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

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The Royal Gazette

Yes, Mugabe will get his just deserts in the end but land ownership is the
core issue



ON some levels, it would seem, Mr. Bill Cook and I share the same world
view. For instance, I have read some of his opinions on the
Israeli/Palestinian conflict on the Letters to the Editor page and largely
concur with him.
In addition, I believe that he is referred to as "The Irishman" on the talk
radio circuit and has spoken most eloquently on the same issue. However, if
he Mr. Cook is indeed an Irishman, then I am perplexed as to why he would
express doubts as to the benefits of sovereignty – the right of a people to
rule and govern themselves.
After all, which people have had a more glorious history of resisting
British colonialism and finally winning Independence (at least in Eire) than
the Irish? Why didn't they just accept defeat like the Scots and the Welsh
and allow themselves to be absorbed into the United Kingdom with its Anglo
head? Isn't the real issue in Northern Ireland not religion at all but the
question of a united Ireland, an Independent Irish nation on all of the
It is true that Robert Mugabe was once an African hero in my eyes having
done away with the boast of Ian Smith that black majority rule would never
come to pass in the former Rhodesia "in a thousand years".
But I am not one who will close my eyes to what I can plainly see. I would
refer Mr. Cook to a Commentary I wrote in the aftermath of the last election
in Zimbabwe (Mid-Ocean News, March 22, 2002). To make clear how I feel about
some aspects of the historical development of post-Independence Africa, I
made the following statement concerning African leaders who have "betrayed
the great dream of African Independence and self-determination with their
plundering of the continent's natural resources and their brutal misrule; I
would gladly stand by the side of Saint Peter and be a witness as they are
consigned to the hottest part of Hades."
But in regard to Mr. Cook's recent letter to the Mid-Ocean News on
Zimbabwe's post-Independence dictatorship, I would like to freshen his
memory on the history of struggle of the African peoples of Zimbabwe.
Chimurenga is a Shona word for "struggle" that had its political origins in
the uprisings of the 1890s when African peoples fought to prevent white
settlers coming from South Africa into what was then Rhodesia and taking
over their lands. They were sent north across the Limpopo River by the
then-British South African Company headed by that chief colonialist Cecil
Rhodes, after whom white-ruled Rhodesia would be named.
For more than 70 years after the defeat of the first African uprising this
question of land and the dispossession of African people by white settlers
would be the central issue in Rhodesian (and then Zimbabwean) affairs. It
was why they fought in the 1890s in the first Chimurenga war; it was why
they fought in the 1960s and 1970s.
THE whites divided the country up to their benefit, declaring the most
fertile areas as European-designated areas; which meant that Africans could
neither buy nor settle in any parts of them. All major roads, railways and
cities and towns also fell with in so-called white designated areas.
Meanwhile the Africans were consigned to so-called African designated
areas – increasingly overcrowded areas which quickly lost their fertility
through overuse and the crush of population.
As a result African farmers increasingly found themselves as farm workers,
forced to find employment on white-owned farms.
So let's be truthful as to why the white population became dominant farmers
and owners of the best lands. It was part and parcel of the colonial legacy
that was designed to give the settler population the advantage while the
African was denied the same benefits.
In addition the white farmer was given access to cheap farm loans,
government help to develop their farms and laws to protect them from
potential African competition. Is it any wonder they would be in the best
position to develop their land while the African found himself landless? Of
course, to change this state of affairs would mean a major change of
Zimbabwe's economy, a disruption of that once thriving economy. But look at
the situation another way: would Britain, say, accept that its industrial
and manufacturing base, its farming industry, should be dominated by an
immigrant population which gained its position of strength through an
imposed colonial legacy? I don't think so. Just look how London views the
prospect of thousands of migrant workers crossing its borders to take even
the most menial jobs.
Even if Robert Mugabe were not there, the issue of the right to the land
would still be a point of conflict.
On the question of Matabeleland, yes, a potential revolt was brutally put
down by Mugabe. But the situation was far more complex than Mr. Cook would
have us believe.
At the centre of the conflict was the political rivalry between Robert
Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo, each with his respective tribal base and with two
different guerrilla armies fighting to overthrow the Smith regime.
JUST like in the uprising in the 1890s, the Shona and the Ndebele peoples
came together to fight a common enemy. In the second war which led to the
independent state of Zimbabwe, Nkomo and Mugabe formed the Patriotic Front
which saw the two political groups – Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National
Union (ZANU) and Nkomo's The Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) together
with their guerrilla armies – unite against Ian Smith's Rhodesian government
and its army.
But, of course, the political rivalry between Mugabe and Nkomo over who was
going to lead the Independent state never quite went away and resulted in
the sharp, short conflict in Matabeland. Now the contexts in which this
conflict took place. Its origins lay in the political rivalry between the
two liberation leaders more than the traditional tribal conflict which one
has to consider when looking at Africa.
But, more importantly, the Matabeleland revolt must be viewed in the context
of the total liberation of Southern African region, including
apartheid-ruled South Africa. The apartheid regime was in a desperate
struggle to forestall the day when its own black majority would take power.
To do that, it continued to conduct campaigns of destabilisation in
neighbouring African countries.
This was to prevent South Africa's neighbours from supporting the liberation
struggle within the apartheid state. So South Africa was fighting what it
called a low-key guerrilla war in South West Africa (which would later
become the Independent state of Namibia). It also invaded Angola and
supported an insurgency in Mozambique, which probably resulted in the death
of the country's first president Somora Machel in a mysterious plane crash
near the South African border. Zimbabwe was not going to become another
Angola or Mozambique. So any revolt partially sponsored by South Africa had
to be put down.
Mugabe is no Nelson Mandela and he will get his just deserts in the end. But
that does not invalidate the core issue in Zimbabwe; which is the question
of who owns the land.
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World Socialist Web Site

