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

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Mugabe's Denial of Retirement Followed by Opposition Crackdown
Peta Thornycraft
15 Jan 2003, 14:28 UTC

There has been a wave of arrests of opposition politicians and activists in

One opposition Member of Parliament, Paul Mudzuri, was arrested in a poor
Harare suburb Sunday and his location remains unknown. Police say a second
opposition lawmaker, Job Sikhala, was arrested late Tuesday.

Later, three executive members of the Combined Harare Residents Association
were arrested, and their chairman Mike Davies, said they were taken to a
police station on the west side of the city.

According to the judicial watchdog organization the Legal Resources
Foundation, human rights lawyer Gabriel Shumba was also arrested.

Assistant police commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed the arrests of the
two members of parliament, and said they were being held in connection with
unrest and the destruction of a public bus. He said he was still checking on
other arrests brought to his attention.

Mr. Davies, of the Combined Harare Residents Association, says the arrests
of his members were deplorable. He says lawyers have been contacted to help
secure their release.

Mr. Davies expressed concern that Member of Parliament Mudzuri appears to
have disappeared in police custody, and he wants to be sure his members do
not suffer the same fate.

The Residents Association played a key role in ensuring that there were
elections for a mayor and a city council last year.

For years, Harare residents had an appointed mayor and administration from
the ruling Zanu PF party. The Residents Association launched a long series
of legal challenges to force an election, which was held on the same day as
nation wide presidential elections last March.

Candidates from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change swept to power
and now control most of the urban centers. Last week, the government
announced it would appoint governors for the major cities, an apparent
effort to marginalize the elected mayors.

Harare's elected mayor Elias Mudzuri was arrested last Saturday. He was
released early Monday, and he reported filthy conditions in cells in Harare
Central Police Station. He said there was not enough food for inmates, and
that if the first citizen of Harare could be arrested while doing his job,
addressing taxpayers, no one was safe.

He said the government is constantly interfering with his work.

The mayor predicted that the government's critical shortage of foreign
currency would force Harare residents to use impure water in three weeks,
because there are no chemicals to purify the city's recycled water.

There have been small anti government demonstrations in poor neighborhoods
of the city in the past two days.
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Cricket row polarises debate on Zimbabwe

By Alistair Thomson

JOHANNESBURG, Jan. 15 - To play or not to play?
       That is the question English cricket chiefs had to face ahead of next
month's World Cup match in Zimbabwe, but the real poser is how the world
should deal with President Robert Mugabe as his country slides into economic
and political chaos.

       The furore in London, where the opposition Conservatives have traded
insults with Tony Blair's government over Zimbabwe, has only been exceeded
by the increasingly vitriolic debate in South Africa over how to treat its
wayward neighbour.
       South Africa's government has long espoused quiet, behind-the-scenes
discussions to encourage reform. But with economic refugees flooding across
the border and famine threatening half the 14 million people of the region's
former breadbasket, the chorus of disapproval is growing.
       ''He's a war criminal and should be treated as such,'' one caller to
a South African radio show said of Mugabe.
       ''He should be had up for murder and the ruin of his country,'' said
       The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) defied pressure from the
Blair government and placard-wielding anti-Mugabe protesters on Tuesday and
said it would play in Zimbabwe. The Australian Cricket Board had already
indicated it would play despite Mugabe's branding of its people as former
       ECB chief Tim Lamb accused the government of using sport for
political ends against a country where British firms still trade and with
which Britain maintains diplomatic relations.
       ''There are so many more meaningful ways in which the British
government, the Commonwealth and the international community could express
its displeasure at what is happening in Zimbabwe,'' Lamb said.
       Zimbabwe has split the Commonwealth on loosely racial lines when it
comes to cricket: England and Australia came under heavy government pressure
to boycott their matches but there was barely a comment about planned
matches by Commonwealth allies India and Namibia.

