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

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The Age, Melbourne
Take Mugabe at his word, OAU chief says
The word of a head of state such as Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe was beyond challenge, Organisation of African Unity Secretary-General Amara Essy said today.
"He has said he will allow international observers, except from Britain," to cover presidential elections on March 9 and 10, Essy told a New York news conference.
According to Essy, Mugabe "said he had never cheated in his life and he was not going to start now."
"When a head of state says that, you cannot doubt his word," the secretary-general said.
Essy was in New York for a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on the problems facing Africa.
Commonwealth ministers are due to meet in London tomorrow, when Britain is expected to call for Zimbabwe's suspension from the organisation.
The EU yesterday threatened Harare with "targeted sanctions" if it failed to approve a European team of observers for the elections within a week.
The EU also urged Zimbabwe not to hinder the efforts of the international press to cover the elections, while warning Harare against human rights violations or violence against political opposition.
"It is true that people demonise President Mugabe," Essy said.
"Things should settle down after the elections, if the result is respected."
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Daily news
Army behind youth training 
1/30/02 8:19:04 AM (GMT +2)
By Luke Tamborinyoka
SERVING and retired members of the army are behind the training of the Zanu PF youths at the Border Gezi Training Centre and other notorious camps, where youths are undergoing military training under the guise of national youth service.
The latest allegations contradict statements made by senior government officials, that the national youth service is intended to instill a sense of patriotism in young people.
Army sources said while the director of the National Youth Service, David Munyoro, is a civilian, the unit is being run by a military man, Retired Brigadier Boniface Hurungudu.
Hurungudu, the deputy director, is stationed at Zanu PF headquarters in Harare, at the offices of the Ministry of Youth Development, Gender and Employment Creation.
The minister, Elliot Manyika, could not be reached for comment yesterday, on the involvement of the army. His deputy, Shuvai Mahofa, refused to comment.
Insiders said apart from the army personnel who offer basic military training, Hurungudu has allegedly recruited war veterans as instructors in some of the camps.
At the Border Gezi Training Centre, the camp commandant is Colonel Josphat Shumba of the army and a former director of Military Intelligence.
Out of the 30 instructors and administrators at the Centre, 15 are either serving or retired army officers while others are war veterans co-opted by Hurungudu, sources said.
One such war veteran is Francis Zimuto, better known as "Black Jesus".
Zimuto, who led the first farm invasion in Masvingo in 2000, is based at the main camp in Mount Darwin, while other war veterans run military camps elsewhere.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Hurungudu confirmed the army was involved but only in an administrative capacity.
He acknowledged the involvement of "Black Jesus" in the training programme.
He said the war veteran was not an instructor but was only involved in "setting up" the camp.
"These army people you talk about are not instructors," he said. "We only have about three retired officers at the camp and they are involved in administration."
He referred further questions to Munyoro, who was said to be out of his office.
Another instructor is Daniel Museve, a Retired Wing Commander in the Air Force, who has not reported for work due to illness since September, 2001.
But dissension has started to appear in the army ranks, with some accusing Hurungudu of wielding enormous power and co-opting war veterans into the training programme.
"While people can understandably criticise the army’s involvement, the co-option of war veterans has really killed the national service," said the source.
He said the war veterans were responsible for some of the apparently illegal conduct of the youth brigade.
"The programme has lost its national outlook. It is now being run by warlords in the various camps throughout the country and there is no proper mechanism of control," an army insider said.
"Criminals and fugitives from the law have sought sanctuary in the programme, which has now lost respect among the people."
The army officials said before the end of February, more terror camps would be established at Guyu in Gwanda, Mushagashe in Masvingo, Dadaya in the Midlands and Binga in Matabeleland North.
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Daily News
Cosatu urges pressure on Zimbabwe 
1/30/02 8:23:57 AM (GMT +2)
From Our Correspondent in Bulawayo
THE Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has mobilised civic organisations in that country to put pressure on regional leaders to act against the deteriorating human rights situation in Zimbabwe.
Cosatu is the largest coalition of domestic trade unions in the region and is an ally of the ruling African National Congress in South Africa.
Cosatu said on Monday it had embraced the Centre of Violence and Reconciliation, Network of Independent Monitors, South African NGO coalition, Lawyers for Human Rights, Ceasefire and Palliative Medicine Institute to press Mugabe to restore democracy.
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Daily News
Teenager facing kidnapping charges redetained 
1/30/02 8:32:57 AM (GMT +2)
Court Reporter
THE 17-year-old son of a Harare film-maker who is on $20 000 bail was on Friday redetained by Highlands police when he went to report to them in the morning.
His mother said her son was to be charged with murder. The teenager, who is facing kidnapping and assault charges, was granted bail by a Marondera magistrate on Wednesday.
The State’s case is that two weeks ago, the teenager led a group of seven who kidnapped and assaulted unidentified people in Murehwa.
The court ordered him to surrender his travel documents, report three times a week to Highlands Police Station and not to travel beyond a 20-km radius of Harare.
On Friday, two of the teenager’s alleged accomplices, Admire Dickson Kasawe, 26, and Luke Sande Dehwa, 23, appeared before Harare provincial magistrate Dominic Muzawazi, on charges of malicious injury to property, attempted murder and kidnapping.
They were remanded in custody to 11 February and advised to apply for bail to the High Court. Prosecutor Allan Mabande said Kasawe and Dehwa were part of an MDC group code-named "Hit Squad," living at a safe house in Greendale.
On 11 January, the pair allegedly ganged up with unnamed accomplices and drove to Bindura, where they randomly attacked Zanu PF supporters.
They allegedly petrol-bombed a shop belonging to one Batsirai Kanokamhina, destroying property worth $1 million.
Two days later the group, allegedly driven in a Nissan truck by the teenager, went to Bobo Farm near Old Mabvuku and attacked Zanu PF supporters occupying the farm.
During the disturbances, one of them allegedly hurled a petrol bomb at a house belonging to Idah Tazvivinga. The bomb allegedly destroyed property, including a radio and television set. Tazvivinga was allegedly burnt on the stomach and legs.
Mabande said on Thursday last week, Kasawe and Dehwa and their colleagues went to Musami business centre in Murehwa and abducted Francis Matete of Matete Village.
They allegedly took him to a bushy spot about 15km from Musami, assaulted him and left him tied to a tree.
As they drove away, their truck developed a fault near a farm in Marondera and all the members of the group allegedly fled, leaving the teenager to repair it by himself.
He was captured by a group of people occupying the nearby farm and allegedly implicated Kasawe and Dehwa. They were subsequently arrested in Mabvuku.
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Daily News
Misa implores Mugabe to stop repressive legislation 
1/30/02 8:22:21 AM (GMT +2)
By Conrad Nyamutata Chief Reporter
THE Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) has called on President Mugabe to stop legislation which curtails the freedom of the media.
In a letter, Luckson Chipare, the regional director of Misa, said Mugabe should take a strong stand against continued human rights and media freedom violations.
He said the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Bill, brought before Parliament yesterday, and the Public Order and Security Act, were repressive.
"Misa implores you to denounce the ongoing and intensifying victimisation of media practitioners and violations of media freedoms.
"Misa believes that the passing of these repressive laws is an attempt by your government to legalise the ongoing harassment of journalists."
Misa was expressing its concerns because Zimbabwe was an important member of the Southern Africa Development Community.
"Misa protests this bill and the legislation because they impose excessive restrictions on the content of what the media may publish or broadcast," said Chipare.
Misa has written to Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, saying the world body should make Zimbabwe accountable to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which allows free expression.
In a letter to the President of the Council of the European Union, Jose Maria Aznar, Chipare said violations of media freedoms in Zimbabwe had reached a point where an unambiguous stand had to be taken to restore the basic tenets of democracy and human rights.
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Daily News
Assault earns war veteran six months in prison 
1/30/02 8:28:45 AM (GMT +2)
From Energy Bara in Masvingo
GEORGE Rapozo, 45, a war veteran who had wreaked havoc in Zimuto communal lands by erecting illegal roadblocks and demanding Zanu PF membership cards, was yesterday sentenced to six months in jail for assaulting an alleged MDC supporter.
Rapozo pleaded guilty to assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm when he appeared before a Masvingo magistrate Itai Matipira. He was sentenced to nine months but three months were conditionally suspended for five years.
The court heard that on 20 January Rapozo, in the company of a group of Zanu PF youths, erected an illegal roadblock at Mutani Village, in Zimuto.
They stopped Maxwell Mano who was driving his car to Harare.
Rapozo then alleged that Mano was an MDC supporter distributing party cards in the area.
The war veteran ordered the youths to search Mano’s car. A shotgun was found in the car and Mano produced a firearm certificate. Rapozo confiscated the gun from Mano, forcibly taking 16 rounds of ammunition and the certificate.
On Rapozo’s orders the youths severely beat Mano. He later ordered Mano to return to his car.
Mano reported the matter to the police at Zimuto base.
Passing the judgment Matipira said: "It seems you pleaded guilty because there was no option since evidence against you was overwhelming.
"You assaulted the complainant without any provocation at all. Even President Mugabe is on record as pleading with the people to refrain from violence.
"We all know that we must respect war veterans but should condemn them where they go astray."
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Daily News
War vets blamed for $26 million loss at Willdale Limited 
1/30/02 9:17:29 AM (GMT +2)
Business Editor
INDIVIDUALS calling themselves war veterans severely disrupted operations at one of the country’s major brick-making concerns, Willdale Limited (Willdale), resulting in a brick stock loss of $26 million, the company said.
The veterans who last year caused havoc to the economy when they were responsible for the closure of about 400 companies, because of poor business and lack of security, also played a major part in Willdale’s below-par performance.
In its results announced yesterday, for the period ending 30 September, 2001, Willdale said: "The company had an extremely difficult year.
"Trading and operating conditions were volatile and often insecure.
"Willdale incurred brick stock losses of $26 million and further fixed asset losses and write-downs of at least $18 million, at historical values, during the year as a direct and indirect result of outside interference.
"This included theft of computer hardware and software and numerous other items of plant and equipment.
"These matters have been reported to the police and, where applicable, the company is pressing for the offenders to be prosecuted."
Willdale said it was now "fully borrowed" and it does "not have cash resources to repay loans, replace certain assets and to procure vital spare parts needed to finalise the commissioning of the new factory".
"In these circumstances, and subject to the effects of price control and land acquisition notices, your board continues to seek stakeholder agreement on an appropriate restructuring exercise that will ease the interest burden, release sufficient working capital and provide a stable capital base from which Willdale can clear its present debt burden from future operating cash flows," Willdale told shareholders yesterday.
"Given a timeous restructuring, the board remains confident of the company’s future success, should normal trading conditions return.
"Willdale was forecast to return to profitability during 2002. However, the introduction of price control regulations subsequent to the financial year-end, renders that forecast baseless."
The Minister of Industry and International Trade, Dr Herbert Murerwa, taking the cue from his counterpart at Finance and Economic Development, Dr Simba Makoni, last year introduced price controls on various commodities, including bricks.
The minister said this would go a "long way to enable citizens to build and own their properties".
Willdale said the price controls had reduced prices by more than 40 percent, rendering "all lines unprofitable on a post-financial basis".
"The position is obviously unsustainable and negotiations are continuing with the authorities to set the price of bricks at more realistic levels," Willdale said, yesterday.
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Daily News - Leader Page
Destroying freedom in the name of the people 
1/30/02 9:08:44 AM (GMT +2)

