|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
30 July 2001
Not a good time for silent contemplation
THERE'S a need to maintain perspective about Zimbabwe. Zimbabweans need to do it, but so do foreigners. Outside interest has diminished; the story grew boring, foreign correspondents left or were made to leave and the Zimbabwe Crisis became increasingly difficult to cover. One of the ironies of this anarchic nation is that covering the story is in many ways more difficult, and more dangerous, than covering a war. But then, in Zimbabwe, journalists are the enemy. Professor Jonathan Moyo, whose interpretation of ethical journalism is so convoluted it belongs within the pages 1984, is intent on making it impossible to practice the honest craft of news reporting.
And that, surprisingly, has much to do with the honest business of farming. Why? Because, between now and the elections there is an urgent need to reawaken world interest in Zimbabwe so that the plight of organised agriculture is understood, empathised with and, more importantly still, dealt with appropriately. Silence from the farming community can only result in ignorance in the rest of the world - and ignorance will ensure that nothing is done.
It is a simple fact that doing nothing and saying nothing are the two worst things farmers can do at this moment in time. The rest of the country seems to understand this simple truth and is ensuring that news of government's excesses is made known, that it's disseminated and spread far and wide. It is very important for farmers to do the same, to keep Zimbabwe at the top of people's agenda, a topic of intense debate at places like, for instance, the Commonwealth Conference. This might make things livelier for a spell, but it is the only way a satisfactory and final solution will be arrived at. Silence will drag the crisis out for ever.
Farmers are negotiating with the current government of Zimbabwe. And while they have to, the only difference negotiations seem to have made for ordinary farmers is to make things worse.
That, naturally enough, raises the uncomfortable question of good faith. Farmers have it in barrow loads, but would rather like to see some of it from the other side of the negotiating table. After all, it's an age old maxim that negotiations without good faith are hardly negotiations - and negotiating with a gun to one's head is a rather one-sided affair that has nothing to do with honest government. There isn't a farmer in Zimbabwe who wouldn't want the gun removed - or at least set aside for the time being - so that these talks can proceed with an air of honesty and integrity. It is not a lot to ask…
The world - and ordinary Zimbabweans - should understand that while government might have cautiously welcomed the Zimbabwe Joint Resettlement Initiative, it hasn't yet done anything tangible about calling off its belligerent militants. Quite the reverse, because it seems to have loosened the leash a few notches and allowed the situation on the country's beleaguered farms to worsen considerably in recent weeks. It might also be interesting to note the police's involvement in all this, for there has been a rash of curious, and perhaps spurious, attention paid to farmers by what is laughingly called Zimbabwe's law enforcement agency. If spurious arrests are being made to please political masters, the police are hardly assisting with the spirit of cooperation that government claims it welcomes from the farming community.
The story will be difficult to cover. Any move to curtail the freedom of the press is sinister, but Professor Moyo is doing his best by using sanctimonious words like privacy to cloak his real intentions. He's also appointing committees to look into the ethics of journalism, but these are committees devoid of proper, respectable representation - let alone a proper understanding of what makes good journalism.
He has made it almost impossible for visiting correspondents to enter Zimbabwe, for now visas must be applied for a month in advance.
News that's a month old is like bread that's a month old: indigestible, stale and worthless. Yet we can expect more obstacles will be placed in the journalist's way in a despicable, underhand move to suppress the truth.
It's to be hoped that the press is as innovative as agriculture has been this last two years, that ways around the problem are found. They have to be, because the story on Zimbabwe's farms has not yet unfolded and it must be told - and told honestly, because the version Professor Moyo would have the world read is about as factual as Alice in Wonderland.
Now that Professor Moyo has made it all but impossible for foreign correspondents to come to Zimbabwe, the burden falls on the local press to ensure the truth is told. Perhaps the saddest aspect of all this for the professor is that he's over-looked a simple facet of the human condition: treat a group of people with contempt, insult their intelligence and they're likely to deal it back by the spadeful.
The truth will continue to be told. Professor Moyo's ploy, never subtle to begin with, will fail no matter how many spurious reasons he provides (or doesn't) for the expulsion of journalists.
And farmers can play their part, because there is a symbiosis here. It is time to maximise publicity, to let people know what is happening. Not after the event, but during it - because a posse of hacks on the heals of the so-called war vets provides an interesting diversion if nothing else. But more importantly it ensures that the world knows what's happening, to whom it's happening, where it's happening and why it's happening. If farmers don't speak out for themselves, Professor Moyo will speak out for them - and one has to ask whether that's really a desirable state of affairs?
