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

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The Telegraph

Mugabe puts military at the centre of Zimbabwe's election
By Peta Thornycroft in Harare
(Filed: 24/01/2005)

President Robert Mugabe was accused yesterday of "militarising" Zimbabwe's
forthcoming election after a new law placed the army in charge of polling
stations and installed the regime's allies in every key position.

Devoid of any independent supervision, the March parliamentary polls are
expected to see a sweeping victory for the ruling Zanu-PF party.

The Electoral Act, signed into law by Mr Mugabe last week, gives the
security forces a legal role in national elections for the first time in
Zimbabwe's history.

Section 17 allows the heads of the "service commissions" to second personnel
to serve as "constituency election officers, deputy constituency elections
officers, assistant constituency elections officers and polling officers".
The commissions are defined as the army, air force, police and prison

David Coltart, the justice spokesman for the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, called it the "militarisation of the election process
itself". He added: "These elections will take place under the most
repressive laws in our history. Not a single electoral body is impartial.

"In the presidential election, Mugabe used the army covertly, now he can do
it legally."

Mr Mugabe has gained the loyalty of the security forces. Before the
presidential election of 2002, all senior military commanders declared they
would serve under no president except him.

Moreover, members of the regime's youth militia, held responsible for a
violent campaign against the MDC, are being incorporated into the security
forces and will run polling stations.

Mr Mugabe has ensured that his allies will oversee the contest. A High Court
judge, Mr Justice George Chiweshe, has been made chairman of the Election

He also runs the body charged with drawing up new constituency boundaries, a
role in which he has already eliminated three opposition seats and created
three others in Zanu-PF strongholds.

Paul Themba Nyathi, the MDC spokesman, said the opposition had "serious
reservations" about Mr Justice Chiweshe's impartiality and independence.

Shortly after being appointed to the bench, the judge denied bail to an MP
from the MDC who was critically ill after spending six weeks in custody.

The MDC is deeply divided over whether to boycott the polls, in which it is
likely to lose half of its 51 seats if it runs any candidates.
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

'School children' vote in primary elections

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Jan-24

SCHOOL children allegedly voted in Zanu PF's primary elections in
Chimanimani last Thursday, controversially won by economist Samuel Undenge,
it has been brought to the attention of The Daily Mirror.

