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The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe

Monday May 31st – Sunday June 6th 2004

Weekly Media Update 2004-22











1. Banning of Tribune condemned


THE Media Monitoring Project condemns the cynical and unconstitutional banning of The Tribune newspaper by the government-controlled Media and Information Commission. This latest onslaught against free expression, and particularly the privately owned media, demonstrates precisely why so many of the provisions of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act are clearly anti-democratic and grossly repressive. Laws that allow government to destroy private enterprises and so many livelihoods for essentially relatively minor regulatory offences should be struck off the statute books. This gagging of one of the few remaining alternative sources of information in Zimbabwe once again clearly illustrates government’s underlying intention of introducing this legislation to silence all media institutions beyond its control.



2. General comment


THE authorities’ obsessive fear of alternative sources of information manifested itself again at the beginning of the week under review with news that government is trying to force Internet Service Providers (ISP) to monitor individual e-mails and ‘shop’ all sources of  “objectionable” and “anti-national” messages (The Standard, 30/5).

Although The Standard reported initial resistance from the country’s ISPs, the government media simply ignored this important development towards the entrenchment of a police state.


The Zimbabwe Independent (4/6) followed up the story quoting information technology (IT) consultants as saying government could only interfere with e-mails originating from or destined for local ‘zw’ domains. IT expert Robert Ndlovu was quoted saying it would be impossible for government to snoop into e-mails that used international domains such as Yahoo and Hotmail. Said Ndlovu: “As long as you use international e-mails to send sensitive information, there is no way government can open them, unless of course you give them your password”.

Similar views appeared on the radio stations, Studio 7 and SW Radio Africa (2/6).

The Daily Mirror (3/6) reported that ISPs had no capacity to implement government’s demands.


The private media also viewed government’s attempt to gag the electronic “information highway” as part of its campaign to stifle all alternative news and information outlets.

For example, the Independent’s Editor’s Memo pointed out that the government’s move “reflects a heightening of paranoia felt in the upper echelons of power” adding that “instead of regarding the Internet as an instrument of knowledge and freedom” the authorities saw “it as a tool of “imperialists”’.


Such evident intolerance of alternative sources of information also prompted the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) to adopt a resolution condemning the country’s media laws, which it observed were meant “to protect President Mugabe from criticism while he is able to make unrestrained attacks on civil society and his critics in the media” (the Independent). WAN was also reported calling for the “elimination of the repressive provisions of AIPPA, together with POSA” and that “other attempts to silence independent media” should cease “immediately”.

Predictably, the government media ignored this latest condemnation of the country’s repressive media environment.



3. Land and the politics of power


THE chaotic nature of government’s land reforms, always dismissed by the authorities as a lie being peddled by government opponents to discredit the programme, resurfaced this week following the emergence of alleged eviction notices served on newly resettled farmers by the Lands Ministry headed by John Nkomo. Notable however, was the simplistic way in which the government-controlled media, particularly ZBC, The Herald and The Sunday Mail, covered the matter. They neither viewed the problem as arising from the general chaos that has characterised the reforms since their inception, nor a vindication of the results of government’s own land audits undertaken in the past two years. Instead, they personalized the matter by accusing Nkomo and his office of plotting to derail land reforms by handing back expropriated land to evicted white commercial farmers. This aroused the curiosity of the private media over a possible political motive for such an agenda.


In its initial report on the issue, The Herald (31/5) accused “a group of civil servants and some unnamed politicians as the protagonists in this despicable scandal”, an allegation that was echoed by ZTV that same evening. ZTV also reported that the development had precipitated new farm invasions by “scores of land hungry Zimbabweans” in protest against “government bureaucrats trying to return land to the whites” thus derailing an otherwise successful land reform”. No analysis was made on the legality of such invasions. Instead, it quoted liberation war veterans and war collaborators’ groups as having “vowed to do all they can, including going back to war if some people are still bent on returning land to the white minority.


War veterans’ leader Joseph Chinotimba accused those behind the eviction notices as the same people who “played a part in suppressing the first land demos”. But he was not seen revealing their names. However, he was more categorical in The Herald the next day (1/6) where he accused Nkomo and his permanent secretary, Simon Pazvakavambwa, of complicity in the purported withdrawal of offer letters to the new farmers. He also claimed that Nkomo had, during the height of farm invasions, ordered the “arrest of our members …carrying out land occupations and also demolished our houses when he was the Minister of Home Affairs”.

