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Zimbabwe warns banks to shun white farmers


      Sun Feb 12, 2006 4:39 PM GMT

HARARE (Reuters) - A Zimbabwean cabinet minister has warned banks to shun
the country's few remaining white farmers, saying some of their ownership
titles remain in dispute, an official newspaper reported on Sunday.

National State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa said institutions seeking
business dealings with white farmers, including Zimbabwe's central bank,
should check with his ministry first, the state-run Sunday Mail said.

Analysts say only about 600 of Zimbabwe's 4,500 white farmers have kept
their land after the government launched a sometimes violent campaign six
years ago to redistribute farms to landless blacks.

Critics have blamed the land seizures for a sharp drop in Zimbabwe's
agricultural production, part of a wider economic crisis that has led to
shortages of food, fuel and foreign exchange, rocketing unemployment and
triple digit inflation.

President Robert Mugabe's government says the agricultural crisis is due in
large part to drought, and blames its western critics for policies it says
are aimed at undermining his rule over the former British colony.

Mutasa, who is also responsible for lands, land reform and resettlement,
said banks and other institutions such as Zimbabwe's electricity monopoly,
must consult with his ministry on "the resettlement status" of white-owned
farms they seek to do business with, the Mail said.

Mutasa said many banks were ignoring newly-settled black farmers -- who
possess "offer letters" but not title deeds to their land -- in favour of
their established white counterparts.

"Comrade Didymus Mutasa said that there had been an outcry from new farmers
that financial institutions had from the onset of the land reform programme
been despising new farmers when giving loans, with the white farmers getting
a bulk of the money," the newspaper said.

Mutasa said many of the remaining white farmers were operating without
official "offer letters" to retain their farms, while others continued to
occupy properties already given out to black farmers.

Mutasa was not available for comment on Sunday.

Last week, the International Monetary Fund, which has been threatening to
expel Zimbabwe over debt arrears, demanded that Mugabe's government honour a
pledge to stop the farm invasions, which critics say have contributed to a
50 percent fall in farm output over the last six years..

Local media reports say Zimbabwe central bank governor Gideon Gono has
clashed with Mutasa over the land resettlement policy, which has benefited
mainly supporters of Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party.

Mugabe, 82 later this month and in power since independence in 1980, says
the land reforms were necessary to correct ownership imbalances created by
British colonialism.

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Fuel Coupons Cancelled

Zim Daily

            Saturday, February 11 2006 @ 09:24 PM GMT
            Contributed by: Zimdaily

            By Valentine Maponga

            ZIMBABWEAN government has with immediate effect cancelled the
buying of fuel using foreign currency through its Foreign Exchange Fuel
Coupon system amid revelations that it now was being abused. The Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe introduced the foreign currency fuel coupons in August last
year in order to increase the availability of the scarce petrol and diesel.

            In a statement made public yesterday the central bank said
although the facility performed very well during the first days, some
members of the public started to abuse the facility and used it for
speculation and parallel market activities. ""It is therefore on this basis
of these abuses that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe wishes to advise the
public of the immediate cancellation of the foreign currency fuel-coupon
system," reads part of the statement from the bank's exchange control

            Members of the public who are in possession of the fuel coupons
are to immediately contact the various Foreign Currency Purchasing Centres
and Authorised dealers for the redemption of the coupons. The redemption of
the coupons, according to the statement, will be in local currency and the
conversion would be done at the interbank rate as at 13 February 2006. The
Zimbabwean dollar is trading between $95 000 and $102 000 against the
greenback using the interbank rates. One U.S. dollar fetches up to 150 000
Zimbabwe dollars on the black market.

            "All coupons should be redeemed by no later than 28 February
2006." Zimbabwe has been desperately short of foreign currency since being
shunned by global donors, including the International Monetary Fund, over
policy differences with President Robert Mugabe's government resulting in
the shortages of essential services most of which are imported. The economy
has contracted by more than 30 percent over the past five years. The central
bank's managed auctions have failed to meet importer demand for foreign

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Zimbabwe police set up special desk for the Chinese

Zim Online

Mon 13 February 2006

      HARARE - The Zimbabwe government has ordered the police to set up a
special desk in Harare to offer special treatment and service to Chinese
nationals in the country, ZimOnline has learnt.