Editor- The Farmer
Dwindling fortunes for coffee growers
Farmers holding on
Preparing to fight foot and mouth
EU beef export quota in jeopardy
Dwindling fortunes for coffee growers
THERE was a veritable mixture of good, not so good but mostly downright depressing news for coffee producers at this year's annual palaver of the Coffee Growers Association.
None the less, out-going chairman of the association, Jeremy Brown, was upbeat about the future of coffee in Zimbabwe. "All is not doom and gloom for coffee," he said. " Zimbabwe is now at a crossroads with over 70% of a our coffee at a young age. This augurs well for the future production and I firmly believe that we will be over the 20 000 tonnes mark shortly."
But that was about all the good news.
Earlier in his report to farmers, growers' representatives and other stakeholders who attended the meeting, Mr Brown outlined some of the major problems confronting producers which have been exacerbated by the government's land reform programme led by so called war veterans who have illegally occupied hundreds of thousands of hectares of commercial farm land.
The first in the host of misfortunes which hit the coffee industry during the year under review was cyclone Eline which devastated the main coffee growing region of Eastern Highlands destroying an estimated 3 000 tonnes of coffee valued at nearly US$4 million. According to Mr Brown, a total of 4 300 hectares of coffee bushes had to be replaced at great cost o the farmer.
But even worse for the producer is the coffee glut on the world market which has resulted in prices being severely depressed threatening the viability of the industry. "With 38 million bags in the market looking for cups into which to be poured and a projected world production over consumption predicted this year, we do not see any relief in sight," is how Mr Brown described the situation.
"As we come to the beginning of our picking season, we looked at a very bleak future," he said.
One glimmer of hope on the horizon, however, said Mr Brown, was that production of Arabica coffee had fallen by 4 million bags while that of Robusta coffee had increased by 3 million bags. "A premium above the New York "C" is starting to develop for qualities and I believe as quality Arabica producers, we must take advantage of this and strive to produce and export better quality coffee," he said.
But for Zimbabwe growers the situation was compounded by what Mr Brown euphemistically described as "technical glitches." He said: "The glitches have led to financial institutions being reluctant to expose themselves to a long term crop such as coffee, and as I stand before you today, I believe that lack of sustainable affordable finance for our industry will bring about the demise of the coffee industry."
Brown, presiding over the CGA annual meeting at the end of his two-year term, had a word of caution for some growers who, perhaps unable to withstand the pressures and many problems confronting producers, may have been tempted to cut corners in marketing their crop. He told them producing a top quality coffee was their only guarantee of a niche on a competitive world market.
"I believe quality is where we will find our niche in the market and we are most concerned with the current trends of marketing that are happening at the moment," he said pointing to reports received by the association alleging instances of actual quality of coffee arriving at various market destinations not being the same as that of samples earlier dispatched.
"This sort of behaviour should be vigorously discouraged as it reflects badly on the national crop and affects us all," said Mr Brown, adding: "Our future is as a nation that supplies continuous good quality coffee that will earn us a premium above the New York "C" and the respect and support of the buyers".
He assured farmers that the association would continue to negotiate with commercial and merchant banks to provide appropriate financing packages to enable growers to obtain inputs to ensure their crop remains of a high quality.
Farmers holding on
THE Commercial Farmers Union this week expressed outrage at what it described as "grossly misleading" media reports suggesting that 45 commercial farmers had abandoned their properties in the Karoi farming area of Mashonaland West province as a result of mounting threats by so called war veterans illegally occupying their farms.
CFU deputy director (Regions), Mr Malcolm Vowles, said the reporter who wrote the story had misquoted a regional security report from the CFU, Karoi office, which stated that 4 to 5 individual farmers, subjected to extreme incidents of intimidation on their farms, had been forced to temporarily leave their properties.
However, in the meantime, the union's farm invasions and security reports for the week indicated increasing incidents of demands on farmers and their workers to vacate their properties. Harassment and intimidation to back these demands has included barricading the farmers in their homesteads for prolonged periods of up to five days and subjecting them to incessant noise of wild singing, drum beating and stones being hauled onto their rooftops and other acts of vandalism. For instance, in the Beatrice area of Mashonaland East, the owners of Silver Oaks and Goldilands were barricaded in their homes by groups of aggressive so-called war veterans who destroyed their homestead fences and prevented farming activities including feeding of cattle.
On some farms, cattle have been driven into security fenced areas while fires have randomly been set to extensive areas of grazing and timber plantations. Farmers are concerned with the interference with dipping and grazing procedures which they say is hampering cattle management. These activities have, in some instances, culminated in "absurd" demands that farmers remove entire herds of cattle from the farms.
