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Subject: ZIMBABWE NEWS: 13 April 2000

The Belgian Foreign Affairs Ministry has asked travellers in Zimbabwe to be extremely cautious. Those planning to go to the African country, despite the present unrest, are advised to present their travel route to the Belgian embassy in Zimbabwe.

BBC: Thursday, 13 April, 2000, 14:34 GMT 15:34 UK
Zimbabwe squatters remain defiant

No sign the squatters are willing to leave
The war veterans occupying white-owned farms in Zimbabwe have angrily dismissed a ruling by the High Court that they should be evicted.

In a BBC interview, the veterans' leader, Chenjerai Hunzvi, said the court could go to hell, adding they would not give up the land without a fight.

The High Court ruled that police must enforce the eviction of thousands of squatters occupying the farms.

In an apparent attempt to defuse the situation, Zimbabwe's vice-president has told squatters they do not need to continue with their demonstrations on white-owned farm land.

Joseph Msika said the demonstrations are no longer necessary because of the recent amendment to Zimbabwe's constitution allowing the government to seize white-owned land without paying for it.
However, he did not directly appeal to the squatters to leave the land.

Our correspondent in Harare says it is not clear what effect the statement will have on the ground.

Thousands of squatters, led by veterans of Zimbabwe's war of independence, have been occupying hundreds of white-owned farms with the backing of President Mugabe.

The president's critics say he is using the issue to gain support ahead of forthcoming elections.

Eviction ordered

The High Court ruling appears to place the court at odds with the government. 
Hunzvi: Invasions will continue

Judge Moses Hungwe Chinhengo rejected a police appeal against an earlier court order to remove the squatters.

He urged the president to "recognise that it is in the permanent interest of Zimbabwe and the rule of law to bring to an end the farm invasions".

The ruling confirms last month's judgement in favour of the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) when an eviction order was served on the squatters.

Zimbabwe's Attorney-General Patrick Chinamasa had argued against the earlier order, saying the police did not have the resources to evict 60,000 veterans from about 1,000 mainly white-owned farms.

But farmers' representatives said the police estimates of the number of squatters were exaggerated.

The farmers say the squatters number only 7,000.

President Mugabe, speaking from Havana, acknowledged that some farmers had been assaulted for resisting the occupation of their farms.

But he described the invasions as peaceful.

"What they (the invaders) have done is merely stage a demonstration, a peaceful demonstration in most cases, because they have not been guilty of any acts of violence," he said.

"I say people must be cool ... It is not a fight against whites as such; it is a fight against a particular section of the whites who have land," he added.

Newspapers in Zimbabwe have quoted Dr Hunzvi as saying that more invasions will be taking place.

Against this background, the government has cancelled next week's celebrations to mark 20 years since the end of white rule.

Instead, the president will deliver a televised address, which many expect him to use to set an election date.

White Zimbabweans back opposition party

A political rally for the newly formed opposition party Movement for Democratic Change  

April 13, 2000
Web posted at: 2:57 a.m. EDT (0657 GMT)


In this story:

'A make or break situation'

Mugabe defends land seizures

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



HARARE, Zimbabwe (CNN) -- Feeling isolated against the government over the issue of land seizures, many white Zimbabweans are ending years of political apathy and actively supporting the opposition.

The country's High Court will rule Thursday on whether police must enforce an order to evict thousands of veterans of the war of independence, who have occupied white-owned farms.

The occupation has been backed by President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence. Mugabe is facing his greatest challenge to date from the newly formed Movement for Democratic Change in upcoming elections.

Thousands of veterans of the 1970s war against white minority rule in the former Rhodesia have invaded hundreds of the country's 4,500 commercial farms. The veterans have demanded land they say was stolen by the British from their forefathers in the 1890s.

'A make or break situation'

farm
A Zimbabwean farm worker, top, looks through a broken window at a white-owned farm while John Wilde sits in his car with a broken windshield after his property and vehicles were damaged and workers on his farm were attacked by a group of war veterans  

White make up less than 1 percent of Zimbabwe's population of 12 million, but still control much of the country's farm land economy.

April 18 is the 20th anniversary of independence from white rule for Zimbabwe. But it comes as the country faces its worst economic crisis and the violent farm occupations continue unchecked by the police.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangiai's rising popularity is bouyed by growing support from many whites.

"We really see this as a make or break situation, not only from the white point of view, but from the entire country's point of view," said Eddie Cross of the MDC.

President Mugabe, however, has seized on the issue of white involvement in politics in his campaign.

"They are paying money, lots of money, to the coffers of the MDC. We are ready to fight and it will be a fight to the finish," he said.

The threat was echoed by the leader of the war veterans, Chenjerai Hunzvi.

"There is no other government that will come and rule this country while we are still alive, and what we want to assure everyone that we are ready to fight and we are ready to do so now," he said.

Mugabe defends land seizures

In Havana, Mugabe defended the land seizures and denied that the such seizures represented an "anti-white campaign."

"I say people must be cool," Mugabe said on the sidelines of the Group of 77 summit of 133 Third World nations.

"It is not a fight against the whites as such; it is a fight against a particular section of the whites who have land," he added.

Mugabe pointed out that the land of former Rhodesian leader Ian Smith had not been occupied and defended the veterans.

"What they have done is merely to stage a demonstration, a peaceful demonstration in most cases, because they have not been guilty of any acts of violence," Mugabe said. He acknowledged, however, that some farmers had been assaulted after resisting occupation.

"We have appealed to the war veterans not to assault anybody, not to touch any property and not to vandalize. ... We will regularize the process and list the farms that they are occupying and see whether in terms of our criteria they deserve to be acquired," he added.

He blamed the Labor government of former colonial power Britain for the crisis, saying they reneged on the previous Conservative government's plans to help compensate white farmers for land purchases.

But in Harare, white farm owners accused the veterans of targeting farm workers in a fresh wave of intimidation. Many black farm workers have defended the farm owners' land.

Malcolm Vowles, a spokesman for the Commercial Farmers Union said, "there is a pattern of intimidation and witch-hunting in the compounds at night. We have information on three cases of serious assaults on workers, using sticks and fists."

Reporter Bob Coen, The Associated Press and Reuters contributed

BBC: Thursday, 13 April, 2000, 11:39 GMT 12:39 UK
Is Mugabe's strategy working?

President Mugabe has not yet announced the election date
By Joseph Winter in Harare

In February, President Robert Mugabe lost a national vote for the first time ever - the constitutional referendum. This confirmed what analysts had long been saying - that he and his Zanu-PF party were losing their popularity.

Nationwide he got 46% of the vote but in urban centres, such as Harare and Bulawayo fewer than a quarter supported the government's position.

With parliamentary elections due in the next few months, it was a serious blow. Mr Mugabe has responded by concentrating on rural areas where Zanu-PF support held up relatively well.

The invasion of white-owned farms constitutes a carrot and stick approach.

The carrot is land. The invasions are intended to demonstrate that Zanu-PF is committed to redistributing land from whites to blacks, despite the slow progress in the 20 years it has been in power. This is calculated to win the votes of the millions of peasant farmers, struggling to support families on tiny patches of barren land, next door to white-owned highly mechanised, large-scale farms.

