing.

From The Independent (UK), 9 February

Rwanda and Belgium meet in bid to end fighting in the Congo

Rwandan President Paul Kagame opened talks with the Belgium government in Brussels today as part of renewed efforts to end fighting in the Congo where Rwandan troops are backing anti-government rebels. Kagame's visit comes less than a week after Congolese President Joseph Kabila made a similar visit to Belgium, the former colonial ruler of both Congo and Rwanda which is seeking to advance peace talks.

In a visit to UN headquarters in New York this week, Kagame said Rwanda was ready to withdraw its troops from Congo, if the UN or others step in to disarm and hunt down the former soldiers and Hutu militia members responsible for the 1994 genocide of some 500,000 Rwandan Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Kagame told the Security Council the inauguration of Joseph Kabila as president of Congo following the January 16 slaying of his father, Laurent Kabila, had created a new opportunity for the peace process to be revived.

Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel took a lead in trying to revive peace when he became the only western minister to attend Laurent Kabila's funeral, then embarked on a tour of African nations involved in the conflict. Kagame was holding a series of meetings with Michel and will also meet Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt and King Albert II. Congo's war began in August 1998 when Uganda and Rwanda turned against Laurent Kabila after supporting his successful bid to overturn the 36-year rule of Mobutu Sese Seko. Kabila kept Ugandan and Rwandan-backed rebels at bay with the help of new allies Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia. All sides signed a peace agreement in 1999 in Lusaka, Zambia, but it has not been implemented.

From The Nation, (Kenya), 8 February

Museveni To Order Congo Pullout Soon

Kampala - Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has hinted at withdrawing his troops from the Congo because "the objectives for the deployment have been met." President Museveni's remarks came a day after he held talks in Kampala, with South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma. Addressing an audience of soldiers and diplomats during celebrations to mark army day, President Museveni said supply lines and bases where Ugandan rebels trained their forces in the Congo had been overrun by the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces while the Sudan-backed Lords Resistance Army had been neutralised.

"With those achievements, our objectives in the Congo have been met. We can even declared a unilateral ceasefire and hope to leave the Congolese people to sort out the remaining problems," said President Museveni who also lashed out at the international community for exerting pressure on his regime. "We have solved our security problem and I am now in a position to tell those who malign us to go to hell. Some of our regional aims for going to Congo have been met and we are ready to lend a hand in solving the remaining problems but our partners abroad should stop maligning us," said President Museveni who warned that he would withdraw his troops without notice within 24 hours, if abuse directed at him did not stop. "They want us to leave Congo yet they do not want to go there themselves. We are tired of lack of seriousness in the world. All these problems are simple if we had serious people but instead of solving them, they are busy walking up and down in meetings. Even before you go to the meeting, they have already prepared a communique," President Museveni said.

Meanwhile, former South African president Nelson Mandela will meet DRC President Joseph Kabila next week, his office said today. Mr. Mandela will travel to Kinshasa on Tuesday for talks with President Kabila ahead of the next round of Burundi peace talks in the Tanzanian town of Arusha on February 26 and 27, his office said in a statement. It said the first day of the Arusha meeting would be attended by several heads of state of countries in the Great Lakes region, including President Kabila. "Mr. Mandela invited President Kabila to join other heads of state at the meeting in Arusha on the 26th upon which the president accepted the invitation.

In Kinshasa, Mandela will "brief President Kabila on the achievements in the peace process up to now," the statement said. Mr. Mandela's spokeswoman Zelda la Grange said he was not planning to become involved in the peace process in the DRC but wanted to speak to President Kabila because "obviously the DRC situation has got an influence on Burundi." Burundi, which has troops in the east of the DRC to combat Burundian rebels, also backs rebels fighting the Kinshasa government along with Rwanda and Uganda. "It is not Madiba's (Mandela's) intention at all to involve himself in the DRC as such. He's rather looking for the inclusion of President Kabila to help solve Burundi's problems," she told AFP.