Specific cases reported this week included Msitwe River Ranch in the Victory Block of Mashonaland Central where the illegal occupiers demanded that the owner move off the farm by September. Other incidents of farmers being issued with illegal ultimatums to vacate their properties were reported at Harefield Farm in the Trilawney/Darwendale area, Dixie, Peveril and Moyale farms in the Mashonaland provinces. Farmers are being routinely prevented from carrying out their daily chores while pegging of plots by Agritex, so called war veterans and government officials has continued
In a bizarre case of attempted extortion, illegal settlers at Msonneddi Farm in the Mvurwi area drove cattle onto their own plots so that they could turn around and claim compensation for alleged damage to their crops. In the Virginia/Macheke area, illegal occupiers were reportedly selling plots for $2 000 each without government authority.
What irks most farmers is that while in almost all instances the perpetrators of extortion, arson and other acts of lawlessness are known and can easily be identified, reports to the police have yielded nothing. Farmers say police are using President Mugabe's "land is a political issue" catch phrase to explain their inactivity.
Preparing to fight foot and mouth
ZIMBABWE'S livestock industry, fearful of a possible outbreak of the potentially devastating foot and mouth disease in the wake of farm invasions by so called war veterans, is mulling the idea of a contributory Emergency Disease Preparedness Fund.
The plan is to pool together financial resources from voluntary contributions by various stakeholders towards countering increasing risks of disease outbreaks because of the unprecedented lawlessness in the countryside which has seen to massive destruction of fences and other livestock movement controls.
In his report to the Commercial Poultry Producers Association (CPPA) annual general meeting recently, association chairman Mr Geoff Heath said the fund was one of several initiatives agreed to among stakeholders. "Discussions among stakeholders in the livestock industry took place and various initiatives were instituted, one of which will be the establishment of an Emergency Disease Preparedness Fund."
Meanwhile, Mr Heath said government's latest measures giving absolute monopoly in the control and marketing of maize to the debt ridden Grain Marketing Board had created uncertainties surrounding the availability and pricing of stock feed ingredients. "The situation is clearly not conducive to stability as regards availability and pricing of our products and volatility in the inevitable result should the situation not improve," he said.
Meanwhile, the Sheep and Goat Breeders Association also held their annual general meeting recently at which members where informed of efforts to identify a "cost effective" laboratory to cater to the research needs of sheep and goat breeders.
In her report to the meeting, chairlady of the association, Mrs Jackie Millar said she was disappointed by the research support provided by the government Department of Veterinary Services. "I have tried to be supportive of the department but for a service we now pay for, though it be nominal, I do believe it leaves a lot to be desired," she said.
EU beef export quota in jeopardy
LITTLE has so far been done to address the concerns raised by European Union (EU) veterinary inspectors after their visit in January raising fears that Zimbabwe's lucrative 9 100 tonne beef export quota could be in jeopardy.
Furthermore, cattle producers are concerned that no prosecutions of violators of veterinary control regulations such as cattle movements and destruction of veterinary fences are being carried out in the wake of government's controversial fast track resettlement programme under which thousands of farms have been invaded by so called war veterans.
In his report to the Cattle Producers Association annual congress in Bulawayo this week, association chairman, Tim Reynolds told delegates: "My fear at the moment is that our quota into the EU is at great risk, because very little progress has been made to rectify the EU veterinary concerns since January."
Mr Reynolds is convinced Zimbabwe has so far been able to retain its quota on the strength of its unique cattle traceability scheme put in place by the industry two years ago. "If it had not been for our traceability scheme, it might have been a different story," he said.
What impressed the visiting veterinary experts, according to Reynolds, was that Zimbabwean farmers themselves had taken the initiative to put in place a cattle traceability scheme without government participation or funding.
Mr Reynolds also announced the establishment of a "price equalization fund" to address long standing grievances over price parity. He said price disparities in different producing zones had created the danger of cattle being moved illegally across restricted zones raising fears of the spread of foot and mouth disease.
