Mugabe threatens whites
Harare - Zimbabwe's beleagured President Robert Mugabe has
unleashed a torrent of invective against the country's white farmers and whites
in general, accusing them of "hostile acts" against the government, and hinting
that they would be forced to leave the country.
Quoted in Saturday's state-controlled daily Herald newspaper, he also
attacked the series of 37 court challenges to his ruling ZANU(PF) party's
victories in parliamentary elections last year on the grounds they were won
through violence and fraud.
"Perhaps it is time we moved on, motivated by the desire to develop
democracy for our people, not for the overseas audience," he hinted darkly.
His remarks were made at a ruling party central committee meeting in Harare
on Thursday. Only representatives of the state media are permitted to the
openings of the party meetings. He accused whites of being "supremacist,
arrogant and exclusive.
In time, he warned, the white community should "either in reality become a
part of us or part of someone else who is not here, in which case they have to
join that someone."
Whites had "never accepted defeat" after independence from white minority
Rhodesian rule in 1980. Whites were "a community which discountenances the
development of a just society predicated on principles of equality and fairness,
but would rather there was a continuation of Rhodesian socio-economic system,"
"They continue to nurture and pledge membership to the Rhodesian lobby
across the world, which they use to undermine our sovereignty and to organise
other hostile acts against the black majority."
Whites had also enlisted. "Liberals like (South African opposition leader)
Tony Leon and (British Labour minister) Peter Hain who imagine that they run a
super-continental colonial government, allowing them to superintend over
sovereign African states, taunting and belittling African leaders everywhere."
At the ruling party's congress in December last year, he urged supporters
to "strike fear into the heart of the white man, the real enemy."
Mugabe also dismissed a bid last month by the Commercial Farmers' Union to
resolve the land issue with an offer of 1 million ha to resettle blacks as well
as several million dollars of finance to support the resettlement programme.
He accused white farmers of "attacking" lawless ruling party militias
occupying white farms, and claimed they were "even using their control (of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change). to mount attacks on land occupiers.
"Some of these farmers are even attacking our planning teams sent to
demarcate acquired properties. "Yet the CFU claims it now wants to play a
constructive and supportive role on land reforms," he said.
"Such duplicity will not work and only serves to harden our resolve to see
through the programme." On Friday the government listed 2 030 farms for
confiscation, and the CFU said that 95 percent of the union's 4 500 members were
The area earmarked for seizure covers over 7.5 million ha, well beyond the
5 million ha the government declared in 1999 in its official resettlement
programme it would seize for resettlement.
The 77-year-old dictator's diatribe comes in the wake of reports in the
last few weeks of an upsurge of violence and harassment on white owned farms,
with squatters barring farmers and their families inside their homes, forcing
farm labour out of their homes, destroying economically critical tobacco and
wheat crops and wrecking equipment.
A total of 28 farm workers and 8 farmers have been murdered since February
when Mugabe launched a campaign of violent invasions of white farms by so-called
guerilla war veterans. The supreme courts have three times ruled that the
occupations are illegal and ordered authorities to evict the estimated 20,000
squatters, but the instructions have been ignored. - Sapa-DPA
Statistics don't bleed
Date: 30 June 2001 08:43
Dear family and
Thanks as always for your letters in response to mine last week and
the very touching birthday messages for Richie. We had a lovely but
low key day as flu had overtaken him and I'm delighted to say that he
decided that 9 year olds do in fact still hug their mums!
I am going
to send this weeks letter out in even smaller and more staggered
usual as it seems I have again attracted the attention of what
we call "the
sunglasses boys". Its been a very frustrating 7 days of
outgoing mails being
bounced back at me, incoming arriving blank and
yesterday the most obvious
virus I've ever been sent! I will not give up
though and I hope 'they' enjoy
this one. For me it is more than ever a case
of who is watching who and who
is using what they see and hear more
My letter this week
is going to be devoted almost entirely to farms as
tomorrow, the 1st of July,
is an historic one. Last year in December our
Supreme Court made a ruling
which comes into effect on the 1st of July.
Details of it are in the final
paragraph in African Tears (excuse me boring
you): "The Supreme Court
declares that the rule of law has been
persistently violated in commercial
farming areas and that the people in
those areas have suffered discrimination
in contravention of the
constitution... the court states that the people in
these areas have been
denied the protection of the law and had their rights
of assembly and
association infringed. The Court orders that the Minister of
and the Commissioner of Police restore the rule of law in
farming areas by
no later than July 1st 2001." So there it is, they have
until tomorrow to
restore the rule of law. I think that none of us are under
none of us actually think that it is going to happen. It is
ruling from the Highest Court in the country that will be
knows it is imminent though and the farmers have been
hell this week. Total hell is not an exaggeration. Imagine
having 30 odd
'war veterans' literally camped in your garden, sleeping on
so close that they can even hear you flushing your toilet. Just
imagine - 4
days and nights of it, you can't even go outside your front door.
