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After fuel and food shortages, cash now scarce in Zimbabwe

Monday, July 28, 2003 Posted: 9:52 PM EDT (0152 GMT)
Monday, July 28, 2003 Posted: 9:52 PM EDT (0152 GMT)

Riot police respond to a run on a Zimbabwe bank Monday.
Riot police respond to a run on a Zimbabwe bank Monday.

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HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- First, the fuel began running out. Then food became scarce. Now, with inflation running out of control, Zimbabwe can't print its increasingly worthless money fast enough.

Banks on Monday were forced to limit -- and even refuse -- withdrawals, calling in riot police to patrol the lines of furious and frustrated Zimbabweans desperate for their money.

Bank executives said the cash shortage was the most severe they've seen anywhere. They said they were receiving less than 10 percent of the Zimbabwe dollar bills from the central bank they required to meet their daily withdrawals.

Chris Zhonde, a private security guard in Harare, said he was turned away from his bank Monday after being told it had no money for withdrawals.

As Zimbabweans waited in vain to cash their pay checks Monday, police at one downtown Harare bank were forced to use batons to prevent people from smashing their way inside.

The Reserve Bank said last month that amid the nation's continuing economic crisis it did not have enough hard currency to buy the special paper and seals needed to print new bills. Even if it did, its own printing machines would not be able to produce the estimated 1 million notes a day needed to ease the shortages.

The cash crisis came to a head Friday and Saturday when Zimbabweans, angry that they could not cash their paychecks, smashed windows at two banks.

On Monday, many banks had run out of bills. Others were rationing their supplies, allowing clients to withdraw Zimbabwean $10,000, roughly US$12 at the official exchange rate and less than US$4 at the black market rate. Other banks had set lower limits.

The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe estimates an average urban family needs at least Z$6,000 a day (about US$7 at the official rate) for food, shelter, power, transportation and other basics.

Bank officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they were exasperated.

Banks in the hyperinflationary economies of South America and in Africa and former East bloc countries occasionally withheld cash to stop a run on money by panicked customers, they said, but they never heard of the bills running out.

The erratic supply of bills over the past few weeks spurred businesses and individuals to hoard notes, making the problem worse, the officials said.

Zimbabwe's largest note is Z$500 (60 U.S. cents at the official exchange rate).

The Finance Ministry has promised to issue a new Z$1,000 note in coming weeks, but desperate businesses have called for new notes as large as Z$50,000.

With cash in short supply, bars and clubs have begun accepting checks for drinks. But there could soon be a check shortage too, with banks saying they do not have the ability to print checks fast enough to keep up with the new demand.

Zimbabwe's economy is devastated, with unemployment at 70 percent and inflation topping 365 percent a year in the official economy and more than 700 percent when the thriving black market is factored in.

The country is suffering acute shortages of hard currency, and imports, such as gas, medicine and food. Fuel shortages have crippled industry and transportation.

The crisis is blamed partly on the state program that seized thousands of white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to black settlers.

Foreign investment and aid has largely ended in protest of human rights abuses and last year's disputed presidential election, which gave President Robert Mugabe another six-year term. Mugabe has been president of the southern African country since independence in 1980.

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Comment from ZWNEWS, 29 July

Raising false hopes

By Michael Hartnack

South African newspapers seem convinced "something is happening" in Harare,
with a prospect of Robert Mugabe retiring peacefully and with dignity within
the next 12 months. Unfortunately, hopes of a breakthrough are being aroused
on slender evidence and may have been contrived to deceive the war-weary
Zimbabwean public and the exasperated international community. It is an old
Mugabe ploy for forcing concessions from his opponents: he raises false
hopes, and when they are dashed, he says in effect: "Sorry, kids, it wasn't
my fault you never had your picnic - it was that mean guy over there who
called it off." While Mugabe appears receptive to talks about his
retirement, his apologists are spreading the word in South Africa and
elsewhere that nothing must be said to upset him, lest he change his mind
and resolve to stay, out of personal insecurity or wounded pride. He is
thus, at one stroke, able to play for time and muffle external criticism,
while seeking to make his domestic opponents appear responsible for lack of
progress after nearly four years of horrific bloodshed and economic

As three bishops traipsed into State House on Friday to see him, riot police
in Mutare beat back crowds who broke plate glass windows in their
desperation to cash their month-end cheques or obtain bank cheques to pay
routine bills. Paramilitaries with batons, tear gas canisters and riot guns
were called out all round the country to control queues. And the 1,3 million
in formal employment are relatively fortunate. There is 60 percent
unemployment and several million Zimbabweans have left because of economic
hardship rather than direct political persecution. Those who got to the
front of the bank and building society queues were fobbed off with Z$10
000 – sufficient to buy ten loaves of bread if you could find any. Despite
Z$20 million fines imposed on four bakeries earlier this month, suppliers
ignore the Z$255 a loaf controlled price and charge anything between Z$700
and Z$1 200. It is the same story with maize meal, Z$700 a kg when you can
find it, not the Z$200 official price, and petrol, Z$1 500 a litre instead
of Z$450. The shortage of bank notes resulting from the almost 400%
(official) inflation rate has been matched by the banks' inability to print
sufficient cheque books. Like the regime, the banks lack imported paper and
inks. Thus, any banking hall has one queue snaking out of the door, up to
500 metres long, for the tellers, and another only slightly less formidable,
of customers seeking bank counter cheques to pay telephone and electricity
bills, school fees, or any large debts. Economist John Robertson predicts
the situation "can only get worse" while the regime refuses to address the
cause of the economic crisis, which is essentially political.

After Friday’s two-hour talks, the ruling Zanu PF propaganda supremo Nathan
Shamuyarira said the bishops "wanted a role to facilitate dialogue" with
Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change. The prelates were
Anglican Bishop Sebastian Bakare of Manicaland, president of the Zimbabwe
Council of Churches, Bishop Patrick Mutume, on behalf of the seven-member
Catholic Bishops' Conference, and Bishop Trevor Manhanga of the Evangelical
Christian Fellowship. Bakare said the bishops "made a courtesy call on the
President to register our concern with what is happening,’’ and urged talks
with the opposition. The President was fairly responsive to our vision,"
said Bakare. The bishops wanted Zimbabweans "to come up with a home grown
solution without getting some outsiders to tell us what to do" so the
country might revert to "the Zimbabwe that it was before this polarisation".
There is scant encouragement to be gained from Bakare's narrow, xenophobic
tone – his reference to "before this polarisation" suggests a yearning for
insular conformity which lay behind Zanu PF's dreams of a one-party state
after 1980 independence. Once again, the churchmen deliberately avoided any
attempt to say who is responsible for the looting and terror which are the
root cause of the queues.

