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

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The Veld Burns.

At the end of the winter in Africa, conditions are so dry that any accidental or deliberate attempt to set a fire, can get out of control and sweep across the bushveld.  The grass is dry and if frosted, almost white.
The trees are skeletal and stark against the horizon and dry leaves add to the tinderbox.
One year in Esigodini valley, a farming district 30 kms from Bulawayo where I spent a lot of my youth, a fire broke out up against the hills that traverse the far edge of the valley.  The valley is well known, as a source of thatching grass and this year was no exception - the grass was as tall as a man and dry as a bone.  The fire broke out at the top of the valley near Bushtick mine and by the time it had run 4 or 5 kilometers we knew it was well out of control.
Under local law it is possible to call everyone out to fight a fire like this and eventually some 30 farmers and their staff, perhaps 500 men were engaged.  To no avail, I think we lost several homes and thousands of hectares were burnt.  At one stage we estimated it was running faster than a man could and some livestock were also killed.  In the US this year we have seen huge fires, Moscow last week was covered in a blanket of smoke so thick they sent people with weak chests out of the area.
What do you do to a person whom deliberately sets such fires and then rejoices when the devastation strikes?  Who does so knowing full well that even his own family might be at risk.  Well that is what Mugabe's behavior seems like to me today.  The events of the past 10 days leave us saddened and stunned.
First he goes down to the Johannesburg summit where he is scheduled to speak for 7 minutes on the issue of sustainable development before an audience that consists of over 100 heads of state and representatives from 200 countries with some 300 powerful NGO's also represented and some 4000 journalists.  His speech was one of the most anticipated and it was an opportunity to say things that could have put his recent past behind him in an attempt to rally global opinion behind a programme to reconstruct and rehabilitate his broken and maimed economy and people.  Look at what conditions he had left behind him at home in Zimbabwe: -
1..  The GDP had declined by a quarter in 3 years; Zimbabwe has the fastest shrinking economy in the world.
2..  Employment has fallen by a third in the same period.
3..  Agricultural output was down 60 to 70 per cent and more than half his total population faced starvation.
4..  Life expectancy for a woman had dropped 22 years in a decade, from
59 years in 1990 to 37 years today.
5..  At least 85 per cent of the people were living below the poverty line and at least half are regarded as being absolutely poverty-stricken.
6..  35 per cent of the adult population are infected with HIV/Aids, one million people have died from Aids since it was first diagnosed and at least
500 000 people would die in the next 12 months - the equivalent of the Twin Towers attack in New York every two days.
7..  Half of all children are not in school, 65 per cent of all girls are not in school and the majority at school are now so hungry that when they are there, they cannot study.
8..  The 70 per cent of all land resources under state control are already severely degraded and conservation policies in force for more than a century, once the most advanced conservation strategies in the third world, are close to collapse.  In the face of this environmental disaster, the state was systematically destroying commercial agriculture in an illegal exercise that was motivated purely by greed, power and patronage.
9..  Exports have fallen by half and foreign exchange receipts by two thirds.  All imported products are in short supply and our hospitals are virtually out of essential drugs.
10..  We are completely isolated politically and diplomatically from the rest of the world, suspended from the Commonwealth, facing targeted sanctions against our leadership.
What does Mugabe do when given the chance to put things right, make amends and promise a new start?  He starts another fire!  He knows that the entire western world would just love to have a go at him.  He senses their hostility and their distrust.  He knew this was material that was as dry as it gets in a diplomatic sense.  He is on home ground just 500 kilometers from the Limpopo and has many ignorant allies in the hall who are just waiting to help him fan the flames of international opprobrium that will only make his country suffer more and will help fan the fires of destruction at home in the hills and valleys of Zimbabwe.
He stands up and insults the leaders of the west, defiantly states that he does not care about their sanctions or the fact that they are withholding desperately needed aid.  He states that what he is doing is right and because he "owns" Zimbabwe, if he wants to burn it to the ground, what has that got to do with them?  He can do anything he wants, he states to a stunned gathering.
As for Sam, he is like a dumb puppy that in ignorance imitates his master and when asked to, struts and barks at the shadows on the sidewalk.  He mistakes the applause of a few on the street as recognition and acceptance and just to round off his performance threatens the lion next door by peeing on the doorframe of his cage.  The lion yawned but took careful note of just where that silly pup came from, and then went back to sleep.
Not satisfied with his efforts in Johannesburg, Mugabe came home to his new "war cabinet" and issued further instructions.  He wanted the land grab completed so that the new farmers could get onto the properties in question and get a summer crop programme under way.  Time was running out - his Minister of Agriculture seems not aware of the seasons, so it was left to the firebrand who knows that once it start to rain, its difficult to set fires.
The farmers had rallied round and were putting out the fires Mugabe had started far too successfully.  The courts were ruling in favour of the farmers on most occaisions and several constitutional court hearing were due which, horror of horrors might actually say that setting bush fires in the dry veld was wrong.  So he orders his minions to get out there and too forcibly remove any farmer who was not off his farm by Sunday.  To drive this home he threatens that if they do not move; all their personal assets on the farms would be forfeit.
Well perhaps even the Police and the Army are getting just a bit tired of this posturing and senseless arson and destruction.  But they did nothing over the weekend and Mugabe slipped away to see his buddy in Tripoli about some more liquid fuel to start more fires with.  I only hope that the lion has had a word with the man in Tripoli and that this time this particular nasty arsonist does not get any more fuel for his fires.
Back home, we are rallying round and helping extinguish the fires that are raging - we are losing veld and livestock and wildlife, even homes that have been family sanctuaries for decades, but when the rain comes it will green back and its amazing how quickly the veld recovers.  Scars we will have, but the arsonist will face a lifetime of condemnation and isolation for what he has done.  At least one good thing came out of Johannesburg - all our neighbours now know they have an arsonist in the house and if they are not careful, they too might be burnt.
Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, September 9th 2002.
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Reuters alertnet

Zimbabwe: From Breadbasket to Basketcase
Maureen Lynch and Ada Williams

      Refugees International - USA

      September 16, 2002 Contact: Maureen Lynch or Ada Williams or 202.828.0110

      Zimbabwe: From Breadbasket to Basketcase

      A tragedy is unfolding in Zimbabwe. The lives of Zimbabweans are being
profoundly affected by the severe food crisis, land reform activities, high
prevalence rates of HIV/AIDS, and government economic policies. The
emergency conditions they now face may be exacerbated by the development of
several unpredictable factors that have the potential to threaten regional
stability. The government of Zimbabwe and the international community can
act now to prevent further deterioration.

      Refugees International (RI) has just returned from Zimbabwe where we
learned first hand how people are suffering. Six million people are in
desperate need of food aid to help them survive until the next main harvest.
Many families have exhausted alternatives means of income and food. It is
nearly impossible for farmers to be agriculturally productive because of
lack of food and the need to forage for immediate alternative sources of
sustenance. Pointing to shallow irrigation trenches, one farmer in Masvingo
said, "I can't dig deeper because I am so hungry." An aid agency told RI,
"One of our biggest concerns is availability and procurement of food. There
is no food in the country."

      With the government unable to supply sufficient food to its people
through its Grain Marketing Board (GMB), the international community is
attempting to provide assistance to cover the food deficit. The World Food
Program's (WFP) Emergency Operation is intended to cover 3.9 million people,
but has not received enough resources to meet these needs. The UN
Consolidated Appeal for food aid in Zimbabwe is currently funded at 44
percent. Further, government limitations prevent WFP from registering enough
implementing partners to expand operations. Prospective implementing
partners have difficulty registering and face other restrictions.
Participating agencies have been threatened with being de-registered. One
non-governmental organization told RI that it could not expand operations
for "political and security reasons," leaving people without assistance.

