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

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Genocide by any other name.

The decision of the Senate in the United States to call the situation in
Darfur, genocide, was an important step towards resolving the situation
facing the Sudanese people living in the southern Sudan. There is little
doubt now that the Sudanese government has armed and equipped the militia
that has been terrorizing the people of the Darfur region. I watched the
Secretary General of the United Nations being interviewed on the same
subject and he carefully skirted around the issue - saying that the form of
words used was important but he was very careful not to use the "G" word. He
knows full well that that would have triggered a response that would have
demanded action by the UN to protect the rights of the Sudanese people.

In Sudan we have a government dominated by a minority who hold onto power by
any and all means available. It is not a democracy. In Zimbabwe we are
governed by a small oligarchy who have been in power for 24 years and hold
onto power by all the means at their disposal. They have subverted the
electoral process so that it has become a farce. We are no longer a

In the Sudan the people of Darfur are terrorized by a militia, which is
trained and supported by the Sudanese government. These have destroyed the
homes of the people of Darfur and driven a million people across the Chad
border into the desert where they are suffering severe physical deprivation.
In Zimbabwe the armed forces are used to train and mobilize a militia that
is terrorizing the democratic opponents of Zanu PF and denying people the
right to make a living and to live with their families through economic
depravation. The destruction of the formal economy is deliberate and
designed to undercut the support base for the opposition. As a result 2,5
million people have been forced into exile as economic refugees in the past
4 years.

In the Sudan it is estimated that 300 000 people are under threat from
hunger and exposure in the deserts of central Africa. In Zimbabwe 800 000
people have died from preventable diseases and Aids and related causes in
the past 4 years.  Many simply because they cannot afford the right foods
and the hospitals are now simply death traps for the ill and injured.

The political elite in the Sudan have lied and made all kinds of statements
to deflect international criticisms. In Zimbabwe the State has engaged in an
all out propaganda war to keep African States on sides and to persuade them
that this is a conflict with the West and not with legitimate internal
forces of opposition.

In fact what has been going on here in Zimbabwe is a sophisticated form of
genocide. An illegitimate government that has tried to destroy any internal
opposition to its rule by all means available. In the period 1980 to 1987,
the Zapu opposition led by Joshua Nkomo was subjected to mass killings;
starvation and other forms of state sponsored violence. This savage campaign
saw twice as many people killed as in the civil war which brought
independence and majority rule from white settler dominated government in
1980. This genocidal campaign only came to an end when Zapu capitulated and
entered a "government of national unity" in 1987.

When finally, after two decades of mismanagement and corruption, civil
society forces in Zimbabwe decided to again confront Zanu PF on the
electoral field, the State launched an all out attack on the opposition.
Mutasa famously made the statement that "if we are only left with 6 million
people at the end of this exercise, but they support Zanu PF, we will be
quite happy".  So now, after 4 years of this all out campaign, Zimbabwe
instead of having a population of 16 million people with an average life
expectancy of 60 years and average literacy of over 95 per cent, has a
population of less than 11 million and average life expectancies of under 35

Each year hundreds of thousands of people either die from disease, hunger or
malnutrition or simply pack their few belongings in a bag and flee the
country. The targets have been clear - first it was the commercial farm
community - 2 million people who held the balance of power between the urban
and the rural electoral communities. Now it is the urban educated and middle
class. Like the Kulaks in Russia in the 1930's these classes are being
deliberately eliminated to ensure the continued control of central
government by an aging oligarchy of veterans of the earlier civil war.

Is it genocide - of course, but by any other name! It is no accident that
the UN has described the situations in the Sudan and Zimbabwe as "the worst
examples of human suffering and depravation in the world today".

In the Sudan they have chosen to resist the Sudanese government by force and
the SPLA and others have been engaged in a civil war for the past 30 years.
It has not brought change or democracy to that ravaged country. The AU, the
UN and the international community at large now face the possibility of yet
another costly and difficult exercise involving military and political

Here we still have the possibility of a peaceful, democratic and lawful
transition of power from one regime to another - but time is running out.
The MDC has committed itself to just such a process but in order to achieve
this outcome it must have help. This is recognised by the State that has
banned all foreign assistance to political parties and now is attempting to
choke off support for civil society NGO's as well. If help is not
forthcoming then there is the very danger that AU and SADC imposed
democratic elections might again be subverted by the inability of the local
opposition and civil society to ensure the process is not again hijacked by
ballot stuffing and other malpractice's.

Am I being melodramatic? Not at all - we will face an election with over 12
000 balloting stations - at which counting will take place on the night
after the election. To cover this we will have to train and deploy 48 000
monitors on Friday night - for this we will need 2 400 vehicles - mainly
pick ups to transport people and then support them at their polling
stations. This is one thing for a government and a political party that will
use State resources shamelessly to achieve its ends and has tens of
thousands of police and army personnel to call on - its another matter for
the opposition.

In 2000 and 2002 the MDC was supported by thousands of individuals who used
their own vehicles and by NGO's who trained and supported the people who
went out to man the polling stations. The majority of those people are no
longer in the country. The NGO's will themselves be crippled by the new
legislation that is pending in Parliament.

The AU and the SADC are pressing Mugabe and his cohorts to conform to the
SADC norms for a democratic election. There are hopeful signs that this
might just happen - even though the Mugabe regime will manipulate the
process and delay implementing the required measures until the last minute.
But if we are given the chance to vote on the day, under reasonable
conditions then we must have the resources required to control the process
on the ground. A few well-meaning observers cannot achieve this. It can only
be achieved by the empowerment of the local population to ensure their votes
are recorded and counted properly. I only hope someone outside there is
thinking about this issue right now and will do something before it is too

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 24th July 2004
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From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 24 July

'I'm not going to be bullied by Mugabe'

By Anton La Guardia

Archbishop Pius Ncube speaks slowly and softly, yet this Zimbabwean priest
has become the loudest voice of defiance against the injustices of Robert
Mugabe. The Zimbabwean president's political rivals are harassed, imprisoned
and tortured; independent newspapers have been closed down; the population
as a whole is being cowed by economic collapse and food shortages. But the
57-year-old Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo has become ever more
outspoken - not only in Zimbabwe but, increasingly, abroad. His arrival this
week in Britain - Zimbabwe's former colonial ruler - seems almost calculated
to infuriate President Mugabe, who likes to blame all of his country's woes
on Tony Blair and his cabinet of "gay gangsters". "Mugabe uses this Tony
Blair blame game as an excuse," says Archbishop Ncube. "Tony Blair has not
destroyed the economy of Zimbabwe. It's Robert Mugabe who has destroyed it.
He is tricky and deceitful." But was he not playing into Mugabe's hands by
coming to Britain? "I'm not going to be bullied," replies the archbishop, as
we sit in the garden of his Kensington hotel. "If I stayed away, he would
have me where he wants me. I am free. That freedom is not given to me by
Mugabe. He is not my God. I have one true God."

Dressed simply in a grey suit, a dog collar, crucifix and large plastic
spectacles, Archbishop Ncube looks more like an unprepossessing village
priest than purple-clad prelate. He is, though, the archetypal turbulent
priest. President Mugabe has not yet asked his barons to get rid of him, but
they have tried almost everything short of killing him. Archbishop Ncube's
telephones are tapped, government agents monitor his every sermon and he has
been told he is on a secret police "death list". The state-controlled press
is filled with diatribes and sordid tales about Archbishop Ncube. Among the
accusations are claims that he has raped nuns, fathered bastard children and
indulged in homosexual acts with prisoners. The latest abuse came earlier
this month, after the archbishop chastised Mugabe during a trip to South
Africa. Nathan Shamuyarira, one of Mugabe's lieutenants, said: "The
archbishop is a paid propagandist who works for the racist imperialist
governments to undermine the Zimbabwe government." Archbishop Ncube
carefully reads these words in a newspaper cutting, but seems untroubled.
"Anyone who speaks the truth must be abused and attacked and denigrated. Let
them get on with it." President Mugabe is on record as describing Archbishop
Ncube as "an unholy man". But the archbishop's international profile is both
the cause of the president's fury and a shackle on his ability to take more
drastic action. About a month ago, Mugabe vented his frustration to a
Catholic priest, telling him: "Archbishop Ncube should take off his priest's
robes and become a proper politician. Then I will deal with him properly."

Pius Ncube was born near Gwanda, in southern Matabeleland. He was one of
four children. He was educated in mission schools - first by Presbyterians
and then Catholics - where he went by the anglicised name of Alick. He was
baptised a Roman Catholic at the age of 14, adopting the papal name of Pius.
At 17, he felt a calling to the priesthood and trained under an English
Jesuit missionary in Salisbury, the Rhodesian capital that has since been
renamed Harare. He studied in Rome during the early years of Zimbabwe's
transition from white minority to independence under Robert Mugabe. Soon
after Fr Pius returned to Bulawayo in 1983, conflict broke out between the
new government and supposed "dissidents" in Matabeleland. Mugabe despatched
his army - particularly the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade - to wage a
campaign of suppression, known as the Gukurahundi, meaning the rain that
washes away the chaff before the spring rains. According to researchers,
between 2,000 and 8,000 people were killed in a series of atrocities, at
least 10,000 were arrested and 7,000 beaten or tortured. Hundreds of homes
were burnt down. The Gukurahundi was Fr Ncube's first encounter with the
brutality that Mugabe was capable of inflicting on his perceived enemies.
"Awful things were being done that the state media was not reporting. People
were buried alive, mothers were raped in front of their daughters, people
were herded into a hut and burnt or shot if they tried to escape. People
were dropped into disused mines. This man is really evil."

