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

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SABC

MDC supporters cause chaos at Midrand meeting

June 20, 2004, 07:17

Chaos has erupted at a meeting called by Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank governor at
Gallagher Estate in Midrand, north of Johannesburg. Opposition supporters
shouted Governor Gideon Gono down and pelted the stage with missiles.

Movement for Democratic Change supporters rushed the stage as Gono started
to speak, waving placards and shouting: "Go home, go home." Police
reinforcements were brought in and the situation was brought under control.

Gono was to address a meeting of Zimbabweans living in South Africa to
explain a new plan for expatriates to send home much-needed foreign
currency. - Sapa
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BBC

Zimbabwe asylum network exposed

An illegal network has channelled hundreds of members of Zimbabwe's
ruling Zanu PF party into Britain, a BBC investigation has found.
Birmingham-based Zimbabwean Community UK is thought to have given fake
documents to party members and coached them on how to falsely claim asylum.

Undercover reporters for Radio 5 Live were sold a Home Office letter
granting asylum and a national insurance number.

The Home Office has said it will be investigating the BBC's evidence.

Zimbabwean Community UK was created last year with an initial 5,000
grant of lottery money.

Its director Albert Matapo claimed to have smuggled in the adult
children of several members of Zimbabwe's cabinet by saying they were
members of the opposition MDC party.

The organisation's ledger book showed Mr Matapo had processed more
than 1,000 clients.


Shortages

The news comes amid evidence that increasing numbers of prominent Zanu
PF members are coming to Britain to escape the deteriorating situation in
their homeland.

Members of President Robert Mugabe's government and senior members of
Zanu PF are banned from entering the European Union

Three months ago, the bankers responsible for the Zanu PF's finances
relocated to this country, the investigation found.

Zimbabwe is grappling with an economy in tatters and severe food
shortages, which led to fears of famine in 2003.

Aid agencies and critics partly blamed the shortages on a
controversial land reform programme; the government blamed a long-running
drought.

Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth after President Robert
Mugabe's re-election in 2002, in a poll considered seriously flawed by the
opposition and foreign observers.

In March this year, the US State Department released its annual
human-rights report which condemned Zimbabwe for using "torture by various
methods" against those politically opposed to Mugabe's regime.
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Mugabe is spooked by the letter Z

A Zimbabwean protest group has signalled defiance with a logo appearing on
everything from condoms to billboards.

Andrew Meldrum
Sunday June 20, 2004
The Observer

A clever and daring under-ground movement has sprung up in Zimbabwe that is
stoking public opinion against Robert Mugabe's government.
Zvakwana - which means 'enough' in the Shona language - has launched a bold
campaign expressed through graffiti, emails and condoms to encourage the
Zimbabwean people to rise up.

The clandestine campaign is building up steam just as the progress of
Zimbabwe's opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, has stalled
under the burden of torture of its leaders and state violence against its
supporters.

A black Z on a bright yellow handprint is appearing mysteriously on the
walls of bus stations, on busy streets and over billboards across Harare and
other cities. Thousands of 'revolutionary condoms' have been distributed,
emblazoned with the letter Z and the double-entendre message 'Get up! Stand
Up!'.

Matchboxes stuffed with resistance messages are left in public places to be
picked up by unsuspecting citizens. Thousands of Zimbabweans are led to the
Zvakwana website.

Zvakwana has compiled a CD of resistance songs featuring Bob Marley, Hugh
Masekela, Thomas Mapfumo and many Zimbabwean musicians, which it has managed
to distribute across Zimbabwe. The messages are often humorous, but the
Mugabe government is taking Zvakwana seriously. Now a team of senior
investigators from the Law and Order section, notorious for torturing scores
of opposition politicians and civic leaders, has been assigned to track down
the activists. The unit has in the past few weeks raided the offices of the
MDC and other civic groups and has arrested and interrogated opposition
politicians, civic leaders, journalists and musicians.

'We are not linked to Zvakwana,' said MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi. 'But
to the extent that the group fights for political change, democracy and
human rights, we share the same values and we support its efforts. Police
have raided our offices hunting for Zvakwana because they believe any group
that advocates change and democracy is linked to the MDC.'

A police spokesman said: 'These people have been spreading material and
literature aimed at inciting members of the public to lawlessness.'
Zimbabweans report irate police making house-to-house searches for tell-tale
yellow paint or piles of matchboxes. 'They kept asking me, "Who is Zvakwana?
Who is Zvakwana?"' said one Harare resident who was arrested and later
released.

Speaking to The Observer through the anonymity of the internet, Zvakwana
responded: 'It is no surprise that they are hunting for us. This is because
we are living under a dictatorship. If we were living under a democracy,
then the government in power would allow voices of dissent. It is clear that
Zanu-PF wants to suffocate any glimmer of hope or resistance. Hope is
considered most dangerous by tyrannies.'

There is plenty to protest about. Inflation has hovered at 600 per cent for
most of the year; unemployment is at 70 per cent. Last week, the government
closed the Tribune newspaper, the third to be shut down in less than a year.
The Zvakwana spokesman said: 'The current situation in Zimbabwe is bringing
up the right conditions for revolution.'

Zvakwana carried out one of its trademark 'non-violent civic actions' in
Harare just before Zimbabwe's Independence Day events on 18 April. Activists
spray-painted lampposts and the large pipes next to the main Tongogara
Avenue, used by Mugabe's 27-vehicle motorcade when he travels to the
National Sports Stadium, and 'Get UP Stand UP' appeared on stadium
turnstiles and walls. 'There was so much graffiti,' crows the group, 'the
regime couldn't repaint it before Mugabe's trip, so he had to take a
different route.'

The group also claims to distribute videotapes of a BBC documentary exposing
the government's militia camps, where youths are trained in torture
techniques to be used against Mugabe's opponents.

Zvakwana's main methods of communication have been the internet and email.
It sends out regular newsletters about events in Zimbabwe. In addition to
encouraging anti-government slogans, its website offers 'activist tips',
such as: 'Organise yourself in pairs. Keep an eye out for your partner at
all times. Make sure that you know their personal details and who to contact
in the event that they are hurt or arrested.' It also advises on how to cope
with tear gas: 'Stay calm and focused ... When your body heats up (from
running or panicking, for example), irritation may increase.'

Its success in using the anonymity of the internet to spread its message has
made its website one of the most popular in Zimbabwe. The government's
frustration with Zvakwana has resulted in draconian action to force all
internet service providers to censor all email correspondence.

'We are encouraging Zimbabweans to make that shift from lives drenched in
fear to a future where we can all live more positively and with dignity,'
said the group. 'Zvakwana is asking Zimbabweans to stop waiting, and to Get
Up!'
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The Washington Times

Another Zimbabwe?


