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

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Mugabe to seize British firms if sanctions are imposed
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is planning to seize dozens of British companies in Zimbabwe if sanctions are imposed on his government. Sources close to Mugabe, who faces growing international condemnation for his crackdowns on political opponents, white farmers and independent journalists, say he is furious that foreign governments are considering such a course of action. A leading member of the president’s Zanu-PF party warned that he planned to retaliate for any measures taken at Britain’s instigation — such as a ban on travel to European Union countries and America — by targeting the interests of thousands of Britons. According to the Southern African Business Association, there are about 300 British companies in Zimbabwe, with a total investment of hundreds of millions of pounds. Some of the big players, such as Barclays bank, BP and Cadbury, are considered too vital to the economy to be nationalised. But scores of family businesses, many of them in tourism, could be confiscated and distributed among Mugabe’s party faithful, the sources said. Zanu-PF has warned repeatedly in recent months that white British passport-holders in Zimbabwe should renounce their UK citizenship. Aides of Mugabe say that in the event of sanctions, those who have failed to become Zimbabwean citizens will face repercussions. Many white farmers have already decided to comply with the measure. But a prominent businessman in Harare said yesterday that many of the 50,000 whites still in Zimbabwe were determined to hold onto their British passports. “If Britain starts imposing sanctions, selective or otherwise, the repercussions will be immediate,” said the businessman, who had been warned of Mugabe’s plans by ministers in the president’s inner circle. “It’ll be tit for tat. People will simply have their right to live here taken away and they’ll lose their businesses.” Possible measures under consideration by the EU and America include “smart sanctions” targeted at Mugabe and his closest associates, such as freezing bank accounts. Debt relief measures and aid could be affected and the Commonwealth is expected to consider calls for Zimbabwe’s suspension. Most businessmen were silent when the threat of confiscation surfaced in the local Financial Gazette last week. Mugabe’s aides say the president believes the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was created by British and western corporate interests to break his grip on power, which will be tested by elections in March. Wilfred Mhanda, who leads the Zimbabwe Liberators Platform, an association of anti- Mugabe war veterans, said a plan to grab British business assets had existed since the early days of Mugabe’s guerilla offensive against the Rhodesian authorities. “The idea was that we would seize power, take all the land from the white farmers and nationalise all white-owned businesses,” he said. “When Mugabe came to power a compromise deal was struck, with the British paying for land reform. “In Mugabe’s eyes, the whites have broken the agreement by encouraging both the farm workers and urban employees to support the MDC.”

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Sunday January 20, 11:56 AM

Violence erupts before Zimbabwe opposition rally

HARARE (Reuters) - Twenty people have been injured and thousands teargassed after police and militants from the ruling ZANU-PF party intervened to stop a rally by Zimbabwe's main opposition party, an opposition spokesman says.

Welshman Ncube, spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said militants occupied a stadium in Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo and beat up opposition supporters to stop the rally, while police teargassed those waiting outside.

"The police moved in as between 8,000 and 10,000 of our people were waiting outside the stadium to get in for the rally," Ncube told Reuters.

"They chased them and threw teargas," he added. "Some of our people have been assaulted and tortured by members of the militia in the stadium."

Police said they did not target MDC supporters.

"The police moved in to stop violence between supporters of two parties," a police spokesman said. "The police threw teargas to disperse the crowd to avoid any further trouble."

The violence came just hours before a visit by Nigerian President Olusegun Obasango, who is due in Zimbabwe later on Sunday for talks with President Robert Mugabe over his pledge to end violent seizures of white-owned farms.

Mugabe faces his toughest electoral challenge ever from MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai. Analysts say ZANU-PF has stepped up a violent drive against the MDC and the seizure of white-owned farms in a campaign to win Mugabe presidential elections scheduled for March 9-10.

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Mugabe regime is shaken as violence spreads

Andrew Meldrum Harare
Sunday January 20, 2002
The Observer

Cracks are beginning to emerge in Robert Mugabe's ruling party as he steps up his campaign of state-sponsored violence and intimidation across the country.

Mugabe, 77, is fighting for political survival after nearly 22 years in power. He has pushed through legislation tightening security and electoral laws to favour his party.

At the weekend travellers were being beaten and harassed on suspicion of supporting the opposition Movement for Democratic Change as the President sought to ensure his re-election in March.

But even as he increases repression, Mugabe is facing a quiet challenge from within his own party. So many Zanu-PF MPs have failed to attend recent sessions that the ruling party has been unable to pass legislation to impose heavy restrictions on trade unions and the press and to put the adminstration of elections in the hands of the government.

Zanu-PF rebel Eddison Zvobgo is credited with forcing the government to recall the Press Bill for revisions. Zvobgo, a former Cabinet Minister sacked by Mugabe, is chairman of the parliamentary legal committee. He has thrown a spanner in the works by voicing objections to the new legislation.

The objections raised by the legal committee have forced the government to withdraw the Press Bill for revisions and to make changes in other legislation.

Zvobgo, 67, trained as a lawyer at Harvard University in the United States and is a founding member of Zanu-PF. A Minister throughout the 1980s, he was sidelined by Mugabe because of his undisguised ambition to succeed the President.

Zvobgo lost his Cabinet seat and a place on the party's Politburo, but he retains influence in Masvingo, Zimbabwe's most populous province. Although he has vowed to stay in Zanu-PF until he dies, he has refused to campaign for Mugabe in the presidential elections.

Zanu-PF MPs are unhappy being pressed to vote for repressive laws that were created by unelected colleagues. 'Many Zanu-PF MPs detest [Information Minister] Jonathan Moyo and they do not want to support his Press Bill,' said the source.

'Mugabe will probably force them to vote for his legislation in the coming week, but at least they have given him yet another problem.'

In recent weeks the government has increasingly used violence, torture and murder to intimidate voters, according to human rights monitors in Zimbabwe. The escalation in violence came as Ministers gave assurances to the European Union that ithad restored the rule of law.

Zimbabwean civil society groups are calling on the EU to ratchet up its pressure on Mugabe. They also want United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson to visit Zimbabwe to encourage the government to stop gross abuses.

Welshman Ncube, MDC secretary-general, accused Mugabe's government of creating 'no-go areas' for opposition supporters ahead of the presidential vote. 'There is no prospect of the elections being free and fair,' he said.

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From The Sunday Times (UK), 20 January

Anti-Mugabe MP claims bid to blind him

Harare - In a case that could gravely embarrass the regime of President
Robert Mugabe, a leading member of the Zimbabwean opposition is suing a
prison doctor who, he claims, prescribed medicine that would have blinded
him. He also accuses the doctor of falsifying his diabetic record in a way
that nearly cost him his life. Details of the alleged mistreatment of
Fletcher Dulini, treasurer of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and a
leading MP, have emerged as the Zimbawean government faces international
condemnation over new laws, introduced in the run-up to elections in March,
that make it illegal for the opposition to put up election posters, hold
meetings or criticise the president.

