Michael Darby

Observations on politics and poetry by Australian bush poet, Michael Darby.

Michael was born in Sydney in 1945 and is a former Australian Army Officer who has been writing and broadcasting on politics and economics since 1972.

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Saturday, February 15, 2003


CANBERRA FARMERS WILL SUE the NSW government over bushfires which ravaged the ACT.

NSW Farmers Association president Mal Peters held talks with farmers hit by the fires which ripped through 70 per cent of the territory. Four people died while 530 homes and 30 farms were effectively destroyed in the fires.

Mr Peters said there was an enormous amount of anger among farmers about the management of surrounding national parks in the lead up to the fire. He said farmers believed it was time the state government was held responsible for the management of its national parks.

"We've got people who were up in the parks just before the fires, and finding the fuel load up to their knees," he said. "You can't have that type of management going on, especially with the fire risk that's been about."

The association had already sought legal opinion last week on a class action against the government over bushfires which occurred in northern NSW two years ago. The Canberra fires would now become part of that class action.

Mr Peters said the association would allege negligence by the government in its management of national parks, causing nuisance by allowing fires to spread outside of the parks, and breach of statutory duty. He said the government had failed the farmers of Canberra.

"These farmers, and their families, had protected these areas for 160 years before these Armageddon fires came through," he said.

Meanwhile, Assistant Treasurer Helen Coonan said more than 2,500 individual insurance claims worth $250 million were likely out of the Canberra bushfires. She said the insured losses from fires in north-eastern Victoria were estimated at $4 million.

But the real financial cost of the disaster was likely to be higher than the insured losses, Senator Coonan said. "It's a sad reality that many Australians are uninsured or underinsured," she said.

A survey undertaken by the Insurance Council of Australia, released in October last year, showed about one quarter of all households in Australia were still without home or contents insurance, she said. Senator Coonan urged the states and territories to help address the issue of under-insurance.


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Friday, February 14, 2003


By: Eddie Cross (Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, 8th February 2003).

"Finally, above all, it is not possible to ring-fence radical policies, particularly unsuccessful ones. Few doubt that President Mugabe has brought contagion to southern Africa and possibly to sub-Saharan Africa as well." (Professor Tony Hawkins in a recent press article.)

WHEN A TEAM FROM THE MDC met with the UNDP delegation that was visiting Zimbabwe recently, I was struck by the emphasis given to the issue of HIV/Aids by the people on the UN side of the table. Repeatedly they asked us if we understood the threat of HIV/Aids to our society and “what were we, (the MDC) doing about it”.

I responded to these questions with two considerations. First I said that no African was unaware of Aids and the threat to our society, we lived with the problem and had to deal with the fallout every day. In my own business, I have seen three young professionals die from Aids in the past six months. We estimate that 3 000 people a week are dying from the disease in Zimbabwe. Secondly, I said that everything we did as a country was simply like the drawings of a child on the sand at the sea – its efforts were washed away when the next wave of bad government policy or actions washed over the beach. We wanted to talk about governance and the impact on our society in terms of hunger, disease, and the loss of human dignity and increasing poverty and deprivation. They wanted to talk about the mechanics of getting enough food to starving people and Aids. They were reluctant to talk about anything else. It was instructive.

Zimbabwe is like a volcano that is covering all its neighbours with a deadly layer of ash and rocks. Lets look at what Tony called “contagion” within the southern African sphere.

We in Zimbabwe have the distinction of being a country with a very high rate of infection by HIV and Aids. It is estimated that 35 per cent of our adult population is HIV positive, that over 60 per cent of all women having children are positive and that infection rates in children over 12 years of age rise dramatically into their teens. This points to very high rates of new infections amongst the young. We are an HIV/Aids volcano destroying all that gets in its way and infecting the countries all around us and abroad.

