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From Business Day

Zanu (PF) denies conspiracy

Party refutes claims that it has set up a slush fund to influence union
HARARE Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu (PF) party is being accused of setting up a
secret committee under information boss Nathan Shamuyarira and creating a
slush fund managed by the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) to
influence elections at the high-stakes congress of the Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions (ZCTU) this month, it was learned this week.

But the government quickly denied the existence of either the committee or
the slush fund, saying the allegations were statements made by "people with
no confidence in themselves".

"I hear fiction on a daily basis but this is one of a kind," Information
Minister Jonathan Moyo said, responding to the charges.

All the top posts at the ZCTU are up for grabs in three weeks' time
following the election over a year ago of most of its senior officers into
the labour-backed Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Former ZCTU stalwarts such as secretary-general Morgan Tsvangirai, who is
now MDC head, and the union's former president Gibson Sibanda, who is
Tsvangirai's deputy, headed the powerful umbrella body for Zimbabwe's trade

Among the most influential posts up for grabs at the congress are those of
ZCTU secretary-general and president, as well as those of their deputies and
the labour body's four trustees.

Isidore Zindoga, the ZCTU's acting secretary-general, was this week reported
to be preparing to contest Tsvangirai's former post against another veteran
trade unionist, the Catering and Hotel Workers' Union's secretary-general,
Nicholas Mudzengerere.

Mudzengerere is a national executive member of the MDC.

Insiders said Zanu (PF) wanted Zindoga to win because it considered him
sympathetic to its views and his elevation would create a powerful
pro-ruling party lobby within the Zimbabwean labour movement.

But Zindoga is under fire from the ZCTU because he is being accused of
having gone to the Malaysian resort island of Langkawi in November with
President Robert Mugabe without the permission or knowledge of the union.
Eyebrows were also raised a month before Langkawi, when Zindoga was included
in a government delegation to the Fourth Southern African International
Dialogue in Maputo.

Zindoga, through his secretary, this week refused to speak to the Financial
Gazette, saying he was "too busy".

Gift Chimanikire, a senior member of the ZCTU and deputy secretary-general
of the MDC, said Zindoga had told union executives he travelled to Malaysia
as an individual, but questions were still being asked about the purpose of
his journeys. "How can the acting secretary-general of the ZCTU go to
Langkawi as an individual?" Chimanikire questioned this week.

The Langkawi Dialogue is a global annual meeting organised by Malaysian
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in the Asian country's island resort. It
brings together leaders of developing countries and captains of industry and
commerce, trade unionists and influential individuals.

Moyo said Zindoga had participated at previous smart partnership dialogues
on his own accord and was not part of Mugabe's delegation to Langkawi.
"These people are apparently seeing ghosts everywhere. Zindoga has been
participating in all smart partnerships. Are we also going to check on the
movements of Matongo?"

Isaac Matongo, the MDC's chairman, is a senior executive member of the ZCTU.

Chimanikire, however, said there was growing concern within the ZCTU that
Zanu (PF) wanted to hijack the labour movement at the congress by fielding
officers widely known to be its sympathisers.

"We will really put our foot down to influence the election of an impartial
individual at this congress," said the secretary-general of the Post and
Telecommunications Workers' Union.

He said that ZCTU executives had it on good authority that the secret Zanu
(PF) committee existed, and that its brief was to infiltrate the unions and
catapult individuals sympathetic to the ruling party to the helm of the
labour movement. Financial Gazette.

Feb 02 2001 12:00:00:000AM  Business Day 1st Edition
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February 03, 2001 at 10:18:09 PST

Zimbabwe Press Freedom March Banned

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- Hundreds of armed riot police sealed off a street
in downtown Harare on Saturday and forced journalists to cancel a protest
march against state harassment.

In recent weeks government officials have described the independent press as
a threat to national security, and the printing press of the independent
Daily News was seriously damaged by military-type explosives on Jan. 28.

About 200 journalists had gathered at the national press club in Harare for
the march when police sealed off the road outside. The police said they were
under orders to stop the gathering by force, according to the Zimbabwe Union
of Journalists, organizers of the march.

"The gave us five minutes to disperse or they would unleash tear gas," union
head Basildon Peta said. "We are outnumbered four to one. It is obvious what
will happen here."

Peta called off the march.

A police commander who refused to give his name said the planned march to a
nearby downtown square was a security risk and could fan unrest "because the
situation is very volatile" in the country.

After the explosion at the Daily News, contract printers were hired to
continue the publication of the paper. The presses should be repaired in
several weeks.

Before the blast, Information Minister Jonathan Moyo described the paper as
an opposition mouthpiece and a security threat.

The government on Friday said police and troops were on full alert to quell
anticipated anti-government protests.

Police chased a small group of opposition protesters out of central Harare
on Friday.

Eight protesters were arrested for allegedly inciting violence, police
spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said.

He said riot police also seized axes, knives, bows and arrows and clubs from
suspects Friday.

Witnesses said riot police and troops were deployed Thursday in the populous
township of Chitungwiza, an opposition stronghold 15 miles south of Harare.

The state-controlled Herald newspaper, in a rare criticism of security
forces, reported Saturday that soldiers and police raided a nightclub
Thursday near Chitungwiza, forcing patrons to lie on the floor, accusing
them of being opposition agitators and beating them.

Peta said the police action aborting Saturday's march proved authorities
were not committed to democracy.

"It shows they are not serious about a tolerant, pluralistic state and will
go to any lengths to suppress the media and freedom of expression," he said.

Before dispersing, the journalists displayed banners that declared: "You
can't bomb democracy," and "Why bomb the messenger?"

Last week, Home Affairs Minister John Nkomo, who is responsible for the
police, said intelligence reports showed opposition militants were planning
a campaign of "violent insurrection" and demonstrations to topple the
government, charges the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change

In the biggest challenge to President Robert Mugabe's hold on power since he
led the nation to independence in 1980, the MDC won 57 of 120 elected seats
in June parliamentary elections. In the last parliament, Mugabe controlled
all but three seats.
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Zimbabwean police put an end to media protest

February 03 2001 at 01:11PM

By Cris Chinaka

Harare - Hundreds of armed police stopped journalists from protesting
against violent attacks on the country's independent media on Saturday after
a bomb blast at a private newspaper critical of the government.

Witnesses said about 500 police, some in armoured troop carriers and
carrying rifles, shotguns and teargas cannisters, stopped about 100
journalists who had gathered for the protest march, and sealed off their
destination, a nearby park.

Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) secretary-general Basildon Peta told the
journalists that the officer commanding the police had said he would use
force to disperse any march.

'We will find a way or another day to make our point'
"They say they got instructions not to allow any march or gathering,
although I emphasised that this is a perfectly legal and peaceful protest,"
Peta said, adding that the consensus among the journalists was to cancel the

"We will find a way or another day to make our point," he said.

Some journalists carried banners calling on President Robert Mugabe's
government to respect press freedom.

The printing press of the privately-owned Zimbabwe Daily News was destroyed
in a bomb attack last Sunday, just hours after militant members of Mugabe's
ruling Zanu-PF had threatened to "ban" it for its critical coverage.