After years of grooming, Fr Ncube was appointed archbishop of Bulawayo in
1997 and became freer to speak his mind. The last straw came in early 2000,
when Mugabe ordered the "war veterans" to invade white-owned farms after his
defeat in a constitutional referendum. One of the provisions of the new
constitution was an obligation on Britain to pay compensation to commercial
farmers for land expropriated by the government. The crisis was presented as
an attempt to right the injustice of whites holding the lion's share of the
best land. But for Archbishop Ncube, the land grab was not an attempt to
help the landless, but a move to hold on to power. The result was that
Zimbabwe's agricultural-based economy was shattered. "They have distributed
only two per cent of the land to farmers. A lot has been given to ministers
and Mugabe's friends. There is no honesty," says Archbishop Ncube. The land
invasions were an important tool during the parliamentary elections in June
2000, and the presidential ballot in March 2002. The war veterans
intimidated black farm workers, who were likely to vote for the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change, and emasculated the white farmers, one of
the most organised groups in the country.

By portraying the crisis as a colonial question, Mugabe stifled any real
criticism from fellow Africans. For Archbishop Ncube, other African leaders
have proved to be "blind". The inaction of President Thabo Mbeki of South
Africa - the one man who might be able to force Mr Mugabe to change - has
been a special "disappointment". Zimbabwean church leaders have proved to be
less than vocal, and some bishops are believed to have taken former white
farms. But Archbishop Ncube takes a charitable view of his fellow prelates:
"They are looking for a more diplomatic way. I have become more
confrontational. They do a lot of things quietly, trying to assist the sick
and poor, assisting development projects." But it is clear that Archbishop
Ncube wishes they took a more public position. "The government has silenced
everybody. They want to give the impression that everything is normal when,
in fact, it is grossly abnormal. They are full of lies and deceit. To be
quiet is a disservice to the people of Zimbabwe and disloyal to Christ."

Archbishop Ncube says he is inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela,
Bishop Desmond Tutu and Oscar Romero, the El Salvadorian archbishop who was
assassinated by a Right-wing death squad in 1980. Saying he has a "mission"
to speak out against Mugabe, he explains his actions by quoting a passage
from Luke 4:18 in which Jesus, in turn, quotes Isaiah: "The Spirit of the
Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the
poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to
the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them
that are bruised." Archbishop Ncube is reluctant to speak about himself, but
deals with personal questions as the price to be paid for publicising his
latest project - the launch of the Zimbabwe Defence and Aid Fund, which aims
to fund legal costs of Zimbabweans being prosecuted under oppressive
legislation, provide aid to victims of human rights abuses and those
infected with the HIV virus.

He speaks in a slightly distracted manner, often sighing, constantly
scanning his notes. He clearly wants to get to his main message about
conditions in Zimbabwe, and takes every opportunity to rattle off facts and
figures. He notes that 3.4 million Zimbabweans are living outside the
country; inflation is running at 500 per cent; unemployment stands at 80 per
cent; half the children are suffering malnutrition; one in four adults are
infected with the HIV virus or have Aids; there have been 300 reported cases
of political violence and intimidation this year alone. The litany goes on
and on. At the end of his notes, I notice the words, written in bold
capitals, "policy of starvation". Archbishop Ncube says between five and
eight million Zimbabweans will need food aid this year, despite the
government's claim to have enough food. This, he maintains, is evidence that
President Mugabe will use food shortages as a political tool to starve
opponents into submission. Archbishop Ncube wants Zimbabweans to stand up to
their rulers, saying: "They cannot imprison the whole country." At the same
time, though, he fears that desperation will lead to another African civil
war. "It would be a tragedy if, all of a sudden, people went violent.
Mugabe's last card is to call the army and say: `Shoot them'. He is a cruel
man." I ask the archbishop whether President Mugabe has retained any of the
moral teachings of his Jesuit education. "He knows what is right and what is
wrong," he says. "But for him, power has become a God. He has become blind
to divine principles. He has become a megalomaniac." Is it not just a matter
of a few years before Mugabe, an octogenarian, will be forced to step down?
"I cannot foresee the future," he replies. "Some of these dictators live
long. Look at Pinochet. What I know is that, by the time Mugabe dies, he
will have carried with him tens of thousands of people who will have died
because of his callousness."
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      Chávez and Mugabe: Plutarch would not have bothered
      By Gustavo Coronel, July 25, 2004
      Southern Rhodesia was an African jewel when Mugabe took it over almost
25 years ago. Novelist Doris Lessing tells us in "The Tragedy of Zimbabwe,"
(The New York Review of Books, April 10, 2003) that when independence was
reached, blacks "looked forward to a life of plenty and competence that
existed nowhere in Africa. . . . But paradise was to have an infrastructure,
and by now its going, going, almost gone." The man associated with this
calamity, says Lessing, is Robert Mugabe. Although today Mugabe is widely
execrated, adds Lessing, blame started late. The outside world looked on him
with benevolence, although all the early signs of the coming disaster were
there. He surrounded himself with North Korean bodyguards, a gang of
murderers and rapists but people seemed to overlook this. He started, says
Lessing, to say the right things: blacks and whites must work together. He
promised to fight corruption and tried to limit his collaborators to one
property. However, Lessing says, when these collaborators started to steal,
Mugabe did nothing. When Mugabe came to power he had the goodwill of his
people. Even those who did not vote for him were initially prepared to
forget their differences to work together. Lessing says that in all villages
of Zimbabwe the general belief of the people was; "Mugabe will do this and
that." Yet, he preferred to restrict himself to an ever-smaller circle of
cronies. He gave refuge to a hated Ethiopian dictator, Mengitsu (still
there) and became a good friend of the corrupt prime minister of Malaysia,
Mohammed. Although in the 1980's the corrupt Mugabe government sold the
grain given to the country by the United Nations, leftist and Marxist
intellectuals from all over the world defended Mugabe with passion.

      The people from Zimbabwe, says Lessing, are too patient and prefer to
joke about their misfortunes and dream about better times. But they already
say that if they can get rid of Mugabe, they will be able to create a better
country. This is difficult to do because, Lessing says: "Mugabe has created
a caste of greedy people like himself" so that, even if he is ousted, a
similar crook will take his place.

      Mugabe has promoted racial hate. His anti-white rhetoric is the worst
in Africa but the blacks of Zimbabwe do not hate the whites, in spite of
Mugabe's hateful speech. Mugabe has focused this hate on the white farmers
and has promoted a "land reform" which has ruined the country. But Mugabe
himself has made a fortune. The money he has made has served to buy the
loyalty of the army officers who are the only ones who can oust him.

      Mugabe, says Lessing, hates Tony Blair and firmly believes that Blair
is obsessed about killing him. In Zimbabwe no one thinks that Blair spends
one minute of his time thinking about Mugabe, but Mugabe is convinced that
this is the case. This is what is known as paranoia.

      The so-called land reform has been equally disastrous for white and
black farmers and, as a result, the people of Zimbabwe are going hungry.
Mugabe is rejecting the donation of food by foreign governments and uses the
food available in the country as a political tool. The government claims to
be producing some 2.4 million tons of grains while the UN estimates the crop
in less than one million metric tons. It is said that Mugabe is importing
Chinese farmers to grow food since the farms taken over by the "reform" are
idle because the machinery was not maintained properly.

      Only a few days ago Mugabe castigated private charities, aid
organizations and NGO's for "interfering in domestic affairs of Zimbabwe."
He said some of these organizations should be closed down and their members
arrested as traitors. "We cannot allow them to be used as conduits of
foreign interference," he said. He added that no one could give Zimbabwe
lessons on human rights. The law he wants passed is similar to the law
Zimbabwe already passed in 2002 giving the government power to close
independent media. 31 journalists were arrested as the result of the
application of that law. More than 200 people have been killed by the
political violence generated by government gangs and police.

      In the financial scene Zimbabwe owes the International Monetary Fund
some $300 million since 2001. The IMF is giving Mugabe still another
extension of six months to see if he pays his debts.

      The chronic neglect and consequent decline of Zimbabwe's health care
sector is dramatically illustrated by the fact that the new ambulances are

      However, in contrast with the miseries described above, Mugabe said
last Tuesday in parliament that "Zimbabwe is undergoing an economic
revival." He arrived in a Rolls Royce, under heavy police and military
escort, accompanied by his young and pretty wife Grace, smartly dressed by a
Paris establishment. He said that land "reform" would continue, that people
should be patriotic and resist foreign interference. In a recent event, the
African Union Summit, UN Secretary general Kofi Annan said that "There is no
clearer wisdom than knowing when to pass the torch to a new generation." Who
did he have in mind?

      We do not have to be a Plutarch to realize that in Chávez and Mugabe
we are dealing with a clear case of parallel lives. Of course, Plutarch
wrote about distinguished parallel lives, not about the parallel lives of
little men destroying their societies. Anyone who read the summary of
Mugabe's performance, given above, would need no further proof that Mugabe
and Chávez belong in the same category of political leaders. The parallelism
is almost perfect. Chávez has realized that he and Mugabe are spiritual
twins and that led him to invite Mugabe to Venezuela early this year, when
he was served with an exhibition of military brutality by the Venezuelan
National Guard.

      In the case of Venezuela and Chávez we can also talk about "The
Venezuelan Tragedy," except that it does not come after 25 years but after
only six years. As in the case of Mugabe, Chávez also had at the outset a
clear majority and strong support, even from those who did not vote for him.
He also promised to fight corruption but he also gave in to the greed of the
military and the gangsters who surround him. Today, Venezuela is a tragic
case of hyper corruption, due to a combination of high government income and
a total lack of ethics and accountability on the part of public officials.
As Mugabe did, Chávez has surrounded himself with foreign bodyguards, not
North Koreans but Cubans. When Chávez started his presidency all Venezuelans
believed that he could be different. But today he is ruling with his family
and a close group of friends, all highly uncultured. He invited former
dictator Perez Jimenez to his inauguration. He has protected corrupt
Aristide. He has made friends with the terrorists and murderers who make up
the Colombian guerrillas. He visited Sadam Hussein in Iraq. We have a saying
in Venezuela: The quality of the traveler is known by his suitcase. Chávez's
suitcase is really pathetic, full of gangsters.