It is an
abomination which is in contravention of every human right known to
and there is a human face on it - there is fear, anger, frustration
mostly, total despair.
Last night President Mugabe was on TV speaking
at his political congress
and he too knows the Supreme Court ruling is
imminent. He did not mention
it but he did say that "we" would not give up on
the struggle for "our
land" and he reminded us of his newest law - the
Protection from Eviction
Bill. President Mugabe did not explain though why he
has just given 180
farms in Zimbabwe to foreigners. That's right! The
government announced on
Wednesday that 180 foreign owned farms had been
de-listed. The owners of
these farms are signiatories to the 'Bilateral
Agreement' and will not now have their farms
compulsorily acquired. A
government spokesman said: "This will help us show
the world that we do not
break agreements that we would have undertaken to
adhere to and that we
respect the rule of law." What can I say, this is an
absolute outrage and
leaves the most disgusting taste in my mouth. He will
allow foreigners to
retain their farms but not third or fourth generation
Zimbabweans. To all
foreigners owning and leasing Zim farms please understand
my outrage, this
is not a personal attack on you - it is just complete and
utter disgust at
the hypocrisy, at the blatant bribery and black mail - how
government has stooped. I pray that all Zim farmers, foreign, local,
and white stand together now and refuse this disgusting outrage.
to the 'cathy paranoia' I refered to last week about my personal belief
every single farm in Zimbabwe is to be listed. It seems I may not be
from the truth after all. Yesterday's newspaper listed 2030
were repeat lists but- if I am not mistaken - there were
1020 new farms to be
compulsorily acquired. The lists ran to 18 staggering
pages. Add these to the
governments admitted number of 3410 already listed
and we are near the end.
While these are just numbers, a good friend said
to me this week that
'statistics don't bleed'. How right he is. Imagine
seeing your name in a
newspaper, seeing a small notice telling you that the
government is taking
your land, your home, your job, your life's work -
just taking it. They might
pay you for the house but, very sorry, haven't
got any money to pay you for
it right now.
Wow, what a depressing missive. But there is hope, huge hope
now and I can
still see that little pin prick of light at the end of the
tunnel. The EU
yesterday gave the Zim government 60 days to: end the
violence; scrap media
curbs; end farm occupations, and uphold court rulings -
or face sanctions
and other measures of EU disapproval. More hopeful though -
people have had
enough of being scared, people have had enough of violence
intimidation. People are beginning to speak out. We face two days
national stayaways on Monday andTuesday this coming week to protest the
fuel price rise. So the government may throw out the last resident
journalist (David Blair) but I believe we Zimbabweans are ready to
where David leaves off, we are all ready to start speaking
Enough for now, until next week, with much love, c
From the US Department of State, 29
Message to Zimbabwe Must Be
Consistent and Clear
(Asst. Sec. Kansteiner testifies before Senate)
"Our message to President Mugabe and his government must be
consistent and clear: while the United States desires open and friendly
relations with Zimbabwe, we cannot have normal relations until the violence and
intimidation are ended, and the rule of law is restored."
Walter H. Kansteiner III, the assistant secretary of state for
African affairs made that point June 28 in testimony before the Foreign
Relations Committee's Subcommittee on African Affairs in the United States
Senate. An end to violence and intimidation and the restoration of the rule of
law, Kansteiner stressed, are the necessary first steps to get Zimbabwe on the
road to economic recovery and political stability.
"We have, from time to time, seen some efforts by the
Government of Zimbabwe to improve its image," he told the lawmakers, "but the
real test of Zimbabwe's commitment to political openness will come in the months
ahead, as Zimbabwe prepares for elections in early 2002."
The coming year, according to Kansteiner, will be pivotal for
Zimbabwe's future. The presidential election - if conducted in a free and fair
manner -- would, he noted, further Zimbabwe's emergence as a true multiparty
democracy, no matter who wins.
"The United States must be clear on this point," he added. "It
is up to Zimbabweans themselves to decide who will govern them, and they must be
given the opportunity to choose freely. Unfortunately," he noted, "statements by
Zanu PF officials that they will never allow another party to take office, the
ongoing violence and intimidation, and significant electoral irregularities in
previous elections all raise legitimate concerns."
Above everything else, Kansteiner stressed however that
"Zimbabwe matters to the United States."
Following is the text of the
Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
Walter H. Kansteiner, III
Committee on Foreign Relations
Subcommittee on African Affairs
"Zimbabwe's Political and Economic Crisis"
June 28, 2001
Thank you for inviting me to testify today on Zimbabwe. I would
like to briefly outline what the Administration believes is happening in that
country, and why Zimbabwe matters to the United States and the region.
After more than 20 years as Zimbabwe's leader, President Robert
Mugabe remains in power. The ruling party and its supporters have put
significant pressure on the independent media, the judiciary, elements of civil
society, and the political opposition to counter any activities which threaten
ZANU-PF's grip on power. The result has been a significant deterioration in
Zimbabwe's human rights record, a breakdown in the rule of law, a furthering of
Zimbabwe's economic collapse, and a negative impact throughout southern Africa.
