"The Zimbabwe Situation" news page

Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Z I M N E W S

11August 2000

From the MDC

The New Heroes

On Heroes' Day, the day on which Zimbabweans pay tribute to all of those who fell in the First and Second Chimurengas, let us all take time to reflect on what their sacrifices have brought us. Let us pause for a moment and listen in silence to the voices of those who have gone before us. Hear the whispers in the breeze, hear the murmur as it grows, hear the voices grow louder and louder, urgently jostling to speak, to impart their wisdom to those who remain! Hear the voices grow ever louder..

But wait - there are new voices, younger voices! The voices of the New Heroes, Heroes born of the struggle for Democracy! But listen again - the voices are merging, becoming as one! Hear them shout in unison - Freedom! Justice! Peace! - for our beloved land!

Sons and daughters of Zimbabwe - it is time that we listened to the wisdom of those who have fought and died for us all. Indeed we can all hang our heads in shame or in sorrow when we consider how so many of us have betrayed their memory, how many of us have forgotten their noble ideals!

Take a good look at yourself. No not in a mirror! Have a deep hard look inside yourself, into your heart. Is there a heart which cares for the people, one which beats for Zimbabwe? Or is it a cold nameless wasteland, survival of the fittest - I, and only I, come first? Look around you. Older Zimbabweans will remember back to the early days of Independence. They will remember the country as it was - a country of great promise, beautiful cities, vibrant industry, productive farms, jobs to be applied for, enough food to feed our families. Our young children, however, could be forgiven for thinking that us adults are lying when we talk of what it was like then! We have only to look around us to see that we have failed ourselves and our fellow countrymen - that we have shamed the memory of our Heroes. This shambles of a once-proud nation is surely is not what they died for!

And who has got us to where we are? A foreign oppressor? The Government? A powerful and destructive guerilla movement? No! - we each have to look no further than ourselves. We have been the oppressor of our own people by our selfishness and/or prejudice, or we have sat back and let ourselves be oppressed, or we have sat on the fence making the best of the situation while making no effort to change it. If we are honest with ourselves, we will probably find that we have been all three of these in varying degrees at different times. We are our own oppressors - our own worst enemies. No, we can't just blame the Government. Indeed, they have a lot to answer for - but we voted them in, we gave them the power over us!

But hope is not lost! We have not only the memory and ideals of the dead to inspire us. We have a new breed of heroes, unsung heroes - those that walk the streets and footpaths of our land, those who are determined to change the course of our history for the good. Those people who have great hearts and high ideals. Those who have stood up to be counted in the cause of Democracy, and who will neither be the oppressor, nor bow to an oppressor. Over the past 6 months over thirty-five of these unsung heroes have died in politically-related violence. They join the Roll of Honour of those who have made the supreme sacrifice for their country. Let us never forget them!

So too, let us not forget our living heroes. We can remember with pride the true story of an old rural woman who was accosted on her way to vote in the recent General Elections. She was beaten for refusing to return home and not vote. When she remained adamant, she was literally hung (by the feet) from a tree. When rescued some time later, she was still determined, and hobbled off to the voting station. How she shamed some of us! How many were "too busy" to vote, or who gave up when they were first turned away? How many sent family of voting age across the border "because there might be violence, and their safety is more important than a silly vote"?

Violence? Violence indeed! Amani Trust has a record of over 18000 (yes - eighteen thousand!) Human Rights violations in Zimbabwe since the Referendum - death threats, public humiliations, slander, beatings, molestations, rapes, detentions, abductions, thefts, destruction of property (many people lost everything that they owned) and murders. But those who really cared about their people and their country were really determined to vote, and in all but exceptional cases, did so! We must pay tribute to all of them - even those who made the effort, but were prevented from doing so!

We as sons and daughters of Zimbabwe must follow the example of our Heroes. We must have the courage to stand up for our ideals, ideals which must be for the good of all of our people and that of our country. Hear the voices! Freedom, Justice, Peace! Until each and every Zimbabwean is accorded their full rights and freedoms as a person, and as a Citizen, we will have no real justice. Without justice, we will never have peace. We can never establish justice through abandoning the Law, or by denying the rights of any of our people in any way. Peace comes from justice, and justice comes from upholding the Law - fairly and impartially!

Be a New Hero! Fight for your nation as a whole! Let your weapons be love, honesty, justice and integrity!

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Z I M N E W S

11August 2000

In today's issue :
  • Mudenge's threat
  • Mugabe abusing land question
  • Eskom to take shares in ZESA?
  • Tobacco sector may sit out a season

From The Star (SA), 11 August

US move may force 'emergency measures' in Zim

Harare - Zimbabwe may be forced to impose "emergency measures" if the United States slaps sanctions on the country, Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge said on Thursday. "The government would have to take emergency measures to survive. Doesn't that normally lead to the suspension of certain democratic devices so that the country can survive?" he asked. The bill under consideration in the US Congress would punish the Zimbabwean government for failing to curb lawlessness hurting the white farming community and opposition supporters. "It's a shocking piece of legislation because it seeks to interfere in the sovereign affairs of Zimbabwe," Mudenge told a press conference.

