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

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The Spectator
It’s worse than you imagined
There are a lot of myths about why Aids is widespread in
Africa. But the facts, says Hugh Russell, are more bizarre

The funeral processions trundle past my garden gates at any and every hour of the day. Sometimes they are rather grand affairs, with a purpose-built hearse and an ornate coffin gleaming through its transparent walls. But more often — in fact, almost invariably — the coffin, of plain unvarnished wood, is carried in the back of an ancient pick-up and attended by mourners who squat perilously on the sides of the vehicle as it rattles over the potholes. Another couple of pick-ups or trucks follow, each carrying up to 40 mourners. The women sing.

At the cemetery the huge humps of newly dug reddish earth, the rickety wooden crosses and the litter of dying flowers are like something out of a Hammer horror movie. But the place is alive with people, as the various cortèges come and go. It’s said that people often get confused and attend the wrong burial. This is Aids in Africa.

At a local sports club the secretary showed me a fly-blown photograph on the notice-board. It was a picture of the club’s rugby XV from 14 years ago. Two of the team were white — Brits, the secretary told me, who had gone home long ago. Of the 13 Zambians, 11 were dead. Of the remaining two, one he wasn’t sure about, and the other was still alive, and in fact turned out on a Saturday afternoon when he could find the time.

I needed some tiles for my bathroom, and went to the local tile centre which, by some quirk of planning, is situated to the rear of an undertaker. To reach the display you have to pass through the undertaker’s showroom, and at first I sniggered to myself as I strode past the ranks of coffins. Then I noticed that at least half of them were only three to four feet long, or less.

The UN secretary-general’s special envoy for HIV/Aids in Africa, one Stephen Lewis, reported in a Sunday newspaper on a visit he made not long ago to a paediatric ward here. While he was on the ward, he said, children with Aids were dying at the rate of one every quarter of an hour. Forgive me if I repeat that: one every quarter of an hour.

This is Aids in Africa. It’s rarely called Aids, of course. Cause of death is given as malaria or pneumonia or TB and, strictly speaking, that may be true. But the ruthless syndrome lies behind almost all the fatalities.

Nelson Mandela recently spoke of Aids ‘decimating’ southern Africa. Would to God that he was right. Statistics vary, of course, but even the most optimistic figures show that a far greater proportion than one in ten of the population is threatened. At an educated guess, one in five of us here in Zambia is HIV positive. But in the age-group most at risk — 15 to 40 — that figure comes down to one in three. In the 14th century the Black Death was operating at about the same average. Of course, that plague moved swiftly. Aids takes its time, which is why we call it, with grim humour, the ‘slow puncture’.

In 1993 our neighbour Botswana, the place that used to be Bechuanaland and which today is one of the most economically successful countries in Africa, had an estimated population of 1.4 million. Today that figure is well under a million and heading downwards. Doom-merchants predict that Botswana may soon become the first nation in modern times literally to die out.

This is Aids in Africa. But why? Why has the syndrome got such a vice-like grip on us while its hold in Europe and America is, comparatively speaking, tenuous? What’s God got against Africa?

Let’s kill off a few canards first. We are not more gay than you. I know it’s politically incorrect to speak of Aids as having links with homosexuality, but of course in Europe and the US it does. Here in Zambia we have relatively few active gays. We have relatively fewer needle-sharing junkies, too.

Nor can the blame be laid on anal intercourse, another alleged cause of the spread of Aids. It may be common enough in Europe; in fact, judging by some dinner-table conversations in suburbia these days, it’s practically mandatory. But not so here. What’s more, Zambian law says that buggery is illegal, and you go to jail for it, as a sad German tourist found out to his cost a year ago.

Is it, then, that Africans are simply more immoral, that African society is just too casual? No, of course not. Society here is a complex web of tradition, custom, superstition and folklore, and the average Zambian sticks rigidly to the tribal code.

But perhaps that’s part of the problem. Perhaps it is in this strict adherence to custom that Zambians and other Africans make themselves particularly vulnerable to the virus. Let me tell you about three of those customs. The last will make you wince.

1. Ritual cleansing. This is not, sadly, some kind of elaborate bath. It has to do with the laying of ghosts. The belief is that when a husband dies his ghost will ‘follow’ his widow; and it will drive her mad unless she is ‘cleansed’. Traditionally, cleansing requires the widow to have sex with a close male relative — perhaps her husband’s uncle. Once this is done — often with a fee payable to the lucky uncle — the widow is deemed cleansed, and the ghost will disturb her and the family no more. Of course, if the husband died of Aids, and his widow also has the syndrome, then she will probably pass it on to Uncle.

In some districts this form of cleansing has been banned by the local chief who is, understandably, worried about his ever-decreasing population, or argued out of existence by persistent missionaries and health workers. Then the widow has another option. She can hop on a minibus and travel to a different part of Zambia, where she is a stranger. There she will make herself as attractive as she can, then slip into a local bar. She will pretend to be drunk, find a drunken man, and have quick casual sex with him. By making love to a stranger, she will ensure that the ghost of her husband leaves her and follows the man — as indeed may the Aids virus. The ghost will in turn drive the strange man mad. This belief is so entrenched that when a young man shows signs of mental unbalance his friends and family will nod wisely and remark that he must have slept with a widow.

2. The secret society. Like the masons only more so, this component of African life is so secret that no one ever talks about it, and many deny that it still operates. But I’m assured by health and social workers here that it does. This is how it comes about. In the villages of rural Zambia, boys who reach the age of 12 or 13 undergo a ritual that initiates them into manhood. It’s the usual sort of thing — circumcision plus lectures on adult behaviour and a few tattoos. As a result of this experience, the boys of any one year form a special bond, which will last a lifetime. They call it their secret society. In future years, when one such boy visits the home of another, he will be offered, and be expected to accept, the sexual use of his host’s wife. This is not considered adulterous, as long as the husband is present throughout. Not quite like the masons, perhaps.

As I said, the secret society is not talked about openly today, but the spread of Aids among seemingly moral and faithful married couples speaks volumes on its behalf.

3. Dry sex. I warned you that this one would make you wince. Again, it’s not something that’s talked about much, but many here believe that the practice is a major factor in the spread of the virus, particularly when prostitution is involved.

Dry sex is what it sounds like. For reasons that baffle me and perhaps most European men, many Zambian and other African men prefer to make love to a woman when she is, or appears to be, unaroused. A truck-driver told me that he liked his partner to be ‘dry and tight’ because it made her feel like a virgin. He found a moist vagina distasteful — ‘like she’s making water’, as he put it. To satisfy him, his girls had to be difficult to penetrate.

Perhaps the most extraordinary thing is that the women go along with this. The reason, I’m told, lies in the fundamental relationship between the sexes in southern Africa: the woman will do anything to make her man happy. To ensure that she is in a suitable condition when her man wants to make love, she boils up a concoction of roots, leaves and herbs, a secret recipe handed down from mother to daughter. The resulting brew has an astringent quality that both dries and firms vaginal tissue.

Prostitutes who service truck-drivers and other travellers at the truck stops and border posts are said to use the same technique, which means they can present themselves to their clients in a satisfactory state several times a night. Just how painful sex becomes for the woman can be imagined. And with the pain come abrasions, splits and other injuries, which result in a greatly increased likelihood of the transmission of the Aids virus.

Our vice-president Enoch Kavindele, about whom I have been rude in the past, recently advised men who are not already circumcised to get it done soonest, as a protection against Aids. The advice sounded almost comic. But if it was designed to avoid split and bleeding foreskins suffered during dry sex, it makes sense. Good thinking for once, Enoch.

Health workers and other concerned people are well aware of how deeply these three fatal customs are woven into the fabric of Zambian society. Intensive efforts are being made to eradicate them, but like so many things in African society, any change at all is a long time coming.

True, ritual cleansing, in its sexual guise, is slowly becoming less common. Instead a new format has been devised, by which the widow is formally covered with mealie meal and then declared ‘cleansed’. But to the more tradition-minded woman, rolling around in some dusty maize flour is a pallid substitute for sleeping with her dead husband’s uncle. As for the dry-sex habit, health workers hand out plenty of advice to the prostitutes and their truck-driving clients. But prostitutes will, of course, do whatever their clients are willing to pay for, and truck-drivers, kings of the road in southern Africa, are not the types to have their sexual mores easily reversed. And the secret societies? What secret societies?

