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

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Attack on MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai

TThis is what the President said happened when he was on his way to his home in the Buhera communal area where he built his rural family home years ago.
The MDC President travelled to his rural home in the Buhera communal with his family assisted by his security.  Correction the Mdc President does not have a farm as has been mentioned in your press report.  He has his home in his communal area, in Buhera.
According to Tsvangirai the family stopped at Chivhu at the local supermarket on their way to Buhera.  Three security guards went inside the shop to make some purchases for the family, when those security guards in the two cars with the President noticed some 20-30 zanu/pf green bombers/militia in their full green bombers' uniform, running towards the President's vehicles which were packed outside the supermarket. The greenbombers  became rowdy and noisy as they rushed to the packed MDC President's cars.
The security guards who had remained with the President drove the President and his family off the scene, some ten kilometers away from Chivhu.  After a short time, the President returned to Chivhu to the Police station to both report the incident as well as to pick up the three security guards who had gone into the supermarket. 
The president with the assistance of the Chivhu police searched the town unsuccesfully for the three security men. The supermarket explained that they hid the three men.  When the green bombers/militia seemed to have left the town centre, the supermarket personnel got the three President's security men out through the back door. The three men were however spoted by the militia who chased after them.  Each security guard ran towards his own direction to safety. None was caught by the greenbombers. Two found their way to Buhera while the third returned to Harare this morning.
The President was informed that there are three greenbombers'/militia bases in Chivhu town alone. These militia bases are established throughout the country in preparations for the next elections.  Their role in elections is to prevent the opposition campaining, intimidating the villagers, and basically ensuring a zanu/pf victory.  
The Mugabe regime made a request to the UN for assistance during the coming elections.  They withdrew this request when the UN responded with their conditions for assistance. This move has been followed by Mugabe's announcement that there will be Parliamentary elections in March 2005.  Reports confirm that Mugabe announced that he is retiring in another 5 years on his 80th birthday when everyone supporting him had been made to believe by Mugabe himself, that he would be retiring on his 80th birthday to make way for formal negotiations between the political parties, leading to peaceful elections.        

While the MDC President, his family and staff are for the moment safe and well, what he and his family went through on the weekend is a foretaste of what is to come for himself,  opposition members, MDC candidates, their teams and supporters throughout Zimbabwe for the 2005 elections.  Hence the MDC message to the European Union Parliament recently, that there must be negotiations/talks betwen the parties in Zimbabwe, to prepare for free and fair elections, to be held according to the SADC Norms and Standards for elections, to which the Mugabe regime is a signitory.  Zimbabweans cannot go through another election under the same conditions as those of the 2000 Parliamentary elections and of the subsequent 2002 Presidential ones, whose outcome MDC is still contesting in the courts of law.
Sekai Holland
MDC Secretary for International Affairs

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ZIm Std

Chombo erred on Mudzuri, say Harare residents
By Valentine Maponga

THE Majority of Harare residents are of the opinion that the Minister of Local Government and Public Works, Ignatius Chombo erred by suspending the constitutionally elected mayor, Engineer Elias Mudzuri, a survey by the Mass Public Opinion Institute has revealed.

More than 60% of the respondents who took part in the snap poll, meant to gauge the views of residents concerning the city council, said Minister Chombo was "merely politicking and trying to discredit the council" when he suspended Mudzuri.

Significantly, 33,3% of the residents also felt that the problems facing the Harare City Council were largely a result of Chombo's interference. It was interesting to note that 13.3 % blamed the Solomon Tawengwa led council as the root cause of the crisis while 9,5 % levelled the blame on the Chanakira Commission for the mess at town house.

The Harare City Council is considered by many to be performing below expectation as evidenced by constant disconnections of water supplies, sewage and refuse collection problems as the major worries.

"39,3% are 'dissatisfied' and 36.0% are 'very dissatisfied' by the manner in which things are going on at Town House," reads part of the findings.

The council has been dogged by controversy from the time since the MDC mayor and the majority of councillors were elected into office in March 2003.

Following Mudzuri's suspension, Sekesai Makwavarara. also of MDC was appointed acting executive mayor by Chombo.

Asked how they felt about this arrangement, 51,6% of the residents interviewed said Makwavarara should get out of the mayor's office. Only 19.5% said she should remain in office while 23.3% said they were not decided.
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GMB stuck with local wheat as millers opt for imported flour
By Kumbirai Mafunda

THE Grain Marketing Board (GMB) and millers are reportedly stuck with stocks of wheat and flour as it emerged that bakers are turning to imported flour.

Sources in the milling and baking industry told StandardBusiness that the state run grain procurement body is struggling to dispose of its few stocks of wheat that came through from last year's winter crop. Last years' winter wheat crop amounted to a meagre 80 000 tonnes out of a normal requirement of 350 000 tonnes.

Sources said GMB has been stung by its recent deregulation of the marketing of wheat. Following its utter failure to meet the country's grain requirements in the past four years, GMB licensed a number of millers and bakeries late last year to procure wheat and flour.

"They can be stuck with small quantities of wheat as long as these people are getting import permits," said a source.

Bakers said the monopolistic grain procurer has to review its price downwards if it was to get its products sold out.

Some millers who had taken positions before the strengthening of the local currency are also reportedly stuck with wheat and flour stocks, which they are failing to sell as bakers, opt for cheap imported flour. Baking sources said some millers who were feeling the pinch had started reviewing their prices downward to $2,4 million per tonne.

Owing to the recent firming of the Zimbabwe dollar against the United States dollar which currently is fetching $3 973,43 on the foreign currency auction market, it is now economical and lucrative for bakers to source flour from neighbouring countries such as Botswana, South Africa and Mozambique.

Prior to the introduction of the managed auction system bakers were sourcing foreign currency on the parallel and black market where the American greenback was selling at $6 500 nearly twice the current rate. Bakers said they were now accessing flour at US$400 a tonne (about $2 million inclusive of duty payments) compared to about $3,5 million that is being offered by local millers.

An official with one bread making company said they have increased its workforce from two thousand to four thousand and increased its production by 27%.
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Furore as production house seizes Studio 263 tapes
By Henry Makiwa

ZIMBABWE'S prime soapie, Studio 263, and the television talk show, This Is Life, last week salvaged their screen life at the courts after the shows' independent editors, Shamiso Entertainment, threatened to derail production after confiscating tapes of the popular programmes.

The move, according to the shows' director Godwin Mawuru, posed a serious threat to the continuation of the programmes as it would defeat efforts to flight "flash-back" clips and execute the exchange deal between the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) and producers of the Zambian drama, Kabanana.

"What Gilbert Muvavarirwa (Shamiso's executive director) did was an unorthodox business practice similar to street extortion. We had no choice but to seek legal relief," Mawuru told StandardPlus.

"His seizure of our properties would have had adverse and ripple effects not only on our programmes but the national broadcaster as well. ZBC has a deal with the Zambian production (Kabanana) whereby they exchange episodes of Studio 263 for Kabanana which is being screened in the country. On our side, we wouldn't be able to flight flash-back effects that we show to reflect past scenes of our shows, especially in Studio 263."

However the two shows' sponsors, Population Services International (PSI) last week won back ownership of the seized material at the High Court after Judge Chinhengo ruled that Muvavarirwa should release the over 100 "beta SP tapes" in his possession.

Muvavarirwa, an entertainment mogul popular for his 2 000 work on the Urban Grooves compilation music album, The Future, could not be reached for comment as he was said to be out of the country while his lawyers, Muzenda and Maganga legal practitioners disowned him.

A lawyer from the law firm, who refused to be named, said: "We have not received any cooperation from Shamiso and their boss is said to be out of the country so we have no choice but to 'renounce agent'. I am sorry I can not comment on that issue, it is no longer ours."