Everything that Mugabe has done in the past decade, has made the situation worse – education opportunities for girls have declined from 85 per cent in the late 90’s to less than a third today. One third of the workforce has lost their jobs in the economic collapse of the past 4 years. Inflation and negative economic growth has reduced living standards dramatically. People can no longer afford decent diets or adequate nutrition. The food system has been destroyed and all types of foods are in short supply or too expensive to be afforded. The health system, created with such pride in the 80’s, is in a shambles. There are no drugs to administer to the people suffering from the common HIV related diseases – malaria, tuberculosis, diarrhea, pulmonary infections. All of these diseases are out of control. On top of this the government has systematically undermined the rule of law, subverted the justice system, destroyed any confidence in the country and broken all the basic rules of governance. Corruption is endemic and widespread and now infects all aspects of state activity.

What do people do when this happens? They flee to neighbouring countries or try to go further afield. The queue outside the passport office is kilometers long every day. The demand for visa’s so great that every target country Embassy is swamped with applications. We simply do not know any longer how many people from Zimbabwe now live in South Africa – but it runs into millions. The great majority, are there illegally. The estimate by the Botswana Police that up to 125 000 Zimbabweans cross over the border illegally every month gives us some idea of the scale of human flight. In their country of destination they slide into the shantytowns – taking over the shacks recently vacated by others moving on into new townships. They join criminal gangs and will kill for a cell phone, which they will then hock to a fence so as to send money home in Zimbabwe.

They locate a relative in Boston, Montreal or London. Scrape together the money for a visa and an air ticket and then just disappear into those societies. Perhaps 10 per cent get caught and sent back, it’s not enough of a ratio to dissuade the others. They say there are parts of London now where you can speak Shona in the pubs and be understood. But lets not forget – many of these unhappy migrants are already HIV positive when they leave – their lifestyle in their new countries is a perfect breeding ground for HIV transmission and I have got no doubt that we are accelerating the growth of the problem in all neighbouring countries. We sit astride the largest network of long distance road services in Africa – Zimbabwe has a larger fleet of heavy-duty trucks than South Africa and our trucker’s range across the whole of sub Sahara Africa – right up to Kenya and Uganda. Almost every truck driver is a mobile source of HIV infection.

If we do not tackle to source of this epidemic and start to get transmission under control and soon, it has the capacity to totally destroy our countries. This is especially true of Botswana and South Africa where they have the money and the health system that is needed to treat HIV and its opportunistic related infections. But if all the efforts of the governments of those countries are subsequently negated by an ongoing flood of HIV infected people fleeing from Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, then their efforts will not be able to curb the spread of the disease.

Look at the other great failure of Africa in the past decade. The failure to participate in the greatest spurt of economic growth and wealth in the history of the world. In fact whilst all other continents saw the absolute numbers of the poor and destitute decline and the average wealth of their societies grow, Africa experienced only more suffering and stagnation. It is estimated that in 2001, the whole of Africa received less than US$10 billion in foreign direct investment – and that includes investment in the oil industry. The only large investment that is not included in this figure was a once off investment in SA by a foreign firm.

In a continent where hunger and hopelessness is common, where homelessness is more frequent than not, where incomes have fallen for the past 40 years, Zimbabwe now stands out as a stark reminder that no country is immune to the fall out from a bad government. Mugabe, with his numerous degrees and acclaimed mind has destroyed what was once regarded as a role model for other African States. I do not know what went wrong with this man who came in from the bush war and became our first President after independence, but whatever it was it was pretty thorough.

What worries me is that so few African leaders seem to appreciate that what Mugabe has done here is directly impacting on their own societies. When Mugabe attacks private property rights in Zimbabwe, denies the owners of those rights any legal recourse or protection and allows his cronies to loot, kill and maim at random, then every African on the continent suffers. This is a small world, a tiny blue ball in a vast universe – its communications are now better than ever. What happens in Zimbabwe is world news in seconds. The telephone and the Internet ensure that there are no “protected corners” left. We live in a global goldfish bowl. What African leaders do in their own countries is important to all Africans – not just the victims in the rogue governments’ backyard.

