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

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Sunday Times (SA)

Mugabe gripped by security paranoia

ZIMBABWEAN President Robert Mugabe's paranoia is said to be mounting, with
senior officials of his ruling Zanu-PF party now subjected to thorough
searches before entering meetings.

Senior Zanu-PF members were shocked last week to be painstakingly searched
before they entered the party's politburo meeting - a break from tradition.

A Zanu-PF source said the searches were sparked by Mugabe's growing

According to party insiders, the move was an indication of the siege
mentality gripping Mugabe, who apparently fears that people could bring
charms and weapons into meetings.

Mugabe has said that his lieutenants were approaching traditional healers
for good-luck charms to help them become president after his retirement in

The succession battle is said to have reached fever pitch as Zanu-PF bigwigs
jostle for supremacy.

Mugabe's security fears run so deep that the area around his controversial
mansion in Harare's affluent suburb of Borrowdale is a protected area.

Chancellor Avenue, which passes between State House and Zimbabwe House,
where Mugabe sometimes lives, is closed each day from 6pm to 6am.

Armed soldiers guarding the area have been accused of shooting at

And when Mugabe sweeps through the streets in his motorcade, people usually
freeze because they fear his bodyguards might shoot them.

Mugabe has even enacted a law that prohibits people from making "obscene
gestures" or movements that could be interpreted as a security threat to him
when he is driving by. - Sunday Times Foreign Desk
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The Star, Malaysia

Disclose fully on gifts to Mugabe, Lim tells Government

PETALING JAYA: Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang has called for a full
disclosure in Parliament of the gifts Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad gave
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe during his time as Prime Minister.

The DAP chairman said the Government should explain the facts and
circumstances of the gifts to Mugabe.

"Malaysians should be told not only the total cost of gifts or contributions
which the Government had made towards Mugabe's 25-bedroom mansion, but also
gifts that had been given to Mugabe and his government in the past two
decades," he said in a statement yesterday.

Dr Mahathir had said he offered Mugabe timber worth RM100,000 as a gift from
one head of state to another when he was Prime Minister.

Aliran president P. Ramakrishnan said the whole situation was extremely odd
as the Cabinet knew nothing about it.
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Tehran Times

Zimbabwe Eager To Upgrade Relations With Iran

TEHRAN (IRNA) -- Zimbabwean Minister of Education, Sports and Culture Anneas
Chigwedere on Saturday expressed satisfaction with the trend of cooperation
between Tehran and Harare.

In a letter to the Iranian embassy in Harare, Chigwedere called for
continuation of the cultural, sports and educational ties between the two

Several gatherings on civilization dialogue between Tehran and Harare have
recently been organized by the Iranian cultural consulate in the Zimbabwean
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Zimbabwe Mirror

Controversy rages over land nationalisation
Phillip Chidavaenzi/Mabasa Sasa/Tawanda Majoni

CONTROVERSY has hit the government's plans to nationalise all productive
farmland acquired for resettlement, with analysts saying it has many loose
ends that need to be tied, while at the same time the programme itself
leaves a lot of questions unanswered.

The move, experts say, could also fly in the face of the constitution since
the supreme law does not provide for nationalisation.

The Minister of Special Affairs in charge of Lands, Land Reform and
Resettlement, John Nkomo last week announced that the State would move to
nationalise land and replace title deeds with 99-year leases while those in
wildlife and conservancies would get 25-year leases.

Under the nationalisation programme, the State acquires land from
individuals and it becomes State land, after which it can be offered to a
beneficiary who would use it observing certain conditions.

In an interview with the Sunday Mirror yesterday Nkomo said the
nationalisation of all acquired land was meant to place obligations and
responsibilities over land use to resettled farmers.

The move was necessitated by the need to avoid land abuse by the new farmers
and ensure maximum utilisation, failure of which the land would be forfeited
to the State. "A lease imposes land obligations which have to be observed by
the farmers. There are responsibilities that must be adhered to in land use
and conservation. We have to avoid unwarranted cutting down of trees and the
selling of land to third parties, among other problems," he said.

The move, Nkomo said, was meant to cater for issues of tenure, and those who
used the land for speculative purposes would risk having it confiscated.
However, it is not clear how nationalisation, whose modus operandi is yet to
be explained, would place obligations on land users. Nkomo did not address
the problem of whether what he seeks to achieve through nationalisation
could not be done through other means, such as straightforward legislation
prohibiting, for instance, selling land to third parties. The cutting down
of trees which he refers to is already catered for under such laws as the
Miscellaneous Offences Act, which prohibits the practice.