Self-styled veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s independence war marched on the
newspaper last week and allegedly attacked a deputy news editor.

Reporters ... have been detained, beaten and threatened
The Daily News has made alternative arrangements to continue publishing
after the bombing, which it blamed on "government complicity".

Reporters from the Daily News and other independent media have been
detained, beaten and threatened repeatedly since Mugabe's party saw its
majority slashed in parliamentary elections last year.

Mugabe's popularity is at its lowest point since he led the former Rhodesia
to independence in 1980, and the small but defiant independent press is not
helping to improve his image in the run-up to presidential elections next

Political analysts say Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF movement is fighting for its
life and views a critical press as a key obstacle to winning next year's
election. - Reuters

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Hunzvi's witchdoctor ploy doesn't charm court

February 03 2001 at 04:55PM

Harare - The Zimbabwean High Court ordered Hitler Hunzvi, leader of the
country's war veterans, to pay a witchdocter Z$8 000 (about R1 130) for
rituals she performed to make President Robert Mugabe favour him, reports
said on Saturday.

Judge Esmael Chatikobo ordered Hunzvi to pay Sarudzayi Isaya, 36, Z$8000
after slashing her original bill of Z$300 000, saying what she tried to do
"was immoral, if not illegal".

Hunzvi, a Polish trained doctor, also hired Isaya to get him out of jail
when he was arrested on charges of fraud in 1998.

"It is astonishing that a medical doctor sought the services of a
traditional healer to do such things," Chatikobo said.

'I have told her to put me back inside if she is that powerful'
Isaya told the court she gave Hunzvi charms that would ensure Mugabe would
favour him, ensuring his appointment to senior government posts.

Hunzvi offered her a long-term contract to secure his political future and
promised her Z$240 000, but her fee was eventually reduced to Z$14 000.

Hunzvi denies owing her anything and claimed her trances, evil spirit
cleansing and charms were useless.

"She claims she released me from prison, and I have told her to put me back
inside if she is that powerful," said Hunzvi.

Chatikobo said it was recognised in African society that spirit mediums were
able to help people, "but they are not supposed to abuse their authority". -
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From Business Day

Zimbabwean security forces on alert in fresh crackdown

HARARE — Zimbabwe's security forces have been put on alert, police announced
on Friday amid signs of a new crackdown on political opponents of President
Robert Mugabe's ruling party. The government on Friday also accused unnamed
Western embassies of "subversion" for funding opposition parties and
indicted it would close them down.
This follows decisions by the German and Swedish governments to cut aid to
Mugabe's regime and to channel money to civic organisations instead.

"If embassies cease to perform the functions for which they are accredited,
then they become useless and will have no reason to be in the country," an
unnamed government spokesman warned in the state-controlled Herald

"There is no way the government will take kindly where an embassy is allowed
to become a conduit of foreign official support to both the opposition and
partisan non-governmental organisations," the spokesman said. "They are
becoming features of subversion."

On Friday morning large numbers of riot police broke up a demonstration
apparently organised by youth members of the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) in Harare to protest against the bombing of the independent Daily
News' printing press on Sunday.

A MDC spokesman said several party supporters were arrested and beaten.

He also said Nelson Chamisa, head of the MDC youth wing, fled from the
Harare home of his uncle when police burst in at 4am.

His uncle was assaulted by police while Chamisa escaped through the back
door, the spokesman said. The MDC denied it was planning violent

Last week Home Affairs Minister John Nkomo claimed the MDC was launching an
"insurrection" against the government.

Earlier this week the Swedish government, which holds the presidency of the
European Union, announced "a virtual cessation of all development
co-operation" to the Harare government, while about $7,2m would be
channelled to civic organisations.

The decision followed remarks by Mugabe at the weekend that he would never
allow the MDC to come to power, while Vice President Joseph Msika warned of
"a second revolution" if the MDC won elections.

"We are one of the first countries to take this measure of stopping aid to
the Zimbabwe government, but we know that other countries are actively
discussing this," Swedish Foreign Ministry spokesman Pekka Johannson said in
a statement.

"They will have to consider what Sweden has done as the EU president and as
an influential member of the donor community."

Mugabe's and Msika's remarks also drew sharp criticism from German
ambassador Hans Flimm.

"The statements do not correspond to the idea of democracy. Democracy means
the people deciding who they want to rule them. Democracy means one should
also be prepared to lose.

"Late last year Germany scaled down Zimbabwe's aid profile from 'intensive
partnership' to 'potential partner,' the lowest grade of aid recipient," he
said. — I-Net Bridge

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From the MDC - There will be a rally at the White City Stadium in Bulawayo on Sunday 4 February from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm.  Speakers include Gibson Sibanda, Welshman Ncube, Fletcher Dulini Ncube, Paul Themba Nyathi and Thokozani Khupe.  They will focus on the way forward to the Presidential election.
In this issue :

From The Star (SA), 2 February

Zimbabwe's chief justice throws in the towel

Harare - Zimbabwe's chief justice, Anthony Gubbay, was about to retire, a year before his time, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa announced on Friday. His announcement followed months of escalating pressure from Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party against Gubbay after he and the rest of the five-man Supreme Court declared unlawful the government's violent campaign to seize white-owned land. Gubbay was not available for comment.

Mugabe, 76, also issue edicts which attempted to override the decisions made by Zimbabwe's judiciary and parliament. Senior legal sources, who asked not to be named, said the 69-year-old judge, one of the most respected figures in the judiciaries of the Commonwealth, had been forced to resign after President Robert Mugabe refused to provide protection for judges from lawless war veterans. In November a mob of war veterans invaded the Supreme Court and senior members of the veteran's movement have vowed to drive out the judges. Gubbay appealed to the government to guarantee the judges' safety after a plot to attack them was uncovered. Legal sources said Gubbay resigned after a meeting with Chinamasa at which the minister told him Mugabe "could not see his way" to guarantee judges' security. He was due to resign in April next year, when he turned 70, the official retiring age for judges.

From The Times (UK), 2 February

Mugabe sets troops on protesters

Armed riot police and troops blocked streets in the Zimbabwe capital of Harare and chased off protesters as the Government of President Mugabe signalled it would take a tougher stance against the Opposition. Police chased a small group of demonstrators from a central mall and prevented others gathering at a bus park on the outskirts of the city for a march to the square. The main opposition MDC said its youth wing planned demonstrations to protest a breakdown in law and order and police harassment of its members.

The MDC said police raided the Harare home of youth leader Nelson Chamisa during the night and assaulted his uncle after Chamisa escaped through a rear door. Witnesses said riot police and troops in trucks today drove towards the town of Chitungwiza, an opposition stronghold 25km south of Harare. Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said police and soldiers were placed on alert ahead of threats of violence by protesters. Last week, John Nkomo, the Home Affairs Minister, said intelligence reports showed opposition militants were planning a campaign of "violent insurrection" and demonstrations to topple the government. The MDC denied the accusations.

