From The Star (SA), 26 February
Tsvangirai applauds Mbeki's Zimbabwe visit
All Zimbabweans believed the pending visit by President Thabo Mbeki to their president, Robert Mugabe, was a "positive signal", said the country's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Monday. Addressing reporters after an hour-and-a-half long meeting with ANC Chief Whip Tony Yengeni at parliament in Cape Town, he said South Africa was a "very important country for us", and that he and Yengeni had held a "very productive exchange". Mbeki's proposed visit was a "very positive move forward".
Tsvangirai described his talks with Yengeni - who was accompanied by senior ANC MP Dr Pallo Jordan - as the most significant exchange to date between his MDC and the ANC. Tsvangirai, who was accompanied by MDC deputy leader Gibson Sibanda, declined to comment on issues discussed, saying they were confidential. The meeting had been arranged "by mutual consent" before the weekend. Tsvangirai said he had not been aware that South Africa's opposition leader Tony Leon was visiting Harare on Monday. He said he would be returning to Zimbabwe on Tuesday afternoon. Yengeni said the exchanges had been "most fruitful", and the ANC looked forward to further exchanges at various levels.
Democratic Alliance leader Leon had talks in Zimbabwe on Monday with opposition politicians, lawyers, journalists, farmers and farm workers, said his office. His aide, Nic Clelland, said from Harare that Leon would be asking all those he met what South Africa should be doing to help solve Zimbabwe's worsening crisis. He would be holding talks, among others, with the opposition MDC, the Zimbabwe Farmers' Union, the chief executive of the independent Daily News newspaper, and with lawyers' organisations and judges. Leon would hold a media conference at Johannesburg International Airport on Tuesday morning, before returning to Cape Town for a special debate in parliament in the afternoon on the situation in Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, no date has yet been set for a meeting between Mbeki and Mugabe, said the presidency. A government spokesperson said a date for the meeting would probably be discussed between the two leaders on the sidelines of an OAU summit in Libya later this week. It seem unlikely that Mbeki will meet Mugabe ahead of the special OAU Summit in Libya on March 1. Speaking in Somerset West at the weekend after a meeting of his International Investment Council, Mbeki said he would meet Mugabe soon to discuss issues of "serious concern", including threats to the Zimbabwean judiciary and media. He said the council was keen there should be some forward movement on the Zimbabwe issue - which one council member described as a "shadow hanging over South Africa". "Apart from anything else, it impacts negatively on this country," the president said.
His initiative was cautiously welcomed by the MDC, which said it welcomed any move by the South African government to engage Mugabe seriously. However, experience had shown that South Africa was readily persuaded by Mugabe's rhetoric, and never held him to his promises, said MDC secretary-general Prof Welshman Ncube. Mbeki's announcement also coincided with a call by Zimbabwe's Finance Minister Simba Makoni on African countries - and particularly South Africa - to help Zimbabwe overcome its economic and political problems. Meanwhile, Mbeki's brother, Moeletsi, a researcher at the South African Institute of International Affairs, on Sunday also joined in calls for the South African government to ensure that democracy was reinstated in Zimbabwe "All the neighbouring countries, including South Africa, should force Zimbabwe to follow democratic processes," he said.
From The Cape Argus (SA), 26 February
Zanu-PF fails in bid to 'hijack' Zim's unions
Harare - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party on Sunday failed in an orchestrated campaign to hijack the powerful ZCTU, the cradle of the opposition MDC. Despite intense lobbying by senior Zanu-PF officials, including cabinet ministers, and widespread allegations of vote-buying, the Zanu-PF candidates for the top jobs in the ZCTU national executive were beaten by MDC-supported candidates in elections.
Wellington Chibhebhe was elected as secretary-general, the most powerful position in the union congress. He had been backed by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, himself a former ZCTU secretary-general until he formed the MDC last year to fight Zanu-PF on the political stage. Another MDC-backed candidate, Lovemore Matombo, was elected ZCTU president while the head of the MDC women's league, Lucia Matibengu, was elected first vice-president. The effects of the strong campaign by Zanu-PF were felt in the narrow victory majorities of most MDC-backed candidates and also in the defeat of more openly MDC candidates, including some officials, for the top positions.
Chibhebhe is not an MDC official, but he served with Tsvangirai on the National Constitutional Assembly, a civic organisation which campaigned against Mugabe's proposed new constitution last year, and the MDC leader had backed him in private. Although Zanu-PF lost Sunday's battle for control of the ZCTU, the war is not over. Union officials said Mugabe's party would now turn its attention to trying to seize control of the ZCTU's general council, its highest decision-making body which consists of representatives from the 32 affiliated unions. The general council has to endorse important decisions such as whether or not to conduct national strikes. Zanu-PF would like to ensure that it opposes such measures, knowing it was the ZCTU's mobilisation of workers in street action in the late 90s which posed the biggest threat to its power - and leading to the formation of the MDC late in 1999.