So when investor rights are trampled on in Zimbabwe and billions of dollars of private assets are stolen and looted by political cronies, the rest of the world watches very carefully and the reaction of those leaders in the vicinity are scrutinized minutely. When Mbeki and Obasanjo fail to stand up to Mugabe and to argue that what he is doing is wrong, this is interpreted (probably correctly) as being tacit acceptance of what he is doing. This then colours their own view of the investment prospects in their countries as well as Zimbabwe. So South Africa sees only minimal investment from abroad, at the same time it sees capital flight every month in the form of successful South African firms investing abroad. Its no mystery that Rothmans are bigger outside South Africa than in its homeland, or Anglo, or De Beers, or Barlows or South African Breweries. This flight is accompanied by a flight of human capital as the brightest and the best in these countries move to places where they think their families or their own careers will prosper and find security.

No continent can create wealth for its own children in these circumstances and that is why what Mugabe is doing here must be of concern to leaders throughout the continent. They must find the political will to do something about the rogue States and leaders in Africa. Not just for the sake of the suffering millions in those countries, but for their own people as well. No country is an island and can behave the way Mugabe has in the past 4 years without damaging the interests of all those in the vicinity. That is why good governance is something that we all need in order to prosper.


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Thursday, February 13, 2003


At 11.10 pm on Monday 10 February, I spoke on air with Stan Zemanek of Radio 2UE in Sydney (and network) on the subject of the aftermath of the Bali mass-murder atrocity.

I acknowledged that a majority of Australians are likely to expect that the guilty parties should be executed, but this will be the ultimate test of our resolve as a nation which opposed capital punishment.

I said: “Tasmania was right not to execute the mass-murderer Martin Bryant. Capital punishment is wrong in all circumstances, even for the most horrendous crimes. Perpetrators of mass murders should for the rest of their imprisoned lives be available for study by psychologists and criminologists.”

Listen worldwide to Stan Zemanek on the web. www.2ue.com.au, Monday to Friday 9pm to midnight, Sydney Time. During Daylight Saving in the southern summer, Sydney is on GMT + 11 hours; otherwise Australian Eastern Standard time is GMT + 10 hours. My nightly contribution to the program can generally be heard between 9.30 and 10pm Sydney time.



AT LAST THERE IS SOME POSITIVE NEWS in the battle to focus world attention of the rottenness of the illegal and brutal regime of Murderous Mugabe.

The news is that the England and Wales Cricket Association has agreed with its players that the English team will not play its match in Zimbabwe.

This follows the courageous demonstration of distress at the policies of the Mugabe Government by Zimbabwe cricketers Henry Olonga and one Andy Flower, who each wore a black armband when they took the field in Harare on Monday 10 February, stating that they were mourning the death of democracy.

We remain in hope that the Australian Cricket Board and its players will refuse to play in Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, the “treason” trial continues for three Movement for Democratic Change leaders. MDC President, Morgan Tsvangirai, Secretary General Welshman Ncube and Shadow Minister for Agriculture Renson Gasela, who are falsely accused of allegedly plotting to kill Robert Mugabe.

It is well known that SBS in Australia was involved in the fabrication of these charges (see posting here of 5th). Let’s have a complete disclosure of all aspects of the SBS involvement.


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Wednesday, February 12, 2003


By Eddie Cross

I am just back from a trip of about 1 200 kilometres around Zimbabwe. Everywhere I went I saw the empty skulls of a people driven off their land. Farm homes without windows, windows without curtains, gardens overgrown and dying, staff quarters empty and lifeless. Croplands idle and overgrown with weeds. Farm equipment rusting in the broken down sheds, hungry cattle without water, vultures having a feast day.

It reminded me of the "mfecane" of the Transvaal Highveld in the early part of the 19th century in South Africa. The greatest Zulu leader in history, Shaka, often termed the Napoleon of African history, was responsible. Out of a tiny minority of only 2 000 people, he crafted the Zulu nation – crushing and absorbing into the ranks of his impi’s the youth of the tribes to the north and south of his home and completely destroying the tribal peoples of the interior. Only three groups – the Tswana of what is now Botswana, the Sotho of what is now Lesotho and the Dhlamini clan in what is now known as Swaziland, halted him in his ambitions.

