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Mmegi, Botswana

      These are refugees not illegal immigrants

      2/3/2004 11:47:57 PM (GMT +2)

      I wish to comment on the issue of illegal immigrants in our
peace-loving country. Public perceptions are being brainwashed in order to
build a smokescreen against a badly tackled issue.

      The political leadership of Botswana should do its job and protect
Batswana, even if it means embarrassing a neighbour and fellow African
Robert Mugabe by declaring his subject who cross into Botswana refugees and
not illegal immigrants.

      What is happening in Zimbabwe is a political issue that can only be
resolved politically by the politicians themselves. Apart from the recent
statements by our rulers which shed some light though dim on Botswana’s
political stand with regards to our neighbour, politically we have added
impetus to the deterioration of the situation in Zimbabwe by taking sides
with the rulers in Zimbabwe.

      The people (or political, social, economic, spiritual refugees) have
been denied their right of being granted that status by our country in the
name of being neighbourly to our big brother(s). We have absolutely nothing
to gain by pursuing this stand but everything to lose.

      When it suited the big brothers, they sabotaged our rail system, which
for years had helped them during their struggle for independence. They do
not care about the control of foot and mouth disease as another way of
sabotaging our economy.

      We are being racist because when the parents of these refugees were
running away from Ian Smith, our country granted them refugee status. Why
can’t this be done today? Is it because the leadership is African and
therefore it will cause embarrassment? Who is suffering?

      When Smith was making his hot pursuit, the ordinary citizens were
blamed for crossing into Rhodesia. Today the same Motswana is being blamed
for employing and accommodating Zimbabweans (Botswana Daily News, Thursday
January 8 2004, p. 4). To me this is all the ordinary Motswana can showcase
to the outside world that we are neighbours.

      On top of that, Batswana are a peace-loving people who practice the
principle of Botho, not only to other Batswana but fellow human beings.
Another issue is that most Batswana cannot afford to advertise for the jobs
they have but they are intelligent enough to know that it is cheaper to hire
a Zimbabwean than a local because those who preach the principle of being
neighbourly without practicing it protect the local.

      My suggestions to the solution of this problem are:

      * Appeal to the international body responsible for refugees and place
these people in refugee camps instead of state of the art prison for
refugees in Francistown. Illegal immigrants are people who think just like
us Batswana and building an electric fence will not deter them because they
know that a line being constructed is not live, so they sabotage at that
stage. These people know shorter routes through the bush into Botswana and
it is naďve for those concerned to leave these people at the border and
think they have solved the problem. This may compound the issue as they now
go back and recruit more cousins and nephews, including the “Zimbabwean boys
being in town” as one weekly referred to the new imports, the street-boys
from Zimbabwe.

      * Do not harass them as they are beyond caring, they have experienced
more harassment than you can offer. What you are doing by ill-treating them
is to add insult to injury. You are creating an enemy from a person who
looked up to you as a saviour. Let us face reality. Some of these people are
jumping the border for the third time in their lifetime (pre-independence
era, 1982-87, and now. Why are they always coming to us? We should be asking
ourselves. Some of us have seen them before 1980, in the 1980s and today and
know their plight. Grant them the refugee status not prison status as they
are not the latter. After all refugees are illegal immigrants at first.

      * Government should take a clear stand and condemn Mugabe and his
policies, and give him advice on the issue of good governance. After all
what are SADC and AU for? You are always meeting at public expense without
discussing issues that affect the said public.

      * Be proactive and buy those farms when the economy and political
climates still favour you. If all Members of Parliament can afford a farm
each, then government can afford to buy all the farms around the former
African Reserves.

      Please help Zimbabwe by giving these people refugee status and then
the people of the world including those Zimbabweans who still believe in
Mugabe ne zwimbatambwata zwakhe, a term used for Smith during the liberation
wars, will see sense. Let us act now before it is too late.

      Pedzani Perci Monyatsi

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The Herald

Plot to discredit Gono condemned

Herald Reporter
Zimbabweans were yesterday outraged to learn about the plot by some powerful
politicians and businessmen to discredit Reserve Bank Governor Dr Gideon
Gono, and war veterans vowed to leave no stone unturned in exposing those
behind the plot.

Many condemned the plot to character assassinate the person of Dr Gono,
whose monetary policy is still in its infancy but is producing tangible

They said such plans were by people who did not have the interests of the
country at heart and such people, if they were politicians, were not fit to
represent anyone. Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association
vice- president Cde Joseph Chinotimba said the former combatants would leave
no stone unturned in finding those behind the plot.

"We want The Herald to release the names of those people so that we can deal
with them whoever they are because they cannot claim to be genuine

"We did not go to war so that only a few people can benefit and we are
definitely going to call an emergency meeting as an association so that we
can deal with this issue," Cde Chinotimba said.

Economic commentator Dr Samuel Undenge said there was need to form a united
stand against people seeking to undo the good work that Dr Gono was doing.

"We have two choices — either to stand up for the good of the economy or to
stand by and watch the economy going down.

"We cannot let a few people benefit at the expense of the majority of people
in the country because this is what people have been waiting for and there
can be no reversal because this will mean a return to hardships.

"Things have stabilised and you can actually see relief on the faces of many
people, which shows that we are moving in the right direction," he said.

Dr Gono has vowed to continue implementing his five-year monetary policy
despite the unearthing of the plot to discredit him.

Contacted for comment, Dr Gono’s spokesperson said he refuses to be drawn
into matters designed to distract him from the assignments at hand.

"The governor wishes to assure the Government, industry and commerce and the
nation at large that ‘mission abandonment’, as defined in the monetary
policy, is not an option, neither is it a failure to turn around this
economy in the long run," said the spokesperson who identified herself as

"He is appealing to all stakeholders to remain focused and work together for
the good of our country. For every bad apple out there, the governor
believes there are a million angels in the form of Zimbabweans from all
walks of life who want to see our economy improving. Those are the people
who matter, and of course, God," she said.

The plot against Dr Gono includes a number of measures such as attacking Dr
Gono’s person using the private Press.

The plotters have also proposed to seek the assistance of the MDC to make
the plan a success. The plotters alleged that Dr Gono was using former CBZ
marketing executive Mr Jonah Mungoshi as a front for his alleged asset
management company.

But Mr Mungoshi yesterday refuted the allegations.

"I have no knowledge of any asset management company belonging to Dr Gono
and I am not employed by him," he said.

The plotters reportedly set aside millions of dollars for the campaign that
is also meant to attack Dr Gono’s private life.

