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

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AI Index: AFR 46/014/2004 (Public)
News Service No: 124
14 May 2004

Zimbabwe: Food must not be used as a political tool
Amnesty International today expressed grave concern at the Zimbabwe
government's moves to end international food aid distribution, despite
independent assessments which predict that millions of Zimbabweans will need
food aid in the coming 12 months.

"If independent assessments are correct, the risk is that food will be used
for political ends and food supplies will go first and only to supporters of
the ruling party", the organization warned.The government has told
international donors that it will not need food aid this year. On 7 May the
government stopped a UN Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission from
evaluating the current harvest. This was followed by statements in the
state-controlled Herald newspaper, attributed to the Minister for
Agriculture, claiming that Zimbabwe has produced more grain than it needs
this year. However, earlier predictions by food security monitors and the
United Nations, and a crop survey carried out in March by independent
consultants for the German-based Friedrich Ebert Foundation, all suggest
that the 2004 harvest will fall far short of national requirements.

Amnesty International visited Zimbabwe in February 2004, at which time
numerous sources within the agricultural sector confirmed that food
production would fall far short of needs in 2004/5. Both rural and urban
populations will be affected. With unemployment currently at approximately
70% and inflation hovering around 600% it is increasingly difficult for many
Zimbabweans to access adequate food in the marketplace. Amnesty
International is gravely concerned that the present actions of the
government of Zimbabwe may be an attempt to control food supplies ahead of
parliamentary elections scheduled for March 2005. If the true crop
production figures for 2004 are as low as many reliable sources expect then,
in the absence of international food aid, a significant proportion of
Zimbabwe's population may, later in 2004 and into 2005, find itself reliant
on grain controlled by the state-controlled Grain Marketing Board (GMB).

"Political manipulation of food, particularly state-controlled GMB grain, by
officials and supporters of the ruling Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) has been widely reported over the past two
years. ZANU-PF has repeatedly used food as an electioneering tool. Viewed
against a history of political manipulation of food the government's current
actions are a cause for grave concern," Amnesty International said. It is
unclear how much grain the GMB has in reserve, as there is no independent
assessment of GMB stocks. However, it is unlikely to be sufficient to meet
the cereal gap of 500-800,000 metric tonnes which independent observers
predict for the coming year.Amnesty International reminds the Zimbabwe
government that, as a party to the International Covenant on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights (ICSECR), it has an obligation to uphold the
right of all Zimbabweans to food. The UN committee responsible for
monitoring the Convention has stated that governments must use all the
resources at their disposal, including those available through international
assistance. Discrimination in access to food on any grounds, including
political affiliation, is a violation of the ICSECR. The committee has also
stated that food should not be used as an instrument of political
pressure.Amnesty International further reminds the government of Zimbabwe
that all human rights are indivisible and interrelated. Violations of the
right to food may impinge on many other rights, including the right to life
itself.Amnesty is calling on the Zimbabwe authorities to respect the right
of all Zimbabweans to food and to immediately allow the UN to conduct a crop
assessment mission, with a view to ensuring that any possible food aid needs
are adequately addressed. Amnesty International further calls on the
government of Zimbabwe to take immediate steps to make the operations of the
GMB transparent, and open to independent monitoring.
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Rebels given 21 days to return

Sat May 15, 2004 1:40 AM HARARE (Reuters) - The Zimbabwe Cricket Union
(ZCU) has given the players it fired this week 21 days to return to work.
A ZCU media release on Friday gave the 15 rebels "a further 21-day
notice to rectify their breaches of their agreements by unconditionally
making themselves available at all times to practice and play representative
cricket for Zimbabwe in any match for which they are selected".

The release said the 21-day period was effective from Friday, and that
a letter to that effect had been delivered to the players' lawyer.

In a long-running saga, the ZCU terminated the players' contracts this

The impasse was sparked on April 2 when Heath Streak's tenure as
captain ended after he questioned the composition of the selection panel.

Fourteen other experienced players allied themselves with Streak, and
the group demanded binding arbitration on Streak's removal from the
captaincy, the composition of the selection panel and alleged poor conduct
of board officials.

The board offered the players mediation, which is not binding, to
resolve their grievances.

