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- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to: with subject line "For: Open Letter Forum".


Thought of the Day:

"Right actions for the future are the best apologies for wrong ones in the

Tyron Edwards.


- RE: Massey Ferguson Supports Mugabe and ZANU PF - Charles
- Can you Help? - BBC 'Conflicts: Zimbabwe' programme - Charles Fritzell
- RE: Voting as Permanent Residents - Helen Clarke
- Election Alert - Gerry Whitehead


LETTER 1: RE: Massey Ferguson Supports Mugabe and ZANU PF, received

by Charles

Dear Sirs,

After reading an article on the 25th January in the Daily Herald reporting
a meeting between Massey Ferguson and Minister Made regarding the supply of
agricultural equipment to farmers in Zimbabwe it crossed my mind that the
equipment was intended for use on the illegally settled farms. With this
thought in mind I emailed Massey Ferguson with the following email:

Dear Sirs,

I have just read, with incredulity, an online report at

stating that:

"UNITED Kingdom-based farming equipment manufacturing concern Massey
Ferguson has indicated that it is ready to meet the country's demand for
agricultural machinery and implements.

Speaking soon after meeting Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Dr
Joseph Made, Massey Ferguson's regional director for Africa, Mr Nick
Wright, said they envisaged extending the long association that exists
between his company, the country and the local farming community"

Should there be any truth in this report, it is my suspicion (especially as
the report suggests that the meeting was with Dr Joseph Made) the equipment
is for use on land seized from its owners by the Mugabe regime.  If this
were to be the case then Massey Ferguson would, de facto, be assisting and
endorsing Mugabe's theft of land, his destruction of his country's economy
and his impoverishment of the Zimbabwean people.  The occupation of land by
Mugabe's thugs is not only contrary to universally accepted standards on
human rights but is, in most areas, even illegal under Mugabe's own twisted

I look forward to your clarification of the situation and to learn if you
consider support for President Robert Mugabes' regime is acceptable to your
Code of Business Ethics and Conduct.

It took me a while to get a response from Massey Ferguson, and here it is:

-----original message -------
From: Massey Ferguson

Dear Charles,

Thanks for your reply, I am sorry you are unable to talk to me.

As you will be aware, Massey Ferguson is a major supplier of agricultural
equipment in almost every country in the World. As a major global supplier,
we are sensitive to issues, some humanitarian following famine and war,
some political, social or cultural and we work ethically and responsibly
with our Distributors, Dealers, colleagues and customers in each country.

From experience we know that withdrawing from any country where there is
tension, political or otherwise is counter productive to the people within
that country. We produce agricultural machinery and we are in the business
of helping people feed themselves. Massey Ferguson therefore continues to
work responsibly wherever it is operating.

Our relationship with the MF Distributor and MF customers in Zimbabwe goes
back many years. Many of these customers continue to operate productive
farming operations and we believe it is responsible to support them when we

Kind Regards


I would be interested to hear other peoples views on this and encourage
anyone who feels it is unacceptable to email Massey Ferguson at


LETTER 2: Can you Help? - BBC 'Conflicts: Zimbabwe' programme, received

by Alex Leech

Dear JAG

I am working on a 30minute television documentary about Zimbabwe for BBC3
television. The documentary is called 'Conflicts: Zimbabwe' and aims to
explain what is happening in Zimbabwe today through telling the experiences
of young people from Zimbabwe who have lived through the recent problems.

One of the areas we will be looking at is the Land Reform issue and the
farm invasions. We are currently looking to speak to a young person (18 -
35) from a white farming background (now living in the UK) who experienced
the violence and intimidation of the farm invasions of 2001 and 2002 first
hand. We are more interested in hearing their personal account of what
happened rather than their political opinions. The idea is to get an
understanding of what life was like for white farmers at this time. We
would ultimately like to do a sit down interview in a studio with this
person, hopefully in the next week or so.

I have spoken to some people who were worried about appearing in this
documentary as they still had family in Zimbabwe and were worried for their
welfare. If this is a concern to anybody I would advise that they do not
take part in the documentary, however I would still be happy to have a chat
off the record.

If you think you can help me, or have any questions for me, my email is and my direct phone line is 0121 567 6507.