The fact is, those working to reduce the incidence of Aids in southern African countries are hoeing a hard row. In Zambia occasional posters and wall paintings shout the message. Schoolchildren are talked at interminably. Contraceptives are widely available to purchase, although even the cheapest is often beyond the means of a man who can afford to eat only perhaps once every two days.

In his State of the Union message President Bush promised trillions of dollars to fight HIV/Aids in Africa. Those of us with satellite television saw him do it. But his words were virtually ignored by our local newspapers, perhaps because our editors suspect that the White House has other things on its mind at present.

More American cash will, of course, buy more anti-retroviral drugs, which could save many lives and extend others. What’s more, many firms now supply their products to the region at cost. But even at cost they are still out of reach of people who have nothing. And, as the Weekly Telegraph reported recently, racketeers are now snapping up the drugs at their low African price and smuggling them back to Europe to sell at a vast profit.

Africa Wins Again, as the cynics here, and possibly those in Washington, will say. And another thing: here, even if the anti-retroviral drugs became available to the general populace, it is difficult to imagine how the necessary strict medical supervision of the patient could be carried out in the framework of our ramshackle social system.

There’s some hope for a few of us — a very few. If you’ve got a slow puncture and you’re rich enough, you can fly down to South Africa for expert treatment. Several prominent Zambians are said to do just that. The rest — almost everyone, in fact — sit and wait for the inevitable. Meanwhile, the funeral processions continue to trundle past my gates with ever-increasing frequency, and one is haunted by the feeling that the worst is yet to come.

Is there anything you can do to help? You can, of course, donate to the various charities that work in the field, and watch your cash go sluicing down the sink that we call ‘donor aid’. But there’s something else you can do, which costs nothing and which, cynics would say, is liable to be just as effective. It’s something that Zambians, citizens of a self-proclaimed Christian country, do all the time. You can pray for us.
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The Star

      Zim has plan to combat economic collapse
      March 6, 2003

      By Brian Latham

      Harare - The Zimbabwean government is introducing a 10-point National
Economic Recovery Programme devised by President Robert Mugabe to "revive an
economy distorted by political pressure".

      The programme will see import duty lifted on basic foods like maize,
wheat flour and cooking oil, while it will also remove duty on private
imports of up to 200 litres of petrol and diesel, the state-controlled
Herald reported yesterday.

      State radio said the new economic recovery plan "seeks to redress an
economy distorted by political pressure".

      The Herald said the programme was essential to combat Zimbabwe's
severe economic challenges.

      "These have been compounded by a hostile external and internal
domestic environment arising from our detractors opposed to the land and
agrarian reform programme.

      "Sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe have seen important sources of foreign
exchange, donor funding for development projects and bank lines of credit
dry up.

      "If not urgently addressed, foreign currency unavailability will lead
to national instability and pose a threat to national security," according
to a statement from the programme.

      Aside from removing import duty on basic foods and fuel, the newspaper
said a ban would be imposed on the export of scrap copper and aluminium.

      It went on to say interest rates would rise, but didn't say by how

      Import duty on music, film and video equipment would be scrapped, the
paper said.

      Rural buses would travel only on weekdays.

      Economist John Robertson said: "All of this will only work while the
central bank has reserves, because the Reserve Bank is going to make a
thumping loss.

      "They say they'll pay 800 Zimbabwe dollars to the US dollar and sell
it to the government for Z$55. Everyone in the government is going to ask
for money to buy a new Pajero and tickets for Disneyland. Unless they put
limits on how much the government can buy, they'll run out of money in

      Robertson said he believed the government would have to be limited in
its purchases of foreign currency so that the central bank could pay for
desperately needed fuel and power imports.

      "Even then, we'll have to have further price hikes in about six weeks'
time because fuel is still being sold at a massive loss. None of it makes
much sense," he said.

      Zimbabwe's fuel doubled in cost last week, but remains the cheapest in
the region.

      Robertson said even if Zimbabwe's interest rates were raised to 80% on
borrowings, it would still be "cheap money".

      "With inflation at 208%, that's wiping out savings, pensions and
pension funds. It's doing incredible damage to everybody," he said.

      Robertson warned that with winter approaching, Zimbabwe could expect
power cuts as the Electricity Supply Authority had failed to pay foreign
debt to South Africa and Mozambique.

      "All this is tweaking - it addresses the symptoms but not the
problems," he added. - Independent Foreign Service
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        Zimbabwe: Menashe makes new claims
      Staff Reporter
      HARARE, 6 March 2003
      Star witness in Zimbabwe treason trial implicates defendant in coup

      HARARE: The Zimbabwe government's star witness in the treason trial
against opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says the defendant tried to
enlist Congo-based soldiers to assist in a coup.

      Ari Ben Menashe says he travelled to the Democratic Republic of Congo
to get officials to help bring Zimbabwean soldiers into a plot to oust
President Robert Mugabe.

      At that time, those troops with fighting alongside the Congolese
government in its civil war. Ben Menashe said he was acting on behalf of the
opposition leader. The witness says he was once an Israeli intelligence
agent. He has also consulted for the Zimbabwe government and runs business
interests in Canada.

      On cross-examination, Ben Menashe said he could not remember many
details of the trip. He could not say when he went to the country, which
airline he used, or which hotel he stayed in. Tsvangirai and two other other
opposition colleagues face the death penaly if convicted of treason. All
three have pleaded innocent. They say Ari Ben Menashe framed the opposition
leader on behalf of the Zimbabwean government.

      Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.

Daily News

      Menashe blew MDC funds: defence

      3/5/2003 7:44:12 AM (GMT +2)

      By Lloyd Mudiwa

      ARI Ben-Menashe, the key State witness in the MDC treason trial,
allegedly blew the US$97 600 (Z$5 368 000) paid by the MDC to his company to
hold in trust.

      Defence lawyer Advocate George Bizos said Ben-Menashe was, therefore,
not a credible witness. He said Ben-Menashe and Kevin Legault, his partner
at Dickens and Madson, had spent the money, and were not keeping it in

      Bizos said: "We have an affidavit by a witness stating that you
(Ben-Menashe) and Legault made a habit of drawing the money held in trust
and sharing it."

      Earlier, Ben-Menashe said the US$97 600, treated as proceeds of a
crime, was held in their trust account. The money would be surrendered to
the government after the trial, he said.

      Bizos yesterday asked Justice Paddington Garwe to censure Ben-Menashe
for not disclosing the money's whereabouts.

      But, Bharat Patel, the Deputy Attorney-General, said Ben-Menashe had
complied with the order as best as he could.

      Garwe said he would make a ruling "in due course".
      The MDC paid the money before the government hired Ben-Menashe in
January 2002 for US$615 000 ostensibly to spruce up its battered image.

      Ben-Menashe later tricked Morgan Tsvangirai, Welshman Ncube and Renson
Gasela by filming them as they allegedly plotted President Mugabe's

      Ben-Menashe said only Francis Legault, the company's finance director,
knew where the MDC funds were. She is Legault's ex-wife.

      Yesterday, Ben-Menashe denied ever saying the money was in a lawyer's
trust account.
      He said he failed to give his firm's balance sheet and profit and loss
accounts for 2001 and 2002 to the defence because they did not yet exist.

      The financial documents were only required under Canadian law by
October 2003, he said.

      But Ben-Menashe supplied the names of his company's employees,
consultants and agents during 2001 and 2002 as ordered by the court.

      They included former Russian intelligence and military officers who
were in Zimbabwe in the last two months working on behalf of the government,
he said.


      Ben-Menashe loses temper

      Staff Reporter
      3/6/03 9:07:45 AM (GMT +2)

      THE treason trial of three Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
leaders was yesterday abruptly adjourned when tempers flared after the state
's key witness, Ari Ben-Menashe, launched a verbal attack on MDC president
Morgan Tsvangirai, whom he described as the future president of Zimbabwe.

      "The future president of Zimbabwe is nuts," shouted Ben-Menashe during
cross examination and to the surprise of the courtroom.

      Ben-Menashe, the head of Canadian political consultancy firm Dickens
and Madson, refused to apologise to Tsvangirai despite defense lawyer George
Bizos' insistence that the trial could not proceed when the witness was
insulting his client.