      The Chinese Desk will handle all cases involving the Chinese and is
expected to be equipped with the latest technology and enough resources to
ensure cases before it are dealt with expeditiously.

      A team of some of the police's best investigators, who will man the
desk, are already being taught Mandarin by instructors brought from China,
authoritative sources said.

      Already, a special counter to receive reports from Chinese nationals
as well as offer them whatever assistance they may need has been set up at
the biggest police station in the capital, Harare Central police station.

      "The Police Commissioner (Augustine Chihuri) set up this desk under
instructions from politicians who felt that the Chinese should be given
special treatment as they are contributing a lot to Zimbabwe's economy.
Every case involving a Chinese national is dealt with by this Chinese Desk,"
said a senior police officer, who did not want to be named because he is not
allowed to disclose such information to the Press.

      Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi said the desk was being created to
"assist our brothers" (Chinese) because they were being specifically
targeted by thieves.

      Mohadi said: "It is being carried out in good faith, the idea being to
assist our brothers who had complained about being targeted by some
criminals because they are known to be investing in the country. In any
case, I am yet to meet any other foreigner who has been denied police

      President Robert Mugabe's government is cementing ties with
increasingly rich Asian countries but mostly with China after falling out
with the West over his poor human rights record and failure to uphold

      As part of its kowtowing to the Chinese, the Harare administration has
awarded lucrative contracts in Zimbabwe's mining, energy, construction and
agricultural sectors to firms from the rising Asian giant.

      But several Chinese businesspeople, a majority of whom keep vast sums
of cash in their homes because they do not have accounts with Zimbabwean
banks, have fallen victim to crime which is on the rise in the country
because of worsening economic hardships. - ZimOnline

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Ten months after, victims of home demolition campaign still waiting

Zim Online

Mon 13 February 2006

      HARARE - Thirty-four year old Mavis Mlambo holds her six-month old
baby tightly against her body to keep it warm as the relentless blows from
the tempestuous winds and heavy rains threaten to tear away her plastic
shack on the banks of Harare's Mukuvisi River.

      Her two other children, Tracy and Givemore, aged four and six
respectively, are wrapped under a threadbare blanket as they try to shirk
off the cold.

      "I fear the children will soon fall ill from this cold. They are too
young to endure this sort of lifestyle," says Mlambo.

      Only a short 10 months ago, Mlambo and 150 other families squatting
here on the Mukuvisi's banks would not have had to experience the pain of
having to watch their children endure this rain and biting cold.

      She and her husband used to rent a two-roomed brick and asbestos
backyard cottage in the low-income suburb of Mbare until one morning in May
last year, armed police backed by bulldozers descended on the suburb.

      The police told bemused residents that they were on an exercise to
clean up Harare and that all backyard cottages were going to be destroyed as
part of the exercise.

      "We were given only an hour to remove our household property and find
alternative accommodation," Mlambo says, fighting hard to keep back the
tears swelling in her eyes.

      By July when the government agreed under pressure from the
international community to halt the urban clean-up campaign, the number of
people whose home had been demolished by police bulldozers was estimated by
the United Nations (UN) at around 700 000.

      The UN, which dispatched a special envoy to probe the home
demolitions, says another 2.5 million people were also indirectly affected
by the clean-up campaign that President Robert Mugabe defended as necessary
to rid cities and  towns of filth and smash the illegal foreign currency
parallel market.

      However, Mugabe in a bid to parry off rising international
condemnation for the home demolition exercise announced a  fresh campaign
codenamed Operation Garikayi to build thousands of houses for people made
homeless by his clean-up operation.

      But ten months after the housing demolitions, victims are still
staying in shacks along Mukuvisi River and at many squatter camps dotted
across the country without ablution facilities and or clean drinking water.

      The few houses that have been built under the government programme
have been quickly snatched up by senior ruling  party officials and the well

      "The government has totally forgotten us," says Charles Chinyepe, who
is also staying along the river.