Constitutional law lecturer, Lovemore Madhuku said the constitution as it
stands now does not provide for nationalisation.

"It would be unconstitutional to nationalise land because the constitution
does not provide for that; the State can only acquire land," he said. It is
feared that some high ranking government officials who acquired multiple
farms for themselves in direct contravention of the one man-one farm
principle could take advantage of the nationalisation programme to keep the
farms that President Mugabe has said they should surrender, because it would
then be difficult to determine the status of specific properties.

Nkomo recently made reference to the officials - some of them cabinet
ministers - saying they were bent on keeping the extra farmland they
criminally acquired.

The fate of land currently privately held is not clear. If individual
property owners remain with their title deeds, there would be a glaring
dichotomy in land tenure patterns in the country, confused by the
possibility that the land could also be acquired and nationalised.

Since Nkomo's nationalisation paradigm is silent on the issue of
compensation as directed by the constitution, it is not known how the State
would treat the cases of those from whom land would have been taken.

The Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers' Union (ZCFU) president Davison Mugabe said
there was need to ensure that the farmers' plans were not compromised by the
question of tenure. "To start with, take a look at the 99-year lease and
what it would mean to a farmer. As a farmer, one has a number of issues and
programmes he is aiming to achieve at a set time. What is important to
everyone in the farming sector is security of tenure. That is one of the
issues we seek to settle first," he told the Sunday Mirror.

He said it was important to avoid the hasty implementation of the programme
without looking seriously at the impact it would have on the new farmers and
their families.

"It is of paramount importance that this issue is looked at seriously and
given consideration of how it would impact on a farmer who is supposed to
feed the nation," he said.

He cited the issue of inheritance in the event of the farmer dying after
having developed a property that essentially belonged to the State, which
could take it back.

He said: "In the event of a landowner dying, government should state clearly
how the lease shall be inherited. It must be clear who will be entitled to
inherit the land - whether the wife or children of the leaseholder, or if it
will go back to the State. It would not be ideal for someone to remain
ignorant of what the future holds for him." The issue of uncertainty, it has
been pointed out in the past, has a direct bearing on productivity, since
farmers might be distracted by the fact that the property they would be
using can be taken away any time, particularly in the short run when the
sense of apprehension is pronounced.

Nkomo's nationalisation drive in a way contradicts recent sentiments by
President Robert Mugabe, who said finance houses were currently reluctant to
lend money to new farmers without title deeds. He urged government to come
out with a clear policy on borrowing to avoid a situation where farmers
would find it difficult to source funds.

"At present so many new farmers are reeling under pressure failing to secure
funding for their farming programmes. Those are some of the issues which
must be discussed first before government makes final moves," he said.

During the colonial era, many smallholder farmers in small-scale commercial
areas had access to loans from finance houses using the title deeds. The
then Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC), which has been replaced by the
Land Bank, supported the smallholder farmers using title deeds as

During the 1950s, plans had been put in place to offer permanent land to
blacks, the intentions then being to enable them to have access to funding
from finance houses. The set-up was phased out when the Rhodesian
hard-liners, led by Ian Smith, later introduced the Land Tenure Act.
Analysts have also expressed the reservation that with the farms
nationalised banks might be reluctant to offer financial assistance to
farmers because the land is not theirs, a development that could also deal a
blow to agricultural productivity.

Mangaliso Kubheka of the South African-based Landless People's Movement,
said the process of nationalisation ran contrary to the ideals of land
reform that entailed empowering ordinary people.

He said: "The people should get the title deeds. Nationalisation, in my
personal view, further oppresses the people but if it turns out to be
successful, then I think other countries will follow suit." Kubheka said
resettled families need the security provided by full tenure rights as this
would boost productivity. He added that going ahead with nationalisation
would mean that the land would have been transferred from foreigners to the
State with the intended beneficiaries being by-passed. A number of countries
have tried to carry out land nationalisation programmes in the past and this
was met with mixed fortunes although the overall picture had not been

Tanzania under Julius Nyerere also tinkered with nationalisation models as
espoused in his Arusha Declaration of 1967.

However, both experiments fell through but the reasons were largely centred
on the civil war in Mozambique, Tanzania's military dispute with Idi Amin's
Uganda, drought and the global effects of the economic recessions of the
1970's and 1980's related to oil crises. Tanzania resorted to importing an
average of 250 000 metric tons of grain from 1974 to the early 1980s.

