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Saturday, 17 February, 2001, 21:11 GMT
BBC man ordered out of Zimbabwe
Joseph Winter
Joseph Winter has worked in Zimbabwe for four years
A BBC correspondent in Zimbabwe has been ordered to leave the country within 24 hours. Another journalist, from South Africa's Mail and Guardian newspaper, is also being expelled.

Joseph Winter, who has been in the country for four years, says he will attempt to find a judge willing to place a stay on the order until the case can be taken before the Zimbabwean High Court.

The BBC believes he has a valid permit to work and stay in the country

BBC spokesman

Mr Winter has been told he would have to leave Zimbabwe and re-apply for his work permit, even though it was renewed only three weeks ago.

He said the authorities had told him to leave due to a change to the accreditation rules for foreign journalists, and denied allegations made by a Zimbabwean minister that his permit had been obtained fraudulently.


Zimbabwean Information Minister, Jonathan Moyo, told the BBC that Joseph Winter was being deported because his work permit had been renewed by an unauthorised official.

Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe
Mr Mugabe's opponents have been harrassed
"An unauthorised former officer fraudulently processed an extension using a forged letterhead," said Mr Moyo.

He added: "We have cancelled that forgery and that has the consequence of cancelling Mr Joseph Winter's temporary employment permit... now he is required to leave."

Joseph Winter denies this is the case and says he followed exactly the same procedures for renewing his permit as he had previously.

The BBC is fighting the expulsion order.

"The BBC believes he has a valid permit to work and stay in the country and therefore has made representations to the relevant ministries," said a BBC spokesman.

Mercedes Sayagues, of the South African Mail and Guardian, has also been ordered out. An Uruguayan citizen, she has been in Zimbabwe for nine years.

Critical stance

The expulsion orders come as President Robert Mugabe increases pressure on media outlets, the judiciary and opposition leaders.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirari
Mr Tsvagirai faces charges of inciting violence
The printing presses of the privately-owned newspaper the Daily News were bombed at the end of January, shortly after a government minister made a veiled threat against the paper.

The paper, which regularly outsells its state-run rival, had drawn the ire of the government for its frequently critical stance.

On Friday, the leader of the main opposition party, Morgan Tsvangirai, was formally charged with inciting violence during a speech he made last year.

Two supreme court judges have also been pressed to resign within the past two weeks following the departure of the chief justice, who was told his safety could no longer be guaranteed.

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From the MDC - Morgan Tsvangirai will speak at a Presidential Campaign rally on Wednesday 21 February at the Amphitheatre, Centenary Park, Bulawayo, from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm.
In this issue :

From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 17 February

Mugabe poll rival is charged with inciting violence

Harare - Zimbabwe's opposition leader faced the prospect of abandoning his challenge to President Robert Mugabe and spending up to 14 years in jail after he was charged with incitement to violence yesterday. A ferocious crackdown has been launched against all opponents of Mr Mugabe, real or imagined, and the appearance of Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the MDC, in a Harare magistrate's court marked the most serious escalation of this campaign. In a five minute hearing, Mr Tsvangirai was charged under the notorious Law and Order (Maintenance) Act, which was passed by the British colonial government to jail black nationalists, including Mr Mugabe, and gives the authorities sweeping powers to act against any dissidents.

The action arose from a speech by Mr Tsvangirai at an MDC rally last September. Before an audience of 25,000 in Harare, he said: "We say to Robert Mugabe, if you don't want to go peacefully, we will remove you violently. This country cannot afford Mugabe for one day longer." These remarks dismayed many of Mr Tsvangirai's closest supporters and increased concerns about his erratic judgment. They handed the government an excuse to arrest him at any time.

If convicted, Mr Tsvangirai could face a five year ban on holding public office. This would prevent him from running against Mr Mugabe in the presidential election due early next year. Mr Tsvangirai was granted bail and his High Court trial was set for April 30. Gibson Sibanda, deputy leader of the MDC, was charged with the same offence last week after he allegedly urged a crowd of supporters to attack members of the ruling Zanu-PF party. Both of the MDC's leading figures could soon be banned from holding office, a move that would call into question the very future of the party.

But Mr Tsvangirai's supporters argue that he has no case to answer. David Coltart, justice spokesman for the MDC, said: "In the context of his wider speech, he has a very sound defence in law. This was not a threat of violence but a warning from history that governments who hold power through violence and illegal means are often overthrown violently in the end. Those who live by the sword, die by the sword." Mr Coltart said that Zanu-PF supporters, including Mr Mugabe himself, have made a stream of inflammatory statements and no action has been taken against them. At an official function last March, the President said: "Those who cause disunity among our people must watch out because death will befall them." The opposition says that the charges against Mr Tsvangirai do not arise from any real concerns over his behaviour, but are part of Mr Mugabe's ruthless effort to stamp out his opponents and hold power at whatever cost.

From The Star (SA), 17 February

Zim threatens to take away critics' passports

Harare - The Zimbabwean government said on Friday it would withdraw passports from critics and political opponents undermining its image abroad and campaigning for international sanctions against President Robert Mugabe. In a statement carried by Zimbabwe state media, Information Minister Jonathan Moyo said the move was in response to the revival of an international campaign by government opponents to end its rule by any means, including economic sanctions.