      It was reported to RI that people are being denied food for political
reasons. In some areas food distributions are made based on political
affiliation. There are accusations that rural district councils are being
manipulated by political parties to include only selected beneficiaries.
This issue is of major concern to WFP whose Executive Director has spoken
with the Zimbabwean government about political interference in food
distribution. One agency told RI, "We don't want to fall in the trap of
people being abused for food aid." To avoid shutting down their operations
some are attempting to fight the politicization of food aid by allowing
communities to identify the most vulnerable people.

      The government's land reform program has displaced a million or more
people, forcing them to seek food and income through alternative means. The
goal of land reform was to allocate farms previously held by commercial
owners to the landless. In reality some of the targeted recipients do not
become landowners, and there is not adequate support for people affected by
the policy. Commercial farm owners are left without compensation and are
responsible for paying their farm workers, and those now occupying the land
do not have the necessary skills to be productive. Agencies attempting to
help displaced farm workers are having difficulty trying to locate and
assist them. Some farm workers have remained on farms, others have family
ties to communal areas and go there, others have moved to urban areas or
have tried to survive in the bush. In certain areas, squatter settlements
have arisen. RI visited a dilapidated house where four farm worker families
continued to look after the cattle on redistributed land. Their former boss
continued to pay them a portion of their salaries. "We know that our job
will end soon, and we are not sure what we are going to do. The government
has told us to wait and we will get land later because there is no more land
to give away now." While this issue has been high on the international
community's agenda for a long time, the response to date consists of sending
one advisor to categorize and create a database of the displaced population.

      Zimbabwe has one of the largest populations affected by HIV/AIDS, with
prevalence rates of 25 percent. No community has been left unaffected, and
the food shortage has only intensified the problems for those with AIDS. In
reference to HIV/AIDS medical treatment, one villager said, "The most
important thing is food. You can't take drugs on an empty stomach." Loss of
productivity in rural communities as a result of HIV/AIDS is a big problem
because people are too sick to work, need care at home, are dying, and leave
orphans who are too young to work the land. An estimated 500,000 children
have lost at least one parent to the epidemic but there is no concrete
policy on how best to care for the orphaned children. Farmers say, "We
cannot get food to feed them."

      In addition to the challenges already faced by Zimbabweans, there are
several potential threats that could lead to widespread starvation and
increased population movement. The sheer unpredictability of climatic
conditions could cause further crop failure. Continued political violence
and human rights violations can further destabilize the country. The plan
for Zimbabwe's acceptance of genetically modified food still needs to be
worked out. An arranged 17,500 MT food swap that will be distributed as
milled maize is not a long-term solution. And any change in governmental
stance toward acceptance threatens future distribution. An element that
could change the outlook for the better is an enhanced role for the private
sector in food imports and distribution. Because of the shortage of grain,
people still have a bit of cash, but there is no food to buy. Private sector
imports of grain could help alleviate the shortage.

      The international community has lost confidence in the government of
Zimbabwe because of the latter's inability to respond to the suffering of
its citizens and indeed its contribution to this suffering. The strained
relationship between international donors and the government means there is
no support for the long-term development that could save Zimbabwe from
further decline. In this unpredictable and difficult environment, agencies
are preparing for a worsening crisis. Given the current food emergency and
the threat of further instability in the country, deterioration is almost
inevitable. Increasingly the probability exists that people will move to
other countries to seek food as well as safety. Tragically, Zimbabwe once in
a position to provide food and a safe haven to the rest of southern Africa,
is now unable to feed itself and threatens the stability of the region.

      Refugees International recommends that:

      The Government of Zimbabwe
      § Provide immediate support and durable resettlement solutions for
displaced farm workers.
      § Stop the politicization of food aid.
      § Permit private sector grain imports to help bring more food into the
      § Facilitate and expedite registration of non-governmental
      § Support communities affected by HIV/AIDS and develop concrete health
policies for orphans.

      The U.S. Government
      § Continue to negotiate alternatives to ensure people have food in the
event of Zimbabwe's non-acceptance of genetically modified food.

      International Donors
      § Immediately develop and support a comprehensive program for
displaced farm workers that include durable resettlement and integration
      § Fully resource the UN Consolidated Appeal for the southern Africa
      Maureen Lynch and Ada Williams of Refugees International just returned
from a three-week assessment mission to Southern Africa.

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      White Zimbabwean farmer faces death sentence

A white Zimbabwean farmer faces the death sentence after being convicted of
the murder of a black squatter.

Harare Judge Ben Hlatshwayo convicted Phillip Bezuidenhout, 52, of murder
with constructive intent.

Bezuidenhout had admitted manslaughter but not murder.

Judge Hlatshwayo says Bezuidenhout deliberately drove his car at a crowd of
squatters in the process of occupying his farm last year, and ran down
Febian Mapenzauswa, financial director of a major Zimbabwe company.

Bezuidenhout says he was surrounded by squatters and was trying to escape
when Mapenzauswa got in the way of his vehicle.

The killing was followed by a rampage of violence and looting of white-owned
farms in the area by 'war veterans' who claimed the incident was "a
declaration of war" by white farmers.

Story filed: 19:55 Monday 16th September 2002
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Get going, Zim tells Mugabe in new poll

      September 16 2002 at 04:21PM

Harare - Most Zimbabweans want 78-year-old President Robert Mugabe, who has
spent 22 years at the helm of the southern African country, to retire,
according to the results of a survey released on Monday.

The survey by the Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOS), a Harare-based
think-tank, said 65,6 percent of the 1 768 respondents in a random survey
wanted Mugabe to immediately announce his retirement plans.

According to the survey, even respondents in areas that support Mugabe's
ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) party
wanted the long-time leader to announce that he plans to stand down.

The survey, conducted four months after Mugabe's disputed election victory
in March, also showed that 44,9 percent of the respondents want a re-run of
the disputed election.

      'Zimbabwe cannot survive without the co-operation and assistance of
the international community'
But the "majority of respondents favour dialogue and not confrontation as a
way of solving the country's problems", it added.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change claimed that its leader,
Morgan Tsvangirai, had won the March presidential poll but had victory
stolen from him by widespread fraud and state-sponsored violence.

According to the MPOS survey, a total of 48,5 percent of respondents want a
government of national unity, while 46,5 percent favour a resumption of
stalled talks between Zanu-PF and the MDC, aimed at resolving the row over
the March vote.

Talks between the two parties were suspended earlier this year when the MDC
challenged the outcome of the vote in the Supreme Court.

Despite Mugabe dismissing strong criticism from Western countries of his
government's controversial policies, " impressive 82 percent said
Zimbabwe cannot survive without the co-operation and assistance of the
international community", the survey said in its conclusions.

Respondents placed Zimbabwe's beleaguered economy at the top of a list of
priorities for the government.

Mugabe is presiding over the southern African nation's worst-ever economic
crisis, with an estimated 80 percent of the population living in poverty.

Improving international relations, drawing up a new constitution and
resolving the country's land issue ranked second, third and fourth in
priority, the survey's respondents said.

Mugabe has staked his political fortunes on a controversial scheme to
resettle white-owned farms with landless blacks that critics and aid
agencies have warned will worsen a critical food shortage already
threatening half the country's population of some 11,4 million.

"It would appear that the position taken by the Zimbabwean government in
respect of the region and the international community is contrary to public
thinking," MPOS commented in the conclusions of its survey. - Sapa-AFP
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Christian Science Monitor

from the September 17, 2002 edition

      In Zimbabwe, fasting in the midst of food shortages

      A small enclave of Jews in Bulawayo observes Yom Kippur amid hunger
and heated politics.

      By Danna Harman

      From sunrise Sunday to sundown Monday, Jews around the world fasted,
reflected on the year just past and the one to come, and atoned for their
sins in observance of Yom Kippur. In Zimbabwe, in the midst of widespread
food shortages and a government policy that has whites feeling on edge, the
country's dwindling enclave of Jews observed this year's holiest of days
with mixed emotions.
      "To reflect ... does not mean to think about oneself," Rabbi Cyril
Harris reminds the small congregation. "When your stomach begins aching from
hunger, remember that is the way a good proportion of the Africans in your
country feel every single day."