A number of secret meetings are now being held to map out ways of smearing
Dr Gono by the businessmen and politicians who feel the governor is
frustrating their illegal businesses and political careers.
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The Herald

Harare’s landscape sees dramatic change

By Ruth Butaumocho
HARAREs landscape has witnessed a dramatic change with the sprouting of
upmarket shopping malls in and around the capital and high-rise buildings as
the city competes with trends in the developing world.

Of note is the shift by developers from conventional housing to flats and
cluster houses, particularly evident in affluent residential areas.

Modern offices commonly referred to as "industrial parks" situated in the
northern suburbs have become the order of the day as companies flee from
congested office spaces in the Central Business Development (CBD).

Development in central Harare, especially the CBD, had declined, a
development hastened by the movement of "poor people" and vendors into the
city centre.

This had also resulted in companies and individuals moving further away from
the city centre to suburban premises, which were formally residential

Developers on the other hand were also pouring millions of dollars in the
construction of state-of-the-art offices comprising tennis courts and gym
facilities to meet the demands of the growing "sophisticated clientele".

This new phenomenon was apparently not a new experience on the continent but
had also become a trademark of development in other African countries.

South Africas major cities boasted of upmarket shopping malls such as the
Canalwalk in Cape Town where shoppers could buy anything from furniture to
clothing and also dine under one roof.

The shopping malls open till late in the evening, giving the working class
the opportunity of shopping with ease after a hard days work.

Similar shopping malls were becoming a common feature in Zimbabwes new
residential areas.

Unlike a few years ago when developers either renovated or built shops along
the main streets, developers were now keen on building shopping malls

Some of the most exciting shopping malls in Harare include High Glen close
to Budiriro, Eastgate in Harares CBD, Westgate and another one in
Chitungwiza constructed by insurance giant, Old Mutual.

Bulawayo and Mutare also boast of shopping malls in Nkulumane and Dangamvura

"Shopping malls lessen the burden for town planners. There is a neat
arrangement of buildings and better still state-of- the-art buildings in one
complex," said a site planner with one of the property development firms in
the country.

He said by concentrating on building shopping malls, developers were merely
responding to the needs of the market that had seen business units
restructuring their operations in line with international trends.

"The global economy has generated enormous pressure on Zimbabwes cities and
others in the continent by forcing businesses to become globally

"It then becomes imperative for a company with business dealings with
another company in England or Hong Kong to adopt an international strategy
if its business is to prosper," he said.

He said shopping malls were not as expensive as high rise buildings, which
required for instance many other accessories like elevators.

Elevators require regular maintenance and this had proved a costly exercise
as seen in some buildings in the CBD where elevators had become dangerous
due to lack of maintenance.

This physical impact of globalisation had also seen the growth and
improvement of infrastructure in other African cities such as Johannesburg,
Lagos, Pretoria and Durban just to name a few.

Construction of flats, cheap and reasonable accommodation, and shopping
malls and out of town offices in upmarket suburbs had since become part and
parcel of regional town planning initiatives.

This means that city planners and developers in capital cities have to come
up with infrastructure that would meet demands of their growing populations.

City of Harare was no exception.

Harare has witnessed growth of modern offices and glittering shopping malls
in the last couple of years, but little has been done to alleviate the
residential accommodation crisis currently haunting city dwellers.

Development currently taking place in the CBD, northern suburbs that include
Borrowdale and Westgate, does not tally with what was taking place in some
residential areas in the south-western suburbs.

Mbare, Mufakose, Highfield and Glen View are some of the areas in the
southwestern areas where no meaningful development had taken place because
of unavailability of land.

This had resulted in the upsurge of squatter camps or unplanned settlements.

Real Estate Institute of Zimbabwe (REIZ) spokesperson said the continued
decay of the city of Harare was the result of a collapsed service that the
municipality was obliged to offer residents.

"About 10 years ago, Harare as a city had made significant strides in
developing infrastructure, but this had since collapsed.

"It (Harare) of course still remains one of the cities in Africa with the
best infrastructure, but the standards have plummeted to unbelievable
levels, hence the sprouting of shopping malls and up-market offices in
suburban areas," the official said.

The official however added that the decline of standards in Harare should
not be left entirely to council authorities.

One of the major problems facing Harare that has stalled development was the
shortage of land for both commercial and residential purposes.

The few hectares of land available for development was prohibitive, making
it impossible for the ordinary person to purchase.

Concerned about the increased shortage of land for development in Harare,
REIZ president Mr Nico Kuipa recently urged Government and the Ministry of
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, through local
authorities to assist the private sector by providing land for office parks,
shopping malls and factories.

"We need the municipalities to assist us by availing prime land to set up
commercial and industrial infrastructure without first having to pull down
existing ones to later construct new structures on the same piece of land,"
said Mr Kuipa.

Mr Kuipa said Harare, which was the epitome of the countrys economy, but did
not have the space it needed for commercial and industrial purposes, was a
clear indication of similar problems being faced by other towns in the
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The Herald

IATA suspends Air Zimbabwe over debt

Herald Reporter
THE national airline, Air Zimbabwe, has been suspended by the International
Air Transport Association (IATA) over a US$1,3 million debt.

The suspension means the airline can no longer book its passengers on other
airlines plying routes that it does not service.

The IATA Clearing House is the internationally-recognised method through
which airlines settle bills owed to each other.

Air Zimbabwe said in a statement yesterday the debt owed to IATA stood at
US$1,9 million as at January 27, but was yesterday reduced to US$1,3 million
after a payment of US$600 000.

The debt was already in arrears by 17 days.

"Arising from this delay in payment, the IATA Clearing House invoked the
right to suspend the airline from the clearing house with effect from the
2nd of February 2004," the airline said in a statement.

"Concerted efforts to pay the remaining balance in the shortest possible
time so as to regain membership of the clearing house are at an advanced

The airline blamed the shortage of foreign currency for failing to service
the debt.

It said it still remained an active member of IATA despite being suspended
from the clearing house.

"Over the past 12 months, Air Zimbabwe has been facing problems procuring
foreign currency to meet its foreign currency denominated commitments," the
airline said.

"The airline expresses sincere apologies to inconveniences that this
temporary suspension may occasion."

The airline advised passengers holding its tickets for travel to
destinations it does not fly and intending to fly within the next seven days
to contact its nearest sales offices.

A turnaround strategy, the airline said, had been instituted for
repositioning to meet challenges.

The strategy was beginning to realise some positive impact.

"The turnaround strategy will see Air Zimbabwe transforming itself into a
commercially viable entity," the airline said.

