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Mugabe, former army boss cross swords
Wed 9 February 2005
  HARARE - President Robert Mugabe and powerful former army general, Solomon
Mujuru, have clashed over the fate of state information minister and
propaganda chief Jonathan Moyo, sources told ZimOnline last night.

      Mujuru, who flexed his muscles to ensure his wife Joyce was appointed
vice-president, placing her in better position for the top job, has been
behind mounting calls by ZANU PF's inner politburo cabinet and central
committee for the dismissal of Moyo from both the party and government.

      The ZANU PF leaders want Moyo fired for disrespecting senior party
leaders and for using government newspapers, radio and television he
controls to attack and ridicule party and government leaders he disagrees

      They also want the bitter-tongued information minister punished for
organising a meeting in his Tsholotsho rural home last year to plot ways to
scuttle the appointment of Joyce as party and subsequently state

      Angry politburo members openly demanded during a heated meeting of the
top ZANU PF committee last Wednesday that Moyo be barred from attending the
committee's meetings as well as those of the state Cabinet.

      Although Moyo was dismissed from the politburo by Mugabe last month,
he still attends the committee's meetings.

      Things came to a head when Mujuru rose and openly confronted Mugabe
why he was not acting against Moyo when other party leaders accused of
trying to block Joyce's appointment had been severely punished.

      Mugabe, who sources said had until then remained mum, then stepped his
foot down declaring that he was not going to be pushed to act against Moyo.

      "He (Mugabe) said he was not going to be pushed, that he alone will
deal with the issue of Moyo," said a politburo member, who did not want to
be named.

      Mujuru could not be reached for comment on the matter while Mugabe's
spokesman George Charamba was also unreachable.

      But ZANU PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira told ZimOnline last night
that the question of what to do with Moyo had become a "thorny one" for the

      "The issue of Jonathan Moyo has become a thorny one for both the
politburo and central committees . . . members are worried that this might
cost us in the election (in March)," said Shamuyarira, who is a member of
both committees.

      Shamuyarira, who last week said politburo members wanted Moyo fired,
refused to comment on the heated exchanges between Mugabe and Mujuru over
the issue.

      But the ZANU PF spokesman conceded the split between politburo and
central committee members led by Mujuru, who want Moyo fired, and Mugabe,
who appears reluctant to axe an efficient propagandist ahead of a crucial
election in March.

      "It is not for us now (politburo and central committees). It is up to
the presidium of the party to deal with Jonathan Moyo," Shamuyarira said.

      ZANU PF's presidium comprises Mugabe, Vice-Presidents Joseph Msika and
Joyce Mujuru and national chairman, John Nkomo.

      According to the sources, it was highly unlikely that after last
week's charged exchanges between Mugabe and Mujuru, Moyo will be discussed
at today's or any other meeting of the politburo unless this was at the
instigation of Mugabe himself.

      Moyo, an arch-critic of the government before his surprise conversion
to become its chief defender five years ago, has used crude laws to smoother
much of the independent media and other critical voices, while ensuring the
government's voice was the only one heard.

      Hundreds of journalists have been arrested while three newspapers
including the country's biggest daily paper, the Daily News, were shut down
under laws crafted by Moyo.

      But he has since fallen from grace after attempting to scuttle the
appointment of Joyce, whom Mugabe backed for the vice-presidency. Seven of
ZANU PF's 10 provincial chairmen who worked with Moyo in the failed plot to
block Joyce were suspended for four years each. - ZimOnline
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Zim Online

Heavy jail terms for ZANU PF spies
Wed 9 February 2005
  HARARE - Two senior ruling ZANU PF party officials and another man
arrested last year for spying were yesterday sentenced to a total of 16
years in jail.

      Zimbabwe's ambassador-designate to Mozambique Godfrey Dzvairo, ZANU PF
external affairs director Itai Marchi and bank executive Tendai Matambanadzo
were convicted of selling intelligence information to a South African agent
after a trial that began last month and was held entirely in camera.

      After delivering sentence, again in camera, Harare regional magistrate
Peter Kumbawa ordered at the request of the state that the sentence be not
disclosed to the public.

      State prosecutor Morgan Nemadire told reporters after court yesterday:
"The sentence has been pronounced but because of the morals and
responsibilities, they have received prison terms but I cannot disclose the
prison terms."

      But authoritative sources told ZimOnline that Dzvairo was sentenced to
six years in jail with Matambanadzo and Marchi being given five-year jail
terms each.

      The three men have been in jail since December last year when they
were arrested and charged with breaching the Official Secrets Act by
supplying intelligence information to South Africans agents.

      The three, who were severely tortured by the government's secret
service Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), pleaded guilty to the
charge but later unsuccessfully attempted to alter plea to not guilty.

      Two other senior ZANU PF officials, Philip Chiyangwa and Kenny Karidza
are also accused of selling intelligence information to South Africa.

      Chiyangwa, who was the ZANU PF chairman for Mashonaland West province
until he was booted out of the post this week because of the spy
allegations, will appear in court on Friday. State prosecutors refused to
say when Karidza, who is ZANU PF's deputy security director, will appear in

      Zimbabwe is holding the South African agent, who allegedly recruited
the five men to spy for Pretoria on developments in ZANU PF and the Harare

      The arrest of a South African agent on charges of spying on Zimbabwe
has not yet sparked any visible diplomatic fallout between the two
neighbours as some political analysts had predicted. Both Pretoria and
Harare have remained mum on the matter. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Zimbabwe in frantic bid to import 600 000 tonnes of maize
Wed 9 February 2005
  HARARE - The Zimbabwe government is seeking 600 000 tonnes of maize to
feed an estimated three million hungry people in the country, sources at the
Grain Marketing Board (GMB) told ZimOnline yesterday.

      The government has so far managed to buy 100 000 tonnes of maize from
private suppliers mainly from South Africa, the sources who did not want to
be named said.

      "The maize bought through a deal brokered with the help of the African
Export and Import Bank (Afrexim) is being delivered into the country at a
rate of about 16 000 tonnes per week," said a source.

      But a lack of ready hard cash to pay foreign suppliers and failure by
the Harare administration to secure fresh lines of credit beyond what was
availed through the Afrexim deal was hampering the maize importation
programme, the sources said.

      Labour Minister Paul Mangwana could not be reached for comment on the
matter last night.

      Mangwana and President Robert Mugabe have in the past said Zimbabwe
produced a bumper harvest of 2.4 million tonnes of maize, which is more than
enough to feed the country. Zimbabweans consume 1.8 million tonnes of maize
per year.

      The GMB, charged with national food security, has also maintained it
is holding enough stocks saying whatever maize was being brought into the
country was from orders placed in 2003, when Zimbabwe faced severe food

      An inquiry into food stocks ordered by Parliament last year however
revealed that the country did not have enough food and that urgent imports
were required to avert starvation.

