The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index

FinGaz - Comment

       The price of recklessness


      1/30/03 9:33:02 AM (GMT +2)

      AFTER more than two years of relentless hostility towards white
landowners, there are signs that the government is now cosying up to
Zimbabwe's discarded white farmers as its chickens come home to roost.

      The Ministry of Agriculture and representatives of the Commercial
Farmers' Union (CFU) have held meetings in the past week, the main aim of
which seems to be to charm the CFU's members into making available resources
that newly resettled farmers cannot do without.

      The commercial farmers, who the ruling ZANU PF has in the past more or
less invited to pack up and leave the country, are now being assured that
land will be made available to them if they wish to continue farming.

      The government is at pains to convince the public that this has been
its policy all along.

      But Zimbabweans will be forgiven for cynically questioning the timing
of this reconciliatory stance, coming as it does when it has become
glaringly obvious that like so many of the government's policies, the land
reforms were not well thought out beforehand and have been shoddily
implemented.

      The inevitable consequences of the reckless seizure of commercially
productive land in a haphazard programme that lacked transparency are now
being felt by the nation as a whole: close to eight million Zimbabweans need
emergency food aid and countless farm workers are jobless and homeless.

      The tobacco industry, the country's single largest foreign currency
earner, is on the verge of collapse as are many other companies that rely on
agriculture for inputs and markets.

      And there is no end in sight to this litany of problems.

      Resettled farmers have no money to buy inputs or hire agricultural
equipment and the government is unable to assist them. As a result, they
cannot produce enough food to sustain themselves and their families, let
alone a country facing a potentially devastating drought for the second
successive year.

      In addition, Agriculture Minister Joseph Made has indicated that the
government intends to repossess land allocated to beneficiaries that have
not come forward to claim it.

      It is estimated that this applies to more than 60 percent of allocated
land, which is unoccupied and is not being farmed about two months into the
2003 agricultural season.

      Indeed, reports at the weekend suggest that a recent audit of the land
reform programme has found that far from benefiting landless peasants and
aspiring black commercial farmers, the agrarian reforms have only
facilitated the further unchecked looting of national resources by ruling
party officials and their cronies.

      In short, recent events would seem to suggest that the government has
finally realised what everyone knew all along and tried in vain to make
clear to it: that a land reform strategy that is not transparent,
well-funded and addresses the issue of poverty is not sustainable.

      If indeed ZANU PF has reached the same conclusion as all rational
Zimbabweans, then immediate and comprehensive steps must be taken to stamp
out the chaos in the farming sector, which happens to be the backbone of the
country's tottering economy.

      Securing equipment from commercial farmers is only addressing one of
the manifestations of a deep-seated problem that can only be corrected if
the Ministry of Agriculture returns to the drawing board.

      If Zimbabwe is to regain its status as a regional bread basket, then
the government will have to admit its mistakes and commit itself to a land
reform plan that will put the interests of the neediest first, be adequately
funded, respect property rights and, above all, be transparent.

      No patriotic Zimbabwean disputes the need to redress colonial
imbalances by redistributing land. But the government must abandon the
populist measures that have already come back to haunt it.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

FinGaz

      Why I'm against the 'exile' exit option


      1/30/03 10:09:32 AM (GMT +2)

      LAST week I wrote: "I believe civil unrest can be avoided by our
leaders acting responsibly in the days that lie ahead and the greatest
responsibility lies on the shoulders of Robert Mugabe because he is the
President.

      "And fellow Zimbabweans, we have an even larger responsibility in the
whole issue. Assume James' thesis (that Mugabe won't change his mind about
retiring early) is proven wrong. What do we do then?

      "Do we encourage the President to seek asylum elsewhere or do we
encourage him to stay home? For, we did love him once. What cause have we
now to delight in the fact that we can't keep our own; right or wrong?"

      An American friend who has gotten hooked on the column immediately
phoned me and asked: "Mas, do you really believe Mugabe believes you are
sincere in this, that he should stay home instead of going into exile?"

      "Are you a doubting 'James', I mean a doubting Thomas?" I responded
with a question of my own, trying to continue sounding biblical and to
lighten up the conversation at the same time.

      "I am both a doubting James and a doubting Thomas. I doubt if Bob will
change his mind and retire any time soon. In fact, I think he plans to die
in office," he said.

      "I am a doubting Thomas in that I don't see any signs that he feels
tired to retire, or is under any pressure for an early retirement besides
these sporadic statements attributed to the retired colonel Dyck and army
commander Vitalis Zinavashi . . . I can't pronounce his Russian name."

      (I tried to help him pronounce Zvinavashe's name but failed. The more
I tried, the more it sounded Russian to him. He asked about how he should
pronounce the Speaker's name. Again, I failed to make him Karanga. I gave
up!)

      I believe the President knows I am sincere in my sentiment and in what
I am going to say. But he probably thinks I am na´ve in holding these
sentiments, being the pragmatic person that he is.

      I am going to be somewhat philosophical in my sincere sentiment and
view. Don't be turned off, philosophy is simple. There is nothing to it, but
simple common sense. I bet, when you finish reading this contribution you
will ask: ko philosophy yacho ndeipi?

      Mugabe has been with us; in fact, has led us for the past 23 years,
rightly and/or wrongly. He did not come through the backdoor; he openly
presented his credentials and we elected him to power at independence in
1980.

      I was there, although I didn't vote for him. It would be insincere to
say I did, even during the pinnacle of his popularity. Since philosophy and
candid confession go together, frankly in 1980 I voted for my brother, of
course!

      But Mugabe was once popular, veduwe-e; hatidi zvokunyeperana; amanga
mabi; let's not tell lies. Everybody wanted to see and hear him speak the
Queen's language. Kunge Tony Blair chaiye! Have you heard Tony Blair speak?
Ehe-e, kanogona kunge VaMugabe chaivo! How fascinating. Could it be that we
underlings are victims of a sibling quarrel, siblings in politics and
oratory?

      If he was popular then because he had charisma (a divinely conferred
gift or power to attract affection and obedience), now that the charisma is
gone, the ability to attract "affection" is through force. Gods, from whom
we derive charisma, made us great yet so fickle that we fail to see that
charisma, being a special gift from the gods stays with us for only a short
duration, then is conferred to another as gods see fit.

      Ten years is long enough; 15 is stretching it; 20 you begin to offend
the gods; more than 20 you are fighting with them because you begin to think
you are just a cut from them, and the gods don't like it. This may be na´ve,
but I sincerely believe this is where leaders fail us and themselves in the
process.

      "Professor, ndava kukuti ka charisma tsvoti kuti udzidzise vamwe
political science, iwe pfocho, wava kufunga kuti unogona zwese. Political
science dzacho wati wadzigona here?"

      Meaning: "Professor, I give you a tiny bit of charisma so you can
teach others some political science, but there you are, you start to think
you know everything. Do you even fully know political science?"

      I often tell my students two of my philosophical "truths" (and my
students will know why the quotation marks on "truths"!):

      That when I can't produce at least three students in a year who
promise to be better than me, it's time I should consider retiring from
teaching. For, teaching must entail improving the individual and society.
This cannot be unless we reproduce ourselves better each year. If we fail,
let it not be for lack of trying.

      A corollary of this is that I am conscious that by teaching them I am
digging my own grave. Each generation must make itself obsolete by
empowering the future generation to outperform it.

      If the present generation thwarts the growth of the future generation,
some will rebel against it. So, either way, each generation is its own
gravedigger. The only question is: shall it be honorable or dishonorable
graves?

      I tell my students that over the years, several of my former students
have been chairmen of my department. Naivovo, in their turn, they can be
chairmen; this is as it should be. Moreover, it doesn't take much, really.
Lami, I was once chairman and dean of the faculty myself. I know what I am
talking about. Handisati zvangu ndava vice chancellor, at least not yet.
Ndiri panzira. Hokoyo Nyagura!

      Today, as I look at the department computerising, one version after
another, I wonder where the department would still be had I still been
chairman, manoeuvering through my superiors to maintain the chairmanship. We
would still be using Word Perfect 3.5.

      I will never forget the day I almost gave Dr Makumbe (one of my former
students who used to give me hell!) a heart attack when he came to my office
and found me using that version of Word Perfect. He said: "Sekuru, what is
this? Why don't you use Word?"

      I said: "What word?"

      He said: "Sekuru, everybody is now using Microsoft Word."

      The only electrical equipment I knew that had the word "micro" in it
was a microwave. Now John was talking about Microsoft Word!

      John took me to his office and showed me what he meant and let me
borrow one of his computers. I am now using Microsoft Word. I don't even
want to know about Word Perfect, even the latest version!

      All I am trying to say is that there is so much innovation a human
being (even the gifted among us) is capable of making in a lifetime; beyond
that is just forcing matters - literally forcing matters. I believe the
President has had his day; he should just call it quits. Nobody will blame
him for quitting at the beginning or in the middle of his term. As we grow
old, the law of diminishing returns starts working on us.

      I am trying to phase in my sons to begin managing me and my affairs, a
difficult thing to do, even if I was grooming them for it. Mumwe wacho
ndirikumuona sekunge ari in a hurry to phase me out!

      But then again, I could be imagining things. All my sons think I work
too hard and that it's time I should retire. But I keep on saying: "It's all
for you vana vangu, at least until you finish graduate school. Then I can
announce my retirement plans and date."

      They are unkind those who say Mugabe doesn't care anymore. Power is
difficult to abandon, particularly after enjoying it for so long, even if
you can't enjoy it anymore. Inga chitenda. As if a disease.

      It's not Mugabe alone, even myself - three years directing a mere
research institute, zvavakutapira; sokumnandi; it's getting sweet! And let
problems emerge; I have to solve them, even when it is apparent each year
that passes my ability to solve them diminishes, vanaCharlie vachingoti
"Zvirikuhamba, Prof!"

      The gift of charisma, being given to us by the gods without asking for
it, is taken from us once the time has come; there is no prayer powerful
enough to change the minds of the gods. To try is a waste of time.

      I honestly believe the gods who give us charisma will protect us if we
humble ourselves before them. To err is human but to forgive is divine. It's
up to them to forgive. We all make mistakes.

      And finally, it is by the grace of God we are alive; not the armour
and motorcades around us. If it we so, then kings could live forever. If the
exit option is to escape death or punishment, the gods, whose eyes are
everywhere even in Malaysia, will catch up with us.

      So why not reconcile with them and your people at home? I sincerely
believe the gods will counsel that outcome instead of the exit option.

      (By the way, the United States Institute of Peace - where I am
spending my sabbatical - is hosting a briefing on: "What Future for
Zimbabwe?" Panelists are Walter Kansteiner (Assistant Secretary of State for
African Affairs), our Ambassador Simbi Mubako, Robert Rotberg (Kennedy
School of Government), Yours Truly (a leading UZ political scientist) and
Chester Crocker (former US assistant secretary of state for African affairs)
will be the moderator. The next contribution will be my take on this
briefing.)

     Professor Masipula Sithole is a lecturer of political science at the
University of Zimbabwe and director of the Harare-based Mass Public Opinion
Institute.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

FinGaz


      Countdown to the day of redemption

      Taungana Ndoro
      1/30/03 10:05:19 AM (GMT +2)

      As anger, fury and rage cumulate to levels never surpassed in human
emotion one can prudently listen to the sweet melody of the clock as the
countdown to the redemption showdown doubtlessly becomes apparent.

      With the stench of poverty becoming stronger by the hour and the
rumbling of empty stomachs becoming louder by the day, the estranged
government must make swift, bold decisions to avert the looming and
inevitable civil strife which will certainly be of disastrous proportions.

      The ruling party must not be complacent that Zimbabweans are incapable
of staging a general protest against its grotesque misrule.

      The noble failure of the stayaways called for by the NCA and ZCTU does
not reflect cowardice among the people but rather scepticism since the two
organisations are not political parties.

      It goes to show beyond doubt that the ball for the call to mass
protest has always been in the MDC's court but why the opposition has
remained silent, only the devil knows.

      It's crystal clear that the people will not heed any call to mass
action from either the NCA or the ZCTU because even if the showdown
succeeds, the two organisations do not have the mandate or the structure to
take over the reigns of government.

      What all tormented Zimbabweans are anxiously waiting for is a
steadfast incitement for a general protest from a populous opposition
political party such as the MDC.

      After having the election stolen right under its nose, the MDC has
only the option of mobilising for civil unrest if it is serious about ever
governing this country in Mugabe's lifetime.

      The mass action call from the MDC will be a divine second chance and
it is very likely to succeed because the people cannot stomach a life of
hand-to-mouth anymore.

      Let us take caution though that if against all odds, the call fails to
materialise then - by God - the successful removal of ZANU PF might take
much more than we have ever bargained for.

      However, if ZANU PF continues to stupidly and stubbornly intimidate,
terrorise and harass dissatisfied citizens then their perilous idiocy will
stun them by inviting the heaving wrath of the dehumanised masses of this
declining country.