Chinotimba even issued an ultimatum to Nkomo saying the minister should urgently convene a meeting to explain the deeds of Pazvakavambwa “or risk being hauled before a meeting that would be convened by war veterans”.

Nkomo and Pazvakavambwa were not given an equal platform to defend themselves. The paper merely cited Nkomo as having dismissed the eviction notices as “fake” during an interview with ZTV (31/5, 8pm) and that Pazvakavambwa could not be reached for comment.


However, the issue took a political twist with The Tribune (4/6) reporting that “tempers were high this week during the ZANU PF Cabinet and Politburo meetings” with some members saying there might now be “fifth columnists” in the party who were trying to destroy the ruling party from within after having failed to do so from outside. The Zimbabwe Independent (4/6) reported the same sentiments.

SW Radio Africa (2/6) quoted Zimbabwe Liberators’ Platform official Wilfred Mhanda speculating that Chinotimba was being used by some senior ZANU PF officials to attack Nkomo. The Sunday Mirror (6/6)’s Behind the Words column reflected a similar view saying Chinotimba was being used by “worms” within ZANU PF who espoused “policies that make Zimbabwe a laughing stock of the world” and spoke “destructive venom each time they open their motormouths”.


However, in his interview with The Tribune, Nkomo alleged that the attacks on him and his ministry were calculated to divert attention from the irregularities bedevilling the land reform programme that his office had unearthed. For example, the minister claimed that the presidential land implementation team had uncovered several anomalies while verifying land allocation and ownership. These included multiple ownership, multiple allocations, double allocations and people on land without offer letters. Nkomo was quoted by the paper as saying they had since discovered that about 63 individuals owned multiple farms totalling 102 427 ha, which some of them had started parcelling out to relatives when they realised that the ministry’s net was closing in on them.


Although the paper did not ask him to divulge the identities of the 63, it claimed that its independent investigations had revealed that among them were ministers, deputy ministers and senior government officials. In fact, The Sunday News (6/5) revealed that some of these government officials were refusing to hand over their extra farms.

Nkomo was further quoted in The Tribune saying his ministry had discovered that there were 3,212 people issued with offer letters although they were not on the land. Said Nkomo: “This suggested that this land is hidden somewhere or …that there were some beneficiaries that had not been given (offer) letters and … that some could be ghost beneficiaries”.

In addition, Nkomo said, there were 1,513 vacant A2 plots compared to 99 971 applicants on the waiting list, a situation which “did not make any sense” because government still held so much derelict land that had been offered but remained unoccupied.


The Daily Mirror (2/6), the Zimbabwe Independent and The Standard (6/5) carried an IRIN report alleging that several small, medium and large commercial farms given to resettled farmers under land reforms still remained fallow. In fact, serious economic repercussions arising from land resettlement were clearly indicated in a Daily Mirror (2/6) report, which claimed that despite government claims of a bumper harvest, the authorities were actually spending “hundreds of billion of dollars on maize imports with the assistants of US-based companies”. The story, based on the London-based Africa Confidential, alleged that about 400 000 tonnes of maize had been imported between April and May this year. This was confirmed by the chief executive officer of the Grain Marketing Board, Col. Samuel Muvhuti, who stated that the importation of the food was “intended to feed the nation” during harvesting time.


But The Sunday Mail (6/4) would not debate these issues at all. Instead, it followed in the footpath of its stable-mate, The Herald, in personalising the problems besetting the agrarian reforms. For example, the paper’s faceless columnist Lowani Ndlovu diverted public attention from the real issues at hand by carrying personal attacks on The Tribune owner and ZANU PF MP, Kindness Paradza, for having allowed his paper to “trap” Nkomo into accusing some ZANU PF insiders of scheming to discredit his regularisation of the land reforms.

Ndlovu noted that it was “simply unacceptable” for Paradza to attack ZANU PF policies or programmes outside the “party caucus”. However, Ndlovu conveniently ignored how The Herald had provided Chinotimba with an unrivalled stage to attack Nkomo and his officers. In fact, Chinotimba, whom private media reports (The Tribune 4/6) claimed was due for disciplinary action over his outburst against Nkomo, was quoted by The Financial Gazette (3/6) as saying he would apologise to the minister “because we got to know he was unaware of the letters”.  