This intense political pressure not only has effects in Zimbabwe, but all of
Zimbabwe's neighbors are experiencing reverberations, as foreign investors stay
away from the southern African region.
The blame for the political and economic crisis now confronting
Zimbabwe must be laid squarely at the feet of ZANU-PF and President Mugabe. Our
message to President Mugabe and his government must be consistent and clear:
while the United States desires open and friendly relations with Zimbabwe, we
cannot have normal relations until the violence and intimidation are ended, and
the rule of law is restored. We believe these are the necessary first steps to
get Zimbabwe on the road to economic recovery and political stability. We have,
from time to time, seen some efforts by the Government of Zimbabwe to improve
its image, but the real test of Zimbabwe's commitment to political openness will
come in the months ahead, as Zimbabwe prepares for elections in early 2002.
The current crisis in Zimbabwe has its roots in many areas.
Broadly speaking, poor fiscal policies and rampant government spending -
including the cost of Zimbabwe's military involvement in the Congo - set the
stage for the present economic meltdown. Due in large part to an illegal and
chaotic "fast track" land reform program pursued by the government, the
agricultural sector has been badly disrupted, and the country's economic woes
may be accompanied later this year by a significant food shortage. On the
political front, the sudden and dramatic rise less than two years ago of
Zimbabwe's first viable opposition party - the Movement for Democratic Change or
MDC - threatened the ruling party's previously unassailable grip on power.
The challenge to the Mugabe regime represented by the emergence
of the MDC sparked a surge in politically motivated violence and intimidation
which began in earnest in early 2000 and continues to the present day. Most of
this violence and intimidation is perpetrated by supporters of Zanu PF. The
coming year will be pivotal for Zimbabwe's future. The presidential election -
if conducted in a free and fair manner - would further Zimbabwe's emergence as a
true multiparty democracy, no matter who wins. The United States must be clear
on this point: it is up to Zimbabweans themselves to decide who will govern
them, and they must be given the opportunity to choose freely. Unfortunately,
statements by Zanu PF officials that they will never allow another party to take
office, the ongoing violence and intimidation, and significant electoral
irregularities in previous elections all raise legitimate concerns.
Zimbabwe matters to the United States. Zimbabwe is a country of
great potential with a good institutional infrastructure, including a
constitution, checks and balances between parliament, judiciary and executive, a
competent civil service, and a strong independent media. Under the proper
circumstances, Zimbabwe could prove an engine of growth for the region, helping
itself and its poorer neighbors confront the HIV/AIDS pandemic, widespread
poverty, and other social ills with less foreign assistance. Zimbabwe is blessed
with significant natural and human resources, and if effective economic and
business plans were permitted to be drawn-up and enacted, Zimbabwe's economy
would experience impressive growth. Zimbabwe's continuing decline will witness
continuing outflows of people seeking to escape Zimbabwe's economic and
political crisis, a continuing decline in investment in the region, and greater
instability throughout southern Africa.
The United States must stand ready to assist Zimbabwe when
circumstances allow. Together with other donors, there is much we can do once
Zimbabwe begins to implement appropriate policies. We can help Zimbabwe resolve
its long-standing problem regarding the inequitable distribution of land, a
legitimate problem which Zanu PF has, unfortunately, exacerbated for political
ends, but an issue which must be addressed, regardless of which political party
may hold office.
The United States can encourage renewed engagement with
Zimbabwe by international financial institutions such as the World Bank and
International Monetary Fund, helping restore macroeconomic stability and growth
in the country. And we can look at our own bilateral assistance programs to
determine how best we can help the government and people of Zimbabwe turn their
country back from the brink and restore Zimbabwe's promise as a bastion of
economic and political stability in Africa.
At this point, however, the ball is very much in President
Mugabe's court. I believe it is incumbent upon the Administration to work
closely with Congress in efforts to encourage the Zimbabwean government and his
party to allow for an open and fair electoral process, permitting the Zimbabwe
body politic to determine the country's course.
Comment from a reader/contributor to this forum: "As you may know Walter Kansteiner is the Assistant Secretary of State
for African Affairs. He was nominated by President Bush and confirmed
unanimously by the US Senate two weeks ago. So he, more than any single
person, speaks for the President and Secretary Powell when addressing US
policy in Africa. And you can be confident that he will work with the
Congress to set things right in Zimbabwe..... (TS Snr) "
British journo leaves
Harare - The Harare-based correspondent for
the British Daily Telegraph left Zimbabwe on Saturday, days after the government
refused to renew his work permit.
David Blair, 28, who has been reporting from Zimbabwe since 1999, left Harare
for South Africa, where he will continue on to London.
On Tuesday, the government had informed him that it would not renew his work
permit, which expires July 16, but that the decision was an administrative
Zimbabwe recently decided to enforce a requirement that foreign journalists
apply for accreditation one month in advance of traveling to the country.
