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

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Zimbabwe Inflation Falls To 598.7% In Dec Vs 619.5% Nov

      Copyright © 2004, Dow Jones Newswires

      HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP)--Zimbabwe's record-high inflation rate fell
below 600% in December, the first improvement for more than 18 months, data
from the state Central Statistics Office showed Tuesday.

      The statistics office said the inflation rate fell by almost 21
percentage points to 598.7% in December from 619.5% in November. Inflation
in Zimbabwe remains among the highest in the world.

      The government says new monetary policies, announced by the central
bank last month to curb speculation and fraud in the financial sector and
reign in illegal black market currency deals, have started to take effect.

      But independent economists question government figures, saying while
prices for a few imported goods have come down, most have continued to
spiral up.

      (END) Dow Jones Newswires

      January 20, 2004 11:02 ET (16:02 GMT)

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Zimbabwe's parallel forex market collapsing
January 19, 2004, 10:40 PM

The parallel forex market in Zimbabwe is collapsing, following the
introduction of the new auction system, where banks trade their forex in an
open system at the central bank. Most major currency rates have taken a
major knock in the market and this is helping to enhance foreign currency

When the greenback sneezes and takes a knock on the new auction system, the
parallel market catches a cold. Over the past week, the new auction system
has seen major currencies trading for a lot less, with one US dollar
fetching just over 4000 Zimbabwe dollars, from a high of almost 8000 less
than a month ago. However, it is the rand that has been hardest hit -
dropping from 900 to 500 Zim dollars in under a week.

Zimbabwe has been losing about two and a half million US dollars on the
black market recently. Analysts say the new monetary policy measures
announced by the central bank should ease the country's foreign currency

With speculation on forex almost gone, the havoc it caused on the economy is
likely to remain a telling reminder that fixing rates can take their toll on
an economy. In the past, the Zim dollar was pegged at $824 to the greenback.
Now it is an open auction market operating where the ruling rate rules.

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      Zimbabwe Opposition Leader Denies Hiring Assassin to Kill Mugabe
      Peta Thornycroft
      20 Jan 2004, 17:27 UTC

      Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, on trial for treason,
says he had hired the Canadian businessman who later became the
prosecution's key witness to represent his party in the United States.
      Mr. Tsvangirai told the High Court that he hired Ari Ben Menashe to
represent his party, the Movement for Democratic Change, in North America.

      Mr. Ben Menashe was the state's main witness when the treason trial
began last February, claiming that Mr. Tsvangirai hired him to kill Mr.
Mugabe and stage a coup.

      The opposition leader said he believed every word Mr. Ben Menashe told
him about his high flying contacts in Washington and other parts of the
world. Based on that, he agreed to hire the Canadian as a lobbyist and a
fund raiser.

      But the businessman secretly filmed Mr. Tsvangirai at their last
meeting in Canada, and claims that the recording proves that he had been
hired by the opposition party to assassinate President Mugabe.

      Mr. Tsvangirai himself has denied the allegations, and told the court
that Zimbabwe would have been plunged into chaos and even civil war had Mr.
Mugabe been assassinated.

      According to independent polls just before the 2002 presidential
elections, Mr. Tsvangirai had a comfortable lead over the incumbent
President Mugabe. But he lost the election, and is still challenging the
result in the courts.

      Two opposition legislators accused of treason with Mr. Tsvangirai were
acquitted in December.

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Mugabe killing 'could spark war'
Morgan Tsvangirai at the High Court
Tsvangirai faces two separate treason charges
Zimbabwe's opposition leader has said any attempt on the life of President Robert Mugabe could spark civil war.

Morgan Tsvangirai, who is on trial accused of plotting to kill Mr Mugabe, said any such attack would unleash anarchy and chaos.

He says he had no reason to plot to assassinate Mr Mugabe, as he expected to beat him at the polls.

"All political assassinations have consequences that undermine democracy, justice, freedom," he told the court.


The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader has been testifying for a second day in the case, which began in February 2003.

Mr Tsvangirai said he and two senior officials of his party, Welshman Ncube and Renson Gasela, were duped into believing that Mr Menashe was interested in promoting the MDC's image.

He said the consultant had promised to help them raise funds for the party and lobby for international support for its political activities in Zimbabwe.

The prosecution case hinges on a grainy video tape made by the Canadian political consultant in which Mr Tsvangirai allegedly discusses Mr Mugabe's "elimination".

In his testimony, Mr Ben-Menashe said that Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had signed a $500,000 contract with his firm and promised $10m to the head of the air force, Air Marshal Perence Shiri, to stage a coup after Mr Mugabe's assassination.

If convicted, Mr Tsvangirai could face the death penalty.

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Comment from ZWNEWS, 20 January

Lambs to the slaughter

By Michael Hartnack

It’s just not true there is no law and order in Zimbabwe. There is law,
there is punishment for crime. But both are part of an intricate system of
political patronage brilliantly run since Robert Mugabe came to power in
1980. The system is reminiscent of the sheep and goats in St. Matthew’s
Gospel being directed to separate folds. One lot - the chosen lambs - go
through a door marked "Help Yourselves, Comrades". The others, the stinking
goats, are channelled toward a door surrounded with pious admonitions on the
evils of capitalism. This door is marked, "Beware of the wrath to come,
capitalist exploiters and economic saboteurs". Under the system, Mugabe’s
cronies and other favour-seekers have to keep coming round, day after day,
so even after 23 years a sheep may suddenly find itself corralled with the
goats. Then indeed beware. An army of police fraud squad detectives and tax
and licence inspectors may fall upon you, banks will suddenly recall
long-overlooked concessionary loans, your leases and title to a wide variety
of property may be withdrawn. And all this amid sanctimonious oratory about
suppressing corruption, nepotism and exploitation of the poor.