Dulini was attending parliament in Harare when his wife telephoned him on
November 16 to tell him that the police had arrived at 3am to search their
house in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second city. She said they told her he was
wanted in connection with the murder of two Zanu PF activists, Cain Nkala
and Limakani Laphahla. Dulini immediately flew home to hear a list of
fantastic allegations by the police. They accused him of issuing
instructions for the murder of all war veterans, the entire civil service
and every activist supporting the ruling Zanu PF party. More specifically,
he was alleged to have ordered the murder of Nkala, and to have arranged
money and false passports for the killers. Dulini could prove he had not
even been in Bulawayo the day he was supposed to have issued the murder
instructions. But this was brushed aside and, notwithstanding his status as
a senior parliamentarian, he was thrown into the cells.

The abuse of one of the MDC’s "Top Six", as its executives are known,
appears to have been intended to show that even the most senior party
leaders are not safe. Aged nearly 62 when he was arrested, Dulini suffers
from high blood pressure, diabetes and glaucoma. "At first they tried to
threaten me with hanging for Nkala’s murder," said Dulini, who spent more
than six years in jail for his role in the resistance to the Rhodesian
government of Ian Smith. "But what they really wanted was the details of my
life, everything about the MDC’s finances and the minutes of Top Six
meetings." Dulini described how police interrogators screamed abuse.
Questioning never took place until after midnight - apparently to
disorientate him through sleep deprivation. During the five days Dulini
spent in the cells, his wife brought him the eyedrops he must take three
times a day to keep his glaucoma at bay, and special diabetics’ food. He was
refused bail by a High Court judge who had been a Zanu PF activist.

Thrown into solitary confinement in Khami prison, Dulini admits he was
shocked by what he found. "I couldn’t believe I was still in Zimbabwe," he
said. "We used to have the highest standards in Africa. Not any more. Lots
of prisoners had Aids or TB. Many died for lack of medication. Nobody gave a
damn." Inevitably, there were no eyedrops for Dulini, nor the food he
needed. The prison doctor tried to insist that he should use another drug
for his eyes, but Dulini knew enough to refuse. In the case Dulini is now
bringing, his own eye specialist will testify he would have gone completely
blind if he had followed the doctor’s advice. Dulini also accuses the prison
doctor of endangering his health by consistently underestimating the level
of sugar in his blood - potentially fatal for a diabetic. "My doctor says I
was within 48 hours of death," he said.

Despite growing concern about the human rights record of the Mugabe regime,
exemplified by Dulini’s treatment, Thabo Mbeki, the South African president,
has indicated support for the Zimbabwean leader. Citing the united action
taken by those who fought white rule in both countries, Mbeki pledged: "We
will not abandon them during their hour of greatest need." Such language is
bound to be interpreted by Mbeki’s supporters as a plea to support Mugabe in
any showdown with America, the European Union and the Commonwealth over
sanctions. In a lengthy statement on the ANC website, Mbeki welcomes Mugabe’
s commitment to "full respect for human rights, including the right to
freedom of opinion, association and peaceful assembly". The reality on the
ground in Zimbabwe bears no relation to Mbeki’s statement. On Thursday the
Mugabe regime returned to the attack against "so-called foreign
correspondents", describing local journalists who write for foreign papers
as "terrorists" and "running dogs".

The regime has outlawed election monitors, taken the administration away
from the independent electoral commission and promised to bring in a new law
to control the press. When I travelled to Zimbabwe last week, I appeared to
be the only journalist from outside the country to have done so. The police
have been given orders not to prevent systematic violence and intimidation
practised by Zanu PF activists, war veterans and the burgeoning youth
militia. One of the most alarming features of the campaign so far has been
the eruption onto the scene of the youth militia, believed to be training at
five complexes widely termed as "terror camps". Recruits are press-ganged
from the villages and then subjected to indoctrination sessions and given
rudimentary weapons - pangas, axes, hoes and some old Soviet SKS rifles.
They are let loose to beat and intimidate the public at large, each unit
under the control of a local war veteran.

Their weapon of choice is often a stick with a split fanbelt fastened to the
end, its hardened rubber edges making a formidable whip that can raise huge
welts with a single stroke. This new force is being turned out at the rate
of at least 1,000 new members a week. Mugabe’s supporters, meanwhile, appear
to be trying to rig the March poll. After prodigious legal efforts, the
opposition finally obtained a copy of the electoral register. To their
alarm, it contained large numbers of dead voters, some of whom died as long
as 15 years ago. Up to 2m other voters, meanwhile, could be turned away on
election day because one of their parents was born in a foreign country -
sufficient grounds under the recently passed citizenship act for them to be
disbarred from citizenship, voting rights and even residence.

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From The Saturday Star (SA), 19 January

Zim land beneficiary list 'a work of fiction'

Harare - Zimbabwe's government is publishing fictitious names of people on
lists of beneficiaries of farms seized from whites. It is also carrying
names of people who have not received any such land - and in some cases
never applied for it. The Independent Foreign Service (IFS) has confirmed
reports that most people listed as beneficiaries of the A2 resettlement
model for commercial farms, which followed the controversial fast-track
programme, had in fact not been given the land. The IFS has also established
that many of the names are fictitious, used to create the impression that
land was "going to the people". An company executive, who refused to have
his name published, said he was surprised to see his name in the state-owned
Herald, which published the lists, when he had neither applied for a farm
nor benefited from the scheme.

Ministry of Lands and Agriculture officials confirmed that the land acquired
so far would not be enough for all of the 54 000 people who had applied.
They said fewer than 7 000 people had in fact been allocated land under the
A2 model. "The lists being published do not reflect the truth," said a
senior ministry official. The ruling Zanu PF party has said 100 000 people
applied for land and promised that everyone would be accommodated. It
started publishing the names of the A2 beneficiaries to refute press
allegations that the land reform programme was only benefiting President
Robert Mugabe's cronies and Zanu PF members. The decision to publish the
lists was the brainchild of Information Minister Jonathan Moyo. He told the
Herald that after publishing the list of the 100 000-plus people to whom the
government intended to give land, only "mad people" would claim the
land-reform programme was benefiting Mugabe's cronies. He added it was
impossible for Mugabe to have more than 100 000 cronies and that anyone who
believed that was stupid.

Under the A2 model, farms seized from whites are being distributed to blacks
to promote black commercial farming. But ministry sources said the land
acquired so far was not enough to cater for the 54 000 who had applied. Zanu
PF has so far designated for seizure 6-million hectares of about 8-million
hectares of land controlled by whites. Some of the seized farms are
subdivided into small plots to cater for as many people as possible. Those
who have benefited so far have done so on the strength of their Zanu PF
membership, although they might not be personally known to Mugabe. "The
lists we are publishing are a combination of those who have got the land,
those who qualify for land but have in fact not received it and are unlikely
to receive it because the land is not enough, and others who are just
made-up names for political purposes," said one official. An investigation
by the IFS showed that one of the qualifications for getting the land was
proof of ruling-party membership by virtue of holding a Zanu PF card. Those
who had been genuinely given land had produced their cards.

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Mugabe is losing army's support, says war veteran
By Fergal Keane
(Filed: 20/01/2002)

THE Zimbabwean army is disillusioned with Robert Mugabe and will not support
his attempts to cling to power if he loses the forthcoming presidential
election, according to a former guerrilla commander who was close to Mr
Mugabe during the war that brought him to power.

Wilfred Mhanda, who now leads a war veterans' group that opposes Mr Mugabe's
rule, contradicted a recent claim by Vitalis Zvinavashe, Zimbabwe's chief of
staff, that the military would not recognise any leader who had not fought
in the bush war. The claim was designed specifically to unsettle Morgan
Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

Mr Mhanda was once one of the most trusted commanders of Zanu's military
wing and still has widespread contacts in the army. Many of the men he once
fought alongside are now senior officers.