According to the statement, the upcoming Arusha meeting will focus on two "outstanding issues" in a peace agreement that was signed on August 28 - a ceasefire and the question of who will lead a transitional government in Burundi. President Pierre Buyoya wants to be transitional head of state but parties that signed the peace deal would not accept him for the post. The deputy president said that South African former president Nelson Mandela, the Burundi peace facilitator, would call a summit soon of all belligerents in that central African country.

From The Star (SA), 9 February

DRC peace summit to take place next week

Lusaka - Zambian President Frederick Chiluba will host a regional summit next week focused on peace negotiations for the DRC, diplomatic and security sources said on Thursday. They said Tuesday's summit in the Zambian capital will make an attempt to kick-start the stillborn 1999 Lusaka peace agreement with most of the region's leaders in attendance. "We expect a majority of the presidents, with the possible exception of Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, to attend," one Western ambassador said.

Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia have poured equipment and men into the DRC to fight a rebellion backed by Rwanda and Uganda. New DRC President Joseph Kabila has made a return to negotiating for peace a major priority for his government after he succeeded his father Laurent Kabila, who was assassinated last month. The Lusaka summit will be preceded by a meeting of ministers and military officials representing countries and rebel factions involved in the 30-month war.

Chiluba is the internationally-appointed chief mediator for the Congo. However, in recent months friction has developed between Zambia and South Africa on whether the Zambian leader should continue in that role given his heavy domestic agenda. Zambia will hold presidential and parliamentary elections in the last quarter of this year and Chiluba is encouraging a campaign to extend his rule beyond the two five-year terms the constitution allows, African diplomats say. The Lusaka peace deal has been persistently violated by both sides in the conflict.

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Coming to Zimbabwe in September 1998 showed a remarkable lack of judgement. I envisaged a fairly quiet life in a well-organised, reasonably prosperous country.

Everyone kept reminding me that this was "Africa for Beginners", not like the majority of other war-torn, corrupt or impoverished states which litter sub-Saharan Africa.

Zimbabwe's descent began just before my arrival, with President Mugabe's decision to send more than 10,000 troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo, in support of the late president Laurent Kabila.

It is a war which has helped to destroy the economy here and fatally undermine support for Mr Mugabe.

The government's panicked response in the run-up to last year's elections was to attempt to divert attention by playing up the already highly contentious land issue, while simultaneously unleashing a campaign of violence against the increasingly popular opposition.

Playing with fire

Last April I attended a ruling party rally at which President Mugabe, dressed army-style in olive green, warned the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, that he was playing with fire.

"Let him not start the fire which may engulf him!" said Mr Mugabe, to cheers of approval. A week later, the police stood and watched as government supporters blocked the path of Mr Tsvangirai's campaign manager, Tichaona Chiminya.

The crowd beat Mr Chiminya unconscious before pouring petrol over him and setting him alight. He was one of the more than 30 people killed during the election campaign, nearly all of them from the opposition.

It is, of course, Mr Mugabe and his government which started the fire and are still busily fanning the flames. In a desperate attempt to stay in power, apparently unable to imagine a Zimbabwe without it in charge, the ruling party haz resorted to intimidation on a national scale.

War Veterans' campaign

The War Veterans Association has, it seems, been given a free hand to do whatever is necessary to keep the opposition at bay.

Neil Hammond with an injured worker
Black farm workers and their white bosses have been attacked
Occupying white-owned farms and attacking the farmers and their workers is now so routine that it goes largely unreported. A more novel war veteran tactic is to take over the offices of local authorities they believe to be anti-government.

Civil servants and teachers are viewed with particular suspicion, mainly because they are well-educated. The police response is usually to do nothing - this, they explain, is political. The lunatics have taken over the asylum.

My most vivid image of my time here is of the war veteran leader, Chenjerai Hunzvi, leaning from the passenger window of a truck, wild-eyed and screaming.

He was trying to persuade the driver of my car to pull over. This was in the middle of a by-election campaign which, even by Zimbabwe's standards, was remarkably violent.

Opposition members of parliament said Mr Hunzvi had personally thrown a petrol bomb at them as they attempted to campaign.