Many thanks


Alex Leech
Researcher, 'Conflicts',
BBC Birmingham, Level 9, The Mailbox, Birmingham, B1 1RF
0121 567 6507

LETTER 3: Re: Voting as Permanent Residents, received 8.2.2005

by Helen Clarke

Dear JAG

In part you are correct, I alone from my family never took Zimbabwean
Citizenship and I have always been able to vote as a resident. On the
voters roll members of my family that had taken and then renounced their
citizenship were taken off the roll.

However, with proof of residency and stamped passport they were
re-registered, no trouble, depends on your attitude and that of the
presiding official?

Helen Clarke


All letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions
of the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice
for Agriculture.

LETTER 4: Election Alert, received 5.2.2005

by Gerry Whitehead

Hi All,

The "election" will be Thursday the 31st March 2005 nomination courts will
sit at 10am on Friday the 18th February 2005 Parliament will dissolved with
effect from the 30th March 2005.

This election as we are all aware is very importatant to us, our country
and our children, Lets all give our very best effort.

We have had one of our own attacked and robbed at a lay by on the
Bietbridge road, whilst this attack was serious it could have been worse as
he had his daughter with him. When security was sent in, they recovered his
personal papers and several sets of papers belonging to other travelers,
indicating that these criminals have been doing this for some time. Please
take care, we know that many people are desperate now and will resort to
crime, especially with the state that the police are in now.


Gerry Whitehead


JAG Hotlines:
+263 (011) 205 374 If you are in trouble or need advice,
                                  please don't hesitate to contact us -
                                  we're here to help!
+263 (04) 799 410 Office Lines
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Zim Online

Army barracks declared 'no go' areas for opposition
Fri 11 February 2005
  HARARE - The Zimbabwe government has barred opposition and independent
candidates in next month's general election from canvassing for support
among uniformed forces, considered by many political analysts as the bedrock
of its 25-year grip on power, ZimOnline established.

      Commanders at army, police and prison camps have in the past few weeks
refused the candidates permission to hold meetings or to distribute fliers
in the camps where thousands of service personnel live with their families.

      Ruling ZANU PF party candidates and government ministers can enter the
camps freely to canvass for support among the uniformed forces who like any
adult Zimbabwean are allowed to vote in the March ballot.

      For example, police authorities last week barred independent candidate
Margaret Dongo from entering Tomlinson Depot in Harare Central constituency
where she is standing.

      In a letter to Dongo, a police superintendent A Mpofu wrote: "Please
be advised that your application dated February 5 2005 (for permission to
distribute campaign material in ZRP Tomlinson Depot) has not been approved.
Such activities are not allowed in our camp and may you please accept our

      Tomlinson Depot is one of no less than five large camps and barracks
in Harare Central constituency. The army's KG6 national headquarters,
barracks for President Robert Mugabe's special Presidential Guard Battalion
and Zimbabwe's elite One Commando brigade are also in the same constituency.

      Residents of the camps make up close to 50 percent of registered
voters in the constituency.

      Dongo said: "The major training and biggest army, police and prison
camps are in Harare Central constituency, but they are not permitting me to
campaign in these camps. How then am I expected to reach out (to voters
living there)? This is not fair
      at all."

      High Court Judge, George Chiweshe, appointed last month to head the
newly created Zimbabwe Electoral Commission that is tasked with running
elections in the country could not be reached for comment on the matter last
night. He does not have phones and staff as yet.

      Harare lawyer and main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
party parliamentarian Tendai Biti, who was refused entry into Chikurubi
prison complex, east of the capital, said it was illegal for the government
to ban opposition candidates from canvassing for support among uniformed

      Biti said: "It is unconstitutional and immoral to bar the opposition
from campaigning in camps and barracks.

      "If the uniformed officers are allowed to vote, then they must be
given the right of choice which supposes that some people must market their
manifestos to them for them to make informed decisions. Politicians must be
allowed to campaign freely if Zimbabwe is a democratic country."

      Just before the 2002 presidential election controversially won by
Mugabe, the top commanders of Zimbabwe's army, air force, police, prison and
secret service declared in a joint statement that they were not going to
back the winner of the poll if that
      person did not fight in Zimbabwe's 1970s independence war.