      But President Robert Mugabe's program to evict white farmers from
their land has others feeling the persecution that their relatives had come
to Africa to escape. "I do feel badly for those starving here," says Hilton
Solomon as he closes his store and heads to prayers. "But I have become
harder.... My empathy is low these days, for my country has turned against

      It wasn't always this way. The Jewish presence in Southern Africa
dates back to the early 20th century, when Jews fled the pogroms of Eastern
Europe. Others joined them, both from Europe and elsewhere, as they arrived
in droves throughout the 1930s and 40s. By the 1960s, South Africa had over
100,000 Jews; some 1,000 had settled in Zambia, and a few hundred had
ventured into Malawi and Botswana. Zimbabwe's Jewish community was 7,000
strong, divided up mainly between the capital, Harare, and the dusty town of

      A school was built here, and an old-age home was opened. Stained glass
windows were commissioned for the synagogue, and a kosher butcher was flown
in every few months from South Africa.

      At that time, whites were the privileged minority, and there was
little discrimination against the Jews. The 250,000 whites living in what
was then called Rhodesia were the self-proclaimed kings of the land. They
sat on huge tracts of land, farming tobacco, raising livestock, and starting
businesses. They built large houses and organized hunting clubs and spring
balls. They went fishing in Lake Kariba on the weekends, and generally felt
fortunate to be living in such a pretty paradise. Even after independence in
1980, many stayed, agreeing - or at least accepting - that black majority
rule was right, and that some form of land reform was in order.

      But Mr. Mugabe's fast-track land reform program has caused commercial
farming to grind to a standstill and the economy to falter. Over 6 million
Zimbabweans lack enough food to get them through the next six months, and
the country is tense, divided, and ostracized internationally. Those who can
are fleeing.

      In better days, as many as 2,500 would turn out for prayers on the eve
of Yom Kippur. Families were assigned to specific rows and seats. Today,
there are fewer than 300 Jews in town. Out of tradition - or perhaps
nostalgia - they still sit in those places designated years ago.

      Their children have gone to seek better lives elsewhere. The Brenners
have one daughter in South Africa, and two in San Diego, Calif. The Roths
have a daughter in Sydney, Australia, and a son in London. The Veisenbachers
are moving next month. There are no children running down the aisles.

      When Hilton Solomon's grandfather arrived in Bulawayo in the 1920s, he
had nothing. The trading post he started has now become the town's premier
supermarket. These days the young Solomon is in negotiations with a big
supermarket chain, thinking of selling out. His wife is sick of all the
uncertainty. "I love this country and do not want to leave," he says. "But
as time progresses, I feel more and more like a visitor, an expat."

      Bulawayo's rabbi emigrated two years ago, and so South Africa's chief
rabbi, Cyril Harris, flew over this year to lead Yom Kippur services. He
came, he explains, to encourage the community. "It has not been an easy year
here," he says, "and we do not know what is coming next."

      In 1994, right after the first free elections in South Africa, Harris
spoke to his congregation in Johannesburg and offered a different sort of
encouragement. The apartheid regime was over, Nelson Mandela's government
had swept into power, and many whites were feeling insecure and frightened
that they might not be welcome in the new South Africa. "This country needs
you and wants you," Harris told them back then. "I urge you not to leave."
He made no such plea in Zimbabwe this week.
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Arabic News

Zimbabwe's President Starts Visit to Morocco
Morocco-Zimbabwe, Politics, 9/16/2002

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe arrived this Saturday morning in
Casablanca on a visit to Morocco.
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Ex-judge In Zimbabwe Freed On Bail

Monday September 16, 2002 3:10 PM

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - A retired judge was freed on bail Monday by a court
that heard he was denied food, medication and access to lawyers and his
family on the first day of custody.

Former judge Feargus Blackie, who was arrested before dawn Friday, appeared
in the Harare magistrate's court Monday and faced alternative charges of
obstructing the course of justice or violations of prevention of corruption

The charges stem from a judgment he gave before he left High Court bench in
July. One of Blackie's last acts as judge was to sentence Justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa to three months in jail on contempt of court charges after
the minister repeatedly ignored a court summons.

Blackie's arrest was seen as part of a continuing crackdown against judges,
reporters and activists deemed critical of President Robert Mugabe's
increasingly authoritarian rule. The government has accused white judges,
including Blackie, of bias against it.

One white judge remains among about 30 judges. Zimbabwe has hundreds of
mostly black magistrates.

Seven of the country's 30 senior judges have quit or retired in just over a
year, some after being threatened and denied protection by the government.
All were considered independent thinkers who had come under pressure from
the government and ruling party militants to toe the party line.

Chinamasa, the justice minister, ignored the contempt ruling by Blackie and
police refused to arrest him in what was seen as further evidence of the
breakdown of the rule of law in Zimbabwe where the government has repeatedly
ignored or refused to enforce court rulings it did not like.

The charges against Blackie, a respected attorney and judge for two decades,
carry no fixed penalty but in the past corruption convictions usually
involved varying terms of imprisonment.

Harare magistrate Lilian Kudya freed Blackie on bail of $25 and ordered him
to report to police once a week and surrender his passport.

He was ordered to reappear in court Nov. 18.

Blackie, a 65-year-old with a heart condition, spent the weekend in freezing
conditions in a dirty jail in an impoverished Harare township, his lawyers

Attorney Firoz Girach said he received no food, cardiovascular medication or
warm clothing on the first day after being arrested before dawn Friday. His
lawyers and wife and son were denied access to him until Saturday, when he
was brought to a special court hearing in an open truck in handcuffs. That
court refused to release him.

Girach said Blackie was held incommunicado and refused access to a telephone
on the first day.

His treatment in custody was seen as an attempt to humiliate Blackie.
Arrests in Zimbabwe are often carried out on Fridays to force suspects to
spend the weekend in overcrowded police cells before a court hearing can be

State prosecutor Steven Musona said police investigations on the charges
against Blackie had not begun.

Blackie was arrested on suspicion of irregularities when in office. State
media have said Blackie was being investigated on suspicion that he was
racially biased when he overturned a one-year jail sentence imposed on a
white woman convicted of theft.

Zimbabwe has been wracked by more than two years of political and economic
turmoil, marked by a violent crackdown against the opposition and government
efforts to seize 5,000 white-owned farms for redistribution to blacks.
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Business Day

Devaluation is dead ... long live parallel market

Brisk currency trade in Fifth Street, Bulawayo, reflects unofficial economic
DRIVING slowly along Fifth Street in Zimbabwe's city of Bulawayo, one is
confronted by a sea of women clad in sparkling white clothes and jostling
for attention.

"Do you need foreign currency or local money?", most of them ask. It becomes
clear you are in a thriving foreign exchange black market.

The Bulawayo foreign currency parallel market dubbed by locals the City of
Kings Wall Street is one of the largest and oldest black markets in
Zimbabwe. Bulawayo is called the City of Kings as it was founded in the
1840s by prominent Ndebele King Mzilikazi Khumalo.

Former finance minister Simba Makoni once called the parallel market the
"World Bank of Bulawayo". It boomed after the Zimbabwean dollar plunged on
November 12 1997, a day now known as Black Friday in the market.

The Fifth Street market in Bulawayo is always flooded with foreign exchange
despite the money being in short supply in the formal markets. Banks are dry
and bureaux d'échanges are closing down as they can no longer survive
trading at the official exchange rates. But illegal markets are thriving.

Zimbabwe has seen a sharp decline in exports in recent years, as well as the
withdrawal of aid, and dwindling foreign direct investment. Total exports
have dropped by about 67% from 1999 to last year.