A parliamentary committee last year called for the amendment of the Air
Zimbabwe Act to ensure the airline was granted an option to totally

The Minister of Finance and Economic Development Dr Herbert Murerwa said in
his budget statement last year the national airline should charge economic
fares on all routes.

This would ensure its viability, which is critical for its operations, the
promotion of tourism and national pride.

The Government was also looking for a strategic partner for the airline.

Air Zimbabwe lost its competitive edge in the last few years and was
battling to pay creditors who have to be paid in foreign currency.

The airline has been battling against operational problems that have seen it
losing a number of key personnel within the last few months.

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      WHO on alert for new cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe 2004-02-04 06:28:29

          HARARE, Feb. 3 (Xinhuanet) -- The World Health Organization (WHO)
said here on Tuesday that the organization would remain on alert against a
resurgence of a cholera outbreak which has killed 40 people in the country
since November.

          The authorities this week declared the cholera outbreak which
devastated the northern districts of Zimbabwe over, but the WHO said it was
still monitoring the situation.

          "We have put in place mechanisms to ensure that we pick it up as
soon as it resurfaces," said a WHO spokesman.

          "We can not completely kick out cholera; it's like a flu. You
always have it now and then but we can always be alert to detect it early,"
the spokesman said.

          Cholera was first detected in the Mola area of Kariba district
last November, where it killed 19 people and affected 600 others.

          An infected corpse that was transferred for burial in neighboring
Binga district triggered a fresh outbreak there, which resulted in a further
17 deaths and 101 cases which were successfully treated.

          The outbreak was declared over in December but new cases surfaced
in January, resulting in four deaths, according to reports.

          The WHO spokesman said awareness among health personnel was a key
weapon against the disease, which can cause death within 48 hours if not

          "Wherever there is an increase in diarrhoea, health workers must
test if it's cholera," he said.

          International organizations including the WHO, the International
Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies helped with funds and
other resources to bring the scourge under control.

          Cholera is a highly contagious disease whose symptoms include
diarrhoea and fits of vomiting. Enditem
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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 Report No. OLF230


Letter 1: Monetary Policy in Zimbabwe.

In mid December, the new Reserve Bank Governor announced a new monetary
policy for Zimbabwe. This was much heralded - the Minister of Finance had
said it was coming in the November budget statement and then the Governor
himself had said that he would be announcing far-reaching measures. The
State controlled media and the bank itself carefully orchestrated the
actual announcement. Television crews recorded the statement as it was
being made and copies were rushed to the financial community.

It was long - 114 pages, had some poor English in it but in substance he
announced that there would be two major changes to the way the Bank had
done business in the recent past. These were: -

1. He would allow the dual interest rate policy to continue - allowing the
State to borrow at low rates to fund its activities and budget deficit but
requiring the "productive sector" to pay a market related rate. There would
be an end to Reserve Bank support for illiquid financial institutions.

2. He would introduce an auction for foreign exchange and half the
Governments statutory purchases of foreign exchange from exporters would be
directed through this mechanism. He also tightened up the rules for the use
of the other 50 per cent retained by the exporters.

To say that the impact was dramatic is to put it mildly. Interest rates in
the private sector shot up from about 100 per cent per annum to over 900
per cent and when the auction was opened exchange rates firmed about 40 per
cent. From about 6000 to 1 for the US dollar to about 3500 to 1 where it
was yesterday on the auction.

The banking sector was taken by surprise and the 17 commercial banks and 20
odd Merchant Banks and 100 or so other financial institutions suddenly
found themselves operating in an environment of punitive interest rates on
all commercial borrowing. The Reserve Bank sat back and watched events
unfold for two full weeks before acting. Essentially what happened was that
all financial institutions which had a poor quality debt book and were
highly geared simply crashed. The banks passed on the massive hike in
interest rates to their surviving customers and many major firms suddenly
found themselves paying out their entire annual profits in interest in a
matter of weeks.

8 commercial banks (almost half all the registered commercial banks) failed
to cover their short-term requirements and could not meet their
obligations. Dozens of smaller merchant banks were plunged into a financial
crisis and in boardrooms across the country directors of firms considered

When the Governor eventually acted to rectify matters he liquidated two of
the delinquent institutions, replaced the Board of another and then simply
reversed his carefully constructed policy and allowed "unlimited" credit to
the affected banks at 30 per cent interest. That is 5 per cent of the
current official inflation rate of 600 per cent per annum. Interest rates
collapsed and it is now difficult to even find an institution that will
take surplus cash on an interest bearing deposit basis. Cash has fled from
the vaults of the worst affected institutions and made its way to the more
reputable ones who are now awash with liquidity. Chaos prevails.

The immediate effect has been to cripple many new; mainly Zanu PF
controlled financial institutions. A number of high flyers who have been
living it up on other peoples money are now in prison and a widespread
investigation is underway. It is doubtful that most of these institutions
will be able to survive without long term support by the Reserve Bank and
other government controlled agencies - like the National Social Security
Authority. Soft loans have been extended to all the major firms, who were
in trouble because of their highly geared status, but these are only for
six months and then the whole issue must be faced again. There is no
certainty or confidence in what will happen next. And in the meantime, the
whole cycle of speculation and inflation has started up again. The Stock
market, which crashed by 50 per cent before Christmas is now rapidly
recovering the ground lost.

In the field of exchange rate management the Bank has fared a bit better,
but the crunch, followed by collapse of the present policy is only a matter
of time. The idea of the auction system came from the Confederation of
Zimbabwe Industries and was adopted so that the working group that
developed these ideas did not have to use the word "devaluation", as this
is an anathema to the State President. But they went even further, why not
use this mechanism to drive down the exchange rate and thereby reduce
inflationary pressures?

So they announced that the new auction would be "controlled" by the Bank. A
colleague with vast experience of Africa said to me - when I welcomed the
auction idea, "watch how they run the auction - they will manipulate the
process and in doing so will undermine its effectiveness." Well they are
doing just that. Yesterday the Bank put US$8 million on offer, accepted
bids for US$10 million and put 300 other bids - of an undisclosed value on
hold. They then "accepted" bids within narrow margins and announced an
"average" exchange rate of 3500 to 1. The Bank staff is boasting that they
will get the rate down even lower.

Well, perhaps I went to a different University to all those clever guys,
but an auction to me means that you put the product on the table and then
accept the highest bid made. That is not happening and all that is
happening is that certain people (selected on goodness knows what criteria)
are being allowed to buy a scarce commodity at a low price. They of course,
are delighted and will no doubt sing Gono's praise and vote Zanu PF at
every opportunity.