      Any fair-minded Zimbabwean citizen will concur with the wisdom of all
action-driven civic assemblies which rightly believe that the time has come
in the life of this nation when those who are governed tell the ruling
politicians a straight message - that you are causing us (untold) misery.

      In history, paranoid ruling politicians who ruthlessly ill-treated
their subjects were sent clear messages through both planned and spontaneous
collective action that saw them tumble with an unenviable thud from despotic
thrones. History has an uncouth tendency of duplicating.

      The streets and avenues beckon for the stamping of thousands of feet
and the making of noises so loud that the alarm bells at State House will be
drowned a hundred fold signalling the ultimate collapse of ZANU PF's
treasonous grasp on power.

      All is there for us to reckon that with serious shortages that range
from sliced bread to white maize meal and from blend fuel to human blood,
Zimbabwe has become such a squalid, sordid place to inhabit.

      It is therefore, not unwise for the civil society to prioritise
action-packed remedies rather than resort to passive responses that
guarantee no salvation.

      Indeed, it is for the paramount welfare of the general public that a
pragmatic MDC denunciation of our shamefully unsuccessful government be
implemented without much delay lest the uniformed forces fail to resist the
temptation of a coup whose environment has been made conducive by
half-witted perceptions of reality by the ZANU PF government.

      The good old professor Masipula Sithole has dealt convincingly with
the issue of the uniformed forces scrutinising whether or not they will
really shoot to kill. A moment will come when they won't even shoot as they
patiently anticipate that the MDC will organise a victorious protest but if
nothing applaudable occurs and it becomes apparent that the MDC is full of
pretenders then they won't only shoot but they will also kill.

      As a humanitarian principle, the uniformed forces are supposed to
protect and support the wishes of the people and so if the people feel and
believe that they have had enough of this miserable regime the forces must
be able to honourably rally behind the public showdown which even the
dullest mathematician cannot fail to calculate is so close.

      What we need now is hope and optimism. We should rejoice and be
cheerful because finally we have some consolation: that's the prospect of an
imminent full-blown run-in with a wretched remnant of ZANU PF apologists.

      As I predicted late last year that a split in the ruling party is how
it will flip-flop and sure enough there are already speculative reports
about that dormant division.

      No matter how the ruling party might console itself that the split or
Mugabe exit reports are just a smokescreen, they will remain party true -
there is smoke, and there is no smoke without fire.

      And the smoke that has led me to begin a credible countdown is not
only in the papers but is the reality on the ground, for instance the
eyesore queues.

      Someday in the very near future the cursed ministry of energy and
power development will have to dare to announce a horrendous hike in the
price of fuel.

      The MDC must exploit this imminent utterance for it will kindle a wild
fire among the masses making each disgruntled citizen a red hot firebrand
with one noble mission to accomplish - the complete razing of the entire rot
in a pig-headed government that played with fire for too long.

      We must never despair days before the ultimate confrontation with a
thoughtless regime that has taken us for granted since it signed the
ill-fated Lancaster House covenant.

      If those at the top are going to feed fat on the basis that they
fought in the war of liberation, then behold, those who have been deprived
because they did not fight then will surely take to the streets to fight for
freedom now, so as to guarantee a satisfied stomach in future.

      If anyone at the top, employers in particular, is going to manipulate
the governance crisis we are presently drowning in and exploit the suffering
populace further, then an action-avalanche will descend upon them perhaps
much swifter than our communist comrade's flight to their roots in the Far
East.

      Most will admit that we have endured disappointments, shattered
dreams, disillusions and general discontent but, even though, we must expect
and accept these as natural deterrents in the long and bitter road to our
salvation.

      With all this strange gloom and pessimism that is hovering above us we
must never lose infinite hope and courage. Let the countdown to the
redemption showdown commence!

      Taungana Ndoro can be contacted at
taundoro@yahoo.com
Back to the Top
Back to Index

FinGaz

      Constitutional reform remains top priority


      1/30/03 10:06:09 AM (GMT +2)

      IN the past few months, some self-serving analysts and armchair
observers of the Zimbabwean situation have been preaching monumental
falsehoods as follows: that there are such things as bread and butter issues
which are divorced from matters of governance such as constitutional reform
and respect for fundamental human rights.

      It is said by these false analysts that Zimbabweans, in the face of
biting economic hardships such as food shortages and an unaffordably high
cost of living, are only concerned about "how to survive" and have no time
for issues of governance.

      As proof of the correctness of these propositions, the false analysts
point to the perceived "failure" of recent mass actions such as the
stay-away calls and public demonstrations by the NCA. Then a startling
conclusion is profered: civic organisations such as the NCA and opposition
political parties have become irrelevant to the resolution of the Zimbabwean
crisis.

      A prominent member of this school of false analysis is Jonathan
Moyo,who is employed by President Mugabe to preach falsehoolds. He is not
the only member of this school. There are others in the media and civic
society who have become disillusioned by the failure of the generality of
the people to participate in pro-democracy mass activities.

      Instead of intensifying programmes aimed at mobilising the masses into
democratisation struggles, they have chosen not only to believe, but also to
propagate, the false notion that people are more concerned with "bread and
butter" issues than with matters of good governance, rule of law and respect
for fundamental human rights.

      Without any doubt, it must be stressed that "bread and butter" issues
cannot be separated from matters of governance. It was only in the primitive
communal society which had no state or government, where the pursuit of life
's necessities could proceed without being affected by governance issues.

      In our societies, governance is at the very root of matters of
survival and until governance questions are resolved satisfactorily, the
pursuit of "bread and butter" issues cannot yield meaningful and lasting
results.

      The starting point is to ask the following question: why are we in
such a state that the quest for "bread and butter" is so painful?

      In other words, why do we have food shortages, high cost of living,
unemployment, poor health facilities and so on?

      The answer is simple.

      We are in such a state because we have a government that has not only
failed to provide "bread and butter" but also has no capacity to do so.

      Then the next question: if the government is responsible for our sorry
state of affairs where we have no access to "bread and butter", why not
remove that government?

      The answer is that the government has put in place rules / laws which
make it almost impossible for us to remove it or even make it accountable.

      A further question arises: How about changing those rules / laws to
enable us to make the government accountable or remove it from office?

      This last question is what the constitutional reform process is all
about.

      There are countless examples of how the state of governance has
impacted on "bread and butter" issues. For example, there is no avenue
through which Mugabe can be asked to explain the food shortages and
hyperinflation.

      He is not even obliged to answer questions in Parliament. There is
therefore neither pressure nor an incentive for him to address the issues.

      The Mugabe regime decides which land to acquire, when to acquire it
and to whom it must be redistributed. If this process leads to the
destruction of commercial agriculture, our bread and butter is affected and
that is a question of governance.

      The Mugabe regime decides the foreign currency exchange rate. It comes
up with an unrealistic rate and a parallel market emerges. The cost of
living shoots up and our bread and butter is affected. There is no doubt
that this is a governance question. We can go on and on and on.

      Good governance is a precondition to social and economic development.
This is the bedrock of the NCA.

      Constitutional reform is not an end in itself. The call for a new
constitution is not a slogan nor is it an elitist obsession as suggested by
some sections of our society. It is a bread and butter issue - the way
society is governed, particularly the extent of accountability of the
political leadership, is one of the most significant factors in the delivery
of basic necessities of life to the people.

      This is why every politician on the campaign trail in an election
promises the electorate "bread and butter" issues!

      To say that governance issues are irrelevant to the resolution of the
Zimbabwean issue is as idiotic as suggesting that there is no need to have a
government under the current circumstances in Zimbabwe.

      The point to be made is that any society that desires to achieve
prosperity requires a government that leads it towards the desired goal.

      Government is about leadership. Can anyone doubt the fact that to get
out of a crisis, there is need for a leadership that directs society's
collective efforts out of the crisis?

      If you are in a crisis, and you discover that the leaders you have are
incapable of getting you out of the crisis, and you discover further that
the rules in place allow incompetent leaders to remain your leaders
regardless of their performance, is it not part of the solution to the
crisis that you put in place rules which ensure that you get a leadership
which is competent, accountable to you and removable from office in the
event of betraying the cause?

      If you, by a miracle, succeed in merely replacing an incompetent
leadership without changing the rules, the likelihood is that sooner or
later, the new leadership will again prove incompetent and get protection
from the same unchanged rules which in the first place, had made it
difficult to remove the other incompetent regime.

      Our point in the NCA is that we must not rely on miracles to remove an
incompetent leadership. We must have, in place, rules [in a constitution]
which empower the people to monitor the operations of government and, if
need be, easily remove a government that fails to create an

      environment in which we have "bread and butter".

      The NCA is seeking a comprehensive solution to the governance question
in fighting for a constitution which addresses both the immediate and future
aspirations of our society.

      A new constitution addresses the immediate governance issues in the
sense that once it is put in place, new elections must be held in accordance
with that constitution.

      It thus answers the MDC's call for a "re-run" of the presidential
elections and (ZANU (PF)'s scramble for an "exit plan" for Mugabe. Both the
MDC's call for a "re-run" and ZANU (PF)'s scramble for an "exit plan" are
centred on Mugabe.

      The NCA's call for a new constitution is not centred on Mugabe. It is
a call based on those universal, immutable and everlasting principles which
underlie democratic and prosperous societies.

      Mugabe is merely a casualty of this call only because it is being made
at a time he has already played his part. If he were not obtuse, he could
easily facilitate the dawn of this new era rather than play the stumbling
block role he has chosen for himself and his regime.

      In principle, and precisely because the NCA's call for a new
constitution is not centred on Mugabe, the NCA is conscious of the fact that
the removal of Mugabe will not, in itself, usher a democratic society.

      For that reason, the NCA's participation in anti-Mugabe processes is
limited to removing a stumbling block to constitutional reform. The Mugabe
regime is the sole stumbling block to a new and democratic constitution.

      That participation must not, however be seen as the endorsement of any
particular person as the future president of this country. Some leaders in
the MDC and other opposition political parties who are in the NCA must be
reminded of this point.

      The NCA is not, has never been and will not be an avenue to merely
remove Mugabe and end there. The NCA is an assemblage of persons who desire
a new democratic dispensation through a new constitution. Mugabe has become
a factor solely because he is standing in, and blocking, the way.

      This brings me to the NCA's continuous mass struggles in the form of
stay-aways and demonstrations. Those who consider NCA actions to be failures
are missing a fundamental point. It is not the NCA's primary objective to
overthrow the Mugabe regime. This is a role for opposition political
parties.

      The NCA will welcome the removal of the Mugabe regime only in so far
as it opens an avenue for constitutional reform. But the NCA agenda is not
dependent on the removal of the Mugabe regime nor does the NCA have any
illusions about those who may replace Mugabe. They may be equally averse to
constitutional reform.

      Already, we are beginning to notice discomforting elements of
incompetence, intolerance and dictatorship in the MDC. In its various
statements on the way out of the current crisis, the MDC has not clearly
articulated the constitutional reform route favoured by the NCA. That
difference of approach between the NCA and the MDC is clear.

      The NCA will confront, head on, whoever has the apparatus of state
authority, and demand a people-driven constitution. This is why the NCA does
not agree with the MDC's notion of "restoring legitimacy" first before
making demands for a new constitution. Whether legitimate or illegitimate,
if Mugabe is pressured to accept a new constitution, there will be a new
constitution.

      If our calls for stay-aways and demonstrations are viewed as attempts
to ovethrow the Mugabe regime, then it may be fair to regard them as
"flops". But they are not so intended. These actions have two main
objectives. First, it is to raise public awareness about the NCA agenda of a
new constitution. It is an innovative way of public education and
mobilisation.

      There is no doubt that our stay-away calls and demonstrations have
dramatically captured the domain of public debate. Who, in Zimbabwe, does
not know the NCA's desire for a new constitution? Thousands of Zimbabweans
flock to our offices after every stay-away and demonstration to register
themselves as members, to collect materials on the constitution and even
more interestingly, to offer suggestions on how future actions may be
conducted.

      Through these actions, we have succeeded in raising public awareness,
mobilising support for our cause and most importantly, making gradual
inroads into the public domain with a view to expanding our base for future
action. Secondly, it is to put pressure on the Mugabe regime to yield to
constitutional reform.

      It does not require the whole population to rise for Mugabe to give
in. What is required is to ensure that sufficient numbers of our people
participate in these actions, in such a way as to effect irresistible
pressure on the Mugabe regime. The NCA has made tremendous progress in this
regard. Many people heeded the recent stay-away call. The state reaction to
the 22 January 2003 stay-away says it all. The NCA has built, and is
consolidating, the capacity to harass the state every two weeks through
demonstrations and stay-aways.

      If the Mugabe regime is forced, on a continuous basis to deploy
helicopters, armed tankers, soldiers, riot police and ZANU PF youths and
militia to crush the people's drive for a new constitution, something else
will happen. The people's resolve will increase, more people will be
inspired by the heroic efforts of the initial group and the much awaited
massive onslaught will occur.