Mozambique experimented with such land policies from 1975 and they ended in
relative ignominy in the late 1980's after the adoption of liberal economic
prescriptions designed by the IMF in the mould of Structural Adjustment

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Zim Observer

      Zimbabwe's fighter jets spark fears of arms-race
      by STAFF EDITOR (6/12/2004)

 ZIMBABWE'S order for more than 240-million worth of jet fighters from China
flies in the face of a request by South African Foreign Affairs Minister
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma that the country stop selling arms in sub-Saharan

According to a semi-official US defence intelligence publication,
Dlamini-Zuma made the request, during a meeting of the China-South Africa
bilateral forum, to head off a possible arms race on the subcontinent.

Military sources in Harare say that Zimbabwe will acquire 12 FC-1s as
replacements for the Chengdu F-7s, currently based in Gweru. The FC-1, a
lightweight multipurpose fighter based on Russia's MiG-33, will provide a
credible answer to the challenge posed by the 28 JAS-39 Gripen multi-role
fighters that the SA government has ordered from Saab, the Swedish arms

According to Armed Forces Journal International, published in Virginia, US,
Dlamini-Zuma's request was at least partly aimed at protecting the interests
of SA's state-owned arms industries. But her request also "reveals that
South Africa has observed a growing pattern of Chinese arms sales" in its
own backyard, and provided "evidence of its serious concern about the

Yesterday Foreign Affairs spokes man Ronnie Mamoepa said he could not recall
Dlamini-Zuma making such a request. He referred further queries to his
department's Asian Affairs desk, which did not answer calls.

The Zimbabwean fighter jet order also defies a 1998 appeal by UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan that defence expenditure in Southern Africa be
frozen for 10 years at 1.5% of countries' GDP.

Figures compiled for the SA Institute of International Affairs show that, if
anything, Annan's plea has been answered with a full-scale arms race between
Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa and other countries in the region.

The South African government says it spends only 1.5% of GDP on arms.
According to the institute's figures, however, only Zambia and Swaziland
have adhered to the 1.5% limit. Zimbabwe (3.4% ), Namibia (3.6% ) and South
Africa (1.7% ), it says, have committed themselves to expensive military
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Sent: Saturday, June 12, 2004 3:57 PM
Subject: Highway robbery

Dear Family and Friends,

As an ex farmer I find myself spinning around in dizzy circles trying to
keep up with all the pronouncements and announcements by the Zimbabwean
government on land. As a farmer first I was told that the government
didn't want our farm. Then I was told by a bunch of loud and angry men
armed with half bricks and sticks who came to the gate that we had to
share the farm with them. After seven months of doing so the men decided
that sharing wasn't good enough and that we should get out of the house
because they wanted that too. Their words were not backed up with any
government paperwork or orders but when the Police said they wouldn't
remove the trespassers because "it is political", there was no option but
to leave. Later the government said that any farmers still brave enough to
be on their farms should downsize and that all farms would have a maximum
hectarage. Then the government changed their mind again and said that they
were going to take even more farms. What started out as one million
hectares became 5 and then 11 million hectares. Now they've changed their
mind again.

Zimbabwe made international news this week with the announcement by
Minister John Nkomo that all land is to be nationalized. Title Deeds are
to be made null and void and the State will issue 99 year leases for
agricultural land and 25 year leases for conservancies. Minister Nkomo
said that the government did not intend to "waste time and money" on
disputes with people who had Title Deeds, Court Orders and other legal
documents which confirmed that they were in fact the legal owners of the

What didn't make international news was the Acquisition of Farm Equipment
and Materials Bill. Despite the fact that the Parliamentary Legal
Committee unanimously declared 5 clauses of the Bill unconstitutional and
despite the fact that all opposition MP's walked out of the House in
protest when it came to the vote, the Bill was passed by Zimbabwe's
parliament this week. This Bill now allows the State to compulsorily
acquire farm equipment and materials and forbids farmers from selling,
dismantling, removing or destroying their own private property. This
includes tractors, ploughs, irrigation equipment, machinery, seed and