"People are extremely concerned about the direction things are going, in
particular the economic situation . . . the violence, the killings and the
tarnishing of war veterans. No senior army leader is comfortable," he said.

I met Mr Mhanda in Johannesburg to interview him for the BBC as he was
preparing to return to Zimbabwe, where he is the chairman of the War
Liberators Platform - a group that opposes Mr Mugabe's policy of seizing
white-owned farms.

The chief of staff and a few other elite officers have benefited hugely from
Mr Mugabe's patronage, but at the level of colonel and brigadier and below
the support dwindles, according to Mr Mhanda. In the last parliamentary
elections, held in 2000, a number of constituencies with large military
garrisons voted against Mr Mugabe.

Mr Mhanda joined the guerrilla struggle against white rule in what was then
Rhodesia at the age of 16. He quickly rose through the ranks of Zanla - the
military wing of Zanu - and was sent to China for military training. He met
Mr Mugabe in 1976 just after the Zanu leader's release from prison and spent
days briefing him on the political situation.

Mr Mhanda said that as he came to know Mr Mugabe he began to fear for the
future of the movement. "He was very secretive, stubborn and uncompromising
and also, whenever he develops an attitude against you, he will not change
his mind . . . He is very vindictive."

After falling out with Mr Mugabe over the direction of the movement, Mr
Mhanda watched in horror as many of his senior colleagues were purged.

Although he fought in a bush war that targeted white farmers in Rhodesia,
Mhanda is furious that Mr Mugabe is using war veterans to attack commercial
farmers. "They have a contribution to make in the development of our
country," he said.

"There was no reason for Mugabe to move against them. He had all the
instruments of power and a majority in parliament to affect a more equitable
distribution of wealth. The fact that he did not do so is not the fault of
the whites."

Mr Mhanda is not a member of the opposition MDC but he believes that a
growing campaign of protest by the opposition and groups such as his War
Liberators Platform will lead to the end of the regime: "Even if he [Mugabe]
were to win the election he would not last long."

Fergal Keane's interview with Wilfred Mhanda can be heard on Taking a Stand
on Radio 4 on Tuesday at 9am.

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Zim Standard

Bush, Powell to discuss Zimbabwe

By Tendai Mutseyekwa
United States President George W Bush, and Colin Powell, his secretary of
state, will soon meet to discuss the course of action to be taken against
the Robert Mugabe regime in light of the deteriorating political situation
in Zimbabwe, a senior US official has said.

The news comes at a time when The Standard is reliably informed that several
offshore financial accounts belonging to top government officials have
already been identified by the US and other countries assisting it in its
endeavour to clamp down on Zimbabwean officials it accuses of crimes against

In an exclusive interview with The Standard on Friday, US assistant
secretary for democracy, human rights, and labour, Lorne Craner, said his
visit had been prompted by his country’s concern at the current situation in
Zimbabwe, that he had been sent to view the situation on the ground and
deliver the special message that “time is running out” for the Zimbabwe
government to put its house in order.
“We see the situation here very much worsening, and Colin Powell and the
President will be discussing what our policy ought to be from here onwards,”
said Craner.

The assistant secretary, who was on a four-day working visit to Zimbabwe,
said evidence gathered during his visit would play a pivotal role in
deciding the course of US policy towards Zimbabwe.

He said the US government, assisted by other countries, had so far
identified several accounts, but could not give further details.

“One of the things we are doing at the moment is identifying these financial
accounts that exist and secondly, particular individuals that if we did move
forward with these restrictions, would be affected.”

Commenting on what he had discovered during his short visit, Craner—who met
officials from the foreign affairs ministry, the speaker of parliament and
members of the civic society—said the situation was discouraging.

“There’s a situation of great conflict here because the democratic promise
that Zimbabwe holds is not being fulfilled. I have been to Zimbabwe before
and a lot of countries in Africa and have visited other countries going
through democratic transition. And one thing you can say about the last 20
years is that the expectations of democracy is very large.

“I say that because some in this country have tried to portray this as
Zimbabwe versus Britain, Zimbabwe versus the US. It’s not, it is Zimbabwe
versus democracies around the world.”

and I think you really see this if you listen to statements by people who
are ordinarily not considered mouthpieces of the US, mouthpieces of Britain.
People like Koffi Annan (UN secretary-general), Mary Robinson (UN high
commissioner for refugees), Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela,” he said.

“The point is that there is an expectation in this world today that you don’
t try to justify or try to talk about a shrinking economy and you don’t try
to justify or talk about restrictive media laws or a law that is restrictive
on political parties, or a law that is restrictive on ordinary citizens’
rights, as something that is defensible at the very time when other
countries—South Africa, Botswana, Malawi, Nigeria and others on this
continent—are moving to open their economies, to open up their political

He said this trend had generally become acceptable globally, particularly by
the presidents of South Africa, Senegal and Nigeria who have described it as
a necessary precondition for Africa to move into the 21st Century.

But for some reason Zimbabwe seemed to be going the other way. “Every time
you see all that is going all around the world you have Zimbabwe which is
moving backwards with a government that is trying to justify all of these I’
ve talked about before—it just doesn’t fit into the 21st Century.”

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Zim Standard

Moyo isolated

By our own Staff
Information and publicity minister, Jonathan Moyo, has been isolated by the
ruling party, with central committee members and fellow ministers accusing
him of bringing Zanu PF into disrepute.

Sources within Zanu PF said the party’s parliamentary caucus and the central
committee had expressed serious reservations about Moyo.

Of major concern was the draconian Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Bill, which sources said had been unilaterally drafted by Moyo
without the input of legal experts.

“We cannot let him use the party and parliament to fight personal wars
against journalists he perceives to be his enemies. He should use other
channels. We tried to advise him that his Bill was unconstitutional but he
snubbed us. Now he is coming back to us seeking our support over the Bill
yet when we tried to discuss the issue with him he refused to listen.

“We are not happy with his Bill and he now realises that he is still
politically immature and should not have sidelined senior party members,”
said a Zanu PF MP.

Other party members who spoke to The Standard said the Bill was
“unbelievably draconian” and would be unhelpful to the ruling party in the
presidential election.

Had it been passed in its original form, the Bill would have banned foreign
nationals from operating in Zimbabwe as journalists, while local newsmen and
publishers would have to be licensed by Moyo. The licences would be
renewable on a yearly basis.

“The stance has shocked him. He hoped to bulldoze it through because he didn
’t think the it would face any resistance from Zanu PF members. He was very
proud of the Bill but we have embarrassed him. He has no-one to turn to now
because the prevailing feeling is that the Bill is retrogressive. He has to
learn to work with others,” said another party member.

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Zim Standard

US won’t tolerate military coup

By Tendai Mutseyekwa
THE world’s superpower, the United States will not sit idly by and watch the
Zimbabwe military move in to thwart a people’s democratic choice at the
March 9-10 presidential election, a senior White House official has told The

Commenting on the statement delivered by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces
commander, General Vitalis Zvinavashe, in which he said the country’s
security forces would not recognise the election to the presidential office
of someone without any liberation war credentials, Lorne Craner, the US
assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labour, said
his government was known for its no-nonsense attitude towards military

“Our response would be the same as it would be to military coups in other
countries. We are required by law to end assistance to countries where
military coups have occurred,” said Craner.