"The government can no longer allow anyone to enjoy holding the passport of a nation which they wish to destroy," he said. "Anyone who is lobbying for sanctions will lose their passports ... It is quite clear that these people do not deserve the privilege of using the Zimbabwean passport." "What they are doing is biting the hand that feeds them and that is why the passport should be withdrawn. A passport is a privilege and not a right," he added.

The opposition denounced the threat as an assault on political rights and part of an "evil programme" to muzzle rivals ahead of crucial presidential elections next year. Moyo did not say when the government would implement the step, but he said it was not unusual because US citizens risked losing their passports if they travelled to countries such as Cuba, Iraq and Libya. Moyo accused the main opposition MDC of supporting a new international campaign against Mugabe's Zanu-PF government, which has been in power since the former Rhodesia gained independence from Britain in 1980.

Earlier this week the South African media reported that two MDC executives had called on the South African government to cut fuel and electricity supplies to Zimbabwe to force Mugabe to restore the rule of law. Mugabe's militant supporters, led by self-styled war veterans, have occupied hundreds of white-owned farms in the past year and have renewed a violent campaign against the opposition similar to one they ran ahead of parliamentary elections last June. Political analysts say the fresh campaign - accompanied by a government assault on the judiciary and the private media - is linked to presidential elections due early next year. Zanu-PF is fighting for survival in the face of a deep economic crisis blamed on gross mismanagement, and analysts say Mugabe realises his party might just lose power without a programme to soften up the opposition.

MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube said his party was not advocating economic sanctions against Zimbabwe, but wanted foreign governments with influence on Mugabe to persuade him to uphold the rule of law. "Nobody is talking about sanctions. The threat to withdraw passports is part of an evil programme to undermine political rights and gag us ahead of the elections," he said. Zanu-PF narrowly won last June's parliamentary elections after a five-month violent campaign that left at least 31 people dead, including five white farmers.

From The Independent (UK), 17 February

Mr Mugabe's Zimbabwe is going from bad to worse

Fergal Keane

During the worst days of South Africa's violent upheavals in the early 1990s, the foreign correspondents based in Johannesburg regarded it as a treat to be dispatched to Zimbabwe. "Would you mind popping up to Harare?" was one of the more welcome questions. Nicer by far than "Would you try and charter into Kinshasa, there's been a coup?" or "Better make your way to Natal, there's been a big massacre." Good old "Zim", with its 1950s shops and air of seductive lassitude. We went there to record features, for there was no news. A feature on the drought or the slowly emerging Aids crisis, or stories about poaching in the beautiful hinterland of the Zambezi river.

The press were generally welcomed. Those who'd been around earlier in Zimbabwe's history will remember a very different country. In the years immediately after independence when Mr Mugabe was feeling threatened, journalists who poked their noses into his army's dirty deeds were made very unwelcome. But by the time I first visited Zimbabwe in the late 1980s the country had settled into what appeared to be a long snooze.

Only once did I get a hint of menace. My wife and I were driving with a Zimbabwean friend close to the border with Mozambique when a military convoy came screaming up the road behind us. The lead driver blared at his horn and we swerved out of the way. With bad luck we became stuck in the middle of the convoy for several miles. I say bad luck because the soldiers were among the most hostile I'd encountered in Africa. And believe me that is saying a lot. I have seen the worst of African soldiery, from Mobutu's presidential guard to President Moi's riot squad. It wasn't that these Zimbabwean forces said anything beyond a few angry shouts to get out of their way, rather it was the unremitting hostility of their gaze.

For mile after mile along the winding road to Mozambique they glared at us. I thanked God when they swerved away on to a dirt road a few miles from the border. Later I was told that these were some of the same troops who'd slaughtered their way through Matabeleland earlier in the decade - remnants of the notorious North-Korean-trained Fifth Brigade. But it was a brief glimpse into a largely hidden darkness. The country snoozed on and most of us were too preoccupied with events in South Africa to pay Zimbabwe much attention. There was a feeling among visiting reporters that Zimbabwe had ceased to be a story when Ian Smith exited and Robert Mugabe took over.

But while we were looking elsewhere, Mr Mugabe was busy amassing immense power and destroying his country's economy. It was an old story of post-colonial Africa, but because the roads were still freshly tarred, because Zimbabwe did not seem to be corrupt and decaying like neighbouring Zambia, the world decided that Mr Mugabe was a better class of African leader. If the press was preoccupied with South Africa, the international left gave Mr Mugabe more than the benefit of the doubt. Ever anxious to believe in an African leader who might live up to their expectations, the aid community and many European governments pumped aid into Zimbabwe.

But Robert Mugabe had other ideas. He paid lip service to democracy as long as the opposition didn't become strong enough to present a threat to his power and the wealth of the clique that surrounded him. But economic decline - the inevitable consequence of his rule - spurred popular discontent and gradually the opposition changed character and size. Instead of being led by disgruntled opponents of Mr Mugabe's from the days of the liberation struggle, it looked to the example of South Africa and neighbouring Zambia, both of whom used the trade union movement as an instrument of mass mobilisation. The MDC is a far from perfect organisation, but it represents the only credible alternative to Mr Mugabe.