The government also said it would not accept applications by foreign
correspondents already in the country. The journalists would have to leave
Zimbabwe and reapply for accreditation from their own countries.
Previously, foreign journalists were allowed to apply for credentials on
Blair is the third foreign journalist forced to leave Zimbabwe this year.
Joseph Winter of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Mercedes
Sayagues of South Africa's Mail and Guardian newspaper were expelled in February
Zim declares strike
Harare - Zimbabwe's labour minister declared a
proposed national strike illegal as the nation's largest labour grouping was
meeting on Saturday to take a final decision on the stoppage.
"Any worker who participates in the illegal withdrawal of labour because of
this planned stayaway should know that he or she is participating in an illegal
activity," Labour Minister July Moyo said in the state-run Herald newspaper.
His statement was published as the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)
was meeting to take a final decision on a national strike in protest at the
government's massive hike in fuel prices.
The ZCTU had given government two weeks to reverse the price hike, which
averaged about 70 percent. That deadline expired on Friday.
Although Zimbabwe has suffered chronic fuel shortages for the past 18 months,
prices have tripled over the same period and sent fares soaring on the
mini-buses used by most urban workers to commute.
Anger over the latest price hikes turned into a riot on June 18 in two
outlying townships in Harare, which police used teargas to put down.
The proposed stayaway would be the first major industrial action taken by the
ZCTU since its charismatic former leader Morgan Tsvangirai left the group to
head the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Militant government supporters have since April tried to tap into MDC's base
of support in the labor movement by launching a rival labor federation and
staging violent raids on businesses.
Those raids slowed down after an outcry from the international community and
after several companies were forced to close. - Sapa
|State cannot halt spirit fuelling discordant voices
6/30/01 9:53:23 AM (GMT
THE TWO-DAY mass
stayaway planned by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) could have far
wider implications on the political landscape in this country.
The labour movement has
asked the government to scrap a recent 70 percent increase in the price of fuel
announced nearly two weeks ago because of the potential hardships for workers in
the form of higher transport costs and the attendant round of increases in the
prices of consumer items.
Although given two weeks in which to reverse the
increases, the government has done nothing and has not even bothered to
articulate its position on the ZCTU’s ultimatum. Now on Monday and Tuesday the
planned job action appears set to take place, unless the government acts over
the weekend and averts what could be a crippling industrial action.
is burning fast and soon there will be a massive explosion. But desperation
drives both the government and the labour movement. For the ZCTU its desperation
is spurred by a desire to obtain for the workers some respite from hardship.
However, for the government it is desperation of a different sort. It is
about the need to re-assert itself in the face of mounting challenges from
workers it accuses of being aligned to the opposition.
This is no doubt the
government’s thinking and it explains why it has not sought a downward review of
the recent fuel price increases. But the ZCTU could be walking into the
government’s trap because the government has waited for an occasion to deal
decisively with the ZCTU.
The real danger here is that the ZCTU could be
lulled into believing that the formation of the Zanu PF-aligned Zimbabwe
Federation of Trade Unions and attempts to project it as a rival of substance
have finally removed characters of questionable loyalty from within its midst.
It is very wrong. Its enemy is still within.
It is possible that those
agitating most for the two-day mass stayaway are the real Trojan Horses within
the ZCTU. The strategy could be to pave the way for government to react in the
name of restoring law and order in much the same way it responded to the 1998
food riots. Those who bore the brunt most were the ordinary workers, the
down-trodden of the earth.
Government is likely to descend hard on the
organisers in the name of quashing what it views as an opposition-inspired
insurrection. It could be the opportunity the government has been waiting for to
declare a state of emergency, suspend Parliament and ban all political activity
in the country and the ZCTU itself.
An unfortunate precedent was set this
week when King Mswati III of Swaziland abruptly ended the country’s flirtation
with attempts at democratic reform.
Such an outcome is possible because the
government has neither forgiven nor forgotten its humiliation during the
February 2000 referendum on the draft constitution and subsequently in June in
the parliamentary election.
The ZCTU cannot guarantee peace during the
stayaway. Agents could be deployed to create the appropriate level of
destabilisation to warrant intervention by the government.
But it is
regrettable that the government has elected to do nothing because it will appear
weak in dealing with workers’ demands.
It does not want to create the
impression that it has bowed down to pressure, especially from the ZCTU. But
refusal to bow down to pressure does not remove the legitimacy of the demand
that the recent 70 percent fuel price increase is unsustainable.
Wednesday the irony of Zimbabwe’s fuel crisis was highlighted when South Africa
announced that because of weaker world crude and product prices, it was reducing
the prices of fuel by between 32 and 40 cents a litre from Wednesday next week.
Zimbabwe is sourcing some of its supplies from South Africa yet the petrol
prices are in excess of $76 a litre - more than twice the price motorists in
South Africa pay.