From The Star (SA), 27 February
Threats to Zim judges condemned
South Africa's acting chief justice Joos Hefer on Monday condemned the ongoing threat posed to Zimbabwean judges by that country's government. "Unfailing loyalty to the concepts of the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary is required. Without this there can be no rule of law," he sad in an interview in Bloemfontein. "Unless judges are allowed to fulfil their constitutional function independently with appropriate support, and without interference from the government, their judgments will lose credibility and the rule of law will be irreversibly compromised." Hefer said an independent judiciary was the only institution standing between a country's citizens and its government, "making sure that the government cannot do as it pleases".
Zimbabwe's chief justice Anthony Gubbay resigned earlier this month in the face of repeated criticism by President Robert Mugabe and senior officials over court rejections of government seizures of commercial farms without compensation. Threats against his personal safety have reportedly been made while two other judges who have made rulings opposing farm seizures have also been asked to resign. "The rule of law requires that the role of the judiciary as an independent component of the state be respected, that there be obedience to its decrees, and that the personal security of judges and their tenure of office be maintained," said Hefer.
He added that the judicial crisis in Zimbabwe has highlighted the importance of preserving an independent judiciary in any country. Hefer pointed out that Zimbabwe was a signatory to the Latimer House Principles adopted by all Commonwealth heads of government, which guarantees the independence of the judiciary. In terms of the document, undersigning governments pledge their commitment to good governance, fundamental human rights and the rule of law, including the independence of the judiciary. It also binds all government institutions to exercise their powers within their own constitutional spheres so as not to encroach the legitimate discharge of constitutional functions by other institutions.
The current situation in Zimbabwe was of grave concern to South African judges, said Hefer. "These are our colleagues who are now bearing the brunt. We are all part of the same family." He welcomed plans by President Thabo Mbeki to meet his Zimbabwean counterpart shortly, and expressed the hope that the crisis in the judiciary would be one of the points of discussion. Mbeki said at the weekend he would meet Mugabe to discuss issues of "serious concern", including threats to the Zimbabwean judiciary and media. No date had yet been set for the meeting.
From The Daily News, 26 February
43 000 left jobless in Mashonaland Central
Forty-three thousand farm workers in Mashonaland Central province were left stranded after being displaced from 600 farms which government acquired for resettlement. Solomon Taruvinga, the provincial co-ordinator of the Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe said the government has not provided for farm workers in its resettlement exercise. Taruvinga said: "Most of them are aliens from Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi and they do not have relatives in the country. Once the farms they were employed on are occupied, they have nowhere else to go." The director of the trust, Godfrey Magaramombe, said: "We are continuing to lobby the government to accommodate them in the programme." Magaramombe said the government should accommodate the workers in other provinces, as it did in Mashonaland West after acquiring the farms on which they worked.
On a tour of commercial farms in Mvurwi district, farm workers told the trust that they were facing an uncertain future. At Blight Farm, Sekelelani Mangazi, 62, said he had worked for 15 years on the farm which has been occupied by war veterans since February last year. The farm occupations started after the massive rejection of the government sponsored referendum on the Constitution. "I cannot afford to go back to Malawi," he said. "I had established a family here but the government officials are not keen to accommodate us in the resettlement exercise."
Some of the 74 farm workers on the farm said their future was bleak, as it seemed they would only stay at the farm until September. The invaders occupied part of the farm earmarked for maize and other crops, they said. Albert Manyane, originally from Mozambique, said: "I cannot afford to go back to Mozambique and I do not even have a National Identity card."
From The Daily News, 26 February
CIO agents attack Peter Walls' son
Four men suspected to be members of the CIO last Friday attacked and injured George Walls, the son of retired former Rhodesian army general Peter Walls, accusing him of hiding his father in his Borrowdale home. Walls, 46, was stabbed in the right thigh and received a severe blow to the right eye. The attack took place along Steppes Road in Chisipite, Harare. Peter Walls, 76, is a former general and the commander of the Rhodesian Army. Shortly after independence in 1980, he was forced out of Zimbabwe by the government when he admitted he had asked the British government to nullify the election results because of what he alleged was intimidation.
Walls said: "I was driving from my house to a party when I noticed a white Nissan Sunny following me. There were four men in the car. They drove alongside me and one of the men produced a pistol and asked me to pull over." He said he thought the men were car-jackers and decided to stop as he was alone in the car. "They pulled over in front of me and two of them came out and asked me about my father's whereabouts. One of them, in his mid-twenties, was drunk. I told them that my father was in the UK and that he has never set foot in this country since independence. They said my father was in the country and that I was hiding him," said Walls.