Zimbabwe on the brink of collapse
By Chris Talbot
3 January 2004
According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Zimbabwe now tops the list of
the world's poorest performing economies. Official figures released in
November's budget gave the decline in Gross Domestic Product in 2003 as 13.2
percent, and predicted a shrinkage of 8.5 percent in 2004.

The level of inflation was officially 620 percent in December, although the
real figure is much higher with foreign currency virtually unobtainable. All
lines of credit have been closed as the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
has begun expulsion procedures after Zimbabwe failed to pay its arrears.

Not only are the people of Zimbabwe hit by widespread poverty and
unemployment-estimated at 70 percent-but also severe food shortages. The
Famine Early Warning System (FEWS) reports that whilst the numbers of people
in rural areas requiring food assistance from October to December 2003 was
4.1 million, it will rise to 5.1 million from January to March of 2004. On
top of this some 1.1 million urban dwellers will be in need of food aid next
year, taking the total to well over half the country's population.

Food handouts in December for 2.6 million people organised by the United
Nations World Food Programme (WFP) were halved as the agency suffered from a
shortage of funds. The WFP's appeal for $311 million last June to cover its
food assistance was short by $161 million, with western donors cutting back
on aid.

For non-food aid the situation is considerably worse. The United Nations
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) noted that "with
crumbling health services, the region has experienced a general decline in
health and human development, and an increase in morbidity and mortality

This is in a country where HIV/AIDS affects up to 30 percent of the
population. Because of AIDS there are now 780,000 orphans in Zimbabwe and
the number is projected to reach 1.1 million by 2005.

Doctors and nurses have been on strike for over two months, unable to live
on their current salaries. It is now common for the cost of travelling to
and from work to take up half of a person's income.

Education has been severely hit with the number of school dropouts up to 10
percent and increasing according to UNICEF. After independence Zimbabwe's
education system expanded and became one of the best in the region, but now
the budget has been cut. School fees next year will be up by 400 percent in
some cases, forcing many more parents to keep their children at home.

A recent survey showed that over the past four years skilled labour has left
Zimbabwe in a "massive brain drain." Thousands of professionals, including
doctors, nurses, teachers, engineers, scientists and financial experts were
leaving to Britain, the United States, Australia, South Africa and Botswana.
There were now more Zimbabwean-born scientists and engineers in the Diaspora
than in the country: "The deteriorating economy in Zimbabwe has forced some
professors, lecturers, medical doctors and scientists to operate minibuses,
taxi cabs or operate beer parlours."

Blair demands regime change

British response towards this catastrophe in Zimbabwe was made clear at the
recent Commonwealth conference when Zimbabwe's continued suspension was
insisted upon. Britain, as the former colonial power, has led the
condemnation of Zimbabwe's regime but it is supported in this by the United
States and other Western powers.

Prime Minister Tony Blair told parliament, Zimbabwe's pariah status would
continue until the regime of President Robert Mugabe was ousted. He insisted
that South Africa and the other southern African countries in the region
would have to assist in "regime change" or the economy of Zimbabwe would be
allowed to spiral downwards, dragging the whole region with it. "I only hope
that people understand that the state of things in Zimbabwe is so bad that
in the end the impact will be felt in the entire region, and that the best
way of dealing with things is to realise that until that regime is changed
the situation will continue."