“Military coups are such a relic of the past—this is the kind of thing that
is an expression of thinking of the past. Military coups don’t happen today
and the reason is there’s an expectation, not by the US, not by the British
alone, but by many other countries around the world that it’s not the
military’s role to intervene in civilian politics. You heard this expression
from figures around the world, most revealingly Sadc. It’s just not
acceptable in the world today. The message that people need to understand is
that Zimbabwe will be very very much isolated.”

Asked whether his country, which has a well documented history of
intervening militarily in the affairs of other countries, would do the same
in Zimbabwe if a military coup occurred, Craner said that was the
prerogative of President George W Bush.

“There are elements here that cause one worry, that’s the youth brigade and
the war veterans. Their activities do make one pause when one thinks about
other countries (where genocide has occurred as a result military
intervention). But I think that point has been made very clear to the
government and to the military and I think the message has gotten through
that it’s simply not acceptable.”

Zvinavashe’s statement, which was issued on behalf of the National Security
Chiefs a fortnight ago, was endorsed by both government and Zanu PF.

Craner said despite the threats by the military, it was important for people
to understand that they held their destiny in their own hands.

“Ultimately what happens in this country is going to be determined by
Zimbabweans. This election is an opportunity for Zimbabweans to talk about
what they want in this country, not the US, not the British, not Sadc, it’s
up to Zimbabweans.

“As you have seen in other countries that you can think of, the citizens in
those countries, the voters in those countries, have things in their own
hands and they are the ones who decide their countries’ future. What the
voters in Zimbabwe need to understand most importantly and what I understand
they are being told otherwise, is that their vote is secret.

“What the voters need to know is that Zimbabweans are going to solve
Zimbabwe’s problems. We can help and we can try and push things forward. But
if the voters here decide in an overwhelming fashion that they wish the
government to stay or they wish the government to leave, it is very
difficult to manipulate an overwhelming decision,” Craner said.

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Zim Standard

Local Insight —In urgent need of a herbalist

By Chenjerai Hove
THE other day I was reflecting on the claims which a lot of our ruling party
leaders made from the war victims fund. As everyone knows, the fund was
heavily looted a few years ago, and nothing remains in the coffers anymore.
It is a miracle how some people can loot until there is nothing left

I remember the range of claims. Some people claimed they were 90% disabled,
so they claimed such huge compensation. One such guy amused me when he
claimed almost total disability, but was working at the ZBC as an executive.

Some people claimed they could not sleep at all due to the effects of the
Others claimed loss of memory. The story goes on and on, like a piece of

That is why they say life beats fiction. Senior government ministers are
said to have made weird claims which beat the imagination. For me, a person
who claims even 50% disability is finished. He cannot be seen to be working
productively in any place.

Much as I am not a doctor of medicine, I think there were important medical
observations about our leaders which I think are important. Hitler Hunzvi
was right in his diagnoses of these leaders. After the absurd theatre of
claims, the war vets and political leaders got away with huge sums of money,
all smiles to the bank.
Some gave bizarre performances to the public, like the man from Chitungwiza
who hired several taxis to take him, his hat, his lots of newly bought
chickens, his coat and his other bits and pieces.

Another beneficiary is said to have hired a whole bus to Chitungwiza to
himself, not allowing anyone else to go in. He felt good and wanted to
express what he had always wanted in his life. The other one is reported to
have bought all the vegetables at Gutu-Mupandawana and given the greens to
the cattle grazing nearby. They cattle ate but forgot to thank him since
they probably wondered why the vegetable vendors made a fuss about their
wares when a single man could feed the cows while the people starved.

Maybe it is the same man who bought his dog a watch and took it around the
growth point so that all could see. This one was still in the army and had
returned from Somalia as part of the United Nations monitoring and
peace-keeping force. The United Nations money made him argue in the
newspapers that in Europe people buy jerseys for their dogs. The money was
the herb of forgetfulness. He could not figure out that in most European
countries, even the poorest get money too. As a reader, you can add to this
list of the most bizarre happenings which went on.

Sometime in 1978, I remember attending a pungwe at which one of the
combatants got so carried away that he told the villagers that they would
take all the white people’s farms, their houses and wives. At which point
some old man shook his head with a grin on his face. Farms, yes, but wives,
that is a bit too much, the old man seemed to say.

Now, the same zeal has come back in a different form. People who have no
idea what to do with a small garden are raiding and taking someone else’s
farm which has not even been properly designated.

Since most of these leaders and war vets publicly admitted in front of
doctors that they are disabled, some of them totally, it would have been
better to ask them to use the money they were given for treatment,especially
psychological treatment.

One has to need serious and urgent medicine-men and women to attend to them
if they do not respect simple laws which they themselves have put in place.

The nation is starving at the moment, and we are informed that some
shop-owners are demanding Zanu PF cards before selling food to customers.
Hence the urgent need for serious herbalists to intervene and stop the

Even the laws that are being pushed through parliament in this fast-track
madness will need someone to be attended to quickly by good herbalists and
psychologists from the rest of Africa.

I have nothing against land redistribution at all. But the idea is to have
it well planned, and to ensure that the farms are going to be productive
soon. Being the son of a successful farmer, I know what it takes to make a
piece of land produce something for consumption.

Some of our politicians announce a ‘bumper harvest’ as soon as they see a
dark cloud in the sky. They too need herbalists to attend to them. Some
claim there is lots of food when the nation is facing starvation—they too
need urgent medical attention.
So many of our leaders need urgent herbs. Can you imagine, the minister of
higher education tells the nation that students have to apply for loans from
banks, and they need surety. Most of the brilliant students have parents who
do not even own a cow. How can a bank trust its money with them?

The minister of higher education needs serious herbs too. This Border Gezi
Training Centre, I wonder if it is even registered in the department of
vocational education? If it is registered, would the minister please tell
the nation the curricula of this hideous political creation in the name of
education? And I heard the President say the same courses are going to be
offered in the universities. May God forbid, and may the students refuse to
be taught rubbish.

As parents, we need to know what our children are going to be put through
and which lecturer is going to take them in those courses.

While the minister quietly takes remedial herbs, we need someone to soberly
explain to the nation all these absurdities.

And to imagine that the minister of information can terrorise me into
stopping writing for readers of my country, in my country! He too needs lots
of herbs.

Now that I will not be allowed to criticise my own executive President, do I
criticise the President of Malawi for our problems? Next we will be told we
cannot utter a word against our ministers or their ministries since they are
the creation of the President.

In other words, all speech is banned, and every citizen is a foreigner in
their own country. Let us face it, there is a serious political disease
afflicting our country. If a herbalist is not found to treat some people, we
will not be able to recognise our country soon.

The citizens of a country cannot be made dummies who sing praise to a
political leadership which smiles after ruining the country. We are being
made into a country of flatterers, praise-singers and sycophants— millions
of people being turned into yes-men and women and young people being trained
officially to become murderers.

• Chenjerai Hove is a renowned Zimbabwean writer.

