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

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Enough is Enough



We have a fundamental right to freedom of expression!

Sokwanele reporter

17 July 2004

At 64 Eric Harrison is not a man to be trifled with. He is not a man who believes in surrendering to bullies either – even when those bullies invade his land in force, taunt and provoke him and threaten his family with all manner of violence.  For Eric Harrison, a successful commercial farmer from Mkwasine, near Chiredzi, believes in the old values of honesty and hard work, values which were once respected in Zimbabwe.  He also believes in the rule of law and expects others to obey the law.  He knows that Maioio Farm is his legally.  He has the title deeds of the property to prove it, and moreover since it is his only farm, since he is working it intensively  and it is less than 400 hectares in extent, he does not expect ZANU PF to take it from him. After all Robert Mugabe himself said that no farmer who held just one (small) farm would have it taken from him.  Harrison believed him.


Through hard work and skill and with major investment Harrison turned Maioio Farm into a thriving concern which supported his family, provided a major source of employment in the local community and produced a significant quantity of foreign currency earnings for the country.  Using drip irrigation he produced 12,000 tons of sugar cane a year and an export citrus crop worth in excess of USD 1,200,000.


But then certain privileged members of the ruling party (who had already enriched themselves handsomely with other properties under the regime’s “help-yourself and get-rich-quick” policy) turned their envious eyes towards Maioio Farm, and that was the end of a once-thriving farming enterprise – and the end of Harrison’s peace too. 


In June 2001 he was served with a Section 5 Notice, followed by a Section 8.  Agritex started pegging out the farm and the would-be A2 farmers began arriving, led by a Mr A.B. Koti, who informed Harrison that the standing sugar cane crop which he had planted and tended was now his.   Harrison applied to the High Court to defend his title and was granted an order (No. H.C. 9207/02) overturning the Sections 5 and 8 Notices and directing the eviction of the A2 farmers.  The local police however proved more than a little reluctant to enforce the order or afford Harrison the protection he required.  In defiance of the High Court order the A2 farmers began hauling his cane off to the sugar mills in April 2003.  Harrison pleaded in vain for the police to carry out their statutory duty to uphold the law and protect the innocent.  In February 2004 he wrote a respectful letter to the Principal National Coordinator of the Presidential Land Committee, explaining the difficulties he was having and asking for help in resuming full farming operations in compliance with the stated land policy.


Alas his letter did not receive so much as an acknowledgment.  On the contrary, things began to hot up in late June with the arrival of three new A2 settlers, who claimed they were in possession of an “offer letter” for Harrison’s citrus.  The three belligerent settlers, two men and a woman, who were accompanied by two police constables refused to give their names – though one was later identified as Phinias Mutiziri.  They ordered Harrison off the farm immediately and when he refused to budge they returned a little later armed with iron bars. They then proceeded to threaten Harrison physically and to chase all the workers from the packing sheds. These criminal acts took place in the presence of  Constable Simba Chipanga and Constable Rubwya of the ZRP who did nothing about it.  The three would-be settlers also turned away three large transporters which had been contracted to uplift the citrus cargo – a cargo destined for Russia which would have earned the country a significant amount of foreign currency.


Through his lawyers Harrison sought and obtained an interdict ordering the intruders off the property and prohibiting them from disturbing operations on the farm.  Once again however, despite assurances given to the lawyers, the police were extremely reluctant to enforce the court order.  In the presence of Constable Rubwya,  Mutiziri (in effect a trespasser on the farm) threatened to shoot the supervisor and Harrison.  Again the police took no action.  A gang of about 20 ZANU PF thugs took up station on Maioio Farm and proceeded to loot the produce and abuse and threaten the Harrison family, making their lives almost unbearable.  At different times they switched off the power at the farm’s generator, stole the chain and locks on the gates, and took the farm supervisor hostage. They also chanted ZANU PF slogans and kept the Harrison family awake at night by banging on the doors of the house and shouting obscenities. A “friendly” member of the youth militia later confided to Harrison that each one was receiving $15,000 a day, plus food and beer and a regular supply of dagga to to the job.


The continuing ordeal has taken a heavy toll on the family. On Friday (9th July) Harrison moved his wife, Joan, to the relative safety of a friend’s house when he could see that emotionally she was close to breaking point. It was just as well because the following day he and his 32 year old son were forced to lock themselves in the house with curtains drawn as the noisy mob surrounding the property threatened to “deal” with them.


