Case of Chaos - 9th December, 2002
Justice for Agriculture maintains that
until there is a return to rule of law, and respect for property rights as
enshrined in the constitution, it will be impossible for agriculture to
support the people of Zimbabwe and their needs either in terms of food, or
of exports. Without these basic conditions, there is no security of
tenure for the land, as we are seeing in the current round of farm evictions
- except it is no longer white farmers being kicked off the land, but
the very settlers used by the government to perpetrate the
"land redistribution programme" in the first place. The chaos on the land
is now nearly beyond the ability of even to government to control, and
the confusion of orders and priorities has made it impossible for
the authorities to act. It is fast becoming a situation of "might
makes right", with those who have the biggest guns or connections
inheriting the land. This is amply illustrated by the story of Bauhinia Farm
in the Glendale area of Mashonaland Central, although we must hasten to
add that this is far from the only case of such matters that have come
to our notice recently.
Bauhinia Farm belongs to David and Kathy Sole,
and has to date not received a section 5 or 8 notice, nor has it even been
listed in the government gazettes, so the legal position is that the farm
should remain untouched. The farm is devoted to seed production for food
crops and to the exporting of horticultural produce (vegetables and
roses). Vice President Joseph Msika has made a point of ensuring
that horticulture goes on as much as possible, since it is a vital
foreign currency earner for the nation (Bauhinia's rose production alone
is worth some ZWD400 million). Bauhinia was invaded early on, and there
was a truce of sorts and an agreement of co-existence this summer
between the settlers and the farmer, brokered with the blessing of the
workers. Since most of the production is process-intensive and required less
land than full cropping, Sole decided to cut back on the cropping and
focus on the horticulture. This agreement was reached in conjunction with
the farm employees and the settlers themselves, who were then able to
employ the land to grow their own crops for the summer season. The scene
was thereby set for an amicable and peaceful resolution for this
The neighbouring farm, Sunridge, was owned by Mr
Munyaradzi Machemedza. However, this farm was ceded to the government for use
as a facility for the newly trained "green bombers", and Manyika (governor of
Mashonaland Central) made a deal with him to give him Bauhinia farm in
exchange, despite the fact that the farm is unlisted. Consequently, on the
11th of November the local Border Gezi Youth Brigade showed up at Bauhinia
and threatened the directors, telling them to get off. They then
proceeded to beat up the settlers, forcing them to leave their
The farm employees soon went on strike, believing that the
directors were going to leave, and only returned to work a few days later
when they were promised a retrenchment package. This typifies the
current labour situation on the farms - frightened farm employees are
often incited to demand retrenchment packages, without any real cognisance
of the fact that this commits them to retirement from their jobs. In
any case, the situation on the farm became progressively less tenable,
and Sole was forcibly evicted from his home and the farm, maintaining
his rose farming operations by remote control through close
coordination with his farm manager. The settlers were repeatedly beaten up,
and their crops were ploughed into the ground at Machemedza's orders,
using tractors stolen from the farm - this in the middle of a national
food crisis. The farm employees were also subjected to repeated violence
at the hands of the youth brigade, the manager was threatened at
gunpoint, and .303 bullets were fired over their heads. They were given
orders to get off the farm almost daily, and some were evicted from their
houses by the youths, forcing those that chose to remain to share the
remaining accomodation. Equipment was repeatedly and blatantly stolen in
front of the employees and farm directors, who were unable to stop it. As
many farmers have found, the police were less than useless in this
situation, and the DA told the farmer that "the days of helping the white man
However, on the 23rd of November, an army truck with 7 men
(armed with AK47's, and claiming to be from the President's Office) arrived
on the farm; they assaulted Machimedza and took him off the farm,
instructing the workers to remain farming. However, within a week further
thefts had been carried out, with at least two tractors being utilized on
Sunridge farm. The rose farming operations were repeatedly interrupted
by violence perpetrated on the farm employees, and the sprinkler system
was damaged by Machimedza with a disc harrow. The workforce,
increasingly frustrated, and unable to do anything about it, vandalized some
of the water pipes and buildings, and Machimedza then demanded that Sole
pay for repairs. He also demanded that Sole pay rent for growing roses
on his farm.