      The statement was seen as a clear threat to stage a coup should MDC
leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who did not fight the war, won.

      Zvinavashe's successor Constantine Chiwenga has in the past also
publicly told soldiers to support ZANU PF.

      Analysts agree that without firm backing of the security forces,
Mugabe and his government would have long crumbled under the weight of
public discontent fuelled by severe food shortages and economic hardships,
Zimbabweans blame on government policies. ZimOnline
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Zim Online

MDC legislator remanded to May 16
Fri 11 February 2005
  BULAWAYO - A magistrate's court yesterday remanded opposition legislator
Thokozani Khupe to May 16 on charges that she breached state security laws
by meeting with her supporters without police permission.

      Khupe, who is the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party's Member
of Parliament for Makokoba, was last month arrested together with 60 party
supporters she was meeting with at her restaurant in the city. Khupe is out
of police custody.

      She filed an application at the High Court last week challenging her
arrest saying the meeting she was attending with her supporters was not a
public gathering but a private one held at her private premises.

      Under the government's Public Order and Security Act (POSA),
Zimbabweans must seek permission first from the police before holding public
political meetings.

      In her High Court application, Khupe wants the court to define what a
public meeting is and what is not. Justice Nicholas Ndou reserved judgment
on the matter.

      The MDC has accused the government of using POSA to stifle its
campaign for a key general election in March by ensuring that the police
refuse to sanction most of the party's meetings.

      The police have cancelled several meetings of the opposition party but
have never cancelled meetings by President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU
PF party. - ZimOnline
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Zim Online

Central bank extends curators' terms
Fri 11 February 2005
  HARARE - The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) yesterday extended terms of
curators running three failed banks plunging into confusion a scheme to
bring sanity to the financial sector by merging the institutions into one
state-controlled Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group (ZABG).

      Four institutions, Trust Bank, Royal Bank, Barbican Bank and Time Bank
are part of the ZABG. The allied bank opened last month and has for the past
weeks concentrated on transferring clients of three of the banks onto its

      Barbican was not immediately brought under ZABG as the curator
appointed to run the institution when it collapsed last year needed more
time to review its books.

      But no sooner had the ZABG started business than when the three
remaining banks filed applications at the courts challenging their forced
acquisition and merging into the ZABG by the government. Barbican is said to
be also contemplating challenging in court its compulsory acquisition by the

      As if confusion surrounding its ZABG project was not enough, the RBZ
yesterday announced it was extending the terms of caretaker curators it
appointed at Royal and Barbican, in what financial industry experts said was
an admission by the central bank that the bank-merger project was in serious
difficulties and may never take off anytime soon.

      Meanwhile, the High Court yesterday reserved judgment in Trust's
appeal against acquisition. The court has also reserved judgment in Royal
and Time appeals.

      In their applications, Royal and Trust argue that their seizure was
unlawful and that shareholders of the institutions were not properly and
legally consulted before their investments were confiscated.

      The banks are also contesting the formation of ZABG in which the
government holds a controlling stake saying this is in violation of the
Banking Act which bars the state from directly holding more than 25 percent
in a bank.

      The government assumed a majority stake in the ZABG after converting
debt owed by the individual banks to the state through the RBZ to equity. -
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The Herald

Refurbishment of new domestic terminal almost complete

THE refurbishment of the new domestic terminal at the Harare International
Airport, which commenced in July last year, is now 80 percent complete, the
Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) has said.

The authority's acting chief executive, Mr David Chawota, told New Ziana
this week that they expected the Z$3 billion project to be completed between
the first and second week of March this year.

"Work is in progress and we are 80 percent through. We are also putting up
modern check-in facilities and expect the terminal to be complete by the
first or second week of March," he said.

He said the restaurant, bar and shops would soon be moved from the old
terminal to the new one.

"We have made available more office and shop space in the new terminal which
can accommodate up to 10 shops," he said.

Mr Chawota said the terminal would also house the National Handling Service
(NHS), which would occupy a wing, while the rest of the space would be
reserved for offices and airlines.

Commenting on the rehabilitation of the Harare International Airport runway,
Mr Chawota said the first kilometre had been completed and the second one
was scheduled for completion in three weeks' time.