Just when Harrison thought his last hour had arrived the mob withdrew - a reprieve but only a temporary one because he was told that he must be off the farm by Sunday afternoon at the latest – “or else !”   But on Sunday, his nerves frayed to breaking point, and still surrounded by all the evidence of looting and destruction, he received an unexpected visitor, truly a sign of grace.  A black pastor from a church in Mkwasine had walked all the way on foot to say a prayer with Harrison and his wife. “What kindness”, said Harrison, clearly touched by this gesture. “I feel humble. I have done everything I can do, in the circumstances, and like so many fellow farmers … I have not failed.  The situation is impossible, but my love for the country is too great for me to leave.  I have no choice, we have to win this fight …   In the final analysis …the strength that will be keeping us going will come from God”.


The terrible ordeal of Eric Harrison and his family is not yet over, and at this stage there is no telling how it will end.  But if the outcome depends upon a belief in the old values of honesty and hard work, a stubborn tenacity in holding to the rule of law and a deep faith in a righteous God, ultimately they must be vindicated.


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Sent: Saturday, July 17, 2004 3:44 PM
Subject: For Christopher

Dear Family and Friends,
On Thursday morning it was bitterly cold in Marondera. Through thick mist
and an icy wind, a friend and I went visiting in a high density suburb
just behind Marondera town. In two long, thin buildings that face each
other and had once been pink but were now dirty brown, there were twenty
four doors, and we stood outside one waiting to go in. I looked around,
not so that I could soak in the sight but to force my brain to accept what
my eyes would not believe. There was one leaking tap in a muddy hollow in
the barren yard. This is the water supply for twenty four families - for
washing, cooking, cleaning and bathing. There was one outside concrete
sink in which people do all their washing. It does not have a drain and
the dirty water simply pours out onto the ground and sits in filthy, slimy
puddles in front of the block of communal toilets.

When the door opened we saw Christopher. He is dying of Aids and being
nursed through his last days and weeks by his wife. Christopher was too
weak to even raise his head from the bed but he tried to smile and greeted
us in a whisper, leaving his wife to do the talking. This one room,
perhaps 3 metres square, is their entire home. It does not have water or a
bathroom or toilet and has only one small window in the back wall. At the
bottom of the bed was a huge pile of soiled bedclothes, waiting to be
washed in the outside concrete sink.  In a bucket of cold water by the bed
were Christopher's soiled clothes, also waiting to be washed outside.
There was no spare linen to put back on the bed and no plastic sheeting
with which to protect the mattress and so Christopher lay on top of a
folded cloth, rags wrapped around his waist, a thin blue blanket on top of
his 20 kg body. On the floor was a small tin baby bath into which
Christopher's wife would lift her husband when we had gone and try and
bath him.

She has only one disposable glove and carefully took it off as we stood
talking. Christopher is 36 years old and is the father of five children,
four of whom have been sent to live in the rural areas with their
grandparents so that they do not have to see their father dying like this.
Christopher does not take anti retro virals, he could never afford them
and now his body is too weak to be able to handle them.  He used to
support his wife and children and worked as a security guard until he
became too sick to continue. Then his wife supported the family by selling
tomatoes and bananas on the road-side, but now all day, every day she is
at home, caring for her husband, watching him die. They have no income, no
drugs, no support and only the food given to them by well wishers.

It is tragic to know that Christopher is one of the lucky ones in
Marondera because he has someone to care for him. There are thousands more
like him, lying in their own faeces and vomit behind filthy doors in
freezing, dark rooms, alone, unseen and waiting to die. I visited one, and
frankly the sight was so appalling that I cannot find the words to
describe the hell I saw. When I got home from visiting Christopher I knew
that I had to do something, anything, to help the Aids victims and their
carers and families in my home town - it would be criminal not to.