Some commentators have seized upon the comparative lack of anti-MDC rhetoric
in Mugabe's speech to the annual opening of Parliament on July 22 as another
sign of a thaw. But there was still no announcement of repeal of the odious
Public Order and Security Act or the Access to Information Act, as Mugabe
promised South African President Thabo Mbeki nearly two years ago. Instead,
a crackdown is coming on non-governmental organisations "to prevent foreign
interests from using them to subvert our sovereignty" and on students and
staff of higher educational institutions. Despite all the derelict,
weed-choked fields, and the shortages, Mugabe claimed the seizure of 5,000
white-owned farms "had brought thousands and thousands of hitherto
marginalised families back into the economic mainstream" and they had "a new
sense of empowerment yielding a happy sense of ownership". The reality is
that only a comparative handful have taken up their plots, having no
resources or expertise to bring them into production. Mugabe said "a
combination of the drought and sanctions" had created an adverse climate for
business but did not explain the paradox of firms, particularly in the
financial sector, that recorded healthy balance sheets and high dividends.
More, and tougher, price controls are planned. Any economist would have told
him this is typical of conditions of hyper-inflation. One paint
manufacturer, for example, has halved its turnover but appears (on paper) to
have doubled its profits. It is simply selling off old production.

The Mugabe personality cult was taken to a new level when he arrived at
Parliament and the presidential guard held up a gilded one-metre square
portrait of him as some form of regimental colour. As a gesture of goodwill
meant to be noticed in South Africa, the MDC members of Parliament ended
their past boycotts of Mugabe's speech, and Tsvangirai went to the
Distinguished Strangers' Gallery (with Mugabe's approval). The leading Zanu
PF militant and self-styled ex-guerilla Joseph Chinotimba plonked himself
down beside him, and the state-run press – the only ones allowed into the
chamber - photographed Tsvangirai alongside the man implicated in numerous
assaults on MDC members, and who invaded the courts when Zimbabwe still had
an internationally respected judiciary. Mugabe's clear message is that for
talks to succeed Tsvangirai must accept whatever place Mugabe allots to him,
and endorse Mugabe's policies in the company of Mugabe's henchmen.

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Daily News

      Ground laid for talks

        LOCAL churches are now awaiting written responses from the country’s
main political parties to proposed talks that could result in a negotiated
settlement of the Zimbabwean crisis, church leaders said yesterday.

      They made the statements after meeting opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) president Morgan Tsvangirai for private talks at his
Strathaven home in Harare, as efforts intensified to kickstart stalled
dialogue between the MDC and the ruling Zanu PF party.

      Tsvangirai met with Sebastian Bakare, the president of the Zimbabwe
Council of Churches who is also Bishop of the Anglican Church in Manicaland,
Bishop Patrick Mutume of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference and
Trevor Manhanga, the president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe.

      The three bishops said they would next month also appraise regional
peace-brokers President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Malawian leader Bakili
Muluzi and Nigeria’s Olusegun Obasanjo of the progress of their peace

      The church leaders, who last week met President Robert Mugabe, told
journalists in Harare yesterday that they indicated to Tsvangirai that the
problems affecting Zimbabwe transcended political and personal interests.

      Also present at yesterday’s meeting were MDC secretary-general
Welshman Ncube, his deputy, Gift Chimanikire, and Isaac Matongo, the
opposition party’s chairman, who were all “very serious and committed” to
resumption of dialogue, according to the church leaders.

      “We are saddened when we see people getting hungry,” Bakare, the
leader of the church delegation, said when asked what the three bishops had
told Tsvangirai.

      “We feel moved when everything seems to go out of control. We get
concerned when people continue to suffer, when they are turned away from
hospitals because there are no drugs. There is a lot of political
polarisation, HIV/AIDS and rising unemployment. They have to talk to resolve
all these problems affecting Zimbabwe.”

      He said after the meetings with Mugabe and Tsvangirai, the church
leaders were waiting for written responses to proposals that dialogue should
resume between the MDC and ZANU PF.

      Talks between the two parties broke down last year when the MDC
challenged Mugabe’s March 2003 re-election in the courts.

      Bakare added that formal talks had not yet begun but the churches were
“setting firm ground”.

      Manhanga said written responses from the two parties could lead to a
formal meeting being organised between the MDC and ZANU PF.

      “This process started several months ago,” he said. “The Church by its
nature does not make public its moves because that has the potential to
destroy the trust, respect and understanding that we are building.

      “They have to clear their problems in Zimbabwe, but those problems
have not been brought forward as yet. We will set out the agenda once we see
their written responses. We have asked both parties to submit their

      Manhanga added that the churches’ initiative began last year when they
indicated their concerns to the government, ZANU PF and the MDC, condemning
economic policies and political mismanagement and highlighting the level of
suffering among Zimbabweans.

      He said the churches would undertake an outreach programme next month
to appraise regional peace-brokers of their progress in trying to find a
lasting solution to the Zimbabwean political crisis.

      “We will tell them the situation on the ground as we have seen it. We
don’t want to lie to people that something is being done when it is untrue.
The region needs to be told the truth,” he said.

      Asked if the churches believed the politicians would really talk to
end Zimbabwe’s problems, Bakare said: “We are satisfied. The two parties are
committed to the talks. It will be very unfortunate if they deceive us. The
President told us on Friday to ‘come soon and rescue Zimbabwe’. We could not
have misunderstood him.”

      Staff Reporter

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Daily News

      Torture victims demand $9 million from Mohadi

        TWO opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party activists
and a worker at a farm

      belonging to the opposition party’s legislator for Chimanimani
constituency, Roy Bennet, are demanding a total of $9 million from Home
Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi for alleged torture by state security agents.

      The three men, Timothy Mubhawu, who is the MDC’s chairman in
Manicaland province, party activist Robert Chirwa and Amos Makaza, were on
separate occasions assaulted and tortured by police and agents of the state’
s spy Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).

      A lawyer for the three, Trust Maanda, wrote to Mohadi at the beginning
of this month demanding that his clients be paid $3 million each as
compensation or they would sue Mohadi and Police Commissioner Augustine

      Mohadi could not be reached for comment on the matter by the time of
going to print last night.

      But the police wrote to Maanda saying they had opened an inquiry into
the allegations that his clients were tortured.