The men threatened him and said they had liberated the country and would do anything to make sure it was cleansed of people like him, he said. "The drunken young man who was holding a stick then started beating me, saying my father supported the opposition and I was hiding him. Many cars passed by as all this was happening but nobody stopped. I felt a sharp pain in my thigh but I thought it was a cramp. Little did I know that I had been stabbed," said Walls. He said when another car pulled over, the gang ran to theirs and drove off shouting: "If you report the issue to the police we will kill you!" Last year the CIO harassed Peter Wells in Victoria Falls after confusing his name with Peter Walls. Wells donated borehole equipment to the community in the Victoria Falls area. Walls was admitted to St Anne's Hospital in Harare where he is recovering. The incident was reported to the police who declined to comment yesterday.
From The Wall Street Journal, 24 February
Namibian Opposition Blasts Govt's Diamond Hldgs In Congo
Windhoek - Opposition parties have issued renewed calls for Namibia to withdraw its troops from the Congo after a government minister admitted that the country holds interests a diamond mine in the war-torn nation. In comments published Thursday in the independent newspaper Die Republikein 2000, Mines and Energy Minister Jesaya Nyamu admitted that the Namibian government has diamond interests in Congo, something the government until then had denied.
"The Namibia Defence Force should withdraw its troops from the DRC and stop plundering that country's national assets as this contributes to the worldwide distribution of blood diamonds," Katuutire Kaura, president of the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance, one of Namibia's two main opposition parties said. The other main opposition party, Congress of Democrats, demanded that Prime Minister Hage Geingob step down because he avoided answering a question about the diamond mine in Parliament last year. "We are shocked and dismayed at the imperialistic plundering of another country's resources. We condemn government's shameful involvement in the murderous smuggling of diamonds," party spokesman Linus Chata said in a news release Friday.
Namibia, along with Zimbabwe and Angola, has sent troops to the Congo to support the government in a civil war that began in August 1998 when rebels tried to oust President Laurent Kabila. Rwanda and Uganda backs the rebels. A stalled peace process came to life again, after Kabila's son Jospeh took over after the murder of his father last month. Unlike his father, Joseph Kabila has agreed to meet with a regional mediator to launch internal peace talks. The UN Security Council has given the warring sides in Congo a March 15 date to begin pulling back their forces and has hinted it may consider sanctions against anyone that doesn't comply.
Die Republikein 2000 reported Nyamu said he had told a U.N. representative that "we had economic cooperation with the DRC government regarding trade and mining." Nyamu said he also told the UN official - whom he declined to name - that the mine was held in partnership with the Congo government and a U.S. firm. He gave no further details. Nyamu declined to comment to independent media, but told the government-owned New Era that the mine in the Congo "was one of the first industrial projects to result from the recent bilateral trade and investment agreement." Nyamu said Namibia already exported fish to the Congo, and a government-owned holding company "was offered a shareholding in the (diamond) venture last year," the paper quoted him as saying in its Friday edition.
Countryside March postponed
|US invites outgoing Chief Justice for official visit|
2/27/01 8:54:12 AM (GMT +2)
Tarcey Munaku Political Editor
THE new United States
government of President George W Bush has invited outgoing Chief Justice Anthony
Gubbay for an official visit to Washington.
According to a statement
from the US Embassy in Harare, the purpose of the visit was to discuss matters
of mutual concern with US government officials, the judiciary, members of
Congress, leaders of legal and human rights organisations, and the role of the
Judiciary in promoting democracy in Zimbabwe.
The Chief Justice would not comment on the visit yesterday.
His private secretary said he would not give interviews or talk to the Press on any issue.
The Chief Justice has recently been forced to give notice to resign by the government, which launched a concerted campaign to remove from the Supreme Court all the judges in whom Zanu PF says it has lost confidence.
But the American Embassy in Harare said in the statement that Gubbay had accepted the invitation, although no dates have been set for the visit.
An embassy spokesman said Gubbay would be “warmly received” in the US as he had a “sterling reputation” as a jurist who had made important contributions to justice and the rule of law in Zimbabwe.
Gubbay’s landmark visit to the US and the recognition of his expertise by the US authorities come after President Mugabe and Zanu PF said they had lost trust in him and the judiciary he leads.
Gubbay, a British-trained lawyer born 69 years ago in Manchester, came to Zimbabwe 40 years ago.
He was appointed Chief Justice in 1990 after the retirement of the late
Chief Justice Enoch Dumbutshena.
Gubbay fell foul of the government for passing judgments upholding the rule of law, particularly when war veterans forcibly occupied more than 1 700 commercial farms.
Assurances needed for wheat crop
Some questions should be answered easily, and would be if Zimbabwe was the country it was two years ago. Market forces would govern the size of this year's wheat crop, but instead a host of variable factors have come into play. Survival, morality, even the ability to plant are all factors facing the country's beleaguered farmers.