      The NCA is not waiting for a future, once- and-for-all encounter,
because there is no such encounter in the history of political struggles. It
is the small qualitative struggles which mushroom into full-blown and
decisive battles. Mugabe is clear on this and this is why his regime
descends heavily on the NCA each time it calls for mass action.

      The way forward is clear. The NCA is guided by a deep conviction of
its relevance to the current crisis. It will continue to call for mass
action in the form of demonstrations and stay-aways. These actions will
eventually make the Mugabe regime succumb.

      There is no doubt about this, given the NCA's commitment and
determination.

        .. Lovemore Madhuku is the chairman of the NCA and a law lecturer
at the University of Zimbabwe
Back to the Top
Back to Index

FinGaz

      Govt to recruit 6 000 extension workers

      Staff Reporter
      1/30/03 9:44:27 AM (GMT +2)

      THE Ministry of Agriculture will this year recruit 6 000 new extension
workers at a time some agro-experts hired to assist farmers resettled under
the government's land reform programme say they have not been paid for their
services last year, it was learnt this week.

      The experts, many of them graduates of agricultural colleges, were
recruited at the height of the land reform programme last year by the
ministry's Agricultural Rural Extension Service (Arex).

      They are supposed to provide technical assistance to people resettled
under the agrarian reforms under which most of Zimbabwe's commercial
farmland has been taken over by the government.

      The principal director of Arex, xx Zishiri told the Financial Gazette:
"We are recruiting more people right now. We are looking for 6 000 people to
assist the new farmers."

      He would not disclose how many agricultural extension workers had been
hired by his organisation so far.

      However, several extension workers interviewed by this newspaper this
week said they had not been paid for their services in the past year, and
were hampered in their duties by the lack of resources.

      Most of the workers have to work in remote rural areas where they
require an efficient transport system in order to visit resettled farmers.
But the technicians said the ministry had been unable to provide them with
cars to make their work easier.

      They said they had been forced to resort to using bicycles to visit
farmers.

      "We have not been paid anything since we were officially employed by
the government last year," one extension worker said.

      "We were only given $40 000 advances in October last year. Since then,
we have not been given anything at all. We do not know how the government
expects us to survive."

      The workers said the advances were given as loans that would be
deducted from their salaries when these were finally paid.

      An extension worker said: "At times we use our own vehicles and we are
never paid even for maintenance costs. It is even worse when you go to head
office - all the vehicles are grounded because there is no fuel. Others are
grounded for petty reasons."

      The extension workers said the severe shortage of agricultural inputs
had also adversely affected their work.

      Zimbabwe is facing serious shortages of seed, fertiliser and
chemicals, which have made it impossible for many resettled farmers to plant
crops for the 2003 agricultural season which began last November.

      An extension worker said: " When these pieces of land were allocated,
we were expected to show the other resettled farmers proper farming
techniques. But we have failed to do that so far because of lack of inputs.

      "We (also) do not have accommodation and we are forced to share with
some school teachers and at times with war veterans."

      But Zishiru said as far as he was aware, all extension workers had
been paid for their services.

      He however said that the experts could not be given their salaries if
they did not have identity documents.

      "Everyone has been paid as far as I know," he told the Financial
Gazette. "But we can't pay somebody without proper documents. Some people
who are complaining do not have births certificates to start with, you can't
blame us when they are not paid."
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent

Massive fuel price hike on the cards
Vincent Kahiya

THE price of petrol could soon go up to at least $300 a litre if the
government agrees to implement a pricing regime recommended by oil companies
in on-going stakeholders' meetings, the Zimbabwe Independent has heard.


Sources privy to the discussions this week said the current fuel supply
situation, characterised by erratic supplies which have resulted in
widespread shortages, was untenable and could only be solved by a radical
review of the pricing structure. The meetings were attended by Energy and
Power Development minister Amos Midzi and senior officials from Noczim.


This week Midzi confirmed the meetings but could not provide details on the
figures being suggested by the fuel marketers.


"I can't give you that information," said Midzi. "That is confidential. We
cannot discuss that until we have finalised discussions."


Sources said the stakeholders agreed that there should not be radical
increases in the price of diesel, as this would have a serious impact on the
economy.


The government has stepped up efforts to control prices of basic commodities
and any increase in the price of diesel would mean a review of the prices of
items on the controlled list.


The price of petrol, currently pegged at $74,47 and diesel at $66,44 a litre
was last reviewed in 1999 despite movement in the price of crude oil on the
international markets, the steep decline of the Zimbabwe dollar against hard
currencies and the seismic inflationary environment.


In 1999 year-on-year inflation closed at around 60%. It has since risen to
198,8%. The Zimbabwe dollar was pegged at $38:1 to the greenback in 1999
before it was revised upwards to $55 nearly two years ago. The black market
rate is about $1 500:US$1.


The marketers want the government to deregulate the industry by ceding
control on the price of fuel to restore viability.


Both established and new indigenous players were agreed that there should be
a price increase as they have invested heavily in building service stations
and purchasing tankers. They are agreed the price should be at least $300 a
litre.


"Our margins are very low because of the current prices," said one
indigenous player.


"There are no real returns on our investment because government policy is
not benefiting the industry."


Chairman of the indigenous fuel marketers, Gordon Musarira, last week
referred all questions to Midzi, while the Petroleum Marketers Association
representing most of the established marketers, had not responded to written
questions sent to them last week.


Sources said Midzi promised to take the recommendations to cabinet.

The current fuel woes could be a permanent feature of the country's economic
life as government is unable to negotiate significant lines of credit.


Two weeks ago the government announced it had secured a US$10 million line
of credit from Badea, an Arab bank but this will only purchase a week's
supply.


The country requires US$40 million a month for fuel procurement.

Industry sources said government was generally resigned to negotiating any
major deals, as these would only increase the country's indebtedness.

Currently the Independent Petroleum Group of Kuwait is supplying the country
with bulk fuel despite a presidential directive to renew deals with the
Libyans.

Midzi this week said that was being worked on.

"Just be patient. We will let you know soon about what we are doing," he
said.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent

MDC in moves to set up offices across Africa
Mthulisi Mathuthu

IN an attempt to raise awareness on the Zimbabwe crisis, the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) is stepping up efforts to establish offices in all
the regions of the continent.

This comes at a time when the Morgan Tsvangirai-led party is establishing
ties with the newly-elected Kenyan government in a bid to rebut President
Mugabe's claims that the MDC is a puppet of the British.

The MDC election directorate, whose members Nomore Sibanda and Remus
Makuwaza observed the Kenyan elections, said in their report that plans were
being drawn up to spread awareness of Mugabe's misrule throughout the
continent.

The report, which was released this week, recommends that the MDC should
open offices in East and West Africa to complement those they have in
southern Africa.

"The MDC should second party officials to East and West African blocs to
make clear the party position and explain the current crisis in Zimbabwe,"
the report says.

"We must engage Ghana in order to tap the experiences of that country and
its leadership."

The MDC hopes to spread its influence to Botswana, Nigeria, Senegal, and
Tanzania, among other countries, to counter Mugabe's populist claims.

"We have an obligation to sell our story. Mugabe has made claims to African
patriotism and we therefore have to rebut those claims because as you know
the issue in Zimbabwe is about repression," said Moses Mzila-Ndlovu, MDC
spokesperson for foreign affairs.

In their report, Sibanda and Makuwaza called on the MDC and civic groups to
push the government into adopting democratic norms similar to those
practised in Kenya during the recent elections.

The report called on the parliamentary legal committee to seek a High Court
injunction to enable counting of ballots to be done at polling stations
immediately after close of the poll.

Also recommended is an injunction to compel the registrar-general to make
available the supplementary voters' rolls beforehand and to provide a list
of polling stations at least a month before the first day of polling.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent

UN wants devaluation
Augustine Mukaro

THE United Nations has recommended a devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar and
scrapping of price controls as priority issues to reverse the declining
economic situation.

The call comes barely two weeks after business executives expressed to
government, through Vice-President Simon Muzenda, the need to, among other
things, devalue the dollar to $800:US$1 in line with the realities on the
ground.

In an overview of the Zimbabwe humanitarian crisis, the United Nations
Country Team, which is actively engaging government to drop its damaging
policies, said the change in government policy was the only way to put the
country back on a sustainable recovery.

"Priority issues in the change of policy should focus on devaluation, the
lifting of price controls, allowing private-sector commercial imports and
the free movement of grain throughout the country," the UN team said.

The overview document was part of UN Special Envoy James Morris'
presentation to President Robert Mugabe last Friday.

The UN said the government budget for 2003 will exacerbate economic decline
and worsen foreign exchange shortages.

The budget reaffirms government's backslide to a command economy
characterised by price controls, fixing of the exchange rate and government
monopoly in the pricing and marketing of agricultural commodities.

Other than devaluation and lifting of price controls, the UN team said
government should allow the private sector to import and distribute grain.

"Government should change its policies by allowing private sector commercial
imports and the free movement of grain throughout the country," the UN said.

It also recommended that government should provide more operational space
for NGOs to expand their humanitarianactivities as well as adopt an
integrated approach to humanitarian assistance, particularly with exploring
the effect of HIV/Aids on food security, nutrition and agricultural
recovery.

Zimbabwe is experiencing rapid economic decline with a record high inflation
rate running at almost 200%, a parallel market exchange rate of over 2 700%
more than the official rate, and an estimated 12% decline of the GDP in
2002.

Analysts concurred with the UN recommendation saying what was needed to
revive the economy was not selective application of devaluation but
competently addressing all macro-economic fundamentals.

"Sectoral devaluation won'thelp the country before fundamental issues such
as restoration of investor confidence, reduction of uncertainties and risks,
restoration of rule of law, and preservation of property rights are
addressed," an analyst said.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent

Commission collects data on rights abuses
Blessing Zulu

THERE may be a glimmer of hope for Zimbabwe's ever-growing list of victims
of politically-motivated human rights abuses, the Zimbabwe Independent has
learnt.

The London-based Accountability Commission - Zimbabwe project, an
organisation launched recently, has started to gather information on human
rights violations with a view to setting up a special court to try
perpetrators of violence. Rwanda and Sierra Leone have similar courts.

The commission wants to see justice meted out to those found guilty of
crimes of torture and violence, which have been allowed to go unpunished.
The commission comprises local and international human rights lawyers.

"The great strides being made towards universal jurisdiction mean the
closing of loopholes for flagrant abusers of human rights is around the
corner," said David Banks, speaking in London on behalf of the commission.

The commission is appealing to witnesses to come forward with details of
incidents of politically-motivated murder, torture, rape and beatings. It
then aims to prepare dossiers with a view to opening dockets.

"We are building up files of evidence, person by person, on the illegal
activities that individuals have been involved in but where no charges have
been brought in the present environment of impunity," said Banks.

"We also hope to develop as detailed knowledge of their personal details and
crimes that have been committed.

"The Accountability Commission is a results-driven organisation.

Ourmandate is to build up evidence against individuals instead of
institutions or state bodies. In the past there has been a tendency for
perpetrators to hide behind their employers," he said.

"Following the South African experience, the Accountability Commission does
not believe a Truth and Reconciliation approach should be seen as a
blueprint for Zimbabwe," Banks said.

"In order for the justice system to be resuscitated people need to see that
criminals are made to pay the price for their deeds."
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent

Envoy slams arrests, torture
Dumisani Muleya

AS political repression mounts ahead of the Commonwealth troika meeting on
Zimbabwe, Australian High Commissioner to Harare, Jonathan Brown, has
expressed dismay at the deteriorating situation in the country.

In some of the strongest remarks made by a senior diplomat in Harare, Brown
told an Australia Day gathering last Sunday that his country, which
supported the process leading to Zimbabwe's independence and reconstruction,
was shocked by the current dramatic national decline.


"Australia has watched with dismay as the people of Zimbabwe have become
poorer," Brown said. "They are now more vulnerable to ill-health. They are
more hungry, more often."

In remarks consistent with Canberra's hardening stance against Harare, Brown
said Zimbabweans had become victims of growing repression.

"They are less able to enjoy the democratic and human rights guaranteed to
all peoples in the Commonwealth," he said. "Above all, the people of
Zimbabwe were, in Australia's views and in the view of the Commonwealth
Observer Group, denied the free expression of their will in the March 2002
presidential election."

Brown noted that since the disputed poll, repression has been intensifying.

"Since that election, we have seen the government of Zimbabwe tighten its
grip on its people, further denying their freedoms of speech and
association, and their protection under the law without discrimination," he
said. "In October, Australia imposed targeted sanctions on the government of
Zimbabwe as a means of influencing it to return to good governance and the
rule of law, while avoiding harm to the people of Zimbabwe."