      In a report two weeks ago, the United States-based Famine Early
Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet) said 5.8 million Zimbabweans or about half
the 12.5 million people will need emergency food aid between now and  the
next harvest around March/April.

      Harare has rejected the Fewsnet report. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

SA's ruling alliance meets over COSATU deportation
Wed 9 February 2005
  JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's ruling tripartite alliance was locked up in
a meeting in Johannesburg last night to discuss last week's expulsion from
Zimbabwe of a Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) fact-finding

      The COSATU team led by secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi which sought
to assess whether conditions in Zimbabwe were conducive for the holding of
free and fair elections in the country next month was denied entry into the
country and was immediately deported back to South Africa.

      COSATU, which is part of South Africa's ruling alliance together with
the African National Congress (ANC) party and the South African Communist
Party, undertook the trip to Harare with the full blessings of its alliance
partners, with the ANC only insisting that COSATU fully complies with the
laws of Zimbabwe.

      COSATU has since threatened to close down Zimbabwe's lifeline border
post. The powerful union is said to be mobilising for support within the
alliance before taking the Harare authorities head on. - ZimOnline
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Zim Online

FEATURE: No surrender for bruised MDC activists in Zimbabwe's turbulent
political turf
Wed 9 February 2005
  BULAWAYO - Five years after he was tortured by agents of the government's
Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) during the run-up to the 2000
parliamentary election, opposition activist Dumisani Moyo is still in pain.

      His private organs, where he was severely beaten with truncheons
during torture sessions, swell up and get painful whenever it is cloudy or
raining and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activist says he now
fears that he might never be able to father children because of the

      "My private parts were swollen for days after the beatings. Even
today, when it rains or when it is cloudy or cold, I have problems down
there," Moyo, who lives in Bulawayo's teaming Mpopoma suburb told ZimOnline
this week.

      "The doctors have also told me that I might not be able to have
children," Moyo added, a distinct ring in his voice underscoring both his
anger at what was done to him and disappointment that those who tortured him
were never punished.

      But mention Zimbabwe's upcoming general election in March and Moyo's
visibly dejected and angry face lightens up as he vows he will be back on
the MDC campaign track, the inherent dangers of doing so not withstanding.

      He explains why: "It (arrest and torture) can happen again, but I am
not scared. I want to see the men who tortured me brought to justice, I
still remember their names and I can identify them anywhere, anytime."

      Moyo is not alone. With the parliamentary poll barely two months away,
thousands of MDC activists across the country are girding up their loins for
a gruelling campaign period following their party's decision last week to
contest the March election.

      The MDC had threatened to boycott the key poll unless President Robert
Mugabe acted to end political violence and fully implemented a Southern
African Development Community (SADC) protocol on democratic elections.

      Among other key conditions, the protocol requires independent
commissions to run elections and that the rule of law and human rights be
upheld while the government should firmly act against political violence
during elections.

      Mugabe says a new Zimbabwe Electoral Commission he appointed last
month is fully independent and has sufficient powers to ensure a free and
fair poll next month.

      Human rights groups and the opposition say the commission headed by a
pro-Mugabe High Court Judge George Chiweshe, lacks independence because its
chairman is appointed by the President.

      But the MDC still went back on its threat to boycott the election even
though it did not get the concessions it sought from the government. The
opposition party said in doing so, it was bowing to pressure from its

      Another MDC activist, Samuel Khumalo, who like Moyo has been arrested
and tortured before while campaigning for the party, gives an insight into
the kind of determined pressure the party's rank and file exerted on the
leadership forcing them to withdraw the boycott threat.

      "African politics is not for the faint-hearted. Once you get involved
in politics, you must be prepared for the worst," said Khumalo.

      The MDC activist, who said he has resisted pressure from his wife to
quit "the dangerous game of politics" says the greater cause for democracy
demanded that the opposition party remained in the political ring,
notwithstanding its unevenness and dangers.

      But Khumalo, who is also a trade union activist, admits that the
"struggle for democracy" is not an easy one. He himself has been arrested
and tortured on numerous occasions by ruling ZANU PF party militants for
propagating MDC policies and views.

      During one arrest, Khumalo sustained injuries in the head when his
interrogators severely assaulted him. He sustained a gush about three
centimetres deep which forced him to shave off his dreadlocks.

      Khumalo said: "Our police operate like the Gestapo (Nazi secret
police). Their fingers are itching to shoot anyone who refuses to toe the
line. They want to instill fear in the people. But we shall not be
intimidated, we will carry on."

      It remains to be seen whether the determination of Khumalo, Moyo and
thousands of other MDC activists will translate into success in March. -

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Zim Online

FEATURE: Zimbabwean blind beggars dig for gold on the streets of "Egoli"
Wed 9 February 2005
  JOHANNESBURG - For 48-year-old widow Lucia Muponde, the day begins at five
in the morning when her teenage daughter Shingirai marshals her through
Johannesburg's crime-infested Hillbrow suburb to a begging spot in the city

      With a placard in hand, Muponde, who is blind, spends the day
soliciting for donations from passersby.

      Muponde told ZimOnline this week: "I left the Jairos Jiri compound
because of hunger. Many left to beg on  the streets, but money is hard to
come by in Zimbabwe, and the people are no longer generous."

      Started in the sixties by the late Zimbabwean philanthropist Jairos
Jiri, from whom it derives its name, Jairos Jiri, is a centre for the
disabled and disadvantaged people in the country's second largest city of

      Over generations, the centre has been an oasis of hope, feeding and
sheltering the blind, crippled, deaf and others with various disabilities.
But over the years, Zimbabwe's social and economic crisis has taken its toll
on Jairos Jiri, just as it has on everything else in the country.

      According to Muponde, she and scores of other disabled people left
Jairos Jiri centre when the government's Department of Social Welfare
stopped supplying food and other services to the centre saying it no longer
had money to do so.

      Muponde said some of her former colleagues at Jairos Jiri remained,
trying to eke out a living begging on Zimbabwe's streets but she decided to
trek down to South Africa to join the about two million Zimbabweans, both
disabled and not, based here after fleeing their home country because of
economic hardship and political violence.

      "The government's department of social welfare said it could no longer
assist us because it had no money. I have a family of six, so I decided to
bring one girl with me here to try a new life," Muponde said.

      Muponde says she can make as much as 100 rand a day and can get as
much as 150 rand from well-wishers during month-ends. The money is good
compared to what she could ever have earned in the streets of Bulawayo or

      But Muponde is quick to point out that life is not all a bed of roses
in "Egoli" the city of gold, as Johannesburg is affectionately called among
locals here.