The stick is the use of war veterans. Those in rural areas bore the brunt of the fighting in the 1970s war of independence that brought Robert Mugabe to power. They are saying that if Zanu-PF loses, they will go back to war, hoping that this will scare those considering voting for the opposition into either changing their minds or staying at home.

Race relations

A further element is the race card. By blaming the current problems on whites and the West, Mr Mugabe is trying to absolve his own government from responsibility and hopes to persuade the 99% black majority to support him.

Mike Auret, a former director of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, now with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, says this tactic will backfire. The day after an opposition march was attacked by government supporters in Harare and whites singled out for beatings, he said that this would improve race relations as "blacks and whites would unite - against Zanu-PF".

The invasions apart, generally there is surprisingly little animosity in Zimbabwe, even if racial groups still tend to remain separate.

About 600 white-owned farms are currently occupied by a mixture of war veterans, unemployed urban youths and peasants. The houses of farm labourers have been searched. Those found with opposition t-shirts, leaflets or other electoral material have been beaten up - some have needed hospital treatment.

So is this strategy working? It's impossible to tell. There are very few opinion polls in Zimbabwe and there is a suspicion that those that are carried out ignore the rural areas where the battle is being fought. The threats of war will win few votes in towns. Most condemn the violence and will be more determined than ever to vote for change.

But one analyst says that seeing the war veterans and their own neighbours occupying land and pegging out their own plots will be a vote-winner for Robert Mugabe. He says this sight will be more powerful than the unfulfilled promises of the past, as it meets their desperate need for land.

On the other hand, the reaction of the 600 000 farm workers and their families could go either way.

The only accurate measure will be the parliamentary election itself. President Mugabe has not announced the dates yet and the groundwork is still being done. Originally due in April, they might not be held until July.

Britain Welcomes Zimbabwe Court Ruling on Farms

LONDON (April 13) XINHUA - Britain on Thursday welcomed a Zimbabwean High Court ruling that police must take action to clear the illegal occupation of white-owned farms.

British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said in a statement that the ruling was in Zimbabwe's own interests that land reforms are carried out in an orderly and transparent way, "which does not ride roughshod over the rights of individuals."

Zimbabwe's High Court on Thursday dismissed a police application to overturn an earlier eviction order on thousands of veterans involved in the country's 1970s liberation struggle.

Under the ruling, supporters of President Robert Mugabe, who seized white-owned farms, will be cleared out from the farms.

Zimbabwe police had argued earlier the order was impossible to enforce without risking civil war.

"I hope that the police will now begin to carry out this order and that calm will return to the farms of Zimbabwe," Cook added.

Copyright XINHUA NEWS AGENCY - from CNN

Update 5-Zimbabwe Minister Indicates Farm Tide Turning

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's acting president called Thursday for an end to the invasion of white-owned farms and said government ministers would travel to Britain soon to discuss funding for orderly land redistribution.

Vice President Joseph Msika, acting for President Robert Mugabe, told state media last week's constitutional amendment allowing the seizure of land without compensation had cleared the way for the legal redistribution of white-owned land.

"There is no reason for the war veterans and the povo (people) to continue demonstrating or occupying farms in a haphazard manner. We have passed the Land Bill, which will allow us to resettle people in an orderly manner," he said.

He said Local Government and Housing Minister John Nkomo and Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge would go to London soon for talks with Britain about funding a resettlement program.

At least 7,000 people claiming to be veterans of the war of liberation in the former Rhodesia have occupied at least 500 white-owned farms in a land grab sanctioned by Mugabe.

Police put the figure at 60,000 holding about 1,000 farms.

Several white farmers have been beaten up, many have abandoned their farms and some have signed documents handing parts of their farms over to squatters.

Britain said recently millions of pounds would be available to fund an approved land redistribution scheme benefiting the poor rather than Mugabe's friends and colleagues.

Mugabe, who was at the Group of 77 summit in Cuba, told reporters the land seizures were not racially motivated.

"It is not a fight against whites as such; it is a fight against a particular section of the whites who have land.

"What (the veterans) have done is merely stage a demonstration, a peaceful demonstration in most cases, because they have not been guilty of any acts of violence," Mugabe said, adding some farmers had been assaulted for resisting occupation.

Squatters and local farmers were wounded Thursday in the first reported shootout between rival sides on the Lonely Park Farm about 18 miles east of Harare.

Witnesses said ambulances were called to the farm to ferry an unknown number of wounded to hospital.

Earlier Thursday, the Zimbabwe High Court upheld an order for the eviction of squatters occupying white-owned farms.

POLICE CASE DISMISSED

Judge Moses Chinhengo dismissed a police argument that the eviction order was unenforceable and that any attempt to do so could trigger a civil war.

British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook welcomed the court's decision. "It is in Zimbabwe's own interests that land reform is carried out in an orderly and transparent way, which does not ride roughshod over the rights of individuals," he said in a statement.

"I hope that the police will now begin to carry out this order and that calm will return to the farms of Zimbabwe," he added.

Officials estimate that the country's 4,500 white farmers control about 75 percent of the most productive farmland, which generates more than half the country's foreign revenue.

Farming sources put the land figure closer to 40 percent.

Sources in the Commercial Farmers Union have said their strategy is to keep a low profile in the hope that the land issue will subside after parliamentary elections due within the next four months. Presidential elections are not due until 2002.

Mugabe, 76 and in power since independence from Britain in 1980, faces his toughest challenge yet from the Movement for Democratic Change, which delivered his first poll defeat in February, when voters rejected a new constitution.

A government source told Reuters that war veterans leader Chenjerai Hunzvi, leader of the invasion program and until now an outspoken critic of white farmers, had held meetings with government ministers Thursday. Hunzvi declined to comment.

Zimbabwean political analyst Masipula Sithole said Msika's statement appeared to signal a crucial change of heart, but added: "Until Mugabe himself makes a statement, until those on the farms start to move, we cannot be too sure. But I think this move has Mugabe's blessing, it has his mark.

"The process starts while he is away and he does not have to take the first step or be seen to be losing face and it still leaves him with room for grandstanding if he wants," he said.

Copyright 1999 Reuters.

ZIMBABWE'S Law Society Welcomes High Court Decision

HARARE (April 13) XINHUA - President of The Law Society of Zimbabwe Sternford Moyo Thursday welcomed a High Court decision which orders the police to evict the war veterans occupying the white-owned farms.

Moyo said the decision reinforced their confidence in the independence of the Judiciary.

The society urged the government to proceed with due expedition and diligence to enforce the order, Moyo said.

"It is fundamental to the observance of the rule of law and the maintenance of law and order in this country that the perception of reluctance or unwillingness by the government to enforce court orders be brought to an end as a matter of extreme urgency," Moyo said.

High Court Judge Justice Moses Chinhengo Thursday ruled that the State must move swiftly to remove the war veterans who have invaded commercial farms owned by white farmers. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is in Havana, Cuba, attending the G77 Summit.

Chinhengo said there was no basis at all to interfere with Justice Paddington Garwe!/s original ruling that the rule of law must be upheld.

Since February this year, war veterans of the country's liberation struggle have invaded more than 1,000 white farms countrywide.

Copyright XINHUA NEWS AGENCY

ZIMBABWE'S Court Orders Police to Evict Farm Invaders

HARARE (April 13) XINHUA - Zimbabwe's High Court ruled on Thursday that the government must swiftly remove the black war veterans from the white-owned farms they have invaded. Judge Justice Moses Chinhengo also dismissed a police appeal against an earlier High Court order for the eviction of farm invaders, saying they have not enough manpower to enforce the order.