Brown's remarks came as the Commonwealth troika meeting on Zimbabwe to be
held in Pretoria in March nears. The troika, which suspended Zimbabwe from
the Commonwealth councils last March for blatant vote-rigging, comprises
Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who is also the club's current chair,
South African President Thabo Mbeki and Nigerian President Olusegun
Obasanjo.

The group's mandate is to ensure Zimbabwe complies with the Commonwealth's
commitment to human rights, good governance, and electoral standards. It
also wants to see government addressing the issue of land reform, the
economic crisis, lawlessness and political instability.

While South Africa and Nigeria are battling to prevent Zimbabwe's full
suspension from the Commo-nwealth, Australia has been pressing for the ban.

Australia is arguing that nothing has changed since the troika last met in
Abuja in September to review the situation. Mbeki and Obasanjo blocked
Howard's push for a full Zimbabwe suspension at that meeting. But Zimbabwe
was given a six-month grace period to improve.

However, Brown said nothing has changed since then.

"There is little sign of improvement," he said. "The recent arrest and
torture in custody of an MP was deeply disturbing and incontrovertible
illustration of the extent to which the rule of law has broken down in
Zimbabwe."

Brown said "no one, whatever his or her political affiliation or alleged
offence, should suffer an abuse of human rights at the hands of state
authorities as happened in that case, and there are related cases."

Australia, Brown pointed out, would continue to support Zimbabweans in their
quest for democracy like it did when the people fought Ian Smith's colonial
regime.

"We will continue to stand by the people of Zimbabwe as they seek to defend
and promote these values in their own country," he said. "We will also
continue through the Commonwealth to press for an early return to democratic
freedoms and the protection of the rule of law for all Zimbabweans,
regardless of their race."
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent

UN extends probe into DRC plunder
Mthulisi Mathuthu

IN what could spark further official indignation in Harare, the United
Nations has extended its inquiry into the plunder of DRC resources by
looters who include Zimbabwe's ruling elite by a further six months.


The UN panel of experts investigating the illegal exploitation of natural
resources and other forms of wealth in the Democratic Republic of Congo
whose initial report provoked fury last October, had its mandate extended by
the Security Council last Friday.

It has emerged that the UN Security Council unanimously agreed to grant the
panel a further six months with a view to updating the October report which
named top army and government officials as beneficiaries of the war economy
in the central African country.

The five-member panel, chaired by Safiatou Ba-N'Daw of Ivory Coast, was
asked to review and update the lists of those involved in illegal activities
in the DRC since the war broke out in mid-1998.

The council mandated the panel to recommend measures that could be taken to
curb further looting of the Congolese resources. The panel is also expected
to investigate steps taken by governments in response to its previous
recommendations, including information on how reforms in the region are
affecting plundering.

"The panel should also include (in its report) information about steps taken
by government in response to its previous recommendations, including
information on how capacity-building and reforms in the region are affecting
exploitation activities," a UN report says.

President Mugabe's government cried foul last year after government
officials who include Speaker of Parliament, Emmerson Mnangagwa and Defence
minister Sidney Sekeramayi were linked to the exploitation of DRC resources.

In its October report, the panel recommended that punitive measures be taken
against organisations and individuals looting the DRC. They also called for
financial restrictions against 29 companies based in the DRC, Rwanda,
Uganda, Zimbabwe and South Africa and for the imposition of a travel ban on
54 persons who include Zimbabwe's ruling elite.

The panel was named by the UN secretary-general Kofi Annan in August
following a request by the security council, in a presidential statement
issued on June 2 for establishment of a panel to investigate the plunder of
the Congo and to establish the link of that illegal exercise with the war.

Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Uganda were singled out as countries that had adopted
"strategies for maintaining the mechanisms for revenues generation, many of
which involve criminal activities, once their troops have departed".
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent

Militia impose curfew in Kuwadzana
Taurai Dzengerere

ZANU PF militia have imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew in parts of Kuwadzana in
the run-up to the parliamentary by-election due to take place on a date
still to be announced.

The militia have taken over the council library and a community hall in the
suburb from where they launch raids against residents who fail to observe
the curfew.

Residents who arrive home late because of transport problems are vulnerable
to harassment by the youths who move in groups of up to a dozen.

Harare mayor Engineer Elias Mudzuri on Wednesday challenged the police who
were barring people from entering Town House for a consultative meeting to
first go and evict militias illegally occupying council buildings in
Kuwadzana.

"Will you please go and evict militias who have camped at Kuwadzana library
and community hall," Mudzuri told more than a dozen policeman who evicted
residents he was addressing in the Town House's Flag Room.

"I have made a formal report to the police about these illegal occupiers but
no action has been taken," he said.

Civic organisation Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust (Zimcet) this week
condemned the activities of the militia and called on the police to restore
order in the constituency.

In a statement, Zimcet said freedoms of movement, expression and association
were being stolen from the people of Kuwadzana.

"If violence rocking Kuwadzana is not controlled, there is every reason for
the majority to worry that the reign of terror will soon engulf Highfield
constituency where another by-election is due soon," Zimcet said.

In a statement, the MDC said two of its officials in Kuwadzana, Resias
Masunda, chairperson for Ward 44, and Derek Madharani, organising secretary
for Kuwadzana District, were recently arrested and severely tortured by
police.

The two were arrested in separate incidents by the police, who the party
claims have been working closely with the Zanu-PF militia.

The MDC said the arrests were geared to thwart the party from campaigning in
the constituency.

The MDC said armed police broke into Madharani's house at midnight on
January 21 and started assaulting him, asking him to give the names of the
people who petrol-bombed the Zanu-PF base at Kuwadzana 5 Shopping Centre.

When he professed ignorance, they blindfolded him and took him to Goromonzi
Police Station, where he was severely tortured and sustained a crack on his
eardrum, the MDC said. He was released without being charged on January 24.

Masunda was also arrested on January 24 and taken to Goromonzi Police
Station where the opposition party says he was severely tortured while being
questioned about the burning of a Zupco bus.

Paul Themba Nyathi, MDC's secretary for information and publicity, said
Masunda's wife, Rebecca Nengomasha, was also severely assaulted by the
police before they took away her husband.

"They said they would come back and press her to reveal the place where her
husband's gun was hidden," Themba Nyathi said.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent

Publisher's Memo - Now is time to act
Trevor Ncube

Zimbabwe is in the grip of an unprecedented crisis. The hopes and
aspirations that political independence promised have been dashed. The
prevailing economic, political and social crises are certainly not what many
of our compatriots risked life and limb for.

The most disconcerting thing is that there does not seem to be an end
anywhere in sight. None of the two major political parties seems to have the
slightest clue as to how to extricate this well-endowed nation from the
current morass.

Worse still, none outside these political structures is bold enough to
propose a viable solution. Our international and regional friends do not
seem to understand the magnitude of our problems, or if they do, they do not
give a damn. The more this situation is allowed to deteriorate the more
difficult it will be for us to get out of it.

Millions of Zimbabweans face starvation due to a combination of factors,
namely the drought and the man-made disaster in the form of a self-serving
and disastrous land-grab policy that has crippled agricultural activity.

Economic activity has ground to a halt because there is no policy framework
to talk about.

Unemployment and inflation are at record levels. The acute shortage of fuel
and the high cost of foreign exchange have resulted in many company
closures, while the survival of many still operating is in jeopardy. The
incomes of those few still lucky enough to hold onto their jobs have been
severely eroded.

While there is reluctance in the Zanu PF leadership to admit publicly that
there is a crisis in the country, one gets the sense that this is being
acknowledged as much in private. They realise more than ever before that
they no longer have the ability to pull the country out of the hole they
have dug us into.

It is clear to all and sundry that the political path that Zanu PF has
embarked on is totally unsustainable. They cling to power because they are
not men enough to concede their mistakes and seek local and international
advice to effect a policy shift that would result in a change in our
fortunes as a nation. They have totally lost the confidence of the majority
of Zimbabweans and most of the international community whose support is
desperately needed to restore this country to normalcy.

The MDC, on the other hand, appears content with the supine posturing that
had it not been for an undemocratic constitution that allows Mugabe the
right to appoint 30 additional members of parliament, things would be
different in the legislature. Had Mugabe not stolen the election they would
be in power, they seem to reason.

They have become victims of the politics of entitlement that afflicted Zanu
PF soon after Independence. By the simple fact that they were brave enough
to stand up to Mugabe and his murderous regime, they believe now they should
do no more than sit and wait for Mugabe to go. They believe Zimbabweans owe
them eternal gratitude for having done a good job in challenging Zanu PF.
Beyond that they are totally blank as to what to do to get rid of Zanu PF.
They also have no concrete solutions to the problems afflicting the nation.
All that they want now is to be given a chance to rule.

All this has thrown the nation into a state of political paralysis. Those in
power lack the legitimacy, authority and, more importantly, the vision to
effect meaningful economic and political change while those in the
opposition have, by acts of omission, shown they cannot be trusted with
power. The MDC has over the past two years evidenced shocking levels of
political naivety, immaturity and lack of cohesiveness. The public's
confidence in the MDC has significantly waned after its failure to devise
effective strategies to challenge Zanu PF's fraudulent victory.

They have not shown the selflessness and personal sacrifice that was a
critical factor for the successful prosecution of the liberation struggle.
This is not to downplay all the dirty tactics employed by Zanu PF to render
the MDC ineffective. The point is the MDC should have known long before
getting into the game that you have to be streetwise to survive in politics.
On this score alone, Zanu PF has completely outwitted them. The MDC has
failed to strengthen its leadership and to mobilise the people.

They will argue they are faced with the dilemma of all opposition parties
that are confronted with brute force by a regime that refuses to observe
democratic tolerance.

But the situation here is not unique. South Africans faced a similar
situation in the 1970s. So did Indonesians in the late 1990s and the people
of the Ivory Coast and Venezuela more recently. There is no substitute for
popular mass action, however painfully suppressed at first.

On the whole MDC has been reactive rather than proactive, with Zanu PF
taking the initiative on almost all issues. Many now believe the MDC's
failure to get into power was a blessing in disguise. Their obvious lack of
decisive leadership and a clear vision for the nation would have plunged
this country into another crisis in the mould of Fredrick Chiluba's Zambia.

This political paralysis must not be allowed to continue any longer. It is
time for those patriotic Zimbabweans inside and outside Zanu PF and the MDC
to put real or imagined differences aside and work for the good of the
nation. It is time to put our personal interests aside and work to save this
country from further decline. Let us all cut our losses while there is still
time.
A winner takes all approach will not work.

We have to go for a win-win strategy. Our point of departure is that Zanu PF
will not be able to do this alone. It lacks local and international
credibility and legitimacy. The MDC cannot go it alone either as it lacks
the vision, passion and people within its ranks who can be trusted to run
this country on their own.

We have to find a third way that will draw on the resourcefulness of all
Zimbabweans. We pride ourselves on being the most educated and resourceful
people on the continent and yet we have shown that we are completely
incapable of saving ourselves.

This is unacceptable from a nation that fought the most sophisticated war of
liberation on the continent.

The way forward is one that recognises that we have one common destiny and
that none of us benefits from allowing our country to go to the dogs. In the
absence of anything else to go by, the South African model of a peacefully
negotiated settlement seems to be the only way to go, with the involvement
of the UN as the honest broker.

The object of this dialogue would be to retire President Mugabe and grant
him immunity from prosecution, hammer out a democratic and durable
constitution and pave the way for fresh parliamentary and presidential
elections under UN supervision within the next nine months.

Time is of the essence. We cannot afford to lose any more time and inflict
more damage on the economy and the body politic.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent

Troika braces for angry replay of Abuja
Dumisani Muleya

THE Commonwealth troika meeting on Zimbabwe in Pretoria in March presents a
battleground for South African, Nigerian and Australian leaders who will be
gathering to review the crisis here.

They last met in September.

Political analysts say South African President Thabo Mbeki, his Nigerian
counterpart Olusegun Obasanjo and Australian Prime Minister John Howard are
set for a dramatic replay of their uneasy encounter in Abuja last year. The
meeting ended in a standoff as they failed to agree on further measures
against Harare.

Mbeki and Obasanjo closed ranks against Howard to oppose Zimbabwe's full
suspension from the Commonwealth.

The two African leaders - who now seem to be fighting Mugabe's corner on
every international platform - opted to give their ally a six-month grace
period to deal with issues of concern to the 54-member club.

Howard, who chaired the Abuja meeting, expressed disappointment at the
outcome.

"There was a difference of opinion," he said. "My view is very clear. I
think we should have suspended Zimbabwe forthwith. My two colleagues are of
the opinion that the progress of Zimbabwe should continue to be monitored
over the next six months."

Obasanjo however admitted that there had not been a "noticeable or
sufficient" improvement in the situation. He said he believed Mugabe "should
be co-operating with the Commonwealth on the issues that we have raised" and
"I believe he can".