      After Ben-Menashe refused to apologise to Tsvangirai for the
unprovoked personal attacks, Justice Paddington Garwe said he was adjourning
the trial to today so that he could hold discussions with the lawyers from
both sides.

      Throughout the day, Justice Garwe pleaded with Ben-Menashe to avoid
improper and insulting language when answering questions under
cross-examination from the defense team.

      The proceedings had earlier been stopped twice to force Ben-Menashe to
apologise after insulting the defense team.

      Meanwhile, the defense team yesterday continued to cross-examine
Ben-Menashe on the video tape that constitutes the state's evidence-in-chief
in the case in which Tsvangirai, MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube and
shadow agriculture minister Renson Gasela are accused of plotting to
assassinate President Robert Mugabe before last year's presidential

      The defense team pointed out inconsistencies, some of which
Ben-Menashe could not explain.

      For instance, the tape shows Tsvangirai storming out of the secretly
video-taped meeting. Ben-Menashe initially said the MDC leader walked out
because of frustration when he thought Dickens and Madson did not have the
capacity to carry out the assassination.

      He later changed the explanation to say Tsvangirai walked out because
he felt insulted by statements that he was not clear on what he wanted
Dickens and Madson to do for him.

      However, defense lawyers said according to an affidavit filed by Tara
Thomas, Ben-Menashe's business partner, Tsvangirai walked out of the meeting
in protest of suggestions that Mugabe should be assassinated.

      Justice Garwe refused to hear additional evidence that Ben-Menashe
wanted to produce, which he said linked the MDC to the plot to kill Mugabe.
The judge said the evidence was not being brought before the court properly.

      However, Ben-Menashe rushed to the Press gallery to present his story
to the media during a brief mid-morning adjournment. He was however stopped
by Bizos and Deputy Attorney General Bharat Patel.
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Drama in Court As Witness Calls Tsvangirai 'Madman'

The Herald (Harare)

March 6, 2003
Posted to the web March 6, 2003


THERE was drama in court yesterday after Mr Ari Ben-Menashe, key State
witness in the treason trial of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and two other
party officials, called the opposition leader a "madman".

The emotionally charged Mr Ben-Menashe drew the attention of the gallery
when he described Tsvangirai as "nuts" during cross-examination by defence
counsel Advocate George Bizos.

"The future president of Zimbabwe is nuts," said Mr Ben-Menashe,
gesticulating with his eyes fixed on Tsvangirai seated in the dock.

Adv Bizos objected to the witness insulting his client in court and demanded
an apology. The remark by Mr Ben-Menashe caused a few MDC supporters, who
have been following the proceedings, to retaliate by making catcalls in
sympathy with their leader.

Although Mr Ben-Menashe apologised after Judge President Paddington Garwe,
sitting with assessors Major Misheck Nyandoro and Mr Joseph Dangarembizi,
admonished him to dignify the court, Adv Bizos asked him if he was doing so
to his client.

"Is your apology directed to Morgan?" asked Adv Bizos.

In his response, Mr Ben-Menashe said: " No. I am apologising to the court."

"May the apology be extended to my client because he has been insulted in an
open court," said the lawyer, after the judge invited both counsels to his

As the judge was about to adjourn court, Mr Ben-Menashe said for the purpose
of progress he would apologise to everybody in court.

"If it helps to move the process I will apologise to everybody in this
court," he said, throwing his hands in the air, this time leaving spectators
in stitches.

The heated exchange started when Adv Bizos had asked if it was not the job
of Mr Ben-Menashe to know what was happening in Zimbabwe.

"No, I was not employed by the Government of Zimbabwe," replied Mr

The proceedings, which are characterised by disputes between Adv Bizos and
Mr Ben-Menashe, almost came to a halt in the morning when they clashed

Adv Bizos, enraged by the witness, told Justice Garwe that he would not
proceed with the defence if Mr Ben-Menashe did not apologise for accusing
him of misleading the court.

The matter, however, proceeded after Mr Ben-Menashe apologised.

In yesterday's proceedings, the defence again cross-examined Mr Ben-Menashe
on the videotape and transcript on the meeting in Canada to plot the alleged
assassination of President Mugabe. The defence wanted to prove that the tape
and the transcript were a negation of what Mr Ben-Menashe said in his
evidence in chief and his version during cross-examination.

Mr Ben-Menashe told the court that Tsvangirai agreed to the assassination of
President Mugabe at the first and second meetings held in London, but later
backtracked when they met again in Montreal, Canada.

Asked why Tsvangirai backtracked if the evidence given by Mr Ben-Menashe in
court was that the accused wanted the murder of President Mugabe, Mr
Ben-Menashe said Tsvangirai had realised the seriousness of the matter.

"In London he was exaggerating things, trying to urge us into this plot. But
here he is trying to be realistic," he said.

Mr Menashe told the court that although the transcript was riddled with
inaccuracies, in its full context the transcript and the videotape showed
evidence of Tsvangirai's intentions to murder President Mugabe.

MDC leader, the party secretary general Welshman Ncube and Gweru Rural MP
Renson Gasela have pleaded not guilty to the charges, claiming the
Government set them up.

The three face a possible death penalty if convicted. The trial continues

Treason Trial Turns Into Slanging Match Between Bizos, Ben-Menashe

The Herald (Harare)

March 5, 2003
Posted to the web March 5, 2003


LAWYERS representing MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and two other party
officials on treason trial yesterday told the High Court that key State
witness, Mr Ari Ben-Menashe did not comply with a court order issued last

Advocate George Bizos said Mr Ben-Menashe had not supplied them with
information he said might help prove their client was framed.

Last week, the court ordered Mr Ben-Menashe to furnish the defence with a
deposition made by his attorney for the US$97 600 paid to his company by
MDC, indicating when the money was received and where it was banked.

He was also ordered to supply the defence with the names of his company
employees, agents and consultants in and outside the United States.

Further, the witness was ordered to furnish the defence with a certificate
of incorporation of Dickens and Madison as well as a brief indication of
work done under the Government of Zimbabwe.

But in a document made available by Ms Frances Legault, an associate in
Dickens and Madison, she said the money paid to them was being held on

"Dickens and Madison has an understanding with the Government of Zimbabwe
that this amount will be forwarded to the Government of Zimbabwe upon the
conclusion of all legal proceedings on this matter," stated Ms Frances.

As regard to the company's financial statements, Ms Legault stated that the
company's total gross income for 2001 and 2002 was US$4 876 282,18 for
operating expenses while fees accepted stood at US$4 500 000.

But the defence argued that the statement only stated the money was held on
deposit and did not give further details as per the court's order.

Adv Bizos said the statement was generalised and was hardly in accordance
with the order.

He said Mr Ben-Menashe was deliberately trying to prevent the defence to
show whether his company was genuine.

Adv Bizos also accused Mr Ben-Menashe's co-shareholder of attempting to
frustrate their search in ascertaining the truth.

Deputy Attorney-General Mr Bharat Patel opposed the application saying Mr
Ben-Menashe had complied with the order.

Justice Garwe, however, dismissed the application, after considering
submissions by both counsels.

In his ruling, he said both counsels had made premature submissions, as they
should have been done after the witness had given evidence on the issues
pertaining to the documents tendered.

In yesterday's cross-examination Mr Ben-Menashe told the court that he did
not see the court order.

He said when the order was received at Dickens and Madison he was not in
Canada as he had been attending to other matters elsewhere.

"But the court order was taken very seriously," said Mr Ben-Menashe.

Adv Bizos asked Mr Ben-Menashe if he read and understood what the order was
directing him to do.

He said he only saw it when he arrived back here and stuck to his assertion
that it was taken care of.

The proceedings were again thrown into a slanging match when Advocate Bizos
accused Mr Ben-Menashe's colleague Mr Alexander Legault of being cagey.

"He is not being cagey. The only person who is cagey is you," said Mr
Ben-Menashe shouting that he would not assist the defence.

"These are criminals. The money was forfeited. It was held on behalf of the
Government of Zimbabwe."

Justice Garwe intervened and warned both parties to uphold the dignity of
the court.

"There is no room for emotions in this court, or for name calling and using
improper language," said Justice Garwe.