This has had a devastating effect on the economy.

Although government insists on fixed exchange rates $1 to Z55, R1 to Z5 and
£1 to Z83 dealers in the black market say this is extraordinary fiction.

Nozipho Ndlovu, one of the Bulawayo traders, says: "The last time the rand
was trading at the official rate at this place was in 1997 after Black
Friday. So anyone who tells us you can get a rand with five Zimbabwean
dollars is living in the past."

Despite official pretence, the reality on the ground is frightening. The
buying price for the rand in the parallel market is Z60 while the selling
price is Z65. The greenback is bought at Z690 and sold for Z700 while the
pound is bought for about Z980 and sold for Z1000.

Speculators in the volatile parallel market love every moment of the
dramatic depreciation of the Zimbabwean currency.

"What we do is we buy and sell foreign currency and make our profit from the
different margins between the purchasing and offering prices. Since we have
a lot of foreign currency we gain much in the shortterm if the Zimbabwe
dollar crashes," says another trader Mavis Mahlangu. "Most of our clients
are tourists and local travellers, especially cross-border traders who buy
goods from SA and Botswana for resale."

Dealers say they also make money by buying SA rands and crossing the borders
to SA and Botswana to buy US dollars or pounds, later resold at higher
margins back home.

This speculative behaviour is prevalent among the elite who cross into
neighbouring Zambia with large quantities of local currency to buy US
dollars for resale on Zimbabwe's parallel market. Those with connections
with banks, especially the business executives and politicians, buy the
little foreign currency available in banks at the official rate and then
resell it in the black market, becoming instant millionaires.

"Some senior Reserve Bank Zimbabwe officials once phoned us demanding
$50000," said a banker in Harare. "They claimed they were travelling to the
Far East on government business but we later established they did not go
anywhere. Instead, they had sold the foreign currency in the parallel market
and made millions."

Cabinet ministers, government officials and successful businessmen some of
whom own bureaux d'échanges which at times also fuel the parallel market
stand accused of driving that market for self-enrichment. The Bulawayo
market, for example, is linked to top business magnates in the city.

But the Fifth Street market in Bulawayo is also just a microcosm of a wider
scenario in the country. Despite overwhelming evidence of the booming black
market in foreign exchange, President Robert Mugabe has refused to recognise
the existence of a parallel market and devalue the currency in line with
inflation differentials.

Opening parliament recently, Mugabe attacked those advocating devaluation
such as Makoni and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Leonard Tsumba. He
said: "Devaluation is sinister and can only be advocated by our saboteurs
and enemies of this government. Devaluation is thus dead!"

University of Zimbabwe professor of business studies, Tony Hawkins, said the
statement by Mugabe proved he was getting increasingly detached from
reality. "It was a statement of propaganda rather than the reality," Hawkins
said. "The reality is that far from being dead, devaluation is alive and
well. In fact, it is booming. It's fiction to pretend he would not devalue
when a majority of transactions in the economy are done at black market

There is confusion in the formal Zimbabwean foreign exchange market. Various
economic sectors mining, farming and manufacturing operate with different
foreign exchange rate regimes. The Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce and
other business organisations say the exchange rate needs to be realigned to
bridge the gap between the official and black market exchange rate.

"Zimbabwe's exchange rate is overvalued by more than 180% in light of the
skyrocketing inflation rate," the chamber told government in a recent policy
advisory paper.

"We would like to highlight that the policy of linking the exchange rate
movements to inflation differentials with the major trading partners, the
purchasing power parity concept introduced last year by government, has not
been adhered to.

"This has been a major factor in the eroding export competitiveness of the
economy, translating into foreign exchange shortages."

Mugabe, an economist by training, knows why a foreign exchange underworld
has emerged but is afraid of the results of biting the economic bullet.
Devaluation could lead to sharp price increases, and thus social and
political instability.

However, until the Zimbabwean authorities act on the ailing currency,
fortunes will be made and lost on Bulawayo's informal Wall Street.

Muleya is Business Day's Zimbabwean correspondent.
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Howard steps up action on Zimbabwe
September 16, 2002 Posted: 2:52 AM EDT (0652 GMT)

By Grant Holloway
CNN Sydney

CANBERRA, Australia (CNN) -- The Commonwealth group of nations is set to
step up pressure on Zimbabwe over its controversial land-redistribution
program and the erosion of democratic institutions by President Robert
Mugabe and his government.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard has called a second meeting of
Commonwealth leaders -- to be held next week -- to discuss taking action
against the African nation.

The meeting involving Howard, President Olesegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and
President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, will be held in Abuja, Nigeria on
September 23.

The three-person group was delegated to recommend action against Zimbabwe by
the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, which was held at Coolum,
Australia, earlier this year.

The Commonwealth is a grouping of 54 nations, the bulk of which were
originally British colonies or protectorates.

Howard said he had taken the decision to call a meeting of the troika
following consultations with other Commonwealth leaders.

Howard said the group last met in March and issued a set of steps for
Zimbabwe to take to address the situation.

Of particular concern was the erosion of democracy in Zimbabwe under Mugabe
and the legitimacy of his recent re-election.

The forced redistribution of land in Zimbabwe over the past few months has
also raised worries amongst Commonwealth members, with Britain and New
Zealand particularly vocal on the issue.

Matter of regret
The land distribution program has been forcing hundreds of predominantly
white farmers to hand over their properties to black freedom fighters and
other supporters of Mugabe.

"It is a matter of regret that six months after our London meeting, little
substantive progress has yet been made in implementing these steps," Howard
said in a statement.

"Instead, conditions in Zimbabwe have continued to deteriorate," he said.
"All troika members are anxious to see progress in Zimbabwe and its earliest
possible return to full protection of Commonwealth democratic value."

Zimbabwe has been suspended for 12 months from taking part in Commonwealth
councils but so far no sanctions or suspension have been imposed.
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Woonton distances Cooks government from Zimbabwe comment

Cook Islands prime minister Doctor Robert Woonton says comments by his
senior advisor that Zimbabwe's media laws should be used as a model do not
reflect the policy of the current government.

He says Piho Rua was probably expressing his personal opinion.

The prime minister says Zimbabwe's media laws are known internationally for
being heavy-handed and extreme.

He says his government has no intention of introducing anything similar in
Cook Islands.

Last week Mr Rua told the Cook Islands Herald that the government should use
media laws in Zimbabwe as a model to regulate the print media because there
was 'too much inaccurate reporting'.

16/09/2002 17:22:52 | ABC Radio Australia News
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   Inflation reaches 135.1 percent in Zimbabwe


      Xinhuanet 2002-09-16 14:49:00

      HARARE, Sept. 16 (Xinhuanet) -- The rate of inflation in Zimbabwe
gained 11.6 percentage points last month to reach 135.1 percent onthe back
of continued price increases, according to the Herald on Monday.

      The new rate of inflation surged forward because of increases in
the price of meat, clothing, confectionery and beverages.

      Analysts said the increase in the rate of inflation was not
surprising. The prevalence of drought throughout Zimbabwe has created food
shortages. The prices of most products that are in short supply have
therefore, gone up quite significantly.

      Wage increases awarded recently and the continued weakening of the
local currency have also put pressure on inflation.

      Of the 135.1 percent inflation rate for August, increases in food
prices accounted for 44.1 percentage points.

      Food inflation prone to transitory shocks stood at 125.5 percent
gaining 18.6 percentage points on the July rate of 131.9 percent.

      Non-food inflation gained 8.1 percentage points to 14 percent on
the July rate.

      The year on year inflation rate is given by the percentage change
in the index of the relevant month of the current year compared with the
index of the same month in the previous year. Enditem
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  Zimbabwe sets up warehouse in Angola


      Xinhuanet 2002-09-16 14:49:00

      HARARE, Sept. 16 (Xinhuanet) -- Zimtrade, the trade promotion
agency of Zimbabwe, has set up a bonded warehouse in Angola to facilitate
the entry of local products into that market, accordingto the Herald on

      The warehouse is located 8 km out of Luanda, Angola's capital and
3 km from the port.