      "They promised the whole world that they would quickly build new
houses for us but the have not done so .. We are suffering here," adds
Chinyepe, a self confessed supporter of Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party but
who describes the government's failure to build the homes it promises as the
ultimate betrayal.

      But the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) says houses are
not even top on the list of these homeless families' needs. Instead basic
survival commodities such as blankets, food, clean water and medicines to
treat diseases such as diarrhoea are what the government should urgently
provide to Mlambo, Chinyepe and their colleagues.

      "We talked to the people and they say there have been serious cases of
diarrhoea in the area which affected nearly 50 people. The situation remains
desperate," said CHRA spokesman Precious Shumba.

      But economic experts told ZimOnline the cash-strapped Harare
government is not able to provide even these basic needs let alone modern
houses for the hundreds of thousands of displaced families across the

      "The government is unable to do anything because it does not have the
resources. The meagre resources available are being channelled to other
areas perceived to be of more immediate concern," Harare-based consultant
economist John Robertson said.

      The Harare administration, grappling its worst ever economic crisis,
needs money to import food, fuel, electricity, essential medical drugs,
among many key commodities in critical short supply in the country.

      It certainly will be a long while before the government is able to, if
ever, divert its energies to providing houses for Mlambo and other people it
made homeless. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe senators work from home as government fails to provide offices

Zim Online

Mon 13 February 2006

      BULAWAYO - President Robert Mugabe's government is still to provide
offices for senators elected late last year in a controversial poll that
critics had opposed saying it was an unnecessary waste of money when the
country should be expending its meagre resources on fighting hunger.

      Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party scooped most of the senate seats which
were up for grabs in the November election that was boycotted by a faction
of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.

      But three months after the election, the senators are still to secure
offices from the government to service their constituencies. The President
of the Senate, Edna Madzongwe, confirmed that the government was still to
find suitable offices for the senators.

      "We are working on the issue but we have not formalised anything as
yet and information relating to that would come through the standing rules
and orders committee of Parliament. They will have offices soon," said

      MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai fiercely opposed the reintroduction of
the senate saying it was a waste of resources for a country struggling to
feed a quarter of its people facing starvation. Tsvangirai also said the
senate was a "ZANU PF  project" to extend its system of patronage and
mounted a vigorous campaign urging Zimbabweans to boycott the poll.

      But other MDC leaders, including Tsvangirai's deputy Gibson Sibanda
and secretary general Welshman Ncube, refused to boycott the election
arguing doing so would mean surrendering political space to ZANU PF and

      The fallout from the dispute has severely crippled the MDC which had
provided the greatest challenge to Mugabe's 25-year grip on power. Zimbabwe
is in its sixth year of a bitter economic crisis most critics blame on
Mugabe's policies. - ZimOnline

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New UK Envoy Coming End Of February

Zim Daily

            Saturday, February 11 2006 @ 09:20 PM GMT
            Contributed by: correspondent
            Dr Andrew Poc.ock, the successor to former British Ambassador to
Zimbabwe, Rod Pullen, who left prematurely, is expected to arrive in
Zimbabwe at the end of this month, Zimdaily can reveal. The new Ambassador
was the British High Commissioner in Tanzania and before that, he served in
Canberra and the United Nations. Dr Pullen, who propelled the State
propaganda mill after leaving before the end of his tenure said in a
farewell statement obtained by Zimdaily that during his stay he visited most
parts of the country where he witnessed so many horrible things.

            "We have seen people in communal areas and in high-density
suburbs desperately struggling to eke out a living and being offered
ideological panaceas instead of sustainable development programmes. "As a
result many are forced to accept food assistance from international donors
simply in order to survive," Dr Pullen said in his farewell remarks.

            He added that he had also witnessed people who had suffered for
standing for their rights; who have been wrongly deprived of their land and
property, ruining, in some cases not just a lifetime's endeavour but the
fruits of several generations. "The British Embassy, our Department for
International Development and the British Council have each tried in their
own ways to ameliorate some of these problems," Pullen said in a statement
seen by Zimdaily. "I am only too conscious that these efforts have not
addressed the fundamental problems facing this country," he said.