Those who observed his ruthlessness in Matabeleland might have predicted that he would use all the power of the state and his private militia (for that is what the veteran's movement has become) to try to crush the opposition. The crisis has escalated dramatically. The harassment of journalists has been stepped up and the most popular daily newspaper was bombed. More dangerous still, Mr Mugabe has been attempting to destroy the independence of Zimbabwe's judiciary. The country's supreme court has consistently frustrated his desires to create a de facto one-party state. Bravely, the judges have stood up against the daily tyranny of life in Mugabe's Zimbabwe. But he has forced out the Chief Justice, and will not stop until the other dissenting judges are made to resign. It is about more than preserving his power and patronage. Mr Mugabe has apparently convinced himself that he is fighting the liberation struggle all over again. He cannot abide the thought that Ian Smith might yet have the last laugh. Thus the relentless characterisation of the MDC as a cover for the old Rhodesian Front.

I cannot begin to say how dangerous this is becoming. Consider the elements already in place. A private militia that has already shed innocent blood and specialises in intimidation; a police force and military which are in effect the security force of the ruling party (there are dissenting officers in both structures, but they must be living in fear of their lives); the independent media under siege and the judiciary being neutralised. Zimbabwe is becoming a state of terror. An ethnic minority - the white community - is being singled out for persecution.

All of this is happening because Mr Mugabe wants to ensure that Zanu wins the presidential election next year. What is to be done? The British Government is in a bind because Mr Mbeki in South Africa believes it is an African problem which Africans must resolve. I believed this for a long time. But Mr Mbeki has handled Mugabe with kid gloves and has been made to look foolish as a result. Certainly the anti-white rhetoric in Zimbabwe may have an atavistic appeal for landless black South Africans, but President Mbeki cannot be so short-sighted as to imagine that Zimbabwe's descent into bloody chaos is good news for anyone in the region. There are those within Mr Mugabe's government who understand this and who are genuinely appalled at what is happening. But in a state of fear it would be suicidal for them to speak out.

What exists now is a situation where the leading African power refuses to impose meaningful pressure on its neighbour, where the former colonial power is unable to impose pressure, and where the rest of the international community looks on aghast with no clear idea of what to do. In spite of the failure of so many of its efforts in Africa, it is time for the UN to get involved. Can Kofi Annan afford yet another African disaster on his watch? He has already seen Somalia and Rwanda implode; it is time he pushed the Zimbabwe issue to the fore of international attention. There is a very real sense now of a crisis that is careering out of control. On his own, Mr Annan cannot stop it, but he can with British support begin to persuade the Security Council into action. Perhaps we will see him heading for Zimbabwe within the month. Whatever Mr Mugabe would think of that, I am sure the hard-pressed populace would be glad to see him.

The writer is a BBC Special Correspondent

From The Star (SA), 17 February

Kabila throws down the gauntlet

Lusaka - President Joseph Kabila flew home to the DRC on Friday after a regional peace summit at which he accepted the deployment of UN troops and a previously disputed mediator. Kabila, 29, became president in January after his father, Laurent Kabila, was assassinated by one of his own bodyguards. Thursday's summit in Lusaka was his first effort to hammer out terms for an end to the 30-month-old war in which Namibia, Zimbabwe and Angola back his government against rebels supported by Rwanda and Uganda.

Rwanda did not participate in the meeting and Uganda and Angola sent ministers in place of their presidents. But Kabila took the opportunity to signal some flexibility, reversing his father's ban on UN peacekeepers in the Congo and on former Botswana President Ketumile Masire as facilitator of an internal dialogue on the country's future. He also accepted the implementation of a 15km pullback by all forces from the frontlines they now occupy as a precursor to the deployment of 500 UN monitors and 2 500 UN troops to protect them. The deployment is now set to begin on February 26 with the arrival of 40 UN officers.

"The key concession was Kabila's agreement to the deployment of UN troops," South African Institute for Strategic Studies analyst Hanlie de Beer said. "It is important that he agreed to work with Masire, but he said they would still have to discuss modalities and he might yet say Masire is not the man," she said. De Beer said the issue now would be to co-ordinate the pullback from frontlines and create space for the UN force. Alfred Mubanda, a minister of state who led Uganda's delegation, commented: "We welcome the vigour towards a search for peace shown by the new leader." Diplomats said Kabila had shown himself an advocate of peace and had seized the initiative. "He is growing ever so confidently in his actions. He is putting his opponents in a quandary," one Western ambassador said.

Belligerents in the conflict signed an agreement in Lusaka in 1999 setting timetables for troop withdrawal, disarmament and the deployment of UN peacekeepers, but implementation was blocked largely by Laurent Kabila. Now Joseph Kabila has removed some obstacles, shifting the focus to Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who has said his forces will remain in the Congo until the security of his country's borders against insurgents from Congo is guaranteed. Kagame boycotted the Lusaka summit, alleging that the chief mediator, Zambian President Frederick Chiluba, was biased in favour of the Kinshasa government.