Undenge sprung a surprise when he pulled the rug from under Munacho Mutezo's
He polled 4 139 votes, central committee member Mutezo received 4 074 while
1 631 people voted for Misheck Beta.
Documents in possession of The Daily Mirror show that more than 70 students
from Rusitu Secondary School voted in the primaries.
Rusitu is said to be Undenge's home area.
However, it could not be established who the school children voted for,
although sources linked them to Undenge.
The documents show that Mutezo has since written to the ruling party's
chairperson of the national elections directorate, Elliot Manyika,
complaining about irregularities there.
Allegations are that the school children voted at Hode Primary School clad
in school uniform.
Part of the documents read: "At Hode primary over 70 students from Rusitu
Secondary School (in uniform), some of them under age (and) in form three
(voted). They are not in the party."
The document also alleges that voting was not conducted at Muusha - voting
centre for people from Nyamusundu area - and the results were not complete.
Contacted to confirm the authenticity of the documents in question, Mutezo
said: "The matter is with the leadership. I cannot comment because it will
be subjudice. We have not completed the voting and we have raised the issue
with party leaders," Mutezo said.
"We want the people of Muusha to vote.  As far as we know, the process is
not yet completed."
The document was copied to Zanu PF national chairman John Nkomo, secretary
for administration Didymus Mutasa, politburo member Solomon Mujuru and
Cabinet minister Olivia Muchena.
Muchena was the returning officer in Chimanimani.
Mutezo's polling agent at Hode, Tobias Mlambo, told The Daily Mirror that
the students came to the polling station around 4 pm, clad in school
uniforms, and voted.
"I questioned why the students were allowed to vote, but no one listened to
me. Some of the students were as young as 14 voted," said Mlambo.
A team from Chimanimani, led by Mambo Mastick Zvinoera Saurombe, yesterday
met Manyika and implored him to allow people from Muusha to vote.
"We met the minister at his farm in Bindura and told him that we were not
happy with what transpired in Chimanimani during the primary election. We
are going to meet the minister again tomorrow (today)," Saurombe said.
Yesterday, Muchena refused to comment, insisting she would write a report to
the elections directorate.
"I will report to the directorate, not the press. I will explain everything
to the directorate if I am asked to do so. Handitauri zvinhu zvemaelections
kunewspaper. (I don't talk about elections in  newspapers)," Muchena said.
Mutasa said Saurombe and others approached him over allegations that
children voted in the primaries.
"These are some of the allegations which need to be probed. Hazvizivikanwe
kuti vana vacho vaka vota here kana kuti kwete. (It is not clear whether the
children voted or not)," Mutasa said.
The document written by Mutezo read: "I write to raise my concern about the
voting that was done in Chimanimani on 20 January. This was a follow-up to
an earlier election held on 15 January. The election on 15 January was not
completed, with six centres not having voted. Out of the 25 centres, in that
election I was leading with the following result: Cde Beta 516, Undenge 1
196 and Mutezo 1 870.
"The people voted at that centre in the first election on January 15 2005
and the results were as follows: Cde Beta 5, Cde Undenge 19, and Cde Mutezo
215. This shows we won with a very big margin of over 196 against Undenge.
"The results yesterday (January 20) are as follows: Cde Beta 1 631, Cde
Undenge 4 139, Cde Mutezo 4 074. The difference between us is 66 votes. This
could have been more than covered had we allowed people to vote in Muusha
where there were over 250 people.
"This is grossly unfair and people are asking to be allowed to vote. I feel
the candidates who pushed for exclusion of Muusha did so because they knew
it was our stronghold and they would lose. I humbly request that the people
of Muusha be allowed to vote to complete our elections."
Efforts to get comment from Manyika proved fruitless, as his phone was
unreachable, while the person who answered Undenge's phone at home and
identified himself as the young brother said the economist was not home.
In the appeal, it was alleged that soon after the announcement of the
results, Undenge's supporters attacked and damaged a B1800 truck belonging
to Mutezo.  A police report was made - RRB number 0458689.
Mutezo did not accept the results.
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Media vital in fight against corruption

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Jan-24

A DIRECTOR in the Ministry of Special Affairs in the Office of the President
and Cabinet responsible for Anti-Corruption and Anti-Monopolies, Patrick
Machaya, says the media is important in the fight against corruption. "For
our part we realise that the media are an internal element in the fight
against corruption in its various manifestations and provide leads to
possible cases of corruption publicise cases that come before the courts,"
Machaya said during a training workshop on investigative journalism in
Kadoma last week.
The workshop-attended by journalists from most media houses, a parliamentary
representative and lawyers - was organised by corruption watchdog -
Transparency International Zimbabwe.
Machaya said the media did not only raise awareness about corruption, but
had the duty to investigate and report cases of graft.
Speakeing at the same worhshop, the deputy president of the Law Society of
Zimbabwe, James Mutizwa, said it was important for journalists to be
conversant with laws that dealt with corruption.
He, however, criticised the principal legislation on corruption, the
Prevention of Corruption Act, saying it did not have a definition of
Other laws on white collar crime include the Anti-Corruption Commission Act,
the Serious Offences (Confiscation of Profits) Act, the Bank Use Promotion
and Suppression of Money Laundering Act-currently being challenged by
lawyers in the Supreme Court.
The lawyers are challenging the constitutionality of provisions that compel
them to notify the police if they suspect that their clients acquired money
through illegal means.
Mutizwa said the provisions lawyers are challenging had been struck down in
other countries including India, Britain, Canada and the United States of
Meanwhile,  Wilbert Mandinde, the legal adviser of the local chapter of the
Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA) said the government had created a
hostile working environment for journalists which made it difficult for the
media to expose corruption,
Mandinde said the private media in particular had been under siege from the
government for the past five years.
"Over the last 4-5 years, the independent press has borne the brunt of
government hostility in the form of vitriolic attacks, harassment, the
bombing of offices and a printing press, arrests and detentions, often for
brief periods," he said.
Mandinde said the government's grip on the public media and misconception of
patriotism had reduced the state owned media to praise singers at the
expense of important issues.
"The media structure in Zimbabwe is characterised by the dominance of
state-controlled media in both the broadcasting and print sectors. In
broadcasting, the government-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation
(Holdings) has a monopoly on all television and radio broadcasting.
"The government also has strong control over the print media. It is a fact
that there is a corruption within the government. However as Zimbabweans we
have a problem of patriotism. The state media have become praise singers and
ignore important issues," he said.
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Be on high alert: State urges security forces

