NATIONAL REPORT IN BRIEF
In a positive move towards the restoration of law and order, some districts report that police are moving illegal occupiers off farms that have not been listed for compulsory acquisition. The extent of the commitment by the police to this exercise remains to be seen. Farm workers, whose livlihoods are directly threatened by the farm invasions, are increasingly standing up to the illegal occupiers. There were several dramatic incidents this past weekend:
No regional reports were received from Manicaland, Midlands or Matabeleland.
Tsatsi: Four shots were heard on a section of Goodhope Farm. The suspects fired three shots at people manning the road-block that was set up to apprehend the suspected poachers. The Nyabira police and the farm owner followed in pursuit of the perpetrators and subsequently captured one war vet and impounded the vehicle. A waterbuck carcass was located the following day. The second war vet later turned him self in with an automatic G3 rifle. Both suspects have been detained on charges of poaching and attempted murder.
Mazowe/Concession Police have been informing war vets to move off farms that have not been listed for acquisition and there has been some success.
Harare West/Nyabira: War vets have caused work stoppages on May Park, Berea Farm and Umzaruru Farm.
Mashonaland West (North):
Raffingora: On Chiwe Farm, about 500 ha has been burnt to date. On Minehaha Farm, all the grazing has been burnt out and tree-cutting is ongoing. Police are attempting to remove non-permitted cattle and goats from Cornrise Farm.
Umboe: Poaching and veld fires along the Angwa River are a problem.
Tengwe: There are still some work stoppages.
Doma: Veld fires are a problem.
Mashonaland West (South): Police have received a directive to remove all war veterans who have invaded farms after the general elections.
Kadoma: A crowd of seventy war vets have erected a sign on Milverton Estates declaring war on the owner. This was precipitated by the suicide of a war veteran from Gokwe who had sold his plot to be resettled on Milverton Estates. The deceased war vet had heard that police were planning to remove all war veterans from Gokwe to take them back to their own province. War vets have set up barricades on the farm and on Golden Valley road and have also blamed the owner of Milverton for the poisoning of six people in Gokwe resettlement area. Support Unit attempted to remove war vets from Alabama Farm, but had to retreat and call for back-up. Also on Alabama, war vets attempted to overturn the manager's car.
Suri Suri: The owner of San Fernando fired shots over war veterans heads when they ran after he tried to arrest them yesterday for theft of his onions and two kilometres of fencing found in war veteran houses. Police have so far arrested four people in connection with this.
Chegutu: On Exwick farm the owner was given preliminary notice on 16th September advising that Ministry needed a response on 17th September, the date stamp on the letter is 1st September. Wing Commander Mazamban is upset that cattle are walking over their ploughed lands, but this is as a result of war veterans leaving gates open all the time. War vet Mazamban also advised that the forty farm worker families on Exwick would be given fifty acres to be resettled on!
Marondera: On Saturday a large mob arrived at Chipesa farm, demanding to see the owner. When the owner refused they rampaged through the farm village, burning thirteen huts. Farmers and labour reacted, pinning the perpetrators down at their base camp until Support Unit arrived. Support Unit arrested about forty people, six war vets were detained and are in court this morning together with four farm workers. The rest were released. Police recovered stolen irrigation pipes and two fire-arms at the war vet base. In a suspected case of arson on Sunday, two paddocks on Wenimbe Farm were simultaneously burnt in two separate fires.
Marondera North: On Rapids Farm, three labourers were beaten up by seven war vets. One worker was hospitalised. The war vets were arrested.
Beatrice: On Saturday, war vets arrived in four vehicles at Maas Plein Farm and instructed farm workers that they wanted to plant as the farm was theirs. After some discussion, the war vets agreed that the labour could continue planting. That evening the manager received a phone call from war vet Muringani to the effect that he had been allocated the main homestead, which should be cleared out. About twenty people have invaded Sweden Farm. Invaders have returned to Elladale Farm.
Harare South: Farm labourers on Dunottar Farm destroyed the war vets brick houses and put the doors and window frames by the river for them to collect. The war vets left the farm on the instruction of workers. Police have instructed invaders to move off Stoneridge Farm and are expected to return this week to enforce this. On Saturday afternoon about six or seven youths were responsible for burning down a kitchen in the farm village. The owner is waiting for the police to remove the war vets so that he can continue farming.