      A spokesperson for Zimtrade said the setting up of the warehouse
was part of the agency's objective to identify new regional and global

      "Despite the ravages of war, Angola has positive foreign currency
reserves and capacity to rapidly transform its economy into one of the
strongest on the continent within a relatively short period of time," the
spokesperson said.

      "With peace now prevailing, the doors into Angola are wide open.We
enjoy excellent relations with Angola and it is imperative thatour business
community move swiftly to play their part in the reconstruction of this vast
and awakening economic giant," said the spokesperson.

      The warehouse is the second to be established by Zimtrade.
Lastyear, the organization opened its first bonded warehouse in

      Angola has abundant natural resources with vast potential of
becoming one of the richest and most important markets in Africa. It has a
variety of minerals and a good climate.

      The southwestern African country was devastated by nearly
threedecades of civil war that saw its output per person becoming the lowest
in the world.

      Trade between Zimbabwe and Angola remains insignificant. The
cordial relations between the two countries date back to the liberation
struggle in the 1970s. Enditem
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ABC Australia

Farmers seek Commonwealth action on Mugabe

White farmers in Zimbabwe are urging the Commonwealth to take strong action
against the Government of President Robert Mugabe over his push to force
them off their land and replace them with black civil war veterans.

The farm lobby group, Justice for Agriculture, says sanctions should be
imposed against President Mugabe for failing to uphold law and order.

Group spokeswoman Jenni Williams says the Commonwealth should protect the
citizens of Zimbabwe but punish the Government.

"To be cruel to the political people who are not repentant at all but to be
kind to Zimbabweans, who are the victims," she said.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard, South African President Thabo Mbeki
and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo will meet in Nigeria next week to
decide the Commonwealth's response.

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Mail and Guardian

Zimbabwe takes revenge on judge


      16 September 2002 07:06

A Zimbabwean judge refused on Sunday to release a retired colleague who has
been jailed since Friday and accused of bias against President Robert
Mugabe's government, the jailed judge's lawyers said.

High Court Judge Benjamin Hlatshwayo rejected pleas that police had no
grounds for suspecting irregularities in retired High Court Judge Feargus
Blackie's last judgments before he left the bench in July, said Raphael
Costa, Blackie's lawyer.

One of Blackie's last acts as a judge was to sentence Justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa to three months in jail on contempt of court charges after
the minister repeatedly ignored a court summons.

Chinamasa ignored the ruling and police refused to arrest him in what was
seen as further evidence of a breakdown of the rule of law in Zimbabwe.

Blackie, a 65-year-old with a heart condition, spent the weekend in a dirty
jail in Harare, his lawyers said.

For 24 hours after his arrest shortly before dawn Friday, Blackie was held
incommunicado, without food and in freezing conditions. By Sunday, his
lawyers were eventually allowed to bring him food, warm clothing and

They will demand a bail hearing on Monday before a lower court, Costa said.

Arrest in Zimbabwe are often carried out on Fridays to force suspects to
spend the weekend in overcrowded and filthy police cells before a court
hearing can be held

Blackie's arrest was seen as part of a continuing crackdown against judges,
reporters and activists deemed critical of Mugabe's increasingly
authoritarian rule. The government has accused many white judges, including
Blackie, of bias against it.

State media have said Blackie was being investigated on suspicion that he
was racially biased when he overturned a one-year jail sentence imposed on a
white woman convicted of theft.

His lawyers said on Sunday Blackie was not guilty of bias, but there had
been a clerical mix-up in the case.

Zimbabwe has been wracked by more than two years of political and economic
turmoil, marked by a violent crackdown against the opposition and government
efforts to seize 5 000 white-owned farms for redistribution to blacks.

Seven of the country's 30 senior judges have quit or retired in just over a
year. All were considered independent thinkers who had come under pressure
from the government and ruling party militants to toe the party line. -
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Zimbabwe expels foreign journalist

Andrew Meldrum in Harare
Monday September 16, 2002
The Guardian

President Robert Mugabe's government intensified its campaign against the
independent media at the weekend, expelling one of the last foreign
correspondents remaining in the country.
Griffin Shea of Agence France-Presse, was forced to leave Zimbabwe on
Saturday when the government refused to renew his work permit.

"No foreigner should be resident here as a journalist," the information
minister, Jonathan Moyo, said. "We have made it clear that they can only be
here for a limited period, in fact, the limited period is 30 days."

Mr Moyo suggested that Mr Shea, an American citizen, was working with the US
government to overthrow the Mugabe regime.

"The government was not prepared to renew Shea's permit so that he would
work with the US to topple it from power," Mr Moyo said, according to the
state-owned Sunday Mail newspaper. Mr Shea dismissed the allegation as
completely unfounded.

"This is another example of government's crackdown on the independent media
in Zimbabwe," Mr Shea said as he left Zimbabwe.

"It's not just journalists who are affected. The government is using the
same heavy handed approach against the judiciary, the opposition party and
civil society in general. It is heartbreaking to have to go but I am more
concerned that my colleagues here are going to have to work under
increasingly difficult circumstances."

Two weeks ago the offices of the independent broadcaster Voice of the People
were destroyed by a firebomb.

A Zimbabwean journalist, Tawanda Majoni, was held overnight at the weekend
after he wrote a story for the Daily Mirror alleging that the police
commissioner was unfit for duty due to ill health. He was released without

The government also jailed a retired high court justice, Fergus Blackie, at
the weekend. Mr Blackie, 65 and in failing health, stepped down from the
bench in July.

He was arrested on suspicion of "defeating the course of justice" by
improperly ordering the release of a white woman jailed on embezzlement

The action is widely seen as an act of retribution because Mr Blackie
sentenced the minister of justice, Patrick Chinamasa, to two months in jail
in July for contempt of court. The minister did not go to jail and his
conviction was later overturned.