At this point Vice President Msika stepped in, calling on
both Dr Made (Minister of Agriculture) and Governor Manyika to prevent
the interruption of vital horticultural production. Nonetheless, the
threats and assault on the labour continued, and over the weekend Mrs
Machimedza threatened the labour, saying if they did not get off then "there
will be killing today". The entire workforce was evicted after this. Mr
Sole returned to his farm this weekend to assess the state of the
rose operations, and he was met with insults and threats by Mrs
Machimedza and a number of youths, then chased to a neighbouring farm. They
threw stones and rocks, but did not break into the house, and the
police arrived some five hours later, when the danger was over. Mr Sole
has since obtained a court ruling that was delivered to the deputy
sheriff in Bindura today, requiring an emergency eviction of Machimedza and
the youth brigade. But the question seems to be - who can do it, even if
the authorities choose to act on the law. It seems it is no longer
feasible for any amicable solutions to come about on the land, as with Mr
Sole and his settlers, and that it is not even possible for the words of
the Vice President himself to ensure that justice is carried out. The
legacy of Zanu PF's policy is going to be a long time in the
HARARE, Dec 9 (Reuters) - Zimbabwean civic groups called on Monday for a
national strike on Tuesday to protest at a crumbling economy, for which they
blame President Robert Mugabe's government.
Zimbabwe is struggling
with record high unemployment, inflation and crippling fuel shortages in the
country's worst economic crisis in two decades.
half of the country's 14 million people face severe food shortages caused by
drought and controversial land redistribution.
"We are optimistic
that Zimbabweans will heed the call" to say away from work on Tuesday, said
Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly
"It is a protest to express the anger of the people at the
current economic hardships and it is also a call for open democracy, which
can only be guaranteed by a new peoples' constitution," Madhuku
The NCA, a coalition of student and church groups, political
parties and rights groups, has led several such job boycotts and other
protests in the past two years against a constitution that critics say Mugabe
has manipulated to bolster his power.
Last month police fired
teargas to disperse about 1,000 NCA marchers in Harare who were demanding a
Mugabe has amended the constitution 16 times
since leading the country to independence from Britain in 1980.
In April more than 60 activists were arrested during demonstrations against
Mugabe's victory in a March presidential election condemned as fraudulent by
the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and Western
Madhuku said the MDC and the 200,000-strong Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) support the planned strike.
three-day general strike called by the ZCTU after the March election ran out
of steam on the second day. Union officials said fear of government reprisals
had driven protesters back to work.
Tough security laws, which bar
public gatherings and impose penalties of up to 20 years in prison, have made
it difficult to mobilise workers, union leaders say.
denied responsibility for the country's economic crisis and says his drive to
seize white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to landless blacks is
aimed at correcting colonial injustices.
The United Nations World
Food Programme warned last month that Zimbabwe, once the breadbasket of
southern Africa, faces a shortfall of close to 200,000 tonnes of grain from
between now and March 2003.
CNN Africa launches largest game park Monday, December 9, 2002 Posted:
9:56 AM EST (1456 GMT)
XAI XAI, Mozambique (Reuters) -- The leaders
of three countries launched Africa's biggest national park on Monday -- a
vast swathe of savannah teeming with game which they hope will draw much
needed tourist dollars to the region.
The Great Limpopo Transfrontier
Park, which covers an area roughly the size of Belgium, straddles South
Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe and is due to open to visitors early next
South African President Thabo Mbeki, Zimbabwean President Robert
Mugabe and Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano officially christened the
park at a ceremony in the Mozambican resort town of Xai Xai on the Limpopo
"The successful merging of our individual parks into the
Limpopo Transfrontier Park tells us that nothing is impossible, and yet
this increases the challenge on all of us to ensure that we create the
correct conditions for the balanced development and advancement of our
countries," Mbeki said.
Environmentalists have applauded the park,
which combines South Africa's Kruger national park, Mozambique's Limpopo park
and Zimbabwe's Gonarezhou national park into one huge swathe of savannah home
to game including lions, rhinos and elephants.
It covers an area of
35,000 square kilometers (13,500 square miles) and communities within its
boundaries will remain.
But critics have raised reservations about the
participation of Zimbabwe, where there have been reports of wildlife being
killed inside national parks as the country slides deeper into political and
Uncertainty over Zimbabwe has delayed plans for the
park, but on Monday officials said it was time to move
"Today's event serves to remind us that which unites us is
greater than that which seeks to divide us," Mugabe said.
challenge Along with removing visa restrictions and building new transit
links for tourism, the three countries have launched a drive to help wildlife
spread more fully across the area.