The players initially refused the offer, but had accepted it in
principle when they were fired.

The release said the ZCU "will not pursue the mediation issue any

Zimbabwe have been fielding sub-strength teams against visiting Sri
Lanka and face an even tougher challenge from Australia who arrived on
Thursday for two tests and three one-dayers.

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East African Standard

Mugabe launches offensive against Blair
Standard Reporter, in Harare, Zimbabwe

Kenyan journalists visiting Zimbabwe had a peek at President Mugabe's
strongman style, reminiscent of Kenya in the days of single party

Often used to the diplomatic poise of current President Mwai Kibaki
when dealing with foreigners, the journalists attending a Mugabe function
were taken aback when he launched a scathing diatribe against British Prime
Minister Tony Blair.

Mugabe, whose country has had a long standoff with Britain, tore
straight into Blair for imposing on Zimbabwe "unnecessary sanctions and
getting alliances to seek the subordination of black peoples".

The journalists from Kenya were drawn from the East African Standard
and KTN and were in Zimbabwe for a 12-day working trip.

The octogenarian President was furious at his British adversaries, and
expressed this in a tone that echoed former President Moi when speaking out
against donors shifting goalposts.

Said President Mugabe: "Those British lies and tricks have not made us
lose part of our sovereignty, and they should know they have failed in their
evil mission to betray the pride of our sovereignty".

Mugabe, a veteran of the Zimbabwe liberation war and fondly referred
to as Comrade Mugabe, was chief guest at the opening of the third Annual
National Assembly of Chiefs at the Great Zimbabwe monument in Masvingo.

The journalists had attended as special guests.

The event was graced by the return of the lower half of the Zimbabwe
bird - which is on the national emblem, which also appears in the national
flag - from the Germany.

The lower half was handed over to the German government last year.

"Our gathering here is a return to the source of our

civilisation, a return to the cradle of our birth and a return to the
sacred monument whose stone walls stand in defence of our dignity and
freedom," said Mugabe.

Mugabe hardly addressed the issue of the day as he kept returning to
his war with Blair. "Blair's plan to seek alliances with my detractors to
reverse the gains of our independence is wishful thinking, our sovereignty
is sacred and priceless, never to be traded for any piece of silver," he

The President said Zimbabwe's sovereignty had remained intact despite
sanctions by the British.

Mugabe told the British that the land "shall never again go into the
hands of the British".
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East African Standard

Chaos of the land seizures
By Caroline Mango
Most Zimbabweans, even white ones, agree that the land acquisition
programme that targeted vast white-owned land for redistribution to landless
blacks was vital and long overdue.

But the manner in which the government of President Robert Mugabe
supervised the haphazard take-over was what threw Zimbabwe into chaos.

All across the southern African country, the impression we got was
that it could have been done in a better way.

But Mugabe chose to turn a blind eye to the brewing crisis and, riding
high on the crest of populism, forcibly took back the vast swathes of land.

On a tour of Zimbabwe this week, journalists from both the East
African Standard and KTN came face to face with the victims and
beneficiaries of the land take-overs that put Harare at loggerheads with
London and the Commonwealth.

The country is currently undergoing a serious economic crisis as a
result of the land invasions that began in the year 2000 and are still going

The media crew saw during its 12-day tour some of the "grabbed" farms now
under black farmers in communal areas. In others, white farmers had agreed
to co-exist with the invaders.

The invasions were largely viewed, especially by the British, to have been a
political gimmick by Mugabe to win the 2002 General Election.

Ironically, while Mugabe had said the distribution of land freely to natives
would spur economic growth, the country seems to have sunk more into
economic difficulties.

There are now frequent shortages of basic commodities like bread, sugar,
salt and milk.

But the government has declared the shortages to be economic sabotage by
manufacturers and producers, majority of whom are white farmers.

The Zimbabwean dollar has continued to lose value and now stands at 5,333 to
the US dollar, leading to spiralling inflation.

Although there are no more long queues for food and petrol, not all is well
in Zimbabwe.

Several basic commodities, including fuel, bread and sugar, frequently
disappear from supermarkets and shops and when they reappear, the prices
shoot up.