Witness Phillip Chiyangwa, self-proclaimed billionaire businessman, ruling
party mogul and Zanu PF member of Parliament. He thought he was untouchable
when he told a magistrate on January 8 that three investment trust
operators, his business partners, ought not to be prosecuted on charges of
converting Z$61 billion of clients' money into expensive cars, real estate
and foreign exchange. "I am wealthy enough, if I wanted I could have paid
all (their) creditors. The excited policeman who brought these allegations,
I will deal with him at some stage," boasted the former Rhodesian policeman
who entered the business world as a penniless boxing promoter in 1980.
Chiyangwa aroused the wrath of Joseph Msika, acting president while Mugabe
is on holiday. "What political muscle? Who are you? I will show that I have
more political muscle than you," 80-year-old Msika exploded in the midst of
a speech opening a rural supermarket. Rambo-like, Msika then showed off his
biceps. Chiyangwa was reportedly associated with moves in December to
replace Msika as a vice-president. Despite being even older than Mugabe,
Msika proclaims he is willing to take over if the Zimbabwe leader, who turns
80 next month, retires.

Suddenly, police are finding great wads of share certificates and enough
posh cars to start a showroom, all somehow linked to shady dealings by
Chiyangwa. He was belatedly arrested for obstructing the course of justice,
perjury, and contempt of court. Police have refused to release him although
his lawyer, Happias Zhou, twice obtained High Court warrants. Zhou said
Chiyangwa's detention was "political", linked to "the succession issue"
(i.e. who takes over from Mugabe). Or put it another way, Chiyangwa and
Msika belong to different factions within the ruling party, delicately kept
in balance by Mugabe through his sheep-and-goats feed-lot system. The past
23 years has been littered with financial scandals involving the sheep:
Mugabe's elite paying "ghost" ex-guerrillas in assembly points in 1980;
Samson Paweni's scam with foreign-sourced famine relief during the 1982-84
drought; the "Willowgate" racket in cars from the state assembly plant were
bought by ministers at cut-rates and resold on the black market; diversion
of land, bought by Britain for peasant resettlement, to the elite; the
Industrial Development Corporation fraud implicating commerce minister
Christopher Ushewokunze; the millions in unrecovered loans given by Zimbank
when it was state-owned. Roger Boka's "Universal Merchant Bank" which dished
out similar millions, never recovered; payments for bogus "war

After each initial outcry, police dockets quietly gathered dust. Few
offenders were prosecuted. In the rare cases where convictions were
obtained, the public was offered the example of speedy pardon and
rehabilitation, rather than exposure and lasting disgrace. The system of
patronage - of permission to flout the laws applied to lesser mortals -
dovetails with the grassroots organisation of the Zanu PF. Party moguls are
expected to keep specific communities loyal and submissive. They are
encouraged to create business empires and systems of economic dependency,
involving their relatives and friends, in those specific areas. Or, as the
state media puts it, to "show leadership in smart partnership for
development". They stage rallies in that area, and their vassals (including
the subservient local police, licence inspectors, loan organisations, etc)
ensure a good turnout. One sure way to get reclassified as a goat is to
stray outside your area of designated pasture. Not only will people fail to
attend your rallies there, but your business activities will receive notice
from new jacks- in-office. Only the shepherd himself has the free run of the
whole of Zimbabwe. Chiyangwa's friends from the Chinhoyi area are mightily
alarmed by his plight. Their best hope lies in the fact that goats are
constantly tantalised with hints they might be re-admitted with the sheep.
Every now and then, sheep caught misbehaving and reclassified as goats are
miraculously transformed back into sheep if they exhibit suitably humble
behaviour. That, too, is key to the shepherd's flock-management trick.

Big question now is, who else gets the goat treatment? If things get out of
hand, Zanu PF will be thrown into disarray. Having shoved the wife and kids
in the back of the family Boeing 767-200, Mugabe is home from his Asian trip
but is still enjoying his hols. The drama may be allowed to run on a little
longer while Msika is, theoretically, head of state. It would be like old
times if, once Mugabe is formally back in control, unctuous clemency
replaces the rigour of the law, and the lambs may be led gently back to the
right path. But how long can this system go on? The sheep have eaten
virtually all the pasture. And no one, certainly not Msika, has the skill to
run this system once its designer goes.

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EU has "serious concerns" about Zimbabwe ahead of sanctions review

      20 January 2004

The EU remains very seriously concerned about the worsening situation in
Zimbabwe, Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen said Tuesday, while declining
to predict if it will maintain sanctions on Harare.

Cowen, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, noted that the EU is
due to decide on February 18 on whether to maintain sanctions imposed
against the regime of President Robert Mugabe.

"I can't predict what the outcome of that discussion will be," he said, but
added that one thing was for sure: "There are very serious concerns about
the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe."

The EU in 2002 imposed travel restrictions on 72 of Zimbabwe's top
government and ruling party officials, including Mugabe, accusing them of
human rights abuses and electoral fraud.

"What we're trying to achieve is a reform and a democratization here. It's a
question of us agreeing the means to do so and there are different views on
that, as to how best to expedite it," he said.
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ZIMBABWE: Concern over STI infections among street kids


Harare's pavements are home to an estimated 5,000 street children

HARARE, 20 Jan 2004 (IRIN) - Each month as many as 150 children sleeping rough in the capital, Harare, are being treated for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), underlining their extreme vulnerability, according to a local NGO.

