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

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2003: A Terrible, Wonderful Year
Last night, on the stroke of midnight, fireworks erupted into the sky all over Harare.  Seconds later traditional drums burst out, beating in the New Year from all quarters.  I took my drums out into the night, and joined with the others in solidarity, playing the drum accompaniment to the "Africa" theme that is used at station opening of SW Radio Africa every evening.  Tremendous waves of deep sonorous singing washed over our home, the voices coming from every direction.  I have not heard anything like it for many years, and I wondered why, at the end of the most terrible year in Zimbabwe's history, people were celebrating in this manner as they have never done before.  It took about two seconds to realise that firstly, people were sick of 2003 and were literally beating it out of their lives, and secondly, that the unity and spirit of Zimbabweans, of all racial groups, is INCREDIBLY ALIVE AND WELL!
A terrible year, in terms of the abuse, torture, state-sponsored violence and repression.  The hunger and starvation that stalks our land, the lack of money to buy food and other basic requirements.  The misery resulting from salaries that do not even pay for the transport to and from work, if said transport is available in the first place because of the lack of fuel.  The depression of people living "on the edge" all the time, and now not even able to afford the fees to educate their children.
Yet a wonderful year, because the very suffering that I highlight here has brought people together.  It has united them from all walks of life and culture.  There are so many brave people out there that are now standing up for their rights, communicating with each other and bonding in a way never seen before.
My wife and I travelled to England this last August on holiday, and we were able to visit the SW Radio Africa studios, reunite with Gerry Jackson and Georgina Godwin, both long-standing friends, and meet the rest of the "team".  To all of you, Gerry, Georgina, John Matinde, Mandisa Munyawarara, Tererai Karimakwenda, Violet Gonda, and the others behind the scenes who nightly help us to know what is happening in our land, thank-you so very much.
While there, we also met up with Wiz Bishop, sister of Cathy Buckle, and had a wonderful "Zimbabwean" evening in an English pub!  An ardent and outspoken person, Wiz is deeply passionate about her country and does a tremendous amount to help her family and friends back home.
Finally, before Christmas I had the honour and privilege to meet Cathy Buckle.  She gave us a Christmas card which was a simple picture of a christmas tree, but she had written next to each candle, words such as "justice", "democracy", "freedom", "truth" and "hope".  Her warmth, humanity, caring and love shine out of her like a beacon.  I will treasure that card always.
I have been in contact with many wonderful people, too numerous to mention, both inside and outside Zimbabwe this last year, all amazingly supportive and passionate about our situation.  My message for 2004 is:
Keep communicating, bonding and stand firm.  Together, and only together, we will complete the Change!
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      Zimbabwe Claims Recovery of Seized Land from Loyalists Who Took Too
      Peta Thornycroft
      01 Jan 2004, 17:30 UTC

      The Zimbabwe government has said it has recovered more 200,000
hectares of formerly white-owned land from ruling party loyalists who have
taken more than one farm. Minister of Special Affairs in President Robert
Mugabe's office John Nkomo, who also is responsible for managing land
ownership, said the amount of land recovered from the ruling party loyalists
is changing all the time.
      He said he would not know for some time how much land had been finally
recovered from those who grabbed more than they are allowed, but that it
would be redistributed to people who applied for land, but had so far not
received any.

      The few white commercial farmers left on their properties said
Thursday they can see no evidence that Cabinet ministers, judges, bank
managers, senior army personnel and other leaders, have abandoned any of the
farms they took.

      Mac Crawford, who heads an association of ranchers in the southern
Matabeleland province, said "most of them do not live on the land, and are
careful to cover up what they have taken."

      When President Mugabe sent loyalists to evict white farmers in
February 2000, he told Zimbabweans the future agricultural policy would be
"one man, one farm."

      But over Christmas, Agriculture Minister Joseph Made, Deputy Transport
Minister Chris Mushowe, and a senior civil servant, Joseph Mutowenyika, went
onto a farm in eastern Zimbabwe and told the white owners that they must
leave the land immediately. They acted against a recent court order
prohibiting the confiscation of the farm.

      The majority shareholder in the farm, Edwin Moyo, said the three
officials were claiming the land for themselves, even though each of them
already has at least one farm.

      The farm, now Zimbabwe's largest exporter of vegetables, employs 6,000
people. Mr. Made was not available for comment Thursday.

      The government's land distribution program has had a disastrous effect
on Zimbabwe's agricultural production. Once a food exporter, Zimbabwe now
depends on the World Food Program to feed five million people, or nearly
half the population.

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New Zealand Herald

Government promises help in Zimbabwe passport row


The Government has promised a sympathetic hearing for veteran human rights
activist Judith Todd after Zimbabwe officials refused to give her a

Judith Todd was born in Zimbabwe but officials in Robert Mugabe's Government
have refused to issue her a Zimbabwe passport, saying she is a citizen of
New Zealand where her father, Garfield Todd, was born.

Mr Todd was Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was then known,
from 1953 to 1958 and he and his daughter were outspoken supporters of
Zimbabwe's independence.

