From The Zimbabwe Independent, 5 January
Govt deploys more troops to Congo war
Zimbabwe is deploying more troops to the southern front of the DRC to strengthen the allied forces' shaky defence lines and stem rebel advances as renewed fighting in the war intensifies, it was learnt this week. Information at hand shows that government has dispatched 1.1 Infantry Battalion based at Induna Barracks in Bulawayo to the Congo war front. This follows the fall of Pweto and Pepa last month. A Zimbabwean battalion has up to 1 000 soldiers. It is understood that government has also deployed specialised paratroopers from the Parachute Group based at Inkomo Barracks, about 40km outside Harare, to reinforce the allied ranks.
"About 130 members belonging to Company B from Inkomo Barracks went to the DRC in early December following the defeat and crossing into Zambia of Zimbabwean and Congolese government forces," a military source told the Zimbabwe Independent. "Companies A and C will follow anytime now as reinforcements. They are currently on stand-by," the source said. About 300 Zimbabwean soldiers and thousands of Congolese FAC forces of President Laurent Kabila fled into Zambia after rebels seized the strategic towns in the south-eastern extreme of the country. The Zimbabwean soldiers who fled the fighting have since been returned to the front.
Reports say Joseph Kabila, the Congolese leader's son who was involved in the Pweto and Pepa battles, also escaped the rebel onslaught with senior Zimbabwean commanders and Burundian Hutu militia leaders aboard a ferry named Alliance along the Luvua River. They abandoned on a soccer field a Mi-17 jet fighter that had earlier brought them to Pweto, it was reported. Military sources said the latest developments in the conflict which has degenerated into a war of attrition have also prompted government to put on standby more specialised combat soldiers from 1 Commando based at Cranborne Barracks. Hundreds of soldiers have also been waiting at Cranborne Barracks to return to the DRC since last year. They were being delayed by fuel shortages and lack of transport, sources say.
Government usually hires planes from other countries including Russia and Ukraine to ferry troops to and from the Congo because it does not have its own air transports capable of ferrying a full company. But sources say it was now difficult for government to continue hiring planes from abroad due to foreign currency shortages. While troops have been moving up and down from the Congo on routine rotational schedules, sources pointed out the current movements included new deployments. In September government sent eight pilots to Libya for training who were set to come back next month. Sources said they would be immediately sent to the Congo. Zimbabwe has between 11 000 and 12 000 troops in the Congo.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that the fall of Pweto and Pepa - which came after the allied forces' massive attack on rebel lines turned into a bloody retreat - could change the course of the 30-month old civil war. Rwandan commanders have described the fighting on the southern front as the most intense in the war yet. "At the southern extreme of a ragged front line that winds 1 400 miles across Congo lies a ferry, dirty pink and half-submerged in the muddy Luvua River," wrote Karl Vick of the Washington Post Foreign Service this week after touring Congo. "Facing it on a gravel ramp stand the burned-out husks of 33 military vehicles, armoured personnel carriers, trucks, an ambulance waiting in a line that never moved forward. Unopened syringes lie underfoot, amid charred tyres and a trampled note that a fleeing Congolese junior officer left behind," the Post said. Two howitzers, two T-62 tanks and at least a half-dozen armoured personnel carriers were left intact for the Rwandans, as well as three ammunition dumps and an arms cache with about 1 000 rifles.
The American newspaper explains how the renewed fighting started on the southern front: "On October 15, Kabila's troops launched a massive assault on Rwandan-held positions in the southeast, striking 100 miles north of Pweto at the town of Pepa. Six weeks later, as happened in the northwest, Kabila's forces once again lost far more than they gained." It was said that the Congolese forces attacked and shelled Pweto reinforced by armoured personnel carriers and British-made Hawk combat aircraft from Zimbabwe. The Interahamwe militias - who Rwandans were in pursuit of - were said to form part of the allied offensive and their subsequent retreat.
Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe are fighting alongside Kabila while Rwanda and Uganda are backing a consortium of Congolese rebel movements. Rwandan officials accuse Presidents Mugabe and Kabila of acting in bad faith during recent peace negotiations which led to the signing of the disengagement plan in Harare and the 15-km withdrawal agreement. "We were really talking about withdrawing 120 miles to an operational zone closer to Rwanda," said Colonel Charles Kayonga, defence adviser to Rwandan President Paul Kagame. "Kabila must have misread our position. He apparently thought we were weak," he said.
The Post explained what transpired later on. "What ensued, according to Rwandan and Congolese soldiers alike, was a three-week running battle across the 100 miles between Pepa and Pweto. Weeks later, the road south towards Pweto remained speckled not only with green and white butterflies, but with corpses - here the body of a young man cut down clutching an AK-47, here a splayed green poncho topped by a skull. By December 1, the Rwandan forces had Pweto nearly in sight, approaching the lakeside plain around the town on an abandoned road...," the Post said. "By the evening of December 3, when Rwandans entered the town, the civilian population had pushed en masse down a muddy road into Zambia, and Kabila's forces were betraying something like panic."
"The Rwandans are very strong; they do flanking actions," said a Congolese government soldier, Selester Mbanza, from a hospital bed in Nchelenge, Zambia. "They get around people. That's how they fight. They use the right tactics. They came when we were resting and we have been distracted," he told the Post.From The Daily News, 4 January
Zanu PF members looting Red Cross
Bulawayo - Corruption involving top government officials is said to be prejudicing the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society, as board members demand hefty packages for attending meetings, while expenses by management have cost the organisation more than $3 million. Senior employees said donors had also been taken by surprise when the organisation decided to acquire a farm owned by the Matabeleland North Governor, Obert Mpofu, which is to be turned into lodges, a move that has also been criticised by professionals within the organisation.
Mpofu, while admitting that the Red Cross had approached him in connection with this farm, said nothing concrete had been finalised. However, sources within the organisation maintained that the farm had already been acquired for a figure believed to be around $2 million. Dr Swithun Mombeshora, the Minister of Transport and Communications, is the president of the Red Cross Society, while some of the board members are former Zanu PF chairman for Masvingo province, Dzikamai Mavhaire, senior civil servant Dr Samuel Mahera and the organisation's second vice-president, Reuben Mnkandla.
Some board members are said to be unhappy with the decision to acquire Mpofu's farm as this would cut deeper into the organisation's coffers - worsening its plight for more funding necessary to help victims of the Cyclone Eline disaster and people living with HIV/Aids. The construction of the lodge is expected to gobble an estimated $3 million, further depleting the organisation's resource because donor funds continue to dwindle. A board member told The Daily News: "Donor fatigue is evident in the country and the Red Cross will be the first to bear witness to that Mozambique got more aid than Zimbabwe when Cyclone Eline struck last year. It is clear that there is more to the operations of the organisation than meets the eye."
Board members, mostly politicians from Zanu PF, are said to be pushing for an increase in allowances for attending board meetings from $1 000 to $20 000. A decision is yet to be passed on the proposal. While efforts to seek comment from Mombeshora proved fruitless yesterday, Mavhaire accused The Daily News of using his name to boost its sales and asked to be left out of the matter. "Go and ask the superiors, I am the Masvingo board chairman of Red Cross. There are other officials you can ask who are not Mavhaire," he said before switching off his mobile telephone.