He urged the executive to recognize that the permanent interest of Zimbabwe and the rule of law were served by ensuring the land invasions were brought to an immediate end.

"I would urge the executive to provide the Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri with additional resources that the police force may require to carry out its functions under the law," said Chinhengo.

He said while the application could be viewed sympathetically as a cry for the courts to recognize the predicament the police commissioner was in, the court had on the other hand issued an order which he should enforce.

War veterans and other landless black peasants have waged a campaign since February to occupy commercial farms and ranches owned by the whites, urging the government to accelerate land redistribution reform.

When the campaign spread throughout Zimbabwe, the Commercial Farmers Union applied to the High Court to have the invasions stopped.

An order was granted by Justice Garwe on March 17, declaring the invasions unlawful and invaders vacate within 24 hours.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is in Cuba attending the G77 Summit.

Copyright XINHUA NEWS AGENCY

Zimbabwe High Court Orders Government to End Farm Occupations

April 13, 2000
Web posted at: 7:02 AM EDT (1102 GMT)

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- A judge on Thursday ordered the government and police to evict black squatters from white-owned land, rejecting police claims they had insufficient men or equipment to enforce property laws.

The court called an urgent hearing after the Commercial Farmers' Union, representing white farm owners, demanded action in districts where more than 900 farms have been occupied for months.

Police have so far failed to evict the squatters, led by armed men claiming to be veterans of the bush war that led Zimbabwe to independence in 1980.

Judge Moses Chinenga dismissed an application by Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri that an earlier High Court order to evict the squatters be changed.

"The rule of law has to be upheld," he said.

Government officials said Monday the issue dates back to independence and could not be resolved by any court order.

The government has said it feared police action to force out squatters armed with knives, spears clubs and guns could trigger civil war.

Officials said the 20,000-strong police force estimated they would be pitted against at least 50,000 squatters claiming land occupied by the descendants of British settlers.

With opposition mounting to his two decades of rule, President Robert Mugabe has backed the illegal occupations, arguing they are a justified protest against unfair land ownership. About 4,000 white farmers own one-third of Zimbabwe's productive land, while most blacks remain landless and impoverished.

Many black farm workers, however, have defended the farm owners' property and cases of violence have broken out.

Critics say Mugabe, whose popularity is being eroded by an economic crisis, is permitting the land seizures to prop up his waning support among the country's majority black voters ahead of parliamentary elections expected to be called in May.

Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.

Stay "Cool on Zimbabwe Crisis, Mugabe Says

HAVANA (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, his nation in turmoil over the invasion of white-owned farms, Wednesday urged the world to keep "cool" and insisted the occupations were not an "anti-white" campaign.

Mugabe, in Havana for the Group of 77 summit, also laid the blame for Zimbabwe's current troubles on Britain's Labor government and insisted that without aid from London, there would be not be full compensation for affected white farmers.

"I say people must be cool," Mugabe said in an interview with three news media, including Reuters, on the sidelines of the "South Summit" of 133 Third World nations.

"It is not a fight against the whites as such; it is a fight against a particular section of the whites who have land," he added, emphasizing that the land of former white ruler Ian Smith had not been occupied.

The Zimbabwean president defended the invasions of white- owned farms by liberation war veterans, which is considered to have plunged his country into its worst crisis since independence from Britain in 1980. But he added the veterans had been warned to avoid violence.

"What they have done is merely to stage a demonstration, a peaceful demonstration in most cases, because they have not been guilty of any acts of violence," Mugabe said. He acknowledged, however, that some farmers had been assaulted after resisting occupation.

"We have appealed to the war veterans not to assault anybody, not to touch any property and not to vandalize. ... We will regularize the process and list the farms that they are occupying and see whether in terms of our criteria they deserve to be acquired."

Thousands of veterans of the 1970s war against white minority rule in the former Rhodesia have invaded hundreds of the country's 4,500 commercial farms -- demanding land they say was stolen by the British from their forefathers in the 1890s.

Harare says the government of British Prime Minister Tony Blair is responsible for the crisis by back-tracking on the previous Conservative government's plans to finance the purchase of land from the white farmers and thus redistribute it more fairly.

Zimbabwe's demand that Britain be responsible for compensating the affected white farmers has badly strained ties with the country's former colonial ruler. Harare says this had been agreed to under the 1980 Lancaster House accord that ended Zimbabwe's liberation war.

Mugabe lashed Britain for allegedly stirring up European opinion over the Zimbabwe issue. "It might appear to many that the problem has suddenly erupted. But this has been ongoing, a continuous problem, but worsened only because the Labor government has not wanted to follow in the footsteps of the Conservative government," he said.

If Britain does not give Zimbabwe funds for land purchases, "then we will have to take it without that compensation, except in respect of improvements of the land," he added.

"Let that be known. We will pay compensation for any developments like irrigation schemes, structures erected on the land. ... But the full market value of the land, no, we cannot pay that."

He said the world should remember that Zimbabwe fought for its independence: "They talk of human rights and democracy. Who taught Britain democracy about Zimbabwe? We did. We freed ourselves from the clutches of British colonialism. ... Britain cannot teach us about democracy."

Mugabe said foreign investors should not worry about Harare's land takeover plans, because it would be carried out in an orderly way following the passage of clear legislation.

"Investors should not be inhibited by the fact that the people of Zimbabwe are getting their land back," he said. "Of course, some people might misread the situation and regard it as a situation of turmoil. No. Actually, we would want to give the land in an orderly manner."

Mugabe emphasized that the farms needed were the ones adjacent to communal land. Former white leader Smith's land did not fall into that category, he said.

Earlier Wednesday, Zimbabwean Foreign Affairs Minister Stan Mudenge said the land conflict has created a "potentially explosive" situation which could "negatively affect" the rest of southern Africa if not resolved.

He also defended the war veterans. "There are no land invaders. They are ex-combatants, people trying to demonstrate their desire for a more just land redistribution by self- settlement," Mudenge said.

"If we do not resolve the land question, it will be explosive; I can assure you of that," he added. "The people ... will not accept the present unjust situation to continue forever and they will forcibly correct that." The landless poor would "do all that is necessary to have back their land."

Copyright 1999 Reuters.
Embattled Mugabe confronted by rule of law

President Robert Mugabe's remaining obstacle to absolute power is Zimbabwe's independent judiciary, writes Guardian foreign affairs specialist Simon Tisdall

Thursday April 13, 2000

The order issued today by Zimbabwe's high court instructing police to halt a spate of farm invasions by supporters of the ruling Zanu-PF party has placed the country's independent judiciary in direct confrontation with the government of President Robert Mugabe.

An earlier high court ruling ordering the eviction of more than 50,000 squatters, who have occupied several hundred white-owned farms amid increasing violence, had been challenged by the police commissioner and the attorney-general, Patrick Chinamasa. They maintained that the order was unenforceable and if attempted, could lead to widespread bloodshed.

Earlier this week Mr Chinamasa went further, telling Judge Moses Chinhengo that the farm invasions were essentially a political matter, part of the "unfinished business" of Zimbabwe's liberation war against Ian Smith's illegal white-minority regime.