Given that, we declined his invitation to stop, and instead performed a hasty U-turn, neatly avoiding another truckload of jeering government supporters in the process. It was all a little too close for comfort.

Fear and secrecy

Almost as uncomfortable was a telephone interview with the Information Minister, Jonathan Moyo, two days after the bombing of the printing presses of the Daily News newspaper.

I asked if the government intended to abide by the latest Supreme Court judgement - as usual, the court had ruled against President Mugabe.

The minister tends simply to hang up when he hears my name, but this time he launched into a tirade against the BBC in general and me in particular. His final shouted words were, "You should be more careful!"

Dire consequences

The consequences of President Mugabe's decision to abandon the rule of law are obvious - car-jackings and other armed robberies are now routine.

Far more serious, though, is the collapse of the economy, which contracted by four per cent last year, and will continue to shrink.

It's no longer a question of whether Zimbabwe will suffer food shortages this year, but how severe they will be - and this in a country which traditionally exports food.

The government's cynical attempts to undermine race relations are equally depressing.

Yes, the fire is well and truly raging, and could well engulf Mr Mugabe along with everybody else.

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Harare - Zimbabwe, battling a severe shortage of fuel as well as hard
currency, has directed commercial banks to sell all future foreign currency
to either the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe or the state-owned national oil
company until further notice.

In a statement made available on Saturday, the central bank said it was
suspending previous foreign currency distribution rules to give priority to
national oil procurement agency NOCZIM and the country's foreign embassies.

"With immediate effect all export proceeds, including those from tobacco
sales, received by authorised dealers will be allocated as follows: 25
percent should be sold to NOCZIM only, 75 percent should be immediately sold
to Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to meet embassy payments," the bank said.

The suspension of existing foreign exchange regulations comes amidst a
critical fuel shortage, which Zimbabwe has been battling since December
1999, after (NOCZIM) had its credit lines cut over a debt of about
Z$9-billion(R1,29-billion).

Send funds to its diplomatic missions overseas
Last May the Reserve Bank ordered foreign currency traders to sell 25
percent of all export proceeds to NOCZIM and national power utility ZESA
before the amounts were credited to their clients' foreign currency
accounts.

Industry officials say Zimbabwe needs about US $30- million to meet its
monthly fuel requirements, mainly secured from the private Kuwaiti firm
Independent Petroleum Group(IPG).

IPG, which provides about 100 000 tons per month of mixed product, or 70
percent of Zimbabwe's fuel, resumed in August supplies it had suspended over
non-payment by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's cash-strapped
government.

Kuwaiti bankers familiar with IPG/Zimbabwe oil supply deal said on Saturday
that so far each side is keeping its part of the bargain but that Zimbabwe
will have to maintain payments for supplies to keep running smoothly.

The official Herald newspaper quoted a government spokesperson as saying
that the directive was meant to last a few days to relieve the country's
fuel crisis and rescue Zimbabwe's diplomatic missions abroad from a hard
currency squeeze.

"This is a temporary measure to alleviate the situation affecting the
operations of foreign embassies through selective mopping up of foreign
currency from the market," the unnamed spokesperson told the paper.

The spokesperson was also quoted as saying the new rules did not apply to
existing foreign currency in corporate accounts.

Zimbabwe has been critically short of hard currency for over a year due to a
poor export performance as the country grapples with its worst economic
crisis since independence from Britain in 1980.

But despite the shortage the local dollar has clung to an official mid-rate
of 55.0 to the key US dollar since November 2000.

The central bank, which has been managing the key exchange rate since
January 1999, had prior to that held the dollar at 38 for over a year.

Traders however say desperate importers have been paying a premium rate of
around 80 Zimbabwe dollars for US currency on a thriving parallel informal
market.

Analysts expect a slight easing of the foreign currency crunch when key
tobacco auctions, which traditionally rake in about a third of Zimbabwe's
hard currency, open in April. - Reuters
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Pedzisai Ruhanya and Collin Chiwanza

TWO Supreme Court judges, Nicholas McNally and Ahmed Ebrahim, were informed
by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Patrick
Chinamasa, yesterday that the government no longer had confidence in the
Bench.