He said the remaining three kilometres should be completed by end of the
year, subject to funding.

"CAAZ requires about $50 billion to complete the project," he said, adding
that the authority had spent Euro 850 000 on runway lights, $2 billion on
installation works and $20 billion on the refurbishment of the two
kilometres over and above the costs of equipment.

The authority had gone to tender for a new taxiware lighting system, the
cost of which was yet to be confirmed.

Meanwhile, Mr Chawota said the construction of a new Victoria Falls runway,
expected to cost about $200 billion, would commence as soon as the authority
sourced funds.

Last year, Vice President Joseph Msika was quoted as saying the Government
would commit itself to extend the Victoria Falls runway to facilitate smooth
landing of big aircraft.

The refurbishment, which will turn the old international terminal into a
domestic terminal following the construction of a new one, started in July
and was supposed to have been completed by end of August last year. - New

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Harare Plans to Lay Off Workers

The Herald (Harare)

February 10, 2005
Posted to the web February 10, 2005


HARARE City Council plans to lay off an undisclosed number of workers to
reduce its bloated wage bill as it also emerged that the city has finished
formulating its 2005 annual budget.

An estimated $52 billion has since been set aside for retrenchment packages
in the proposed budget, which will be presented to residents and ratepayers

The budget is expected to be implemented in April although other charges
would become effective once the proposals are advertised.

The April date has been given to allow for advertising, consultations and
receipt of objections.

It is feared that council could have lost billions of dollars owing to its
failure to put the budget into effect at the beginning of the year.

Parking fees and water charges have been kept at last year's rates.

The first 10 cubic metres would be charged at $800 per cubic metre
commencing in February and with effect from July the amount would increase
to $1 200 for the same quantity of water.

After the first 10 cubic metres, consumption would be charged at $1 600
effective from February and at $2 400 from July onwards.

Domestic users who consume more than 300 cubic metres would be charged at $4
500 with effect from February while the figure would rise to $6 750 from

The cost of water remains lower than the treatment and supply costs, which
are pegged at $1 775 per cubic metre.

The proposed budget would be presented for adoption by the full commission
running the affairs of Harare council in two weeks' time after which it
would be forwarded to the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and
National Housing for approval.

"We are now through with the figure work. The next step is to go to the
residents to inform them on issues relating to the 2005 budget. We will
collect their views and include them where necessary and justifiable," said
town clerk Mr Nomutsa Chideya.
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      EU committed to supporting Zimbabwe's social services sector 2005-02-11 05:53:31

          HARARE, Feb. 10 (Xinhuanet) -- The European Union said Thursday
itis committed to supporting Zimbabwe's social services sector despite
strained relations that exist between the southern Africancountry and the

          "The EU is very much committed to supporting Zimbabwe's
health,education and the local community in spite of our relations,"
saidFrancesca Mosca, EU ambassador and head of the European
Commissiondelegation to Zimbabwe.

          She made the remarks while speaking to journalists after payinga
courtesy call on Vice President Joyce Mujuru to congratulate heron her
appointment as the country's first female vice president.

          Mosca said both Zimbabwe and the EU were committed to
improvingrelations, which became sour following disagreements over
Zimbabwe's land reform program the government embarked on in 2000 to
resettle landless Zimbabweans through acquiring land from white commercial

          Before the exercise, about 4,000 white commercial farmers
ownedabout 80 percent of the country's fertile land while the majority
blacks were cramped on unproductive land.

          "We are working toward bettering relations with Zimbabwe. I feel
we can achieve a lot in that regard. We are committed to lookinto the future
and not the past."

          She applauded President Robert Mugabe's call for non-violence in
the run up to the general elections scheduled for March 31, adding that they
were also closely following developments in the country.

          Meanwhile, Tanzania's and Kenya's ambassadors to Zimbabwe, Retired
Brigadier Hashim Mbita and Maria Nzomo also met Vice President Mujuru
respectively to congratulate her on her new appointment. Enditem

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Cape Times

      SADC pressed to vet Zimbabwe
      February 11, 2005

      By Karima Brown

      Pretoria: The tripartite alliance has called on the Southern African
Development Community to send a team of monitors to Zimbabwe to determine if
free and fair elections will be possible on March 31.