Promise Matewa, a Shamiso official, dismissed the court ruling as a "default judgement " because it was delivered in the absence of their lawyers.

He said: "The ruling is just a provisional order and we are going to challenge it. The whole issue is about PSI paying us the outstanding sum and the ruling does state that they should pay up what they owe us.

"It is also unfair that the judgement was delivered after we had parted ways with our lawyers and we are going to challenge that."

According to information gathered by StandardPlus, a dispute over contractual differences emerged between Shamiso and PSI - proponents of Zimbabwe's first soap opera Studio 263 and This Is Life - following disagreements over the payment of services for editing the two shows.

The sharp divisions reportedly surfaced last November when Shamiso Entertainment hiked the charges of their services at least triple-fold "to match the rates of inflation", a move which led to PSI writing to Shamiso in a letter dated November 14, advising the company that they intended to terminate their contract at the end of that month.

However, Muvavarirwa, apparently bitter with the developments, immediately cut ties with PSI's Studio 263 upon receipt of the memo and on the same day seized the soap's archive tapes. He also effected new charges for hire of his camera and other production accessories he was loaning to Studio 263.

"We cannot release anything until PSI bills have been settled...release our camera and its accessories immediately, as these will be charged according to Shamiso rates," Muvavarirwa wrote to PSI technical director, Soumitro Gosh.

Muvavarirwa last July struck a six-month deal with PSI in which his company, Shamiso, was contracted to edit Studio 263 and This Is Life's raw productions until December 2003.
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Zim Std
Mugabe accused of abusing presidential powers
By Caiphas Chimhete
THE controversial Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act, which President Robert Mugabe has frequently evoked, is not only unconstitutional but has become a "lethal weapon" that is helping the ageing leader to maintain a tight grip on power, say analysts.
They point out that over the past few years, an increasingly paranoid Mugabe has used the Act to impose repressive laws to silence the opposition ahead of crucial elections.
The controversial act was authored by ailing former justice minister Eddison Zvobgo in 1986 when the late Canaan Sodindo Banana was a ceremonial President. The act was designed as a "stop-gap measure" in urgent cases where it would have not been possible for Parliament to legislate within a short space of time.
It was envisaged that within a period of six months Parliament would convene and either reject or pass into substantive law, legislation that would be put in place by the President using his powers derived from the act. But it never dawned on Zvobgo, some say, that he had given Mugabe, who was then Prime Minister, ammunition which would come in handy when his political fortunes were on the wane years later. Mugabe became the executive President the following year, thanks again to Zvobgo who crafted the law to provide for executive Presidency.
Using the presidential powers, Mugabe has over the years introduced pieces of temporary legislation that, analysts say, were aimed at consolidating his dominance of the Zimbabwe political landscape.
In 1995, Mugabe amended the Urban Council's Act to create positions of executive mayors. Critics of his rule say this was because it had become increasingly clear that the ruling Zanu PF party was losing support in urban areas and the President did not want to lose control of the major cities to the opposition.
Two years later, Mugabe again evoked his powers under the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures)Act to amend the country's Labour Relations Act banning industrial actions after a spate of strikes had paralysed industry and commerce earlier in that month. The decree followed two successful job stayaways organised by the country's largest labour body, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) .
Mugabe also used his powers under the controversial act to amend land regulations twice in 2001 to facilitate seizure of white owned farms without compensation. In April and November 2001, the President changed the Land Acquisition Act giving the Minister of Agriculture powers to compulsorily acquire land instead of the President himself and to enable government to evict farmers from their land within three months once the farms were designated.
Last December, government again altered the land regulations to allow the State to compulsorily acquire farm machinery and equipment from farms, previously owned by white land owners.
And only two weeks ago, Mugabe, evidently keen to make the fight against corruption his trump card in next year's general elections, evoked new measures to give the police excessive powers to detain people accused of economic and political crimes for up to 30 days without recourse to bail.
Although most analysts concur that corruption needs to be nipped in the bud, they ask why the President failed to use the normal route; going through Parliament where Zanu PF commands a majority, to pass such a controversial piece of legislation.
"One wonders why, in the first place, Mugabe avoids Parliament when Zanu PF has a numerical advantage in the House. What is extraordinary about corruption; we alI know it has been going on for a long time. There was no urgency to deal with it in this manner ," said Philliat Matsheza, the executive director of Human Rights Trust of South Africa (Sahrit).
Section 2 of contestable act, says the president can only evoke his powers in a situation which needs to be dealt with urgently or in a situation which is not adequately covered in terms of other laws.
"It is only in very exceptional circumstances when the use of Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act can be justifiable in a democratic society," says Sternford Moyo, the former president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe.
Moyo said the concept of separation of powers gets lost when the President begins to exercise both legislative and executive powers.
"It defeats the whole concept of checks and balances which is an important component of the theory of separation of powers. It is based on the theory that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
Constitutional expert, Lovemore Madhuku, said Mugabe was using the Presidential Powers Act, which he described as the most undemocratic legislation in post independent Zimbabwe, for his personal benefit.
"There is absolutely no reason why the President should make law because we have a Parliament where laws can adequately be debated," said Madhuku, who also chairs the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), a civic body that advocates for a new constitution in the country.
David Coltart, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) shadow Minister of Justice, also believes that Mugabe used the unconstitutional act to preserve his unwanted brutal hegemony and not in the national interest. "Its an abuse of Section 2 of the same act (Presidential Powers) and in any event the act is unconstitutional because it runs contrary to the principle of separation of powers because it confers legislative powers on the President in violation of the constitution," said Coltart.
Matsheza agrees: "Where is the separation of powers there. The advantage of Parliament is that laws are debated and there is wide consultation."
But the octogenarian leader can decide the fate of all Zimbabweans single-handedly. "He has used his powers several times, its actually countless times," said Coltart.
Other countries where a President enjoys such despotic powers include the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Russia.
In other more liberal countries, said Madhuku, a president can only make law in terms of an existing act. "But here Mugabe is in a class of his own," he said.
The NCA believes the governance problems besetting the country emanate from the fact that the constitution invests too much power in the 80-year old leader. For the past few years, the coalition has been trying to engage the Zanu PF government in an all-embracing constitution-making process, moves that have been spurned by the ruling party which argues a new constitution is not urgent after the rejection in referendum of a draft constitution tabled by government in year 2000.
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Zim Std

MDC must boycott all future elections
Sundaytalk with Pius Wakatama

THE problem with Zimbabwe's ruling political leaders is that they refuse to understand the meaning of true freedom, authority, power and the role of the State.

ccording to the World Book Encyclopaedia, totalitarian government is a form of government in which the State controls all phases of the people's lives. It allows only one party, headed by an absolute leader who maintains his power over the party and the rest of the people by force and violence.

Communist Russia established the first modern totalitarian State in 1917. Other modern totalitarian States included Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler, from 1933 to 1945 and fascist Italy, under Benito Mussolini, from 1925 to 1943.

Most African post colonial leaders have sought to establish totalitarian regimes with disastrous consequences for themselves and their countries. Our own President Robert Mugabe, as an avowed Marxist/Leninist obviously favours a Russian style form of totalitarianism.

In The Daily News of December 29, 2001, I wrote about the totalitarian nature of our government. I said, "Mugabe's Marxist/Leninism does not allow for multi-partyism. This is why he has his mind set on crushing the fledgling Movement for Democratic Change by fair of foul means, just as he crushed Edgar Tekere's Zimbabwe Unity Movement and Margaret Dongo's Zimbabwe Union of Democrats and the Forum Party led by former Chief Justice, Enoch Dumbutshena."