But that's not all. There are questions that require answers before the crop goes in. Farmers require assurances, sincere assurances, from the government that they will be able to reap what they sow. Drs Makoni and Made, and even Chombo, need to think less about threatening organised agriculture and more about promising farmers that inputs for the wheat crop will be available - and available without interruption. ZESA, the country's crisis ridden power supplier must assure farmers that the crop will not be destroyed for lack of electricity, for without power to drive the irrigation there will be no wheat. Similarly farmers need to be assured that diesel, chemicals and fertiliser will be available in sufficient quantities to produce a viable crop.
And all that presupposes the assumption that farmers will be allowed to plant wheat. Last season many weren't able to plant because State sponsored squatters threatened farmers with violence and death.
Right now there's a very sophisticated, but very cynical, misinformation process underway. Invaders will be moved off farms and farmer to government dialogue will resume, we're supposed to believe, if farmers meet certain conditions. One of those conditions, broadcast on State television, is the removal of their own democratically elected leadership.
To use a cliché, that would be putting the cart before the horse. Not only is there no reason at all to believe government's sincerity, but dialogue with the State cannot be effective until the rule of law is re-established. Dialogue under the present conditions means that every time the talks become deadlocked, the State will step up the violence. In other words, it will use the so-called war veterans as a deadly bargaining chip to achieve its own ends. To coin Jonathan Moyo's favourite cliché, you don't need a rocket scientist to realise that such a scenario is hardly in the farmers' interests.
But… there are farmers facing financial ruination. Some have missed an entire season because lawlessness prevented them from planting. All this has been an integral part of the "softening up process" and it is a credit to the commitment, resilience and community spirit of farmers that they're still on the land. Still, the business of farming is farming. And while farmers have and need to retain the moral high ground, little will be achieved if, next season, they're out of business and bankrupt. Wheat must be planted, particularly by farmers facing severe financial hardship.
Equally, government must provide assurances that a viable crop will be reaped. Without these assurances, the bankrupting of organised agriculture will only be hastened.
And for their part, farmers can take pride in their strength and unity, both of which have brought them this far and both of which will see this crisis through to the end. Wild rumours and power plays aside, there is no logic to the theory that the crisis can be sustained indefinitely. The government is broke and only organised agriculture is in a position, albeit a shaky one, to change that. To do this it will use a combination of vague promises and threats. The trick will be to turn vague promises into promises of substance - and to stand firm against the threats, if they're plausible, and ignore the ones that aren't.
Editor- The Farmer
CFU's rejection dilemma
The Commercial Farmers' Union says it is dismayed and shocked by recent statements by government ministers allegedly accusing the union of being a political pressure group receiving funding from outside the country to fight the government on the land issue.
"We are just as puzzled - we have absolutely no idea where government is getting this information from," CFU director, Mr David Hasluck told The Farmer in a solicited comment on a recent statement by the chairman of the government inter-ministerial committee on land acquisition, Dr Ignatius Chombo, in which the minister accused the union of being an externally funded political pressure group.
In remarks widely publicized in the State media, Dr Chombo said government would no longer negotiate with the CFU but with individual farmers on the land issue because the union was using foreign funding to fight the government's resettlement programme. He said this was partly the reason why the Minister of Agriculture, Lands and Rural Resettlement, Dr Joseph Made, had threatened to de-register the union.
According to the report, carried in last Tuesday's Herald, Dr Chombo, who is also the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, made his remarks in response to recent statements attributed to the CFU calling for close co-operation between the union and government to ensure the success of the land reform programme.
Mr Hasluck said while the union could not prevent government from speaking to who ever it chooses to speak to among the commercial farmers, he could not understand why the government had suddenly decided to discontinue contacts with the union when this has been the case all along. "I wonder how practical it is for the government to negotiate with the thousands of individual farmers whose properties are affected by the acquisition process," he said.
Mr Hasluck said the government's inexplicable hostility towards CFU had placed the union in a quandary on how best to determine the way forward "We have made our position very clear - and have placed no conditionalities on our negotiations. We can not understand why the government says it does not want to talk to us," he said.
The union is due to hold a special congress 21 March during which consensus will be sought from its membership on how best to resolve the impasse between the CFU and government on the land question. The decision to convene a special congress was made at an extraordinary CFU Council meeting held on 13 February.
Meanwhile, in a statement this week, CFU president Tim Henwood said: "Contrary to recent media reports, I confirm that the current CFU leadership has not resigned, nor have any staff members been dismissed. The way forward on the deadlocked land issue and the issue of CFU leadership was debated frankly and at length at an extraordinary CFU Council meeting on Tuesday 13 February. The Council resolved to convene a Special Congress on the 21 March for the membership to decide these strategic issues in a transparent and democratic manner. Accordingly, the current CFU leadership will remain in office pending the outcome of elections at the conclusion of the Special Congress on the 21 March 2001.