A loaf of bread that used to cost 1,500 Zimbabwean dollars now costs 3,500.

The roads, however, are still good though most are said to have been
inherited from the British colonial masters during independence in 1980.

A 24-hour working street light system, state of the art buildings in the
centre of Harare city and its environs show a country which has come from
better times.

In the past 4 years, the Zimbabwean Government has supervised the
acquisition of 11 million hectares of white-owned land.

Government officials said the resettlement targets 500,000 families. So far,
some 300,000 families have been resettled.

Mugabe has remained firm on the land acquisition programme which he terms as
"a matter of life and death".

The question, however, is whether the new black owners will be able to
sustain the same level of productivity as before the invasions, as this has
a huge bearing on the economy.

In the last two years, persistent drought has struck a major blow to the
country's agrarian revolution.

White farmers argue that Mugabe's government has taken land through
unorthodox means and given it to politicians and the military, who have no
managerial skills and capacity to sustain productivity.

However, the Agriculture and Rural Development minister, Mr J M Made, is
optimistic that Zimbabweans have the capacity to produce.

He says the impact of the acquisition on food production has been tremendous
this year.

According to Made, food production went up from 2.8 million metric tonnes of
maize, up from 800,000 tonnes last year.

He says once land is acquired, it reverts to the state - which then
redistributes it to Zimbabweans.

"The procedure is that one acquires and states his ability and capacity to
produce before the government decides to allocate him an A1 farm (communal)
or an A2 farm (commercial farmer).

"The condition is that the farmer must properly utilise and develop his
farm, including putting up a house for himself and family".

Failure to meet these requirements, the minister says, will result in the
land being taken away without notice.

"So far, we are in possession of over 200,000 applications from
professionals and technicians who are capable of producing enough to cater
for (the food needs of) Zimbabweans and even for export," he says.

On claims that those who benefited were mainly politicians allied to Mugabe,
Made says.

"As I have said, we have over 200,000 applications so far, and if all those
are allies of Mugabe, then that is a major achievement. "However, majority
of those in rural areas fought in the struggle and are coincidentally
members of the Zanu PF," he says.

He says that any anomalies that occurred while giving out land will be

Made says communal farmers produce 80 per cent of the country's maize, 97
per cent of cotton and rear six million cows.

And he adds that about 70 per cent of the land acquired by the state used to
be idle.

He says the British Government is still trying to stop the acquisition
programme by using the Western media and the opposition, the Movement for
Democratic Change, to oppose the ongoing programme.

The minister says some British farmers had run away with title deeds, but
that legislation would be enacted to render such titles null and void.

"The land belongs to the state once acquired. In the UK, you cannot go there
and own land, why should we let them own land in our country?" he poses.

The first phase of the land seizures since 2000 predominantly targeted
individual white-owned farms, which have been sub-divided to Zimbaweans in
the A1 category.

The A2 category, he says, will now focus on the multi-nationals where the
government will ensure that indigenous people are either part of the
production or are in partnership with the white farmers.

At the end of the programme, says Made, Zimbabweans will be dominant on land
both formerly owned by individuals and the multi-nationals.

No title deeds are issued for the land, but the farmers are empowered
through provision skills, inputs and machinery.

The Ministry of Agriculture is introducing farmers training colleges and has
recruited about 5,000 extension officers to back-up the initial 2,000 in
empowering rural farmers.

All is not lost for the white farmers however, if what Made says is true.

White commercial farmers who wish to continue farming in the country can
re-apply, and will be considered like any local application.
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East African Standard

Mugabe to step down
By Caroline Mango

Zimbabwean strongman sensationally reveals to the East African Standard in
Harare that he will be standing down from his country's leadership - and
discloses that he is having difficulty identifying his successor

Zimbabwean strongman Robert Gabriel Mugabe is now ready to step down, he
sensationally revealed to the East African Standard in an exclusive
interview in Harare.

Against all expectations, Mugabe debunked the belief widely held by friend
and foe alike that he wants to serve for life.

And this week, the man who has become the Western world's figure of hate and
a Commonwealth pariah following his government's decision to evict white
farmers and distribute their land to poor Zimbabweans said that he won't
seek re-election in 2008. He wants to retire and write books.

