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

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for victims of violence

Nyasha’s husband was raided and assaulted by ZANU (PF) youth in Mbare during
the June 2003 mass action.  He later died in hospital after being
hospitalised due to the injuries sustained during the assault.  He left
behind a wife Nyasha and three children aged fifteen, twelve and six who are
all of school-going age.  Nyasha is unemployed and is failing to look after
her family and send them to school.  Her husband who was the breadwinner
left no pension for the family and thus she has no capital to start any
project.  Nyasha needs money for school fees and rent.

Fadzai was severely assaulted at her lodgings in Dzivaresekwa on the eve of
the June 2003 mass action.  The perpetrators cited her support for MDC as
their reason for the assault.  The victim’s hands were broken and are now
both paralysed due to the injuries she sustained.  She can hardly work on
her own as both hands are now useless.  The victim’s plight was further
worsened by the fact that her husband threw her out of the house together
with the children.  All her three children are of school-going age and they
have since dropped out of school due to non-payment of fees.  The victim is
failing to provide for her family in terms of food, rent and school fees, as
she is no longer gainfully employed.

Taurayi’s mother was a chairlady for Mashonaland Central and she was
assaulted by the ZANU PF militia.  She later died due to the injuries she
sustained.  Taurayi is the eldest girl child and has the responsibility of
looking after the other three siblings aged twenty-one, eighteen and nine
years.  Their problems is further worsened by the fact that their father is
also deceased and no relatives are prepared to look after them as they also
fear victimisation.  Taurayi and her siblings are all supposed to be in
school but they cannot afford the school fees and they have no source of
acquiring money as none of them is in employment.  Taurayi and her siblings
are finding life unbearable as they are in great need of food, clothing and
school fees.

Maria is an elderly lady who was assaulted during the June 2003 mass action
because of her support for the MDC.  Her hands were broken in the process
and she can no longer work on her own.  The victim’s situation is aggravated
by the fact that she is the breadwinner to the four orphans she looks after,
her grandchildren who are aged two, four, six and eleven.  She is now
failing to provide for her family as she used to be a vendor, but now she
cannot be involved in any rewarding income generation projects and neither
can she be considered in any formal employment sector.  The elderly victim
is in dire need of school fees for her two school-going grandchildren and
food assistance.

Rujeko was assaulted very severely by ZNA soldiers during the June 2003 mass
action.   The victim suffered a psychological defect due to the assault and
has been seeking psychiatric care.  The victim is staying with her three
children away from her husband for fear of further victimisation.  Her
husband is still in hiding elsewhere.  The victim is not yet in a position
to engage in employment.  The whole family is in dire need of help as no one
is working to provide food on the table.  Their problem has been coupled by
the fact that her husband has been out of employment for a long time and has
since exhausted all his savings.  The victim needs money for rent and food
until they stabilise.

Vigil Zimbabwe Support and Respite Centre is a non-political organisation
assisting victims of violence who have been attacked because of their
perceived opposition to the Mugabe regime.  In some cases the original
victim has been killed or died as a result of his/her injuries, leaving
behind a now-destitute family, so that we also assist activists’ families in
need.  Our Respite Centre provides a safe space for victims to recover, be
directed to the appropriate medical or social service or simply return home
after trauma.

Above you will find stories of some of the victims (names have been changed
for security reasons).  A little assistance can go a very long way,
especially if you can channel it through Zimbabwe Vigil UK or another
overseas centre.  Indeed, Vigil Zimbabwe was created through a group of
dedicated human rights activists who
have stood vigil outside Zimbabwe House in London or nearby every Saturday
for some years now, and have organised petitions, demonstrations and other
activities to highlight the suffering among ordinary Zimbabweans in order to
press for change to democracy and rule of law in Zimbabwe.

Please give generously to Fadzai, Maria, Rujeko, Nyasha, Taurayi and others,
and put a smile back on their face – and the faces of their families!  Thank

NB If anyone is willing to help at the Respite Centre, please let us know!

Trudy Stevenson MP
Chairperson, Vigil Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe contact details: tel. Harare 304492 or team members 091 329 477 or 091 211
or NETGO at

UK Zimbabwe Vigil contact details:
Graham Crouch (chartered accountant) :
Bonny Adam :

"All that is necessary for EVIL to prevail is for GOOD people to do NOTHING"
   Edmund Burk

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21 Feb 2004 11:28 GMT DJ Zimbabwe's Mugabe Tells Of Suspected Murder Attempt Copyright © 2004, Dow Jones Newswires

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP)--During his lavish 80th birthday celebrations on Saturday, President Robert Mugabe revealed a recent suspected attempt to kill him by putting ground glass in his food.