      The people of Venezuela are patient and joke about their misfortunes,
just as in Zimbabwe. We also claim that getting rid of Chávez will put us,
once again, in the path to progress. Chávez has created, as Mugabe has done,
a caste of greedy and corrupt people but he has not had the time to
consolidate this mafia. In fact, this mafia is crumbling down at this very

      As it has happened with Mugabe, Chávez has found or has bought a group
of leftist, greedy intellectuals that are writing nice things about him for
a fee. As long as the money is coming to these websites and journalists,
they will keep singing his praise.

      As Mugabe has done, Chávez has promoted racial hatred. This hate has
been directed to all whites, to the middle class, to the Catholic Church, to
the media, to civil society, to the oligarchs that, according to him, make
up the sector of society to be exterminated. In his pathological hate he
sometimes reverses roles and paints himself as the white hero (Florentino)
while describing the opposition as the black devil. But also as in the case
of Mugabe, this promotion of racial hatred has had very little acceptance
among the Venezuelan people, who has lived in harmony for many years and
will continue to do so, long after Chávez becomes an unpleasant memory.

      Chávez, as Mugabe, is buying the loyalty of a corrupt military group.
However, this is a very shaky arrangement, since there are honest military
officers who are not inclined to be bought while there are many greedy
military officers trying to get into the act. The whole set-up is very
fragile and is keeping Chávez awake at night trying to figure out who is
loyal and who will rebel.

      Chávez (as Mugabe) believes that someone is after him. In his case the
person is Bush. As a result he is obsessed with antagonizing him. He is
paying a lot of money to discredit Bush, except that, if Kerry wins, he will
probably be more anti-Chávez than Bush is.

      The Venezuelan land reform in Venezuela has proven to be as disastrous
as in Zimbabwe. It has no organization, no technical back up, any system. By
sending his brother to Cuba as Ambassador, instead of running the reform,
Chávez has given up on this farce and has tried to replace it with social,
urban programs, which have become the new way to make new millionaires among
the revolutionaries.

      Mugabe claims that food production is more than twice what it really
is. Chávez claims that oil production is 35% more than it really is. Mugabe
imports Chinese farmers and Chávez imports Cuban "doctors."

      Mugabe attacks NGO's. Chávez attacks NGO's. They both claim that these
organizations are traitors to the fatherland, bla bla bla. Mugabe does not
allow food from foreign countries to enter the country, in order to
alleviate the misery of the people of Zimbabwe. Chávez refused to accept US
help to alleviate the plight of the people of Venezuela when the mudslides
of northern Venezuela took place. The twins show an identical spiritual

      Chávez passes laws, which will render democracy impossible, just as
Mugabe has done. And, as in the case of Mugabe, he goes on record to affirm
that "everything is fine in Venezuela, that all is progressing, that
Venezuela is improving."

      Mugabe and Chávez are two of a kind. They will go on record as tragic
enemies of their countries. Their biographies are not what Plutarch had in
mind, more suitable for Corin Tellado.

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Zim pensioners to fight for their money    Keith Ross
          July 25 2004 at 03:43PM

      The plight of thousands of Zimbabwean pensioners living in South
Africa - most of whom have received no pension for over a year - will be
raised by a new body formed to lobby at national and international level.

      Many of the pensioners now live off the charity of family and friends.
Most thought they had made adequate provision for their retirement, until
they fell victim to Zimbabwe's economic nosedive.

      The pensioners' case has been fought in the past few years by the
Flame Lily Foundation of South Africa, but its efforts have met with limited

      The foundation's honorary national secretary, John Redfern, said it
had become clear that a new body was needed to give attention to the urgent
needs of the pensioners.

      "We estimate there are 13 000 to 15 000 Zimbabwean pensioners living
in South Africa," he said. "Most of them don't like to speak about their
situation, but we know that many are desperate."

      Redfern said many of the pensioners - or their widows - were now in
their 70s and too old to find jobs in South Africa.

      He said his organisation had recently decided to form the Zimbabwean
Pensioners Association in a bid to find solutions to the problem.

      The association's first priority would be to gather a data base of all
Zimbabwean pensioners living in South Africa.

      It would also make further approaches to the Zimbabwean government in
an effort to get pension payments resumed.

      "We have already asked the South African government to lend the
necessary foreign currency to Zimbabwe, so it can pay the pensions.

      "We will also appeal to an organisation in the United Kingdom that is
helping pensioners in Zimbabwe. We will ask them to also help Zimbabwean
pensioners in South Africa."

      Redfern said almost without exception there had been no pension
pay-outs from Zimbabwe since last March.

      Pay-outs had been blocked by the Zimbabwean Reserve Bank because of
the shortage of foreign currency.

      "The first cut in pensions came in January 2001, when the National
Railways of Zimbabwe said they could not pay because they had no foreign

      "Later that year the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe issued a directive that
forex could be made available only for essential items. It seems pensions
were not regarded as essential."

      Redfern said many pensioners had then received "sporadic" payments
until early last year. "It seems there are also administrative problems,
besides the lack of forex. Even pensioners in Zimbabwe are not getting
regular payments."

      Redfern can be contacted at 012 460 2066.

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From Business Day (SA), 24 July

SADC talks at Sun City should show if SA is backing down on quiet diplomacy

Ministers expected to toughen development community's stance on Harare

International Affairs Editor

An indication of the extent to which the region has toughened its stance
towards Zimbabwe could emerge from two days of talks between Southern
African Development Community (SADC) ministers of defence and foreign
affairs that begins in Sun City today. In considering a new draft of tougher
SADC principles and guidelines governing democratic elections, the ministers
could send a message to Zimbabwe that it should ensure free and fair polls.
It would also be a signal to the international community that SADC is intent
on living up to principles it has already adopted. The meeting of the
ministers, under the auspices of the SADC organ on politics, defence, and
security co-operation, is most unlikely to result in public criticism of
Zimbabwe. A former participant in these talks says they "are the most
secretive you will come across." Nevertheless, this former participant says
that Zimbabwe is likely to face private criticism during the Sun City

The recommendations of the meetings will feed into briefing notes for SADC
heads of state, who will be holding a summit in Mauritius next month.
Speculation has mounted since a report criticising Zimbabwe's human rights
record was put before, but not considered or adopted by, African Union (AU)
foreign ministers ahead of its recent summit in Addis Ababa. In what has
been viewed as a possible signal of a shift towards a tougher stance,
Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma earlier this month denied that she
had thwarted consideration of the report at the AU meeting. Deputy Foreign
Minister Aziz Pahad's meeting this week with South African Council of
Churches general secretary Molefe Tsele, has also been viewed as an
indication of a possible shift. The council has criticised SA's policy of
quiet diplomacy. But Pahad's remarks after the meeting, that Zimbabwe is
indeed working towards free and fair elections, could indicate that no shift
is taking place, at least in SA's public posture.

Ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for March next year, Zimbabwe is
about to change its electoral laws to try to persuade the international
community that the process will be both free and fair. The changes include
the possible introduction of transparent ballot boxes and the establishment
of an independent election commission. But the country's main opposition
party, the Movement for Democratic Change, as well as human rights groups,
say that an electoral bill will severely hamper campaigning by restricting
access to the voters roll. These groups also claim that Zimbabwean President
Robert Mugabe's government has practised widespread intimidation,
particularly with threats in rural areas to burn down homes if the vote does
not go their way in a constituency, and that it is assured of a wide margin
of victory. Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota, Pahad and his fellow deputy
foreign minister Sue van der Merwe will be attending the Sun City talks.
Dlamini-Zuma, who is currently on official visits to Mali and the Gambia,
will not attend.
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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.


You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other
people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested
in you.
-- Dale Carnegie


Letter 1.  Subject: Help!

Dear Jag,

    Wonder if you would be so kind as to print this " distress letter, "
relating to a vehicle stolen in broad daylight. I have heard it happen to
others but until it actually happens to you it is quite impossible to
really appreciate the depth and feeling of utter sickness quickly followed
by intense anger, that rises in your whole being. It happened like this:

    Had the Toyota Land Cruiser Pick-up (Registration Number 763.556 B) in
at Mike Harris Toyota, on the Lomugundi Road, for a service. Dropped it
there on Wednesday 14th July and went over to collect it on Friday morning
16th July 2004. Drove out of the Mike Harris workshops and on the way home
stopped at the Standard Bank, Borrowdale so as to draw some cash to fill
her up with diesel. So far so good!

    Had parked right under/in front of the tower that holds the Fawcett
Guard, above the guarded car park, behind the " Master Angler. " Looked up
at the guard and waved so that he saw me get out of my vehicle. Was away
some twenty minutes and on my return the Land Cruiser Pick-up was gone! " I
shouted at the guard and he came scurrying down from above. " A black man
with jacket came, he had keys, opened your car door, started it up and
drove away, he had keys, no forced entry or playing with wires, " he kept

    Thereafter I had to go report the loss to Borrowdale Police, who
immediately broadcast the registration number supplied over their net work,
alerted CID and assured me that if it moved out through any roadblocks (to
Zambia or Mocambique!) that day, it would get found. I have to admit that
for once they jumped around at the Borrowdale Police Station and were
extremely quick and efficient. They even phoned me later to tell me to
relax and that they were doing everything possible to recover the "almost
new, 28,500 km. white in colour Land Cruiser pick-up."

