OK, after a year or so of guzzling the meagre stocks of Guinness in Messina and Louis Trichardt WB has quit the region, and won't be up to any more surreptitious meetings in Meikles and the Other Place while the CIO rep eyes my guests through the holes in his newspaper. My frequent trips to SA were great .. but I've yet to come to a definitive conclusion as to why so many Afrikaners are so bloody vast across the belly. Too much crime, though; can do without it. Nice to get some half-decent groceries from across the Limpopo every so often, mind. Zim's Spar shops remind me of the East German emporia in the mid-80's. Zim is now a basket case. Strangely, everyone's become used (institutionalised?) to the fear of their Government and its' organs, and they don't seem to really mind talking about it - depending on who you're talking to, of course, and always keeping fairly close to the official line just in case. The scumsucking Ministers all blame "Sanctions" (?!) on the country's troubles, as do the papers and their monotonous leader-writers, who miss no opportunity to blame everything on Tony Blair. At least they're aiming in the right direction, I suppose. I was loudly and threateningly lectured at some time ago by 'Sydney', one of the most senior CIO scumballs, when I dared to even query the official line on this. Interesting thing about the newspapers; the only white people ever mentioned anywhere in them are English Football League players, the occasional World Bank/IMF object of derision and the Blair/Bush conspiracy. You could be very easily forgiven for thinking that there aren't any whites left in the country if that was your only source of information. Anyway, my last drive from BeitBridge up to Harare was sad, if only because I actually counted a total of 5 (five) cultivated fields on the 6-hour trip. The rest's gone back to bush by way of Ministerial ownership. I wish the Zimboons well. It has to come right eventually (...not in the near future, though; some bloody chance...) and there's a lot of them who are good, honest and bright people who've been undeservedly kicked around. I just hope they don't go through the same experience that Tanzania had - 30 years in a nightmare wilderness because of some insane politico b*stard's idea of engineered social structure. Or that they become slaves of the Chinese, which seems to be a popular political ambition in Africa right now. Pity about the AIDS, too. They aren't going to get through that one in a hurry.