Mugabe, in power since Zimbabwe's 1980 independence from Britain, told the state broadcaster during a special birthday interview a presidential cook had been questioned about the incident.

"I do not think it was anything to do with Western imperialism," Mugabe said. "Western imperialism is much more thorough than that. I think it was just some internal thing. Perhaps the cook was not happy. Bits of broken glass found themselves included in a meal. I do not want to say it was deliberate," Mugabe said.

"One has to be aware of the machinations of the West but I haven't come to a stage where I fear for my life yet," he said.

Switching to Zimbabwe's Shona language, Mugabe said the cook may have been "bewitched" into perpetrating the incident.

He didn't say whether he was harmed or if it took place at the downtown presidential complex, State House and adjoining Zimbabwe House, or his rural mansion at Kutama, 50 miles west of the capital.

Last month Mugabe flew to South Africa amid reports he needed urgent medical attention for vomiting fits. This was vehemently denied by presidential spokesmen.

Kutama, birthplace of the former Jesuit-trained mission school teacher, was the scene of celebrations Saturday attended by ruling Zanu-PF party dignitaries from throughout the country and its youth league, named the "21st February Movement" in honor of the day.

Proceedings began with a Roman Catholic church service.

The government controlled daily, The Herald, carried a 12-page supplement of birthday congratulations messages, many from public corporations teetering on the verge of bankruptcy in Zimbabwe's current economic crisis blamed on Mugabe's controversial economic and social policies.

Inflation is near 700% and 5.1 million Zimbabweans face starvation, according to U.N. agencies.

One advertisement was taken by the national airline, which recently failed to pay international creditors. Another was by the prisons department which can't afford to feed the 28,000 inmates of Zimbabwe's overcrowded jails.

In his birthday interview, Mugabe rejected suggestions he might step down before the end of his current six-year presidential term in 2008.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change has rejected the 2002 poll amid international observers' reports of widespread intimidation and vote rigging.

"I have not been in the habit of surrendering at all," he said. "In five years I will be here, still boxing, writing a lot, reading quite a lot, and still in politics. I won't leave politics but I will have retired, obviously," Mugabe said.

At a ruling party congress in December when he announced Zimbabwe's exit from the Commonwealth, he silenced debate on a successor.

Asked about South African President Thabo Mbeki's announcement that formal talks were under way with the opposition on resolving Zimbabwe's crisis, Mugabe said he was unwilling to speak to "those who are going to seek the end of our enemy, to destroy our economy".

MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube confirmed: "Formal negotiations have not started."

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 21, 2004 06:28 ET (11:28 GMT)

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UK Independent

Robert Mugabe: Robert the brute

The President of Zimbabwe was 80 yesterday. In less than 25 years, the unyielding and increasingly embittered former teacher has led his once-prosperous African nation into famine and repression. He can expect little in the way of celebration

By Michael Holman

22 February 2004

An embittered old man turned 80 yesterday, still in charge after nearly a quarter of a century, and driving the country he leads ever deeper into despair. Torture has become a state tool; the independent press is harassed; the judiciary has been coerced. Tourism has collapsed; poaching thrives. Development aid is frozen; the currency is worthless as inflation reaches four figures. Drought and the deliberate destruction of white-dominated commercial farming have left millions of his people hungry. Happy birthday, President Robert Gabriel Mugabe.

Once seen as an African success story, Zimbabwe has slid towards collapse with astonishing speed. A man hailed for his speech of racial reconciliation at independence in 1980, followed by his appointment of whites to the first cabinet, is now seen as the catalyst for disaster.

Zimbabwe was conceived in the 1890s, the product of a colonial carve-up and British commerce, and liberated in 1979 after a guerrilla war. Twenty-five years later it is in the hands of an octogenarian not much younger than the country he has brutalised.

Born in 1924, Robert Mugabe was educated by Catholic missionaries and has invoked their memory in his harsh condemnations of homosexuality - an attitude that led him to say the British government was being run by a gay cartel. But that very public accusation was also a pragmatic move for the fighter turned politician who became influenced by Marxism during the battle for independence. For some, Mugabe is simply a well-educated thug with half a dozen degrees to his name, driven by racist values and authoritarian instincts, a widower now living with a spendthrift second wife and their children, and treating the state airline as his private fleet for frequent trips abroad. For others he may be all this, but he is also a casualty of his times shaped and distorted by southern Africa's grim history, a creature of the British empire, whose legacy he is determined to redress.