Mpofu denied that he had already sold the land to the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society, but admitted the organisation made some inquiries. Asked how the Red Cross came to have an interest in the farm since it was never advertised, Mpofu said: "That is a private affair. You cannot ask me why I didn't advertise my property. Go ahead and write your story with the information that you have." He said after making an inquiry, the Red Cross officials did not return. Red Cross provincial programmes officer for Matabeleland North, Scot Mpofu, refused to comment yesterday, referring all questions to the secretary-general in Harare, Bongai Mundeta, who was not available.Allegations were also raised against some board members for lavish spending of the organisation's funds, estimated to have cost the organisation at least $3 million in the last two years. It is also alleged board members sold themselves Red Cross cars, when these became due for disposal. Mavhaire is alleged to have acquired one of the vehicles.From an MDC activist, 2 January
After the violence that had rocked the Marondera West by election it was inevitable that ZANU PF would adopt a policy of violence and intimidation in Bikita West - working on the basis that the policy had worked in Marondera West and would work again. A day after the ZANU PF congress finished in Harare, Chenjerai Hunzvi led a convoy of trucks ferrying about 150 ZANU PF youths into Bikita,. They made their headquarters the Bikita Training Centre, a government institution. Their presence immediately raised tension in the area. Hunzvi was joined by Joseph Chinotimba and Border Gezi. Most of what has transpired since that time has been adequately covered in The Daily News so what follows is what has occurred in the last few days.
On 30 December three petrol bombs were thrown at a group of MDC campaigners at Nyika Growth Point. A Mercedes Benz motor vehicle belonging to an MDC campaigner and war veteran Dr. Mudzingwa was burned after a petrol bomb was thrown into it, allegedly on the instructions of Hunzvi. The incident occurred in view of the Police at Nyika who appear to have simply let the incident pass. The vehicle is at Nyika Service Station. It is not burned beyond economical repair and will be towed into Masvingo for repair in the next day or so.
Bernard Gora, a ZANU PF campaigner was stabbed to death by MDC youths shortly after the petrol bomb incident. The MDC youths had reacted to ZANU PF youths who again on the alleged instructions of Hunzvi, had prevented MDC supporters from going to a place where they wanted to hold a rally. It is understood that no one has been arrested over the incident.
It has been reliably established that ZANU PF intend abducting Chief Mazungunye who has thrown his weight behind the MDC and who is an influential figure in the constituency. On New Year’s day Shadreck Marima who stood as the MDC candidate in Bikita East, and who has been helping Boniface Pakai in his campaign, was arrested by the ZRP. He is being detained at Bikita Police Station and it is understood that he will be charged with inciting public violence. It is not clear what evidence the Police have to substantiate these charges.
Information received indicates that there is a very real possibility that the election will be postponed if ZANU PF come to the conclusion (in the next few days) that they will not win the election. It is suggested that what they will do is ‘manufacture’ violence and blame it on the MDC, in order to give the President an opportunity to postpone the elections. This would give them more time to intimidate the electorate into voting for them. In particular, the additional time would provide the opportunity to bring added pressure on those Chiefs and Headmen who they perceive to be MDC supporters.
Further information to hand suggests that on the 6 January, ZANU PF will flood the constituency with more youths and war veterans. The plan would be to make it absolutely impossible for the MDC to campaign in the final days before the election - assuming it does go ahead on the 13 and 14 January. This is exactly the same ploy that ZANU PF used for the Marondera West election. They are working on the basis that a high turnout of voters will favour the MDC whilst a low turnout of voters will favour ZANU PF. In the latter case, they assume that the majority of those voting would be ZANU PF supporters, whilst those who were kept away from the polls through intimidation would be MDC supporters. There is also the suggestion that on polling days ZANU PF will mobilise and station their war vets etc at points more than 100 metres from polling stations. Their ‘job’ would be to ‘vet’ those who want to vote and to try and prevent those who they believe are MDC supporters (particularly the under 35 age group) from getting to the polls.
From The Daily News, 4 January
Court throws out postponement of election hearing
The Supreme Court yesterday refused to grant the Attorney-General's Office a four-week postponement of the hearing of the MDC's challenge to President Mugabe's decree on election petitions. Instead, Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay ruled that the matter be heard on 19 January as opposed to 31 January which the AG's office had requested, saying that they needed time to hire an unnamed South African defence counsel.