His genius lay in a few simple military rules – when a boy reached the age of 15 he joined a regiment or "impi". Experienced and successful warriors, who passed on to their young wards the knowledge they had accumulated in numerous raids on other tribes, led the impi. Their reward was that they kept most of what they took by force, and although all cattle belonged to Shaka, they were allowed to use the cattle for their own ends. When Shaka felt they had proved their manhood, they were given the right to choose girls, to marry and establish their own homes. They were given land and the use of cattle to enable them to become established. Their bondage to Shaka was life long.

They were utterly ruthless and it must have been quite a sight to see an impi on a mission – running in unison, their feet thundering out in rhythm on the dry African veld. When I was a boy growing up in the eastern parts of the Matopo Hills, some of the older men in the villages still wore the ring in their hair to signify their status as nduna’s or officers in the Zulu war machine. In the case of the people I lived amongst it was an offshoot of the Zulu empire – the Ndebele of southern Zimbabwe who had come to Zimbabwe in about 1820 after completing the "mfecane" on the highveld of South Africa.

What Shaka had ordered was that the people of the highveld be destroyed so that they could never again threaten the hegemony of the Zulu nation in the Natal coastlands. At his order, the impis of the Zulu clans moved up into what are today the Transvaal and the Free State and they murdered every man, woman and child they could find. Driving their cattle and other assets back to the Zulu heartland as gifts for Shaka and his senior chiefs. Only selected women were kept alive to be taken as wives on return at the pleasure of Shaka. It was ruthless and self-perpetuating so long as the Zulu’s could hold together and enforce discipline. Its success made the Zulu’s the dominant social, economic and political force in southern Africa. It’s tentacles spread as far north as Tanzania and Malawi, as far south as the growing influence of the white man would permit.

At the start of the 19th century, the Afrikaner Boers started the "Great Trek" northwards – eventually stopping in Chimanimani in eastern Zimbabwe. When their wagons crested the escarpments that sheltered the hinterland across the Vaal and Orange rivers, they found nothing but empty kraals and dry skulls.

At a recent meeting in Pretoria with their South African counterparts, the Zimbabwe Minister of Foreign Affairs told his South African hosts that the "land reform process is over in Zimbabwe and they would not be taking any more land from white farmers." He then appealed to the South Africans to help them get compensation for the displaced farmers. In fact there is little left now on the highveld of Zimbabwe where the bulk of the countries 4 000 commercial farmers had once been. Perhaps some 15 per cent remain – shell shocked and cowed, ready to run at the slightest hint that "they" are coming back. Like the tribes of the hinterland in South Africa there was no help in the face of overwhelming force, no rule of law to shield them from the loss of everything they owned and held dear. One interpretation of the word "mfecane" is "forced migration" or a pogrom.

Can anyone deny that Mugabe has done to the white farmers and the people who worked for them, just what Shaka did to the tribal peoples of the South African highveld? The fact that he has done this at the start of the 21st century, 200 years after Shaka, 50 years after the formation of the UN and the Declaration of Human Rights. 22 years after the signing of an agreement and the introduction of a negotiated constitution designed to prevent these sorts of excesses. Now just to round off the exercise we hear the government is uplifting thousands of farm workers and their families and dumping them without food or shelter near the Mozambique border in the north and east. It’s forced migration or another "mfecane".

What Shaka did not know at the time was that he was opening up the way for a new empire to become established on the highveld. An Afrikaner empire with superior weapons and great personal courage and determination. What he also did not know was that under the feet of his impis lay the richest mineral beds in the world and that one-day in the paths cleared by the Zulu warriors, new warriors would ride. Just as ruthless and cunning, using money as their weapon and trading their rights for privilege across the globe. Smuts, Rhodes, Beit, Oppenheimer, men who would influence world affairs for another 150 years.

Perhaps in the same way, a new nation is growing up in Zimbabwe. Its path cleared by the ruthless and cruel actions of another African tyrant, Mugabe. The principles he is using are the same, the effects similar, the object identical. Perhaps the outcome too, will be similar, a new nation will rise up in place of that being destroyed and it will be better, richer and more permanent than the fragile hegemony that Shaka thought would last forever. Tyranny never survives its perpetrators – one day, one day soon, Mugabe will be swept aside by the very forces that he seeks to control. Then we will get the chance to build a better life for everyone that remains on the highveld in Zimbabwe.