An austere, articulate but reserved man, with a dry sense of humour, and the demeanour of the strict schoolmaster that he once was, he has reason to feel bitter. The white Rhodesian government detained him in 1964; when his only son died of malaria in Tanzania in 1966 Mugabe was refused permission to attend the funeral. But it needs more than this episode to explain how he became ruthless and unbending. When white Rhodesia sued for peace he insisted on black majority rule or nothing - just as there has been no compromise in his treatment of the country's white farmers, and no tolerance of Zimbabwe's growing opposition movement.

For Mugabe's critics, the expropriation of white farms that began in the early 1990s is driven not by principle, and the desire to resettle black families. It is, they say, a crude attempt to entrench his power, using a populist issue to conceal his determination to cling to office.

The campaign was triggered by two events: the referendum on constitutional change in 2000, which Mugabe lost, and a controversial win in the 2002 elections, in which state intimidation was the order of the day. Events since then support the opposition's claim that Zimbabwe is in the grips of a venal oligarchy. Farms have been awarded not to land-hungry peasant farmers, but to Mugabe's cronies. The judiciary has been intimidated, the police turned into an arm of the ruling party. The country's main opposition paper, the Daily News, has had its presses and staff attacked, and has been closed down. Dissent has been suppressed by an army which had helped to strip the Congo of its resources, and threatens protesters with shoot-to-kill warnings.

Mugabe shrugs off all criticism, and takes refuge in history. The West's record in southern Africa has been wrong as well as racist, he argues. In the 1960s Britain opposed a railway from Zambia to Tanzania that would reduce black southern Africa's dependence on routes through apartheid South Africa. The UK was also against the marriage of Botswana's first president to his white fiancée.

Nor has he forgiven Britain and its Western allies over southern Africa's battle for liberation, when they supported the white minority regimes in Angola and Mozambique, and were half-hearted converts to the anti-apartheid cause. And it was Britain, he will remind listeners, that chaired the conference in 1963 that presided over the break-up of the Federation of Southern and Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, and allocated its military assets to the white minority government in Rhodesia. Two years later, in November 1965, Ian Smith announced his unilateral declaration of independence. In the name of "Western Christian civilisation" toilets were segregated, multiracial school sport was banned - and the division of the country into black and white areas was consolidated.

The great divide began 100-odd years ago, but the final stages of the whites' land grab is still in living memory. It was as brutal as Zimbabwe today, though with less publicity: tens of thousands of cattle were confiscated from peasant farmers in the 1950s, and as recently as the early 1970s, the Smith regime was attempting to reinforce the foundation of white rule. In one case, Chief Rekayi Tangwenya was driven off his ancestral land, and the homes of his people destroyed. The death toll in the war reached 30,000 before Smith capitulated in late 1979, at the negotiating table of Lancaster House in London. But land remained central: who would fund the buy-out of the 5,000 whites who owned the best commercial farmland?

Private talks in London with British and US officials appeared to satisfy Mugabe, who had been threatening to walk out over the issue. Today he insists that Britain broke the spirit of the Lancaster House deal. But his greatest disillusionment was to come later. President Kenyatta gave similar reassurances to white farmers when Kenya became independent in 1963. But Kenyatta was able to back his reassurance with cash from Britain, Germany and the World Bank. Twice as much money in real terms was made available for the buy-out of the 1,000 or so farmers in Kenya's white highlands as was provided for the 5,000 farmers in Zimbabwe. By 1985, the year of Zimbabwe's first post-independence poll, distrust was corroding Mugabe. The whites had already proved treacherous. A handful had attempted to sabotage the air force, with the backing of Pretoria, as the apartheid regime tried to destabilise its neighbours. The result of the poll, in which most whites stayed loyal to Ian Smith, was seen by Mugabe as a final slap in the face. "We are working with those whites who want to work with us," he told a post-election rally. "But the rest will have to find a new home." Then he switched from English to chiShona: "We will kill those snakes among us. We will smash them completely."

"Not since the war years had Mugabe used such language," writes his biographer, Martin Meredith. "His first victims, however, were not whites but the Ndebele." The man was succumbing to the worst in his nature, and up to 12,000 civilians died as Zimbabwe's troops suppressed a small dissident movement in Matabeleland. The foundations of Zimbabwe were starting to crack; and Mugabe was becoming the man he is now, in all his twisted fullness.