Advocate Bizos asked the court to make findings on Mr Ben-Menashe's refusal
to explain his failure to comply with the court order, after being given the
opportunity to do so during cross-examination.

The court is expected to make a ruling on the application opposed by the
prosecution, as the trial progresses.

Tsvangirai, MDC party secretary-general Welshman Ncube and Gweru Rural MP
Renson Gasela have denied plotting to assassinate President Mugabe before
last year's presidential election.

They claimed that the Government set them up. The three face a death penalty
if convicted.
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Press Statement on Matters of Concern
From the Commercial Farmers’ Union of Zimbabwe
The current wet weather has created ideal conditions for farmers to make preparations for both winter and summer crops. Land preparation for the planting of wheat and barley should be well advanced by now and the rain will have created good conditions for planting in a few weeks time.
In the case of maize and tobacco, land preparation should be taking place, and seed beds should be selected and prepared for the next crop. The curing and grading of the present tobacco crop is now in progress.  Meticulous harvesting of horticultural produce for the export market should be taking place.
The state of the economy requires that these activities should be undertaken over the largest possible area in an attempt to break the famine which now grips the Country and to earn foreign currency in the coming year.
Sadly however, this is in fact not happening on all the productive land because none of the important conditions that  are necessary for commercial producers to operate under are in place:
*  Very few large scale farmers have any security of  tenure on the land they own or occupy;
*  There is no assurance that the law enforcement agencies will protect the rights of owners and workers who will be 
involved in the production of the crops – cases of unlawful activity still go unattended in the farming areas;
*  Financial institutions will not lend money to those in such a precarious position; 
*  The supply of essentials such as seeds, fertilizers and chemicals is not assured in the required quantities and at constant prices;
*  There is no assurance that any crops can be grown profitably (in cases where finance is available) because controlled commodity prices and unpredictable inflation of production costs make estimates impossible;
*  There is no assurance that sources of energy (fuel, coal, electricity) will be available at affordable prices for the entire production period;
*  The supply of spare parts for machines and equipment is sporadic and uncertain;
If the Government wants the Country’s huge potential to produce food and export produce to be fully realized, it must urgently redress the fundamental problems as outlined in the interests of the Nation.
Douglas Taylor-Freeme
Acting President
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Daily News


      Relocating drought-hit cattle too little too late

      3/6/2003 12:26:37 AM (GMT +2)

      From Oscar Nkala in Bulawayo

      REELING from the loss of an estimated 35 000 cattle by mid-February,
communal farmers in Matabeleland South, the ostensible beneficiaries of the
government's livestock relocation exercise are struggling to make sense of
the scheme.

      You don't have to eat all of an egg to know it is rotten," said
Kennias Kulube as he lowered his copy of a State-controlled Sunday
newspaper. "What I am reading here is a lot of pronouncements spiced with a
few grains of intentions." Kulube said he had been reading about the
government's much publicised proposal to relocate livestock from the
drought-stricken province to areas where there is adequate pasture within
and beyond the borders of the province. As The Daily News found out in a
recent visit to the province, communal farmers are not only sceptical about
how the exercise is going to be conducted, but also feel the plan is so
belated there is absolutely nothing left to relocate.

      Said Kulube: "To us these reports are unworthy news. The programme is
clearly the work of strangers who know nothing about the conditions under
which we and our livestock are living. They will only know when they get
that rare chance to visit us. "The herds are finished and I wonder why the
government always waits until sunset to do things that should have been done
at dawn. We had a whole year of drought last year. If anyone was really
concerned about saving us and our livestock, they should have done something
early last year." Kulube is one of many communal farmers in Gwanda South who
lost cattle, goats, sheep and donkeys to the drought.

      An empty cattle pen represents the only evidence that he was once a
successful livestock farmer. Like many of his neighbours in rural
Garanyemba, Ntepe and Sengezane areas he does not understand what the
government means when it talks about the relocation of livestock. The
communities remember that there were relocations during the past drought,
like those in 1987 and 1991-1992 which are notorious for the impoverishment
they wreaked on most of the province's inhabitants. Although the villagers
have many questions about the relocation plan, the most common one is where
the livestock would be taken to since all the commercial farms that used to
provide pasture during droughts are now overcrowded with newly-resettled
people. Kulube and his neighbours argue that there is no more space for that
sort of exercise as Doddieburn and surrounding ranches which used to
accommodate livestock have been demarcated and parcelled out to Zanu PF
supporters under the guise of the fast-track resettlement exercise.

      "While we are not against the fast-track programme, we will forever
blame it for worsening our plight in the face of perennial droughts. Before
the fast-track resettlement programme, every community had concrete
arrangements with the nearest commercial farmer under which livestock would
be allocated specific paddocks and watering points. It was our business to
look after the cattle and keep them confined to the specified grazing
 lands," he says. But that ended with the arrival of new farm owners. While
others hail the resettlement programme as a step towards Zimbabwe's economic
emancipation, Dingani Nare in Ntepe thinks Gwanda South was again forgotten
as it has always been in other programmes. As he puts it, the outcome of
resettlement is that it has created a landed gentry of hostile strangers who
now control the pasture and watering points in the largely cattle-producing
area. Nare said: "We feel forgotten because land use planning for Gwanda
South should have included plenty of pasture which should at all times be
reserved for such emergencies as drought.

      But the fast-track programme was a rush to make sure that every square
inch of land was occupied by outsiders who now tell us that previous
arrangements with commercial farmers are of no consequence after the Third
Chimurenga." It is not only the hostility of the new land owners that riles
Nare and his kin. They also believe that avaricious Zanu PF politicians from
their own areas have taken advantage of the land resettlement exercise to
own vast expanses of land from which "the people", as Zanu PF leaders like
to call the electorate, are expressly forbidden. Nare said: "I do not know
about the situation in other provinces, but on this side OEthe people' do
not come first as the Zanu PF motto claims. Politicians are clearly number
one and the people and their livestock come last. That is why the government
is planning this very belated move to save our livestock. But it will not
work because, as you can see, it's only the people and not livestock that
are in desperate need of food.

      "There is simply no livestock left to save. Do you think the
government would wait for one and a half years to react to an obvious
disaster like ours if OEthe people' really came first?" He cited several
Zanu PF officials who now own multiple farms in areas adjacent to the
communal lands. Orders Mlilo, the Gwanda rural district council chairman
features prominently, alongside deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, Abednico
Ncube and Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi. Several minor party
functionaries are also cited in cutting and parcelling out large chunks of
land from the prime commercial farming areas of West Nicholson and
Beitbridge West. Even Zanu PF councillors in the municipality of Gwanda are
named among beneficiaries of the exercise which, despite leaving out the
drought-stricken majority, took all the pasture they have traditionally
depended on to save their herds during droughts of whatever magnitude.

      With no grazing lands and no water sources, the communities agree that
the land reform exercise has further exposed them to the ravages of even
minor droughts.
      "What people in the rest of this country do know about us is that even
during what they call normal rainfall seasons, we will be in the grip of low
intensity droughts. The drought is therefore not a once-off occurrence. "We
are talking about a perennial condition. That is why successive government
declarations of a state of disaster have never improved the situation. What
they call a state of disaster is simply a worsening of our daily plight,
year in year out." Beitbridge Member of Parliament Kembo Mohadi said he was
aware that parts of his constituency had no grazing lands where cattle and
other livestock could be relocated for pasture.
      To him, only the creation of feedlots within the affected areas could
be a better option.

      "It is true that the relocation exercise will not work out as planned
because of an acute shortage of pasture. We are however working together
with the relevant department in the Agriculture Rural Extension Services to
identify points where feedlots can be created to save those herds that
cannot be relocated." Mohadi said the feedlots should be located in areas
with easy access to water to reduce the walking distance for the weak
livestock. Gwanda South MP Abednico Ncube could not be reached to shed light
on how his constituency, the worst affected in the country, would cope with
the shortage of farms for the possible relocation of the few surviving
beasts in the event of it becoming a reality. Recent media reports quoted
him as saying the government would relocate the livestock as a matter of
urgency although he never mentioned the farms involved in the exercise and
how soon.