      “We acknowledge receipt of your notice. By copy of this minute we are
initiating an inquiry into the

      allegations you raised. Our legal representatives shall be notified of
our stance in due course,” a letter written to Maanda by the police read in

      Torture is outlawed under Zimbabwe’s law but several opposition
activists have in the past three years accused state security agents of
torture Human rights groups in the country have also accused the police,
army and CIO of torture.

      According to Maanda, a police unit that was allegedly being led by CIO
operative Tom Mwale assaulted and tortured Makaza at MDC parliamentarian Roy
Bennet’s Charleswood Estate. Makaza works at the farm.

      Mubhawu and Chirwa were detained by police and allegedly tortured for
six days during week-long demonstrations called by the MDC last month.

      Maanda said: “Our clients each suffered damages in the sum of $3
million for the unlawful arrest, detention and the assault for which the
defendants are jointly and severally liable.”

      Staff Reporters

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Daily News

      Daily News staff receive threats

        UNKNOWN people who claim to be members of the Zimbabwe Defence
Forces (ZDF) have threatened the Daily News with unspecified action for
allegedly undermining the dignity of the ZDF.

      In an unsigned letter faxed to this newspaper last Wednesday
afternoon, the anonymous group accused the Daily News and the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) of wanting to “subvert” the ZDF.

      The letter reads in part: “We members of the defence forces would want
to categorically warn MDC and Daily News against publishing abusive language
and cartoons that stand to undermine the dignity of the defence forces.”

      The letter, which does not specify the offending cartoons or articles,
added: “If MDC and Daily News think that members of the defence forces will
stand and watch our people loose (sic) properties through MDC hooliganism is

      “Any repeat of The Daily News and MDC trying to subvert soldiers may
result in us visiting their premises. We will resist the MDC’s endeavours to
turn a professional army into rebels.

      “Be warned! Any repeat of any stupid publication and abuse of the
defence forces may see action against any publisher of such rubbish. Please
don’t cry foul.”

      ZDF spokesman Lameck Mutanda yesterday dissociated the security forces
from the letter, saying if the ZDF wanted to raise any issues with the
newspaper it would do so officially and not through anonymous letters.

      Mutanda said: “That’s not our statement. We are a defence force and
when we want to communicate, we do it officially. We don’t beat about the

      The ZDF official added: “It’s an offence to claim to be a soldier when
you are not.

      “When you find those people (who wrote and faxed the threatening
statement) we would like you to let us know and they will be charged in
terms of the law for impersonation or false pretences.”

      The threats were reported to Harare Central Police Station on Thursday
last week, but it could not be established yesterday whether the police had
begun investigations.

      Kay Ncube of Harare law firm, Gill Godlonton and Gerrans, which
represents Daily News publishers Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe, said: “I
have been to the police investigations section and it does not look like
someone has been allocated to investigate the case.”

      Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena could not be reached yesterday for
comment on the matter.

      MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi said his party had not received a
copy of the threatening letter, which he dismissed as probably the work of
rogue elements within the ZDF.

      Nyathi said: “I don’t think a professional army would make such a
threatening statement. If at all it’s from the army, it must be from some
rogue elements.

      “There are sufficient laws in this country and if anybody is
aggrieved, they can seek redress through the legal channels.

      “Threats have not stopped the march of history towards change and
those who have tried it have failed.”

      The Daily News, the country’s only independent daily newspaper, has in
the past been targeted for attack and harassment by pro-government militants
unhappy with its bold coverage of national and topical issues.

      Copies worth $1.6 million of the paper and its sister weekly, the
Daily News on Sunday, were seized and destroyed by suspected members of the
ruling ZANU PF party during the MDC-organised mass action last month.


      In January 2001, the Daily News’ printing press was fire-bombed by
unknown people, while several of the paper’s staffers have been physically
attacked by suspected ZANU PF militants and self-styled war veterans.

      To date, no one has been convicted for the various crimes against the
Daily News, some of which were committed in broad daylight. Staff Reporter

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Daily News

      NCA vows to defy meeting ban

        MASVINGO – The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) says it will
go ahead with its public meeting here saying High Court judge Justice Ben
Hlatshwayo was unfair to refuse an application by the civic group seeking
the court to order the police to allow the meeting to take place.

      NCA chairman Lovemore Madhuku told journalists here his group would no
longer seek police or court permission to hold the meeting even if it meant
them being jailed.

      Madhuku said: “We will definitely hold our meeting to push for a new
democratic constitution and even if it means we are going to be arrested
then it means we are coming back to Masvingo to be jailed.”

      Under the government’s draconian Public Order and Security Act
Zimbabweans must first seek permission from police before holding political

      Madhuku, who teaches constitutional law at the University of Zimbabwe,
criticised Hlatshwayo saying the judge had made an unfair ruling because of
personal differences with the NCA, which at one time he was a member of.

      Hlathswayo last week rejected an urgent application by the NCA to have
police barred from stopping the group’s meeting saying the police had to be
given a chance to respond before the order sought by the NCA could be

      The police want the NCA meeting barred because according to them the
time the meeting is scheduled to take place in the evening is not conducive
for such a public gathering.

      Madhuku said: “If the judge thinks he is a god we will show him that
he is not. This time we will not go back to him if police bar us from
holding our meetings, we will simply carry on with the


      The NCA’s spokesman, Douglas Mwonzora, said Halthswayo should have
recused himself from hearing the NCA application because of his previous
involvement with the organisation.

      “Hlatshayo should have distanced himself from our hearing, it was not
proper from him to handle our matter because of his history with our
organisation,” Mwonzora said.

      The NCA is a coalition of opposition political parties, civic groups,
churches and labour that is campaigning for a new and democratic
constitution for Zimbabwe.

      In 2000, the NCA successfully campaigned for the rejection by
Zimbabweans of draft constitution sponsored by the government which critics
said would have further entrenched President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU PF
party’s rule.

      Own Correspondent

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Daily News

Leader Page

      Bungling to create fresh food crisis

        ZIMBABWE could once again be gripped by a fresh food crisis, thanks
to the inordinate delay by the government in appealing for international aid
to feed half the country’s population.

      Instead of quickly putting out an SOS to international agencies to
seek food aid, the government has taken its good time to compile figures of
the expected national food deficit, thus delaying the movement of such aid
to Zimbabwe if and when it is found.

      The estimated 5.5 million Zimbabweans who could go hungry between
August and the next harvest in April next year will find it hard to
understand that their own government has once again failed to do the most
basic of functions in time.

      Let it be said that international aid agencies such as the World Food
Programme have long alerted the government, however diplomatically, to the
urgent need for it to quickly seek food aid because of Zimbabwe’s poor
harvests in the past farming season.