Speaking exclusively to the East African Standard and KTN at his Zimbabwe
African National Union Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) office in Harare on
Wednesday, Mugabe said he was serving his last term and had no intention of
clinging on.

The octogenarian, viewed as one of the very last of traditional African
strongmen, said he had been in politics for long enough and wanted to rest
and do something different.

However, in the age-old style of African dictators, Mugabe lamented that he
is having trouble finding a successor.

He is now busy shopping for the right person to take over from him when he
retires, he said.

Mugabe has been in power since Zimbabwe's independence in 1980 and was
re-elected in 2002 in an election observers described as flawed and marred
by vote rigging.

The announcement will come as surprise to a sceptical international
community, which has learned to view the man as one of the worst types of
African Big Man.

Mugabe himself has done little to disabuse his foes of this view.

During the election, for example, he was widely reported as having used the
state machinery to stay in power and seemed to confirm that by barring the
foreign media from covering the election.

The controversial election victory was widely viewed as a desperate effort
to consolidate power around himself as forces loyal to him harassed the
opposition and suppressed dissent.

The opposition in Harare and the media have continued to suffer
state-sponsored harassment, including the complete banning of at least one
national newspaper.

The parliamentary elections, which come ahead of the presidential, will be
held in June next year and the presidential elections - for a seven-year
term - will follow in 2008.

Mugabe's search for a successor falls neatly into the pattern adopted by
some retiring African presidents who hand-pick politicians to succeed them.
They have not always been successful, though. In neighbouring Zambia,
Frederick Chiluba's successful efforts to have a favoured crony succeed him
backfired after Mr Levy Mwanawasa turned against the retired president and
had him charged with corruption.

Analysts in Zimbabwe view Tourism and Information minister Prof Jonathan
Moyo as the favourite to succeed Mugabe.

Of the Cabinet ministers, he is the closest to the President and the most

Moyo is a nominated MP and comes from the Ndebele community while Mugabe is
a Shona.

The Ndebele and the Shona have a history of political rivalry, which at one
time precipitated a civil war.

Mugabe, referred to locally as "Comrade" sounded confident as he said: "I
want to retire from politics. I have had enough. I am also a writer and
would like to concentrate in writing after this term in office is over."

Looking strong for his 80 years and eloquent with very good English, Mugabe
said the problems he is having finding a successor are causing power
struggles in the top leadership of his Zanu-PF party.

"They are fighting and some are even going to consult with witchdoctors. It
is very interesting to note that even educated people are seeking the
consultation of Ngangas (witchdoctors) expecting to be possible candidates,"
said Mugabe matter-of-factly.

The man who has ruled Zimbabwe for nearly 24 years spoke soon after a
sycophantic endorsement by 200 chiefs in the country for him to run for the
Presidency again in 2008.

They encouraged Mugabe to hang on to power and seek re-election.

"I know why the chiefs endorsed me. It is because they know the consequences
the country will face in terms of good and firm leadership should I retire."

He, however, was upbeat that he would find a successor.

"I don't think I will miss a successor. Out of 30 million people, there must
be a capable person to take over after me and he will be the chosen one".

Mugabe was cheerful and charming during the interview in which he was
accompanied by three bodyguards and his press team.

"I have not even completed this term, I have four more years and I am not so
young, you know. I need to rest from politics and do something else like
writing," he said.

He downplayed the misunderstandings and clashes in his party terming them as
normal succession politics, which might eventually make the party stronger.

However, Mugabe's promise to quit is likely to be scant comfort to the
opposition, embittered by years of harassment by the ruling party.

Zimbabwe was this week named alongside Eritrea and Cuba as among the worst
abusers of media rights by the US-Based Committee on Protection of
Journalists (CPJ).

The government however dismissed the watchdog as "just a mercenary being
used by the UK like other anti-Zimbabwe mouthpieces."
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The Australian

Ervine's departure highlights Zimbabwe's plight
By Malcolm Conn
May 15, 2004
THE apprehension among Australian players about the quality of the
opposition they will face on this seemingly pointless Zimbabwe tour grew
overnight when they passed young Zimbabwean all-rounder Sean Ervine heading
for Australia.