Wedza: The war vets made a citizens arrest on the owner of Markwe Farm for allegedly assaulting a boy who had placed a rock across one of the grids on the farm. The war vets beat up the farm owner and took him to the police station where both parties filed charges of assault. Fair Adventure: The owner of Fair Adventure has been told to remove his cattle from some of the paddocks as the illegal occupiers wish to start planting their crops. A poacher, previously arrested on Chakadenga Farm, has returned to the farm with his dogs after being sentenced to a$ 1 000 fine or three months imprisonment. Enterprise Atlanta: It was clear at a meeting between war vets and labour on Atlanta Farm that the war vets are disenchanted and are gradually drifting back home.
Bromley / Ruwa: A contingent of about 200 policemen raided and burnt the war vet base camp at Mara Farm because of the threat that the war vets were returning in retribution for assaults by workers. The police then went on to other farms to dismantle huts.
Macheke / Virginia: Last week, there were daily work stoppages on Paradise Farm. Police reacted and warned the perpetrators but later returned them to the farm, where they have resumed tree cutting and hut building. Hut building started last week on a land needed for tobacco on Chikumbakwe Farm. Police warned the invaders but the huts have not been removed. A police lorry went to Mudzi and retrieved a number of articles stolen from Arizona Farm following the murder of the late Dave Stevens.
Masvingo East and Central: War vet "Muzenda" is creating havoc on Yettom and Marah Farms, to the extent that the owner has vacated for safety reasons. The war vets have cut the security fence, entered the fenced area and have forced their way into farm buildings. War vet "Muzenda" is also reported to be causing problems on Vredenburg Farm. Despite making fire guards, there have been fires on Vredenburg which have burnt out a gum tree plantation and a bana grass field. It would appear that these fires were started deliberately. The situation at Southwill Estates is described as "still out of control."
Chiredzi: Yesterday, about 200 invaders gathered at Bangala Ranch homestead. Police took two hours to react. The invaders claimed that game scouts were assaulting them and that somebody had fired a shot at them, but were reluctant to lay charges when the owner invited them to do so. War Veterans claimed they would be bringing goats and oxen onto the ranch. The Police did not resolve this situation, describing the gathering as a "political rally". A steer was slaughtered by illegal squatters yesterday on Sebenani Farm.
20 September 2000
In this issue :
From Reuters, 20 September
Zimbabwe blames opposition for bomb
Zimbabwean Home Affairs Minister John Nkomo has told parliament that the main opposition party, the MDC, was behind a grenade attack last week on its own offices. Mr Nkomo said police raids on the opposition's premises had uncovered weapons including grenades and a hand gun. MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai described the accusations as completely without foundation, and the party has reaffirmed its commitment to non-violence. The Home Affairs Minister statement to parliament was greeted with howls of ridicule and incredulity from members of the opposition. "You people are insane," shouted one MP.
The minister told parliament that police investigations revealed without doubt that the explosion at opposition headquarters a week ago was an inside job. Subsequent searches of the MDC's offices and the homes of its members had produced an unspecified number of grenades, a loaded pistol, and 10 cartridges, Mr Nkomo said. He said key suspects were now known and all that remained was for the police to consolidate evidence.
Mr Tsvangirai said he was dismayed that a minister he had previously considered to be honourable could make false statements to parliament. He went on to suggest that the government's intention could be to provide a pretext for banning the MDC, less than 3 months after it came close to winning a majority of the contested seats in parliamentary elections. Last week the police raided the MDC offices several times, carrying off documents and computers, and arresting four party officials who were later released without charge. Similar tactics were used against Zapu, the main opposition in the 1980s. The political instability then was resolved only by the signing of a unity accord, which in practice meant the swallowing up of the opposition by the ruling party.
PRESS RELEASE FROM THE MDC
The MDC is utterly shocked by the Minister John Nkomo's statement in Parliament today, 19 September, 2000, in which he alleged that the police had found consignments of arms of war comprising grenades, pistols, rifles and tear smoke at the MDC support centre, MDC Head Office and MDC provincial offices at St Martins and MDC officials residencies in Harare.