When our farm was seized by arbitrary men at the gate, the government said
they were taking back land that had been stolen from them 100 years ago.
When the arbitrary men moved into and took over our private house, dairy,
barns, workers homes and the farm shop, the government said nothing, paid
nothing and did nothing and the police said it was political. It wasn't
just bricks they seized, it was fully functional and completely equipped
buildings with windows, doors, roofing, water tanks and geysers,
electrical fittings, fencing and security systems. Now apparently anything
left on, or taken off that farm that the Zimbabwe government classifies as
agricultural equipment or material, also belongs to the State. The mind
just boggles at where this highway robbery and blatant disregard of
people's private property rights will end and who or what will be next.
Perhaps the shirt off my back, I did wear it when I was a farmer; or what
about my computer - I used that to do the farm accounts and work out how
much tax I had to pay the Zimbabwe government when I was a farmer. The
parallels with Jews in Nazi Germany 60 years ago are chillingly familiar.
Love cathy. Copyright cathy buckle 12th June 2004. My books on the Zimbabwean crisis,
"African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" are available outside Africa from: ;
in Australia and New Zealand:
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From: "Trudy Stevenson"
Sent: Saturday, June 12, 2004 8:51 PM
Subject: Questions in Parliament re Forex for Votes and Harare North Housing Cooperatives Union

Below and attached my two Questions this week.  We had an exciting week in
Parliament - what a pity our Parliament website is so out of date!  We don't
have the capacity to type the whole thing up, even for one day, regrettably.
(more Q's up my sleeve for next week)
Question on Forex for Votes

Hansard – Parliamentary Debates : Wednesday 9 June 2004

MISS STEVENSON : My question is directed to the Leader of the House in the
absence of the Minister of Finance.  In view of the current visit overseas
by the Governor of the Reserve Bank, Dr. Gono, to seek foreign currency to
be sent by Zimbabweans living abroad, there are roughly three million
Zimbabweans living overseas at this moment, what is Government’s policy
regarding having a deal whereby they send foreign exchange and they will
then be allowed to vote in the next elections?

am really disappointed that she could be so provocative in the manner she
has done.

The two issues are not related.  The Reserve Bank team is overseas to try
and canvas Zimbabweans who have been sending foreign currency to this
country for their relatives.  In the past, that foreign currency was being
intercepted by people who are bent on undermining this economy and this
country.  It was being intercepted in London and New York to ensure that the
foreign currency did not reach here.

That policy now to woo the transmission of those funds here is a good policy
and should not be linked up to other political issues.  It has nothing to do
with political issues.

Those people in the diaspora have relatives here and they need to support
them.  We are now providing them a route through which they can assist their
realtives also with benefit to their country.
Question on Harare North Housing Cooperatives Union

Hansard – Parliamentary Debates : Wednesday 9 June 2004
Mrs STEVENSON asked the Minister of Youth Development, Gender and Employment
Creation to state:-

a) the number of members of Harare North Housing Co-operatives Union who
have lost money invested in their housing co-operatives;
b) the amount of money that is unaccounted for so far;
c) the number of houses that have been sold or passed on to other members
other than the original members of the co-operatives; and
d) the measures the Ministry is putting in place to assist aggrieved members
of Harare North Housing Co-operatives Union.


a) Harare North Co-operatives Union was officially registered in April 2002
with a membership of six (6) co-operatives societies.  These were Wiriranai,
Tineshungu, Shanduko, Kubatana Kwakanaka, Mwari Anesu and Simba cooperative
societies limited.  These societies had a membership of 1 140 people at
registration.  To date the Union has ten (10) co-operative society members
with a membership of 2 743 people.

It is alleged that their former management committee chaired by the former
Harare North Member of Parliament Ms N Chikwinya has swindled these
societies of large sums of money.  It was established by the police that a
total sum of about $52,3 million was transferred from the individual
societies accounts into the common union account.  This transfer was done
before the Union was registered.  It also includes funds from these
pre-cooperatives (unregistered groups).

b) It is alleged that a total sum of $70 million is unaccounted for by the
old management committee.  This sum includes $15 million from the member
contributions, a donation of $2 million and grant of $3 million from the
Ministry of Education and Culture for the construction of a school in the
area, and $50 million from the illegal sale of stands.

c) It is alleged that about 100 stands wee either illegally sold to
non-members or double allocated to co-operative members.  This has to be
substantiated as the case is under police investigation.

d) In order to redress the issues above:
1) The alleged fraud cases were referred to police for investigation.
2) In terms of the Co-operatives Societies Act (chapter 24:05) the Ministry
is instituting an audit into the Union’s activities.  The audit will seek to
substantiate the allegations and provide the basis for which the police can
conclude its investigation.
3) The Ministry is facilitating the election of a new management committee
as the terms of office of the old management committee has lapsed.  Every
management committee member should serve for a maximum term of three years,
however he or she may be re-elected into office at the end of his/her term.
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Zim inflation rate dips below 450 percent

      June 12 2004 at 11:18AM

Harare - Zimbabwe's annual inflation rate slowed slightly to 448,8 percent
in May from 505 percent the previous month, officials figures showed on

Despite the drop in the rate cited by the state news agency ZIANA, inflation
in Zimbabwe remains among the highest in the world.