Ruling Party Wins Zimbabwe
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — President Robert Mugabe's ruling party won a special
parliamentary election that was seen as a test of support for him ahead of next
year's presidential elections. Election officials said Monday that Elliot Manyika of Mugabe's party carried
the vote in the Bindura farming and mining district, 55 miles northeast of
Harare. He had 62.7 percent of votes to 37.3 percent for Elliot Pfebve of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change, state television reported. About 51 percent of the district's 52,000 voters cast ballots. The by-election was seen as a key test of the country's mood toward Mugabe,
who is backing a campaign to seize private land from mainly white farmers. The
seizures have been declared illegal by the nation's courts and have led many
Western countries to freeze aid. Both the ruling party and the opposition accused each other of violence and
intimidation in two months of campaigning in Bindura. Neither side made
immediate comments on the result. The special election was called after prominent ruling-party lawmaker Border
Gezi died in a car accident in April. The ruling party holds a narrow majority of 63 of the 120 seats in the Harare
parliament. Although an opposition win would not have changed the ruling party's
parliamentary majority, the race was also seen as a barometer of Mugabe's
support against MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai. Opposition candidate Pfebve and 16 of his supporters were detained for about
two hours by police Sunday in what the opposition party called a ploy to stop
them touring and monitoring voting. Pfebve and his supporters, who were not charged, were escorted by armed
officers to the Bindura police station against their will, the party said. Police had no information on opposition charges that 21 of its district youth
members were abducted Saturday by ruling party militants. A week before polling, 14 opposition activists were arrested for alleged
violence. Seven were released by a magistrate who complained police supplied no
evidence against them.
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — President Robert Mugabe's ruling party won a special parliamentary election that was seen as a test of support for him ahead of next year's presidential elections.
Election officials said Monday that Elliot Manyika of Mugabe's party carried the vote in the Bindura farming and mining district, 55 miles northeast of Harare. He had 62.7 percent of votes to 37.3 percent for Elliot Pfebve of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, state television reported.
About 51 percent of the district's 52,000 voters cast ballots.
The by-election was seen as a key test of the country's mood toward Mugabe, who is backing a campaign to seize private land from mainly white farmers. The seizures have been declared illegal by the nation's courts and have led many Western countries to freeze aid.
Both the ruling party and the opposition accused each other of violence and intimidation in two months of campaigning in Bindura. Neither side made immediate comments on the result.
The special election was called after prominent ruling-party lawmaker Border Gezi died in a car accident in April.
The ruling party holds a narrow majority of 63 of the 120 seats in the Harare parliament. Although an opposition win would not have changed the ruling party's parliamentary majority, the race was also seen as a barometer of Mugabe's support against MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Opposition candidate Pfebve and 16 of his supporters were detained for about two hours by police Sunday in what the opposition party called a ploy to stop them touring and monitoring voting.
Pfebve and his supporters, who were not charged, were escorted by armed officers to the Bindura police station against their will, the party said.
Police had no information on opposition charges that 21 of its district youth members were abducted Saturday by ruling party militants.
A week before polling, 14 opposition activists were arrested for alleged violence. Seven were released by a magistrate who complained police supplied no evidence against them.
|'Mugabe likely to hold power in 2002 polls'
HARARE: A victory for Zimbabwe's ruling party in a hotly contested by-election suggests that President Robert Mugabe is likely to keep power if he contests next year's presidential polls, analysts said on Tuesday.
The election result at the weekend was a blow to the two-year old leading opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change at testing times for the Mugabe regime, though the MDC still poses a credible challenge.
Zimbabwe's opposition, though new, won 57 of the 120 contested seats during the June 2000 parliamentary elections, delivering the sternest warning yet to Mugabe in his 21-year rule.
The MDC, however, lost the crucial parliamentary by-election to the governing Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) in a predominantly rural constituency in Bindura, in the northeast of the country.
Elliot Manyika of the governing Zimbabwe African National Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) beat the MDC candidate Elliot Pfebve, winning with 15,864 ballots against 9,956 for Pfebve.
Joseph Kurebwa, a University of Zimbabwe political scientist, said the outcome in Bindura reflects what may be expected next year because "the strata of voters ... who include commercial farmers, peasants, townsmen and workers, represent a wide spectrum of people in this country".
Mugabe is expected to face MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai in a presidential election to be held by April 2002.
Analysts believe the government's controversial land reform programme, violence and intimidation were contributory factors to the election results in Bindura.
"The 4,000 people resettled in the constituency alone made a significant impact and tipped the balance in favour of ZANU-PF," said Kurebwa in an interview with AFP.
Another political scientist, Masipula Sithole, said the ruling party used violence and intimidation to protect its turf. "Typically, they held on their ground using methods they know best," Sithole said.
All the 10 constituencies in the Mashonaland central province, where Bindura is the capital, are held by ZANU-PF following last June's elections.
Nevertheless, Sithole said the fact that the opposition was still able to garner 9,456 votes in such a district showed the continued resilience of the opposition in the face of "massive use of violence".
"The MDC has substantial support in the hinterland of ZANU-PF, in the very heart of a ZANU-PF stronghold," said Sithole. "It shows the opposition is now a permanent feature, it is now institutionalised in Zimbabwe," according to Sithole.