       In South Africa, the main World Cup host, the outcry over the crisis
in Zimbabwe has intensified ahead of the tournament.
       ''No games should be played in Zimbabwe, as they will be viewed as a
vote of support for the Mugabe regime,'' said the opposition Democratic
Alliance. ''It will also shore up Mr. Mugabe in much the same way as the
1936 Olympic Games in Berlin were used to build Adolf Hitler's profile.''
       Despite rumours of a plan to ease Mugabe into voluntary exile,
President Thabo Mbeki's opponents say quiet diplomacy has not worked and
South Africa cannot stand by while its neighbour slips into ruin,
threatening its own economy in turn.
       Critics point to the international sporting ban which contributed to
ending South Africa's racist apartheid rule in 1994, but Mbeki's ministers
say the situation is different -- especially after Britain welcomed
Zimbabwean athletes at last year's Commonwealth Games.
       Nevertheless, England's footballers this week turned down an
invitation to Zimbabwe, deeming it ''inappropriate'' and perhaps mindful of
the no-win situation of their cricketing compatriots.

       Millions of people face starvation across southern Africa due to
drought, but Mugabe is blamed for making the problem worse in Zimbabwe
through mismanagement, in particular by his seizure of white-owned land to
hand to landless blacks.
       Mugabe says that is why Britain is waging a campaign against him and
backing his main opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), in a
bid to force him from power.
       Police accused the MDC on Tuesday of plotting violent protests to
disrupt the World Cup matches to be played in Harare, a charge dismissed by
the MDC.
       But Harare's MDC mayor, detained by police at the weekend, has said
the matches should not go ahead due to safety fears.
       ''How can I stand up and guarantee the safety of these visitors? I
can't,'' he told Johannesburg's Star newspaper.
       Well founded or not, such fears may play into the hand of would-be
boycotters by calling into doubt the International Cricket Council's
December decision that Zimbabwe was a safe venue for matches. Officials are
monitoring security daily.
       That would at least remove any threat of England captain Nasser
Hussain being confronted with a hand-shaking Mugabe on the outfield, a
danger which has preoccupied the British media.
       But it would not answer the wider question of whether the world can
deal with Mugabe, or should isolate his country to induce a crisis which
might force him from power.
       United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan spoke out on Tuesday in
favour of cooperation, but even he accepted mismanagement was partly to
blame for Zimbabwe's woes.
       ''The challenge now is for all Zimbabweans to work together, and with
each other, and with the international community, to find solutions before
it is too late,'' he said.
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MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai responds to the current cycle of denials and
propaganda campaign in Zimbabwe

15 January 2003.

For the record, Zimbabweans and the international community need to know
that early last month, Colonel Lionel Dyck came to see me at my home
purporting to be carrying a message from Emmerson Mnangagwa and General

I gave him an ear and he stated that he was a messenger of the two Zanu PF
politburo members. The two wanted to hear my views on the way forward, now
that Robert Mugabe had, in Dyck's words, long indicated that he wanted to
retire, was being restrained by Mnangagwa and Zvinavashe, and could only be
allowed to do so at such a time deemed appropriate by the two and many
others in ZANU PF.

 I told Dyck that, as we had said in the past, Mugabe's departure was long
overdue and that we were prepared to assist in the necessary transitional
arrangements to enable Zimbabwe to move forward.

The initiative from elements within ZANU PF to approach me through Col. Dyck
was entirely their own affair. Dyck himself confirmed to The Daily News on
19 December 2002 that a group led by Emmerson Mnangagwa and General
Zvinavashe with Mugabe's concurrence out of the realization that he has lost
all capacity to govern, had sent him.

There is all the evidence that this regime now relies only on violence to
force its will upon the people. It is a regime, which rules for its own
benefit and impoverishing everybody. How many ordinary Zimbabweans can
afford to import food parcels from London and Johannesburg as Mugabe and his
poodle Jonathan Moyo are doing? Dictatorial rule is now big business and
fabulous affluence for the few families of those who anchor and maintain the

 When I told Dyck that we were prepared to assist with the transitional
arrangements, I made it categorically clear that this does not mean
participating in the formation of a government of national unity or some
underhand pact with Zanu PF.

The MDC did not approach ZANU PF, instead it is the Mugabe dictatorship,
which has periodically send envoys. Dyck is not the only one who was sent to
fly a kite. There have been a few occasions when even men of the cloth have
approached the MDC purporting to convey messages from Mugabe.

The MDC has never approached ZANU PF through surrogates and will not do so.
We have stated clearly in the past and would want to state again that the
Mugabe regime is irretrievably illegitimate and the only way forward is for
it to accept that fact. There is no political solution outside a course that
charts the way for a return to legitimacy.

We will never be party to any political arrangement that seeks to sanitize
Mugabe's violent illegitimacy, and that includes Mugabe's retirement plans
and the so-called government of national unity. We will never
institutionalise and expand illegitimacy.