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Jan-24

WITH just two months to go before the March parliamentary elections, the
government has called on the security forces and other related agencies to
be on high alert in light of condemnation of Zimbabwe's electoral processes
by some Western countries.

Speaking at a belated Christmas party for officers at the defence forces
headquarters last Friday, Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi said the
security requirements for the forthcoming elections would be high.
He said: "The security requirements of the electoral process and the
elections will obviously call for unprecedented alertness from the security
forces and other related agencies."
Sekeramayi accused the European Union, the British and other Western
countries of trying to create unrest in the country.
"Regarding the forthcoming elections there is no doubt that our detractors
will continue to spend sleepless nights conjuring up images of insecurity
and unrest in Zimbabwe, in order to discredit our electoral and democratic
institutions," he said.
The West and Europe have accused the Zanu PF led government of fraudulently
winning the 2000 and 2002 parliamentary and presidential elections
respectively to legitimise the imposition of targeted sanctions on top
government and the ruling party officials.
The elections were marred by widespread violence that most observers blamed
on the ruling party supporters.
The government has however, denied the accusations and instead accused the
West of interference in Zimbabwe's internal affairs and sponsoring the
opposition MDC, with the intention to effect regime change. President Robert
Mugabe is yet to announce the dates for the March elections.
The MDC have threatened to boycott the parliamentary polls if Zimbabwe does
not implement the Sadc protocol on democratic elections.
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Land at centre of RBZ, Time Bank dispute acquired

Givemore Nyanhi
issue date :2005-Jan-24

GOVERNMENT last week swooped on the 600-hectare Watermount Estates Private
Limited, that was allegedly used by Time Bank of Zimbabwe directors to
divert funds to the tune of $440 billion for their personal use, indicating
that it intended to compulsorily acquire the land for resettlement purposes.
Interestingly, Watermount Estates, 7 other companies directly or indirectly
tied in an alleged intricate web of deception and corruption with Time Bank,
and 7 directors, including Web Mashumba and Onias Gumbo, directors of Time
Bank Investments (Private) Limited (TBI) and Watermount Estates
respectively, were all declared specified persons on January 14.
TBI is the company that dragged the central bank to the High Court charging
that operations at Watermount Estates were above board and seeking the
reversal of Time Bank's curatorship early this month.
As a result of the specification, Tinashe Rwodzi, formerly appointed curator
of the Time Bank, was further appointed to be the investigator of the
specified persons and companies.
Specification means that the persons concerned are not allowed to withdraw
amounts in excess of $10 000 without the permission of the investigator of
the specified companies. But it is the intended compulsory acquisition of
Watermount Estates that shows that the drama is not yet over.
John Nkomo, Minister of Special Affairs in the Office of the President and
Cabinet on Friday served Watermount Estates with a preliminary notice to
compulsorily acquire its land.
"Deed of transfer 8745/98, registered in the name of Watermount Estates
(Private) Limited, in respect of land situated in the district of Goromonzi,
being the remainder of Craig Crag Estate, measuring six hundred comma nine
zero seven two (600,9072) hectares," was set for acquisition.
This comes at a time when it is understood that Watermount Estates was used
by Time Bank directors to siphon $440 billion from depositor accounts, one
of the reasons why it was slapped with curatorship.
But TBI has a pending High Court application that questions the curatorship
and challenges the RBZ to honour past promises in a dispute that is still
raging 5 years after it erupted.
The legal proceedings, instituted early this year principally seek a
reversal of the placement of Time Bank of Zimbabwe Ltd under curatorship in
September last
year by invoking the yet to be
 tested Administrative Justice Act (AJA).  Last week, Gideon Gono made his
first clear response regarding the second High Court challenge, when he
revealed that measures to incorporate Time Bank into the Zimbabwe Allied
Banking Group (ZABG) had been halted as they awaited the outcome of the
court application.
"Time Bank has been excluded from the ZABG in light of the litigation by the
institution's shareholders against the RBZ, which is pending in the High
 This is the second time that Time Bank has dragged RBZ to the High Court
after the same happened in 2000, when the wrangle surrounding some US$15
million that Time claims was wrongfully deposited into its account.
Time Bank  claims that it suffered prejudice arising from a Memorandum of
Deposit (MoD) transaction entered into, with the central bank in 2000.
Under the MoD, which also involved the Preferential Trade Area (PTA) Bank,
Time Bank secured a US$15 million (about $825 million at the exchange rate
then) loan to provide pre- and post-shipment finance to its clients.
It is understood that the central bank was supposed to give Time Bank the
Zimbabwe dollar equivalent of the loan and retain the foreign currency
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Anglo-American bid to stop estate takeover hits snag