The highveld in our case is not geographical – it’s based on principle. The principle of a nation foundered on the rule of law, of a constitution to which our people hold universal allegiance as the highest law in the land. The basic right of every man, women and child to life, liberty and respect, a deep commitment to democratic principles and to the creation of an open and transparent society. A pipe dream? No it need not be – would the people of the South African highveld ever dreamed that one day a third of the economic power of Africa would come out of the area known as the "whitewater ridge" in the Transvaal? No of course not, but within 100 years of the terrifying nights of the mfecane, this was already a reality and Shaka only a memory.


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Tuesday, February 11, 2003


(Extracts from an article by J.C. Green)

THE SUBJECT OF WATER RIGHTS in Colorado often generates confusion, anger and hysteria, even among those experienced in dealing with it. According to one old timer, “Whiskey’s for drinkin’. Water’s for fightin’.”

Colorado is notorious for the number of water lawyers it has, and it’s easy to criticize a system of law that generates so much conflict. I argue in this paper that its free market origins and traditions are the strength of Colorado water law, based on protecting private property rights against all comers, public and private. This can work as well for streamflow protection as it has for power plants.

“Use it or Lose it” – Like Catching Wild Horses

Since water in a stream is a moving resource, water left unused by one person may be used by others. This simple fact produced the “use it or lose it” principle, based on using only as much water as you need and can use. It’s like catching wild horses as they run by - you don’t own the ones you don’t catch. Unused water rights may be reduced or lost, since other water users develop a reliance on water left in the stream. The “use it or lose it” principle is widely criticized by those who believe it encourages waste, inefficiency and inhibits environmental or streamflow protection. On the contrary, it is Colorado’s oldest and best recycling program, as explained in this paper.

Colorado water law has changed to recognize new kinds of water rights, including storage rights, conditional rights and instream flow rights. Storage rights allow water to be saved for later use in ponds and reservoirs. Conditional rights allow water users to claim rights for future water use and instream flow rights allow water rights to be dedicated to maintaining streamflows. The evolution of new kinds of water rights is clear evidence of the flexibility and adaptability of this system to meet changing needs.

All Colorado water rights have limits such as flow rates or volumes and specific types of use. In court cases involving changes of water rights, a historical use standard is imposed to prevent injury to other water users. Waste is not considered to be part of the water right, providing a disincentive for water users to waste water to maintain or enhance their rights. Of course, the system is not perfect. Abuses occur, but they pale in light of the accomplishments of a unique system of law and custom applied to a resource that doesn’t sit still while you think about grabbing it.

Colorado water law today represents a most elegant example of private property creation and protection because of the steadfast efforts of those who would not concede their “selfish” private interests to those who would take their property without compensation. Unique among western states, the State of Colorado maintains a healthy respect for the pioneer spirit and hard work of people who came before. This free market tradition should not be sacrificed on the altar of “public interest” to subsidize latecomers who prefer not to pay for their economic choices.

Ironically, working within the current water rights system may be the best means of accomplishing its critics’ goals, because the system would protect their future instream flow rights from attack. Senior water rights, purchased and converted to instream flow protection, would be protected during future droughts if they were acquired and transferred according to the same rules as everyone else. If, however, critics are successful in gaining special privileges for their new water uses, their new streamflow protection “rights” would likely be ignored, vilified and made practically useless when the next major drought comes along.

This paper explains the origins and traditions of Colorado water rights, and defends the principles upon which it is based.

“ While the prior appropriation doctrine and western water development has been lampooned and lambasted, no one has made a serious proposal for substitution of a water law system that would better serve the needs of humans and the environment with equal or greater security, reliability, and flexibility – these being the hallmarks of an effective resource allocation system.”

- Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory L. Hobbs, Jr.