Said Gubbay: "Were it not for the fact that the applicants needed the time to secure the service of the defence counsel, the court would have dismissed the case with costs because it has no merits." Justice Gubbay then ordered the AG's office to prepare their heads of arguments and submit them to the court before end of business on 16 January. The Supreme Court had earlier set the date for the MDC hearing for yesterday before the government applied for the postponement.
Yvonne Dondo, from the AG's Office, told the court that the government wanted to be represented by a lawyer with experience similar to that of advocates Chris Andersen and Eric Matinenga, representing the MDC. Said Dondo: "The applicants feel that they needed this matter to be dealt with by the best legal brains they can have. The AG's office does not have the capacity to argue the matter in a manner the appellant can do. The AG's Office does not have the capacity and enough officers to handle the matter. Some officers had gone on leave, hence the need to acquire outside counsel," she said. She said the Attorney-General, Andrew Chigovero, returned from leave on Tuesday and was ill-prepared to handle the case while his deputy, Bharat Patel was also on leave.
Justice Ahmed Ebrahim said: "Are you saying that the leave comes first before this important matter?" The court said the government should have anticipated the challenges after they published the decree to ban the petitions. Anderson had asked the court to dismiss the application arguing that the government was involved in "delaying tactics before the day of reckoning." Andersen said: "There was no effort to make sure that the matter be heard expeditiously." The MDC election challenges were set to be heard in the High Court next week.
From The Star (SA), 4 January
UN boss to meet Rwanda about tug-of-war town
Kigali - The head of the United Nations' observer mission in the DRC is due here on Thursday to meet Rwanda's chief of staff, the UN said. Talks between Senegal's General Mountaga Diallo and Rwanda's Kayumba Nyamanza are expected to focus on the situation in Pweto, a town in the southeast DRC held by Rwandan-backed rebels and bombed by government forces on Sunday. According to the rebel Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD) which took the town in early December, two civilians died in the attack. Pweto lies in the southeast of Katanga province, on the road to Lubumbashi, the country's second city. Its population has fled the town and its surroundings.
On Friday, Rwanda called on the UN to deploy immediately in the area to allow troops involved there to pull back. In mid-1999, parties to the war in the DRC - including Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia on the side of the DRC's President Laurent Kabila - signed a ceasefire deal in Lusaka that provided for UN forces to deploy. But the deal never got of the ground and the ceasefire has been repeatedly violated. On December 6, all parties - with the exception of one rebel group - signed a new deal on troop disengagement.
Rural District Council Vacant Seat By-Elections – 26th and 27th January 2001
The above by-elections are due to take place throughout the country on the above dates. Southern Region has 24 vacant seats.
It is important that MDC gains a foothold in all District Councils whenever they are contested
Unconfirmed reports have been received that possible candidates for the MDC have already been intimidated. In one case a supporter has been chased from his area to seek refuge. We need to provide support to all candidates who are nominated and selected to stand as councillors in their individual Council Wards.
Nominations will take place on the 9th January 2001. The vacant seats are :-
Prvincial Chairman: Mogen Komichi tel: 011430921, Hwange 3564.
Provincial Chairman: Rabson Tlou tel: 011215756
Provincial Chairman: North Isaac Mzimba tel 055 46049, South J Gondo tel: 011801795
Provincial Chairman: Shaky Matake tel; 023894538, 023819220, 039 63592
Please pass this message on to as many people as possible as volunteers are required to assist in each individual constituency campaign. Volunteers should contact the Provincial Chairman as indicated above.
Imagine If Uncle Bob Were White!
Financial Gazette (Harare)
January 4, 2001
Have you ever imagined where we would be as a country if uncle Bobodan were white? Or, better still, where he would be as a person?
Uncle owns two farms in rural Mashonaland, which are his rural homes. He has two other huge plots on either side of Seventh Street.