The government media ignored this. Instead, The Sunday Mail added a conspiracy theory to the whole issue by implicating the MDC and the shadowy pressure group, Zvakwana. The MDC was accused of allegedly bribing some government and ZANU PF officials to produce documents purporting to withdraw land offered to new farmers in an operation aimed at restoring acquired land to former white farmers.

No authenticated evidence was provided.


As the week drew to a close, The Herald, Chronicle (4/6) and ZBC (4/6, 8pm) reported that the Supreme Court had passed a “landmark judgment” that would bring relief to the new farmers who have been receiving eviction letters after the superior court ruled that an order to acquire land for resettlement could not be withdrawn six months after it has been issued. The ruling also empowered the Lands Ministry with the sole authority to either revoke or withdraw an acquisition order. This was a result of an appeal by Airfield Investments (Pvt) Ltd challenging the dismissal by the High Court of an application to bar the State from acquiring its property pending the determination of the constitutionality of sections 8, 9 and 10 of the Land Acquisition Act.

However, these media failed to fully examine the consequences of the ruling on the rights of the white commercial farmers, prime targets of the government’s land acquisition programme.

The private Press missed this story.



4. Harare City Council circus


THE government’s ongoing efforts to hound the MDC-led Harare city council out of office by directly interfering with the running of the municipality reached alarming extremes after Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo suspended 13 MDC councillors for allegedly interfering with the management of council affairs. The move followed the councillors’ decision to ignore a directive by Chombo barring them from meeting as a full council so they could elect a new deputy mayor and standing committees for the city.

Similarly, the minister also suspended the MDC executive mayor of Chegutu, Francis Dhlakama, for allegedly failing to resolve the town’s problems.


But while these issues generated interest in the private media, they did not get the attention they deserved in the government media. SW Radio Africa and Studio 7 (1, 2 & 3/6), The Financial Gazette (3/6), The Standard and The Sunday Mirror (6/6), tried to put Chombo’s latest action into context, viewing it as a clear subversion of the democratic rights of the electorate that voted the councillors into office.

In fact, Chombo’s determination to undermine the democratic will of the electorate was further exposed by revelations on Studio 7 and SW Radio Africa (1/6) that he had used heavily armed riot police to forcibly evict the newly elected deputy mayor, Christopher Mushonga, from Town House. Some councillors and Mushonga’s lawyer were reportedly assaulted during the police raid. 

The government-controlled media simply ignored this. Instead, The Herald subhead (2/6) “Defying government directive costly for 13…” implied that the councillors deserved the punishment. In addition, the paper, including the Chronicle of the same day, failed to question how the 13 councillors could be suspended “for interfering with the management of council affairs” when they were elected to run the council. Neither did they provide further details on the provisions of section 114 (1) of the Urban Councils Act, Chapter 29/1, from which Chombo claims to have derived his powers to suspend the councillors.


However, The Financial Gazette sourced comments from lawyers Kay Ncube, Beatrice Mtetwa and Lovemore Madhuku arguing that the councillors’ move to defy Chombo’s directive was legal. Said Mtetwa: “Chombo has been abusing the Urban Council’s Act…The minister does as he pleases with council…(Sekesai) Makwavarara was voted to that position by councillors and she can be voted out through a vote of no confidence.”

Studio 7 (03/06) quoted the Combined Harare Residents Association lawyer condemning Chombo’s decision as illegal because the councillors had acted within the provisions of the Urban Councils Act.


A comment in The Standard described the suspension of Dhlakama and the 13 Harare councillors as “the latest in a series of bizarre escapades” by ZANU PF “to make it impossible for all MDC-headed local authorities to operate”. It further questioned Chombo’s declaration that the suspended councillors would not be returning to Town House or contesting elections in the next 10 years saying he had “subverted the wishes of Harare ratepayers with impunity and ridden roughshod over the will of citizens elsewhere”. 


Meanwhile, none of the media linked Harare City Council’s poor service delivery to the incessant meddling in the management of council by government. It was not surprising therefore that the weeks-old strike by council health workers, which has crippled clinics throughout the capital, scarcely got any attention. The media failed to report the extent and effects of the industrial action. They also failed to query how, because of the suspensions, future council budgets would be formulated since only a full council can do these things.