            The incoming ambassador, Dr Poc.ock was a former head of
Southern African department at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The
51-year-old former Downing Street press officer, can is a career FCO
officer, having worked in the FCO's United Nations department for two years,
and been first secretary at the Washington Embassy, before taking up a
personnel management post in the FCO.
            From there he became deputy head of the South Asian department
before being loaned to the Royal College of Defense Studies. He was deputy
high commissioner at Canberra before taking up the High Commissioner post in

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Unemployment Surges To 76,5% As 650 Companies Close

Zim Daily

            Saturday, February 11 2006 @ 09:16 PM GMT
            Contributed by: correspondent
            THE SHARP decline of the Zimbabwean economy, which has
precipitated massive retrenchments and company closures, has pushed Zimbabwe's
unemployment rate to an unprecedented 76.5 percent rate, economists have
said. Official unemployment rate has always been the subject of conjecture
in the absence of official data. Only last year, Labour Minister Paul
Mangwana was ridiculed after he presented a single-digit unemployment rate.

            Economic analysts said the high inflationary environment and the
government's lethargic approach to economic recovery were negatively
impacting on companies, leading to reduced production. Capacity utilisation
in Zimbabwean factories currently hovers around 40 percent and could still
plummet further, amid a worsening energy crisis. This has resulted in
companies retrenching workers or reducing working hours in order to cut down
on production costs. The worst affected companies have been forced to close
down, throwing millions of workers onto the streets.

            An official from the Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe
Industries (EMCOZ) said that there were slim chances of companies performing
to their full capacity because of the acute foreign currency shortages and
the isolation of the country by major foreign partners. Economic consultant,
John Robertson, said the rise in unemployment rate was not surprising
considering, foreign currency shortages, skewed economic policies by
government and price controls, among other things, which were burdening
non-performing companies.

            Said Robertson: " The job market will disappear very soon. It is
vital to stimulate job creation. There are a lot of students from colleges
and universities coming out with flying colours, who are looking for
employment." "While we expect unemployment to be addressed through the
promotion of opportunities to create jobs, it is apparent there have been no
concerted efforts to address the problem such that in the long term, we fear
the rate of unemployment will escalate to over 80%."

            According to the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI),
more than 650 companies closed operations over the last five years because
of the prohibitive operational conditions characterised by high input costs,
hard currency shortages, high levels of interest rates, inflationary levels
as well as the uncompetitive export market. It is against this background
that the government called for renewed vigour in the promotion of the
informal sector. But many do not believe that this sector can turn around
the fortunes of the economy.

            The United Nations Human rights development report of 2004 cited
Zimbabwe as the country with the highest number of labour emigrants in the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.

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Row Erupts Over Sale Of Masvingo Mayoral Merc For Z$60 million

Zim Daily

            Saturday, February 11 2006 @ 09:16 PM GMT
            Contributed by: correspondent
            Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Masvingo Mayor Alois
Chaimiti is locked in mortal combat with the Masvingo Residents and
Ratepayers Association (MURRA) over the sale of the Mayoral Mercedes Benz
for Z$60 million, Zimdaily heard yesterday. The C-Class Merc that was bought
during the reign of former Masvingo Mayor Alderman Francis Aphiri was
offloaded by Chaimiti ostensibly because "it was cheaper to buy a new car
than repair an old vehicle." MURRA has now demanded the full details of the
transaction which they allege was "controversial" and "murky." Chaimiti has
however maintained that there was nothing anomalous about the sale as it was
done through an "open tender system.''

            "The vehicle in question had a history of constant breakdowns
and was beyond economic repair and we decided to sell it through an open
tender system," Chaimiti told Zimdaiy yesterday.

            However MURRA chairman Eddison Zvobgo (Jnr) said there was
something irregular about the sale and the burden of proof was on Chaimiti
to show cause why the vehicle was sold on such a paltry amount. "We have
requested that the council show us the documentation revealing that indeed
they sold the vehicle through the tender procedure but they are dithering,"
Zvobgo said. "We will not rest until this issue is solved. We owe it to the
residents because that Merc was bought through ratepayers money."