His wife, on her secretarial salary, managed to build a multi- million-dollar mansion in Harare's plush Borrowdale suburb, a feat only previously matched by the Lord Jesus Christ when He converted a boys' fish sandwich into a meal for over 5 000 people.
Uncle also has another plot in Borrowdale where he is building another mansion, as well as the property in Qourn Avenue. Very few white chief executives can boast such amazing accumulation within the last 20 years.
He is always on the aeroplane to some non-African destination, with his shopping wife. Imagine what the landless peasants and ex-comrades would say about this insatiable appetite for land by one man. Or is it a clan?
He has colonised all the important highways in the country by giving them his name. If uncle Bob were white, we would have called him "an enemy of the state" or an imperialist, part of the filthy-rich minority.
He would in his obscene opulence mock the landlessness and homelessness that is the lot of many Zimbabweans, especially the freedom fighters.
We would never even consider him worth resting at the National Heroes' Acre when he finally retires from mortal affairs, as we all shall some day! At least not with his record of butchering black civilians in the Midlands and Matabeleland! I am yet to figure out what uncle "Taboo" Mbeki would say about such a propertied white person with such an unpleasant history, urging his charges to strike fear in the hearts of his racial rivals. What a sign of African renaissance and the African dream? My foot! "Taboo" Mbeki himself seems not keen to strike fear in the heart of the white man and yet his country was under white tyranny for a longer period of time than ours. Could it be that the Afrikaners were more humane than the Rhodies? I doubt! "Taboo" straddles the international plane courting global capitalism to come and invest in South Africa. A review of the recent rush by South African companies to invest in Zimbabwe shows clearly that we are South Africa's new colony.
If uncle Bob were white, we would have acquired all his farms and told him to go back to his own people. Some of his relatives and human friends may even have lost their lives as the landless and hungry "Hunzvites" descended on their properties.
Chenjerai Hunzvi would have simply said tough luck, this is a third "chimurenga", misnamed chimurenga.
Mind you, the courts would not be allowed to intervene. If they tried to, we would simply order Commissioner "Tear Smoke" not to enforce the law or simply ask the judges to toe the party line or resign, or better still appoint our own enlightened ones. "Ndokutonga zve", "that is how we rule", "yikho ukubusa".You can't rule without oppressing someone else.
Just less than three decades ago "Rhodies" exhibited similar barbarism towards powerless blacks. They used the same crude terror tactics to forcibly expropriate our land.
Rhodies invented violence as a common tool for resource acquisition. They crafted race bigotry and made it sacrosanct and worshipped it.
White privilege in Zimbabwe was undeniably founded on the violent dispossession of black masses. Rhodies monopolised the organs of state through violence. They never dreamt that similar terror would return to haunt future generations of white Zimbabweans who may not have had anything to do with that historical savagery.
Some silly day soon uncle Bob will no longer be in power and his cohorts will cease to be "mini-stars". If future governments insist on similar retributive justice, what will happen to Chatunga and many other innocent children born to these men and women who have wrecked our nation? Only mortal foolishness inhibits us from seeing that retribution is a vicious cycle that annihilates both the perpetrator and the victim.
Genuine truth, justice and reconciliation must have a day in our nation. There must be an equitable redistribution and distribution of resources and opportunities between races, regions and genders.
Land must, first of all, go to the landless. We are duty-bound by historical experience and the expediences of national survival to strive to eliminate all forms of prejudice. Zimbabweans must mend the wounds of history materially, socially, psychologically and spiritually.
True reconciliation will take more than shaking hands, hugging and post-historical admissions of guilt. Earned and unearned privilege may have to be willfully surrendered in order to achieve equity.
Whites have a material and real contribution that they must corporately and individually make to the process of reconciliation. The syndrome of "otherisation" that has led most whites to exist in a world of "us" and "them" is an unsustainable myth. Rhodesia must give up the ghost if we are ever going to build Zimbabwe.
