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

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Food shortages threaten Zimbabwe

A corn meal shortage in Zimbabwe has lead to scuffles among the hundreds of people queuing outside a Harare shop for the food stuff.

Police guarded the doors of the store to prevent it being swamped by a swelling crowd after it received its first delivery of corn meal for several days.

Supermarket managers said most shops received their last corn deliveries two weeks ago and more crowds were expected once stocks were replenished.

Police allowed small groups of people inside the store at a time, and rationed each person to one 22 pound bag of meal, about a three day's supply of the staple food for an average family of four, until the shelves were bare.

The shortages have been caused by violent disruptions of farm production since March 2000 that have triggered the country's worst economic crisis since independence in 1980.

Zimbabwe has usually been self-sufficient and a food exporter but now need to import 200,000 tons of corn to make up for shortfalls in domestic production.

Acute hard currency shortages, which have already caused severe shortages of petrol, medicines and other essential imports, are expected to hinder food purchases further.

The World Food Programme has appealed for 37 million from international donors to feed 558,000 rural Zimbabweans in need of immediate aid.

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Zim cops guard food lines

Harare - Hundreds of people scuffled and jostled for places in a rowdy line
outside a food store in downtown Harare on Friday, as a shortage of the
maize staple began to grip the capital.

Police guarded the doors of the store to prevent it from being swamped by a
swelling crowd after it received its first delivery of maize meal for
several days.

The scene was the first noticed in the city centre since food shortages
began in December. Supermarket managers said most shops received their last
maize deliveries two weeks ago and more crowds were expected once stocks
were replenished.

Police allowed small groups of people inside the store at a time, and
rationed each person to one 10kg bag of maize meal, about a three-day's
supply of the staple for an average family of four, until the shelves were

The shortages have mostly been caused by violent disruptions of farm
production since March 2000, that have triggered the country's worst
economic crisis since independence in 1980.

Earlier this week, the state Grain Marketing Board said the first trains and
trucks carrying emergency grain bought from neighbouring South Africa began
arriving at the border town of Beit Bridge.

'No need to panic'

Zimbabwe used to be self-sufficient and an exporter. Food imports were
needed during a devastating drought in 1992, when food lines like Friday's
were last seen.

The grain board said 200 000 tons of mostly maize was now being imported to
make up for shortfalls in domestic production ahead of sharply contested
presidential elections scheduled for March 9-10.

There was "no need to panic", said Justin Mutasa, the board's operations
director. Unprocessed maize was being imported and it would be milled and
distributed from provincial centres across the country.

The cost of food imports was initially estimated at about $40 million.

The Famine Early Warning Unit in the Agriculture Ministry warned in December
of an "imminent food security crisis" that would require imports of 300 000
tons of maize to avert starvation by the end of March.

The total deficit in maize and other cereals in this year's harvests would
likely be about 850 000 tons, including a shortage of some 600 000 tons of
the maize staple worth about $120 million.

Brisk black market

Acute hard currency shortages, which have already caused severe shortages of
petrol, medicines and other essential imports, are expected to hinder food

The first delivery of 5 200 tons of UN famine relief arrived in Zimbabwe
January 23.

The World Food Programme has appealed for $60 million from international
donors to feed 558 000 rural Zimbabweans in need of immediate aid.

Zimbabwe's 13 million people consume about 5 000 tons of maize a day, with
additional low grade stocks needed to feed livestock.

Food shortages have led to a brisk black market in maize and other
commodities since the government announced a price freeze on basic foods on
October 12.

Local producers of maize meal, cooking oil, milk and other controlled goods
say fixed prices have made production uneconomic and have forced them to
reduce output.

Food shortages, spurring official or unofficial price increases, have in the
past triggered food riots.

Ruling party militants began occupying white-owned farms two years ago
demanding they be redistributed to landless blacks.

Human rights officials and opposition activists, however, say the
increasingly unpopular party has transformed the farms into bases for a
campaign of terror against black and white supporters of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change in rural areas.

The increasingly unpopular President Robert Mugabe (77) is fighting for his
political survival in the March election where he faces a tight race against
opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai (49). - Sapa-AP

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Financial Times

Mugabe 'set on thwarting' poll observers
By Judy Dempsey in Caceres, Spain
Published: February 8 2002 17:43

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe is doing everything possible to disrupt
the work of European Union electoral observers, despite the threat of
sanctions, diplomats said on Friday.