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Zim Standard

Polling agents restricted

By our own Staff
PROSPECTS for a free and fair presidential election have been dealt another
severe blow following the government directive that monitors, polling agents
and election agents, may not travel in vehicles transporting the ballot

A statutory instrument published on Friday said agents and monitors had to
use their own transport to follow the vehicles.

“Monitors, polling agents and election agents shall be permitted to inspect
any vehicle transporting ballot boxes at the polling station and at the
counting centre, and to follow the vehicle in his or her own transport,”
said the statutory instrument published in Friday’s Government Gazette.

The presidential election, scheduled for 9 and 10 March, is set to be a two
way contest between Zanu PF’s Robert Mugabe and MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai.

The statutory instrument is the latest in a string of recent regulations
apparently aimed at giving President Mugabe an unfair advantage over his

The registrar-general’s office, which conducts the poll, has been accused of
being partisan by political parties and civic groups, a charge Tobaiwa
Mudede, the registrar-general, vehemently denies.

Meanwhile, the fate of about 30 000 election monitors trained by the
Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZSEN) hangs in the balance following the
amendments made to the Electoral Act. Under the amendments, only the
Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) is allowed to monitor the election.

The amendments rule out local non-governmental organisations which have
previously monitored elections. Foreign monitors have also been barred from
monitoring the election.

They can, however, provide election observers, only on the invitation of

ZSEN chairman, Dr Reginald Matchaba-Hove, told The Standard yesterday that
he would be meeting with officials from the ESC to discuss the issue.

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Zim Standard

 Comment—The devil’s children at work

SINCE Independence in 1980, Zimbabwe has witnessed the emergence of several
new church organisations, complementing the work of the established Roman
Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Salvation Army, and other churches.

In principle this has been a positive development, if only because the
greater number of worshippers there are in any society, there is bound to be
an upliftment of moral and spiritual values. For a variety of reasons,
ranging from economic hardships, health and family problems, to the
deterioration in the political situation in the country, tens of thousands
of Zimbabweans have turned to the churches for salvation.

Unfortunately, in tandem with the growth in the number of churches and
followers, has also been the emergence of several con-artists, confidence
tricksters, and other fly-by-night characters who have sought to take
advantage of desperate people with the formation of so-called churches,
which they use in pursuit of their individual hideous agendas. Many of the
leaders of these outfits lead questionable lifestyles, and yet others have
been linked to illegal activities, as numerous reported and unreported cases

But it has been the recent rise in Zimbabwe’s political temperature, as the
country heads for the March presidential election, that has served to expose
the true colours of some “men of the cloth”.

The embattled Zanu PF and its leaders, as they struggle to gain the support
of any constituency which commands a significant following, in light of the
opposition’s soaring support, has sought to forge alliances with such
groups. One of these has been the church, with several initiatives by Zanu
PF to penetrate this community.

And so it was then that last week, a mammoth meeting at the Harare
International Conference Centre, which had been widely advertised as being a
national prayer for Zimbabwe, turned out to be little more than a Zanu PF
rally, complete with a surprise appearance by Mugabe. Why Mugabe’s
participation had gone unannounced is subject to speculation, but one line
of thought is that had his coming been announced in advance, the show would
have had few takers. But that is to digress. The issue here is of the church
leaders who were falling over each other in praise of Mugabe, and their
disgraceful, filthy, embarrasing, and dishonest testimonials in support of
his leadership.

We had Madzibaba Godfrey Nzira of the Johane Masowe WeChishanu Apostolic
Sect, who himself is embroiled in a controversy over assets in his church,
claiming that in a revelation made to him before independence, Mugabe and
the late Dr Joshua Nkomo were appointed leaders of a united Zimbabwe. We
would like to know whether it was also revealed to him that Zimbabweans
would be brought to unimaginable levels of suffering, brutality, murder and
starvation at the hands of the anointed leader, Mugabe.

Not to be outdone, we had other strange characters such as Obediah Musindo,
Stephen Mangwanya, Michael Muwani, and the infamous Nolbert Kunonga—who has
caused untold hell in the Anglican Church—jumping into the political fray,
instead of concentrating on what the event had been billed as—a national
prayer meeting.

If any good came out of last Saturday’s scandalous meeting, it was the
revelation of political prostitutes who masquerade as church leaders. These
people must be exposed and condemned for their unashamed opportunism. And by
association, they must be held accountable for every drop of blood spilt as
Mugabe has struggled to maintain his grip on power. The devil must be
extremely pleased with last Saturday’s piece of work.

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Zim Standard

Church leaders make fools of themselves

By our own Staff
THE conduct of certain church leaders at last weekend’s Zanu PF-organised
National Day of Prayer has left many people ashamed to be Christians.

Speaking to Standard Plus this week, Christians complained that the
participation of the churches in a festival organised by Elliot Manyika’s
youth, gender and employment creation ministry, was tantamount to supping
with the devil, as the Zanu PF government is known for the reign of terror
it has unleashed on its citizens.

Manyika is the man responsible for the training of Zanu PF militia under the
guise of national service. Stories abound about the acts of terror these
militia, clad in their infamous green military garb, have perpetrated on
both the rural and urban electorate. Some of the church leaders absent from
the event said they were too embarrassed even to give a comment. Some
Anglican church leaders said they viewed Bishop Nolbert Kunonga’s actions as
“disgusting” and not representative of the views of the majority in the
church. At the ceremony, Kunonga said Mugabe was “more Christian” than him
or anyone else present.

Said Tendai Muponda of Msasa Park: “I was really ashamed to see respected
pastors, bishops and prophets make complete idiots of themselves. Everyone
knows that Zanu PF is responsible for the current terror and economic
hardship we are facing, and for a Christian to endorse that party by
participating in its election campaign gimmicks is hypocrisy.

“To make matter worse, one of the pastors even claimed that President Mugabe
was the greatest Christian of all because of his land reform programme. Is
this not an irresponsible statement considering that many innocent people
died or lost their livelihood because of this political manoeuvre by Zanu

Said Mirirai Nyadziso of Mutare: “How can our church leaders stoop so low as
to associate with people who quote from non-existent biblical texts?” He was
alluding to Manyika who was recently on television quoting from a
non-existent biblical verse—Joshua 34 as he addressed members of the
vapostori sect.

President Mugabe and the first lady sat at the HICC and had godly praise
showered on them by church leaders whose followers had expected Mugabe to be
taken to task about the problems currently besetting the country.

Charles Charamba, one of the leading gospel musicians who performed at the
function, defended himself against the prevailing censure.

“If you are bad, it’s my duty as a pastor to pick you up and help you,” he
“I am also not interested in many things, but as long as I am asked to
usher, I will not refuse because that’s my calling. I don’t have much
background on the event but I just know that it was a national day of
prayer. I don’t care who is going to be involved because even if it was in
1990, 2005 or 2010, I would still have been called upon to take part in the
spirit of prayer,” he added.

He castigated people who rushed to comment without proper analysis.
The prayer meeting was held to instil a spirit of peace in Zimbabwe, but
barely 24 hours later, people in Dzivarasekwa and Mbare were being forced
out of their churches to attend Zanu PF campaign rallies.

Some of the church leaders, while showering praise on Mugabe, also took the
opportunity to attack the independent press in Zimbabwe. For example, one
Obediah Musindo, leader of the obscure New Generations Church, accused the
press of “demonising” Mugabe.