     Reported the vehicle theft to Kim Colyer, MD at Fawcett's Security,
and he too was very helpful, promising to follow up on the report and also
to broadcast it over their Fawcett Security network. He would also have a
personal word with the Sergeant-in-Charge of that ' stick of men ' at " Sam
Levy's Village, guarded car park. "

    I drove some hundred kilometers around town thereafter, looking out and
praying that I would, by some devine providence, " bump into the vehicle
and its new driver. " The first thing my domestic said to me when I finally
arrived home, " it has to be the guys at the garage that made a spare key
while your vehicle was in those two days for service. " (A fellow had
phoned from the garage to say, " do not come and collect it tomorrow, as we
are closed, come on Monday!) I presumed he had mistaken the next day as
being the Saturday, so I went to collect on Friday anyway. Spoke to the
Customer Service Manager (Paul Hagen) at Mike Harris. He said that they are
very aware of the " access to keys '' and have special procedures whereby
only certain people have key access. I will be taking the ' key issue '
further next week, as the police are also certain that having keys to the
vehicle was suspect. In the meantime, if you chaps out there (and your
kids) could keep your eyes open I would be ever so grateful if you could
spot the all-white Toyota Land Cruiser Pick-up, with black bull bars,
towing triangle thereon, black roll bars and bolts for two spare wheels
placed either side of the main box-body, and slightly to the rear. On the
rear window is written, " Norman's Toyota. " (386, Jan Smuts Ave.

        The recovery of this vehicle will not find me backward in coming
forward with a substantial reward. Thanks in anticipation for your help. (a
very distraught) Glen Houghton.


Letter 2.  Subject Next Time - It Could be You! Pay Attention!

 Dear Friends,

Most of you will have received various warnings of hijacking methods,
please do not ignore them. Read them and take note.

A most recent one that happened to a friend yesterday at Borrowdale Village:
She was approached by a lady claiming to be from Mozambique, asking for
directions to the Pink House.  She claimed not to understand English very
well and begged my friend to take her to the Pink House in return for
US$100.  Very tempting.  However, my friend declined but the woman was very
persistent and in the end my friend relented and the two of them jumped into
her car.  Luckily enough one of the women that work in the kiosk saw this
happening and managed to get the security guard to stop the car, just in
time.  Following closely behind were 3 men in a twincab.

This woman has approached 2 people I know of already, one at Arundel
Village and now this one, and goodness knows how many others have fallen
for her story or been tempted.  PLEASE ignore this woman and walk away if
you can, and make sure you are not alone when you approach your vehicle to
avoid a confrontation with the three accomplices.  People will stop at
nothing to get what they want, your life may be at risk and even the lure
of US$100 is not worth it, please be very aware of your surroundings and
take care.

Please forward to as many people as possible, you may save a friend from a
hijacking, or even their life!

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.


JAG Hotlines:
(011) 612 595 If you are in trouble or need advice,
(011) 205 374
(011) 863 354 please don't hesitate to contact us -
(011) 431 068
                                we're here to help!
263 4 799 410 Office Lines
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Zim Standard

AirZim workers nabbed for human trafficking
By our own Staff

.Airline workers helping smuggle fugitives to UK POLICE and secret security
agents based at the Harare International Airport have smashed an
international human trafficking syndicate in which workers at Air Zimbabwe
were smuggling fugitives and asylum seekers onto London bound planes for
huge pay offs, investigations by The Standard have revealed.

Three workers at the heavily-indebted national airline were recently
arrested for helping the two foreigners get into a plane using forged South
African passports.

Investigators say the two foreigners had paid out several millions of
dollars to be shared among members of the syndicate before they were
guaranteed passage through the security check-points at the airport.

Assistant Police Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed the crackdown had
resulted in two foreigners being arrested while hiding in an Air Zimbabwe
aircraft bound for the United Kingdom.

"Two people, one from Pakistan and another from the Democratic Republic of
Congo were arrested on July 4 after they used fake passports to get into the
plane with the assistance of Air Zimbabwe personnel. The Air Zimbabwe
workers are now facing prevention of corruption charges," said Bvudzijena.

Although he did not provide details, he said the two foreigners had already
appeared in court and pleaded guilty to charges laid against them.

He identified the Zimbabweans arrested in connection with the syndicate as
Lindiwe Mugabe, Tawanda Shonhiwa and Ephraim Musarurwa.

Workers at the national airline who spoke to The Standard last week said the
human trafficking syndicate had been going on for several years.

"Zimbabweans and other nationals seeking asylum in the UK and fugitives
running away from law enforcements agents would contact certain people at
Air Zimbabwe for easy passage to the United Kingdom.

"The airline workers also helped their relatives without passports get free
rides on the plane to the UK where they would claim asylum," said one Air
Zimbabwe employee.

The ease with which security personnel have allowed the scandal to occur
under their noses raise questions about the safety of passengers using the
Harare International Airport.

In September 2001, terrorists hijacked aircraft to launch terror attacks
against the USA.

Employees at the national airline said following the arrests, security at
the Harare International Airport had been tightened.

But the director of Airports and Business Development in the Civil Aviation
Authority, Jerry Ndlovu, said the breaching of the security wall did not
mean that security at the airport was sloppy.

"All the security arms at the airport, including the Central Intelligence
Organisation and police are always on high alert."

The Standard has established that the two foreigners were on the run from
Canadian law enforcement agents in connection with drug related offences and
bribed personnel working at Air Zimbabwe to facilitate easy entry into the

They flew from Canada to Johannesburg, South Africa, and hired a vehicle,
which they drove through Beitbridge to Harare.

Sources close to the investigations said the duo abandoned the vehicle in
Harare before contacting a representative of the syndicate at the national
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Zim Standard

Global HIV/Aids fund snubs Zimbabwe
By Bertha Shoko

THE Global Fund has turned down Zimbabwe's HIV/Aids fourth application for
funding, throwing into disarray the country's plans to scale up Anti
Retroviral Therapy (ART) to its more than 1,8 million adults and children
living with the HIV/Aids.

The Global fund is an independent organisation set up to mobilise resources
for the fight against malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/Aids throughout the

It consists of representatives from donor and recipient governments,
non-governmental organisations and the private sector, philanthropic
foundations and affected communities.

Sources close to the Fund said Zimbabwe's application for US$218 million for
HIV/Aids intervention programme, had been turned down by the fund which
approved grants to the tune of US$968 million for other countries.

These included Zambia which was granted US$254 million, Tanzania US$293 m
and Kenya which got US$186 m.

Dr David Parirenyatwa, the Minister of Health and Child Welfare who is also
chairman of the Country Coordinating Mechanism for the Global Fund,
confirmed to The Standard that the country's funding proposal had not been

"Yes, our proposal was turned down and we know it is very political. These
are the sanctions that anti-government organisations and the MDC are calling
for and this has resulted in a humanitarian proposal being turned down.

"I am very angry about it because many people are going to die because of
these heartless people. I don't want to speak any further," said
Parirenyatwa , who sounded dejected, before switching off his phone.

HIV/Aids activists say the move, which might have come about as a result of
the government's infamous record of lawlessness and repression, is going to
set back various intervention programmes in Zimbabwe unless some donors
stepped in to assist the country.

"Zimbabwe is not likely to provide a large scale and sustained programme of
ARV for HIV positive people," said one of the HIV/Aids activists who spoke
on condition of anonymity.

"The government does not have the capacity to roll out the programme on its
own and unless other major donors come in, it is going to be a major

Currently, the ministry of health and child welfare is administering ARV's
from four major health institutions in the country which are Harare and
Parirenyatwa hospitals in Harare and Mpilo and United Bulawayo hospitals in

Government does not have the capacity to introduce the scheme to other parts
of the country.

Owing to a political crisis spawned by the chaotic land reforms and violence
that characterised elections, numerous donors have either left the country
or withdrawn their funding from various developmental projects in the
country in protest.

Zimbabwe is one of the countries that are hardest hit by HIV/Aids with an
estimated adult prevalence rate of 24,6 percent as of December 2003.

The Global Fund officials could not be reached for comment at the time of
going to press.
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Zim Standard

Tsvangirai vows MDC will win 2005 elections
By our own Staff

BUHERA Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) leader last week said his party would ensure it garners majority votes
in next year's parliamentary election so it does not remain a 'permanent'
opposition party.

Speaking before about 5 000 of his party's supporters in Buhera North, his
home area, the opposition leader said the MDC would want some of the
electoral laws reviewed so the goal could be achieved.

Tsvangirai said it would be futile for his party to remain in opposition if
it fails to get a majority of the seats next year.

'We cannot afford to remain an opposition party. It would be like a
still-birth, it's futile. We will have to be a ruling party by way of having
a majority in Parliament,' he said amid wild cheers.

He however said there was need to have an independent Electoral Supervisory
Commission (ESC) to ensure the goal is achieved.

'As it is, it would be an uphill task but we will ensure these issues
including the partiality of the army and the police is reviewed before the
election,' said Tsvangirai.

He said people had suffered enough and it was time they reclaimed their
freedom and rights to have a government that is accountable.

Isaac Matombo, the MDC national chairperson, speaking at the same occasion,
urged the party's supporters to shun violence, but instead woo Zanu PF
supporters to their party.

'What has to happen is for you to educate those in Zanu PF to abandon their
party by telling them about the goodness of being in MDC.

'If you do that successfully then we will have matured in our politics. We
cannot afford having people killing each other for disagreeing on how this
country is supposed to be governed, he said.

Matombo urged people to register as voters so they can voice their concern
through the ballot and not through guns, spears and sticks.

'Be assured your vote, as usual, will be your secret,' he said.
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Zim Standard

Zanu PF cons farm workers into joining it
By Caiphas Chimhete

THE ruling Zanu PF party has taken its recruitment drive into commercial
farms and resettled areas, where it is deceptively telling farm workers to
join the party's structures or risk being excluded from voting in next year'
s parliamentary election, The Standard has learnt.

Sources said the deception, which is rampant in the Midlands province, has
spread to most resettled areas in Mashonaland West and East provinces.

They said Zanu PF is targeting gullible farm workers and people who received
land under the government's controversial resettlement programme, who fear
losing their allocated land.

"I feel this should be exposed because a lot of people are going to be
prejudiced of their right to vote. Apart from that, the recruitment exercise
is intimidatory to the extent that everyone is joining for fear of
victimisation," said a source, who was part of the recruitment drive in

In the past two weeks, Zanu PF youths visited several farms in Midlands'
Patchway Mine area including Odowf Farm, Tinashe Farm, Grandon Farm, Bineth
and Dixie Farm.