The government may succeed in quashing any outward
manifestations of discontent over the way it is running the country, but it will
not extinguish the spirit fuelling the discordant voices.
Once a government
refuses to listen to the concerns from its citizens, it loses the legitimacy to
represent and govern them. The fault is not with the ZCTU.
It is with the
government’s mismanagement of the economy and its self-deception in the belief
that it has a monopoly on solutions to the problems facing this country.
|Bennet vows to contest designation of his farm
6/30/01 8:47:07 AM (GMT
THE Member of Parliament
for Chimanimani, Roy Bennet, says he will contest the designation of his farm,
Charleswood Estate, by the government where it plans to resettle 67 families.
About 30 war veterans and
Zanu PF activists have already descended on the 2 800-hectare farm, and have
started allocating themselves pieces of land.
“It’s a political ploy. But, I
will contest the designation,” said Bennet on Thursday.
He accused Zanu PF
officials in the Chimanimani Rural District Council and senior Central
Intelligence Organisation officers in the town of plotting to drive him away
from his property.
A preliminary notice to compulsorily acquire the farm was
gazetted about four weeks ago.
Bennet denied that the coffee farm was not
“My farm does not meet the laid-down criteria for
under-utilised farms,” he said.
Bennet said the illegal settlers on his farm
arrived in the company of officials from the rural council, a charge denied by
Zebedi Dhliwayo, the assistant district administrator for Chimanimani.
said the group was accompanied by officials from the land resettlement committee
made up of local authority officers, Zanu PF officials and the police. A group
of 60 war veterans occupied Bennet’s farm last year and took his wife, Heather,
Police later evicted the war veterans from the farm
Govt announces new export incentives
Simba Makoni yesterday unveiled a set of measures to stimulate exports and
economic growth but met a sceptical audience which questioned the government’s
commitment to a real exchange rate policy.
“We should have the guts to do
what should be done openly,” said economist Eric Bloch, charging that an export
incentive scheme announced by the government this week was an act of
self-deception since it amounted to a “disguised devaluation”.
last week rejected Makoni’s proposal for a devaluation which cabinet members
viewed as politically damaging.
Makoni, who set the tone for his
presentation at a National Economic Consultative Forum (NECF) meeting with a no
easy route out of the crisis we are in” admission, said sweeping measures had
been proposed in the tourism, mines, energy, lands, agriculture, transport and
communications, and finance sectors in an effort to bring back life into the
ailing economy, currently experiencing severe foreign currency and fuel
In a statement that dismissed allegations of covert sabotage
attempts in the tobacco industry, Makoni said the government was considering
direct trading in foreign currency on the tobacco auction floors and allowing
growers to retain a proportion of foreign earnings.
But he could not
give a time frame over which that was likely to happen.
“I don’t know when
we will complete the work to make tobacco growers direct exporters,” said
There has been speculation in the market that the government is
working towards bankrupting tobacco farmers, the majority of whom took it to
court over its compulsory acquisition of mainly white-owned farms.
other export sectors like gold miners have been given export packages to make
them viable, the tobacco growers have been snubbed in their call for a
devaluation and have been left out of the export incentive schemes.
said the tourism sector had the potential to contribute 6,5% of gross domestic
product and earn as much as 11% of total export receipts. It therefore needed to
be straightened so that earnings were accounted for and leakages mitigated.
There were proposals to eliminate visa requirements for tourists from
key source markets and remove restrictions to allow chartered flights from major
Fuel distribution to the sector would be prioritised,
and tourists from new source markets, such as Iran and Malaysia, would be
allowed to pay in national currencies and the money would be used to buy fuel
from the same countries.
Foreigners will continue to be required to pay
hotel bills in foreign currency.
Other measures included providing resources
for critical requirements in the mining sector through budgetary and
extra-budgetary sources to curtail leakages of gold and other precious minerals,
according platinum group metals the same status as gold, and promoting the
establishment of a platinum refi- nery.
Major investors in the sector
would be allowed to operate offshore accounts to meet specific obligations and
“The manufacturing sector is in decline for the fourth
Reversing the current decline in the sector is therefore
critical and will require...actions,” said Makoni.
Part of the measures
to reverse the manufacturing sector decline include an aggressive marketing of
Zimbabwean products in the region and beyond and reviewing the Export Processing
Zone threshold to focus incentives on benefits realised from incremental output
in exports rather than focusing on absolute percentages.
sectors, such as services, would be allowed to operate foreign currency
To mitigate profiteering, the banking sector would be forced
to limit their exchange rate spreads to +/- 0,5% around the official midrate,
and limit minimum lending rates to no more than 10% above the deposit rate.
The bank rate would be set at levels that support the interest rate
regime prevailing in the market, whilst dissuading banks from resorting to
unnecessary central bank accommodation, Makoni said.
He said many
foreign currency leakages were believed to emanate from bureaux de change and,
accordingly, these would not be allowed to hold cash in excess of US$-100 000 at
any one time.