The Australians were surprised to see Irvine at Johannesburg airport as they
stopped over on the way to Harare during a door-to-door trip from Sydney of
almost 24 hours.

They were perturbed to hear he was heading for Perth to spend time with his
girlfriend, the daughter of Zimbabwe and former Australian coach Geoff
Marsh, with no time frame for a return.

Matthew Hayden is uncertain just what Australia will encounter in the two
Tests and three one-day matches over the next month as the stand-off between
the Zimbabwe Cricket Union and 15 sacked white players, including former
captain Heath Streak, continues.

"Who knows what their side's going to be," Hayden said after arriving in
Harare last night.

"It's never a good sign to see one of their players actually going in the
opposite direction."

Hayden fears that Ervine, just 21, has retired after playing only five
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From Business Day (SA), 14 May 2004

Threat to expose Harare arms deals

An attorney representing the 70 alleged mercenaries held in Harare on
allegations of plotting a coup in Equatorial Guinea says his clients are
ready to spill the beans on Zimbabwe's past arms deals. Jonathan Samkange
said yesterday that the South African suspects were prepared to expose the
state-owned Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI) by showing that it had sold
armaments to them before under similar circumstances. "We have documents to
show that ZDI has sold arms to the company that had hired suspects to guard
mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the past, but no charges were
ever raised," he said. "It will be shown that there had been previous deals
done without the certificates they are now demanding. Why the change now?
"If what happened is a crime, then ZDI must also be charged." The government
organisation stands accused of gun running and selling arms to shady groups.
The company was believed to have been involved in murky deals, including one
with Sri Lanka in 1997, in which a large consignment of arms vanished
without trace amid claims that army generals had arranged their
disappearance for personal gain. ZDI has also been accused of selling arms
to Burundi's antigovernment Front for the Defence of Democracy and to
assassinated Democratic Republic Congo president Laurent Kabila's
Banyamulenge rebel movement to topple dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997. In
a related matter, Samkange said he would also appeal against a magistrate's
ruling that upheld charges against the men.

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From Africa Confidential (UK), 14 May

Maize-meal for votes

Zanu PF strategists believe that a new plan to lock out foreign food aid and
hold early elections will bring certain victory

The government's order to a United Nations' crop assessment team to leave
the country last weekend is part of its strategy to maintain tight political
control over food supply and score a resounding win in the coming
parliamentary elections. The order effectively blocks UN and European
preparations to provide the food aid estimated to be needed by more than 5
million people this year. President Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe African
National Union-Patriotic Front government didn't want the UN team to produce
figures that show that this year's harvest would fall far short of
Zimbabwe's food requirement. That would expose the failure of the land
reform programme and lead to hundreds of UN and aid agency officials handing
out food aid in the run-up to an election. So political insiders now believe
that Mugabe's ruling clique has decided to bring forward the parliamentary
elections to October, before the food runs out completely. Any shortfall
between now and then will be covered be a series of maize-for-tobacco swaps
to supply enough food for Zanu PF's loyal supporters and for those
supporters whom it believes it can win back from the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change. Die-hard opposition supporting areas are likely to see
chronic shortages of food. The lesson to voters will be clearer than ever.
Political momentum is on Zanu PF's side. Yet the government may not be able
to brazen it out until next March. It is riven by internal disputes.

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The Herald

Parastatals' annual reports lack accountability, House told

Herald Reporter
A PARLIAMENTARY portfolio committee has recommended the need for
administrative mechanisms to be put in place to ensure that all ministries
effectively monitor the submission of annual reports by parastatals.

This follows revelations that the majority of the parastatals were operating
in the dark as they had not been submitting their annual reports for years
to the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee and Glen Norah MP Ms Priscilla
Misihairabwi-Mushonga (MDC) told Parliament on Wednesday that parastatals
were failing to submit their annual reports and no punitive measures were
being taken.

Presenting a special report of the committee on parastatals, Ms
Misihairabwi-Mushonga said there was no accountability on the submission of
annual reports by the parastatals.

"The scenario is extremely undesirable as it becomes difficult to ascertain
whether existing assets are being properly utilised or used in a manner that
gives value for money," she said.

The legislator said organisations such as the National Social Security
Authority only tabled their 1998 to 2001 annual reports in January this year
and even these reports were not up to date.

