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

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Ahead lies home, my youth,
And the land I left behind.

My lights caress the rolling tar
As I carve my lonely way
Through the ancient African night.

I flash through this silent land,
Nine hours of journey done - three still lie ahead.
My singing wheels churn up the ks, burning
My homeward path away, away
From my new-found southern land.

Nature calls. I stop, spray water, look round.

A full moon glows, dimming the clear, far stars; rags
Of dainty cloud drift in a bright, sharp sky. Kopjies
Loom - dark, low, near. Small, stunted trees
Mark the open bush between.

The smells, the sights, the sounds
Of Zimbabwe's open spaces
Whisper, softly, in my ear -

A name does not define the land. The land defines itself.
When your days are done, when your children lay you down to rest
Your bones should lie
Beneath the soil you claimed.

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


Letter 1:

Dear Editor,

The reforms proposed by Mr. Gono have been very well receieved - by foreign
financial experts as well as local. This is encouraging for all Zimbabweans

However, our local economy is ripe for a Roald Dahl type nursery rhyme
likening it to Humpty Dumpty.

We all know that old Humpty sat on a wall and had a great fall. It seems
that Old Humpty got dizzy when the unpaid war veterans demanded a $ 50 000
slice up front and then a $ 2 000 monthly slice - back in '97. But he did
not fall off "his wall" immediately.

Humpty's rock solid wall had been built on Title for the previous 110
years. The king, in the interests of popularity decided that the people
could have the wall, and it was eagerly devoured, there by emasculating the
value of Title. Then poor Old Humpty fell on his head and the people
started to pay the price. The latest legislation passed by parliament is
dishing out the last remaining pieces of Humpty's wall, and it has thrown
in some of Humpty's toys as well - John Deeres, Landinis, Centre Pivots,
etc. are always welcome - with Christmas just upon us some people
understand that Christmas is of course, a time of taking.

Assuming that a Good Young Gideon does manage to put poor old Humpty back
together again - what is the Born Again Humpty going to sit on? Is there
going to be a whole New Deal circumventing the rock solid security of title
as understood in countries such as America and Australia? Or will their be
a new dispensation where Title held by a 'black' Zimbabwean will be deemed
good Title and Title held by a 'white' Zimbabwean will not? We can look
forward to see what these "New Bankers" will regard as security in the New
Zimbabwe and how the rest of the world reacts to that policy. Brick in the


Dear John

After responding to the person who sent me this extract I wondered if you
would be interested in putting it on the Open Letter Forum to get a
discussion going .


The following is an extract from an article in the SA Farmer's Weekly,
December 26, 2003, which was written by Darren Taylor. The article
describes Fanie Kruger's life as the last Afrikaner farmer in Kenya, and
some of his thoughts on how he has been able to continue farming there
since Independence, and the price he has had to pay to keep his piece of
black Africa.

Fanie's view on Zimbabwe

Fanie occasionally thinks about his fellow farmers down south. He's keen on
coming forwards when venturing opinions, especially about the situation in

"What Mugabe has done to the white farmers is the most criminal thing on
earth. That one single thing - telling the white farmers to get lost - has
killed the country's complete economy."

"But," says Fanie, "I don't think there was enough give on the side of the
Zim farmers; they closed themselves off from the black community; they
didn't help black farmers. Most of them were selfish. Now the bubble has
burst - as harsh as that sounds."

Fanie's views are based on a number of meetings with Zimbabwean farmers
before all the trouble started in Zimbabwe.

At the Royal Show in England a few years ago, he met a large group of
farmers from Zimbabwe. "They had this attitude that they were mighty
Zimbabweans and that nobody else knew anything. They really looked down on
the African farmers, like they were rubbish. I found them very arrogant and
narrow-minded - surely the effect of such attitudes can be seen in what is
happening in Zim today?" Fanie challenges.

"White farmers in Africa have made a big mistake by thinking that we're
indispensable and that the `savages' can't live without us. The African -
white or black - is a survivor. But just think how much easier this
survival will be if we al pull together", he says.

Fanie readily admits that what he calls the death of agriculture in
Zimbabwe may well lead to a new life for Kenya's farmers. At the moment
he's negotiating with "big international companies" to consider large-scale
tobacco and cotton farming in East Africa.

"All these big guys have told us that they're finished with Zimbabwe.
Pioneer Seeds has told me, `That's the end; we'll never move back into

"So because of the farm takeovers, agriculture in Zimbabwe will never
recover fully. You will never get the multinationals to go back again,
because by the time the country has sorted itself out events will have
overtaken circumstances. When the big companies go and establish themselves
in other countries, they're not going to move back to Zimbabwe - that would
be impractical; they'd lose too much money."

Fanie is hesitant to comment on the murders of white farmers in South
Africa. "That would be arrogant of me; I am not a South African farmer, I
am a Kenyan farmer, but I believe that a lot of these killings are revenge
attacks - some blacks are taking revenge on whites for what happened in the

Fanie's also sure that if most white farmers had chosen to stay in Kenya
after it became independent, as his father did, they would have experienced
a similar situation there. "But most of the whites chose to go, leaving the
prime land to the blacks so there was less anger towards the whites here,"
he says.

"But where do the white farmers in South Africa go? They are mostly
Afrikaners; they are white Africans; they have no ties to other countries.
They are stuck. So they have to face the music."

Comments and opinions very welcome.


Dear Mike

We really come back to the question of learning to forget about putting
colour into the equation before we can resolve the problem. If we, as a
farming body, continue to judge ourselves by the colour of our skins first
and then by our professionalism second, there will never be a resolution to
this crisis. We have to be able to walk away from believing that we are a
separate, different, group of Zimbabweans with separate rights and realise
that we should be facing this crisis as Zimbabweans first and professional
farmers second.

It is only when we go to countries where the issues of race have been
resolved and are no longer an issue that we realise how the race factor
blinds both the Zimbabwean politicians as well as the commercial farmer.
How do we as a nation, step over the rubicon?

Perhaps by making a conscious decision to stay here and to face the

Perhaps by consciously looking behind the behavior patterns of the people
who do us harm and see their objectives and goals, instead of automatically
saying "they" are doing it because "we are white and they are black". No
issue is ever that simple!!

Perhaps by looking at the people who do us harm and understand that they
would do what they are doing even if we were Serbs and they were Croatians.
Or Tutsis and we were Tutsis. Or perhaps more to the point they were
avaricious and we owned the wealth that they coveted.

And then, once we had come to understand the problem, we all got involved
with resolving the crisis in such a way that we, as Zimbabweans, were able
to move forward and build a nation where we all fit in.

Best regards Jean


I am Jan Smit from the netherlands and I am trying to contact Clive Rimmer
He was my neighbour in the late eighties and the owner of a farm called
Dolphin Farm in centanery. Do you have some information . email,
telephone number or addres ?
thanks jan smit.