Mr Justice Chinhengo rejected those arguments today, saying he saw no reason to reverse the previous court order. "The rule of law must be upheld," he said.

The ruling is the latest in a series of blows suffered by Mr Mugabe's regime. Last year, it lost funding from the IMF and World Bank after a row over its economic management and its involvement in the Congo war. In February, it lost a national referendum on a new constitution. Since then, the United States has cut bilateral aid, South African banks have suspended commercial credit, Zimbabwe's foreign reserves have been exhausted and the country has been hit by serious fuel and energy shortages.

Mr Mugabe has also become engaged in a war of words with Britain, the country's former colonial power, which he claims is trying to influence forthcoming general elections. But facing his biggest-ever challenge from the multiracial Movement for Democratic Change, Mr Mugabe has postponed the elections, originally due this month, and has refused so far to set a new date.

This week's dissolution of parliament, coupled with the government's control of much of the media and its suppression of opposition demonstrations, means that the judiciary is the only remaining obstacle to unchallenged rule by Mr Mugabe.

The big question now is whether Mr Mugabe's government will accept the court order. It made no immediate comment after the ruling.

On recent form, it seems unlikely to comply. If it does not, then farmers and other groups are likely to return to court, arguing that Mr Chinamasa and the police commissioner, Augustine Chihuri, are in prima facie contempt of court. Mr Justice Chinhengo yesterday imposed no penalties on the government, other than costs, for ignoring the earlier ruling. If its defiance continues, however, he may be forced to put the government in the dock.

Mr Mugabe has repeatedly expressed his support for the farm occupations, and has increased the tension by telling white Zimbabweans that they should leave the country if they are not prepared to give up their land. To back down now would be seen as another, big personal humiliation.

But the alternative - ignoring the law, defying the high court, and perhaps preventing further court proceeedings - would be even more damaging, confirming the view of many Zimbabweans that Mr Mugabe has become an autocrat and that the country is heading for anarchy and a possible new civil war.

All this makes it more necessary than ever that a British plan to appoint an independent regional mediator to tackle some of these issues is implemented.


 


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Subject: ZIMBABWE NEWS - 8 April 2000 : More from AOL

more from AOL
 
Zimbabwean farmers face invasions with stoicism

By Jeremy Lovell

 
MAZOWE, Zimbabwe, April 8 (Reuters) - It was Tommy Bayley's turn on Saturday.
The invaders came quietly but with determination to tell him they were taking
over the farm in central Zimbabwe his family have worked for more than 60
years.

``We are just informing you that we are taking over,'' C.G. Sotai, a
46-year-old veteran of the former Rhodesia's liberation war, told Bayley at
the front gate of his 800 hectare (2,000 acre) Danbury farm 20 km (12 miles)
north of Harare.

War veterans, often accompanied by women and children, have in six weeks laid
claim to more than 800 white farms, fuelling tension as President Robert
Mugabe fights to extend his increasingly unpopular 20-year rule.

Mugabe's ZANU-PF party will face a stiff challenge from opposition parties in
a parliamentary election expected in May. A presidential election is due in
2002.

Mugabe supports the veterans' claims, although he denies he ordered the
invasions, which are unsettling the 4,500 predominantly white commercial
farmers.

The invaders come on foot, in minibuses and on tractors, loud and
intimidating but not generally violent.

``We are not taking the land from you. We are retaking the land,'' Sotai told
Bayley forcefully. ``You took the land from our forefathers.''

STOCK REPLY

Bayley, whose father owned the farm before him, gave the stock reply the
farmers have all agreed to give.

``I am here. I cannot stop you doing whatever you want to do,'' he said,
determinedly holding his tongue rather than risk losing his temper and
allowing an incident to develop.

He mounted his bicycle and led the group of 40 across the farm to a nearby
vacant and windowless square stone cottage, which he offered them as
accommodation.

``We are not animals, cattle or sheep.  We cannot stay here. Offer us
something else,'' one man said angrily.

``We are not taking the whole farm,'' Sotai said. ``We are going to share. As
long as he understands that we can live as neighbours. But if he insists the
farm belongs to him we will throw him off.''

The previous night 150 people turned up at the gates of the neighbouring
Glenara Estates farm.

After tense negotiations the group agreed to be housed in a barn, but by
mid-morning they had commandeered a tractor and trailer and moved on, leaving
a handful of invaders behind.

Neighbour Rob Marshall was less fortunate.

THREATS AND ABUSE

He, his wife and three children were finally forced off their Pearson farm on
Thursday night to take refuge with Bayley.

``They spent a couple of hours running round the house banging on the windows
and banging on the doors,'' he said, a quiver in his voice. ``Surprisingly I
was not as frightened as I thought I would be.''

But the threats and abuse, which had been going on intermittently for three
weeks, finally proved too much.

``The position was we had minutes rather than hours to leave the farm,'' he
said. ``We should take a plane and go to Britain.''

At the farm of neighbour J.J. Hammond, there was violence.

The telephone, water and power have been cut by the invaders who have
besieged the house and farm for more than a week.

His life and that of his wife and children have been threatened and staff
have been beaten up.

Hammond has told the invaders he has had enough and will go, leaving
everything behind him.

``J.J. is a strong man, but he called on the radio a few days ago pleading
for help. But what can we do? We just have to tell him to keep calm. It is
horrible,'' one neighbour said.

Bayley has not given up yet, but there is more hope than conviction in his
words.

``It'll come right,'' he said. ``We've stuck it out before. Once we are over
this hurdle the future is still great.''
 
Subject: ZIMBABWE NEWS - 8 April 2000

Zimbabwe Police Deployed, Farms Seizures Go On

Apr 8 2000 7:10AM ET : HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwean riot police set up roadblocks Saturday and searched cars entering a township where opponents of President Robert Mugabe were said to be planning a protest.

So-called liberation war veterans, emboldened by the beleaguered president's endorsement Friday of illegal farm invasions, grabbed more land from white farmers.

A witness said police patrolled the sprawling Chitungwiza township about 40 km south of Harare. Armed officers used armored personnel carriers to block the road and searched cars.

The police declined to say why they had moved into the area.

Local reporters said there were rumors that an opposition march was planned in the district, home to 500,000 poor people, where violence erupted during 1998 anti-government food riots.

Government officials said Mugabe, who has challenged white farmers to back his ruling ZANU-PF or leave, was resting before flying in the evening to Cuba for a Third World economic summit.

Mugabe, his political stock at an all time low after 20 years in power, told a rally Friday he had not ordered the farm invasions, but said he supported the so-called liberation war veterans in their land grab.

ZANU-PF supporters, claiming to be veterans of the liberation war that brought the former Rhodesia to independence from Britain in 1980, have occupied more than 800 farms owned mainly by the country's 4,500 white commercial farmers.

Two farms were seized near Mozowe, about 20 km northeast of Harare, overnight and one was reported taken in Kadoma, further from the capital.

GROUP PEACEFULLY TAKES OVER FARM

Saturday, a group of veterans, youngsters and children marched onto the Danbury Parks farm in the Mazowe district, home of the white Bayley family for more than 60 years.

``We are just informing you we are taking over,'' a group leader told Tommy Bayley calmly outside the homestead.

``We are not taking the land from you, we are retaking the land you took from our forefathers,'' the leader said.

In line with the policy set by the mainly white Commercial Farmers Union, Bayley offered no resistance, telling the group: ''I am here. I cannot stop you doing whatever you want to do.''