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Jan-24

A BID by Anglo-American to negotiate against the government's takeover of
Mkwasine Estate, involved in sugar and wheat production, has hit a snag
after the status quo said it would go ahead with the acquisition of the
Other companies affected by the same action are Border Timbers, the Wattle
Company and Sam Levy's Lilfordia Farm in Zvimba.
Last year, the government issued Mkwasine Estate-owned by Anglo-American
through its Zimbabwe subsidiary, Hippo Valley Estates, a Section 8 order
indicating the takeover of the property under the land reform exercise.
Anglo-American said it would engage the government to rescind its decision,
but the Minister of Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement, John Nkomo had
already applied for confirmation of the Section 8 order in terms of the Land
Acquisition Act.
Nkomo said in a notice in a local daily: "Take notice that an application
for the confirmation of the acquisition order issued in respect of the
following farms has been filed in the Administrative Court at Harare and
that the respondent and any holder of real rights over the said farm are
required lodge their objections within five days after the publication of
this notice failure of which the matter shall be set down unopposed without
any further notice."
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

MDC primary poll abandoned

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Jan-24

CONTROVERSY continued to dog MDC primary elections yesterday with reports
that drunken party youths violently disrupted the holding of the polls in
Zengeza where three candidates were contesting the ticket to represent the
opposition in March-if the party decides to participate in the general

The candidates vying for Zengeza are James Makore, Charlton Hwende and a man
identified only as Chimbaira.
According to Makore the polls were abandoned after a fourth candidate
emerged and demanded that he be allowed to take part in the election.
"A man called (Alexei) Musundire just emerged and demanded that he be
allowed to take part despite the fact that he was not on the list of the
candidates that were supposed to contest.
A group of drunk youths then jumped on top of tables and ordered that the
man be allowed to take part, banging tables and causing confusion," Makore
"Violence then broke out and we jumped into our cars and drove away fearing
for our lives," he added.
Musundire is the former MDC provincial chairperson for Chitungwiza.
Makore, who lost to Zanu PF's Christopher Chigumba in a by-election to
replace Tafadzwa Musekiwa after he fled the country citing attempts on his
life by state agents, yesterday said: "We will write reports on what took
place today (Sunday) and we are going to forward them to the leadership of
the party tomorrow (today)."
Hwende said the violence erupted after Musundire wanted to impose himself.
Said Hwende: "When Musundire tried to force his way in, we agreed that the
people were supposed to vote on whether he should be allowed to contest, but
29 people voted for his participation against 95. Musundire, who had hired
thugs then burnt ballot papers and the police intervened leading to the
abandonment of the exercise."
Musundire distanced himself from the violence that took place in Zengeza,
but confirmed that his name was not among those of other candidates that
were supposed to contest.
"I did not take part in whatever happened as I was outside of the building
where the ballot papers were," he said, adding that the problem was that
some contestant wanted to bar him from participating.