More here (Warning: PDF document)


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Monday, February 10, 2003
ANIMAL LIB: Invade, Explode, Burn, Break, Destroy

“Direct action” activists of various stripes have shown no sign of slowing down their attacks since a dozen violent animal rights protesters were indicted on extortion and stalking charges recently in Massachusetts.

SHAC, the radical group whose disciples will face those charges, has continued to terrorize American citizens with any connection to Huntingdon Life Sciences, a medical research lab that uses animals in its search for cures to cancer and Parkinson’s Disease.

In Princeton, New Jersey, SHAC has been posting leaflets accusing a local resident of being a “puppy killer.” In an airport in Germany, a group of SHAC activists chained themselves to desks at an Air France terminal, while their partners in crime caused (in their own words) “untold destruction” to the airport. And in California, a group of SHAC criminals disrupted Halloween by throwing bloodied stuffed-animals at a family whose dad works for Huntingdon’s stockbroker.

The Earth Liberation Front (ELF) has struck again, this time in Virginia. The Washington Times reports that ELF is apparently responsible for recent attacks on construction vehicles, restaurants, homes under construction, and more than 25 sport utility vehicles. The SUV attacks were perpetrated with hatchets, causing over $8,000 in damage to each vehicle. The Richmond Times-Dispatch notes in its coverage that ELF members caused over $1 million in damage by torching SUVs at an Oregon dealership in 2001. Virginia State Police say that the attackers of a home construction site left behind a burned American flag, in addition to an unspecified ELF “calling card.”

Actions against genetically improved food products continue as well. In the UK, three protesters were found guilty on Friday of trying to cut down a field of biotech canola. Closer to home, two activists in Georgia were arrested last week when they refused to leave a grocery store where they were trying to forcibly “educate” shoppers about “Frankenfoods.” And according to the Hartford Courant, nearly a dozen Greenpeace activists “invaded” a Hartford area supermarket with bullhorns and stickers. The Courant notes that “dozens” of similar protests happened all over New England recently. Connecticut activists told reporters: “We’re going to be at their stores until they stop selling genetically engineered foods.”

More here



Next month the School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) will unveil a national “Meatless Monday” campaign, which it says resulted from a partnership “with a major national public health program.” The initiative will encourage Americans to abstain from all meat at least one day per week, ostensibly to promote “healthy dietary alternatives.”

JHU’s supposed powerhouse of a partner is identified in a press release as “The Meatless Monday Campaign, Inc.” This is an outfit that just about nobody has heard of -- yet. But from what we’ve been able to learn, calling it a “major national public health program” is typical of the kind of falsehoods that usually accompany anti-consumer food crusades.

The Meatless Monday campaign already has its own website, which Internet domain registries show was set up by Sidney Lerner, an officer of the “Molly Lou Foundation.” In 2001, this foundation gave $900,000 to the $100-million Humane Society of the United States for an animal-rights program targeting lifesaving medical research protocols that use animals.

And just who is Molly Lou? We’re not sure, but her foundation was set up by Helaine Lerner (nee Heilbrunn), a New York socialite who already has her hands in plenty of anti-meat and “sustainable” agriculture propaganda.

In 2000, Helaine Lerner’s other foundation (the Helaine Heilbrunn Lerner Fund) gave JHU’s School of Public Health over $546,000. This money went to JHU’s “Center for a Livable Future,” an environmental program that targets industrial livestock agriculture and tries to convince restaurants and grocery chains to abandon their modern, efficient meat suppliers.

The Lerner Fund also gave more than $1.4 million in 2000 to the Global Resource Action Center for the Environment (GRACE), an activist group that publishes not-in-my-backyard pamphlets on how to “confront” livestock farmers. And federal tax records show that Lerner wrote personal checks to GRACE totaling $2.6 million between 1997 and 2000.

GRACE, like JHU’s Center for a Livable Future, owes more than 80 percent of its total operating budget to Helaine Lerner’s checkbook. Now it appears that the upcoming Meatless Monday program is just another Lerner pet project. Consumers beware: it would appear that the Johns Hopkins name and its presumed respectability is for sale, and Helaine Lerner is the highest bidder.