      Ever since coming here last October, Muponde says she has lived in
fear that one day Johannesburg's infamous rapists might choose her
shabbily-dressed but still beautiful daughter or even herself for their next

      "That thought alone has made me wonder on several occasions whether
coming here was the right decision," she said.

      As if having to be wary of potential rapists everyday was not enough,
Muponde says she now must also be constantly on the watch out for
Johannesburg Metro police who are on a clean up exercise of the streets that
has seen several blind people and other beggars arrested before they are
deported back to their home countries.

      Like the hundreds of illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe one will see
along Hillbrow's Quartz street selling various wares, Muponde says she wants
to return home but only if she can be assured she will not starve there.

      As another blind Zimbabwean, Miriam Mambo, whom ZimOnline met begging
along Johannesburg's Beryers Naude avenue put it: "Who would not want to go
home. These people deporting us forget that home is only home if there is
something to eat." - ZimOnline

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Enough is Enough



We have a fundamental right to freedom of expression!



“Mauritius Watch”


The Zimbabwean Elections:

(Monitoring SADC Protocol Violations)


Issue 15.   7 February 2005


On 17 August 2004, SADC leaders meeting in Mauritius adopted the SADC Protocol – Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.  Zimbabwe, as a member of SADC, also signed the Protocol and committed itself to implementing its standards.


“Mauritius Watch” provides a regular, objective and non-partisan assessment of Zimbabwe’s compliance with the Protocol.  In the run-up to the 2005 Parliamentary Elections we note any significant failures to adhere to the SADC standards.


This special weekly feature assumes an even greater significance now that the date of the Parliamentary Elections has been announced – 31st March.  Less than 8 weeks remain before this crucial poll.


Last week the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), announced that it would be contesting the Elections.  Although noting that “the regime has failed and failed dismally to comply with the (SADC) guidelines”, and declaring that “a free and fair election is not possible in Zimbabwe under the present conditions”, the National Council of the MDC decided “with a heavy heart” to participate in the electoral process.   The statement announcing their decision ends: “We participate under protest.  We participate without prejudice.  We participate to keep the flames of hope for change alive.”





SADC standards breached


800 000 deceased Zimbabweans still on voters’ register


Less than eight weeks before the date of the parliamentary elections announced by Robert Mugabe, the voters’ roll remains in a complete shambles with the names of 800 000 deceased Zimbabweans still appearing on it.  This is among a litany of “chronic errors” that could render an accurate and democratic election in March impossible according to a report just released by an independent research group.  FreeZim, which compiled the report after carrying out extensive research on Zimbabwe’s shambolic voters’ roll, is a local non-governmental organisation set up in 2002.


In addition to the 800 000 names of deceased voters on the roll, FreeZim also established that another 900 000 people listed as eligible voters are not known or do not live at the addresses under which their names appear.   FreeZim has already presented these findings in its preliminary report to the newly appointed Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).   The chairman of the ZEC is High Court Judge George Chiweshe, a known ally of Robert Mugabe.


Among the startling revelations in the FreeZim report is the fact that in the Harare North constituency, 50 per cent of the people registered as voters there do not live at the addresses under which their names appear.  The research group also said that they had identified 300 000 names of voters that are duplicated over and again on several pages of the register.


“Over two million of the 5.6 million names registered as voters are suspect – it is obvious that there are chronic errors and the roll is overstated by chronic proportions and cannot be ignored,” the group concludes.


(See the report in Zim Online (SA) 4.02.05)



2.1.6        Equal opportunity to exercise the right to vote and be voted for

4.1.3        Non-discrimination in the voters’ registration


4.1.4        Existence of updated and accessible voters’ roll












An elderly official of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was last week severely assaulted by ZANU (PF) militia, who accused him of selling MDC membership cards.


Dinason Mbwana is the MDC branch chairman for Epworth and a tailor by trade.  It was while he was visiting the authorities at Epworth Secondary School over an order for school uniforms that he was accosted by about a dozen *youth militia.  They dragged him into the bush and brutally assaulted him with logs, sticks and sjamboks until he lost consciousness.

According to a medical report prepared by Dr Tarirai Madamombe of Harare Central Hospital, the probability of permanent injuries as a result of the assault were “highly possible”.


Mbwana was able to identify two of his assailants and he made a report to the local police.  However no arrests have been made and efforts to get a comment from Constable Madondo, the investigating officer, proved fruitless.


(The full report can be seen in The Standard (30.01.05) …..


*Youth militia:  The Mugabe regime plans to incorporate more than 20 000 of its controversial youth militias into the 21 000 strong police force ahead of the March parliamentary election – see full article in our Mauritius Watch Report, Issue 11 of 10 January 2005. 


(See the report in Zim Online: 8.02.05)


2.1.1        Full participation of citizens in the political process


2.1.2        Freedom of association


2.1.3        Political tolerance


4.1.1        Constitutional and legal guarantees of freedom and rights of the citizens


4.1.2        Conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections


7.4              (Government to) take all necessary measures and precautions to prevent the perpetration of fraud, rigging or any other illegal practices throughout the whole electoral process, in order to maintain peace and security






Thirteen opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party activists were arrested and fined Z$ 25 0000 each by the police for allegedly insulting Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Abednico Ncube of the ruling ZANU-PF.  The activists were campaigning in the Gwanda area at the time when they met Ncube who was also on the campaign trail.  They waved their open palms at Ncube, which the deputy minister claimed was insulting to him because the open palm is a symbol of the opposition party. 


The MDC publicity secretary for Matabeland South, Edward Mkhosi, expressed surprise that the police had chosen to treat the giving of the MDC sign as a chargeable offence.  “We see this as a part of a common pattern of intimidation that is returning to the province and the country at large,” he said.


(Reported by Zim Online: 5.02.05)

2.1.1        Full participation of citizens in the political process


2.1.3    Political tolerance


4.1.1.      Constitutional and legal guarantees of freedom and rights of the citizens


4.1.2        Conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections

7.4       (Government to) safeguard the human and civil liberties of all citizens including the freedom of movement, assembly, association expression and campaigning … during the electoral process …






Joseph Mwale, the dreaded Central Intelligence Organization (CIO) state security agent accused of master-minding the gruesome murder of two opposition MDC activists during the run-up to the 2000 parliamentary poll, remains a free man despite a court order to have him arrested.


Although the police are aware of his whereabouts, Mwale, now sporting a heavy beard to disguise his identity, remains at liberty.   It is widely known that he now operates in the Mutoko District, some 200 km north-east of Harare.


Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has condemned the government for deliberately failing to take action against Mwale. 


The CIO operative stands accused of murdering Talent Mabika, an MDC youth activist, and Tichaona Chiminya, the MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s personal assistant at Murambinda Growth Point in Buhera in 2000.  


The MDC activists were burnt to death when the vehicle they were travelling in was torched by Mwale and three of his accomplices.  The accomplices have since been charged with murder and released on bail.