Commenting on the attacks on the press, Standard editor, Mark Chavunduka
said: “Like all other Zimbabweans, church leaders are entitled to hold their
own political views and to support leaders of their choice. But when they
start getting over-excited and making attacks on the press, obviously with
the intention of impressing Mugabe and his colleagues, then we are going to
have serious problems with them.

“Many of these churches and their leaders are mere opportunists and some of
them are actually criminals. There have been a number of these dubious
organisations sprouting up and calling themselves churches. The fawning and
puerile remarks attributed to the leaders of these set-ups demonstrate that
they are using God’s name in pursuit of other agendas. If they want to
become politicians, then they must simply declare it, and not lie to people
saying they are running churches,” said Chavunduka.

Maphios Mawere, an AFM church member said: “Some church leaders have gone
mad. I am out of words to describe the event, but what I know is that I
turned the television to Joy TV when they started screening Kunonga
describing Mugabe and Grace as God-given. What blasphemy!”
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Zim Standard

Government’s grain grab threatens meat industry

By Kumbirai Mafunda
GOVERNMENT’S seizure of maize stocks from producers has spread to stockfeed
companies, in a move that is now threatening the viability of the meat

Desperate to curtail the maize meal shortage which has gripped the country,
the government last year put in place a statutory instrument which makes the
state-owned Grain Marketing Board (GMB) the sole marketer of grain and also
enables it to grab grain stored by producers.

Investigations by The Standard last week revealed that stockfeed
manufacturing companies have now been starved of supplies and there was a
real danger that once current stockfeed stocks run out, the companies might
be forced to temporarily close. This closure will have catastrophic effect
on the beef, poultry and pig industries.

Most affected by the seizures are chicken breeders who are experiencing a
dramatic decline in business because of an acute shortage of stockfeed.
Crest Breeders, one of the country’s largest chicken breeders, has of late
been running a promotion offering 20 free chicks to the public for every 100
chicks bought.

An official with Irvines Day Old Chicks, another major chicken breeder, said
there was a dramatic slump in business because of the shortage of stockfeed.

“Even here we are having problems with chicks because people are not buying
them. They know they will have nothing to feed them on,” said the official.
Another company which supplies bran, a raw material used in the manufacture
of stockfeed, said it had not escaped from the government blitz and would be
closing at the end of this month.

“Maize which we had pre-bought last year was impounded by the GMB two weeks
ago. They said they could not afford to have one company with a lot of maize
for stockfeed when people were starving,” said an official from the company.
The official added that they had forward contracted some 30 000 tonnes which
were supposed to last until April from farmers last year. Some 12 000 tonnes
of this was left when government impounded their stocks.

“We borrowed $550 million to buy 30 000 tonnes in anticipation of shortages.
It cost us $18 000 a tonne but when the GMB came, they grabbed the 12 000
tonnes that we had, at $15 000 a tonne. This has left us with a loss of $36
million dollars and we are likely to close in 7 days,” said the official who
refused to have his company identified.
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Zim Standard

Amani dismisses Herald claims

By our own Staff
LOCAL non-governmental organisation, Amani Trust, has challenged the
allegations of the state-run Herald that it is a conduit for funds to the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

Amani Trust director, Tony Reeler, described the story in Thursday’s Herald
as “entirely baseless.”

He said Amani was a non-profit humanitarian Trust established in 1993 with
no affiliation whatsoever to any political party.

“Its main function is to render assistance to victims of organised violence.
The Amani Trust has provided assistance to hundreds of victims of the
liberation war, the violence of the 1980s, and many other victims,” said

The director said because of the current wave of political violence in the
country, his organisation had been called upon to assist in the unfolding
human catastrophe.

He, however, emphasised that the Trust was assisting all victims of violence
regardless of political affiliation.

Amani provides medical treatment for those suffering from physical injuries
incurred and psychological therapy for those who need it.

The Trust also provides safe houses for those who have fled the violence in
their constituencies.

“The Amani Trust has repeatedly condemned the use of political violence by
members of any political party. It believes that forcing people to support
or refrain from supporting the political party of their choice is a negation
of the democratic process,” said Reeler.

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Mr Mugabe is fixing the election by gagging the press—and London is doing nothing about it
Stephen Glover
Robert Mugabe is nearly there. While the world sleeps, he is putting the final pieces in place to fix the Zimbabwean presidential elections, which must take place before 17 March. By the time you read this, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Bill will probably have been passed by parliament. Its purpose is to intimidate or shut down the home-grown independent press — the Daily News being by far the most important newspaper — and to make it practically impossible for foreign news organisations to cover the elections.

For at least a year Mugabe has succeeded in keeping out most foreign journalists far more effectively than did apartheid South Africa, or indeed Rhodesia under Ian Smith. A few slip in as tourists, as I did last week on behalf of the Daily Mail, but it can be a bit hairy. The BBC hasn’t had a correspondent in the country for many months: it either reports from South Africa or, as on BBC1’s Ten O’Clock News on Tuesday evening, has someone in London talking to film. There is a brave band of local stringers, most of them Zimbabwean, reporting news under the watchful eye of Jonathan Moyo, the sinister information minister, who probably taps their phones and certainly reads their articles on the Internet.

As a result of all this, Mugabe’s worst crimes have not received as wide a coverage as they should have. The world knows that awful things are going on in Zimbabwe, but is probably unaware of how awful they are. I hadn’t realised, until I was in the country last week, that between 80 and 90 per cent of white-owned farms have already been confiscated, or scheduled for confiscation, and that some blacks are already dying of starvation. Nor had I grasped how widespread Mugabe’s reign of terror is. He and Moyo have grasped the simple truth that by banning foreign camera teams and journalists they can dramatically reduce the amount of bad coverage they receive. Now they are tightening the final screw in the hope that we will know even less about what is really going on. Once the new media Bill becomes law, all journalists in Zimbabwe will be required to have a one-year renewable accreditation from the government, which means they can easily be silenced. Non-Zimbabwean citizens will not be allowed to work as journalists.

The independent local press will also face draconian new laws. Hitherto it has been remarkably outspoken, though not without paying a price. Nearly a year ago the Daily News’s presses were bombed by saboteurs. The offices of Geoffrey Nyarota, the paper’s indomitable editor, have also been bombed, and he was arrested, and briefly detained, before Christmas. Several Daily News journalists have been attacked, and its street vendors are regularly beaten up. The courage of these people is terribly moving for a spoilt Western journalist such as myself. They really do live in fear of their lives. For hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of Zimbabweans, the Daily News carries their hopes of freedom. Mr Nyarota and his staff have taken everything that has been thrown at them, and not a single issue has been missed, but the new media Bill threatens the paper’s survival. It will have to seek registration from the government — which may well be refused — and its journalists will be required to have the same renewable accreditation as local stringers. Mr Nyarota says that he will challenge these new rules and continue publishing come what may, but there is undoubtedly a danger that the paper will be closed down in the next few weeks.

With these swingeing new measures against the media, Mugabe is well on the way to securing victory in March. He will not, of course, allow international monitors to observe the proceedings. He would definitely lose a free and open election: the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) got more registered votes at the parliamentary elections in June 2000 than Mugabe’s Zanu-PF, but secured only 56 seats to Zanu-PF’s 94, mostly because Mugabe nominates 30 MPs. Things have deteriorated since then, with the economy in ruins and starvation looming, and it is a certain bet that in a fair fight he would lose to the MDC’s leader, Morgan Tsvangirai. But Mugabe is doing his damnedest to ensure there isn’t going to be a fair fight.