      As the people in the affected areas of Gwanda South and Beitbridge
point out, the programme has failed even before it takes off. "I do not
think they will find any livestock when they come but there will be plenty
of bones to relocate if that is what this programme is all about," said
25-year-old Clara Ndlovu with an ironic chuckle to cap the serious statement
she had just made. "If they come really late, they will certainly have to
add human bones to the piles to be relocated," she said.
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Daily News

      Moyo lied says MDC

      3/6/2003 1:06:40 AM (GMT +2)

      Staff Reporter

      THE MDC on Tuesday dismissed as absolute lies claims made by the
Minister of Publicity and Information in the President's Office, Jonathan
Moyo that the political situation in Zimbabwe was now normal

      In The Herald on Tuesday, Moyo was quoted as refuting media reports in
Pretoria that the government will participate in a seminar organised by the
Institute for Democratic Alternative in South Africa, Idasa. In his denial
Moyo said: "Let's face it: normalcy has returned to Zimbabwe through efforts
of Zimbabweans who have stood resolutely in their national unity under their
democratically elected government in defence of their sovereignty and
hard-won gains of the Second and Third Chimurengas. No seminar can change
that." In a statement Paul Themba Nyathi, the MDC secretary for information
and publicity said while Moyo was issuing that statement, Kindness Moyo, 15,
who had gone to watch a cricket match at Queens Grounds in Bulawayo was
being taken to Mater Dei Hospital after being brutally tortured by the
police while in custody.

      Nyathi said the boy was in a comma after being bludgeoned by the
police. He was arrested together with 26 other people at the stadium. Nyathi
said: "On the same day at least 70 people were arrested in Mufakose after
attending an MDC rally. All those who were arrested were brutally assaulted
in police custody. As we speak they remain in police custody without
 charge." He said while Moyo was issuing his statement, on the same day 26
MDC supporters were dragged into Mugabe's residence, the State House and
savagely tortured by soldiers. He said they were detained for at least eight
hours. Nyathi also said the country could not be said to have returned to
normalcy when at least 7 million people faced death from starvation.
      He said the fuel shortage in the country was not a show of normalcy
either. Nyathi said: "Given these prevailing conditions it is only a man who
goes to shop for his own food in South Africa that can claim that the
situation is back to normal in Zimbabwe. It must also be remembered that
this man does not have a constituency in Zimbabwe, he only represents the
interests of the dictator who hand-picked him for Parliament." Moyo is a
non-constituency MP.

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Daily News

      Three protesters reported missing

      3/6/2003 1:01:37 AM (GMT +2)

      From Chris Gande and Florence Ndlovu in Bulawayo

      THREE people arrested for protesting against President Mugabe at a
Cricket World Cup match last week are missing, while several others were
brutally tortured, a Bulawayo court heard on Tuesday.

      They were arrested under the repressive Public Order and Security Act
after they held up banners and flashed red cards during the match between
Zimbabwe and Holland. Magistrate Fadzai Mthombeni remanded the 29 out of
custody to 21 March on $2 000 bail each. Advocate Tim Cherry, representing
the accused, told the court that the whereabouts of three protesters last
seen in the custody of the police, were unknown. They were named as
Thamsanqa Ncube, Similo Mpofu and one identified only as Mehluli.

      Cherry said the other accused told him they last saw Mpofu in
blood-stained clothing. One of the accused, Kindness Moyo, who was supposed
to appear in court failed to turn up as he was said to be detained at Mater
Dei Hospital where he is recovering from injuries. Two of the accused,
Edward Dietrechsen, 65, of Burnside, and George Robert Parking, 49, of
Esiphezini, told the court that they were assaulted by police with batons.
The police allegedly denied Alfonso Mathuthu, 29, of Magwegwe West,
permission to take his tuberculosis tablets. Blessing Ndlovu, 25, and
Blessing Moyo, 20, both from Lobengula West, told the court they were

      Cherry told the court that when he went to see his clients at Bulawayo
Central Police Station there was an empty cell while 23 of his clients were
packed in one cell.
      "When I asked the police why they were keeping the accused in one cell
when there was an empty one, they said they had lost the keys to the empty
cell. It is not human and reasonable to keep the unconvicted under such
conditions," he said. Cherry asked the magistrate to order the police to
investigate the whereabouts of the missing three and the allegations of
torture and human rights abuses against the accused.
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Daily News

      MDC legislators' trial postponed to May

      3/6/2003 12:51:14 AM (GMT +2)

      From Our Correspondent in Bulawayo

      THE trial of MDC Members of Parliament Moses Mzila Ndlovu and Edward
Mkhosi of Bulilimamangwe North and South constituencies, respectively, was
last week deferred to 16 May.

      The two are facing charges of assaulting a war veteran. They are
charged under the draconian Public Order and Security Act. Mkhosi said the
trial, set for 28 February, was postponed at the request of the defence
counsel. The State alleges the two assaulted a war veteran with logs when
they went to investigate the closure of the then Bulilimamangwe Rural
District Council offices by war veterans and Zanu PF supporters, sometime in
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      Prosecutors face corruption charges

      3/6/2003 12:52:14 AM (GMT +2)

      Court Reporter

      TWO prosecutors from the Harare Magistrates' Court appeared before
Judith Tsamba, a Harare magistrate, last Friday for allegedly breaching the
Prevention of Corruption Act.

      The two allegedly connived to take a bribe from a person who was about
to be sentenced. Zephania Lifa, 26, and Duvai Clemance Sixpence, 44, who
were represented by Ralph Maganga, were not asked to plead and Tsamba
remanded them out of custody on $10 000 bail each to 12 March. Virginia
Mabiza, from the Attorney-General's Office, prosecuted. The State alleged
that on 30 January, Elvis Mupandasekwa, a driver at Opticare Opticians,
appeared before Harare magistrate Sukai Tongogara facing bigamy charges and
was supposed to be sentenced on the next day. Mupandasekwa asked Lifa, the
prosecutor, if he knew the sentence he was likely to get and Lifa said he
would be given a jail term because the magistrate, presiding over the case,
was unpredictable, the State alleged.
      Lifa allegedly said something could be done for him to be fined and
escape a jail term and Mupandasekwa fell for the arrangement. Mupandasekwa
was then given a note by Lifa to pass onto Sixpence, who Lifa said was a
friend of Tongogara and would talk to her during tea break, so that she
would order Mupandasekwa to pay a fine instead of a jail term, the State
said. Sixpence purportedly telephoned the magistrate in the presence of
Mupandasekwa, who did not hear the conversation. The State alleged that
Sixpence demanded $15 000 from Mupandasekwa for him to talk to Tongogara.
Sixpence refused to accept the money in his office and referred Mupandasekwa
to Lifa, who received the payment in his office, the State alleged.
      Tongogara ordered Mupandasekwa to pay a fine of $10 000 to be cleared
of the bigamy charges and he was freed. The matter surfaced when
Mupandasekwa's wife Muchaneta reported to the police that her husband had
paid two prosecutors to be freed, leading to their arrest.
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      Yearning to return to the motherland

      3/6/2003 12:32:45 AM (GMT +2)

      Christmas is a time of goodwill and well-being. Unfortunately for
some, this is not the case. My wife and I had to leave our country of birth
to find solitude in the United Kingdom.

      This was the first Christmas away from family and friends, and for me,
the worst part is being away from my five-year-old son. He is with my
ex-wife and I have not seen him in nine months. While everyone here in the
UK joined family and friends to celebrate, my wife and I were thinking about
loved ones that we left behind, not by choice, but by powers beyond our
control. I was often told to go back to "your" country when I lived in
Zimbabwe. I was in my country, and now I am a foreigner in a strange land. I
wish all could change to the way it was, when all races in Zimbabwe got
along and we were all friends. To all my fellow comrades, family and friends
left in Zimbabwe, I say, please continue with the struggle and I hope that
when we meet again, we will celebrate in the true Zimbabwean style, with
music and dance and lots of familiar, smiling faces.

      Nzou Samanyanga

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      Zanu PF official slams food task force

      3/6/2003 3:24:37 AM (GMT +2)

      From Chris Gande in Bulawayo

      JAMES Mademutsa, a Zanu PF official, has slammed the Matabeleland food
task force for the chaotic distribution of maize-meal in Bulawayo. The task
force consists mainly of police officers and Zanu PF activists.