In the interim, the statement said, "our commitment to engage in constructive dialogue with Government and our commitment to finding a solution to the deadlocked land issue is genuine. The tangible proposals that need to accompany such a commitment have not been finalised as there is the need to seek the clear mandate of the farming members, but we are fully appreciative of the urgency of the matter.
On allegations that CFU is being funded from outside Zimbabwe, Henwood said: "To avoid any misunderstanding about the source of funding for the Commercial Farmers' Union, I confirm that the CFU is funded entirely from membership license fees and the Commodity Associations are funded through levies raised upon sale of produce. We receive no external funding or sponsorship for the operations of the CFU. Our audited accounts are submitted annually to the Commissioner of Taxes and the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement for inspection as required by law. I have also affirmed in a public statement that the CFU is a politically neutral organisation, committed to working with the Government of the day."
Farmers back CFU leadership
FARMERS are throwing their weight behind the CFU's leadership amid allegations that a faction would prefer a change of leadership, it emerged this week. As a result of the debate, Commercial Farmers' Union president, Mr Tim Henwood, has called for a special congress to be held on 21 March. But speaking to a packed hall in Trelawney, farmers unanimously backed the current leaders.
"You and your leadership have done nothing to apologise for," said one farmer, adding that the CFU had managed to stabilise a very volatile situation. Another speaker felt that a change of leadership would be showing weakness among commercial farmers at the very time a sign of strength was called for.
Divide and rule
Many farmers at the meeting expressed dismay at the "divide and rule" tactics being used to sow division in the ranks of organised agriculture and wanted to know who the people responsible were and where they came from.
"You have done a magnificent job," Henwood was told at the meeting. "These other people have their own agenda and as far as we're concerned, we do not feature in their plans."
The Farmer understands that at a recent CFU council meeting, trustees of the union asked Mr Henwood whether he would allow Mr Greg Brackenridge and former CFU president, Mr Nick Swanepoel to address council. Henwood agreed. It is alleged that council was told that unless there was a leadership change, and changes within the union staff, pressure and violence against farmers would be increased substantially. Sources say that a condition for dialogue would be the replacement of CFU director, Mr David Hasluck - and even the replacement of the foyer receptionist.
Sources have alleged to The Farmer that unless these conditions were met, there would be a "night of the long knives" that saw the wholesale slaughter of commercial farmers by self-styled war veterans currently invading Zimbabwe's farms.
But the rumour has been largely ignored as being implausible.
According to Henwood there are "some divisions, but the farming community is by and large united." He added that he had no problem with stepping down if farmers thought he was impeding progress, as the allegation suggests, but that if farmers wanted him to remain and serve his full term of office, then he would. CFU Mashonaland West (North) chairman, Mr Jan Botes, told the meeting that farmers should not waver now. "There is nothing useful to be gained by giving in to lawlessness and disorder," he said.
Henwood told the audience that pressure from government was increasing for many Zimbabweans, "but if the judiciary are still strong, and they are, and if the Press is standing firm, who are we not to?" He asked to applause.
Claims that the union is stalling dialogue with the government were untrue, said the CFU president, adding that talks over various issues were going on.
To show that there was dialogue despite negative statements, Mr Henwood said forms designed by government, which the CFU was distributing to commercial farmers around the country, were being received by farmers.
The forms, called Applications for Delisting and/or Offers of Substitution for Land specified in section 5 notices had already been received by thousands of farmers in Zimbabwe.
The first form is applicable to farmers who have specified status or production system. The second form is applicable to both gazetted and ungazetted farms and requires each farmer to make an assessment of his holdings and to decide if he can maintain viability on a lesser area.
If the total offer made to government by all farmers as coordinated by CFU is acceptable to government this might provide a solution to the current stand off that has developed.
Mr Henwood appealed to all farmers to fill in the forms saying if there was an agreement between farmers and government then the UNDP would assist.
The forms would be handled by the CFU before making a decision to hand them over to government.
Agribank denies neglecting farmers
SOME farmers are alleging that Agribank, formerly Agriculture Finance Corporation (AFC), is "off loading" commercial farmers in favour of short term lending in the local lucrative money market but the bank denies these allegations saying it is only diversifying its activities into other sectors of the economy and is not doing this at the expense its key constituency, the farmers.
Some farmers complained to The Farmer that they felt neglected by Agribank ever since it became fully "commercialised". They said some of the farmers who had been dealing with the financial institution for years were now failing to secure loans for their farming operations despite maintaining a clean record in repayments.
"Ask how many commercial farmers are still in their books. The figures on lending to farmers have dropped drastically. The executive in Harare is playing in the short term money market lending," alleged one farmer.
However, Agribank insisted it was not neglecting its customers as implied by some farmers.
