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2835mostly Zim news

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  • Christine Chumbler
    Dec 10, 2001
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      Mugabe to ‘tough it out’

      Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe is likely to *tough it out* and appeal to black
      South Africans over President Thabo Mbeki’s head, in response to the South African
      government’s ditching of its *quiet diplomacy* policy


      Further intensifying the country’s isolation, the United States Congress adopted
      the Zimbabwe Democracy Act by an overwhelming majority.

      Diplomats said Mugabe was most likely to respond to the pressures by projecting
      himself to black South Africans as *a Pan Africanist hero* and *toughing it out, at
      least until he has won a further six-year term*.

      He has already tried to strike a posture as Africa's revolutionary crusader against
      globalisation and the relics of white imperialism, setting an example to the region
      ― particularly South Africa ― on how to conduct land reform.

      Diplomats said another possibility ― although remote ― was that Mugabe would
      make cosmetic changes to appease Mbeki. A small group of wealthy white farmers
      who have backed Mugabe to win forthcoming elections may be brought on board,
      with at least one being offered a Cabinet seat.

      A minister able to speak a South African language, such as Ndebele-speaking
      Zanu-PF party chairperson John Nkomo, currently Minister of Home Affairs, may be
      charged with improving Harare-Pretoria relations.

      In the past week Mugabe has ditched the centuries-old rule book of diplomatic
      practice by permitting his hard-line Minister of Information, Jonathan Moyo, to pillory
      targeted Western diplomats in the state-controlled media, in addition to launching a
      war of words on Pretoria.

      Danish ambassador Ole Moesby and British High Commissioner Brian Donnelly
      were vilified.

      The day Mbeki let it be known he had
      finally lost patience ― Mugabe's worst
      external setback in years ― the new
      Supreme Court bench under former
      minister Godfrey Chidyausiku handed the
      Zimbabwean president a predicted
      internal triumph in the form of 4-1
      endorsement of the *fast track land
      reform programme".

      The last hopes that internal pressure
      could bring change were destroyed on
      Monday by the newly reconstituted
      Supreme Court. Envoys and jurists said
      only external pressure could ensure
      anything resembling clean presidential
      elections next year.

      Chief Justice Chidyausiku cleared the government of all wrongdoing despite the
      murder of 39 farmworkers and nine farmers in two years of what Mugabe calls the
      *Third Chimurenga" or civil war.

      It was unreasonable to expect the government to *bring about a totally crime free
      environment", said Chidyausiku. He added that land reform *is a matter of social
      justice, not strictly speaking a legal issue".

      Three newly appointed Mugabe sympathisers backed Chidyausiku's finding, which
      now clears the way for summary redistribution of 5 000 white-owned farms to
      300 000 Zanu-PF supporters.

      Human rights lawyer Adrian de Bourbon said the ruling marked *the end of the road"
      for farmers’ attempts to fight through the courts. Anyone attempting to defend human
      rights from now on *runs a very severe risk of not getting a fair adjudication", he

      However, Zimbabwe's legal community were ringing in their praise for the personal
      courage and moral integrity of Appeal Judge Admed Ibrahim (61), who issued a
      dissenting judgement.

      Ibrahim rejected demands that he resign earlier this year, despite warnings by
      Minister of Justice Patrick Chinamasa that *anything could happen" following death
      threats from Mugabe's war veterans.

      In his minority ruling, likely to be reprinted in legal journals around the world, Ibrahim
      accused the government of coming back to Judge Chidyausiku with the same
      arguments that had been rejected by the previous Supreme Court bench under Judge
      Anthony Gubbay.

      He said that on the evidence put before the Supreme Court by the Commercial
      Farmers’ Union it was impossible to say law and order had been restored.

      *Haphazard squatting cannot form part of a lawful programme of land reform," he
      said. *It is not the function of the courts to support the government of the day. The
      courts' duty is to the law and the law alone. They may never subvert the law. To do
      otherwise would create huge uncertainty in the law."

      De Bourbon's warning that internal means of legal redress were running out was
      echoed by Professor Tony Hawkins of the University of Zimbabwe’s business school.
      He believes there is little hope the local business community will exert internal
      pressure for reform, despite the worsening economic crisis.

      However, Zimbabwe remained vulnerable to South African pressure on transport, fuel
      and electricity, said Hawkins. *The economic pressures will continue to intensify in
      the months ahead, but this government is going nowhere until the elections.

      *If Mugabe wins he will have to try and do something ― I don't know what ― to
      reverse some of the things he is doing now. Undermining the dynamo of the
      economy ― agriculture ― will not fully hit us until next year or the year after.

      *We haven't felt the full effect of financing the budget deficit by the tax on savers, and
      the exchange rate policy."

      Institutional investors are currently receiving a maximum of 30% returns in the face of
      nearly 100% inflation, which Hawkins describes as *a concealed tax".

      *There will also be a substantial outflow of skills post election," said Hawkins.

      Despite the country’s economic decline, political entropy and increasing international
      isolation, no challenge is expected to Mugabe’s leadership at next week’s Zanu-PF
      congress in Victoria Falls.

      An orgy of anti-Western and anti-South African rhetoric is expected when close on
      14 000 delegates turn up in the resort town.