They refused to go during the 15-minute meeting with Chinamasa.
Asked after meeting the two senior judges, Chinamasa said he delivered an
order from an emergency Zanu PF parliamentary caucus meeting at the
Parliament building yesterday morning.
The caucus meeting of the ruling party passed a vote of no confidence in the
country’s highest court.
Chinamasa refused to disclose why he had specifically approached the two
judges.
In an interview with The Daily News after meeting the judges in their
chambers, Chinamasa said: “Zanu PF's caucus meeting resolved that they have
no confidence in the Supreme Court. I have conveyed the resolution of Zanu
PF to the judges.
“We discussed matters of mutual interest with the judges. I have not fired
anybody. I am not empowered by the Constitution to fire any judge.”
Asked whether Zanu PF had indicated that it could not guarantee the safety
of the judges unless they resigned, Chinamasa said: “That is not true.
 Okay?”
McNally yesterday said: “The Minister asked me to advance my retirement date
and I told him that I needed time to think about the matter.”
McNally said he telephoned Chinamasa and told him that he did not wish to
advance the retirement date to which Chinamasa simply said: “Okay. Goodbye.”
McNally is scheduled to retire next December.
“I have been thinking and worrying seriously about this issue and I have
finally decided that I am not going to go and this is what I told the
Minister,” said McNally.
He refused to discuss the matter further saying he did not wish to
communicate with the Press but was just doing so to dispel rumours that he
was about to go.
Ebrahim refused to talk to the Press.
Chinamasa vowed at a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association seminar in
Bulawayo on Monday that he wanted to purge the Judiciary alleging that it
comprised remnants of the white colonial regime.
On 2 February, Chinamasa held a similar meeting with Chief Justice Anthony
Gubbay and later announced that Gubbay had offered to go on early
retirement.
Gubbay was subsequently sent on a four months leave pending his departure in
June, 10 months before his scheduled retirement.
Chinamasa went into the Parliament building soon after meeting the judges.
He refused to discuss the future of the Judiciary in view of the latest
developments.
While he held talks with the judges inside the court, two police officers
armed with rifles stood by the entrance.

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Posted: 09/02/2001
Harare - The government said on Thursday it will ignore the latest of six
court orders demanding that police remove illegal squatters from private
land owned by white farmers.

The High Court on Wednesday ordered Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri to
deploy police to evict squatters who have occupied farms in the Hwedza corn
and tobacco growing district, 120 kilometres southeast of Harare, for nearly
a year.

Judge Rita Makarau granted an application by about 60 landowners asking the
court to force judicial officials and police to begin immediate evictions.

But Vice President Joseph Msika told reporters in Harare late on Thursday
that police and security personnel will not be used to carry out any
evictions of black "demonstrators" on farms.

'No Turning Back'

"There is no turning back. No courts will be allowed to stand in the way of
a just resolution of the land question," he said.

On Monday, the Administrative Court responsible for hearing appeals against
land seizures said a "fast track" program of farm confiscations did not
follow procedures laid down in land reform laws passed by the ruling party
last year.

The court held that two white-owned farms whose owners appealed seizure
could not be taken over until those laws were followed.

Ruling party militants have illegally occupied land on more than 1 700
white-owned farms since last February. In June, the government began
confiscating hundreds of the 3 000 white-owned properties it says it wants
to carve up and hand over to landless blacks.

Illegal squatters led by violent veterans of the bush war that ended white
rule in 1980 have occupied many of the remaining 1 000 white-owned farms
that have not been targeted for confiscation.

The two court rulings this week follow four last year that declared land
seizures illegal until laws were followed and ordered police to remove
squatters.

Invasions Supported by Mugabe

President Robert Mugabe has repeatedly supported often-violent occupations
of the farms, calling them a legitimate protest against whites'
disproportionate ownership of land.