Michael Holman, Africa editor of the 'Financial Times' from 1984 to 2002, was brought up in Zimbabwe

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Botswana MMEGI

Robert Mugabe and The Third Chimurenga

2/18/2004 10:17:54 PM (GMT +2)

BEFORE independence of Zimbabwe, in the crucial Lancaster House negotiations in 1979, the land issue was a center point, and a near breaking point. There is no question that the land was robbed from the indigenous people 85 years earlier with the invasion of white settlers. So the struggle for independence (second chimurenga), was not only about one man one vote, but also about land.

Everyone who has visited the cramped, overcrowded communal areas, formerly called tribal trust lands, will agree that there was an urgent need for improving the life of these people, mostly living from subsistence farming and depending on the poor rainfall in their area. The land in the better rainfall areas was largely in the hands of 4 000 white farmers. The only way forward was a fair land reform.
Britain was interested in safeguarding the interests of the white and very efficient fanners, mostly of British ancestry, that were beyond any doubt the backbone of the economy and managed to put a ten-year grace period into the Lancaster House agreement.
During this period, land could only be acquired on a willing buyer willing seller basis, and each sale during that period needed a “no interest” certificate from the state. And Britain supplied money for the acquisition of farmland.
Farmland acquired that way by the government already at that time was largely used by well-connected politicians, as Margaret Dongo, a former freedom fighter and dissident ZANU PF-MP uncovered, and not for resettlement.
Quite a number of white farmers, who are now dispossessed, bought farms with that “certificate of no interest” after independence. Now they are being told to go because they are whites. Is this a new form of racism?
During the first ten years, the “grace period”, and even beyond, former freedom fighters were enjoying not only their freedom and their positions in government and the civil service, but also forgetting about the plight of the communal farmers. And the government was busy teaching the Matabele people a horrific genocidal lesson, killing more than 20, 000, many of them buried alive. Robert Mugabe never apologized for that and none of the victims or their families ever got compensation.
During elections, the white farmers were regularly verbally attacked, however nothing happened afterwards.
No substantial resettlement took place even after the Lancaster House agreement expired in 1990.
The government put the land reform program on the agenda in 1998, after it had gone to war in DR Congo, because the support in the rural areas had dwindled and the war veterans demanded farms.
The government of Zimbabwe wanted to acquire 50% of the white held farmland and organized a donor conference in Harare in 1998.
In view of the miserable experience with the previous land reform program, and the country shifting all its resources into the Congo war, there was high donor fatigue.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair told Robert Mugabe, who wanted to discuss the land reform program with him in 1999 during a Commonwealth conference in London, to deal with his Undersecretary in the Ministry of Overseas Affairs. Tony Blair himself was not interested to pay much attention to it, a big mistake and a clear insult.
The rest is history.
Many white fanners thought they could get rid of any land reform program and Robert Mugabe altogether in the referendum about the constitution and the following elections by massively supporting the opposition MDC.
They mobilized their financial resources and their farm workers. Robert Mugabe, who had lost support everywhere by wasting all resources for his own ego in the Congo war, hit out by terrorizing the country with his “war veterans”, calling it the “third chimurenga”.
Violent farm invasions, ignoring of court decisions, and in the communal areas beatings, arson, rape and murder were commonplace accompanied by the inactivity of the police, who were told not to interfere.
Soon the backbone of the economy was destroyed, free and fair parliamentary and presidential elections became impossible. For Mugabe, this was no longer about land but it was about clinging to power at all cost.
Now the paradise is lost, the skilled manpower gone, the country’s economy destroyed, most people living below the poverty line and many formerly large productive farms not in the hands of graduates from agricultural colleges and former commercial farm managers, who know the job, instead in the hands of unproductive high ranking civil servants, army officers, party supremos as well as relatives of the president and his wife.
Robert Mugabe has just declared that the war against Britain and America and the whites, his “third chimurenga”, has largely be won.
In preparation for the next parliamentary elections next year, he is busy recruiting the next generation of election campaigners, child soldiers or “green bombers” as they are called, who have already started to terrorize the people.
Dr Alexander von Paleske
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Voa News
Another Leading Zimbabwe Judge Resigns
Peta Thornycroft
21 Feb 2004, 15:44 UTC
One of Zimbabwe's leading judges has resigned unexpectedly, giving no reason for his sudden departure from the High Court. Nearly all Zimbabwe's senior judges have left over the past three years.
The latest judicial departure, Judge Moses Chinhengo, was a low-profile judge who lawyers - including those who lost in cases he heard - say always gave professional judgments.
His resignation was announced on Friday by Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, who speculated that the departing judge may have left for financial reasons.
Judges are not paid well, according to lawyers in the private sector, at a time when all but the rich are battling inflation of more than 600 percent.
Judge Chinhengo has not taken advantage of the government's program to hand out formerly white-owned land to the elite. Many of his colleagues are beneficiaries of the government's so-called land reform program, and have been given some of the richest farms in Zimbabwe.
The disintegration of the reputation of Zimbabwe's judiciary began three years ago, when then Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay was forced to leave office in fear of his life.
Since then, a further eight judges have departed, the last a few weeks ago, when a judge who had ruled in favor of the banned daily newspaper, The Daily News, which was engaged in a long legal wrangle with the government, fled to South Africa.
Another High Court judge, who was due to give a verdict last November in a controversial murder case, in which the accused were members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, has sent a message from overseas to say she is too ill to return home.
Robert Mugabe gets a kiss from his wife Grace
Zimbabwe's most senior judge, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, is open about his support for the ruling ZANU-PF party.
Judge Chinhengo has not spoken of his reasons for leaving.
His departure comes at a critical time in Zimbabwe, when periods of detention were last week extended from 48 hours to 30 days for those arrested on suspicion of political and economic crimes.
President Robert Mugabe announced Friday, on the eve of his 80th birthday, that he would retire within the next five years, and that he intends to lead his ruling ZANU-PF into parliamentary elections in March 2005.
Human rights lawyers say, even though the independence of the courts has been eroded, there is nowhere else they can go in pursuit of justice.
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Thousands gather for Bob's birthday bash