      But as has become the tragic norm, government agencies charged with
collecting and collating basic information such as Zimbabwe’s food output
have dragged their feet in doing their job.

      A cursory examination of virtually all problems afflicting Zimbabwe
today will show – as the looming crisis will – that most of them are created
by none other than those in charge of the stewardship of the nation, who
seem unmoved by the worsening plight of the common man and woman.

      Yet these public officials are paid by the very same ordinary
Zimbabweans to run the affairs of the state in a timely, transparent and
accountable manner.

      We have asked this question before but we do so again: what kind of
planners does the government of Zimbabwe have, if any at all?

      What kind of planners do we have who have to wait until foreign
currency reserves are depleted before they act? What kind of planners do we
have who have to wait until the last drop of fuel is used before they have
to import more?

      What kind of planners do we have who have to wait until Zimbabwean
banks run dry of cash – Zimbabwean money for that matter, which is not
imported – before they print more money in a country with hyper-inflation of
nearly 400 percent?

      What kind of planners do we have who willy-nilly uproot hundreds of
productive farmers and replace them with thousands of peasants who have no
financial resources or farming skills, and yet these planners still expect
Zimbabwe to have adequate food?

      Put differently, does Zimbabwe, with all its many holders of
doctorates in this or that subject, have any planners at all?

      Indeed, do you need a doctorate in agriculture to know that it is
silly, if not an act of madness, to fly around Zimbabwe ostensibly to assess
its crop yields?

      For all the real and imagined sins of one President Robert Mugabe –
indeed he must take the blame for not sacking these non-performing
officials – it is clear that he alone cannot and will not possibly transform
these mere bookworms into planners that are needed by a modern country.

      In short, Zimbabwe desperately needs a new public servant imbued with
a new culture of selfless public service, or the country is really done!

      If the public service is to lift its performance and “independence
deliverables” to the nation, it is none other than the Zimbabweans
themselves who must loudly and clearly demand this service and refuse to
accept second-class treatment from their own servants.

      It is only when Zimbabwe has been truly transformed into a society
that does not countenance shabby service, corruption and abuse by anyone,
let alone by those funded by the public, that meaningful political change
will take place and that those in power are held to account.

      That a public official could get away with insulting the intelligence
of the nation by flying around Zimbabwe before declaring that there will be
a bumper maize harvest is surely an indictment on who and how we are.

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Daily News

Leader Page

      Humanity is unconquerable, Mugabe

        Man is the only being who refuses to be what he is, so declared
Algerian-born writer Albert Camus.

      When former Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith emphatically stated
that President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU PF party were gangsters, people
laughed it off, saying that Ian Smith was just an ungrateful loser who was
furiously attempting to harass and sabotage a black government that he had
earlier erroneously predicted would never rule Zimbabwe in a thousand years.

      Camus believed that we can choose to become fully human – peaceful and
loving – if we wish. If we wish.

      We have now seen the government violently seizing farms and property
without compensating the owners. We have seen fellow citizens being murdered
by government and party supporters only because they hold a different
opinion or wish for a new political dispensation.

      We have seen public funds being looted and parastatals being robbed by
ZANU PF-appointed administrators. Journalists and judges have been arrested.
And then Mugabe capped the confirmation of Smith’s utterances by telling the
British and American governments: “Attack us, we kill your children.”

      It seems to me this man, our President, has become a prisoner of his
own propaganda. Blackmail and kidnapping are vices that should never be
associated with the head of state of a democratic country. A head of state
is expected to protect the people and the constitution. Surely this can’t be

      This, I believe, is a classic example of what the American educator
Robert Macfee Brown meant when he said: “Their rationalisations of their
policy become more frantic, their attacks on their critics more strident,
their defence of their actions more removed from the realm of reality.”

      Here, I am no longer concerned about leadership. We have an abundance
of leaders.

      I am greatly concerned about the absence of leadership in Zimbabwe
today. We are in free fall. We are without a leader.

      Our supposed leader seems to believe he has nothing to lose and is
busy trying to ignite an international conflagration as he searches for a
way to justify his failed economics and leadership, his government’s

      He is attempting to take not only Zimbabweans, but the international
community to Armageddon.

      Zimbabweans, by nature, are peace-loving people, a national trait that
Mugabe patronisingly repeats to the outside world once too often. We are too
peaceful and that is why he is taking advantage of us.

      Yet it is his supporters and sympathisers who have introduced violence
into the midst of the pacifist Zimbabweans. And now this latest threat of
his insinuates a desire to take the violence across our borders.

      The heart of the matter is that he is literally making a citizen like
me an unwitting accomplice in this premeditated, pre-declared act of verbal

      Yet I never meant, thought, wished, desired or intended to kill
anyone. I simply do not want any part of it. It is not national policy. It
would appear the President, with his usual elastic political ethics, is
intent on using everyone as a shield.

      The President went public with his threat and we have become an
international curiosity. There is cowardly silence from the politically
impotent President Thabo Mbeki. There is no comment of censure from the
equally useless and meaningless African Union. Does their silence mean they

      Mugabe’s not so veiled threats to take and kill hostages?

      Any country is expected to defend itself when under attack. Zimbabwe
would be justified if it retaliated during an attack by any foreign country.
What the world cannot and will not accept is the singling out of innocent
civilians to be killed in an effort to even the score with someone a country
is at loggerheads with.

      I don’t know about the President, but Zimbabweans have no intention of
becoming international criminals since this act would make us so. The
reprisals will be severe and conclusive.

      African leaders gathered in Maputo at the expense of their starving
millions and with air tickets and stipends from foreign governments. While
there, they caused the freezing of European Union (EU) aid to their
countries, demanding that they can only accept donations, food and
assistance if Mugabe is allowed to attend meetings between them and the EU.

      I can’t believe this; they should have asked me. I do not know what
they want with Mugabe because Zimbabwe is not benefiting from Mugabe’s
presidency. We are actually suffering because of him. Even then, I thought
their leader Mbeki had told them to leave Zimbabweans to settle their own

      Do we need further proof that Africa is run by gangsters who seem to
believe that their mission is to bring misery, starvation and hardships to
the people? African presidents are suicidal leaders willing to die for silly
and meaningless causes, as long as they can take the continent down with
them. The arrogance of one man has almost destroyed our nation. The seizure
of those farms was revenge for rejection. The killing of innocents was a
signal to discourage the brave. Oh, how I wish I was one of the brave!