      Mademutsa, the secretary for legal affairs for the Insika branch, said
the new mechanism introduced by the task force was not working. The Bulawayo
City Council ward task forces, which tried to introduce methods to curb the
hoarding of the scarce commodity have been largely ignored by the new task
force members. Some so-called war veterans, who had been part of the task
force, were dropped from the new group after their leader, Jabulani Sibanda,
accused senior party officials of hoarding maize grain. Senior Zanu PF
officials last month passed a vote of no confidence in Sibanda, who is also
the Zanu PF Bulawayo provincial chairman, after he accused them of hoarding
maize and selling it at exorbitant prices on the black market.

      Said Mademutsa: "When war veterans were part of the maize grain
distribution mechanism, there was some maize-meal reaching the people but
now there is nothing because of the current task force." He said war
veterans should be incorporated into task forces together with residents'
associations. He queried the inclusion of the police in task forces because
they did not have an idea of the people's needs. Mademutsa said all
residents of Bulawayo, regardless of their political affiliation, were not
happy with the way maize was being distributed. He claimed that millers were
also not happy with the task force.
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South Africa's 'silent' diplomacy
By Carolyn Dempster
BBC, Harare

In the last of a series of articles on Zimbabwe, BBC News Online reports on the Zimbabwean view of relations with South Africa.

Robert Mugabe and Thabo Mbeki
South Africa will "never" condemn Zimbabwe
South Africa's attempts to find a solution to the political and economic crisis in neighbouring Zimbabwe with "quiet diplomacy" is stoking the fury of ordinary Zimbabweans who cannot see any benefits of the intervention, and believe that President Thabo Mbeki has sold them out.

"President Mbeki is a collaborator with Robert Mugabe in the crimes perpetrated against the people of this country," explodes Job Sikhala, member of parliament for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change MDC, and a recent victim of torture by state police.

"What 'quietness' are they talking about? When we supported the African National Congress in their fight against apartheid, it wasn't 'quiet diplomacy'. And we are fighting a worse system than the apartheid regime," he says.

'Build bridges'

As the food shortages mount, and the queues grow longer, with the spectre of famine stalking the rural areas, Zimbabweans are getting angrier over what they perceive as South Africa's complicity with the ruling Zanu-PF government.

The South African Government has taken the lead role in trying to legitimise the Mugabe regime
Brian Raftopolous, political analyst

Earlier this week South Africa's Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlaminini Zuma said South Africa would "never" condemn its Zimbabwean counterpart.

"It is not going to happen as long as this government is in power," she told journalists.

Ms Dlamini Zuma said the South African Government's objective with its policy of quiet diplomacy was to create peace and to build bridges.

"We are not there to throw people over the precipice."

'Not black and white'

The visit to Zimbabwe of several high profile South African cabinet ministers, who have endorsed the Zimbabwe Government's chaotic land reform programme, has infuriated Zimbabweans.

Fuel queue in Bulawayo
Some want South Africa to stop fuel supplies to Zimbabwe

They suffer the daily exigencies of food and fuel shortages and a collapsing economy, and see no benefit from the quiet - some say "silent" - diplomacy the South Africans claim to be pursuing.

"The world must know this is not a black and white issue. It is an issue of the blacks in Zimbabwe suffering," says Harare mayor Elias Mudzuri.

"Mbeki is not addressing the Zimbabwean scenario correctly. His people are coming and ignoring us in the opposition, but we constitute almost 45% of parliament. They cannot sustain their colleagues (Zanu-PF) when the government is failing the people at the grassroots."

Western diplomats based in Harare reaffirm that South Africa's President Mbeki is the preferred conduit for any breakthrough in the political impasse, and that South Africa is now the interface between Zimbabwe and the international community.

'Not viable'

But political analyst Brian Raftopolous says a breakthrough could be a long time coming:

"I think the South African Government has taken the lead role in trying to legitimise the Mugabe regime.

"One thing is clear - they don't consider the opposition MDC a viable alternative. And the other is that they believe, for stability, the best thing they could have is a reformed Zanu-PF, especially a new leader who could control the army and therefore provide a way forward."

If he [Mbeki] wants to, he can force Zanu-PF to the negotiating table, the exit package, free and fair elections
Tony Hawkins, economist

Mr Mbeki has always favoured a path of quiet diplomacy for fear of alienating the Zanu-PF government and catapulting Zimbabwe into the kind of accelerated collapse which could have disastrous consequences for South Africa and the entire region.

Mr Raftopolous also believes that the South African Government has a domestic political constituency to appease.

South Africa faces many of the same features as Zimbabwe: rising land hunger, widespread poverty and a ruling party which until relatively recently was a liberation movement.

The process of legitimising Mr Mugabe on the international stage has already begun.

His presence at the Franco-African summit is a significant step towards this, says Mr Raftopolous, and the divisions within the Commonwealth over whether or not to extend Zimbabwe's suspension from the body is another.

Mr Raftopolous believes that relieving the international pressure on Mr Mugabe, coupled with the domestic pressures of imminent economic collapse could create the political space for some meaningful dialogue.

Secret talks

Even though the ruling Zanu-PF party has strengthened its hold through repressive legislation, there are some signs of internal dissent.

The head of the security forces, General Vitalis Zvinavashe, has publicly admitted that Zimbabwe is in crisis.

Children eating
Many Zimbabweans do not know where their next meal will come from

And in spite of his denials to the party, General Zvinavashe was involved, together with the speaker of parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa, in overtures to the MDC to negotiate a political compact providing for an exit package for President Mugabe.

A reliable source close to those involved in the talks says senior Zanu-PF politicians are increasingly aware that there is a need to start planning for a political future after Mr Mugabe, but do not quite know how to achieve that end.

Recent unconfirmed reports in the South African media also claim that President Mbeki has held secret meetings with Zanu-PF moderates, among them the former Finance Minister Simba Makoni, who was ejected from his cabinet post for recommending a devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar last year.

But the bitter view from Harare is that diplomacy is not producing the kind of results to halt the country's slide into ruin and despair.

"I think there's only really one player in all of this, and that's President Mbeki," says economist Tony Hawkins.

"If he wants to, he can force Zanu-PF to the negotiating table, the exit package, free and fair elections. It's just that he appears not to want to, or lacks the conviction that this is what he should do."

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Daily News


      Leaving Grace alone would be unpatriotic

      3/5/2003 7:06:50 AM (GMT +2)

      BACK in the days when President Mugabe was not so frightened of the
local independent Press, he held the occasional news conference, either at
State House or Munhumutapa Building.

      At one such conference, he railed against journalists probing his
extra-marital affair with Grace Marufu which, as we now know, culminated in
their marriage.

      "Have I ever asked you about your girlfriends?" he asked, with a
withering look at the journalists who thought they were on to a Big Story.

      I remember the journalists looking at each other, in some wonderment:
why would the President, with his busy schedule, be interested in their
little love affairs, assuming any of them had the time to engage in such

      These days, Mugabe rarely holds news conferences for the local media,
except for
      the government mouthpieces, whose boot-licking has scaled nauseating
levels lately.
      Once in a while, when there is a visiting dignitary, he may talk to
the local Press in solidarity with the VIP. But even then the independent
Press may not be around as they are rarely invited to such conferences,
except when the government wants to announce some boring, mundane happening.

      Today, if Mugabe was asked about what some critics have called Grace's
      behaviour as the First Lady, it is a matter of speculation how he
would react.
      Would he retort with: "Have I ever asked you about your wife's
obsession with shopping?" Or: "If your wife can't go shopping in Paris, and
can only do it in Gaborone and Louis Trichardt or even Dubai, don't blame

      Grace Mugabe's shopping sprees have become world news. If Mugabe is
not concerned about the effect of this scandalous public display of
profligacy by his wife, then he should not expect all of us to feel the same

      As many people face starvation in her own country, Grace is pictured
as she goes out
      shopping in Paris while her husband attends a pretty useless
conference in the French capital.

      The picture shows a bodyguard trying to shield her from the camera's
view in vain, it turns out; it shows her face looking defiant and

      The Daily Mail of London, in a centrespread article entitled Grasping
Grace, has a picture
      of her dressed in an expensive costume, handbag in hand, going out on
yet another expensive shopping spree.

      The newspaper calls her "The First Lady of Shopping". Predictably,
most of her supporters will say this hatchet job on her, coming from a
British newspaper, is not surprising. The British have had little that is
complimentary to say about her and her husband since 2000.