The crackdown on journalists and judges coincides with campaigning for local
council elections. More than half the opposition candidates have been forced
to drop out by threats, beatings and torture by government supporters,
according to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
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Dear friends,
The unthinkable has happened.  For reasons best known to themselves, the authorities have decided to proceed with the case of the "Bulawayo 11".  Each of us has received a summons to appear in court on Wednesday 25th September.  There was always the possibility that this could happen, but none of us seriously believed that it would. The charge against us reads:
"GATHERING CAUSING DISORDER OR INTOLERANCE, DISTURB PEACE, SECURITY OR ORDER OF THE PUBLIC. In that on 16th February, 2002 and outside main gate Bulawayo Central Police Station, Fife Street/Leopold Takawira Avenue, Bulawayo the accused persons acting in concert unlawfully and intentionally contravened the Public Order and Security Act by blocking the movement of traffic in and out of Bulawayo Central Charge Office and disturbing the free movement of the public outside the Charge Office and thereby causing disorder and disturbing the public peace."
It is incredible what can be conjured up from an incident lasting a couple of minutes when ten of us spontaneously held hands while one person prayed briefly.  We have no doubt that this is part of a carefully orchestrated campaign of harassment and intimidation designed to instill fear into the population.
Our regular daily Bible reading from Isaiah 41: 1 - 16 on the day we received the summons could hardly have been more appropriate, especially verses 10 - 14.  May we ask you to pray these promises into the situation on our behalf?  Please pray  for the magistrate hearing the case.  Magistrates and judges are also being intimidated and in at least one case we know about, the magistrate was physically assaulted for handing down a judgement unacceptable to the state. Pray too for wives and families who share the stress of the situation.  Those involved are:
Father Kevin O'Doherty (Roman Catholic)
Barry Dickinson (Roman Catholic)
Rev. David Maroleng (Anglican)
Rev. Graham Shaw (Methodist - our Minister)
Trevor Leonard (Anglican)
Ron Marillier (Presbyterian)
Peter Botwright (Methodist)
Pastor Palany 'George' Rajah (Pentecostal)
John and Joan Stakesby Lewis (Methodist)
The 11th person, Rev. Noel Scott (Anglican) has been charged under a different section of the POSA on a more serious charge (disobeying a police order).  He will almost certainly also be summoned, but we are unable to verify this at present as he is in UK until 20th September.
The case could drag on for months, although obviously we hope not.  The maximum penalty under the POSA is a $20 000 fine or 2 years in jail!!
We are not the only ones affected in this way.  Dozens, if not hundreds, of farmers are having to appear in court over the next few weeks.  Their 'crime' -   staying on their own land to produce food for a starving nation.  (Of course, their real crime is that they support the opposition.)  Opposition MPs, journalists, farm labourers and others are also attacked, beaten and dragged into court on trumped up charges.
We value your prayer support.  However, if your name is on our address book and you no longer wish to receive prayer requests and news updates, please let us know and we will press "Delete"!
Yours sincerely,
John and Joan Stakesby Lewis.
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My neighbour was killed,
Blood was spilled,
With no thanks to you
We were kicked off our farm,
Yet we had to keep calm,
With no thanks to you.
People got beaten,
People stopped eating,
With no thanks to you.
There is now no food,
And you think that this is good ?
My family were in Jail,
They had to pay Bail,
With no thanks to you.
We're not allowed to go home,
Are you enjoying this ?
I hope not because it is madness,
That we have all this sadness.
Where will it all end ?
When we can no longer be "friends" ?
(15 year old daughter of evicted farmers)
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Sent: 16 September 2002 14:23
Subject: Read the Truth - Patrice Lumumba Coalition delegaton Visit to Zimbabwe

Dear Editor


The following article was published in your media recently. I thought that a rebuttle was required and I hope that this will be given some consideration by yourselves. A long article like this is difficult to deal with in a response, but it contains so many errors of fact and assumption that it simply cannot be allowed to run unchallenged. This is why so many of us who live in Africa, find the Afro-American lobby iconoclastic and sycophantic in its views on the continent and just what is going on there. They clearly come to the continent, as Ron Wilkins did, with preconcieved ideas and left with enough "facts" to confirm their prejudice.


Eddie Cross

Secretary for Economic Affairs, the Movement for Democratic Change in Zimbabwe.

15th September 2002



By Ron Wilkins
TBWT Guest Contributor
Article Dated 9/4/2002

I recently returned to L.A. from Zimbabwe as part of an official fact-finding team. As our mission neared an end, Elombe Brath, chairman of Patrice Lumumba Coalition and the leader of our 14 member delegation said to a newspaper reporter "our conclusion is that the land reform program is justifiable and long overdue". Elombe further echoed the sentiment of our team when he stated that "although we knew that the Western media was subjective in its interpretation of events in Zimbabwe, we were shocked by the level of bias and unprofessionalism in stories about this country".

I want it known that my very positive impressions of Zimbabwe, its people and the veracity of statements made by its leaders, have been expressed in nearly identical terms by the independent pan-African magazine, New African. I strongly encourage Africans in the U.S. to read New African magazine, for it has consistently provided comprehensive coverage on Zimbabwe and the African continent as a whole. New African's exclusive 16 page interview with President Mugabe in its May issue is required reading for anyone seriously interested in understanding the challenges facing Zimbabwe.

Our team included journalists, activists, lawyers and educators. We were Africans from Canada, Trinidad, Puerto Rico, Uganda and the United States. Among our group of 4 women and 10 men was Adelaide Sanford, Vice Chancellor-New York State Board of Regents; Dr. Tony Martin, Black Studies Department-Wellesley College-Mass - author of "Race First - The Ideological and Organizational Struggles of Marcus Garvey and the UNIA" ; Dr. Georgina Falu, San Juan, Puerto Rico - translator of key contemporary African historical works from English to Spanish and Betty Dopson, Queens, New York - Co-Chair Committee to Eliminate Media Offensive to African People (CEMOTEP), which is a leading organization which challenges erroneous reporting on Black leadership.

Our mission was to assess the land reform program, brief our respective constituencies and encourage them/us (Africans in the diaspora) to weigh in on what needs to be a public debate on U.S. government policy toward Zimbabwe. Presently, Western governments led by Britain and the United States, and mainstream print and elecronic media, are unanimous in their condemnations of Zimbabwe's land reform program. The U.S. State Department has labelled Zimbabwe's land redistribution initiatives as "reckless". CNN, BBC and a host of mainstream tabloids have portrayed Zimbabwe's white farmers as victims and its president Robert Mugabe as the villain. "A farmer as she packed to go", said "I can't cry anymore. I just don't have any tears left", wrote Time Magazine on August 19. Conspicuously absent from media images of distraught and teary-eyed white farmers, are the faces of destitute African peasants whose lands were expropriated during colonial rule, or optimistic new farmers who have achieved success.

The carefully orchestrated disinformation campaign to undermine and ultimately take down Zimbabwe's progressive government, is standard fare for U.S. rulers, who have never supported a single liberation movement on the African continent. Late last year, the U.S. government adopted the Zimbabwe Democracy Act, which has imposed stiff sanctions on Zimbabwe. With the noteworthy exception of the courageous former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, every member of the Congressional Black Caucus supported Bush's signing of the bill. Our delegation found itself, on a number of occasions, in the awkward and embarrassing position of being asked to explain the anti-Africa voting patterns of Black politicians. Our African brothers and sisters point to Jewish and Irish lobby groups, which act as links between their homelands and the U.S. political establishment, and wonder why so many of us are conspicuously silent on issues affecting the motherland.

Since independence Zimbabwe's government has constructed hundreds of needed hospitals, nearly doubled the number of primary schools to 4,500, increased secondary schools from 177 to 1,548, teacher training colleges from 4 to 15, universities from 1 to 8 (Zimbabwe now has the highest literacy rate in Africa at 85%), piped water schemes from 26 to 520 and dams from 121 to 2,438. Actually, a considerable amount of information which places Zimbabwe in a much more favorable light, is not being disseminated by Western news sources.

Following our discussions with a wide range of Zimbabweans, which included landless peasants, white and black farmers, government officials, media representatives, war veterans and President Mugabe himself, we determined that;

1) the primary two reasons for Western hostility, unfair reporting and sanctions against Zimbabwe are President Mugabe's determination to return land to Indigenous African peasants, who are its rightful owners; and Zimbabwe's intervention in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), at the request of its legitimate government, to repel Western-sponsored aggressors. Zimbabwe's timely dispatching of troops to the DRC, whose numbers rose to 12,000 during the peak of the conflict, helped to prevent the recolonization of the richest country in Africa.


Comment: Land Ownership.  Although Ron Wilkins has a name of european origin, I assume form this article that he is black and has links with Africa from his past. I also assume that he owns a home in the US and is a voting citizen.  He probably also owns a car and perhaps other permanent assets in the US.  White Zimbabweans owned and farmed 8,3 million hectares of land (2,4 acres = 1 hectare) before the present land aquisition exercise was launched in February 2000. This is just over 20 per cent of the total land surface in Zimbabwe. The land is spread across the 5 agroecological zones which determine agricultural potential - the highest potential being Region 1. and the lowest Region 5. 83 per cent of all these properties had been purchased by their present owners after 1980 when Zimbabwe gained its independence. The great majority hold certificates of "no interest" issued by the Zimbabwe government under Robert Mugabe which enabled them to buy the land and then invest in productive activity.