Probably the most invidious deceit in Zimbabwe since Zanu PF came to power has been its invocation of the people each time it has seen fit to embark on an outrage in pursuit of its endless self-interest. All manner of cruelty, calumny and kleptomania have been committed in the name of the people.
Everybody knows that, despite the heavy toll in the form of lost lives and destruction of infrastructure during our internecine war that led to a new political dispensation, now sadly turned into a nightmare, this country was nevertheless considered the jewel of Africa at independence.
We had a highly literate populace by Third World standards, well developed communication systems and a manufacturing industrial base second only to that of South Africa in the sub-continent.
But, deceptively claiming to be doing it in the interest of the people, to create that utopia called egalitarian society, the Zanu PF government opted for a command economy and, in the process, dragged the country along a path that led to only one destination: economic ruin for the country and obscene wealth for those in power.
Even when everyone else, including the Russians, the archetypal exponents of communism, were abandoning that ideology, President Mugabe was busy declaring himself the most faithful "disciple" of the Marxist-Leninist philosophy. That declaration was made during a visit to Uganda before Yoweri Museveni was ditched, in true Big Brother fashion, as a traitor now supposedly supping with the ogre that Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC are said to be.
It was only when the government realised that it was heading for a balance of payments cul-de-sac that it abandoned its command economy in favour of a free market economy and trade liberalisation, which was the International Monetary Fund and World Bank’s sine qua non for financial aid to Zimbabwe.
But nothing has ever ­ and probably never will ­ expose Zanu PF’s deceit as clearly as its current battle cry: "People first".
In the name of the people they have destroyed agriculture and, in the process, the party is starving those very people it purports to be putting first.
In the name of the people, Zanu PF has almost totally destroyed the country’s entire mining, manufacturing and tourism industries.
The direct effect of that has been record high unemployment and abject poverty.
It must be seen as the height of cruelty and heartlessness that the ruling party should now be so shamelessly and openly exploiting that plight.
This the party is doing through offering the hordes of jobless youths unlimited alcohol and niggardly stipends in exchange for terrorising their parents and other elders whose consciences will not allow them to support Zanu PF’s insane policies.
Nothing that Zanu PF is doing supports the claim that it is putting people first, particularly in all those draconian Bills it has been railroading through Parliament over the past few weeks.
One of the main objectives of the fight for independence was to create a society free of any form of legalised discrimination; a society which was colour-blind; a society in which there was complete justice, freedom and total equality before the law.
But the recent laws and other arbitrary injunctions made possible by the use of the Presidential Powers Act have had the effect of making ours a society where there is no freedom, no justice, no equality before the law and where only supporters of Zanu PF are safe.
Zanu PF says that the MDC is hell-bent on reversing the gains of our hard-won independence.
But the truth is that what the ruling party has been doing over the past two years is what has reversed all the gains of our independence.
The President is even trying to kill democracy by blocking all democratic processes using his special powers, proved time and again to be ultra vires the Constitution, as he is attempting to do with the Harare council elections which the courts have ordered held by 11 February.
Where is government going to contest the ruling ­ without triggering a constitutional crisis ­ when the highest court has ruled the commission illegal?
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Daily News - Leader Page
World must act to prevent bloodbath in Zimbabwe 
1/30/02 9:10:17 AM (GMT +2)
By Keith Martin
WHILE the world’s attention is focused on Afghanistan, Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has been inflicting a campaign of terror on his country.
Although portrayed as a conflict over redistribution of land from a few white commercial farmers to the landless black majority, nothing could be further from the truth.
Mugabe has been blaming whites for the country’s devastated economy and social ills. He has been violating them accordingly, their suffering hitting the international Press.
But the real target of Mugabe’s brutality is the rural black population.
For the first time in his 21-year history as leader of the country, Mugabe and his Zanu PF party are faced with the strong possibility of losing the March presidential election. Fed up with the State-sponsored violence, corruption and gross violations of their basic human rights, the general population has finally mobilised into a new opposition party, the MDC, led by the young, dynamic Morgan Tsvangirai.
Fearful of losing his grip on power, Mugabe has unleashed a campaign of terror on his fellow countrymen.
Earlier this year he threatened and intimidated three Supreme Court judges, forcing them to step down, and appointed his own lackeys to replace them.
This has enabled him to write the laws of the land as he sees fit ­ or to ignore them. With the police and army firmly under his thumb, he has sanctioned rapes, beatings and arson to maintain his hold on power.
Of course, none of this is surprising to anyone who has watched the President operate. After he gained power in 1980, Mugabe ordered his North Korea-trained 5 Brigade to murder 16 000 civilians of the minority Ndebele tribe in western Zimbabwe, an act of violence intended to consolidate his power that the international community simply ignored.
Recently I met with dozens of black farm workers in rural Zimbabwe.
It was de javu listening to their chilling accounts of being beaten, raped, having their homes pillaged and their crops destroyed.
The perpetrators, who are mainly referred to as "war veterans" in the Press, are really thugs hired by the ruling party to terrorise the population.
Witness after witness told of extreme violence meted out by these gangs, committed in full view of the police, who have been ordered by the government not to interfere.
The objective of this exercise is not to redistribute land, but to intimidate the farm workers into voting for the ruling party or not at all.
Many flee their farms, which are either taken over by supporters of Mugabe or left derelict.
The animals are slaughtered. Deforestation follows. Top soil is lost, the farms are rendered useless.
Beyond losing their land, livelihood and possessions, the rural black majority face starvation as the war veterans have forbidden their planting of new crops.
Mugabe’s henchmen have also forced rural people to attend political rallies in support of the ruling party.
Those who resist, or who are suspected of being opposition supporters, are often beaten or murdered.
To further hide this State-sponsored violence, Mugabe has banned foreign journalists from his country and has been intimidating the independent Press.
The State-controlled Herald newspaper spews out violent, anti-white and anti-opposition rhetoric, a dangerous precursor to mass violence.
Zimbabwe is caught in a deadly downward spiral. Given the President’s murderous history, there is little doubt the killings will escalate and could number in the tens of thousands.
Mugabe, says an editor of a leading independent Zimbabwe newspaper, "will listen to no one".
Thus, if we do not want Zimbabwe to implode like so many African countries before it, the international community must act quickly and firmly.
We must insist that:
* The election monitors that Mugabe agreed to have in the country have immediate access to all regions of Zimbabwe.
* There is an immediate return to the rule of law and that land reform takes place according to the Abuja Agreement to which Zimbabwe agreed in September.
* All farm invaders must be immediately removed.
If the government of Zimbabwe does not comply with these stipulations, the following sanctions must be applied:
* The personal assets of Mugabe and his administration must be frozen
* An international travel ban must be placed on Mugabe and his ministers
* Zimbabwe should be suspended from the Commonwealth.