 The MDC is not in the business of arranging succession strategies for an
illegitimate regime that survives on the basis of a systematic and ruthless
subversion of democracy and fundamental human rights and continues to rule
through the barrel of the gun.

Our position has remained unchanged since the aborted inter-party dialogue
in March 2002. There can be no resolution of the Zimbabwean crisis without a
return to legitimacy through a re-run of the stolen the election under free
and fair electoral conditions guaranteed and supervised by the international

The Mugabe illegitimate regime cannot be expected or trusted to superintend
a process towards a restoration of the people's sovereign will.

Mugabe's greatest nemesis remains the economy, which refuses to bend to all
his dictatorial formulae. He cannot use on the economy the same weapons he
is using to subvert democracy and crush human rights. He cannot rig it, he
cannot shoot it, he cannot intimidate it, and although he raped it, the
economy continues to deliver and land fatal blows that Mugabe cannot block.
This situation is going to expose the hollowness of Mugabe's cheap and
insensitive boast that he will stay and continue to brutalize and cause
untold suffering among Zimbabweans.

 Right now the country is grinding to a halt through an acute shortage of
fuel and Mugabe does not know where the next litre of diesel or petrol is
going to come from.

 The current stocks of fuel and maize were procured with a US$50 million
loan secured at the beginning of December from a Cairo-based bank. The
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has a minority shareholding in this particular

 The fuel is being released to the market in small dosages in order to
stretch it as far as possible. It runs out at the end of the month.
Thereafter a new line of credit has to be sourced, a difficult assignment
for the rogue regime now that all avenues for support have dried up.

 The dictatorship in Zimbabwe today is a unique one, which will meet an
equally unique ending.

 I issued a public statement on the 18th of December 2002 condemning what we
considered to be a plan to legitimise the Mugabe regime through underhand

 The media paid little attention to that statement. Three weeks later, this
subject re-surfaced with reports that a so-called deal had been struck
between Mnangagwa, Zvinavashe and myself. This is not true. No deal was
struck. I never met Mnangagwa and Zvinavashe. I met Dyck who claimed to be
their messenger. I did not look out for him. He came to me.

 In the spin of denials, Zanu PF propaganda and vitriol, the onus is on Dyck
and his principals to explain. It has never been our responsibility to speak
on behalf of this illegitimate government and its violent political party.

 Mugabe and Zanu PF must move beyond what has now become their habitual
assumption that the MDC will disappear through violence and a propaganda

 No amount of demonisation in the public media will bring lasting peace to a
country that Mugabe has systematically destroyed in his quest to hold onto
power illegitimately.

Mugabe must realise that he is now alone in his stubborn determination to
hold onto office. All his lieutenants have virtually abandoned him and
maintain an appearance of loyalty out fear.

  The machinery around Mugabe is now collapsing fast and leaking heavily.
Daily I receive tonnes of information about the goings on in government, in
ZANU PF, at State House and Munhumutapa Building from people close to Mugabe
seeking guidance from me as the legitimate leader of Zimbabwe whose victory
was denied through theft in March 2002.

The latest information to reach my desk came in the form of reports of
announcement by Mugabe to his close family members urging them to get ready
for life after his 23-year old dictatorship. And, that is soon. One of their
number even remarked that he has to start looking for a job overseas.

 Mugabe and his cronies need to know that the real Zimbabwean drama will
begin to unfold very soon when it becomes clear that we are headed for
another serious drought.

 Commercial agriculture has collapsed and nothing is happening in the former
commercial farms. The entire landscape has been reduced to wasteland, as the
new owners fight over farmhouses and farm equipment.

 Our goal is not only to end this era of tyranny, but also to begin
something completely new. We seek to raise the profile of ordinary
Zimbabweans by bringing about positive changes within our citizens through
the restoration of their values and dignity as human beings.

 We shall build a nation in which problems are tackled with courage and in a
constructive manner. If we are to avoid bloodshed and achieve the change we
have been trying to secure over the past three years, there is no other way
other than through constructive dialogue.

 We have an economic rescue plan designed to re-open the closed factories,
launch an expansive public works programme to alleviate housing shortages
and create jobs, attract new investment and expand employment opportunities.

 We will resuscitate mutually beneficial bilateral relations and re-engage
the multilateral financial institutions.

 Our international partners stand ready to respond to a clear signal from us
to come in and team up with us in a determined effort to revive the
shattered economy.