With a month to go before elections, only a handful of EU observers has
arrived, Mr Mugabe has blacklisted several European countries' observers and
accreditation for those who have arrived has been slow.

Diplomats attending the informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in Caceres,
Spain, said Mr Mugabe had excluded five EU countries from those sending
observers: the Netherlands, Britain, Germany, Denmark and Sweden.

The EU, however, has chosen Pierre Schori, Sweden's ambassador to the United
Nations, to head the European team of observers. It is still unclear,
however, whether Mr Schori will be allowed into the country and, if he is,
whether he will receive accreditation.

EU diplomats said it was next to useless if observers were allowed in but
were not be free to travel the country, see the polling booths and have
proper communications and transport. The fact that observers are being sent
so late has made their task more difficult.

Chris Patten, the EU's external affairs commissioner, who is attending the
foreign ministers' meeting, has repeatedly said Mr Mugabe would put many
obstacles in the way of free and fair elections, despite the threat of

A Commission official said there was hardly any point in continuing with
consultations tied to article 96 of the EU's Cotonou Agreement. The
consultations were designed to give both sides the chance to find ways to
reinstate the rule of law in Zimbabwe, stop the political violence and end
press intimidation.

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Britain comes to Zim's aid

Harare - Britain on Friday gave 6 million ($8.5 million, 9.7 million) to
the United Nations to provide urgently needed aid to avert a humanitarian
disaster in Zimbabwe, the UN and Britain announced.

The funds, which account for more than 10% of Zimbabwe's total emergency aid
requirements for 2002, have been allocated despite sour relations between
the two countries, and come as Zimbabwe stands on the brink of a potentially
massive famine.

"Zimbabwe needs urgent international humanitarian assistance," said Victor
Angelo, the UN resident co-ordinator in Harare.

"Zimbabwe's staple maize is in seriously short supply. National and
household reserves are nearly depleted. Retail outlets are often without
stock," said the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Food Security
Network in its latest newsletter.

The southern African country normally produces a surplus of food, but this
year it has suffered a massive shortage of staple grains, caused by erratic
rains, a national economic downturn, sharp rises in food prices, and
disruptions to commercial farming by the government's land reforms.

Inflation rate 112%

Prices of basic commodities have shot up sharply, pushing the annual
inflation rate for 2001 to 112%.

"Food and basic commodities shortages, health and social services are
over-stretched and require urgent national action and support from the
international community," said the UN.

The British aid "represents an important contribution to the $83 million UN
appeal launched (for Zimbabwe) in December 2001," the UN Humanitarian
Assistance and Recovery Programme (Harp) for Zimbabwe said in a statement.

In addition to the aid pledged on Friday, Britain has in recent months
allocated some 8 million ($11 million, 13 million) for essential medicine
and food aid programmes run by non-governmental organisations in Zimbabwe.

The British high commissioner (ambassador) to Harare, Brian Donnelly, said
his country's aid to Zimbabwe, which will amount to 18 million ($25
million, 29 million) by the close of the financial year ending in March,
highlights Britain's commitment to Zimbabweans.

England's long-term commitment

"Against the background of sometimes fevered speculation about the role of
Britain in this country, I think this is the best and most reliable
indication of the genuine, long-term commitment for the people of Zimbabwe
and their future well-being," said Donnelly at a ceremony to officially hand
over the aid funds to the UN in Harare.

Diplomatic relations between Zimbabwe and its former colonial power Britain
have been strained in recent years with London waging an international
campaign to imposed targeted sanctions on President Robert Mugabe and his
entourage in protest over his policies.

British Foreign Minister Jack Straw was also behind a campaign to have
Zimbabwe expelled from the Commonwealth - a move barred by Botswana,
Nigeria, Bangladesh and Malaysia.

Mugabe has, in turn, accused Britain of bankrolling the main opposition
party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), in an alleged bid to oust
him from power and reinstate colonial rule.

Children collapsing

Meanwhile, local independent media reported on Friday that villagers in
parts of the country were starving.

The Zimbabwe Independent reported that at least two people are dying from
starvation every week as the southern African country faced a "famine worse
than that which accompanied the 1992 drought", said to be the most
devastating to hit southern Africa last century.

And the Daily News reported: "Hundreds of children in rural Matabeleland
North have dropped out of school as starvation stalks the district, with
children collapsing due to hunger."

The UN's World Food Programme in December called for $60 million (66
million) to feed more than half a million Zimbabweans whose lives are
seriously threatened by food shortages.