* An arms embargo should be imposed on the country.
The only hope for preventing a slaughter in Zimbabwe is if the international community stands firm in its demands and has the courage to implement punitive measures if those demands are not met.
We cannot soft-pedal this issue, or compromise on the rule of law and the upholding of basic human rights.
If we do, Mugabe will take full advantage of our indecision.
If we fail to act, many thousands of innocent lives will be lost.
We saw what happened in Rwanda. Will we allow a similar tragedy to unfold in Zimbabwe?
* Keith Martin is the Member of Parliament for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca in Canada.
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Zimbabwe journalists arrested, eye on media bill  
HARARE, Jan. 30 — Zimbabwean police arrested three local journalists on Wednesday as the parliamentary legal committee forged a revised media bill that is unlikely to halt criticism that it will curb a free press. 
 The reporters were arrested outside parliament after riot police broke up a media protest against the legislation which seeks to impose tight controls on local and foreign media.
       Critics say the measure aims to suppress criticism of President Robert Mugabe in the run-up to March elections in which he faces the strongest threat to his 22-year rule.
       The draft bill met with stiff resistance from some sectors within the ruling ZANU-PF party, but the revised version appeared little changed.
       The draft bill is part of a raft of legislation that has drawn international condemnation, including the threat of European Union sanctions.
       But Commonwealth foreign ministers meeting in London ignored British calls for Zimbabwe's immediate suspension from the 54-nation organisation.
       The eight-member Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), the organisation's democracy watchdog, said after a day of talks in London that it ''expressed its deep concern over the continued violence, political intimidation and actions against the freedom and independence of the media.''
       CMAG demanded an immediate end to ''violence and intimidation'' and called for all parties in the March elections to be allowed to campaign freely.
       Speaking before the meeting, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw had said he wanted Zimbabwe's immediate suspension from the Commonwealth's main decision-making bodies.
       ZANU-PF convened a special caucus meeting on Wednesday to press members to close ranks and ensure the bill's passage after weeks of delay due to internal wrangling.
       On Tuesday, parliament's legal committee, which is dominated by ZANU-PF, slammed the media bill as a threat to free speech and said it gave the government ''frightening powers'' to control the press ahead of the March 9-10 polls.
       Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa told parliament on Wednesday that a revised version had been forged after he met the legal committee on Wednesday.
       ''I'm pleased to report to the house that I had a very fruitful discussion with the parliamentary legal committee. We agreed on the amendments to be made to the bill,'' he said.
       The committee would study the new bill and issue a new report before it went before parliament for debate on Thursday, Chinamas said.
       He urged MPs to attend Thursday's session because he wanted all outstanding bills to be finalised to clear the way for the election campaign to begin.
       A copy of the revised Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Bill obtained by Reuters appears little changed from the previous version and would still restrict access for foreign reporters and force local journalists to get yearly accreditation from a state commission.
       Reporters could face prison terms for breaking media regulations.
       Police confirmed that three journalists working for independent Zimbabwean newspapers had been arrested and could be charged for unlawful protest under a new security act signed into law by Mugabe earlier this month.
       The three were among 40 journalists who marched outside parliament, waving placards saying: ''Zimbabwe is a free country. We don't need laws that remind us of the days of Rhodesia.''
       The Public Order and Security Act outlaws criticism of the president and gives police sweeping powers to ensure order.
       Parliament has also passed electoral amendments which ban independent election monitors and deny voting rights to millions of Zimbabweans abroad.
       ZANU-PF controls 93 of the 150 seats in parliament, but it has struggled to push the media bill through in the face of opposition within the party.
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Woman hides family in church fearing deportation to Zimbabwe
A woman and her 10-year-old son have sought refuge from immigration officials in a Montreal church.
She says she would prefer a Canadian jail to a death squad at home in Zimbabwe.
Immigration officials ordered Dorothy Dube, her son Basil, and her 18-year-old niece Nompilo Ncube, to meet them at Dorval airport.
Instead, Dube and her family sought asylum from Reverend Darryl Gray at the Union United Church.
"If I go back, I'm going to die," said Dorothy Dube, upon hearing that her family had been refused refugee status. "At least here it's only prison."
Ncube said she was raped by Zimbabwean government thugs, and Dube said she faces death for political dissent.
Dube said she could not understand how Canada could deport refugees to Zimbabwe in the face of confirmed reports of torture, beatings and political killings.
"Canadians were born free; they don't understand the terror we face at home," Dube said. "I'm sick with stress."
Supporters are appealing to Immigration Minister Denis Coderre to halt the deportation, said Gray, whose church will be providing food and shelter.
"We simply want justice. We don't believe the family got a fair hearing," he said.
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Southern African ministers gather in Zimbabwe  
HARARE, Jan. 30 — Southern African foreign ministers were gathering in Zimbabwe on Wednesday for a two-day meeting to discuss the often violent land grabs which have sparked a political crisis ahead of an election in March. 
With President Robert Mugabe facing intense international criticism, ministers from neighbouring countries were expected to review compliance with the Abuja Agreement, a deal brokered by Nigeria under which Harare pledged to end the seizure of white-owned farms in return for funding for orderly land reform.
       Farmers accuse Mugabe of largely ignoring the deal.
       ''We don't know what the agenda is yet but the meeting is likely to be about Abuja,'' a Zimbabwean foreign ministry official said. It was not clear when the meeting would start.
       Earlier this month, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo warned that the land deal risked collapse.
       The Southern African Development Community's (SADC) task force on Zimbabwe includes the foreign ministers of Mozambique, Malawi, Angola, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.
       South Africa, the strongest regional power, is increasingly concerned about instability in Zimbabwe. Nine white farmers have died and scores of black farm workers have been assaulted in attacks by pro-government militants in the past two years.
       Mugabe, who insists his government is respecting the accord, says some 4,500 white farmers occupy 70 percent of Zimbabwe's best farmland. He wants to forcibly acquire at least 8.3 million hectares of the 12 million in white hands.
       The farm violence has run alongside political clashes ahead of presidential elections on March 9-10. Mugabe, who turns 78 next month, faces his stiffest challenge since coming to power on independence from Britain 22 years ago.
       The land campaign and pre-election violence has drawn harsh international condemnation, including the threat of sanctions.
       In London on Wednesday, Britain urged the Commonwealth to suspend Zimbabwe. South African President Thabo Mbeki said this month ''the instability has gone on for far too long.''
       Also on Wednesday, a day after Mbeki had met South African business, religious and labour leaders, his office said in a statement: ''The meeting agreed that South Africa should do everything possible to ensure that the elections take place in a peaceful environment and that they are free and fair.''
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Presidential Elections Cause Anxiety in Tourism Sector