By Tom Carter
THE WASHINGTON TIMES


First of two parts

BENONI, South Africa - Daan Duvenage shook his head as he gazed over the
wood-and-tin shacks where 40,000 squatters have established homes on a
140-acre swath of his farm.
"I can't go in there," he said of the warren of homes, streets and shops
where he once grew hay for his cattle. "Too dangerous for me. They know who
I am."
Mr. Duvenage, a white farmer, still holds legal title to the land but
has been unable to get the government of President Thabo Mbeki to remove the
squatters.
The Witwatersrand High Court ordered the removal of 6,000 squatters in
April 2001, but the order was never enforced, and financially strapped local
authorities want Mr. Duvenage personally to pay the estimated $262,000 cost
of housing them elsewhere.
The Pretoria High Court again sided with Mr. Duvenage last month, but it
remains to be seen whether anything will happen.
The farmer said he doesn't mind seeing white-owned land redistributed to
poor blacks as long as it is done legally and equitably. And he understands
the government's concerns about setting a precedent that will encourage more
illegal land grabs.
But he also argues that the government must respect and enforce property
rights or risk scaring off foreign investment in a nation where black
unemployment is estimated to run as high as 50 percent.
The shantytown on his land is surprisingly well-kept, with wide dirt
avenues, flower gardens and immaculately groomed lawns. Each shack is
numbered to receive mail.
The government delivers water daily and set up voting stations during
last month's national elections, in which the camp voted about 90 percent
for the ruling African National Congress.
One squatter, who refused to give his name, said he wished the
government would act more aggressively to expropriate white-owned farms as
has been done in neighboring Zimbabwe.
But Mr. Duvenage said he doesn't think it will. "I don't think they are
as stupid as [Zimbabwe President Robert] Mugabe," he said.
Other white South Africans fear he is wrong.
Mr. Mugabe, who came to power with the end of white rule in the former
Rhodesia in 1980, initially promised that blacks and whites would live
harmoniously in a "rainbow nation" and, in fact, respected white rights for
two decades.
But facing likely electoral defeat in 2002, he permitted his armed
followers to seize white-owned farms, causing numerous deaths and a plunge
in agricultural production that has left the country unable to feed itself.
White South Africans talk constantly about their fears that the same
could happen here.
Making progress
Ten years after apartheid, the black-led government has made remarkable
strides. It has built 1.6 million new houses for the poor. Eighty percent of
South Africans now have electricity, and 30 million of them now have access
to clean tap water - up from 21 million a decade ago.
But there are also huge challenges, including massive unemployment and
HIV, the AIDS virus, which infects nearly 5 million people.
The ANC, which had long enjoyed communist backing, came to power after
the end of the Cold War and so wisely adopted capitalism as its economic
model.
It has reached out to the international business community and eked out
an average 2.5 percent economic growth rate. But that is far below the 6
percent growth rate needed to keep pace with growth in the working-age
population.
There is a growing black middle class who buy luxury automobiles, send
their children to private schools and shop in fancy malls. But most blacks,
who make up 70 percent of the population, still live in poverty.
"The [gross domestic product] per capita is actually going down, and
unemployment is going up. Unemployment is now around 35 [percent] to 40
percent," said Marian Tupy, a South African economist at Washington's Cato
Institute.
Eliminating poverty
The ANC consequently campaigned last month on a promise to eliminate
poverty and create jobs, leaving some white South Africans to worry that the
promise may be fulfilled at their expense.
Those fears were exacerbated by the reception given the Zimbabwean
president when he arrived in Pretoria for Mr. Mbeki's April 27 inauguration.
Mr. Mugabe received a thunderous ovation from the overwhelmingly black
crowd, only slightly less raucous than for Mr. Mbeki or his predecessor,
Nelson Mandela.
That reception, along with Mr. Mbeke's refusal to publicly condemn the
land seizures in Zimbabwe, were taken by many white South Africans as a
tacit endorsement of Mr. Mugabe's race-baiting policies.
Mr. Mbeki's government says it is simply pursuing what it calls "quiet
diplomacy" with a former comrade-in-arms.
"We will not stand on the rooftops and mountaintops and issue invectives
against the government of Zimbabwe," government spokesman Joel Netshitenzhe
said in an interview.
"President Mbeki has said many, many times that we don't encourage
illegal actions. We encourage dialogue. Both sides need to meet."
'Reverse apartheid'
One of the toughest indictments of Mr. Mbeke's policies comes from
Pretoria lawyer Philip Du Toit, who recently self-published "The Great South
African Land Scandal" - a 271-page catalogue of land invasions, murders and
other crimes in rural South Africa.
Accusing the government of "reverse apartheid," Mr. Du Toit says its
policies scare off foreign investment and mark the beginning of the end of
South African democracy.
"Botswana, where I grew up, is successful because they respect the right
to the title to the land. They support entrepreneurs and welcome
development. And there is legislation to protect employers," he said during
an interview in his Pretoria office.
"In South Africa, that does not exist anymore. South Africa is on the
track to becoming a Zimbabwe. I'm trying to stop the train. All we want is
for South Africa to come to its senses."
Mr. Netshitenzhe described the book as "based on fiction and prejudice,
not on fact" - a view that is shared by Farmer's Weekly, the nation's
leading farm magazine with a hefty white Afrikaans subscription base.
The book "is not good investigative journalism," said Chris Burgess, the
white editor of Farmer's Weekly. "It is one-dimensional,"
"The farmers in South Africa are facing very serious problems - crime,
the land-redistribution program - which we cover extensively in our
magazine," Mr. Burgess said.
"But we are at a crucial moment in South African history, just 10 years
after democracy, trying to rectify some of the inequities of the past. How
do we resolve those issues? Du Toit is the wrong man at the wrong time to
write this book. It is inflammatory. The book is not helpful."
Farmland lost
Still, several of the book's basic points cannot be denied. White
farmers are suffering from an enormous amount of rural crime, and the
government's land-redistribution program - which turns productive farmland
over to black cooperatives, often people with no farming background - has
resulted in the loss of good farmland and of jobs.
"I think the book has the ring of truth on at least one of his key
points," said John Kane-Berman, chief executive of the South African
Institute of Race Relations in Johannesburg.
"A lot of black people have been resettled on previously white-owned
farms and have not been able to make a go and [the farms] are now vast rural
shanty towns that are no longer producing" either food or jobs.
The Agricultural Employers Organization (AEO), which represents farmers
in labor disputes, estimates that 500,000 jobs have been lost since 1993,
mostly by unskilled black farm laborers.
"The unskilled farmworkers who were supposed to be lifted up are being
hurt the most," said Willie Vorster of AEO. "If the land issue is not
handled correctly, it will be Zimbabwe. The chances are very big."
But Mike Davies, South Africa analyst for the London-based Control Risks
Group, disagrees.
"South Africa is not like Zimbabwe," he said. "There are a lot of
differences. South Africa has an independent judiciary, a constitution.
"Our position is that there are risks of investing in a country like
South Africa, but there is fundamental political stability and that is
likely to continue into the future. South Africa's economy is very sound at
the moment."