Political analysts say the white farmers hope the invasions will end after parliamentary elections in May and that their land will be restored to them.

Mugabe, 76, does not face a presidential election until 2002. He has threatened white farmers and talked of taking their land before each parliamentary and presidential election since independence, the analysts note.

Zimbabwe Foreign Affairs officials said Mugabe had no firm appointments while in Cuba for the Group of 77 Summit, but southern African leaders often meet at international conferences to share views on regional developments.

``I am sure he will meet his colleagues as usual and exchange views of common interest, not just covering Zimbabwe, but the whole region,'' an official told Reuters.

South African President Thabo Mbeki is expected to leave for Cuba Monday and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Aziz Pahad said he would try to discuss the crisis in Zimbabwe with Mugabe.

Zimbabwe's powerful northern neighbor, which only threw off white rule six years ago and also has a large and still dispossessed black population, has said it is worried by the turn of events.

``We are very concerned about the situation and we are in constant touch with the government in Zimbabwe,'' Pahad told reporters Friday.

``It is in our interest to ensure that the situation does not explode. Anything that explodes in Zimbabwe will have very serious consequences for us,'' he said. Zimbabwe is South Africa's largest African trading partner.

Mugabe Friday made an emotional appeal for popular support with a strong message to the country's whites to take his side or leave.

His ZANU-PF party has pushed through a law giving the government the right to confiscate predominantly white-owned farmland with the onus on Britain to pay compensation.

MUGABE SAYS FARMERS FUNDING OPPOSITION

``Alas, those that we had thought had accepted the hand of reconciliation had not in fact done so,'' Mugabe said. ``The white man has not changed. I appeal to him or her to rethink.''

He said he was not anti-white, just against those who did not support him, and accused the white farmers of bankrolling the emerging opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

``I support the invasion of the farms, but I didn't send them,'' he told a crowd of about 1,500 people -- including several veteran fighters and a large group of young militants.

Mugabe warns 'Boers' to leave

Zimbabwe: special report

Chris McGreal in Harare
Saturday April 8, 2000

President Robert Mugabe yesterday said that those whites who do not agree with the new constitutional reform permitting the seizure and redistribution of their farmland without compensation should leave Zimbabwe.

Addressing an election rally in the north-east of the country, Mr Mugabe also let loose at an array of other opponents. He warned opposition politicians against "starting a fire" that will consume them and declared that Zimbabweans will "rise up and repel" Britain if it interferes in the land issue.

Mr Mugabe, who discarded his usual western suit in favour of an olive-green safari outfit with overtones of combat fatigues, offered his backing to the invasion of nearly 1,000 white farms by poor blacks and veterans of the independence war. He warned whites against resisting the land seizures.

"Have we now come to the position where they [whites] are determined to fight against Mugabe and his government? he asked. "If that is the case, I will declare the fight to be on and we will win it."

"We appeal for the farmers to be reasonable... Let there be no clashes between them and the war veterans," he said. "There have been some cases of violence, but many of these have been due to resistance by the farmers."

The Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), which represents most of the country's 4,500 white farmers, said land on a total of 926 farms has been seized and at least 50 farmers assaulted. Two men arrested by police for beating one farmer so severely that he was taken to hospital were released yesterday and returned to reoccupy their victim's land.

Zimbabwe's president denied there is an anti-white policy, but several times he de scribed his country's white citizens as "Boers" and accused white farmers of bankrolling an increasingly popular new opposition movement.

The opposition has dismissed the occupations and constitutional amendment as a ploy by Mr Mugabe to whip up support ahead of parliamentary elections, scheduled for next month. The ruling Zanu-PF party faces the biggest opposition challenge of its 20 years in power amid a crumbling economy, soaring inflation and fuel shortages.

The CFU said yesterday it was still deciding its response to the constitutional reform, but that seizing farms without compensation will "render land worthless".

However, the leader of the country's war veterans association, which is spearheading the land seizures, said that they will continue despite parliament's vote to pave the way for the government to legally take over land redistribution.

"We are staying there. We are prepared to fight on," said Chenjerai Hunzvi. "We have to protect our gains. We are in the second phase of liberation. This is why there is this war."

The US said it has with drawn about $1m aid for land reform because Mr Mugabe has failed to stop the farm invasions.

"That programme has broken down in recent weeks as war veterans and their supporters illegally occupied hundreds of commercial farms in clear violation of Zimbabwean law," said the state department spokesman, James Rubin. "Zimbabwe's future and reputation are threatened by this display of political intolerance." The US called for "rational, sustainable and equitable land reform in Zimbabwe.".

The new constitutional amendment requires that, as the former colonial power, Britain compensate whites who lose their farms. A statement from the British high commission in Harare yesterday rejected the demand. "One sovereign and independent state cannot use its constitution to impose conditions on another," it said.

The Foreign Office said Britain has agreed to accept a Zimbabwean delegation to discuss the issue. The Department for International Development said the UK has spent 44m on resettlement projects since Zimbabwe's indepen dence in 1980. But as a result of the land invasions, a further 5m earmarked for resettlement is being diverted to other projects.

The violence on the farms continued yesterday with at least one other white couple assaulted. And one of the leaders of the war veterans association, Agrippa Gava, warned that reporters will also become targets if they visit the occupied farms. "If you go to these places, you will die," he said.

BBC: Saturday, 8 April, 2000, 18:44 GMT 19:44 UK

Opposition backlash in Zimbabwe

War veterans surround barricaded Chidikamwedzi farm
Zimbabwe's main opposition party has criticised President Robert Mugabe over his threats to white farmers.

The Movement for Democratic Change rejected Mr Mugabe's warning that white farmers should leave the country if they could not accept a new law allowing their land to be seized without compensation.

MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, said Mr Mugabe's support for the militants squatting on hundreds of white-owned farms was dividing the nation.

Mr Tsvangirai accused the president of electioneering

At a rally in Kadoma, central Zimbabwe, Mr Tsvangirai said: "This country is a multi-cultural society. There's no way you can remove the racial aspect.

"The whites will be here to stay, other ethnic groups will be here to stay. It's a multi-cultural, multi-racial society."

The rally was attended by about 2,000 MDC supporters, some of whom complained that they had been stoned by followers of Mr Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party before the rally.

Emboldened by Mr Mugabe's remarks on Friday that he would fight white farmers who opposed his land grab, war veterans invaded more farms on Saturday.

Land seizures

Two were occupied overnight near Mazowe, about 20km north-east of Harare, and another was reported taken in Kadoma.

"We are not taking the land from you, we are retaking the land you took from our forefathers," said one of the leaders of a group of veterans who marched onto the Danbury Parks farm - home to the Bayley family for more than 60 years.

Analysts say white farmers hope the invasions will end after parliamentary elections in May, and that their land will be restored to them.

War veterans and government supporters are squatting on about 800 white-owned farms, and there have been attacks against some of the owners.

President Mugabe said the MDC would never govern Zimbabwe

White political activists have vowed to fight on to topple Mr Mugabe's government in the forthcoming elections, despite threats of violence.

David Coltart, a human rights lawyer and executive member of the MDC, told the AFP news agency: "I am not going to be frightened by a tin-pot dictator like Robert Mugabe.