We note for the record that the searches for arms of war which were conducted by the police on Thursday 14 September 2000 were done in the full view of both local and international journalists, MDC lawyers and other individuals. These searches yielded nothing and the police know this fact very well. It was after the police search for arms of war had yielded nothing that the police now sought to confiscate documents. Indeed they succeeded in doing this on the 15 September 2000 when they took with them MDC documents and computer discs.
On Saturday 16 September the police went through the documents they had confiscated with an MDC team that was headed by the MDC Secretary General, Prof. Welshman Ncube at the Central police station. Again no documents to do with arms of war were found and the police are well aware of this fact. Minister Nkomo's statement therefore is a clear attempt by the Government and the ruling party to maliciously and falsely concoct baseless allegations against the MDC with a view to discrediting it within the eyes of the public and also taking this as pretext for cracking down on the MDC leadership.
This does not come as a surprise to the MDC as the same trick has been used against opposition parties in the past. ZAPU and ZANU (Ndonga) have been victims of the same strategies in the early 80s and mid 90s respectively. The MDC urges all its supporters and Zimbabweans of genuine goodwill to dismiss Minister Nkomo's statement and the government's attempt to frame allegations against the MDC.
In the interim the MDC is convening an emergency meeting of its National Executive and a detailed statement will be issued after the meeting.
From News24 (SA), 19 September
Mugabe makes land grab concessions to Anglo
Harare - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe made a rare concession in Monday in his plan to confiscate farms for redistribution to landless blacks, telling one of the country's biggest corporate landowners, Anglo American, that it could keep its properties, state television reported. After talks with Mugabe and Zimbabwe Lands Minister Joseph Made, Anglo American owners Nick Oppenheimer and son Jonathan said Mugabe explained that an error had been made and that they could keep their sugar estate and cattle ranches that had originally been listed for confiscation.
A powerful South African-based mining conglomerate, Anglo American owns a large sugar estate in southern Zimbabwe's Hippo Valley and 50 000 hectares of cattle ranches in western Matebeleland. Those properties were among the more than 2 300 white-owned farms listed for compulsory acquisition and redistribution as part of Mugabe's plans to expropriate some five million hectares of land, mainly belonging to some 4 500 commercial farmers. "We were concerned to notice that in the latest list of farms gazetted that 70 percent of Hippo Valley was (listed)," Nick Oppenheimer said. "But we were much re-assured; the president told us that a mistake was made and that agro-industrial estates were not intended to be gazetted for resettlement and that the government is going to rectify this matter, and that was very encouraging," Nick Oppenheimer told state television.
From Business Day (SA), 19 September
Anglo makes Mugabe substantial land counter offer
HARARE - Anglo American plc together with the Oppenheimer family have offered 40 000 hectares of ranching land to the Zimbabwean government. A peasant resettlement trust fund of Z$10m has also been proposed by the company, which owns a total of 960 000 ha of land in the country. All the Oppenheimer ranches in the country have been listed for seizure. Anglo American deputy chairman Nicholas Oppenheimer said the offers were made during a 2-hour meeting with President Robert Mugabe on Monday. He said the 40 000 ha offer as "a counter proposal". He would not be drawn on whether payment was expected.
Anglo sources said it was made clear to Mugabe that the proposals depend on the land acquisition programme being "transparent and orderly". This has been taken to mean that land invasions by self-styled war veterans must end, compensation must be paid for the land and people who are resettled on the farms are genuine landless peasants rather than senior officials of Mugabe’s ruling Zanu (PF) party. Oppenheimer said he was concerned the government had also listed some of the company's agro-industrial estates, despite government promises that all commercial estates would be left alone. Agriculture minister Joseph Made has said that some properties have been marked for seizure in error.
From News24 (SA), 19 September
Squatters expelled from 5 farms
Harare - Zimbabwe police on Monday expelled hundreds of squatters occupying five white-owned farms and destroyed some of their makeshift huts, notably near Harare, the pro-government daily The Herald said on Tuesday. Police operations in the outskirts of Harare, the nearby town of Chitungwize and in Ruwa, 20 kilometres to the east, lasted around four hours, the paper said. Chenjerai Hunzvi, deputy for the ruling Zanu-PF party and leader of Zimbabwe's war veterans, who have led a campaign to occupy white farms for redistribution to landless blacks since February, said he was "shocked" that the police had expelled the landless people in such an "inhuman manner".