      But that is not true at all. There has been no survey yet, but a
majority of Zimbabweans are as outraged by Grace's antics as are the British
or any other nation which expects its First Lady to conduct herself with the
decorum befitting a respectable, public-spirited

      In some quarters, Grace Mugabe has been called the Imelda Marcos of
Africa. In others, the prediction has been made that her husband will end up
the way Ferdinand Marcos did in exile, a sick, old man who had looted the
national coffers of his poor country.

      Back in the days when their controversial marriage took place, Lupi
Mushayakara, then the editor of an acerbic women's magazine, conducted a
survey among Zimbabwean women on the subject.

      There was overwhelming disgust at the whole sordid business.
      As far as I know, Lupi is still studying in the United States.
      The Daily Mail story has this passage on Grace: "The Via Veneto in
Rome and the upmarket stores of Barcelona's Diagonal centre have missed
Grace and her credit cards, too.

      "In the past, she regularly turfed passengers off Air Zimbabwe Boeing
767s to accommodate herself and her parcels on her trips home, and she would
have the plane land at a military air base to avoid customs and duty.

      "The shopping malls of the Far East captivated her for a while she and
her entourage of 20 recently ensconced themselves in the first-class cabin
of a South African Airways flight to Singapore. They were later seen piling
15 packing cases full of luxury goods into the cabin."

      Even if the money squandered on such extravagant trinkets is not the
taxpayers' but Mugabe's own income it is still obscene that the wife of a
president from a poor country facing its worst economic crisis ever should
be publicly seen to be so unconcerned about its plight.

      Some have argued that Grace had a tough childhood. She is simply doing
it to compensate for that, with a royal lifestyle. Cinderella didn't do
that, did she?

      Others say she is taking after her husband, whose own list of
outrageous political antics would qualify for him to be boiled in oil in the
old days.

      Rumours of a rift between the two seem exaggerated: certainly, there
has been no indication whatsoever that Mugabe has rebuked Grace for her
public display of greed and

      Mugabe is so confident he has the people eating out of the palm of his
hand he doesn't
      believe there would ever be a public outcry against him as a result of
Grace's pathological shopmania.

      Like all dictators, including the aforementioned Ferdinand Marcos,
Mugabe must believe that their honeymoon will never end.

      But he ought to have consulted both Kenneth Kaunda and Frederick
Chiluba during his recent visit to Lusaka.

      Both men, but particularly the latter, ran their countries like their
own little personal sheikhdoms and when the fall came, they were totally
unprepared for it, going into a psychiatric spin of some sort as the truth
hit them in the solar plexus.

      The same fate seems to await Bakili Muluzi, whose obsession with a
third term of office
      has transformed him from that young swashbuckling if rotund hero, into
a clone of
      the Ngwazi.

      He seems headed for an explosive exit after which, like Chiluba, he is
likely to be arrested and hauled into court to explain the apparent
disappearance of millions of kwacha.

      I am still fascinated by a story carried by The Chronicle, an
independent Malawian newspaper, in which Muluzi's wife had to be flown to
South Africa for emergency medical treatment. The publisher, whom I met last
month in Colombo, Sri Lanka, provided more juicy details of this
Dynasty-proportion episode.

      Unfortunately, this is such heavy, heady stuff publishing it here
could land many people in a veritable legal stew we have quite enough of
that without taking on Muluzi.
      But I can just hear the Malawian president rebuking all journalists:
"Have I ever asked you about what goes on in your bedroom between you and
your wife?"

      As with Mugabe, the man would probably ignore the fact that as the
president of a country even one as poor as Malawi his private and public
lives are inexorably intertwined.

      For that reason, it would be a display of the most crass lack of
patriotism for us not to put the spotlight on Grace Mugabe's recent
inglorious behaviour. Imelda Marcos made world
      headlines with her shoes, but the people of the Philippines were
furious with her for giving their country the stigma of such extravagance
and ostentation.

      They, like some of us, believe that the country has to be bigger than
any two-bit First Lady of Shopping or any president who is the spouse of
such a lady. Both could always end up the way the Marcos dynasty did in
total ignominy.
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      Chamisa barred

      3/5/2003 7:44:36 AM (GMT +2)

      By Precious Shumba

      NELSON Chamisa, the MDC candidate for Kuwadzana, said yesterday the
police had barred him from campaigning ahead of the by-election on 29-30
March and threatened to kill him if he defied the ban.

      Chamisa said he and Charlton Hwende, his campaign manager, were
summoned to the Police General Head Quarters where they met Assistant
Commissioner Tagwira. He said they were told they would not be allowed to
hold any campaign rallies in Kuwadzana because the MDC was planning war
against the government.

      If they went ahead, Chamisa would be killed.
      Tagwira denied the allegations.
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Daily News

      Gasela takes government to task over armyworm

      3/5/2003 7:12:29 AM (GMT +2)

      From Ntungamili Nkomo in Bulawayo

      RENSON Gasela, the MDC shadow minister for agriculture, has challenged
the government to find a lasting solution to the armyworm which threatens to
destroy the country's crops in the midst of a ravaging hunger.

      He said it was imperative for the government to find viable and
convenient means to completely get rid off the worm, which he said could
cause "irreparable damage" to crops if no urgent control measures were

      In an interview yesterday, Gasela took a swipe at the government for
being "grossly negligent and ineffective" when dealing with crop diseases.

      He said the armyworm was a recurrent problem which could be controlled
once and for all without much expense.

      "It is embarrassing that our government can take so long to get rid of
the armyworm. It is such a simple outbreak that has been occurring in
succession over the past few years and can be easily suppressed by cabadral.
Once it has been controlled it's gone," said Gasela.
      He said since the armyworm was a persistent problem, he expected
government to have found a lasting solution by now. The country could not
afford to lose any yields as hunger and starvation took their toll.

      Gasela lamented the damage caused by the armyworm at a time when the
country was experiencing serious food shortages.

      The highly devastating armyworm had spread to nine of the country's
ten provinces by last weekend.

      Gasela challenged the Agricultural Research Extension (AREX) to keep a
close eye on the scourge and other crop diseases that threatened the few
crops which had survived the drought.

      "AREX should wake up and stay vigilant about such pests as the
armyworm. Its outbreak is an apparent symptom of a total collapse of the
Zanu PF government. Surely they should be serious if the country is to have
a harvest from what remains of its crop," he said.

      Most of the crops have wilted as a result of the below normal rainfall
since the onset of the rains.

      More than seven million people are in need of drought relief as the
country grapples with the worst food and fuel crises in memory.

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Business Day

      Mugabe's posturing provocative Howard


      Harare Correspondent

      AS ZIMBABWEAN President Robert Mugabe flew home on Monday hailing his
trips to France and Malaysia Paris and to the Franco-Africa and Nonaligned
Movement summits as "overwhelming successes", Australian Prime John Howard
said Mugabe's visits incensed many people around the world.

      In an interview with Australian Radio 2GB, Howard said Mugabe's
posturing at the Franco-Africa summit in Paris and the movement's Kuala
Lumpur summit last month was provocative.

      "I think it made most people angry," said Howard. "I mean Mugabe, he
is in a different league from (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein. He has no
biological and chemical weapons.

      "But his country is not a democracy. He stole the last election."

      Howard said Mugabe's populist grandstanding at the movement's summit,
where he attacked western countries for "oppressing" developing countries,
was hypocritical because he was actually "starving people who did not vote
for him, and expropriating people's farms without proper compensation".

      He said Mugabe had managed through misrule to turn Zimbabwe into a
bastion of oppression and economic wasteland. He said Zimbabwe was a
tragedy, and France's invitation to Mugabe had been "very foolish. I'm not
going to put it any more strongly than that."

      Inviting Mugabe to Paris, despite European Union (EU) travel
restrictions against him and his associates, discredited and portrayed Paris
as an ally of tyrants, said Howard. "When you are dealing with somebody like
Mugabe, the symbolism and face and status are so tremendously important."

      "They are far more important to dictators, who are by definition
incredibly vain people, than they are to democratically elected leaders.

      "I mean we are all regularly put in our place by the voters and
talkback callers. If you get too carried away with yourself in this country,
you are pretty smartly reminded where you are living. You cannot associate
with dictators."