Streets Ahead, an organisation trying to improve the welfare of Harare's 5,000 street children, said they discovered the STI outbreak when the children visited their offices for counselling and other support programmes.

"We have more than 150 street children coming in on a monthly basis to get letters for them to receive free treatment for sexually transmitted diseases with a doctor we have identified in Harare. The age group of the children is worrying, as most are below the age of 16. These children are continuously being exposed to the HI virus," the Streets Ahead outreach programme officer, Jack Maravanyika, told IRIN.

Doctor Masimba Mwazha, who treats the children infected with STIs, said many of them were being picked up and abused by adults.

"Most of the children are enticed with offers of money and food, and they are easy prey for the perverted members of our communities who have no respect for the basic rights of these children," said Mwahza.

A young orphan, who said he did not know how old he was, told IRIN: "Some of the boys and girls are being sexually abused by the older members of the street community, but a lot are also being abused by the 'normal' people."

UN Children's Fund Project Officer for Child Protection, Ron Pouwels, described the reports as "shocking and disturbing".

He added that what was worrying, other than the abuse itself, was that the children were also being exposed to HIV. As many as 34 percent of Zimbabwean adults are estimated to be HIV-positive, and more than 600,000 children have been orphaned by AIDS.

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Debt Collectors Come Under Scrutiny

Wilson Johwa

BULAWAYO, Jan 20 (IPS) - He could well be a lawyer, what with his reputation
for having more to do with legal affairs than most people in that
profession. In fact, many people in town think he is - a label that no doubt
enhances his business profile.

But Khoza is a debt collector, with clients that include a hospital, a bank,
a high school and a major pharmacy.

Although he's part of what is becoming a booming trade in Zimbabwe, his
office - located in the seamier part of town - shows no signs of prosperity.
Ironically, his phone lines have been disconnected because he failed to
settle the last bill.

The fact that Khoza has an office doesn't necessarily mean he is easy to
locate, either. Prospective clients, or curious journalists, may find
themselves at a dead end, despite several efforts to reach him.

Khoza knows how to find you, however - as do other debt collectors, some of
whom may be less than gentle when they track you down.

So, after numerous complaints of harassment from debtors - many of whom are
battling to meet their obligations in Zimbabwe's inflationary environment -
the government has decided to act.

Through its Law Development Commission, the state is investigating the
activities of debt collectors, whose operations are presently not subject to
regulation or sanction.

In a recent paper on the matter, the commission said declining standards in
the Zimbabwean judicial process ”may have contributed to the...growth of
extra-judicial debt collectors”.

However, it placed most of the blame on a general desire to avoid costly
trials, and to maintain privacy in financial matters. For those who simply
wish to avoid the red tape of legal proceedings it's also faster to enlist
the services of debt collectors, despite their reputation for employing
unorthodox methods to recover money.

To remain in business, the debt collector must get debtors to pay - at all
costs. This, says the commission, places huge pressure on the collector,
while creating a climate that is conducive to malpractice.

Debt collectors often resort to ”strong arm” tactics to intimidate the
debtor, or their family, into settling with their creditors. These typically
include threatened or actual violence, abusive and offensive letters,
frequent personal visits and unlawful dispossession of property.

A magistrate who spoke on condition of anonymity, said debt collectors base
their operations on a legal procedure that allows one person to take over
the claims of another.

”They get you to sign the cessation letter giving them the right over your
(claim). Then they charge you a fee, take the matter to court - and whatever
the outcome, you still pay them money.”

Among the biggest complaints is that collectors over-charge debtors, often
demanding interest as high as 900 percent.

In addition, certain collectors stand accused of misrepresenting themselves
to debtors as court officials or members of the legal profession.

”It is illegal for persons who are not lawyers to render legal services for
a fee,” says Stanford Moyo, President of the Law Society of Zimbabwe, which
has received numerous complaints in this regard. The Law Society is also
part of the Law Development Commission's sub-committee on debt collectors.

In Zimbabwe's current political and economic environment, which Moyo
describes as ”chaotic”, anyone can also claim to be a debt collector. This
is because collectors operate in a completely unregulated environment where
there is no way of checking who actually belongs to the profession.

Unlike legal practitioners, Moyo adds, debt collectors don't operate a
client protection fund which means their customers have no cover: ”They are
fraudulent and some of their methods extortionate. That is clearly inimical
to the public interest.”

The Law Development Commission says debt collectors have made
representations to the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs,
calling for recognition. It is likely that they will get a special status
under the law - in exchange for defined responsibilities.

The drive to regulate the activities of debt collectors in Zimbabwe seems
set to follow the lead taken by neighbouring South Africa, where the 1998
Debt Collectors Act was enacted after recommendations by the country's Law
Reform Commission.

The Act provides for the establishment of a Council for Debt Collectors
which exercises control over the occupation of the debt collector.