Land distribution
There are three parts to the land-redistribution program.
The first is "land restitution," in which blacks who were forcibly
removed from their land under apartheid can make a claim on the land, no
matter who owns it today.
Second is "land redistribution," in which the government will subsidize
blacks seeking to purchase land from willing white owners. The program's
goal is 30 percent black ownership of commercial farmland.
Finally, there is a "land tenure" system, which states that if a laborer
lives and works on the land for a period of time, he cannot be evicted
unless the farmer provides alternative housing.
At Montina Farm near Mooketsi, in Limpopo, the nation's poorest region,
Kaspaas Pohl and his brothers operate a dozen tomato and citrus farms,
employing 35 family members and more than 2,000 black workers.
One of his farms has land claims against it - ironically, by two
competing tribes, both of which claim it as their ancestral land. Mr. Pohl
says he'd be happy to sell, but the government has no money.
"How can I plan? How can I invest when I don't know what will happen? I
took the risk, buying and developing these farms, and now I lay awake at
night worrying about my family, my farms, our future," he said.
Mr. Pohl has built a four-room elementary school for his workers'
children (the government provides the teachers), and provides farm housing,
with water and electricity, that would be considered substandard in suburban
Washington but is luxurious in most of the developing world.
Mr. Pohl is a warm and hospitable host - if one can stomach the
incessant racist commentary and jokes.
'They cannot farm'
"Why do they want the land if they cannot farm? Black people cannot
farm. They can buy and sell. They can fill a bakke (small pickup) with
vegetables and sell them on the side of the road. They do that very well.
Afrikaans people can't do that. We can farm. ...
"If Mbeki were clever, he could feed the whole of Africa if he wanted.
We don't mind them governing the country, but leave us to farm."
From his helicopter, which he uses to move between farms, Mr. Pohl
buzzed several large tracts of land that had been bought by the government
and turned over to black cooperatives in the past three years. Today, all
are in weeds, bankrupt.
"This was a big tomato farm. Now it is [ruined]," he said as he hovered
over ransacked housing and tattered greenhouses, where drip-line irrigation
hoses lay scattered in the overgrowth. "This was a high-producing farm that
was giving 600 people work. Now they've lost their jobs."
On the farm next door, owned and managed by whites, fields filled with
ripe tomatoes were being harvested by dozens of black workers.
Making a difference
One man who is trying to make a difference is Cois Harman, a white
professor of native African languages who began to mentor black farmers
after losing his job under the nation's "black economic empowerment" or
affirmative-action laws.
While he can rattle off dozens of black farming successes, he was highly
critical of the land-distribution program.
"Giving 200 people a farm that was farmed by one white farmer is not a
recipe for success," said Mr. Harman, who was raised on a cattle farm. "The
cooperatives haven't got the knowledge, and they end up fighting each
other."
He said that farming in South Africa is difficult - poor soil, little
rain, summer hail - and fewer than 10 percent of black farmers he mentors
make it.
"But the same would be true if you took white people out of Johannesburg
or New York with no farming experience," he said.
Making a success
One of the successful black farmers is Simon Makhutle, a modest man with
movie star good looks who could not suppress his laughter at those who say
black people can't farm.
"They haven't seen this," he said, as he drove past acre after acre of
sunflowers, sorghum and corn on his farm in Ga-Motlatla in northwestern
South Africa. "The white farmers in this area know we can do it."
Mr. Makhutle, who planted 500 acres this year, returned to Ga-Motlatla
to work with his father after getting his bachelor's degree in political
science and criminology at the University of Cape Town.
"I didn't come back by choice. I couldn't find a job in forensics, but
now sometimes I just love it. I love farming. I have no regrets," he said as
he watched a combine harvest a sunflower field for seeds that will be
pressed for oil.
Like all farmers, he complained about the need for better access to
credit, cheaper gas and fertilizer prices. And as a farmer on tribal-owned
lands, he has no title, making it even harder to secure financing because he
has no collateral.
"My only problem is financing," he said. "Look around you. We can do the
farming."
Woes next door
As for Zimbabwe?
"Zimbabwe's problem will have to be resolved by the Zimbabwe people," he
said. "In South Africa, some people have land claims. Those who were
forcefully removed can go back. It is being done legally and lawfully. ...
So far, we are satisfied with the way things are going."
Mr. Kane-Berman said that after 10 years of democracy, the country is
doing far better than most had predicted.
"The constitution is widely considered legitimate. The country is
basically stable. Crime is a problem, but the government management of
public finance has been politically courageous. It has brought down
inflation. If you look around the shopping centers, you see people of all
races happily interacting together.
"I don't think the country has a problem with racial animosity. Race
relations are basically sound. So far, we have done astonishingly well. ...
No, our government, at the moment, is not in the business of orchestrating
land invasions," he said.

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Zim Standard

Zanu PF chef blasts Mugabe over food
From Savious Kwinika

CHIKOMBEDZI - Zanu PF Central Committee member, Titus Mukhungulushi Chauke,
has described recent claims by President Robert Mugabe and government
officials that Zimbabwe had enough food to last until the next harvest as
"irresponsible and utter rubbish".

The veteran politician from the minority Shangaan tribe said such utterances
by Zanu PF chiefs were "illogical" as they chase away international food
donor agencies, leaving Zimbabweans suffering.


"This is utter rubbish. People, hundreds of thousands of people in Chiredzi,
Chivi, Mwenezi and some pockets in Zaka districts are still buying food
simply because they did not realise a bumper harvest," said Chauke.

"It don't want to sound as if I am fighting my leaders in the Press but that
statement, from whoever said it, was unfortunate as it suggests some gross
irresponsibility as well as sounding like politicking," said the outspoken
politician.

Mugabe recently said Zimbabwe does not need food aid and told international
donor agencies to give their food aid to more needy countries.

Chauke said although some villagers in the perennially drought-stricken
regions of Masvingo, Matabeleland provinces had realised reasonable yields,
the harvests were not enough to last until the next season.

He said thousands of villagers in Chiredzi South - particularly the elderly
and children under the age of five - still needed food aid.

A visit by The Standard to Chikombedzi, Mwenezi, Lupane and some parts of
Matabeleland North province revealed that thousands of families were still
in need of food assistance.

Only last month - 38 people including children under the age of five died in
Bulawayo - Zimbabwe's second largest city, due to food scarcity, according
city council documents.

Statistics also indicate that 65 people, among them children under the age
of five, died in Bulawayo between September and December 2003, because of
lack of food.

Early this year the World Food Programme (WFP), a major food aid donor to
Zimbabwe, was prohibited from conducting a food assessment exercise by the
government.

However, The Standard last week met with CIO operatives travelling with the
WFP personnel, who were assessing the food situation in the Matabeleland
North region.

It emerged that the spy agents have forced themselves into the WFP food
assessment programme in an effort to censor information regarding the real
situation on the ground.
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Zim Standard

Harare degenerates into 'waste and rodent city'
By our own Staff

HARARE, once touted as the "sunshine city," has degenerated into a
sub-standard urban centre infested by waste, flies and rodents, says an
internal city council report.

The 2003 annual report by the city's health department made available to The
Standard expresses grave concern about the deteriorating state of affairs in
the capital city which has been without a substantive mayor for over a year.


Harare's first executive Mayor Elias Mudzuri of the opposition MDC was fired
by the government two months after being on suspension since April 29, 2003.
Since then, acting mayor, Sekesai Makwavara, has run the affairs of the
city.

The report prepared by Lovemore Mbengeranwa, the city's Director of Health
Services, paints a grim picture about the way Harare has deteriorated,
virtually in all aspects of health.

This ranges from waste management, pollution, pest control and personal
health services.

The council blames the sorry state of Harare, which recorded a rise in
malaria cases and pollution, to lack of finance, material resources and
rising inflation.

It said uncontrolled urban cultivation, pit and sand extraction and the
indiscriminate dumping of refuse in the city "led to severe infestations of
mosquitoes, rodents and flies" - carriers of communicable diseases.

To worsen matters, the city council does not have funds to buy pesticides.

Alarming levels of atmospheric pollution were also recorded. The report
noted that the monthly average was 82.9ug/m3, which is above the World
Health Organisation guidelines of 50 ug/m3.

Among other worrying problems, were the non-collection of refuse,
non-attendance to sewer blockages and burst water pipes which were
prevalent.

The council admitted failing to cope up with waste management services. It
said its only two skip trucks were inadequate.

"This resulted in many skip points being turned into illegal dumpsites,"
noted the report, which added that services of street cleaning in the CBD
also deteriorated significantly.

Despite the health hazards posed by the absence of ablution services, the
preparation and sale of food from unauthorised premises continued at
commuter pick-up points, bus termini, industrial areas and home industries.

The report said rapid urbanisation currently being experienced by the city
impacted negatively on the quality of the environment because it was not
being matched proportionately with infrastructural development.

This resulted in inadequate housing, which led to the proliferation of
backyard shanties in high-density, low-income suburbs while conditions in
peri-urban settlements deteriorated "to alarming levels with virtually no
services available to the residents."

That apart, "the central business district was invaded by squatters,
vagrants, destitutes and criminals leading to a public outcry for remedial
action", said the report.

"Inadequate finances and the depreciating value of the Zimbabwe dollar, due
to the rising inflation, coupled with the shortages of manpower, and
essential equipment, affected the efficient delivery of our services," said
Mbengeranwa.
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Zim Standard

Gono ducks questions on human rights
By our own Staff

SLOUGH, UK - Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono, last week
skilfully ducked questions on the country's appalling state of democracy and
human rights record on British television.