In addition to Bindura, the MDC has lost two other by-elections held this year, but Sithole says, "they didn't lose miserably."
The earlier by-elections, in the southern constituency of Bikita-West and in Marondera outside Harare, both ended in victories for ZANU-PF after similarly violent campaigns. The by-elections were called after the deaths of the incumbent deputies.
ZANU-PF interprets the three electoral losses as a blow to MDC's chances to the presidency next year. "It is now clear to anyone who can read the writing on the wall, ZANU-PF is the future," Information Minister Jonathan Moyo was quoted as saying in the state-run Herald.
But the predicted victory in next year's elections could be influenced by other factors such as the economic hardships the country is experiencing and the overall success of the land reforms.
If the land issue worked out, Kurebwa said the government would "have to accelerate the pace" in time for the presidential polls next year.
"For us its not just winning elections, it is delivering on the ground, giving people land," Moyo said.
With one more parliamentary by-election due in two months time to replace the militant war veteran leader Chenjerai Hitler Hunzvi who died in May, Moyo said the opposition will not win any parliamentary by-election.
|Manyika thrashes Pfebve in Bindura|
7/31/01 9:02:50 AM (GMT +2)
By Sandra Nyaira Political Editor
ZANU PF widened its
support base in Mashonaland Central province when its candidate, Elliot Manyika,
won the vigorously contested Bindura by-election yesterday.
He beat by a convincing
margin the MDC candidate, Elliot Pfebve.
Manyika, the Governor for Mashonaland Central, polled 15 864 votes against Pfebve’s 9 456.
Augustine Tsuro, the constituency registrar, said 529 ballot papers were spoiled.
A total of 25 849 voters, representing 61,4 percent of the total number of registered voters in Bindura constituency, cast their vote in the by-election that witnessed isolated incidents of political violence.
Manyika will fill the seat left vacant after the death of Border Gezi, the Minister of Youth Development, Gender and Employment Creation. Gezi died in a car accident near Mvuma in April.
This is the second time that Pfebve has lost an election to represent Bindura in Parliament.
He was beaten by Gezi in the June 2000 parliamentary election, which was characterised by a bloody and violent campaign of intimidation that mainly targeted opposition supporters around the country.
Despite the widespread violence, Pfebve managed to poll 11 257 votes against Gezi’s 13 326 votes.
Pfebve’s brother was killed in the run-up to the 2000 election in what he believes was a case of mistaken identity. MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai personally campaigned on behalf of Pfebve. Neither President Mugabe nor any of the other Zanu PF heavyweights appeared in Bindura during the election campaign.
Yesterday an elated Manyika said: “I’m not surprised that I’ve won this election. The MDC have no chance in Bindura like I have always said.”
Asked to comment on the violence alleged to have been perpetrated by his supporters, he said: “Who has been perpetrating violence? It’s the MDC. They have been bringing people from outside the constituency who have been axing and beating up other people.”
On Pfebve’s arrest by the police on Sunday, Manyika said his rival was not arrested. “He was only asked to report to the police station and questioned,” Manyika said. “He was violating the Electoral Act by moving around the polling stations blowing his car hooter.”
Meanwhile, Pfebve said Zanu PF had won the weekend by-election for two reasons.
“They have settled over 4 000 illegal settlers on commercial farms while the violence they have unleashed on the people in the run-up to the election has subdued the electorate,” he said.
Pfebve said he would comment further after he receives all the reports from his election agents.
The elections took place amid tight security. Supporters of both candidates waited patiently outside the hall where counting was taking place. They were singing and chanting the slogans of their respective parties as counting progressed. Riot police were called in to quell skirmishes between the two camps outside the counting hall.
At one time there was chaos when false word spread even before counting started that Manyika had won the election. About 200 Zanu PF supporters broke into premature celebration. They were only restrained by the intervention of the police and Saviour Kasukuwere, the MP for Mt Darwin South.
For a tense 10 minutes officials in the counting hall covered their faces as tear-gas filtered in from outside.
Tsuro later told the officials that the tear-gas was a result of an accidental discharge and that the responsible policeman had been harmed in the process.
War veteran leader Joseph Chinotimba led the Zanu PF group in celebrating victory shortly after Tsuro announced the results at 8pm.
Bindura is the capital of Mashonaland Central, a Zanu PF stronghold. The province retained all its seats in the June 2000 parliamentary election and yesterday’s by-election was seen as a major test, especially with the presidential election expected in April.
The actual polling was peaceful but the campaign period was marred by violence and the arrest of over 25 MDC supporters, including Pfebve.
Tsvangirai’s motorcade was attacked while campaigning for Pfebve in Bindura last week.