            Zimdaily understands that the vehicle was sold to a council
employee but sources suggest that the worker was a front for Chaimiti. The
mayor however denies this allegation. Chaimiti has since bought himself an
E-Class Merc. Chaimiti was first elected Masvingo executive mayor in May
2001 after he defeated Cde Jacob Chademana of Zanu PF. He won his reelection
last year unopposed after his Zanu PF opponent Patson Muzvidziwa had his
papers rejected by the Nomination Court on the grounds that there were
different names on his Ordinary Level certificate and on his professional
qualification certificate.

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Zanu PF Aligned Reverend Musindo Arrested On Five Counts Of Rape

Zim Daily

            Saturday, February 11 2006 @ 09:15 PM GMT
            Contributed by: correspondent
            Zanu PF aligned reverend Obadiah Musindo has been formally
charged of rape, five months after his maid raised the allegations. Musindo
of the Destiny of Africa Network was summoned by police yesterday morning,
an official in the Attorney General's office has confirmed. The official
added that police had recorded a warned and caution statement from Musindo,
a regular face on Zimbabwe television.

            The clergyman is normally invited to pray at Zanu PF meetings
and is one of the few reverend who are openly aligned to the ruling party.
Months after a domestic worker alleged that she had been raped five times at
his home, police had not yet pressed charges against him, raising the ire of
women's organisations. In a move that also raised eyebrows, police sent an
incomplete docket to the Attorney General's office asking for a legal
opinion only a month ago.

            A police assistant commissioner who wrote an accompanying letter
said the maid might have cherished having the Reverend's baby. Police had
also not bothered to even question Musindo about the allegations, raising
fears among women's rights organisation that they may have been a deliberate
attempt to let the well-connected Reverend go scotfree. Loice Moyo, the
Director of Public Prosecutions, who ordered police to arrest and charge
Musindo, even queried the way police had handled the matter three weeks ago.

            "We found that rather unusual because how could they send us an
incomplete docket and then ask for a legal opinion? They had not even
question the accused. The normal procedure is for the police to send us a
completed docket and if there is no evidence, then we can decline to
prosecute," said Moyo. Musindo faces five counts of rape. Two other
prominent 'men of cloth' who were ruling party activists are serving jail
terms for rape.

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A yen to help a dictatorship

Japan Times


Special to The Japan Times
LONDON -- So Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are now working to help support the
dictatorship of the people in China -- as managed on their behalf by the
Chinese Communist Party. So are most of the world's multinational
companies -- as well as you (and me).

We all support the dictatorship of the CCP by trading with China, by
investing in China, by taking holidays in China and by buying Chinese goods
and services.

By helping the Chinese economy grow we are all helping the CCP stay in power
by helping support a growing standard of living in China for the middle
class and a sufficiently large part of the urban working class to ensure
that thoughts of revolution are kept at bay.

Well, not completely, the People's Armed Police (PAP) still must shoot, beat
up and/or ship off to labor camps those malcontents who complain about the
theft of their property or destruction of their livelihoods. This makes it
easier for the winners in the economic boom to go on quietly enjoying their
gains while the majority of the people suffer.

It is getting increasingly expensive for the CCP to maintain the extensive
and growing reach of the ordinary police, the PAP and the People's
Liberation Army (PLA). As the CCP is sworn to "peaceful development" and has
no territorial ambitions other than to protect its current empire, this
massive repressive machine is directed at maintaining social stability on
the domestic front. So whenever we buy goods and services from China, or
sell new technologies there (especially military and police equipment), we
are helping maintain that "stability."

Should this worry us? A lot of people did complain about Google, Yahoo and
Microsoft's efforts to help the CCP maintain social stability in China. Why?

Most people find it hard to accept that buying a Peking duck dinner for two
with a couple of bottles of Qingdao beer, or some cheap Chinese
underclothes, or an IBM computer is helping support the repressive communist
regime in China. For some reason the actions of Internet companies in
restricting access of ordinary Chinese people to information about their
country or to political ideas that contradict or question the political
beliefs of CCP members is more reprehensible.

It is easy to see why. You have to ask yourself why the CCP is so frightened
about the Chinese people getting access to information about what is going
on in their own country or in the world at large. Or why they worry about
Chinese people having access to ideas on how the internal affairs of nation
states are managed other than through brutal communist dictatorship of the
minority over the majority.