"In view of the failure by ministries and parastatals to submit and table
their reports as required by the law, your committee has found it necessary
to conduct intensive enquiries into the audit of parastatals and keep the
house informed of the progress," she said.

The committee, Ms Misihairabwi-Mushonga said, recommended that no
parastatals should be privatised without their current financial statements
or accounts having been tabled and adopted in Parliament.

She said a value for money audit carried out by the Comptroller and Auditor
General on the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority showed that the power
utility was having problems in its service delivery.

"The audit that focused on the maintenance and distribution network revealed
that Zesa was not adequately monitoring the supply and distribution of
electricity which was evidenced by the increase in the number of faults," Ms
Misihairabwi-Mushonga said.

The committee, Ms Misihairabwi-Mushonga said, noted that it was not clear
how the Comptroller and Auditor General's office could relate to parastatals
that were being unbundled such as Zesa.

"These unbundled companies cannot be audited in terms of the Audit and
Exchequer Act and your committee also noted that some parastatals were
increasing tariffs soon after they were unbundled and one wonders whether
these increases are justified," she said.

Seconding the motion, Buhera South MP Cde Kumbirai Kangai (Zanu-PF) said it
was quite obvious that parastatals were not submitting their annual reports
for auditing.

"We are concerned that these parastatals should submit their statements of
accounts," he said.
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The Herald

Prices of goods, services on upward surge

Herald Reporter
PRICES of goods and services have been on an upward surge over the past few
weeks, raising fears among many that their incomes will soon be eroded.

Bread, meat, toothpaste, eggs, chicken, soap, cooking oil, electronic goods,
transport fares, baby products, clothes and accommodation are some of the
commodities, goods and services whose costs have increased over the past few

The price of bread has gone up from $2 200 to $2 900, that of chicken from
$11 000 to $14 350 per kg, beef is selling at between $12 000 and $35 000 a
kg up from between $9 000 and $11 000 recently. A 100-ml tube of toothpaste
tube now costs $8 960 up from $6 660 while a 375 gramme of dried kapenta
fish costs $7 290 up from $5 350.

A crate of eggs now costs between $16 000 and $17 000 up from $12 990, while
some bath soaps are now selling at $4 500 up from $2 900. A 500-ml packet of
fresh milk now costs $1 900, up from $1 680. A 750ml bottle of cooking oil
now costs between $7 800 and $8 200, up from around $6 000.

A 21-inch colour television set now costs $4 million up from $3,5 million
while a radio set that used to cost $3 million a few weeks ago now costs $4

Urban fares have gone up from $1 000 to $1 500 while rural and long distance
bus fares have gone up from $110 to $150 a kilometre.

Accommodation has continued to be elusive with a room in the high-density
suburbs costing around $60 000 a month while a two bedroom flat now costs
around $1,2 million.

This is despite the fact that consumer rights activists and labour leaders
recently said the prices of basic commodities should fall following a
reduction in production costs experienced by many manufacturers.

They also cited the availability of cheap finance under the Reserve Bank's
low interest Productive Sector Facility and the decline in inflation as some
of the factors that should compel manufacturers to review the prices of
their products downwards.

Some manufacturers like the Bakers Association of Zimbabwe said the bread
price rise had been necessitated by the rising costs of inputs such as flour
and electricity.

The price of flour has gone up from $2,4 million a tonne to $3,4 million
while electricity tariffs have gone up by at least 1 300 percent since last

Consumers who spoke to The Herald said the price increases could signal the
beginning of a trend, which would see prices of all commodities going up.

The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe said the increase in prices would be hard
on the consumers as they had become used to the stability that has been
experienced since October last year.

Prices had stabilised with most families being able to afford most of the
basic commodities.

Some traders have attributed the price escalations to the increase in the
exchange rate for the US$ dollar.

A special rate of $5 200 for exporters was introduced by the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe as an incentive for them to increase exports. This also resulted in
the auction rate rising to more than $5 000 from $4 600.

Most employers awarded their workers increments of between 100 and 600
percent since the beginning of the year but the poverty datum line pegged at
$988 490 remains a mark for most people.