In 2002, Ms Todd won a prolonged court battle for a one-year temporary
passport to attend a memorial service for Mr Todd in London.But Zimbabwean
officials have refused to renew the passport.

Recent citizenship laws require Zimbabweans holding a second nationality to
formally renounce it.

Ms Todd said she never took up her New Zealand citizenship but said she
would reluctantly claim it to get a passport to allow her to travel for
business and political purposes.

Yesterday, the Government's duty minister, Health Minister Annette King,
said Ms Todd was entitled to citizenship by descent and she would get a
sympathetic hearing.

Ms King said New Zealand officials would facilitate travel for her but she
needed to contact New Zealand officials in Pretoria, South Africa.

Ms Todd says about two million Zimbabweans, including black descendants of
migrants from neighboring countries, are in a similar situation to hers.

She accused the Mugabe regime of being "intent on wiping out the citizenship
and voting rights of any Zimbabwean of whatever colour or background thought
to be against the ruling party".

Mr Mugabe, who has so far expelled about 4200 white farmers from their land
and distributed it to cronies, accuses white Zimbabweans and "totemless
aliens" of masterminding opposition to his rule.

Zimbabwe's Daily News newspaper, which Ms Todd partly owned, was forcibly
shut by the regime in September.

Police have barred staff from producing the paper despite last week's second
court judgment that the newspaper be re-opened.


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The Age

Zimbabwe sneak home
January 2, 2004 - 6:05AM

Zimbabwe warmed up for the upcoming triangular series with a nail biting
eight-run win over the next wave of Australian cricketers in Perth.

Chasing 241 runs for victory, the youthful Australia A team was all out for
232 in the 49th over under lights at the WACA Ground.

Hometown hero Shaun Marsh (57 off 58 balls) led a rearguard action before
the last pair of Adam Griffith (33) and Shaun Tait (22 not out) produced a
defiant tenth-wicket stand.

The combination put on 53 runs and sent a major scare through the Zimbabwe
camp which had earlier ripped through the top order.

The tailenders had the equation of needing nine runs off seven balls when
Griffith spooned a catch to man-of-the-match Stuart Carlisle at backward
point off Sean Ervine's bowling (4-44).

Classy Zimbabwe opener Carlisle (100 not out) earlier carried his bat as he
steered his side to 240 from 49.5 overs.

His team should have recorded a larger total but not for some over-ambitious
running between wickets and not respecting the fielding ability of the
enthusiastic youngsters.

The visitors, who reached the Super Six stage at last year's World Cup, have
two more matches to prepare to play before taking on Cup finalists Australia
and India this month.

Zimbabwe plays Western Australia on Sunday at the WACA before another clash
with Australia A on Wednesday in Adelaide.

Swing bowler Douglas Hondo (2-34 off 10 overs), who missed October's
two-Test series with injury, put the squeeze on the inexperienced opponents
from the start of their run chase.

Hondo started waywardly, but soon had the ball moving in the right direction
and had Dominic Thornely (one) edging to second slip Mark Vermeulen in his
first over.

He then claimed the prized scalp of Michael Clarke (eight), having the
Australian one-day player top-edging an attempted pull shot which
wicketkeeper Tatenda Taibu caught after initially stumbling under the high

Quick Blignaut (2-27) continued to turn the screws, having a frustrated
Shane Watson (five) hit the ball straight to Grant Flower at mid-wicket.

Ervine trapped Brad Haddin (25) on his crease before Blignaut deceived
Marcus North (nine) after having him dropped on two.

Taibu then took a fine diving catch to dismiss Cameron White (two) off
Ervine's bowling as the home side slumped to 6-66.
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      A return to the east-west division would create a niche for him in
no-man's land


      By Michael Hartnack

      In Zimbabwe, the traditional New Year message of goodwill contrasts
painfully with the grim reality of daily life. For example, the fate of the
Daily News, the country’s only independent daily newspaper, should be a
lesson to anyone who goes around spreading tidings without an accreditation
certificate issued by the regime in terms of the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act. On Friday, armed police in combat fatigues
occupied the Daily News premises to ensure it could not publish, regardless
of an Administrative Court ruling that it had every right to do so pending
an appeal by the state’s Media and Information Commission to the Supreme

      Robert Mugabe’s regime, through the Commission, has tried every
possible means to get a permanent ban imposed on the Daily News. Every time
legal moves fail, Information Minister Jonathan Moyo sends in the heavies to
seal premises, arrest journalists and seize computers, in total contempt of
court. In January 2001 the newspaper's presses were blown up in a commando
style raid, a few hours after Moyo said it was "a threat to national
security" that would be silenced. Connoisseurs of bureaucratic double-speak
will prize this statement from Moyo after the latest Administrative Court
ruling in the Daily News' favour (take a deep breath):

      "Quite to the contrary and far from it, today's judgment of the
Administrative Court is at best academic in that it has no practical force
or effect because it cannot be lawfully enforced or executed given the legal
background of the case which is replete with as yet unresolved fundamental
legal questions that are pending in the Supreme Court. Implementing or
executing judgments of courts that have neither jurisdiction not competence
to make those decisions would fly in the face of the rule of law and plunge
our vibrant constitutional democracy into the abyss of lawlessness and
corruption of the judiciary process." What this sanctimonious and
hypocritical verbiage means is: when the courts don't do what we say, we
simply deny we're subject to them.