Morgan Tsvangirai

 MDC President, Harare, Zimbabwe
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There are some places still available on the ACIA Accreditation Training Course to be held at Blackfordby Agricultural Institute commencing Wednesday 22nd January 2003.
Any farmer wishing to do this course please contact Lynn Dove at Syngenta on telephone 04 - 663590/9 or email before Friday 17th January 2003.
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From ZWNEWS, 15 January

Zimbabwe’s email system collapses

The technical problems which have been brewing in Zimbabwe’s email system for months came to a head yesterday, with widespread failures affecting subscribers at almost all internet service providers in the country. People outside Zimbabwe reported that email sent to Zimbabwe email addresses were returned with the message "user/domain unknown". Those sending email from Zimbabwe to international addresses had messages bounced back to them, and access to Zimbabwean websites from outside the country has also been difficult, or impossible at times. The problems are expected to take some time to sort out. The technical faults apparently stem from the management of the top-level Zimbabwean internet domain (anything ending in .zw) by Telone. Telone is the successor organisation to the Post and Telecommunications Corporation (PTC), and is the state-controlled body responsible for Zimbabwe’s electronic and telephone networks. Managing the top-level domain involves the responsibility for, amongst other things, keeping up to date the information required by internet networks around the globe in order to communicate with the Zimbabwean system. It appears that Telone may have lost this information, or not updated it, with the result that the rest of the world will not have the technical information necessary to communicate with servers in Zimbabwe. "As far as the rest of the world is concerned, Zimbabwe may just as well not exist in electronic terms," said one ISP manager. "The system has been run like an unroadworthy country bus repaired at the side of the road."

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From The Herald, 14 January

Minister's wife sues Daily News

Harare - The wife of the Minister of Information and Publicity Professor Jonathan Moyo, Mrs Beatrice Moyo, is suing The Daily News for publishing a false and malicious story alleging that her husband beat her up on New Year's eve while staying at a hotel in Johannesburg. "The allegation carried in the sensational headline of the story is totally false and is not supported by any evidence either in the story itself or the original story maliciously published by The Sunday Times of South Africa on January 12 2003," she said in a letter written to her lawyers. The sensational and false headline in The Daily News story has caused me and my family, especially my children who were with us during the holiday immense pain. I'm distressed that my husband's political enemies are now seeking to intrude upon the privacy of our family using half truths, outright falsehoods and innuendoes to settle political scores with him at my expense." Mrs Moyo said it is true that they were celebrating New Year just after midnight, when there was some misunderstanding among some of the guests who were partying with them in Room 806 at the Mercure Hotel after they held a fireworks display in the secluded gardens of the hotel, but there are a number of inaccuracies in the manner the story was reported. "That I sought police intervention is not true and that the fracas involved my husband or him beating me up, as maliciously alleged by The Daily News is not true," she said. "In fact at no time was my husband in Room 806 during the party or the entire period of our stay at the hotel. Contrary to claims by The Sunday Times repeated by The Daily News that I made reference to my husband describing him as a "senior government officer," at no time did I ever mention him in connection with the fracas in Room 806 or at any other time during our entire stay at the Mercure Hotel for that matter."

The Sunday Times reported that Prof Moyo, his wife and four children stayed at the hotel in Bedfordview from December 27 to January 8 and allegedly went on a shopping spree, spending thousands of rands on food. It also alleged that the couple had fought and one of Prof Moyo's children phoned the reception to alert the hotel's management. Mrs Moyo has written a letter to her lawyers, Mr Johannes Tomana of Muzangaza, Mandaza and Tomana instructing him to demand an apology and a complete retraction of the false, sensational, malicious and hurtful headline from The Daily News. She also instructed her lawyers to institute appropriate legal action for damages caused to "me personally, her husband and her children". "The Daily News was so unprofessional and unethical in its sensational and false headline that they did not have the common decency to check their 'facts' with me. Even worse, their headline makes an allegation which is not even hinted in the original story by The Sunday Times nor supported by any police record. Nowhere in The Sunday Times article is it claimed that my husband beat me up. That is a total fabrication by The Daily News," she said.