THE High Court in Harare
yesterday granted bail to Odzi farmer, Philip
Bezuidenhout, 51, faces a
charge of murder after he allegedly struck and
killed Febian Mapenzauswa, 31, on 15 July with his vehicle. Mapenzauswa had
just been resettled on Bezuidenhout's Tara Farm in Odzi.
Justice Michael Gillespie ordered the farmer to deposit $10 000 bail and
provide the registrar of the High Court with surety of $50 000.
He said Bezuidenhout, remanded on his initial appearance on 18 July at the
Magistrates' Courts in Mutare in custody to Wednesday, would, prior to his
release on bail, advise the registrar and the investigating officer in
writing of his new residential address.
He would live there after his release until the end of his trial.
The State represented by Chengetai Gwatidzo, of the Attorney-General's
Office, had opposed bail, saying Bezuidenhout's life was in danger since the
situation at his farm was still tense with tempers still high.
He said there was a fear that Bezuidenhout might abscond or interfere with
State witnesses because of the seriousness of the charge.
Gillespie directed the farmer to report at the Harare Central police station
every Friday and not to interfere with witnesses whose names might appear on
a list to be supplied by the investigating officer.
Bezuidenhout, who was not in court, was represented by Advocate Richard
Phillips of Advocates Chambers instructed by Chris Ndlovu of Gonese and
Phillips successfully argued that his client's life was not in danger as he
had safe alternative residential addresses.
Rights Group Targets Commonwealth Leaders
UN Integrated Regional Information Network
August 1, 2001
Posted to the web August 1, 2001
Amnesty International planned to single out Zimbabwean and other Commonwealth leaders over alleged human rights abuses when they attended a meeting in the Australian city of Brisbane in October, Reuters reported on Tuesday. The organisation said about half of the 50 leaders expected to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) were either personally accountable for human rights abuses or came from countries where abuses were widespread, according to the report.
Amnesty International said it planned to focus its protests against Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi and Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga. The report said Mugabe would be targeted for inciting violence against white farmers, for political killings and for homophobic laws. "Robert Mugabe has a very repressive regime. Anybody who is in opposition to Mugabe is in great danger of being killed, tortured or imprisoned," a spokesman for Amnesty International was quoted as saying.
Mahathir and Moi would be targeted because of the political repression and human rights abuses in their countries while Sri Lanka, torn by a bloody civil war since 1983, would be singled out because government and Tamil Tiger rebels were guilty of human rights abuses, the report said.
|01/08/2001 10:25 - (SA)|
Michael Gillespie, who has been High Court judge for the past five years, tendered his resignation to President Robert Mugabe on Tuesday and will effectively cease work at the end of August.
In his resignation letter quoted by the daily, Gillespie did not give reasons for his departure, but said: "I very deeply regret the circumstances which constrain me to conclude that I can no longer hold this office."
Two other high court judges, justices James Devittie and Esmael Chatikobo, resigned in May and June respectively.
In March, Zimbabwe's most senior judge, Supreme Court chief justice Anthony Gubbay, offered to take early retirement following run-ins with the government over verdicts against forcible seizures of white-owned land for redistribution to poor blacks.
All three High Court judges have run afoul of government authorities in one way or another.
The Herald said Gillespie made comments ahead of last year's parliamentary elections, suggesting that losing candidates could seek legal nullification of the electoral results on grounds of campaign violence.
Just before his resignation, Devittie nullified results in three constituencies, including one lost by Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democractic Change (MDC).
Chatikobo came under verbal attack last year from Information Minister Jonathan Moyo when he ordered police to return all equipment they had seized from the country's first private radio, Capital Radio.
The radio had gone on air following a Supreme court ruling that ended the monopoly of the state broadcaster, but police immediately raided it and shut it down.
In February this year, Chatikobo angered the authorities again when he issued an order delaying the deportation of two foreign correspondents, Joseph Winter of the BBC and Mercedes Sayagues of the Mail & Guardian of South Africa.
From BBC News, 31 July
Mugabe's party wins key Zimbabwe poll
The Zimbabwe ruling Zanu PF party, led by President Robert Mugabe, has won a by-election which is seen a key test of political opinion in the country. Elliot Manyika of the ruling Zanu PF) won the election with 15,864 ballots, beating Elliot Pfebve of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), who won 9,456 votes. Sunday's election in the northeastern rural constituency of Bindura, 56km (35 miles) north of the capital, Harare, was to replace Border Gezi, a late close aide to President Mugabe and a former minister.