Why is the CCP leadership so insecure? Do they feel that if the Chinese
people had access to such information then they might come to question the
legitimacy of a political system that emerged from the barrels of guns and
has stayed there on that basis? Does the CCP believe that it has no answers
to such questions that would hold up to critical scrutiny?

What a sad state of affairs it is when the CCP, and its agent the Chinese
government, believe that after more than half a century of being brought up
in a communist society the Chinese people might ask whether they would be
better off under a different political system. Does the CCP really have such
contempt for the rationality of its people after they have been schooled and
trained by communists for so long?

Does it really think that the majority of the people of China might, after
enjoying the privileges and benefits that the CCP has brought to them, say
that the time has come to move on from Marxist-Leninist-Maoism (with a touch
of Stalinism to spice things up) and want to try out some other system they
have read about on the Internet?

Maybe they would, maybe not, but what right does the CCP have to deny them
the option of making up their own minds, or simply asking questions? Some
Chinese people have had access to information about what is going on in
their country and have been able to read and consider the ideas of
noncommunist political thinkers. Some of them have then gone on to advocate
a different political system, or different political leaders from those
provided by the CCP. They don't stay free for long; they are carted off for
re-education through labor.

Google, Yahoo and Microsoft and other media companies may now be ensuring
that more free-thinking Chinese citizens go down the road to the Chinese
Gulag. So it is right to question their actions.

But before you start feeling superior and start criticizing them, remember
that when you travel on Air China to take a walk along the Great Wall, when
you buy some shares in a Chinese initial public offering, when you go and
see a Chinese movie or knock back a glass of Mao Tai, you are helping keep
in power the same CCP that you object to the Internet companies supporting.

Does this worry you? It should. But as boycotts don't work, we need another
way forward.

The CCP wants China to play a major role on the world stage. It is already
demonstrating the sort of role that it wishes to play through its support
for and cooperation with tyrannical regimes such as Zimbabwe, Sudan, Iran,
North Korea, Uzbekistan and Cuba.

Maybe we could reform the United Nations in a different way from those
currently being considered. The CCP uses China's veto power on the U.N.
Security Council to divert attention from its repressive domestic policies
and from its support of tyrannical powers abroad.

Maybe China should be removed from the Security Council until the CCP grows
up, stops repressing the Chinese people and works only with countries that
accept and abide by the U.N. Charter.

Maybe we should also require the CCP to apply the U.N. International Bill on
Human Rights in China, starting by ratifying the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights. This would help ensure that "the basic values of
freedom, democracy, equality, justice and peace" are available to the
Chinese people, as called for by China's U.N. ambassador last year.

David Wall is an associate member of the faculty of Oriental studies at
Cambridge University and an associate fellow of Chatham House.
The Japan Times: Feb. 12, 2006
(C) All rights reserved

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Racist Rantings of a Senile Old Man

Just this past week one of the old guard of Zanu PF, Didymus Mutasa, made a
statement about the remaining white farmers who somehow have survived the
agricultural holocaust launched by Zanu PF in 2000. He said far from
considering allowing white farmers to come back and occupy their farms under
leasehold arrangements, the State was bent on taking all land from white

We have about 600 of the former large scale commercial farmers still
farming - many are dairy farmers where they still provide 90 per cent of the
output of the industry, for some reason dairy farming is not an attractive
option for the thugs in Zanu PF. Someone once said that to be a success in
dairy farming you have to love your cows - that may be a problem for Zanu
PF, hate cows, that is another matter - that comes naturally! There are 200
or so large scale tobacco farmers trying to stay in the industry and this
year they will grow 35 000 tonnes out of the 50 000 tonnes of tobacco
expected to be grown and marketed.

The old guard of Zanu PF - the equivalent in Zimbabwean terms of the
"survivors of the long march" in Mau Tse Tung's China - are now a shrinking
elderly minority in the Party - still in control because of the Presidents
position and influence and power, but now on their way out. Mutasa is one of
those and is a particularly nasty bit of work. Right now he runs both the
CIO and the Lands portfolio and of late has become a euro phobic racist of
the worst kind.