February 21 2004 at 03:54PM

By Stella Mapenzauswa

Zvimba, Zimbabwe - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe celebrated his 80th birthday on Saturday, a day after indicating he would retire within five years, amid a deepening political and economic crisis.

Thousands of people converged at his rural homestead in Zvimba, about 100km from the capital Harare, to toast the man who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980.

Dressed in a dark business suit, a jovial Mugabe blew out candles and cut a birthday cake, before shaking hands with people in the crowd made up of political and business leaders as well as ordinary villagers.

Mugabe will be 84 when his current term ends
The celebrations - marked by a religious service and dancing - come at a time when the southern African nation is reeling from its worst political and economic crisis since independence.

In an interview with the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corp (ZBC) on Friday Mugabe gave his strongest indication yet that he would not run for re-election after 2008 but left open the question of early retirement following his 2002 controversial re-election.

Mugabe will be 84 when his current term ends in 2008.

Analysts said indications that the veteran leader might not seek re-election were little comfort for a country saddled with soaring unemployment, acute shortages of fuel and foreign currency and runaway inflation - one of the highest in the world.

"I think it shows that he is still working on a project to find the best way out for himself and for a possible successor," said Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of political pressure group, the National Constitutional Assembly.

"But he does not rule out the question of early retirement. That is the question that is still unanswered. It does not take us very far because the timeframe covers the presidential term."

Mugabe, one of Africa's longest serving leaders, denies charges by the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and several Western countries that he rigged the 2002 polls, and has previously dismissed speculation he will leave office early.

He has remained defiant in the face of international criticism of his rule and pulled Zimbabwe out of the Commonwealth group of mostly former British colonies when it extended Zimbabwe's 18-month suspension over the elections.

Mugabe, who dismisses the MDC as a puppet of his Western foes, walked out of talks with the MDC after it went to court to challenge his 2002 victory, and has previously said it must recognise him as president before talks can resume.

But in the interview with the ZBC on Friday, Mugabe said his government was prepared to discuss with the opposition how to resolve the country's political and economic crisis.

Zimbabwe, once the southern African region's bread basket, has been reduced to a beggar, depending on donor aid to feed millions of people.

Mugabe denies mismanaging the country's economy, which he says has been sabotaged by opponents of his policy of seizing white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks.

Born in 1924 on the Kutama Mission northwest of Harare and educated by Jesuits, Mugabe was jailed for 10 years in 1964 for fighting white minority rule in what was then Rhodesia.

He became leader of Zanu in the mid-1970s after the guerrilla group launched its war against Ian Smith's government in 1972. In 1980, he became prime minister after his Zanu-PF won independence elections.

Mugabe became executive president with sweeping powers in 1987 after parliament amended the independence constitution, abolishing the post of prime minister.

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Channel news Asia
Mugabe fetes 80th birthday, urges foes to change

ZVIMBA, Zimbabwe : Zimbabwe's long-serving President Robert Mugabe urged his foes to "change" and join hands with him as he feted his 80th birthday with 10,000 admirers, a day after he pledged to step down in five years.