The SADC said the response to Zimbabwe's international emergency appeal has
been slow, while the UN said negotiations were still under way with some key
donors that had expressed interest in helping Zimbabwe. - Sapa-AFP

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Zim Indp.

Militia seize hundreds of ID cards

Blessing Zulu
THE Public Order and Security Act, which compels people to carry their identity cards, is being abused by marauding Zanu PF militias to confiscate cards belonging to suspected members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the Zimbabwe Independent has established. The ID card seizures throughout the country are spearheaded by National Youth Service trainees, war veterans, councillors and headmen. It is believed the seizure of IDs is part of a wider Zanu PF strategy to disenfranchise opposition voters ahead of the March 9/10 presidential election.

Police spokesperson Tarwirei Tirivavi confirmed that a large number of people had lost their ID cards.

"We received reports from Mutoko that unknown persons moving around in a 4X4 Toyota vehicle seized 500 identity particulars and we are investigating the matter," said Tirivavi.

MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube on Wednesday said his party supporters wouldn't be able to vote if they were unable to recover their cards.

"The confiscation of IDs has been stepped up in many parts of the country to ensure the process is completed before regional and international election observers are on the ground," Ncube said.

In Buhera North Ward 3 Linda Moyo lost her identity particulars in a late-night raid on her home.

"Zanu PF youths ordered me to come out of my house naked after threatening to bomb me inside. They assaulted me on my private parts accusing me of giving birth to MDC supporters who would sell the country to the British.

"They seized my identity particulars and told me I was not going to vote since I was a known MDC supporter," said a tearful Moyo.

Illegal roadblocks mounted by Zanu PF militias are also used as a trap to confiscate ID cards from those who fail to chant Zanu PF slogans or cannot produce the new-look party card.

MDC supporters blame the police for their refusal to act.

"The perpetrators of violence in Ward 3 are well known," said Michael Muronda, an MDC activist who has fled to Harare after losing his identity particulars to the militia.

Ncube said Matabeleland provinces had also been affected.

"In Sipepa Ward 8, the raids are being conducted by Councillor Leonard Nkomo, armed men including Central Intelligence Organisation operatives, war veterans and Zanu PF youths," said Ncube. "At least 50 people lost their IDs last week in one of numerous raids that are now a permanent feature in Tsholotsho. In Gwelutshena village in Nkayi 10 people lost their IDs."
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Zanu PF divided over mayoral candidate

Augustine Mukaro / Blessing Zulu
THE ruling Zanu PF is sharply divided over the choice of candidate for the mayoral election in Harare. Party sources said the politburo, which effectively selects candidates for Zanu PF, tried and failed this week to settle the vexed election issue.

Although primary elections last weekend were won by former MP and businessman James Makamba, the party leadership remains divided over his choice. The situation has been further thrown into disarray by Makamba's withdrawal from the race because of business commitments.

It appears he was also unhappy about the party's opaque approach to candidate selection. Another explanation from Zanu PF sources who spoke to the Zimbabwe Independent this week was that Makamba was ruled out because he could not produce an "O" level certificate.

He is a former Rhodesian Broadcasting Corporation disk jockey.

In 1996 and 1999 Makamba won primaries for the mayoral race but was barred by the party leadership from standing.

Other potential candidates are former mayor Charles Tawengwa, Zanu PF Harare provincial secretary, Chris Mutsvangwa, Zimpapers chair and banker Enock Kamushinda and Zanu PF Harare provincial chair Amos Midzi.

Over the weekend Makamba emerged from the inter-district elections a clear winner with 1 600 votes ahead of Mutsvangwa (300 votes), Tawengwa (180) and Kamushinda (160).

"When the elections were conducted Makamba was in South Africa and when he came back he was informed he was the party candidate but he refused," a source said. The party is also struggling to find councillors.

"Selection of candidates is a rigorous process which needs clearly laid down structures but Zanu PF's dilemma is that their prospective candidates have developed cold feet and are turning down the offers," another source said.

Meanwhile, opposition MDC spokesman Learnmore Jongwe confirmed his party had

finalised all its candidates for Harare.

MDC mayoral candidate Elias Mudzuri, a former city council engineer for 13 years, said he was confident of victory.
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S.African Poll Observers to Go to Zimbabwe in Week

February 08, 2002 06:05 AM ET

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - The South African government will send a team of
observers to Zimbabwe within a week to try to help make the March 9-10
presidential elections free and fair, President Thabo Mbeki said on Friday.