"Kagame will not want to risk being seen as the new Laurent Kabila, the new obstacle to Congo peace," said Dr Alfred Nhema, head of the political science department at the University of Zimbabwe and a noted commentator on African politics. "I can see intensified lobbying by the United States and Ugandan governments to get him to agree on implementing the peace objectives. The atmosphere is very conducive at the moment and a lot of goodwill exists," he said by telephone from the Zimbabwean capital Harare. The shaky peace agreement also received a boost when the rebel Movement for the Liberation of the Congo (MLC), led by Jean-Pierre Bemba, ratified a disengagement plan approved by other groups and the African armies involved in the war. The rebel groups, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia attended Thursday's talks. Mediators Zambia, the Organisation of African Unity and the UN had observer status.

From The Star (SA), 17 February

DRC plans to muzzle guns of Rwanda's Hutus

Brussels - Countries involved in the war in the DRC reached agreement on disarming Rwandan Hutu militias in the DRC, the main Rwandan-backed rebel movement said on Friday. Kin Kiey Milumba, spokesperson in Brussels for the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD), said the agreement was reached on the sidelines of a DRC summit in Lusaka on Thursday. Rwanda failed to attend the summit. "An agreement has been reached to disarm, within the framework of the Lusaka accord, the forces who carried out the genocide in Rwanda and are sought by international justice," Mulumba said. Rwanda has made the disarmament of several thousand Hutu militia and former soldiers who fled to the DRC after the 1994 genocide of up to 800 000 people a key condition for its own withdrawal from the neighbouring country. Mulumba was referring to the Lusaka accord of 1999, which has been signed by all the protagonists in the DRC, but has largely remained a dead letter until Thursday's bid to revive it.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame refused to attend Thursday's summit in the Lusaka on the grounds that Zambian President Frederick Chiluba's government failed to arrest Hutu militia forces who took temporary refuge in Zambia after heavy fighting in the southeastern DRC. Hutu militia are among the pro-Kinshasa forces who have been fighting the DRC rebels and troops from Rwanda and Uganda since the war broke out in the vast country in August 1998. The RCD claimed that Zambia had allowed about 6 000 fighters to go back to the DRC, including a hard core of Hutu extremists wanted by the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, which is trying key genocide suspects.

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Richard Thorne, a farmer from Harare South phoned us this week to report the horrific incident which took place on Sunday 4th Feb at Pungwe Falls in Nyanga. He, his wife, their 16 year old daughter, and a 19 year old family friend were at the Falls around lunchtime on that fateful day. At some moment, the family moved off leaving Richard some distance behind. He heard what he described as a stressful cry and turned to see what had happened. The two youngsters were lying in the dirt and his wife was standing alone with two men close to her. They were wearing brown overalls with some sort of red wording printed on the material. They were brandishing sticks and one of the men pulled out a knife. Richard froze, knowing full well that if he attempted to interfere, his wife would probably be stabbed. One man then proceeded to strike Mrs Thorne hitting her to the ground and unleashing a very brutal beating to her body. In the meantime the other thug was holding down the young family friend. Mr Thorne's daughter was writhing in terror on the ground. After this attack the two men left taking with them valuables and a large sum of money which happened to be their farm workers wages. There were no other cars around and no sign of guards. Richard managed to get the family back into the car and they drove to their nearby cottage. He immediately phoned Nyanga police and a police woman answered. She refused to speak English and gave Richard another number to ring. He had only been able to ascertain that the police had no transport and no fuel. The number given to him appeared to be an arbitrary one somewhere out of the district entirely. Later that afternoon, Richard went to Nyanga Police Station, the whole place was in darkness but he managed to see the CID officers who were helpful and efficient. However, they had no report documents and were only able to say that there had been many such attacks over the past few months. Still later that day Richard took Susie, his wife to Nyanga hospital. He was immediately asked to pay cash up front. He explained that they had just been robbed, and his wife severely beaten and could he pay by cheque, this was refused. Desperate at this stage to get his wife treatment, Richard threatened to report the hospital's unhelpfulness to the German Embassy, Susie being a German National. This worked wonders and a cheque was now permissable. On admission to the ward, Richard was very grateful to the Ward Sister, the Staff, and fellow patients, all of whom showed compassion and kindness. There were no bandages available, no syringes, and no strong analgesics, Susie was given 2 Paracetamol. The Ward Sister rummaged around and managed to find enough scraps to make up some bandaging, and support for Susie's seriously damaged arm. Much later on Sunday night the family headed home to Harare. On the Harare side of Rusape at approximately 9.15pm, they came across a police roadblock. Richard was asked for the ID's and vehicle registration documents. All of these had been stolen which he explained to the police, he also indicated his wife's injuries. At this point the 2 police officers laughed and after Richard, by now very angry, had refused to get out and open the boot, the police waved him on. The next day, Monday, Susie was seen by Doctors who agreed that "vicious and severe force" had been used on Susie to inflict such damage. Richard then went to National Parks to report the robbery. He was advised by one member of staff that nothing could be done until a report had been made by Richard to the National Parks Warden at Nyanga. We are reporting this story because we feel very strongly that Zimbabweans should know what is going on and take precautions. It may not please the tourist industry but ultimately Zimbabweans have a right to know, and warning signs, leaflets, and hotels should warn visitors to the area where it is safe to go and where not. We would also like to acknowledge the care and kindness shown to the family by the nursing staff of Nyanga Hospital. **************************************** Sarah Thompson Group Marketing Director Zimind Publishers (Pvt) Ltd Tel: 263 (0)4 773930-38 Mobile: 263 (0)91 233 651 Fax: 773939 ****************************************
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Death sentence for war veteran

2/17/01 8:30:58 AM (GMT +2)

Court Reporter

GIVEMORE Muoni Katsande, a war veteran and retired army major, was yesterday sentenced to death for the murder last year of Tinashe Chakwenya, a Marondera policeman.