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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

MDC has reservations about

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Jan-24

ZIMBABWE'S main opposition party, the MDC says while it was pleased with the
recent appointment of members of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, it has
reservations about its chairperson, Judge George Chiweshe. "The MDC welcomes
the establishment of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.  In particular, the
MDC is pleased with the appointment of the four commissioners - Sarah
Kachingwe, Rev Jonathan Siyachitema, Vivian Ncube and Professor George
Kahari - who were appointed as a result of consensus between the MDC and
Zanu PF in the Standing Rules and Orders Committee of Parliament,"
opposition party spokesperson Paul Themba Nyathi said on Friday.
Nyathi said the MDC had serious reservations in respect of the impartiality
and independence of the "person appointed as the chairperson for the reasons
that he is not known for his impartiality in the manner in which he has
handled cases relating to the MDC and its members".
Nyathi said: "This was particularly true in respect of those members of the
MDC who were falsely implicated in the abduction and murder of Cain Nkala.
In the spirit that everyone learns from their mistakes we hope and trust
that Justice Chiweshe in the light of the Cain Nkala case as a trained
lawyer, would let bygones be bygones and return to the ideals of the legal
profession of fairness, impartiality and integrity."
Nyathi, however, added that the MDC was prepared and would give Chiweshe the
benefit of the doubt in the hope that he was going to take seriously the
injunction of the laws of the country that members of the commission "must
at all times act with impartiality, fairness, independence and integrity".
The MDC said one of the commission's major mandates was to open the airwaves
for all political parties.
"This means that the commission will have to insist that all political
parties have fair access to the public media as is now contained in our
"The commission must also ensure that the police act with absolute
impartiality and bring to the end their practice of banning and interfering
with the meetings of the opposition parties.
"It must also ensure that all perpetrators of violence are effectively and
firmly dealt with and that an accurate voters' roll is prepared in which
every Zimbabwean entitled to vote is registered," further stated Nyathi.
He stressed that the commission was supposed to ensure that the voters' roll
was thoroughly audited and made accessible, particularly in its electronic
version, to all Zimbabweans.
This is despite the fact that Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa spoke
highly of Chiweshe at a press conference in Harare while announcing members
of the commission.
He said the judge's objectivity could not be doubted, as he was familiar
with some aspects of the electoral process, having conducted the
delimitation exercise.
"That weighed heavily in favour of him," he said.
Of the commission, Chinamasa said: "The members of the commission are people
of integrity and have vast and diverse administrative and other experiences
and will therefore be an independent and objective authority to administer
all elections and referendums in Zimbabwe."
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The Scotsman

Suburban murder shocks ex pats in Zimbabwe


THE murder of a British aid worker in one of Harare's wealthy suburbs last
week has sent shockwaves through the shrinking expatriate community, already
threatened by new restrictions imposed by the president, Robert Mugabe, on
aid organisations.

The body of Lisa Veron-Brunner, 30, who worked for the United Nations' World
Health Organisation (WHO) in the Zimbabwean capital, was discovered beside
her upturned vehicle just down the road from her gym.

Ms Veron-Brunner, who held joint British and Swiss nationality, was
initially believed to have been killed in a road accident.

However, a post-mortem examination revealed that she had been stabbed in the
neck and chest, and several items were missing from her bag, according to
the UN.

Most observers in Harare suspect that Ms Veron- Brunner was the victim of a
botched carjacking.

Her murder has been the subject of hushed conversation in diplomatic
gatherings, and has thrown the spotlight on the once peaceful southern
African country's growing problem of violent crime.

The UN says it has stepped up security for its officials in the wake of the

Zimbabwe used to be a dream posting for Western aid workers. The cost of
living was relatively cheap, good schooling was affordable and, in urban
areas at least, security was much better than in Johannesburg, the capital
of neighbouring South Africa.