Application fees for new bureaux de change licences would
be hiked to $20 000 per licence from the previous $2 000.
renewal fees would also go up from $5 000 to $50 000.
at the bureaux would also be introduced, covering record keeping, managerial
integrity, technology, reporting requirements and penalties.
THE eclipse has so outstripped everything else
that has happened in the past month that it is hard to come back down to earth.
What an amazing experience it was, and how much we all needed that wonderful
day, focusing our minds far out into the universe.
For me, the best part
was the fun and happiness, the laughter and the sense of being together with
everyone else, sharing the spectacle we were so lucky to have right here in
Zimbabwe at this time.
A brief moment out of reality — then back to the
naïve tourist comments, but more shocking was that ZBC could not get their act
together sufficiently to show a single image of the eclipse that evening! I
really could hardly believe it, familiar as we all are with their shortcomings
Surely one photographer or cameraman could have got back to
the studio from the 100% zone in time for the 8pm news? With a digital camera,
they could even have sent something more or less immediately from the nearest
But no, it looked like all the cameras stayed in Harare
and Bulawayo. They ought to be ashamed of their lack of professionalism,
especially on such an internationally interesting event. The new government will
have a hard time reversing this national disease and bringing the country into
the third millennium.
Parliament is in recess until August 7 (although
the official opening ceremony is slated for July 24), but the last week saw the
fast-tracking of the Rural Land Occupiers (Protection) Bill and the Citizenship
Amendment Bill, both of doubtful constitutionality.
The aim of the
Protection Bill is to protect the militia and hangers-on squatting on farms for
six months, just long enough to get the presidential election campaign well and
truly sewn up, by holding the commercial farms hostage and holding
Vietcong-style “re-education programmes”. So laws and the constitutional
provision for protection of property rights are non-applicable in this instance
— our very own version of “rule of law”!
Likewise the Citizenship
Amendment Bill is essentially a ploy to reduce opposition votes in the
presidential election, pathetic though its effect will be, with less than 0,5%
of the population white (yes, it’s essentially racist, despite all the protest
from Jonathan Moyo to the contrary) and therefore likely to be debarred from
voting by this Act.
Many will remember Moyo’s analysis of the massive
rejection of the president’s draft constitution last year — “The whites came up
from South Africa and voted in Harare”.
He has obviously always
travelled by air, otherwise he would know they could have voted in Beitbridge,
but this spongy logic about whites affecting election results is now
well-ingrained on the Zanu PF benches. Certainly no-one in his/her right mind
could imagine that any law would create patriotism — and many of our most
patriotic citizens are gapping it, capable as they are of performing well in the
wider global economy.
The hotly-contested and ill-named Labour Relations
Amendment Bill was finally withdrawn until next session after the Parliamentary
Legal Committee’s adverse report was not officially withdrawn for obvious
This Bill seeks (among other things) to ban strikes and other
forms of industrial action, and to deregister any union which organises such
action, yet the right to withhold one’s labour and the right of freedom of
association are both guaranteed in the UN Charter for Human Rights — so once
again, government is being both hypocritical and retrogressive.
two notable victories for our side of the House in the last two days of the
first session of this Fifth Parliament. It is traditional to wind up major
motions in the last few days, the motion on the presidential address at the
opening of parliament being the most traditional of all.
But first to
come was Dr Olivia Muchena, proud academic and former member of the UZ Council.
Readers may recall that she moved the second motion to come onto the floor last
year, to thank the so-called war vets led by Hunzvi for starting the 3rd
Chimurenga, ie that “this House expresses its appreciation to the president and
government of Zimbabwe for taking a bold step to implement the Land Reform and
Resettlement Programme through a fast-track method by acquiring over 5 million
hectares to settle 500 000 people and calls upon this House in to express its
gratitude to Zimbabwe freedom fighters for initiating the completion of in the
unfinished business of the liberation struggle” etc, etc.
was hotly debated in July/August last year, and then more or less forgotten
until the last week, when she set about winding it up.
despite all her university degrees, she forgot the most basic rule when debating
in Parliament — check your numbers! She was clearly outnumbered, and lost the
vote on the motion which was the kingpin of the Zanu PF “programme”! Comrade
Robert must have been furious, if he ever heard about it, and she was plainly
discomfited and jittery afterwards, while our side was jubilant, having openly
rejected the entire evil and ill-thought out plan.
The very next day
(the last day) her colleague Lazarus Dokora made the very same mistake, only
this time the motion was even more sensitive — the presidential address!
That motion in effect is a vote of confidence in the president and
government, and is always the first of the session. Dokora made the mistake of
provoking an already uptight opposition with racist statements and untruths
about rule of law, when we had just an hour before visited the remains of
Willias Madzimure’s house in Kambuzuma, so we reacted even more hotly than might
otherwise have been the case.