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

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New Zimbabwe


A Day In the Life of Mafikizolo Jonathan Moyo
ON Monday night, I retired to bed early hoping to wake up refreshed for a
long journey to the north of England. No sooner had I dozed off did I get
into a nightmare! I dreamed that somehow I had been transformed to be
President Robert Mugabe's Minister of Information and Publicity, the erudite
but rudely ignorant Jonathan Moyo.
As Jonathan Moyo aka 'Mafikizolo', I got to my lavish office at nine in the
morning. I opened the large refrigerator and took a long gulp of the Scotch
whiskey I had left diluted with imported tonic water the previous day. After
the brief encounter with the gift of the Scottish people of Britain, I felt
ready to start work.
I took a copy of the latest issue of the Herald newspaper and browsed
through. I was riled by the non-inclusion of the impromptu speech I had
given during a dress rehearsal for the video shooting of my latest musical
composition on the virtues of extolling the fatherly leader from Zvimba.
Without any amount of self-praise, I can safely conclude that the jingle is
a masterpiece. It took all my imagination in allegro, soprano, innuendo,
alto, moderato, andante, adagio and all other complex stuff that makes up
the subject of music. Instinctively, I picked up the phone to call the
editor of the Herald for a word on his omissions.
After the harsh words with the ever-learning editor of the Herald, I picked
up the phone again to harangue the Chief Correspondent Rueben Barwe for not
focusing on me during the launch of a rural based newspaper for Murombedzi
village. The energetic correspondent apologized profusely and suggested that
we re-do the television footage from the comfort of my office. Knowing that
the chance to appear on national television was up for grabs, I accepted the
offer without reservations.
The prospects of appearing on national television to remotely launch a rural
newspaper is a grand idea. I know that my detractors claim that I have a
monopoly on appearing on national television. I do not regret this; I
actually take it as a compliment! Who am I anywhere? Am I not the Minister
of State for Information and Publicity in the President's Office? Where
would you expect me to spend my time? In the president's office? No; that is
almost a coup detat! I have to spend most of my time regulating and giving
information to the nation using the state organs of publicity.
From my ever busy facsimile machine I retrieved four documents from the four
heads of the nation's radio stations. Each document was a detailed schedule
for the day with details on what music will be played, when, why and for how
long. I drooled with self-importance as I discovered that seventy-five
percent of the music time would be the clear variations of my compositions.
The schedules also gave details on all phone-in programs for the day for the
public. My plan for pre-selected callers seemed to have been embraced with
zeal as the list proved. Only people with proven loyalty to the party were
listed as possible contributors in the phone in programs.
Having satisfied myself that the nation was going to listen to acceptable
propaganda from the radio service and watch party dogma on national
television, I then called the intelligent officers to map out a way to ban
or interfere with subversive material on the internet. Well, I have to admit
that I have never claimed to be a computer genius, but I know that internet
could be tempered with for the purpose of national security and sovereignty.
It is not a secret that after successfully banishing the Daily News to the
obscure streets of Johannesburg and a one-off in Abuja, the internet has
become the medium of choice for spreading malice against the dear president,
myself and the ever humorous Chinotimba!
The head of computer espionage from the security department was quick to
brief me that the internet could be monitored using sophisticated equipment
that could be obtained from the USA. I prodded him for the possibility of
getting such equipment; even if it were of an illegal generic release from
the People's Republic of China. The intelligence officer promised to brief
me later on the day. If I can avoid giving back to the Americans those
American Dollars we are taking from the people, I would. At that point, I
wondered why the Chinese Yuan did not attract as much financial weight as
the green buck in international financial circles!
When the intelligence officers had left my office, it dawned on me that the
previous night I had tuned into very damaging radio broadcasts on shortwave.
I was just playing with the tuner when the mention of Zimbabwe got my
attention. There in clear terms, some imperialist in London was barking that
Mugabe and I were like Hitler and Gobbels. Whilst the kind president has
metaphorically accepted to be called Hitler ten times, I think that
comparing me with Gobbels is a bit on the silly side. As such, radio
stations that spew malicious comparisons should be blocked from the
It was then that I decided that we beam to the people of Zimbabwe a stronger
signal at the same frequency to the foreign broadcasts in order to counter
them. Experts in my department told me that radio receivers would naturally
lock on the strongest signal. For the better part of the day, I remained
pondering the possibility of even beaming Hondo Yeminda jingles to London!
This way, the Queen, Tony Blair and all of West Minister would feel the
cruelty of interfering with other nations' airwaves! I formally declared
that this project will be planned, implemented and managed by me.
I spent the better part of the afternoon pondering on what new law I could
promulgate for the further sustenance of the fatherly leader and our
vanguard party. I could have dreamed on proposing a law that would make it
compulsory for all citizens to wear a breast badge with the smiling face of
the great leader. My learned wanderings on this subject were interrupted by
a call from the airwaves monitoring bureau. They wanted to tell me that the
imperialist broadcasting corporations were at it again. I would have asked
the electricity people to give us a deliberate black-out to make it
impossible for citizens to listen to the vulgarity from the imperialists.
As the end of the office day was approaching, I received a call from the
greatest leader ever born asking me what I thought on soccer as a strong
field of political play. I advised the leader that it was an untapped field
were my propaganda machine could reap rewards. I reminded the astute leader
that as we were the fowl party, some people were bound to say we were up to
playing foul political games with the nation's most followed game. The
consolation is that the most supported party has a right to exploit the most
followed sporting activity in order to remain the most viable political
entity. The most eminent leader hung up the phone in satisfaction!
At the point Mugabe hung up the phone on Jonathan Moyo I work up. I was
sweating and shivering at the same time. I could not really stomach the idea
of being Jonathan Moyo, not even in a dream! I could not stand the ridicule
that the man has to endure for a paltry ministerial post in a dying regime
that terms itself a war cabinet! I could not want to spoil my obscure
reputation by being top in the deck of wanted war criminals. I could not be
part of murder of democracy!
The wickedness of dreams! I would want to dream dreams; not nightmares in
the form of Jonathan Moyo and his master, Robert Gabriel Mugabe -

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New Zimbabwe

Aids is politics in Zimbabwe

IN ZIMBABWE, when a woman married to a truck driver dies of AIDS leaving two
small children to be cared for by grandparents, the story is at least partly

Politics is about power. Women in Zimbabwe have little power, in government,
in business, in the bedroom.

Priscilla Misihairabwi, 37, is an exception, an elected member of Parliament
in a nation where fewer than 10 percent of the seats are held by women.

Priscilla exudes power. Perhaps it's her elegant navy pantsuit or her
confident stride in narrow heels. Most likely, it's the plain way she talks
about leadership and about the relationship between women and men.

"You can't separate issues of governance from issues of HIV infection," she
says. "In Zimbabwe, we knew there was HIV as early as 1985, but the
leadership decided HIV was not going to be spoken about. Prevention
strategies did not start at a smaller level. If we concentrated on the
commercial sex workers then, it could have been contained in that core
group. By the time we started dealing with the issues, it had spread to the
entire population: pregnant women, married women, young girls with sugar
daddies. We had lost the battle."

Consider the contrast in Uganda, where the minister of public health passed
out condoms on the street. The HIV infection rate there has dropped from 33
percent to 5 percent. In the U.S. and Europe, AIDS has been largely
contained in targeted high-risk populations.

Priscilla launched her political life with a petition drive to register the
female condom. In 1989-90, a research group had conducted an acceptability
trial of the female condom. When the study was over, the condoms went away.