But all that has changed. Zimbabwe's five-year political crisis has been
accompanied by a surge in carjackings and armed robberies, which have
affected mainly monied white and black Zimbabweans.

Luxury four-wheel drive vehicles are a favourite target, according to local
press reports. The stolen vehicles are believed to be shipped out via
Victoria Falls to Zambia.

Desperate to revive its tourist industry, the Zimbabwean government is not
keen to broadcast the rise in crime.

There has been no mention of Ms Veron-Brunner's death in the state-owned
Herald newspaper so far.
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The Herald

NRZ deal with Chinese firm at advanced stage

By Martin Kadzere
THE National Railways of Zimbabwe's (NRZ) negotiations with Chinese
companies under a deal to procure $35,8 billion worth of equipment are at an
advanced stage.

NRZ said the rail equipment was meant for the rehabilitation of the railway
operator's antiquated and vandalised network while at the same time bringing
in state-of-the-art technological equipment.

Last year the rail transporter lost over $600 million worth of equipment to
vandalism which adversely affected the operations of the troubled

The Ministry of Transport and Communications is spearheading the

"We confirm that the NRZ is still engaged in discussions for the purchase of
a variety of railway equipment from Chinese companies.

"Our parent Ministry of Transport and Communications is playing a leading
role in the deliberations," said NRZ corporate affairs manager of Mr Misheck

The national rail transporter has already ordered the consignment which
would be delivered as soon as the deliberations are concluded.

The equipment would be used to upgrade the dilapidated railway
infrastructure in the country and on the proposed Harare-Chitungwiza link

Under the short and medium-term measures to rehabilitate the infrastructure,
the NRZ is also installing a new communication system as well as
rehabilitating the existing one.

"Among other projects that we have embarked on to improve the state of
railway equipment are the upgrading of the signalling and telecommunications
system, rehabilitation of the rail track as well as refurbishment of
locomotives, wagons and coaches," said Mr Matanhire.

This move has immensely benefited the parastatal in terms of service
delivery to its customers.

To date, 23 locomotives and 804 wagons have been refurbished since the
commencement of recapitalisation programme in July 2003.

In addition, NRZ is currently installing a UHF communication network on the
Bulawayo-Victoria Falls line to improve communication between train crews
and command centres.

Vandalism of railway infrastructure, which had in the past reached
unprecedented proportions, was threatening to paralyse the parastatal's
operations and has been cited as the major cause of accidents, many of them
fatal, on the rail network.

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Asylum fear

Monday January 24, 2005
The Guardian

Your report made for disturbing reading (Zimbabwe: the terror and abuse goes
on, January 18). Amnesty International is extremely concerned that the
government of Zimbabwe is operating a policy of systematic repression of all
those it perceives to be critical of it.
With the parliamentary elections in March only weeks away, we are concerned
that alongside political violence the Zimbabwean authorities are using a
raft of new legislation to control the media and human rights organisations.

We must then question why the UK government decided last year to reverse its
policy of not returning unsuccessful Zimbabwean asylum-seekers? In Zimbabwe,
the state-controlled media's response has been to run articles suggesting
that those returned from the UK should be viewed by the authorities with
suspicion, and "vetted". It appears that a "return at any cost" culture now
appears to reign supreme at the Home Office.
Kate Allen
Amnesty International UK

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Business Report

      Zimbabwe's tobacco crop may rise 32%
      January 24, 2005

      By Antony Sguazzin

      Johannesburg - Flue-cured tobacco production in Zimbabwe might rise 32
percent this season, reversing a four-year decline, as more small-scale and
commercial farmers had been contracted to grow the leaf, US-based Universal,
the world's biggest tobacco leaf merchant, has said.

      Zimbabwe was expected to grow about 90.3 million kilograms of
flue-cured tobacco, the top grade of the leaf, the company said on its

      "More farmers across both sectors have signed growing contracts,"
Universal's Zimbabwean associate, Zimbabwe Leaf Tobacco, said in a report.
"The majority of contractors have been fairly quick in providing the
necessary support required."