The South African Observer Mission would be drawn from different sectors of
society, he said. South Africa's parliament is preparing to dispatch its own

"Clearly, the mission and the conditions that our teams seek to create are
one and one only: let the people of Zimbabwe speak through the ballot box!"
Mbeki told parliament in Cape Town in his annual state of the nation speech.

He did not say what South Africa, the continent's economic and political
powerhouse, would do if it deemed the polls were unfair and not free.

He made no criticism of President Robert Mugabe, whose campaign to extend
his 22-year rule has been condemned by the opposition and rights groups, as
well as by former colonial power Britain, as violent and repressive.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Non-Governmental Organizations Forum said this
week 16 politically motivated murders were recorded in January, the highest
monthly toll since it began logging incidents two years ago.

Mbeki, who has come under fire at home for what critics say has been a
softly-softly approach to Mugabe, said it was in all Zimbabweans' interest
to ensure the government emerging from the March polls was seen to be

"In pursuit of stability in our region we will work tirelessly to support
the people of Zimbabwe in their quest to hold free and fair elections," he

The South African Observer Mission will be headed by Sam Motsuenyane, a
former ambassador to Saudi Arabia and a prominent member of Mbeki's ruling
African National Congress.

South Africa is also set to participate in Commonwealth, Organization of
African Unity and regional SADC observer teams.

The European Union is sending observers but like the Commonwealth has
accepted Mugabe's condition that Britons must not be included.

Mbeki said South Africa would press on in 2002 with its drive to boost
Africa's development in partnership with wealthy nations.

He said his government would continue to challenge "afro-pessimism." In what
some observers saw as an oblique allusion to the 77-year-old Mugabe, he
attacked the "undeclared doctrine of collective punishment against all
Africans that seems to come into effect when one or some among our leaders

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The Guardian

Zimbabwe Revokes Feingold's Visa

Friday February 8, 2002 2:00 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) - The government of Zimbabwe canceled a travel permit for
Sen. Russ Feingold on Thursday, saying the lawmaker's scheduled visit would
interfere with the nation's preparation for an election.

Feingold, D-Wis., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had
planned to visit Zimbabwe later this month to educate himself on the
pre-election process, according to his office.

But Feingold received a letter from the Zimbabwe Embassy informing him that
visa was being withdrawn and that the time ``period would not be ideal for
your visit as most government officials are tied down with preparations for
presidential elections.''

Feingold said the Zimbabwe government is acting as though it has something
to hide.

``The regime in Harare has shown that it is willing to destroy the
Zimbabwean economy, to violently repress the Zimbabwe people, to harass the
press and to undermine the rule of law,'' Feingold said.

Zimbabwe has been in a state of political unrest for many months.

Human rights groups believe that 16 people died in political killings last
month in Zimbabwe, the most in two years of violence that the opposition
blames on supporters of President Robert Mugabe's ruling party.

Most of the recent violence in the southern African country has been between
activists of the ruling party and the opposition. The opposition has charged
that police have not arrested or pursued ruling party activists it accuses
of involvement in political killings.
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Mugabe opponents' convoy ambushed
By Peta Thornycroft in Harare
(Filed: 08/02/2002)

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's opponents came under greater pressure yesterday
when two opposition MPs and 40 supporters were ambushed, shot at and
arrested while travelling in rural Zimbabwe.

The latest incident in the official campaign against the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change came after two of the party's supporters were murdered
in three days.

It coincided with the release of a human rights report that documented more
political killings in January than in any month since detailed records began
two years ago.

With Zimbabwe's presidential election due on March 9 and 10, President
Obasanjo of Nigeria delivered the strongest warning to Mr Mugabe yet heard
from an African leader. He told the Zimbabwean leader that Africa would not
allow him to stage an unfair election.

Peter Nyoni, the MDC MP for Hwange East, and Abednico Bhebhe, the MP for
Nkayi, and 40 supporters and party officials were on a campaign tour aboard
a convoy of vehicles when they were attacked 300 miles south-west of Harare,
an MDC statement said.
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Zimbabwe Opposition makes police torture claims

Zimbabwe's Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) claims three of
its senior politicians have been tortured by police.

The MPs were reportedly attacked near the southern city of Bulawayo.

The Opposition politicians were travelling in a convoy when they were
stopped by police.