Women wanted them back. But the product was not registered with the ministry
of public health. So Priscilla crisscrossed the country, educating women
about HIV and female condoms and asking them to sign their support. She and
others from the Women in AIDS Support Network collected 52,000 signatures; t
he female condom was registered for use in Zimbabwe on Dec. 1, 1998, World

Priscilla continues to hold workshops for women all over the country. She
encourages them to know their bodies, to refrain from using herbs vaginally,
to get tested, to tell their husbands condoms are for contraception a less
inflammatory purpose than protection. Talk about sex and HIV before trouble
starts, she urges.

"It's amazing how the same issues pop up whether she's a poor woman in a
rural area or an educated professional woman," Priscilla says. "I actually
think in Zimbabwe, the greatest risk factor for AIDS is marriage. Most women
in Africa they're just sitting ducks." - Seattle Times
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The Australian

'Imposters' play soccer international
From correspondents in San Salvador
January 07, 2004
A GROUP of imposters pretended to be the national El Salvadorean team in the
0-0 draw with Zimbabwe last Sunday according to the El Salvador Football

The federation's president Humberto Torres told a press conference he would
be investigating the matter which has been labelled by Zimbabwean newspaper
The Herald as "one of the great frauds in the history of football".

"This is a serious matter," Torres said.

"That could cause us problems with FIFA as they might believe we had
authorised this team to represent us as the national side.

"These players did not have this authorisation, we are going to study this
matter in fine detail," he added.

He admitted the federation were aware of a match in Zimbabwe concerning a
Salvadorean First Division side Isidro Metapan, but in no sense of the word
was it the national side.

Salvadorean daily Diario de Hoy, citing Zimbabwean press reports, claimed
three of the players didn't actually have a club and the remainder played
for several different teams and were coached by former national coach
Ricardo Guardado.

The match was the beginning of the hosts' preparations for the African
Nations Cup which runs from January 24 to February 14 in Tunisia.

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Mail and Guardian

Battling it out in Zim

Iden Wetherell

06 January 2004 13:59

Working as a journalist in Zimbabwe today is something of a challenge, it
might euphemistically be said. Zimbabwean editors have to tip-toe their way
through a legislative minefield designed to cause them and their
publications as much harm as possible.

The misnamed Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, passed
after President Robert Mugabe's disputed re-election in 2002 -- ostensibly
to stop the media "lying" about him -- has transformed the practice of
journalism into a criminal enterprise by specifying a wide range of offences
that any self-respecting newspaper would have difficulty avoiding. Causing
public disaffection towards the president is just one.

Looking out for unwary offenders is a media and information commission,
which is the chief weapon of Mugabe's menacing Minister of Information,
Professor Jonathan Moyo.

He appoints all seven members of the commission, which is headed by a state
newspaper columnist, Dr Tafataona Mahoso, who laments the fall of the Iron
Curtain and makes no secret of his hostility towards the independent media.
Other members include former state-media editors and journalism lecturers at
state institutions. The commission is responsible for licensing journalists.

The state lost several high-profile court cases under the Act in 2002, but
won its first significant scalp last year when it closed the Daily News, the
country's only independent daily, for operating without a licence. The
Supreme Court, which is widely seen as sympathetic to the executive, has
declined to hear the Daily News's appeal against the constitutionality of
Mugabe's media legislation, but a lower court has ruled that the media
commission is improperly constituted and its members biased. The government
has ignored the court's ruling that the paper should be allowed to resume

The closure of the Daily News should not be seen in isolation. Since Mugabe
lost the 2000 referendum on a new Constitution that would have legitimised
his dictatorship and came within a whisker of losing the subsequent
parliamentary election, he has embarked on a campaign of vengeance against
political opponents. While commercial farmers and their workers were
previously the main victims of his wrath, more recently lawyers and civic
activists have been in the firing line.

At the same time the government has been anxious to manage the message. It
accuses the independent press of tarnishing the government's reputation and
"demonising" Mugabe. Inevitably, newspapers that have exposed the ruling
Zanu-PF's career of misrule and violence have been threatened with closure.

The question we are most commonly asked is whether this has led to a degree
of self-censorship. While we are obviously keen to avoid giving hostages to
fortune, we cannot at the same time be any less bold than our readers.
Mugabe holds no terrors for a younger generation of Zimbabweans who are
quite clear as to how he has pauperised the nation while enriching his
followers. Mugabe has lost every single electoral contest he has fought in
the capital since 1996. His blandishments about sovereignty and land have no
purchase here.

So editors have a duty, not only to tell it like it is, but to recognise the
popular imperatives around them. None of our readers are saying: "Please
don't be so critical of the president." And Mugabe certainly doesn't mince
his words when referring to us. Nor is this an equal battle.

In addition to an energetic propaganda department in the office of the
president, Zimbabwe has a powerful state media, which runs a stable of
long-established newspapers and enjoys a monopoly of broadcasting. The
country is thus treated to a steady torrent of invective against civic
activists and outspoken journalists. We are accused of working with the
British and Americans to unseat Mugabe. We are the targets of hate speech
and personal vilification in the columns of newspapers like the Herald and
the Sunday Mail that are mouthpieces of Mugabe and Moyo.

These same papers have misled the country into believing 300 000 people have
been resettled under the badly managed land reform programme when the
president's own audit revealed only 134 000. They have downplayed the
seriousness of the food crisis Zimbabwe is facing and misrepresented the
views of senior United Nations officials and diplomats based in Harare. None
of this has raised objections from the media commission.

While civil society in South Africa has provided important moral support for
the struggle for democracy north of the Limpopo, there is not always a full
understanding of the issues at play. Some South African editors for instance
cannot understand why those of us working in the independent media are
reluctant to get into bed with hate-mongering state publicists, closely
allied to Mugabe's intelligence network, masquerading as journalists. South
African editors have even collaborated with government journalists in
Zimbabwe to form a rival editors' forum to the one already in existence
because they feel our scope is too narrow. In fact we have repeatedly said
our door is open to all editors who subscribe to the principles of a free

But the most disappointing aspect of South African attitudes to Zimbabwe is
the notion that Mugabe should be indulged to render him more amenable to
dialogue. Behind this convenient smokescreen the steady subversion of the
rule of law and erosion of democratic institutions has intensified. Lawyers
have been assaulted in police stations when visiting their clients, trade
unionists have been arrested for exercising their right to freedom of
expression, and women have been jailed for protesting the soaring cost of

South African President Thabo Mbeki's quiet diplomacy is so quiet as to be
inaudible. When he does find his voice, as on the ANC Today website, it is
to express sympathy with Mugabe's predicament and claim Zanu-PF has been
unfairly treated by its critics whose attachment to human rights values he

With the closure of the Daily News, independent weeklies now carry a heavier
burden in getting news to the public that the government media won't
publish. Whatever Mugabe may throw at us, the Zimbabwean media -- at least
that part of it still operating freely -- remains committed to the struggle
for democratic rights. We have a very clear obligation to the majority of
Zimbabweans who want to see change. Democracy can't function in the absence
of an informed electorate. And without accountability the government can do
what it likes.

Mugabe has the armed forces, a suborned police and a compliant judiciary. We
have the one thing we know he cannot suppress: an idea whose time has come.

Iden Wetherell is editor of the Zimbabwe Independent and chairperson of the
Zimbabwe National Editors Forum.