Blair argued the IMF and World Bank line that African regimes had only to
develop "good governance" to halt the continent's economic decline. In
excluding Zimbabwe the Commonwealth was giving a "signal" to developing
countries. Improvement in "governance", Blair repeated several times, was
the prerequisite for aid, development assistance and debt reduction.
Zimbabwe's rigged presidential elections and repressive measures against
political opponents were raised as the main problem.

Millions of African people, hit by rising levels of poverty, famine and the
AIDS pandemic, are fully aware that Blair's policy of "good governance" has
brought nothing but disaster. African countries that have followed western
diktat, removing long standing leaders and holding multiparty
elections-Blair gave Ghana and Kenya as examples that Zimbabwe should
follow-have failed to see any debt reduction and increased aid levels in
response. All have seen levels of poverty rise during the last decade,
though not as rapidly as Zimbabwe.

Blair touched briefly on the free market policies that are at the core of
his version of "governance" and at the heart of the dispute with Zimbabwe.
African governments must realise, he said, that "their judicial, commercial,
and taxation systems need fundamental reform" and that "they need private
investment". In other words, all restrictions on foreign investment and
western finance must cease and the state sector, including welfare
provisions, should be slashed.

There is a widespread view in Africa that Mugabe has come into conflict with
Britain because of some progressive or even socialist standpoint. The
seizure of white-owned farms in particular is seen as a stand against
colonial injustice and a return of land to the dispossessed poor. South
African President Thabo Mbeki is well aware of such opinions and raised
disagreements with Britain at the Commonwealth summit-though when it came
down to it he did not vote against Zimbabwe's continued suspension. In an
open letter to African National Congress members he chastised Britain for
failing to finance land redistribution in the late 1990s and although he had
opposed violence, "a forcible process of land redistribution perhaps became

Mbeki is cultivating illusions in Mugabe because he finds it useful to
deflect attention from the deep unpopularity of the free market measures he
has imposed on South Africa by dressing up in anti-imperialist colours. In
fact, Mugabe's politics, including the land occupations, have nothing to do
with socialism or creating social justice.

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New Zimbabwe...... from the Herald

Dressing from Mammon's wardrobe


By Nathaniel Manheru
Recent statements by the so-called leaders of South Africa's churches
alleging wanton "brutalities being visited by Zimbabwean authorities on
their own citizens", take us back to the dark days when white churches and
churchmen ate from the palms of apartheid.
Clearly determined to be the "axis" of history's unstoppable forward march,
these gentlemen of the collar, led by the Anglican church's ideologically
right Reverend Peter Lee, think that they can beatify and boost neo-liberal
capitalism which is gravely threatened by a swooping second wind of economic
change sweeping across Southern Africa, through unfounded charges and

Aware that the vortex of that tornado is Zimbabwe and its radical land
reform, these telescopic clerics, many, if not all, of whom have not visited
Zimbabwe, are replaying and repeating the church's infamous and adulterous
association with Victorian colonial empire builders.

Quite aware that the 4 000 commercial farmers who stand disinherited by
President Mugabe's radical land revolution come in their colour, hair and
nose, these so-called holy men were careful to speak soon after the useable
Archbishop Desmond Tutu to create an impression of a widening, multi-racial
voice against the "autocratic Mugabe" over human rights abuses they so
gratuitously claim without providing illustrative examples.

In uncanny parallel, their ilk in America have since mobilised and
constituted themselves for a second rape and invasion of Iraq by mounting a
religious "Pioneer Column" for the ostensible purpose of saving Iraqi souls,
indeed for the purpose of weaning this "godless" people from "Muslim

The holy men from across the Limpopo are disappointed that President Mugabe
is Catholic, not Moslem, indeed disappointed that the Zimbabwean scenario
stiffly rejects the theology of crusades they would have been happy to
supply as justification for their carefully disguised neo-liberal zealotry.

Peter Lee and his fellow clerics were there in the church a mere 23 years
ago when Ian Smith butchered tens of thousands of black Zimbabweans,
including defenceless women, children and refugees on behalf of the 50 000
white settlers here, including the 4 000 white farmers for whose cause they
are happy to cite scriptures today.

Peter Lee and his kind were very much there in the church when apartheid
hungrily ate thousands of South Africans both at home and abroad.

Indeed, these holy men were happy and content to play chaplaincy to
apartheid's war machine. Lee and his kindred mock-disciples are there in the
church today, electing to turn into tragic characters the many Zimbabweans
who have just recovered their heritage, while holily urging the poor of
Soweto "to seek yee the kingdom of God" so everything is added to the

It is not like they do not know that President Mugabe is right. It's not
like they do not know that what President Mugabe has started plays
insurrectional "leaven" to capitalism. It's not like they cannot find
scriptural reason and basis to Zimbabwe's land reform. They know and are
clear, and therein lies their panic which they disguise as a hell-fire
vision for Zimbabwe. The truth is these are holymen who know better, but
have only chosen to dress from Mammon's wardrobe!