About 4 000 whites own about one-third of the nation's productive land,
where about 2 million farm workers and their families live. About 7.5
million blacks live on the rest.

According to the government, about 60 000 black families have resettled on
seized land since June, compared with the 74 000 families resettled on
former white-owned farms during the first two decades after independence.

Since 1980, the land reform program has been plagued by corruption and
mismanagement, with many prime farms being shared out by politicians and
their cronies.

The Supreme Court in December ruled the government had not paid compensation
as required for improvements, such as roads and irrigation, on seized
properties and had not honored landowners' constitutional rights to
reasonable notice of seizure to enable them to appeal or make other plans.

It said farmers and their workers also had been denied protection from
violence and intimidation, and their rights to carry on with farming were
infringed by squatters, ruling party militants and state officials.

That ruling was among several court judgments against the government that
angered Mugabe and his militant followers.

In November, hundreds of war veterans stormed the Supreme Court during an
earlier land hearing and threatened to force judges to quit. Earlier this
month, the justice ministry forced Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay to take
early retirement.

Government attacks on the long-respected judiciary have intensified in the
past year, with ruling party politicians calling for sweeping judicial
reforms. - Sapa-AFP

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Herald Reporters

THE fuel supply situation in the country worsened yesterday as more filling
stations in major and other strategic towns had run dry by mid-morning.


Besides Harare, Bulawayo, Masvingo and their surrounding areas, other towns
along the highways to Zimbabwe’s borders, including Chinhoyi, Karoi and
Mutoko, did not have enough fuel stocks as well.


It is feared that the worsening fuel crisis was going to cripple the country
’s tourism industry and other sectors of the economy.


With the looming maize shortage in the country, the fuel shortage was likely
to continue, as the available foreign currency could be used to buy maize
stocks to avert a food crisis, oil industry sources said yesterday.


It could not be ascertained when the supplies would improve as there were no
indications of supplies coming in either through the pipeline or overland.


Repeated efforts yesterday to get comment from the National Oil Company of
Zimbabwe chief executive, Engineer Webster Muririti-rwa, were unsuccessful.


However, an official at Noczim told The Herald that a variety of petroleum
products had started trickling into the country by rail and road via
Beitbridge because the pipeline could not meet the country’s demand.


Drawn


The official could not say how much fuel was being brought into the country
nor could she be drawn to indicate if the fuel was under a deal brokered by
Metropolitan Bank paid under the Zimbabwe-Malaysia bilateral payment
arrangement.


Metropolitan Bank recently set up a US$20 million revolving facility that
allowed Engen (SA) to provide a more consistent supply of fuel to Noczim for
the southern parts of the country.


The overland petroleum products supplies were brought through Beitbridge
from South Africa.


The Government authorised four fuel companies — Mobil, Shell BP, Caltex and
Total Zimbabwe — to import fuel and sell through their outlets in an effort
to ease the critical shortage.


A survey by The Herald in Harare yesterday showed that no filling station
was sure when more supplies would arrive.


Long queues were evident at the few service stations that had fuel, while a
number of other filling stations were completely deserted as they had no
fuel.
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Farmers, war vets urged to co-exist peacefully

Agriculture Reporter

THE police or any other security structures will not be used to evict
landless people occupying commercial farmland, Vice-President Msika said
yesterday.

He said the Government had made it clear that it would not use the police to
forcibly remove villagers and war veterans from commercial farms.


Cde Msika’s statement comes in the wake of Wednesday’s High Court ruling in
which Justice Rita Makarau ordered the eviction of villagers and war
veterans from the Hwedza commercial farming area.


This is not the first time that the courts have ordered the eviction of
villagers and war veterans, citing the breakdown of the rule of law and
challenging the constitutionality of the fast-track resettlement programme.


On several occasions last year, the police ignored court orders to evict the
farm occupiers, saying the matter was political and politicians could best
deal with it.


It is also not the first time that the Government has resisted the use of
the police to evict the people.


President Mugabe has also come out strongly against the use of the police
and the army to evict people occupying commercial farms.