The Daily News fabrication, she said, is an "opportunistic and malicious attack on my husband using me and our children to settle political scores, which have nothing to do with me." "As a family, we are not prepared to tolerate this onslaught on my husband using falsehoods about me. We have suffered enough from scurrilous allegations of a personal and hurtful nature around my husband by The Daily News and other media like it. I am not going to take any more of it. My husband has done a lot for Zimbabwe and continues to do it at a great cost to me and the children who miss him dearly when he is away on public duty. He has had to rely on family support, which we have given him. I do not want this support to be contaminated or prostituted by the likes of The Daily News who have shown no regard for the truth, personal privacy and family values. It is for this reason that I would like you to institute legal action against The Daily News on my behalf," she said.

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From The Natal Mercury (SA), 14 January

Kaunda tells Mugabe what to do

By Anthony Mukwita & Basildon Peta

Former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda told Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe - with him on a Zambian stage - that he had to forget the past and rather focus on fighting Aids and fostering development. Mugabe responded by saying Zimbabwe's problems were British prime minister Tony Blair's fault. Later he told reporters it would be "foolhardy" and "counter-revolutionary" for him to quit power, rejecting reports that he planned to make way for a new leadership. Mugabe was in Lusaka to attend a ceremony in honour of Kaunda by current Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa. Kaunda said it was time to leave the hardships of colonialism behind and tackle the new problems of Africa. "Yesterday it was the fight against colonialism," Kaunda said "Today it is HIV/Aids, not white or black." Mwanawasa, with Namibian president Sam Nujoma also looking on, bestowed the Order of the Eagle of Zambia: First Division and Grand Commander of the Eagle of Zambia on Kaunda. Mwanawasa described Kaunda as "a true Pan Africanist who believed that Zambia could not enjoy true emancipation if the rest of the region remained under the yoke of colonialism". Kaunda shed tears as he accepted the honour and said he would dedicate his life to fighting Aids. He told Mugabe to bury the hatchet and get on with economic development instead of fighting "colonialist ghosts", quoting a passage from the Bible saying: "Vengeance is for the Lord." Kaunda views Mugabe as a huge liability to Africa and has been lobbying regional leaders to exert pressure on him to quit.

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From The Independent, (UK), 15 January

Zimbabwe tells England cricket team: safety is not guaranteed

By Baslidon Peta, Southern Africa Correspondent and David Llewellyn

The safety of cricket players and fans in Harare cannot be guaranteed, its mayor warned yesterday, after England decided to go ahead with its World Cup match in Zimbabwe. Elias Mudzuri, who had supported hosting six of the World Cup matches in his city, reversed his position, saying he could no longer promise security because of the Zimbabwe government's failure to show restraint. "The situation in Zimbabwe is ever-deteriorating and anything could happen to the cricketers and their fans," Mr Mudzuri said. Opposition civic groups fighting President Robert Mugabe's authoritarian regime also warned of "unpleasant" surprises awaiting the cricketers. Tim Lamb, chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, had said defiantly that his board would ignore British government advice and proceed with the Harare match on 13 February. The announcement was made at Lord's after the home of cricket had been invaded by protesters opposed to the Harare match. The group, led by the activist Peter Tatchell, barged past security officials, with placards saying "Bowl out killer Mugabe", "No cricket while Zimbabwe burns", and "Berlin 1936, Harare 2003". Mr Lamb was forced to move to another room. He said the decision of the board was unanimous. "We have not been elected to make decisions of a political nature," he said. "The Government haven't offered a penny of compensation, which we consider to be inequitable." But he left the door open. "I can assure you the ECB will not expect its players to go to Harare if there is any risk that there physical safety could be at risk."

Tensions are running high in Harare as Zimbabwe grapples with a threatened famine, soaring inflation, political violence and fuel shortages. Violent pro-Mugabe youths known as green bombers are causing chaos in the city as they try to control food queues in the capital, flushing out suspected opposition supporters. More government opponents, including the mayor, were jailed at the weekend for assembling peacefully to discuss water problems in the city. Mr Mudzuri said he had now learnt that anything could happen. "How then can I stand up and guarantee the safety of these visitors? I can't do that." Zimbabwe's civic groups, who have formed an umbrella group called Organised Resistance, have also promised widespread demonstrations during the World Cup matches to expose Mr Mugabe's brutality. A leader of the umbrella group, Lovemore Madhuku, said his group was calling for a national strike, which would prove to the cricket authorities that their decision to play cricket in Harare amid the struggle for democracy in the beleaguered country was insane. Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe's main opposition leader, has publicly urged the England cricketers not to travel to Harare. His party was accused by Zimbabwe police last night of fomenting a secret plot to disrupt the matches and embarrass Mr Mugabe's government. The police vowed to thwart any such plans. World Cup organisers welcomed the England decision. The Australian team has come under similar pressure from its government. President Mugabe branded all Australians as criminals yesterday and described John Howard, the country's Prime Minister, as "a product of genetically modified criminals".