From The Star (SA), 2 February

Embassies under fire as Zim crackdown looms

Harare - Zimbabwe's security forces have been put on alert, police announced on Friday amid signs of a new crackdown on political opponents of President Robert Mugabe's ruling party. The Zimbabwean government on Friday also accused unnamed Western embassies of "subversion" for funding opposition parties and indicted it would close them down. This follows decisions by the German and Swedish governments to cut aid to Mugabe's regime and to channel money to civic organisations instead.

"If embassies cease to perform the functions for which they are accredited, then they become useless and will have no reason to be in the country," an unnamed government spokesman warned in the state-controlled Herald newspaper. "There is no way the government will take kindly where an embassy is allowed to become a conduit of foreign official support to both the opposition and partisan non-governmental organisations," the spokesman said. "They are becoming features of subversion."

On Friday morning large numbers of riot police broke up a demonstration apparently organised by youth members of the MDC in Harare to protest against the bombing of the independent Daily News' printing press on Sunday. An MDC spokesman said several party supporters were arrested and beaten. He also said Nelson Chamisa, head of the MDC youth wing, fled from the Harare home of his uncle when police burst in at 4am. His uncle was assaulted by police while Chamisa escaped through the back door, the spokesman said.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said police and the army had been put on "full alert" to deal with "any anticipated outbreak of violence" by opposition parties. The MDC denied it was planning violent demonstrations. Last week Home Affairs Minister John Nkomo claimed the MDC was launching an "insurrection" against the government. Earlier this week the Swedish government, which holds the presidency of the European Union, announced "a virtual cessation of all development co-operation" to the Harare government, while about $7,2-million would be channelled to civic organisations. The decision followed remarks by Mugabe at the weekend that he would never allow the MDC to come to power, while Vice President Joseph Msika warned of "a second revolution" if the MDC won elections.

"We are one of the first countries to take this measure of stopping aid to the Zimbabwe government, but we know that other countries are actively discussing this," Swedish Foreign Ministry spokesman Pekka Johannson said in a statement. "They will have to consider what Sweden has done as the EU president and as an influential member of the donor community." Mugabe's and Msika's remarks also drew sharp criticism from German ambassador Hans Flimm. "The statements do not correspond to the idea of democracy. Democracy means the people deciding who they want to rule them. Democracy means one should also be prepared to lose. Late last year Germany scaled down Zimbabwe's aid profile from 'intensive partnership' to 'potential partner,' the lowest grade of aid recipient," he said.

From Pan African News Agency, 2 February

Zimbabwe, Sweden Clash Over Opposition Funding

Harare - A diplomatic row is brewing between Sweden and Zimbabwe over Stockholm's decision to re-allocate 45 percent of its Z$700 million annual bilateral aid to the government to opposition parties and civic organizations critical of the authorities. Swedish authorities have advised President Robert Mugabe's government they were cutting aid in protest against alleged state suppression of the media and tolerance of lawlessness by its supporters.

But Harare was irked by Sweden's plans to switch the aid to opposition parties and civic organizations opposed to the government, charging this was interference in the country's internal affairs. "There is no way that government will take kindly to a situation where an embassy brought into the country for state-to-state interaction is allowed to de-officialise itself and become conduits of foreign official support to both the opposition and partisan NGOs created by their own governments. They are becoming features of subversion and expect state benediction. This cannot be," a senior Foreign Affairs ministry diplomat said.

"The Swedes are now increasingly reducing themselves to an appendage of Whitehall," the diplomat added, referring to the British Foreign Ministry, which has led international criticism of Zimbabwe's controversial land reform plans. The southern African country holds crucial presidential elections next year in which President Mugabe is facing a fierce challenge from the opposition.

From The Spectator (UK), 2 February

Publish and be threatened, bombed, beaten up and tortured

The Daily News of Zimbabwe is the most successful newspaper to have appeared in Africa over the last couple of decades. You might say that in a continent famous for bad news it has been a beacon of light. Launched in March 1999, it initially encountered terrible distribution and technical problems. Circulation slumped to below 30,000 and the money ran out. A Soros foundation stepped in to save it from closure. Local investors then chipped in more money - at least half of the original shareholders came from outside Zimbabwe - and around the beginning of last year the paper began to turn the corner.

Probably the main reason was the impending general election and the growing public dissatisfaction with the corrupt tyrant Robert Mugabe. Politics really do sell newspapers, at any rate in a one-party state. As the only independent daily in the country, the Daily News became a rallying point for many people fed up with Mugabe's grim and incompetent regime. By the time the election took place last June, it was selling 120,000 copies on a good day, about twice the government-controlled Herald. In a country where by no means everyone can afford a newspaper, and where there are still many who can't read, that is an enormous circulation. Five or six people are, on average, reading every copy.

Last Sunday morning some saboteurs broke into the Daily News's printing works in southern Harare, and expertly planted a device. This came after threats against the paper from the "war veterans" - Mugabe's thugs - and the minister of information. The explosion and resulting fire completely destroyed the main press and slightly damaged the other. The intention of the bombers was to put the paper out of business, and they nearly succeeded. Its management has found temporary printing facilities in Harare, and every day this week has been printing nearly 70,000 copies a night, all of which are being sold. This compares with a print run of 100,000 copies a day before the bombing. Pagination has been reduced, and with it advertising revenue. The future of the paper, which was just starting to make a profit, must be in some doubt. The only cause for joy is that the extra copies which the Herald has been pumping out have not been finding buyers.

This attack by the Zimbabwean government is the most deadly but not the first. Last April a bomb was placed in a shop near the editorial offices of the Daily News in central Harare. Fortunately it caused little damage. In July an assassin who had been hired by Zimbabwean intelligence services to kill Geoffrey Nyarota, the newspaper's founding editor, got cold feet when he encountered the redoubtable Mr Nyarota in a lift. The deputy editor was beaten up by police last December and again on Tuesday of last week, after the war veterans had demonstrated outside the paper's offices and the nearby British High Commission. On other occasions, reporters and cameramen have been harassed or arrested by police. Journalists working on other independent newspapers have also suffered. Most infamously, Mark Chavunduka and Ray Choto, two journalists on the Sunday Standard, were kidnapped and tortured for several days by government security agents in 1998.

The worst danger for those of us who work in Fleet Street is probably a complaining letter from a politician or, at worst, a libel writ. We spend our time working ourselves up into a tremendous lather over issues which seem momentous to us but can seem rather trivial to those in less favoured climes. Huge mock battles are staged over what are quite often insignificant pieces of territory. In Zimbabwe it is very different. Mugabe's regime, which for all its sins once respected the rule of law, is becoming increasingly oppressive, bumping off and locking up its enemies on an ever greater scale. God knows where it will all end. The journalists of the Daily News are on the front line. They really do speak for truth and freedom, and the price they are paying is to have their lives threatened. Now it seems that their newspaper may be put out of business.