      Between 2000 and 2004 tobacco production in Zimbabwe slumped by
three-quarters after the government began seizing commercial farms for
redistribution to the landless. Many of the new owners are subsistence

      The government last season allowed companies for the first time to
contract farmers to grow the crop, providing more security for growers.
Prior to that, all tobacco was sold on auction.

      In December the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association forecast a crop of 85
million kilograms this year.

      Favourable rains were boosting the crop, Universal said, with yields
of over 3 000kg a hectare on irrigated fields and 2 500kg on dry land fields

      The country was also likely to harvest between 200 000kg and 300 000kg
of lower-grade burley tobacco, Universal said.

      Auction floors in Harare will begin selling the crop in April.

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New Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe opposition MP, 100 supporters arrested

By Staff Reporter
Last updated: 01/24/2005 14:22:52
ZIMBABWE'S opposition Movement for Democratic Change party on Sunday
confirmed the arrest of Makokoba MP Thokozani Khupe and over 100 party
supporters after police raided a restaurant that she owns in the country's
second largest city of Bulawayo.

Also arrested with the MP are two councilors Peter Nyathi of Ward 10 and
Amen Mpofu of Ward 2 in the same constituency.

The MDC said Khupe was having a "strategic meeting" when the riot squad
stormed the building.

Khupe and the party activists are facing charges under Zimbabwe's tough
public order and security laws for holding an "illegal meeting".

"Three police details arrived at the private planning meeting and demanded
to attend. Khuphe allowed them. The meeting proceeded but after about 30
minutes riot police in full gear arrived at the meeting and told everyone
that they were under arrest. They were all loaded in police vehicles and
taken to Bulawayo Central police Station," the MDC spokesman Paul Themba
Nyathi said in a statemenbt released Sunday.

Nyathi said the arrests were evidence that Zanu PF was determined to ignore
regional demands for a free and fair election when Zimbabweans vote in
parliamentary polls in March.

"The political playing field remains very flawed," Nyathi said. "We would
like to bring it to the attention of the SADC leaders that in many instances
the situation is deteriorating. The police continue to interfere with the
MDC's political meetings and thus prevent fair campaigning. They also
continue to act in complicity with the Zanu PF officials, neglecting their
role of fairness and neutrality.

" The selective application of the law is deepening. All these factors will
have a large bearing in the decision of the MDC National Council on whether
to participate or not. We continue to implore the regime and the SADC
leaders to continue to push for a path that will afford the people of
Zimbabwe a free and fair election to bring about a lasting solution to the
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Cape Times

      Time is tight
      January 24, 2005

      by the Editor

      As usual, and in spite of a number of utterances in recent days, the
government's position on Zimbabwe remains as clear as mud.

      The ANC issued a statement last week in which its secretary-general
Kgalema Motlanthe suggested that conditions in Zimbabwe were not conducive
to free and fair elections in March.

      That was widely interpreted as an indication that the ruling party was
growing weary of its so-called "quiet diplomacy". This has, of course, been
vehemently denied, with all sorts of explanations as to why nothing has

      At the same time alliance partners Cosatu and the SA Communist Party
have taken a much stronger line, with the trade union federation about to
send another fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe.
      Cosatu secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi was most outspoken yesterday,
suggesting that a free and fair election was highly unlikely at this stage.

      He said the opposition was denied access to the media, the right to
address meetings and to canvass. Its members were also denied the rights to
freedom of association and movement.

      It is worth pointing out the obvious: that the election is now only a
matter of weeks away.

      If Motlanthe's comments are to be taken at face value, the ruling
party has woken up somewhat belatedly to the reality on the ground in

      The Southern African Development Community has also been tardy. The
election guidelines which it compiled have by-and-large been ignored by
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, without any apparent reaction.

      Is it too late now?

      We tend to agree with Vavi that even if the Zimbabwean authorities
were to change their ways overnight and allow for a free and fair process it
would be too late to offset the headstart given to Zanu-PF.

      But a vigorous intervention by SADC - and in particular South Africa -
might at least ensure a poll that is not a complete sham. Failure to act
will make them complicit in Mugabe's deceit and contempt for his people.
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