When holymen become America's First Secretaries

I have reserved some of my harshest words to some local church leaders who
have anointed and appointed themselves go-betweens in the fabled dialogue
between Zanu-PF and MDC. I mean here the likes of Manhanga, Bakare and

Well, let me hasten to say I am churchgoing and God-fearing. In fact, one of
these holymen happens to hail from my church. Except that does not, indeed
should not, lead me into the temptation of complicit silence, especially
when these men use their collar and the pulpit to carve false peace and to
undermine the national interest.

I am not particularly worried that these men have hoisted their political
flags firmly in the camp of one of the so-called dialoguing parties. That is
their right as Zimbabweans, although I must admit, I am not so sure that it
is their right from the point of view of the religious orders they pledge
loyalty to.

After all they are the ones who tell us that men of God do not take sides on
matters of this earth; that they are bridge-builders (even bridge-building
starts from one bank!). Why should these purported holymen draw T&S (Travel
and Subsistence Allowance) from USAid with such unqualified eagerness?

When and how does Bush and their Bibles coincide and read the same? Did not
the Almighty, through the Prophet Moses, teach us how to handle bushes,
namely by burning them?

Clearly, these sheep-like wolves should not mislead us by impersonating a
holy mission. There is nothing godly in Bush and his generous T&S.

In the case of Bakare there is nothing godly about his 2004 project
targeting rural constituencies for MDC through Norwegian-supported,
church-related NGOs.

A Dead Aussie is one too many

Howard and his political acolyte, the gay-gangster Alexander Downer, we are
told, are livid with Harare following the recent murder by armed robbers in
the Eastern Highlands of one Phillip Laing.

From what has been reported in the media, the circumstances of that gruesome
murder look straightforwardly criminal.

What is neither straightforward nor commonsensical is the clearly oversized
response from the Australian High Commission in Harare.

For a country notorious for violent crimes, some of them institutionalised
as government (Aborigine genocide), kicking dust over a forlorn death is a
protest too much.

Are we dealing with the criminal-murder of Laing or the opportunity, which
this tragic incident provides for venting pent-up anger and attitude of this
racist government? And their embassy here has the temerity to warn its
citizens against crimes related to Zimbabwe's economic decline.

The chickens are beginning to come home to roost, isn't it Mr Howard? A
diligent proponent of Zimbabwe's strangulation through sanctions, Howard
should treat this and other crime-related deaths in the country as nemesis.

Those who bring in uninfested faggots into the home should not be surprised
when lizards pay them a visit.

We the NCA . . . !

What gibberish to come from Lovemore Madhuku! While I admit that "madhuku"
in Shona translates to headcloth, I still grant that privileged cloth the
shape of a thinking head. This learned gentleman, whose NCA members struggle
to count a number beyond him, thinks Zanu-PF and MDC have no business or
legitimacy discussing the country's Constitution, itself a prerogative of
the people of Zimbabwe.

Any drift in that direction threatens Madhuku, would inevitably trigger the
ire of the "people-centred" NCA whose "vast" numbers would be called to pour
into the streets, instantly causing irreparable ruin to both MDC and

The consequences would especially be dire for MDC which, in the eyes of
Madhuku, is maternally linked to the NCA. I do not know who fathered the
MDC, but given its mongrel cast and the NCA's coquetry, I cannot put this
claim by Madhuku beyond fact.

What I am not prepared to concede though is Madhuku's boisterous claim and
capacity to visit ruin on MDC, let alone Zanu-PF, should the two ever handle
constitutional matters outside the NCA's express say-so.

What is even more difficult, nay criminal, to concede, is the claim that the
NCA is the people. A limb, however vital, can never be the whole body. Much
less so the tip-end of a fingernail which is what the NCA is in Zimbabwe's
political affairs. The man is simply bitter that the MDC congress did not
yield a new secretary general in the person of you know who - Herald
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The Telegraph

The agony of a traumatised nation heard in the cries of a beaten child
(Filed: 03/01/2004)

The vast, mutilated African state of Congo is enjoying a ceasefire but
butchery and theft continue apace while the the West remains inactive
reports Adrian Blomfield in Aru

Nine-year-old Bahati lies on the ground whimpering, a urine stain slowly
darkening the front of his baggy camouflage trousers. Two boys, perhaps
three or four years older and also dressed in military uniform, stand over
his body clutching bamboo canes in their hands.