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            Zimbabwe's Cottco in graft probe

      author/source:Business Day (SA)
      published:Tue 20-Jan-2004
      posted on this site:Tue 20-Jan-2004

      Blue Ribbon is alleged to have entered into contract deals with
farmers in Mashonaland West to buy wheat at Z$1,2m a ton, compared with the
board's purchase price of Z$750 000

      Bulawayo - The multi-billion dollar corruption scams affecting several
banks and financial services providers in Zimbabwe deepened yesterday, as
the home affairs ministry announced a probe into the dealings of the
country's largest buyer of cotton, the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco).
Since the new year, several high-level corruption scandals involving more
than Z$300bn have been unearthed by police, prompting the arrest of Zanu PF
MP and businessman Philip Chiyangwa. Thus far, companies that have been
caught up in the crackdown on corruption include ENG Management Asset
Company, Trust Bank and First Mutual Life Assurance. The crackdown was
prompted by President Robert Mugabe's recent speech in which he vowed to
root out high-level corruption in the public and private sectors. Yesterday,
Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi said the government was probing
allegations of fraud and impropriety involving senior officials of Cottco.
Although Mohadi would not elaborate, insiders said the cotton company's
management was suspected of irregular dealings involving contract cotton
farmers and the export of the commodity. "Cottco is heavily involved in the
contracting out of farmers and the company is virtually controlling the
purchase price of cotton and its export," he said.

      An insider said: "The allegations of corruption centre on this. Since
Cottco is a listed company, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange is watching
developments in the case." Police said at the weekend that they were
investigating one of the country's largest grain millers, Blue Ribbon , on
allegations of side-marketing wheat. Maize and wheat were declared specified
commodities in 2000, and only the state-controlled Grain Marketing Board has
authority to buy the commodities from farmers. Blue Ribbon is alleged to
have entered into contract deals with farmers in Mashonaland West to buy
wheat at Z$1,2m a ton, compared with the board's purchase price of Z$750
000. The scandals come a month after central bank governor Gideon Gono
announced a new five-year monetary policy that aims at tightening loopholes
in financial transactions and restore business confidence in Zimbabwe's
economy. However, critics feel that the current crackdown is likely to be
hampered by the influence of powerful individuals in the ruling party, who
have declared interests in some of the companies under investigation.

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On National Public Radio in America two days ago, the World Food Program's
representative in Zimbabwe, Kevin Farrell, gave a misleading synopsis of
the country's food crisis. Not only did he refuse to acknowledge the root
causes of the food shortages, namely the Mugabe regime's reckless economic
and land reform policies (and its inability to fulfil its estimated quotas
through the Grain Marketing Board - see Daily Telegraph (UK) report below),
he chose instead to focus on the donors for showing a reluctance to
increase their support. This is not true. The American government, through
USAID, donated in FY 03, $125,000,000 in humanitarian assistance. This
fiscal year alone (October to now) it has donated an additional
$72,000,000. Please see attachment.

Kevin Farrell discusses the World Food Program having to cut food rations
to Zimbabwe by half
National Public Radio (NPR)

SHOW: Morning Edition (11:00 AM AM ET) - NPR

January 12, 2004 Monday

The UN World Food Program says because of a drop in international aid, it
is having to cut by half food rations to Zimbabwe. Nearly three million
people there need assistance, and there are fears that the shortages could
extend to other southern African countries

Joining me now is Kevin Farrell, the World Food Program's country director
for Zimbabwe. Good morning.

Mr. KEVIN FARRELL (World Food Program): Good morning.

MONTAGNE: Why the drop in international aid?

Mr. FARRELL: There are concerns, of course, with respect to southern Africa
in general. It's difficult to measure, but I'm fairly sure that the demands
for food assistance in other parts of the country have probably impacted as

MONTAGNE: Are donors reluctant to give because of what many Western
countries see as ruinous land redistribution policies of President Robert
Mugabe? Does that have any part in this?

Mr. FARRELL: Well, I think the first thing I'd like to say is that donors
have, in fact, been very, very generous in the past two years throughout
southern Africa and including in Zimbabwe. Some of the hesitation perhaps
at this time may relate to some difficulties that donors have with economic
policies, yes.

MONTAGNE: What kind of rations are you running out of?

Mr. FARRELL: The one that we have had a problem with or a shortage of over
the last month or so has been the cereal, the corn.

MONTAGNE: And how long do you expect supplies to last?

Mr. FARRELL: We've had to go onto half rations in December. The January
supplies, we may be able to go back up close to a fuller ration of cereal
in January, but then February/March is looking very, very poor. Zimbabwe
and indeed all over southern Africa, the harvest would normally come in
about April, so the next two or three months, February, March and up until
that harvest, those are essentially the hungry months. Those are the
difficult months, before harvest.

MONTAGNE: Zimbabwe used to export food. Could you remind us quickly what

Mr. FARRELL: Certainly. In the last two years, drought has been a factor,
particularly in the 2001-2002 season. We're looking, though, at the whole
range of economic difficulties. There's apparently an inflation rate of
about 600 percent. There's unemployment of about 70 percent. On top of all
of that, you do have a major problem throughout southern Africa, but I
think perhaps especially in Zimbabwe at this stage, a problem of HIV
infection. And that is having an impact both on the general economic
situation and more specifically on food production.

MONTAGNE: Will the shortage of food relief affect other countries in that
area or elsewhere in Africa?

Mr. FARRELL: The other major recipient of food assistance in southern
Africa is Mozambique, and I believe that they are having problems probably
similar to our own. What we're now, of course, looking at are the prospects
for the coming year or at least for the current growing season. And that is
certainly not looking good throughout southern Africa. Indeed, there are
some concerns about whether South Africa, which of course has been the
major procurement source for food, we're told fairly reliably that that
situation, that the harvest in the coming year in South Africa, is not
going to be up to average. So that will have a major impact on food
availability generally.

MONTAGNE: Thank you very much.