The veteran leader, who has been at the helm of the southern African country for nearly 24 years since independence from Britain in 1980, said although he and Vice-President Joseph Msika had spent "the chunk of our lives in jail" during the liberation struggle, "the good thing is we got our independence.

"The only sad thing is that they are some who do not realise that a country is precious like an egg. They want to destroy it and teach us what is wrong. I say to them change, come and join others let's be united and move together.

"Let's be a people of a united nation of Zimbabwe."

Mugabe had accolades showered upon him at the birthday celebrations at his home in Kutama village in Zvimba, some 80 kilometres (50 miles) west of the capital.

Leading the function, attended by some 10,000 admirers, family and friends, was his second wife Grace, his former secretary and 40 years his junior.

"He was well brought up and that this is why he has reached this age," said Grace, sporting a lilac and gold outfit, the theme colours for the celebrations.

"Our children are still young .. I pray that God grants him many more years so that he can instill discipline in our children," she added.

Mugabe and his second wife have three children, the oldest of whom was born while he was still married to his popular Ghanaian-born wife, Sally Hafron, who died from a kidney ailment.

The guests were seated under a sprawling white marquee. Lilac and gold balloons grouped together to form '80' bobbed in the air as the ceremony started with mass for Mugabe, a staunch Roman Catholic.

Mugabe's younger sister Sabina said he was studious even as a child.

"He had a high concentration, wanted to read very much. He was very hardworking, he would herd cattle and go to the fields but all the time he carried his books," she said.

The festivities including songs by school choirs, martial music by a police band and a series of songs by well-known Zimbabwean gospel singer Fungisai Zvakavapano, whose repertoire also included "Happy Birthday to you."

Grace kissed her husband and briefly danced with Mugabe.

On Friday night, Mugabe told state television that he would step down from power within five years -- a long-standing demand by the opposition who have accused him of ravaging a once-prosperous nation and destroying its economy.

"In five years, (I will) still (be) boxing, writing quite a lot, reading quite a lot and still in politics; I won't leave politics, but I will have retired obviously," he said.

Mugabe became involved in politics when he was studying at university in South Africa.

He returned to Zimbabwe and taught briefly before going on to Ghana where he also took a teaching post and married his first wife. He returned to Zimbabwe in the 1960s and got involved in politics afresh.

Mugabe was arrested and detained for 10 years before he left for Mozambique in 1975 to take up arms in a liberation struggle that brought independence to Zimbabwe.

In the early 1980s he became an international icon over his reconciliation policy of accomodating whites.

But his reputation as an African stateman started fading in recent years after the country -- once the region's breadbasket -- slid into economic decline as land reforms which had been left unresolved for years, were jump-started with the violent occupation of white-owned farms.

Although he tolerates political opposition, leaders, supporters and sympathisers of the largest opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, have been victims of what they term state-sponsored violence.

The state-owned Herald daily Saturday carried a 16-page edition about Mugabe and congratulatory messages.

Recently appointed Anti-Corruption Minister Didymus Mutasa was quoted as saying Mugabe was "God sent and the best that has ever happened to the African continent."

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Dear Family and Friends,
When I dropped my son at school yesterday morning he said: "See you at
lunch time Mum." "Lunch time, why what day is it?" I asked. Friday is a
half day at school and it took an eleven year old boy to remind me what
day it was. For the last 7 days I have spent 12 solid hours a day at my
computer trying to answer an unstoppable tidal wave of emails from
ordinary people wanting to help the women of Zimbabwe.

Thank you is such an inadequate phrase to express my gratitude for the
overwhelming response to my letter last week about women's sanitary needs.
Offers of help came from all over the world; from women and churches,
groups and clubs and from scores of men too. There were letters from
fathers and grandfathers, doctors and priests. So many people have offered
to help that it has filled me an overwhelming feeling of hope for our
future here. One man said that my words had ignited a "chivalrous rage"
within him. How I wish that all of you who responded to my letter could
have been here to see the reaction of a woman being given a small packet
of sanitary towels this week. The woman's eyes shone with tears as I gave
her the bag which she clutched to her chest and then she hugged me and
said: "Oh thank you, God Bless you, now I can be clean again."