      Mugabe claimed he did "a great job" during his two-week trip to France
and Asia, where he condemned British Prime Minister Tony Blair and US
President George Bush for opposing his policies.

      Mugabe said that it was important that the Nonaligned Movement
endorsed his wholesale land seizures and urged the EU and the US to lift
targeted sanctions against his government.
      Mar 05 2003 06:44:49:000AM Dumisani Muleya Business Day 1st Edition

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Daily News

      Cyclone cuts power supply

      3/5/2003 7:41:01 AM (GMT +2)

      From Our Correspondents in Mutare

      CYCLONE Japhet, which hit parts of Manicaland on Monday, has affected
Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) operations, reducing power
supply to at least 25 percent of its normal total coverage.

      Enoch Ncube, the Zesa manager for the Eastern Region, said yesterday:
"Trees are falling on our electricity lines, cutting off power."

      The most affected areas are Penhalonga, Vumba, Odzi, Chipinge and
      "We are still assessing the damage, but as of now, there are supplies
of between 10 and 25 percent of our normal coverage," Ncube said.

      He said maintenance work is being hampered by the fuel crisis and the
shortage of spare parts, which cannot be obtained because of the
unavailability of foreign currency.

      Meanwhile, people have been warned to be on the lookout for possible
second, probably more devastating, effects from tropical Cyclone Japhet.

      Killian Mupingo, the provincial administrator and chairman of the
Civil Protection Unit in the province, said there was a high possibility the
cyclone could hit again. On Monday, Cyclone Japhet moved in from the Indian
Ocean seaboard, reportedly damaging property and infrastructure and causing
floods in neighbouring Mozambique before hitting Zimbabwe.

      Mupingo said the cyclone damaged crops, uprooted trees and rocks in
Mutare, Vumba, Chimanimani and Chipinge. He said the uprooted trees and
rocks blocked several roads.

      There were no reports of people injured.
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Daily News

      CPU conference condemns AIPPA

      3/5/2003 7:43:26 AM (GMT +2)

      By Bill Saidi recently in Colombo, Sri Lanka

      THE Commonwealth Press Union (CPU), at its biennial conference in
Colombo, Sri Lanka last week, condemned Zimbabwe's Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) under which a number of journalists,
including editors, have been harassed, arrested and charged.

      The CPU, whose membership includes most newspapers in the 54-nation
English-speaking grouping, said AIPPA did not conform to a declaration made
at the Commonwealth Heads Government Meeting at Coolum in Australia last

      The declaration, which Zimbabwe signed, said:
      "At the outset of this new millennium we, the Heads of Government of
the Commonwealth of Nations, meeting at Coolum, Australia, renew our
enduring commitment to the values and principles which we share. We stand
united in our commitment to democracy, the rule of law, good governance,
freedom of expression and the protection of human rights."

      The CPU statement was an adoption of a declaration made by 34 editors
at the CPU editors' forum, held at Kandy, the cultural centre of Sri Lanka,
before the CPU conference in the capital of Colombo.

      Attending the editors' forum and the CPU conference were three editors
and a publisher from Zimbabwe's independent Press representing The Daily
News, The Independent and Parade magazine
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Daily News

Leader Page

      Church must offer an alternative vision

      3/5/2003 7:34:29 AM (GMT +2)

      By Fr Oskar Wermter SJ

      Why is the Church silent? Why aren't the bishops saying anything? What
are church leaders afraid of? Are they in cahoots with the government? For
once we need them, and they are letting us down!

      Such sentiments were expressed quite frequently in recent newspaper
columns. Friends phoned me and strangers stopped me on the street with
similar complaints.

      Politicians in power always insist that the world in its present state
is the best of all possible worlds. That without their untiring efforts the
world would be much worse off. That they are working flat out to turn the
world into an absolute paradise. That their achievements are unparalleled,
and so forth.

      The Church, by contrast, is obliged to challenge that self-complacency
and offer an alternative vision in contrast to our present misery. That
vision the New Testament calls it the Kingdom of God contradicts realpolitik
characterised by its readiness to forever make compromises, strike deals,
and sell out the interests of the weak so as to solicit the support of the

      The Church, at least if she still listens to the voice of her master,
can never be content with realpolitik or resign herself to accepting the
status quo so as not to endanger her own institutional well-being.

      She must be the thorn in the flesh of all power brokers, constantly
calling their deals and compromises into question in the name of the victims
of their smooth sales talk.

      The vision of the Kingdom opens our eyes for the vast difference
between what is and what ought to be; between a world driven by sheer
self-interest and a world of justice; between a world divided and a world

      If the spokesmen of the Church fail to speak thus in the name of the
Kingdom, like their spiritual predecessors, the prophets, they let the
nation down, not just the povho
      (the masses), but the leaders as well, who constantly need to have
their minds opened up to a greater vision, even if they resent Church

      Actually, if you studied all the public statements made by bishops and
church leaders in recent years, you would find that they have in fact warned
frequently against lawlessness, violence, human rights abuses, intolerance,
manipulation of the electoral process and the politicisation of food

      Unfortunately, they have rarely spoken with one voice, except in
Manicaland. By their nature such statements are too general, abstract and
doctrinal to appeal to the media, so they receive little coverage.

      If the full text is to be publicised the Church needs to buy
advertising space. But not all people have access to the independent papers
which do accept such texts for publication.
      The statements are shunned by the broadcasting media anyhow. Often
they do not reach
      the ordinary church member, let alone the general public.

      So the impression is created that the leaders of the Church do not
care about the suffering of the people. That viewpoint is not entirely fair.

      Some leaders use personal contacts to appeal to the consciences
political party members and the government. Such contacts are necessarily
private and occur behind closed doors without TV cameras. Others are chary
of such contacts, if indeed they take place, because they do not wish to be
taken advantage of politically. Too easily the readiness to engage in
dialogue is taken as a sign of approval of government policy. There is a
propaganda war going on in which exploiting the Church, since it still has
genuine grassroots support,
      is part of the game.

      It is not enough to say just once, "Thou shalt not kill." Who would
object? You have
      to say it every time someone is maimed, tortured or assassinated,
quoting accurate facts. As a result you may find yourself in an unpleasant
brawl. You may be maligned, but at least you cannot be ignored.

      Do not allow yourself to be intimidated when they call you partisan.
Party cards do not come into this. If you have a baptism certificate, that
should be motivation enough. In any case, follow your conscience and simply
act in the name of humanity.

      It is not just the government that likes to exploit the Church for its
purposes. The other side may also want to use the Church as a mouthpiece for
their message.

      The Church has a voice distinctly her own. She does not just repeat
slogans from elsewhere. Her role is unique. True, the Church must publicly
call for justice, and yet she cannot do so driven by mere self-interest,
ambition or resentment. Even her anger must be driven by truthfulness, love
and respect for every person. Creating mere political pressure, as other
civic groups may legitimately do, cannot be enough for the Church.

      The voice of Christ himself must be discernible in what the Church
says, and His spirit must speak to the hearts of people and form their
consciences. Not only the slave, but the slave master must be freed from his
chains, the chains of greed and lust for power.

      The Church speaks with many voices. Bishops are not the only ones to
speak in and for the Church. An unknown nursing sister in a rural hospital
or a widow offering a foster home to orphaned children make a strong
statement, not with words, but with action,
      for human life and against all death-mongers. Whenever children learn
that human life is
      infinitely precious in the eyes of the Creator and that all nations
are called on to sit round one table, spiritual and moral foundations are
laid on which to build a new Zimbabwe.

      If criticism of the Church is merely a fig leaf for one's own
inactivity, it is unconvincing.
      If bishops are to speak to the nation as a whole then ordinary
Christians should speak to
      policemen and government officials among their friends and appeal to
their consciences.

      It is naive to assume that a bit of thunder from the pulpit will shock
leaders into humbly submitting to the dictates of the Church. Most prophets
were failures. The people listened, and would not understand, they saw, and
would not perceive, for the heart of this nation has grown coarse (Isaiah 6:
9 10; Matthew 13: 14; Mark 4: 12). But that alone is no excuse for remaining

      That is why church leaders, and the rest of us, must listen to mothers
whose children are going hungry because they are not dancing to the right
party tune, and speak up for victims of torture and oppression.
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