The land is held freehold - and these rights which are entrenched in our constitution and which are protected throughout the world as the primary foundation of economic investmemt and growth, are now being violated in an illegal, violent and criminal programme. If Ron Wilkins was dispossesed of his home, his car and all other fixed and moveable assets, except the clothes he owned and perhaps some furniture, he would be as mad as a hornet on a hot day. Yet he dismisses the rights of these land owners as if they were of no account.  It is not Ron Wilkins fault that he is an American, neither is it my fault that I am an African. We both had no choice in the matter. We chose to live in the countries of our birth and I hope we share the same desire to prosper and invest so that our families can live. I think we also expect our respective governments - even if we did not vote them in - to protect our interests.

The Congo: In 1994 Hutu rebels masacred 800 000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu people in a short period of national genocide. The action was supported by Mabuto who was in power in the Congo. Not only did he enflame passions using a radio station in the Kivu Province but he trained and armed the people who did the killing. When it was over, the Tutsi took power in Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda and swore that they would never allow that to happen again. To achieve this they decided to take a security corridor along the Congo border with their countries and to prevent any further action by the Hutu rebels who had sought refuge in the Congo. They needed a Congolese to head this limited military action and chose Kabila who was running a nightclub in Tanzania and who had been a personal friend of Mugabe in the 70's and even earlier.


On entry to the country they found the Mabuto regime totally rotten and Kabila found himself in Kinshasha as head of state. He turned on his partners after a short while and kiled many of the Tutsi soldiers who had got him into the seat of power by overthrowing Mabuto. The Rwandese and the Ugandans, frightened of a resumption of support for the Huti rebels in the Congo decided to overthrow Kabila. In August 1997, Mugabe threw a third of his army (British trained and arguably the best army north of South Africa) into the fray at a cost of over US$1 million a day. They saved Kabila and in return gained control of the huge diamond mines in the east of the Congo where they have been ever since. The UN has condemned the Zimbabwean intervention as being self serving and exploiting the assets of the Congo for personal gain.


While in the Congo, the Zimbabwean army has trained and armed the Hutu rebels and this more than any other single factor has perpetuated the war in Central Africa - threatening the stability of half the continent. More than 2,5 million Congolese have lost their lives in the conflict since it started.  There is evidence to suggest that Zimbabwe and Angola were complicent in the death of Kabila senior, making way for Kabila junior, who was expected to be more pliable. No forces or interests external to Africa were involved in this conflict.


2) land reform has been ongoing for the past four years and 360,000 families, which include the opposition, have received land. Many white farms are unusually large and range between 3000 and 20,000 hectares, while an average family-owned farm in the U.S. is between 200 and 250 hectares. Three members of Britain's House of Lords own land in Zimbabwe. Some white farms are not even listed in Zimbabwe's national records and the Opppenheimer Ranch is 300,000 hectares. However, the vast majority of black peasants must eke out an existence in "rural areas" on land that is rocky, poor and arid. Seventy-five percent of Zimbabwe's food is produced by black farmers, including sixty percent of its maize or corn, which is the country's staple crop.


Comment: Land reform has been a basic government programme since independence in 1980. At that time white farmers numbered about 6000 and held about 12 million hectares under freehold title. Since then about 4 million hectares has been acquired on a willing seller willing buyer basis and settled. Of the 2000 farms purchased from their former owners, 800 were allocated to Zanu PF leaders and others before the present land grab was started.


The Oppenheimer property is well within Region 3/4 and suitable only for extensive ranching and wild life. It is in fact only 300 000 acres and the Openheimer family have offerred a substantial portion to the state free plus a grant of Z$10 million to provide infrastructure and development for settlement purposes. This was rejected by the state.


The 12 million hectares of land occupied by commercial farmers are held by some 23 000 farmers. 4200 are white. The average farm size for the white farmers is 1976 hectares.  Of Region 1 land - 80 per cent is in the hands of either small scale black peasant farmers or the State. Only 20 per cent of this intensive farming zone is in the hands of large scale commercial farms.  In Region 2. large scale commercial farms controlled 60 per cent of all land with Region 3, 4 and 5 all standing at about 15 per cent. The largest properties in the country are owned either by corporations or by the State - Mwenzi Ranch is just less than 1 million acres - owned by the State, the CSC and ADA properties combined are over 1,2 million acres and are all state owned. None of these are subject to land settlement.


3) the coming food shortages and "famine", which Zimbabwe's detractors have connected to the land reform program, have no relationship to each other at all. The anticipated food shortage is being produced by a regional drought that is undermining crop production in a number of countries. In truth, droughts, which are cyclical in the region and occur every ten years, are a fact of life. While death from starvation has occurred in the neighboring countries of Zambia and Malawi, no Zimbabweans have died. Despite very limited resources, Zimbabwe has gotten itself through food crises quite admirably.


Comment: In 1992 Zimbabwe had a severe drought with near total crop failure. All cities were on water rationing and wildlife thoughout the country had to be fed for survival. This year no cities are on water rationing and crops such as cotton, tobacco and soybeans all yielded 70 to 80 per cent of normal yields. In 1992 the country was able to feed itself without external assistance and no Zimbabwean died of hunger. Today, the country faces a 75 per cent deficit in all basic foods and is unable to supply more than a third of the shortfall. At least 500 000 Zimbabweans will die in the next 6 months from malnutrition and hunger. There is no comparison and all commentators acknowledge that bad policy and the violent land aquisition programme are mainly responsible for the food crisis.

4) white farmers in Zimbabwe are being permitted to keep one farm and are being compensated for all capital improvements on land reclaimed by the government. Exceptions to this rule are farms which are in excess of permissable acreage, idle or under-utilized farms and farms next to communal lands. Some farmers own as many as 7 and 8 farms. African laborers on white farms are treated poorly and receive inadequate pay. Ian Smith, who lead white resistance to the black independence struggle, pays black laborers on his farm $4,300 Zim dollars ($72 US) per month and crowds them into one room hovels which lack electricity and other necessities. During the current phase of land reform, defiant white farmers have been arrested, but there has been no violence and no farmer has been forced out.


Comment: Ron must have visited another country - he could not be talking about Zimbabwe. Out of the 4200 white commercial farmers - all of them holding freehold title rights with investments of over US$6 billion in their businesses, 4000 are the subject of compulsory eviction orders that will leave them penniless and dipossesed. No farmers are being exempted and over half of the farmers concerned have only one property. There is no compensation and all evictions are violent. 11 white farmers have been killed and thousands of farmers and their workers beaten, raped and burnt out of their homes. They are being traumatised and already we have over 800 000 people who are officially classified by the UNDP as being evicted and internally displaced.


Living standards for farm workers and their families (2 million people in all), were 3 times the average of the living standard in the communal areas. They also enjoyed free housing, water and light and energy for cooking. They also often were given food to suplement their diets. These people are now homeless, displaced, hungry and without employment.

5) some white farmers, resentful after receiving section 8 notices to surrender their farms to the government, are poisoning the soil with herbicides, poisoning livestock, destroying maize crop, blocking boreholes (wells), setting wildfires and commiting other forms of sabotage.


Comment: It is astonishing that not a single shot has been fired by over 10 000 white men on these 4200 farms in defence of their rights as property owners. All are armed and many have had military training. This example of restraint is extraordinary in any ones language.  Remember these people are being forced off their farms, often at gun point, often with violence directed at themselves and their staff and their families. This is their property - not the states, they bought the farms, they invested in irrigation and equipment, dams and infrastructure. Its their property that is being taken from them by force.


If a similar situation was to develope in the US and I was allowed to force Ron out of his house and other property so that I could take occupation - without compensation or any other rights, I am sure I would be faced with violent resistence. The difference in the US is that Ron would have the protection pf the law and the assistance of the Police. Here the farmers have no support or protection of any kind.