Totalitarian government, as we have in Zimbabwe today, is not at all what God intended for us. The Bible, which most Zimbabweans accept as God's word, sets out clearly the relationship between the ruler and the ruled.

It says, "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgement on themselves for rulers hold no fear for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good.

"But if you do wrong, be afraid for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrong doer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.

"This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants , who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him. If you owe taxes, pay taxes: if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honour then honour."

There we have in black and white. But alas, this is not the situation prevailing in our country. The authorities that exist in Zimbabwe today don't deserve my submission, respect, let alone honour because I am convinced they were not established by God. They did not get their authority from the people's consensus. They did not win the power in a free and fair election but through lies, intimidation, torture, murder and the rigging of elections. They bring terror to those who do right and allow criminals and murderers to go scot free. They hold no terror for those who do wrong but for those who do right. Since their coming to power, Zimbabwe has known nothing but massive corruption, hunger, deprivation and fear.

The Bible says we should pay taxes so that our rulers can devote all their time to affairs of the government. Are they doing that? Not at all. Most of them pay scant attention to the needs of the people who pay their salaries by their taxes. Most of their time is spent in grabbing farms, fighting over them and corruptly setting up business empires for themselves and their families. Can such be God's servants to do us good? My conscience says they definitely are not. They have got another master who is Mammon, whom they serve and warship. Not the God of the scriptures.

The Bible makes it quite clear that the only motivation for seeking political office is that so one can have an opportunity to serve God and his fellow men. In our case, service does not seem to be the motive driving our rulers. An uncle once said to me," Ve Zanu PF vaguta Ngava chimboregeraoka ve MDC vadyewo." This is literally translated, "Those of Zanu PF have eaten enough. They should now also allow those of MDC to eat."

This concept of what government means to our rulers was illustrated by the words of Philip Chiyangwa, the now embattled Zanu PF legislator some time last year. He gave this advice to our young people, "If you want to be rich like me, join Zanu PF."

Yes, it is indeed sad. These people are in government for only one reason, and that is to make themselves and their relatives rich. In the January 2004 issue of the Jesuit journal, Mukai, Archbishop Pius Ncube says of them, " They are procuring for themselves expensive Mercedes Benz cars and living in luxury while people are starving. Your heart is broken and you feel powerless. But these people are totally insensitive. They claim to be Christians but they haven't even observed Christ's fundamental teaching, to love God with all your heart and love your neighbour as yourself, and don't do to another what you would not want done unto you. Their Christianity is just not honest."

To these people. values such as service to one's fellow men and love for God and country are unknown. They don't eat to live but live to eat. They eat and eat and eat like caterpillers. At least caterpillers metamorphosise into beautiful butterflies which give us joy after their much eating. These so called leaders eat and get fat until they die from their over-indulgence. They will rot in their graves with no hope for their miserable souls.

Events of the last few years prove beyond any reasonable doubt that our government is not interested in democratic processes. They are an intransigent totalitarian regime. Since this is a fact, is there any hope that future by-elections and the 2005 general elections will be free and fair. Already, the government has withdrawn its request to the United Nations for UN observers to be present during the 2005 general elections. What is it they would like to hide?

My advice to the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, is for his party to boycott all future parliamentary and council elections until there is a level playing field. There is absolutely no use in participating in these non-democratic charades.

They only further expose non-violent members of the MDC to this merciless totalitarian regime. Participation also tends to lend credibility and legitimacy to the ruling party. Let God deal with Zanu PF as he sees fit.

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
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Zim Std

Police probe Mnangagwa
By Caiphas Chimhete

AS the net widens in the swoop to bring corrupt officials to book, the police have instituted investigations against the Speaker of Parliament, Emmerson Mnangagwa, over his alleged involvement in the looting of diamonds in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) a few years ago, The Standard has learnt.

Reliable sources confirmed the police investigations yesterday saying, as part of their probe, police were on Thursday combing through articles written by The Daily News concerning Mnangagwa's alleged involvement in the DRC natural resources scandal.

According to Sam Sipepa Nkomo, chief executive officer of Associated Newspapers Limited, publishers of the The Daily News, the police had indicated special interest in a wide ranging interview the ex-Minister of Justice held in 2001 with Geoff Nyarota, the former editor of paper in which Mnangagwa tried to exonerate himself from any shady diamond deals.

Nkomo told The Standard police had requested information on Mnangagwa and that they had told him they were investigating the former Justice Minister.

Said Nkomo, "I can confirm that they came here looking for articles we did on Mnangagwa and the looting of diamonds in the DRC. They told me they were investigating Mnangagwa because I was not going to release the files to them if they had not told me the reason."

Nkomo, whose two newspapers, The Daily News and The Daily News on Sunday have been shut down after a protracted legal wrangle with the government's Media and Information Commission over operating licences, said one Superintendent Chivasa of the law and order section at Harare Central Police Station led the investigating team that visited ANZ offices.

"I gave them all they needed, ndikati ah huku iya yodya mazai ayo zvino, (The chickens are coming home to roost)" said Sam.

In addition to the diamond looting allegations, sources told The Standard, the police were also investigating Mnangagwa's alleged links to the collapsed ENG Asset Management firm, whose two directors are languishing in custody.

"They want to close on him from all angles, I do not know whether he will survive this onslaught," said the source.

Efforts to get a comment from Chivasa were unsuccessful yesterday as all calls to the law and order section went unanswered. Contacted for a comment, police spokesperson Andrew Phiri, said: "I don't know anything, I am actually at home, phone Bvudzijena."

Assistant police commissioner, Wayne Bvudzijena yesterday, could neither confirm nor deny that they were investigation the Speaker of Parliament. "Okay, phone me later," said Bvudzijena, before switching off his mobile phone after being told the nature of the investigations.

Efforts to get Bvudzijena later in the day yesterday proved fruitless as his mobile went unanswered while Mnangagwa, who was in Zvimba for the President's birthday celebrations, could not be contacted.

In a wide ranging interview with ZTV's Newsnet programme on Friday, Mugabe said the fight against corruption would not spare anyone regardless of political position. "Well, we do not look at how big people are or their own pretended status in society, we look at what they are from a moral point of view.

"But once we discover they are rotten we will pursue them. This is the war now," said Mugabe although many people doubt his sincerity in fighting corruption. Many think it is his trump card ahead of the 2005 general elections.

Speculation in some circles was that if Mnangagwa is clean, the investigation could have been instigated by some Zanu PF "heavies" who want him out of the presidential race to pave the way for themselves. "I talked to him (Mnangagwa) yesterday (Friday) he was not hiding but he suspects the investigations are being instigated by those who do not want him to enter the presidential race," said one source.

Mnangagwa was implicated in a UN report together with senior DRC, Rwandan, Ugandan and army officials in the alleged plundering of natural resources in the war-torn DRC. The UN report also implicated former Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander, Vitalis Zvinavashe and other key military personnel in alleged natural resources stripping in the vast central African nation. Mnangagwa has since denied any wrongdoing.

Police investigations into Mnangagwa's dealings come hot on the heels of sensational arrests of some senior Zanu PF members, notably the party's chairman of Mashonaland West, Philip Chiyangwa, central committee member James Makamba and Jane Mutasa, head of the Indigenous Business Women Organization (IBWO).
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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.


Prelude text


Letter 1:

Subject: REFERENCE LETTER 3 OF 20/04
Dear Sir,

reference Letter 3 of the 20th February from one Mr. Willie Watson.

This man is obviously very bitter and is using Mrs. Tredgold as a whipping
boy !!

Just to let. Mr.. Watson know, Mrs. Tredgold has been a sole land owner for
the last 15+ years since the death of her husband. In the beginning she had
a young man helping her, but she was the better farmer, and he could not
take the pace and left.