Together with a lawyer, a doctor and a small group of friends we have
started the Christopher Campaign in Marondera.  We know that it is
probably too late for Christopher but it is not for thousands of others
like him. People who ask for nothing but whose eyes plead for a little
comfort and dignity. Anything you can do to help us will be appreciated,
nothing will be wasted, diverted or sold. If you can spare one pair of
disposable gloves, one bar of soap or one tube of antiseptic, please
contact me. If you can put this letter up in your church, office or club,
we will be so grateful. If you would like to help in any way at all,
please email me at . If you would like to donate even one
dollar, the Christopher Campaign wants and needs your help. The Rotary
Club of Marondera have very kindly agreed to receive donations for the
Christopher Campaign through their registered charity and their banking
details are at the end of this letter. Nelson Mandela recently said that
"millions of people are in danger of being reduced to mere numbers,"
because of Aids. Christopher is no longer a number to me and this letter
is for him. Until next week, with love, cathy.
The Christopher Campaign, Rotary Club of Marondera, Barclays Bank,
Zimbabwe. Account Number: 1534957.
Copyright cathy buckle 17th July 2003.
My books on the Zimbabwean crisis, "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" are
available outside Africa  from: ; ; ;  in Australia and New Zealand: ;  Africa:

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Zim Online

Mon 19 July 2004

      HARARE - Southern African leaders are pressurising President Robert
Mugabe to hold next year's parliamentary elections in line with the Southern
Africa Development Community (SADC)'s norms and standards on free and fair
elections, Zim Online has established. Although they support Mugabe in
public, African diplomatic sources told Zim Online that the regional leaders
were in private turning the heat on Mugabe.

      They were telling Mugabe that it is in his own interests to win an
election which has a veneer of legitimacy and credibility.
      This thus needed  Zimbabwe's elections to be conducted in terms of the
SADC norms. However, it remains unclear whether Mugabe will listen to his
regional counterparts and institute reforms to hold  credible elections this
time round.

      The sources said the proposed changes to Zimbabwe's electoral laws
were a result of southern African leaders' pressure on Mugabe. Mugabe's
government has proposed setting up an independent electoral commission to
take charge of all of Zimbabwe's elections, starting with the parliamentary
elections next year. However, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) has dismissed the proposed changes to electoral rules as being
"cosmetic". It says it wants comprehensive electoral reforms which include
disbanding the notorious youth militia and  it also wants United Nations
supervision of the March 2005 elections, among other things.

      Sources said regional leaders were clearly frustrated with Mugabe and
were turning up the heat on him. Despite all the support they had given
them, Mugabe had done nothing to reciprocate in the way of improving his
human rights record.
      A high powered delegation of the MDC led by the party's secretary
general Welshman Ncube last year visited SADC leaders in their countries in
a major diplomatic offensive by the opposition party to woo them to support
calls for electoral reforms in Zimbabwe.

      Sources said the MDC had partially succeeded in convincing regional
leaders to drop their continued backing of Mugabe's victory claims in flawed
elections. Zimbabwe's constitution vests all powers to run elections in
Mugabe despite that he is an interested party in the outcome of these
elections.  Mugabe appoints every person involved in the running of the
elections without consulting anyone. Critics say it is impossible for anyone
else apart from Mugabe to win elections under the current electoral

      The Roman Catholic Archbishop for Bulawayo Pius Ncube said in
Johannesburg last week that it was impossible to hold free and fair
elections in Zimbabwe under the current electoral regime. He said next
year's elections had already been rigged by Mugabe and he saw no need for
the opposition to participate. Ncube said the draconian media and security
legislation which made it almost impossible for the opposition to campaign
rendered next year's elections unfree and unfair.

      "More and more pressure (on Mugabe) is expected to come from the AU,
especially now that the chair is with the  Nigerian leader (Olusegun
Obasanjo), who has said that the Zimbabwe crisis must be resolved now," said
one diplomatic source.
      The pressure on Mugabe will be galvanised at the SADC conference next
month where the region is expected to tighten its norms and standards on
conducting elections.

      The plan to tighten and insist on the observance of SADC electoral
norms is said to have been planned with Mugabe in mind.
      SADC leaders are also expected to insist that Mugabe repeals or amends
draconian media  and security laws ahead of the elections. The MDC's  Ncube
said his party was engaged in a diplomatic initiatives  to push for
electoral changes but declined to divulge details.

      Zanu PF spokesman, Nathan Shamuyarira, said the ruling party was
committed to making electoral changes. He, however, told Zim Online that
ZANU PF was considering electoral changes not because of any pressure from
anyone but as a result of  "its desire to ensure that democracy continued to
exist in the country". Zim Online.