"This is simply the ranting of a very frightened old man who fears the consequences of losing power, who fears what will be seen when his corrupt activities and his gross human rights abuses are revealed."

Mr Mugabe told an election rally on Friday that whites were backing the MDC with large cash donations and said that if they wanted a fight, he was ready.

He said: "MDC can never be the government of this country, never, never, never. I will declare a fight to the finish and they will not win."

BBC: Saturday, 8 April, 2000, 10:31 GMT 11:31 UK

Economic fears over Zimbabwe turmoil

The president said whites opposing his policy should leave
Southern Africa faces the threat of economic chaos if the conflict over white-owned farms in Zimbabwe continues, according to officials and business leaders.

The strongest warnings have come from South Africa where deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad said it was in his country's interests to ensure that the situation in Zimbabwe did not explode.

The warnings follow President Robert Mugabe's statement that he would fight any opposition by white farmers to his plan to take over their land.

He told an election rally on Friday that his government no longer intended to ask for the land, but would take it without negotiation. Any whites who objected should leave the country, he suggested.

Regional consequences

After South Africa, Zimbabwe has the biggest economy in the region.

According to business leaders, economic turmoil caused by a confrontation over the ownership of white farms could reduce agricultural output and have severe economic consequences.

"The whole region will carry the cost if there is an economic meltdown in Zimbabwe," said Kevin Wakeford, chief executive of the South African Chamber of Business.


Some farmers have already surrendered their land
His comments were echoed by the Vusi Mabilisa, the secretary of the Economic Association of Swaziland: "The sub-region as a whole would stand to lose if Zimbabwe lost its place as an important import and export market."

South Africa's deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad said Pretoria was closely monitoring the situation.

"We are very concerned about the situation and we are in constant touch with the government in Zimbabwe," Mr Pahad said.

Zimbabwe is South Africa's largest trading partner and there have been warnings in the press that unrest there could lead to an influx of Zimbabweans into South Africa.

Opposition warnings

War veterans and government supporters are squatting on about 800 white-owned farms, and there have been attacks against some of the owners.


Mugabe praised war veterans for leading the occupation of farms

Opposition leaders say the dispute has nothing to do with Mr Mugabe's desire for fair land distribution, but is instead an attempt to make sure his party wins power in elections due next month.

The opposition parties have also warned that Mr Mugabe might be pushing the country towards chaos to provide a pretext for declaring emergency rule and further delaying elections.

Mugabe's rally

At a rally on Friday attended by over 3,000 supporters of his Zanu-PF party, Mr Mugabe said that if whites wanted to stay in Zimbabwe they must do so on his terms, and not oppose the seizure of their land.

"If they want to go, we will open the borders for them. We will give them a police escort," Mr Mugabe told supporters.

Zimbabwe's parliament passed legislation on Thursday to give the government the right to seize farms without compensation.

The wording of the constitutional amendment is identical to a clause in a draft constitution which was recently rejected in a national referendum.

This is war, says Harare's Hitler

08/04/2000 The Times: JAN RAATH IN HARARE 
 
HITLER HUNZVI, the leader of the guerrilla war veterans, made it clear yesterday that he was not bound by the law and that "this war" would escalate.

The Polish-trained medical doctor speaks in hidden meanings and dark menacing allusions of war and death that lace his denials of anti-white racism and violence.

However, Agrippa Gava, one of his lieutenants and director of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans' Association, is candid. "You look like a commercial farmer," he told one journalist after an interview in the organisation's headquarters. "Don't go to [opposition demonstrations] or you will die."

Peace Kiliwane, a veterans' spokesman, said: "Violence is the resort at the moment. It's a war and we've changed our strategy. They [white farmers] are being beaten but you have to know why. They are the ringleaders and are sponsoring people [the Movement for Democratic Change] to protect their interests."

Dr Hunzvi was pressed for an explanation of the attack on a peace march last week. "This is the second phase of liberation and we have to transform the economy of this country, and this is why there is this war," he said. The organisation said last month that farm occupations would end when legislation to take the land was passed. The law was passed on Thursday but the veterans are not moving, Dr Hunzvi said. "Why should we move them off land they fought for? That is the land we want and we are staying there."

Mugabe 'will not negotiate' over white land grab

08/04/2000 The Times: BY MICHAEL DYNES IN BINDURA
 
AMID an aura of calculated menace, President Mugabe announced yesterday his intention to press ahead with plans to seize half of Zimbabwe's white-owned commercial farms, giving warning that he would tolerate no more opposition from "troublesome

Boers".

Emboldened by Parliament's approval of the Land Acquisition Bill, which gives him the power to take any land he chooses without compensation, Mr Mugabe said he would seek an urgent meeting with the white Commercial Farmers' Union to spell out how the land acquisitions would take place.

"This is an historic day," Mr Mugabe told supporters attending his Zanu (PF) party's first election rally in Mashonaland. "It is a victory over imperialism and colonialism."

The Land Acquisition Bill effectively overturns the result of February's constitutional referendum, which denied Mr Mugabe the authority to take white land without compensation. Mr Mugabe refused to accept the earlier result on the alleged ground that white farmers intimidated their black workers to vote against him.

Compensation for white farmers for any land acquired by the Government of Zimbabwe was the moral responsibility of Britain, Mr Mugabe said. "Compensation can only be paid if funds are made available by the former colonial power."

Mr Mugabe said that he wanted to assure the country's 4,500 white commercial farmers that his Government "will not proceed arbitrarily". But he also made clear: "There will be no negotiation about it."

Britain and the international community have agreed to support a transparent land reform programme that benefits the landless, in an attempt to offset the situation in which less than 1 per cent of white farmers own some 70 per cent of prime agricultural land. But it has refused to back unilateral action by Mr Mugabe.

Any pretence that the Government was not behind the invasion of some 900 commercial farms by thousands of "war veterans" dissolved when a phalanx of former fighters from the 1970s war of liberation marched on to the parade ground to be welcomed by Mr Mugabe's clenched fist. He thanked the veterans for their "fighting spirit" and for setting an example on how to solve the land issue. "The land has been baptised," Mr Mugabe said. "It has gone back to the people."

Dismissing the war of words between London and Harare over the forcible acquisitions, Mr Mugabe said that when the white man came to this country he just took the land and said: "This is mine." "Those who now own the land say they bought it. But those who sold it came from Britain," Mr Mugabe said.

"That's why Britain must pay for the land. When the money comes from Britain we will give it to you. If it does not, you are finished," he added.

Addressing the white commercial farmers, Mr Mugabe said: "Today we have given you your freedom. You now have the knowledge that this country belongs to black people. There is no one who is going to say to a white man that you are the boss. We are now on the same level."

Mr Mugabe warned the white community that their support for the Movement for Democratic Change, the opposition coalition of labour, church and student groups, would be seen as "a demonstration that the white man has not changed". "Have they come to the point where they want to fight Mugabe and his government? Then I will declare the fight. And it will be a fight to the finish," he said.

Subject: ZIMBABWE 07 April 2000: Mugabe Says Will Fight for White Land If Necessary

Mugabe Bids for Votes With Strong Words to Whites 
Zimbabwe Squatters Won't Leave
INTERVIEW-Opposition says Zimbabwe drifting into chaos
Mugabe Says Will Fight for White Land If Necessary 
Reuters
Apr 8 2000 2:31AM ET
 

HARARE - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, his political stock at an all-time low after 20 years in power, has made an emotional appeal for popular support with a strong message to the country's whites to take his side or leave.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa has felt ripples from political and economic turmoil rattling Zimbabwe, but is unlikely to follow its neighbour into crisis, analysts said on Friday.