The Insider (Harare)
January 30, 2002
Posted to the web January 30, 2002
Staff Writer
The tourism industry which had started gaining momentum following the solar eclipse of June last year was shattered by the September 11 attacks in the United States. It is once again on a standstill until the presidential elections in March.
According to the Rainbow Tourism Group, now one of the leading hotel operators in the country, the presidential elections have caused anxiety, which will hopefully dissipate after the elections.
It says many stakeholders in the tourism industry will only finalise their business strategies for the year after the elections. In its report for the year ending December, the hotel group had excellent results turning around from a loss of $45.4 million to a profit of $85.3 million.
It says its success was largely due to its strategic alliances. The hotel division is under the management of Group Accor of France. Rainbow Hotels are therefore featured on Accor's extensive electronic distribution system which was recently upgraded at a cost of US$200 million. Sheraton Harare is managed by Starwood Hotels of the United States of America while Tourism Services Zimbabwe and Touch the Wild Lodges and Safaris are managed by IBL of Mauritius.
According to its results, the company says sales were up by 71 percent from $759.2 million to $1.3 billion. The company had an operating profit of $83.4 million against a loss of $121.1 million last year. But while last year's loss was reduced because of the company's investments which earned $75.3 million in interest, this year's interest was down to only $3.2 million.
The company says this was due to lower cash balances it held after the expansion of the Rainbow Hotel in Victoria Falls and the low interest rates in the market. Its cash resources were down from $46 million to $39 million. The company also paid $6 million for a voluntary retirement scheme, down from $32 million the previous year.
RTG says problems which had affected tourism for the past two years continued to persist. These included inconsistent fuel supplies for most of the year. This led to loss of confidence to domestic and regional self-drive markets. The controversy surrounding the land redistribution and a growing perception that Zimbabwe was not a safe destination also affected the industry. It was also adversely affected by persistent negative publicity about Zimbabwe, the reduction in direct international flights and the September 11 attacks.
RTG says the solar eclipse of June was a major boost to the industry attracting some 20 000 tourists. Most of those who came to the country stayed for up to two weeks. The tourists, it says, where highly impressed by the quality of the country's tourist products as well as by the warmth and hospitality of the people of Zimbabwe.
Sadly, this recovery was cut short by the September 11 attacks in the United States which reports say resulted in world tourism declining by 30 percent. Tourism Services Zimbabwe, a division of the hotel group which relies on international business, had cancellations of about 40 percent following the attacks. Average occupancies for the hotel group were 45 percent, a major improvement on 30 percent in 2000 but still below the 65 percent of 1999.
The company says it had therefore cut its staff by 50 percent in the two years, with 40 percent of the staff having been laid off in 2000. It postponed the Accor branding exercise with the exception of the Mercure A'Zambezi. It also negotiated various concessions with its strategic partners and added 42 rooms to the Rainbow Hotel in Victoria Falls. It says this investment should payback in four years.
The company also shifted its marketing efforts to new markets in the Far East and Francophone countries. It also focussed on domestic and regional markets following the US attacks. Though things are at a standstill until the presidential elections, RTG says another solar eclipse, this time in December, should provide another boost to the industry.
It says last year's experience has given the industry a base from which to plan, and since this year's eclipse is linked to South Africa, it should give greater exposure to Zimbabwe.