They also visited a small-scale mining area, popularly known as KwaJames,
where illegal gold panners live. Only gold panners who show allegiance to
the ruling party are allowed to go about their business.

Apart from that, residents have also been forced by the local Zanu PF youth
militia to attend political meetings, particularly on Sundays.

Gift Miti of the General Agricultural Plantation Workers' Union of Zimbabwe
(GAPWUZ) said his organisation had received reports that some Zanu PF
officials were forcing people to join the party but he was still to carry
out independent investigations.

"We have received a number of reports from places such as Gweru and Karoi.
Vanhu vari kuti dziya politics dzadzoka zvakare mumapurazi (People are
saying that yesteryear's politics of brutality has returned to the farms
once again). We gather in some areas workers are being forced to attend
political meetings," said Miti, who will this week visit the affected areas
to institute independent investigations.

By last week, Zanu PF set up 22 branches in the area between Kadoma town and
Patchway Mine and the exercise was still going on in other farming
communities in the district.

"The youths are moving from one farm to the other telling farm workers that
if they do not join Zanu PF structures they will not vote in next year's
parliamentary elections," said another source.

Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) elections director, Remus
Makuwaza said: "That is expected of Zanu PF, but we are educating people to
inform them of their rights."

He said the MDC was conducting a voter education exercise to explain to
people the proposed electoral reforms and their possible impact on next year
's elections.

One of the sources said the deceptive recruitment drive has been going on
since July 11, when Zanu PF MP for Kadoma West, Zacharia Ziyambi, had
addressed a political meeting in the area.

Ziyambi confirmed holding "a stock-taking exercise" meeting two weeks ago in
his constituency but denied forcing people to join Zanu PF.

"It had nothing to do with voting at national level. We were just taking
stock of our members ... to see the number of people we have or whether they
really do exist on the ground. We were looking at our cells and branches,"
said Ziyambi, who also denied forcing people to attend Zanu PF meetings.

Since last year, Zanu PF political commissar, Elliot Manyika, has been
trotting from province to province overhauling the party's structures ahead
of next year's poll.
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Zim Standard

No revival in sight, say Zimbabweans
By our own Staff

ZIMBABWEANS, reeling from the effects of hyper-inflation and a crumbling
economy, have generally scoffed off at suggestions by President Robert
Mugabe that the country is on the path to an economic recovery.

Addressing Parliament last week, Mugabe said Zimbabwe's economy was on the
mend in contrast to remarks from independent economists that the future
remains bleak.

"He might have wanted us to see things differently but the reality on the
ground defeats his statement," said 25 year-old Farai Matamba of
Chitungwiza, an unemployed youth.

Zimbabwe's economy has been on a downward spiral for the last six year
because of corruption, mismanagement and the haphazard land reform programme
that engineered a massive capital flight from the country.

Year-on-year inflation, although stagnating, is currently pegged at 395%,
one of the highest in the world.

Mugabe's optimism is largely banked on measures put in place by Reserve Bank
Governor Gideon Gono to contain inflation and create foreign currency

"Gono has made some differences as he has stabilised financial instruments
and the exchange rate. But it doesn't mean the economy is being turned
around. We are not normalising," observed Godfrey Kanyenze, an economist
with the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions.

According to official statistics, real incomes are lower than they were in
the mid-1990s while unemployment has trebled and is estimated at 80% out of
a population of 12 million.

Independent economic analysts have also brushed off claims by Mugabe that
the country would have a bumper harvest this year.

"Zimbabwe is fast on a de-industrialisation path defined by factory closures
and unemployment," says Daniel Ndlela, an economic consultant with

Faced with a crippling shortage of hard currency, Gono has extended his
begging bowl to more than 3,4 million Zimbabweans scattered all over the

Critics of Gono's "Homelink" programme say many Zimbabweans outside the
country were victims of Mugabe's repression and would therefore be reluctant
to try to save his regime by remitting their savings to the southern African
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Zim Standard

Financial problems dog Byo
By our own Staff

THE City of Bulawayo is reeling under severe financial problems making it
virtually impossible for the authority to provide essential services to its
over two million residents, The Standard has heard.

Bulawayo City Council assistant director for engineering, Simela Dube, said
a total of $40 billion was urgently needed to return Bulawayo to its "good
old service delivery position".

He said the funds were needed especially for the engineering department
which is charged with repairing roads, traffic lights, and the collapsing
sewerage system.

"Most of the roads in Bulawayo are in poor state and council needs $29
billion to resurface them. It also requires an additional $10 billion to
revive the collapsed sewerage system, among many other projects estimated to
cost billions of dollars," said Dube.

He said the cash flow problems seriously affecting the council were
threatening engineering department whose operations are critical to the
smooth running of the city.

Bulawayo chamber secretary, Gilbert Dube, said the council's emergency
services had also been severely compromised by inadequate funding.

"The local authority has been using vehicles which were donated by the
British government in 1999. The Bulawayo city council has over the years
battled to replace these worn out vehicles," said Dube.
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Zim Standard

Mugabe evades critical issues
By Caiphas Chimhete

. But sets up strategies for 2005 election victory PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's
speech officially opening Parliament last week lacked concrete solutions for
Zimbabwe's political and economic meltdown but mirrored his party's
re-election strategy characterised by growing intolerance to opposing voices
ahead of next year's general elections, political analysts have said.

The 80-year old leader, determined to win the 2005 general elections, has
intensified his courtship of gullible sections of society, such as chiefs,
youths and lately, political ex-prisoners, while promising stringent laws to
gag dissenting voices, they said.

In the last parliamentary and presidential polls, Mugabe extensively sought
the services of chiefs, youths and war veterans. In last Tuesday's speech he
also pledged to correct land reform anomalies and to deal with corruption,
known trump cards of his campaign strategy.

University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Eldred Masungure, said
Mugabe's speech sets the tone and framework for next year's parliamentary
election but lacks "appreciation of the state of affairs in the country."

He said the 14 Bills that Mugabe said would go through Parliament were meant
to narrow the democratic space for civic society's participation in
governance issues.

The Bills are Non-Governmental Organisation Bill, the Zimbabwe Political
Ex-Prisoners, Political and Detainees and Restrictees Association Bill,
Security and Communication Bill, Health Services Board Bill, among others.

"They are meant to narrow the operative space on non-State actors . You see
it through the congested legislated agenda in Mugabe's speech. He is trying
to plug any legislative gaps to ensure political survival," said Masungure.

Some of the laws that have been passed before, such as the Anti-Corruption
Act, have been applied selectively to settle personal scores, analysts said.

Mugabe used the same platform to send a warning signal to the NGO community
operating in the country by promising to introduce a new law and create an
NGO Council to replace the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Act, to
monitor their operations.

"We can not allow them to be conduits or instruments of foreign interference
in our national affairs," declared Mugabe during his speech.

Over the past few weeks, his ministers have been threatening to "deal" with
NGOs seen to anti-government. Zimbabwe's vibrant civil society has
repeatedly called on Mugabe's government to respect the rule of law and
human rights as well as democratise its structures.

Mugabe also vowed to continue with the national youth service programme,
which is churning out thousands of the notorious youth militia, and which
has become the nucleus of Zanu PF's brutal campaign strategy, despite local
and international condemnation.

"Those detractors bent on derailing this trust are better advised that
theirs is a forlorn hope," declared Mugabe, adding that he would establish a
National Youth Council "as the fulcrum for national youth development

The youth militia maintains surveillance society, particularly on suspected
members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the only
party to mount a credible challenge to Mugabe's power since Zimbabwe gained
independence in 1980.

Chairman of the Crisis Coalition Zimbabwe, Brain Kagoro, said reading Mugabe
's speech one gets the feeling that "Zanu PF has budgeted for a landslide
victory" in next year's elections.

"It (what Mugabe plans to do) drills a crater in the heart of democracy. It'
s very worrying. The intention of Mugabe's proposed laws and keeping the
youth militia is to manufacture a docile and fearful Zimbabwean electorate,"
said Kagoro, a staunch human rights activist.

Former vice-chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe, Gordon Chavunduka,
said the NGO Bill and the "activation" of the youth programme were worrying.

"These are very worrying developments but lets wait and see where we are
going," said Chavunduka, who said he did not read much political maneuvering
in Mugabe's speech.

The Customary Law and Local Courts Act will be amended to increase the
jurisdiction of chiefs.

This, Mugabe critics say, is meant to boost the influence of chiefs ahead of
next year's elections. During the Gutu and Lupane by-elections, prospective
voters were forced to queue behind their headmen and chief, whose allowances
were recently increased to $1 million a month.

Mugabe said his government will table the Zimbabwe Political Ex-Prisoners,
Political Detainees and Restrictees Association Bill to cater for the
welfare of persons imprisoned or restricted during the liberation war.
Analysts have concluded the bill is designed to boost the morale of the once
neglected political detainees so that they can campaign vigorously for Zanu
PF, the ruling party since 1980.

They said Mugabe knows he has the war veterans on his side and he now wants
to broaden his political support base by enlisting the ex-detainees.

In a summation Mugabe's speech lacked how his government would deal with the
economic crisis that has condemned the majority of Zimbabweans to a life of
near destitution. About 75 percent of Zimbabwe's 12,5 people live below the
poverty datum-line.

However, there were some positive aspects in Mugabe's speech, some of his
critics conceded. Mugabe promised electoral reforms that are in tandem with
the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) norms and standards on
elections. "These are some of aspects we should hail," said Masunungure.

But Kagoro was skeptical saying he believes, "It's a political decoy, he
wants to portray to the international community that he is reforming while
on the ground he is promoting political xenophobia."

The President also promised to turn Harare Institute of Technology into a
University as well as introducing a Zimbabwe Qualification Authority Bill
for the establishment of a national qualification framework.