This column has always had a soft spot for the Daily News, which was in part the brainchild of an old colleague of mine called Mike Stent. I wrote about it here even before its launch, never dreaming that it would enjoy the success it has, or be such a force for good. But I think I would feel the same about it even if I had never clapped eyes on its offices or met its editor. The question now is how the paper will raise the money to buy a second-hand press to replace the one that has been ruined. No such press is available in Zimbabwe. Insurance polices will cover some of the costs, but they will be paid out in Zimbabwean dollars, a joke currency thanks to Mugabe's insane economic policies. For the moment I will go no further than ask any owner of a superannuated press to contact me or, better still, Geoffrey Nyarota at the Daily News. But the time may come when readers are asked to dig into their pockets to help save a newspaper which a tyrannical government is trying to destroy.

From CNN, 2 February

Congo President: elections - once peace is restored

United Nations - Pledging to help end what has been called Africa's first world war, Congo's new president appealed Friday for speedy deployment of UN military observers to oversee a cease-fire and for assistance in preparing for presidential elections. In a speech to the Security Council a week after his inauguration, Joseph Kabila gave no date for the elections, saying only that they would be held once peace is restored and after Rwandan and Ugandan troops leave the country. "We want to bring together all the Congolese while at the same time respecting differences among them," Kabila said, promising "dialogue and reconciliation" with opposition and rebel groups. Kabila was installed last Friday after the palace slaying of his father, President Laurent Kabila, on January 16. He has since moved quickly to try to demonstrate that he wants peace, pledging to implement a cease-fire agreement signed by the warring sides in Lusaka, Zambia in 1999, but frequently violated since then.

For the last two weeks, however, there have been virtually no cease-fire violations, Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the council at the start of the session. "This is surely a moment of opportunity," he said. "The time appears right for a resolute effort to implement the Lusaka agreement, and to start a genuine dialogue among all Congolese on the future of their country." Congo's civil war began in August 1998 when Laurent Kabila's main sponsors, Uganda and Rwanda, turned against him and began supporting an anti-government rebellion. Kabila held onto power and kept the rebels at bay with the help of new allies Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia. While all warring sides signed the cease-fire agreement, continued fighting and obstacles mounted by the Congolese government have prevented the UN from deploying a 5,537-strong UN observer force to monitor the deal.

On Friday, a day after meeting with Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Washington, Kabila demanded that Rwanda and Uganda leave his country - even if they must be removed by force. But he promised full co-operation with the United Nations and urged the council to swiftly deploy forces - including along Congo's borders with the two "aggressors." Council ambassadors welcomed Kabila's promises - even though Kabila's father made similar pledges last January at a council summit of all the heads of state involved in Congo's war, to little avail. With new momentum for peace a year later, however, ambassadors said they were willing to step up deployment as long as all sides abided by a disengagement plan agreed to in Harare, Zimbabwe on December 6. "The critical short-term task remains a fully effective cease-fire and the disengagement of forces," said Deputy US Ambassador James Cunningham, stressing Uganda and Rwanda must pull out their forces. Annan said he would propose a revised concept of operations for UN deployment within the next few weeks. But Annan also stressed that Kabila must hold talks with the opposition, as called for by the Lusaka agreement.

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Thousands of Zimbabweans Face Starvation

HARARE (Jan. 30) XINHUA - At least 74,000 people in Chilombedzi communal lands of Masvingo in southern Zimbabwe are facing starvation after their crops failed to germinate because of a severe drought, The Herald reported on Tuesday.

Because of lack of rains, another 100,000 people are facing starvation in Chiredzi, Mwenezi and Bikita, the report said.

About 35,000 hectares of planted maize, mainly in Mpapa, Malipati, Gezani and Matibi failed to germinate after it only rained once since the onset of the rains.

Having suffered from the adverse effects of excess water caused by Cyclone Eline early last year, the families now have a completely different situation and have to cope with a drought that is also threatening to wipe out their livestock.

Cyclone Eline-induced floods left the villagers without food after destroying the crops early last year. The families were expecting to recover this year, hoping that they would get good rains.

Some villagers are also going to neighboring Mozambique in search of food, although that country seems to be facing similar problems.


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Dr Made's move

CYNICS described it as a rare sighting when Dr Joseph Made spoke at a National Association of Dairy Farmers function last week. If it wasn't the first time Zimbabwe's agriculture minister has spoken, publicly at least, to a gathering of commercial farmers, then it was close to being a national first during the current minister's tenure.

Over 200 dairy farmers and representatives of the industry listened while Dr Made spoke and the tension in the room was palpable. Very few people expected the minister to arrive, despite the traditional invitation, because Dr Made has declined previous invitations.

But he came - and his speech was not confrontational. While he didn't allude to the security crisis on Zimbabwe's farms, Dr Made did congratulate farmers for their tenacious approach to viability problems facing the industry. And yes, he made much reference to the smallholder sector, but then his ministry represents the small scale sector and it would be stretching plausibility to read anything sinister into Dr Made's observations.

Still, it's probably also true that it's too soon to read anything positive into Made's remarks - which doesn't detract from the fact that his presence was a positive thing for organised agriculture. This was a big event for the dairy industry, gathering to honour the country's top producer, and the minister should be present at such occasions, if only to maintain a nice little tradition.

It was a sign of Zimbabwe's difficult times that Dr Made's presence should elicit a reaction, but it did. Interestingly, despite the initial tension, the minister himself at least appeared relaxed. And his speech, while it wasn't about to set the world on fire, drew polite applause. Farmers and the trade alike may have been bewildered by the sudden manifestation of their minister, but they seemed, as the evening drew on, to take his arrival in good faith.

And that's probably about the healthiest sign Zimbabwean agriculture has had in a long, long time. Whether it was a sign that the government is prepared to reinitiate dialogue or not is impossible to say, though it is clear that only government is in a position to jump start talks. But at least the evening was polite, with farmers making it clear to Dr Made that, if the conflict is to continue, they, at least, will play by the rules.

Anyway, if the agriculture minister was expecting to address a room filled with demoralised and despondent people, then his expectations were sorely misplaced. There was humour, and very Zimbabwean humour in abundance and the sight of the Minister of Agriculture, Lands and Rural Resettlement laughing alongside beleaguered commercial farmers, sharing the same jokes, hasn't been seen for over a year. Even if it goes that far and no further, that was refreshing. And positive.

In the wake of calls from government to withdraw the Commercial Farmers' Union's license, the fact that Dr Made opened his remarks by saying that he "recognised the CFU President" was also healthy. And if the minister was acknowledging organised agriculture's unprecedented crisis, if he was saying subtly that here he is and he's prepared to make even the slightest of moves towards re-establishing a normal relationship, then a degree of cautious reciprocity seems in order. If it doesn't work, then nothing will have been lost. But if it does work, then perhaps there's a chance of salvaging something from this mess. Because it is a mess; organised agriculture has never faced a crisis of this proportion before and its collapse would take the country with it - and for that reason alone, it's worth testing the waters. If the waters remain unfriendly, so be it, because the surreal and bizarre predicament commercial farmers find themselves in is as unsustainable for government as it is for the farmers themselves - and there's little doubt that farmers are the more tenacious.