The MDC says the men were then tortured by the police officers before being

Human rights activists say violence is increasing in the lead up to
Zimbabwe's presidential election.

The Zimbabwean Human Rights Forum says 16 people have been murdered in
political unrest in the past month.

The group, which includes local representatives from Amnesty International,
says the election campaign has begun amid a climate of fear and terror.

But the government says it is containing the unrest.

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Red-Tape Slows Down Privatisation Process

Zimbabwe Independent (Harare)

February 8, 2002
Posted to the web February 8, 2002

Forward Maisokwadzo

BUREAUCRACY in government corridors has slowed down the privatisation process expected to raise about $40 billion by year-end, it has been learnt. Analysts say although the Privatisation Agency of Zimbabwe (PAZ), established to spearhead the disposal of government shareholding in several companies, quickly works out modalities to speed up the process, it takes ages before the inter-ministerial committee on commercialisation and privatisation of public enterprises and cabinet to approve PAZ's recommendations.

"It takes time for those in high office to make a decision, even on issues which are straight forward," one analyst said.

He said the delay in the process would result in PAZ failing to raise the targeted $40 billion as announced by Finance minister Simba Makoni in his 2002 budget speech. Last year PAZ only raised $7 billion which falls far short of the targeted $28 billion.

The money is needed to repay both domestic and foreign debt.

PAZ had lined up Olivine Industries, Caps Holdings and the former Posts and Telecommunications Corporation for speedy privatisation early this year but this has not yet been finalised. Indications were that it would take long before government disposed of its shareholding.

Investors keen to buy government's shareholding in Caps have already submitted their bids. The bids are still to be closed, sources said. The situation has also been worsened by the fact that government officials are positioning themselves to grab some of the state assets. Among the enterprises where chefs are understood to be having interests is the PTC.

International investor, Telekom Malaysia among other local investors, has shown interest to acquire government's equity in the former PTC.

However, government has lately adopted a cautious approach towards the exercise and announced its intention to dispose of only 30% of its shareholding in the PTC.

The cash-strapped government unbundled PTC this year following the passing of the Postal and Telecommunications Act in September 2000.

This effectively meant that the three business units began operating as individual commercial entities operating under the Companies Act.

Tel*One is the successor company of the telecommunications arm of PTC, while the mobile telecommunications operator is Net*One. Zimpost took over the postal services functions.

Analysts say that the unbundling exercise has increased value in the business units and the government could raise billions from its 30% stake.

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NCA urges electorate to vote for MDC

Forward Maisokwadzo
THE National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) has urged the electorate to vote for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in the watershed presidential election in the hope a new government will accept its demands for a review of the constitution. Government has refused to accept the civic group's draft constitution saying it had more pressing issues to attend to.

NCA chairman, Lovemore Madhuku yesterday told journalists that voting for the opposition was part of a new drive in their efforts to remove President Robert Mugabe's government from power.

"If the election does not deliver change, the NCA will continue with mass action for a new dispensation," said Madhuku, adding that civic groups were looking for a government which accepted the demands of the people.

He said although the NCA had set a timetable to have a new constitution ready before the March presidential poll, it was no longer realistic as more attention was focused on the poll.

Madhuku said his organisation was not developing cold feet but saw the election as another opportunity to remove the government, which continuously denied them the right to devise a new constitution.

He said in pursuance to the resolution of March 11, 2001 at an all-stakeholders conference, the NCA was going to stage mass peaceful processions in Mutare, Harare, Bulawayo, Masvingo and Gweru next Friday.

The processions would all lead to the provincial offices of the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs where marchers would dump copies of the final draft constitution to symbolise the handing over of the document to government.

The civic group added its voice in denouncing state-sanctioned political violence as well as the passing of draconian and repressive pieces of legislation.

"We must guard against pieces of legislation introduced to try and protect Mugabe's stay in power and those which muzzle civic movements like the intended Labour Bill," said Madhuku.

The NCA this week filed a High Court application against government's refusal to receive its draft constitution.
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Sadc misled over Information Bill

Dumisani Muleya
GOVERNMENT duped the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) ministerial taskforce on Zimbabwe and South African President Thabo Mbeki over bi-partisan support for the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Bill. Information at hand shows Zimbabwe authorities misled the task force into reporting back to regional leaders, including Mbeki and Sadc chair Bakili Muluzi, that the Bill whose future now looks uncertain was passed "unanimously" by parliament.