The qualification framework will align all local qualifications to the SADC
regional qualification framework. "Some of these are just political
high-sounding nothings," said one political commentator.
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Zim Standard

Cash crunch derails NRZ operations
By our own Staff

BULAWAYO- The cash strapped National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is failing
to service the local goods delivery market as it emerged this week that the
embattled parastatal has only thirteen operational locomotives when it needs
about fifty locomotives to be viable.

Sources in the railway industry this week said the shortage of locomotives
was affecting the NRZ's cash inflow position, a situation that has resulted
in the parastatal failing to pay its workers on time.

The NRZ is understood to be frantically gropping for solutions including
considering sub-contracting a South African firm, ahead of another Chinese
company, to refurbish the locomotive fleet and set up a signalling and
telecommunications system that is currently non-existent.

The whole country only has a single functional signalling and
telecommunications system along the Harare-Mutare line while the rest of the
country is serviced by an ancient analogue system that has caused numerous
fatal rail accidents along the busy Bulawayo-Victoria Falls line.

The NRZ is currently operating below capacity and as a result of low
locomotive volumes, has failed to meet customer demands.

NRZ corporate affairs manager, Misheck Matanhire, confirmed the crisis
facing the parastatal but said they were working on a turn around strategy
that will permanently rectify the problem.

"The NRZ, as part of its turn around strategy, has invited local customers
to become partners, by funding the refurbishment of some of its locomotives
and wagons, as a way of trying to enhance its capacity and improve rail
operations in the country,"said Matanhire.
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Zim Standard

Zim scores a first with ox-drawn ambulances
By our own Staff

ZIMBABWE has created its own piece of history by becoming the only country
in the world where expecting mothers are officially transported to health
centres in novel ox-drawn ambulances that can travel, at most, at about 10km
per hour.

Faced with an unprecedented health crisis, the country has become host to
this pilot project, the first of its kind in the world, where the use of
ox-drawn ambulances is being explored by a health task force made up of
UNFPA, WHO, UNICEF and Ministry of Health.

A spokesman for UNICEF confirmed that Zimbabwe was the first country in the
world to pilot the introduction of ox-driven ambulances. In neighbouring
Malawi, bicycles are being used to transport pregnant women.

"This is a pilot project for the ox drawn ambulances which we hope, if
successful, can be shared with other countries, who face similar problems.
"We believe it is a practical way to address the immediate needs in rural
communities to have transport to get their sick and pregnant women to the
hospital," said Shantha Bloemen, a communications officer with UNICEF.

"Of course, ideally we would like everyone to access first class health
facilities and have access to state of the art equipment, but we realise
that this is not about to happen overnight so we must work to provide
practical, affordable and community based interventions that can have an
immediate impact. To wait for an ideal scenario, would cost the lives of
more women."

Bloemen said a number of studies and assessments in the area of reproductive
health had revealed there were different factors that were preventing women
from getting to health facilities to deliver.

"The idea of a practical way for transport to be based in the community led
to the idea of exploring the idea of ox drawn ambulances. It was then
discovered that in Hurungwe, a farmer had already developed a similar idea
to ferry his workers to the local health facility.

"It was a very basic four wheel cart that proved that the idea would be well
accepted by communities, who in this case also proved they could manage it,"
she said.

The ambulances cost $28 million each to make.

"We agree that the ambulances are not going to travel very quickly, but they
will be used by people that have no other choice. The idea is that they will
arrive at the health facility in better condition than if they had no means
of transport except walking or in a wheelbarrow," she said.
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Zim Standard

Mudzuri calls for UN intervention
By our own Staff

ENGINEER Elias Mudzuri, the dismissed Harare Mayor, has taken his case to
the United Nations where he is urging Secretary General Kofi Annan to set a
team of eminent persons to look into the Zimbabwe crisis.

Mudzuri - a member of the opposition MDC who has fought a running battle
with the Zanu PF government - was dismissed in April by President Robert
Mugabe for alleged incompetence.

This was after a commission and a committee instituted to investigate him
recommended that he be fired. It cited numerous allegations of misconduct,
gross insubordination, mismanagement of public finances and city affairs.

Mudzuri is challenging his dismissal in the courts and cites Local
Government Minister Ignatius Chombo and President Mugabe as respondents.

Last week he met UN officials on the Africa desk in Washington and
petitioned secretary general Annan to help "bring sanity and prevent agony,
persecution and the death of the people of Zimbabwe."

Mudzuri said there was need to investigate human rights violations, and the
state of the rule of law, with special emphasis on the removal of elected
persons and the frequent arrests of those elected persons such as MPs,
councillors and mayors.

"The UN should also look at the electoral process and ensure that the
Zimbabwe electoral system adheres to basic standards for elections as
stipulated by SADC," said Mudzuri.

Other issues he raised were the need to disband the militias and creation of
safety nets for people persecuted by the regime.
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Zim Standard


Mugabe squanders another golden opportunity

FOR a country anxious for results rather than rhetoric, President Mugabe's
official opening of the fifth session of the fifth Parliament of Zimbabwe
last Tuesday was yet another squandered opportunity but one he used,
nevertheless, to further his ambition to hang on to power at any cost.

As one of our letter writers pointed out elsewhere in this issue, only God
can save us now. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. Prices keep on
rising. Zimbabwe's economic situation is as bad as it gets. Real wages are
dropping all the time. Poverty is rising in both urban and rural areas.
Social conditions are indeed dire. Zimbabweans are generally existing on the
margin of survival.

Against this background, President Mugabe's anti-colonialist and
anti-imperialist rhetoric continues unabated. What has this rhetoric brought
us Mr President? More and more financial hardships and a sense of
hopelessness created by your unworkable and hollow policies. We wonder if
you really know the extent of the misery that the majority of Zimbabweans
are suffering.

The parallel market has returned with a vengeance putting a damper on
whatever efforts the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is trying to achieve. Where
are the exports which can at least strengthen our increasingly useless
Zimbabwe dollar? You pointed out in your speech that brighter prospects for
the country's socio-economic turnaround are on the way - coming from where?

We do not see any evidence of the much touted revival of our economy - at
least not on this planet. All we see are ordinary Zimbabweans toiling from
dawn to dusk but with little to show for it. Many ordinary Zimbabweans can
no longer make ends meet. You are now surrounded by an increasingly
disaffected population Mr President.

You and your government are unable or perhaps unwilling to find answers to
the country's growing economic problems because of your insatiable appetite
for power. It now appears that in your twilight years, increasing senility,
confusion and absent - mindedness - an inevitable consequence of old age -
has blinded you to the reality of the crisis that is currently bedeviling
most Zimbabweans.

You pontificated in your speech: "We will take measures to ensure that we
move towards full industrial capacity, by evolving strategies to revive
factories and plants that had either closed down or have been working well
below capacity." Really? How many times have we heard this before? This is
the work of someone in the Ministry of Industry and International Trade
merely stringing words together in his or her office without the slightest
clue of what all this entails.

You, together with the Minister of Industry and International Trade and his
officials, know that this is not going to happen. How many economic
blueprints and plans have the Zimbabwean government crafted before and what
has become of them?

Yes, most are gathering dust in various offices and you know it Mr
President. Witness another sunshine story in your speech, this time on the
dire transport situation in the country: "Problems in the transport sector
would be dealt with by refocussing the National Transport Policy while new
strategies were being pursued to speed up ongoing transport infrastructural
development projects." Sounds very familiar does it not? We remember coming
across exactly the same words in 1995 and again in 1999.

With the government's confrontational stance vis-à-vis much of the
international community - where will the money and the goodwill come from?

Forget about the Third World which you are so fond of Mr President. You know
as well as we do that they look to the West for financial support and
assistance. Government ministers and civil servants are just as crazy if not
more so about the greenback and the British pound than ordinary Zimbabweans.

And these do not come from China or the Far East. They are firmly rooted in
the 'imperialist' countries whether you like it or not.

So your consistently exhorting the Zimbabwean business sector "to break the
spell cast on them by colonial history, a spell that irrationally attaches
them to the West for investments, imports, exports, loans and even for best
practices" as you said in your speech does not hold water.

You said there are enormous possibilities for the Zimbabwean business
community presented by the burgeoning Third World economic regions doing
much better than the "declining" West - Are sure of what you are talking
about Mr President? Is this not a crazy thing to say? It is common knowledge
that much of the Third World is desperately short of foreign exchange.
Struggling and emaciated Zimbabwe seeking financial help from an equally
struggling and emaciated Third World - is this not a case of one patient
asking for medication from another patient?

It is now increasingly evident that the trappings of power and the material
comforts that go with it have completely insulated the President from the
reality on the ground. Ordinary Zimbabweans listening to his speech must
have wondered how the country's economy could possibly be said to be on a
revival path when their daily experiences suggest the complete opposite.

It's all very well to provide electricity to villagers when they can not
afford to pay for it let alone acquire electric gadgets whose prices are now
beyond even the ordinary workers in the towns and cities. There is certainly
no cause for hope in this kind of situation.

As is the case always, your speech last Tuesday, opening the last session of
the Zimbabwean Parliament before the 2005 general elections has done much to
destroy any feelings of optimism about the future of this country. Very sad
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Zim Standard

Ducking, diving and diversionary pursuits
overthetop By Brian Latham

THE government of a troubled central African nation has inexplicably decided
to tackle corruption. The move has caused widespread panic in government
circles. This is because corruption in the troubled central African basket
case is confined almost exclusively to. the government.

While some bankers and businessmen have also been caught in the net, Over
The Top can say confidently that most of them are ranking members of the
only just ruling Zany Party.

Still, the Zany most equal of all comrades has said that no one will escape
the hunt for corrupt troubled central Africans. No mention was made, though,
of where the money came to build a certain pagoda roofed mansion in the
troubled capital's northern suburbs.

This may be because some forms of corruption are more acceptable than
others - at least in the troubled central African banana republic.