More here


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Sunday, February 09, 2003


Hello Michael,

I heard that you are opposing handouts for bush-poets. I am entirely opposed to hand outs for ANY poets. Not that I am against poets I am NOT. Our greatest ever poet Banjo Patterson never ever received a handout, and look at the wonderful influence he has had describing life in a new pioneering society in all of its many facets.

A good true story:

In about 1922 Winston Churchill took his son Randolph on a visit to Canada. Young Randolph complained to his father "Father this country lacks culture, there is simply no culture here whatsoever."

Churchill replied: "Culture my boy is the scum that floats on the mighty rivers of production." When he said scum, I'm sure he did not mean it in a derogatory sense, but a thin veneer that precipitates to the surface of a mighty and mature productive civilization.


Ronald Kitching



Mr Michael Darby

I would just like to congratulate you on your speech at the Manning Bar public debate this afternoon. During my three years at Sydney University I have attended a number of similar debates. On every other occasion the ‘right-wing' speaker has fallen back onto arguments of national economic interest and been rightly heckled and jeered by the crowd.

How refreshing to hear somebody committed to free trade for liberty's sake. How reassuring to hear a liberal worthy of that name! In passing I also noted your recent 'involvement' in the Zimbabwean political process earlier this year. As a South African myself, with membership of the Democratic Alliance in South Africa, I would be very interested to hear any thoughts that you have on the Zimbabwean situation. Of course the recent election was rigged, there is no way the MDC loses so much support from 1999 to 2002 with the way that the country has gone, but how much support does Mugabe really have? Even after asking Zimbabwean acquaintances I have difficulty figuring this out.

Once again, congratulations on the excellent speech,


Daniel Rees


More MDC officials wrongfully arrested and tortured

By: Paul Themba Nyathi, Secretary for Information and Publicity, Movement for Democratic Change, Zimbabwe

Two MDC officials in Kuwadzana, Resias Masunda, chairperson for Ward 44 and Derek Madharani, Organising Secretary for Kuwadzana district were recently arrested and severely tortured in separate incidents as police, who have been working closely with Zanu PF militia in the run up to the Kuwadzana parliamentary bye-election, intensify their campaign to thwart the MDC ‘s campaign strategy.

Armed police broke into Madharani’s house at about 12.00 midnight on 21 January 2003 and started assaulting him, asking him to give them the names of the people who petrol- bombed the Zanu PF torture base at Kuwadzana 5 Shopping Centre. When he professed ignorance, they blindfolded him and took him to Goromonzi Police Station, where he was severely tortured and sustained a crack on his ear-drum. While being tortured, he was asked to reveal the MDC’s campaign strategy for the Kuwadzana bye-election. He was released without being charged on 24 January 2003 and was treated at the Avenues Clinic, who referred to an ear specialist for further treatment.

Masunda was arrested when heavily armed police broke into his house at about mid-night on 24 January 2003. They took him to Goromonzi Police Station where they severely assaulted and tortured him. During the torture, they asked him to tell them what he knew about a Zupco bus that was burnt in Harare, to reveal the names of people who attacked the house of a Zanu PF activist during the presidential elections campaign, and to reveal the MDC campaign strategy for Kuwadzana. Masunda was subjected to electric shocks in the mouth, on his private parts and various other parts of his body. A went cloth was pushed into in mouth after electric shocks were applied into his mouth.

From Goromonzi Police Station, Masunda was blindfolded and taken to another
place which he could not recognize, before being driven back to Harare on 29 January 2003 where he was released without being charged. He is currently receiving treatment at a local hospital for wounds on his shoulder, back and toes sustained during the torture.

Masunda’s wife, Rebecca Nengomasha, was severely assaulted by the police before they took off with her husband on the fateful night. The promised to come back and press her to reveal the place where her husband’s gun is hidden.

While police have denied being partisan, the fact that the MDC activists wrongfully arrested and tortured are forced to reveal the party’s campaign strategy proves beyond any doubt that the police force has been politicized and have been turned into a tool for oppression by the Mugabe regime.


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