It is understood that the impunity Mwale enjoys is linked to his popularity with the ruling elite on account of the success of the violent campaign he waged in destabilizing the farming operations of MDC legislator (and MP for Chimanimani), Roy Bennett at Charleswood Estate.


“That one is a blue-eyed boy for the chefs (senior ZANU (PF) officials),” said a police officer based in Chimanimani.  “He worked for them so tirelessly.  Had it not been for him, Bennett could still be at his farm but Mwale made sure he was evicted and that happened.”


At a recent ZANU (PF) provincial co-ordinating committee it was pointed out that the services of Mwale and his three accomplices were crucial to retaining the Buhera North seat.


(See the full report in Zim Online: 04.02.05)

4.1.2        Conducive

            environment for free,

            fair and peaceful



7.5               (Government to) take all necessary measures and precautions to prevent the perpetration of fraud, rigging or any other illegal practices throughout the whole electoral process, in order to maintain peace and security


7.7      (Government to)

 ensure that adequate security is provided to all parties participating in the elections













The decision by the Mugabe regime to ban all Zimbabweans living abroad from voting in the parliamentary elections, except military personnel and diplomats (who are loyal to the regime), is to be challenged in the Supreme Court.


Prominent human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa confirmed she had launched a constitutional case on behalf of the London-based Diaspora Vote Action Group, seeking to overturn the “illegal and unconstitutional” decision to bar Zimbabweans living abroad from voting.


“The refusal for non-resident Zimbabwean-registered voters to participate in elections is unconstitutional and not in line with many protocols, including the recently agreed Southern African Development Community (SADC) protocol on free and fair elections,” said Mtetwa.


“Other regional countries which have recently held elections, including Namibia and Mozambique, allowed their (non resident) nationals to vote.  Why should Zimbabweans be excluded from exercising their political rights while being actively encouraged to pursue their economic rights through facilities like *Homelink?” she asked.


If successful, the court application could benefit an estimated four million Zimbabweans living abroad, mainly in South Africa, the United Kingdom, America and Europe. 


But it is unclear whether the Supreme Court, now packed with pro-Mugabe judges, would even consider entertaining the application before the elections.


(Reported in Zim Online: 01.02.05)


*Homelink is a plan mooted by Zimbabwe Reserve Bank governor, Gideon Gono, through which Zimbabweans in the diaspora have been urged to send much-needed foreign currency home.  Given the extent of the diaspora – estimated at between 3 and 4 million politically and economically displaced people -  the project could help to revive the crisis-ridden economy and raise the shattered credibility of the Mugabe regime.


Gono’s plan was met with anger and jeers in the United Kingdom and in South Africa where the majority of displaced Zimbabweans who have fled the state-sponsored violence are struggling to survive under extremely difficult circumstances.

2.1.1        Full participation of citizens in the electoral process


2.1.6          Equal opportunity to exercise the right to vote and be voted for


2.1.7          Independence of the Judiciary and impartiality of electoral institutions


4.1.1        Constitutional and legal guarantees of freedom and rights of the citizens


4.1.3   Non-discrimination in the voters’ registration


7.2              (Government to) establish where none exist, appropriate institutions where issues such as … citizenship, residency … and compilation of voters’ registers would be addressed






The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) is training     7 500 election monitors but the civic group is unsure whether they will be allowed to observe the March parliamentary poll.


In the 2002 presidential election the government accredited only 400 ZESN monitors out of the 12 000 the pro-democracy organisation had trained to observe the poll, controversially won by Robert Mugabe.


The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, which was appointed a few weeks ago to oversee elections, is yet to send invitations to either local or foreign observers to monitor the March ballot.


The Mugabe regime has in the past threatened to bar ZESN and other local non-governmental organizations from observing elections, accusing them of being pro-opposition.


(Reported in Zim Online: 31.01.05)


NOTE:   The Mugabe regime is already in flagrant breach of Article 7.10 of the SADC Protocol, which requires the “relevant electoral institutions” of the host country to issue an invitation to SADC  90 (ninety) days before the voting day “in order to allow an adequate preparation for the deployment of the Electoral Observation Mission”.    Less than two months remain before the parliamentary election, which Mugabe has decreed will take place on March 31.

7.8          (Government to) ensure the transparency and integrity of the entire electoral process by facilitating the deployment of representatives of political parties and individual candidates at polling and counting stations and by accrediting national and/other observers/monitors







7.10     (Government to) issue invitation to SADC 90 days before the voting day …






Zimbabwe cannot hold a democratic election next month because heavily militarized electoral systems and institutions as well as draconian legislation continue to tilt the scale in favour of the ruling ZANU (PF) party, according to the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CZC) group.


The CZC is a coalition of major pro-democracy and human rights groups, churches, women’s  and students’ groups and the labour movement in Zimbabwe.


In the report entitled  “Things Fall Apart”, the CZC bemoans the deployment of military officers loyal to Mugabe and his ZANU (PF) party at the centre of the election system and state institutions responsible for government.


“Despite minor and cosmetic changes, the electoral laws are still heavily weighed in favour of the incumbent – electoral processes and institutions continue to be militarized or Zanuised”, reads part of the report which is expected to be handed over to SADC later this month.


In addition to the militarization of the electoral system, security and media laws enacted by the Mugabe regime in the last five years have drastically reduced the democratic space, to the point at which it is nearly impossible for the opposition to carry out its activities or to campaign.


(Reported in Zim Online: 02.02.05)



2.1.3    Political tolerance


2.1.7        Independence of the Judiciary and impartiality of the electoral institutions


4.1.2        Conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections


7.3              (Government to) establish impartial, all-inclusive, competent and accountable national electoral bodies …







SOKWANELE has also now produced a detailed analysis of the Zimbabwean statutes that are in breach of the SADC Protocol on Democratic Elections and the policy breaches by the ZANU (PF) government. 


Entitled “ZIMBABWE ELECTORAL LEGISLATION : SADC CHECK LIST”, the document can be seen on our website at



Note:  The fraudulent and violence-ridden elections of 2000 and 2002 were narrowly “won” by Robert Mugabe and his ZANU (PF) party, who have maintained their iron grip on the country by using strategies designed to annihilate all forms of opposition.


As many independent commentators have already pointed out, there is no prospect that the parliamentary elections scheduled for March 31 will be fair and free.  Equally, given the magnitude of the task and the few weeks remaining before the poll, there is no prospect of the regime’s compliance with the SADC Protocol on Democratic Elections.   Indeed, in recent months we have witnessed a steady movement by the regime away from compliance with any international norms for democratic elections.    Behind the façade of democracy which the regime likes to put on all their activities, we have seen a deliberate and systematic attempt to subvert every institution of government in order to secure in the forthcoming poll a pre-determined result favouring ZANU (PF).