I as an African can say OK lets drive these people out of Africa - I can assure you the majority of the farmers and their families will not suffer for long. They will quickly find themselves valued in the countries to which they go as hard working and intelligent men and women. Good law abiding citizens who pay their taxes. The people who are left behind will however suffer for decades from the loss of investment and confidence, the loss of skills, the damage to the economy. Our exports have fallen by half since this chaos started, emplyment by a third, the economy by a quarter. Our currency has collapsed from 12 to 1 against the US dollar to 700 to 1.  Capital flight is now endemic.


6) Zimbabwe's presidential elections in March, which saw President Mugabe returned to office, were declared "free and fair" by monitors from several African countries and the African Union. Since independence more than 20 political parties have operated in the country, including the MDC which is openly supported by white farmers, Britain and others opposed to the present government. Zimbabwe's election outcome stands in sharp contrast to the U.S. presidential election where thousands of black votes in Florida, which favored Bush's opponent, were thrown out.

Comment:  All serious observer missions were unanimous, the Zimbabwe elections were not free or fair. Nigeria and South Africa agree and suported the subsequent suspension of Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth until this is corrected. The MDC has 2 million members - the total white population is less than 50 000 today. The great majority of the membership of the MDC is black, low income and Zimbabwean.  Even amongst the white farmers, only a minority supported the MDC in any way - and are now paying for their courage as the state attacks their homes and assets.  We have taken the election to the Courts and expect the Courts to rule in our favour as the legal case is overwhelming.


For Zimbabwe's Indigenous population the land redistribution struggle represents the "Third Chimurenga". The first was the courageous yet unsuccessful 1890's resistance against white colonizers, and the second was the liberation struggle, won at a cost of more than 50,000 lives, which led to independence in 1980. In his book titled "British Betrayal of the Africans - Land, Cattle and Human Rights", Zimbabwean historian Aeneas Chigwedere writes, "thousands of Africans were killed, maimed and tortured in 1893, 1896-97, 1900-1904 and between 1970 and 1980; the Africans were impoverished and starved by the seizures of their cattle, goats, sheep and crops by an illegal regime; Africans were denied the necessary health facilities and continued to be decimated by the common tropical diseases; the Africans were denied education facilities and toiled as hewers of wood and drawers of water for the white man... I have a fair picture of the histories of all the former European colonies in Africa. I cannot find a single colony that was treated as mercilessly and as ruthlessly as Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe)". And then there is this observation by Mr. Chigwedere," Judging from their performance in Africa, the British are undoubtedly the worst racists that have existed on the face of the earth".

Comment: Aneas Chigwedere is the Minister of Education in Mr Mugabes government. He is an outspoken appologist for Mugabe otherwise he would not be a part of the administration. I once spoke to Samora Machel about the colonial histories of the region and he remarked to me "Mr Cross, if you were to choose your colonisers you would never choose the Portuguese".  Ron Wilkins is a victim of his own past, just as I am a victim of mine. My family have been here since 1867 and we are all still here and intend to stay, come what may. The difference between Ron and myself is that I choose to fight for a better life for Africa, in Africa. All I own is right here. If Africa fails, I loose everything. Bush may have won the vote in Florida on an unsatisfactory basis, but that did not in any way threaten Ron's way of life. When Mugabe stole the past election, he then set about destroying everything that we had built up over the past 100 years - including all the good things he did in the eary years of independence.


Perhaps our delegation's most memorable meeting was with President Robert Mugabe. The meeting lasted nearly two hours as the president outlined the land issue and responded to our questions. Yet another meeting with Dr. Olivia Muchena, Minister of State with responsibility for monitoring the land reform program, provided us with additional insights into the land question. Dr. Muchena described how Western education contradicts traditional African values by making it clear that " when white people took the land, they disqualified themselves from being human, because they had done an inhuman act. They (the white people) took what belonged to God -- a form of sacrilege if you like".

Dr. Muchena then said, "the land is not a commodity. It cannot be bought and sold. The land is the sum total of who we are as human beings. This fundamental belief is at the core of our tenacity and the courage that you see in our president".


Comment:  For Olivier Muchena, a Doctor of Science and a active Christian to say that whites are not human - is absolutely disgraceful. If any member of the Bush administration was to say something like this about black Americans there would be an uproar. Ron accepts this racist propoganda as if it was true and justified.  Land rights and security of tenure are universal rights. In this country they are entrenched rights in the Constitution. No one has the right to take that away without fair market based compensation. Certainly not with violence and worse in the process.


This same man that Ron speaks of in such glowing terms has taken away our right to freedon of expression and association, he has abandoned the rule of law, subverted our judicial system and the whole electoral system. He has unleashed on his people a campaign of violence and intimidation which is aimed at destroying the MDC and all it stands for. The state controlled media run a hate campaign which is so virulent that the majority of all Zimbabweans no longer tune into the radio or TV.  Mugabe is tyrant on the same level at Bokassa in the CAR and Mabuto in the Congo or Amin in Uganda. This is a man who is pursuing a Pol Pot agenda in his own country and against his own people. Black Americans need to do more than act as praise singers for tyranny if they want our respect and support in their own struggles for a more just society. They must not use the black white/thing as an excuse.

The government of Namibia, which firmly supports Zimbabwe, recently announced plans to expropriate 192 farms in its territory. Namibia's congress noted in a resolution"that it was concerned at the slow pace of land redistribution, which has the potential to cause civil strife". Namibia and its sprawling next door neighbor South Africa, each have land hungry populations whose patience has worn thin. Namibia's President Sam Nujoma, responding on one occasion to white claims of land ownership

asked " so how much land did the white man bring to Africa?".


Comment: How much land did Ron's family bring to America, how much land did immigrants to Australia bring to that continent. There are 400 000 Zimbabweans in the UK - they own houses and busisnesses - do they have rights? This is irresponsible nonsense.

In an editorial appropriately captioned "The end of Rhode's dream", a European newspaper opposed to Zimbabwe's land reform program, sadly recalled how "Cecil Rhodes imperial dream to move north from the Cape into the uncharted interior of Africa, exploiting its mineral wealth and introducing settlement", had come to an end. Rhode's dream to have whites dominate and exploit Africans "from the Cape to Cairo" has been Africa's long nightmare. Africa belongs to its people, and not to others, whose home is elsewhere! Zimbabwe is on the threshold of restoring stolen land to its rightful Indigenous owners. We must have no illusions about what is at stake here. The principled, defiant and resolute stand taken by President Mugabe and the Zimbabwean nation has shaken the imperialist world at its foundations. Restoring the land to the people is what Kenya's Land Freedom Army, disparagingly referred to as the Mau Mau, sought to achieve. Retaking the land has been the cornerstone of the fight for independence in every part of the African continent, if not the world. There are many who can recall how one of our greatest revolutionaries, Malcolm X, during his speech titled "Message to the Grassroots" said "revolution is based on land... the landless against the landlord is the basis of independence".

Allow me to end this article with words spoken by President Robert Mugabe, words which drew sustained applause, during his historic August 12 Heroes Day Commemoration speech at National Heroes Acre. National Heroes Acre is a shrine and the final resting place for Zimbabwe's martyrs. "We are a child that imperialism would never have wanted to see born, one it would have rather scotched and quashed in the belly than see born. We emerge from circumstances of a resolute liberation struggle and thus carry a stamp of stolid, defiant protest. We do not kowtow to erstwhile imperialist forces with avid appetites for the control and manipulation of our lives and destiny and the continued exploitation of our wealth and resources". President Mugabe went on to point out that the process of retaking Indigenous land settles "the grievance of all grievances" that Zimbabweans would "not be deterred on this one question" and that "the land is ours"!

Ron Wilkins currently teaches the history of Africans in Latin America & the Carribbean and African American history at several Los Angeles area colleges and is Deputy Chairman of the Harlem based Patrice Lumumba Coalition. Mr. Wilkins, who has travelled extensively throughout the African continent, is a veteran sixties Black power activist and was a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. e-mail: (contact address-not for public distribution)