The Reserve Bank governor recently criticised manufacturers for not passing
on the benefits of the cheap funds to the consumers by reducing the prices
of their products as measures introduced by the RBZ were meant to benefit
both manufacturers and consumers.

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East African Standard

'We'll fight to death'

"I want to tell them that we shall fight to the death for our land. The land
is ours and here we shall live and die," President Mugabe says in this
exclusive interview with the East African Standard

QUESTION: Mr President, you are on record as having said that land
acquisitions in Zimbabwe are a matter of life and death. Why such a
hard-line stance?

Answer: The fight for land here is just like in Kenya. The liberation
struggle is not just about ruling; freedom from imperialist or colonial rule
is incomplete if it does not include economic independence.

As we negotiated independence at Lancaster from October to December
1979, the vital issue that arose was land and we demanded provision for our
people to acquire land through settlement programmes and this was initially
agreed to by then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

The British government initially agreed to compensate British settler
farmers and the implementation was to be undertaken by my government.

It was vital to implement the process because land was initially seized from
poor peasants but the negotiations came to a near breakdown.

The US accepted to join hands with the British to compensate the farmers and
even funds were set aside for the land reform programme by the US, the
British and the European Commission.

On April 18, 1990, we started working on the programme and started
resettling Zimbabweans from Botswana, Mozambique and from within.

Agriculture immediately started and people started to cultivate land

However, the British tricked us as we ventured into the major resettlement
programme and drafted into the constitution the willing buyer, willing
seller principle.

We had to accept the deal initially but it became difficult and the formula
could not work as more and more farmers refused to sell their land.

After we settled some 57,000 families, the programme became even slower and
extremely difficult.

The Americans gave us money to continue with the programme but at this
point, the British were reluctant to give funds.

We lamented to Thatcher, leading to the making of the constitution to set
aside funds to be used to compensate farmers.

Thatcher then released 44 million Sterling Pounds and said that was the end
of it.

We asked for more money but Thatcher refused and before we could press for
more, out she went and in came John Major.

We reviewed the issue with Major, who was a very good person. He was very
co-operative and sent a six-man team to Zimbabwe to assess the situation
between 1995 and 1996 and consequently got a report.

I then sent my ministers in June 1996 but before any deliberation could be
made on a workable land acquisition programme, Major was defeated and in
came Tony Blair, the Brute.

I raised the issue with him in 1997 in Scotland but he started being
dismissive. One of Blair's former ministers, Claire Short, said she was
Irish and we should not talk about colonial obligation as it did not arise.

When my continued quest for negotiations failed due to his dismissive
approach, we decided to take over land by force.

I told them to keep their money and we keep our land. To date, all Blair
wants is to fight and not to talk.

Many white farmers are still farming in the country in spite of all this.
From about 400 of them during the start of the programme, I think half are
remaining and this half are the multi-nationals whom we have not touched
yet, though the process is continuing.

What is your opinion of Tony Blair?

"Blair Brute" and his government are our enemy number 1.

He is presenting a totally false picture to countries with which we are
economically related, and like the liar he is claims there is no law in
Zimbabwe, no order, no democracy and no respect for human rights.(Pauses and
beams with delight) Talking of respect for human rights, now we know the
human rights they respect.

Blair has refused to understand and handle this issue as a bilateral one. He
has only opted to make it international and has gone ahead to spearhead and
ensure personal sanctions against me.

He is dissuading countries which have good economic relations with us and
this economic sabotage is what he has continued to spearhead fully, thus
undermining our economic relations with those countries.

Blair could even at one time use his forces to intercept a ship carrying
fuel [to Zimbabwe] on the high seas and buy it at twice the price.

We are more democratic than the US. And by the way, talking about democracy,
who elected President Bush and by what vote?

Maybe you should tell me because you come from the world of information and
are well informed. What I know is that they could not reach conclusion in
Florida as to who had most votes. Some votes were never counted and the
matter had to go to the Supreme court.

Now the court they went to has more Republican judges meaning that his side
had more judges in the Supreme Court than Democrats and having called that
judicial objectivity, he won as President. I hope that doesn't happen again
this time round.

How do you survive with all these economic hardships and the poor relations
with the West?