Is Mr. Watson possibly jealous that He (like myself) has been evicted, and
Mrs. Tredgold is still a viable farmer? Also, is it not sexist to say that
Mrs. Tredgold should be off the land as she is female? Why should her age
matter? If she were male, her age would not have been an issue I am sure. I
know for a fact that Mrs. Tredgold is very proficient with a firearm, and I
am sure that in very difficult circumstances she reacted as best she could.
Colleen I am proud of you !!

I would suggest that Mr. Watson check with his neighbours in urban areas
and see how many of them have been robbed or hi-jacked over the last couple
of months !!

I know Colleen and her family well and have the highest regard for them. I
am proud to be a farmer in the Nyamandhlovu District, although unable to
farm at the moment as we have been evicted along with many others. I also
take my hat off to the few farmers from our District that are still
actively farming - in many ways I feel that they have it harder than we do,
as we know our future and they have to wait for the ax to fall.

Mr. Watson, do not condemn unless you know all true facts !! Yours

Helen Herbst

Letter 2.


In defense of Colleen Tredgold:

How dare Willy Watson criticize Colleen for staying on her farm!  She is a
courageous, intrepid daughter of the soil who did nothing wrong other than
to defend her right to stay on her own property in the face of evil and
adversity in order to continue the only life she has ever known - cattle
farming.  Watson! How dare you presume to know what is best for anyone
other than yourself!

Your comments smack of a similar statement I once heard when a dear and
beautiful friend of mine was raped and some idiot remarked that "she
deserved it for dressing the way she did!".

"Place yourself in his position," you say????.  What?  Is his brutal attack
on Colleen justified, even under the circumstances you so glibly attribute
to him, without knowing the facts?

No one deserves an assault of any kind under any circumstances, and
certainly, no one invites it.  Though I know we are not living in a perfect
world, I have only admiration and sympathy for this remarkable woman.

Search your soul, Mr Watson, and ask yourself if we all have to conform to
your ways?  God forbid.

Vanessa Bristow

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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By John Bercow

"ENVELOPING crisis", "appealing tragedy", and "standing disgrace" must rank
amongst the most hackneyed hyperbole in journalism or politics.  Yet no
form of words or set of statistics would overstate the plight of Zimbabwe
which I saw at first hand during an undercover visit recently.

Of course, I knew that this country, rich in natural resources which once
fed its own 12 million citizens and others in southern Africa, was saved
from starvation only by hand-outs from the hated West.  I knew that 70% of
the population was jobless, inflation topped 600%, and 80% of the people
lived below the poverty line.  I knew that a quarter of the adult
population was HIV positive.  Yet it is easy for a politician to become
fatigued, almost desensitised by the figures.  The effect of seeing some of
the people represented by those figures was cathartic.

I saw whole families existing in the hell holes that are euphemistically
described as squatter camps.  One young mother, typical of many, was
selling bones gathered from the municipal rubbish tip to make detergent in
order to raise a few Zimbabwean dollars.  I saw the pharmacy of a big
hospital where the shelves were empty of vital medicines.  The head of the
unit was (as usual, I gather) on the phone, pleading with The Minister of
Health to pay for the last batch of drugs so that the next could be

I was moved to tears when I visited bare and ramshackle homes in the
townships, and saw malnourished mothers living with Aids, who receive not a
dollar from the public purse.  One such person, chronically sick, had
nothing to eat and feared anyway that if she cooked on the stove, the mucus
that constantly drips from her, would infect her young children, who are
destined to be orphans in months, if not weeks or days.

President Mugabe and his obsequious ministerial, lickspittles fatuously
claim that the country's woes are attributable either to a neo-colonialist
conspiracy, or to inclement weather, or both.  In truth, the crisis in
Zimbabwe is not a crisis of enemies or environment.  It is a crisis of
governance.  That crisis has many dimensions.  The government has
single-handedly wrecked the agricultural productiveness of the country,
with economic and human consequences unimaginable even five years ago.

Additionally, Mugabe and his party, who justly fought to be free of racist
oppression by a white minority, are now determined to dish out the same in
reverse.  Yet two wrongs do not make a right, and the philosophy of an eye
for an eye is a far cry from the rhetoric of reconciliation that Mugabe
signed up to in the Harare Declaration.

In economic terms, the ruling clique are totally detached from the people
they govern.  Mugabe allies are modern-day feudal barons who grab by
political force what they cannot achieve by economic worth.  Zimbabwe is
now run by a compulsive kleptocracy that matches the worst excesses of
imperialist rule.

Moreover, the government systematically violates human rights every day in
a variety of ways.  The Minister for Local Government, Ignatius Chombo,
suspended the Mayor of Harare, Elias Mudzuri, who was elected with 80% of
the vote.  The ostensible reason for the suspension was disapproval of his
policies.  The actual reason, I suggest, is that Mudzuri represents the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

He is the kind of charismatic, intelligent and articulate person who
threatens the corrupt cabal which has brought Zimbabwe to its knees.
Suspension of elected politicians is bad enough.  Silencing independent
journalism is no better.  Mugabe has gone to extraordinary lengths to crush
dissent by banning the Daily News, the only independent daily newspaper in
the country.  This was an extreme case of intolerance.  More commonplace is
harassment of journalists, such as the reporter summoned to explain himself
when a recycled version of his story upset Jonathan Moyo, the unelected and
preposterous Minister for Information.

Mugabe's thugs do not stop at bans and bullying.  They beat - and how!
Beatrice Mtetwa, the internationally acclaimed human rights lawyer,
recounted to me how she was savagely attacked by police assailants telling
her "We don't need people like you, supporting enemies of the president".

Then there is the youth militia, a Nazi-style training organisation whose
members are exhorted to threaten, beat and rape opponents of the ruling
Zanu PF.  Even their own parents and siblings are not exempt from such

By any yardstick, the Mugabe regime is loathsome.  An invisible but acrid
cloud of fear hangs over every area of life in Zimbabwe.  No wonder that
everyone I met in civil society from teachers to manual workers, lawyers to
nurses said that it had betrayed the principles of the liberation struggle
that they had supported.  How can it be removed or reformed?  Violent
revolution seems unlikely to happen and there is no guarantee of a
sustainable democracy thereafter if it did.  I visited Morgan Tsvangirai,
the courageous president of the Movement for Democratic Change, who has
survived several assassination attempts, and is now on trial for treason.
He continues to argue for peaceful change.  There must be change on several
fronts.  First, next time Mugabe seeks help from the World Food Programme,
such help must be tied to transparency and fairness in the country's own
food policy.  Past evidence shows that disbursing food to hungry voters in
the run up to elections is a favourite tactic of the ruling Zanu PF party.
Mugabe's government should no longer be able to expect the international
community to be complicit in its master plan for rigging elections.

Secondly, the woefully inadequate sanctions regime must be toughened. 
This list of 79 Zimbabwe leaders banned from travelling in the EU is a sick
joke amongst democratic opponents of the regime.  Every day of my visit
people I met suggested, independently of each other, new names of
businessmen and other collaborators that should be added.  The assets of
the oppressors should be frozen and their immediate family should be
prevented from working or studying in the EU.

Thirdly, and crucially, the international community should strain every
muscle and sinew to persuade South African President Thabo Mbeki to
remonstrate with Mugabe either to comply with the reasonable demands of
democrats or to fall on his sword.

The leaders of the free world should not cease to emphasise that Mugabe has
departed from every principle for which Nelson Mandela fought, and that if
he does not back down, he will be dragged kicking and screaming to the
International Criminal Court.