This is a strange turn of events because there is no one in Zanu PF who owes
more to the former liberal white minority who fought Ian Smith and the
Rhodesian Front all those years ago, than Mutasa. He was very much the
protégée of Guy Clutton Brock who was a thorn in the side of the old
Rhodesian government and who worked all his life for the rights of the black
majority. Now Mutasa is probably a worse racist that the men and women who
ran the Rhodesian government 50 years ago when he was just a young man
growing up outside the capital city of Salisbury.

He is also not a very nice man in his personal life - he has prospered under
Zanu PF patronage like all the others, lives a life of comparative luxury
and knows no shortages. I traveled with the man on a flight to Europe in the
late 80's and was disgusted at his behavior even then. His behavior on the
plane was no advert for the government he represented.

African governments and human rights movements must acknowledge this aspect
of the recent activities of the Zanu PF regime in Harare. I am one who has
spent his whole life fighting racism in this country. I suffered for it
under the Smith government and lost many good friends as a result amongst my
community. My family also made sacrifices for our stand. Now I see no reason
why we should stand by and be silent when those who have benefited from the
struggles of the 20th Century espouse the very evils we fought against in
the 60's across the world. Black racism against whites in Africa is no more
acceptable than white racism in Europe or the USA against the minorities in
those communities.

Mutasa also made a racist remark about the whites in the MDC - there are a
few of us, no more than a couple of hundred in a membership that runs to two
million. But Zanu PF continues to claim that we "run the MDC". Nothing could
be further from the truth; we sometimes wished we had a little more
influence. But we are in the MDC because we are committed to the principles
on which the Party was founded and we find a home in the MDC as white
Africans, which was never offered to us by Zanu PF. In his statement Mutasa
called us "Mabhunu", a derogatory term that has come down from the days of
the Boer farmers. If I was to use a similar term to describe him I am sure I
would find myself on the receiving end as a "racist".

The truth of the matter is that white Africans like myself have a right to
be accepted as just ordinary citizens in African States. Regimes like the
one that is in power here have no right to deny us that - it is our
birthright or our right as adopted citizens. If that were not so then why
should we demand the reciprocal rights of black migrants and their families
in their own adopted countries?

It is also true that without security over assets no economic progress is
possible. The question of title rights is not something to be protected by
special agreements between countries on a bilateral basis but rather by the
State as an obligation to its productive citizens. By denying white farmers
those rights, the Zanu PF regime has undermined the rights of all farmers -
including the 800 000 small scale peasant farmers in Communal areas and the
25 000 black commercial farmers on freehold land. That is why output has
collapsed not only in the sectors previously dominated by large-scale white
farmers but across the board.

The same principles apply to mining rights, to industrial assets and to
private homes. If you deny these rights on a racial basis to anyone, you
deny them to all. Any attacks on private property are an attack on all
private property and will therefore constrain investment and savings and
encourage capital flight. Most of the latter is no longer generated by
fleeing white and Asian minorities but by black Zimbabweans who see no
future for themselves or their families in a Zimbabwe governed by a self
destructive Zanu PF minority government.

I think we can brush aside the remarks by Mutasa as the rantings of an out
of date racist who will soon just be a bad memory. In the past month things
have become so much worse here - shortages of food, fuel and electricity are
crippling our ability to continue to operate. The regime simply has no idea
as to what to do to halt and reverse the decline because anything they do
will create the conditions they fear most.

Inflation in January went over 1000 per cent against January 2005 and shows
no signs of slackening. At this pace soon, no one will be able to cope and
changes will start to come. When that does, a trickle will soon become a
flood and will wash away all the debris we have accumulated over the past 25
years. It was like that in South Africa, it will be no different here.
Hopefully we can then start to rebuild our lives and our country.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 12th February 2006.

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A plea for the forgotten countries of Africa

The Age, Australia

The suffering of the Zimbabwean people is likely to continue until there is
a change of government.