Brian Latham
Editor- The Farmer

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Dairy farmers soldier on

THE dairy industry, along with the rest of Zimbabwe's beleaguered agriculture sector, is going through a very difficult period, with the two most serious factors facing producers being on-farm security for livestock and viability.

In his address at the presentation of the Dairy Farmer of the Year award, the chairman of the National Association Dairy Farmers (NADF) Mr Stoff Hawgood said the escalating costs of production; especially stockfeeds was threatening the economic survival of producers as the raw milk price was becoming difficult to increase in the face of dwindling disposable income among consumers

He said the dairy industry was an extremely valuable industry to Zimbabwe with a total daily production of 440 000 litres of milk with a value of $6 million per day.

"This when value added accounts to between $12 million and $14 million per day of income to the economy. Annually this is between $4,2 billion and $5 billion," said Mr Hawgood.

This production, he said, had not fallen in the past year despite all the ongoing problems faced on both the farms and in the economy.

According to Mr Hawgood, 3000 people were directly employed in the industry and with the dependents and others who benefit from the downstream industry, this figure is between 120 000 and 150 000.

He said a productive approach to pricing by Dairibord Zimbabwe Limited (DZL) since 1998 had stabilised the production base and this was set to expand and achieve even greater growth of the industry.

The dairy producer of the year presentation ceremony has usually been held in July of every year but due to the Parliamentary elections last year and the turmoil this event brought to farmers' lives, it was decided to postpone until things had quietened down.

Once the elections were over and there was less harassment of farmers and their workers on the farms, the NADF decided to go ahead with the competition.

Dairibord's director of marketing, Mr Dave Robertson, said the competition continued to produce creative and ambitious dairy farmers who had developed technologies that had done much to improve quality standards in hygiene and dairy management.

He said NADF and DZL had combined technical skills to produce the forerunner to the Dairibord Quality Premium Scheme. This scheme was designed as an incentive for dairy producers who strive to achieve the higher standards of top quality milk.

Hardcastle is Dairy Farmer of the Year

MR Mike Hardcastle of Tavistock Estates in Beatrice has won this year's Dairy Farmer of the Year award ahead of four other contestants.

Mr Hardcastle also received $150 000 and return tickets to any destination of his choice in Europe.

He farms 838ha, and of this 170ha is under irrigation. He grows crops such as silage maize, rye, seed potato and seed maize. The maize silage proven as a good source of roughage is used for feeding mostly his dairy herd.

Mr Hardcastle's dairy herd is mostly Holstein and he milks four times a day using his mechanised milking equipment. Milking duration is two to two and half hours. The calving interval is 448 days, he one day hopes to push the calving interval to 365 days.

Mr Hardcastle who has been in the dairy industry for only three years, said he hopes to run the most efficient dairy possible through improved milk quality, improved cow comfort and improved waste management.

He holds a BSc Honours in Applied Environmental Sciences from Kings College in London.

To make this year's competition the best, organisers decided to suspend the rule which prevents past winners from entering the competition for three years. The idea was to try and attract all past winners and runners up, as well as anyone else who wanted to enter.

Other contestants were Liz Retzlaff of lonely Park farm in Arcturus, Gillian Swindells, Kershelmar Farms in Bulawayo, Jenny van Helsdingen, Brinkwater Farm, Arcturus and Willem Botha, Imperani Farm, Kadoma.

GMB denies maize rationing as shortages loom

ZIMBABWE's troubled agricultural marketing parastatal, Grain Marketing Board (GMB) says it has enough maize in stock to last the country until the next harvest.

Dismissing claims that there was maize rationing going on in the country, raising fears that there could be a shortage of this staple food for millions of Zimbabweans, GMB chairman, Mr Canaan Dube said presently the board had over 600 000 metric tonnes of maize in stock.

He said this figure was 100 000 tonnes more than the stipulated minimum stock levels of the Strategic Grain Reserve (SRG) which is 500 000 tonnes.

The consumption rate is estimated to be 150 000 tonnes per month.

"If the current off take figures are anything to go by, the current maize stocks will take us through to the next harvest thus making rationing unnecessary."

Mr Dube said GMB was not aware of any maize rationing in the country and people could buy maize from anywhere.

"We do not see any reason why maize should be rationed at this juncture and no such decision has in fact been made," he said.

On allegations that GMB was in some cases selling maize at a much higher price than the stipulated price of $6 200 per tonne, Mr Dube said the board was mandated to sell at this price only to registered millers.

To every other customer, he said, GMB sold at commercial rates, which were determined by the supply and demand situation on the market.

Mr Dube said, " In fact, the Board is selling bagged maize at $6 850 per tonne in areas of deficit for the reason that maize is being moved for long distances and the cost of transport has to be taken into account in the selling price."

Press reports had alleged that there was maize rationing and that the country would have run out of maize by the time of the next harvest.

Meanwhile, although the Crop Forecasting Committee has not yet met to provide production indictors for the coming harvest season, there is growing uncertainty on whether the country will produce enough of the grain.

The controversial fast track land reform programme and the invasions have left large tracts of land formerly under maize in commercial farms either abandoned or under small patches of maize planted by the invaders.

According to the Zimbabwe Grain Producers' Association (ZGPA), which has already said there would be cuts in maize production in the large scale commercial sector, only about 75 000 hectares were planted this season representing about a 50% drop.

It said planting indications are derived from surveys and seed sales. While it was too early to project yields, the ZGPA said an average season would give this sector a yield of 5.3 tonnes per hectare. Given the 75 000 hectare figure, then about 394 000 tonnes will be produced.

The ZGPA said small Holder (including Communal/Small Scale Commercial/Resettlement) sectors' seed purchases, as of mid-December, 2000, were indicating an 18% reduction in area.

According to ZGPA, in any season, this sector could plant as much as 10% of their crop as late as mid-December to mid-January, and hence further seed sale observations were required to complete the final maize hectarages for this sector.

The ZGPA said some of the factors contributing to reduced maize plantings in the large scale commercial sector during the 2000/2001 season were maize theft and inadequate police support to this sector and the lenient sentences imposed on maize thieves which made it almost profitable to steal maize.

Financial constraints caused by delayed payments by the GMB, which led to significant loss of earnings and the refusal by banks to lend money to farms listed for acquisition had also contributed to reduced maize hectarages.

Anti Hi-Jack Trust launches reward campaign

In an all-out bid to put an end to the increasing number of hi-jackings in Zimbabwe, the Anti Hi-Jack Trust has launched a reward campaign offering up to $100 000 for evidence leading to the arrest of car-jackers.

It is estimated that the total value of cars hi-jacked in 2000 was a staggering three hundred million dollars. In an attempt to find a practical way to curb this dramatic rise in violent crime, the Trust has joined forces with the Insurance Council of Zimbabwe, the ZRP, Deloitte & Touche and the Association of Round Tables of Central Africa.

The campaign will be launched nation-wide with advertisements in the press. It calls for tip-offs to be communicated to an independent theft and fraud hotline service run by Deloitte & Touche. A toll free telephone number which requires no area code has been set up - 0800 4104. It can only be called from conventional landlines.