Again, we were clearly in the majority (it
was the last day, and we had made a deal with Zanu PF not to block the Bills
they wanted to pass, otherwise they would simply have whipped all their members,
and we would have lost on numbers anyway). At first, the deputy speaker said
“The ‘Ayes’ have it” and we roared in protest. She was obviously nervous. If she
declared the “Noes”, she would be seen to be supporting the vote of no
confidence in the president and government which our rejection clearly amounted
To her credit, she agreed to a division.
The bell rang,
Patrick Chinamasa came rushing in and tried to tell us it was impossible to
reject the presidential speech motion, etc, etc. Our response was “Chinja!” Next
the Zanu PF side refused to line up — until Edna Madzongwe (Deputy Speaker)
finally ordered their Chief Whip Joram Gumbo to line up his members. Still we
outnumbered them, so the Parliament of Zimbabwe refused to “offer our respectful
thanks for the speech which you (president) have been pleased to address to
This is virtually unheard of in any parliament, as far as I
know — it would be interesting to know whether in fact we made history that day.
Certainly we did in our own country!
The next four weeks turned out to
be traumatic for ZPF and at least partly euphoric for MDC. Border Gezi had
already died and Nkosana Moyo had resigned, but next came Moven Mahachi, also in
a vehicle accident, and two weeks later Chenjerai Hitler Hunzvi. Mahachi’s death
hit the military particularly hard, but they were at pains to show “business as
usual”, especially in the DRC.
Apart from his direct attack on me in the
House only last month for being unpatriotic, my most vivid memories of Mahachi
are his part in the arrest and torture of Mark Chavunduka and Ray Choto in early
1999, and his daughter’s lavish wedding soon thereafter.
Hunzvi died of
“malaria” according to Mugabe and Minister of Health Stamps but in fact it was
Aids-related diseases, as was very clear for
anyone with even a modicum of
The Zimbabwe Independent did an excellent piece of
research on his medication and record, and established without any doubt that he
was being treated with Aids drugs for TB and other complications.
it was considered necessary to lie about cause of death shows just how
hypocritical the whole Zanu PF system is. How much better it would have been if
he, as a doctor, could have come right out and said he was HIV-positive — he
might even have salvaged a little honour and sympathy from the general public.
As it is, we are simply glad to be rid of one prime mover of all the horrors
that have been going on in this “Third Chimurenga”, including the use of his
surgery for torture of opposition party members and supporters.
side, we continued to celebrate our Masvingo victory and geared ourselves up for
the Bulawayo elections when, true to form, Zanu PF tried to cancel them! One
election strategy they are using is the McCawber strategy — “Something will turn
up!” They truly believe a miracle will save them.
They obviously have
high hopes for Bindura — a one-off, the tactic being to pick off one by one
by-elections where they have some chance of success (not Bulawayo!) — but in
view of the eclipse’s path right across Mashonaland Central, they may find they
have miscalculated badly! We also got our share of this year’s political party
funding -— $49 million to us and $51 million to Zanu PF, an historical event,
since no other party has ever managed to squeeze a cent out of government!
A number of MPs from both sides are also busy taking delivery of their
duty-free vehicles. They may have a good financial deal but I am not convinced
all will be able to pay off their loans (these are not “free cars to MPs”, by
the way!). $19 000 or more per month out of an income of around $30 000 will not
be easy to find every month for the next four years.
harassment of MPs continue. Abednico Bhebhe of Nkayi was abducted from a petrol
station in the growth point by a crowd of militia (his assistant managed to
escape), taken to a remote place and very nearly killed. He passed out twice as
he was been beaten and assaulted and came round finally to hear them say: “Let’s
finish him off”.
He found the superhuman strength adrenalin gives us in
such circumstances, managed to stagger to his feet, grab the axe one of them was
holding (having axed him on the head, nearly fracturing his skull) and he swung
it around, shouting: “OK, you can kill me, because you are many against one, but
I will also kill the first one to come at me. So one of you is also going to
die. OK, who’s going to be first?”
And amazingly, they all ran away! He
then staggered off along a path, still shouting and defying them, until he came
to a village where people helped him, despite his bleeding and deranged
He is extremely lucky to be alive — how many MPs would have
reacted as well? This abduction and assault was not well reported in the media:
many people are unaware that it happened at all, yet it is arguably the most
brutal attack against an MP in this parliament.
In Harare Willias
Madzimure’s house was badly damaged and two members of his household injured.
This did receive wide media coverage, presumably because it was easier to get
to. Meanwhile in Bulawayo Thoko Khupe and Bhbbhe are the latest victims charged
under the detested Rhodesian Law and Order (Maintenance) Act for supposedly
inciting violence, yet when Mugabe called for people to continue the Third
Chimuringa started by Hunzvi, that was considered statesmanlike!
constituency, people are itching to get started on the presidential campaign —
not realising that the campaign is already under way, in a manner of speaking,
for both parties. The candidates have been announced and every action and event
is now judged in terms of the presidential election — even the eclipse!