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This Day, Nigeria

FG Woos Southern African Farmers
From Andy Ekugo in Abuja


There were indications yesterday that the Federal Government may have given
its approval for fleeing farmers from the Southern African sub-region to
come to Nigeria to invest in what has been described as large scale
integrated farming.

This was the issue before the meeting of a Committee which was formed to
work out the modalities "on Southern Afri-can farmers and investment
opportunities in Nigeria" hosted by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural
Development Malam Adamu Bello, in Abuja yesterday. The meeting was at the
instance of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Members of the Committee are governors of Oyo, Ogun, Nasarawa, Kwara,
Kaduna, Ebonyi, Cross River, Benue and Adamawa. The rest are the National
Security Adviser (NSA) Lt. General Aliyu Mohammed Gusau (rtd), who was
absent and the Economic Adviser to the President, Prof. Charles Soludo.

Bello in his speech at the opening ceremony said "these large scale farmers
are leaving the Southern African sub-region and seeking investment
opportunities elsewhere and some of them have identified Nigeria as a
possible place for investment." He added that the forum was for an
articulated "discussion on the opportunities and to coordinate our positions
and take a collective decision on the best approaches."

THISDAY investigations, however, reveal that the Southern African sub-region
farmers who are interested in settling and "investing" in Nigeria are mostly
those who were expelled from Zimbabwe. They first came to Nigeria in the
initiation of Kwara State Governor, Dr. Bukola Saraki, after which the
Federal Government took over the initiative.

The meeting also explored possible advantages derivable from the expected
influx of those farmers more especially in the area of technology transfer
since according to Bello, Southern African sub-region farming is "highly
mechanised and profit oriented with effective cooperative system."

Areas that the farmers are interested in are in the livestock sub-sector
under which are dairy production and processing, beef production and
processing, veterinary drugs and vaccines production, small ruminants-sheep
and goat production, animal feed production and day-old chick production.

Others include poultry eggs processing for mayonnaise and ice cream
production, ostrich and quail farming.

Under the crop sub-sector, the interests are mostly on rice and maize
production, roots crops processing, oil seed production and processing,
cocoa production as well as rubber and sugar cane production and processing.

Also areas of interest expand to the fisheries sub sector, which include
industrial fishing and canning and aquaculture development under which
ornamental fish and fingerling productions are of major interests.

Furthermore, the Committee would also work out the modalities for the
advantages of rural development, which was highlighted as rural energy
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The insult

Roy Clarke is from Northampton but has lived in Zambia for 40 years. Now he
is threatened with deportation. His crime? Comparing the president to an
elephant. He speaks to Emma Brockes

Wednesday January 7, 2004
The Guardian

From what has otherwise been a dark and difficult week, Roy Clarke has
gleaned some reasons to be cheerful. On Monday, the 62-year-old's name was
splashed across the Zambian Daily Mail in a headline that must have puzzled
its readers: "Roy Clarke to Be Deported." The Northampton-born writer was,
at that time, largely unknown to the Zambian public. This is no longer the
case. In fact, Clarke, a former teacher and metallurgist, is rapidly
becoming the most famous man in Lusaka. In peril of losing his house, his
job, his whole way of life, Clarke is determined, with the blitz spirit
peculiar to expats, to stay in good sorts. "It's been quite marvellous
reading about myself in the press," he says. "Not all of it's true, of
course, but the embroidery is in my favour, so I don't object."
Clarke is in hiding. He has a bad chest ("Bronchitis and deportation all at
once, oh dear!"), and is under threat of being thrown out of a country that
has been his home for 40 years. "It's just silly," he says down a crackling
phone line, sounding like Richard Briers after a bothersome morning in the
vegetable patch. Clarke's crime was to compare the Zambian president, Levy
Mwanawasa, to a fat elephant, an offence not obviously catered for in
Zambian law, but one which evidently struck home enough for it to be broken.
In the same article, published in the Lusaka-based Post newspaper, Clarke
compared the chancellor to a "long-fingered baboon", the home secretary to a
"hungry crocodile", the agriculture minister to a "knock-kneed giraffe" and
the lord chancellor to a "red-lipped snake". In his weekly column The
Spectator, Clarke filed this Zambian version of Animal Farm, and on
publication day was curtly invited to leave the country. "I have some
slender hopes," he sighs, "that the judge may be an educated gentleman who
knows something about the art of political satire." But he is not holding
his breath.

This has all come as rather a surprise to Clarke, and to many Zambians, who
have with good reason regarded President Mwanawasa as a great improvement on
his predecessor. Mwanawasa was elected two years ago on an anti-corruption
platform and one of his first acts in office was to arrest the former
president, Frederick Chiluba, on embezzlement charges. He called his
programme of change, the New Deal. There was some bother over the validity
of the election - Mwanawasa snuck into office with a 1% lead over his
rivals - but on no more evidence of foul play than attended George Bush's US
election victory. What's more, since his election, political debate in
Zambia has been as robust as any in African politics. Mwanawasa is subjected
to insults that would make the House of Commons blush. Since suffering a
head injury in a car crash 10 years ago, he has been dubbed "the cabbage" by
his opponents and accused of being brain damaged. (He did once refer at a
press conference to the boxer "Tike Myson" and to president Chiluba as his
"sister". But this also has a certain neat parity with US politics, circa
Ronald "Princess David, I mean Diana" Reagan).

Clarke's insults weren't nearly so crude. He has been writing The Spectator
column in the Post for seven years, inspired, he says, by the columns
Michael Frayn wrote for the Guardian in the 1960s. It was in 1962 that
Clarke first travelled from his home in Northampton to what was then
Northern Rhodesia, having read about it with interest in the papers. After a
year working in the mines, he returned to London to complete a degree at
Imperial College and then went back to what had been renamed, in the
interim, Zambia, to take up a job as a metallurgist. England never reclaimed
him. He met his wife, Sara Longwe, and together they had four children. In
the 40-odd years since, Clarke has worked as a teacher, an administrator,
and finally, in his 50s, a journalist. "My dear wife didn't want to go to
Britain, which is a terribly racist place. I could see her point. It was far
better for me to be a white man in Zambia than for her to be a black woman
in Britain. This opinion has held quite well for 35 years; I may now have to

In spite of recent improvements, and benefiting hugely from comparison to
Zimbabwe to the south, Zambia is not a happy place. This is why, when the
president made a pre-Christmas address congratulating his government on
another excellent year, Clarke felt moved to protest. Out of a population of
10 million, more than a million people have HIV; 80% live below the poverty
line and life expectancy at birth hovers around 35. "It left people a bit
gobsmacked," says Clarke. "I thought that if there was a lot of prosperity
somewhere, perhaps we would find it in the Mfuwe gamepark." The column sent
up the government as a pack of duplicitous jungle animals, taking the
Zambian people for fools. "Just as the [humans] are becoming thinner," he
wrote, in the voice of the elephant president, "so we in the game park are
becoming fatter. As hospitals fall down in the rest of the country, so we
are building veterinary clinics all over Mfuwe ... by closing schools, we
now have the funds to send our monkeys abroad to Harvard. They are studying
for MBAs, degrees in Manipulating Budget Allocations."