The President last year said he would not set one black person on another
over the land issue since the struggle for independence was over land.


Cde Mugabe has also come out clearly on the involvement of the courts in
resolving the land question and told commercial farmers that courts or no
courts, the compulsory acquisition of land would proceed.


Cde Msika, who is also the chairman of the national land acquisition
committee, told reporters in Harare that people who had occupied commercial
farms not earmarked for acquisition would be moved to newly opened
resettlement schemes.


"In the case of those who are on farms already gazetted for acquisition,
there will be no need for any movement as they will be resettled where they
are presently.


"As these arrangements are being worked out in the context of our
well-thought-out Land Reform Programme, we have appealed to both the
commercial farmers and the war veterans to peacefully co-exist on the farms,
’’ said the Vice-President.


The Government has, since the start of the fast-track resettlement programme
in June last year, resettled more than 60 000 families on nearly three
million hectares.


The exercise to resettle more people on commercial farmland is set to
intensify soon as the Government continues to gazette more farms for
acquisition.


Cde Msika reiterated that the resolution of the land question would come
through a political settlement and that the courts or the Commercial Farmers
’ Union will not stand in the way of the Government.


"This has been the consistent message from the Government to all
stakeholders, including commercial farmers. Government has no reason to
change its stance on this matter and is therefore more than ever resolved to
settle this long-outstanding question once and for all.


"There is no turning back. No courts will be allowed to stand in the way of
a just resolution to the land question.’’


The Vice-President said the Government was not at all worried by the courts
and would proceed to resettle thousands of


landless Zimbabweans, including whites.


He said for as long as the CFU continue going to the courts, he would not
meet them for dialogue but talk to individual farmers with problems.


Cde Msika was pleased with the pace at which the land resettlement programme
was going, having been able to resettle over 60 000 families in 16 weeks
compared to the 74 000 families resettled in 20 years.


Since embarking on the fast track resettlement programme in June last year,
a total of 2 540 farms, measuring 5,9 million hectares have been gazetted
for compulsory acquisition.


Responding to questions from journalists, Vice-President Msika said the fast
track resettlement programme would benefit all Zimbabweans regardless of
political affiliation.


"We are a responsible and not a reactionary Government. Members of the
opposition parties have also been resettled under the fast track programme.


"It is not fair to say they are against the land reform programme but that
their masters are the ones who oppose it.’’


At the same Press conference, the Minister of Rural Resources and Water
Development, Cde Joyce Mujuru outlined the Government’s position on the
provision of tillage services to resettled farmers.


She said free tillage would only benefit 6 000 families and the others would
have to pay for the services.


The Minister of Information and Publicity, Professor Jonathan Moyo, the
Minister of State in Vice-President Msika’s Office, Dr Olivia Muchena, the
Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, Dr Joseph Made and
the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Dr
Ignatius Chombo attended the Press conference.
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Staff Reporter

Only three lawyers - George Chikumbirike, Adam Kara and Terence Hussein
walked out of the annual general meeting (AGM) of the Law Society of
Zimbabwe (LSZ) on Monday when a resolution calling for the independence of
the Judiciary was adopted.