Finally, I appeal to our Prime Minister to join this fight.  The fact that
Mugabe has showered vulgar abuse on Tony Blair since 1997 is no reason for
our Prime Minister to look the other way now.  For all his weaknesses, Tony
Blair has often demonstrated real statesmanship in international affairs
and his powers of persuasion are considerable.  If only he would turn his
mind to the threat of genocide which overhangs the people of Zimbabwe and
to a remorseless campaign for the triumph of freedom and justice, this is a
battle that can be won.

John Bercow MP is Shadow Secretary of State for International Development.

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From, 23 February

Daily News future uncertain, people in Zimbabwe 'deserve better', editor says

Charles Cobb Jr.

Washington - After a tumultuous five year history, the future of the feisty independent Zimbabwean newspaper, the Daily News, remains unresolved, following the postponement last week by the High Court of Zimbabwe of a scheduled hearing on the paper's urgent appeal to resume publication. The Court set March 3 as the new date to hear the application by the publisher, Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ). to have its journalists accredited by the government. A controversial law known as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) makes it a crime to work as a journalist without a license from the government's Media and Information Commission. Daily News reporters had refused to seek licensing from the Commission, and the Independent Journalists Association of Zimbabwe challenged compulsory registration in court. After being closed down last September, the newspaper was able to resume publication on January 22, after another court ordered police to vacate the paper's offices and stop interfering with operations. Soon after publication resumed, the ANZ chief executive, Sam Nkomo, and the editor of the Daily News on Sunday, Bill Saidi, visited Washington where they spoke with AllAfrica's Charles Cobb Jr. Last week, following the interview, the High Court upheld as constitutional portions of the press law that required journalists to be licensed. Daily News reporters, who faced arrest and criminal prosecution, stopped working and the paper disappeared from the streets. Excerpts:

How long do you think you'll be able to keep publishing before you get into trouble once again?

Sam Nkomo: The reason that we are publishing is not because of any victories in the courts or any other doing of our own, but that we thank god for his divine intervention for allowing us to publish once more. We do not know how long it will last before we are shut down, but what I believe is that: Where God has opened a door no one can shut it. Where God has closed it, no one can open it. We are also very grateful to supporters of the Daily News, human rights activists throughout the world who came to our aid lobbying on our behalf. We are grateful to the lawyers, and the readers of the Daily News for their support.

Bill Saidi: The struggle between the government and us goes a long way back, way back before September 12, 2003 (when the News' first appeal of the law was dismissed by the Court). It goes back to the time when we started. The government was not very happy - to put it mildly - that we had started an independent newspaper, which had the avowed principle of telling it like it is. I think this is what has gotten us into the present trouble with the government. We hope to continue to play our role in sustaining the democracy that we are building in Zimbabwe.

I don't really understand Mugabe. When I was in Zimbabwe in the 1970s and when I returned to Zimbabwe after independence, Mugabe did seem to be a genuine hero of the liberation struggle. Zanu PF, his party, seemed to be popular. How could he turn into a tyrant who seeks to cling to power? What changed Mugabe, or did he change?

Sam Nkomo: Many people thought that Mugabe was coming in with some signs of hope that things would be better. But people forget quite easily. They will remember that Mugabe was an avowed socialist from the start. In socialist countries, they didn't have elections, and that was what he wanted - no elections. If he's in, he's in forever. He believes himself to be a chief, and chiefs are there forever. He does talk about democracy, but not the democracy that you and I know about.

You're saying essentially that the man has not changed?

Sam Nkomo: Yes.

Bill Saidi: Every time he speaks in public he reminds people of the struggle, how Zanu PF had been involved in the struggle, and he keeps talking about how it was in the struggle. He keeps talking about how "we beat the colonialists," and is so much against the west. He calls his critics 'running dogs of imperialism'. This is language from the ancient past. I think he knows he is a failure as a leader and in his frustration I think he is taking it out on everybody.

As you may know, here in the United States, Zimbabwe became the symbol of the liberation struggle in Southern Africa and, as a result, there's an argument going on now about Zimbabwe. Some here see Mugabe as a genuine liberation leader, still trying to liberate his country, being unfairly beat up on by people like you, who they regards as pawns of imperialism or the white minority. There is also the argument that Zimbabwe cannot be seen as a tyranny because it has a strong elected opposition in the Parliament. How do you respond ?

Sam Nkomo: If you tell our children who were born after independence in 1980 about the liberation struggle and what some of us did who fought during that time, they don't understand. They want education, jobs, and other things. Those things have nothing to do with imperialists; they have to do with how we manage our economy and our affairs in Zimbabwe. We have an opposition, but it is dislodged. We have 13 mayors [from the opposition] all over [the country] but they can't work. They're suspended. So it is tyranny in another form, a very clever tyranny.

Bill Saidi: The constitution of Zimbabwe allows Zanu PF to have 30 un-elected non-constituent seats. If not for those 30 seats, Zanu PF would not have been able to control Parliament after the election in 2000. The MDC [Movement for Democracy] took 57 seats to 62 for Zanu PF. After the elections, what the government did to the MDC was to charge [opposition leader Morgan] Tsvangirai with treason. It's really a strange, almost bizarre case. This is the trouble with Mugabe. The semblance of a democracy is there, but the reality is that Mugabe is going to do everything in his power - everything - to frustrate the emergence of a democracy. Take the example of the Daily News. He knows that with the Daily News, Zimbabwe can be considered one of the few countries in the world with a thriving vibrant independent press. What does he do? He creates AIPPA. AIPPA is a dangerous law. I think there are very few countries that have thing like AIPPA.

AIPPA the press law . . .

Bill Saidi: The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, under which there are so many restrictions on the press [that] people have said that it muzzles the independent press completely. So far, every editor of the independent press, at one time or another, has been locked up. Every executive of the independent press has at one time or another been locked up. What kind of freedom of the press is that?

Are there differences within Zanu PF?

Sam Nkomo: If there is going to be any division in Zanu PF, it will happen after Mugabe is gone. Not before. They are all so scared of Mugabe. Those who have tried to be different have been booted out of Zanu.

Bill Saidi: We know that there are differences within Zanu PF, but we also know it is very difficult for someone to leave Zanu PF and hope to survive, or to disagree with Zanu PF and hope to remain in the party. Edgar Tekere is a prime example. Edgar was a Zanu PF top leader through and through. He was very close to Mugabe. He began to talk about corruption and say he didn't believe in a one-party state. After all that, Mugabe kicked him out of the party.

What is your assessment of the role being played in Zimbabwe by South Africa and President Thabo Mbeki?

Sam Nkomo: Our freedom should not depend on Mbeki, it should depend on ourselves. But during our independence struggle and the struggle against apartheid, we were helped by our international friends. It doesn't seem to us that Mbeki is helping the people of Zimbabwe. It seems that he is hell bent to protect Mugabe and his government, and his continued oppression of us.

Why would Mbeki not use his influence with Mugabe to press for change?

Sam Nkomo: That is the question Zimbabweans are asking. Since a substantial chunk of the Zimbabwe opposition emerges from the labor unions of Zimbabwe, we wonder if Mbeki is looking over his shoulder at Cosatu [SouthAfrica's powerful trade union federation]. We know that Cosatu has its differences with the ANC government, even though it's part of the ANC coalition. We wonder whether the example of labor power in Zimbabwe makes Mbeki a little nervous. Also, don't forget, in Zambia a government was ousted by a trade union headed by [Frederick] Chiluba, and he might think that if it happens in Zimbabwe, it is coming to South Africa. If he fears that, then he is penalizing us for things that he shouldn't be doing.

What role should the United States government be playing?

Sam Nkomo: We very much appreciate the help that we get from the United States. They've been very helpful, but I think that the United States should actually increase its support for human rights activists, NGOs, and the independent press to bring about democracy in Zimbabwe.