The MEDIA UPDATE was produced and circulated by the Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe, 15 Duthie Avenue, Alexandra Park, Harare, Tel/fax: 263 4 703702, E-mail:


Feel free to write to MMPZ. We may not able to respond to everything but we will look at each message.  For previous MMPZ reports, and more information about the Project, please visit our website at


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Zim 70 magistrate 'held'
10/06/2004 23:28  - (SA)

Kodzevu Sithole

Harare - The magistrate who has to decide the fate of the 70 alleged
mercenaries being held in Zimbabwe got a taste on Thursday of the
unpredictable nature of the country's security forces.

He was "held" for a while by prison personnel when he and two state
prosecutors arrived at the maximum-security prison.

Witnesses report that magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe and the two state
prosecutors, Lawrence Phiri and Stephen Musona, were searched before they
entered Chikurubi Prison, and their entry was then obstructed "on higher

Court proceedings were delayed by three hours.

During the hearing, it was determined the state had until June 24 to set a
date for the trial.

Guvamombe said this was the last time he would postpone the case.

Several questions arise after 'incident'

The men, who are charged with planning a coup in Equatorial Guinea, were
arrested on March 7 and have been held in Harare since then.

An attempt in Pretoria High Court to have the men extradited to South Africa
and have the hearing take place there failed this week.

The incident with Guvamombe at court on Thursday spurred several questions,
although he is seen as being well disposed towards the Zimbabwean

Judges and magistrates often have been threatened in the past or withdrawn
from cases if the government felt they didn't have the state's best
interests at heart.

Jonathan Samkange, the men's legal representative, said the men's families
would be able to visit them on Friday.
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The Herald

Future of troubled banks bleak

Deputy Business Editor Brian Benza
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe might be forced to take over commercial banks
which are struggling to pay back funds loaned to them under the Troubled
Bank Fund (TBF).

The central bank has to date disbursed over a trillion dollars to the
liquidity stricken financial institutions under the TBF and chances that
they will recover the money in the foreseeable future are quite slim given
that earnings for financial institutions are expected to be quite slim with
their return to core business.

Five commercial banks have accessed the TBF facility and The Herald Business
understands only two have managed to successfully repay the loans with the
rest still struggling to reimburse the funds, which attracted an interest
rate of 300 percent.

The assisted financial institutions were also directed to find sound
partners to merge with if they were to survive the new highly regulated and
competitive environment, but to date only one institution seems to be on the
verge of sealing a concrete deal.

The question that stands now is what will happen to those banks that would
have totally failed to pay back the loans that were forward to them by the
RBZ using depositors funds?

Will the RBZ turn the debt into equity and take over the institutions or
will it be patient and see the banks through their bad patches.

This will all depend on what terms and conditions were agreed on by the two
parties when the loans were given out and this reminds us all of the
Zimbabwe Building Society (ZBS) and the RBZ showdown.

ZBS received $700 million liquidity support from RBZ in 1998, which the
building society failed to repay for over four years.

In 2002, the RBZ then began to claim that they owned over 98 percent of ZBS
by virtue of them having bailed out the institution, a case they lost at an
informal arbitration because the initial agreement did not state that the
liquidity assistance would be turned into equity in the event that the loan
was not paid on time.

It was finally agreed that the ZBS shareholders pay $1,6 billion to the RBZ
and the loan would be terminated.

As of this month, the RBZ is now owed over a trillion dollars by at least
five institutions with Trust Bank owing more than half of the amount with a
staggering $648 billion debt.

If the RBZ did not learn from their previous mistake, a repeat of the ZBS
case is likely to be witnessed once again.

This would result in the central bank losing large amounts of money most of
which belongs to the depositors through the statutory reserves system.

Some commercial banks have not survived the chop and they will not be able
to keep their heads above the water for long if they do not find sound
financial institutions to merge with.

Century Bank could very well be safe and sound, as their negotiations to
join hands with CFX Merchant Bank are almost complete with the shareholders'
approval to the deal the only hurdle left before it can be sealed.

On the other hand, Trust Bank is back on the hunting ground again after
their talks with Old Mutual's Nedcor collapsed.

According to market rumours, the central bank is reported to have vowed that
they will never let the bank collapse.

Trust is still in a huge financial mess with negative shareholder equity of
over $150 billion and a negative capital adequacy of 17,59 percent.