      I see familiar visions before me. I see Saddam Hussein during the
first American war against him. I see him visiting a besieged Western family
that was holed up in a hotel as hostages of the Iraqis. I see the
all-conquering, towering Saddam extending his hand to shake hands with one
of his hostages, a scared, frail 12-year-old boy. Saddam survived that war
but he didn’t get away with it, did he? For what reason is Mugabe implying
to kill people? Is it because he wants the world community to leave him
alone while the killings, beatings, maimings and abuse of his own people

      No one has ever won a battle against humanity. Humanity remains
unconquered. Many have paid dearly for their attempts to abuse humanity. And
the world today is not very tolerant of people who kill defenceless
citizens. Today, injustices are illuminated and authority is always being
challenged. And in our case, any attempt to correct the situation must start
from here, with us. We do not wait for George Bush or Tony Blair. The burden
of solving the predicament of our oppression is on us, the same people who
carry the burden of being oppressed. We are not obscure; we are real. We don
’t live in obscurity either, but even if we did, we are assured that
obscurity would not be uninteresting.

      Ought a man to do what he admits to be right, or ought he to betray
the right? (Socrates). Let’s free this country. It’s getting late, fellow

      By Tanonoka Joseph Whande
     Tanonoka Joseph Whande is a Zvishavane-based writer.

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Business Day

Tsvangirai, Mugabe edge towards talks


Harare Correspondent

ZIMBABWEAN church leaders trying to broker dialogue between the ruling Zanu
(PF) and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) indicated
yesterday a face-to-face meeting between President Robert Mugabe and
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai could take place soon.

The encounter is being seen as crucial to the resumption of talks between
the two adversaries.

The church leaders met MDC leader Tsvangirai yesterday to arrange for the
resumption of talks that collapsed last year. The meeting was the next step
in a process designed to edge Mugabe and Tsvangirai closer to direct talks .

After meeting Mugabe last Friday, an MDC spokesman confirmed the meeting
with Tsvangirai but said the churches were handling the issue.

Sources close to the meetings said the church leaders urged Zanu (PF) and
the MDC to resume talks as a matter of urgency to arrest the deteriorating

"The message which the church leaders delivered to Tsvangirai and his
delegation today (yesterday) is the same which they gave to Mugabe and his
group last week," a source said.

"They said there is a need to convene talks as quickly as possible to save
the country from further political and economic agony. Both parties have
agreed to meet soon."

Mugabe met the clerics in the company of one of his two deputies, Joseph
Msika, Zanu (PF) national chairman John Nkomo and party spokesman Nathan

Tsvangirai's delegation included top MDC officials expected to form the
upgraded negotiating team that will engage Zanu (PF) when talks resume.

Catholic priest Father Fidelis Mukonori, who has been involved in shuttle
diplomacy between Mugabe and Tsvangirai, has confirmed that the two leaders
would be meeting "soon" for talks.
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ZIMBABWE: IMF slams govt as consumers mob banks
      IRINnews Africa, Tue 29 Jul 2003

      Soaring inflation has produced a thriving parallel market

      JOHANNESBURG, - In a scathing report this week the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) laid the blame for Zimbabwe's economic troubles squarely
on the shoulders of the government.

      The Fund said in an annual review of the country's economy: "[IMF]
directors observed that this sharp deterioration primarily reflects the
government's inappropriate macroeconomic and structural policies, in
particular loose financial policies and increased regulation and government

      Earlier this month the country's Central Statistical Office pegged the
inflation rate for June at 364.5 percent, more than 64 percent up from the
previous month's high of 300 percent.

      Zimbabwe's consumer council complained that the latest jump in
inflation would put the price of basic commodities further beyond the reach
of the urban poor.

      The Fund noted that the impact of the government's current economic
policies was exacerbated by the controversial land reform programme, a
series of droughts and the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

      The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has estimated that 4.4 million
people in rural areas and 1.1 million in urban areas will require food
assistance in 2003/04.

      Another concern was the rapid decline in investor confidence. The Fund
said the flight of foreign capital from the country was largely due to
"concerns over political developments, weak governance, corruption ... and
the selective enforcement of regulations".

      Foreign investors pulled an estimated Zim $17.3 billion (US $20
million) out of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) in the first six months of
this year, more than five times the amount of funds withdrawn by foreign
businesses last year.

      Developments in Zimbabwe had also impacted negatively on neighbouring
countries. Observers say the worsening situation in Zimbabwe has affected
investor confidence in the entire southern African region.

      However, the government was credited for its attempts to arrest the
economic decline. "[The] Directors considered the government's recent steps
to adjust exchange and interest rates and fuel and electricity, and ease
price controls, to be steps in the right direction." But the magnitude of
the economic crisis would require "significant further enhancement of the
scope and speed and stabilisation efforts".

      The government could not be reached on Tuesday for comment.

      In a related development, armed riot police were out in force for a
second day as thousands of Zimbabweans mobbed banks in major towns, unable
to access money or cash cheques, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.

      The government has said the Reserve Bank had insufficient funds to
import the special ink and paper needed to print more money, thus causing
the shortage of bank notes.
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The Herald

Innovative Measures to Curb Cash Crisis Urged

The Herald (Harare)

July 29, 2003
Posted to the web July 29, 2003


BANKS should come up with innovative measures to curb the cash crisis being
experienced in the country, economic commentators said yesterday.

They said the shortage of bank notes is a direct attack on the social
stability of the country and, if not corrected urgently, might lead to
widespread human suffering in the country.

The shortage has gone on unabated for the past three months and, analysts
say, this could well be viewed as a security threat to the country.

Dr Samuel Undenge said the cynic attitude in people would continue if the
banks fail to implement innovative measures that would see a decline in
transactions involving the use of cash.

"People have the money and if they are assured that they would get the
money, the situation would improve," he said.

"This can only be achieved if banks review the entire system and use a
'client friendly approach' to instill trust in their clients so that they
would deposit cash into the banks," he said.

He said one method of reviewing the system would be to encourage non-cash
transactions through the speeding up of the cheque clearance period.

"Banks need to speed up transactions that involve cheques. It is surprising
that banks still take, for example, five days to clear a cheque that has
been issued from the same bank. If cheques are cleared within, for example,
a day people would be able to use their cheque books and engage in other
transactions thereby reducing transactions involving cash.

"The entire banking system needs to be reviewed in order to alleviate the
crisis or else those who are keeping large sums of cash at their homes would
not make cash deposits," said Dr Undenge.

With most people now employed by the informal sector because of the
decreasing employment capacity of the economy, the cash crisis has further
worsened the situation for them. The life-blood of the informal sector is
cash, unlike their formal counterparts who can use cheques, bank-to-bank
transfers and electronic or plastic money.