The murder occurred at Chipesa Farm at the height of farm invasions by war veterans and Zanu PF supporters.
High Court judge Justice George Smith found Katsande, 41, guilty of shooting dead Chakwenya with a pistol.
“To combat the increase in acts of violence, the perpetrators must be brought before the courts and punished for their crimes. They must be shown that they are not above the law,” Smith said.
Chakwenya was investigating a stocktheft case at Ian Kay’s farm when he was shot dead on 4 April.
War veterans and Zanu PF supporters have been on the farm since February last year when the State-sponsored land invasions began.
“Having regard to the circumstances, Katsande must have intended to kill Chakwenya. There are no extenuating circumstances and you are accordingly sentenced to death. You shall be returned to prison until the sentence is carried out.”
In appealing for leniency, Katsande said: “I did not want to kill Chakwenya. It was unfortunate that the court failed to consider the circumstances that prevailed at the time the incident took place.”
The State, represented by Florence Ziyambi, told the court that Chakwenya met members of the Zanu PF youth league at Chipesa Farm and asked them for directions. When the group advanced towards him, Chakwenya produced his police identity card and showed it to them.
Wilbert Mapombere, representing Katsande, said opposition parties at that time were working with white commercial farmers to avenge an earlier assault on Kay by unidentified people. The State said Katsande shot Chakwenya dead without establishing whether he was working with the farmers or not.
Smith said Katsande had no reason to kill Chakwenya because there was no threat to his life and the group he led.
“Katsande intended to kill Chakwenya and he did so callously and in cold blood. There was no evidence of an attack by whites or any others. Chakwenya was not armed. He was a young policeman going about his business. The courts must protect police officers in order to allow them to perform their lawful duties,” Smith said.
He said as a trained former soldier, Katsande should have asked Chakwenya to surrender or to lie down.
Two war veterans who were on the farm, Luke Murwira and Wilfred Marimo, gave evidence against Katsande as State witnesses.
Smith said the two gave credible evidence and there was no reason to doubt the State’s case that Katsande knowingly and for no reason killed Chakwenya.

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Move to withdraw passports from citizens condemned

2/17/01 8:32:08 AM (GMT +2)

Staff Reporter

LAWYERS and human rights activists yesterday roundly condemned the government’s intention to withdraw the passports of “unpatriotic” citizens campaigning against it abroad.

Jonathan Moyo, the Minister of State for Information and Publicity, announced the plan in an interview on State television on Thursday.
Yesterday, Munyaradzi Hwengere, the principal Press secretary in Moyo’s department, cited the United States as one country which placed restrictions on its citizens travelling to countries such as Cuba.
Sternford Moyo, the chairman of the Zimbabwe Law Society, speaking in his personal capacity, cited a 1990 High Court case, Chirwa versus the Registrar-General, where “it was held that the exercise of the constitutional freedom of movement required that a citizen be in possession of his passport and that, therefore, the State had no right or power to withhold a passport from a citizen”.
The government wanted to deport him, alleging that he was not a citizen. He proved he was born in Zimbabwe in 1949.
Moyo said the right to leave and re-enter Zimbabwe “cannot be exercised without a passport, hence the High Court decision”.
Douglas Mwonzora, the National Constitutional Assembly spokesman, said for any Zimbabwean, citizenship and a passport were not a privilege.
Munyaradzi Bidi, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) director, said: “The government does not take lightly to political opposition. This could be another trick to restrict the movement of their opponents.”
Andrew Nongogo, the executive director of Transparency International Zimbabwe, said: “Contrary to what the minister said about it being a privilege, it is as much a fundamental right to hold a Zimbabwean passport as it is to have an identity card.”
Tawanda Hondora, the president of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Lawyers’ Association, said:
“There is no basis in law for the withdrawal of a passport on the grounds of being ‘unpatriotic’. What may be patriotic to one person might not be to another. For example, the rule of law - calling for it may be unpatriotic to the government, but I might be more patriotic than someone killing people.”
Richard Lindsay, a spokesman for the British High Commission, said he could not say whether his government would grant travel documents to those affected.
For the Cuban government, Javier Vianondes, the embassy spokesman in Harare, said: “Anyone is free to go and say anything outside the country, but when they come back they will face the law.”

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Umguza council loses $2m as war veterans continue to seal offices

2/17/01 8:24:48 AM (GMT +2)

Daily News Correspondent, Bulawayo

UMGUZA Rural District Council, whose offices were sealed off by war veterans on Thursday last week, lost over $2 million in revenue as of Thursday, the chairman, Leonard Mhlanga has said.