The Reserve could be justified in its determination to see the revival of
Trust Bank as they have invested so much in the institution and a collapse
of the bank would result in a big loss to RBZ.

Metropolitan and Royal Bank are two other banks that accessed the TBF money
and were instructed to find marriage partners to merge with more than four
months ago.

To date, there seems to be no concrete talks that these banks are involved

However, the RBZ has since announced that the TBF, which was initially
expected to run until March this year, is still available to troubled banks
until further notice.
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African Leaders Discuss G8 Summit
Joe De Capua
11 Jun 2004, 00:35 UTC

On the final day of the Sea Island Summit Thursday, G-8 and African leaders
held a brief luncheon meeting. While a number of Africa-related initiatives
were announced during the summit, there appears to have been little time for
any in-depth discussions among the leaders themselves.
It was a meeting that started late and ended early - after which the
presidents of Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Uganda, South Africa and Algeria met
with reporters.

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo says the African leaders did not come
to the summit looking for a "handout" from the G-8.

"The issue is not the issue of one group begging the other. The issue is not
the issue of one condescending to the other. The issue is the issue of
mutual interest, mutual security, common prosperity," he says.

President Obasanjo says, "It is for the enlightened self-interest of all the
leaders - rich and poor - to have a world that is equitable and attempts to
eradicate poverty - knowing full well there are enough resources in the
world to deal with this issue."

"We appreciate, as African leaders, and as Africans, that in the past there
are areas where we have failed. The area of peace and security, the area of
good governance, which are basic for us to be able to have the foundation
for security and prosperity," he says.

The issues of peace and security were bolstered by a G-8 plan to train and
equip 75-thousand peacekeeping troops by the year 2010. That's 25-thousand
more troops than was discussed during summit briefings.

Nigeria and the G-8 announced an agreement to promote transparency and
combat corruption. A statement reads, "Nigeria and the G-8 share the view
that corruption is a threat to democratic institutions, economic development
and trade and investment."

US officials indicated during the summit that Zimbabwe might be discussed.
However, South African President Thabo Mbeki says time constraints prevented
that from happening.

As you know the meeting lasted two hours and you had something like 15
people th"ere. So it wasn't possible to discuss any particular country on
the African continent," he says.

However, speaking as the leader of South Africa, Mr. Mbeki did comment on
the situation there.

"The essential point about Zimbabwe is that the political leadership of
Zimbabwe, the ruling party, the opposition are meeting. They're having
discussions among themselves to find a solution to the problems of Zimbabwe.
And the rest of us support that process and encourage Zimbabwe to find the
solutions to their problems," he says.

Ghanaian President John Kufuor says Africans agree with the G-8 that good
governance is essential for prosperity.

"The days of warlords and coup makers are passing. Even in troubled West
Africa, what we have there to me is just the lingering relics of those times
when constitutional democracy was thrown overboard," he says.

There was no major announcement on debt relief, except that the IMF's Highly
Indebted Poor Countries Initiative - or HIPC - could be extended until
December 2006.

The G-8 also announced an action plan to break the cycle of famine in the
Horn of Africa and increase agricultural activity. As part of the plan the
G-8 is working with the Ethiopian government to create a "safety net" to
promote land tenure, drought and pest resistant crops, and enhance the
functioning of food markets.

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New Straits Times

      'Malaysia did give timber to Mugabe'

      KUALA LUMPUR, June 10:

            Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today confirmed
that Malaysia gave timber to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe for the
construction of his £5 million (about RM34 million) mansion in a suburb near

            He said there was nothing extraordinary about the gift, as this
was the usual practice to promote Malaysian timber.

            "Yes, we did give Zimbabwe timber, but what's wrong with that?"
he said adding that there were no irregularities involved.

            The former premier was responding to allegations that the timber
donation amounted to misuse of public funds. He said this after launching
the autobiography of the late Datuk Dr Alijah Gordon at Carcosa Seri Negara
today. It was earlier reported that DAP chairman Lim Kit Siang had called
for a ministerial statement to clarify if the Government had indeed funded
the 25-bedroom mansion. This follows a British Sky News interview last month
which reported Mugabe as saying that Malaysia and China had funded his

            At the launch were many close friends and acquaintances of the
late Dr Gordon, an American by birth who became a Malaysian citizen several
months before her death last year. They came together to pay tribute to her
memory and to testify how she changed their lives and those of many
unfortunate people. Dr Gordon was well-known for her tireless humanitarian
work, especially in fighting for the rights of Palestinians.