From Reuters, 20 September
Zimbabwe farmers welcome police action against veterans
HARARE - Zimbabwe's commercial farmers on Tuesday welcomed the eviction of war veterans from five white-owned farms and urged President Robert Mugabe to restore order on hundreds of other occupied farms. Armed police on Monday destroyed shacks and evicted hundreds of black liberation war veterans and their supporters from five farms outside the capital Harare, police said. Government officials were unavailable to comment on the rare show of force against liberation war veterans at the centre of Mugabe's controversial land seizure campaign. Previously Mugabe had said his government would not force the veterans off the farms.
"The government and police action are welcome," said a spokesman for the CFU, which groups the country's 4,500 mainly white farmers. "But what needs to be done is for the government to ensure law and order is restored on other farms across the country because farming operations have been seriously affected by these occupations," he added. Zimbabwe's vital agricultural production has plummeted since veterans of the country's 1970s liberation war, with the support of the government, began seizing white-owned farms in February. Chenjerai Hunzvi, leader of the country's war veterans association, on Tuesday denounced the police action. "It shows that they are puppets of the white commercial farmers and their Western imperialist masters," Hunzvi, who was elected as a ZANU-PF member of parliament in June, told Reuters. "We are going to demand an explanation...and the police involved should be fired," he added.
From The Star (SA), 19 September
Asset unit clips fugitive tycoon's wings
The justice department's asset forfeiture unit seized assets worth R40-million on Tuesday from former Wheels of Africa chief executive officer Billy Rautenbach. Unit head Willie Hofmeyr confiscated the motor industry tycoon's Falcon 10 private jet and a Bell helicopter, together worth R21-million, at the Rand Airport on the East Rand. Hofmeyr said the unit had obtained a court order on Monday night in terms of which the assets were seized. "If he (Rautenbach) wants to contest this, he will have to choose between his property and his liberty."
Rautenbach, a Zimbabwean citizen, left South Africa for Zimbabwe soon after the Investigative Directorate for Serious Economic Offences and the South African Revenue Service raided his home and business premises last November. The warrant for the raid was granted because the SARS and Idseo believed Rautenbach was involved in tax fraud, cross-border arms smuggling, fraudulent double discounting and other fraudulent activities. Rautenbach has mining interests in the DRC and had a 50 percent interest in car distributor Hyundai's operations in South Africa and Botswana.
From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 20 September
Trade unions warn ANC of rift
Johannesburg – South Africa's powerful trade union movement gave warning yesterday that its alliance with the ruling African National Congress could collapse. It represents one of the most serious challenges to the ANC government, which has all but taken its alliance with the unions for granted. The warning came at a particularly bad time for President Thabo Mbeki's government, which has been forced on to the defensive amid mounting opposition to its stance on Aids. Yesterday the Communist Party, the third constituent of the alliance, joined the Confederation of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) in stating that HIV causes Aids, a stance that Mr Mbeki has not accepted.
Zwelinzima Vavi, the general secretary of Cosatu, raised the prospect of ending the alliance at the movement's annual conference in Johannesburg yesterday. "The relationship is dangerously undefined," he wrote in a discussion document. "Government takes decisions without effective alliance participation. Either there must be a qualitative shift in its [the alliance's] operations which involves it in a meaningful participation in policy formulation, or it risks collapse."
Observers said it would take years, not months, to end the alliance, which operates at all levels of political activity. The fact that the general secretary broached the idea highlights how the traditionally good relations between unions and the government have worsened. Willie Madisha, the Cosatu president, launched a broad attack on the government. As well as labour laws, which the unions argue have been biased towards business, and tight fiscal economic policies, Mr Madisha attacked Mr Mbeki's views on Aids. The president has cited poverty rather than HIV as the main cause of the disease. Mr Madisha told an audience which included Mr Mbeki: "We must resist attempts to roll back our gains and turn this government into a business cartel." Observers believe that the ANC government has emasculated the labour movement by appointing trade unionists to only nominal positions with no authority. Addressing the congress, Mr Mbeki made no apology for his economic policies. He attacked "reactionary forces bent on retaining at all cost the privileges and power acquired under apartheid".