Zimbabwe's inflation peaked in November last year to hit 619,5 percent
having leapt 94 percentage points from the previous month making it the
single largest jump since the economy began its slide some three years ago.

The government in November last year predicted that the southern African
country's inflation rate would hit 700 percent in the first three months of
this year before climbing down.

But the central bank, in a five-year monetary policy statement released six
months ago and aimed at pulling the economy back from the brink, vowed that
the rate would drop to below 200 percent by December.

Zimbabwe has in recent years been in the throes of political, economic and
social instability.

Average annual inflation has been on a upward trend since 2000 when it stood
at 55,9 percent, rising to 71 percent a year later. Two years later it had
surpassed 600 percent.

The country has also been plagued by severe food shortages, caused partly by
drought as well as the controversial land redistribution programme
dispossessing white farmers.

Government has this year said it has enough food to feed its people, but
early this month a state-owned grain marketer was quoted in the media as
saying that Zimbabwe was importing food.

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Mugabe turns down UN food aid

      June 12 2004 at 11:03AM

The UN special envoy for humanitarian needs, James Morris, will travel to
Zimbabwe next week as part of a five-nation tour of southern Africa to
discuss food security and Aids.

But Zimbabwe government officials have yet to schedule a meeting with
Morris, who will be in Harare on Tuesday to meet with ambassadors and UN

"They are trying to work out something to meet him," said Michael Huggins,
spokesperson for the World Food Programme in Johannesburg.

The WFP said that government officials were to be held up in a cabinet

      'Why foist this food upon us? We don't want to be choked'
Zimbabwe last month said it would not be asking for international food aid
because it predicts a bumper harvest of 2,4 million tons of staple maize, a
figure the opposition have dismissed as an exaggeration.

International agencies say about five million Zimbabweans, half of them in
urban areas, will be in need of emergency food aid this year due to poor
harvests, blamed partly on the controversial land reform programme in which
white-owned farms were seized and given to landless blacks.

President Robert Mugabe last month flatly rejected suggestion that
Zimbabweans were going hungry, in an interview with Britain's Sky News.

"We are not hungry. It should go to hungrier people, hungrier countries than
ourselves," Mugabe said.

"Why foist this food upon us? We don't want to be choked," he said.

Morris is scheduled to spend just one day in Zimbabwe before travelling on
to Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland and Namibia.

"He will also be focussing on the effect of HIV and Aids in underming
recovery throughout the region," said Huggins.

Morris' fourth mission to southern Africa since his appointment in July 2002
comes at a time when a UN appeal for $615-million in aid falls way short of
its objective.

A little more than half of that amount, $327-million, have been donated to

Non-food items such as medicines, health, education, water and sanitation
supplies are desperately needed, said the WFP.

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Sunday Herald (UK)

Redemption song

Cricket: Henry Olonga was a good player but it was when sport and politics
collided that he really found his voice, finds Neil Drysdale

Until the winter of 2003, Henry Olonga seemed destined to be remembered as a
bit-part player in international cricket: a fiery paceman, whose rel igious
faith was at odds with his occasionally wicked spells. Statistics rarely lie
and a haul of just 68 wickets in 30 Tests for Zimbabwe told its own story of
inconsistency, injury woes and controversy over his action. In his own
estimate, Olonga was a good player, but certainly not a great one.
Yet, as the World Cup beckoned and reports increased of the brutalities
inflicted by Robert Mugabe's regime on his country's citizenry, black and
white, whilst the ICC and the English authorities dithered horribly over the
whole issue, Olonga emerged with the kind of moral leadership sadly lacking

In January, his national captain, Andy Flower, rang him and the pair met in
Harare, where they decided to launch their own protest against Mugabe's
human rights abuses. Whereupon, the duo famously marched out for their match
with neighbours, Namibia, wearing black armbands, which lamented the "death
of democracy in Zimbabwe" and, within days, had become exiles, forced to
flee their homeland, and retire from the Test scene.