He criticised the war veterans’ actions and said he would boycott a meeting scheduled for next Monday between Matabeleland North governor Obert Mpofu, council officials and war veterans' representatives which seeks to solve the impasse.
“The war veterans know I am a senior Zanu PF official and should have had the courtesy to talk to me before closing the offices,” he said. “I am not attending their meeting because the governor has already taken a stance. I have told him that I am not attending and that the war veterans have told me that he sent them to invade the offices.”
Mhlanga said he wanted to know how the council would recover the revenue by holding meetings. “The war veterans should learn to listen to the party leaders and stop being errant,” he said.
About 40 war veterans swooped on the offices in Bulawayo and ordered all employees out before locking the doors.
The actions came hardly a month after Vice-President Joseph Msika lashed out at the ex-fighters, saying: “You have lost direction, bafana (boys).”
Mhlanga said the war veterans were behaving like a “rare breed of people in our society and their wings should be clipped before the collapse of local authorities”.
“We are losing money to the Bulawayo City Council because people are now paying their licence fees there. There is no clear date when they will reopen the offices and in the end, this will lead to the collapse of local authorities,” he said.

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Business is not government’s business

2/17/01 8:09:06 AM (GMT +2)

THE government's reluctance to let go of its hold on the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim) is as contradictory as it is incomprehensible.

They are not protecting anyone, least of all the ordinary people.
This week the Minister of Mines and Energy, Dr Sydney Sekeramayi, said the government was reluctant to relinquish its role in the oil industry to private players because this would expose ordinary consumers to the vagaries of the free market forces. Opening up oil procurement to the private sector would result in increases in the price of fuel to market related levels, but at least the petroleum products will be readily available.
The government’s rationale, premised on protection of the majority of ordinary Zimbabweans, is the root cause of the current crisis. It is suicidal to sell a product below the cost of procuring it. If Zimbabwe was an oil producing country it could afford to experiment with this socialist-type approach, but it is not. The government does not even have the financial resources to underwrite such a benevolent programme and, therefore, it cannot protect workers and ordinary people if the consequence of its decisions results in job losses because companies cannot find fuel for their production. The government cannot protect workers if the fuel shortages mean unreliable transport to ferry workers to work, or if much time is spent unproductively in fuel queues. There must be more to it than the list of excuses being proffered by the government. In fact, the government's tardy response suggests - rightly or wrongly - that they must be benefiting from this crisis which has brought nothing but misery to the majority of Zimbabweans.
The government cannot claim to protect the majority of the workers, if by so doing it is penalising them. If there was genuine concern for the welfare of the ordinary people and the impact of the current crisis on this large section of society, the government would have acted swiftly and sought a permanent solution a long time ago.
But nearly 18 months into the crisis all the minister could suggest was that they were studying alternatives. If this is the government's understanding of swift action, then the government has given a new meaning to the word “swift”. The reality of the situation is that the government is out of its depth on the issue of fuel procurement. It is time it got out and allowed other players who can assure the country of constant supplies, even though this might be at a premium.
But for once, one is inclined to agree with the government, when Dr Simba Makoni, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, suggests the private sector is not playing its part in ensuring economic recovery. Most of the suggestions are coming from the government. Where is the private sector input? Why should specialists in business expect the government to provide leadership out of this crisis? It maybe risky for oil companies to seize the opportunity because of problems of foreign currency. But if they offer a mechanism - with the help of their international parent companies -that ensures regularity of supplies, the foreign currency they are worried about would be generated by businesses in the export sector and oil companies would have their foreign currency! The driving force should come from the private sector, because they are the ones who have the expertise in running businesses. The impression is that the private sector is so afraid of being on the wrong side of government that their inaction is contributing to the current crisis.
There are contradictions in government's position over Noczim. The power and public transport sectors highlight these inconsistencies. Before the monopoly of the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company in providing public transport was abolished, the same arguments that deregulation would harm the ordinary people were offered, but the reality of today's public transport proves the fallacy behind government's reluctance to open up the petroleum procurement sector. Nearly everyone relies on electricity, but that has not stopped the government from preventing the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) from instituting periodic increases for energy supplies to consumers. If the government can accept the need for Zesa to increase tariffs for electricity, why should it have qualms about fuel? The interests of the majority of Zimbabweans would be served better by opening up fuel procurement to other players.
The arrangement with Total Outre-Mer, signed this week, only demonstrates the government’s ambivalence about relinquishing its monopoly over fuel procurement. Essentially what the agreement has done is to buy the government relief by making available US$5,4 million (Z$297 million) to procure fuel. The government is not about to get out of the business of procuring oil. In fact, it remains a majority shareholder. It would be more desirable to have expensive fuel than to have no fuel at all.

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Foreign Journalist Flees in Zimbabwe
The Associated Press, Sun 18 Feb 2001

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — A British Broadcasting Corp. correspondent threatened with deportation took refuge with his family at the home of a diplomat early Sunday after six men came to his house overnight and demanded he come out.

Joseph Winter said the men climbed over a wall surrounding his garden at 1:40 a.m. and started banging on doors and windows.

The men, who did not identify themselves, left only after diplomats, a lawyer and news photographers arrived. Winter, his wife and young daughter were then taken to a British diplomat's home for protection.