But the impact on our exporters and other foreign exchange generators has
been immediate and serious. Many, if not most, are now considering their
options. Many are considering halting exports altogether. Chaos prevails.

The only real market arbiter remains the street - dangerous, illegal and
inefficient. That says the auction rate is nonsense and traders are bidding
for the greenback at 4500 to 5000 to 1 - and rising. Gono, like many of his
colleagues in government, will have to learn the lesson all businessmen
learn when in kindergarten - you cannot buck the market indefinitely or
even for a short time. Every time I do a spell check on my computer it
changes Gono's name to Goon, perhaps there is some truth to that.

E G Cross
Bulawayo, 3rd February 2004.

Letter 2 Dear friends and colleagues,

As a way of introducing you to Weaver Press, I am writing to inform you
that we have recently published three new titles, A Tragedy of Lives: women
in prison in Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe's Unfinished Business: Rethinking Land,
State and Nation in the Context of Crisis, and The Assassination of Herbert
Chitepo: Texts and Politics in Zimbabwe. Further information about all
these, and all our other titles is available on our website
<> Details of where to purchase the books if you
are living outside Zimbabwe is also available on the site.

The books are available in all good bookshops, but should you have any
difficulty obtaining them, please call or e-mail us.

Zimbabwe's Unfinished Business will shortly be launched at the Book Cafe by
invitation only. If you would like an invitation to the launch, please let
us know.

Thank you for your time. Your support will help us to keep ideas alive in

Yours sincerely,
Irene Staunton
Irene Staunton
Weaver Press,
Box 1922,
Phone 308330
Fax 339645

You might want to go to our Website for information on this month's new

Letter 3
Hi, I am writing from the USA and was hoping you might tell me if the name
Mr. Martin Tillotson shows anywhere there in Zimbabwe???  We were told he
was a foreign national, resident engineer who was in heavy duty farm
equipment.  Can you possibly shed any light on this person for us???  This
is very important as we are researching some of our family members and want
to either include him or exclude him from our tree.  Thank you so much for
your time.  Helen

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

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JOB OPPORTUNITIES: Updated February 4, 2004

Please send any job opportunities for publication in this newsletter to:
JAG Job Opportunities <>


1. Here is the ad we want put onto the employment section of your JAG email.

Mature lady required as a secretary for a small Auto electrical company in
town centre.  Needed for 3 mornings a week to do banking, invoicing,
creditors, filing etc

Phone: 04 790266
           011 414050
           011 420777

Thanks for your help.  See you soon.


2. Dear Sir/ Madam
We have a vacancy for a mornings only Bookeeper / General Admin / Wages
It would suit a farmers wife now living in town.
Do you know of anyone looking for something similar - to start ASAP. Please
contact Martin on 750617, 748189 or 011 412331.
3. 29.01.2004

Dear Admin,

How can we go about placing an ad in your classified section for a position
available ?

Details as follows :

Looking for a young farm manager (male environment), preferably with :
Minimum of 2 years tobacco growing experience
Some other crop knowledge (maize & passion fruit an advantage)
Must be able to shoot (some game culling required)
Preferably no dependants

Interested parties please reply to :
Imire, Wedza
Tel Nos : (022) 2354 (Farm Office)
                 (022) 22255 (Owners Residence Mr. J. Travers)
  (022) 2449 or 22257 (Game Park Lodges - may take a message)
It is best to phone first and then book an appointment.
Alternatively, by post :
Imire Farm
P.Bag 3750. Marondera

Thank you, please let us know how to go about placing this ad.

J.N. Travers
4. 29.01.2004
I wish to place an advert on your e mail site (and perhaps the CFU,s site
but dont have their e mail address.)

I am looking for a farm manager with a minimum of five years flue cured
tobacco experience to work on a farm in Malawi. Knowledge of forced air
systems would be an advantage. For further details please e mail or write to K Buckle, Box 5358. Limbe Malawi. Good
package offered for the right person.
5. 21.01.2004
I was wondering if you would be able to place this ad in your classified's:

URGENT - Farm Manager wishing to relocate to Harare - looking for house to
rent at a reasonable rate.  Please contact:
Belinda Van Vuuren - 04 492 442 or 011 614 643 or e'mail

For the latest listings of accommodation available for farmers, contact (updated 4 February 2004)

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13 Defiant School Heads Suspended

The Herald (Harare)

February 4, 2004
Posted to the web February 4, 2004


THIRTEEN heads of Government schools have been suspended pending
disciplinary hearings after they increased levies without approval from the
Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture.

The school development associations of the same 13 Government schools have
been dissolved. The associations are responsible for setting the levies.

All schools - whether Government, local Government or private - need written
approval from the ministry before they increase fees or levies by more than
10 percent.

In a statement yesterday, the Minister of Education, Sport and Culture Cde
Aeneas Chigwedere, gave the following list of schools whose heads had been
suspended and school development associations dissolved:

Prince Edward High

Mutare Boys High

Chancellor Primary

Chisamba Primary

Bindura Primary

Mvukwe Primary

Chipindura High

Chindunduma High

Diggleford Primary

Godfrey Huggins Primary

Milton High

Marula Primary

Fletcher High

Cde Chigwedere said the 13 schools should immediately fall back to the
levies and fees they charged last term.

"Only after the schools have tabled proposals that are accepted by the
ministry can they effect new fees," he said.

Parents who had already paid the new and "illegal" fees should have the
excess credited against the fees and levies due next term.

"They should go to the schools and make that arrangement."

The ministry was continuing investigations and teams were at work in all

"We sometimes get unreliable reports and we do not want to act on such
information. For that reason, we still have teams out in full force scouting
for those who are breaking the law."

The procedure for raising fees or levies by more than 10 percent is
relatively simple. The school development association or board of governors
needs to call a meeting of parents, giving adequate notice.

The parents need to be told why fees or levies need to be raised and their
questions should be addressed. At the end of the meeting a formal vote has
to be taken on whether the proposed fee or levy is acceptable.

The school then has to forward to the relevant regional director, copies of
the notice of the meeting, the register listing the names of those who
attended, the minutes of the meeting and the budget used to arrive at the
new figure.

In most cases, so long as a substantial majority of parents attending the
meeting have agreed to the new figure and so long as the other papers are in
order, approval is granted.

This is how some private schools wishing to raise fees to around $7 million
a term for tuition and boarding have managed to obtain approval. Other
schools, wanting far lower fees cannot legally charge these because they
have not gone through the correct process.