Mr. FARRELL: You're welcome.

MONTAGNE: Kevin Farrell is the UN World Food Program's country director for

In contrast:

>From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 24 December, 2003

Mugabe is blamed as UN slashes food aid

Harare - The World Food Programme has slashed by half food handouts to
Zimbabwe's starving millions because President Robert Mugabe's government
failed to alert donors to the scale of the disaster. The WFP, a United
Nations agency, said it had cut rations since the beginning of the month to
ensure it could feed more than five million people, about half the
population, until the harvest in May. The agency said it had not raised
enough money to buy the necessary supplies. The WFP's appeal went out six
weeks late in the middle of the year because the Zimbabwe government had
not quantified its needs until it was too late to get the long "food chain"
moving, according to donors in Harare yesterday. Foreign food suppliers
were also showing fatigue at what most see as a "man made crisis". Zimbabwe
was once southern Africa's "bread basket" with huge and efficient farms
producing surpluses for sale abroad. But since Mr Mugabe began seizing
white-owned farms in 2000, production has tumbled, leaving millions without

Even the United Nations, reluctant to criticise President Robert Mugabe's
administration, has admitted that the government's confiscation of 90 per
cent of productive land from white farmers had been a major cause of the
crisis. "When the government finally got its act together, and said how
much it needed, we also discovered we would have to fund all food imports
without any contribution from the Zimbabwe government," said an executive
of a major donor agency yesterday. The government also tried to interfere
with the donor community's long established rules by insisting that its own
officials oversee the distribution of donated food. The government finally
backed down, although donors say they are still worried that as
parliamentary elections draw close, probably later next year, the
government may try to launch another bid to hijack food distribution. Kevin
Farrell, country director of WFP, said: "The worst months will be January
[to] April, before the harvest. Our food stocks are very, very fragile and
even if more donor money arrives, it takes time to get the food here." He
said the WFP was worried about people in the dry south of Zimbabwe, in the
Matabeleland province, and in the far north, where few crops grow, even in
the best of times.

Zimbabwe used to grow more than 1.8 million tons of grain to feed its
people and their livestock. This summer, the fourth since President Mugabe
confiscated most white-owned farms, the harvest is predicted to be down to
a third of normal production, the lowest in more than 50 years. The US,
Britain and the European Union provide more than 90 per cent of funds used
to feed Zimbabweans.

Zimbabwe police have arrested two men in connection with the murder of an
Australian accountant, Philip Laing, 51, who died last Friday after being
forced to drink acid. Two of Mr Laing's clerks who were similarly attacked
on a British owned tea estates are still gravely ill in hospital, with
internal and external acid burns.

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


Prelude text


Letter 1:

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

Dear Ben

I am deeply touched by your outstanding letter.

Each night when we sit down to supper in suburban Bulawayo, we pray for all
those that are not having supper in their own homes.

Be assured that, throughout the country there are bands of committed
patriots that are working every day and night "building the far bigger wave
to sweep over our land and cleanse it".

Stay strong.

Simon Spooner

Justice for Agriculture mailing list
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Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to with "For Open Letter Forum" in the subject line.


Dear Sir

In a country where wealth is gauged by how many wives you own, children you
possess, cattle you acquire, it is fascinating to watch a certain highly
influential man "with direct links straight to the top" find that his
wealth may well be imagined - with over 30 cars recovered from his home and
family, his share certificates for his companies surrendered to the state,
his fear of spending time in a state hotel and his need to have his wife
sit next to him as he is formally booked into the hotel...with his mistress
looking on. One wonders whether the 5 or so country estates which he so
successfully affirmative shopped, ignoring the need to buy the properties
on a willing buyer willing seller basis, will still be part of his wealth
when he comes home from his enforced holiday?

Its interesting too, to see that a certain junior, unelected minister has
had his mansion in a neighbouring country put up for sale by his bank as a
result of unpaid instalments on the property loan. Surely properties should
be affirmative shopped?

And then there is the equally interesting saga of the editor who has bought
a number of properties in an arid north western part of our country who
finds that it is possession and power which dictates ownership of property,
not title!

So while this jockeying for possession takes place we ponder - what is more
important? Possession or title?

Best regards
" Possessor or Title holder?"

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Move By Some White Farmers Commendable

The Herald (Harare)

January 19, 2004
Posted to the web January 19, 2004

Caesar Zvayi

"IF you can't beat them join them" is an age-old adage that advised the
vanquished to exist in harmony with their conquerors through the ages.

The wisdom inherent in the phrase is lost on the quisling Frankenstein but
his creator seems to be the wiser. What with 60 white commercial farmers
ditching the xenophobic and retrogressive Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) for
the eclectic and progressive Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU), an
indigenous farmer organisation that puts the country before self.

For the record, the CFU is an exclusive club of white commercial farmers who
are all descendants of the brigands who stole our forefathers' land during
the colonial era.

The dispossession was an act of unprecedented brutality, as black people
were condemned to the arid and unproductive agro-ecological regions.

All the farmers in the CFU grew up as young "bosses" on "their" farms,
lording it over cowering black labourers of all ages.

Coming from such a checkered background, most of them are white supremacists
who view all black people as suitable only for labouring in the fields, thus
they fought tooth and nail against the land reform programme.

They used the full gamut of strategies, from creating and funding a stooge
movement in the hope of maintaining the status quo of skewed land ownership
and distribution under the guise of change.

They used physical violence by setting their workers on the newly resettled
farmers as well as legal recourse (for then the bench was full of McNallys,
Gubbays and others).