"It is not true that we are neglecting one section of our customer base in preference of the money market. As a matter of fact during the last ten days, senior management at Agribank has been meeting with our customers throughout the country and in all the cases 50% of the meetings have been with farmers both big and small," said the bank responding to questions by The Farmer.
A bank spokesman said it was actively assisting its traditional customers (farmers) through facilitating the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Export Sector facility and was now actively working with them on the productive sector facility - again extended by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
What the commercialisation exercise had done, said Agribank, was to steer the bank towards diversifying its activities to other sectors of the economy but not necessarily at the expense of one section or another.
The spokesman said Agribank was now a fully-fledged retail commercial bank whose core business was the provision of financial services with a vision to become a national bank with a special focus on the provision of financial services to the rural mass market.
He said the greater percentage of Zimbabweans live in peri urban and rural areas and to a large extent "these rural areas have remained unbanked and it is our intention to provide financial services in this area."
"Zimbabwe does not have a bank that it can call a national bank and it is our wish to fill that void," he said.
Asked whether the current political and economic problems had forced them to focus more on other areas rather than the farmers, he said management of risk was an essential element of banking and the bank evaluated its portfolio on the risk associated with the various components of the portfolio and would take its action advisedly. The bank said the transformation of the AFC to Agribank represented a phase in the privatization exercise.
The next stage would be that of privatization itself and government had indicated that Agribank was among the top institutions set for privatization in the near future.
Mozambique woos Zimbabwe farmers
Participants at a meeting of community, religious and traditional leaders in the central Mozambican city of Chimoio have welcomed the plan to grant land to about 100 Zimbabwean farmers, saying that this would enhance the socio-economic development of Manica province. The governor of Manica, Soares Nhaca, called the meeting to learn the community's view on the matter, the Mozambican news agency reported.
However, the former rebel movement Renamo, Mozambique's main opposition party, is calling for great care in dealing with such issues because it fears this could spark land conflicts if the Zimbabweans will be given the best plots of land to the detriment of Mozambicans. But local people believe the predictions that in parallel with the increase in agricultural production, particularly of grain, the move will also create about 1,300 jobs for local people.
The white Zimbabwean farmers have decided to move to Mozambique following plans by the government in Harare to seize their land for distribution to the landless black majority. For its part, ORAM, a Mozambican NGO dedicated to advising peasants on land issues, says that all aspects have been considered to prevent such conflicts. ORAM published recently a report containing the results of a study on the impact of granting land to Zimbabwean farmers in Manica. A Mozambican government source said that each of the Zimbabwean farmers will be granted about 450 hectares for a period of 50 years. Some of them are already provisionally operating in the districts of Sussundenga and Manica.
It is expected that eventually between 150 and 185 Zimbabwean farmers would be granted land in the districts of Macossa, Barue, Manica and Sussundenga, with possible extensions to the district of Gorongosa, in neighbouring Sofala province. A similar project developed with South African farmers in the northern province of Niassa is in deep crisis due to lack of funds.
Marching orders but no compensation, no where to go
A 70 year old farmer in Chegutu who offered his farm to government for resettlement has been given marching orders to vacate the property within the next two months but the problem is that without the compensation money he needs to start a new life, he says he has nowhere to go.
Mr Ronnie Lubbe, of Donore Farm, was recently served with section 8 order requiring him to leave the property by May this year but he says he needs more time and money to find an alternative place to go and this would be virtually impossible for him if he is not paid compensation by the government.
"They must give us time to find somewhere to go. We have been here for 40 years and we have no other place to go to.
"On the 10 February, a notice was delivered stating that we have to vacate the farm by the 11 May 2001. I went to Harare on the 13 February to the lands department to try to find out what compensation would be forthcoming and when we will be paid but no one was able to assist me. We need the funds to find suitable accommodation and sufficient space for my agricultural machinery which at the present time I am unable to sell," he said.
He said it had been some time since government valuators came to assess the improvements on the farm. When he subsequently visited the Ministry of Lands Agriculture and Resettlement in Harare, ministry officials told him that the compensation issue was not on the agenda of any of their recent meetings and that nothing was likely to be known about it until around March.
He said he had not engaged any private evaluators to assess how much compensation he would be entitled to preferring to wait and see what government would offer.
Asked whether he was confident he would get compensation, he said like anybody else he was concerned but "I am still under the impression that they will pay us decent compensation. I know the President has been saying a lot of things but in the past people have been paid and were satisfied with the payments."
There are nine boreholes, eight tobacco bans and the grading shed, paprika grading sheds, 12 paddocks and a cattle dipping facility among other property on the farm.
Mr Lubbe said he did not plant any crops this year and had sold off all his cattle in preparation to leave the farm on retirement. He spent most of his time and money in the past few months reconditioning his farm equipment in the hope of selling it, "but nobody really wants to buy at this time."