Reaction was swift. President Mwanawasa's name was kept off the deportation
order, which was issued by the home affairs minister, Peter Mumba. "Suddenly
I was an enemy of the president," says Clarke, "I was calling people animals
and monkeys, I was obviously a racist, and they were seeking my deportation.
Later that day it turned out that a rentamob of thugs from one of the
townships had been hired to demonstrate in front of his own ministry and
call for me to be chased out of the country before they murdered me. They
were even carrying a mock coffin with my name on it." Mumba told Clarke to
pack his bags. "Perhaps that was his interpretation of protecting me from
the mob. He said he'd give me 24 hours to leave the country. That's about
half an hour for each of my 40 years."

A few tart comments came with it, revealing perhaps a darker purpose behind
the order. Clarke's wife, Sara, is a prominent women's rights campaigner,
who is described by her husband as "a bit of a thorn in the flesh of the
patriarchal government". So it was with well-directed spite that Clarke was
told he "should not imagine that he's got any position or status here
because he married a Zambian woman". He says, "You can't be sure whether
they're trying to get me or her." There is currently one other Zambian
citizen awaiting deportation - Emily Sikazwe, a feminist campaigner.

Clarke's editor at the Post, Fred M'membe, has backed him magnificently,
even going so far as to reprint the column yesterday under his own byline.
"I am responsible and totally answerable for Roy's column," he said. "It's
me who published it, not Roy. Come for me and deport me." Lawyers at the
Post meanwhile have secured an injunction which ensures that the matter will
at least be heard in court, at an unspecified date. The case promises to be
interesting, since for Clarke to fall foul of Zambian law, under which it's
illegal to insult the president, the prosecution will have to prove that the
fat elephant in his piece shares sufficient characteristics with Mwanawasa
(eg, shambolic, clumsy, untrustworthy) as to be recognised.

Opposition politicians have loudly defended Clarke and the letters pages of
the Zambian press are full of support. Even those who dislike him to the
extent of urging him to slit his wrists, are appalled by the deportation
order and the damage it does to the image of Zambian democracy. If, after
all this, Clarke and his wife are thrown out, will they return to Britain?
"Oh no," he says, laughing at my idiocy. "I don't much like that idea. I
left it 40 years ago, I can't go back. There'd be all those people saying,
'I told you so.' I have nothing in England, not even a pension. In fact, I h
ave no prospects anywhere else - I'm too old to be deported. But if I had
to, I'd go to Cape Town, where my youngest is studying."

Clarke does not consider himself brave. He has an alter ego for that, who he
occasionally inserts into his column under the name "Kalaki", given to him
by his late father-in-law. "It's a corruption of Clarke, of course. When he
first heard that his dear daughter was going out with a white man by the
name of Clarke, he said, 'Kalaki? Who is this Kalaki?' In my column, Kalaki
is brave and forthright, unlike myself. I am a terrible coward." All the
evidence is to the contrary. Clarke is still "sort of in hiding", he says,
"not least because this mob may be on the rampage. It's not very nice."
There is a small, anxious pause, after which he suddenly brightens.
"Somebody was quoted in the press calling for the 'white punk' to leave now.
White punk! I like that. It makes me sound rather dashing, don't you think?"

Clarke's Post column

He lumbered out of the state lodge, staggered towards the massive wooden
chair that had been made ready for him, and fell backwards into it. His
dishevelled safari suit was unbuttoned, and his huge belly hung over his
trousers. In front of him sat all assembled animals of Mfuwe, waiting for
the Great Elephant Muwelewele to begin his Christmas Message.

"Distinguished elephants, mischievous monkeys, hypocritical hippos,
parasitic politicians, bureaucratic buffaloes, and other anonymous animals,"
he began, "My message to you is that the last year has been a resounding
economic success, and Mfuwe has never been more prosperous!"

"Ee ee eeyee," squealed the monkeys, dancing around in circles, and waggling
their bottoms, each painted with a picture of the Great Elephant.

"When I was elected," continued Muwelewele, "I promised that only those
constituencies that voted for me would see development. That is why Mfuwe is
the only constituency that has seen development."

"Iwe wakhonza!" shouted the crowd.

"All the humans in the rest of this country refused to vote for me, so they
have had no share in our marvellous development! It was only you, my friends
from the game park, who went out there and brought in 29% of the vote. The
snakes of the Shushushu slithered into the ballot boxes and stuffed them
with votes. The horrible hyenas were the party cadres who chased away the
opposition voters. Our reliable rhinos moved the polling stations to unknown
places in the forest. And our merry monkeys played hide and seek with the
voters cards!'

"The law of the jungle!" laughed the crowd.

"So now the MMD is the Movement for Mfuwe Development. All my development
programmes are located in Mfuwe, and all my appointments have been from
amongst you. The previous government would not put you in government, saying
you were just monkeys and crocodiles, who shouldn't be given the vote. But I
have changed all that. I have nominated hippos to parliament, and made them
my ministers! I have appointed jackals as my district administrators, and
put the long-fingered baboons in charge of the treasury. I have put the
knock-kneed giraffe in charge of agriculture, the hungry crocodile in charge
of child welfare, and the red-lipped snake in charge of legal reform. And
best of all, all the pythons are now fully employed, squeezing the

"Our beloved Mfuwe," said Muwelewele solemnly, "is now a state within the
state. We control everything in the rest of the country. Everything is now
run for our benefit. I am pleased to report that the past year has been the
best ever. Just as the others are becoming thinner, so we in the game park
are becoming fatter. As hospitals fall down in the rest of the country, so
we are building veterinary clinics all over Mfuwe."

"Education is another of our great success stories," continued Muwelewele.
"The heartless humans built schools and universities for themselves, but
provided absolutely nothing for the animals in Mfuwe. By closing these
schools we now have the funds to send our monkeys abroad to Harvard. They
are studying for MBAs, degrees in Manipulating Budget Allocations.

"Just as employment is falling rapidly amongst the humans, so it is
increasing rapidly here in Mfuwe. Just as factories are closing in the
remainder of the country, so they are increasing here. I have declared Mfuwe
a tax-free zone, and our new manufacturing industry will soon be exporting
directly to South Africa."

"Our Saviour," shouted the crowd. "A new Saviour is born! A New Deal! A New
Direction! Let's roast a few street kids, and have a real feast!"

The jumbo glided to a halt at Lusaka International Airport. Out came the
Great Leader Muwelewele, lumbering down the steps like an elephant. A
reporter managed to thrust a microphone in front of him.

"Your Divine Majesty, how did you enjoy your holiday in Mfuwe?"

"What!" exploded the Great Leader, his face turning purple with rage. "I was
not on holiday! This was a very busy working trip, to look at current
economic developments in Mfuwe, which has been privatised. Shoprite has
already bought the place, and is busy putting in an abattoir and
meat-processing factory. We will soon be exporting game meat to South

This is an edited version of the column that appeared in the Post
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Sunday Times (SA)

Zim depositors panic at crackdown on banks

Wednesday January 07, 2004 06:54 - (SA)

HARARE - Panicky Zimbabwean depositors have been moving their money from
some recently established commercial banks following an announcement by the
central bank that it is investigating the operations of banks suspected to
be experiencing liquidity problems, officials said.