They look across at "General Jerome", a former traffic warden who now heads
the Armed Forces of Congolese Patriots, or FAPC, one of half a dozen militia
groups terrorising Ituri district in north-eastern Congo.

He nods. One boy brings down his cane, then the other. Their bodies heave in
exertion, sweat trickling down their brows as they build up a rhythm. A low,
muffled animal howl fills the air. Monkeys tied to nearby trees shriek and
chatter at the sound. An olive baboon named Rambo manically hurls himself
from branch to branch.

Jonathan, the general's six-month-old pet chimpanzee, covers his eyes with
gnarled hands as he squats nearby.

The eighth blow splits open the skin on Bahati's bared back, but still they
keep on going until his moans fall silent and he rolls on to his side, his
knees drawn up to his chest, his head flung back.

Jerome nods again. "That will teach you not to discharge your weapon in
barracks," he tells the child, a bloody rag doll lying barely conscious at
his feet. More boy soldiers gather around Bahati. Many are laughing.

They have learned another lesson in violence and brutality, something that
will stand them in good stead the next time Jerome orders them to cut the
throats of women and rape their daughters.

Congo's five-year war officially ended in July when the main rebel factions
joined a transitional government headed by 32-year-old President Joseph

That is cause for measured hope, though not yet for optimism. Jerome's FAPC
is an illustration of the myriad obstacles facing Congo, an entity in little
more than name, over the next few years.

The future of this vast land is a matter of the greatest importance for the
future of Africa.

The war has spread instability, greed and death across a huge central swathe
of the continent from east to west, sucking in and destabilising avaricious
neighbours and opening the way for an army of organised criminal gangs and
carpetbaggers from around the world.

Having finished Bahati's punishment, the general sped off to the airstrip
where his men had taken two Ukrainian pilots hostage in retaliation for the
hijacking of a plane ferrying his senior officers and weaponry donated by

Uganda, along with a former ally, Rwanda, invaded Congo in 1998.

Now, seeking to expand its hold on Ituri's gold and mineral resources, it is
the driving force behind the FAPC and a militia of cannibalistic Lendu

Stealing the idea from Hitler's "Convict Army", responsible for some of the
worst atrocities on the Eastern Front, Uganda fills the FAPC with criminals
from the prison in Aru, where Jerome has made his headquarters. Many were
already used to raping and killing; they massacred more than 1,000 suspected
"witches" in 2001.

Rwanda has backed, trained and funded the Lendu's bitter foes: militia men
from the Hema tribe.

The warring tribes, their hatred for each other fanned by Rwanda and Uganda,
have turned Ituri into a crucible of misery. They have killed perhaps
100,000 people. At least 500,000 more have fled their murderous onslaught.

Over the past five years, a demographic study by the International Rescue
Committee found, between three million and 4.7 million people in Congo have
died because of the war, mostly from hunger and disease thought to be
preventable during peace time.

Despite the official end of hostilities, millions more remain vulnerable.

Agriculture has collapsed and for most Congolese it is still too dangerous
to return to their farms. Armed thugs, supposedly now incorporated in the
new Congolese army, roam the countryside raping and murdering.

Women are often abducted as sex slaves. Those caught trying to escape,
especially from Jerome's soldiers, face a brutal execution known as "the
slow death". Over four days their fingers and toes are cut off, the skin is
ripped from their arms and legs and finally they are disembowelled.

It is no longer possible to cross Congo, a country the size of western
Europe, by land. One of Africa's best rail and road systems in the 1960s now
lies in ruins, cutting off millions in isolated villages and robbing them of
any hope of prosperity.

Hospitals lie bare and drugless. The West has promised £2.75 billion over
the next few years to help the Congolese to rebuild their country.

That will be hard enough. Keeping Congo from sliding back into all-out war
will prove even more difficult.

Congo is a country of 250 tribes, artificially created by the avaricious
King Leopold II of Belgium late in the 19th century. Millions died at the
hands of his brutal overseers, who ransacked the country's resources to fill
their master's pockets.

His brutal regime was ended by widespread outrage in Britain and America
where thousands flocked to weekly demonstrations.

"No external question for at least 30 years has moved the country so
strongly and so vehemently," said the then Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward

Yet the West has been almost completely silent this time, as Congolese
politicians and warlords, at least eight African countries and a host of
foreign privateers have bloodily recreated the era of Leopold.

A United Nations peacekeeping mission was sent to Congo. Authorised to use
force only to defend its own installations, it stood by as massacre after
massacre unfolded, sometimes in full view of peacekeepers, and did not fire
a single shot.