There is just no space for an exclusive white homeland for the white tribe. Clever whites know this reality and they renounced their Rhodesian citizenship in 1980. Clever black people know that we will forever now be a multi-racial society. Others have not yet renounced their guerrilla passports.
To the Rhodies and the comrades, the war is over "magents" and we have a country to build. So, let's get on with it. What should determine redistribution and acquisition of land should not be solely one's skin colour. Mind you, if Hunzvi had by some misfortune retired from the world of mortals during the course of his marriage to his Polish lover and the mother of his children, his family would be a victim of this blanket race-based approach.
I can think of many other freedom fighters who married across the colour line. Must we also strike fear in the hearts of their wives? What are we saying about them and ourselves? Two wrongs do not make a right. There are white people who have absolutely no link with Rhodesia and others who risked their lives and comfort fighting against it, in as much as there are black people even in Cabinet and Parliament who fraternised with it.
There are hardworking citizens who bought their farms after independence. We cannot - even for political reasons - treat them as colonisers who must get no compensation whatsoever.
The ghost of Rhodesia must leave us some day soon if we are to progress into the 21st century.
It is true that a good number of white Zimbabweans may still have very Rhodesian tendencies. They mistreat and abuse their black employees.
It is a fact that in some industries white employees still get far much better treatment than their black superiors, let alone counterparts.
As a nation we must address these problems. The starting point is, of course, in exposing and confronting these social ills. The enormity of these failings of our nationhood should not justify our degeneration into mindless self-destruction.
I have never, not even for a minute, believed that white agriculture is the most efficient and only productive form of commercial agriculture. Nor am I persuaded that without it, in its racial specificity, we will starve as a country. That is a myth, and a racist one for that matter.
The super-efficiency of white commercial agriculture should not be viewed outside of the rampant exploitation of black labour and the pathetic shacks that house farm labourers. It is an inhumane efficiency, admittedly with a few exceptions.
So, I have never subscribed to the notion of a victim white farmer. I am, however, clear in my mind that the Rhodesian-style racial targeting that has attended the land issue is, irrespective of the well-known historical factors, unjust and blatantly unlawful. Not necessarily because Zimbabwe will starve without its white commercial farmers, but because as pan-Africanists we are way beyond the myopia of race wars. We are morally beyond the decadence of apartheid policies.
I am most perturbed by uncle Bob's fixation with proving a point to whites. It smacks of a debilitating inferiority complex. A complex which assumes that in order for a black person to get recognition he/she has to prove his/her competence to whites ("mavet").
A person only strives to prove himself/herself to those that he/she feels weaker than or inferior to. Why, under heaven, should a legitimate programme of black economic empowerment and poverty alleviation be necessarily enslaved to the imbecile concern with frightening white people? More so if one has the legal instruments to achieve the ends of equity without the fanfare and drama? If the 1998 land policy and the present constitution are sufficient to acquire the needed land, why should we engage in Nazi-style detours which might result in our international banishment and the destruction of our economy?
Why should we endanger black economic empowerment just for the sake of proving a point to 100 000 white people? Whether it is fear or joy that one wants to instill into the heart of the white person, such a preoccupation is symptomatic of a severe lack of self-worth. Self- respecting black people should strive to do the best they can for the betterment of our country and its wonderful people.
True Africanism requires that we build a continent with a culture of self-worth and a respect for the sanctity of life as opposed to bigotry and bloodshed. We will not go far if we always measure everything we do according to white standards.
It does not matter much whether it is white acceptance or annoyance which we seek to achieve. It would still be a myopic enterprise which capitulates to the racist stereotype of a morally and intellectually inferior African.
I am saddened by uncle Bob's mimicking of dead white prime ministers and living senile ones. What Ian Smith did to black people in Rhodesia was not heroism, but foolishness and a testimony of his moral bankruptcy.
He planted the seeds of hatred that make it possible to divide our nation and destroy our economy to prove a point to 100 000 whites. Smith didn't have much social orientation, nor did he have role models like Madiba. His ignorance explained itself.