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Zimbabwe sends 15 tonnes of aid to Indonesia

HARARE: Cash-strapped Zimbabwe on Tuesday dispatched its first consignment
of relief aid to survivors of the December 26 tsunami disaster in Indonesia

Vice President Joyce Mujuru handed over some 15 tonnes of bottled mineral
water and more than 6,000 blankets to Indonesia's ambassador to Harare,
Hupudio Supadi, before it was airlifted to Jakarta.

The Zimbabwe government last month set up a relief panel to raise at least
3.2 million dollars in aid for victims of the disaster in Indonesia where a
total of 242,347 people have been listed as dead or missing.

Of the 3.2 million dollars, slightly more than 800,000 have been raised by
Zimbabwe's business community. Advertisements soliciting donations towards
the plan are shown daily on state television.

President Robert Mugabe has been appointed patron of the Zimbabwe Tsunami
Disaster Fund whose committee comprises government, the business community
and churches.

One Zimbabwean businessman who was holidaying in Thailand was killed in the
disaster. The fundraising initiative comes from a country hit by an economic
crisis, alarming poverty and HIV/AIDS rates.

Mujuru said "Zimbabwe is not a rich country in but even in small sizes, it
shows how concerned Zimbabweans are."
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Cape Times

      Agreement to protect SA-owned farms put off

      Setback in Zimbabwe
      February 9, 2005

      By Karima Brown and Angela Quintal

      Pretoria: The signing of a bilateral agreement to protect South
African investments in Zimbabwe has been postponed once again, amid reports
that a Zimbabwean court has begun fast-tracking the confiscation of South
African-owned farms.

      The Bilateral Investment and Promotion and Protection Agreement
(Bippa) was to have been signed in Cape Town today between Trade and
Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa and Zimbabwe's Finance Minister Herbert

      However, Mpahlwa was advised yesterday that the signing ceremony was

      He told the Cape Times he had not been given any reason, but
understood that Murera was travelling abroad.

      In June last year, Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
told parliament the agreement had been concluded and awaited signature.

      It was to be signed in July last year, but the date clashed with a
World Trade Organisation ministerial meeting.

      Mpahlwa said the agreement was then scheduled to be signed at a
meeting in October last year of SADC trade ministers.

      "It would have meant my travelling to Harare and I was unable to do
so," Mpahlwa said.

      Asked to comment on reports that the government was moving ahead with
its plan to seize farms owned by South Africans and other foreigners,
Mpahlwa said he was "not aware of these developments".

      The proposed agreement is aimed at protecting the properties and
assets of South African nationals in Zimbabwe.

      South Africa has a similar agreement with Israel, Mpahlwa said. "Bippa
should give South African investments in Zimbabwe a sense of comfort," he

      The foreign ministry, meanwhile, was not available for comment on
reports that at least 15 South African farmers appear on a list that will
see Zimbabwean courts fast-tracking confiscation of their farms.

      Dlamini-Zuma said in reply to questions in parliament in June that the
government was "constantly engaging" Harare to ensure it sticks to its word
about delisting South African-owned property in Zimbabwe.

      She said then the Zimbabwean government had indicated that properties
belonging to Southern African Development Community nationals would be

      Zimbabwe had established a cabinet task team to develop a policy
framework within which properties of foreign investors, including South
Africans, would be handled.

      Pretoria had also provided the Zimbabwean ministry of foreign affairs
and its land reform counterpart with a list of the names of the farmers
affected by the land reform process.

      The Cape Times reported yesterday that the Zimbabwean government had
set up an administrative court with a host of judges to fast-track land
redistribution. Up to 5 000 title deeds for about 11 million hectares have
to be processed.

      Since the Land Acquisition Act was changed last year, all the
government has to do to take a farm is publish a notice of acquisition in
state newspapers.

      If farmers are not able to oppose the acquisition of their property,
it is forfeited to the state by default.

      Meanwhile, the DA, under fire from Zanu-PF and the opposition MDC over
its proposed visit to the country, hit back.

      DA national chairman Joe Seremane said his party was not surprised at
the MDC's attitude.

      The MDC said the DA's proposed visit would only "serve to misdirect
attention from real issues at stake".

      "It is clear that it does not want to offend President Mbeki, who is
notoriously easily offended. The MDC is understandably aware that any
association with the DA will be used against it by the vicious Zanu-PF
propaganda machine in the upcoming elections," Seremane said.

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Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to: with subject line "For: Open Letter Forum".

Thought of the Day:

"The use of force alone is temporary. It may subdue for a moment: but it
does not remove the necessity of subduing again; and a nation is not
governed, which is perpetually to be conquered."

Edmund Burke (1775).


- Food for thought: not food for povo - Historian
- RE: CFU - Ben Freeth
- Re: Massey Ferguson's Visit To Zim - Keith Clubb
- Dr. Made: On Success Of Land Reform Programme - Ben Freeth
- Interference Of Zoning? - J.L. (Willy) Robinson
- Writer Seeks Farmers To Interview - Blake Hurst


Letter 1: FOOD FOR THOUGHT: NOT FOOD FOR POVO, received 7.2.2005

by Historian


Witness Mangwende was Minister of Agriculture in 1991. These are his words
at the time.

"The land question is a time bomb which must be solved now. The time for
energy-consuming debates on the desirability or otherwise of this programme
has run out. The only useful debate that the government is willing to
entertain about the resettlement programme is on the implementation

You will have to trust us."

It seems that the actions of Government with the Third Chimurenga and its
resultant disastrous effects on the country (and most of its its people)
are in fact a fair test on whether anybody can "trust them" and that
dialogue is a worthy cause.



Letter 2: RE: CFU, received 4.2.2005

by Ben Freeth

Dear Editor,

I would like to sincerely wish Mrs Simon well in her chosen society of the
CFU.  When she has a policy for this stooge of the party other than
supporting the party, I , as well as others , would like to be informed. In
the meantime she would be well advised to not let her belt slip ...

Ben Freeth.


Letter 3: RE: MASSEY FERGUSON's VISIT TO ZIM, received 4.2.2005

Dear JAG

I was stunned to hear that Nick Wright of Massey Ferguson has been quoted
"We can safely say that Zimbabwe's agriculture is in safe hands".

I know Mr Wright personally and I have e-mailed him to check whether he has
been correctly quoted. You can do the same at or
his boss I hold Mr Wright in high regard and I
would be astonished if this quotation was correct.

If it is correct and Massey Ferguson are supporting one of Condoleeza
Rice's axis of evil pariahs, my sixteen nearly new Massey Ferguson tractors
and planters will be for immediate sale. I will in the meantime give Mr
Wright the benefit of the doubt.

Good luck to you all but remember that appeasement has never worked
anywhere in the world.