In June last year, a few hundred French troops, accompanied by 70 British
personnel, were despatched to Bunia, Ituri's main town - this time with a
more robust mandate.

It restored peace but did not disarm Hema militants in the town, nor did it
venture out to stop the slaughter of civilians just dozens of miles away,
some perpetrated by Jerome's soldiers and his allies. Then, in September, it
pulled out, and violence is slowly returning to Bunia.

Congo-watchers denounced the mission as window dressing and accused the West
of doing little to tackle the root causes of the war.

Guilt over western inaction during the massacre of a million Tutsis and
moderate Hutus during the Rwandan genocide of 1994 meant that little
pressure was being put on President Paul Kagame when he invaded Congo,
saying the perpetrators of his country's bloodbath were lurking there.

But as Rwandan forces killed some 300,000 Hutu refugees and Congolese
civilians, the West did nothing.

Britain, in the person of the then International Development Minister, Clare
Short, actually increased aid to Rwanda, becoming its biggest donor. Money
was also poured into Uganda, even as both countries stole with all the zeal
of latter-day Leopolds.

Last month it emerged that the UN Security Council suppressed a chapter from
a UN report revealing that Rwanda and Uganda were still arming militias in
Congo. It added that senior members of both governments were continuing to
loot their neighbour.

Britain refuses even to consider sanctions against either country. Others
are getting their slice of the action too. Senior Tanzanian ministers are
said to have armed Burundian rebels who are terrorising the South Kivu
region of Congo.

Russian gangsters, smuggling diamonds out of Congo to warlords in Africa,
the Middle East and Asia, enjoy the protection and collaboration of at least
one member of the Kenyan cabinet The Telegraph has learned.

Members of President Robert Mugabe's government in Zimbabwe similarly enjoy
the country's spoils. Military intervention in Congo to stop the Rwandan and
Ugandan advance plunged Zimbabwe into economic turmoil, laying the
foundations for his vicious attacks on the country's white-owned farms and
the resulting famine.

Meanwhile the rapists, murderers and war criminals who sit in many of Mr
Kabila's 16 ministries are illegally shipping out diamonds to terrorists and
criminal groups across the world, mostly through Belgium. North American and
European companies are doing the same.

Joseph Conrad, author of Heart of Darkness, a fictional account of the
horrors of Leopold's Congo, described the exploitation he witnessed as "the
vilest scramble for loot that ever disfigured the history of human

More than 100 years later, the conscience of governments inside and outside
Africa seems to be less sensitive. Their failure to impose stricter
regulations on the supply of arms to Congo or to be harsher on the
unpleasant regimes gorging themselves on its natural riches is tantamount to
collusion, human rights activists and aid workers say.

"What's the use of Britain, America, Europe telling Rwanda, 'Oh, stop what
you're doing in Congo', and then giving them a bunch of money even though
they don't?" one aid worker based in eastern Congo asked.

"It's like telling Mussolini to pull out of Ethiopia but then giving him the
money to pay his troops."

Controlling the illegal outflow of Congo's minerals would cut a lifeline to
evil men across the world and would remove the spur for those seeking to
exploit it.

Yet the international community seems reluctant to give teeth to agreements
such as the Kimberley Process that seek to restore accountability in the
murky world of the gems trade.

Back at the Aru airstrip, progress of sorts has been made. An ex-KGB colonel
has negotiated the release of Jerome's men, bearing the scars of several
days of torture. The Russian and the general (and presumably his Ugandan
backers) agree that they will share Ituri's gold in the future.

A bottle of Black Label whiskey is opened. Jerome hands a beer to Jonathan
the chimpanzee, who glugs enthusiastically at the bottle.

The Ukrainian pilots, now free, get back into their planes. "Crazy fucking
Congolese," one says before turning the key in the ignition.
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Who let the dogs out?