Several schools that had raised fees or levies without even holding a
parents meeting have been holding frantic meetings over the past fortnight
in a desperate and belated attempt to meet the requirements of the Ministry.
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Zimbabwe: By-Election "Peaceful"

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

February 4, 2004
Posted to the web February 4, 2004


The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has declared the by-election on
Monday and Tuesday in the central Zimbabwean constituency of Gutu North as

The seat fell vacant following the death of vice-president Simon Muzenda,
and was contested by retired air marshal Josiah Tungamirai of the ruling
ZANU-PF party and Crispen Musona from the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).

Reginald Matchaba-Hove, chairman of ZESN, said he had spent three days on
the ground "and I have not noticed any intimidation or party T-shirts" in
the vicinity of the polling stations.

ZESN reported on Tuesday that European Union diplomats had been denied entry
to some of the voting locations. Matchaba-Hove explained that the incident
had occurred at only one polling station, where the polling official in
charge had not been briefed about the visit. The delegation eventually
gained access.

According to political analyst Brian Raftopoulos, Gutu North is an important
constituency, because it is located in Masvingo, the province with the
largest electoral population in the country. The constituency in itself has
59,390 eligible voters.

"It is also an important constituency in terms of ZANU-PF politics. Whoever
wins the constituency for ZANU-PF, because of the vast number it controls,
will play an important role in the succession battle within ZANU-PF,"
Raftopoulos commented. He expected Tungamirai to win comfortably.
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NLC Writes Mugabe, Wants Labour Leader Reinstated

This Day (Lagos)

February 4, 2004
Posted to the web February 4, 2004

Juliana Taiwo

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has in a letter to President Robert Mugabe
of Zimbabwe, demanded the reinstatement of Brother Lovemore Matombo,
President of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), who was relieved
of his appointment by the Zimbabwean Postal Organisation (ZIMPOST) last

NLC in the letter written through the Zimbabwean High Commissioner to
Nigeria, Dr. K. L. Dube and signed by its General Secretary, John Odah,
labour noted that Matombo who was relieved of his appointment on January 23,
2003 for absenting himself from duty, was away abroad attending the Congress
of the Organisation of Africa Trade Union Unity (OATUU), to which the ZCTU
is an affiliate.

It alleged that the sack was aimed at intimidating and harassing workers in
order to hamstring labour movement in the country.

"The termination of his appointment was at the behest of your government, as
part of wide-ranging measures implemented to intimidate and harass
legitimate opposition, especially the trade union movement."

NLC described as unfair and unjustifiable the termination of the appointment
of Matombo, stressing that the action does no credit at all to Mugabe's
administration in the comity of other civilised African nations, whose trade
union leaders also attended the OATUU Congress.

The NLC urged Mugabe to cause the appropriate directives to be issued
towards Matombo's reinstatement and lifting of the suspension on the other
members of his union's executive body. The union also stressed that despite
the tense and difficult situation in Zimbabwe, there is "robust space for a
wider margin of tolerance by your government in relating with the ZCTU,
notwithstanding her critical view of the governance situation."

"Indeed, international law and international labour standards oblige you to
engage the trade movement in a more liberal way that is devoid of the
high-handed tactics, which are all too often unleashed on the ZCTU and its
leadership. Nigeria workers call on your Excellency to remedy the situation
in line with the aspirations of Zimbabwean workers and people and consistent
with international law and labour standards", it said.
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Police Ban Launch of MDC Policy

Business Day (Johannesburg)

February 4, 2004
Posted to the web February 4, 2004

Dumisani Muleya

ZIMBABWEAN police have again banned the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
from spreading the word on its proposed economic rescue plan, this time in
the Midlands city of Gweru tomorrow.

MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi said his party had been told by the officer
commanding Gweru urban station a chief superintendent known only by the
surname of Mbewe that the party was prohibited from unveiling its economic
recovery plan because of a lack of adequate manpower to provide security.

President Robert Mugabe's regime had banned the launch of the MDC economic
policy Restart (Reconstruction, Stabilisation, Recovery and Transformation)
in Gweru tomorrow, Nyathi said.

The MDC launched its revival policy in Harare last week, but not without a
trip to the Harare High Court to have a ban on its meeting overturned. The
court issued an eleventh hour rescue, which allowed that meeting to take

The MDC said it would once again file a high court application seeking to
overturn the unlawful ban on the unveiling of the plan.

The MDC plans to unveil its Revival plan in Bulawayo on Friday.

It was "a big shame" for the government that the MDC had to go to court
every time it sought to outline its policies, Nyathi said.

"It is a clear admission that Zanu (PF) is no match to the MDC programme,
and now Mugabe through his partisan police force seeks to deny the people of
Zimbabwe access to the economic blueprint."

Nyathi said it was ironic for a government that often claimed the MDC had no
policies to scramble to stop his party from launching its economic recovery

"Zimbabweans are no doubt wondering why Zanu (PF) seeks to stop the people
knowing the contents of that programme."

Meanwhile in Harare, state radio said voter turnout was heavy in a
parliamentary by-election in southern Zimbabwe where the opposition said
balloting was marred by intimidation and vote rigging.

The two-day poll ended yesterday in the ruling party's stronghold of Gutu,
240km south of Harare to fill the seat left vacant by the death of former
vice-president Simon Muzenda in September last year.
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Massive Staff Exodus Hits City Council

The Herald (Harare)

February 4, 2004
Posted to the web February 4, 2004


HARARE City Council has been hit by a massive exodus of key staff from all
departments, putting under threat the efficient delivery of service to the
capital city of 2,5 million people.

Between January and December last year, council lost 170 workers, with 99 of
them being nursing staff and 28 from the department of works.

Council has an establishment of 10 500 workers but currently employs 8 600,
meaning it has a deficit of 1 900 workers.

Sources said the resignations - blamed on poor salaries, unprofessional
political interference and unfavourable working conditions - spared no
department and some heads of departments had also indicated intentions to

A senior employee cited examples of council's failure to provide housing
stands and educational allowances to key staff as reasons for the exodus.

Information from Town House also indicates that deaths were a major cause of
the staff deficit, with high deaths recorded in the works and housing

Critical staff like engineers complained they were not provided with
transport and retention allowances while some said they were denied overtime

"We are sometimes asked to work over weekends and after hours. After
reporting for such duties, we are then asked to go home by public
transport," said one engineer.

The engineers complained their salaries were pathetic, with some of them
taking home as little as $200 000 per month while their counterparts in the
private sector earn in excess of $3 million a month and enjoy several

Town clerk Mr Nomutsa Chideya confirmed the resignations and said council
was doing all it could to save the city.