The Third Chimurenga, however, saw a lot of the racist judges vacating the
bench when their racist bias was exposed.

Their proxies were rejected at the polls, and the farm workers finally
realised that by fighting for their "baas", they were actually fighting
against themselves as they also stood to benefit from the land reform

The diehard Rhodie farmer was thus abandoned on the battlefield.

The foot soldier, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, recently confirmed the battle was
all but lost at his party's conference at the Exhibition Park on December 20
last year when he said: "We will not go back to the pre-2000 land
distribution and ownership position, nor will we endorse the status quo, the
current chaos."

As usual, he contradicted himself as he was apparently parroting somebody's

The statement was a dunces acknowledgment that land reform was a fait
accompli, and a major shift from the 2002 sentiments of the grasshopper,
Fidelis Mhashu, who on the BBC's Hard Talk programme claimed that his party
would return all land to the white farmers if elected into power.

Being the CFU's last hope, and after proving to be a mirage at that, is it
any wonder then that the farmers who sponsored him in the CFU are seeing the
light, recognising that they are Zimbabweans and pledging to work within the
ZCFU for the good of the country?

60 white commercial farmers crossed the floor to the ZCFU on the 9th of this
month. Their move has been hailed as a landmark development that would see
more white farmers leaving the beleaguered CFU to complement Government
efforts in the agrarian revolution.

To date, the CFU has been sabotaging the land reform programme by killing
livestock, hiding equipment in warehouses, incapacitating immovable farm
equipment as well as smuggling movable equipment to neighbouring countries,
principally Mozambique and Zambia.

A case in point being JJ estates of Mhangura who were caught red-handed by
The Herald on December 31 last year loading billion-dollar equipment into
containers destined for Zambia.

This externalisation of farm equipment contravenes the Presidential Powers
(Temporary Measures) Acquisition of Farm Equipment or Material Regulations
of 2003, which outlaw the smuggling, hoarding or vandalising of equipment.

Diehard racists in the CFU even formed a breakaway group calling itself
Justice for Agriculture (JAG), which has in its ranks racist geriatrics like
Ian Smith, who still dreams of a return to Rhodesia.

JAG was formed with the objective of confronting the Government on all
fronts and subsequently bit more than it could chew and choked to death.

Many people wondered which justice they wished to advance by fighting to let
4 000 white farmers keep control of 70 percent of the most productive land
while 14 million black people were crammed on 30 percent of the most
unproductive land, but such is the double talk of imperialists.

The farmers' defection to the ZCFU is commendable but should not just be
symbolic. The farmers must show a genuine will to work for Zimbabwe by
working with their colleagues in the ZCFU.

They should expose the lies peddled by the CFU by telling the outside world
the real Zimbabwean story. The very existence of the CFU is a testimony that
not all white farmers lost "their" land, contrary to opposition claims.

Already their move has been received with mixed feelings as some people are
wondering why it has taken them so long to realise that they are
Zimbabweans, while others are hailing them for responding to the President's
calls for unity of purpose among Zimbabweans.

The sceptics cannot be blamed for one of the farmers, Mr Bezuidenhout from
Darwendale, said as much on the Newsnet programme, Newshour. He said his
farm, which is all he owns, was being demarcated and he looked to the ZCFU
for assistance.

If their farms have been earmarked for resettlement, then they must still be
acquired regardless.

Some farmers tried it with the then Zimbabwe Joint Resettlement Initiative
(ZJRI) in 2001, when they voluntarily released 302 farms with a total
hectarage of 1 495 564 for resettlement, some of which were not even
earmarked for acquisition.

This move was at first hailed as a sign of co-operation from previously
defiant farmers, but it was later discovered to be a red herring meant to
divert attention from their other multiple farms.

President Mugabe lambasted the farmers in his address to the 48th session of
the Central Committee on September 21 2001 when he said, among other things:
"they think they can mollify the landless by releasing a handful of farms so
they can keep the rest."

One hopes the defection is not a case of history repeating itself, but a
genuine gesture of sanity and unity of purpose, which the President has been
calling for all along.

It is up to the farmers to assure the sceptics.

The ZCFU also has a role to play by giving the farmers all the assistance
they afford their members.

It was pleasing to hear that the farmers would not be accorded any special

The farmers move', what ever motivated it, is a major boost for the
agricultural sector as unity of purpose is what is needed to restore our
country to its breadbasket status.

One hopes the surrogates will follow the masters' example for it is said
mhembwe rudzi inozvara mwana ane kazhumu.

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Mbeki's Justifiable Indignation

Daily Champion (Lagos)

January 19, 2004
Posted to the web January 19, 2004

Andy Ike Ezeani

South Africa's president Thabo Mbeki is reportedly stunned and seething with
anger. Across the border up north, Zimbabwe's embattled and calumnized
president Robert Mugabe had been stung too and is no less livid. The source
of their common discomfort can be found in one location: Nigeria.

For both of these Southern African leaders, something must have gone
terribly wrong with a man they used to know as a brother. It is either that
or they had been wrong all along in their reading of the real constitution
of the source of their present discomfiture. The probability that the latter
is the case is obviously more disconcerting. Which ever of the two it is,
there is pain in the hearts of the two men.

It is pain made obviously more agonizing by the fact that its source is one
from whom they had every cause to expect empathy and appreciation of their
history and circumstances. After all, their three states; South Africa,
Zimbabwe and Nigeria were co-members of the committed and hand-in arms
brotherhood of nations chummily identified as Frontline States in the heady
days of the anti-apartheid struggle.