Mugabe Bids for Votes With Strong Words to Whites
 
Reuters
Apr 7 2000 6:12PM ET
 

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, his political stock at an all-time low after 20 years in power, has made an emotional appeal for popular support with a strong message to the country's whites to take his side or leave.

Mugabe's message was spelled out at a rural rally just one day after his ZANU-PF party pushed through a law giving the government the right to confiscate predominantly white-owned farmland while making Britain responsible for compensation.

``Alas, those that we had thought had accepted the hand of reconciliation had not in fact done so,'' the 76-year-old Mugabe said. ``The white man has not changed. I appeal to him or her to rethink.''

He said he was not anti-white, just against those who did not support him, and accused the 4,500 white farmers and their families of bankrolling the emerging opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Mugabe was unrepentant over the collapse in relations with former colonial overlord Britain after supposed veterans of the liberation war that ended in 1980 with the Lancaster House accord invaded more than 800 farms.

``I support the invasion of the farms, but I didn't send them,'' he told a crowd of about 1,500 people -- including several veteran fighters and a large group of young militants.

Two people have died and scores have been injured since the supposed war veterans began the farm invasions.

Farmers have been attacked and held hostage on their properties, and reporters have likewise been abused, kept captive and threatened.

Mugabe said the occupations would continue, but appealed for calm. He blamed the violent incidents on resistance by the farmers.

ACCUSATIONS OF POLITICAL OPPORTUNISM

Opponents accused Mugabe of cynical political opportunism with national elections expected within three months, and across the country MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai identified the problem in simple terms.

``The main issues are very, very simple. For the last 20 years we have allowed the ZANU-PF to destroy the economy,'' he told a rally of 2,000 supporters.

Mugabe, who does not himself face reelection until 2002, suffered a humiliating political setback in February when the country voted against a new constitution that included the power to seize land as well as giving the president more powers.

``Rejection of the draft constitution was a foolish act,'' he said, accusing white farmers of having voted in a block against it and of having coerced their workers to do likewise.

Zimbabwe's powerful neighbor South Africa, which only threw off apartheid rule six years ago and also has a large and still dispossessed black population, said it was worried about the turn of events and was watching it carefully.

``It is in our interest to ensure that the situation does not explode. Anything that explodes in Zimbabwe will have very serious consequences for us,'' Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad said.

Land distribution in the former Rhodesia is heavily skewed toward the large landowners, with 4,500 huge commercial farms accounting for 11.2 million hectares (27.7 million acres) of the fertile countryside.

Zimbabwe has a total land area of 39.6 million hectares (98 million acres) of which all but 3.3 million are set aside for agricultural usage.

Farming is the backbone of the economy which is in ruins, with the International Monetary Fund withholding funds and international aid donors turning off the taps until the land issue is sorted out.

Zimbabwe Squatters Won't Leave

Apr 7 2000 2:46PM ET : HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - President Robert Mugabe on Friday praised thousands of squatters and war veterans who have illegally occupied more than 900 white-owned farms and said any whites scared of rising tension in Zimbabwe can have a police escort out of the country.

``We are no longer going to ask for the land, but we are going to take it without negotiating,'' Mugabe told a campaign rally near Bindura, 50 miles northeast of Harare.

The squatters - led by men armed with spears, clubs, knives and guns who claim to be veterans of the bush war that led to independence in 1980 - kept the ``liberation spirit'' alive by claiming white land occupied by the descendants of British colonial-era settlers, Mugabe said.

He said whites who resisted the takeovers have been injured in worsening clashes across the country, and fearful whites were free to leave.

``If they want to go, we will open the borders for them. We will give them a police escort,'' he told about 4,000 ruling party supporters.

Earlier Friday, the leader of a war veterans association promised to continue his group's occupation of white-owned farms.

``We are staying there. We are prepared to fight on'' despite a new law passed Thursday allowing the government to seize white land without paying compensation, said Chenjerai Hunzvi, leader of the National Liberation War Veterans Association.

The occupations, which began in early February, come in a nation where 4,000 white farmers own one-third of Zimbabwe's productive land, while most blacks are landless and impoverished. The agricultural nation is also in the midst of its worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1980. Inflation reached a record 70 percent last year and unemployment has exceeded 50 percent.

Mugabe has described the land occupations as justified protests against the inequity in land ownership and police have defied a court ruling ordering them to evict the squatters and enforce the law. Western nations have frozen aid for land reform and sharply criticized the government for failing to protect citizens' rights.

Speaking Friday, Hunzvi disputed assertions that the squatters were simply lawbreakers, saying that the white settlers respected no laws when they fought blacks and grabbed tribal lands in the colonial era.

``As freedom fighters we were being called terrorists, so we don't mind what we're called,'' he told reporters. ``We will fight. We have to protect our gains. We are in the second phase of liberation.''

On the farms, the standoffs remained tense. The Commercial Farmers Union, which represents most white farmers, reported at least 50 cases of violence against its members this week. A Hunzvi aide warned reporters to stay away from occupied farms.

``If you go to these places, you will die,'' said Agrippa Gava, a director of Hunzvi's group.

Youths from Mugabe's ruling party threatened to kill two black journalists at a besieged farm northwest of Harare and held them hostage for two hours while the police looked on Thursday, said the journalists' newspaper, the independent Daily News.

``This is anarchy. To have innocent citizens detained by ruling party youths and barred from going about their lawful business is totally unacceptable,'' said Geoff Nyarota, the newspaper's editor.

In parliamentary elections expected to be called in May, the opposition is expected to pose Mugabe's biggest electoral challenge since he led the country to independence. Opposition leaders have accused him of supporting the land occupation to boost his popularity.

APO/Zimbabwe-Land-Occupations/
Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.

INTERVIEW-Opposition says Zimbabwe drifting into chaos 

Apr 7 2000 3:24PM ET : WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Zimbabwe is drifting into chaos and the economy is threatened as a result of ``an orchestrated campaign of violence'' by President Robert Mugabe, the country's main opposition groups said Friday.

On a visit to Washington, several leaders of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), an umbrella group of opposition parties, told Reuters Mugabe appeared to be pushing the country toward anarchy, possibly to provide an excuse to declare emergency rule and stall a general election due to be held in May.

``We are sending out an SOS signal,'' said Gibson Sibanda, the MDC's vice president, who led the delegation to lobby the U.S. State Department and key lawmakers on Capitol Hill to help step up international pressure on the Mugabe government.

``The Western world must tell Mugabe to stop the orchestrated violence and abide by the rule of law.''

The MDC, Zimbabwe's biggest opposition party, in February handed Mugabe the worst humiliation of his 20-year rule by helping to defeat a referendum on a new constitution that would have expanded his powers and enabled him to seize land from white farmers without compensation.

Since then Mugabe has intensified a campaign of violence and intimidation by using thugs to break up peaceful political protests and encouraging black squatters to invade some 800 white-owned farms, opposition leaders said.

``Mugabe is trying to get the land through the back door, when the people of Zimbabwe have said 'no','' said Isaac Maposa, director of the NCA, which organized the nationwide campaign urging voters to reject the new constitution.