"Some people in some of our banks may be very unhappy about the new strength
of the informal sector because banks are not in control of this new money,"
said businessman Mr Guy Georgias.

"For example, the informal sector is responsible for the present boom in the
construction sector, with many new buildings being erected in all our
suburbs, some banks may be upset that they are not benefiting from this

"Just as the banks tried to destroy the economy by flouting the in-duplum
rule, so now the cash has been engineered to achieve the same objectives."

Mr Georgias is well known for clashing with banks that were charging their
clients interest charges that surpassed the principal amount borrowed, a
direct flouting of the in-duplum rule.

Others say the central bank is responsible for monitoring the supply of
money and should have forecasted this situation a long time ago and acted

The Reserve Bank two weeks ago injected $24 billion in the market but the
situation has remained critical with long winding queues at most banks in

Some banks have reduced maximum withdrawals to as low as $5 000. This little
money involves a lot of patience as it could take the whole day to get it.

This development has increased scepticism, as people feel that making a bank
deposit would be equivalent to forfeiting their money.

A Kuwadzana resident and owner of a small business enterprise in the area,
Mr Peter Mupezeni vowed not to deposit money in the banks until the
situation improved.

Various theories have been put across on how the crisis could have come
about, with some saying it was caused by traders externalising funds while
others accuse financial institutions, retailers and the public of hoarding
bank notes.

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The Herald

24-Member Iranian Business Delegation to Explore Business Opportunities

The Herald (Harare)

July 29, 2003
Posted to the web July 29, 2003


A 24-MEMBER business delegation from Iran is in the country on a four-day
visit to explore business opportunities.

The leader of the delegation, Mr Mahdi Hajzemian said the businessmen were
from Isfahan, which is the second largest industrial city in Iran after the
capital Teheran.

He said there were particularly interested in areas of agriculture and
technical services.

"Our visit is meant to be an eye opener for us as we explore opportunities
in different sectors because the 24 members of the delegation are
representing a cross section of industry.

"We have already contacted the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development and
other Government departments to explore opportunities in mining and textiles
sectors, among others," he said.

Mr Hajzemian said Isfahan was famed for its ability to manufacture
industrial spare parts and machinery.

The Deputy Minister of Industry and International Trade, Mr Kenneth Manyonda
said the Government had appealed to the Iranians to consider investing in
distressed companies and those that were closed with a view of resuscitating
operations in partnerships with locals.

"We have also asked them to consider the setting up of a tractor
manufacturing plant in the country to assist new farmers who desperately
need capital," he said.

The ZNCC Trade and Economic Affairs Committee chairman, Dr Samuel Undenge
said the visit was an opportunity for local business people to interact and
explore business opportunities that exist in the country.

"As Zimbabweans, we should seize the opportunity to expand our businesses
and markets beyond the existing traditional markets.

"This is an opportunity that has presented itself and instead of mourning
that we are not getting business opportunities, we should receive our
counterparts with open hands so as to foster new development partnerships,"
he said.

Dr Undenge said the scope for doing business in Iran was enormous given the
size of the Iranian economy.

The delegation, which arrived in the country on Sunday, has heard
presentations from several organisation including the ZNCC, Confederation of
Zimbabwe Industries, Privatisation Agency of Zimbabwe, Export Processing
Zones Authority, the Zimbabwe Investment Centre and the Industrial
Development Corporation.

Members of the delegation were expected to hold talks with different
companies and tour some factories within Harare.

The Iranians are expected to visit one of the country's tourist resort areas

The delegation, which is the second to visit Zimbabwe over the past
18months, is in the country on the invitation of the private sector led by
ZNCC, which has been collaborating with the Chamber of Commerce in Isfahan.

The first delegation, which was from Teheran, visited Zimbabwe in April last

Trade between Zimbabwe and Iran has remained low because of the limited
interaction between businessmen from the two countries.

According to trade statistics, total trade between Zimbabwe and Iran fell
from a peak of US$8,5 million in 1999 to US$3,6 million in 2001.

Tobacco and asbestos have mainly dominated Zimbabwe's exports to Iran, while
imports from Iran have largely been tractors and some industrial machinery.

However, through a Joint Permanent Commission on Economic, Trade, Technical,
Industrial and Cultural Co-operation held in Teheran, the Government of Iran
extended a line of credit to Zimbabwe of US$15 million, which is much more
than the total trade between the two countries.

The credit facility is being used for the importation of tractors and other
agricultural implements.

It would finance up to 85 percent of the invoice value of imports from Iran,
which would see 440 tractors, 18 combine harvesters and 204 motorcycles
being assembled in the country by Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries.

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The Herald

Informal Sector Grows Rapidly As Formal Shrinks

The Herald (Harare)

July 29, 2003
Posted to the web July 29, 2003

Walter Muchinguri

ZIMABWBE'S informal sector has grown rapidly over the past few years, at a
time the formal economy has shrunk due to a myriad of reasons.

The emergence of the informal economy has resulted in the disappearance of
most products from the formal market into the informal chain where prices
are deregulated and determined by demand.

This scenario has largely been precipitated by the severe decline in net
investment in the productive sectors, weak medium term export growth, and
internal macroeconomic resource imbalances that involve a large transfer of
private savings into public debt, among others.

Most of the income in the informal economy is unreported and illegal
activities such as smuggling and fraud go undetected.

According to the Jewel bank's quarterly review for the month ending June, a
thriving informal economy is not peculiar to Zimbabwe alone but has become
so much entrenched in many African countries to such an extent that it has
become more like a parallel economy.

The financial institution said on average, the informal economy in Africa
was estimated at about 42 percent of Gross Domestic Product in 1999/2000.

"Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Nigeria are at the high end with 59.4 percent, 58.3
percent and 57.9 percent of GDP respectively.

"At the lower end are Botswana with 33.4 percent and Cameroon with 32.8
percent," the bank said.

The Jewel bank said that irrespective of the rankings, one thing for certain
was that the informal economy was large and growing rapidly in Africa.

"Against this background of a growing informal economy in many countries,
and mainly in Zimbabwe where it is becoming "the economy" it, therefore,
becomes imperative to find out why it is growing and consequently seek ways
to bring all business back into the mainstream official economy," the bank

To begin with, a comprehensive definition of an underground economy is quite
difficult due to the fact that it is always changing because of varying

The evolving nature of this economy has been so profound in the recent years
such that a number of names such as underground, parallel or shadow economy
have been coined to describe it.