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Guardian UK
Family baffled after couple disappear in Zimbabwe

Andrew Meldrum in Harare and Jeevan Vasagar
Wednesday January 15, 2003
The Guardian

Police in Zimbabwe are investigating the disappearance in mysterious circumstances of a British woman and her South African husband.

Hilary Allanson and her husband Ken, a dealer in stamps, have not been seen since Wednesday evening when, according to their maid, they were picked up from their home in Harare by another, unknown white couple.

According to Mrs Allanson's brother, Ian Pollard, police at first suspected that the maid had fabricated a story about the car arriving, but the sighting of a vehicle was confirmed by a neighbour.

The couple's passports were still at home, Mr Pollard said yesterday from his home in Newcastle, and checks of morgues had found no bodies matching their description. Mrs Allanson, 58, and her husband have lived in Zimbabwe for more than 30 years and have two adult sons. The brother described them as "completely apolitical".

"They are quiet people," Mr Pollard said. Their usual recreation is staying at home watching television in the evening. They do very little going out.

"I certainly would not expect them to go out at 8 o'clock at night - I know it sounds odd in the British context, but they are very quiet; their recreation is really family and friends.

"We're absolutely desperate. I'm on the phone constantly to relatives from around the world. Their sons hardly know where to turn. The main thing making us worried is the lack of information. We are assuming the worst, but don't have any evidence."

Mr Allanson's sister, Rosemary Rawson, who also lives in Harare, said: "We've followed every possible lead. The police couldn't have been more helpful. People are doing everything they can. Everyone has been wonderful. It's all very strange, a nightmare.

"We don't know who the couple is that they went out with. If we did know, then we would have something to go on."

Last night police in Harare were unavailable for comment. The British high commission in Harare said: "We are in contact with the family in Zimbabwe and the UK, and will provide whatever consular assistance may be required."

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ABC Online

Posted: Thu, 16 Jan 2003 10:24 AEDT

Govt still hoping ACB will boycott Zimbabwe: Hill

The acting Foreign Affairs Minister, Robert Hill, says the Federal Government still hopes the Australian Cricket Board will decide against playing World Cup matches in Zimbabwe next month.

The England and Wales Cricket Board has announced it will go ahead with its matches despite the Blair Government's pleas for the team not to play.

The Federal Opposition leader, Simon Crean, has called on the Government to step up its campaign to stop Australia playing in Zimbabwe.

But Senator Hill says it is likely Australia will play.

"We would like to still think that the cricket board would listen to Government, that [they] are obviously looking at the bigger picture and shift the games, but we are unlikely to act unilaterally," he said.

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Times Online
World News

January 16, 2003

Mugabe's downfall imminent, say rivals

THE leader of Zimbabwe’s opposition party predicted the imminent collapse of Robert Mugabe’s regime yesterday in a lengthy public statement affirming that two top officials from the ruling Zanu (PF) party had offered him the President’s resignation.

Morgan Tsvangirai said that Mr Mugabe’s lieutenants had “all virtually abandoned him and maintain an appearance of loyalty out of fear. The machinery around Mugabe is now collapsing fast and leaking heavily.”

He claimed to have received reports from people close to Mr Mugabe that the 78-year-old leader had told his family to “get ready for life after his 23-year-old dictatorship”.

Zimbabwe was “grinding to a halt”, Mr Tsvangirai said. Its commercial agriculture was in ruins. The country’s fuel supply would dry up at the end of the month and there was no money to buy more.

“Mugabe does not know where the next litre of diesel or petrol is coming from,” he said.

Mr Mugabe’s “greatest nemesis” was the economy, which “refuses to bend to all his dictatorial formulae. He cannot use on the economy the same weapons he is using to subvert democracy and crush human rights. He cannot rig it, he cannot shoot it, he cannot intimidate it and, although he raped it, the economy continues to land fatal blows that Mugabe cannot block.”

Mr Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), issued the statement to rebut a stream of denials from Mr Mugabe and Zanu (PF) that two of the regime’s senior members had secretly offered him a deal to save Zimbabwe from its deepening emergency.