The Maize Puzzle
The Insider (Harare)
January 30, 2002
Posted to the web January 30, 2002
Staff Writer
Do we, or don't we, have maize? That is the question that has been vexing people's minds for more than nine months, and continues to hound them, as people now stampede for maize while the state continues to assure them, through its daily newspapers, that there is enough maize.
The issue of maize, the country's staple, like that of agricultural production in general, has become a highly political issue because of the country's controversial land reform programme.
Critics of the programme are blaming the current shortage on the land reform programme; saying production on commercial farms was disrupted by farm invasions led by war veterans.
The government blames it on natural disasters like, drought, erratic rainfall and floods caused by Cyclone Eline, or on hoarding by those who would like to see President Robert Mugabe defeated in the presidential elections scheduled for March.
Newspapers are currently running stories about consignments of maize that have been seized either at commercial farms or warehouses. More than 36 000 tonnes had been seized so far. The farmers whose maize was seized denied that they were hoarding the maize claiming that it was stockfeed.
"I told them that the grain is for my stock and the men who work here and their families," one farmer was quoted as saying. "I told them that now I'll have to slaughter my pigs because I've got nothing to feed them. But they took it just the same. And why not? If you don't have enough food to feed people, then it's better to take it from the animals."
Those allegedly hoarding maize in urban areas said it was for their normal production purposes, or as one Bulawayo company said, they were just keeping it for a church organisation.
The fact remains that the country does not have enough maize. The government, which had argued for more than six months that there was no need to import maize, and only admitted in November that there was a need, is now importing 150 000 tonnes from South Africa, which it says is enough to meet the country's needs until the next harvest.
Once again observers believe this is an understatement. The World Food Programme, a United Nations body, which has come to the rescue and has bought 57 000 tonnes of maize from South Africa for distribution to the starving people, says some 500 000 Zimbabweans are facing a serious food shortage. It says the 150 000 tonnes is not enough . The country will have to import another 200 000 tonnes by April.
But while the politics goes on, people already reeling from inflation of 112 percent, are now being forced to buy maize at three times the official price. According to the Bulawayo daily, Chronicle, people in the city, for example, were now buying maize meal for $300 a 5 kg bag instead of $121.11. They were paying $700 for a 10kg bag, instead of the official $248.05. Those in the rural areas were paying $2 250 for a 50kg bag instead of $1 166.48.
The United States Aid Agency's Famine Early Warning System (FEWS) says the Grain Marketing Board, which has the monopoly to buy and sell maize should seriously consider selling maize in 25 kg packs, instead of the 50 kg bags, to ensure availability among poor consumers because larger volumes are more difficult for the poor consumers to afford.
It also says there is need to review the policy of having the GMB as the sole maize trader because it has disadvantaged some communal farmers who used to get better prices and inputs at the farm gate from private traders. It says the $15 000 a tonne pre-panting price alone may not be a good enough incentive for farmers to increase production.