Zimbabwe has been rocked by violence in the last year as black squatters led by ruling party militants have occupied white-owned farms with President Robert Mugabe's consent.

Mugabe's supporters have threatened violence against those who oppose the movement, including judges. The instability has crippled the economy, scared away foreign investors and drawn scathing criticism from the international community.

On Saturday, Zimbabwean officials ordered Winter out of the country within 24 hours. Winter, who has a valid work permit, was allowed to stay until Tuesday after appealing to officials.

Winter said his neighbors told him uniformed police and plainclothes officers returned to his home later, broke in and left a guard.

Winter's lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, on Sunday sought urgent hearings with High Court judges to ask them to intervene against Winter's deportation. She also filed a case on behalf of Mercedes Sayagues, a correspondent for South Africa's weekly Mail and Guardian newspaper, who on Saturday was told to leave the country within 24 hours.

Officials told Winter and Sayagues that they had to leave Zimbabwe because they were journalists. Both have worked in Harare for several years. The officials told Winter that several other foreign journalists would be ordered to leave later.

Winter said state lawyers had indicated they would consider extending his deadline until Friday.

He denied allegations made Saturday by information minister Jonathan Moyo that an extension of his residence permit to Feb. 7, 2002, was obtained using a forged letter of support from the former information ministry, now disbanded.

The Foreign Correspondents Association of Southern Africa has condemned the expulsion orders, and Basildon Peta, head of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, said the move indicated how determined the government is to silence media outside of its control.

``What the government has done is confirm that Zimbabwe is being run by a bunch of tyrants determined to destroy any free voice,'' he said.

Moyo had earlier announced plans for an accreditation process for all local and foreign journalists, but he has offered no details.

Three weeks ago, a series of bomb blasts damaged the printing presses of Zimbabwe's only independent daily newspaper, The Daily News. The paper continued publishing without interruption. No one has been arrested in the bombings.

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February 18 2001 AFRICA

Fighting to stay on the streets: The Daily News has managed to print since its presses were bombed last month, but faces new moves by Mugabe to repress opposition voices

Mugabe blocks foreign aid for media

RW Johnson

ZIMBABWE'S government has reacted to the Sunday Times campaign to help the independent Daily News replace bombed-out presses by announcing legislation to ban foreign investment in the media.

President Robert Mugabe's spokesman, George Charamba, said the aim was to shut down any media organisation that "survives on foreign funding". The measure would bar The Daily News from accepting foreign help to buy a new press.

Judith Todd, once a heroine of Zimbabwe's liberation struggle and now a director of ANZ, which owns The Daily News, said: "They'll do anything now, absolutely anything.

"But the campaign for the press mustn't stop. The day is going to come when this nightmare is over, when we have to start all over again - and the press will be needed then."

The Sunday Times appeal fund reached £18,000 last Friday, but it will cost at least £1m to buy the press, and the paper's backers say they need substantial donations from anyone concerned to defend the right to free speech in Zimbabwe.

The latest move against The Daily News was only part of a concerted onslaught last week against those perceived as opponents of Mugabe.

Jonathan Moyo, the minister of information, announced the government would withdraw passports from Zimbabweans it considered "unpatriotic", and that work permits for foreign journalists would be frozen.

Mercedes Sayagues, the Harare correspondent of South Africa's Mail & Guardian newspaper, had her permit revoked and was given 24 hours to leave the country in which she has lived for nine years. "I'm just the first of many," she said.

Joseph Winter, a correspondent with the BBC's Africa service, who has worked in Harare for four years, was also given 24 hours to leave yesterday.

Earlier, pressure had been exerted on supreme court judges, who have upheld their independence, to resign. Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay was forced out after a minister told him he "could not see his way clear" to protecting the judges against threats of violence.

Most dramatic of all was the decision of the Zimbabwean authorities to charge Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), with incitement to violence - a crime that carries a sentence of up to 20 years' imprisonment.

The moves appeared to be part of a co-ordinated strategy aimed at destroying the opposition's hopes in the coming presidential election.

In the space of three weeks - during which Mugabe has remained out of sight - two MDC MPs, including Tsvangirai's deputy, have been charged with incitement, the Daily News presses have been bombed, and the Commercial Farmers Union has been presented with an ultimatum: either its "recalcitrant" leadership must resign or white farmers must face more killings.

The charge against Tsvangirai relates to a speech he made before a party rally last September. He warned that so great was the popular discontent caused by the repression and economic misery the ruling Zanu-PF regime had inflicted on the country that Mugabe might well be removed by force if he did not go voluntarily.

"It's quite clear that Morgan was warning about spontaneous popular reactions, not calling on people to act in such a way," said David Coltart, the MDC's legal spokesman.

"But the real question is: why charge Morgan now with something that happened five months back?"

According to Coltart, Mugabe plans to have hand-picked loyalists from his Zanu-PF party in the high court and supreme court by the time Tsvangirai's case is decided.

"Our election law says you can't be a presidential candidate if you have had a jail sentence of six months or more," he said. "The reason they've waited until now to proceed against Morgan is that they needed time to start forcing the judges out."