In a strange way, his clampdown on the Western media has helped the British government. Let’s face it: if there had been more horrible pictures and reportage on our television screens, there would have been more pressure on the government to do something. I certainly don’t advocate a Kosovo-like campaign, but the government could and should have introduced ‘smart sanctions’ aimed at restricting the foreign travel of Mugabe, his cronies and their children, and freezing their foreign bank accounts, which are bulging with looted money. The United States Congress has just approved the Democracy Bill, which contains similar measures, but Britain, the European Union and the Commonwealth have been dragging their feet. Why are we so reluctant to act? If Jack Straw believes that Zimbabwean whites — whom as an old Leftie he may not like — are suffering more than Zimbabwean blacks, he is very much mistaken. On Tuesday our narcoleptic Foreign Secretary said in the Commons that the British government would press for Zimbabwe’s suspension from the Commonwealth in March ‘if the situation in Zimbabwe continues to deteriorate’. In March! Big deal! By then the election will have taken place, and it will be too late to do anything.

My starting point is this. Mugabe is not — at least, not yet — a raving lunatic and bloodthirsty tyrant like Idi Amin or Emperor Bokassa of the Central African Republic, who kept human heads in his fridge. He still cares what the international community thinks; he is still susceptible to pressure; and he certainly doesn’t want to have his foreign bank accounts frozen and his foreign travel — including those trips to London and Paris with his pretty young wife, Grace — curtailed. So there is much that Western governments could do — though they have left things appallingly late. As for the media, we too have a vital role to play. Why else would Mugabe try to keep us out? A lot of difficult decisions have to be taken about how to cover events over the next few weeks, but we surely cannot simply watch the spectacle from afar. There are competent camera crews in Zimbabwe, and lots of brave journalists, prepared to take risks and produce pictures and copy for the Western media. Going in as a tourist may be dangerous, and will probably become more so, but it is an option. What happens in Zimbabwe will be one of the biggest international stories of the year, and one way or another newspapers and media organisations are going to have to work out how they will do it justice.


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Zimbabwe sends reply to EU on poll observers, press

HARARE, Jan 20 (AFP) - Zimbabwean Information Minister Jonathan Moyo said Sunday the government had responded to EU demands that it accept international observers and journalists for its March 9-10 elections.

"We have already responded to the EU, and any reports to the contrary are just ridiculous," Moyo told the state-run Sunday Mail newspaper.

"We handed the response although the seven days had not yet expired, as Tuesday was the deadline," he said.

"We are committed to constructive partnership and cooperation," he said.

Moyo said the response was given to the Spanish ambassador in Harare on Friday, but did not detail what the response contained.

Zimbabwe faces possible EU sanctions over widespread rights abuses ahead of the presidential election.

The EU turned up the pressure on Zimbabwe on January 11 when it gave President Robert Mugabe's government one week to state in writing that it would accept international observers and news media before and during the polls.

The demand was tabled by the Spanish EU presidency, on behalf of all EU member states, during a meeting in Brussels with a delegation from Harare, led by Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge.

Possible sanctions might include a European travel ban on Mugabe and associates, a freeze on their assets, and the suspension of development aid which has been averaging 20 million euros (18 million dollars) a year.

Getting the EU to speak with one voice on Zimbabwe has been a top priority for Britain, the country's former colonial power, which opposes the ham-fisted way in which white-owned farms have been reclaimed.

The EU renewed its concern about Zimbabwe in October, when its foreign ministers called for consultations with Harare over political violence, election monitoring, press freedoms, judicial independence and land reform.

Those consulations started with last Friday's meeting in Brussels, and follow-up rounds could be organized in the coming weeks.

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Sydney Morning Herald

Hit Mugabe hard where it hurts, now

Personal sanctions on Zimbabwe's President might slow his destructive ways,
writes Gareth Evans.

Robert Mugabe is on track to win the coming presidential election in
Zimbabwe by the foulest of means. He began two years ago a campaign of
violent intimidation, cynical and corrupt exploitation of the land reform
issue and unconscionable abuse of power. International attention has at last
been engaged, but action - despite repeated calls by organisations like mine
for targeted sanctions - has so far been lamentably weak. Time is running
out, with just over six weeks left before the poll.

Reports from Zimbabwe, limited by the rigid controls the Government has
imposed on the independent media, indicate that the ruling party, the
Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front, is already rigging
electoral rolls and preparing to stuff ballot boxes.

The occupation of farms by President Mugabe's supporters and subsequent
displacement of farm workers is central to the ruling party's election
strategy. Driven from their homes, many thousands of presumed opposition
supporters will be disqualified from voting. Sheer terror will also play its

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Nigerian Arrives for Zimbabwe Talks
Nigerian Leader Arrives for Talks on Zimbabwe Crisis After a Day of Violence

The Associated Press

Jan. 20

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) Supporters of President Robert Mugabe clashed with members of Zimbabwe's main opposition party in the country's second largest city Sunday. At least 18 people were injured in the violence.

Later, the Nigerian president met with Mugabe in the capital to discuss the nation's deepening political crisis.

Police fired tear gas to quell the violence in the western provincial capital of Bulawayo, where the opposition Movement for Democratic Change was planning a rally expected to draw 15,000 people.

The opposition said thousands of its supporters were entering a stadium for a rally when they were attacked by about 150 militants from Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.

Eddie Cross, an opposition official at the stadium, accused police of being "in cahoots" with the militants by allowing them to camp in the stadium overnight.

The visit to Harare of Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo came ahead of March presidential elections in which the longtime ruler, Mugabe, 77, is fighting for political survival.

Political violence has intensified alongside seizures of white-owned farms for landless blacks in a campaign government critics say is aimed at shoring up Mugabe's waning support.

Obasanjo arrived in Harare around 9 p.m. Sunday for a meeting with Mugabe, accompanied by several Nigerian election observers, state radio reported. He was to leave later that night.

The report could not be immediately confirmed. Nigerian officials refused to comment on the visit, and most foreign media groups were barred access to the Nigerian delegation.

The late hour was highly unusual for what had been billed in by Zimbabwe media as a full state visit including ceremonial events.

Obasanjo was expected to stress the need for international recognition of the March 9-10 poll, in which Mugabe faces opposition challenger Morgan Tsvangirai. Tsvangirai was to address the aborted rally in Bulawayo.

"So much for Mugabe's promises that he will allow free and fair elections," said Welshman Ncube, the opposition's secretary-general.

Violence also continued Sunday in farming districts northwest of Harare, the Commercial Farmers Union and witnesses said.

After a week of rampages by militants in the Karoi and Chinhoyi corn and tobacco districts, chanting militants fanned out in the nearby town of Banket, forcing residents to flee behind locked doors, witnesses said. Shots were heard in the town, which is 60 miles from Harare.

Nigeria brokered a deal with the 54-nation Commonwealth of Britain and its former territories that calls for ending intimidation of opposition supporters, halting the occupation of white-owned farms and ensuring free and fair elections.

Zimbabwe insists it has complied with the Sept. 6 accord signed in the Nigerian capital of Abuja.