Gold Output Down By 19 Percent
The Insider (Harare)
January 30, 2002
Staff Writer
Zimbabwe's gold production fell by 19 percent to 18 tonnes last year and there are indications that output could further decline this year unless there is a turnaround in the country's economic policies. Production by Rio Tinto, one of the country's largest producers dropped by 3 000 ounces last year.
This was a commendable effort since the company had closed its Cam Dump Processing mid-year resulting in a loss of about 4 000 ounces. The Cam dump produced 8 445 ounces in 2000 when it operated for the full year. This fell to 4 606 ounces last year.
Production at its flagship, Renco in Masvingo, more than compensated for the closure of Cam and the drop in production at Patchway. It increased from 46 573 ounces in 2000 to 50 434 ounces last year, while that at Patchway dropped from 15 419 ounces to 12 398 ounces. Total production dropped from 70 438 ounces to 67 437 ounces.
Nickel production also declined slightly from 6 935 tonnes to 6 635 tonnes. Falcon Gold, which was rescued by the government last year when it introduced a new support price, says it may be forced to close down again in April. No one expects anything to change until after the presidential elections in March.
Falcon made a loss of $35.7 million during its financial year ending September. It said although it had survived largely because of the new government measures, there was a need to review the package. It said it had made recommendations to the government asking for a retention of 100 percent of the gold receipts. Companies only retained 20 percent at the time. This has since been increased to 40 percent.
It also said its losses had been compounded by shortages of power, fuel and mining supplies. During the period leading up to the elections, the government has ensured adequate supplies of power and fuel. There were sporadic shortages of petrol rather than diesel.