      In Zimbabwe, Christmas underlines the sheer madness of the country’s
plight: more than 4,5 million people are in danger of starving to death in
the midst of potential plenty, due simply to the malicious misorganisation
of society. Mugabe’s contribution to this season of goodwill has been in
effect to send Santa Claus a note asking for a new cold war to permit the
purging of western influence in Africa. Speaking at the Africa-China Trade
Summit in Addis Ababa, Mugabe hailed China as "the global maker of
democracy, human rights and the rule of law". The former communist countries
of eastern Europe were "falling over themselves to join and be absorbed" by
western influence, Mugabe grumbled. "Our business people have remained under
the spell of a Western sorcerer whose bag of dirty tricks is that of devious
deals and unfair trade practices."

      On the day Mugabe spoke in Addis Ababa, a 31-page report by the
Solidarity Peace Trust, "The Suffering Church in Zimbabwe", compiled by 10
priests who spent three weeks here, contrasted pointedly with his remarks.
"What is truly iniquitous is the way the 'land issue' and ideological red
herrings such as 'standing up against western imperialism' have been used by
African leaders to mask the real question," wrote Bishop Kevin Dowling, one
of the South African trustees. "And that is that President Mugabe and his
supporters have systematically engaged in human rights abuses of the very
worst kind in order to retain political power. This quest our ours (for
justice) faces formidable obstacles, above all the obfuscation and
manipulation of the reality by the Zimbabwean leadership, particularly in
the SADC region." Mugabe dreams of a return to the era of the cold war when
arbitrary tyrants such as Albania's Enver Hoxja or Zaire's Mobutu Sese Seko
were peripheral and their rulers slept safe. A return to the east-west
division, to a fresh nuclear stand-off, would create a niche for him in
no-man's land. This New Year, all most Zimbabweans can do is simply hope and
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Agriculture Badly Affected By HIV/Aids

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

December 31, 2003
Posted to the web December 31, 2003

Labour losses due to HIV/AIDS have badly affected production

Zimbabwe's struggling agricultural sector, already hard hit by drought,
shortages of inputs and the fast-track land reform programme, has also been
badly affected by HIV/AIDS.

In its latest report the UN Relief and Recovery Unit (RRU) noted that
"productivity has been severely affected in the agricultural sector as a
direct result of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the country".

Research indicates a 43 percent HIV/AIDS prevalence rate on farms, compared
to a national infection level of 24.6 percent, with the highest number of
HIV-positive people in the 15 to 23 age range - "the core of the
agricultural labour force".

The research, conducted for the UN Development Programme and soon to be
published in the "Zimbabwe Human Development Report 2003", found that 23
percent of labour losses among farming communities were due to HIV/AIDS.

As a result, the total area cropped in Zimbabwe had declined by about 39
percent. "Crop yield has declined by 59 percent, and marketed output
declines of 66 percent could be experienced in Zimbabwe's agricultural
sector due to the HIV/AIDS pandemic," the RRU said.

The impact of HIV/AIDS on agriculture has seen both "labour quantity and
quality compromised through incapacitation and deaths". This included the
"loss of agricultural extension workers through death, illness and discharge
on medical grounds", while a "significant amount of man-hours have been lost
[through] increased absenteeism because of illness, caring for the sick or
attending funerals".

The research indicated a statistical decline in livestock and crop
production among communal HIV/AIDS-affected households.

Investment levels were also lower, as "resources meant for agricultural
production are increasingly being diverted to care for the sick, and for
funeral expenses".

In response to the crisis the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural
Resettlement has established an HIV/AIDS desk to spearhead HIV/AIDS
programmes. Some of its interventions include the distribution of condoms
and holding awareness workshops on HIV/AIDS.

However, these initiatives had been hindered by a lack of resources, the RRU

The Unit noted that the combined impact of HIV/AIDS, the macroeconomic
policy environment and Zimbabwe's "severe economic decline", were the main
causal factors of the humanitarian crisis in the country.

"These factors will continue to simultaneously erode self-reliance at
household level, and the quality of essential basic services at the national
level, leading to rising vulnerability," the study predicted.

Another poor farming season has been forecast for 2003-04 due to the acute
shortage of inputs, including seeds, fertiliser and farming implements.

The Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) recently noted that "over the past four
seasons, production has either remained static or declined, due to a number
of factors beyond the control of general farmers".

The government's fast-track land reform programme and drought have been
blamed for the downturn in production. But planning a recovery for the
sector, which is vital to both household and national income, is going to be
difficult with the added complication of HIV/AIDS.

"With the agricultural sector threatened in this way, and at a time when
food security is already a major cause for concern, urgent short- and
medium-term initiatives in the HIV/AIDS sector are required," the RRU

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