Keith Clubb


Letter 4: Dr. MADE: ON SUCCESS OF LAND REFORM PROGRAMME - received 5.2.2005

by Ben Freeth

Dear JAG

Dr. Made , Zimbabwes infamous Minister of agriculture through the land
program , was recently quoted as saying that the Program had been "a
resounding success".

It certainly makes one have a good think at what the definition of
"success" for the Doctor is .

Is it development of the agricultural sector?  Only a blind person could
not see the weedy , unkempt lands that stretch for mile after mile in once
productive arable areas.

Is it job creation?  The Minister is very well aware of the hundred of
thousands of jobs that have been lost.

Is it poverty alleviation?  Zimbabwes economy remains the fastest shrinking
economy in the world and the vast majority of people are now living in far
worse conditions than when the program started.

Is it food security?  Zimbabwe has half its population in need of being fed
- a bigger percentage than any population on earth I understand.

So what is the "resounding success" that the Minister talks of?  Why is it
that the Minister remains the Minister after all this disaster? Why is he
not censored as he would be in any civilised country?

The "resounding success" of course is a racial thing based on the need to
stay in power.  The "resounding success" has been in the victimisation ,
looting , eviction and destruction of a group of Zimbabwes citizens based
on the colour of their skin.  No more no less.

Ben Freeth.


Letter 5: INTERFERENCE OF ZONING? received 2.2.2005

by J.L. (Willy) Robinson


The Australian Cotton Outlook (Rural Press supplement -January 2005) has
published an article written by Bruce Robertson of Tara Fern Trading (Pvt)
Ltd. Zimbabwe. There are a number of points that raise some interesting

1. "As it is virtually impossible to enforce contracts with ten of
thousands of farmers, the investor in inputs risks losing his investment to
unscrupulous neighbouring ginners."

2. "A way around this is for countries to zone their cotton producing areas
and allow the ginners investing in inputs in their zone to buy back the
cotton according to an agreed price, without interference from outside

About five years ago there was a story going about Harare that "the
country" only needed about 500 commercial farmers. The story went further
to say that an arms dealing multinational was behind this theory, and that
the multinational was particularly interested in controlling the Zimbabwean
tobacco industry. The demise of commercial agriculture had been part of
this multinational's strategy to eliminate educated and independent or free

thinking professional agricultural operators who had the power and courage
to challenge such a process.

To this end, the multinational had joined hands with the Government and set
up the Zimbabwe Joint Resettlement Initiative to lull commercial farmers
into believing that there was a "split in the party." This had resulted in
some misplaced faith of a great chance of resolving the whole problem by
dialogue through ZJRI. At that point -nearly three years ago - there were
some 72% of the farmers still farming. At the time this was blissfully
reinterpreted by some quarters as being "a very positive flip side of the
situation!"  - the logic being things could have been much worse, of

It could well be that this theory of "the flip side" is still being pursued
- "the flip side of donating a tonne of potatoes or an ox, or 100 chickens
has saved 500 farmers so far (in the national interest?) - there might only
have been 250 by now." (Joe Whaley "donated" in excess of 100 000 chooks
but perhaps that does not count any more because he is off his farm?)

Has this cotton article on Zimbabwe unwittingly shown us that the "500
farmers theory" might actually be true?

The proof of the pudding might depend how some of these questions can be

1. Why would it be impossible to enforce ten of thousands of contracts in
Zimbabwe? Australia has about 80 000 farmers with contracts, and the USA
probably has in excess of a million - what is the fundamental difference?

2. "If countries zone the cotton producing areas to ginners" (in Zimbabwe)
- who is the author exactly referring to when he says "the countries?" -
The Politicians? The King? The Minister of Agriculture? The Bishop? The War
Veterans? The Poor people? Could such zoning amount to what Luther called
an indulgence - which might have a value to the scrupulous person granting

3. How would you define an "unscrupulous ginner," or a "scrupulous ginner"
for that matter?

4. What is the difference between the meaning of the word "interference"
and, say "free market forces" in this instance?

5. Could any tobacco farmer (or ex tobacco farmer such as Bruce Gemmil?)
perhaps enlighten us as to how tobacco is actually being marketed in "the
country" now? Is there any system that resembles one of zones or contracts
- nationally or regionally? And who are the scrupulous buyers?

6. How did "the country" allocate a scrupulous Mr. Mawere of FSI Agricom a
632 farm zone three years ago and then just recently relieve him of it?

7. What will this "zoning" of the Poor People (without Title) mean to them,
and "the country" - that has seen fit to implement it, in real terms? How
does the "zoning process" work?

The answers to these questions might well enlighten us as to what some
scrupulous people envisage as "power to the people" and Chave Chimurenga.

J.L. (Willy) Robinson.


Letter 6: WRITER SEEKS FARMERS TO INTERVIEW, received 7.2.2005

by Blake Hurst

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am a farmer in Missouri, U.S.A., raising corn, soybeans, and flowers. I'm
also a free lance writer.  I would like to try to place a story about what
has happened to agriculture in your country.

I would love to interview several farmers so that I could describe what has
happened to individual farmers.  Please consider my request, and if
possible forward me the contact information for some farmers who might be
willing to talk to me.  I don't think the story has received the coverage
it warrants in the U.S. press, and would like to bring your stories to my
friends and neighbors.

Thanks for your time.

Blake Hurst.

Contact email:


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.


JAG Hotlines:
+263 (011) 205 374 If you are in trouble or need advice,
                                  please don't hesitate to contact us -
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Enough is Enough



We have a fundamental right to freedom of expression!






Archbishop meets Prisoner of Conscience

08 February 2004

On Saturday 5th February, far beyond the reach of any reporters or the probing lens of any cameras, an event of major significance took place.  In the prison compound at Mutoko, some 140 kilometers north-east of Harare, one of Zimbabwe’s leading clerics and outspoken critic of the Mugabe regime, met and talked with a prominent member of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), now a prisoner of conscience incarcerated by that regime.  Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo met Roy Bennett the imprisoned opposition MDC member of parliament for the Chimanimani constituency.


Roy Bennett is serving out in the Mutoko prison the harsh and grossly disproportionate sentence imposed upon him by parliament.   In October 2004 the ruling ZANU (PF) party used their majority in parliament to slam a twelve month term of imprisonment with hard labour upon Bennett.  The pretext for this blatantly racist attack upon an opposition legislator who happens to be white and massively popular with his constituents, was an altercation in parliament between Bennett and Patrick Chinamasa, the Minister of Justice.  In response to provocative jibes from Chinamasa that his ancestors were “thieves and murderers”, Bennett pushed Chinamasa to the floor.  A minor scuffle that would have merited perhaps a reprimand from the Speaker in any normal democratic institution (or a small fine if prosecuted in the criminal courts) was used as the occasion for ZANU (PF) to vent its anger upon a former member of the party who had dared to switch his allegiance to the opposition when he saw how corrupt ZANU (PF) had become.  The unprecedented severity of the sentence was only the latest act of vengeance inflicted upon Bennett, who with his family and workers, has been the target of a sustained campaign of persecution over the last several years.