Commonwealth rejects Zimbabwe suspension call  
LONDON, Jan. 30 — Commonwealth foreign ministers expressed deep concern over President Robert Mugabe's crackdown on opponents in Zimbabwe on Wednesday but ignored a British call for its immediate suspension from the 54-nation organisation
The eight-member Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, the organisation's democracy watchdog, said after a day of talks in London that it ''expressed its deep concern over the continued violence, political intimidation and actions against the freedom and independence of the media.''
       CMAG demanded an immediate end to the ''violence and intimidation'' in Zimbabwe and called for all parties in the March presidential elections to be allowed to campaign freely.
       The group said it would draw up as yet unspecified recommendations to Commomwealth leaders on the eve of their summit meeting from March 2-5 in Australia.
       Speaking before the meeting, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said he would seek Zimbabwe's immediate suspension

From an old farming family in Zim.
"As things speed up towards the elections, so does lawlessness and "free will". The telephone cables for our lines were stolen the night before last! This is an ongoing exercise at the moment, and some lines have been stolen three or four times! The engineers cannot keep up!
Yesterday we were visited by officals from the Min of Lands to tell us that they are pegging this farm for A2 Resettlement. G. asked them about the 2000 ha of land they have taken from us at Headlands and whether they have finished pegging and allocating that! 'Oh, no! they have been told to come here because the A2 settlers want to be closer to a town for their weekend farming.' They want to peg the area where we have 50 ha of tassling maize! They left eventually after leaving all the gates were left open and all our pedigree breeding herds were mixed up! If they do this it will mean the end of the pedigrees, and even Mr M. will have to go to the Butcher! We will not have the space to separate the small breeding herds for selective breeding. So who cares?"

Interesting comment taken from a newsgroup.

Vic Falls, of course, has not been affected nearly as badly as the rest of
Zim.  Nevertheless, even there, the situation is very sad indeed.
First and foremost, Vic Falls remains a safe and pleasant destination,
thanks to the inherent decency of the ordinary Zimbabweans one encounters.
Despite the desperate economic situation, with unemployment exceeding
employment by far, this is not used as an excuse to turn to crime.  This is
a lesson that South Africans, including and especially Sabsy, might take
note of (not suggesting that Sabsy is a criminal of course, but he is all
too ready to make excuses for those who turn to crime.)
The greatest discomfort incurred by visitors is the desperate touting for
business, with literally hundreds of people mobbing you everywhere you go,
desperate to sell anything from curios to bottles of water, or to steer you
to a place where you can change money.  This becomes a nuisance, but one
must just grin and bear it, remembering that we are in a far more fortunate
situation than they are.
There is quite a lot of security, so crime isn't a very good option anyway.
Most of the security is private.  The ZRP have a couple of guys hanging
around Falls Gate, whose main purpose seems to be to scare off the touts and
thereby give the tourists a bit of peace.
In all the years I have been going to Zimbabwe, I have NEVER found Vic Falls
so empty - even during the height of the guerilla war, when incidents like
the burning of Elephant Hills and the shooting of the Candadian girls  took
The flights to Vic Falls, coming and going, were less than a third full.
The hotel parking lots were pretty well empty.  Entire sections of the
famous Vic Falls Hotel are currently "decommissioned" (electricity and water
turned off, and rooms mothballed until better times come again.)  The
Elephant Hills Hotel is closed.  It suffered a fire about nine months ago,
and business just doesn't justify rushing to repair and reopen.
It is all very sad.  One is reminded of a shopkeeper who, full of optimism,
sets out his wares, opens up for business, and then finds that nobody comes
into his shop.
The currency situation is a shambles.  There has always been a black market
in Zim, but it really was a "black market" in the sense that it was very
much underground, and the average visitor stuck to both the rules and the
official rates of exchange.
However, in just a few months, things have changed dramatically.  Prices
have gone through the roof, and if you change your money into Zimdollars at
the official rate, your purchases will prove ridiculously expensive.
For example, dinner in the Livingstone Room at Vic Falls Hotel is now
ZW$3500.  Assuming you don't dine alone, you are in for ZW$7000 for two.
Chuck in a bottle of local wine at ZW850, and you are looking at ZW$7850.
Bang on a tip to round it off to a neat ZW9000.
If you pay this on your credit card, the Zimbabwean bank will convert this
to your "home" currency at the official rate.  So, if you are South African,
you will find a bill of R1636 waiting for you.
That is about FOUR times the cost of equivalent dining in South Africa.
If you are British, you will get home to a credit card statement reflecting
a cost of UKL115, which mightn't be so shocking for a Brit - but you really
don't expect to pay British prices in a country like Zimbabwe where the
overheads are all incurred in local currency and the guys who are preparing
and serving the meal are paid a pittance.
If you are American, you credit card bill for such a meal will be US$164.
Of course, you could go next door to the Kingdom Hotel, where you will find
a franchised Spur Steakhouse and a Panarottis Pizza joint.  Here you can get
a burger or a pizza for a mere ZW$750 or thereabouts.  Use your credit card,
and the cost of your burger or pizza will be R136 if you are South African,
and ten quid or fourteen dollars if you are British or American.  (The
equivalent burger or pizza in South Africa will cost you around twenty-five
Rand, one pound fifty, or two and a bit US dollars).
Things get worse.  The famous helicopter trip over the falls will cost you -
if you use your credit card - ZW$20500, if you take the shortest option, or
ZW41000 if you take the half hour flight.  The half hour flight (which in my
opinion is the only one worth taking) will turn up on your credit card bill
at a cool R7454 if you are South African, 525 pounds if you are British, or
745 dollars if you are American.  The equivalent half hour helicopter trip
in Cape Town would cost you less than one tenth of this price.
Clearly, things have gone way out of reach of ordinary law-abiding, mortals.
The only way to visit Victoria Falls and survive financially is to go with
the "system", which means that EVERYBODY is now obliged to dabble in the
black market.
Indeed, the black market has now completely superseded the official market.
I am not going to go into any details as to how things actually work.
People visiting must make their own enquiries, but it doesn't take much
initiative to find out how best to handle things.
However, one does need to know one thing before setting foot in Zimbabwe:
take lots of hard currency (preferably Pounds, USD, Euros or SA Rand), and
don't even THINK about using your credit card.  (Heh, heh, heh, would you
believe that -relative to the Zimdollar, the SA Rand is considered a hard
If you have hard currency, the helicopter trip will cost you USD75 for the
short trip, or USD150 for the half hour flight.  That's a lot more feasible.
There has been an important change to the law.  Until recently, the law
required that accommodation be paid in foreign currency, but you could still
pay the "extras" portion of your hotel account in Zimdollars (i.e. meals,
phone bill, laundry, tips).
The new law is that the whole account must be paid in foreign currency.  In
practice, you can still use Zimdollars IF you can show receipts to prove
that you purchased the Zimdollars with forex.
So, don't let any charges get as far as your hotel account.  Arm yourself
with Zimdollars and pay cash for your drinks and meals.
Some places will take foreign currency over the counter, but then make sure
that they are going to give you a decent rate.
In summary, I got the feeling that Zim is nearing the end of an era.  I
doubt that an economic implosion can be avoided.  If there is a change of
president, it will be too little, too late.  The prospects of an entire
generation have been destroyed, and probably those of the next generation as
Obviously, something will arise from the ashes, in the form of businesses,
mines and farms that manage to survive.  However, these will be able to
accommodate only a fraction of Zimbabweans, the majority will find
themselves left out of the mainstream economy, as is the case in the rest of
So the Machels, the Nkrumahs, the Kaundas have won.  They have eradicated
colonialism and all the progress that went with it.  In so doing they have
proved the Verwoerds and the Ian Smiths right.  Verwoerd must be laughing in
his grave.  Ian Smith, who is not the same kind of guy, will not be smiling.
However wrong he might have been in his methods, he never wished this kind
of fate upon the people of Zimbabwe, black or white.  Nor can he be held
responsible.  The fault lies entirely with those who succeeded him.  They
had every chance in the world, and they fucked it up.
After the whole debacle, I have not changed my views.  I still believe that
Africa DOES have the people with talent enough to run a country.  However,
given the nature of the masses, the one man one vote system of choice is
clearly not the way to bring this talent to the fore.  On the contrary, the
one man one vote system of choice drives the talented people OUT of
politics, and very often out of the country as well, and puts the
incompetents, and the criminals, into positions of power.
Zimbabwe as it is today is the result.