Gono's antics, however, could not spare him from a place in the "hall of
infamy" after indications by the British parliament to have his wings
clipped under the European Union's travel ban that affects other top ruling
Zanu PF officials, The Standard can reveal.


Gono deftly steered off answering questions on the country's political
crisis; saying that he was "not qualified" to comment on it but vowed to
turn around the country's economic fortunes.

"Zimbabwe is now a totally new area, totally new economy (and) we are
determined to self-correct ourselves in the community of nations," Gono told
the BBC Newsnight programme here Tuesday.

Gono, who briefly met Zimbabwean and African students at Oxford, claimed to
have raised "at least US$20 million" during his British escapade.

Asked by BBC's Robin Danselow if he was taking part in the ongoing Zanu PF
presidential succession jockeying, Gono responded: "That question is best
left to Zimbabweans, I am only an economist and would not venture to answer
that question."
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Zim Standard

Zanu PF activists block setting up of Parliamentary Information Centres
By Caiphas Chimhete

WAR veterans and youth militia from the Border Gezi training centres are
blocking the establishment of Parliamentary Constituency Information Centres
(PCICs) in constituencies run by Members of Parliament of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), The Standard has learnt.

They are also closing down PCICs that had been set up, in what MDC MPs said
is a political ploy meant to portray the opposition legislators as
"disorganised" and unable to attend to the needs of the electorate ahead of
next year's crucial general elections.


Currently, several MDC legislators - particularly those who hold rural
seats - have not been able to set up the centres while those that had been
established are being forcibly closed down.

However, almost all information centres in Zanu PF won-constituencies are up
and running - well equipped with computers.

MDC legislators last week said the war veterans and youth militia were being
used as fronts by Zanu PF and government officials, with intentions of
contesting the 2005 parliamentary poll.

The MPs said they have presented their cases to Parliament but that has not
yielded any results. They foresee a situation whereby elections, slated for
March, will be held before they set up the information centres.

"I had opened up a centre at Hauna in 2002 but some war veterans and Zanu PF
supporters ordered its closure. I approached Parliament and the Manicaland
Governor for help but nothing came out of the meetings," explained Evelyn
Masaiti, MDC legislator for Mutasa in Manicaland.

Ironically, Masaiti had been seeking help from Manicaland Governor Mike
Nyambuya, who is eyeing her seat on a Zanu PF ticket.

Nyambuya could not be reached for a comment.

Early this year, Zanu PF youths and war veterans demonstrated against the
owner of the property that Masaiti had acquired to set up the office. The
owner was intimidated and he later refused to sign a lease agreement.

Other constituencies where Zanu PF supporters obstructed the setting up of
PCICs include Chimanimani (Roy Bennett) Nyanga (Leonard Ringisai
Chirowamhangu) and in Gwanda North, where Paul Themba-Nyathi is the sitting
legislator.

Other MPs facing similar problems include Jealous Sansole (Hwange East),
Mtoliki Sibanda (Tsholotsho) and Nomalanga Khumalo (Umzingwane).

Last month, Zanu PF supporters and war veterans destroyed an information
centre after Bennett was involved in a scuffle with the Minister of Justice,
Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Patrick Chinamasa and Didymus Mutasa, the
Minister of Anti-Corruption and Anti-Monopolies in the President's Office in
the House.

Themba-Nyathi, who is also MDC spokesperson, said obstruction of smooth
operations of PCICs by Zanu PF was prevalent in rural constituencies. "I
have the same problem in Gwanda. Zanu PF youths and war veterans are
intimidating property owners so that they refuse to accommodate us at their
premises.

"It is a primitive culture that does not promote pluralistic existence and
national development," said Themba-Nyathi.

However, Parliament of Zimbabwe Chief Public Relations Officer, Tarisayi
Chirinda, said she had not received any complaints from MDC legislators.

"We have not received anything like that. We have an office in Nyanga and
Mutasa. We have even signed a lease agreement with the owner of the building
at Hauna where Masaiti intended to set up an office," said Chirinda.

Parliament in March said centres had been set up at 104 of the 120
constituencies in the country while the remaining 16 were expected to be
complete by mid-year.

But, as the political temperature reaches boiling point ahead of next year's
poll, there are fears that centres in MDC held-constituencies, particularly
in rural areas, might all be shut down. In a statement in March this year,
Parliament said the PCICs were not springboards for political activities but
for promoting "our democratic processes".

"They are meant to service all members of the public regardless of their
party affiliation," it said in a statement.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is financing the setting up
of the information centres.
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Zim Standard

Huge wheat deficits feared
By our own Staff

ZIMBABWE will experience severe shortages of bread next year following late
invitations to new farmers to venture into wheat production.

The invitations came almost a month after the lapse of the deadline for
planting the crop, Standard Business has established.


The government last week frantically courted new farmers at the eleventh
hour to take up production of the crop after it became clear that there was
very little planting activity taking place. Wheat is normally planted up to
May 15 and is harvested in September just before the onset of the rains.

However, after realising that very few farmers were planting the crop, the
government sent a SOS message to the newly resettled farmers to take up the
challenge and hurriedly plant the crop.

Said the government statement: "In its endeavor to boost the production of
wheat in 2004, the government has undertaken to support the targeted
production of 100 000 hectares of wheat S those who intend to grow wheat and
have not been registered with Arex are encouraged to approach their nearest
Arex officers."

Added the statement, issued by the Ministry of Lands and Agriculture: "Wheat
can be planted from May until about mid-June, but obviously the late planted
crop might coincide with the early summer rains thereby making it difficult
to harvest the crop."

Last year, early October rains had a devastating effect on the winter crop
as it failed to mature properly and some of the crop was declared unsuitable
for human consumption.

Out of a normal requirement of 350 000 tonnes per annum only 60 000 tonnes
was harvested in 2003/04 down from 80 000 in 2002/3.

Many farmers failed to plant this year's crop in time because of the late
harvesting of the maize crop. Other A1 and A2 farmers who took up productive
farmland formerly owned by white commercial farmers during the violent farm
seizures failed to access funding and inputs in time.

They complain that many financial institutions insist on collateral security
before lending any money to the farmers who don't hold any title deeds to
the land.

John Nkomo, the Minister for Special Affairs Responsible for Lands, Lands
Reform and Resettlement, recently told a Cabinet meeting that only 33 000
hectares of wheat had been planted so far against a targeted 100 000
hectares.

Agricultural experts say due to late land preparation and planting, this
year's wheat harvest could be the smallest since independence in 1980.

"The crop will miss the winter temperature to mature properly because the
optimum growing conditions are now and not October," said Renson Gasela, the
opposition MDC shadow minister for agriculture.
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Zim Standard

Zanu PF plot to oust Gweru mayor deepens
By Richard Musazulwa

GWERU - A suspected plot by Zanu PF to oust the democratically elected MDC
executive mayor here deepened last week afterthe party's supporters held
demonstrations calling for the reinstatement of the old city council, which
was defeated by the opposition party at the polls last year.

The Standard witnessed ZRP policemen accompanying the ruling party
supporters and some of the losing councillors to Town House where they
disrupted council business.


This comes hardly two weeks after Zanu PF supporters - including losing
councillors from the previous council - blocked traffic in the city centre,
beat up and hauled insults at suspected MDC supporters as they demonstrated
against Gweru executive Mayor Sesel Zvidzai.

To the surprise of onlookers, the demonstrators, who also provided the ZBC
Newsnet crew with transport to cover them, turned their demo into a "mini"
political rally as they chanted Zanu PF slogans and sang "Chimurenga" songs.

They called on the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National
Housing, Ignatious Chombo, to reinstate the old council, which was dominated
by Zanu PF loyalists.

Ironically, as Zanu PF supporters were denouncing the Mayor inside Town
House, other Gweru residents were busy discussing pertinent issues on how
they could revisit the council budget and reduce the burden on ratepayers.