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Zim Online

No hope for Zimbabwean asylum seekers in South Africa
Mon 19 July 2004

      Zimbabwean refugees are having a rough time in efforts to get asylum
in South JOHANNESBURG - Victims of political persecution in Zimbabwe wishing
to apply for asylum in South Africa had better think again. According to
      International (RI), a respected advocacy group for refugees, South
Africa has granted political asylum to less than 20 Zimbabweans to date.

      In a report released at the weekend, RI said it  is worried about the
South African government's attitude towards Zimbabwean political asylum
seekers. "South Africa is denying access to political asylum to thousands of
Zimbabweans seeking to escape persecution. Of the 5,000 applications for
political asylum filed by Zimbabweans to date, fewer than twenty have
actually received political asylum in South Africa."

      "While the senior management of the Immigration Department
acknowledged to RI that Zimbabweans have the right to be considered
refugees, Refugee Reception officers were unable to state whether or not
Zimbabweans had the right to political asylum in South Africa. Staff in the
Reception Office told RI that Zimbabweans were not a priority because there
is no civil war in Zimbabwe, so there is no reason to apply."

      The Zimbabwe Exiles Forum, which is involved in the mobilisation of
support for refugees, expressed outrage over South Africa's refusal  to
acknowledge Zimbabwe as a conflict-torn country.

      "We are particularly irked by the fact that the South African
government simply and deliberately decided to blind itself to the human
rights issue in Zimbabwe. This is why the South African government finds
itself with a flood of Zimbabweans. Thousands of Zimbabweans are crossing
the border on a daily basis running away from persecution and there is no
basis for South Africa to deny political asylum to Zimbabweans. .As exiles
our urgent demand is that South Africa should stop acting as if it were the
foreign ministry of Zimbabwe and acknowledge that Zimbabwe needs help", said
Zimbabwe Exiles
      Forum coordinator Gabriel Shumba.

      The South African department of home affairs director-general, Barry
Gilder, denied that his department was particularly harsh on Zimbabweans:
"All of the offices are woefully understaffed, resulting in a backlog of up
to 80,000 cases waiting to be reviewed". He told RI that his department was
working on a turnaround strategy but admitted that "it has a long way to

      Zimbabwean asylum seekers interviewed by RI said they spend nights
queuing at the department of home affairs: "They only took one Zimbabwean
that day. I was number two."

      Other Zimbabweans said they were denied access to the process because
they did not have valid passports. "The asylum seekers also complained of
rampant corruption within the home affairs office as well as among South
African policemen. Said one Zimbabwean: 'I was stopped while walking down
the street. The policeman asked for my papers but told me that for 200 Rand
[Z$240 000] I would get them back'."

      RI recommended the immediate establishment of a taskforce to address
the backlog of pending political asylum cases and prioritise interviews with
Zimbabweans. Zim Online

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Zim Online

On the dagga trail: Tracking Zimbabwean truckers
Mon 19 July 2004

      FRANCISTOWN/BOTSWANA - A haulage truck from Zimbabwe pulls up at the
Ramokgwebana border post in Botswana. A tall, haggard-looking driver opens
his door and slowly gets out with papers - presumably travel documents  - in
one hand.

      The truck's consignment (at least according to a sticker attached to
the carrier's gleaming body) is Zimbabwe-made biscuits, destined for the
Botswana market. The truck driver walks to the nearest sentry and hands over
the documents. He stretches, shifting from one foot to another. When he's
done declaring the cargo he returns to the truck. The ignition rumbles as
      another officer waves him through the entry point. The driver puffs
away at a cigarette, visibly relieved.

      But ten kilometres before reaching the country's second largest city,
Francistown, he's signalled to stop by police at a road block. Officers talk
loudly as they begin a thorough search of the vehicle. One, in particular,
makes it clear he's not amused by the cargo's particular aroma. It's not
biscuits, but one of the largest drug consignments yet intercepted by
officials in the country. The 56 bags inside the truck contain smaller bags,
weighing about 50 kilograms - filled with dagga. The bust's street
      value is considered to be at least P 500 000, or about Zim $ 500,000
million (US$ 110.000).

      This is one of the reasons why Gaborone is tightening its border
controls. The Botswana government says it spends about P1 million (Z$1
billion, US$ 220.000) to deport the more than hundred thousand illegal
immigrants from Zimbabwe every year.