Members of that alliance consisted essentially of countries located within
the southern African region. Their vast, rich lands were the hotbed of the
apartheid onslaught and rabid colonialism that refused to recede even up to
the last quarter of the 20th century.

Nigeria, of course, never shared physical borders and geographical links
with the other Frontline States. Nor was its political experience exactly as
traumatic as that of the Frontline States on the actual frontline. What it
lacked in physical location and internal experience, however, Nigeria made
up in empathy and total commitment to the struggle to rid the region of
apartheid and colonialism. It was an unwavering brotherly commitment, one
that the countries of the Southern African region never failed to

When years after the apartheid struggle some governments in Nigeria acquired
colorations and profiles that were as uncomplementary as they deserved total
repudiation, the Southern African brother nations lived with a
responsibility to maintain fraternal affinity. They never easily took sides
against the brother Frontline state on the far west side of the troubled
African continent. The responsibility and the duties are reciprocal, or
ought to be.

Indeed, it remained a cardinal aspect of Nigeria's foreign policy for years
to be on the watch and never to close its eyes to, not to talk of
subscribing to, any development in the international arena that sought to
erode the gains of the decolonization efforts. That now seems to be then.
Nothing in this relationship ever entailed defending or justifying wrong
policies of the government of a brother country. Everything in this mutual
fraternal responsibility, demands, however, that the countries of Africa as
one should understand the challenges of their history. Here obviously lies
the source of the pain and perplexity of Thabo Mbeki and Robert Mugabe.

The land redistribution issue in Zimbabwe which has been twisted and added
pepper by the West is no more than a critical imperative in the development
of Zimbabwe. For the West to refuse to understand the imperative of such a
policy amounts to no more than their vote for continued subjugation of Black
Zimbabweans.Now that will be worse than anything Mugabe has done.

It is possible that some aspects of the policy came out too heavy on one
side or the other. Of course, even the best of policies can be faulted, more
so in the realm of politics. To have a country where 80 per cent of the
people (Blacks) live in 20 per cent of the land, the wretched part of it,
while the rest of the 20 per cent of the people (Whites) live in and
cultivate 80 per cent of the good portion is certainly not Mugabe's idea of
independence for his country. It should not be any honest person's idea of
equity either, whether black or white.

If the European and Western political leaders and societies do not for
parochial reasons see the problem Mugabe is faced with, Olusegun Obasanjo
ought to appreciate the situation better.

The question of Mugabe being in office for too long or being returned to
office by an election that was not free and fair is nothing but charges
gathered by the West to give their case a civilized face. The stance of the
Commonwealth on Mugabe is premeditated and well nigh insensitive to the
history and circumstances of Zimbabwe. That was why South Africa and other
countries of the Southern African region easily parted ways with Britain and
others on the matter. It is understandable, therefore, that Mbeki and Mugabe
are peeved and wondering who exactly Obasanjo is. Is this still their
brother? Or is this some lackey of the West?

Indeed, if one of the major charges of the West against Mugabe that he was
returned to office through a flawed election were to be taken seriously
Obasanjo should be in the fore of Mugabe's defenders for very obvious

It is bad enough that Obasanjo as Nigeria's president weighed on the side of
those who want Zimbabwe out of the Commonwealth because Mugabe is pursuing a
land policy designed to give his people some more foothold. To now go
forward and ask White farmers who are threatening to leave Zimbabwe in
protest to relocate to Nigeria as was recently credited to government
sources is the height of insensitivity and shallowness. This is one foreign
investment Nigeria does not need. Whatever attraction the coming of the
farmers of Zimbabwe to Nigeria offers, it should simply be discouraged.
Nigeria should be more decent than to seek to make profit out of a problem
in its brother's heart.

Nigeria's stance on the Zimbabwean matter at the Commonwealth forum is a
testament on the present state of its foreign policy. As it seems, all past
policy foundations are gone. In their stead, unfortunately, void seems to

The prevailing skin-deep policy framework cannot but be, considering that
much of what passes for Nigeria's foreign policy activities in the last five
years has been staccato initiatives of summit hosting and conference
attendance by President Olusegun Obasanjo.In all of these, appallingly,
there is hardly any evidence of a cohesive, vibrant and abiding policy
framework, the type that can help a student of international affairs
identify with certainty what Nigeria presently represents in critical global

If the maxim that foreign policy is an extension of local policies still
holds valid (and it will always hold), then it is not difficult to
understand the basis of Nigeria's foreign policy paralysis. For beyond the
paid for and understandable pitches of governmental spin meisters, the truth
remains that much of the foundation and thrust of government's policies
within the last five years have been at best confused.

Even NEPAD which is presented as a flag of African initiative and which flag
President Obasanjo and his lieutenants fly with so much relish seems to come
across substantially as an impenetrable policy guide that is still very much
on the work.