If sanctions were imposed, Zimbabwe "will be a very difficult place...to live in, because we will have to fight for survival," he said. Known as the Zimbabwe 2000 Democracy Act, the bill, passed by the Senate in June and due to be considered by the House of Representatives, would bar aid and debt relief and instruct US executive directors of multinational lending institutions to oppose credits to Zimbabwe. The United States had slated $13-million in bilateral aid this year for Zimbabwe, to be distributed mostly through non-governmental organisations. "If the sanctions are imposed and we become a besieged economy," Mudenge said, "it would be the destruction of our country." Mudenge blamed "the international white press" for inaccurately portraying Zimbabwe's land reform programme, and said that race was the cause of European and American positions on the scheme.

It is quite clear in my mind now that the attitude which we have seen from Europe, the attitude we have seen from America ...is clearly based on the basis of race," he said. The proposed US legislation cites "deliberate and systematic violence, intimidation and killings ... orchestrated and supported by the government of Zimbabwe and the ruling Zanu-PF party against ... the democratic opposition, farmers and employees." The bill would set conditions for restoring Zimbabwe's eligibility for aid including "respect for ownership and title to property held prior to January 1, 2000". In effect, this would require the Zimbabwe government to reverse the forcible acquisition of hundreds of white-owned farms this year after President Robert Mugabe invoked presidential powers to enable the seizures without paying compensation to the owners.

US embassy spokesperson Bruce Wharton said last week the bill "represents a very serious expression of the concern of the American people about the events in Zimbabwe and the breakdown of the rule of law." On Tuesday, US State Department spokesperson Richard Boucher said, "We certainly share the broad goals of the bill, namely the economic and political reform and safeguarding of the rule of law. We share the view that land reform is a key issue that deserves immediate attention and resolution," he added. Mudenge said he would join a regional delegation on a trip to Washington to talk to US lawmakers about the bill. He could not say when the trip might take place. The 14-nation SADC supported Zimbabwe in its opposition to the bill, in a statement issued on Friday at the close of its two-day summit in Namibia. Zimbabwe has also enlisted the support of the Organisation of African Unity and the Non-Aligned Movement against the bill, which is being considered by the House of Representatives' international relations and banking committees.

From The Star (SA), 11 August

Mugabe 'abusing land for own gains' - MDC

Harare - The main opposition party in Zimbabwe has accused President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF of accelerating a programme of redistributing land to win support for the presidential elections in 2002. Tendai Biti, a deputy of the main opposition MDC, told parliament on Wednesday that ZANU-PF was relying solely on seizing white-owned farms and redistributing the land to landless black peasants in a bid to win votes. "They have started to prepare for the 2002 elections, but they have nothing to offer the people except land and that is why they have engaged in this programme," said Biti in quotes reported by the Ziana agency. The government last month announced a stepped-up programme that aimed to quickly take over 3 000 of the country's 4 500 white-owned commercial farms and divide the land into smaller plots. The programme initially had targeted only 800 commercial farms. "They are playing a dangerous political game, but the people have to know what they are doing because this is one of the high-sounding policies that is bent on deceiving people," Biti added. "The Zanu-PF government has done nothing in the last 20 years to distribute land to millions of landless peasants."

From Business Day (SA), 11 August

Eskom will still supply Zimbabwe

HARARE - SA power utility Eskom will continue to supply electricity to Zimbabwe, it was learned yesterday. Although the soon-to-be-privatised Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) denied it was discussing with Eskom the possibility of an equity-for-debt swap, a source at the utility said that SA had reached a "gentleman's agreement" with Zimbabwe during President Thabo Mbeki's last visit to the country, and had promised it would not cut off supplies to Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwean government is said to have stated during the talks that should it fail to pay its bills, it would give Eskom a stake in Zesa when the Zimbabwean power utility began privatising next year. The source said Eskom had also apparently put in a bid for Zesa's Hwange power station earlier this year, which, if accepted, would be purchased through the conversion of Zesa's R140m debt to its neighbour. As power demand has shot up during the winter months, Zesa has had to resort to power-rationing. Zimbabwe's own supply sources are capable of providing a maximum capacity of only 1800MW against average demand of 2300MW. Long-suffering consumers and industry in general fear that if the SA power utility carries through its threat to switch off its supplies to Zimbabwe then the current load-shedding will worsen as about 13% of Zimbabwe's power comes from SA.

From Business Day (SA), 11 August

Key Zimbabwean sector may come to a standstill

HARARE - The inimitable patter of auctioneers lent a familiar hum to the Zimbabwe Tobacco Floor, where sales were brisk yesterday at the world's biggest and busiest tobacco auction house. The hubbub could be subdued this time next year after many farmers sit out the coming season, uncertain if the government will seize their farms, growers and industry sources say. "No one knows what will happen," said growers' representative Frikkie le Roux, amid hundreds of bales of tobacco opened for inspection on the trading floor. Zimbabwe is the world's second biggest exporter of tobacco after Brazil, and is one of the top three producers of quality flue-cured virginia leaf, along with the US and Brazil. The sector employs about half the country's labour force, or 175000 people including seasonal workers, says Ewen Rodger, CE of the CFU's agriculture labour bureau.

Tobacco growers have just a few weeks left to decide whether to invest the necessary funds and effort or consider alternatives ahead of the next planting operation. "Every day that goes past without the restoration of law and order, the prospects look (bleaker)," said Rodger. One grower said the decision to plant represented an investment of about Z$300 000/ha, money many growers must borrow at the crippling 63,5% interest rate if the banks are willing. Meanwhile, Greg Brackenridge, president of the Bankers' Association of Zimbabwe, said yesterday that banks would not be able to fund farming activities during the forthcoming growing season unless there were guarantees about the future of the key agricultural sector which contributes more than 25% to annual gross domestic product (GDP). "Banks will not be able to provide finance if they do not have assurances that the borrower will either be allowed to harvest crops or alternatively will be fully compensated for the crops in the ground," he said. Agricultural experts estimate that commercial farmers need more than Z$6bn to finance production. It has also been reported that commercial farmers owe more than Z$25bn to banks, raising the issue of who would shoulder this debt if farm invasions persist and farmers cannot work their land.