Zvidzai refused to meet the threatening Zanu PF supporters and told The
Standard he was only prepared to address genuine residents who put party
politics aside for the development of the city.

"Even if they were MDC supporters coming in that way, I am sorry I wasn't
going to address them," said the soft-spoken Mayor.
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Zim Standard

Bleak future for Zimbabwe's street children
By Valentine Maponga

AS the world commemorated the Day of the African Child on Wednesday,
thousands of Zimbabwean children faced a bleak future of mounting poverty
and the threat to their lives from diseases and conditions such as
malnutrition, HIV/Aids and malaria.

With the economic crisis showing no signs of a respite, there was little to
cheer, particularly for street children who have to endure cold nights and
starvation in the country's major cities.


Zimbabwe's problems - fuelled by a combination of factors including food
shortages, rapid economic decline and the impact of HIV/Aids - have
contributed to forcing many children to turn to the streets for survival.

A young orphan, who said she did not know how old she was, told The Standard
that most of her friends had been sexually abused or harassed in the streets
of Harare.

"Some boys and girls I know are being sexually abused by the older members
of the street community, but a lot are also being abused by other people,"
said the young girl.

Hazel Parsons, who chairs Streets Ahead - an organisation that looks after
the interests and welfare of street children - said most of the kids were
abused while sleeping on the streets.

"We have more than 150 street children coming in on a monthly basis to get
letters for them to receive free treatment for sexually transmitted diseases
with a doctor we have identified in Harare. We are also working in
conjunction with Unicef and the police and we are taking the children to
victim friendly clinics," said Parsons.

"The age group of the children is worrying, as most are below the age of
16," added Parsons. She said most of the children were living on the streets
because they had no alternatives.

"They come from impoverished families and none of them likes scavenging for
food," she said.

Shepherd Zikuyumo - a former street kid who stayed in the streets for more
than six months after both his parents died but is now an artist - said some
children ran away from their homes as result of abuse.

"There is an increase in child abuse, which is one of the reasons why
children choose to leave home. Their parents are unable to cope, they have
high stress levels and take it out on children, who then decide to leave,"
said Zikuyumo

Recent government efforts to get the children off the streets by dumping
them on farms hit a snag because many of them trekked back to Harare and
Bulawayo where they could get food.

Betty Makoni, the director of Girl Child Network, said rounding up the
street children would not solve the problem. What was needed was a clear and
analytic approach.

"There's a lot of pressure from government in terms of rounding up these
children. Their numbers are increasing and government wants to take action,
but our opinion is that just to round them up will not solve the problem.
Within two weeks they will be back on the streets," said Makoni.

She however added that there were already other organisations that had come
up with clear and practical initiatives to resolve the problem but the only
set back was lack of support and government will.

Unicef's representative, Foster Kavishe, said there was need to assess and
identify where the children are coming from, why they are on the streets and
whether they are permanently on the street, or just there during the day and
going home at night.

"It is understood that because of the hardships people are facing these days
some parents from high-density suburbs such as Mbare and Epworth are
bringing their children to the city centre to beg during the day.

"For those who are permanently on the streets, or have been there for some
time, integrating them back into their home communities may not be an option
but to teach them life skills and vocational skills, so they can survive on
their own," said Kavishe.
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Zim Standard

UNacceptable or UNcoordinated?
overthetop By Brian Latham

OFFICIALS in a troubled central African banana republic say they have not
snubbed a top United Nations official - they just didn't want to see him.
"If he'd come on a different day, things might have been better," said a
slightly muddled man from the ruling Zany Party. "As it was, we were a bit
busy on the day he wanted to arrive."

The UN said the snub was confusing. Senior government officials from all the
troubled central African country's neighbours managed to find the time for a
meeting with the world body.


Meanwhile the UN official, the personal envoy of the body's top man, said he
had no comment.

This was possibly because he had visited the troubled central African police
State several times before and knew just what to expect.

The portly official, who has been responsible for feeding half the country's
population for the last three years, was also said to be miffed when the
Zany foreign minister accused the UN of spreading lies about the troubled
central African basket case.

The Zany foreign minister, in a statement guaranteed to ensure his
popularity in the UN, accused the organisation of employing a drunkard to
write its reports.

Continuing his rant, the Zany foreign minister suggested that the UN's main
food body, the WFP, might even be working for the opposition More Drink
Coming Party.

Political analysts who cannot be named because they fear death said even if
it were true that the WFP supported the More Drink Coming Party, that would
only be fair. "After all," whispered one analyst, "It's a well established
fact that the other major UN organisation in the troubled central African
dictatorship has been working for the Zany Party for years."

Meanwhile in a largely unrelated incident, a source close to the Nigerian
president has told Over The Top of an interesting if short conversation
between Mr OB Banjo of Nigeria and the troubled central African nation's
most equal of all comrades.

According to Ms Eunice "US dollars only please" Luma, the most equal of all
comrades was more than a little miffed to learn that some of his now
homeless honky farmers had been feted and lionised in Nigeria.

Calling his colleague Mr Banjo on the amazing satellite phone, he asked why
dispossessed farmers were being encouraged to invest in the oil-rich but
otherwise hopelessly corrupt West African nation.

According to Ms Luma (a woman of irreproachable manners known to OTT only in
the platonic sense), Mr Banjo was surprised and annoyed to have his
afternoon dalliance interrupted by the most equal of all comrades.
Apparently he hung up after muttering a short, sharp expletive not normally
directed publicly towards the most equal of all comrades.

Of course, this startling bit of news has nothing to do with the United
Nations, except that if farmers do go to Nigeria, that country may soon be
growing some of its own food, while the troubled central African basket case
will continue to rely on the munificence of the spurned world body.

Still, in a related event - because we have to stick to objective
journalism - the Zany foreign minister has also complained about the UN
describing the troubled central African police state as a "no go area"
characterised by rising crime.

The reality is that the troubled central African banana republic is only a
no go area to subversive elements within the More Drink Coming Party. As for
rising crime, the evidence of heavily armed policemen beating political
opponents into submission was proof that the law enforcement agencies were
deployed where they are really needed, said a Zany Party spokesperson.
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Zim Standard

Turf war rages in Bulawayo
By Savious Kwinika

BULAWAYO - A battle for the control of Zimbabwe's second largest city is
raging between President Robert Mugabe's appointee, metropolitan Governor
for Bulawayo Cain Matema, and MDC Executive Mayor Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube, The
Standard has found.

Since the arrival of the former Zimbabwe ambassador to Zambia in Bulawayo in
early January, confusion has reigned supreme as to who of the two is in
charge of the city's affairs.


Even the corporate world has had difficulty in figuring out who to invite as
guest of honour for their functions in the City of Kings.

Previously it was just the Mayor who hogged the limelight.

The Standard, which has been following the issue closely, can reveal that
the Governor appears to be slowly gaining an upper hand as each day passes
by. Many of the official roles traditionally set aside for the Mayor are
being assumed by the Governor who, of late, dominates major city functions.

For example, when a major banking institution launched its main branch
recently, Matema was reported to have been drafted onto the programme at the
last minute to officially launch the branch. This effectively gave him an
opportunity to hog the limelight.

In an interview last week, Ndabeni-Ncube said he would fight to the bitter
end to make sure that his powers were not completely usurped by the Governor
as was now the case in Harare where Witness Mangwende is running the show.

"I was voted into the office by the residents of Bulawayo while Matema was
appointed, so I would not allow anyone to usurp the powers bestowed on me.

"I am here for the people by the people, so I must not allow such a thing to
happen. I am closely monitoring any movements deemed to sideline or usurp my
powers," said Ndabeni-Ncube.

In a separate interview, Matema said he did not mind whatever residents were
saying about him.