      But what local officials refer to as the "headache" of illegal
immigrants may be dwarfed by an emerging catastrophe: drug trafficking. The
Ramokgwebana border post is particularly popular because it straddles
Botswana's northern frontier with Zimbabwe.

      Francistown police reveal that in the last six months they have
intercepted more than 300 kilograms of dagga, also known as mbanje or
marijuana. They add harder narcotics  "like cocaine" may have entered the
country already. Superintendent Odirile Rampoka, who heads the Diamond and
Narcotics Squad, says between January and June alone members of his team
confiscated 34 bags of dagga, weighing about 230 kilograms. "We make arrests
today, but tomorrow more bags are brought in," says Rampoka, "most of the
people we arrest claim that they get the stuff from Zimbabwe." He says of
all Botswana's Southern African neighbours,  Zimbabwe has been identified as
the source of most of the illegal drugs found in the country.

      Police officers at the Gaborone headquarters say they have traced much
of the trafficking route to haulage trucks travelling between Zimbabwe and
Botswana. "Truck drivers are targeted and used to transport the drugs," says
one officer, "but even if they're involved, most, when arrested, deny
knowledge of the consignment."

      The policeman, who requested anonymity, says dagga and other illegal
substances are usually sealed in with other, genuine, cargo as a cover-up. A
Zimbabwean truck driver told Zim Online that he is aware of the drug
trafficking network. The man, who only identified himself as George, adds
drugs are entering Botswana not only from Zimbabwe, but also from Zambia and
      the Democratic Republic of Congo. "We travel long distances. Some
unscrupulous people take advantage of drivers because we don't earn much,"
says George.

      When asked if he has not fallen into the same trap George acknowledges
that "some men from Harare" once tried to convince him to take dagga to
South Africa. He says he refused because of the risks involved. Zim Online

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This Day, Nigeria

Zimbabwe Appeals to Nigeria for Assistance
From Iyefu Adoba in Abuja


Out-going Zimbabwean Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr. Kotsho Dube, has appealed to
Federal Government to engage the international communities on its behalf to
make his country better understood in the world.

Speaking during a visit to the Foreign Affairs Minister, Ambassador Oluyemi
Ade-niyi in Abuja, Dube said "the Zimbabwean case has been a Nigerian case
and we hope you will continue to exercise your influence to ensure that we
are better understood."

Commenting on the incident during the last Commonwealth Heads of Government
Meeting (CHO-GM) held last December in Abuja, Adeniyi clarified Nigeria's
position on the issue, saying Nigeria could not have invited Zimbabwe
unilaterally to the meeting.

"In the Commonwealth," explained Adeniyi, "everything is done on consensus
and with the best of intentions. The leeway, which a host country has over
the agenda or attendance, is limited. So this accounts for the impossibility
of unilaterally issuing an invitation to Zimbabwe."

"We differed to the consensus with the hope that the meeting would come up
with recommendations to help break the impasse," added Adeniyi.

The minister said the disagreement on Zimbabwe did not cause a disruption of
the summit, as the members were anxious to sustain and use CHOGM to press
for increase in quantum in the amount of funding for technical cooperation.

Dube emphasising the relationship between the two countries, adding that his
country fully understood the position of the Nigerian government at the
time. He noted: "We have passed that bridge now and look forward to
President Olusegun Obasanjo to re-engage the international communities on
our behalf so that where there is misunderstanding there will be
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Zimbabwe needs inspiration, says brave priest    Basildon Peta
          July 18 2004 at 01:11PM

      He is now being called "Zimbabwe's Desmond Tutu", and very few would

      At a time when Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe appears to have
beaten all his main opponents into submission, one man still puts his head
above the parapet. He is Pius Ncube, the Archbishop of the Roman Catholic
Church in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city.

      The indefatigable Ncube is one of the two most senior ranking Catholic
men in Zimbabwe. He refuses to be silenced and his anti-Mugabe rhetoric
seems to be getting more rigorous by the day, much to the chagrin of many of
his more passive colleagues in the Zimbabwean priesthood.

      Hearing him speak, one would at first be forgiven for thinking one is
listening to Zimbabwe's main opposition leader, not a man of the cloth with
no political ambitions. But Ncube's increasingly radical stance is
justified: "I am not going to be silenced by this unashamed liar (Mugabe).
As long as he inflicts this horror and suffering on the people, I will speak
up," he says.