"We are looking at improving the salaries and working conditions of our

He said some of the workers just stopped reporting for duty without giving
notice and the next council would hear was that the workers had left for the
United Kingdom.

"Yes, we have lost a good number of engineers and nurses. We are looking at
addressing their concerns," he said.

Some of the workers cited undue interference from politicians in their daily
operations, while some said council ignored the professional recommendations
they made.

"We tell them what to do and what not to do but they are adamant, they know
better than us. It is better to leave the institution before it crumbles,"
one senior official said.

He said leaving before the situation had deteriorated further would save
some of them from blame.

Sources within council told The Herald that if the situation went unchecked
for another month, the city would crumble.

The hardest hit departments were those of works and health services.

"Experienced engineers and nursing staff are leaving the council on a daily

"The law department, where about 12 lawyers should be employed, only had

"The rest have left because council does not pay well," said one official.

Other essential staff like horticulturists, social workers and specialists
have all left.

Harare residents have over the years been complaining over the shoddy
delivery of service mostly involving burst water and sewer pipes, which can
go for days without being repaired.

"The engineers are now taking it easy and are not responding to distress
calls," said one worker who spoke on condition of anonymity.
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Daily News

Madhuku left for dead

Date:5-Feb, 2004

ARMED anti-riot police yesterday thwarted a demonstration organised by
the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) and allegedly severely beat up
the organisation’s chairman, Lovemore Madhuku, whom they are said to have
left for dead in a bush near the National Sports Stadium on the outskirts of
the city centre.

When a Daily News crew arrived at the dumpsite adjacent to the
National Sports Stadium where he had been left, Madhuku was lying in a pool
of blood as sympathisers were making plans to take him to hospital.

The outspoken constitutional expert, who sustained lacerations on his
head and serious injuries all over his body, was admitted to a private

The NCA has over the years engaged in running battles with the police
over several demonstrations held by the organisation to press the government
to craft a new constitution.

Madhuku, visibly in pain and withdrawn due to excessive bleeding, said
he could not recall some of yesterday’s events because he had lost
consciousness before he was dumped.

“The last time I remember was when they were saying I was stubborn and
had to be eliminated,” Madhuku said from the hospital bed where he was

“I was picked up outside the Parliament building together with eight
members and pushed into a truck by the police.

“The others were dropped off on the way and then six police officers
started beating me with batons and fists. I remember one police detail
saying that I had to be eliminated once and for all.”

Madhuku said he was having difficulty hearing. The NCA chairman also
said he was in severe pain after sustaining wounds on his head.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena, who had earlier indicated that he
would comment on the matter, was no longer reachable at the time of going to
print last night.

Ernest Mudzengi, the NCA spokesman, said the organisation had not
sought police permission for its demonstration.

“We believe that it is the duty of responsible citizens to disobey bad
laws. The Public Order and Security Act – POSA – is a bad law. The attempt
by the police on Madhuku’s life is ample proof that we are now dealing with
a thuggish government bent on eliminating its perceived enemies.”

Thirteen NCA youths who were beaten by the police were yesterday
receiving treatment at a private surgery and said the police had set vicious
dogs on them.

“We had to run for our lives after we were beaten up,” said one of the
NCA members.

Madhuku said his organisation would continue to demonstrate until its
goals were achieved.

“In fact, there will be more and more demonstrations,” said Madhuku,
who was struggling to speak.

“What has happened today is actually igniting the flame for a new
constitution. We will not be deterred by the beatings and cruelty of this
regime. They can only stop us by killing us.”

Staff Reporter

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Daily News

High Court to hear MDC application

Date:5-Feb, 2004

THE High Court will this morning make a determination on an urgent
application filed by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) yesterday
against the decision by the police to bar the launch of the party’s economic
blueprint in Gweru this afternoon.

The MDC sought relief from the High Court yesterday after the police
said they would not sanction the meeting at the Gweru Theatre to publicly
launch its economic programme.

Today’s matter, to be heard by Justice Rita Makarau, comes less than a
week after another High Court judge, Justice Charles Hungwe, overruled the
police and granted a similar application by the MDC to be allowed to hold
the launch of the Restart programme in Harare on Friday evening.

Staff Reporter
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04 Feb 2004 17:20:43 GMT
Zimbabwe police arrest over 100 to stop protest


HARARE, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe police arrested more than 100 people on
Wednesday during a crackdown on an anti-government protest, witnesses said.

The leader of the protest, an outspoken critic of President Robert Mugabe,
said he was assaulted and severely injured while leading the demonstration,
which was illegal under Zimbabwe law.

Zimbabwe's tough security laws bar political and civic organisations from
holding meetings or demonstrations without police permission, but critics
say the law is being used to to suppress opposition against Mugabe's
government in the face of a deep political and economic crisis.

Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of political pressure group National
Constitutional Assembly (NCA), said police had detained 116 people near a
square in central Harare where the NCA was to hold a demonstration to press
its demands for constitutional reforms.

Madhuku said the NCA had no police permit for the demonstration.

Police spokesmen were not immediately available for comment, but witnesses
at the scene said they saw police move in on the protesters and load a
number of them into security vans. Madhuku said riot police had beat him
with batons, kicked him all over his body, bundled him into a truck and
later dumped him on the outskirts of Harare.

"I suffered head and back injuries. I have lacerations all over my body, and
they only dumped me after I had a gash in the head and was bleeding," he
said. His injuries could not be independently confirmed.

Madhuku said about 20 other people were assaulted, and one man had also
suffered severe head and body injuries.

Zimbabwe police can detain people for up to 48 hours before bringing them to

Mugabe, Zimbabwe's ruler since the southern African country gained
independence from Britain in 1980, denies he has ruined one of Africa's most
promising economies with his controversial political and economic policies.

The 79-year-old leader says Zimbabwe's economic crisis is a result of
sabotage by Western and local opponents seeking to overthrow him mainly for
seizing white-owned farms for black resettlement.
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Daily News

Chombo, Chikomba leaders clash over boundaries

Date:4-Feb, 2004

THE proposed alteration of the boundaries of Chikomba and Kadoma Rural
District Councils, which will place at least 150 farms under the control of
Kadoma, has sparked a bitter row between Local Government Minister Ignatius
Chombo and the ruling ZANU PF leadership in Chikomba.

The Local Government Ministry announced the proposal in an
advertisement published on 22 January, provoking an outcry from traditional
chiefs, resettled farmers and the ruling party leadership in Chikomba.