What to make of the news that Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe plans to
reverse his infamous policy of seizing land from white commercial farmers?
Over the past six years or so, Mr Mugabe's Government has taken the land,
homes and equipment of about 4000 farmers of European heritage who were
responsible for generating almost half of his country's foreign revenue. The
Government is now expected to admit that only about half of the land that it
seized remains productive. Although the admission in itself represents a
significant turnaround, economists estimate that in reality up to 90 per
cent of Zimbabwe's seized farmland lies fallow.

As has been well documented, the land-seizure policy has caused heartache
for those who were evicted; many farmers and their families relocated to
Britain, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. But, more significantly,
the policy has also contributed to the economic hardship of those forced to
remain. In November, Zimbabwe's Deputy Agriculture Minister, Sylvester
Nguni, made a rare admission that the farms had been given to "people
without the faintest idea of farming". He further conceded that this bungle
was responsible for the massive crop failure that left more than 30 per cent
of Zimbabwe's population dependent on food aid.

The policy reversal means the ruling Zanu-PF party is expected to offer
white farmers the opportunity to lease back their holdings, while also
(farmers hope) offering protection from warlords interested in seizing their
equipment or crops. In the meantime, the Commercial Farmers Union has
advised some members to apply for leases. The union also issued a statement,
which said in part "we have the energy and capacity to help bring Zimbabwe
once again to be the breadbasket of the (African) subcontinent". The boast
was a sad comment on the decline the country has experienced in the latter
part of Mr Mugabe's increasingly despotic 25-year reign (it is now the
world's fastest shrinking economy).

But it would be vain to hope that the Mugabe Government has come to its
senses. Last year the Government undertook a two-month demolition campaign
that destroyed the informal markets and homes of the urban poor. The
operation, which was believed to be an act of retribution towards those who
had supported the opposition in the election, left 700,000 homeless. In a
report, the United Nations described the action as a disastrous venture, but
such cruel and vandalistic policies are likely to continue while Mr Mugabe
continues to live and to hold rigged elections. Last month, US President
George Bush made a reference in his State of the Union speech to Zimbabwe's
status as a non-democracy. He said "the demands of justice and peace of this
world" require the country's freedom. He is right, but when will these
demands be met? How long must the people of Zimbabwe wait for rhetoric to
become reality? Last year too, Mr Mugabe turned to China for diplomatic
support and debt relief, which means the country has an ally on the UN
Security Council (and it is believed that China will benefit, in the form of
local tobacco, and mineral assets). The alliance makes the international
task of helping Zimbabwe that much more difficult.

In the Darfur region of western Sudan, the question of international
intervention is even more urgent. An estimated 180,000 people have died,
mainly of hunger and disease, and about 2 million have been displaced since
the Darfur conflict started three years ago. Today, United Nations
Secretary-General Kofi Annan will meet Mr Bush to request that the US
contribute troops and equipment to a planned new UN force which, it is
hoped, will bring stability to the region. About 7000 soldiers and monitors
from the poorly financed African Union force are now all that stands between
the Sudanese rebels, government forces and allied Arab militias. Both the US
and Russia have said they support the transformation of the African Union
operation to a UN peacekeeping force. It must be hoped that this support is
meaningful and swift, and that it puts an end to a brutal and tragic

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Zimbabwe audits corn shortages


          February 12 2006 at 02:37PM

      Harare - Zimbabwe's state food agency has started auditing corn
shortages at millers to determine the reason for severe food shortages which
affect some four million citizens.

      "Some millers are saying they are not getting enough maize although we
as the government think we have given them enough stocks. Maybe some millers
are holding onto the maize but we want to be sure about this," Agriculture
Minister Joseph Made said.

      "We are carrying out this audit as we want to be sure where the maize
is," he added.

      The state Grain Marketing Board is the only company permitted by law
to buy maize and wheat from growers, or import grain to ensure food security
in the country.

      Besides the shortages of corn the southern African country is also
facing the prospect of bread shortages due to a lack of wheat.

      President Robert Mugabe's government has attributed the food shortages
to drought, denying that it was the result of its land refom programme which
saw agricultural productivity almost halt after about 4 500 white farmers
were forcibly removed from their properties.

      International aid agencies estimate that about 4,3 million people out
of Zimbabwe's 13 million require food assistance.

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