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

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Zim Online

Church leaders attack ZANU PF
Mon 14 February 2005
  HARARE - Zimbabwe is an oppressed nation with everyone living in fear, the
country's church leaders said yesterday.

      Using yesterday's interdenominational national prayer meeting for a
peaceful election in March to castigate the government's increasingly
repressive rule, the clergymen called on Zimbabweans to overcome their fear
and use next month's election to "kick out evil (from power) and replace it
with peace and prosperity."

      Roman Catholic Church bishop Patrick Mutume told the national prayer
meeting held in Harare: "We are at fault because we put evil people into
power. Why are we rewarding evil? Election time is not for rewarding evil.

      "Why do we allow those we give power to in turn use that power to
suppress us? It means we are failing because if we were enlightened, we
would not be in our current situation. Why can't we vote for justice if we
are enlightened as a nation?"

      Mutume lamented how the country had fallen from beinga beacon of hope
at independence in 1980 to a cowed  nation without the freedom, justice or
peace that thousands of Zimbabweans died fighting for during the country's
bitter 1970s war of liberation.

      He said: "We thought by finishing the struggle for independence we
will get peace. But then why are we still praying for peace and justice?

      "If we had the chance to ask our fallen heroes whether this is the
Zimbabwe they fought for, they will say no, because they fought for peace,
freedom and justice. But Zimbabweans everywhere are living in fear because
they are threatened and intimidated into submission. We are yet to enjoy the
gains of liberation."

      Methodist Church in Zimbabwe bishop Cephas Mukandi reminded ruling
ZANU PF party parliamentarians and members of its inner politburo cabinet of
their Christian upbringing and appealed to them to accept the opposition.

      The country would remain an international outcast if the March ballot
was marred by violence and murder as was the case with previous elections in
2000 and 2002, Mukandi said.

      He said: "The majority of our MPs (Members of Parliament), Cabinet
ministers and politburo members of the ruling party claim to be Christian.
But then if that is the case, then who is involved in beating up people and
the destruction of property and life?

      "It would be foolhardy for any politician to think that the whole
country could belong to one political party."

      Ruling ZANU PF militants, government security agents, and self-styled
veterans of the independence war have unleashed violence and murder against
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party supporters in previous

      None of the culprits have to date been imprisoned for the crimes.

      Violence has remained relatively low this time round but political
analysts say it will pick up once the MDC launches its campaign for the
March poll. President Robert Mugabe launched the ZANU PF campaign last
Friday. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

53 women 'love' protesters arrested
Mon 14 February 2005
  BULAWAYO - Armed police at the weekend arrested 53 members of the Women of
Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) group marking Valentines' Day through public protests
against the government for depriving Zimbabweans of love and freedom through
its failed economic policies.

      About a quarter of the women were released yesterday but the rest are
expected to appear in court today on charges of holding a public
demonstration without police permission.

      Under the government's Public Order and Security Act, Zimbabweans must
seek police permission first before holding public meetings or

      The WOZA demonstrations held under the theme, "The Power of Love can
conquer the Love of Power" were attended by about 500 women waving placards
criticising the government's economic and political decisions for "bringing
misery to hundreds of families."

      A WOZA official, Lucky Fengu, told ZimOnline: "Valentine's Day is a
day when families the world over should be commemorating love, but what we
are witnessing in Zimbabwe is different because there is no more such love.

      "Our husbands can no longer fend for us because there are no more
jobs, our children can no longer go to school because we cannot raise the
school fees. All this has brought about some friction within families and we
are saying the government has caused all this."

      In a bid to break up the protests, police ended picking up any woman
wearing the Valentine red and white colours including others who were not
part of the demonstration.

      Fengu said that WOZA was going ahead with planned protests in Harare
today despite the arresting of some of its members at the weekend. -
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Zim Online

Mugabe drags his feet over SADC inspection
Mon 14 February 2005
  HARARE - President Robert Mugabe is refusing to sanction a high-powered
Southern African Development Community (SADC) delegation which wants to
assess whether conditions in the country comply with regional guidelines for
democratic elections.

      Zimbabwe is reluctant to allow a team of lawyers from the SADC organ
on politics, defence and security to inspect electoral conditions in line
with the regional bloc's agreed standards and norms for elections.

      The SADC team is still battling to secure an invitation from Harare,
with less than two months before the crucial election.

      Last month, Mugabe snubbed SADC leaders who wanted to assess whether
conditions for a free and fair election existed in the country ahead of the
March election where Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party will square off against
the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.