Tip-offs can also be communicated via email - - and post - PO Box HG 883, Highland - or any other contact method. All calls will be professionally and confidentially handled by the hotline service and information received will be forwarded to the ZRP for investigation.

A spokesperson for the Trust said the money to finance the rewards had been provided by the community at large. "The public have had enough of this crime and the sooner we can make our roads safe again, the better. It is encouraging to note that this initiative has the support of the ZRP and the Judiciary," he said.

Monthly meetings will be held with the ZRP to facilitate payment of the reward money.

The Association of Round Tables charity will assist with the administration of the funds.

Tengwe farmer wins Nuffield scholarship

ZIMBABWE farmer, Jeff Kockott, whose 534ha Sengeni Estate produces a wide variety of crops, is this year's winner of the prestigious Nuffield scholarship. This means Mr Kockott will be joining other Nuffield scholars from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, France and the United Kingdom on a three-week study tour of agricultural institutions in Europe.

Mr Kockott, 45, was selected after an interview with the Nuffield selection panel in December last year. He becomes the 61st Zimbabwean to win the scholarship since its inception in this country in 1948. The facility enables scholars to pursue agriculturally related studies of their choice in selected countries.

Pleased with his good fortune and opportunity to travel, Mr Kockott said after the group tour in February, he would embark on an eight-week study programme in Australia and New Zealand.

"My main interest will be cattle breeding and pasture management," he said in an interview with The Farmer. He was particularly interested to learn more about Australia's genetic engineering achievements which, he said he understood had seen to the development of tick resistant cattle.

In pasture management, Kockott hopes to learn techniques of veld reinforcement through the use of legumes." When I return, I will share the knowledge with other farmers through the Cattle Producers Association and the Grasslands Society," Mr Kockott said.

He also hopes to look at some irrigation systems that can be adapted to local conditions.

Mr Kockott, who is the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) chairman for Tengwe, grows tobacco, maize, coffee, and Katombora/Rhodes grass and also keeps cattle on his 534 ha farm. He was the 1995 tobacco grower of the year.

Married to Barbara with three daughters, Sarah 20, Robyn 18, and Wendy 14, he began his farming career managing Horta farm for Mr John Philp in Mvurwi. He later moved to Mr Peter Dawson's Kemasembi Farm in the Tengwe area until 1987 when he decided to buy his own farm.

The Nuffield scholarship programme is a UK-based charitable trust which provides beneficiaries with opportunities of "net-working" with other Nuffield scholars from other countries. The scholarship covers the travel, tuition and boarding costs of recipients.

Row erupts between farmers over war veterans

A ROW has erupted between two neighbouring Zimbabwe farmers, with one farmer, Mr Hugh Coppen, who now lives in Canada, calling for a boycott of vegetables and any other products from Chitamba Farm in Harare, alleging that the Jardim family, which owns the farm, is providing so called war veterans with a tractor to plough on neighbouring farms they have invaded.

But the accused, Mr Emmanuel Jardim, dismissed Mr Coppen's allegations saying Mr Coppen was feeding people with wrong information. He said he did not willingly give his tractor to the war veterans as implied by Mr Coppen but was coerced into doing so.

"We were threatened by war vets and we gave in. We complied with their threats but when they came back to ask for another tractor, I said no," said Mr Jardim.

Mr Coppen alleged that, one of his neighbours, Chitamba Farm (the Jardim family), had made some kind of deal with the local war veterans under which the invaders had had the daily use of a Chitamba tractor. He said the tractor had, for several weeks, been seen arriving to plough land on his farm while being driven by a war veteran. He said his suspicion that the Jardim family was colluding with war veterans was heightened by the fact that to his knowledge, there appeared to be no "war veterans activity" on Chitamba.

Mr Coppen said, "The local war vets have however, as they have everywhere, maintained a fairly constant harassment, pressure on us to give up possession of one of the homesteads on the farm. So far, we have successfully resisted.

"It has always struck me that it is at times like this that people really join together and stand together to protect what is of value... good standing resolute against the forces of evil. Apparently that notion of standing together applies to most, but not to all of us.

"I can think of no other words to describe this deal with the devil other than despicable and contemptible. This is the most cowardly, unneighbourly and vile behaviour I can think of at a time like this. The only message that will get through to people like this is when it hurts them in the pocket."

Mr Coppen said verbal and written protests even "an outspoken public tongue-lashing by the local security coordinator over the Agric Alert some weeks ago -accomplished nothing."

"So I am asking you to express your feelings about this sort of behaviour by refusing to buy vegetables marketed by Chitamba, much of it under the Farma Fresh label. I know that they are distributed through Bon Marche but I don't know where else. Anything you can do to express your feelings or pass on the word about people who behave like this will be well-deserved by them, and welcomed by the rest of the community who are desperately trying to support each other in these harrowing times." said Coppen in a statement to The Farmer from Canada.

Mr Jardim confirmed receiving written and verbal protests but denied there was any deal struck between himself and the war veterans beyond the threats." My life is more important than a tractor. I can't go and stand up for someone when I am threatened," said Mr Jardim.

He said Mr Coppen was writing about what was happening in Zimbabwe from Canada based on information from somebody else. He alleged Mr Coppen did not know the actual facts on the ground.

"The information he is providing is all wrong. We are not bothered or interested. It's not accurate."

Mr Jardim said even the allegations that his vegetables were being sold through Farma Fresh were not true.

Mr Jardim told The Farmer that Mr Coppen "ran away" about a year or so ago for unclear reasons, and was leasing his farm to somebody else.

It could not be immediately established how Mr Coppen was getting his information. But some neighbouring farmers also confirmed that Chitamba Farm was providing war veterans with a tractor to plough on invaded farms.

Within that area there are some farms, which were invaded while others were not.

crop watch


by Dr C Levy

Soyabean rust is now widespread throughout the country. It has now been confirmed in the trap crops in Glendale, Bindura (severe), Banket (severe), Lions' Den, Mutare (severe), Chiredzi (severe), and Enterprise (Rattray Arnold Research Station).

We have noticed a reluctance, or complacency, by some farmers to spray early for this disease. Delaying spraying will only lead to yield loss - the longer the delay, the greater the loss. Spraying is highly cost-effective, and farmers should not be scared to put on three sprays in high risk areas.

The accompanying photo sent to me by Richard Winkfield last season of a 18ha commercial field of "Solitaire" at ART Farm clearly illustrates the effect of this disease. The diseased strip on the left received only one spray at 91 days after planting (dap), whereas the plants to the right received two sprays at 91 and 112 dap. A difference of 550 kg/ha in yield was recorded at harvest.

Research has shown that if these sprays had been applied even earlier, the difference in yield would have even been substantially greater (approx. 1.5 t/ha), and if a third spray had been applied the disease would have been controlled and the true crop potential would have been realised.

Flight of irrigation expertise

ZIMBABWE's agriculture, reeling under the unprecedented onslaught of State-backed farm invasions and lawlessness is now losing vital expertise in various critical areas, notably irrigation, The Farmer has established. Highly experienced personnel in this field are leaving the country while a number of companies dealing in irrigation equipment and accessories are understood to be closing down.