      This follows a special alliance secretariat meeting at which Cosatu
presented a report on its discussions with leaders of the Zimbabwean
Congress of Trade Unions.

      It was agreed at the meeting, characterised by "frank discussion",
that Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections, like all elections in the SADC,
must comply with the SADC's electoral principles and guidelines.

      It was emphasised that the SADC should field a team - which should
include representatives of "important stakeholder" the Southern African
Trade Union Co-ordinating Council - to assess whether conditions in Zimbabwe
comply with its guidelines for free and fair elections.

      Under its protocols, which have been signed by President Robert
Mugabe, the SADC was to have sent a delegation to Zimbabwe 90 days before
the elections to monitor compliance with its guidelines.
      Zimbabwe, however, has yet to give permission for a delegation to
enter the country.

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The Star

      African Union cannot be expected to police democracy effectively
      February 11, 2005

      The editorial "AU must expel Togo" (The Star, February 8) refers.

      Your trouncing of Togo for having "flouted the constitution" and your
demand that the Africa Union (AU) should expel that country to show how the
"new, democratic Africa deals with recalcitrant, autocratic governments"
provided a powerful argument in content and conclusion.

      Certainly, this "Togo test case" is worth watching closely but to
expect the AU to take the decisive action suggested is pure wishful

      Africa is infused with non-democratic states and there can be no
      credibility in asking Togo to "go" while the rest of the
democracy-dodgers are ignored.

      We must face the facts. This so-called "peer review" system in
      Africa is nothing but a political peepshow.

      A quick peek by the peers at the "sinners", and then they scurry off
to do more important things - such as persuading the wealthy nations that
debt is not something that needs to be repaid and that limitless aid is an
African "right".

      Asking the AU to monitor democracy in Africa is about as silly as
asking Colonel Sanders to baby-sit the chickens.

      Once again it will be left to the western democracies to take action,
and when they do they will soon be condemned as a bunch of racists.

      And finally, what can globetrotting President Thabo Mbeki tell the new
leaders of Togo when he finds himself tongue-tied in the presence of
Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe?

      I am reminded of that old TV advert featuring elephants hugging each
other with their trunks and with a voice declaring: "You're my brother ..."

      Cliff Saunders
      Northcliff, Johannesburg

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FROM: Editorial: Die Welt 20 November 2004

Appeasement? Europe, thy name is Cowardice

by Mathias Döpfner

A few days ago Henry Broder wrote in Welt am Sonntag, "Europe - your family
name is appeasement." It's a phrase you can't get out of your head because
it's so terribly true.

"Appeasement cost millions of Jews and non-Jews their lives as England and
France, allies at the time, negotiated and hesitated too long before they
noticed that Hitler had to be fought, not bound to toothless agreements.

Appeasement legitimized and stabilized Communism in the Soviet Union, then
East Germany, then all the rest of Eastern Europe where for decades,
inhuman, suppressive, and murderous governments were glorified as the
ideologically correct alternative to all other possibilities.

Appeasement crippled Europe when genocide ran rampant in Kosovo, and, even
though we had absolute proof of ongoing mass-murder, we Europeans debated
and debated and debated, and were still debating when finally the Americans
had to come from halfway around the world, into Europe yet again, and do
our work for us.

Rather than protecting democracy in the Middle East, European appeasement,
camouflaged behind the fuzzy word "equidistance," now countenances suicide
bombings in Israel by fundamentalist Palestinians.

Appeasement generates a mentality that allows Europe to ignore nearly
500,000 victims of Saddam's torture and murder machinery and, motivated by
the self-righteousness of the peace-movement, has the gall to issue bad
grades to George Bush... Even as it is uncovered that the loudest critics
of the American action in Iraq made illicit billions, no, TENS of billions,
in the corrupt U. N. Oil-for-Food program.

And now we are faced with a particularly grotesque form of appeasement. How
is Germany reacting to the escalating violence by Islamic fundamentalists
in Holland and elsewhere? By suggesting that we really should have a
"Muslim Holiday" in Germany.