Sternford Moyo, the president of the LSZ, on Tuesday corrected reports aired
by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) to the effect that most black
lawyers had walked out of the meeting.
Moyo said the three walked out after losing the vote on the postponement of
the resolution, which received the support of 74 out of the 80 lawyers
present.
The ZBC said most of the lawyers who remained to support the resolution were
white.
“The suggestion by the ZBC that the majority of the people in attendance
were white is simply ridiculous and I am at a loss as to where they got this
information from. Many very senior black and highly respected black legal
practitioners voted in favour of the resolution,” he said.
He said in the history of the LSZ, Monday's meeting was one of the most well
attended AGMs.
The lawyers deplored government attempts to impair the independence of the
Judiciary by creating a partisan court.
“Judges are sworn to hand down judgments in accordance with the law,” he
said. “A partisan court is a total negation of the concept of separation of
powers and the checks and balances which form part of that concept.”
The AGM met after the forced retirement of Anthony Gubbay, the Chief
Justice. The government sent Gubbay on four months' leave pending retirement
in the same week that the full Supreme Court Bench declared unconstitutional
President Mugabe's notice seeking to nullify the MDC's electoral petitions
in the High Court.
Hussein has represented the government in several cases, including the MDC
petitions pending in the High Court.
Hussein is the personal lawyer of Jonathan Moyo, the Minister of State for
Information and Publicity.
Kara was one of the government's lawyers when the MDC successfully
challenged Mugabe's powers in the Supreme Court.
Chikumbirike initially represented Chenjerai Hunzvi, the chairman of a
faction of war veterans, when former fighters and senior government
officials were accused of looting the War Victims Compensation Fund.
The lawyers said they believed that redistribution of land should be within
the framework of the Constitution and the laws of Zimbabwe.
They deplored violence during elections, violence directed at the media and
journalists and the interference with the freedom of procession and
assembly.
“We witnessed interference with these freedoms only the day before yesterday
when people from the media fraternity were denied the exercise of these
rights,” said Moyo. “Furthermore, we deplore the selective manner in which
the exercise of these rights has, in some cases, been allowed.”
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Collin Chiwanza

The forced resignation of Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay was unconstitutional
and illegal, senior lawyers said yesterday.


Lovemore Madhuku, a University of Zimbabwe law lecturer, and Advocate Adrian
de Bourbon, the chairman of the Bar Association of Zimbabwe, said other than
through death or voluntary retirement, the Constitution clearly states
procedures for the removal of a judge from office.
Section 87 (2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, says: “If the President
considers that the question of the removal from office of the Chief Justice
ought to be investigated, the President shall appoint a tribunal to inquire
into the matter.”
Madhuku said: “In terms of the Constitution, no one can force a judge to
resign. It is unlawful. A government can only remove a judge on the
recommendations of a specially appointed tribunal.”
Gubbay was allegedly forced to leave after a tense meeting with Justice
Minister Patrick Chinamasa last week.
Details of the meeting were not made public. His successor is yet to be
appointed.
De Bourbon, the chairman of the 35 advocates in the bar association,
yesterday condemned the interference by the government in the Judiciary and
what he called the perverse role played by the Executive in the forced early
retirement of Gubbay.
“This bodes ill for the future of our country and especially for the
maintenance of the respect which is needed in the judicial system as a
cornerstone of the democratic system in Zimbabwe,” said de Bourbon. The
association said Gubbay's 22-year service to the Judiciary was exemplary.
“His approach has always been without fear or favour, irrespective of
colour, creed, political affiliation or race, despite suggestions to the
contrary,” de Bourbon said.
Madhuku said if the government did not agree with certain judgments, or if
they felt that Gubbay's interpretation of the law was wrong, they should
have instituted a tribunal.
Said Madhuku: “Where a judge makes a wrong decision, it is the prerogative
of the Judiciary to make the final say on what the law should be. The
Executive cannot come in and say it was a wrong judgment because if it does,
it will be undermining the principle of the separation of powers.”
Madhuku said the government was capitalising on race to confuse issues.
“They say those supporting Gubbay are puppets of whites, while those who
support his removal are seen to be progressive,” said Madhuku.
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Cape Argus

February 9, 2001
Posted to the web February 9, 2001

Ryan Cresswell
Cape Town

The situation in Zimbabwe is "pre-revolutionary" and developments there
could send "a great shadow" across the entire SADC region unless drastic
action is taken soon.

This is the view of David Hale, chief global economist for the Zurich
Insurance Group in Chicago, who was delivering the keynote address at the
Investing in Africa Mining Indaba 2001 Conference in Cape Town yesterday.

In a speech entitled A View of Africa 2001 and Beyond the American
economist, who has just spent nearly a week in "simmering" Zimbabwe having
discussions with leading role players, predicted catastrophe unless firm
steps were taken to democratise the country, or even oust President Robert
Mugabe.