"It's bad, our deposits are moving up and down," an official at one bank

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe announced last week that it had launched an
extensive review of the operations of some banking institutions, leading to
the closure of a leading asset management company on New Year's Day.

Another banking official said only big clients were moving their deposits to
the traditional banks such as Standard Chartered and Barclays.

State media reported that these long-established traditional banks had been
turning down cheques issued by the banks suspected to be under investigation
by the central bank.

Zimbabwe has about 16 registered commercial banks. About two-thirds of them
have been established in the past decade.

The central bank has warned that in the process of its review of the
financial sector, "some banking institutions may experience liquidity
difficulties as they justify their assets (or) liability mixes".

The bank said it was probing the banks in an effort "to rid the sector of
speculative and non-core banking activities which had become rampant in this

On New Year's Day the central bank shut down Century Discount House and
cancelled its banking licence after it failed to pay out some funds owed to

Two directors of ENG Capital, which had in April last year bought Century
Discount House, were arrested and they appeared before a court yesterday.

Cuthbert Muponda, 32, and Nyasha Watyoka, 32, were accused of defrauding
several clients of more than 61 billion dollars (about 76 million US

The state alleges that the clients' money, which was intended for investment
on the money market, was used by the two to buy properties in Zimbabwe and
overseas as well as to import luxury vehicles.


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Jerusalem Post

Jan. 7, 2004
Zimbabwe's rabbi revives community

In the four months since becoming spiritual leader of the Bulawayo Hebrew
Congregation in Zimbabwe's second-largest city, Rabbi Nathan Asmoucha has
had more than his share of challenges.

Shortly after his arrival in the sub-Saharan African nation, the century-old
synagogue burned to the ground, with the flames consuming prayer books and
other ritual objects, though not the Torah scrolls.

Several Jewish families from the dwindling community then decided to
emigrate because of the country's deteriorating economic situation, and a
harshly written anti-Semitic article appeared in the local press falsely
accusing Jews of hoarding increasingly scarce staples such as fuel.

But the 33-year old native of Vancouver, Canada, who received his rabbinical
ordination in Israel, remains undeterred.

"The most important thing," he said in an interview this week while
attending a rabbinical seminar in Jerusalem, "is to reunite the community.
We can create a sense of togetherness if we know how to stick together." But
sticking together may prove increasingly difficult, as Zimbabwe's Jewish
community continues to shrink.

From a peak of 7,000 in the mid-1960s, the number of Jews remaining in the
country has fallen to an estimated 450, with 300 residing in the capital
Harare and the remaining 150 in Bulawayo. Two-thirds of the members are over
the age of 65.

Though Bulawayo continues to boast a Jewish day school, only 8 of its 180
students are actually Jewish. The school principal is a non-Jew, and just
two members of its faculty are Jews.

As the country's only rabbi, Asmoucha must also travel to Harare to perform
life-cycle ceremonies such as weddings and funerals for the community there.
He also serves as a shohet (ritual slaughterer) for fowl, with other kosher
meat being brought in periodically from neighboring South Africa.

Despite its small membership, the Bulawayo synagogue continues to have
weekly Sabbath services, as well as a daily minyan for the afternoon and
evening prayers. Morning services also take place on Mondays and Thursdays,
when the Torah is read.

"I walk around with a kippa and have no problems," Rabbi Asmoucha said,
asserting that anti-Semitism is largely non-existent.

The biggest problem, it seems, is economic, as Zimbabweans have endured
several years of hyper-inflation and severe shortages of basic goods such as
food and fuel. Unemployment is reportedly over 70 percent, with inflation
exceeding 500% annually.

"A lot of people have left this past year," according to Asmoucha, noting
that virtually all of those Jews who remain now have relatives living
abroad. "The tragedy of the community is that there are so many elderly
people stuck in Bulawayo with children spread throughout the world." Whereas
the Zimbabwean dollar was once on par with its American counterpart, the
official rate is now over 800 per US dollar. A loaf of bread can cost as
much as Z$3,000, while filling up a tank of gas can run as high as

"People are depressed because of the economic situation," he said. "They
don't know what to do." Since the Bulawayo synagogue went up in flames on
October 4, between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the rabbi and his flock have
had to hold services in the local Jewish community center, though plans are
afoot to construct a new house of worship.

"There is a lot of sentiment to rebuild, but the community has decided to
build a new synagogue in a suburb of the city, where many Jews now live,"
said Asmoucha. "There is no way we can build what was. And for 150 people,
nor do we need to."

Though he believes that "ideally, the best place for the community is
Israel," Asmoucha said "that isn't realistic for the older members."

"My responsibility," he notes, "is to keep a viable community going as long
as possible. And I think we can do it."

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7 Jan 2004 12:53 GMT
Six Zimbabwe Banks Unable To Honor Checks In Financial Crisis

Copyright 2004, Dow Jones Newswires

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP)--More than a third of Zimbabwe's commercial
banks are unable to honor their customers' checks, threatening to cause
gridlock in the southern African nation's already troubled financial sector,
economists said Wednesday.

For the past two weeks, six of the 16 institutions have been suspended
from the daily clearing of interbank debt because they don't have the cash
to pay other banks.

Some stores have issued lists of banks whose checks they will no
longer accept, independent economist John Robertson said.

"This was a crisis in the making for the past year," he said.

Last year, the government kept maximum interest rates at a fifth of
the official inflation rate, now running at 625% - one of the highest levels
in the world.

Many Zimbabwean businessmen were borrowing money at cheap rates and
buying forward in expectation of a quick profit as prices increase due to
inflation, Robertson said.

They were investing in limousines, real estate, building materials and
foreign currency. But a sudden drop in demand coupled with sharply rising
interest rates at the end of last year left many unable to repay their
loans, he said.

In a Dec. 16 policy statement, Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono said
the institution would no longer intervene to keep interest rates down.
Lending rates surged from below 100% to over 500%.

"There are very real dangers of gridlock," said Anthony Hawkings, an
economics professor and leading banking consultant.

He said the amount of money owed by the suspended banks to the 10
still trading was bound to increase, exacerbating liquidity difficulties and
threatening the viability of some institutions.

Officials at the affected banks couldn't be reached for comment

Information Minister Jonathan Moyo on Wednesday dismissed South
African and British media reports that the banking crisis could trigger
"economic meltdown," calling them "the hallucinations of a wishful thinker."

In an article in the state-run Herald newspaper, he said a slump in
the black market rates for foreign currency showed the economy was
recovering. The U.S. dollar currently buys 4,500 Zimbabwe dollars, down from
about 6,000 Zimbabwe dollars last month. The official exchange rate is

Moyo said a government clampdown on cross-border traders who buy
comparatively cheap Zimbabwean goods for resale in neighboring countries was
behind the drop.

Analysts said the troubled banks and indebted businesses were selling
hard currency and other assets to try to repay their loans, contributing to
the drop in the unofficial exchange rate.

The six suspended banks, the largest of which is Trust Bank, are all
new institutions started by local businessmen.

The government has eased banking regulations in recent years to assist
Zimbabweans, including one prominent ruling party politician, to open their
own finance houses.