At the same time, the country's two largest commercial banks, Standard Chartered (Stanchart) and Barclays, have warned that the economic crisis facing Zimbabwe is so deep-seated it could take years to reverse. Both banks said the economic predicament was without parallel in the country's peacetime history. Stanchart said all indicators pointed to a steep decline in the economy during the latter half of this year and into next year. The bank said some analysts were predicting an even steeper fall in GDP to minus 5% this year and minus 10% next year. Stanchart said economic turnaround would depend on the speedy and peaceful resolution of the land crisis, the implementation of policies to stabilise the economy and the international donor community's response to government land and economic policies.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zimbabwe settles hundreds on seized farms

Reuters - Aug 9 2000 11:33AM ET

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe has started to implement its controversial land program, settling black families on land seized from white commercial farmers, officials said Wednesday.

The government has said it plans to take over nearly half the 30 million acres owned by about 4,500 white farmers, who make up about one percent of the country's population.

The officials denied media reports that some beneficiaries had abandoned their new land hours after it was given to them because there were no houses, roads, clinics or water.

Zimbabwe state television Tuesday showed government officials sub-dividing farms and allocating 15-30 acre plots to villagers and liberation-war veterans in northeastern Zimbabwe, the Midlands and southern Matabeleland provinces.

Some women ululated in celebration, but were later shown walking bewildered through thick virgin bush, each carrying a hoe and an ax.

A ministry of agriculture spokesman told Reuters on Wednesday that hundreds of people had been allocated plots across the southern African country.

``We don't have figures right now, but the resettlement program is taking place throughout. Those reports suggesting that people are abandoning their (new) homes are just malicious,'' said the official, who declined to be named.

``What is happening is that people get their land, go back to pack and the government moves in to provide the basic facilities where they are not available,'' he said.

200 FARMS BEING RESETTLED

A ``fast-track'' resettlement program was launched this week in the country's eight administrative provinces by provincial governors, initially on 200 of over 800 farms that the government earmarked in May for seizure, he said.

``The program has started on those farms which are currently unoccupied and whose owners are not contesting their acquisition,'' said another official.

The farm seizures have been strongly criticized by Western governments and donors, with some saying the program will undermine the country's major source of food, employment and export earnings.

Last Wednesday, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe said after a meeting with South African President Thabo Mbeki that self-styled liberation-war veterans would by the end of August be moved off white farms they had seized since February.

A day later, however, Mugabe denied he had undertaken to end the invasions. Instead, he reaffirmed his intention to take more than 3,000 farms from white owners with compensation over five years for infrastructure, but none for the value of the land.

MUGABE SAYS BRITAIN MUST PAY

Mugabe says former colonial power Britain should compensate whites for the land because it is morally responsible for a system that left more than 70 percent of Zimbabwe's best land in the hands of just 4,500 whites.

Britain has said it will fund fair and transparent land reforms, but has refused to hand over a lump sum without strict controls in place.

At least 31 people, mostly opposition supporters and including five farmers, were killed during the farm invasions and a wave of violence that swept across Zimbabwe ahead of general elections in June.

The mainly white Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) says its members are still being terrorized by government supporters who are threatening farmers, poaching and cutting down trees.

Zimbabwe's Mugabe May Face Impeachment Motion, Daily News Says

Bloomberg News - Aug 11 2000 10:46AM

Harare, Zimbabwe, Aug. 11 (Bloomberg) -- A member of parliament from Zimbabwe's biggest opposition party said he intends to call for the impeachment of President Robert Mugabe, the Daily News reported.

Job Sikhala, who represents the Movement for Democratic Change, said during a parliamentary debate he would call for Mugabe's impeachment because the president in the run up to parliamentary elections promoted violence that resulted in the deaths of more than 30 people.

The call is the latest sign of growing opposition to Mugabe within the parliament, which now includes more opposition members than at any time since the president's Zanu PF party took power in 1980.

In the same sitting of parliament, Zanu member Victor Chitongo called for the withdrawal of 12,000 Zimbabwean troops from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where they are helping the government fight rebels, the paper reported. The troop deployment has been cited as one of the reasons behind the country's current economic crisis, the worst in more than two decades.

Zimbabwe's to Pay of Power Debts With Standard Chartered Loan
Bloomberg News - Aug 10 2000 6:16AM

Harare, Zimbabwe, Aug. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Zimbabwe's state- owned power provider said it will pay more than $55 million in debts and boost generation with a $95 million loan pledged by U.K. bank, Standard Chartered Plc.

The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority said it will use the loan, which is still under negotiation, to meet payment backlogs for imports from South Africa, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia.

The announcement comes after the South African power utility, Eskom, said it could cut supply to Zimbabwe because of rising debts.

``What we know is that they (Standard Chartered) have promised to give us the foreign currency,'' said Nevanji Madanhire, a Zesa spokesman. ``By the end of September we would have cleared our debts.''

The loan is being organized through Standard's Zimbabwean branch, said Madanhire. The bank was not immediately available to comment.