What do you think is going to happen in Zimbabwe?

Sam Nkomo: I can only speak from experience, having been in the liberation struggle myself. I spent 15 years in [Ian] Smith's prisons. My view is that there is no way that you can stop an idea. The yearning for freedom has started, and nobody can stop it. It will happen. My prayer is that it doesn't happen violently, like it did during Smith, that we will lose fewer people than we lost during Smith's time.

Bill Saidi: I agree with Sam that change will definitely come. It has happened in Zambia and Malawi and in Kenya. It won't be different here.

My last question takes us back to where we started. How secure is your paper given the fact the you spent the last half hour criticizing President Mugabe?

Sam Nkomo: From the perspective of management, I can't tell you about tomorrow. I don't know. But I can safely say, when the paper was closed I told my staff 'we are in the hands in God.' We have no control over anything. We can simply go about our business and trust that He will see us through.

Bill Saidi: I agree with Sam that we are all in God's hands. I think that the future of Zimbabwe itself has to be linked to the future of the Daily News. What the Daily News has done is to bring a new kind of journalism. I have seen this in many countries. People see it as something which has almost a missionary kind of spirituality. What we are saying is that the people of Zimbabwe deserve something better than they are getting. The independence of Zimbabwe should mean more than what it means today. It should mean more than suffering, hunger and persecution. There's no way Mugabe can stand up and say "I've done for you what I promised." I don't think he can say that. Every journalist I know of the independent press knows that the struggle is going to be tough, but we've got a genuine cause. A genuine cause for the people of Zimbabwe where we can talk of independence as beautiful. It is not beautiful today, not at all.

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ZIMBABWE: Daily News lays off staff

HARARE, 23 February (IRIN) - Zimbabwe's only independent daily newspaper, The Daily News, and its sister publication, The Daily News on Sunday, will lay off the bulk of their staff by the end of the week.

The publishers, Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), have bowed to the financial pressure caused by the regular closure of the pro-opposition newspapers by the authorities.

ANZ chief executive officer Sam Nkomo told workers on Monday that the company was facing viability problems and had been left with no option but to lay off 250 staff out of a total workforce of 300.

The newspapers have faced repeated closures by the police since September last year, after the ANZ refused to register under the government's controversial Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).

The editor of The Daily News, Nqobile Nyathi, said all departmental heads had been asked to come up with a list of skeleton staff that would continue to run the newspaper.

"The skeleton staff is so that, in the event of the newspaper being given a licence to operate, the small team would be able to produce a newspaper while recruitment takes place. But, for now, about 250 people will be retrenched," said Nyathi.

The retrenchment of staff came as a surprise to workers in view of the fact that the supreme court is expected to make a final ruling on 3 March on whether the newspaper can legally operate.

The supreme court had refused to entertain the newspapers' challenge to the constitutionality of AIPPA, ruling that they should register under the government-appointed Media and Information Commission (MIC). The ANZ's subsequent attempts to register were rejected by the MIC.


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Fax: +27 11 447-5472
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ZIMBABWE: No longer among the top six tobacco exporters

JOHANNESBURG, 23 February (IRIN) - Zimbabwe no longer features among the world's top six exporters of tobacco.

According to January's global production figures from the US Department of Agriculture, the top six exporters are now listed as Brazil, the United States, India, Malawi, Italy and China.

Historically Zimbabwe has been the world's second largest exporter, but began to fall through the ranks three years ago following the government's controversial land reform programme.

Rodney Ambrose, a director of the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association (ZTA) told IRIN that exports had dropped from 143,487 metric tonnes in 2002 to 103,378 metric tonnes in 2003. The country has in the past accounted for 19 percent of total world exports, behind Brazil.

"Our production of unmanufactured tobacco has dropped tremendously in the past three years, from 237,000 metric tonnes in 2000 to 82,000 metric tonnes last year," Ambrose said.

According to the ZTA, the country's production is expected to slump to 60,000 metric tonnes this year.

Ambrose linked the drop in production to the loss of commercial farms growing tobacco as a result of the land reform programme. "We lost about 45,000 hectares of land under tobacco cultivation, which resulted in a loss of 150,000 metric tonnes of tobacco," he explained.

Tobacco has traditionally been the country's top foreign exchange earner.


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Fax: +27 11 447-5472
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ZIMBABWE: Nkomo seeks to end ''confusion'' in land reform

BULAWAYO, 23 February (IRIN) - The Zimbabwe government has suspended the acqusition of farms and the issuing of further land offer letters in a move it says is aimed at cleaning up confusion in the land reform exercise.

John Nkomo, special affairs minister responsible for the land reform programme, said in interviews published in local newspapers that he would also investigate compliance with the government's one-man one-farm policy.

He was speaking for the first time on his new mandate since being appointed to the new ministry of land reform and resettlement in a cabinet reshuffle early this month.

"We have suspended the gazetting of farms and the issuing of offer letters as a starting point towards cleaning up the whole process of land reform, which, I would say, has been marred by confusion," Nkomo was quoted as saying. "This will be the position until we are satisfied with progress on the ground."

Before his appointment to the new ministry, Nkomo was minister of special affairs heading a presidential enquiry into serious irregularities in land reform. He was charged with following up on the recommendations of a land audit commission led by Charles Utete.

The Utete commission's report, issued late last year, revealed serious violations of the one-man one-farm policy by top government and ruling party officials, which, in some cases, had disenfranchised the small-scale farmers that land reform was supposed to benefit.

"Our policy on land ownership is clear: it is one-man one-farm, and it has to be applied to all the sons and daughters of Zimbabwe, regardless of race. The issue of farm sizes has to be addressed as well. We will be very strict on these issues," said Nkomo. His ministry would also take steps to prevent cheating by individuals using front men to register for land.

In line with a recommendation by the Utete commission, the new ministry is to set up a land board, whose duties would include monitoring land redistribution and assessing the use of land, with a view to reposessing derelict or underutilised hectarage. Under the new system, each of the country's 10 provinces will have an inventory book detailing and accounting for its land and land use.

But Renson Gasela, opposition Movement for Democratic Change shadow minister for lands and agriculture, said that while it was encouraging for the government to admit the "chaos" in its land reform programme, it had benefited powerful interests within the government and party.

"Any attempts at sanitising this chaos will see him [Nkomo] step on the toes of powerful politicians who will not let go of the land," Gasela alleged.
"The national land board being proposed by the minister will not be effective. Nkomo's ministry has no structures; hoping that he will succeed in doing all he has promised will depend on whether he builds up those monitoring structures, but it will not be done in the short term - certainly not before the elections next year," said Gasela.

Zimbabwe's land reform process has been criticised for its lack of transparency by Western donors and, with the government unable to provide adequate support to the new farmers, has contributed to a steep fall in agricultural production.

According to the Utete report, 4.2 million hectares have been resettled by 127,192 small-scale farmers, while 2.1 million hectares have been distributed to 7,260 commercial farmers.

For more details:


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23 FEBRUARY 2004


Following CHRA's public meeting on 4 February, Harare City Council called
for a meeting with residents to discuss the 2004 budget. This meeting was
widely advertised (Some adverts had 'cancelled' across them but we were
assured by the acting Chair of the Finance Committee that the meeting would
go ahead).

At 8.15 am Monday, CHRA received a copy of a letter from the police to the
acting mayor stating that since Council had not informed the ZRP, the
meeting was therefore banned. Those residents who were present were verbally
abused by a municipal employee who had a mob of about 50 people with him to
ensure his 'orders' to disperse were followed.

We are dismayed that the Council failed to meet the requirements imposed by
the regime and was unable to engage in a legitimate dialogue with residents.