But independent human rights groups say violence has continued, perpetrated mostly by ruling party militants and youth militias.

Mugabe's government has come under intense criticism from Britain, the European Union and the United States for failing to curb lawlessness and imposing a ban on EU officials it accuses of bias on monitoring the election.

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Business News: Movers & Shakers-the Basics of Unit Trusts

Fungai Matura

ZIMBABWE is currently experiencing very high rates of inflation, with the November 2001 rate standing at 103,8%. At the same time, since the government directive on interest rates of January 2001, deposits are generally attracting very low rates of interest, averaging below 30% for most types of accounts and short-term investment instruments.

In these times of economic hardship, earning a negative real interest rate is not a viable option as this entails a loss in the buying power of your savings. If we look at 2001, for example, we will find that money invested at the beginning of the year would have been worth just slightly above half its initial value at the end of the year after receipt of the interest income. Given this, it is important therefore, for people to consider alternative avenues for preserving and enhancing their wealth.

A number of such alternative investment vehicles are available to investors, including the property, stock and money markets. Although the residential property market registered staggering levels of growth in the past year on the back of relatively cheap mortgage finance and remittances from locals in economic exile amongst other factors, it will not be the focus of this article as we will dwell mainly on the avenues open to people wanting to invest on the stock and/or money markets.

The stock market provides a platform for people interested in buying and selling shares. Although motives vary significantly, people generally buy shares in a company in the hope that the return in the form of dividends and the appreciation in the share value will more than compensate them for the risk assumed in making the investment. But as Ted Allen put it: "Buying shares is exactly the same as going to a casino, only with no cocktail service." Thus, although it is true that fortunes can be made from investing on the market, it is equally true that the same fortunes can just as easily be lost in the same market.

People with relatively small sums of money, say below $500 000, who invest directly on the stock market, choose the counters they want to invest in for both rational and irrational reasons such as, "someone told me that our company is making a lot of money" or because they heard that share prices in a particular sector, for example, the financial services sector or the agro-business sector, was doing well on the stock exchange, or purely because they like a certain company.

Such investors normally do not carry out detailed research on the sectors or companies they wish to invest in nor do they try to assess whether the risks involved in investing in the particular counters are commensurate with the expected returns. With such limited resources, investors are also unlikely to be able to invest in a diversified portfolio of shares which will make it possible to withstand adverse share price movements in some counters. Although no one can categorically say these factors are bound to lead to these investors suffering losses given the unpredictability of share price movements, it is generally accepted that a more disciplined approach to the investment process would be more likely to produce better results.

In this article, we will look at one investment vehicle, unit trusts, that is available to people who wish to invest but feel they have neither the resources nor the financial ingenuity to enable them to make informed investment decisions. Basically, unit trusts are formed by pooling funds from different investors and investing the funds into various instruments. The portfolio so formed is divided into units, each representing a claim on a proportion of each asset held. The value of each unit will go up or down depending on the net movement of the underlying assets held in the portfolio. Investors in unit trusts benefit from holding a claim in a diversified portfolio, having their investment managed by investment professionals, having lower unit costs of investment, as well as the ability to increase or decrease their investment holding with ease. Although asset management companies use different names for their unit trusts and can structure them to achieve different objectives, these trusts can generally be grouped into four broad categories: equity funds, balanced funds, index linked-funds and money market funds.

Equity funds are when the bulk of the funds under management are invested in exchange quoted long-term corporate securities. Here, the fund managers would seek to identify the key economic, market, political and social forces set to drive returns in the coming short-to-medium term period. They will then try to assess the impact of these drivers on the fundamentals of the sectors and companies to produce a range of plausible scenarios. Based on these and other factors, decisions will then be made as to what and how much to hold subject to set position limits.

There are a number of variations on the equity fund and these include 'blue chip' funds which only invest in top-ranked companies in terms of stability of earnings, growth funds that invest in companies with strong prospects of achieving high growth rates and so on. Equity funds are the ideal form of investment in Zimbabwe at the moment, given the bull run on the ZSE fuelled by factors which include the funds seeking refuge from the low interest rates on the money market, good results being reported by many quoted companies, despite the adverse macro-economic conditions under which they are operating, and belief on the part of many investors that the economy will withstand the current difficult economic conditions.

The next group of funds are the index linked funds.These are structured in such a way that they replicate the behaviour of some indexes. In Zimbabwe, for example, we can have a fund replicating the ZSE industrial index, the ZSE mining index or it can replicate an in-house index tracking system, for example the financial services counters, the top 10 counters or some other counters. These types of funds are popular with investors who believe it is not possible to outperform the market through carrying out research in the hope of identifying undervalued securities and taking up positions. To construct a fund linked to the ZSE industrial index for example, each counter would be included in the portfolio in the same proportion as its proportion on the ZSE industrial index. Most fund managers would, however, try to weed out of the fund those counters in obvious financial distress.

As with all investments, there are risks involved in investing in equities. One of the risks faced by investors in equities is the market risk; this is the risk that adverse movements in share prices will result in the reduction in the value of the principal. These adverse changes in prices could be a result of changes in the profitability status of the sectors and companies invested in, changes in the economic cycle, a fall in investor demand, a fall in business confidence owing to the social or political environment, or changes in government or Reserve Bank policies pertaining to interest and exchange rates, taxes and tariffs, and so on. Liquidity risk-which is the risk that shares bought might not be sold at a fair price owing to significant bid-ask spreads, high search costs, low market turnover amongst other factors-is another risk faced in the equity market. Another risk, which is particularly relevant in Zimbabwe at the moment, is the inflation risk, also known as the purchasing power risk. This is the risk that the return received on investment will be lower than the rate of inflation.

Balanced funds seek to allocate between the equity and money markets, all the funds under management. Here, the fund managers try to allocate funds to different asset classes within set limits, taking advantage of the different earnings prospects of the various instruments. The first step for the asset managers running such funds is to decide on how much to allocate to each asset class. After that, with funds ear- marked for the equity market, the same procedures outlined for the equity funds are followed. For the funds ear- marked for the money market, the managers have to decide on which of the numerous money market instruments to invest in, including government and quasi-government bonds, treasury bills (TBs), commercial paper, corporate bonds, NCDs and bankers' acceptances (BAs).

Money market funds invest the bulk of their funds on the money market instruments. Currently, many investors are not interested in the money market funds due to the lower returns they offer. Some funds are, however, attempting to increase returns from the money market instruments through entering into derivative contracts and arbitrating between various instruments.

In addition to the risks specific to investing in equities, balanced funds also face risks associated with money market instruments. These risks include interest rate risk, this is the risk that changes in market yield will lead to changes in the value of the fixed income securities invested in. If there is an increase in market interest rates, the value of the fixed income securities held by the fund will go down. The other risk faced by the fixed income side of the balanced funds and money market funds is the credit risk-the risk that the issuer of the instrument will default and fail to meet either or both the interest and principal repayment. This risk is more prevalent with instruments with a low credit rating.

Generally, investments in unit trusts are for the medium to long term. It is not prudent to invest monies in unit trusts with a view to making a quick buck. There are a number of unit trusts offering good performances on the domestic market with most funds registering levels of growth well in excess of the rate of inflation.

Although past performance is not necessarily an indication of future performance, it is important to shop around before committing your resources to a particular fund management institution

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