I wish I were joking, but I am not. A substantial fraction of our (German)
Government, and if the polls are to be believed, the German people,
actually believe that creating an Official State "Muslim Holiday" will
somehow spare us from the wrath of the fanatical Islamists.

One cannot help but recall Britain's Neville Chamberlain waving the
laughable treaty signed by Adolph Hitler, and declaring European "Peace in
our time".

What else has to happen before the European public and its political
leadership get it? There is a sort of crusade underway, an especially
perfidious crusade consisting of systematic attacks by fanatic Muslims,
focused on civilians, directed against our free, open Western societies,
and intent upon Western Civilization's utter destruction.

It is a conflict that will most likely last longer than any of the great
military conflicts of the last century - a conflict conducted by an enemy
that cannot be tamed by "tolerance" and "accommodation" but is actually
spurred on by such gestures, which have proven to be, and will always be
taken by the Islamists for signs of weakness.

Only two recent American Presidents had the courage needed for
anti-appeasement: Reagan and Bush.

His American critics may quibble over the details, but we Europeans know
the truth. We saw it first hand: Ronald Reagan ended the Cold War, freeing
half of the German people from nearly 50 years of terror and virtual
slavery. And Bush, supported only by the Social Democrat Blair, acting on
moral conviction, recognized the danger in the Islamic War against
democracy. His place in history will have to be evaluated after a number of
years have passed.

In the meantime, Europe sits back with charismatic self-confidence in the
multicultural corner, instead of defending liberal society's values and
being an attractive centre of power on the same playing field as the true
great powers, America and China.

On the contrary, we Europeans present ourselves, in contrast to those
"arrogant Americans", as the World Champions of "tolerance", which even
Otto Schily justifiably criticizes.


Because we're so moral? I fear it's more because we're so materialistic, so
devoid of a moral compass.

For his policies, Bush risks the fall of the dollar, huge amounts of
additional national debt, and a massive and persistent burden on the
American economy, because unlike almost all of Europe, Bush realizes what
is at stake - literally everything.

While we criticize the "capitalistic robber barons" of America because they
seem too sure of their priorities, we timidly defend our Social Welfare
systems. Stay out of it! It could get expensive! We'd rather discuss
reducing our 35-hour workweek or our dental coverage, or our 4 weeks of
paid vacation, or listen to TV pastors preach about the need to "Reach out
to terrorists, to understand and forgive".

These days, Europe reminds me of an old woman who, with shaking hands,
frantically hides her last pieces of jewellery when she notices a robber
breaking into a neighbour's house.

Appeasement? Europe, thy name is Cowardice. Mathias Döpfner CEO of the
large German publishing firm Axel Springer

<> ,
published in the German periodical
Die Welt on 20 November 2004.

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The Star

      What recourse for nationals?
      February 11, 2005

      The government's failure to stand up for the property rights of its
nationals in Zimbabwe is indefensible.

      This saga has been running for years and the government's inaction
      is clear evidence that it is not serious about holding the Zimbabwean
government to its legal obligations.

      In response to a parliamentary question posed last year by the DA
      on this matter Minister of Foreign Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma made
the following commitments.

      Firstly, that the government will take steps to protect the property
rights of South African citizens in Zimbabwe; secondly, that it had secured
assurances that cases of land seizure affecting South African nationals
would be postponed until negotiations between the two countries are
completed; and, finally, that her department would continue to engage the
Zimbabwean government to ensure the safety and security of all SA citizens
and their properties.

      Yet it now appears that these assurances, like so many of the
government's assurances on Zimbabwe, are meaningless.

      The Zimbabwean government is currently fast-tracking the expropriation
of South African-owned land and is doing everything in its power to avoid
signing the vitally-important bilateral agreement that would serve to secure
the property rights of nationals from each country.

      The inability of the South African government to ensure that this
agreement is signed only reinforces the perception that it lacks the
necessary political will to protect the interests of its nationals.

      It is high time that the government showed the necessary resolve and
stopped allowing itself to be consistently outmanoeuvred by its Zimbabwean

      Douglas Gibson, MP
      DA Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs
      Parliament, Cape Town

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By Professor Welshman Ncube, MDC Secretary General

Unity of Purpose is What Shapes and Guides the MDC

Making tough choices is part and parcel of politics. The decision by the MDC
National Council, at its extraordinary meeting on Thursday 3 February, to
lift the party's suspension on election participation and enter the fray
under protest, was the toughest decision the party leadership has had to
make since the MDC's inception 5 years ago.