The government accuses international institutions like Standard
Chartered Bank (SCZ.ZM) and Barclays Bank (BARC.LN) of profiteering and bias
against local black entrepreneurs.

But most Zimbabweans still prefer banking with more established

Last week, the ENG Capital asset management group collapsed amid fraud
allegations, and the central bank closed one of its subsidiaries, Century
Discount House. Two ENG directors have been arrested.

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UK Activist Seeks Pinochet-Style Arrest of Mugabe
Wed January 7, 2004 11:03 AM ET

(Page 1 of 2)
By Haroon Ashraf
LONDON (Reuters) - A British rights activist went to court Wednesday to seek
the arrest of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe whom he compared to
international pariahs like Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein and Augusto

Peter Tatchell asked the court to issue an arrest warrant and extradition
order for Mugabe on the grounds of torture.

"Torture has become an instrument of state policy (in Zimbabwe)," said
Tatchell, who in 2001 was beaten by bodyguards as he tried to make a
citizen's arrest on Mugabe in Belgium.

Tatchell told Bow Street Magistrates' Court that serving leaders should not
be immune from prosecution -- as stated in current international law -- and
cited the indictment of Milosevic, ex-leader of the former Yugoslavia, and
the two "assassination" attempts by coalition forces on Saddam during the
Iraq war.

He also quoted the 1998 case of former Chilean leader Augusto Pinochet, who
was held in London, but eventually released, on charges from a Spanish judge
of torture and murder.

The case against Mugabe, which Tatchell backed with signed affidavits from
two men who said they were tortured by Mugabe's regime, has no chance in
Zimbabwe because of "the current climate of state-sponsored terror," he

Godfrey Magwenzi, deputy head of the Zimbabwe High Commission in London,
dismissed the veteran rights campaigner as an "attention seeker." "We will
not dignify this case with a comment," he told Reuters.

After Tatchell's two-hour submission, Judge Timothy Workman adjourned the
case until Jan 14 to study the documents.


British legal experts are doubtful a warrant could be issued under English

However, speaking from South Africa, Zimbabwean human rights lawyer Gabriel
Shumba told Reuters: "Immunity and sovereignty for perpetrators of gross
human rights violations are now perceived as archaic and irrelevant

Shumba, alongside Zimbabwean journalist Ray Choto, submitted affidavits with
Tatchell's case stating they have been repeatedly tortured for opposing the
Mugabe government.

"I had to flee for my life from Zimbabwe," Shumba said.

On returning in 2002, he was arrested. "I was shackled and handcuffed in a
seated position and had electric shocks administered for nine hours
continuously," he told Reuters.

Shumba's interrogators demanded he renounce his political beliefs and join
Mugabe's Zanu PF party, he said.

After three days, he signed a statement that said he had committed treason.
A Zimbabwe court threw out the case against him after deciding the statement
had been made under coercion.

Lambasted by the West over human rights and democracy, the 79-year-old
Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since its 1980 independence from Britain,
claims London is spearheading an international "racist" witch-hunt against
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Doctors And Nurses Return to Work

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

January 7, 2004
Posted to the web January 7, 2004


Authorities in Zimbabwe expect most doctors and nurses to be back on duty in
public hospitals by the end of the week.

A public relations officer with the Ministry of Health told IRIN on
Wednesday that "by yesterday 75 percent of nurses were back at work" and
doctors were starting to return to their posts.

This follows months of wrangling over a pay increase demanded by health
workers, who have complained that runaway inflation has severely eroded
their earnings. The crippling strike now seems to be over.

Hospital Doctors Association president Dr Phibion Manyanga told Radio
Zimbabwe that "doctors are returning to work, starting today [Wednesday] -
but we are going in order to help our patients, not because of the offer
that the government has put in front of us. What has been offered is all
right, but that is not what we expected. But we cannot abandon people to
continue suffering," he said.

Manyanga added that doctors were going to give the government "two months to
look into our grievances and address them - from our salaries to those
things that we use in executing our duties, including medicines".

Zimbabwe's doctors went on strike in October last year, demanding salaries
of Zim $30 million a month (US $36,000 at the official rate and $6,000 at
the black market rate) - a massive increase from their current Zim $4
million to Zim $5 million (US $6,000 to $1,000) a year.

The doctors argue that such a hike was necessary to keep pace with
inflation, now officially over 600 percent, in a country where the black
market sets the real cost of living.

"We hope that by the end of the week things will be back to normal," said
the health ministry official.

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ABC Australia

January 7, 2004. 5:31pm (AEDT)
Mugabe meets Megawati in Jakarta
Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Robert Mugabe met President Megawati Sukarnoputri
on Wednesday during what was described as a private visit to Indonesia.

The foreign ministry said Mr Mugabe was holidaying in the country and
described the meeting with Megawati Sukarnoputri as a private courtesy call.

It had no details of his itinerary.

The Zimbabwean embassy in Kuala Lumpur, which also handles Indonesia, could
not immediately give any information on Mr Mugabe's visit, which follows a
trip to Malaysia.

Mr Mugabe's visit to Malaysia was also unannounced and the New Straits Times
said he was in the country on holiday.

It said he met Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi privately for 30 minutes
at his office on Tuesday.

No details were given of issues discussed but the two leaders are said to
have reiterated their commitment to enhancing ties, particularly in trade
and investment.

The Zimbabwean president, who was an ally of former prime minister Mahathir
Mohamad, has previously made similar unannounced visits to Malaysia.

Mr Mugabe is the subject of a travel ban imposed by the European Union and
the United States in March 2002 after he was re-elected in polls marred by
alleged vote-rigging and violence.

The Commonwealth of former British colonies has suspended Zimbabwe from its
ruling councils, prompting the veteran leader to withdraw from the grouping
last month in protest.


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Zimbabwean farmers put down roots in Zambia

January 07 2004 at 02:01AM

By Zarina Geloo

Lusaka - Exiled white Zimbabwean farmers have helped Zambia break a
crippling food shortage that saw millions rely on food aid last season.

The roughly 100 Zimbabwean exile families have settled in central
Zambia's fertile maize-growing district of Mkushi. Even critics have
conceded they have revolutionised commercial agriculture by introducing
hi-tech commercial techniques through partnerships with local landowners.

They have been so successful that Zambia's Investment Centre has
issued certificates for 31 Zimbabweans to begin commercial farming in their
own name and on their own, newly-acquired land.

Now Zambia's government intends luring even more disillusioned
Zimbabwean farmers across the border - regardless of possible strains to
relations between Lusaka and Harare.

'People initially saw them as the enemy'
"People initially saw them as the enemy, seeking refuge in Zambia.
Because they were white, people were also scared that racism would
resurface," said Deputy Agriculture Minister Chance Kabaghe.

He said that even people in the government thought there should be
solidarity with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and that the farmers
should be refused entry.

"But we saw them as potential investors who could improve our food
security. We have now been vindicated."

The exiles fled to Zambia after being forced off their properties in
Zimbabwe during the fast-track land reform programme that began in 2000.

They rented land from the locals or went into partnership with owners
who did not have the capacity to till huge tracts.