Zesa, like many businesses in Zimbabwe, has been crippled by a shortage of foreign currency. The shortage has cut imports and led to a deterioration of Zimbabwe's power supply infrastructure and inadequate fuel supply since December.

The company started to cut off electricity to the capital, Harare, four times a week for four hours at a time this week, up from the once a week in the proceeding months. Zesa's imports and power stations provide about 1,600 megawatts of power while Zimbabwe's demand rises as high as 2,000 megawatts.

Zesa owes Eskom 132.3 million rand ($19 million), Mozambique's Cahora Bassa Hydro Electric Co. $35 million, Zambia's state-owned electricity company Zesco $1.2 million the Congo's state-owned Snel $152,000.

Over the last nine months, part of the debts to the South African and Mozambican companies were converted into loans repayable in monthly installments. Zesa said it has defaulted on both of those loans already.

Zimbabwe will also increase its reliance on supplies from the Democratic Republic of Congo to 250 megawatts from the present 100 megawatts, after Snel agreed to accept payment in Zimbabwe dollars, the company said.

Zimbabwe has about 11,000 troops in the Congo fighting on behalf of the government against rebels.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Zimbabwe Independant - 11/8/00

Gweru State House gobbles $60m

Rashweat Mukundu
THE government has spent over $60 million on the Gweru State House which President Mugabe will hardly ever use.

The Zimbabwe Independent this week established that the state mansion in the Midlands province was still not complete despite work having started as far back as 1994.

Documents made available to the Independent this week show that the mansion to house the presidential party during its infrequent visits to the province was expensively appointed with luxurious fittings, most of which were imported. They account for at least half the value of the project.

To date the main house has been completed and contractors are putting in finishing touches which include landscaping. The main contractor on site is the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.

Sources said the president and the first lady have personally inspected the designs and material used on the project.

Other structures at the site include staff cottages, administration offices, carports, a comptroller's house and storerooms.

Presidential deputy spokesperson Munyaradzi Hwengwere this week professed ignorance about the project insisting that his office did not deal with construction matters, saying he was actually puzzled by the inquiry.

Pressed further on whether the President's Office did not know of the existence of such a structure, he said the "guesthouse" was completed in "the last century". He could not comment on whether the construction fell within the allocated budget and referred this paper to the contractor.

There was pressure on the contractors, correspondence shows, to put in more man-hours in order to finish the house before the Zanu PF conference held in the city in 1998. It is not clear whether the president used the building during the conference.

At the beginning of 1998 director of state residences Christopher Mushowe wrote to then permanent secretary in the Ministry of Public Construction and National Housing Willard Chiwewe demanding that the house be completed before the president's visit to Gweru. In his response Chiwewe said that the house had been handed over to Mushowe's department. Chiwewe also said the kitchen and bedroom fittings had not been done because his ministry had not been given the go-ahead on time.

Mushowe questioned how the house could be handed over to his department before completion. "The go ahead for the kitchen and bedroom fittings you claim to have received approval for on 28th April 1998 is not known to us.

"I do not recall designs for kitchen units shown to and/or approved by either the president or first lady. I do not know who gave you that approval. The same goes for bedroom fittings," he said.


that approval. The same goes for bedroom fittings," he said.
Sources said resources were then diverted from other capital projects to expedite the completion of the house.
Documents at hand however show that as at the end of last year the house was still not complete as civil works were planned after that. This included tiling, internal plumbing, painting, curtaining and landscaping. The building is floored with ceramic tiles imported from Italy by a local company, Earthen Fire. The carpets were chosen according to the direct specifications of President Mugabe and were imported from South Africa by National Carpets and Curtains which had been sub-contracted by Greenways Industries, a Harare based hardware company.
"Yes we supplied and fixed carpets at the Gweru guest house in 1998," Muchineripi Nhemachena of Greenways Industries confirmed when contacted by the Zimbabwe Independent. The imported carpets cost $1 million and kitchen fittings another $700 000. Curtains for the presidential guesthouse were done by Interior Designs, a company owned by Abigail Magwenzi.
Construction work at the site is said to be 98% complete.
Tom Mususa, a director with the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, refused to answer questions pertaining to the guest house referring this paper to the permanent secretary, Finnie Munyira.
In the current budget the guesthouse was allocated $16 million for finishing touches that include a security wall, razorwire and boreholes.
In addition to State House in Harare there is another in Mandara built for Vice-President Joshua Nkomo. There is also one in Bulawayo and another in Nyanga.
The president rarely uses the state houses outside the capital as he frequently flies back to Harare from trips to outlying areas. In addition to these state residences Mugabe has a handful of private homes dotted in and around Harare including one in Borrowdale. Then there is the so-called "Zvimba State House" which is in fact also his private property.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Zimbabwe Independant - 11/8/00

Mudenge threatens emergency measures as -- UN abandons Zimbabwe

Dumisani Muleya/Vincent Kahiya
UNITED Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan's office has abandoned plans to raise money from the international donor community for Zimbabwe's controversial land reform programme, the Zimbabwe Independent has established.

The move comes amidst growing international isolation over the land issue which yesterday saw Foreign Affairs minister Stan Mudenge threatening to resort to emergency measures if the US proceeds with its plan for sanctions against Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe might be forced to impose emergency measures if the US slaps sanctions on the country, Mudenge said yesterday.

"The government would have to take emergency measures to survive. Doesn't that normally lead to the suspension of certain democratic devices so that the country can survive?" he asked.