Oh, we are survivors. And we are turning around the economy with or without
help from the West.

Fortunately, we don't depend only on agriculture but also mining. We mine
gold, iron, cranium, asbestos, platinum and diamonds and this has helped our
economy and the living standards of our people.

We are survivors, we will survive. We were born here and shall die here. I
want to tell them that we shall fight to the death for our land.

The land is ours and here we and our children shall live and die. We even
heard recently from intelligence sources that Bush and his government were
planning to invade Zimbabwe after Iraq but I want to tell them that they are
welcome. We are guerrilla fighters who have fought before and are ready to
fight another war any time.

We are a revolutionary movement and we want to retain our gain especially
the sovereignty of our people, the rights of our people, the ownership of
their resources and the right to those resources.

That is how we have ruled this country and that is how we intend to run it
in future.

What do you make of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
What I know is that MDC is a movement founded and funded by British parties
which are actually forces opposed to us, abhorent to us.

The British Labour Party, the Conservative Party and the Liberals came
together at the instigation of the Blair Government and agreed to raise
money for an opposition.

They used the Zimbabwe Confederation of Trade Unions, sponsored by the
Westminster foundation, to come up with MDC.

If the party was formed from the wishes of the people of Zimbabwe, that
could have been well and good, but what we reject to the neck is an agency
being used to undermine the sovereignty of our own people by outsiders. That
we will fight to the end.

We, however, accept the opposition. MDC participated in the 2000 elections
and the referendum and was defeated by 1,000 votes. This gave enthusiasm to
MDC which then participated in the June elections and won 56 seats out of
120 seats.

There are a total of 150 seats in parliament where chiefs are represented
and governors are automatically MPs.

The MDC is, however, terming undemocratic powers conferred to the President
of Zimbabwe that allow me to appoint 12 more members.

When Bush and his constitution picks men from the streets, that is democracy
and yet when the Zimbabwean President has powers to appoint 12 more members,
that becomes undemocratic.

MDC has continued to be a factor in making of law and governance through
parliament and that we have accepted. But what we will forever reject is for
them to go to Britain to seek advice and ask for sanctions to be placed
against their own people and country.

That is abhorrent, we must have pride in our country and people.

And your relationship with the International Monetary Fund and the World

We are still members of the international community. It's only that during
the bad days, we could not meet the commitments.

Although we remain members, I have no faith in them. We can do our thing
without the IMF and the rest.

They come in with their balance of payment assistance, yes we need that at
times. But their prescriptions, they are awful, believe me.

I lost faith in them in 1980 when they told me that I could not educate
everyone in my country at the same time and that I had to do it in phases.
Whose children was I supposed to leave out of school? That IMF advice was
unfair and impractical.

Do you feel that African countries support you enough in your land reform

Oh! We are very happy that we are now better understood by African and
developing countries.

They now understand what the problem in Zimbabwe is all about. They
understand that the differences between us and the British are on land and
nothing else.

That is why Africa supports us, Kenya included. And of course Kenya should
be number one to fully support us because you fought the same war against
the colonialists.

We are happy that Kenya still giving us support because they too realise the
value of land.

Is it true your government has muzzled the Press?

We are a free country. Democracy is not just a matter of the rights of
certain groups or individuals.

Journalists claim that they are in a special category and must have special
recognition of their rights.

Only if they recognised the rights of other people too!

I have also poor Mugabe here, my own rights, why do you want to defame me
and call me this and that? If you do that I can react in two ways.

One, a personal way, insult you tit-for-tat but I won't do that. If I take
you to court for defaming me, I am not wrong or if at the end of the day I
realise that the journalists are getting away with it, defaming all people
because they have the pen.

We established a law that Thou shall not tell lies as it is in the
Commandments that thou shall not lie.

And if you lie and lie again and you are a member of, say an organisation,
then we either arrest you for continuing to defame others or we simply ban
your organisation and say No.

We have also established a commission to look at various institutions in our
media world.

I will tell you some of the lies told in this country; that a police officer
decapitated a child in a certain area; that certain officers or commanders
of the Army were planning a coup that was foiled, and much more.

Objectivity, truth and honesty must arise when journalists are undertaking
investigative stories.

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