A group of farmers, including Chikomba Member of Parliament Bernard
Makokove, have formed a committee to protest the proposed transfer of their
properties to Kadoma.

The committee last week petitioned the Ministry of Local Government,
objecting to the proposed alterations and characterising them as part of
“political machinations of certain people who harbour a sinister and
mischievous agenda against Chikomba Rural District Council”.

“There is a serious political and security risk in forcibly excising
the properties from Chikomba to Kadoma,” the farmers said in a petition
submitted to Vincent Hungwe, the secretary for Local Government, Public
Works and National Housing by Harare lawyer Obert Chaurura-Gutu on 27

“The proposed excision of a big portion of Chikomba will leave the
local population angry. These people will feel marginalised and this is a
sure recipe for political instability.”

The farmers complained that the leadership of Chikomba Rural District
Council had not been consulted and had not been given a chance to voice
their objections to the proposed boundary changes.

Chaurura-Gutu said: “The local population has also not been consulted,
regardless of the fact that if the excision is approved, it will have
far-reaching consequences on the local community, especially pertaining to
their farming activities.

“You will note that if the proposed excision is approved, wards one,
seven and eight, which are all resettlement wards, will be annexed into
Kadoma Rural District Council. This will effectively mean that the Chikomba

Rural District Council as a whole will only be left with Charter
Estate and a few model A2 farms. This will mean that Chikomba Rural District
Council will lose a total of 150 farmers to Kadoma Rural District Council.”

The farmers’ lawyer added: “Our client is made up of the local
political leadership in Chikomba district and these are the people who have
been very active in ensuring that the people of Chikomba are given adequate
land for resettlement. The proposed excision of a big portion of Chikomba
district will, therefore, leave the local population angry.”

ZANU PF’s district co-ordinating committee for Chikomba warned that
the boundary dispute could fuel ethnic conflict within ZANU PF, while Chiefs
Mutekedza, Chivese and Nyoka said they felt belittled and cheated by the
proposed excision of part of Chikomba without their consent.

“Boundary disputes all over the world have created ethnic conflicts,”
reads part of a letter written by the ZANU PF co-ordinating committee
(Chikomba) to the party provincial chairman for Mashonaland East.

“As the local political leadership, we do not want to be party to this
destabilising legacy being put forward by Comrade (Ignatius) Chombo. Be
advised that the British, the Americans and other infectious imperialist
elements, which are anti-Zimbabwe and anti-ZANU PF, will use this
opportunity to fuel discontent and hence try to make the country

The letter added: “Each time his Excellency the President appoints a
local government minister from Mashonaland West, the divisive talk of
boundary changes for Chikomba is revived. Why is this so? Is there a hidden

Staff Reporter
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Government Gazettes New Telecoms Regulations

Media Institute of Southern Africa (Windhoek)

February 4, 2004
Posted to the web February 4, 2004

In a move likely to have serious repercussions for the development of the
telecommunications industry in Zimbabwe, the government has called to life
the monopoly of its fixed phone company, TelOne, as the only legal gateway
to all incoming and outgoing international communications services in the

According to the government gazette of January 29 2004, the
Telecommunications Services Regulations 2004, states that any operator
providing direct international telecommunication services must cease
operations within the next 30 days and make appropriate measures to comply
with the new regulations.

The government gazette, Statutory Instrument 18/04 provides that TelOne
shall with effect from January 31 provide access to all international
telecommunications services and provide international interconnection
capacity to all other public licensed telecommunications including internet

Telecommunications companies which fail to comply will be de-licensed
according to the gazette. The government says that from the year 2000,
several telecommunications companies operating in Zimbabwe have been
providing illegal satellite services. This, the government argues was done
through third parties who offer satellite based telecommunications through
an international company Intel stat segments.

Information and Publicity Minister Jonathan Moyo says that such conduct has
serious implications on the country's national security. The government
further alleges that the companies were not remitting foreign currency
earned back into the county.

Meanwhile one of the affected companies, wireless phone operator, Econet
wireless has filed an urgent chamber application in the High Court
contesting the government's move. Econet Wireless, through its lawyers
Kantor and Immerman, cites the Post and Telecommunications Regulatory
Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) and the Minister of Transport and
Communications as the first and second respondents respectively.

According to the application, Econet is seeking an interdict for the
government to stop interfering with its base stations, international
gateways or any of its international telecommunications operations.

Econet is also seeking an interim relief to suspend provisions of the new
regulations pending the full determination of the matter in the courts and
also that the same be declared null, void and of no effect and application.

In the court papers Econet has disputed TelOne's exclusive rights in
providing access to international communications as this would be tantamount
to reinstating the government's monopoly which was struck down as
unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1998. Econet further argues that
since TelOne is a competitor in the industry, the government is giving
unfair advantage to its own company.

The telecommunications company also stated in its application that TelOne
has no capacity to carry incoming and outgoing international traffic since
its subscribers were failing to call oversees wireless phone numbers.

"The background to this and the chronology of events since 2000 demonstrated
beyond doubt that the second respondent has always harboured a desire to
close down the Applicant's (Econet)'s operations and the statutory element
is therefore tailored to cover the applicant," argues Econet wireless in its
court papers.

A manager with one of the wireless mobile phone companies, Telecell
Zimbabwe, told the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation on February 2 2004 that
the regulations have serious repercussions for the development of the
Information Communication Technologies (ICT's) in Zimbabwe. He added that
telecommunications companies in Zimbabwe have agreements with other outside
companies which will be affected by the new regulations.

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Daily News

Impartiality vital at media discussion

Date:4-Feb, 2004

PARTICIPANTS in tomorrow’s discussion in Harare of the role and
responsibility of the media in Zimbabwe should tackle this contentious issue
with a high degree of probity and impartiality.

After all, the relationship between the government and the media often
determines the level of freedom of expression and, ultimately, the level of
democracy enjoyed by people in any country.

The decision by Global Arts, in association with the Book Cafe, to
include the media on its programme is highly commendable as it comes at a
time when Zimbabwe’s media turf has been seriously polarised, with some of
its practitioners totally confused and misdirected.

The discussion – to be led by Andrew Moyse, a former journalist who
now runs the Media Monitoring Project – will include, hopefully, other
scribes from the media in Zimbabwe for it to be balanced.

As the organisers point out, there are now two distinct media camps in
the country. One, which is predominantly State-run, is subserviently and
unashamedly pro-government.

It sees and hears no evil and daily churns out large volumes of
pro-government information. It, in essence, acts as the public relations arm
of the establishment.

This is in keeping with the tradition of “he who pays the piper, calls
the tune”.