From Reporters Sans Frontieres (Paris), 29 January

RSF banned from Harare

Paris - Reporters Sans Frontieres (Reporters without Borders - RSF) denounces the refusal opposed at the embassy of Zimbabwe in Paris as one of its representatives was asking for a visa. "That refusal proves that Zimbabwean authorities still have things to hide and they would do everything to prevent that we know more about what is happening in the country", asserted Robert Menard, general secretary of RSF. "The government promised it would authorise foreign observers and journalists to come. These are obviously lies designed to reassure the European Union" he added. On 29 January 2002, two representatives of the embassy of Zimbabwe in Paris received the head of RSF's bureau for Africa and announced their refusal to grant him a visa. "Your articles are too critical and you have called for sanctions against our country", explained the employees of the embassy. They added they had received instructions from Harare to ban RSF journalists from entering the Zimbabwean territory. RSF wished to go to Zimbabwe, at the end of February, to cover the election campaign and assess the situation of press liberty in the country. The organisation reminds that in 2001, Zimbabwe has become one of the most repressive countries over the whole African continent in terms of information liberty. Twenty local journalists were questioned and three correspondents for the foreign press were expelled from the country. Robert Mugabe, president of the Republic, belongs to the list drafted by RSF of press freedom predators throughout the world.

From OneWorld Africa, 29 January

Women forge ahead with Zimbabwean poll campaign as EU sets sanctions deadline

A women's caucus of Zimbabwe's leading opposition party plans to continue a clandestine campaign of door-to-door canvassing as the European Union (EU) Monday set an enforceable deadline for full access to be granted to international observers before the country's March presidential election. The leader of the Women's Assembly of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Lucia Matibenga, welcomed the unanimous agreement last night by EU foreign ministers that sanctions will be "targeted" against 20 top Zimbabwean officials, including President Robert Mugabe and his family, unless election monitors are given access to the country next weekend. But, she said, even if threats to impose a travel ban, an assets freeze, and an arms embargo lead to the presence of monitors for the March 9-10 elections, this will not fully guarantee that members of her party are able to campaign openly and without fear of violence. "Targeted sanctions will not mean that we can campaign freely," warned Matibenga. "But at least they give us hope that the international community is not just watching but acting.

Opposition canvassers have resorted to underground tactics to get their message out amid a climate of intimidation which, according to human rights and democracy groups, has come not only from activists of the ruling Zanu PF party, but also in the wake of a government clampdown on public meetings and new curbs on the public display of election materials. Political harassment and violence have reached such intensity that United States-based Human Rights Watch has called for ministers of the Commonwealth, meeting in London Wednesday, to consider suspending Zimbabwe from the 54-nation organization whose principles on respect for human rights and the rule of law are laid out in a declaration agreed in the Zimbabwean capital Harare in 1991. Members of the MDC women's assembly, however, have pledged to continue using innovative tactics to reach women, who make up just over half of registered voters, and especially those in rural areas where two-thirds of the country's population lives and which are set to be the key election battlegrounds. They have been using knitting and crocheting circles as a forum in which to explain party policies and urge women to exercise their right to vote, despite fears of violence and rigging. "This is a really effective way of campaigning," says Matibenga. "Women are not so visible, they move around, chit-chatting in an ordinary way, and so far they have not been harassed."

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