What about us the other 12 million blacks? Who will prove to us that life can be better and that the economy can be well-managed and our rights can be respected? Who will prove to us that there is a future for our children and a good life for hardworking black people? If we elected a black-looking government which sees its mission as proving a point to its colonial masters, where is our government which wants to come through for us? Racism is an expensive card and whoever buys it must be willing to live with the curse it brings. For Chatunga, Bona and all the other born-frees' sake, we must prepare for them a future where no group of citizens will want to strike fear into their heart.
Uncle Bob is black. He just has this fixation with whiteness and whites. We have been independent for 20 years and it would do all of us buckets of good if we started acting our age instead of our shoe size.
* Brian Kagoro is a National Constitutional Assembly activist currently studying in the United Kingdom.
Robert Mugabe has handpicked a new
generation of young and energetic politicians through whom he intends to lead
the largely septuagenarian ruling party to victory in Zimbabwe's presidential
elections, expected within 18 months.
But the tactic of enlisting young Turks, such as 30-year-old David
Kasukuwere, is a gamble that could backfire on the old men running the Zimbabwe
African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF).
Mr Kasukuwere, Zanu-PF's youngest MP, is a classic product of ambition and
patronage. He is arrogant and ruthless, and owes everything, including his gold
BMW (with leather seats and car phone) to ruling party contacts that have come
down to him through his liberation hero father. He, in common with other young
Zanu-PF politicians, has gone into politics for business reasons.
Outwardly, he says he wants a debate over whether 76-year-old President
Mugabe should be replaced by a younger man and, as a result, he is presented as
a reformer. But in reality, he depends entirely on Mr Mugabe. He has just been
awarded one of five oil-importation contracts; one of his companies distributes
coal in the east of the country; and he runs two transport firms whose lorries
bring back spoils from the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
To the charge that his mega-capitalism is at odds with Zanu-PF's supposed
Marxism, he said: "I am not a capitalist, I am a capital-former and I believe
firmly in empowering the masses. That is why giving them back the land is
crucial. Land is everything to us.
"I am part of a new generation in the party. We want the economy to be
expanded. The state cannot continue subsidising the people. It cannot afford to
give tablets for malaria and STDs. The role of the government is to create an
environment for people to make money," he said.
Zanu-PF claims that, in the absence of international donors, it has proceeded
with its own land resettlement programme – a "fast-track" approach under which
five million hectares will be redistributed to 150,000 families. The government
claims the programme is nearly complete, but United Nations land specialists who
have seen "resettled" areas say that only a tiny proportion has been tilled.
Mr Kasukuwere, MP for Mount Darwin, about 125 miles (200km) from Harare,
adopts the party line: "We are going to have a bumper harvest in February. We
have planted grain, cotton and groundnuts. We are farmers by birth."
He, however, has clearly grown into a white-collar reaper of wealth. Straight
from school, "Tyson", as he is known, joined the infamous Central Intelligence
Organisation – in middle management. "It's all about your ability to have and to
form good contacts," he said.
In his mid-twenties, he went into business, taking little interest in party
affairs until this year, when he was called on to run for Mount Darwin – a
constituency which saw some of the worst violence in the run-up to June's
election – and which he won, he says, with a crushing majority. Around the
country, at least 31 people died, including opposition supporters, labourers and
owners of farms occupied by war veterans.
Now, in the wake of the corruption-riddled collapse of Noczim, the state
company which imported petrol, diesel and paraffin, he has been given one of
five licences to distribute fuel. He says he has 10 tankers bearing his Comoil
logo and a petrol station under construction. But it is a mystery how Comoil
will be able to raise the hard currency needed to import oil products, unless
money is channelled from the DRC.
On the issue of the presidential succession, Mr Kasukuwere seems keen to
align himself with those who back Simba Makoni, the new pragmatic finance
minister, who is highly rated by the international community. Mr Mugabe brought
Mr Makoni into the government last year.