      Ministers to audit Zimbabwe's
      land plans

      Harare | Monday

      FOREIGN ministers from six southern African countries are due
      in Harare on Monday to audit developments in Zimbabwe's
      controversial land reforms, a government representative said on
      The meeting is a follow-up to a Southern African Development
      Community (SADC) summit of heads of states held three months
      ago as part of an international diplomatic offensive to prevent
      Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis from turning into a
      regional problem.
      Foreign ministers of Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Namibia,
      Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe are expected
      to hold talks at a Harare hotel.
      "They will be here from the 11th to the 12th of December. This is
      a follow up to the heads of states summit of September," said
      representative George Charamba.
      The September summit agreed to set up a committee of ministers
      to monitor the situation in Zimbabwe.
      Asked about the agenda, the representative said "the agenda is
      theirs, but they have indicated they want to meet stakeholders."
      Local state media say the ministers are expected to hear from an
      array of interest groups -- including the main opposition party,
      white farmers, liberation war veterans, church groups, civic
      bodies, the media and representatives of commerce and industry.
      The meeting is to take place after reported calls by President
      Thabo Mbeki of South Africa for a special SADC task team on
      Zimbabwe to be set up.
      South Africa's Sunday Times last week said that Mbeki's
      patience with Harare was "wearing thin" because the Zimbabwe
      crisis was hampering efforts to launch an economic revival plan for
      Zimbabwe's turmoil has already had economic effects around the
      region, scaring off some potential investors.
      The crippled economy also means that a major market for
      regionally produced goods is disappearing, as the price of imports
      soars with the skyrocketing exchange rate on the parallel market.
      In September, Zimbabwe struck a deal with the British
      government, under which Britain will pay compensation for the
      acquired farms in the former colony, on condition there is a return
      to law and order.
      At the end of October a Commonwealth team of ministers met in
      Harare to investigate progress made in the implementation of the
      agreement with Britain.
      The ministers concluded their meeting with a call on the
      government of President Robert Mugabe to implement the
      agreement signed in the Nigerian capital Abuja on September 6
      and probe reports of rights abuses and violence.
      Last week the Supreme Court declared the land reforms were in
      accordance with the constitution, saying the "land acquisition and
      redistribution is essentially a matter of social justice and not
      strictly speaking a legal issue".
      Zimbabwe has been wracked by a land crisis since February
      2000, when militant government supporters spearheaded the
      invasion of white-owned farms to press for their redistribution to
      landless blacks.
      Meanwhile, Moeletsi Mbeki, a leading international affairs expert
      and brother of South Africa's president said on Sunday that
      drastic measures including economic action are necessary to
      avoid a crisis in Zimbabwe.
      The situation in Zimbabwe not act, Mbeki said on public
      broadcaster SABC's Newsmaker programme.
      "South Africa is the one country that is going to be hurt the most
      by the Zimbabwe crisis, so it is the country that has to take most
      of the action," said Mbeki, who is the deputy chairman of the
      South African Institute for International Affairs.
      Measures against the Harare government of President Robert
      Mugabe could include "pulling the economic plug" on Zimbabwe,
      Mbeki told SABC's Newsmaker programme.
      "You know, most of Zimbabwe's trade goes through South Africa.
      We must be their biggest trading partner," Mbeki said.
      "So we can stop the Zimbabwean economy tomorrow if we
      wanted to. We have the muscle," he said. - AFP


      And this isn't Africa-related at all, except that I saw the story in the Jo'burg paper. Weird, weird world...

      A JAPANESE woman who
      apparently set out to find one
      million dollars in ransom money
      depicted in the hit comedy-thriller
      "Fargo" may have died from
      exposure, Japanese media said
      on Monday. The body of the
      woman, a resident of Tokyo, was
      found in the Detroit Lakes area of
      Minnesota on November 15, Jiji
      Press said, citing the Japanese
      Consulate General in Chicago and
      local press reports. A hunter
      discovered the lightly-clothed
      body of the 28-year old in a forest
      one week after she landed in
      Minneapolis, Kyodo News said.
      She had earlier been interviewed
      by local police after being seen
      wandering alone in the town of
      Bismarck, North Dakota. Unable
      to communicate adequately in
      English, the woman showed police
      a crude hand-drawn map which led
      them to believe she was
      attempting to find the ransom
      money depicted in the
      Oscar-winning 1996 Joel and
      Ethan Cohen film. A Japanese
      foreign ministry official from the
      division in charge of protecting
      Japanese nationals overseas
      confirmed the woman's death, but
      declined to comment on the
      circumstances or identify her,
      citing privacy concerns. "Fargo",
      named after a town on the
      Minnesota-North Dakota border, is
      the fictional story of a faked
      kidnap that goes horribly wrong. It
      is set in the frozen wastes of the
      border area's Great Plains. In one
      scene, one of the villains stops
      his car in a snowy landscape
      devoid of features except for a
      wire fence and fenceposts to bury
      a briefcase containing almost one
      million dollars. The film opens with
      the statement: "This is a true
      story. The events depicted in this
      film took place in Minnesota in
      1987," a statement now
      celebrated as a cinematic joke.
      "For the record, no Twin Cities
      dealers' wives have been
      kidnapped and killed in Brainerd (a
      town in Minnesota where most of
      the film is set)... no one has been
      axed to death, dismembered and
      fed into a wood chipper," the
      website of the Brainerd Daily
      Dispatch states, referring to the
      film's gruesome plot. - Sapa-AFP
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