      Many would wonder from where, at 58, Ncube draws his teen-like,
boundless energy in fighting Mugabe. His answer is simple: "I find the
energy from the need to stand up to the evil that continues to be
perpertrated in Zimbabwe."

      While in Mugabe's opinion Ncube is "another Tutu - an embittered
little bishop", the Zimbabwean leader is, in Ncube's opinion, "the
embodiment of evil".

      To his hordes of admirers, being compared to Tutu is a badge of honour
for Ncube. Very few people in Zimbabwe share Mugabe's negative sentiments on

      The majority say Ncube is to Zimbabwe what Tutu was for South Africa
during apartheid, except that while Tutu would not publicly criticise Nelson
Mandela or other struggle leaders then, Ncube does not hide his disdain for
Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

      Ncube did not mince his words in expressing his impatience with
Tsvangirai in Johannesburg this week. He suggested Tsvangirai was not the
kind of leader who could deliver Zimbabweans from Mugabe's tyranny.

      "Tsvangirai is there, but he is not punchful enough and not convincing
enough," said Ncube.

      The archbishop was blunt in stating his belief that Tsvangirai had
failed to inspire Zimbabweans to resist Mugabe's tyranny. He said what was
now needed was a leader who could inspire the people like Mahatma Gandhi did
in India.

      "Mahatma was a great leader who managed to achieve what he did because
he was able to inspire his people," said Ncube, adding that the MDC now
appeared rudderless.

      "In Zimbabwe we need to find such a leader. We do not seem to have
one... We have no one inspiring people; we have no one telling them to die
for their cause," said Ncube. "We need somebody convincing. We need somebody
able to rally the people and tell them we have had enough of Mugabe and let
us confront him."

      He did not think that Mugabe would shoot everyone if he was confronted
and challenged by Zimbabweans in a properly executed protest action
demanding that he step down.

      He said he travelled to meet Zimbabweans all across the country, and
they all felt "leaderless".

      Tsvangirai's opposition had failed to identify with the people and to
stand with them, Ncube said.

      Despite all its constraints, the opposition had to convince the people
of the need for self-sacrifice. - Independent Foreign Service

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Sunday July 18, 2004

Danville doctor awaits arraignment in Africa

Staff Writer

More details are emerging on the plight of a retired Danville urologist who
was detained in Zimbabwe, and a State Department official is hopeful charges
against him will be dropped.

Dr. Ed Montgomery was arrested July 5 on charges of practicing without a
license while working at a regional hospital in Zimbabwe, located just north
of South Africa, said Jason Sauer, a spokesman for Congressman Ben Chandler.

Chandler's office has been in contact with an unnamed State Department
official who is familiar with the situation, Sauer said.

Montgomery and his wife, Sara Jane, a nurse, had been on a missionary trip
in Zimbabwe for about two weeks when the doctor was detained. Both
Montgomerys were stripped of their passports and have been unable to make
regular contact with family members.

The Montgomerys, veterans of several mission trips around the world, were
traveling with friends and fellow missionaries when the doctor was arrested.

According to the State Department official, the doctor has since been
released from custody and is tentatively scheduled for arraignment on
Thursday. Sauer said the source indicated there was "a good possibility" the
charges against Dr. Montgomery could be dropped.

The Montgomery's eldest daughter, Ashley Montgomery, has been serving as a
spokeswoman for the family. According to Ashley Montgomery, her mother first
e-mailed her about the arrest last week but subsequent letters have been
censored and undated.

"It's been a stressful situation," Ashley Montgomery said.

Dr. Montgomery has been a prominent member of the Danville medical
community, even after his recent retirement. His career includes a lengthy
service with Ephraim McDowell Health, where currently he is a board member.
He is a founding director of the Kentucky Trust Co. and has served as the
medical director for Central Kentucky Physicians Inc.

Copyright The Advocate-Messenger 2004
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Zim targets aid groups
18/07/2004 16:06  - (SA)

Harare - Zimbabwe is threatening to close down non-governmental
organisations and arrest their employees if they do not obtain permission
from the government for their activities, the state-run Sunday Mail

The paper said "quite a number" of NGOs had not registered for government
licences and were believed to be operating illegally and engaging in
political activities.

"Organisations found operating without being registered will be asked to
close down their operations or be arrested for failure to abide by the law,"
the paper quoted an official in the public service ministry as saying.