Critics of the regime told OTT that Zany members with cabinet positions were
held to be "incorruptible."

"If you hold certain ranks in the Zany Party, your corruption is called
business acumen," said a sarcastic critic.

OTT's attention was drawn to the fact that while arrests had been made, only
junior Zany members and those on the periphery of the party seemed to have
enjoyed the hospitality of police cells.

Meanwhile, one arrestee complained, telling OTT that he was in fact a senior
member of the Zany Party. OTT compromised and agreed that he could be
described as one of the more senior junior members on account of owning more
shoes than Imelda Marcos and more suits than Harrods.

It was further agreed that his status might sink further in the rankings if
he doesn't get some of his luxury motor vehicles back from the police.

For their part, ordinary troubled central Africans have been wondering why
the most equal of all comrades has taken to arresting his friends.

The most obvious reason is that everyone else has already been arrested and
only his friends remain.

The other, more worrying reason, is that the most equal of all comrades is
trying to persuade his enemies in the IMF and World Bank that he runs a
tight and spotlessly clean ship.

This is because the most equal of all comrades hates the IMF but needs them
to help him out of the economic chaos he has created by giving all the farms
to members of the Zany Party.

By arresting his friends, the most equal of all comrades hopes to also
persuade his neighbours and other enemies that no one is immune from his
version of good governance.

No one, that is, except cabinet ministers and relatives with mansions in the
troubled capital's leafy northern suburbs.

A senior member of the IMF laughed when OTT asked him whether the
international banks were taking the most equal of all comrades seriously.

"No," he said, before hanging up the telephone.

Still, members of the amused opposition More Drink Coming Party said they
welcomed the move.

"At least members of the Zany Party now know what the inside of a police
cell looks like," said one man who cannot be named because he does not want
to ever see the inside of another troubled central African cell.

"They also know what the food, or lack of food, is like in there," said
another. "The only difference is that they don't seem to get beaten or
tortured like we do."

The latter point is said to concern the most equal of all comrades deeply
and steps are being taken to rectify the problem.
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Zim Standard

Gono to tighten monetary policy
By Rangarirai Mberi

RESERVE Bank Governor Gideon Gono could tighten his monetary policy this
week in reaction to signs of growing speculative pressures on the economy,
economists say.

An RBZ official on Thursday told StandardBusiness that rising demand for
foreign exchange and shares was a source of increasing worry at the central
bank, but was coy about whether Gono would go for an outright rate hike or
find other means of spiking the swelling asset bubble.

"We have seen demand (for foreign currency) growing rapidly together with
prices on the stock market. This raises questions as to the source of this
demand for speculative assets. My assessment is the source of this is the
sub-inflation interest rates," the RBZ official, who would not be named,

As long as real interest rates remain negative, the official said,
speculators would continue to seek out arbitrage opportunities, particularly
on the foreign currency and stock markets. RBZ apparently believes stock
market profits, combined with cheap funds from the money market, are being
used to fuel parallel market activity.

Money market rates have remained well below 100% for months, against annual
inflation of 395,6%. This has seen capital flying into the stock market,
driving shares to record highs before last week's slump.

Those pushing for a tighter monetary policy say Gono needs to tighten policy
in order to cap increasing speculative activity. Stock prices have risen
over the past four months, curiously in tandem with a steady rise in demand
for foreign currency.

Analysts said if Gono were to lift rates, he could raise bank statutory
reserves, which would have the effect of pushing up interest rates.

"My guess is he could raise the statutory reserves for banks, which will
draw out liquidity and force players to compete for the little money that
would remain on the market," said Donald Mandishora, fund manager at Royal.

After holding steady for much of the year, the Zimbabwe dollar has been
falling slowly on the street - a factor that Gono personally found out in
Bulawayo recently.

Despite the introduction of the auction system, plus the RBZ's new
 "Diaspora" rate, the parallel market has been running again, with the US
Greenback fetching $6500 on the streets. Gono's critics say this is a result
of a hazy monetary policy.

Demand for hard currency on the foreign currency auction market has always
outstripped supply since the system began in January, but the gap between
supply and demand has expanded rapidly over the past two months.

Bids in July have so far averaged US$35 million, while demand has barely
reached US$10 million.
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Zim Standard

Creating a new Zim: lessons from history
By Vince Musewe

IN our naivety in 1980 we assumed that once and for all the colonial
master's hold on our economy and social life was now history and it was time
to witness the rise and rise of a liberal and democratic social economy led
by the new black generation who had been waiting in the wings for some time.

With an educated populace such as we had in Zimbabwe, our expectations were
that we would inevitably become the 'intellectual' capital of Southern
Africa if not Africa, given what was happening around and that South Africa
would in no way catch up with us. We expected that the economy would be
delivered to us and we would confidently march ahead with the new government
encouraging us on as the new inheritors of our land. How wrong we were!

Our first mistake I think was that we assumed that Zanu PF our so called
'liberators' were guided by the very principles which they fought for but so
lack today. We assumed that the party was for the people and that the agenda
had always been to liberate the African not only mentally but also
economically by creating an environment that sought to propel the African
and in our case the black educated Zimbabwean from the bondage of
colonialism to freedom of thought speech association and black economic

We chided Zambians on their dilapidating infrastructure and the lack of
perceived progress in that country. We viewed South Africa as a future ally
where we would see a partnership with Zimbabweans mainly providing a skills
base in a free South Africa as South Africa 'caught up'.

In our minds Zanu PF was the 'liberator' whose role had been fulfilled
through sacrifice of all of us and not only those who went to the bush.
Initially, a new economic order that promoted socialism made sense as we
assumed that the new economic policy must have, at its heart, the interests
of the proletariat and down trodden- mainly blacks.

This meant that after having 'liberated' us from the colonial master it was
then important to build an inclusive economy whose main focus was the
provision of hitherto inaccessible social services while creating a new
black class whose focus was not the accumulation of private wealth by
individuals but rather the accumulation of wealth by the State on behalf of
the black populace the majority.

It made sense having been in an exclusive economy where blacks were mere
spectators or tools used for the accumulation of wealth by whites. Surely
the state was therefore for the people by the people and, therein lay our
first fundamental misjudgment.

We assumed that a capitalist system would be inadequate to satisfy our
appetite for development and self actualisation and in addition that the new
leadership was guided in its actions to ensure that our lot as black
Zimbabweans became better off. Capitalism was too cruel to the masses as it
merely would create a black capitalist class while not redistributing wealth
according to need.

Whereas, socialism would focus on redistribution of wealth and allocate
scarce resources according to need and not means. It did happen in the early
80's where we saw access to free education and health as delivery by the
government. Where we saw an increasing number of black graduates and
technicians, gainfully employed. Twenty-four years later we have seen the
opposite happening. We have seen the rise and rise of a black capitalist
class whose behaviour and interests mimic those of our colonial masters.

We have seen the merging of the State and Zanu PF and a central command
directing all social and economic activity to ensure that the party and the
State remain as one. We have seen attempts to create an agrarian majority
who depend on the land for subsistence and a class structure characterised
by two economies, Zanu PF and everyone else.

The latter has claimed sole legitimacy to rule and dictate all spheres of
economic and social life and the former must cower in submission to the
capitalist party-State. We have seen significant migration of skills which
were built through the fiscus in the early years of independence and above
all, we have seen a crumbling social structure and a value system that is
based on short term survival of the self. What went wrong?

The fundamental mistake we made, as Zimbabweans was to trust that Zanu PF
stood for our interests as blacks and therefore the stronger the party
became the more probable our success would be. We inadvertently endorsed the
one party mentality through our own naivity. We blindly followed and
fantasized that as blacks we had homogenous needs and interests that could
best be served by those who 'liberated' us.

We assumed that we had in our leadership the very values they fought for-
freedom, respect of human dignity. We assumed that the leadership would
surely do its work and leave the future to those of us well prepared for it.
We assumed that the State instruments and the party were separate entities
with different life spans. We did not challenge Zanu PF and left them to do
as they like. We have created our own demons.

The result has been that the State, the economy and social freedom have been
usurped from us the majority by the party and instead party capitalism has
been established with the instruments of the State being used by the party
to entrench its own agenda which is that of survival and retention of power,
at any cost.

We have seen the entrenchment of an arrogant class of politicians whose only
relevance is that they contributed to the struggle. Side by side we have
also seen the emergence of a so called 'patriotic' black capitalist class
whose rise is due to party loyalty and who will not dare to challenge the
party, its philosophy and its leadership.

Zanu PF believes it is the only party that is legitimate to lead us into
oblivion and challenging what it stands for and what disaster of an economy
it has created is tantamount to treason and being 'unpatriotic' or being
agents of the British or white farmers.

Our experience should therefore sound warning bells that an political party
must never be allowed to usurp the State and a strong opposition is always
critical to ensure that our freedoms are protected at all times.
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Zim Standard

ZBC now only for Zanu PF propaganda
Sundaytalk with Pius Wakatama

AFTER a protracted debate with myself I decided that I would watch what is
now popularly known as Dead BC (Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation)
television or ZTV. Actually I think Dead BC is a misnomer. The State media
is very much alive and kicking as the government's propaganda machine.

Mind you I don't watch it in order to be informed, educated or entertained.
As a writer I need to know what is going on so I read and watch anything
that comes my way. Of late I have been watching ZTV in order to try and
fathom the levels of depravity and insanity that our Zanu PF government has
sunk to.

The other day I was watching the news when the Zimbabwe Supply Authority
(ZESA) advert "Zesa yauya nepawa" came on. My seven year old grand daughter,
Tariro, sprang up and started to dance to the tune which I admit is very
catchy. She was imitating the "sendekera'' dancing which I think is rather

I didn't stop her for I didn't' want to spoil her fun and maybe damage her
innocence in the process of trying to explain why that kind of dancing is

Suddenly the lights went out and we were in complete darkness. "Aaah' said
Tariro. "Sei magetsi adzima'', (Why have the lights gone out?'' I explained
to her the concept of load-shedding. "Saka vanonyepa nhai zvavanoti Zesa
yauya nepawa'' she said. (So they lie when they say Zesa has come with

Now she doesn't dance when the Zesa advert comes on. She just frowns and
says, "Kunyepa chete uku," (Its all lies).