The BBC's southern Africa correspondent, Rageh Omaar, says the result is a huge boost to the Zanu-PF, which will interpret the victory as a vindication of its policy of forcible redistribution of white farmers' land. But he says that the opposition are bound to accuse the party of political intimidation in the run-up to the election. The election campaign had been marred by violence and tension, with the MDC candidate being detained and questioned by police on Sunday over charges by the authorities of illegal campaigning.
Mr Manyika, a provincial governor and former diplomat, won the election by a greater margin than his predecessor Mr Gezi, who died in a car crash in April, achieved in last year's general election. Mr Gezi won 13,329 votes, last year, compared to Mr Pfebve's 11,257. Polling for the by-election attracted 61% of the electorate - a higher turnout than in last year's general election, despite the pre-poll tension. MDC candidate Eliot Pfebve was picked up along with about 15 of his supporters by police on Sunday. They were all released after several hours. The MDC said its cars were stoned and shot at.
Zanu-PF has won all three of the by-elections held since the June 2000 parliamentary elections. All the election campaigns have been marked by similar violence. This by-election comes only eight months before Mr Mugabe faces the next presidential elections in April, and is taking place amid a grave economic crisis. Inflation and unemployment are very high and Zimbabwe will need to import at least 500,000 tonnes of grain to avert food shortages by the end of the year.
From CNN, 31 July
Boost for Mugabe in Zimbabwe poll
Harare - A key parliamentary by-election has been won by Zimbabwe's ruling party in what is a boost to President Robert Mugabe. Mugabe, who is bidding to extend his 21 years in power in a general election next April, saw Elliot Manyika of his Zanu PF party winning in the northeastern district of Bindura. The result, declared on Monday after weekend voting, came after a campaign marred by violence and the arrest of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change candidate Elliott Pfebve. Constituency registrar Augustine Tsuro said Manyika, a state provincial governor, had polled 15,864 votes to Pfebve's 9,456, Reuters reported. Turnout was just over 61 percent.
"For Zanu PF and President Mugabe, it was important to retain this seat," said Alfred Nhema, a political science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe. "It's not a disaster for the MDC considering the controversies that have surrounded the by-election, but Zanu PF will look at it as a psychological boost," he said. The MDC has accused Zanu PF of employing extreme violence to win the election, while Zanu PF has made similar claims against the MDC. The by-election was called after prominent ruling Zanu PF party lawmaker Border Gezi died in a car accident in April. Pfebve, a Bindura businessman, contested the seat against Manyika, a former civil servant and diplomat.
The Amani Trust, an independent human rights group, said earlier this month it was assisting two opposition supporters with legal claims against Manyika for alleged assaults by him during campaigning. In Bindura, "there has been significant violence for two months. It has been as severe as last year," said Tony Reeler, director of the Amani Trust, an independent human rights group. Last year, Pfebve lost to Gezi, a government minister, by about 2,000 votes after campaigning that was also wracked by violence. Pfebve's brother, Matthew, was among three opposition supporters killed ahead of last year's poll.
From ZWNEWS - We have received an unconfirmed report, from a very reliable source, that several ballot boxes went missing before yesterday's vote count.
From News24 (SA), 30 July
Zanu PF threatens bush war if Mugabe loses
Harare. - As the counting of ballots in the weekend's heavily contested and violent Bindura constituency began on Monday morning, Didymus Mutasa, a former cabinet minister and senior Zanu PF official, warned Zimbabweans of a possible coup if President Robert Mugabe loses power in the presidential election next year. Mutasa said his party might have to take up arms to remain in power. "There were coups; there are coups; there will always be coups. Ian Smith stayed in power in this country illegally for many years," he said.
Smith and his party, the Rhodesia Front, declared independence from Britain in November 1965 and proceeded to rule Zimbabwe for about 15 years, sparking a brutal bush war whose effects are still being felt today. Mutasa made the statement while testifying in a court case in which the victory of a Zanu PF member of parliament, Shadreck Chipanga is being challenged by Nick Mudzengere of the opposition MDC. "I wouldn't be surprised if somebody threatened to go to war if Zanu PF lost the election, because Zanu PF took to the bush and fought against the illegal regime of Ian Smith."
He, however, declined to commit himself on whether his party would respect the people's choice if they voted against it in next year's presidential election. "I can only give assurance that Zanu-PF will cross that bridge when it comes to it," he told High Court judge, Justice Paddington Garwe. Mutasa, Zanu PF's secretary for external affairs, said that as a senior party member he spoke on behalf of the party. He said while he believed that people were free to choose their leaders, this did not always happen. The Zanu PF and MDC fought for Bindura at the weekend. The seat became vacant after the death, in a car accident in April, of Cabinet minister Border Gezi. At the close of voting in Bindura on Sunday, about 25 000 had cast their ballots. The results are expected later on Monday.