Nevertheless, an informal economy includes not only illegal activities but
also unreported income from the production of legal goods and services,
either for monetary or barter transactions.

The underground economy comprises all economic activities that would
generally be taxed if they were reported to the tax authorities.

Examples of the underground economy include office workers driving
unlicensed taxis at night, plumbers fixing broken pipes for clients, getting
cash payments but not declaring these to the tax collector, office workers
selling merchandise from the location of their offices and unreported income
from self-employment.

Thus in an underground economy labour has a second job after or even during
regular working hours.

All these activities, both legal and illegal, add up to billions of dollars
annually, but all out of the gaze of taxmen and Government statisticians.

Taking into account amounts of money involved in the informal economy, it is
imperative that policymakers and Government administrators be informed on
the numbers involved, how often underground activities occur and the size of
the activities so that they make appropriate decisions on resource

However, measuring the size of the underground economy has proved difficult
as most of the people involved in the underground are evasive.

Notwithstanding the lack of information on the informal economy, its growth
and prevalence has profound effects on the official economy, economic growth
and provision of public services.

Studies have revealed that most underground economy transactions tend to be
in cash and as such the rising activity is likely to push up the demand for

Furthermore, the growth of the informal economy causes production inputs
such as labour to partially move out of the official economy thereby
depressing labour productivity and hence the official growth rate of the

The underground economy also has adverse effects on the provision of public

It is argued that transactions in the underground economy, rather than the
official economy, keep state revenues lower than they would otherwise be and
this in turn reduces government's ability to provide public goods and

In response to this, governments usually increase individual and corporate

However, higher rates of taxation, when combined with the perceived
deterioration in the quality of public goods and public administration or
under-investment in public infrastructure, may motivate economic agents even
more strongly to move into the underground economy.

Although studies are not yet conclusive on the effect of underground economy
on economic growth, it is however, argued that the underground economy
depresses the growth of Gross Domestic Product.

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Our Country:

"The lowveld of 'our country', and indeed most of Africa, is an area where
man is still learning, with great difficulty and at great loss, ways of
living with the many variables of an arid tropical environment. The
original inhabitants, the bushman adapted to 'our country' by hunting. They
left beautiful cave paintings all over the land. But they were displaced by

When this tribe (the Matabele) arrived, in 1837, they swept the country
clean of many of its previous occupants. The tactics of warfare, developed
originally by the Zulu Chief, Tchaka, had been too much for the opposition
tribes to meet. Mercy was unheard of; fighting and raiding were ways of
life. With the constant ravages of disease and the periodic touch of
famine, there was no overpopulation. Wild animals were abundant, people and
cattle few. Abused land could be abandoned for ultimate recovery, because
fresh land could always be occupied.

With colonial rule the scene changed. Fighting ceased to be a way of life.
Intertribal warfare came to a halt. Murder was discouraged. The findings of
medical science were put to good use and government prevented the periodic
decimations from famine.

People and their animals became numerous. Game disappeared. By 1960 the
African population climbed from 530 000 to 2 590 000, and in addition some
235 000 others of European or Asiatic ancestry were added. Cattle numbers
increased to over 2 000 000. The rate of increase has nowhere slacked off.
Reproduction has replaced warfare as a way of life.

With the boost in population, the old ways of handling land were wretchedly
inadequate. The shifting agriculture could no longer shift. Cows cannot be
moved on to better grazing when the good grass has been eaten; it has been
eaten elsewhere too. The new and empty lands are no longer new and empty.
The African lands of the native area could only be described as desolate.
No matter how miserable the land, somebody with his donkey, his cows, and
his goats will try to wrest a living from it.

Most of 'our country' is not suited to farming. No more than 29% is classed
as arable. No more than 20% is suited to intensive agriculture. The
complexities of proper land use take time and thought. They are easier to
ignore. It is too easy to see that fire brings good grass; but too
difficult to believe that there can be too much of a good thing."

- The Last Horizon - R.F. Dasmann - 1963 -

* Joshua Nkomo appears to have made very similar observations to Raymond
Dasmann regarding the problems with communally owned land, indicative of
thorough comprehension of the holistic nature of the problem.

* The events over the last three and a half years have seen an extension of
the very problems that Dr. Nkomo and R. Dasmann identified twenty and forty
years ago respectively.

* It is of concern that some Qualified Professionals in Agriculture, of
certain institutions have chosen to support the Government's so called
"land reform policy."

In the future, these professionals may well be asked to submit scientific
data or evidence for supporting what appears to be a technically, socially
and economically unsound programme for 'our country.'

* With a population of over 11 000 000 the methods of agriculture applied
are going to have a large bearing on the well being of 'our country.'

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ON THE LIGHTER SIDE - or is it - a little too close to the bone and home?



To: New Chairman
From: Old Chairman
Date: Eve of Congress


I am anxious that you should not fritter your opportunities by kow-towing
to the ridiculous whims and wishes of the rank-and-file of our membership.
The constitution states clearly that congress is the highest authority in
the Union. Among our members there are still some troublemakers and
dissidents who believe that this entitles them to take decisions which are
not in accordance with the policies laid down by their superiors. You must
not let these malcontents rock the boat or undermine your democratic

Remember always that you are in charge. You have been put in your present
position by a long drawn out democratic process which has been designed to
ensure that only the right sort of people get to the top. Congress must
exercise its power, not to say what ought to be done, but to authorise you
to do what you know ought to be done. If you have any doubts about policy,
we will discuss it in private, as we always have done. That's what the
executive committee is for. It is not politic to allow doubts to be aired
in front of the rank and file of loyal members, or for sensitive issues to
be discussed.....

As spokesman for the Union, it is your duty to ensure that members say what
you want them to, and only when you want them to.

Studying the agenda, I was pleased to note how quickly you have learned the
ropes. I must draw your attention to a few weak points, which could allow
discussion to get out of hand. Resolution No. 5 looks particularly
dangerous - I presume you will be priming the committee on how to field the
flak. But, if worst comes to the worst, I shall be there to propose a
suitably ambiguous amendment which should create enough confusion to get
the matter referred back to council for further consideration. Delicate
topics are not suitable for congresses, which should be kept convivial in
spite of all odds.

I doubt whether you will have much trouble with the election of office
bearers this year. We fixed things too well for them last year. The only
valuable chap at risk is your vice-chairman. You must lay it on thick for
him. But for goodness sake don't let him speak for himself. He is bound to
put someone's back up with that scandalous and unfortunate rumour still
doing the rounds. Tell everyone what a hard worker he is behind the scenes
and what a stickler he is for honesty, integrity and detail - you know the
stuff. (By the way, did he do it? - I would love to know!)