      The SADC team led by South Africa's Thabo Mbeki, were scheduled to
visit Zimbabwe last month to meet ZANU PF, the MDC, other opposition parties
and civic groups ahead of the election. Mugabe refused to sanction the

      The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, which
had threatened to boycott the election saying conditions in Zimbabwe did not
conform with SADC standards governing elections, says it will take part in
the election under protest.

      The MDC says the new electoral commission appointed last month to run
elections in Zimbabwe is not sufficiently independent to run a credible
poll. - ZimOnline

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Sunday Times (SA)

Police hope to nab criminal masterminds

Monday February 14, 2005 07:22 - (SA)

Police hope to identify and arrest the leader or leaders of a massive
network of criminals operating in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana within
the next six months, Gauteng police said.

Commissioner Afrika Khumalo, head of the Gauteng cash-in-transit unit, said
police had already established that the "nerve centre" of the network was
operating in South Africa.

"The centre co-ordinates cash-in-transit heists, bank robberies and some
hijackings," he said.

Khumalo said police had made many arrests in the three countries involving
these crimes and it was now time "to go for the co-ordinator or

He was not able to divulge more details, saying investigations were at a
very sensitive stage.

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Business Report

      Zimbabwe's inflation rate for year accelerates
      February 14, 2005

      Johannesburg - Zimbabwe's annual inflation rate accelerated for the
first time in almost a year after the country's currency declined against
the US dollar, the government said on Friday.

      Year-on-year inflation was 133.6 percent in January, from 132.7
percent in December, the Central Statistical Office said.

      Inflation had slowed for the previous 11 months, declining from a
record 622 percent in January 2004. Central bank governor Gideon Gono
forecasts inflation will be below 10 percent by 2006.

      The Zimbabwean dollar declined 30 percent in the 12 months to January
as the economy contracted for a sixth year because of drought and President
Robert Mugabe's seizure of commercial farms, among them growers of tobacco,
the nation's biggest export.

      "The easy part of bringing inflation down is now behind us," said
Robert Bunyi, an economist at Standard Bank. "The under-lying inflationary
pressures have not been eliminated."

      The currency declined to Z$6 047.43 per US dollar at a central bank
auction last week. Traders on the parallel market said the currency fell as
low as Z$11 500 per US dollar last week.

      Zimbabwe's economy shrank by 4.5 percent in 2004, after contracting
8.5 percent in 2003 and 13 percent in 2002.

      Gono forecasts that it will expand between 3 percent and 5 percent
this year as mining and agriculture recover.

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The Herald

'ZCFU, State to help with crop reaping, curing skills'

THE Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers' Union (ZCFU) says it is working with the
Government to equip new farmers with skills to reap and cure their crop so
as to avoid losses during the marketing season.

Talking to New Ziana after addressing tobacco farmers during a field day at
Liester Farm in Goromonzi, Mashonaland East, ZCFU president Mr Davison
Mugabe said his organisation was working with the Agricultural Research and
Extension Services (Arex) and other Government organisations to train
tobacco farmers on how to maximise on foreign currency earnings

"Reaping and curing of tobacco is vital and the process needs to be done
professionally. We therefore need to educate tobacco farmers in all
provinces, especially in this time of reaping and curing when farmers
usually lose a lot of money," he said

Mr Mugabe said that the move to educate farmers came in the wake of losses
incurred by farmers over the past few years.

He said the ZCFU had so far secured more than 1 000 tonnes of coal, to be
sold at a concessionary prices to farmers to cut down on deforestation.

The Government has resettled more than 155 000 families under its land
reform programme which it embarked on in 2000 to resettle landless people.

The exercise has seen the entry of new players into the tobacco industry,
most with little experience in the production of the crop, one of the
country's major foreign currency earners.

Despite a significant decline in production over the years, Zimbabwe's
tobacco remains in demand because of its unparalleled quality.

Production has dropped from a peak of 237 million kg in 2000 to 68 million
kg last year owing to a number of factors that include recurrent droughts,
lack of experience, shortage of inputs and late plantings.

The crop's exports last year amounted to US$137 million. - New Ziana.
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SADC should go to Zim soon - Mbeki
Posted Mon, 14 Feb 2005

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) observers should go to
Zimbabwe soon to assist that country and to ensure that a proper climate is
created for next month's elections, President Thabo Mbeki said on Sunday.