This is the environment in which the embattled Daily News hangs on. Since the bombing on January 28 its editorial team has managed to print a much-reduced paper on two other presses. The paper was then informed that one of these, run by Natprint - 51% owned by the government - would no longer be available.

"What we've managed since January 28 is a sort of daily miracle", said Geoff Nyarota, the editor. "Staff morale remains sky-high but we couldn't bring out the paper in much more difficult circumstances. We know that the government is just waiting to attack us again. We expect things to get tougher."

Many trace the regime's current strategy to Mugabe's declaration to a Zanu-PF congress on December 14 that the party "must continue to strike fear into the heart of the white man, our real enemy". On that day a white farmer, Henry Elsworth, was shot dead.

Mugabe, although treated in a British hospital for throat cancer three years ago, is in apparent good health and is expected to hold his usual children's party for the television cameras this Wednesday, his 77th birthday. Usually The Herald publishes photos of the president and his young wife, Grace, surrounded by children and smiling beneficently, but it is not expected that The Daily News will be invited to the party.

The ferocity of attacks on opponents has prompted speculation that Mugabe may call a snap election this year rather than wait until 2002. Observers say the worsening economic situation suggests he might be well-advised not to wait.

Not only are petrol, diesel and paraffin queues longer than ever but Harare residents have again been warned of power cuts. Maize production is down by at least 30% and, by October, the country will need to import it. But there is no foreign exchange to pay for it.

The economy is in free-fall, job losses mount from week to week, and already many urban poor are close to starving in a country once regarded as the breadbasket of Africa.

"Mugabe and Zanu-PF have their backs to the wall," Nyarota said. "They're paranoid and they can feel things slipping away from them."

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Sunday 18 February 2001

  Mugabe cult celebrates as Zimbabwe nears collapse
By David Blair in Harare


ROBERT MUGABE this week initiates a day of unrestrained celebrations to mark his 77th birthday in the hopes that it will distract attention from Zimbabwe's deepening economic woes.

The plan is for a carefully marshalled army of the President's youthful followers - called the 21st of February Movement - to descend on the deserted resort of Victoria Falls to celebrate Mr Mugabe's birthday. Aged between four and 14, they will all wear bright red scarves and chant undying loyalty to their "one authentic and consistent leader".

Modelled on the youth brigades who pledged obedience to Kim Il-sung, the late North Korean despot, the 21st of February Movement was formed in 1986 to commemorate Mr Mugabe's birthday. Each year, about 120 children vie for the coveted "Youth of the Year Award".

This year's Victoria Falls celebrations, marking the culmination of several days of festivities for his birthday, will serve the purpose of diverting attention from Zimbabwe's spiralling economic crisis. Power cuts last week plunged Harare into darkness, petrol stations across the country have run dry, and bread prices have risen, adding to the hardship of the poorest households.

The signs of collapse are everywhere. Streets in Harare are blocked by cars queuing to fill up at the few forecourts with supplies. Most factories are working a three-day week, buses are stranded, the distribution of food is breaking down and the pavements are filled with beggars and destitute children.

A desperate shortage of hard currency to buy imports has brought the economy to its knees. Noczim, the notoriously corrupt state oil company, has no cash to pay suppliers and is sinking under debts of £200 million. Unable to buy vital raw materials, industry is gradually shutting down. Showcase investment projects, such as the Mazda car assembly plant at Willowvale, have closed and at least 100,000 jobs were lost last year, bringing unemployment to 60 per cent.

The government has created the crisis by undermining agriculture, tourism and mining, the three pillars of Zimbabwe's economy. The invasion of white-owned farms by thousands of squatters, repeatedly encouraged by Mr Mugabe, cost tens of thousands of jobs.

The wave of accompanying violence and a brutal election campaign that claimed 37 lives caused the number of tourist arrivals to fall by 70 per cent. Without the hard currency to buy crucial equipment, mines were forced to cut production and three closed altogether.

By the end of last year, the budget deficit ran at 22 per cent of gross national product, inflation was 56 per cent and inward investment had plummeted by 89 per cent. Although Simba Makoni, the reforming finance minister, has made a genuine effort to address the crisis, a president who appears to have thrown common sense to the winds has continually sabotaged his efforts.

None of this, however, will feature when Mr Mugabe gives his annual birthday interview to state television. On Saturday he will fly to Victoria Falls to join the 21st of February Movement for the final celebration. Opponents have remarked on his choice of venue.

Victoria Falls has seen its livelihood wiped out by a 70 per cent fall in the number of tourists following Mr Mugabe's incessant attacks on whites. The resort is in Matabeleland North province, where Zanu-PF does not hold any parliamentary seats and mustered barely 30 per cent of the vote in the last election.

Mr Mugabe will address an adoring audience on the importance of education and self reliance. After traditional dances, which The Herald, the pro-government newspaper, reported "always send the crowd wild", a large birthday cake will appear and Mr Mugabe will present the Youth of the Year Trophy to the most dedicated member of his movement.

Mr Mugabe makes few concessions to informality. He dresses for these occasions, as for all others, in a double-breasted suit. He will also receive tributes from Zanu-PF functionaries before climbing into his helicopter and returning to Harare. The national rejoicing will be over for another year.

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