Asked why he was confident Mugabe would comply, Mbeki said: "As you know
there is none of us here who can speak on behalf of President Mugabe. So it'
s difficult to answer that question."

The troika all the same gave Mugabe time to tackle as a matter of urgency
the current economic crisis, land reform, food shortages, restore political
legitimacy, ensure reconciliation and stability, and conduct future
elections in a free and fair manner.

Zimbabwe - which, apart from the cricket, has now fallen off the
international radar with attention focused on Baghdad and Pyongyang - was
suspended from the Commonwealth councils for a year on March 19 last year
following the hotly-disputed presidential election in which blatant
intimidation and vote-rigging were found by poll observers.

The decision was taken on the basis of a report by the Commonwealth election
observer mission led by former Nigerian military ruler General Abdulsalami
Abubakar which said the election was not free and fair.

It cited violence, intimidation, and manipulation.

The Commonwealth report was corroborated by the findings of the Southern
African Development Community Parliamentary Forum, Ghana, and other
international observers such as the Japanese.

Despite the fact South Africa and Nigeria's own observer missions claimed
Mugabe's re-election was "legitimate", Mbeki and Obasanjo had no choice but
to endorse Zimbabwe's suspension because they were bound by the Commonwealth
's findings.

Howard, the club's current chair, and Commonwealth secretary-general Don
McKinnon attended the meeting at Marlborough House in London that obliged
Mbeki and Obasanjo to ignore their own reports which tried to whitewash
Mugabe's claims.

Analysts say the approaching Pretoria meeting is likely to be explosive
because diplomatic knives were already out for the encounter. Mbeki and
Obasanjo seem to be preparing themselves for further resistance to Zimbabwe'
s full suspension while Howard is vigorously pushing for the ban.

South African Institute of International Affairs director Greg Mills said it
was clear Pretoria was reluctant to act against Harare.

"Pretoria has been unwilling to provide leadership necessary to extract
Zimbabwe from its spiralling economic and political crisis," he said. "The
reasons for this relate to the weaknesses of South Africa's own political
structures, which are apparently still too fragile in racial terms for the
government to risk a more, direct interventionist role."

But Mills said the political price of official inertia in Pretoria could be
serious.

"The cost of doing nothing is too great, however, for the region and for
Zimbabweans," he said. "The longer Mbeki fails to act decisively in dealing
with his septuagenarian Zimbabwean counterpart, the more he and not only
Mugabe will also be viewed as part of the problem."

All the three troika members have of late been hardening their positions,
thus heightening tensions in the run-up to the meeting in which the
Commonwealth's credibility will be on the line.

Differences of opinion within the troika actually widened over the weekend
with Pretoria and Abuja continuing to firm their pro-Harare positions while
Canberra also stuck to its guns.

Nigeria's High Commissioner to Zimbabwe, Wilberforce Juta, said sanctions
would be the last resort.

"The Commonwealth is a community and we want to assist Zimbabwe get back
in," he said. "The interest of the Commonwealth is to see peace and
prosperity, and how to correct the problems in Zimbabwe. Ostracising and
maligning the country will not achieve that."

Mbeki's spokesman Bheki Khumalo said there was no need for sanctions.

"We are totally opposed to it," he said. "It is not even a last resort.
There will be total chaos and a meltdown that will threaten the very
Zimbabweans we are trying to help."

Australia's Deputy High Commissioner in South Africa, Billy Williams, said
his country's position towards Zimbabwe was "consistent". He said: "We don't
want to pre-empt anything . . . But we haven't seen any change or progress
in Zimbabwe."

Australian High Commissioner to Zimbabwe Jonathan Brown has also said the
situation is worsening. In a hard-hitting speech to mark Australia Day this
week he referred to Zimbabwe's departure from Commonwealth principles
including recent reports of torture.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai
told diplomats in Harare last week the meeting would be a non-event. He said
Mbeki and Obasanjo's diplomatic initiatives have become a farce.

But Aubrey Matshiqi, a South African political analyst, said the MDC has to
act on its own instead of waiting for the international community to do so.

"The ultimate truth about Zimbabwe is that no amount of external pressure
will yield the desired results unless the levels of popular resistance
within the country increases considerably," he said. This is the gist of the
South African argument about the Zimbabwe crisis.

McKinnon is to submit a report to the troika on developments in Zimbabwe
since last year although government has spurned his requests to visit the
country.

The South African and Nigerian comments came shortly after the visit to
Harare by their foreign ministers.

Both Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Sule Lamido expressed views consistent with
their leaders' stances that what was needed was not to punish Zimbabwe but
to engage it in dialogue.

The two ministers apparently took their cue from Harare claiming the
situation had improved since the September meeting. Obasanjo is next month
expected to be given the same briefing.

Mbeki was expected to use these arguments to defend Zimbabwe during his
meeting with Prime Minister Tony Blair in London this week.

The purported evidence which Harare is hawking includes claims that land
reform has been concluded, the rule of law has returned on farms and farmers
are engaged in a dialogue with government, agricultural labourers who came
from countries in the region before 1980 will be given the right of
citizenship, amendments will be made to repressive media laws, and the
pull-out from the Democratic Republic of Congo is now complete.

But observers say in reality nothing has changed. Land reform remains
chaotic, lawlessness persists, press suffocation is intensifying, political
repression and harassment of opposition parties is on the rise, and
displaced farm workers have not been rescued from desolation.

The economy has further deteriorated and the food situation has worsened.
Elections remain volatile and violent. In short, the situation has not
changed. If anything, it is getting worse. That is the reality Mbeki and
Obasanjo have to confront.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent

Eric Bloch Column

Zimbabweans' changing sense of values

THE disastrous state of both the economic and sociological environments in
Zimbabwe are creating a very rapid change in the sense of values of most
Zimbabweans. The fundamental change is that whilst previously most
aspirations centred on the medium to long-term, now the distress is of such
magnitude that the primary focus, and therefore the highest values, lies in
the immediate. In the past, most Zimbabweans ascribed highest values to
acquiring education, procuring employment for themselves or their children
which offered opportunities of advancement, acquiring possessions of lasting
value, such as a home, furnishings, self-transport resources, and the like.
But now government has so destroyed the economy that the attention of almost
all is directed towards fulfilling their very immediate needs.

For most Zimbabweans, happiness is being able to buy 20kg of mealie-meal
without having to queue for more than six hours (and without having to
present a political party membership card). Happiness is being able to buy a
loaf of bread. Happiness is obtaining at least half a tank of petrol or
diesel on the same day as one first enters a kilometre-long queue of motor
vehicles, all manned by motorists with a like hope that supplies will only
run out after they have been served. Happiness is finding a much needed
product on the shelves of the shop, and even greater happiness is when the
price of that product is no greater than it was a week earlier.

Happiness is passing through a road-block without having one's petrol,
mealie-meal, flour, bread, sugar, soap or cooking oil confiscated. Happiness
is not having to return to a government department six times before
resolving the issue at hand, be it renewal of a passport, obtaining a copy
of a birth certificate, acquiring an ID card, or anything else that would,
in almost any other country, be expeditiously addressed. Happiness is having
job security instead of a perpetual fear of job loss due to business closure
or enterprise insolvency. Happiness is being able to afford health care, and
finding required medications, which is increasingly rare.

Very clearly, Zimbabweans' sense of values has changed markedly. It is now
those which in the past were the little things in life as are becoming of
foremost importance. The perceptions are increasingly becoming "Worry about
today, and tomorrow we'll worry about tomorrow!" instead of strategising to
take care of both today and tomorrow. Desperation has removed the will to
plan ahead, all attention being directed towards the immediate.

This catastrophic transformation of desires, ambitions and aspirations from
those of enduring benefit to those of immediate consequence reflects the
dismal lows to which government has driven the economy. It insisted upon
pursuing a land reform programme devoid of co-operation and collaboration
with established commercial farmers. It spurned all offers of co-operation,
and then unhesitatingly accused the commercial farmers of trying to
frustrate and obstruct the programme for the acquisition, re-distribution
and resettlement of rural lands.

It repeatedly contended that established commercial farmers were unwilling
to facilitate the programme, in contradistinction to a very pronounced
willingness to do so, provided that the programme would be structured in
such a manner as to be just and equitable, constructive and attainable
without destruction of agriculture as the foundation and mainstay of the
economy.

But such proviso did not align with government's desire to claim all credit
for the programme by disregard for law and order, and government's
determination to achieve its objectives by dictates instead of by positive
interaction with all concerned to achieve that which would be in the best
interest of all.

So the bulk of agriculture's contribution to the economy was demolished,
causing a major reduction in foreign exchange inflows, and substantial
shrinkage of the downstream economic sectors that had flourished as a result
of agriculture's previous wellbeing. Worst of all, the government-induced
collapse of agriculture was the fundamental cause of massive food shortages,
although government alleges that the shortages are primarily the result of
adverse climatic conditions.

Undoubtedly the president, the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural
Resettlement, Joseph Made, and the vociferous Minister of Fiction, Fable and
Myth must be rubbing their hands with glee at the prevailing drought
conditions, providing them once again with an excuse for food shortages,
although those shortages would have been relatively minimal if the
agricultural infrastructure had not been decimated, commercial farmers
prevented from farming and if newly-settled farmers had been provided with
adequate inputs.

However, all this did not suffice to destroy the economy. It only weakened
it. For more than five years government has pursued the elements of a
command economy, instead of one driven by market forces, with endlessly
intensifying regulation, dictates and constraints. Unable to learn from its
mistakes, the government repeated them, over and over again, imposing
evermore draconian controls which worsened the economy.

And, as government believes itself to be both infallible and omnipotent, it
could not acknowledge that anything that it had done, or had failed to do,
would conceivably be the cause of the accelerating economic decline.
Government believed that the ills afflicting the economy must be the result
of machiavellian machinations of those that it perceived to be its enemies.

If government spokesmen are to be believed (which is not easy to do) all
that is wrong in the economy is as a result of the actions of its political
opposition, of profiteering businessmen, of international monetary
institutions, of diplomats of those countries as, in the perception of
government, are concentrating upon its demise, and especially if those
accused are of foreign ethnicity. Aided and abetted by the state-controlled
media, government castigated any and all it could blame for economic ills,
irrespective of whether or not it could do so with any credibility. In doing
so, it created a racial divide, undermining the reconciliation and unity all
had striven for after Independence.

It created a divide between businesses and customers, and between employers
and employees. In doing so, it caused still further economic collapses, for
its actions created an environment that is not conducive to investment,
alienated those in the international community who had long been willing to
assist Zimbabwe, it propagated widespread demoralisation and loss of
confidence, resulting in a massive brain drain which has left the economy
critically short of many vital skills.

But as government has convinced itself that it can do no wrong, and that it
and the economy are the victims of scurrilous economic saboteurs, of those
motivated only by self-enrichment, and of domestic and international
political opponents, it pursues the policies which theoretically give it
absolute control of every facet of the economy, ignoring that such controls
are only destroying the economy further. It persists with price controls
which create shortages because manufacturers and distributors cannot sell at
prices which only yield losses. The only ones to benefit from price controls
are black marketeers.

For the rest of the populace, price controls mean shortages, and for many
they trigger unemployment. It enacts labour laws which can only result in
employers holding back on employment creation. It prescribes monetary
policies which exacerbate foreign currency shortages and, therefore, product
shortages. It pays lip-service to containing corruption and generally allows
corruption to flourish. It prepares annual budgets which should receive
international awards for fiction, and spends with disregard for
non-availability of resources, and thereby fuels even greater inflation.

All of these, and other government impacts upon the economy, have reduced
most of the population to lives in abject poverty, and those fortunate to be
amongst the few not poverty-stricken, are also subjected to intense
discomforts. As a result, most are convinced that the Zimbabwean economy has
passed the point of no return, and that therefore things can only get worse.

Therefore, they now value that which gives immediate (even if only
temporary) partial relief. Zimbabweans' sense of values have radically
changed, and who can justifiably criticise Zimbabweans for that change, when
witnessing the distress, the discomforts, and the inconveniences and
hardships which have become characteristics of daily life.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent

Muckraker

The importance of being earnest

JAMES Morris is evidently nobody's fool. In President Mugabe's presence he
knows it is inadvisable to smile. After all, the Herald's favourite caption
("Sharing a joke with Cde Mugabe.") would hardly be appropriate when his
discussions with the president focused on the threat of starvation to half
the country's population.

So he remained dead pan in the Herald's front-page pic on Saturday - as he
did in Rome last year taking the shine of the state media's claims of a
triumphant presidential parade.

It was therefore unlikely he would speak about "the irreversibility of land
reform". When the Herald casually popped those words into his mouth last
Saturday he called the paper a liar.

That sort of robust response from a UN official is all too rare. Far too
often their remarks after meeting the president have been emollient and
diplomatic. Morris knows the time for that has long since passed. Mugabe is
directly responsible for the crisis we face.