“They were acting out of spitefulness and hatred”, said the plain-speaking Archbishop in an interview with our reporter.  “They are jealous of this man succeeding.  They are hateful because he joined the opposition”.    Not that the Archbishop wished to condone Bennett’s behaviour in parliament.  “That was wrong”, he said, “but the sentence was way beyond what was appropriate.  They (the ZANU (PF) members of parliament) disregarded the extenuating circumstances and his apology.  Instead the regime capitalized on this unfortunate incident.  They are fixing him.  It is just vengeance”.


So why was a busy Archbishop taking the best part of a whole day to travel from Bulawayo to the other side of the country in order to see Bennett ?   “Out of sympathy”, declared the prelate without a moment’s hesitation.  “This is my stand against injustice”.  The Archbishop was well briefed too. During the interview he paged through a dossier on his desk, listing the gross abuses to which Roy Bennett and his family and workers had been subjected by a violent and unforgiving regime – from the violent and unlawful seizure of his Charleswood Estate in Chimanimani to the arrests, beatings, torture and rape of his workers by the CIO, militia and agents acting for the State.


The Archbishop traveled from Harare to Mutoko in the company of Roy Bennett’s wife, Heather and a family friend.  A visitor to one of Zimbabwe’s high security prisons can never be sure what kind of reception awaits him these days – and the more so if the person visited is a high-profile prisoner of the stature of Roy Bennett.  Visits are limited and strictly controlled.  Heather Bennett can only see her husband once a fortnight and on the most stringent terms.  Other would-be visitors have been turned away at the prison doors.  So how would the Archbishop be received, even given that he was accompanying the prisoner’s wife during one of her fortnightly visits ?   In the event he was courteously received and the visit was permitted to continue for the (unusually long) period of 45 to 50 minutes, albeit under the watchful gaze of two prison guards and with the prisoner (as ever) on the other side of a strong mesh fence to his visitors.


Asked how he found Bennett the Archbishop said he was remarkably cheerful, confident and “very positive”.     The Archbishop was able to tell Bennett that what he had done for his workers was appreciated.  “He has assisted them and helped them to develop in a wonderful way”,  he explained to our reporter, “a man of the people”.


Considering the abuses and injustices Bennett has suffered, Archbishop Pius was amazed at his readiness to forgive his tormentors.  “He told me”, said the man of God, “that he had learnt that to harbour bitterness was only to hurt oneself.  He reads his Bible every day”.


And for the future ?  It was during the course of this interview that Bennett confirmed that he wished to stand as a candidate in the March parliamentary elections.  Had he not already suffered enough in his bid to win freedom for Zimbabwe ?   On the contrary, came his reply: “We have sacrificed too much to stop now. We must go forward”.   At which point the Archbishop spoke of his Christian conviction that the journey to freedom is never painless, but that somehow God uses that pain to bring out the best in his children.


The 45 minute interview was soon over.  The small quantities of high protein food and other limited range of toiletries permitted by the prison authorities, were duly handed over, to be inspected by the prison guard and approved.  (Bennett has always made a point of sharing such small benefits as he receives with those who share his cramped prison cell with him, so not all the treats were for him personally).  A moving farewell.  Heather Bennett will not be able to see her husband again for another fortnight.  The Archbishop tells Roy,  “Don’t lose heart.  Be courageous. We are praying for you”.


The visit is over, but no doubt the strengthening words of Archbishop Pius Ncube will remain with Roy Bennett for many days and weeks to come.   And who doubts the Archbishop was speaking for many, many thousands of Zimbabweans, not to mention the  countless supporters and well-wishers around the world, of Zimbabwe’s currently most famous prisoner of conscience.


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Independent UK

Publish, and be damned
Once great friends with Robert Mugabe, journalist Wilf Mbanga was forced
into exile. Genevieve Roberts meets the editor of Zimbabwe's newest
opposition newspaper
09 February 2005

From a small dining-room converted into an office in southern England, Wilf
Mbanga is working with his chief sub-editor, Trish, who is also his wife.
Among the ordered chaos of abandoned newspapers and journals, their two
computers and a couple of telephones are serving as an international

While most people would suffer under the stress of founding a newspaper,
Mbanga, aged 57, is thriving. "I'm passionate about newspapers. I love
newspapers," he laughs. This is the first time he has worked on a newspaper
with his wife, although they met 27 years ago, working in the same office
for sister titles in Zimbabwe.

The founder of the now-silenced Daily News, the sole daily independent
newspaper in Zimbabwe, has set up a new title, The Zimbabwean. It will be
published in London and Johannesburg, with copies from South Africa
distributed in Zimbabwe. The first issue of the weekly will come out on
Friday, six weeks before national elections. Its aim is to provide crucial,
unbiased information in a country saturated with propaganda.

Anonymous reporters in Zimbabwe are defying the media blackout imposed by
Robert Mugabe, the President, and working against the regime to provide
independent news from inside the country. Journalists in South Africa and
Britain are also writing about life in the diaspora, aimed at the 3.5
million Zimbabweans living in exile.

"The Zimbabwean media is made up of very brave people," says Mbanga. "They
were brave to work for the Daily News when journalists were being locked up.
Very few of the pieces written inside or outside the country will carry the
names of the writers."

Mbanga used to be friends with Mugabe. He is direct about their
relationship. "From the moment we shook hands, we became firm friends. We
both liked rock'n'roll, Elvis Presley, jazz, and country and western music."

They met in 1974 when Mbanga was a reporter. They shared a passion for
music, were both Roman Catholics and Mbanga believed in Mugabe's love for
Zimbabwe. Mugabe gave him exclusive interviews and admired his writing
style, so much so that Mugabe asked Mbanga to become the founding editor of
the government-run news agency in 1981, and Mbanga leapt at the chance. They
travelled together; to India, East Africa and London.

But things changed. In 1983, Mbanga heard rumours of massacres in the
south-western part of the country. At first he refused to believe that
Mugabe was responsible. "He was well-spoken, a natty dresser," he says. "He
liked the fine things in life. Mugabe was different and he cared. He really
loved his country. It was the Teflon effect; I could not accept that he was
corrupt, I did not believe the rumours of these atrocities."