Government surveyors came out to the farm and demarcated 157 plots, which were allocated to people. Most of the beneficiaries were believed to be Air Force of Zimbabwe officers and people from Chegutu town.
Farm workers had been excluded until Mr Lubbe approached the District Administrator (DA) and appealed to him to consider allocating some of the land to his workers. One of the workers, who says he has been on the farm for about 35 years, Mr Wittiness Chimwanza, confirmed that people from outside the farm were allocated larger pieces of land in October last year but he and his colleagues were only given land in January.
Mr Lubbe said he and his wife bought the farm in April 1961 when there was very little development on it. There were no buildings at all on the property. "The first thing we did was to drill boreholes and only on our third attempt were we successful in finding water. We proceeded to make bricks and built eight tobacco barns and a grading shed with a small temporary house. We moved in during in September of 1961.
"Conditions were very tough with no power and the breakages of the machinery seemed relentless as every time one had to travel 20 miles for repairs.
"In 1963 our son Ronald was born and after completing his secondary education at Prince Edward School in Harare, he did an electrical apprenticeship in South Africa where he worked for eight years before coming to the farm in 1991. With his assistance, we again started growing tobacco as I had stopped tobacco a few years earlier.
"The following years were very dry and after five years, my son decided to go back to his trade and went to work for BHP at Selous for a year.
"He returned to the farm and we decided to concentrate on cattle, then tragedy struck On 15 August, 1998 my son was called to help a friend who had an electrical problem. That was the last I was to see him alive as he got involved in an accident and was electrocuted.
"This unfortunate incident had a profound effect on my farming interests and when government sent out compulsory acquisition orders I decided to offer my farm for resettlement.
Raised on a farm in Norton, Mr Lubbe says his career in agriculture began in 1949 when he left school to become a tractor salesman. "Following that, I became a tobacco assistant to a farmer in Rusape before moving to my mother's farm for the next five years. I then moved on to this farm."
He was sceptical that many of the people being resettled would succeed citing inadequate financial resources for essential inputs. "We are not against resettlement. We realise it had to come but it must be done in a transparent and orderly manner and not by way of these land invasions. Zimbabwe is an agricultural country and not an industrial one and so agriculture must continue," he said.
|Mugabe in narrow escape|
2/27/01 8:47:05 AM (GMT +2)
George W Bush’s administration has moved to protect President Mugabe from a
civil suit in the United States accusing him of ordering murder, torture and
terrorism to intimidate political opponents, State Department officials said on
The US filing on Mugabe’s
behalf should not be interpreted as reflecting any change in US human rights
policy with regard to Zimbabwe, a State Department official said.
“Government-instigated lawlessness and violence in Zimbabwe pose a grave danger, not only to the safety of Zimbabwean citizens, but to the rule of law and the integrity of governing institutions in that country,” said the official, citing replies prepared for expected queries about US intervention in the case.
The administration said Mugabe, in power for nearly 21 years, was entitled to immunity as a head of state and cited the principle of reciprocity if it is to assert immunity for US leaders abroad.
A key player in the many-sided conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Africa’s biggest war, Mugabe should also be immune because he was visiting the United Nations at the time he was served with court papers in the suit, the State Department argued in a brief filed on Friday in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan.
The plaintiffs, all Zimbabwe citizens, include relatives of three people slain and a political opponent who claimed she was beaten.
Mugabe was served the papers while in New York to attend a UN summit marking the Millennium rollover in September 1999.
The suit seeks no less than US$68,5 million (Z$3,7 billion) in compensatory and punitive damages, lawyers for the plaintiffs said. It was brought under the Torture Victims
Protection Act of 1992, which allows foreign citizens to sue foreign authorities over human rights issues in US courts.
The Bush administration also urged the court to grant diplomatic immunity to Foreign Minister Stanislaus Mudenge, who likewise was served with court papers during the UN summit. Mudenge is chairman of the so-called political committee, consisting of the signatories to and observers of a 1999 DRC ceasefire accord reached in Lusaka that serves as the framework for the latest peace drive.
The plaintiffs alleged that Mugabe directed officials of his ruling Zanu PF party to organise attacks “in a consistent and focused campaign of terror designed to crush political opposition”.
They cited reports of more than 18 000 incidents of rape, torture and murder during the run-up to the parliamentary election last June.
The victims were mainly supporters of Mugabe’s arch political foe, Morgan Tsvangirai, and his party, the MDC. Mugabe’s Zanu PF brands the 18-month-old MDC a front for
“white racists and Western interests led by black sell-outs” harking back to the former Rhodesia’s pre-1980 white minority rule.
Citing the principle of reciprocity, the official said the US must honour foreign leaders’ immunity if it is to assert immunity for US leaders abroad.
The plaintiffs could still pursue their claims in non-US courts, the official said.