The Bill under consideration in the US Congress would punish the Zimbabwe government for failing to curb lawlessness.

"It's a shocking piece of legislation because it seeks to interfere in the sovereign affairs of Zimbabwe," Mudenge told a press conference. If sanctions are imposed, Zimbabwe "will be a very difficult place ... to live in because we will have to fight for survival", he said.

He did not make it clear what emergency measures the government was contemplating.

Known as the Zimbabwe 2000 Democracy Act, the Bill would instruct US executive directors of multinational lending institutions to oppose credits to Zimbabwe. It was passed by the US Senate in June and is now before two committees in the House of Representatives, currently in recess.

Despite support from fellow Sadc members in Windhoek last weekend, Zimbabwe's problems appear to be mounting.

In a telephone interview this week from the UN headquarters in New York, Annan's information officer, Ferhan Haq, said his boss suspended plans to raise money for Zimbabwe because President Mugabe was insisting on an arbitrary land acquisition policy.

"He (Annan) is still monitoring the situation," Haq said. "It remains to be seen what will happen after the land impasse. . . But he is not raising any money for Zimbabwe at the moment."

In the absence of donor support on the bungled land policy the government has instructed ministries to cut down on recurrent expenditure and divert the funds to the Lands ministry. Government sources said the raid on the ministries' votes was meant to raise $1,3 billion required for the accelerated land resettlement programme.

The UN's pronouncements this week fly in the face of claims by President Thabo Mbeki that he had Unite Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan's office has abandoned plans to raise money from the international donor community for Zimbabwe's controversial land reform programme, the Zimbabwe Independent has established.
From Page 1

passed the baton of fund-raising to Annan.
He said this in Harare last Wednesday after five hours of talks with Mugabe.
In what sounded like passing the buck rather than the baton, Mbeki told journalists that he was not raising any money for Zimbabwe. He said Annan was doing that although it now transpires the UN chief has also abandoned the task.
At a regional summit at the Victoria Falls in April Mbeki promised to mobilise donor support for land reform on the basis of the 1998 Harare donors' conference accords. He raised the issue in London and Washington.
It was widely reported that he had secured R100 million (about $800 million) from Norway and Saudi Arabia to fund Zimbabwe's resettlement pro- gramme. The money, that was to be channelled through the United Nations Development Programme, was supposed to buy 118 farms on a willing seller/willing buyer basis.
But Haq said the UN's plans to mobilise funds for Zimbabwe collapsed after government announced recently that it would forge ahead unilaterally with land seizures including the acquisition of 3 000 new farms.
Annan sent a mission to Harare two weeks ago. The mission's brief, sources said, was to emphasise to Mugabe the need for fundamentals which had to be put right before the UNDP could resume its role as broker between major donors and the government. Key among these was the need to restore law and order on the land.
The UNDP shelved its brokering role last year after the government du- mped the implementation document born out of the accord between government and key stakeholders at the 1998 donors' conference.
Outgoing UNDP resident representative Carlos Lopes confirmed that the UN mission had been in Harare but would not give details of its mission. He however indicated that any UNDP initiative to open negotiations with the donors would be "extremely difficult" under the current conditions.
Initially government intended to grab 804 farms as part of its accelerated resettlement programme. Last month it increased the number of farms earmarked for designation by 2 237 bringing the total to 3 041. This would enable government to obtain over five million hectares which it needs to resettle 500 000 families, officials said.
However, government made it clear in the process that it would adopt new guidelines disregarding the resolutions of the 1998 Harare donors' conference.
Haq confirmed this was the source of the current stalemate.
Presidential spokesman George Charamba this week said that the government would try to raise funding for the scheme from the existing ministerial votes. He justified the move saying it was more beneficial to the nation for the government to invest in the land.
"It is essential to mop up funds from the recurrent expenditure and finance land which is a productive investment," Charamba said.
He said there were three yet unnamed donors who were prepared to assist in procuring inputs for the new settlers.
The Independent also established this week that Mugabe's land policy forced Annan to cancel a trip to Zimbabwe by UNDP administrator Mark Malloch Brown who was coming to discuss with government ways of funding a comprehensive land reform programme.
"The trip was cancelled a month-and-a-half ago after the Zimbabwe government said it would continue to expropriate farms," said Haq.
"Since that time plans to raise money have not gone very far because the initial step was to bring the UNDP into this programme but it was stalled recently," he said.
"I believe there have been tentative commitments from Britain and other donors to raise funds for Zimbabwe but I believe it would be difficult to get the money considering what is happening now," Haq added.
Britain promised Zimbabwe 36 million (over $2 billion) and many other donors including the US were holding on to billions of dollars earmarked for resettlement. But the donors said they would not release funds until Mugabe agreed to an orderly redistribution exercise.
Zimbabwe needs about $40 billion to complete a comprehensive land reform process.
"We are continuing to monitor the situation and I think the secretary-general will be prepared to assist as soon as it becomes possible," he said.
Most multilateral donor with offices in Harare are also waiting for a cue from the United Nations through the UNDP before negotiations with government on funding the land reform programme resumes.
But Haq pointed out that he did not wish to say whether the UN was linking the release of funds to what was currently happening in Zimbabwe. It was for higher authorities to decide that, he said.
The UN wants to proceed in terms of the donors' conference. The conference resolved that land reform has to proceed on a legal willing seller/willing buyer basis.
It should be transparent, avoid disrupting agricultural productivity and be aimed at poverty alleviation.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Zimbabwe Independant - 11/8/00
Muckraker


IN a week when regional leaders endorsed Zimbabwe's land acquisition process we had several fine illustrations of exactly what is involved.