Hale said he had been in Indonesia before really serious strife broke out
there, and he knew the signs.

He called on President Thabo Mbeki and other regional leaders to act
constructively and aggressively to change the direction in which Zimbabwe
was headed.

Hale said Mbeki had done tremendous damage to himself and South Africa by
not taking a firmer stand early on.

He suggested Mbeki should now threaten to hold back subsidies unless there
were changes in Zimbabwe.

"Mbeki should say: 'Get rid of political intimidation, or get a new leader.'
South Africa has tremendous influence".

He said a drought had taken hold in Zimbabwe and wide-scale starvation and
ensuing protest action seemed imminent.

This could result in martial law.

"They are facing a showdown. Something has to give."

Zimbabwe had lost about 1.2 million people to emigration in the past couple
of years, he said. South Africa faced the prospect of hosting a million
refugees in 12 to 18 months.

What was happening in Zimbabwe had a negative economic affect on South
Africa.

Even though the situation in the two countries was vastly different, many
overseas investors said that if things could go so wrong in one country, the
same could happen in the other.

The partial destruction of the farming industry and the closure of a number
of mines in Zimbabwe had caused a serious drop in that country's foreign
exchange..

But Hale said Zimbabwe had the potential for a great comeback if the
political situation improved.

Earlier at the conference Titus Nyatsanga, director of promotions and
development for the Zimbabwean government's mining ministry, said the
country was going through a tough period but it would be "shortlived".

He said a new fiscal regime would increase business interest.
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By ED O'LOUGHLIN
JOHANNESBURG
Saturday 10 February 2001

Zimbabwe's judicial system faces a rocky future, with the forced resignation
of Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay, a veteran jurist known for his defence of
the independence of the courts.

Judge Gubbay announced his resignation last weekend after talks with Justice
Minister Patrick Chinamasa over threats by government supporters to the
safety of judges and their families.

With militant pro-government "war veterans" continuing to intimidate and
attack journalists and opposition supporters, Judge Gubbay had sought
government guarantees that it would respect judges, and protect them from
attacks.

According to legal sources in Harare, Judge Gubbay had told Mr Chinamasa
that if guarantees were not forthcoming he would feel obliged to resign.

When Mr Chinamasa took this message to the government it was seized on, and
Mr Chinamasa was sent back to "accept", carrying minutes of the original
meeting to back him up. Judge Gubbay, 68, who was scheduled to retire next
year, will now give up his post at the end of March.

The resignation is the culmination of an increasingly virulent campaign
against the courts by President Robert Mugabe's ruling party, which has
accused judges of blocking its campaign to seize two-thirds of the country's
4500 white-owned farms without paying.

Zimbabwe's judicial system is one of the last institutions of state to
remain independent of Mr Mugabe's Zimbabwean African National Union-Popular
Front after 20 years of rule. It has repeatedly ruled that the government
should not encourage gangs of violent "war veterans" to invade commercial
farms and intimate farmers and their black laborers.

Days before Judge Gubbay was forced to resign, the Supreme Court had
infuriated the government by annulling a presidential decree forbidding any
court challenges to constituency results in last year's parliamentary
elections.

Capitalising on President Mugabe's increasingly corrupt and unpopular rule,
the fledgling opposition Movement for Democratic Change had emerged from
nowhere in that poll to win 57 of the 120 seats on offer, a major
humiliation for the government.

A series of government ministers have accused the courts of acting to the
"Rhodesian" agenda of the handful of remaining white judges.

Chenjerai "Hitler" Hunzvi, leader of the pro-government "war veterans"
militia, has accused the courts of toadying to whites and colonialists.


Zimbabwe's Law Society, the opposition MDC and many observers have condemned
the government's attacks on the courts as a cynical attempt to racialise the
law.

The government says it will appoint a new acting chief justice to replace
Judge Gubbay.

A favorite for this job, according to the state-owned newspaper, the Herald,
is the High Court's Judge President Godfrey Chidyausiku, a ZANU loyalist who
served Mr Mugabe as attorney-general and as deputy justice minister.
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