This camp has painted the main opposition party, the Movement for
Democratic Change, as an enemy of the State and claims, without concrete
evidence, that the opposition is funded by foreigners in London and
Washington whose agenda is to overthrow the government.

The second camp, comprised of privately owned news organisations, has
been generally critical of an autocratic government that has entrenched
itself in power and will not let go.

Sections of this camp have exposed the government’s excesses,
wholesale graft, gross economic mismanagement, the endemic political
violence – especially during elections, which are often rigged – and the
glaring breakdown of the rule of law.

It has pointed out cases of human rights abuses by State agents and
has clashed with a government that brooks no criticism; a government that
has passed legislation that virtually emasculates the private media.

It is crucial that tomorrow’s discussion should make clear in no
uncertain terms the evils of the polarisation of Zimbabwe’s media.

It is not in the interests of the public, who the media is duty-bound
to serve, when news reports cause more confusion than clarity, which is the
outcome when it becomes difficult to determine which media portrayed truth
to believe.

Tomorrow’s discussion will also not be complete without an examination
of the two pieces of legislation that have become anathema to the free flow
of information in Zimbabwe – the Public Order and Security Act, a carry-over
from the colonial era of Ian Smith, and the draconian Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act.

These laws have made it difficult for journalists to operate freely in
this country, a circumstance that is also not in the interests of the

It is to be hoped that tomorrow’s discussion will remind local
journalists of the reasons they went into journalism in the first place and
their duty to the nation, which is to report the truth without favour.

It is only by adhering to this principle that the media can fulfil its
role, to provide the public with the facts that will enable it to make
informed decisions, something that can only benefit the nation.
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--> Daily News

Learning our future from past blunders

Date:4-Feb, 2004

MOST people think that they are so special and their history so unique
that no one can teach them anything. And unique they are, true.

But there is also the experience “that there is nothing new under the

African children have to learn African history. Why bother them with
Europe’s past? True. And yet, we are all human, and what happened in Europe
1 000 or 2 000 years ago may well be similar to what we are going through
now in this country.

The Romans were great water engineers. They knew how to build
aqueducts to get water to the public baths they were so fond of.

But after their empire had collapsed under the onslaught of younger
and more vigorous nations, this remarkable water technology collapsed. The
new masters had no use for it.

It took a long time for the new nations to reach the same degree of
craftsmanship as the Romans, eg in producing glass, constructing roads and
building houses.

A British author writes: “However idealised the civilising might have
been, it was still basically being imposed from outside (by the Romans).
Once they had gone, there was a reversion. Darkness and destruction
returned, which is so often the case when the old masters move out.

“The British have left Africa, but not to peace and unity. It could be
argued that great empires, like the Roman and the British, don’t actually do
any good, except to themselves. In the long run, people, like nations, have
got to work it out for themselves.” (Hunter Davies)

Is that what we are going through now? Have we completely rejected the
colonial heritage? Are we dismantling everything that was built up, the good
together with the bad, so we have to go back to square one and “work it out
for ourselves”?

I have heard it said quite recklessly: “When the worst comes to the
worst, we can always go back to the land and grow our crops as we always

Do people really want to go back to pre-colonial subsistence

Even if they did, which I doubt very much, it just could not be done.
In 1850 or so, what is now Zimbabwe had at the most one million inhabitants,
probably less – now we are 12 million.

Land by itself is not our prosperity. Our happiness does not lie in
the past. I have yet to meet anyone who believes it does, least of all among
young people.

We cannot go back on the division of labour that now exists between
town and country, farmers and urban workers. Do we really want to ruin the
urban middle class and industrial workers and turn them into rural dwellers
again, thinking that peasants are easier to control politically?

We inherited the trappings of parliamentary democracy, but not real
democracy. There was no universal vote. Majority rule was what the war was
about. A suitable form of government is indeed what we still “have to work
out for ourselves”.

Democracy originated in Greek city states and in early Rome, but it
did not last. Again and again, Europe saw a reversion to feudal, autocratic,
even totalitarian, forms of government.

Do we want to repeat this painful struggle over millennia? Or can we
learn a few lessons from our northern neighbours and shorten the process?

Democracy is not a ready-made kit which you buy in a supermarket
complete with a manual telling you how to use it. It is more than just a set
of rules about how to conduct the struggle for power without destroying

If we want to work out a suitable form of government for ourselves,
one that allows everybody to participate in the public affairs of the
country (which is the original meeting of res publica, ie republic), we need
a new mindset.

We need to look at our fellow citizens in a new way. What hurts them
also hurts us. We must never do to them what we do not want them to do to

People are not merely “masses” to be used, abused and manipulated for
our interests.

Democracy is based on respect for the profound value, dignity and
uniqueness of every person. It is based on respect for profound moral and
spiritual values.

Unless we hold those values democracy will be a hollow shell.

Democracy is a way to control power and limit its abuse. It is based
on the conviction that people are more important than power and must not be
sacrificed to power. If this conviction goes, you may still have the
trappings of a “democratic republic”,

but no genuine participation in public affairs which is what
“republic” means.

We hear a lot of “national sovereignty”. Even soccer was enlisted in a
frenzied effort of putting our “sovereign nation” on the map. If you cannot
get the positive support of your people in a free political process, you
have to invent an enemy and frighten the people into submission with his
(enemy’s) alleged evil intentions against you.

Some socialists saw through this dirty trick in the past and refused
to take part in the general slaughter of the world wars of the last century;
they maintained these wars were a mere diversion from the more fundamental
conflict between classes.

In the name of “national sovereignty”, we are supposed to hate Britain
and the “imperialist powers”. Isn’t that the same diversionary tactics?

You do not build a nation through the common hatred of a perceived
enemy. Hatred of the former colonial power is a bit tricky; considering your
“sovereign nation” in its present borders was shaped by that colonial power.

Are you going to loathe yourself for having such an origin? We cannot
escape our history.

If we base our historical identity entirely on pre-colonial Great
Zimbabwe and the people who built it, that leaves out the ethnic minority
with its different history.

Are we trying to build ethnically unified nation states with all the
“ethnic cleansing” that makes it necessary? Are we going to espouse the kind
of nationalism that will land us in unending ethnic conflicts?

Don’t we want to steer clear of the fanatical nationalism that turned
Europe twice in the twentieth century into a huge slaughter house?

We ought to go on fast track towards a united Africa which legitimates
national borders.

Indeed, we “have to work it out for ourselves”, but always aware of
the stupid, ghastly blunders of the past which we want to avoid.

By Fr Oskar Wermter SJ
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