Under Zimbabwe's laws, all NGOs have to be registered under the Public
Voluntary Organisations Act.

The government is reported to be working on new legislation tightening
regulations for NGOs operating in the country amid allegations from the
ruling party that many organisations are involved in political activities.

The Non-Governmental Organisations and Churches Bill, which has not yet been
presented to parliament, aims to give the state powers to screen NGOs
operating in the country, according to the Sunday Mail.

Churches too have been accused of preaching opposition politics from the

However, the Sunday Mail said proposals to control churches was being seen
in some quarters as "an over-reaction" that would infringe on the right of
Zimbabweans to worship.

The government recently issued a notice to the hundreds of local and
international NGOs working in Zimbabwe warning them to stop operations if
they are not licensed.

"Failure to adhere to the law will result in arrests being made," reads part
of the notice, according to the Sunday Mail.

Recent reports on state television and radio have been critical of the work
being done by some NGOs working in Zimbabwe and have said Zimbabweans need
to be "self-sufficient".
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Desperate families to make final plea in SA
          July 18 2004 at 10:21AM

      By Fienie Grobler

      Johannesburg - The families of suspected mercenaries held in a maximum
security jail in Zimbabwe on coup-plotting charges will on Monday make a
last desperate appeal to South Africa's highest court to bring the men home.

      The mercenary saga stretches across Africa and revolves around 70
South African passport holders who were arrested at Harare airport on March
7 allegedly on their way to topple the president of oil-rich Equatorial

      Marge Payne, 54, wife of arrested co-pilot Ken Payne, says her worst
fear is that the men will be extradited to Malabo where they could be

      "Zimbabwe can just pack the men up and send them to Equatorial Guinea.
God, I do not know what that will mean," says Payne from a stylish home in
an upper-class security estate east of Johannesburg.

      Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has reportedly agreed to extradite
the men to Equatorial Guinea where the two military generals in charge of
the high court could sentence the men to death before a firing squad.

      "South Africa cannot only intervene once these men get the death
penalty. We have to go by what our constitution says. We brag about how free
and fair it is all the time," says Payne in reference to South Africa's ban
on capital punishment.

      The alleged mercenaries who stopped in Harare to pick up weapons, were
arrested on a tip-off from South Africa - an issue that stands at the core
of the court case spearheaded by the families who argue that South Africa is
responsible for their fate.

      The families will ask the Constitutional Court on Monday to overrule a
high court ruling against them and to order the South African government to
request that the men be returned to South Africa to stand trial here.

      The government is opposing the application, arguing that it should not
be forced to intervene on behalf of citizens who break laws outside the
country and must retain the freedom to decide what action to take.

      The South African government, working hard to shed its reputation of
being a haven for soldiers of fortune in Africa, has said it has no evidence
against the men and that they will walk free if brought back.

      "I believe President Thabo Mbeki is the only person who has the ways
and means to bring the men back," says Jerry Carlse, the brother of detained
Harry Carlse, a security consultant and a former member of the Special Task
Force, South Africa's crack troops.

      "President Mbeki and Uncle Bob (Mugabe) are good friends. If he phones
and says, hey, Bob, won't you send me those guys back here, Uncle Bob won't
think about it twice. Because Mbeki helps him in lots of ways," adds Carlse.

      Zimbabwean authorities have charged the men with breaching the
security, firearms, aviation and immigration law and they are scheduled to
go on trial on Wednesday.

      If convicted the men could face a fine or a five-year prison term, but
the real question is whether Zimbabwe will then hand them over to Equatorial
Guinea for trial.

      Those arrested include the alleged group leader Briton Simon Mann, who
is accused of leading the mercenary force into Malabo that was to kill
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema.

      The men have dismissed the coup charges and contend they were on their
way to the Democratic Republic of Congo to guard a diamond mine.

      Mann is the only one among the group of 70 who has distanced himself
from the families' court case against the South African government and his
legal team is rumoured to be negotiating his extradition to Britain.

      "Mr Mann and his family remain convinced that there are more
appropriate ways than legal challenges to promote the South African
government's understanding and support for the position of the 70 men," his
lawyer Mariette Kurger said in a statement released on Thursday.

      But in the eyes of Carlse and Payne and 67 other families, this case
is the only and last chance at a fair trial.

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