"I think we should send SADC as soon as it is possible - to go there and
observe, to be able to intervene, to help, to create a situation for fair
elections," he said in an interview on SABC.

The Zimbabwe government has failed to give the necessary written invitation
to the SADC delegation, which consists of lawyers from South Africa, Namibia
and Lesotho.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is apparently scared that the team would
find conditions that did not comply with the SADC guidelines for free and
fair elections.

SADC won't be intimidated

But Mbeki said, following a discussion he had with Mugabe, he was sure that
a SADC delegation would not face any obstacle or fall victim to intimidation
when going to Zimbabwe.

When asked about access to rights like broadcasting by the contesting
parties, Mbeki said Mugabe had promised that all parties would have fair
access to those.

"The Zim government has indeed agreed that they (the political parties) will
have access because it is included as a guideline of SADC, but we also have
to work with the Zimbabwe government."

"This is because of this reason that SADC should go there because if there
is no access (to all the rights), they should ask why there is no access for
other parties."

He said there has been continuous discussion with both the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the ruling Zanu-PF party.


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Sunday Times (SA)

Zimbabwe ignores DA request for visit

Monday February 14, 2005 07:27 - (SA)

The Zimbabwean ambassador to South Africa, Simon Moyo, has failed to respond
to requests from the DA to arrange meetings in Zimbabwe with President
Robert Mugabe and others for a proposed DA delegation to that country.

DA Africa spokesman Joe Seremane said on Sunday that government spokesman
George Charamba had also not replied to DA enquiries.

"In addition, the South African foreign minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma,
was requested more than a week ago to arrange the necessary interviews for
the DA representatives, but this has been met with no response," said

"It needs to be understood that most informed observers around the world
regard a free and fair election in Zimbabwe at this stage as rather

"The ball is in President Mugabe's court. If he and his government have
nothing to hide, they ought to welcome parliamentarians from South Africa on
a fact finding mission.

"If the Zimbabwean government refuses to receive us, it will be clear that
they have something to hide, and that a fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe
would be a waste of time."

In his most recent tirade against Western leaders, Mugabe on Friday
criticised US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, saying she was a "slave"
to white masters in Washington.

AFP reported that Mugabe referred to Rice as "that girl born out of the
slave ancestry, who should know from the history of slavery in America, from
the present situation of blacks in America that the white man is not a

"The white man is the slave master to her."

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Daily News online edition

      A jittery Zanu PF is dangerous at election time

      Date: 14-Feb, 2005

      ZANU PF is trying to put on a brave face, but they are not fooling
anyone. The party has never been as jittery before an election as it is now.

      A jittery Zanu PF is dangerous just before an election. The party
leaders must know that this nervousness could explode into violence, either
among its own members or against what they may perceive as their usual
suspects, the opposition MDC.

      Zanu PF's nervousness is evident in the waspish language used to
denounce its critics, particularly the South Africans trade unionists and
the clergy. It is true that the party has never been generous in its
comments on either the Congress of South African Trade Unions or the former
Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu.

      But there has been a particularly vicious streak in their denunciation
of the two recently. It is as if not reacting at all might be construed as
acceptance of the criticism, or guilt.

      Neither Cosatu nor Tutu have said anything they have not said before.
It is just that there is an election in the offing and many fence-sitters
among the voters might be persuaded to believe that Zanu PF is indeed not a
very nice party to return to power.

      The truth must be that, even without the constant sniping of the two,
now joined by the SA opposition party led by Tony Leon, many Zimbabweans are
already wondering if it is not time for a change.

      Zanu PF's difficulties with drafting a manifesto may indeed be due to
logistical problems, but it is more likely to be caused by a simple
conundrum: what to offer the voters?

      Land reform is a dead issue. The economic turnaround promised under
the Gono programme is not being translated into more disposable incomes for
the workers or more food on the tables of most families.

      The promise to whip Tony Blair may sound beautiful on paper, but to
translate it into something which the voter can grasp as making a tangible
difference to their livelihood is not going to be easy. Not even for Elliot
Manyika, whose dubious talent for composing revolutionary songs has not, so
far, given him the capacity for scintillating public relations repartee.

      Zanu PF may be at its most vulnerable now but the ability of the MDC
to profit from this is by no means guaranteed. Zanu PF may be dangerous but
the threat could be to its own survival, rather than to a well-organised
opposition party aware of how this could be its defining moment, its
greatest hour even.

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