Another good ploy will be to get him to bring his wife along. With a torso
like that and a bit of glad-eye at the cocktail party, I reckon she's worth
every bit of 15 votes. While we are on the subject, does your missus mind
sitting next to the Minister?

See you there,
Oom Koos.

- "Ploughing a Furrow" - S.A. Farmers' Weekly, July 30, 1980 - (abridged)

The more things change - the more things stay the same???

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


Letter 1: Tarmac Tales for the forum?

A rose grower needed $5 million to pay wages. He got it from his bank, but
they charged him $750000 for the pleasure of it.

On Saturday there was no business at mother's fast food outlet, because
hungry people could not get cash to buy food. There were thousands of
people queuing all over the village outside the banks. Today the riot
police were out in force.

When my son and friend finished playing golf on Saturday, they called in at
the Service Station to get a drink or something. There was a Santana parked
outside and a drunk policeman recognised my son. "You come from 'a well
known' restaurant, don't you? Buy us some drinks."

Son said, "No."

The police followed him in, and put their purchases on the counter with
son's. Son paid for his own stuff and left the shop. Whereupon the
policemen picked their stuff up as well and left the shop without paying
for it. What could the shopkeeper do?

On Sunday evening, Tickey and a couple of waiters from the restaurant were
sitting in a car, in the village when they were approached by police. "You
are MDC supporters, pay a fine of $3000." The waiters ran away, but Tickey
was arrested. Because they didn't have a receipt book, he was taken to
another town 30km away, where he paid his fine. What could he do? If he had
protested, he would have been beaten up and locked up for the night and
released the following day without being charged. Easier just to pay the

This is the extent of the break down of Law and Order. Everyone is too
frightened to stand up against the corrupt law officers. There are supposed
to be Mayoral and Council elections soon. So it is a signal for the
officials to just do their own thing.

When the town council discovered that a vegetable exporting company
employee had got his name down in the nomination court as an MDC candidate,
hundreds of company workers were stopped from getting on the buses to go to
work that day. When is it all going to end?


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

Zimbabwe Held Al-Qaida Suspects Before Release In Sudan

BLANTYRE, Malawi (AP)--Five terror suspects arrested and deported from Malawi last month were held in Zimbabwe for nearly a month before being sent to Sudan and freed, the wife of one of the men said Tuesday.

Their reported detention in nearby Zimbabwe further clouds the already strange journey of the men, who are accused of funneling money to al-Qaida.

The five, a Saudi, a Kenyan, two Turks and a Sudanese, were arrested by Malawian officials last month with the help of the CIA. Despite a Malawi court ruling forbidding the government from deporting the five, they were reportedly turned over to U.S. officials and taken out of the country.

Last week the men surfaced in the north African nation of Sudan, which is on the U.S. list of countries that support terrorism, and freed, according to Sudanese officials and relatives of the men.

Ella Ulusam said her husband, Arif, one of the Turkish suspects, called her from Istanbul and told her the men had been taken to Zimbabwe, a country that has shaky relations with the U.S., where they were questioned by U.S. and Malawian officials and cleared of any links to the terror group.

After nearly a month in Zimbabwe, the men were flown to Sudan via Uganda, she said.

"He told me, apart from the trauma of being arrested at night with no reason, they were treated well and are all in good health," she said.

U.S. and Zimbabwean authorities said they had no idea if the men had been in Zimbabwe.

"We are surprised by the reports that they have been here," police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said.

"We don't know about this," said Lucy Hall, spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Harare.

The arrests of the five and their removal from Malawi had sparked protests among the country's Muslims, who make up about 20% of the population. Angry mobs attacked churches and the offices of at least one U.S. aid group.

Ella Ulusam said President Bakili Muluzi had invited her and Salidali Issa, the wife of suspect Sheik Mahmud Sardar Issa, to his home over the weekend to apologize for the affair.

"He just said he was sorry, it was not the Malawi government, it was all the Americans. That's all he said," Ulusam said.

Muluzi also told them that "if they want to come back, he will make sure they are safe," said Ulusam, a Malawian with a 2 1/2-year-old daughter by her husband.

Muluzi's office declined to comment on the meeting.

Soon after the men were arrested last month, Muluzi denied he had been under American pressure, saying the nation acted against the men because it had an obligation to assist in the global fight against terror.

Salidali Issa said Muluzi told her he was ashamed of the incident.

"He said this was not supposed to happen in Malawi," she said.

  Dow Jones Newswires
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SOKWANELE is concerned at the perception that many people have of recent events. Expectations were high and many felt that these were not met by the way in which events transpired on the ground. There appear to be two major causes of depression and disappointment of late.


Firstly  the outcome of President Bush's recent visit to SA.


Bush set out to achieve two main objectives and succeeded:


1. Fresh Elections for Zimbabwe (RGM must resign to pave the way)

2. Urgent attention to the Zim crisis.


Bush has placed the onus firmly on Mbeki by referring to him as his POINT MAN,  the grid iron player who performs a proactive and accountable role to set up the game plan to score a goal as soon as possible.


Furthermore the press mislead the public by misinterpreting what Bush actually said at the closing press conference. His words were....Mbeki can be an honest broker (if you do the right thing)..... not IS and honest broker.


These are subtle remarks carefully placed to send a clear message.


The US has made it clear that, although "agreement" has been reached with Mbeki, there is no change in US strategy on Zim. This was demonstrated this week by Bush's reference to the seven ROGUE STATES which included North Korea, Iran and Zimbabwe, the only state in Africa despite the problems in Liberia, Congo, Sudan and so on.  The Americans are deliberately targeting the authority, not the nation as such.


Another point to consider is Mbeki's closing statement when he said that he was grateful that the US would fund the transition in Zimbabwe. He is in no position to do it himself and concedes the role that the US will play.


Secondly, the Au and it's election of RGM to the position of ONE of the five Vice Presidents.  RGM wanted the top job and the AU action is consistent with Mbeki's Quiet Diplomacy and the exit plan for mugabe. It also saves face without granting him any substantive position.


Beside which, the AU has earned very little respectability internationally or within Africa. Look at their record in solving the many crisis in such countries as Liberia, Sudan and the Congo.  Consider the number of despots and dictators who constitute the AU.


There is a plan and the road map for Zimbabwe is beginning to unfold. The Americans are utterly determined to achieve their goal of a transition to democracy.


SOKWANELE says, have faith and dig deep. Show your strength and determination in defying the odds and be a winner!


Stand firm, Stand together!!


Visit the Zvakwana website:-

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