            A friend to many, she baffled those closest to her on where she
drew her strength from, and how she kept alive the spirit to serve others.

            Her autobiography, On Becoming Alijah, focuses on the American
Revolutionary War through Burma. It gives some insight into her fight for
the underprivileged.

            The book was put together by the Malaysian Sociological Research
Institute, of which Dr Gordon was the former chairman.
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Independent (UK)

ECB dilemma as Zimbabwe lose Test status
By Jon Culley
11 June 2004

England's cricketers still face a dilemma over whether to tour Zimbabwe this
autumn despite the African nation's decision to withdraw from Test cricket
for the remainder of the year.

The move, taken under pressure from the International Cricket Council
following the boycott of the Zimbabwe team by senior players, does not apply
to one-day internationals, of which England are scheduled to play at least
three during the tour, originally due to take place in October and November.

However, the ICC is prepared to launch an investigation into claims of
racism in Zimbabwe's selection policy, which could lead to Zimbabwe being
suspended from all international cricket.

Last night, a spokesman for the England and Wales Cricket Board, insisted
that the ECB could "not take a definitive position" until after the ICC's
Executive Board meets at the end of this month.

Within the England dressing room, it was clear that players would await
developments before commenting. Contracted spinner Ashley Giles said: "We
heard about it after we came off the field but we will have to wait and see
what the board says. It is out of our hands at the moment."

Meeting in emergency session in Dubai yesterday, an Executive Board
sub-committee recommended that Zimbabwe's remaining fixtures for 2004 be
deferred amid fears that fielding inexperienced players in Test matches
would damage the integrity of the game. It follows a dispute between 15
players and the Zimbabwe Cricket Union, which led to a Test series against
Australia being cancelled.

Zimbabwe had to field raw youngsters, mainly black, in a home series against
Sri Lanka and three one-dayers against Australia, losing every match.

The ICC president, Ehsan Mani, stressed, however, that Zimbabwe's withdrawal
was only temporary. "Zimbabwe will continue to play Test matches according
to the ICC's 10-year programme from January 2005 onwards," he said.

The ECB has been wrestling with the moral issues linked to touring troubled
Zimbabwe since before the 2003 World Cup, when concern over the policies of
president Robert Mugabe led to England failing to fulfil their scheduled
fixture in Harare.

Fear of heavy ICC penalties for failing to tour has put the ECB off making a
decision despite the Government's view that England should not go. Last
night the ECB maintained its ambivalence. "This is merely a recommendation
which will go before the ICC Executive Board on 30 June for further
discussion. It is too early for the ECB to take a definitive position," a
spokesman said. "David Morgan, our chief executive, will be there as a
representative and will listen to the debate and take part in it."

What the ECB will want to establish is whether withdrawal from a tour of
one-day matches would trigger the same level of punitive action by the ICC
as it feared would result from failing to fulfil Test fixtures.

The ECB had been worried about possible crippling financial penalties, the
loss of September's ICC Champions Trophy, and even a ban from Test cricket
should England not go to Zimbabwe, although it had indicated that should
players decide as individuals not to take part, their own futures would be

Zimbabwe have been forced to pick a second-string team since 2 April when 15
white players made themselves unavailable over what they see as racially
driven selection policies. Their stand was sparked by Heath Streak's removal
from the captaincy after he questioned the make-up of the selection panel.

An ICC statement issued last night said that "allegations of racism against
the ZCU had been addressed directly" and that a recommendation would be made
to the Board to appoint "an eminent person or persons to fully investigate
the claims made by the players."
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* Forwarded from 'mango market** '


I know that this is not the right medium.  However, there are more
on Market than on Social, so here goes:

We had a really nasty experience last evening at about 7.15 pm - 5 youths,
armed with a hand gun and one with bolt cutters, broke into our house in
Kensignton and stole cell phone and wallet, tore watches off my and my
arms, stole my land lady's handbag, with her car keys, gate zapper, cheque
etc.  Not pleasant, especially being manhandled and having a gun and a pair
bolt cutters stuck up your nose!  Fortunately the alarm went off, so they
not have much time but still managed in about 5 minutes to make off with
and stuff worth over $4 million.