Dear Family and Friends,
New Year arrived very noisily in my neighbourhood as the clock ticked into the first half hour of 2004. A group of youngsters took to the streets banging drums, whistling, screaming and singing. Their song was simple, very loud and a clarion call for all who were still up to hear it. "Who let the dogs out?" they sang. "The people let the dogs out" they shouted back, answering their own question. With these extremely apt words the youngsters went around the neighbourhood in the noisiest New Year celebrations heard around here for over three years. It was very strange to hear people doing something so normal in such abnormal circumstances. As the voices faded I just sat quietly thinking about the motivation of people brave enough to celebrate New Year but not able to stand up for their rights in a country where oppression and repression have dominated for three years and ten months.
It certainly wasn't hard for Zimbabweans to think of New Years Resolutions this year. All those traditional vices like alcohol, cigarettes and chocolates that people vow to give up every year have been given up by most Zimbabweans already as they have become unaffordable. This year the things we promise to give up or cut down on are from economic necessity and not choice, like meat and cheese, bread and milk. We must also resolve not to get sick this year as our health system is on the verge of complete collapse. Zimbabwe's doctors, in the third month of their strike were called to a meeting this week where the new Commander of the Army was present. General Chiwenga told the striking doctors that they should return to work and said: "If you refuse to co-operate we can take you to the army barracks and detain you and you will see what will happen." The General went on to brag that he had fought and won 45 battles since he was a teenager and compared the doctors struggle over their pay to "a cup of tea" that could be resolved in a matter of minutes.
At the stroke of midnight my resolution for 2004 was to work harder to help end Zimbabwe's nightmare. When someone asked me what my plan was for 2004, the answer was simple and came in just one word: Survive.
This must be the year that all Zimbabweans, wherever they are in the world and whatever colour their skin is, must unite and demand democracy and good governance. We simply cannot go on like this because every day more  people are dying and more of our heritage is being destroyed. Survival is simply not good enough anymore.
Please join me in resolving that 2004 will be the year that Zimbabwe begins to be rebuilt. Until next week, with love, cathy Copyright cathy buckle  3rd January 2004.
My books on the Zimbabwean crisis, "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" are now available outside Africa  from: ; ;  in Australia and New Zealand: ;  Africa:
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Dear Craig
Your reply to my reply only serves to confirm that you are an outright racist and you entertain absolutely no capacity whatsoever to understand our situation because you are so wrapped up in your own self-worth and self-justification!
I have been a World and Olympic level judo athlete for a period spanning 19 years travelling all over the world training and competing - flying the Zim flag wherever I went. The reason I am telling you this is because my experiences in France, Britain, Japan, Korea, Spain, Italy, USA and all over Africa were not as a tourist but as a simple, cash-strapped passionate athlete.
I learned from very early on that no matter where you are, a person's real worth reveals itself when it is challenged time and time again, exhausted, staring defeat in the face, yet deep down somehow, from somewhere you find the strength and the courage to stand up and fight just one more time. Hour, after hour, the fight goes on, day after day, month after month. Covered in mental and physical bruises, every joint aching, muscles screaming out to quit ... but you're in it with all the other athletes from around the world and you look for the tiniest signs that you are actually moving forward.
Then one day, you throw a champion or an ex-champion in competition for the gold ... and you know that it was not that last training session that did it .... it was everything that you had endured before then. You see my pessimistic friend, it's not what happens to you in life ... it's what you do about it .... does life polish you up as a diamond, or does it grind you down into dirt??
 How dare you categorise and label our black brothers and sisters. How dare you make blanket statements about our insignificance as whites toward making a difference now and in the future of our beloved country. How dare you.
If you simply cannot bare to believe in a nation which is more unified than ever before across the colour line .... and I see it on a daily basis both in my gym and out on the streets .... then get the hell out of our business and take your attitude elsewhere. This nation is polishing diamonds as I write .... the people of Zimbabwe are suffering together and soon, that one perfect throw will happen. Now, take your dirt and go throw it somewhere else!
"Better to be in the arena, with your face masked by the blood, sweat and tears of defeat, than to be up in the (tourist) stands where those poor, poor souls will never know what it's like to have even tried."
(Apologies to F.D. Roosevelt!)
Debbie Jeans
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Two replies to Debbie Jeans....and her response
Response to Debbie Jeans's letter!!
I don't believe that the letter from the fellow visiting Zim was suggesting
everyone still there should jump ship  - as one of those whom might be
described by Debbie as having jumped ship, I think that Zimbabweans still
there should be perhaps less judgemental of those whom have left.
Having the opportunity daily through this Netgo service to "catch up" on
what is happening at "home" is wonderful, I found the writer's views whilst
perhaps not what the average resident Zimbabwean might like to hear - quite
interesting and refreshing.
We can all justify what we do in life and where we want to live - but in
simple terms there are two categories of Zimbabweans still there - those who
choose to remain there when they have the means to live elsewhere ( and whom
black and white, some through dubious means, ar e making a fortune) and
those whom perhaps might want to leave but don't have the luxury of a
There are many, like myself and our family,who were fortunate to be able to
contemplate and finally make the decision to leave - we did not leave
because we wanted to particularily - my first son left because he saw no
future for his kids, I left as I could no longer see myself surviving there
without cashing in a whole lot of my assets for the privilege of being able
to stay and my eldest son, the last to leave, did so because he was like so
many still there "just hanging on for next year when it will all change" - 4
years later it's changed all right but not the way we would have hoped!
I didn't have years to spare unhappily to wait for Zimbabwe to come right
and as it's turned out I am more than happy with the decision I made
although it for sure has not been easy - that does not mean to me that I
should be perceived as perhaps having betrayed the cause - I, like many
others I am sure, have huge concern for those less fortunate left behind -
and certainly no jealousy for those remaining whom are making a fortune - if
they want to make it in those circumstances - good luck to them!
I don't share Debbie Jeans's and others optimism for the future of
Zimbabwe - but I hope that I am wrong - the tragedy for us all though is
that the expertise has gone and whilst you can buy new expertise in due
course ( albeit expat expertise probably ) the damage is well and truly
done -  for me whatever happens there it will never be the same.