"We have different roles and I will continue working towards bringing
development to the city of Bulawayo. I did not know that I was usurping the
Mayor's powers but the fact is I am here to work towards encouraging
investors back as well as reviving the economy of Bulawayo," said Matema.
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Zim Standard

New UK envoy coming soon
By our own Staff

ROD Pullen, the successor to outgoing British Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Sir
Brian Donnelly, is expected to arrive in Zimbabwe soon. Sir Brian announced
this on Friday at a function to mark the occasion of the 78th birthday of
Queen Elizabeth II and his farewell party at his Harare residence.

The new Ambassador was the British High Commissioner in Accra and before
that, he served in Nigeria and Kenya.


Sir Brian said during his three-year stay in Zimbabwe he visited most parts
of the country where he witnessed so many things.

"We have seen people in communal areas and in high-density suburbs
desperately struggling to eke out a living and being offered ideological
panaceas instead of sustainable development programmes.

"As a result many are forced to accept food assistance from international
donors simply in order to survive," said Donnelly in his farewell remarks.

He added that he had also witnessed people who had suffered for standing for
their rights; who have been wrongly deprived of their land and property,
ruining, in some cases not just a lifetime's endeavour but the fruits of
several generations.

"The British Embassy, our Department for International Development and the
British Council have each tried in their own ways to ameliorate some of
these problems," Donnelly said.

"I am only too conscious that these efforts have not addressed the
fundamental problems facing this country," he said.
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Zim Standard

CIO operatives assault Finnish national
By our own Staff

A FINNISH citizen, Birgit Kidd of Chimanimani, was last week severely
assaulted by suspected members of the dreaded Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO), armed soldiers, war veterans and Zanu PF youth militia
at the opposition MDC offices.

Speaking from a private hospital in Chipinge where she is undergoing
treatment, Kidd - who said she was a human rights activist - said the group
of known security agents wanted her and Shane, her husband, dead.


"The attack was so vicious, it was too severe. They left me unconscious
thinking that I had already died," said Kidd, who was taken to hospital in
Chipinge by a good samaritan after local police refused to assist her.

Kidd said she could identify most of the assailants because they used to
drink beer at her bottle store in Chimanimani.

"Some of the people used to come to my bottle store as consumers. I can
identify them," said Kidd.

MDC provincial information secretary for Manicaland, Pishai Muchauraya, said
the Kidds were attacked after she tried to evict war veterans and Zanu PF
youths, who had invaded MDC offices in the town. Kidd owns the building,
which is being rented by the opposition party for its offices.

"She evicted them but they later came back in a truck and started to
indiscriminately assault the two with iron bars, logs and booted feet," said
Muchauraya, who added that some of the assailants were soldiers camped at
Charleswood Estate.

Chimanimani MP Roy Bennett, who has failed to reclaim the property despite
numerous court rulings in his favour, owns the estate.

This is the second time that the rowdy Zanu PF youth militia and war
veterans have assaulted Kidd.

In March this year, she was brutally assaulted and force-marched around the
town of Chimanimani carrying a Zanu PF flag and chanting revolutionary
songs.

"It's a terror campaign against whites in the province. They are fighting
whites so that they all leave the province before the 2005 parliamentary
elections.

"We in the MDC roundly condemn the racial cleansing being carried out by
Zanu PF in Manicaland because we are a multi-racial party," said Muchauraya.
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Zim Standard

Donnelly's final words: A fitting message for Zimbabwe


LET us first concede that certainly we wouldn't face many of our present
pathologies and desperately difficult problems if it weren't for the legacy
of colonialism.

But we also must, as Zimbabweans, both black and white, realise that today
much of the responsibility lies at our feet. We would be mad if we did not
acknowledge this.


It is in this context that we must take our hats off to Sir Brian Donnelly's
farewell speech last Friday to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II's birthday and
his farewell party. We will not be deterred from making this statement of
the obvious by false and laughable accusations of being described as "a
British-sponsored opposition newspaper." Truth is truth whether said by a
Zimbabwean, Briton or an Asian.

We are not "a British-sponsored newspaper" and we will never be. These
stupid accusations only exist in the mind of Jonathan Moyo and those of his
ilk. We are a newspaper brewed in a Zimbabwean pot and driven only by the
interests of our beloved country - Zimbabwe. If Jonathan Moyo finds this
fact too difficult to accept, tough luck!

Yes, until about a year or so ago, Britain could have overplayed its hand by
taking a high profile stance which President Mugabe portrayed as
neo-colonialism or neo-imperialism. Zimbabwe's land remained too long in
white Zimbabwean hands partly because Britain went back on its promise to
provide resources for a comprehensive land resettlement programme aimed at
alleviating the acute pressure in the rural areas.

As a former colonial master and part of the problem, Britain should have
appreciated much more that white land ownership is an emotive issue not only
in Zimbabwe but right across the continent.

In this regard, it is not surprising that President Mugabe's speeches at
international fora are invariably punctuated by applause and interrupted by
ovations. Mugabe's message is interpreted by many, rightly or wrongly, as a
message of liberation and equality and this goes down well in a continent
searching for dignity after decades of colonial domination and slavery.

Having said that, it is important to restate that Zimbabwe has been an
independent and sovereign country for 24 years now and to continually harp
ad infinitum on the evils of past colonisation without taking responsibility
for our actions in the present is an exercise in futility.

This is where Sir Brian's candour, frankness and analysis comes in. And any
right thinking Zimbabwean of whatever complexion of opinion could not fail
to be impressed by his forthright and well-intentioned remarks.

It does not require a rocket scientist to see that Zimbabwe is a country
starved of true democracy. It is ironic, were it not so tragic, that the
same men who held high the country's revolution and who spoke of universal
suffrage, fundamental human rights and freedoms can now be seen subverting
elections, trampling on democracy, circumscribing the democratic space by
closing newspapers and unleashing violence. How sad indeed!

Without handwringing, Sir Brian cast images once again of what he has seen
with his own eyes in the course of his 3-year sojourn here. "We have seen
people in communal areas and in high density suburbs desperately struggling
to eke out a living and being offered ideological panaceas instead of
sustainable development. We have seen people who have suffered physically
and emotionally simply for standing up for their civil rights".

Who can quarrel with these observations? He went on: "We have seen people
afflicted with the terrible scourge of HIV/Aids and we have seen the many
orphans who are the sad legacy of this disease. We have seen people who have
been wrongfully deprived of their land and property, ruining, in some cases,
not just a lifetime's endeavour but the fruits of several generations".

Is it not therefore a shame that the rights and freedoms which were so hard
fought for by the liberation movements and the Zimbabwean masses could be so
quickly eroded and disconstructed by the very leaders supposed to be the
custodians of these values? Zimbabweans fought against colonialism in order
to bring about the values of democracy and freedom. They did not fight to
see Zanu PF unfairly rule in perpetuity.

Repression of African politics was at the very heart of all white politics
in Rhodesia. Why should the same repression be at the very heart of all
politics in Zimbabwe today?

Throughout last week, the State media was agog about Tony Blair's stinging
defeat in British local and European Parliamentary elections. But the lesson
was lost on this sycophantic State media that this is what democracy is all
about and the ruling Labour party gracefully conceded defeat. We all know
what Zanu PF would have done faced with this kind of defeat.

That is why we feel strongly that there was nothing British or European
about what Sir Brian said about Zimbabwe last Friday. Values of democracy
and freedom are universal. They are not western values. His criticisms were
said with honest intentions - with Zimbabweans in mind rather than simply
playing to the gallery as is often the case with our politicians.

His message was crystal clear. We have to get our house in order. Zanu PF
leaders must surrender personal ambitions and obsession with power in the
interest of Zimbabwe.

On our own part, we will not give up as Sir Brian exhorted Zimbabweans. It
is very easy to give up but very difficult to continue fighting. President
Mugabe and the ruling Zanu PF party appear seemingly invincible and
invulnerable to democratic challenge. So have been many dictators before
them.