Now, even that piece of policy peg may come unstuck, courtesy of the awkward
policy on Zimbabwe, which the countries of Southern Africa see as a

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Excerpt from The Vanguard, Nigeria

Zimbabwe’s loss, Nigeria’s gain

Who says globetrotting does not pay? Those who have criticized the president
over the years for his frequent trips round the world apparently in search
of foreign investment and debt forgiveness have just been proven to be
lacking in the golden virtue of patience. The farmers are coming from
Zimbabwe, and it is not by fluke that they picked Nigeria. Even though most
of the president’s trips took him in directions not on the same side of the
world as Zimbabwe, and though the young Kwara State Governor Bukola Saraki
it was who first made the invitation, such vivacious attempts at PR must
have got something to do with it.
If Mugabe thinks he has nothing to lose by letting go of all that expertise
and, worse still, capital, it is because he hasn’t yet seen the full effects
of his foolhardiness. In the meantime, Nigeria is enjoying seeing telecoms
and a lot of information technology reduced to affordability and
availability before our very eyes. There will be further reductions, more
availability, and more hunger, unless someone does something about our food
The investment of the White farmers will probably bring more funds into the
sector than has ever been done, but the most immediate impact their presence
will have is our acquisition of their already existing export markets.
Competition will go up and the quality of agricultural production will
immediately go up. New crop technologies which afford higher yield will also
come with them, with their bitter and their sweet.
If they do come, it will be the best thing by far that has happened to
Nigeria in a long time.

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      EU pledges aid to save Zimbabwe food programme
      January 20, 2004, 08:52 PM

      The European Union said today it was donating an additional 20 million
euros ($25 million) to shore up a flagging UN food aid programme for
Zimbabwe, suffering economic crisis.

      The EU said donors had now pledged 80% of the funds needed by the UN
World Food Programme in Zimbabwe, which last month slashed rations for more
than 2.6 million Zimbabweans after global donors failed to come up with
enough money.

      "The additional funds are being made available to avoid any serious
disruption in WFP operations that may have occurred because of delays in the
receipt of product from other donors," the EU said in a statement.
      It added that the government of Zimbabwe needed to play its part in
filling an estimated import gap of 1.28 million tonnes of cereal during the
2003/04 marketing year.

      The EU has been a consistent critic of human rights violations in
Zimbabwe and the seizure of white owned farms by the government of President
Robert Mugabe. While it has imposed travel bans and an asset freeze on the
southern African country's political leadership, the EU continues to offer
humanitarian aid to Zimbabweans.

      "We can begin to scale up distributions again. By February the planned
monthly caseload could exceed four million people," WFP's Zimbabwe director
said in the EU statement. The new money takes the total EU contribution to
Zimbabwe, including aid from member states, to 65 million euros since August
last year. - Reuters
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New Zealand Herald

New land laws worry South African farmers

Seated behind his office desk, Rhys Rolfe has the face of a frightened man.

The devastating drought threatening to wipe out his vast plantations of
maize is a huge worry for the South African farmer.

But he does not hide the fact that new land expropriation laws planned by
the South African Government are an even bigger worry. He is starting to
wonder whether his family has a future in farming.

South African President Thabo Mbeki launched his re-election bid amid an
outcry from the white farmers who fear he has ordered Zimbabwe-style land
policies to bolster his chances of winning a second term.

The farmers say they are outraged by amendments to the land restitution law,
which come into force next month as Mbeki's re-election campaign gathers

The amendments, which Mbeki's Government said are meant to expedite land
reform and reverse the legacy of apartheid, will empower his Minister of
Land Affairs to expropriate land without a court order and without the
landowner's agreement. Critics have attacked the amendments as a carbon copy
of Zimbabwe's Land Acquisition Act, which deprives farmers of legal recourse
once their land has been confiscated.

Ian Grant, a farmer, said: "Once the role of the judiciary in adjudicating
disputes is removed and politicians are given the power to expropriate land,
then you are firmly on the Robert Mugabe route."

Free State farmers don't disagree with the need for land reform to address
the inequities of land ownership but they all vehemently oppose the new

Rolfe's wife, Norma, shared her husband's pessimism. "We thought we were
caretakers of these resources for our children and other future generations.
We no longer see it that way."

Rolfe, 59, owns 6000ha of land. His family has farmed at their Huntersflay
Plantations since 1903. The land was legitimately bought by his ancestors,
but he admitted it was not right for him to cling to his holdings amid the
cries for redistribution.

"It's simply not right that a few white people own 80 per cent of the
fertile land in a country with 40 million or so blacks," he said. "There has
to be transformation. It's a question of how.

"The Government's idea of just letting a minister take land at the stroke of
a pen is just not on."

After the end of apartheid in 1994, the Government pledged to transfer 30
per cent of white-owned land to blacks in five years.

But 10 years later, only 2 per cent has been transferred. More than nine of
every 10ha of commercial farmland remains in the hands of about 50,000 white
farmers. Since 1991 more than 1500 white farmers have been killed, although
the Government attributes this to crime.

Rolfe is prepared to give up some of his land but he emphasised he will not
"give anything for nothing".

Unlike the Mugabe regime, Mbeki's Government has promised to pay fair
compensation for expropriated land. But Rolfe believed that was highly

The power of the courts to adjudicate disputes and the rights of the farmer
to negotiate the acquisition of his land were not guaranteed. He did not
want to lose the right to negotiate the details of the amount of land and
which land to give up.

He did not think the Government was serious about creating viable black
farmers. It had not done much to prepare successful black farmers.

Neighbouring farmer Chris Botha, 29, believed it was no coincidence that the
new laws were being effected ahead of Mbeki's bid for re-election.

He did not believe the Government arguments that the whole idea was to speed
up land reform and restitution.

Mbeki's Government said critics who accuse South Africa of following the
Mugabe model are narrow minded.

Land Affairs Minister Thoko Didiza says the new amendments are meant to
avoid the violent land seizures that have rocked Zimbabwe.

Mbeki's Government has promised not to use the new law to settle scores or
to order arbitrary confiscations. But the political opposition and farmers
are not convinced.
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