Isn't it bad that now even children realise that our government media lies?
This affliction does not emanate from the government media only. The
infection came down from the very top.

Recently I watched our President waxing lyrical and breathing hell fire and
brimstone against the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) dominated major
city councils. He accused them of incompetence and failure. He said they had
allowed the roads to deteriorate to such an extent that even those named
after national heroes have pot holes. This must not be allowed to go on, he
thundered. government was going to take over.

Who does not know that the rot set in when Zanu PF councillors took over the
running of Harare after independence? Why did government dismiss the
Tavengwa Council in Harare and appoint a committee led by Elijah Chanakira
to take over? I seem to recall that the government accused the Tavengwa'
Zanu PF council of corruption and incompetence.

Harare residents kicked out Zanu PF from Town House to stop the rot and
elected MDC councillors to take over. When the MDC executive mayor Elias
Mudzuri and his energetic council started to clean up the mess the Zanu PF
government became jealous and fearful. Their corruption and incompetence was
being exposed.

It was then that Local Government Minister Ignatious Chombo embarked on his
campaign to harass Engineer Mudzuri. His council was refused due grant
monies or permission to borrow. When they tried to increase rates government
swiftly reversed their decision. Government departments owed and still owe
the council millions, if not billions of dollars. How was Harare City
Council supposed to operate successfully without money?

Finally, Chombo sacked Mudzuri and suspended those MDC councilors who
refused to kowtow to him and his rejected party. This was a clear
demonstration of Zanu PF's utter disrespect for Harare residents who had
elected them. They had not complained about the performance of council at
all and were, infact, satisfied with the way Mudzuri and his team were
tackling the city's problems.

Now they have elevated the gaudily dressed and not-so-bright Sekesai
Makwavarara to act as mayor, even though council members had elected Doctor
Christopher Mushonga to the position in accordance with the law.

I have often said that our government is a totalitarian dictatorship.
Dictators are basically cowards who fear the truth. They hold on to power by
using force and lies. This is why in Zimbabwe only the government can own
and operate television and radio stations. Ordinary citizens are not allowed
to own or operate these media because they tell the people the truth and
thus expose the government's cruelty and lies. Newspapers like The Daily
News, The Standard and The Independent which tell the truth are banned,
prosecuted and persecuted.

Through its controlled media the government wants to control our lives and
minds. As far as they are concerned they are the only ones who know what is
good for Zimbabwe and its people. They are Gods whose will must not be
questioned or challenged. Actually, they are more than God because He gave
people the will to obey him or not to.

The arts have not escaped the government's attention. Minister of
Information and Publicity, Jonathan Moyo has spent much time working out
ways of harnessing the arts especially music, to propagate Zanu PF's lies.
He recently released an album written and composed by himself. One can rest
assured that it will be endlessly played on ZBC radio during prime time.

He must have learnt well from Joseph Stalin, the Russian dictator. When
Stalin imposed absolute control in Russia, his doctrine of "socialist
realism" reduced all art forms to propaganda media for the State. Artists
whose creativeness was free and unfettered, and reflected the truth around
them, were severely punished as criminal or political offenders.

In Zimbabwe music, which does not glorify the State and its President have
little chance of being aired on ZBC. The Shona music guru, Thomas Mapfumo's
incisive music is rarely heard. Infact, it is safe to say that it is banned.
Before Jonathan Moyo creative life was bustling at ZBC.

Artists searched and experimented freely. Some of the music and drama
productions were excellent others were horrible. It was all in a free
atmosphere. Now there is nothing but depressing mediocrity posing as art
when it is undisguised government propaganda.

The only artists one hears are such failures who have become Zanu PF
boot-lickers like Andy Brown, Fortunate Matenga, Last Chiangwa and others.

Recently the government's Censorship Board banned the play, Super Patriots
and Morons performed by Rooftop Productions over concerns that it blasted
President Robert Mugabe's administration. The script shows how the
government of a fictitious country is abusing authority in order to maintain

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
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From Zim Online (SA), 24 July

MDC legislator dies - Death increases pressure on opposition party

Harare - Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party legislator
Ben Tumbare Mutasa died Saturday morning at Harare's Saint Annes Hospital.
Tumbare Mutasa, who was Member of Parliament (MP) for the peri-urban Seke
consituency, was suffering from pneumonia. The MDC, which now controls 51
seats in Zimbabwe's 150-member Parliament, confirmed the MP's death in a
statement. The opposition party has lost to the ruling party in five
previous by-elections in the last three years. The MDC stopped President
Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF party from clinching a vital two-thirds
parliamentary majority when it won 57 seats of the 120 contested seats in
the 2000 parliamentary elections. ZANU PF won 62 seats and another minor
oppositon party, Zanu Ndonga, won one seat. But Mugabe's party enjoys
control of another 30 seats occupied by non-constituency MPs handpicked by
Mugabe. If Zanu PF wins the latest by-election which Mugabe is
constitutionally obliged to call within 90 days of Tumbare Mutasa's death,
then his party will be left needing only one seat to achieve a two-thirds
majority giving it power to unilaterally change Zimbabwe's constitution.
After failing to win approval for a new constitution, drafted by Mugabe's
handpicked Constitutional Commission in February 2000, Mugabe's government
insists that any changes to Zimbabwe's flawed constitution must be done by
Parliament. Tumbare Mutasa was among several MDC legislators who had been in
and out of prison on several occasions over a variety of charges. Opposition
MPs often accuse the police of severely assaulting and torturing them while
in jail. Police deny the charges.
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From The Times (UK), 23 July

Tycoon threatens judges after win

By Michael Horsnell

The notorious property tycoon Nicholas van Hoogstraten celebrated his legal
victory over the family of the man he was once accused of murdering with a
scarcely veiled threat against the judiciary yesterday. Mr van Hoogstraten,
who now lives in Zimbabwe, warned some of the judges presiding over the
criminal and civil cases in which he has been involved never to set foot in
his adopted country. "I hope one of those bastards sets foot in southern
Africa one day - they'll never see the light of day," he said after
overturning a £5 million damages award against him by the sons of Mohammed
Raja, 62, the business associate who was shot and stabbed to death on the
doorstep of his home in Sutton, Surrey, in 1999. The Court of Appeal allowed
his appeals against rulings by the High Court in 2002 that led to the
seizure of his assets, sequestration of his property, and the imposition of
more than £1 million in fines for contempt of court. Mr van Hoogstraten, 59,
had been sentenced to ten years in jail earlier that year for manslaughter,
but the conviction was set aside by appeal judges last year. Mr Raja's
family, which had sued him before Mr Raja was murdered, continued the civil
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Yahoo News

Zimbabwe opposition leader fights on for fair polls

      Sat Jul 24, 8:52 PM ET

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai faces a
possible death sentence but that and severe restrictions on electoral
campaigning have not dampened his hopes for a free and fair poll next year.

The biggest political rival to President Robert Mugabe, who came to power
more than two decades ago, Tsvangirai says his opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) will press on for electoral reforms ahead of the
elections in March.

"We want to participate in the elections but we are very sceptical about
putting legitimacy to a process which is flawed. Hence our demands that the
playing field be levelled," he told AFP in an interview.

"Hopefully at the end, when these standards are achieved, it will give us
sufficient confidence to participate."

Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front government has
imposed a slew of laws that may drastically limit the MDC's hopes of being
on a par with the ruling party during the run-up to the elections and on
polling day.

The MDC does not have access to any broadcasting media and the government
has closed down three independent newspapers.

No public meetings or election rallies can be staged without police
permission. Anyone can be arrested if authorities believe they "threaten
state security" and can be detained for up to 23 days without charges being

Tsvangirai, a former secretary general of the powerful Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions, launched the MDC in September 1999.

In general elections a year later, the nascent party took almost half the
seats in parliament, posing the first real challenge to Mugabe's hold on

Since then Zimbabwe has spiralled into political, social and economic chaos,
fuelled largely by Mugabe's controversial land reforms programme and
sky-high unemployment and inflation.

In 2002, Tsvangirai lost the presidential polls which were slammed by
international rights groups as unfair and is challenging the outcome in

In the meantime, he also faces treason charges for allegedly plotting to
eliminate Mugabe. If convicted, he can be sentenced to death.

The verdict was due to be handed down next week but the state has postponed
it indefinitely without giving a reason.

He however remains unfazed.

A relaxed Tsvangirai said: "It's a political trial and one has to hope for
the best and prepare for the worst. I'm anxious, but not scared," and
repeated a call for some pre-conditions to be met before the next elections.

He wants guarantees against voter intimidation or manipulation of the
electoral roll, an independent electoral commission and access to public
media for all.

"There is a lot of international pressure. Let's hope the next election will
be sufficiently free and fair to produce a legitimate outcome," he said.

But the going may be tougher.

"I wouldn't be as optimistic as Mr Tsvangirai. If these laws are not
changed, the elections will never be free and fair," said political analyst
John Makumbe from the University of Zimbabwe.

"An election is a process and it takes months and months. Whether it's free
and fair relates to the whole process of electioneering, not just the voting

Zimbabwe last month announced plans to change the current electoral system
and appoint an electoral commission "independent of government".

It said it would hold elections on one day instead of two, would replace
wooden ballot boxes with translucent ones and would do the counting at
voting stations.

And Mugabe this week pledged electoral reforms to make voting more
transparent. He called for peaceful elections and urged the police to take
strong action against "illegal activities" during campaigning.

"I wish to strongly warn those who are bent on indulging in violent and any
other illegal activities, with the view of tarnishing the country's image,
that the full wrath of the law will descend upon them," Mugabe said.

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