Observers said it was not the first time this has happened. Harare successfully misrepresented the local situation to the taskforce last December and went on to repeat the trick during the Sadc summit in Malawi last month.

The taskforce was in Zimbabwe last week to witness nomination of presidential election candidates and update itself on local developments.

Diplomatic sources said the team was misled on media laws. This has put Mbeki and his colleagues in an invidious position in dealing with President Mugabe.

Mbeki's spokesman Bheki Khumalo said his boss was told by his Labour minister Membathisi Mdladlana who represents South Africa on the task force the Bill was passed "with the support of the opposition".

"The president was told by members of the taskforce the opposition supported the Bill," Khumalo said. "If political parties in Zimbabwe agreed on the Bill who are we to interfere?"

Mbeki this week told the World Economic Forum in New York the Bill was passed collectively.

"When the parliament of Zimbabwe passed the media Bill, a South African cabinet minister was in Zimbabwe and had informed me that the Bill had been unanimously adopt-ed without dissent," he said.

However, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) secretary-general Welshman Ncube said it was misleading to claim the opposition supported the authoritarian measure.

"That is not correct to say we supported the Bill," Ncube said. "We support- ed the amendments negotiated between the Minister of Justice (Patrick Chinamasa) and the parliamentary legal committee. It's really ridiculous for anyone to suggest we supported the Bill."

Ncube, who is a member of the Edison Zvobgo-led parliamentary legal committee which tore apart the draconian legislation last week, said there is evidence the MDC opposed the Bill to the end.

"Anyone who actually wants to know our position on the Bill should read Mansard (official report of parliamentary debates)," he said. "It is clear that our MPs such as (Tendayi) Biti, (David) Coltart, (Priscillah) Misihairambwi, (Innocent) Gonese and others opposed the Bill during debate. Sadc leaders have been grossly misinformed."

The Bill was passed by acclamation after the MDC failed to call for a division. Ncube said it would have been futile to do so "because we were outnumbered".
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Zimbabwe faces famine

Vincent Kahiya
ZIMBABWE is faced with a famine worse than that which accompanied the 1992 drought as a combination of poor rains and reduced crop output due to the fast- track land reform exercise take their toll. Shortages of basic commodities are now widespread owing to poor harvests last year.

Diplomatic sources this week said the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had already sent out distress calls to aid organisations to anticipate an impending humanitarian crisis around mid-year. Donors have however been unwilling to support the World Food Programme's US$60 million appeal for Zimbabwe.

Farmer organisations the Commercial Farmers Union, the Zimbabwe Farmers Union and the Indigenous Commercial Farmers Union have forecast that Zimbabwe will this season reap 800 000 tonnes of maize, well short of the 2,4 million required to feed the population between harvests and 150 000 tonnes short of the UNDP forecast of 950 000 tonnes.

Zimbabwe consumes around 150 000 tonnes of maize a month and the forecast harvest will only last five months.

Agricultural experts this week said if no significant rainfall was recorded over the weekend at least half of the maize crop in the communal and resettlement areas would be a write-off. The northern part of the country, comprising the maize belt, has not received rainfall over the past three weeks.

Even without the poor rainfall this year, yields were expected to go down because of reduced hectarage in the commercial sector due to land redistribution and lack of inputs in the resettlement and small-scale farming areas.

The newly-resettled farmers do not have the capacity to irrigate the wilting maize crop due to high electricity costs. Key infrastructure like pumps and pipes have either been vandalised or stolen after farm occupations.

In the communal areas, farmers cannot secure fertiliser for maize, which is already tasselling.

As maize trickles into the country, the possibility of a crisis, which government has tried to play down, has become a reality as mealie-meal has disappeared from shop shelves. At least two people are dying of starvation every week.

In 1992 Zimbabwe produced just over 600 000 tonnes of maize and was forced to import about three-quarters of its food requirements. Sources this week said the WFP had secured funding for only 13 000 tonnes for starving Zimbabweans amid fears that the United Nations body is contemplating revising down its original plan to feed 500 000 people in 12 months.

Sources said the WFP had already told its implementing partners to avail food rations to only five people per household instead of the original plan to feed each individual. The WFP has also left out a number of stressed districts which had originally been targeted for assistance.

The scaling down of operations by the WFP will put a further strain on Zimbabwe's food supply situation as the movement of imported maize is too slow to help. Zimbabwe has imported 160 000 tonnes of maize from South Africa on an ex-silo basis which has led to logistical headaches for the Grain Marketing Board (GMB).