First, Zanu PF militias unleashed an orgy of violence on Goodwood Farm at Nkayi where they forced people to attend the launch of a resettlement programme presided over by new Matabeleland North governor Obert Mpofu.
The war veterans arrived in government-registered trucks and attacked the workers compound. Mpofu was reported as threatening to "sort out" MDC supporters and two farm labourers subsequently went missing.

Mpofu told his audience that MDC supporters would not be considered for resettlement.

This is going to be difficult as there are very few Zanu PF supporters left in the province. In fact Mpofu's Napoleonic posturing over the land issue is emblematic of the whole problem. Here is a politician decisively repudiated by the voters abusing his position to take revenge on the electorate.

That position he owes entirely to President Robert Mugabe. In other words the verdict of the voters in Matabeleland North, as elsewhere in the country, has been overturned by a politically bankrupt regime determined to propitiate its followers by a land distribution process that is both violent and corrupt.

Then we had a gang of war veterans and their hangers-on abducting and molesting teenagers from Blackfordby Farm near Chitungwiza. When this scandal was exposed the war veterans claimed the culprits were rogue agents planted in their midst by the MDC!

Meanwhile, Joseph Chinotimba, as we revealed last week, continues to be paid by Harare ratepayers while he apportions land to Zanu PF followers.

He is "untouchable", the municipal authorities admit, because he has the backing of the president. While Harare city council continues to pay Chinotimba, vital projects for sewerage and street lighting have been abandoned.

This trail of government-inspired violence and illegal land seizures needs to be pointed out when Thabo Mbeki and Bakile Muluzi arrive in London to plead President Mugabe's case for funds for "land reform". Zanu PF governors, defeated at the polls, are in charge of the redistribution process while war veterans on the municipal payroll are free to divide up farms. Others continue to beat up farm workers and molest their children.

In Windhoek last week Jonathan Moyo, with Joseph Made seated alongside him, said the current land policy reflected Zanu PF's "electoral mandate" and would be carried out in accordance with the law and constitution.

What electoral mandate? Zanu PF tried to put a land seizure clause in the proposed constitution which was rejected by the voters in February. The party then went to the country in June on the basis of the same policy and asked for an unambiguous public endorsement so the world could see that Zimbabweans supported the president on this issue. It suffered the biggest electoral setback of any government in the region since Hastings Banda was kicked out in Malawi in 1994.

According to our calculations based on figures supplied by the Registrar-General's Office, 1,3 million people voted for the opposition against 1,2 million for Zanu PF. What sort of mandate is that?

What sort of mandate has Moyo and Made got? Who elected them?

Chinotimba's depredations will have the most disastrous consequences for food supplies around Harare and for the city's infrastructure, already in a state of advanced decay. But nobody can stop him.

Mpofu's approach to land acquisition reveals the violent malice that Zanu PF's land seizures have come to symbolise.

Moyo's reference to legality is laughable. The Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act is a hang-over from the one-party state and
of questionable legality.

As for "constitutional", does Moyo seriously think
the 16th amendment, forced through an unreconstructed rubber-stamp parliament in clear defiance of a democratic verdict only three months earlier, amounts to a legitimate law?

Meanwhile, people are being moved onto farms in Mashonaland Central ahead of Administrative Court hearings. Owners have been given 24 hours to vacate. Is that legal?

The Sadc leaders, no doubt prompted by Mugabe, complained of biased reporting of Zimbabwe's land crisis. We have two words for them: Chinotimba and Mpofu. The record speaks for itself.

In this context it is worth recording the views of Zimbabwean commentators following Mugabe's somersault last week over the issue of removing war veterans from occupied farms. This came a day after President Thabo Mbeki's visit to Harare where he was given assurances that the war veterans would be removed.

"Mugabe is now courting international isolation," political scientist Alfred Nhema told Reuters. "He is compounding a perception that Zimbabwe's problem is Mugabe himself."

His UZ colleague Solomon Nkiwane agreed.

"He is behaving in such a way that it is very difficult for people to defend him," Nkiwane said. "It is also difficult to say who is benefiting from his so-called hardline policies. The majority of the people have not, and the results of the general election show that his party is not a beneficiary either."

Analysts said Mugabe should be working to restore confidence in the country, not undermining it.

"What's going on is a circus," said economic consultant Edmore Tobaiwa.

"The economy is doomed at the rate at which we are going."

Reports in the South African press say Mbeki has given up on Mugabe and is instead building a policy consensus with the Zimbabwean cabinet. But we all know what will happen next. The IMF did the same thing. But Mugabe was able to undermine the agreements reached by making unilateral decisions on expenditure - like the Congo intervention. So long as he has the power - and the inclination - to sabotage the economy, the best intentions of the reformers will come to nothing.

We can now see why Emmerson Mnangagwa was elected Speaker of parliament.

Last week he used his new-found powers to block an MDC motion seeking to set up an inquiry into pre-election violence. The matter was being pursued in the courts, he conveniently declared, and was therefore sub judice.

This is of course nonsense. Parliament is at liberty to debate whatever it wants to so long as it doesn't direct the courts what to find. The court actions hinge on specific cases of irregularities and intimidation.

Parliament has the right to debate general political responsibility for the systematic violence that is continuing today. Indeed, it has a duty to do so.