But where are they today?
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Zim Standard

'He who isn't corrupt cast the first stone'
sundayopinion By Desmond Kumbuka

AT the service station in the days of fuel shortages, if the petrol
attendant turned out to be a "home boy" (mwana wekumusha), no matter how
distant the relationship or vague the acquaintance, a camaraderie was struck
that ensured that one could jump the queue at will. Or if one was wily
enough to get a few bearers' cheques into the pocket of the attendant
without raising a hue and cry from other queuers, then one was guaranteed of
instant service.

At the police road block, life can be much easier for those who recognise
that our overworked and underpaid police officers do need a drink of Coke or
some other beverage of their choice from time to time.


So if you cooperate and say: "Mukoma, mozowedzerawo dirinki, kana mapedza
basa" while you surreptitiously hand over a $5 000 bearer's cheque note you
can get away with a caution rather than a ticket for your "smooth as a
snake's belly" vehicle tyres or expired licence.

At the municipal offices expeditious service is a preserve of those who
realise that the municipal workers who attend to them also have families to
feed, children to send to school and can use any donations in cash or kind
over and above their meagre wages. So the ratepayer who is prepared a to
give a "little tip" to the municipal policeman or council clerk is likely to
receive service with a smile.

The trend is even more glaring in some government offices.

Sullen faced officers who, when they attend to you, behave as though they
are doing you a monumental favour for which you ought to be eternally
grateful, will suddenly brighten up and cheerfully do their work once a
little "inducement" has been thrown their way as "mbasera" for their
efforts.

There is an even larger picture to the workplace scenario.

It is not uncommon to find that a majority of employees come from the same
home area as the personnel manager.

Worse still, in many instances, some of the workers can turn out to be
cousins, nephews, sons or daughters of girl-friends, all employed by the
personnel manager because, as the rationale to justify the practice goes:
"Chawawana idya nehama, mutorwa anehanganwa" literally translated meaning:
what ever you have share with close relatives, for the stranger soon
forgets. The aggrieved resign themselves to the malpractice by simply
declaring: "These days, its who you know, not what you know in order to
secure employment."

A workplace survey undertaken by an industrial relations consultancy at one
of the major Harare companies a few years ago established that simmering
discontent among the 2 000 strong workforce was a result of perceived
nepotism by the human resources manager. It turned out that at least 30
percent of the total number of workers were from the manager's home area
with a majority of them connected to him in one way or another.

When the results of the survey were presented to the management, the human
resources manager nonchalantly dismissed the findings as unprofessional
saying the methods used to gather the information had no scientific basis.
He paid off the consultancy firm and promptly consigned its report to the
company's archives.

A managing director of one of the major parastatal organisations, defending
himself from accusations of nepotism, remarked that he was better-off
employing a relative that he knows well than hiring a total stranger whose
loyalty is not guaranteed. This was after queries over the coincidence of
four senior employees of the company bearing exactly the same surname.

I could go on with these examples of petty corruption and nepotism that
pervade virtually every strata of Zimbabwean society. It is in the context
of these examples of ethical distortions and inconsistencies in the way we
relate to each other that we must examine the roots of corruption in our
society.

The question that begs an answer is whether this kind of behaviour is
incidental to the Zimbabwean character or whether it is intrinsic to the
African cultural psyche. Is the dictum "Blood is thicker than water" a
plausible rationale to justify corruption and nepotism, no matter how
trivial it may seem? Indeed, is corruption not a natural phenomenon that
should be tolerated simply as another manifestation of the fickleness of
human nature?

Profound gasps of shock and disbelief rang out from all corners of the
country following the exposure of massive levels of corruption and improper
dealings in the financial sector which resulted in the arrest of a number of
prominent businessmen and bankers. The same gasps of disbelief greeted what
came be the known as the "Willowgate scandal" when top Zanu PF and
government ministers were involved in illicit deals. A Cabinet minister
caught up in the scandal committed suicide.

Then followed the sensational "Access to Capital" fiasco in which scores of
Zimbabweans lost life savings having been promised fantastic profits from
their investments with the company run a young university graduate, Davison
Matanganyidze. But as soon as these pieces of sensational news disappeared
from newspaper columns, Zimbabwe's own unique brand of laissez faire seemed
to settle on its citizenry like a mind numbing sedative relegating the whole
shebang into newspaper archives.

Interestingly, though, the thread running through all these cases of
corruption, is that in each instance the victims were perfectly "normal"
individuals whose greed and desire to "get-rich-quick" appears to have got
the better of them robbing them of their sense of rationale judgment. None
of them bothered to establish exactly how the fabulous profits they were
being promised were to be realised.

Clearly, what emerges from all this is that few of us can say we are totally
immune to the predatory instinct of greed and the lure of easy money.
Indeed, how many, in these days when having money can mean the difference
between wretchedness and starvation on the one hand - and a comfortable
lifestyle on the other hand - will not succumb to the temptation of easy
pickings even if this means breaking the law?

Because of its insidious and profound effect on virtually everyone, greed is
perhaps one of the most exploitable proclivity of the human character.

Take the ENG case for example. While ostensibly, the chief villains were the
company's directors Nyasha Watyoka and Gilbert Mponda because they were
arrested in the glare of public media, scores of other corrupt "dealers"
whose transactions were outside the ambit of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe,
or have simply been able to evade arrest, still roam the streets scot free.

There is no doubt that the lucrative foreign currency wheeling and dealing,
sucked in a wide spectrum of participants, ranging from the white robbed
"Mapostori", prostitutes, cross-border truck drivers, street kids and even
"respectable" office workers, who all found the lure of the greenback
irresistible.

The line between what is legal and what constitutes a crime became
increasingly blurred as Zimbabweans, dogged by burgeoning poverty in an
inflation riddled economy, struggled to make ends meet.

Corruption and outright theft or fraud in some cases, began to have a new,
and even glamorous image and definition in the eyes of the general public -
this type of behaviour began to be seen as enterprise and initiative. Those
with money, regardless of how they acquired it, exuded an aura of
invincibility: they were the heroes of the moment. Many of these nouveau
riche flaunted their wealth around with impunity, making those that lacked
the guts to engage in currency trading seem like foolish simpletons unwise
to the ways of the world.

I remember one streetwise acquaintance remarking to me that "anyone who does
not make money this year (2003) will never again have an opportunity to
become rich", as he boasted of his exploits on the currency black market.
Unfortunately, the man is nowhere to be seen these days so that he can
appraise me on the results of his enterprise.

But perhaps the consolation for Zimbabwe is that corruption is acknowledged
as a global problem. Nearly 100 countries signed the first internationally
binding global treaty against corruption at a three-day UN conference in
Merida, Mexico, in December. The UN Convention against Corruption now needs
to be formally ratified by 30 countries to come into force.

The agreement was negotiated over nearly two years by more than 125
countries and is expected to give a boost to the global fight against
corruption. It contains more than 70 articles covering topics such as
bribery, embezzlement, misappropriation, money-laundering, protection of
whistle-blowers and co-operation among states.

For the first time in international law, the treaty "makes a major
breakthrough by requiring member states to return assets obtained through
corruption to the country from which they were stolen", said UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

"This is a particularly important issue for many developing countries where
corrupt officials have plundered the national wealth," he said.

Corruption is considered a major impediment to development and it is
estimated that hundreds of billions of dollars are lost each year in corrupt
transactions.

"Corruption not only distorts economic decision-making, it also deters
investments, undermines competitiveness and ultimately weakens economic
growth," said UN Office on Drugs and Crime Executive Director Antonio Maria
Costa.