More than 1,000 animals, including
dozens of elephants, have been transferred from South Africa to Mozambique,
where a long civil war took its toll on the native animal
Officials hope the new park will draw more travellers to a
region which is struggling to lure large numbers of tourists.
Mozambique has never been a major tourist destination, South Africa has been
hit by several high-profile attacks against tourists amid fears over its high
Zimbabwe has seen its once-thriving tourism industry drop off
sharply in the wake of Mugabe's controversial land reform programme, blamed
for tipping the country into economic chaos.
South Africa's opposition
Democratic Alliance party questioned Zimbabwe's participation in the project,
saying on Monday that several Zimbabwean game parks and nature reserves had
been invaded and wildlife killed.
"The South African government should
explain how they will prevent these invasions from spreading into the
Transfrontier Park," the party said in a statement. "This ambitious
cross-border project should not jeopardize the Kruger National Park, the
flagship of our entire eco-tourism industry."
Xai Xai, Mozambique - The inclusion of Zimbabwe into the
Limpopo Transfrontier Park has been criticised by some who are concerned that
the large-scale slaughter of wildlife in that country might spill over into
the rest of the park, thereby jeopardising South Africa's most
important wildlife asset, the Kruger National Park.
opposition Democratic Alliance party on Monday wanted to know what the South
African government planned to do to prevent the invasion from spreading into
"The South African government should explain how they will
prevent these invasions from spreading into the Transfrontier
"This ambitious cross-border project should not jeopardise the
Kruger National Park, the flagship of our entire eco-tourism industry," the
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe expressed
"Today's event serves to remind us that that which unites us is
greater than that which seeks to divide us," he said at the official naming
ceremony in Xai Xai on the Limpopo in Mozambique.
Mbeki and Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano also attended the
Uncertainty over Zimbabwe has delayed plans for the park, but
on Monday officials said it was time to move forward.
Environmentalists have applauded the park, which combines South
Africa's Kruger national park, Mozabique's Limpopo park and Zimbabwe's
Gonarezhou national park into one huge swathe of savannah home to game
including lions, rhinos and elephants.
It covers an area of 35 000 sq
km - roughly the size of Belgium - and communities within its boundaries will
remain. The park is due to open to visitors early next year.
successful merging of our individual parks into the Limpopo Transfrontier
Park tells us that nothing is impossible, and yet this increases the
challenge on all of us to ensure that we create the correct conditions for
the balanced development and advancement of our countries," Mbeki
Officials hope the new park will draw more
travellers to a region.
Along with removing visa restrictions and
building new transit links for tourism, the three countries have launched a
drive to help wildlife spread more fully across the area.
More than 1
000 animals, including dozens of elephants, have been transferred from South
Africa to Mozambique, where a long civil war took its toll on the native
But major challenges face the Transfrontier Park:
Mozambique has never been a major tourist destination, South Africa has been
hit by several high-profile attacks against tourists amid fears over its high
crime rate, and Zimbabwe's once flourishing tourism industry has been
devastated by internal insecurity following Mugabe's controversial land
Zimbabwe economic crisis hits Mugabe's land
By Cris Chinaka REUTERS
December 9, 2002
HARARE, Zimbabwe - Zimbabwe President Robert
Mugabe has faced down both international criticism and local protest to push
through his controversial land reforms, seizing white-owned farms and handing
them to black farmers.
But that land reform program is now
threatened by an economic crisis blamed on Mugabe's own government as
Zimbabwe's inexperienced new farmers scramble for seed, fertilizer and
technical support just a month after the start of the crop
The government says more than 200,000 people have been
allocated plots on land seized from commercial white farmers, but officials
say few of the new farmers are actually able to till the fields.
"The economy is in such a state that it has been difficult for Mugabe to
protect his prized trophy from its vagaries," said Brian Raftopoulos,
a senior researcher at the Zimbabwe Institute of Development Studies
"The irony of the government's so-called fast-track
resettlement program is that it is going to fail on the failure of the
government to run the economy in a decent manner," he added.
provincial governors told Zimbabwe's official media last month that only
about half the people allocated medium and large-scale farms in the fertile
northwestern Mashonaland West and Mashonaland East regions had taken up their
FIGHTS AND CHAOS
Critics say the whole
resettlement program has been chaotic, marked by mountains of paperwork and
fights over plots with homes already in place or situated near basic
facilities such as roads, clinics and schools.