Of course Mnangagwa and Eddison Zvobgo would want to suppress such debate.

But a Speaker who was overwhelmingly rejected by Zimbabwean voters should not use his current position of power to obstruct legitimate inquiry into the ruling party's criminal record.

The executive director of the Zimbabwe International Book Fair, Moses Samkange, has reportedly reacted angrily to suggestions that he might have had anything to do with thefts from the ZIBF offices last Friday.

He said the allegations came from "a certain clique" who had been "unruffled" by his manage- ment style.

Muckraker is "unruffled" by Samkange's literary style. Is this the man running the country's most prestigious literary exposition? Or can we blame the Daily News reporter for the confusion over what happens to people's feathers?

What we do know is that the majority of the thefts, according to the newspaper's report, took place during the visit to the fair by President Mugabe and his entourage. What can we say? The Book Fair simply experienced what the rest of the country is going through.

Congratulations to Professor Ali Mazrui for declining to be used by Zanu PF and ZTV to buttress Mugabe's predatory land policy. The veteran academic instead made it abundantly clear that "raiding the farms 20 years after Independence has other costs and undermines other institutions such as respect for the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, and the sense of personal trust in the police".

Let's hope those of our compromised political scientists who have translated Mugabe's policy of plunder as a historic mission of some sort will note the conclusions of one of Africa's most respected scholars.

Press reports say the president "listened very carefully" to Mazrui's views at a meeting with writers during his Book Fair visit on Friday. He also listened very carefully to Mbeki two days earlier - then renounced everything they had agreed together! Indeed, the almost deranged anger he expressed at the ZFU meeting in Bindura the following day - while fiddling with a disorderly microphone - seemed in part to flow from the perception that he had been the victim of a conspiracy between the South African and Zimbabwean cabinets.

What does Chris Gomwe of the Insurance Council of Zimbabwe think he is doing welcoming the government's latest attempt to burden motorists who already pay road tax among other taxes?

Gomwe rushed to welcome the introduction of government's vehicle insurance levy, introduced on the grounds that it needs to "educate" motorists on road safety. Gomwe held talks with the Ministry of Transport in which he sanctioned the new tax.

This is an abuse of his mandate. Motorists want to see the government doing what it is supposed to do in terms of maintaining road safety without gratuitous burdens on the insured. When was the last time you saw a police patrol car? What steps have been taken to rein in lawless taxi drivers? What has been done about corruption at the VID with licences being issued to unqualified drivers?

It doesn't take a tax to fix any of that. It just
requires government departments to do what they are supposed to do.

Gomwe has no business encouraging the government to tax people on the facile grounds that the public are responsible for road carnage. What about the responsibility of law enforcement agencies who are invisible except when anti-government protests loom or when Mugabe is driving around town?

Do you recall all those stories about racist British immigration officers turning away Zimbabwean visitors by the planeload? It eventually became part of Zanu PF's folklore.

We are therefore indebted to the Sunday Mail's Mathew Takaona for putting the record straight. He has been on a visit to the UK to examine the lives of the hordes of Zimbabweans working there and report on how they are "fairing".

One, George Mbika, told Takaona that many people, as soon as they got a job in Britain, would in turn invite another member of their family to come over.

"You meet Zimbabweans everywhere in London," he was told. "You hear them talking in Shona and you say 'Ah! that is one of us'. There are hundreds of us in this country."

Takaona's informants didn't say whether they had been forced to watch videos on land seizures before entering the country. But they are honest and hardworking, we learn. One woman said she worked at a regular job from 9am to 2pm. She would then go to another from 3pm to 1am. And even proceed to a third from 1am to 4am although we weren't told what line of employment that was!

Some women said they were in the UK to escape their Zimbabwean husbands.

Men on the other hand could have taken up with temporary wives in the UK.

Some of those interviewed said they were unhappy their kids experienced such little discipline in British schools "because teachers were not allowed to beat them".

"Murder of children of school-going age was a common thing all over England," we were told. So the little ones had to be accompanied to and from school. Zimbabweans were therefore being obliged to return their children home "because of safety problems and the fact that they cannot afford a maid who would take children to and from school".

The most serious vice in London appears to be prostitution, Takaona revealed in his clearly exhaustive survey.

"The postures (sic) of the prostitutes have naked pictures of themselves and the Sunday Mail was surprised to find out that such pictures are even found at telephone booths on roads next to No 10 Downing Street where the British prime minister resides."

Surely not!

We feel sorry for the finalist at the Miss Harare contest last weekend who was grilled by the judges on her social mission. When she was asked what she would do for her city if crowned, the audience shouted: "Chinja, tell them you will Chinja everything." The poor girl looked rather "buffled", if not "unruffled"!

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Fast-track land resettlement cocktail for disaster

Vincent Kahiya
TIME is running out. Zimbabwe has three months to resettle half a million families before the planting season. For the realists, this is an impossible task but the Zanu PF government is bent on seeing its agrarian revolution work.

The energy and resources being expended on the exercise might be going to waste, analysts warned this week.

The current phase of the land redistribution exercise is bound to fail as long as land re-organisation is not focused on enhancing productivity and preserving the environment. The present pattern is a far cry from what is required for a proper land resettlement programme to succeed. Politicians' emphasis on the current exercise has been "land to people", negating the fundamental issue of land husbandry and the competency of those to be settled.