Under the convention, signatories are required to adopt a number of measures
to curb corruption, including codes of conduct and disciplinary measures for
public servants and laws to criminalise bribery and money laundering.
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Zim Standard

From fashionable Chelsea to Chikurubi


IN this second part on Guns for Hire by Standard Assistant Editor DAVID
MASUNDA and Alexander von Paleske, a freelance writer, The Standard examines
who stands to benefit when a group of mercenaries takes on a mission to
depose a despotic leader, or to secure certain interests under threat from
rebels. Here is their account:

MERCENARY activity or contracting private security companies - PMCs as they
now want to be known - is big business. Very big business.


According to reports, South Africa's now disbanded Executive Outcomes' (EO)
two-and-a-half year contract with the Angolan government in the early 1990s
was worth US$40 million per year in cash and the icing on top of the cake
were several priceless lucrative oil and diamond concessions.

Tim Spicer's Sandline debacle, that almost cost him his life, was worth it:
according to freelance writer and documentary film-maker Michael Bilton -
who researched on Sandline actitivies for years - the company might have
been paid US$18 million by the government of Papua New Guinea to resolve an
eight-year-old military conflict involving a secessionist movement on the
South Pacific Island of Bougainville.

The contract Sandline signed with the Papua New Guinea government included
the supply of four helicopters, two Mi-17 armed transport helicopters and
two Mi-24 helicopter gunships.

At the time, the asking price of an Mi-17 helicopter from Russia or former
Soviet states was between US$600 000 to US$900 000 each.

Although there were later problems for Sandline in collecting its paycheck
from Papua New Guinea after a mutiny brought in a new government that tried
to wiggle itself out of the Sandline deal, the company has not done badly
from its other military adventures in parts of Africa.

Sandline, with the help of EO, was reportedly paid US$10 million by a
Canada-based businessman Rakesh Saxena to overthrow the government of Sierra
Leone and secure lucrative diamond concessions in that country.

According to a Sandline report on its incorporation in 1996, Anthony (Tony)
Buckingham was the inspiration behind Sandline while Spicer is its Chief
Executive.

While PMCs are violating the UN Convention for the Elimination of
Mercenarism in Africa, it is clear their operations are sometimes
sanctioned, or assisted, by officials in key government or private posts in
some Western countries.

Research has also shown that at times, Western governments turn a blind eye
to the operations of these companies in Africa and the developing world and
hope that their adventures would not leave them with egg on the face.

One study says "private military companies go where the Pentagon would
prefer not to be seen carrying out military exercises for the American
government, far from Washington's view". The same can be said of the
British, the French and other superpowers.

When Spicer was investigated in the late 1990s for breaching a UN arms
embargo during Sandline's military exploits in Sierra Leone, the former
British SAS reserve officer said he had received official approval from the
UK Foreign Office.

Then British Foreign Affairs Secretary Robin Cook was "left with egg on the
face" and British Prime Minister Tony Blair was forced to defend the use of
Sandline in Sierra Leone, according to reports.

THE Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eeelam, the rebels who have fought successive
Sri Lankan governments for years, on July 24 2001 made their most
devastating attack.

On an attack on Bandaranaike International Airport, they destroyed half the
civilian fleet of Sri Lankan Airlines - the national career - cutting the
country's only link with the outside world.

During the same attack, the rebels destroyed about a third of Sri Lanka Air
Force's Russian transport helicopters and fighters, Israeli interceptors and
Chinese trainers, according to the Centre for Public Integrity report. The
cost of the attack was estimated at US$500 million.

"The long-term impact of the Tigers' attack was magnified by the conduct of
the City of London, the financial nerve centre of the United Kingdom," says
the Centre for Public Integrity report named Marketing the Dogs of War.

The report adds: "Brokers at the Lloyds of London insurance market imposed
massive war risk surchages on shipping to Sri Lanka. The shipping dependent
nation suddenly faced the loss of trade and even essential food imports."

At a stroke, the country faced rampant hyper-inflation and economic collapse
because of the high insurance surcharges and the cost of air transport to
cater for the security risks now involved with shipping to Sri Lanka.

(It is important to note here that Zimbabwe was actually one of the victims
of the Tamil Tigers when a shipment of arms from the Zimbabwe Defence
Industries destined for Sri Lanka was lost at sea - reportedly after an
attack by the Tigers - during the same period).

Says the Centre for Integrity report: "The terrorist Tigers had struck the
blow, but it was the London financiers whose conduct now threatened national
survival. Sri Lanka's High Commissioner in London, Mangala Moonasinghe, was
instructed to open negotiations - not with the Tamil Tigers - but with the
City's brokers."

On August 17 2001, eight Sri Lankan negotiators flew into London for
meetings with Lloyds' underwriters and the company's "war risks committee".

After three days of talks, the Lloyds team set up a "London Market Sri
Lankan War Facility" to help imports to that country. The Sri Lankan
government was also asked to commission a full security review of its
airport and seaports and "to implement recommendations".

The London brokers recommended that Sri Lanka hired a British company,
Trident Maritime, to carry out the security review in conjuction with
another company, Rubicon.

By hiring Trident, the Sri Lankans had hired Colonel Tim Spicer, the man
behind Sandline International.

Spicer, in an interview in 2002, said the world was waiting "for the speed
and flexibility with which PMCs can deploy, rather than wait for the UN to
form a force".

Responding to a question, he said it might be in the international
community's interests if PMCs were hired to intervene in long-running
conflicts in the Sudan or topple leaders like Robert Mugabe, says the Centre
for Public Integrity report.

Asked at a conference in 2002 on Europe and America: a New Strategic
Partnership, sponsored by the Royal Institute of International Affairs,
Spicer said: "I don't think anyone would object if a private military
company American, British or whatever was to become involved at the behest
of the interantional community with the Iraqi resistance.

"I suppose the question of Zimbabwe has been raised, but it's not at that
stage yet."

Such answers will obviously worry Zimbabwean authorities, especially after
the plane that was captured at Harare International Airport was found to
contain enough ammunition to start - and probably win - a small war.

OF the 67 crew and passengers found huddled in the darkened plane at Manyame
Airbase near the Harare International Airport, 20 are South Africans (black
and white), 23 Angolans (all black), two black Congolese and one black
Zimbabwean. Enter the black mercenaries.

Mercenary wars might be financed, organised and commanded by white nationals
from countries such as the UK, US, Canada, Germany, France and Spain, but
most of the people who actually do the fighting - and the dying - in Africa
are black Africans.

According to a report by the South African Institute of Strategic Studies on
Executive Outcomes, the former South African Defence Force (SADF) had a
combat force of about 40 000 out of a total permanent force of about 120 000
soldiers.

Most of these units were battle-hardened, having fought wars against the ANC
and Zanla, Zipra, MPLA and Swapo guerillas in southern Africa for decades.

As a result, many of them were feared and unwanted when the new government
of Nelson Mandela came into power in 1996. They drifted into private
military companies such as Executive Outcomes, sometimes out of the
neccessity to survive, but for some - for the adventure and the riches
associated with mercenary activities.

So it would not be surprising were most of the blacks captured in Harare
finally found out to be former members of elite counter-insurgency brigades
in the former Rhodesian, South African, South West African (now Namibia) and
colonial Portuguese armies.

Among the highly trained soldiers who found themselves out of work when the
new liberation governments came into power were Selous and Grey Scouts in
Zimbabwe; "Koevoet" members (a notorious police unit that operated closely
with the pre-independence SADF in northern Namibia), those from the crack 32
(Buffalo) Battalion; 1 to 5 Special Forces Reconnaissance regiments, 44
Parachute Brigade and offensive intelligence units of South Africa's
Civilian Co-operation Bureau (CCB), among others.

But it is big business that finances these military adventurers and in turn
that tends to benefit from the huge mining concessions and the contracts
that are paid by desperate African administrations.

It is the lure of big money and big business as well the adrenaline-inducing
adventures in darkest Africa that cause the likes of Simon Mann - who once
worked with both Spicer and Buckingham - to leave their comfortable
surroundings of fashionable Chelsea S for the flea-infested Chikurubi
Maximum Prison.
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