Those in the irrigation field attributed this scenario to the dramatic downturn of business being generated by mostly the large-scale commercial farming sector, which has largely borne the brunt of the ongoing chaos on farms.

Mr Guy Luria of Netafim, a local irrigation company, said some irrigation companies had closed down and some of the personnel had left for greener pastures in other countries.

"Probably 10% of irrigation companies have shut down. These companies shut down and left the country because business is shrinking," he said.

My Luria said his own company was very lucky to survive last year but believes this year could be worse.

"We were very lucky last year. We do feel the effects of what's going on in our business and we expect worse to come this year but we can only wait and see." He ruled out any intention to leave the country.

Although his company can also supply irrigation equipment for smallholder farmers, not much interest had been shown from this sector, he said.

Irrigation science is, arguably, one of the fastest growing sub-sectors of the agricultural industry with the introduction of new technology designed for more effective and efficient water management. These changes, according to Mr Luria, require not only highly qualified personnel to cope but also demands highly skilled and experienced people. It is this level of expertise that has been hardest hit with highly qualified and experienced personnel reported to be leaving the country to pursue more lucrative offers elsewhere.

Many of the irrigation experts have departed complaining that the companies that employed them, faced with a increasing difficulties as their business continued to dwindle due to the harsh economic environment and the politically motivated land reform programme which has whittled down their client base, had no choice but to let them go.

Drip Tech managing director, Mr Dave Bacon, said of these who were leaving, it was not much the qualified but rather the experienced personnel that would be difficult to replace. He expressed fears that if the situation did not improve immediately the quality service, which farmers had grown to take for granted, would be in serious jeopardy.

"If you are looking at fixing a problem with irrigation equipment, it's the highly experienced people who can easily get the job done," he said.

Mr Bacon said many farmers had been dealing with particular irrigation system designers for a long time and it was sad that they would no longer count on the kind of service they had become accustomed to. He said a significant number of highly specialised design engineers were opting to leave for countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Britain.

He said a lot of business in the irrigation industry depended on new capital coming on stream but there was not much that happening at the moment." A lot will depend on what's going to happen. If the situation stabilises, there is going to be a shortage of highly qualified and experienced people for the job," said Mr Bacon.

At the moment, he said, sales of irrigation equipment and accessories were down to half of what they sold during the same period last year. ð ð ð ð ð ð ð ð ð ð


rising crime

The Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) has reported increasing criminal activities on farms illegally occupied by so called war veterans.

An unnamed farm-owner's relative in the Bromley/Ruwa farming areas is recovering from injuries sustained after being attacked by a gang of thieves he found stripping a borehole.

The criminals bound him with barbed wire and demanded $3m before fleeing with the farmer's Isuzu pickup truck.

In another incident last Wednesday, the owner of Badza Farm, Gutu/Chatsworth, was seriously assaulted by six war veterans after a series of threats concerning the removal of cattle from the farm.

Beef in balance

SPEAKING to farmers in Marondera last week, chairman of Zimbabwe's Cattle Producers Association (CPA), Mr Tim Reynolds said that if it were not for the traceability scheme, Zimbabwe would have lost its European Union beef market nine months ago. As it is, he said, Zimbabwe has exported 8 260 tonnes to the EU this marketing year, a figure that hasn't been achieved for four or five years. "This is a positive result," said Reynolds, "because without exports we have no industry."

But the CPA chairman said there was a "downside" to the rise in exports. "We are de-stocking," he told farmers, "and we all know why. Cattle are being sold for cash and females are being slaughtered in calf and out. Our industry is taking a hammering," said Reynolds, giving lawlessness and viability as two massive problems facing commercial beef farmers in Zimbabwe.

Mr Reynolds said that his association was looking at the issue of price parity that sees red zone, lowveld farmers unable to export beef to the EU because of Foot and Mouth legislation. The result is that farmers producing purely for the local market sell for less than exporters. Apart from seeking new markets with less stringent laws, like Mauritius and the Middle East, Reynolds said that red zone producers were asking why they should earn Z$20/kg less than their Highveld counterparts. "We're looking at cross subsidization," said the CPA chairman, adding that green zone producers "should understand that if we didn't have a red zone there would be no EU exports." This meant that "we might be taking a little cream off the top" to subsidise red zone producers, said Reynolds.

Commenting on the EU team inspecting Zimbabwe's ability to export under their stringent conditions, Mr Reynolds said Zimbabwe was under severe threat from the EU, but that the European team was "pretty responsive. "They understand the situation and they are sympathetic," he said.

Her assured farmers that no one was trying to hide anything from the inspectors and that the inspectors had flown down to the Save Conservancy and seen the problems for themselves. But Mr Reynolds said that it would be better to solve the problems together with the EU and hoped that a request from the Director of Veterinary Services, Dr Stuart Hargreaves, to allow Zimbabwe a period of three months to rectify any problems would be taken into account. "We haven't tagged our cattle for nothing," he said, adding that Zimbabwe's traceability scheme, apart from being the only producer driven scheme in the world, was in many respects ahead of wealthier and more developed countries.

Commenting on traceability, Mr Mario Beffa, general manager of the Livestock Identification Trust, the body that oversees traceability, said that he expected the EU legislation to become an international standard because food safety was becoming increasingly important world wide. Beffa's LIT team were congratulated by the CPA chairman who said, "I can't praise them more than 100%, they were superb and answered all the EU inspector's questions."

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WHO’S this? “He is a lying, manipulative, oily, two-faced nasty piece of work who should never have been allowed near the government in the first place.”

No, you’re all wrong. It’s not the talkative rocket scientist but Peter Mandelson. The unflattering description comes from the Sun newspaper which celebrated the Northern Ireland minister’s resignation from Tony Blair’s cabinet with a headline declaring: “Goodbye and good riddance — and don’t come back.”

We mention this because government spokesmen — including the (you don’t have to be a) rocket scientist — are always telling us that British and US papers would never get away with the treatment meted out to politicians here. In fact, that claim is usually made by officials who are completely ignorant of just how robust the UK tabloids can be.

The above is a good example. The South African media is occasionally equally outspoken. Zimbabwe’s press is tame by comparison.

But, given the hostility ministers have been working up against the independent press, it may be time to take the gloves off and indulge in some frank exchanges.

Minister Jonathan Moyo met editors this week and agreed that the current hostility towards the media was unhealthy. But only last week he was fulminating in the Herald against the Daily News and the Standard calling them all sorts of names claiming they posed a threat to “our cultural interest and national security”.

In particular he targeted the Daily News’ editor Geoff Nyarota and the Zimbabwe Independent’s MD Trevor Ncube accusing them of being cynical and unpatriotic. He talked about “vicious attacks on the people of Zimbabwe”, took cheap shots at the MDC and ended with this threat: “It is now only a matter of time before Zimbabweans put a finally (sic) stop to this madness in defence of their cultural interest and national security.”