I must apologise for being so ill-prepared to cope with both the
correspondence and logistics of what continues to grow into a vast
mountain of support for ordinary women in Zimbabwe.  A dedicated email
address has been established and will be manned by volunteers to respond
to and channel what has come to be known as the Dignify a Sister campaign.
The address is: . It may take a couple of days
for volunteers to cope with the backlog of mails that I have been
physically unable to answer and have forwarded to Dignify A Zister but
please do not let this labour of love go because every single packet of
cotton wool and sanitary towels is wanted and desperately needed. The
volunteers organising Dignify A Zister will link offers of support with
individual women and their sisters and daughters in Zimbabwe, provide
addresses to send to and answer all the questions being asked. This is not
a political movement or an international organisation. It is just a way of
letting ordinary people hold out the hand of friendship and give moral
support to women who ask only for the dignity of cleanliness.

For almost four years I have been telling the story of how Zimbabwe has
been turned upside down because of a political party's determination to
stay in power. I have told of rape and torture, arson and murder. I have
recorded how inflation grew from a teenager in 2000 to an insatiable
monster which hit 624 % in 2004 and how 4 years of political mayhem has
left 8 out of every 10 people unemployed and almost 70% of our population
dependant on world food aid in order to survive. In these four years I
have had many thousands of emails from people all over the world and
almost always their question has been: What can we do to help? Dignify A
Zister provides just one answer and on behalf of Zimbabwe's women, I thank
the men for their chivalrous rage and the women for their sisterly love,
compassion and empathy.
Until next week, with love, cathy. Copyright cathy buckle, 21st February 2004.
My books on the Zimbabwean crisis, "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" are now
available outside Africa  from: ; ; ;  in Australia and New Zealand: ;  Africa:
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Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to with "For Open Letter Forum" in the subject line.
JAG OLF 235 - 20TH FEBRUARY 2004

Prelude text


Letter 1:

Re Letter 3. on the JAG Open Letter Forum OLF 233 12 February 2004
(Received 19 Feb 2004).
Dear Ben Freeth

So many thoughts and memories flashed through my mind as I read your letter
to your son, Joshua this morning. For so many months I have felt numbed
with the overwhelming experience of simply existing in the atmosphere of
oppression in which we are living here in Zim today. I needed this letter
to bring me to my senses again . . . thank you -

May the Lord continue to bless and protect you and your family,
Mary Ann (Mrs Sykes)

Letter 2.


Mr. Freeth's letter to his son Joshua, to celebrate his fourth birthday,
and a letter from Mr. Tayler attempting to defend some people (who for some
reason choose not to attempt to defend their own actions) possibly brings
all of us back to the very crux of the problem in Zimbabwe. Human Rights.

Mr. Tayler is to be commended highly for his loyalty to the CFU. I have
little doubt that collectively the CFU would also be respected enormously
if they could show some from of accountability - by openly stating why Mr.
Freeth was dismissed - because at the moment it appears to have been due to
his Christian and principled stand for the farmers in his district. This
raises further queries:

 *If a man or woman challenges actions of 'democratically elected
leadership' but chooses to remain anonymous, does this define the man or
woman as a coward? *In Mr. Freeth's case he chose to challenge it and was
suspended some eighteen months ago and still awaits justice. I fear that
Mr. Tayler might have almost missed the point - why is he so intent to play
the man rather the principle? - in this case playing an anonymous man
appears to frustrate Mr. Tayler further. * Mr. Tayler has every right to
support the CFU, and we must all defend that right in a Voltaire like
manner. I trust that Mr. Tayler will now expound the virtues of the CFU on
the next OLF to back up his case, in a Voltaire like style.

Personally I think that the CFU is a wonderful group of people. However, I
also have a moral responsibilty and a right to question their actions over
the last two years, and to remain anonymous or not, and will continue to
exercise that right.

The crux of the fourth chimurenga is human rights.

Mr. Tayler is just starting to exercise his, and we only need about eleven
million people to emulate him, and we will have liberation. Does Mr. Tayler
have the CFU behind him?

Fourth Chimurenga. (Anonymous or Not?)

Letter 3.


When I read this letter I could not help myself but had to write a reply.
Firstly If your mother is living on a farm alone at this time in our
history it is about time somebody told her:

This is not the old Rhodesia of years gone by when you could trust your
workers and people had respect for the rule of law. We live in a country
and world where many people do not have jobs, do not have an income, but
still have families to feed. What will you do if your child cries from
hunger, you will steal. I do not condone his action, but place yourself in
his possition. Where will you steal from? first choice a soft target. An
eldery lady living on a farm by herself. Please face reality? for if you do
not you become a problem and responsibility for your police, community, and
family. They have to pick up the pieces afterwards.