An hour and a half later while the police were taking my statement, one of
received a call by cell phone - same gang of 5 robbed a house in Alex Park!

So be vigalent - keep your doors carefully locked and bolted and put your
alarms on early!
Today we have had to have cell phone blocked, cancel cheque books and bank
cards, report medical aid cards stolen, deal with the CID who wanted to
print, have the gate zappers changed, etc, etc.  No fun at all and we are
feeling pretty shaky about the whole thing.

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AFRICA: Respecting property

Robert Mugabe has dropped the other shoe.

The dictator of Zimbabwe has abolished private property and will
"nationalize" (steal) all private farms.

G.K. Chesterton would have understood perfectly. "Thieves," he said,
"respect property. They merely wish the property to become their property
that they may more perfectly respect it."

Since assuming power in 1980, Mugabe has lost what respect he had at the
outset, as he became increasingly a bully. In 2000, he began
"redistributing" land and that so infuriated the majority of voters in his
country that he had to steal an election to remain in power.

The European Union has said it would sanction Zimbabwe because of Mugabe's
policies, which have destroyed the economy and caused rampant food
shortages. Moreover, the damage is harming other African countries, The
Economist reports.

Respect for private property actually is one of the keys to bringing
prosperity, or at least a sustainable economy, to many underdeveloped

Mugabe has said he would step down in 2008. Zimbabwe may not be able to wait
that long.
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Khaleej Times

We are not racist, says ZCU chief Chingoka
By Our Sports Reporter

11 June 2004

DUBAI - Peter Chingoka, head of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union, yesterday denied
that they were racists when it comes to selecting the national team.

"The selection of the national's team captain and panel of selection
committee is our prerogative and we have been maintaining this stand since
day one," he said.

"We will welcome the rebels to join the team since our policy is an open
one," he said.

"I am reasonably happy with the outcome of the meeting.

"There are three main issues involved: The selection of the captain, the
constitution of the selection committee and the allegations of racism.

"The selection of the captain and the constitution of the selection
committee is the prerogative of the ZCU and the players can't dictate who
the captain or the selectors will be.

"As for the allegations of racism, it is totally unfounded. We have a policy
of integration of players without consideration for race.

"If the players return, we will accept them with open arms. We have
maintained an open-door policy right through the past nine weeks."
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      11.6.2004. 16:13:12

      A high court in Harare has dismissed a court application by the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to have the results of
Zimbabwe's 2002 presidential elections declared invalid.

      The one-page ruling handed down seven months after the hearing did not
contain any reasons for the dismissal of the application by MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai.

      Justice Ben Hlatswayo dismissed "with costs the relief sought by the

      Tsvangirai took the petition to court to push for a rerun of the March
2002 polls which returned President Robert Mugabe to power but which was
condemned by some Western observer groups for not being entirely free and

      The opposition leader launched the court action in April 2002 seeking
to set aside the results arguing that the election was neither free nor

      Tsvangirai cited at least 15 grounds on which he wanted the poll
results invalidated.

      Tsvangirai's spokesman, William Bango, said this was only the first
part of the opposition's court challenge to the elections.

      "It was presenting the legal and constitutional arguments - the use of
the army in the electoral process and the electoral commission was not duly

      The second part of the challenge would look at allegations of abuse,
beatings, voter intimidation and the opposition being prevented from holding

      "Now that they have rejected the first part, we are now going for a
full hearing," he said.

      Mugabe was declared the winner of the March 2002 election with 56.2
percent of the votes against 41.9 percent for the opposition leader.

      International observer groups to the election were divided in their
assessments. Some African observer groups, including South Africa, concluded
that the vote was free and fair.

      But others, including one from the Commonwealth and others from
Western nations, condemned the poll as flawed, resulting in the suspension
of Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth.

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Business Day

Will end be swift or prolonged?

SA AND ZIMBABWE/Jonathan Katzenellenbogen
MOVEMENT towards a political accord in Zimbabwe has stalled, with growing
dangers to the country and the region as a whole. The reasons for the
impasse are President Robert Mugabe's current confidence in his omnipotence
and the lack of external pressure on him and his party.

With the opposition curbed, SA sticking to quiet diplomacy, and the Group of
Eight (G-8) not about to ask Pretoria to toughen its stance, Mugabe may have
good reason to simply stay and wait.