Twenty-four hours later a bomb went off at the Daily News’ printing press.

“Some people are turning incitement to violence into a business,” Moyo told ZTV without any sense of irony. They were turning intolerance into “an art-form”. While lecturing us on the need for “greater tolerance”, he said the government “wouldn’t tolerate people turning themselves into prosecutors and judges”.

Tolerance, it seems, has its limits!

Just two days after excoriating Nyarota and Ncube in the most abusive terms Moyo now felt “the business of trying to demonise individuals and communities” needed to be re-examined. What changed his mind?

Evidently it is not journalists that need “to take steps to rebuild public confidence in their profession” but forked-tongued ministers who think nobody can remember what they said the day before!

ZTV’s Reuben Barwe just held the microphone as Moyo delive- red his stream-of-consciousness with all its manifest contradictions during last Sunday’s Newshour. This, as it turns out, is a rather cruel strategy because Moyo doesn’t know when to stop and hasn’t actually thought what he wants to say. The results, as on Sunday night, can be counter-productive, if not downright hilarious.

We saw the same problem in the Herald this week. On one page the editor pleaded for tolerance. On another Joseph Msika said there would be another war if the MDC came to power!

At least Zimbabwe’s independent press is not alone in suffering the laval effect of ministerial eruptions. SABC was last week treated to some similar outpourings. It was accused by Moyo of being “biased and unprofessional” in its coverage of the Bikita West by-election.

As we reported previously, Moyo appears piqued that his friend Snuki Zikalala at SABC has been unable to secure what Moyo calls “a true African story” — meaning presumably one that edits out the violence and corruption that accompanied Zanu-PF’s campaign. SABC evidently declined to play ball and told an African story as they saw it.

When SABC found Moyo’s complaint to be unfounded, he said his office would “spare ourselves from your arrogance by directly filing our complaints with the relevant authorities in South Africa”, presumably meaning the government.

This follows the success the President’s Office had in lodging a complaint with the South African authorities over Peter Hain’s remarks made in Cape Town last month. But Moyo shouldn’t push his luck.
Telling the South African government how to react to stories on Zimbabwe may work once or twice. But sooner or later they will resent this pressure.

It was very inventive, by the way, of the Herald to claim that Peter Hain’s move from junior Foreign Office minister to head the Energy office at the Department of Trade and Industry was a “demotion”.

The Guardian’s diplomatic writer, Patrick Wintour, had a more perceptive view. Hain now has the important role of pursuing the economic reform agenda in the EU, seen by some as a precursor to British membership of the Euro.

If there is a motive behind the move to get him out of the Foreign Office, it is more to do with his hostility to President Bush’s nuclear missile shield. Hain, a former member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, has been a prominent critic of the “Star Wars” shield.

The shift could also be seen as a chance to widen Hain’s experience before a post-election reshuffle, Wintour says. Far from being shunted aside because of offending African dictators, we could be seeing a more influential Hain emerging!

France appears to be flavour of the month at the Herald. It was hailed for hosting the African-French summit in Yaoundé — which was less than a shining success after Kabila’s fate caused some indigestion among those feasting on the paté de foi gras necessitating hurried revisions of itineraries — and for being more “amenable” to the plight of Southern African states than the British. This follows official statements last year that the French had broken ranks with Britain and other European partners over the land issue.

In fact, as the UNDP’s Mark Malloch Brown pointed out, this was not true. But we do suspect the French have been playing a devious game, hinting to Stan Mudenge that whatever the EU decides on issues of governance and human rights, France can be counted on to turn a blind eye in the interests of trade.

We recall the French ambassador to Nigeria assuring Sani Abacha in his final days of France’s undying friendship and that Paris would certainly not be following the Commonwealth in adopting sanctions aga-inst Abacha’s corrupt and tyrannical regime.

Let’s hope they are not doing the same thing here. France needs to test the political temperature before making any new discreet assurances to the government on trade and investment. We don’t want to see Zimbabwe’s friends getting into bed with saboteurs.

Which brings us to Denmark. Here is an enlightened government with a progressive foreign policy announcing that it will hold talks with Harare on the resumption of bilateral aid. Denmark cut off aid last November saying the government had defied court rulings on the occupation of farms. A Danish delegation was due here this week headed by the state secretary for development aid.

So what has happened to change the Danish government’s mind? Have the court orders been obeyed? Has there been any improvement in governance?

Coming here after government threats to the judiciary and media and hard on the heels of a bomb blast at the Daily News, it seems rather inappropriate for our Danish friends to be cosying up to this rogue regime. We don’t want to mistake them for the French!

Muckraker gathers from his official sources that the new MP for Marondera West, Ambrose Mutinhiri, was involved in an accident near Beatrice during his election campaign. The police are believed to have found in the car an assortment of MDC T-shirts and knobkerries. Have the items been returned to their respecti- ve owners we wonder?

And why has nothing been done about corruption at the VIP? For years it has been evident that corrupt officials are selling licences.
This has clearly dangerous implications for the motoring public especially where taxi drivers are involved. But we only see the occasional case reported. Why are the police not taking this matter more seriously?

Another connection that needs to be uncovered is that between weapons issued to war veterans, the dramatic growth in carjackings, and the movement of stolen vehicles to the DRC. Can this be described as insider-trad- ing? And where is it being directed from?

Another story that caught our attention this week was Elijah Chanakira, who runs the Harare commission, which is in turn running the city into the ground, rushing to embrace another Zanu PF front, the Greater Harare Residents Association.

Set up to rival to the Combined Harare Ratepayers Association, whi- ch Solomon Tawengwa held in such contempt that he could not even bring himself to answer their letters, this suspicious little organisation has clearly been put in place as the “authentic” voice of Harare residents ahead of municipal polls.

It therefore stands on the same ground as the Concerned Citizens Co- alition, the National Development Assembly, and Heritage Zimbabwe.

But what will it achieve for Harare residents apart from return- ing to office another corrupt council presiding over escalating rates and collapsing services?

Muckraker would love to know exactly how public funds are diverted into supporting a range of funny little outfits. Border Gezi’s Ministry of Youth Development, Gender and Employment Creation has for instance become a conduit for public funds handed out to Zanu PF youths for questionable “projects” that have no job creation or development potential whatsoever.

ZTV’s coverage of this week’s Supreme Court ruling was a good example of how to obfuscate news. Dorcas Chibanda was made to stagger through dense legal jargon which left viewers with no idea of the verdict.

Then “analysts” (not named but revealed in the Herald to be Terence Hussein) fatuously suggested this could trigger a constitutional crisis because it took powers away from parliament. In fact the courts have a specific duty to ensure legislation does not abridge constitutional rights. If Hussein can’t grasp that he should choose another profession.

Finally, Nazir Kassim — or Nazeer Cassim depending on which gove- rnment agency you listen to — declared from Cape Town in an interview where all questions had been carefully edited out that after “two or three” days in Zimbabwe he had concluded it was wrong to say there was no rule of law.

Two or three days and this is the best he can do? Nazir, can we have our R100 000 back!

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