And he is denying others the means to solve it, blocking private-sector
participation and refusing to license MDC imports. This was no time for
smiles.

Which makes the grin on Stephen Lewis' face in the same pic on Saturday all
the more difficult to understand. What is funny about the Aids pandemic?
What does he find amusing in Mugabe's response to the crisis? He should take
a leaf out of Morris' book: No hostages to fortune - or in this case, a
government media desperate for a smile!

By far the most na´ve gift to the state media last week came from new
Japanese ambassador, Tsuneshige Iiyama. Following a "courtesy call" on
Jonathan Moyo the ambassador was quoted as saying he didn't agree with calls
from MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai for Zimbabwe's isolation.

"We don't agree with that call," he helpfully told the Herald. "No country
can exist in isolation and we don't think there is any reason for the
international community
to focus its attention on Zimbabwe."

He drew parallels with Japan which had suffered "negative media propaganda"
in the area of trade.

How can he compare a country which has suffered criticism in the US press
over trade-related issues with one that is guilty of torturing its political
opponents and inducing mass starvation? It is clear from his remarks that
Iiyama has been living on another planet before he fetched up on our shores.

But the ambassador's remarks raise another issue: Is it appropriate for an
envoy who has only been off the boat five minutes to immerse himself in the
politics of his host country by criticising the speech of an opposition
leader? This is the sort of unprofessional thing we expect from the envoys
of Cuba, Namibia and Nigeria. Not Japan. Even China is no longer quite as
clumsy as it used to be in this area.

And what did Iiyama think he was doing paying a "courtesy call" on a
minister who has no public mandate for his anti-media agenda and then
swallowing that minister's self-serving remarks about land reform being
completed?

Let's hope Iiyama adjusts quickly to the realities on the ground in
Zimbabwe. He has not got off to a good start!

 On the subject of naivety, we had the BBC's Joe Winter, in a report headed
"Harare safer than Cape Town", telling us that violent crime was "a far
greater problem south of the Limpopo".

This was in reference to the forthcoming cricket World Cup. We concede that
Winter's remarks may have been distorted somewhat by the Herald which
claimed he had "admitted to the reality that cricketers, fans and officials
will be safer in Harare and Bulawayo than in Johannesburg or Cape Town".

But Winter's report missed the point entirely. Violence in South Africa is
not an instrument of state policy. It is not directed against the
opposition. It is not designed to suppress civil liberties and uphold a
vicious tyranny. By visiting South Africa the touring players will not be
used to promote the legitimacy of an illegitimate regime.

We had the usually tenacious Robin White recently giving Nathan Shamuyarira
one of the easiest rides he has ever had on radio. Shamuyarira was able to
get away with the claim that there was no crisis in Zimbabwe. White had no
facts and figures on food or fuel shortages to throw at him. Shamuyarira
bulldozed his way through the interview largely undisturbed.

Let's hope the BBC is not so anxious to get back into Zimbabwe that it is
prepared to sacrifice its editorial cutting edge!

Malcolm Speed was similarly happy to swallow the assurances he was given by
Augustine Chihuri about security at World Cup matches. Some 430 policemen
will be deployed for this purpose, we were told.

Speed should have been asked: Are these the same policemen who will crack
open the heads of any demonstrators protesting against the team's presence
in Harare?

Who would feel safe with assurances from Chihuri?

Ali Bacher, that's who. When Speed was asked if the ICC would take
responsibility for growing repression in Zimbabwe at the ICC press
conference at the airport last week, Bacher intervened with a curt "Let me
answer that".

"We have every confidence in the assurances we have received," he said,
laying down what has become the ICC mantra.

Is this by the way the same Ali Bacher who organised rebel tours of South
Africa in the 1980s? We hope not.

 Last week the Sunday Mail usefully provided a comprehensive shopping list
of all the areas South Africa and Nigeria have been working on the
government to improve. These include the legality of land reform, changes to
Aippa, the Congo withdrawal, and citizenship. Patrick Chinamasa has since
provided another clue as to where government is vulnerable to neighbourly
criticism when, in announcing Justice George Smith's retirement, he made the
improbable claim that there had been "no purging of white judges as alleged
in some quarters".

This list will now be triumphantly presented by Thabo Mbeki and Olusegun
Obasanjo in Pretoria at their troika meeting with John Howard in March as
evidence of improved behaviour in Harare.

But events are conspiring to deprive them of their set piece. That includes
the now pervasive reports of torture by the police. Because the South
Africans and Nigerians will find such reports difficult to shake off at the
Pretoria meeting, we will continue to see statements of the sort that
featured prominently on the front page of the Sunday Mail last weekend. The
police will be setting up investigating teams left, right, and centre to
give the appearance of actually doing something about it.

Then along comes George Charamba to spoil things. Torture is not torture if
it only happens occasionally, he inventively submits.

"Torture is only torture when it is systematic and carried out
with impunity," he told the Sunday Mail.

So what about the court-ordered investigation into the abduction and torture
of Mark Chavunduka and Ray Choto? What has happened to that inquiry George?
And all the "isolated" instances since, including the accused in the Cain
Nkala case?

Where is Amani Trust and the Human Rights NGO Forum when we need them? When
some fool of an official claims that torture is isolated or victims are
"only playing to the gallery", we need a prompt statement of exactly how
many torture claims have been investigated to date and what the findings
were.

In the same way we need NGOs with facts and figures to rebut ministers who
claim, as Paul Mangwana did last Sunday, that depriving developing countries
of EU aid was a "victory" for Zimbabwe. He said Zimbabwe was able to win the
hearts of ACP countries. But he didn't explain his altercation with a
Botswana MP who has lodged a complaint against him. Her heart was definitely
not won.

And why does he think Cuba and Jamaica are Pacific countries? It would be
worth knowing where countries are before seeking to convince them of
anything!

Mind you, Mangwana could be the victim of rogue sub-editors. "Veteran"
journalist Samu Zulu, whose undiluted admiration for President Mugabe has
been growing by
leaps and bounds in recent
months, was allowed to describe the ZCTU as an "acronym" last
weekend. He also characterised Tony Blair as President Bush's "wagon tail" -
as distinct from his wagging tail.

Zulu didn't say whose wagging tail he is, but it is more evident by the
week!

 Last week we commented on a scurrilous story written by the seriously
deranged Ugandan fugitive David Nyekorach-Matsanga that was carried in the
Herald two weeks ago and asked if this was a sign of things to come under
the Mahoso media regime. Now we have the case of a story ostensibly filed by
Reuters covering an Amnesty International report that contained whole
paragraphs that were almost certainly not written by Reuters.

The Amnesty report was based on research by Sharmala Naidoo.

The story appearing in the Herald last Saturday included the following: "A
police spokesman questioned why Naidoo conveniently ignored the cold-blooded
murder of a Zanu PF supporter in a petrol bomb attack at the party's offices
by suspected MDC youths.Amnesty International is either practising double
standards or is suffering from selective amnesia and Zimbabwe will continue
to be subjected to such hogwash by people with sinister agendas, said the
spokesman."

We can understand why a police "spokesman" should wish to hide under a cloak
of anonymity when making such partisan and unprofessional - not to mention
downright stupid - remarks. But citing Reuters as the source for the whole
story including the bits popped in by somebody at the Herald is not exactly
the ethical standard Mahoso has been lecturing us about, is it? Can we have
a comment please.

We were pleased to hear Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma had a good time during her
visit to Harare last week. She was taken to dinner at Amanzi by Stan
Mudenge, SK Moyo and other Zimbabwean ministers including the shopaholic.

The party of about 10 people would have got through at least $15 000 a head
during their three-hour session. Not much if Dlamini-Zuma was paying. But a
lot if we were!

Somebody who doesn't look short of a good meal is Mashonaland West governor
Peter Chanetsa. According to a report in the Daily News this week he was in
the middle of a dispute between businessman Chester Mhende, who has
reportedly occupied two farms in Zvimba, and
the evicted farm owner, Joe Whaley.

Whaley claims that Mhende is using his equipment, occupying his farmhouse,
and harvesting his crops. Mhende, who is also in dispute with war veterans,
claimed in a court affidavit he paid US$100 000 to Chanetsa in the presence
of Whaley for the farm and equipment.

Mhende claims Chanetsa was "the farmer's agent and the two have a
relationship".

Contacted by the Daily News for comment Chanetsa denied the claims.

Where did Mhende get that much foreign exchange when there are serious
shortages, he wanted to know?

"Why is Mhende involving me in such things, a person of my stature?"

He said it!
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent

Comment

Government shoots itself in the foot

IT could not have been a more persuasive display of Zimbabwe's unsuitability
as a venue for the cricket World Cup even if it had been designed as such.
The sight of riot police tear-gassing and beating a peaceful crowd that had
gathered to hear a report-back by the mayor of Harare said it all. This is a
regime that rules by force, not popular consensus.

The mayor of Harare was popularly elected. He has every constitutional right
to hold a meeting of his followers whatever Posa might say. In dispersing
that meeting the police were fulfilling a political agenda that is bent on
the suppression of civil rights.

Officials of the International Cricket Council have said how happy they are
to have assurances from Commissioner Augustine Chihuri on the safety of
players and spectators when the matches begin here on February 10. The force
that has been deployed to safeguard those with an interest in cricket is the
same one that showed the world what it can do outside Town House on
Wednesday.

With scenes such as these beamed around the world it is little wonder that
the cricketers themselves are beginning to have second thoughts about the
wisdom of coming here. Even the ICC is talking now of dashing in and dashing
out before anything untoward happens. The England and Wales Cricket Board's
Tim Lamb and the ICC's Malcolm Speed - all battle-ready and bluster just a
few weeks ago - are now adopting a less confident tone. Only the voluble Ali
Bacher continues to insist there will be "no going back".

The ICC, to its lasting disgrace, reached an accommodation with government
that sports writers would be let into the country so long as they stuck to
cricket - as if cricket is devoid of a social context. The arrest last
Friday of five Lutheran church workers monitoring food distribution
illustrates the hazards faced by even those confining themselves to their
brief. This government is so paranoid that it will arrest anybody suspected
of reporting on things as they are. After all, the evidence on the ground
speaks for itself whether it is partisan aid distribution or a partisan
police force crushing a lawful gathering.

Zanu PF simply cannot help itself. Its media started boasting of how the
tour would endorse the official view that Zimbabwe was a normal society
experiencing only marginal difficulties to do with drought long before it
was wise to do so. Now a series of arbitrary arrests, reports of torture,
and crude repression have convinced many who were at first sceptical that
Zimbabwe is not a suitable venue for an international contest of this
nature - nor indeed any other such gathering.

It is by the day degenerating into a brutal dictatorship that even its
friends will have difficulty selling when they roll out President Mugabe's
"reforms" in London this weekend and in Pretoria in March.

Tony Blair, who was at first prepared to contemplate an entente with France
over Mugabe's visit to Paris next month, now seems to have been stirred into
opposition by the complaints of Clare Short and Peter Hain, as well as
resistance from Labour backbenchers and MEPs.

Diplomats suggest stories appearing in this paper and the British media last
week scuttled the accord that would have seen Britain agreeing to Mugabe's
visit to Paris in return for a renewal of sanctions.

But the role of Greece and Portugal, who together with France form an axis
of weasel, cannot be ignored in all this. As we report today the Greek
embassy in Harare last week pulled out every stop to prevent EU ambassadors
based here from submitting a report to Brussels on the deteriorating
situation. As a result, ministers meeting in the Belgian capital on Monday
were ill-equipped for a resolution on renewal.

We can expect more of this moral cowardice as Commonwealth states decline to
meet their responsibilities under the Millbrook accord in March. But at the
same time we can rely upon the authorities in Harare to remain civil society
's greatest ally in exposing the true nature of the regime.

As the weasel states attempt to nibble away at sanctions or indeed any
principled position, Zanu PF will persist in doing what it knows best. The
events of Wednesday at Town House proved that. With a bit of luck,
increasingly brutal repression will shame the proponents of collaboration
just as it has shamed the cricketing authorities who with each passing day
realise this is not the sort of country they can use to showcase their
sport.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent

Letters

Paul Taylor's article on cricket obscene

I HAVE been silent for many months but I have to comment on an article which
appeared in the Zimbabwe Independent of January 13 headlined: "Obscene to
play cricket in House of Hunger" by freelance writer Paul Taylor

What is obscene is Taylor's article. He has used emotive language and
circumstances and told downright lies to stir up anti-cricket feelings in
Harare and perhaps around the world. Let me repeat some of his writing:


"But should the worst come to pass and these unlucky matches go ahead, it
should be clear to you supposedly 'national' players that you will be
representing your own interests, not your country. When you walk out on to
the pitch, look into the stands. You will see spies, war veterans and
murderers, new moguls who are growing fat on a dying economy the way maggots
grow fat on septic wounds and ruthless politicians basking in the pretence
that all is well in Zimbabwe. You will not see their victims."