CHRA reminds residents of the demands we made after 4 February and advises
that, in light of the latest developments, we formally call upon all
residents to object to the punitive budget by withholding all payments based
upon the new budget until such time as Council acts responsibly and
addresses our legitimate concerns.

CHRA is consulting lawyers to map out our legal challenge to the budget and
we assure residents that we will continue to represent their best interests
without fear or favour.

Combined Harare Residents Association
11 Armagh Avenue
P.O.Box HR7870
Tel: 746019
Cell: 011612860

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Yet another extremely busy year for the team of ZNSPCA Inspectors in which we carried out 68 Farm Rescues.  We are on the road daily in the two ZNSPCA trucks covering a large area, especially as there is now no longer an SPCA in Marondera.
New Year’s Day, 2003, found Inspector Jimmy Zuze and I at Forrester Estate in Mvurwi where we were investigating the deliberate death by starvation and drowning of 300 weaners by settlers and workers.  The situation was not helped by the fact that Police at Mvurwi Police Station from whom we were seeking assistance with the provision of an escort, were drunk and uncooperative.
2003 ended with Inspector Simon Chikadaya and myself at Waltondale Farm in Marondera.  Previous attempts to gain access to the farm to check on two horses that had been left behind by the previous owner, had been met with strong resistance by the Border Gezi youths at the gate – in spite of the fact that the Police accompanied us.  On the third attempt we had with us the Officer-in Charge, Marondera Rural ZRP who told the youths in no uncertain terms that they WILL let ZNSPCA Inspectors in, even if we come in the middle of the night!  The gate was unlocked and we walked in – condition of horses was reasonable.
During farm rescues, the ZNSPCA Team has been barricaded ‘in’ and barricaded ‘out’, we have been threatened, pushed around and accused of being members of the M.D.C. and “spies”, and countless times I have been told to “go back to Britain!” 
I would like to commend the Inspectors for never losing their cool in these difficult situations.  Recently, two of them were shoved and pulled around by ZANU PF youths (not on a farm).  ZNSPCA has subsequently laid charges of assault against those responsible.
Farm rescues have taken us to places as far away as Karoi, Centenary, Marondera and Chimanimani, rescuing everything from duikers to goldfish, horses to goats and bulls to bantams.  Our only major setback has been to gain access to Collingwood Farm in Concession.  In spite of 6 attempts to gain entry, even with Support Unit, the present incumbent – Richard Ngwenya, has friends in high places and appears to be ‘untouchable’.  From information received, we know that over 100 Dairy Cows belonging to the owner, Mr & Mrs Gaisford, have died from disease and incorrect feeding.  ZNSPCA and the Gaisfords have now applied to the High Court in an urgent application for us to get on to the farm.
In between the Farm Rescues we have continued to prevent cruelty and abuse to animals in Zimbabwe.  Some of the matters attended to:
1.     After many meetings with the Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Science at  the University of Zimbabwe, ZNSPCA was able to secure the removal of 5 Baboons from the Animal House, to the Lion and Cheetah Park.  Not as good as being out in the wild, but a vast improvement on life in a small weld-mesh cage.  We are now pushing to secure the release of the Vervet monkeys but they are still “having experiments carried out on them”.
2.     Still at the University, we found that the way livestock was being kept at the Large Animals House gave great cause for concern.  However, ZNSPCA has held numerous meetings with the relevant department and, with their cooperation, have been able to improve the welfare of these animals.
3.     Likewise, with the mice, rats and hamsters housed at the Government Blair Research and Analytical Laboratories - conditions were found to be horrific to begin with, but have since greatly improved.
4.     ZNSPCA has been able to improve the welfare of the many donkeys in Gokwe, bringing cotton bales to the many depots in that area.  I approached Cotco and requested that they install water troughs at all their receiving depots and am pleased to report that they have agreed and many are already in place.
5.     We have provided support for the Lion and Cheetah Park on the three occasions that they have been invaded.
6.     Organised dog fighting has reared its ugly head in Harare again, and for several months now, ZNSPCA has been battling for a break-through.  Those involved are unemployed youths from Arcadia who are also involved with drugs - all are known to us.  Recently, an 18 year old tried to drag me out of my truck as I had just confiscated his Staffordshire bull terrier puppy which was found being kept in an upturned supermarket trolley.  Inspector Chinhembe pulled the youth away from me, and we sped off down the road with Chinhembe clinging to the roof of the truck.  At last a member of the community has come forward to give us an eye-witness account of a fight which took place on New Year’s Day.  We will be prosecuting.
7.     ZNSPCA is currently dealing with cruelty cases involving two animal “hoarders”.  Always extremely difficult cases to deal with, hoarders have to be handle with tact and understanding.  Prosecution is not always effective; the many animals they keep in their homes have to be reduced gradually.  Hoarders begin with the good intention of saving a few animals’ lives, but end up failing to provide adequate care for the growing numbers.  Experts say that hoarders are harder to reform than alcoholics and many have borderline personalities.
8.     The Pet Shop in South Avenue, Harare has given great cause for concern for many years.  In order to close the pet shop down once and for all, ZNSPCA approached the Municipal Health Department, their Licencing Department and National Parks.  Due to the combined efforts of all involved, the owner has been informed that he may no longer sell birds, poultry, animals, etc. but operate as a hardware shop only.
A combined ‘blitz’ on his home is planned, as we know that conditions for the ‘stock’ that he keeps there are worse than in the shop.  The owner has already informed ZNSPCA that he is taking out a Court Order to prevent us from visiting either of his properties.
WILDLIFE – We continue to monitor the welfare of the male Leopard currently being kept in a small enclosure by National Parks at Nyamaneche (near Centenary).  He is destined for President Obasanjo’s Zoo in Abuja.  Captured from the wild in the Fort Rixon area several months ago, he has not adapted at all to being in captivity and is extremely stressed.  ZNSPCA is lobbying Government for his immediate release and have also informed CITES in Geneva.
TRAINING - A successful Inspectors’ Training Course was held in March 2003, attended by trainees from many SPCA Centres.  We are pleased to report that four of these have passed their Inspector’s exam and have now been officially appointed by Government as Inspectors to uphold the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
In September of 2003 I was invited by the Committee of the Mutare SPCA to give a brief Workshop on the Policies and Procedures of the SPCA in Zimbabwe.  Held over two days – it appeared to be successful and those attending said they had learnt a great deal.
PROSECUTIONS - Whilst the aim of ZNSPCA is to educate and create a better awareness of kindness to animals, inevitably there are cases that require prosecution.  We are pleased to report that ZNSPCA won all of the cases it took to Court in 2003.
A great deal of credit for this must go to our Inspector Simon Chikadaya (a retired policeman) who has prepared most of our dockets in a very professional manner.
Notable Cases:
1.     Mr Phillip Hapelt of Gweru – found Guilty and fined for cruelty to a horse.
2.     Command Security Company in Ruwa – found Guilty and fined for cruelty to five puppies.
3.     Mr Zvakavapano of Mazoe - found Guilty and fined for cruelty to 7 goats.
4.     Mr Mike Doorman of Banket – found Guilty and fined for cruelty to an ex-Tredar security dog.
5.     Power Guard Security of Harare – found Guilty and fined for cruelty to two dogs.
6.     Sam Levy of Harare – found Guilty and fined for cruelty to 147 weaners on his Nyabira Farm.  This was his second conviction under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
7.     Mr Denload Muchena – found Guilty and fined for cruelty to a German Shepherd Dog.  This was the first conviction of a settler who took the dog during a farm invasion and forced it walk through the bush for 5 days.
We currently have another seven cases pending in the Courts.  Five of these involve cruelty to livestock, in particular dairy cows, where the suffering inflicted has been immense.
We are also holding several dockets relating to cruelty cases which have occurred during the conflict over land.  We will not proceed with these cases at present as this could jeopardise the lives of other animals and put witnesses at risk.
In 2004 the ZSNPCA Team of Inspectors will strive to do our best to prevent the abuse of animals in Zimbabwe.  However, due to the current political situation prevailing, it is becoming increasingly difficult to do our job.
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Independent Zimbabwe newspaper to sack workers

The company which operates Zimbabwe's independent Daily News says it is being forced to fire most of its 250 employees because the Government is preventing it from publishing.

Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe says the company will retain a core group of about 50 people.

Critical of President Robert Mugabe's Government, the Daily News has had a troubled recent past after being closed down by armed police in September.

It resumed publishing last month but vanished from the streets again early this month after the Supreme Court ruled that journalists must have Government accreditation.

-- AFP

Daily News staff won't earn their daily bread

February 23 2004 at 08:09PM

Harare - A private Zimbabwe newspaper, which is fighting government closure under tough media laws, said on Monday it was sacking over two thirds of its staff because it could not afford to pay wages without publishing.

Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), publishers of the pro-opposition Daily News and Daily News on Sunday, said it was paying off about 200 of its 250 staff - including journalists - because workers were demanding a 960 percent salary increase.

Inflation in Zimbabwe is over 600 percent, one of the highest rates in the world.

The Daily News, Zimbabwe's largest private daily and a frequent critic of President Robert Mugabe's government, has been closed for much of the past five months while its legal status is before the courts.

'The decision to retrench has been taken with a high degree of reluctance'
ANZ chief executive officer Sam Sipepa Nkomo told a news conference the group was ready to rehire "most if not all" the sacked workers if it wins its legal battle to resume publishing.

"The decision to retrench has been taken with a high degree of reluctance but the company found itself without any other option following unreasonable demands from its workers for wage and salary increments at a time the company is not operational," he said.

There was no immediate comment from the workers.

The Daily News is challenging a new law compelling media organisations to register with the government's media commission - a requirement condemned by Zimbabwean and international rights groups as an attack on press freedom.

In turn, the commission is challenging a court ruling that it must grant the newspaper a licence. The Supreme Court is due to hear the two cases next month.

Mugabe's government insists the 2002 laws are necessary to restore professionalism in journalism. It accuses the private media of leading a propaganda campaign by opponents to its policy of seizing white-owned farms for landless blacks.
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Vandalism Cost NRZ $24bn

The Herald (Harare)

February 23, 2004
Posted to the web February 23, 2004


THE National Railways of Zimbabwe has lost more than $24 billion in potential revenue during the past three months due to vandalism of its equipment that has resulted in derailments and loss of lives, a senior official said yesterday.

NRZ corporate affairs manager Mr Misheck Matanhire said in an interview that the vandalism was targeted at signalling, telecommunications equipment and track points.

"During the same period electrical, signalling and telecommunications components worth about $110 million were stolen and in the process disrupting both passenger and freight services," said Mr Matanhire.

He, however, said the parastatal had sought the services of the police who were working with its security personnel in patrolling in areas where vandalism was rampant.

Most of the affected areas are between Bulawayo-Dete and Dabuka-Harare railway lines.

The railway authority has in the past been experiencing numerous derailments, collisions and loss of human life attributed to vandalised telecommunication equipment.

Last year in February more than 40 people perished when a passenger train collided with a goods train in Dete due to defective signalling system that had been vandalised.

Three NRZ employees, including an engineman, were seriously injured last year in May when they jumped off a moving train before it collided with another one along the Rutenga-Somabhula railway line.

In June the same year a goods train carrying fuel and equipment worth millions of dollars was destroyed when it derailed between Colleen Bawn and West Nicholson.

Last July 33 passengers were injured when a commuter train they were travelling in derailed at Lochnivar Siding in Harare.

This was after the two locomotives that were hauling the commuter train failed to change lanes resulting in the derailment.

In January this year four enginemen escaped unhurt when their locomotives went off the track along the Bulawayo-Beitbridge route.

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Ploy Threatens to Derail Foreign Exchange Auction System

The Herald (Harare)
February 21, 2004
Posted to the web February 23, 2004
A PLOY that threatens to derail the foreign exchange auction system has emerged where some banks are colluding amongst themselves or with their clients to bid for foreign exchange at a certain prescribed rate.
This disturbing trend was noted at the 12th auction held on Thursday where two or three banks submitted bids from their clients at the same exchange rate.
"Certain banks, driven by the commission motive, are now advising their customers to bid for foreign exchange in the auction system at a certain prescribed bid rate," said a Reserve Bank spokesman last night.
"This behaviour clearly defeats the whole purpose of determining an exchange rate through a competitive bidding process in the foreign exchange auction market."
The Reserve Bank has thus instituted mechanisms and parameters to minimise market distortions arising from collusion. As a result, the highest bid accepted in the last auction was $4 175 to the United States dollar and the lowest bid rate accepted was $3 900, which translated into a depreciation of the weighted average auction rate to $4 036.21 to the US dollar from $3 973. 43 previously.
The amount on offer remained at US$8 million.
"All authorised dealers and foreign exchange market participants are advised to guard against collusion in order to ensure the smooth function of the auction system.
"All foreign bids suspected to have been submitted from colluding parties will be automatically disqualified.," warned the central bank.
The foreign exchange auction system, which began on January 12, has largely been successful, providing a mechanism for proper accounting and efficient distribution of the country's foreign currency receipts. Importers and other foreign currency users have been bidding competitively for foreign exchange through their authorised dealers.
Confidence in the new system has grown immensely over the past few weeks, with the number of bids and the amount on offer rising steadily.
The new system has, to a large extent, succeeded in eliminating the once thriving parallel market.
Some banks, which had seemingly been whipped into line following the announcement of the monetary policy, are slowly becoming devious.
Early this week the Reserve Bank announced that it had information that some banks were returning to the parallel market.
The Reserve Bank Governor Dr Gideon Gono warned that if caught, the culprits would have their licences withdrawn without further warning.
Banks have largely been blamed for the speculative activities on the foreign currency market and other sectors that gripped the economy for much of last year.
A number of them are now facing liquidity problems following the introduction of more stringent regulations on their operations.
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MDC leader might pull out of upcoming elections
February 23, 2004, 05:21 PM

In an exclusive interview with the SABC, Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of Zimbabwe's main opposition, said he might consider pulling out of next year’s parliamentary general elections if his country's political environment does not change. Tsvangirai's comment comes after he survived an attack over the weekend in Chivhu, about 120kms south of Harare, by an alleged group of Zanu(PF) supporters on his way to Buhera - his rural home.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader's treason trial, in which he faces allegation of plotting to assassinate Robert Mugabe, the President of Zimbabwe, ends tomorrow. Tsvangirai faces a death penalty if convicted.

With the parliamentary election now just 13 months away, Tsvangirai is worried about the political environment. He says the electoral commission is not independent, repressive laws deny them the right to campaign and violence against his supporters is still going on. "If the same conditions prevail, the MDC will have to consider participating in these elections. We can't participate in an election where we endorse flawed processes or where there is a predetermined outcome. You will be legitimising the outcome," he says.

His party has lost three by-elections. Now the party is under criticism for imposing candidates without conducting primaries. "Why all of a sudden should a constituency which had had no representation for the last two years become a focus of attention about the confusion within the MDC. There is no confusion within the MDC. This is not the first by-election we have held. When we went to the parliamentary elections in 2000, they were 120, how were they elected? Were there any bi-elections?"

As the time ticks towards the election, the road is unlikely to be smooth. Analysts say whoever wins the majority of the 120 seats to be contested would have paid dearly.

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