Experts say it would take at least three months to move maize from SA to the most needy.
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MDC vows to continue rallies

Loughty Dube
THE Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says it will continue to hold mass meetings despite the disruptions and violence perpetrated by Zanu PF supporters ahead of the March 9/10 presidential poll. Secretary-general Welshman Ncube told the Zimbabwe Independent that they would not halt campaign rallies despite the ongoing violence.

"Let them disrupt our rallies or occupy our venues or even kill our members and our leadership, but we will not stop holding campaign rallies," Ncube said.

The resolution by the opposition party comes after a number of its rallies were aborted when Zanu PF supporters either violently disrupted them or occupied the venues.

A fortnight ago war veterans and youth militias invaded White City stadium in Bulawayo a day before an MDC rally that was to be addressed by the party leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

"Instead of interrupting our rallies, Zanu PF should be holding its own and urging its people to desist from disturbing us," Ncube said.

He said the party was also using a variety of means of getting to the electorate currently besieged by Zanu PF's violent campaign.

"Since most rural areas have been declared no-go areas for opposition supporters, we have resorted to a wide range of campaign strategies that include distributing campaign material secretly and holding small targeted group meetings with church, traditional and other opinion leaders," he said.

Ncube said police had embarked on a systematic strategy to arrest all MDC district leaders by the time the presidential election was held on spurious charges under the controversial Public Order and Security Act.

"Our activists have been beaten up, campaign material seized and fake roadblocks set up, but we will not give up on campaigning and nothing will stop our working towards change," said Ncube.
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Terror bases unlawful says Chigovera

Blessing Zulu
THE setting up of military-style bases by Zanu PF is illegal as it violates the newly-enacted Public Order and Security Act (POSA), the Zimbabwe Independent has been told. Attorney-General Andrew Chigovera said it was unlawful to set up bases for the purpose of committing political violence as it breached POSA.

The arrival of international monitors in the country has not deterred the ruling party from continuing with its terror campaign, now being launched from various bases in each province, mostly occupied farms.

"If these bases are used for peaceful political campaigns there is no violation of POSA, but once political parties use them for launching terror campaigns then that becomes un- lawful, especially if they carry weapons around and train youths for assaulting their opponents," said Chigovera.

MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube, a law professor, concurred.

"It is unlawful to train the youths in any form of military tactics as it violates POSA," said Ncube.

"It is quite clear that Zanu PF does not respect the law that it enacts. We have indicated this to the Minister of Home Affairs and he has kept on promising to meet us," Ncube said.

Zanu PF is currently training youths in every province and has set up bases which are being used as springboards for violence against opposition supporters.

The youths complement the official 974 trained at the Border Gezi Training Centre in Mt Darwin.

Serving and ex-members of the Zimbabwe National Army are training the youths in Mt Darwin. Those involved include Retired Brigadier Boniface Hurungudu, the deputy director of the centre who operates from Zanu PF head- quarters, and Colonel Josphat Shumba of the ZNA, a former director of Military Intelligence.

The latest revelations come in the wake of claims in government-owned papers that the MDC is preparing for war and has established bases in Mozambique, Botswana, South Africa and Uganda.

Three of the seven MDC members who were arrested and accused of undergoing military training in 2001 have been released and four members, Anderson Yotamu, Zebedia Mungofa, Perence Saunyama and David Chipunza, are still on remand but out of custody.
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Army deployed to supervise poll process

Vincent Kahiya
THE Zanu PF government is taking further steps to consolidate its management of the forthcoming presidential poll by deploying thousands of military and intelligence officers to supervise the process. This week, the Zimbabwe Independent established that the newly-appointed Electoral Supervisory Commission chief executive officer, Douglas Nyikayaramba, is a serving brigadier in the Zimbabwe National Army based at Defence headquarters. He had earlier been reported as retired.

Asked if Nyikayaramba was still serving in the force, army spokesman Col Mbonisi Gatsheni yesterday said:

"I do not comment on those things. You can call him at his Defence Headquarters (KG VI Barracks)."

The ESC has recruited officers from Kabrit Barracks in Harare to train monitors and more from other military bases will be taken on in the coming weeks.

Sources at Defence House in Harare said there was now a close working relationship between the military, the Central Intelligence Organisation and the Election Directorate.

Sources said military officers based at Defence House and Defence Headquarters had also started to work on the logistics for the election. The army will be in charge of the transportation of ballot papers and ballot boxes to and from polling at 5 400 centres.