From News24 (SA), 30 July
First land invaders sentenced
Harare - Nineteen Zanu PF farm invaders at Chishaku Farm in Mvuma, central Zimbabwe, were last Friday convicted of armed robbery, housebreaking and theft and sentenced to effective jail terms ranging from one to three years. This is the first prosecution of farm invaders in 16 months. Elsewhere bands of rowdy and lawless invaders remain littered across the country, disrupting farm operations as a way of trying to push white commercial farmers out of their land. Shadreck Thomas, who led the invasions on Andrea Scheepers's farm in November last year, was convicted of five counts involving public violence and sentenced to an effective three-year jail term while others were jailed for one year for housebreaking and theft. Initially, the group comprised 27 farm invaders, but five of them were acquitted for lack of evidence, while the sixth was freed because he was a juvenile who the court described as having been driven by mob psychology. The court heard that on November 21 last year, the invaders, led by their youth leader Thomas, met at the nearby Impala Ranch and connived to assault and rob the owner of Chishaku Farm for uprooting their wooden pegs on his farm. The invaders occupied the farm in February last year at the height of the farm invasions and subdivided it into several plots using wooden pegs. Scheepers and his family have since abandoned the farm. The invaders ransacked the farmhouse and stole household goods worth about R48 000.
From The African Church Information Service, 30 July
Govt ‘reluctant’ to stop violence in disputed farms
Victoria Falls - Zimbabwean Minister of Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Mr. Patrick Chinamasa has refused to assure heads of Christian denominations that the government will move to stop the violence currently prevailing in the country. Speaking to Church leaders in Victoria Falls, Chinamasa said political violence would continue until the controversial land issue has been resolved. Chinamasa warned the country could plunge into a war because of the land issue. "The nation is apparently on the verge of a war and in a war situation none is really in control," he said. Commenting on why the government was failing to arrest the rampant political violence and lawlessness that has gripped the country, Chinamasa remained adamant that "violence is a necessary tool for a successful land reform programme. The land issue must be solved now once and for all".
The chairperson of the ruling party Zanu PF, who is the Minister of Home Affairs Mr. John Nkomo also declined to assure the Church leaders that there would be no violence in the presidential elections. "We as Zimbabweans we do not have confidence in ourselves, we are ashamed of being blacks, we have too many negative attitudes towards ourselves and this is absolutely not a good for nation building," the Minister said. "I cannot assure you that there won't be violence next year. We are not a party which instigates violence Zanu PF is not a violent party. We just want to protect what we fought for," he said.
The delegates showed disapproval to this when the Minister of Home Affairs went on to say "if they are attacked violently, definitely they have to be on the defensive side and act accordingly". This apparently did not amuse the church leaders who continuously shook their heads in disbelief and disagreement while Chinamasa made his presentation. The Minister further challenged churches to work with the government in nation building. He said no matter how bad things might seem to be Zimbabweans should persevere and face the problems of their own country on their own. In his own perspective, Zimbabweans are crying to go back to slavery. "We as Zimbabweans we do not have confidence in ourselves, we are ashamed of being blacks, we have too many negative attitudes towards ourselves and this is absolutely not a good for nation building," he said. In emphasizing his point on slavery, Chinamasa gave a biblical example of Moses and the Israelites. He referred to the grumbling of the people of Israel when things got tough on the way. He noted whenever people were delivered from slavery and the challenges became unbearable, the freed slaves wished to return to the previous slave masters. He said this was now the case in Zimbabwe where people are wishing to go back to Rhodesia (the colonial name for the country) when they are being led to "Canaan".
One pastor totally disagreed with the example given by the Minister on Zimbabweans. He argued that while it is true that the Israelites grumbled in the wilderness, the example does not fit the Zimbabwe situation because Moses did not approve of violence or killings. Even during the time when God was angry enough and when the Israelites had wanted to kill them for their grumbling, Moses pleaded with God not to kill them, the pastor retorted. Another pastor stressed that it was the Church's concern to speak out boldly against violence whenever it was taking place. As an institution they want the government to guarantee and cultivate a non-violent environment in the country especially in the forthcoming presidential elections, he added. Many heads of denominations noted that it had emerged during the talks that the government was "not in a position to commit itself to stop the violence". Instead of dialoging and listening to concerns it appears as if the Church has been assembled to listen to what the government has to say, they said. The heads of denominations maintained that they expected to see peace and justice. But they do not want peace "that is forced on people from the police and Army which is characterised by fear".