Years later, he found out that Mugabe was responsible for the Matabeleland
massacres of up to 20,000 people. But it was not until the 1995 elections,
when the economy was in freefall and he could no longer discuss politics in
newspaper, that Mbanga realised Mugabe had turned into a "monster". The
erosion of human rights had become unpalatable. "Power corrupts, absolutely,
and I was left disillusioned by the man who I had had absolute faith in," he

The Zimbabwean will also be sold in Johannesburg, Gaborone in Botswana,
London, Luton and Manchester, all areas with a big Zimbabwean populations.
Almost 20,000 copies will be imported into Zimbabwe from Johannesburg. While
many Zimbabweans have signed up for subscriptions to the new title (through
a protected system so that the subscribers can't be traced), the newspaper
will also be distributed commercially and will be available on Zimbabwe's

A legal loophole means that newspapers published outside the country can
legally be imported into Zimbabwe. Mbanga says: "I want people to be able to
buy it on the streets, and for them to be able to write letters to the
newspaper. So far, Mugabe has not banned South African newspapers, though he
does not like titles with editorial policies that challenge Zanu-PF."

Even before the launch, Mbanga was flooded with e-mails from Zimbabweans
around the world. He now receives almost 300 messages a day from people
trying to get hold of a copy of the paper. "I will be very surprised if,
like the Daily News, the circulation does not increase very quickly," he
says. "There has been incredible interest. Not just people thinking it is a
good idea, but taking out subscriptions. It's a vote of real confidence;
people paying for year-long subscriptions before even seeing the product.
And not only Zimbabweans, Britons too." The venture has the backing of a
Dutch donor agency, which is fund-raising on behalf of Mbanga. He has also
been receiving subscriptions and donations from supportive Zimbabweans, keen
to see the paper succeed.

With elections imminent, the timing of the newspaper is crucial. A column
each week will be dedicated to comparing the progress of the forthcoming
election with Southern African Development Community (SADC) principles and
guidelines governing the conduct of democratic elections.

Mbanga is not under any illusions that The Zimbabwean will affect the
outcome of the elections. "Mugabe is going to make sure that he wins," he
says. "He has already put in the machinery to rig the election. He is
player, referee, umpire, everything." But he is optimistic that people will
turn out to vote. "There are a lot of brave people in Zimbabwe. In the last
election, people were attacked and raped and still thousands of people went
out to vote."

Mbanga is completely focused on his quest for the truth. "Nothing will make
me give up," he says. "This is my passion, my life, my everything. Apart
from my wife, this is my first love.

"I'd love to go back to Zimbabwe, but I am regarded as an enemy of the
people, which makes it very difficult. I want my country to return to
normality so that I can go back. The country has been stolen by Mugabe. I
hope he is reading The Zimbabwean, so he can learn what is going on in his
own country. I haven't received a subscription from him yet, but who knows,
it might be in the post. I would frame it."
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Zimbabwe farmers mark new territory
By Anna Borzello
BBC News, Kwara state, Nigeria

White farmers - evicted from their farms in Zimbabwe during the country's controversial land redistribution policy - will soon be signing a land deal to begin farming in Nigeria's north-western state of Kwara.

Allen Jack, who is leading the delegation of Zimbabwean farmers, discusses where to locate the new farms, with Kwara state officials
Governor Saraki has promised to help facilitate loans for the farmers

The invitation came from Kwara's state governor, Bukola Saraki, whose goal is to use the farmers to kick-start Nigeria's moribund agricultural sector.

"I had a tobacco farm in Zimbabwe employing around 450 people, but I was chased away two years ago," Dan Swart, a broad man in his late 50s, told me as he and four other white farmers discussed the boundaries of their new farms in a hotel bar.

"Then we were given the offer to come to Nigeria."

'Commercial farmers needed'

Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, but despite an abundance of fertile land, most of its food is imported - a legacy of years of corruption and misrule.

"Our farming sector is largely driven by peasant farming. And small family groups don't have the capital for mechanised farming or the ability to raise credit from banks.

In about 10 years' time... Kwara will be the backbone for Nigeria's agricultural drive
Bukola Saraki
Kwara state governor
"We need to have commercial farmers to do that," Governor Saraki said.

"We thought: 'Those are farmers. Zimbabwe doesn't want them. I'm sure they'd rather stay in Africa than go somewhere else'.

"So we sent someone to talk to them."

The plan is to have 15 Zimbabweans moving to Kwara this month. They will initially live in the bush in tents while they build their homes.

Then, as the months progress, more farmers and their families should fly out. Within a decade, as many as 100 farmers could be based in Kwara.

"I hope... in about 10 years' time our airport will be busy and young chaps coming out of university will think about going into farming," said Mr Saraki.

"Banks will invest in the agricultural sector. And Kwara will be the backbone for Nigeria's agricultural drive."


Nigeria is not the only African country to try to woo the 4,000 white farmers who have been displaced.

Shonga village in Kwara state, Nigeria
Local people are cautious about the plan, but hope it will bring jobs

Zimbabwe's Commercial Farmers Union has also had overtures from Ghana, Tanzania and Malawi.

Some farmers have already resettled in Mozambique and Zambia.

But Nigeria is the first country to offer incentives.

Governor Saraki has promised to help facilitate bank loans, and invest about 300m-400m naira ($2m-$3m; £1m-£1.6m) in irrigation, electricity, roads and housing.

The new farms will be built on land leased for 25 years around Shonga village - an underdeveloped region of gentle green hills near the state's northern border.

Initial fears

The Zimbabweans have already begun marking out their territory - striding around in knee-long shorts under the midday sun with hand-held GPS devices, while they wait for the final go-ahead from the state government.

Zimbabwean farmer, Allen Jack
Africa's never easy
Zimbabwean farmer Allen Jack

Initially, many people in Shonga were concerned that the Zimbabweans would steal their land, introduce a South African-style apartheid, and exploit their resources.

But local officials have made efforts to explain that the farmers want to settle in Shonga, employ local workers and pass on better farming methods.

"In the beginning we had fear as we were not alerted. But now some people have told us about them and we are willing to receive them," said a young mother, standing in the shade of a tree in Shonga village.

Her words were echoed by a motorbike driver on the dusty main street: "We welcome them, of course. We hope they will bring us jobs."

The Zimbabweans have also asked that no-one is relocated to make way for the farms, although one family will be moved on from their small red brick compound in the middle of the bush.


But even with this good will, can the project really succeed?

It is a hugely ambitious scheme, and one that invites scepticism.

The road outside Shonga, Kwara state, Nigeria
Virgin land outside Shonga - soon to be the site of commercial farms

Nigeria is currently ranked as the third most corrupt nation on earth, and many people do not trust government officials to keep their promises.

It is also a volatile country, with thousands of people killed in inter-communal violence in the last five years alone.

The Zimbabweans, however, are ready to face these challenges and determined to build a new life.

"Africa's never easy.

"We've realised the potential agriculturally. So let's just stick and see what we can do," said Allen Jack, the wiry leader of the Zimbabwean team.

"My friends think I'm mad," added Dan Swartz.

"But once we succeed they will come... a lot will come."

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