Olonga, in particular, was courageous to the point of foolhardiness, but
when we met last week, as he prepared to play for the Essex-based Lashings
pub team (the Harlem Globetrotters of their sport), he still spoke more in
sorrow than anger about the circumstances which have ultimately, belatedly,
led to Zimbabwe being suspended from Test cricket for the remainder of 2004,
even though, with characteristic muddle-headedness, the ICC have deemed they
can continue their one-day schedule.

"It's sad, but you can't pretend that life is carrying on as normal when
people are being tortured, when political opp onents are being imprisoned,
and there is no right to free speech, and I don't believe matters are
improving in Zimbabwe, far from it," said the 27-year-old, fresh from
studying details of the latest land seizure programme, as dictated by
Mugabe, which is gradually transforming the country into a barren,
drought-afflicted haven for thugs and renegades.

"I'll be honest, up until 2000, 2001, I thought Mugabe was a fair and honest
pres ident, but then I started reading a dossier of abuses which had
happened under his leadership, dating back to the early 1980s Matabeleland
massacres, and I realised you can't stick your head in the sand and trot out
the old excuse that sport and politics don't mix.

"Frankly, it was crazy that so many officials, up to the highest level
within the ICC, sat on their haunches and waited for their governments to
bail them out. But when Andy met me, he told me he needed a high-profile
black person, with some influence, to raise his head above the parapet, and
we calmly discussed all the repercussions.

"Personally, I will admit I am a little embarrassed at the praise I have
received merely for doing something which was the right thing to do, and I
feel guilty that I have earned so much attention whereas others, whose
efforts have been more practical and more far-reaching, have not been
granted due recognition. But, in the end, what I did was positive, because I
was able to make a stand with one of Zimbabwe's favourite cricketers and
condemn what we believed was wrong in our land. Of course, there were
negatives as well.."

Olonga doesn't linger on these, beyond declaring quietly that he lost almost
everything: his career, his home and his family ties. His girlfriend broke
off their relationship. Then he started being hounded with threatening
e-mails, one of which read: "You stupid nigger, I hope Mugabe is going to
find you out", as if to emphasise the inter-racial madness prevalent in

Eventually, there was no alternative but to issue his retirement statement -
which the ZCU tried to block - and he sought refuge in South Africa until
Lashings offered him a reprieve. But he has no illusions that his old life,
spent growing up in Bulawayo, whilst he climbed the cricket ladder as the
prelude to starting his Test career at just 17 against Pakistan in 1994, has
vanished forever.

"I don't really know where I would be if David Folb [the Lashings chairman]
hadn't come to the rescue and I am incredibly grateful to him. I got a work
permit for six months to come to England, which has now been extended for
the next five years, and I am enjoying myself again, despite the fact my
knees are worn, my back is packing up, and I know I won't be playing cricket
much longer," Olonga said.

"This Lashings set-up is a terrific idea, and with a tour of Scotland coming
up in the next fortnight [including a Twenty20 meeting with Craig Wright's
team in Edinburgh on June 25], there will be the opportunity for me to
spread the gospel, in the company of giants of the game like Mark Waugh,
Curtly Ambrose, Allan Donald and Richie Richardson.

"Mind you, something does worry me and that is how cricket can best hold on
to its existing audience and attract new fan bases. The plain truth is that,
compared to football, say, or golf or tennis, we have less than a dozen
nations competing at the highest level and, whatever the ICC might say, this
isn't a global game at the moment. Obviously, I would hope the situation
changes in the future, but clearly it isn't going to happen overnight and I
actually wonder whether there is any point in trying to increase the numbers
of sides involved in five-day cricket when all the evidence suggests that
crowds want a result and to be entertained in a short time-frame.

"For instance, we have to break into the US market, but can you envisage the
Amer icans, weaned as they are on basketball, baseball and gridiron, ever
taking to a game which might last for five days without anybody winning?
Maybe Twenty20 can bridge the gap, but I look at any golf or tennis
tournament and see competitors from all over the globe taking part and it
isn't surprising that sponsors are flocking to these pursuits.

"In cricket we have this little group of nine or 10 countries on the Test
circuit, and one of these is in danger of going belly-up. That reminds you
that we can't afford to be complacent and that cricket will die on its feet
if we don't keep doing the missionary work and selling it to new markets and
the younger generation."

Olonga's opinions will probably provoke apoplexy amongst the majority of the
MCC patrons who awarded him and Flower life membership. Yet ultimately, this
engaging fellow, whose album of classical arias (and R'n'B) will be released
via the internet this year, has a habit of hitting the right note, in
contrast to those who have let Zimbabwe's malady linger on.

13 June 2004
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