Debbie, (I remember her well from gym) is a super person, so I am not
criticising her here, obviously had a knee-jerk reaction when she read the
authors letter, as indeed I did, to begin with.

However, when I analysed the letter line by line and and drew up an
imaginary score-card in my mind, the author was actually very critical of
mugabe and very sympathetic to the situation all zimbos find themselves in.

In no way did the author say 'jump', he/she said 'are we (external people)
right in saying 'jump'? and that only time would tell.

Zimbos have become over-sensitive to this type of letter and I would
encourage other 'Debbies' (who may feel the same way)  to take a deep breath
and walk a kilometre or two on a treadmill before commenting on contentious

I found only one or two lines to be anything but the truth and maybe that's
what bugged Debbie!!

Tony Ballinger (UK) - (no longer a zimbo according to Debbies

....And Debbie's FINAL response.........
Thanks for the response to my reply to "tourist's letter"! I was afforded the honour and opportunity to speak to Zimbabweans in London in February last year ... asked by an annonomous a-political sponsor who wanted myself and two prominent Zimbabwean women to give an honest account of what the situation was REALLY like on the ground .... for those living over there who are tired of reading papers or hearing second hand accounts.
Our picture was far from pretty, economically all bad news. But as a community all three of us told of a new national pride .... in simply being Zimbabwean and actively being involved in community rebuilding from people from all walks of life, colour and culture back home! What humbled us was the response we received from ex-farmers and youngsters living in London. Supporting each other, helping each other, networking and doing the most incredible work to achieve the same purpose as Zimbabweans still back home ..... to start rebuilding the future. There was absolutely no anger, bitterness or justification for leaving / staying. We all shared a common purpose and the mutual feeling was intoxicating!
My heart has been broken time and again sadly bidding so, so many people farewell over the years. I am the first to appreciate the diverse and often tragic circumstances that necessitate a person making the enormous decision to leave. I am also only too acutely and painfully aware that any day my circumstances could change and I could be the one on the plane.
However, as is the case with Zimbabweans here, by God's grace alone am I afforded the opportunity and the means to stay here .... and I believe that my purpose is to shine a light wherever and to whoever walks, stumbles, is led or falls into my circle of infuence. This is all I have to offer and it is all I am giving on a daily basis ... believing, believing and believing. If I lost everything that I have worked so hard to build, well, so be it. The journey is far more important than the material worth.
My children are growing up strong, healthy, happy, disciplined and are part of an incredible community ...  my gift to them is the same as the gift my parents gave me; being raised under a free, African sky with all that a diverse, changing, unpredictable African birthright has to give them. For the time, they are living, eating, learning, competing and playing with peers comprising of black and white Zimbabweans just like themselves. There is NO debate about whether or not there is a future here .... the future is made of what's happening in the present at any moment in time.
You see, living here affords us the reality of seeing first hand for ourselves how the process of rebirth is happening right under our noses with the next generation and because so, so many of us are actively involved in rebuilding we are able to put forth our objection when a visitor to the situation is able to sum up mostly negative perceptions and impressions as the common national trend in a few days! Our tourist's reply to my reply only justifies my initial reaction to his attitude! He is a racist and a pessimist of note!!!
To all the Zimbabweans out there wherever you are ... we have absolutely nothing to gain from delving on the past and projecting dire happenings in the future .... what a waste of precious energy! Let us simply remember that the job at hand is to make a difference in this world, no matter how small or seemingly ineffective. Concentrate on giving 100% to the present and the results will take care of themselves! The ripple effect of every one of our actions is felt in places we will never know so let us ensure that no opportunity to contribute to moving our nation and our people ... here at home and all over the world ever forward ... and upward. God Bless Zimbabwe.
Debbie Jeans
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