The MDC's National Executive had announced on 25 August 2004 that the party
would suspend participation in the elections pending the Zimbabwe Government's
full compliance with the SADC Protocol on Guidelines and Principles
Governing Democratic Elections.

At the time, the MDC retained a degree of optimism that President Mugabe
would act in the interests of Zimbabwe and the SADC region and honour the
undertakings he had given to other regional leaders to bring Zimbabwe's
electoral framework and political environment into line with what is
expected under the new SADC standards. Regrettably our optimism proved
unfounded. The Government remains uninterested in extending to Zimbabweans
the rights and freedoms enjoyed by our bothers and sisters across the SADC
region. The reforms that have been introduced are cosmetic and self-serving
and fail to properly address the democratic deficits that preclude a free
and fair election from taking place.

The intransigence of the Zimbabwe Government on the issue of comprehensive
electoral and democratic reform made boycotting the elections a compelling
option for the MDC leadership.

Decisions in the MDC however are not made by individuals at the top
operating in isolation; they are made in consultation with the party's
structures. Decision-making is a collective exercise. The party leadership
is guided by what the people on the ground want and acts in accordance with
their wishes.

Since the announcement last August to suspend participation in elections,
the MDC leadership has traveled to every corner of Zimbabwe engaging our
structures and civil society organisations on the issue of election
participation and canvassing views. We have held District Assembly meetings
in all of Zimbabwe's 120 districts and held Provincial Assembly meetings in
all 12 Provinces. Each district and each province was asked to submit
resolutions to the National Council confirming their respective positions.
The resolutions that were submitted were overwhelmingly in favour of

All the various constituencies that make up the MDC expressed similar
reasons for wanting to participate in the elections. The businessmen we
spoke to in Masvingo, the unemployed youth we spoke to in Chipinge, the
factory workers we spoke to in Harare and the ex-farm workers we spoke to in
rural parts of Manicaland all expressed their desire to exercise their
inalienable right to vote, regardless of the negative democratic conditions
on the ground.

Amongst our working class support base the determination to see the
implementation of RESTART, the MDC's economic policy agenda for job creation
and sustainable economic recovery, appeared to strengthen their resolve to
participate in the elections.

RESTART rejects the neo-liberal approach to economic development and focuses
on the need to create a more socially cohesive society in which there is
equal opportunity for all and a fairer distribution of the nation's wealth.

The manner in which the decision to participate in the elections was made is
indicative of the subordination of the MDC leadership to the internal
democratic processes of the party when it comes to decision-making.

It also reflects the unity of purpose which binds the MDC and which has
enabled it to overcome everything which has been thrown at it by Zanu PF
over the past five years. Without this unity of purpose the MDC would have
disappeared from the political map and become another historical footnote.

Contrary to the accusations of our critics, both inside and outside the
country, this unity of purpose is not based solely on the objective of
replacing the current Government. It is a plural phenomenon, rooted in the
MDC's civic society origins. The MDC evolved out of civil society, in
particular the labour movement, and was formed in direct response to the
failure of the Government to address pressing socio-economic grievances.

The political and socio-economic context in which the MDC was born means the
party is very much a 'broad church', consisting of a wide range of
constituencies ranging from labour, youth and women to business. We are the
leaders of the social liberation struggle in Zimbabwe.

There is a perception that the MDC's diversity is its 'Achilles Heal',
paralysing efforts to formulate a common programme. Nothing could be further
from the truth. The various constituencies that make-up the MDC are united
in their collective desire to not only usher in a new beginning but also to
build a new Zimbabwe based on the social democratic values of solidarity,
social justice, freedom, democracy, equity and equality. It is this shared
vision of the future, and the ideological principles on which it will be
based that binds the MDC together.

The forthcoming elections offer a glimmer of hope for change. We will,
however, remain vigilant of the ruling party's capacity for electoral
malpractice. If conditions on the ground deteriorate, extinguishing all
glimmer of hope, we have reserved the right to take corrective measures.

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