A barrage of party statements blamed the British Government for reports in The Times and other media outlets, calling them “wicked, malicious and mischievous” and “the work of the enemy bent on destroying Zimbabwe”.

However, Mr Tsvangirai announced that “for the record, Zimbabweans and the international community need to know” that in December, Colonel Lionel Dyck, a respected former Zimbabwe Army officer, took a message to him from Emmerson Mnangagwa, who ranks third in the Zanu (PF) Politburo, and General Vitalis Zvinavashe, Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.

He said that they “wanted to hear my views on the way forward now that Robert Mugabe had, in Dyck’s words, long indicated that he wanted to retire, was being restrained by Mnangagwa and Zvinavashe and could only be allowed to do so at such a time deemed appropriate by the two men and many others in Zanu (PF).”

Colonel Dyck had made clear that the initiative stemmed from “the realisation that he (Mugabe) has lost all capacity to govern”.

Mr Tsvangirai said that he had told Colonel Dyck that the MDC was “prepared to assist in the necessary transitional arrangements to enable Zimbabwe to move forward”, but made “categorically clear that this does not mean participating in the formation of a government of national unity or some underhand pact with Zanu (PF) . . . We will never be party to any political arrangement that seeks to sanitise Mugabe’s violent illegitimacy.

“If we are to avoid bloodshed, and achieve the change we have been trying to secure over the past three years, there is no other way other than through constructive dialogue,” Mr Tsvangirai said.

Brian Raftopoulos, a member of the Crisis in Zimbabwe think tank, said that Mr Tsvangirai’s statement would inflame the long-suppressed debate inside Zanu (PF) about Mr Mugabe’s future.

“Tsvangirai has very cleverly challenged them to deal with the situation,” he said. “He is putting pressure on them to deal with it, and for people inside the party to come out in the open.

“There are increasing indications that these discussions on succession are taking place. There will be more leaks and more pressure. There is a real sense now that he is battling. Zanu (PF) has never been so vulnerable. It gives the public a sense of hope again.”

On Tuesday Mr Mugabe said that he would “never, never, never” go into exile. But the state press reported his speech under the ambiguous headline: “I am not retiring yet.”

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Zimbabwe police arrest opposition MP over burnt bus
HARARE, Jan. 15 — Zimbabwe police arrested an opposition member of parliament on Wednesday after he was allegedly found with documents linked to the burning earlier this week of a bus owned by a state-owned transport company.
 ''Job Sikhala has been arrested in connection with being found in possession of subversive documents,'' state broadcaster the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation said.
       ''Police are investigating a possible link between documents found with Sikhala and the burning of a ZUPCO bus,'' it added.
       The television report said police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed the arrest of Sikhala, a legislator for the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change, and that he was likely to appear in court soon.
       Bvudzijena was not immediately available for comment.
       Police on Tuesday accused the MDC of planning to cause civil unrest ahead of World Cup Cricket matches scheduled to be played in Zimbabwe next month in order to force a change of venue.
       But the opposition dismissed the charge, saying President Robert Mugabe's government was looking for another excuse to clamp down on opposition leaders and activists.
       The England and Wales Cricket Board said on Tuesday the England team would play its February 13 match against Zimbabwe, rejecting government pressure to boycott the match in protest at Mugabe's policies and Zimbabwe's human rights record.
       On Monday, Zimbabwe's High Court ordered the release of Harare's MDC mayor Elias Mudzuri following his weekend arrest for holding a meeting without police approval, as required by tough new laws that the opposition says are designed to stifle democracy.
       Earlier on Wednesday, the MDC accused police of assaulting another opposition legislator, Paul Madzore, arrested at the weekend for allegedly organising riots in his Harare constituency. The party said Madzore appeared in court on charges of contravening the Public Order and Security Act.
       Police were not available for comment on the assault allegations.
       The MDC currently holds 53 of the 120 seats in parliament that were contested in elections in 2000.
       Mugabe, in power since leading Zimbabwe to independence in 1980, dismisses the MDC as a puppet of the West -- led by former colonial ruler Britain -- which he says is out to oust him for seizing white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks.
       Britain has led international criticism of Mugabe, and along with Australia has called for a boycott of cricket World Cup matches due to be played in Zimbabwe next month.
Copyright 2003 Reuters Limited.
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