But the tactic of enlisting young Turks, such as 30-year-old David Kasukuwere, is a gamble that could backfire on the old men running the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF).
Mr Kasukuwere, Zanu-PF's youngest MP, is a classic product of ambition and patronage. He is arrogant and ruthless, and owes everything, including his gold BMW (with leather seats and car phone) to ruling party contacts that have come down to him through his liberation hero father. He, in common with other young Zanu-PF politicians, has gone into politics for business reasons.
Outwardly, he says he wants a debate over whether 76-year-old President Mugabe should be replaced by a younger man and, as a result, he is presented as a reformer. But in reality, he depends entirely on Mr Mugabe. He has just been awarded one of five oil-importation contracts; one of his companies distributes coal in the east of the country; and he runs two transport firms whose lorries bring back spoils from the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
To the charge that his mega-capitalism is at odds with Zanu-PF's supposed Marxism, he said: "I am not a capitalist, I am a capital-former and I believe firmly in empowering the masses. That is why giving them back the land is crucial. Land is everything to us.
"I am part of a new generation in the party. We want the economy to be expanded. The state cannot continue subsidising the people. It cannot afford to give tablets for malaria and STDs. The role of the government is to create an environment for people to make money," he said.
Zanu-PF claims that, in the absence of international donors, it has proceeded with its own land resettlement programme – a "fast-track" approach under which five million hectares will be redistributed to 150,000 families. The government claims the programme is nearly complete, but United Nations land specialists who have seen "resettled" areas say that only a tiny proportion has been tilled.
Mr Kasukuwere, MP for Mount Darwin, about 125 miles (200km) from Harare, adopts the party line: "We are going to have a bumper harvest in February. We have planted grain, cotton and groundnuts. We are farmers by birth."
He, however, has clearly grown into a white-collar reaper of wealth. Straight from school, "Tyson", as he is known, joined the infamous Central Intelligence Organisation – in middle management. "It's all about your ability to have and to form good contacts," he said.
In his mid-twenties, he went into business, taking little interest in party affairs until this year, when he was called on to run for Mount Darwin – a constituency which saw some of the worst violence in the run-up to June's election – and which he won, he says, with a crushing majority. Around the country, at least 31 people died, including opposition supporters, labourers and owners of farms occupied by war veterans.
Now, in the wake of the corruption-riddled collapse of Noczim, the state company which imported petrol, diesel and paraffin, he has been given one of five licences to distribute fuel. He says he has 10 tankers bearing his Comoil logo and a petrol station under construction. But it is a mystery how Comoil will be able to raise the hard currency needed to import oil products, unless money is channelled from the DRC.
On the issue of the presidential succession, Mr Kasukuwere seems keen to align himself with those who back Simba Makoni, the new pragmatic finance minister, who is highly rated by the international community. Mr Mugabe brought Mr Makoni into the government last year.
With its highly organised agricultural sector and generally favourable climate, Zimbabwe has traditionally been a net exporter of food.
But the picture for the year ahead looks very different.
Despite government assurances, there are growing concerns that continued disruption of agriculture as a result of the land redistribution efforts could lead to serious food shortages.
The maize harvest for the coming season could well be down by a third
Months of illegal invasions of white-owned farms by government supporters have combined with rapidly escalating prices of seeds and fertilisers to produce what the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, the FAO, describes as a "gloomy prospect".
Large-scale white farmers have cut back on planting, partly because of stoppages imposed by squatters, and partly because they have been denied the usual bank loans.
Many of those who have been given land under what the government calls its fast-track resettlement scheme lack the resources and skills to make any meaningful contribution.
The result is that the maize harvest for the coming season could well be down by a third.
But the FAO says its more immediate concern is not with food security but with food access.
Prices have climbed so steeply as a result of the government's economic mismanagement that even basics such as bread are beyond the reach of a rapidly growing number of people.