Of major concern is the recent legislation which prohibits monitors from accompanying ballot boxes.

"This means that each party now needs 5 000 cars to follow each ballot box as it is transported from a polling centre to the counting centres and that is practically not possible at the moment," said MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube.

"Monitors are supposed to be independent people who can correct anomalies. These regulations are part of the machinery to come up with a fraudulent election," said Ncube.

The prominent role of the army in the conduct of next month's election comes amid reports that Zimbabwe has started a phased withdrawal of troops from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Military sources this week said a total of 3 000 men are being withdrawn over the next few weeks. The soldiers are coming into the country by road through the northern border post of Chirundu and are camping at Domboshawa prior to being moved to various military bases in the country.

Military sources said Zimbabwe wanted to ensure that key officers were in the country ahead of the March election.

In written responses to the Independent this week, Col Gatsheni said the ZDF currently had 8 000 troops in the DRC and was currently working with the United Nations observer mission (MONUC) to verify troops reduction.

"At the moment the ZDF is in the process of clearing and booking with the UN through MONUC for verification of its troops reduction from the DRC," said Gatsheni. "So please be patient the details of troops withdrawal will be made available to the press."
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Citrus crop down 60%

CITRUS production is projected to fall by 60% in the current year as a direct result of land invasions and maximum farm size legislation. Shortages have started to appear in a number of supermarkets as fruits such as apples, pears, peaches, and granadillas are becoming scarce or deteriorating in quality. The Zimbabwe Independent reported last week that other fresh produce was disappearing from supermarket shelves.

Supermarkets in and around the capital this week confirmed that some of their regular suppliers of deciduous fruits were failing to meet their orders, citing work stoppages and uncertainty after the gazetting of their properties.

"The prices of the few fruits we have at the moment have skyrocketed to beyond the reach of ordinary people at a time when there should be an abundance," a floor supervisor at Bon Marche said this week.

The Deciduous Fruit Producers Association (DFPA) said a number of their members had received Section 8 notification and others have been notified that their estates would be reduced in size to meet new government legislation, a move which has seriously affected output.

"If a farmer is dealing in fruits which need to be replanted constantly, such as granadillas, you can't use the same land because of the threat of diseases. If the estate size is reduced, there won't be anywhere to put the new plants and old orchards will not be very productive," DFPA said. Staff Writer.
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US goes ahead with sanctions

THE United States has said it is in the process of imposing travel sanctions on Zimbabwean leaders to signal its disapproval of tough new media and security laws. Secretary of State Colin Powell issued the latest rebuke to the government of President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday during an appearance before the International Relations Committee of the House of Representatives.

"The travel sanctions are in a process of being imposed, I am not sure whether they have been imposed or not, but we are certainly going to use the legislation as provided to us," Powell said.

The US Congress last year passed the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, which allows for targeted sanctions against people identified as responsible for political violence in the country.

Washington had previously said it was only considering implementing the legislation, and was consulting on punitive measures with partners in Britain and Europe.

Powell was speaking a week after Zimbabwe's parliament passed a tough law limiting the freedom of the independent and foreign press ahead of a crucial presidential election.

The law requires journalists to seek accreditation every year from a panel handpicked by Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, which has wide-ranging powers of discretion.

Foreigners are already unable to work full-time in Zimbabwe.

The law forbids journalists from reporting on meetings of the cabinet or other government bodies and those who violate its provisions face stiff fines

and up to two years in prison. AFP.
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Police raid widow's home

IN what appears to be a blatant political case, police on Wednesday searched the home of an elderly widow in Borrowdale claiming it was a nerve centre for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Eye-witnesses and neighbours who spoke to the Zimbabwe Independent said they were "shocked" to see police officers searching the premises, apparently looking for evidence that MDC rallies were being held at the house.

It is understood they found no evidence of any MDC materials or regalia at the house which is looked after by a domestic worker and his wife while the owner is in Cape Town receiving medical attention.

"We were surprised to hear that rallies were held at the house because since I started guarding the place next door, I have never heard of any rallies," said a security guard working near the house.

He confirmed police officers searched the premises on Wednesday afternoon.

"First to arrive was one police officer who was later accompanied by others who came in a blue Defender with a white top," said one eyewitness.

Assistant Inspector Matongorera at Borrowdale police station said he could not comment on the search. Staff Writer.
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