Mr Taylor, I suspect you do not live in Zimbabwe. Why is it right for you to
earn money from doing what you do best and not right for a Zimbabwe
cricketer to do the same?


And who, exactly, will be in the stands if these matches go ahead? I will be
in the stands. My two sons will be in the stands. My 70 something plus old
doctor will be in the stands. All four of us make a living in Zimbabwe. We
do what we do best to put food on the table for our families and to educate
our children.


And we pay our taxes to the Zimbabwe government. My doctor continues to
practise his profession partly because he has to and partly because he loves
what he does. Because there is a grave shortage of doctors in Zimbabwe, his
patients, mostly black, owe him much.


He has been looking forward to the World Cup, not for days or weeks or
months, but for years. He can no longer afford his DSTV licence fees and he
can only watch world class cricket when it is played in Harare.


The other people in the stands will be much like this foursome. Farmers (who
are still on the land) and grow flowers or tobacco or whatever to put food
on the table and educate their children.


Businessmen of all shades and kinds, bankers, lawyers, draughtsmen,
accountants, book-keepers, administrators, managers, traders, computer
programmers, students and many of the retired who have little money and
little opportunity for escape from the petrol and other queues that are a
feature of Zimbabwean life today.


I doubt there will be too many politicians, but if they do come, they can
expect a cold shoulder.


Would you describe my sons, my doctor and myself as "spies, war veterans and
murderers, new moguls growing fat on a dying economy the way maggots grow
fat on septic wounds?" Or would you describe us as ordinary people trying to
make a living amid chaos and uncertainty? Should we stop doing what we do so
that we can add ourselves and our children to the numbers of starving people
in Zimbabwe? Or should we make sure that we don't end up that way ourselves?
Should our cricket players and administrators stop doing what they do so
that they can end up in a queue for handouts from Oxfam?


I salute the Zimbabwe cricketers who have to face the kind of misinformation
peddled by Taylor. They have every right to do what they do best to put food
on the table for their families and to educate their children.

It is not something they should be ashamed of. Taylor, and those who send
anonymous, threatening letters to the English cricketers threatening
violence if they come to Zimbabwe, are no better than the people that you
and me despise.


David Young,

Harare.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent

Letters

Let's organise streakers during matches

I AM appealing to you to take forward an idea of mine with whomsoever may be
able to bring it to fruition.

It concerns the international cricket matches in Zimbabwe. While I
sympathise with these English sportsmen but do not agree with their stance,
I am totally appalled by the spineless response from the UK government which
must have been aware of all the implications of playing in Zimbabwe for 12
months and more, and now avoids the responsibility for a decision.


I believe my suggestion will carry a message of ridicule to the British
government as well as being hilarious.


My suggestion is quite simply that hundreds of streakers should be organised
to perform during a match - and subsequent matches.

I suggest that several should perform simultaneously, just as the bowler is
about to deliver the first ball of his over, and repeat this for as many
overs as possible, each time from different areas in the grounds.


I suggest that if each performer were given a prize of 10kg mealie-meal to
be collected "privately", it might ensure the continuance of the fun and
encourage many contenders.


It is not at all unusual to see the odd streaker, viz Wimbledon in 2002,
with the Duke and Duchess of York in attendance. (Is it something peculiarly
British?) It would cause tremendous hilarity (which we all need now).

Thousands will wish they also had tickets to witness it. It would also be
tremendous advertising for cricket. TV cameras will beam it all over the
world. It will be a topic of conversation in the annals of cricket for years
to come. It would be a first for Zimbabweans. In fact, it could be the joke
of the century and express our ridicule for the event and most apposite in
the circumstances at this time.


Government thugs will find it difficult to respond in their usual manner
with the whole world watching them. (Should we open it to both sexes? Would
they hold back from beating up women in public?) There is a degree of safety
in numbers (for the streakers) and I think the public in general would
shelter them in the crowd.


What a stunning day of frolic and hilarity it could be - to be repeated?


mallard@mweb.co.zw
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent

Letters

Mugabe's signature to Lancaster a forgery?

THE continuous stream of desperate lies that flows from the Zanu PF
hierarchy is more than nauseating.

One of their biggest lies relates to their ceaseless claims that Britain has
reneged on the 1979 Lancaster House Agreement.


This 57-page document is freely-available on the Internet,
(
http://home.wanadoo.pl/rhodesia/lancl.html) and from other sources for
anyone wishing to read it in detail.


On occasions, the Zanu PF stalwarts even suggest that there was an
"unofficial agreement" on the land issue.


Both Lord Carrington, the then Secretary of State for Foreign and
Commonwealth Affairs and former US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs
Chester Crocker have recently confirmed that no such "agreement" ever
existed.


The six prime signatories to this agreement included President Robert Mugabe
and the late Dr Joshua Nkomo.


An excerpt of what they signed includes:

4. (e) to campaign peacefully and without intimidation;

4. (f) to renounce the use of force for political ends;

4. (g) to accept the outcome of the elections and instruct any forces under
their authority to do the same.

That constitution versus the mutilated and abused one that Zimbabwe lives
with today reflects the extent to which Zanu PF has gone to deprive its
citizens of their citizenship, property, fair judicial process and other
rights.

All this Zanu PF has done to cling to power against the wishes of the
people.

The relevant texts relating to the land matter in this agreement are:

"18. V. Freedom from deprivation of property.

1. Every person will be protectedfrom having his property
compulsorily-acquired except when the acquisition is in the interests of
defence, public safety, public order, public morality, public health, town
and country planning, the development or utilisation of that or other
property in such a manner as to promote the public benefit or, in the case
of under-utilised land, settlement of land for agricultural purposes.

When property is wanted for one of these purposes, its acquisition will be
lawful only on condition that the law provides for the prompt payment of
adequate compensation and, where the acquisition is contested, that a court
order is obtained. A person whose property is so acquired will be guaranteed
the right of access to the High Court to determine the amount of
compensation.

2Exception will be made for the taking of possession of property during a
period of public emergency.

3.Compensation paid in respect of loss of land to anyone who is a citizen of
or ordinarily resident in Zimbabwe (or to a company the majority of whose
shareholders are such persons) will, within a reasonable time, be remittable
to any country outside Zimbabwe, free from any deduction, tax or charge in
respect of its remission, but subject always to:

(a).Its attachment by order of a court, in connection with civil
proceedings; and

(b).Reasonable restrictions as to the manner in which the payment is to be
remitted.

From the above, it is clear who is, or is not telling the truth. It is a
tragedy for Zimbabwe that the likes of the South African Minister of Foreign
Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, continues to enhance her image as one of
the more limited persons in President Mbeki's cabinet.

This, she has done recently by lapping up and believing the Zanu PF lies
that Britain has reneged on the Lancaster House Agreement.

Her bizarre utterances on this matter clearly indicates that both she and
her advisers have not done their homework or that they think that the rest
of the world are ignorant fools.

Perhaps Jonathan Moyo would like to publish their full version of "the real
facts" in the Herald - otherwise known as the epicentre of all Zanu PF
truth.

Perhaps we will also be told that RG Mugabe's signature on this document was
forged.

Walter Hurley,

Pretoria.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

SABC

 Zimbabwe admits to 'admin errors' in land reform
            January 30, 2003, 21:15


            The Zimbabwean government has admitted that some "administrative
errors" have occurred during its land reform process, Thoko Didiza, the land
affairs minister, reported today.

            Among these errors were that some commercial farmers whose land
was seized for redistribution, were left without any land, despite the
government's policy that they should be allowed to keep one farm, she said.

            "There are some instances where a person who had two farms was
left with none at all," Didiza told reporters at the Johannesburg
International Airport after a two-day visit from Zimbabwe.

            The minister took representatives of Agri SA and the National
African Farmers' Union with her on her tour. The agricultural bodies will
stay in Zimbabwe until Saturday for more visits of their own, she said.

            Didiza said other examples of administrative errors included
instances where two prospective new land owners were allocated the same
farm, and where applicants for land were allowed to settle on that land,
only to find out later that the farm had been allocated to someone else.

            "The government and the commercial farmers have started
discussions to correct the administrative irregularities," she said. They
would also discuss how to deal with foreign farmers who had invested in
Zimbabwe, including some from South Africa.

            Although the uptake of land among small-scale farmers was
between 80 and 90%, that of commercial farmers was only about 30%, Didiza
said. "That indicates to you that there are indeed challenges," she said.

            Land reform faces many challenges
            Among the factors that made the task of redistribution difficult
were the high cost of seed, fertiliser and farming implements due to the
foreign exchange rate. "Indications are that all is not hunky-dory. There
are successes, but there are also challenges," she said.

            The Zimbabwean government estimated that the maize that had been
planted, would yield a crop of 1,1-million tons, if the season went well,
the minister said. "The challenges are there, but you are beginning to see
some process of mitigation."

            One of the problems farmers faced was the cost of labour. The
government had set a minimum wage of ZD300 (R47) per month, but going
salaries ranged from ZD600 (R95) to ZD800 (R127) to as high as ZD8000
(R1272). "If the farmer can't pay enough, the workers move to another farm."

            Foot-and-mouth disease broke out in Zimbabwe two years ago and
has still not been brought under control. Didiza said the South African
cabinet would discuss the possibility of helping its neighbour with the
vaccine it needed to fight the disease. - Sapa

Back to the Top
Back to Index

BBC
 
Thursday, 30 January, 2003, 14:39 GMT
Zimbabwe migrants 'flood' neighbour
Child in field on wilted maize
Crops have failed across Zimbabwe
Botswana is unable to cope with the massive flow of illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe, says the head of its immigration service.

Roy Sekgororwane told the French news agency, AFP, that Botswana was sending back 1,600 people every month to Zimbabwe.

We are now repatriating two truckloads of illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe every day

Roy Sekgororwane, Botswana's chief immigration officer
Its detention centres are full to capacity but a large number of people are never caught, he said.

Botswana and South Africa are the richest countries in the region and both are magnets for people fleeing the food shortages, political instability and economic meltdown in Zimbabwe.

South Africa also regularly repatriates illegal immigrants to Zimbabwe.

In both countries, they seek work as domestic servants or farm labourers.

'Losing battle'

The region which borders Botswana, Matabeleland, is among the worst hit by the food shortages faced by up to half of Zimbabwe's population, some seven million people.

It is also a stronghold of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and people there say they are refused food aid from the government and are persecuted for their ethnic group and political beliefs.

Zimbabweans crossing into South Africa
South Africa is also struggling to cope with Zimbabwean emigrants

"We are seriously losing our battle to deal with this problem. This is the worst immigration problem we have ever seen in this country," Mr Sekgororwane said.

Some 125,000 Zimbabweans legally enter Botswana every week, according to a recent estimate but Mr Sekgororwane says many stay behind after their travel permits expire.

"We are now repatriating two truckloads of illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe every day, and this costs the government a lot of money," he said.

But the head of Botswana's immigration service admits that this is no long-term solution.

"What has happened is that, to some of them (Zimbabweans), it is like a joke. They just drop their things upon repatriation and come back," Mr Sekgororwane said.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

French Foreign Minstry

            GAC / Zimbabwe
            Last update : 28/01/03



            Statement by the  Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson
            (excerpt)
            (Paris, January 28, 2003)



            Three questions relating to Zimbabwe were raised yesterday at
the General Affairs Council: the renewal of sanctions, Mr. Mugabe's visit to
Paris for the France-Africa Summit in February, and Zimbabwe's participation
in the EU-Africa Summit in Lisbon slated for April.
            Let me remind you that sanctions against Zimbabwe expire on
February 18. France remains favorable to the renewal of sanctions provided
that they effectively permit, per our common position of February 2002, to
conduct a political dialogue likely to promote democracy, the rule of law
and human rights in Zimbabwe. The common position must make it possible to
reach satisfactory solutions both for the Africa-France Summit and the
EU-Africa Summit.

            We are actively continuing our discussions with our European
partners to reach an agreement.
            I would like to avoid any misunderstanding. What is at stake
here is whether the international community, whether nations can or cannot
make their views known in Zimbabwe face to face, eye to eye. In all systems
of targeted sanctions, from the most severe to the most flexible, exceptions
are allowed for contacts enabling diplomats to express their views and their
arguments, as the minister noted earlier.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Government wants new farmers in wage talks

Financial Gazette (Harare)

January 30, 2003
Posted to the web January 30, 2003

Harare

THE agricultural industry has resumed collective bargaining after the
government threw out a wage agreement reached last year because farmers
resettled under the A2 phase of its agrarian reforms were not involved in
initial discussions, it was learnt this week.

Industry executives said negotiations had resumed between the Agriculture
Labour Bureau (ALB), the General Plantation Workers' Union of Zimbabwe
(GAPWUZ) and the government.

The ALB represents mostly white commercial farmers while GAPWUZ looks after
the interests of most of Zimbabwe's farm workers.