Mugabe says he does not see any point in talks, and President Thabo Mbeki is
evidently unable to convince him he should. While Mugabe may say he will
retire when his current term ends in 2008, his words are not convincing.

According to one plan, he should be out of office by now. But staying in
power is the Mugabe endgame.

The best solution would be talks leading to an even playing field ahead of a
free and fair presidential election. That, however, is not the most likely
scenario. Clearly this would take internal and external pressure to achieve
and that's not about to happen.

A prolonged government of national unity under Zanu (PF) is also not a just
or a practical solution.

A possible boycott of next March's parliamentary elections by the main
opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), does not offer a
solution in itself. Mass action can ratchet up the pressure, but will have
to be different from last year's "final push".

The main uncertainty is at what stage security forces would switch their
loyalty. Whether this would be through a palace or a military coup or
refusal to carry out orders by the police is an open question.

As the options for peaceful democratic change narrow, the likelihood of a
palace or a military coup could be rising. That would have serious
consequences regionally, as would any mass violence.

The Zimbabwe saga has entered its endgame. But how drawn-out will it be, and
will it end in violence or negotiation?

Reading Mugabe's mind on whether or not he will negotiate and retire
consumes hours of fruitless speculation. He has evidently made his promises,
or Mbeki would not have been so convinced last year in June that a
settlement was a year away or that talks were in the offing. Mugabe,
however, feigns interest in a settlement when there is pressure on him to do
so, and then changes tack when he sees it abating.

There is no chance that SA will follow the lead of the European Union and
the US, and push for the international isolation of Zimbabwe.

Zanu (PF) recently won a by-election, albeit in all probability neither
freely nor fairly, in an MDC stronghold. It is now within two seats of
winning a two-thirds majority which would allow the party to change the
constitution at will.

And pending changes in the electoral act will all but ensure Zanu (PF) does
obtain its two-thirds majority in parliamentary elections scheduled for

These changes will make it all but impossible for the opposition to campaign
as they will not have access to the voters' roll, and putting up posters
will be a tortuous process.

Mugabe has another option, which could cripple the MDC. With his control
over the judiciary, the Zimbabwean leader is probably well-positioned to
call the timing of Morgan Tsvangirai's verdict and sentence for treason, for
which the ultimate penalty is death.

Should he wish to do so, he could jail Tsvangirai during an election
campaign and he can always trade clemency for something he may want from the
international community.

The current anticorruption campaign may be more about political intimidation
to exclude possible successors than a clean-up. But the very process is
intimidating the business community into not giving donations to the

Dissenters, doubters, and even those who dare to tell the truth do not
survive long in Mugabe's cabinet.

Zimbabwe recently ordered the United Nations (UN) to halt its crop
assessment mission, and stated that a bumper harvest was expected. The crop
forecast, the halting of the UN's food assessment mission and a deal for the
government to import grain will allow Zanu (PF) to use food as a political

As the crop forecast and the expanding economy prove ephemeral, the economic
contraction will worsen and with that new pressures might arise on Mugabe
and he could again show a willingness to talk.

And as the economy contracts, so the avenues for patronage also contract.
The loyalty of a diminishing number can be bought as the Zimbabwean currency
declines in worth. Zimbabwe is headed towards dangerous times.

Where does this leave SA?

After Mugabe's rejection of talks earlier this month, Pretoria insisted it
was sticking to its policy as it said there was no alternative. Pretoria may
well have lost control of events.

The policy of the regional power not to exercise pressure has left it a
bystander that can be cunningly played by Mugabe. Now the message to Mugabe
should be: take a deal while you can.

Should SA wish to show real interest, it needs to ensure there are enough
dedicated diplomatic resources, as it did in the Great Lakes region.

The G-8 gave SA and the region a mandate to fix the problem. Although they
have failed to do so, the mandate remains open, but with a price. With the
US and the UK building support for the interim government in Iraq and the
war on terror, Zimbabwe is a worry but not a high priority.

Zimbabwe is, at this stage, simply not important enough for the G-8 to
exercise pressure on SA as the main regional power. However, the
deteriorating situation will mean a loss of South African diplomatic
prestige. After all, the regional power is acting like a regional minnow.

Katzenellenbogen is international affairs editor.
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