``It is better for the international community to prevent any further recession into anarchy and violence than to have to send peacekeepers to Zimbabwe,'' he said.

The United States Thursday condemned the farm invasions and the suppression of recent peaceful demonstrations in Zimbabwe and announced it would suspend aid to the country's land-reform program.

Britain has also been highly critical of Mugabe's actions in its former colony, accusing him of handing the best land so far appropriated by the government to his cronies.

Sibanda said the MDC supported cutting off aid, but he called for coordinated pressure by the United States and the European Union to force Mugabe's government to hold the planned elections in May and to send a team of international monitors to ensure the poll is free and fair.

Weary of corruption, cronyism and years of economic mismanagement resulting in low wages, fuel shortages and soaring inflation, 65 percent of Zimbabwean voters surveyed in recent opinion polls have said they want a new government.

The 76-year-old Mugabe, an intellectual and former guerrilla commander whose party, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), has governed the country since it negotiated independence from Britain in 1980, has become increasingly unpredictable as he fights to remain in power.

On Thursday Mugabe persuaded Zimbabwe's parliament to vote to make Britain liable for compensating white farmers whose farms were seized for redistribution to blacks -- something Britain swiftly rejected.

Several opposition members, citing his Mugabe's behavior in the escalating dispute with Britain, said there were also questions about his sanity. In March Mugabe ordered a British diplomatic shipment to be impounded at gunpoint, prompting Britain to recall its envoy to Harare. This week Mugabe threatened to go to war with Britain if it tries to interfere in his state-sanctioned land grabs.

``It is clear that Mr. Mugabe is a megalomanic,'' said Douglas Mwonzora, a leader of the opposition United Parties. ''The irrational decisions that he has made in the past ... do lend credence to the suspicion of senility on his part.''

Meanwhile, government opponents said the occupation of farms is harming Zimbabwe's agricultural sector, a mainstay of the economy, making the need for change more urgent.

``Our economy is bleeding to death,'' said Wonder Maisiri, chief executive of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce. ''The economy can still be revived. But it can never be revived by a Mugabe government, because they are the problem.''

Mugabe Says Will Fight for White Land If Necessary

Apr 7 2000 3:13PM ET : HARARE (Reuters) - President Robert Mugabe, in his first address after winning the right to seize white-owned farms without compensation, vowed on Friday to fight whites for the land and said those who were unhappy should leave Zimbabwe.

Throwing himself firmly behind the so-called war veterans who have occupied about 800 white-owned farms, the 76-year-old Mugabe, wearing an olive suit, said he was ready for a battle.

``If they (whites) want to go, we will open the borders for them. We will give them a police escort,'' state-owned ZIANA news agency quoted Mugabe as saying in his native Shona at a rally outside the capital Harare.

He also accused the 4,500 white commercial farmers, a few of whom have already caved into occupation and surrendered their land, of bankrolling a new opposition movement ahead of an election due in May.

``Have we now come to the position where they are determined to fight against Mugabe and his government? If that is the case, I will declare the fight to be on and we will win it,'' he told a crowd of about 1,500 in the farming town of Bindura.

Two people have died and scores have been injured since the ''war veterans,'' many far too young to have fought in the country's 1970s war of independence, began to occupy the farms.

Parliament voted by the narrowest possible majority on Thursday to give Mugabe the right to seize farms without compensation. He warned whites they would not be able to prevent the surrender of some of their land.

APPEAL FOR REASON

``We appeal for the farmers to be reasonable...Let there be no clashes between them and the war veterans. There have been some cases of violence, but many of these have been due to resistance by the farmers,'' he said.

``We will not remove the people (occupiers) from the farms. We are going to share the farms. We are all equal. We all have to share equally,'' said Mugabe, who has clashed with former colonial power Britain over the emotive issue.

But he added that whites would not be forced back to Britain, which the law says must compensate for land grabbed.

Britain has rejected the new law, which was pushed through parliament as part of a constitutional amendment rejected in a referendum in February.

In London, a Department of International Development spokeswoman said one state could not impose constitutional obligations on another.

The United States on Thursday joined Britain and other donors who have suspended aid to Zimbabwe.

Southern neighbor South Africa also expressed concern. Officials said they were ``closely monitoring the situation'' and that President Thabo Mbeki would meet Mugabe to discuss the matter at a conference in Cuba next week.

``We will not give orders to President Robert Mugabe,'' said South Africa's Safety and Security Minister Steve Tswete.

``We would like to credit him with some intelligence.''

Mugabe's rally was called to celebrate passage of the controversial law and to kick off the campaign for national elections expected to take place within three months.

FOUR FARMS OCCUPIED

A source in the mainly white farming community told Reuters that four more farms were occupied overnight and scores of farmers reported rising tension and attacks on farm workers.

``We are obviously worried about the turn of events. What can we do rather than just watch and see how things develop? We hope the land invasions at least will come to an end,'' the source said.

Others merely expressed resignation.

``There is a sense of despair, not just in the white community, not just among the farmers, but the whole country,'' said Diana Mitchell, author of a number of Zimbabwean political biographies.

The new law followed a defeat for Mugabe in a referendum over a new constitution that would have allowed the government to seize farms from the mainly white commercial farmers.

Zimbabwe faces a deepening political and economic crisis, with inflation and unemployment both hovering near 50 percent.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, whose new Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) poses the first real challenge to Mugabe since independence in 1980, said Mugabe appeared to have abandoned the search for a peaceful resolution.

Land distribution in the former Rhodesia is skewed toward large landowners and 4,500 huge farms account for 11.2 million hectares (27.7 million acres) of the fertile countryside.

Total land area is 39.6 million hectares (97.9 million acres). All but 3.3 million is set aside for agricultural use.


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Subject: we draw the line...............

U.S. condemns Zimbabwe farm seizures, suspends aid

WASHINGTON, April 6 (Reuters) - The United States condemned on Thursday
attacks on white-owned farms and the suppression of peaceful demonstrations
in Zimbabwe and said it was suspending aid to the land reform programme
there.

``Brutality and extrajudicial actions of the sort seen in Zimbabwe over the
past week are unacceptable wherever they occur. They are particularly
worrisome, as in this case, when they are perpetrated by the government or
its supporters,'' State Department spokesman James Rubin said in a
statement.

``The United States condemns the violent attacks. ... Zimbabwe's future and
reputation are threatened by this display of political intolerance,'' he
added.

Supporters of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party
occupied more farms on Thursday. At least two people have been killed and
many injured in clashes connected with the campaign to take over the farms.

Mugabe, 76, in power for 20 years and facing a national economic crisis, is
fighting for his political life after a bruising referendum defeat in
February on a measure that would have increased his powers.

His campaign has brought conflict with Britain, the former colonial power,
and the Zimbabwean parliament voted on Thursday to make Britain liable to
compensate the white farmers.

Rubin said the United States deplored illegal farm occupations. He called on
the Zimbabwean government to restore the rule of law and implement eviction
orders from courts.

He said the United States was in favour of ``rational, sustainable and
equitable'' land reform in Zimbabwe and was prepared to work with the
government on strategies.

But in the meantime, and as long as government-sponsored occupations
continue, it and other donors suspended assistance to the land reform
programme.

The U.S. Agency for International Development had committed more than $1
million to support the programme.



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