Industry officials involved in the wage discussions, which resumed last
Thursday, said farmers resettled under the A2 or commercial farming phase of
the government's controversial land reform programme were not involved in
last year's collective bargaining because they did not have an employers'
organisation representing their interests.

They said the government was therefore afraid that the A2 farmers would not
be able to pay the salaries agreed between the ALB and GAPWUZ.

The officials however said it would be impossible to convince GAPWUZ to now
accept lower salaries for farm workers.

Agriculture industry executives said it might be necessary to introduce a
two-tier salary system for the sector, under which newly resettled
commercial farmers could pay less than their established counterparts.

"The government felt that there had not been wide consultations during the
negotiations and by that they meant the new farmers were not included and
this is true," an official with ALB said. "But this was because they did not
have their own organisation representing them in the negotiations.

"But what I see happening now is that there will be a two-tier arrangement
where the new farmers will say, because they are new, they would need more
time to be able to pay what we had agreed with GAPWUZ."

But analysts said a two-tier system would not be in the best interests of
workers employed by resettled commercial farmers, while delays in
implementing a collective bargaining agreement would also prejudice all
agricultural workers.

If the collective bargaining agreement reached last September had been
sanctioned by the government, the minimum wage in the agriculture sector
would have risen by more than 50 percent.

Wages for the lowest paid workers would have risen to $7 500 per month from
$4 300.

The highest paid workers would earn $18 400, up from $11 000.

Although the new wages would have improved the lot of most farm workers,
they are still lagging far behind inflation, which surged to 198.9 percent
in the year to December.

Farm workers are among the least paid employees in Zimbabwe, despite
previous government promises to encourage farmers to revamp their salaries.

The difficulties faced by farm workers have been compounded by the
government's agrarian reforms, which have left most farm employees jobless
and homeless in the past two years.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


Water rationing slated for March
Augustine Mukaro

WATER rationing for Harare and its dormitory towns of Chitungwiza, Norton,
Ruwa and Epworth has been set for March because of serious discrepancies
between the pumping capacity and consumption levels plus the fast-dwindling
inflows of raw water in the catchment areas.



Speaking at a consultative meeting that was forcibly dispersed by the police
this week, Harare executive mayor Engineer Elias Mudzuri said council would
be forced to ration water by the beginning of March to enable it to survive
the current water problems.


Mudzuri said the demand for clean water was now exceeding supply because of
the lack of forward planning by past councils and the commission which ran
the affairs of the city from 1999-2002.


"The water crisis is being exacerbated by the inconsistent supply of foreign
currency for chemicals by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and government but
this could have been under control if the past local authority leadership
had carried out the recommended projects," Mudzuri said.


He said according to the 1997 plans, the construction of Kunzwi Dam and
supply of water to the city would have been completed by 2002.


"Demand outstripped yield of the Manyame area as far back as 1998 and by
2001 demand even outstripped the Morton Jaffrey water treatment plant design
capacity," he said.


Currently Harare has a consumption level of 720 million litres a day while
its production capacity stands at around 550 million litres. The situation
translates to a shortfall of 170 million litres of water needed for daily
use in both domestic and industrial work.


Mudzuri said water rationing has to be introduced to prolong the current raw
water supplies in the dams. The quality of raw water drastically
deteriorated due to the drought and massive pollution of water sources.

"As we speak we have a 14-month supply of water left in the sources and in
the face of a predicted drought, conservation measures have to be put in
place to prolong the current water in the dams," he said.


He said the water problems were not likely to end unless government
immediately embarked on the Kunzwi Dam project.


"Even if government embarks on the project right away, the water crisis will
haunt us for the next four years before the project can be completed," he
said.


Harare has been hit by intermittent shortages of clean water as chemicals
used in the treatment process are in short supply due to the scarcity of
foreign currency in the country.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Smells Like Disinformation Psych OPs To Me
by NY Daily News Ľ Thursday January 30, 2003 at 06:11 PM

This article claims Iraqi spies and agents infiltrated and started the anit-war movement here. They sure did a fantastic job....even retired General Schwarzkopf was duped..he is against the invasion without UN full support.

Smells Like Disinformatio...
schwarzkopfuniformed.jpg, JPG image, 96x120

Report: Iraqi spies in U.S.



By JAMES GORDON MEEK
DAILY NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU

WASHINGTON - Iraq sent spies from Canada to New York and Washington this month to snoop and stir up anti-war demonstrations, according to a government report obtained by the Daily News.


The classified document also reveals a plot by Al Qaeda-linked militants in Zimbabwe to attack American targets in that country and elsewhere if the U.S. declares war on Iraq.


It suggests the group, Tablik Ja'maat, could be a "conduit for communication" between Osama Bin Laden's terror network and Iraqi leaders.


The threats, disclosed to U.S. spy agencies yesterday, are detailed in a secret report prepared by an intelligence unit in the Homeland Security Department.


It comes as the White House weighs the release of classified information to prove Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's links to Al Qaeda and efforts to evade UN weapons inspectors.


A source identified as a member of the Iraqi opposition told U.S. agents that Iraqis in Canada were ordered to recruit Arabs and other foreigners for espionage missions in the U.S., the report said.


The Iraqi Embassy in Ottawa sent operatives to New York and Washington with instructions to "intensify spying activities and to carry out anti-U.S. demonstrations to stop a war against Iraq," the report said.


The report said the Iraqis were willing to spend "large sums" to back the effort.


The report also describes a plot by Tablik Ja'maat to carry out "coordinated attacks" against U.S targets in Zimbabwe if war is declared on Iraq. Other attacks, revealed by the group's leader at a Jan. 18 meeting at a mosque in Harare, would take place in Pakistan, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey, South Africa and Israel, the report said.


An Associated Press report last week said that the FBI is looking to question as many as 50,000 Iraqis living in the U.S. to root out potential spies and terror cells.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

newindpress

Officials, politicians not allowed on field during World Cup

PTI

DURBAN: English cricketers' dilemma about whether or not to shake hands with
president Robert Mugabe if they have to play their World Cup match in
Zimbabwe has been put to rest by an ICC decision which denies any official
role to politicians or administrators during the mega event.

After the inaugural ceremony on February 8, not a single administrator or
politician would be allowed to step on to the grounds till the World Cup was
presented to the winning team by ICC President Malcolm Gray, World Cup
organising committee chairman Ali Bacher said.

"This was a policy decision taken jointly by the ICC and myself," Bacher was
quoted by media reports as saying. "Once the tournament starts, it is the
cricketers who must be on the front pages, not the administrators."

"Politicians may be invited as VIP guests to the games but they will have no
official role to play, apart from the opening ceremony, where president
Thabo Mbeki (of South Africa) will officially open the eighth World Cup,"
Bacher said.

The decision means that even if England have to travel to Zimbabwe to play
their match against the hosts in Harare on February 13 they would be spared
of the embarrassing possibility of having to shake hands with Mugabe.

Bacher said whether Mugabe attended any of the six games to be played in
Zimbabwe was an issue to be sorted out by the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU).
Mugabe is also the patron of ZCU.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

JAG COMMUNIQUE January 30, 2003
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Zimbabwe's "Agrarian Revolution" is a Cancer

For once the effluvious mouthpiece of Zanu(PF), the Herald, has actually
printed something that has a ring of truth to it: "The land revolution
that was sparked in Zimbabwe is likely to eat like cancer at most
governments in Africa and beyond if not addressed in time". The chaotic
and nepotistic manner in which the "fast track" land reform programme has
been executed has effectively killed the economy in Zimbabwe, and like a
cancer, is in danger of metastasizing to neighbouring regions of the
continent. From much of the commentary thrown Zimbabwe's way, it seems
that South Africa and Namibia are viewing Zimbabwe with much interest, to
see the long term results of this campaign. We must certainly address this
potential hazard "in time", for there is a great danger for the entire
region should it follow in Mugabe's devastating footsteps.

The sympathy and approbation for the Zimbabwean land reform programme
expressed by the South African Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nkhosana
Dhlamini-Zuma, and by her Namibian counterpart, is worrying in the
extreme. The short term effects of our "jambanja" exploits are undeniably
famine and anarchy, compounded by an economic collapse second to none in
recent history. How then can any sane politician view it as "a model that
can be the answer to other African countries' problems", as the secretary
general of the Land Access Movement of South Africa puts it. Obviously the
cancer is already spreading..

And at first glance one might consider the recent Scottish land reform
bill as symptomatic of a longer distance metastasis. However, despite the
apparent similarities, there are a number of crucial differences that make
this something else entirely. Certainly, nobody can question the
importance of agrarian reform in a society where there is an inequality of
land distribution. And this is more the case in Scotland than in Zimbabwe
- some 50% of all rural land in Scotland is owned by just under 400 people
or bodies. This represents the highest level of private land ownership in
the world, and none of it has changed hands within the last fifty years.

In contrast, only 18.5% of the land area of Zimbabwe was encompassed by
white commercial farmland in 2000. In 1980 this was pegged at 28.2%
represents a decrease of 10% over the course of twenty years. Furthermore,
despite government's lamentation at the slow rate at which the
"willing-seller, willing-buyer" policy was progressing, 82% of the land in
Zimbabwe under commercial agriculture changed hands after 1980. This
means, had the government not passed up the opportunity to buy land
(considering they have the right of first refusal on all land offered for
sale), white commercial land ownership might have been as low as 5%.
Furthermore, land is made fertile through years of careful maintenance and
husbandry - there is no innately fertile soil in Zimbabwe, as we are led
to believe. Had the government made available the facilities for communal
farmers to undertake small-scale commercial or market gardens, (as with
ARDA farms in "marginal" areas,) many more people would have access to
fertile land.

In Scotland, the reform bill calls for those who are currently working the
land at the behest of the owners to buy the land from them, the argument
being that they are entitled to ownership of the land that they have
worked for years. They are seen as holding a legitimate claim to the land
by virtue of the fact that they have kept and maintained the land for
generations. In Zimbabwe, this might be equated to farm labourers
purchasing plots directly from the commercial farmers. It is not uncommon
for farmers to grant plots of land to those farm labourers who retire, and
that when the farms change hands, one of the conditions of sale is that
they retain these plots. However, the current "fast track" land reform
programme has not provided many ousted farmers with any compensation for
the land that has been taken, and has furthermore evicted the majority of
those people that actually worked the land in preference for more
"politically acceptable" tenants. The only way that any reasonable
comparison could be made with Scotland is if Blair were evicting all
tenants from the farms and putting Tony's cronies in their place.

It is hard under Zimbabwean law to subdivide plots - a fact that is being
used to excuse the government's failure to facilitate the provision of
title deeds for the new "owners". A more realistic reason for this failure
is that title cannot be obtained without purchase - unless the land is
paid for by the government, they will be unable to get the title. It can
be argued that Zanu(PF) is happier with peasant farmers who retain no
title for their land, since they cannot obtain loans and economic
independence, but must rather rely on the government to provide the
necessary inputs. This makes it easier to "keep them in line", to make
them toe the party line. Under the Scottish system, the tenant farmers
will obtain title for the land that they have been farming, and will
compensate the current owners of the land. It is not a case of theft as
has been seen in Zimbabwe, but rather a case of enforced purchase.

Land reform is undeniably a sticky problem, and it is guaranteed that
people will be unhappy with any solution that is settled on. But at least
the Scottish land reform programme is somewhat equitable, in that people
with a legitimate claim to the land are empowered to purchase it. In
Zimbabwe, the chaotic process of "jambanja" has failed to empower those
who have been allocated land, because they have no inputs, tillage, or
facility to obtain these things for themselves. It is odious for any group
to deal with a government that has so wantonly destroyed the agriculture
of a country, especially in the midst of a drought cycle. And in this
light, the recent meetings of the CFU with government ministries must be
seen as a betrayal of faith of the highest order. The CFU can hardly claim
to represent its 1200 members when it is pledging to assist the government
in an agricultural recovery programme that excludes them from
participation. Until a complete return to the rule of law is observed, any
dealing with an illegitimate and corrupt government betrays a dangerous
and wanton na´vetÚ.

Where the Scottish programme might progress at a more sedate pace, closer
to the willing-seller, willing-buyer programme, it will at least avoid the
horrific destruction of agricultural infrastructure, and the concomitant
breakdown of law and of the economy that Zimbabwe has suffered. We can
only pray that the rest of the region will be spared the cancer of
Zimbabwe's agrarian reform programme, because it will result in more
deaths than could ever be justified. Like any cancer, we need to treat it,
and fast.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

THE JAG TEAM

JAG Hotlines:
(011) 612 595 If you are in trouble or need advice,
    (011) 205 374
       (011) 863 354 please don't hesitate to contact us -
       (091) 317 264
    (011)207 860 we're here to help!
(011) 431 068

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Justice for Agriculture mailing list
To subscribe/unsubscribe: Please write to
jag-list-admin@mango.zw
Back to the Top
Back to Index