The government's failure to carry out a scientific analysis on the efficacy of the programme, coupled with the irrational politics surrounding land, has dramatised the situation and thrown it back into the cauldron of partisan and racial politics. It is no longer an issue of land resettlement planned on the basis of poverty alleviation and improved productivity but an exercise that gives primacy to political considerations under the guise of social justice, critics point out.

"There is a fine line between social justice and productivity," said political scientist John Makumbe.

"If resettlement is not carefully planned we can achieve social justice but ruin productivity."

He said the quest for social justice might also fail to be realised if the new settlers were not provided with the requisite inputs to kick-start their new role as small-scale commercial farmers.

"It is not going to be easy to achieve social justice if those resettled
feel that they have just been dumped where there is no basic infrastructure. Are the people going to move in with their children to areas where schools are 25km away?" he asked.

The government has announced that the District Development Fund would provide tillage to the new farmers and also that a facility has been set up with the Agricultural Development Assistance Fund (ADAF) which is housed in the Agricultural Bank of Zimbabwe (Agribank) to provide the new farmers with soft loans. The capital is not likely to be available to everyone.

Despite its close links to the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement, ADAF is not likely to advance loans to people who have no record of performance on the land. Currently ADAF is sitting on $80 million of development assistance which is a drop in the ocean compared to what is required to finance a project of this magnitude.

The fund was set up at the beginning of the year after the former Agricultural Finance Corporation ceded its small-scale portfolio to the government at the formation of Agribank.

ADAF general manager Naison Zumbika this week said the fund only received $18 million under the Public Sector Investment Programme and some of the funding that should have come from donor agencies has not been forthcoming.

Tillage has always been a problem in the small-scale sector and the situation is not set to improve drastically before the rains.

The new settlers have already started to make demands for inputs like seeds, fertiliser and tillage units. With the rains only three months away the new settlers are not likely to have a positive impact on the production figures for the next cropping season.

Experts on land have begun to see parallels between the current exercise and the programme that the government embarked on soon after Independence.

At Independence many freedom fighters and villagers were given land on resettlement farms and organised as co-operatives. Western donors poured in money to support the initiative. This experiment failed as the war veterans, with poor farming and book-keeping skills, ran down the farms and the co-operatives folded. They packed their bags and left for the towns.

While the accelerated programme has already started, the selection of people to be resettled is a major cause for concern. Television news footage shows dancing land recipients wearing Zanu PF T-shirts.

The selection committees are made up almost entirely of Zanu PF members with war veterans and local Zanu PF district officials playing a prominent role. Although there are representatives from the District Administrator's office, the Zimbabwe Farmers Union and the Ministry of Lands, it is the local politicians who call the shots.

Beneficiaries have to be war veterans, Zanu PF cardholders, or a villager who has already occupied a commercial farm, or has been given clearance from the war veterans or party leadership.

There is little emphasis on the competence of the farmer or his ability to finance farming projects. In the end it is really not those who need the land for farming who are likely to benefit from the exercise.

Chairman of the Department of Rural and Urban Planning at the University of Zimbabwe Takawira Mubvami said the identification process was not clearly defined and could negatively affect the exercise.

"We do not know whether those to be resettled are the right ones," he said.

"The issue of beneficiaries has a lot to do with the success or failure of land reform. The actual land-hungry people can be left out. We have to ask ourselves, are we solving the problem or we are creating another one?" he said.

Resettlement experts say the psyche of those to be resettled also has to be transformed to conform with the new role of productive farming.

"Someone does not become a productive com- mercial farmer simply because he has been given a piece of land. There is need for training and retraining which cannot be achieved in the time available, especially considering the figures," said Mubvami.

Zimbabwe Farmers Union director Kuda Matekaire said his organisation, as a key stakeholder in the resettlement exercise, wanted to see land going to those who would utilise it profitably.

"If this is agricultural land we are talking about, then we want to see those who have demonstrated their ability to utilise the land being resettled," said Matekaire.

Those who have already resettled themselves illegally as they await to be moved to permanent homes have started to cut down trees indiscriminately while incidents of poaching on private ranches has increased.

In the Save conservancy especially, villagers and war veterans have moved onto the land for the sole purpose of poaching for commercial purposes.

Trees are being cut for firewood which is being sold in urban centres. In

Karoi people have occupied farms where they are engaged in brick-moulding with the bricks being sold in town. These are not people interested in farming.

Commercial farmers had over the years developed sophisticated Inte- nsive Co-nservation Areas across farm boundaries to protect woodlands, wildlife and river systems. Foreign experts have said Zimbabwe had some of the best managed farmland in the developing world. There is little prospect of that surviving the current onslaught.

Even after resettlement, experts say it would be difficult to enforce regulations to protect the environment and ensure that there is order on the land.

"It is called empowerment. The system has empowered the people to resettle themselves and they have now overwhel-med the traditional and existing systems like the DA's office, Agritex and rural district councils," said Mubvami.

The casualty of this confusion is productivity. Commercial farmers who have been served with acquisition orders are not clear whether people would be resettled on their farms before the rains. This also applies to those who farms are on the 804 list.

While the resettlement has started, farmers have been expecting people to start leaving occupied farms and be resettled. But the occupations have continued and land preparation for crops such as tobacco has been seriously affected.

Mashonaland East Commercial Farmers Union executive Steve Pratt said the farmers need assurances that their activities would not be affected by the disturbances on the land.

"This is the dilemma because there is no such guarantee," he said.

"The season does not wait for directives from politicians," he warned.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index