The official support for the Zimbabweans forms part of a wider,
multi-pronged strategy to revive Zambia's agricultural sector, reeling from
the effects of two successive droughts, with a shortfall of 635 000 tons of
grain last year. - African Eye News Service/IPS

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New Zimbabwe


2004: Stopping connivance with official lies
FOUR quotations will suffice. "Freedom is the right to tell people what they
do not want to hear," writes George Orwell in The Road to Wigan Pier.

From Nadine Gordimer we quote: "Repressive laws can no longer, by any
standards, be divided between those that affect writers and those that do

Her second and final one, in this case, goes like this: "For the word,
written or spoken, is our precious common property".

From Poland we quote radical poet, Czelaw Milosz: "What is poetry which does
not save nations or people? Connivance with official lies!".

As we enter the year 2004 we affirm, through the above four quotations, our
tmost commitment to the noble principle of freedom. We have, therefore,
elected to take stock of the past twenty three years - a period of steady
and painful throttling of the free word, the banning of the media, sheer
blood letting and the seizure of our national broadcasting space by
rapacious and vindictive few villains.

We look back to wonder by what alchemy a nation of supposedly literate
populace has been reduced into a captive audience of few people. How we have
been hit by a magical schism pitting a powerful minority against a pathetic
and powerless majority.

If we are all agreed in the wisdom that a nation shall be judged by the food
it eats, words it utters, things it does, songs it sings and the friends it
keeps what
shall we be deemed to be today? Who are we if all our space for working,
playing and self expression has been seized and narrowed down into a mere
zone for a few men and women masquerading as custodians of freedom and

What have we become if we have no more friends left and our government is
banning journalists and registering newspapers at the G.P.O so it can close

The answers lie in the four adages.

At this website it is our belief that the first casuality of paranoid
tyranny is free speech. To clear the ground for maximum oppression the word
should not
be heard. It should be obliterated and prickled. To it, everything bad has
to be done and attached.

Once a nation can not speak to its self and its newspapers are closed by the
police and its journalists are hunted down, driven into exile and ridiculed,
tyranny takes root and blooms. At once the thin line between the rights of
the Fourth Estate and the rest of the citizenry becomes invisible.

That a nation's airwaves, newspapers, publishers, bookshops, record
companies, footballers, academics and musicians operate at the mercy of a
makeshift office run by a vindictive and paranoid handpicked minister should
instill a sense of outrage in all of us today.

It is our hope that 2004 will be the year Zimbabweans reviwe and renew their
commitment to ending chaos and tyranny. It should be the year our poets,
writers, academics and journalists should take Milosz's words seriously.

There should be no room for "academics" and "musicians" who turn President
Robert Mugabe's delusional graveyard speeches and rhetoric into their
intellectual property and songs.

It should be the year violence and propaganda are rendered meaningless.

At New we affirm our commitment to safeguarding free speech to
forestall the flourishing of all forms of fundamentalism - be it political
or religious. Zimbabwe should be free to chose, laugh, wonder, ask, refuse,
accept, protest, talk, write and to play. The word, written or spoken,
should indeed be our precious common property.

Those whose bows and arrows are out to get at the free word we warn and ask:
Haven't you see how much attention words get when they are banned? What use
is there to bark at a computer and the entire telecommunications system?
We will therefore let the words out.

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Dispossessed want 20% of SA's farmland

January 07 2004 at 01:45PM

By Alistair Thomson

Families and communities evicted by the apartheid state are claiming 40 to
50 percent of commercial farmland in some provinces and around 20 percent
nationally, the land claims chief said on Wednesday.

Currency traders have cited foreign media reports that land restitution
would be accelerated ahead of elections this year as a concern for foreign
investors given the land grab in next-door Zimbabwe, which South Africa has
vowed not to repeat.

A new law that has focused attention on land issues will allow the
government to expropriate land for restitution where negotiations on a
"willing buyer, willing seller" basis fail.

The New York Times reported that in KwaZulu-Natal up to 70 percent of
farmland was subject to land claims - a figure Chief Land Claims
Commissioner Tozi Gwanya said was exaggerated partly because many claims
concerned conservation land.

"This figure is just exaggerated. The real figure is around 40 to 50
percent," Gwanya told Reuters, saying Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces had a
similar figure.

"A rough estimate is 20 percent of national farmland is subject to claims,"
he said. "We think that a significant percentage of those claims are going
to go through as valid."

The white apartheid government used land acts to evict black South Africans
from their land, and after the end of apartheid with free elections in 1994,
those who lost land had until 1998 to lodge claims to get back their land or
a comparable property.

Already 45 096 of a total 70 000 claims have already been settled,
representing 810 292 hectares. The rest are meant to be settled by the end
of 2005.

A separate redistribution scheme hopes to ensure 30 percent of farm land is
transferred to the victims of apartheid by 2015.

Farmers who give up lands under restitution settlements get their market
value but any subsidies granted to them by previous governments are deducted
from the final payment. In some cases, farmers continue farming the land and
pay rent to the community.

Land reform in Zimbabwe has been much more acrimonious with legal seizures
and illegal occupation of white-owned farms slashing commercial farm
production and contributing to food shortages.

Gwanya said President Thabo Mbeki would sign the new expropriation
legislation into law once he returned from leave, but said the powers would
only be used in five to 10 percent of outstanding claims, and only as a last

He said 155 000 hectares of KwaZulu-Natal were due to be handed back to nine
separate communities in February or March in one of the biggest transfers to

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Mail and Guardian

Indonesia 'understands' Zimbabwe's land-grabs


07 January 2004 10:50

Indonesia said on Wednesday its shared colonial past with Zimbabwe meant it
could "understand" that country's controversial programme of seizing
white-owned farms and giving them to blacks.

Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda made the comments after attending a meeting
between President Megawati Sukarnoputri and Zimbabwean President Robert
Mugabe, who is visiting Indonesia on an unofficial trip.

Mugabe's government has confiscated more than 5 000 white-owned farms for
redistribution to impoverished blacks since 2000, sparking widespread
international condemnation. He is also under international pressure for
alleged human rights abuses and poll rigging.

Wirajuda said Mugabe had explained the reasons for the land programme to
Megawati during the two leaders' brief meeting at the state palace in

"As a country that has also experienced land reform and a colonial past, we
understand," said Wirajuda. "We have empathy toward the problems that
Zimbabwe is facing."

Indonesia was ruled by the Dutch for more than 350 years before winning its
independence in 1945. Wirajuda said Mugabe would attend an Asian-African
conference in Indonesia next year to mark the 50th anniversary of the
grouping's inaugural meeting.

The 1955 conference in the Javanese hilltown of Bandung was hosted by
Megawati's father, Indonesian's founding President Sukarno. It led to the
birth of the Nonaligned Movement, which today groups 116 mainly developing

Mugabe is due to fly back to Zimbabwe on Friday, Indonesian officials said.
He has no other official appointments.

Mugabe's land reform programme, along with erratic rains, have crippled
Zimbabwe's agriculture-based economy, and helped plunge the nation into its
worst political and economic crisis since 1980.

Mugabe says the land reform programme is an effort to correct colonial era
imbalances that gave much of the country's most productive land to the
descendants of British, South African and other white settlers.

Mugabe quit the Commonwealth in December after leaders, including British
Prime Minister Tony Blair, voted to extend by a year Zimbabwe's 12-month
suspension for election irregularities and human rights abuses. - Sapa-AP

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