The fact that your mother went out when she heard the dog bark, well !!!
the fact that she fetched her gun and not used it immidiately but waited
for this person to walk up to her. If you are going to bring a gun onto any
scene, make sure you know how to use it, are prepared to use it and use it
quickly. If you do not the next shot will be fired at you with your own

Please lets not be stubborn or heroes, sit this round out. We just have to
wait a bit longer for our beloved country to heal from this vicious attack
by some crazy person. I also had to pack my bags and leave my farms, which
I bought with my own money. Where did my money come from, like many other
farmers. From my bonuses working on a farm for some other farmer. It was a
great life, nobody can take away our memories. I know that does not pay the
butcher and baker, but that is a story for another day . Right now lets
stick together like the family we always were,and stop this in fighting
that the ruling party has managed us to grab with both hands. Devide and

Willie Watson.

Letter 4.

Subject: Security Crimes - C A Skott

There are such horrendous crimes taking place in Zimbabwe.

We used to be kept aware of these, if we had not personally been told about
them, by reading the Daily News and within the daily news reports placed by
various persons eg Ms Van Heerden about carjacking crimes etc etc

If would be good if JAG could add a letter to keep awareness up to date.

Currently, the father of a schoolboy friend was recently shot during a
burglary, white women are being raped in the name of "power" during
break-ins, black women are being raped regardless for no reason etc etc.

Are neighbourhood watches still going? Are they able to cope? I was also
wondering about these panic-button systems. Are there teams willing to come
to the aid of anyone regardless of race?

Lack of knowledge, communication and fear are being used effectively to
keep everyone in the dark.

C A Skott

Letter 5.


As you are well aware, Roy Bennetts Charleswood Farm in Chimanimani was
subjected to an attack by Army and militia a few weeks ago.  One of the
farm employees was shot dead and another shot and badly wounded.  A young
girl was raped while two others were sexually abused. Many others were
badly beaten. Roy's security Managers house was burned down and he lost
absolutely everything. All he and his family have left, is what they stood
up in at the time. It is to this end that I am calling on the support and
generosity of fellow Zimbabweans to assist us in helping to restablish the
Manager and his family.  Clothing, shoes, linen, towels, kitchen equipment,
furniture, bedding, curtains, carpets - anything that you are able to give,
no matter how small, would be so greatly appreciated.

Please phone me on 091-315323 or 04-335765 to arrange collection or drop
off.  If you live elsewhere in the country and can assist, I am sure we can
make the necessary arrangements to obtain the items.

Thanking you in anticipation,
Kerry Kay.

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

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JOB OPPORTUNITIES: Updated 12th February 2004
Please send any job opportunities for publication in this newsletter to:
JAG Job Opportunities <>

1.  Advert Received 18th February 2004

Good Day

Please could you insert the attached Vacancy in your Classified Ads.

Many Thanks

Simon Arnold
Surrey Abattoir
PO Box 269 Marondera
Tel 079-22322/3/4 or 24412
Fax 079-20338
Cell 011 430 894
E-mail simona@surrey
Maintenance Manager required for mixed farming enterprise in Bromley (only
55 km from Harare).
Main area of responsibility is the Workshop (including a machine shop) and
the close supervision of all workshop/maintenance/stores personnel and
Fleet Maintenance includes: LGVs, HGVs, tractors and all farm equipment.
General Estate Maintenance includes: boreholes, pumps, motors and
refrigeration equipment.
Remuneration Package to include: Highly Competitive Salary dependant on
experience and skills; Company vehicle, on farm accommodation & perks.

Please reply, with C V & References to:

The General Manager
P O Box 269


E- Mail to:

2.  Advert Received 18th February 2004

Subject: Domestic
> Mr Shaun Mills cell 011 600 399
 W> looking for a Malawian Domestic/Gardener
 W> Please contact him direct on the above
 W> cell number.
 W> Westgate area/ single accomodation offered.
3.  Please can you place the following ad in your classifieds again :

Looking for a single young man to assist on a tobacco farm with the
following qualifications :

Must have at least 2 years tobacco experience
Other crop experience an advantage
Must also be able to shoot (Some game culling required)

Please phone for an appointment :
(022) 2354 (Mornings only) or (022) 2449

4.  Dear Jag

Please can you insert this ad in your vacancy column as soon as

Retired/Semi Retired gentleman needed as stock controller for vehicle
spares.  Monday - Friday.  Other perks available.

Phone: Linda - 480580
e-mail -

Many thanks

For the latest listings of accommodation available for farmers, contact (updated 12th February 2004)

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