The official was unable to compare the US bid to protect Mugabe with support for top-level indictments for alleged human rights violations, including in a US court case brought by Bosnian women against Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic.
In the case against Karadzic, the State Department went so far as to submit a letter to the court in support of the plaintiffs, even though the court had chosen to define the Bosnian Serb republic as a state and Karadzic as head of it.
The women were awarded US$745 million, but nothing has been collected.
Theodore Cooperstein, a Washington lawyer representing the five plaintiffs and the estates of the deceased, said the State Department had no standing in the case. Mugabe and Mudenge were served with court papers in their individual capacities outside the UN, he said.
“All my clients want is basic justice which they can get nowhere else but in the US federal courts,” he said.
|Farm invaders pose threat to orphanage|
2/27/01 8:59:24 AM (GMT +2)
Daily News Correspondent in Mutare
THE future of 60 orphans
at Houtberg Farm in Chipinge still hangs in the balance as landless peasants
continue to descend on the property.
A number of families were
resettled on part of the designated farm last year, placing the future of the
orphans looked after by the owner in doubt.
“The invaders continue to demarcate part of the farm,” said the farmer, Don Odendaal, last week.
“It’s difficult to say at this stage what will become of the orphans”. The Houtberg Farm project, run jointly by Don and Lorraine Odendaal, is a registered welfare organisation. It caters for orphans living on the farm and some from neighbouring villages. The centre, opened in 1998, is funded in part by non-governmental agencies in the United Kingdom and Canada.
The farmer said the invaders had indicated they might leave only 10 hectare on which to run the orphanage. But the farmer and his wife have repeatedly argued that they require at least 520ha on which to breed their dairy and beef cattle and to grow maize, tobacco and coffee, among other crops.
“If we should be forced to leave for one reason or the other, the funding will dry up,” said Odendaal. “There has been talk that the invaders want the orphanage closed down, but I haven’t confirmed it”.
Tapson Chivanga, the acting district administrator for Chipinge, said last year the farm had been designated because it was underutilised, a charge denied by Odendaal. “We have given them 50ha and the homestead from which to continue running their orphanage,” Chivanga said.
|War veterans burn copies of Daily News in Shamva|
2/27/01 8:51:52 AM (GMT +2)
WAR veterans and Zanu PF
supporters last week burnt 95 copies of The Daily News in Shamva and assaulted
the paper's vendors.
Chirima Chirima, 29, and
Moffat Kichini, 29 were assaulted by more than 30 war veterans led by an
ex-freedom fighter only identified as Mudukuti who confiscated their newspapers
and burnt them in Wadzanai Township, before beating them.
Chirima said yesterday: “They beat me using clenched fists. Mudukuti told me that war veterans would kill me if I continued to sell what he called the opposition paper. They went on to break into my four-roomed house, looking for me on the night of 22 February.”
Chirima said, when the war veterans broke into his house, they took 60 old copies of the paper and burnt them.
“I have fled the area and I am in hiding in the farms around Shamva. I do not know how I will help my three brothers and a sister. I am looking after them by selling the paper since my parents are deceased,” Chirima said.
He said his brothers and sister have left the house to stay with neighbours, but he was not sure if the three boys were still going to school.
Kichini said in January, the war veterans destroyed more than 100 copies of the paper.
“They assaulted me last week and accused me of selling a paper which they alleged supported opposition parties. The war veterans also beat my father for allowing me to sell the paper.”
Chirima and Kichini said they reported the matter to Shamva police station on the day the incident happened.
“Mudukuti has not been arrested yet,” said Chirima. “After every five hours, he leads a group of his followers to look for us at our houses.”
Last month, Hunzvi held a Press conference in which he announced that The Daily News had been banned. He threatened to destroy the paper using war veterans.
Immediately after his announcement, war veterans and Zanu PF supporters started burning copies of the paper in some parts of the country. Shamva police refused to comment on the incident.
|Public debt for parastatals rises to $97 billion|
2/27/01 8:58:01 AM (GMT +2)
The public debt for parastatals and government-assisted companies has risen to $97,5 billion, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Simba Makoni told Parliament last week.
Responding to a question by
Paurina Mpariwa (MP for Mufakose), Makoni said he regretted to inform the House
that as of 31 December last year, the parastatal debt as well as the publicly
guaranteed debt had gone up to such a level.
He did not give further details.
On privatisation, Makoni said the government was unclear on the companies targeted for disposal because the procedures were still being worked out.
On another question on the recipients of the $5 billion loan allocated for export promotion last year, Makoni said it would not be possible to do so sector by sector.
He said of the initial $5,6 billion released, $2, 449 billion had been given to the manufacturing sector, $1,7 billion to mining, $1,388 billion to the agricultural sector bringing the total distributed so far to $5,51 billion.