Many new farmers
lack the financial resources to launch their new careers, and critics say the
government's own loan plan has been inadequate to meet everyone's
Zimbabwe is struggling through a severe economic
crisis which many blame on gross mismanagement by Mugabe's
The economy is in its fourth year of recession,
unemployment in the formal sector has doubled to 70 percent in the last 10
years, inflation is at a record 144 percent, the country has no foreign
currency reserves and has suffered intermittent fuel shortages for three
Mugabe, who came to in power 1980 when the former Rhodesia
gained independence from Britain, denies he is responsible for Zimbabwe's
crisis, saying the economy has been sabotaged by Western powers seeking to
overthrow his government.
The 78-year-old former guerrilla
leader has vowed to rebuild the southern African country's shattered economy
on his land reform program under the slogan "land is the economy and the
economy is land."
But even beneficiaries of his land redistribution
program say the agricultural reforms are not going to help the economy
without state subsidies and sufficient supplies of seed, fertilizer and
Agriculture Minister Joseph Made says Zimbabwe
produced 47,000 tons of the staple maize seed this year, way above the
country's normal requirements. Demand was higher because of the emergence of
newly settled farmers who do not have their own stockpiles, he
Made says the resettlement program is in no danger and the
government is determined to mobilize all resources to support
But a severe shortage of foreign currency to import raw
materials has left Zimbabwean companies unable to produce adequate supplies
of vital farming inputs such as fertilizer, and the little that is available
is too expensive for most poor farmers.
The government has forced more than two-thirds of the country's
4,500 white commercial farmers off their land this year to make way for
blacks whose ancestors, Mugabe says, had their fertile land "stolen" during
British colonialism over a century ago.
Zimbabwe has been
gripped by a political and economic crisis since pro-government militants
began invading white-owned farms in February 2000 to support Mugabe's land
Zimbabwean commercial banks, left with
millions of dollars in unpaid debts from dispossessed white farmers, say it
will be difficult to fund new farmers in an environment in which property
rights are not guaranteed.
The government says it is still looking
at the issue of title deeds, but its critics say without settling the subject
of ownership, commercial agriculture is doomed in Zimbabwe.
"This is a critical point, because without title, there is no legal basis for
anyone's claim to own land," said Justice for Agriculture (JAG), a pressure
group fighting for white farmers to retain their land.
Zimbabwe's largest fertilizer manufacturers, Zimbabwe Phosphates Industries
(Zimphos), said last month that the fertilizer shortage in the country was
likely to get worse because of increased foreign exchange problems, rising
production costs and unrealistic retail prices imposed by the
Companies had been forced to cut production by as much
as 50 percent in the past year to stay in business.
this program is going to be a disaster, and everybody can now see it's a
disaster," said Renson Gasela, secretary for agriculture for the main
"What we are seeing is a confirmation that we
really need a land reform program that can attract international support to
see success," he told
JOHANNESBURG, 9 December
(IRIN) - A potential water crisis in Zimbabwe's capital Harare was averted on
Monday after the Reserve Bank announced that it would provide US $500,000 for
the purchase of water purifying chemicals.
Since last week water supplies
to several suburbs in eastern Harare were cut because the council had no
chemicals to treat the water owing to a shortage of foreign
Cuthbert Rwazemba, Harare's city council spokesperson said the
money would be used for the purchase of Ecol 2000, the chemical used to kill
harmful algae in the water supplies.
"All of the affected areas can
expect the resumption of normal water supplies later this week. But even though
the US $500,000 is definitely a relief, it certainly does not meet the
requirements of the water reticulation upgrading programme in the city. We have
also experienced a shortages of limer [required to reduce the acidity of the
water], but our UK supplier has promised to deliver a further 200 mt by
Tuesday," Rwazemba told IRIN.
The Harare city council is one of the few
major urban centres controlled by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC). Last week reports suggested that the government had deliberately delayed
assistance to the council to sabotage the MDC's reputation with the residents in
But Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National
Housing Ignatius Chombo dismissed the allegations.
"Now we get very
upset when someone starts politicising a sensitive issue like water. Elias
Mudzuri [Executive Mayor of Harare] and his council must stop politicking and
playing games," the state-run Herald newspaper reported on
Zimbabwe has experienced an acute shortage of foreign exchange
over the past two years, which has also affected fuel and electricity imports.
Rwazemba appealed to residents to conserve water until the council had
procured all the chemical needed for
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