More importantly, it should be recognised by everyone that election
monitors should be on the ground and in action already, recording the clampdown
on press freedom (a month’s notice for foreign journalists, whoever heard such
nonsense!), the increased farm invasions and destruction, the increase in
political violence, the corruption rife in fuel procurement and hence transport
difficulties for the opposition, the impossibility of accessing an up-to-date
voters roll, the lack of voter education, and so on.
Is this environment
conducive to a free and fair election? Without the international media or
election observers, we ourselves will have to be their eyes and ears, so that
the outside world can know what is really happening and judge whether our
election is democratic. It was reve-aling to hear the government warning to
tourists not to talk to strangers!
Food has not yet become critically
short, but all the signs are there, and we are going towards a period of
increased industrial action and possi- ble confrontation following the enormous
increase in fuel price, which will have downstream effects on the cost of
Makoni and Mugabe appear to have different views on
devaluation of the Zimdollar, so we know who will win, at least in the short
term. It never ceases to amaze me how our economy keeps staggering on, despite
every disaster and disastrous decision, but then I remember what an economist
once told me: “No economy ever collapses altogether. Even in Somalia, without
any government at all, the economy keeps going.”
One of my constituents
in a petrol queue had a different perspective: “You know, in Somalia they don’t
have a government, but they do have petrol!”
l Trudy Stevenson is the MP
for Harare North.
SO how many people came to see the eclipse from Zimbabwe at
the end of the day? The Zimbabwe Independent called the Zimbabwe Tourism
Authority last Thursday and got a figure of 5 000. That compares with 20 000 the
Zambia Tourism Board recorded.
Now, predictably, the Herald has doubled
the figure for tourist arrivals although it doesn’t tell us where it got the
information. The ZTA’s Leslie Gwindi said his organisation was still working on
the figures although strangely he was able to quantify the amount visitors spent
here — $55 million.
Even if the figure turns out to be 10 000 and not 5
000, that is still only half the number that went to Zambia. Given our superior
facilities and infrastructure, the mass defection of potential visitors
represents an indictment of Zimbabwe’s government which is evidently not viewed
with any confidence.
Despite this damning evidence, the Sunday Mail’s
“Under the Surface” column had this to say in response to our front-page story
“Zimbabwe eclipsed by Zambia”:
“Zimbabwe’s detractors were totally
eclipsed by the response to this natural phenomenon by tourists and eclipse
disciples. In the end some of the stridently anti-government local newspapers
had to drag (up) old stories to put on the front page in a futile bid to eclipse
But the visitors have fallen in love with Zimbabwe and have
made it clear that they want to stay longer than the three-minute total
In fact many of them were forced to stay longer when they were
unable to catch their connections because the CAAZ suffered systems failures at
the “beautiful” new airport. The check-in desks were one example. There was
pandemonium at Harare airport on Friday as passengers battled to catch flights
out. The visitors told the Standard exactly what they thought of official
Zimbabwean hospitality while the Sunday Mail was busy gushing about how
impressed they all were!
Ask visitors at Beitbridge if they were
impressed by having to make up their own entry forms because there weren’t any
available (one was stuck to the window so everybody could copy the format on any
piece of paper that came to hand) and then face closed immigration desks or
staff completely unprepared for the influx.
But what surprises us is
that on its Page 4 the Sunday Mail used exactly the same figure as we did (5
000) for the number of tourist arrivals, no doubt obtained from the same source
— the ZTA.
On the same page, the Sunday Mail carried a story by Phillip
Magwaza saying that over 1 000 whites, “including influential MDC founding
member Mr Clive Puzey and other sympathisers” had sought police clearance in
anticipation of leaving the country to settle in Australia.
extraordinary about this story is not Puzey’s intentions but the remarks of
police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena.
“He is not the only one,” Bvudzijena
is quoted as saying. “We have had numerous requests from whites and other people
seeking clearance, which is required internationally. The majority though have
So the police are now collaborating with the Sunday Mail
to disclose the names of individuals who have applied for police clearance. Is
this normal police practice? If so it is extraordinary that the police, who are
so reluctant to disclose the names of individuals under investigation in cases
of political violence including murder, abduction and torture, or to say what
progress has been made in those cases, are only too happy to release the names
of people applying for residence elsewhere because it fulfills the racist agenda
of the official media.
From Phillip “La Vanhu” Magwaza nothing should
surprise us. But from Assistant Commissioner Bvudzijena, disclosing confidential
information is about as unprofessional as it gets.
Passengers who we
reported last week as stranded at Johannesburg airport for four hours ahead of
the eclipse have been making furious calls to us to point out that it was not
four hours but 13!
The Air Zimbabwe flight in question was due to leave
Johanneburg at 6.30pm and arrive at Harare at 8pm. It eventually left at 4am and
after taking passengers to Bulawayo, where Harare passengers were obliged to
disembark for immigration and customs clearance, arrived in Harare at 7.30am!
Sorry about that, er, little error!
We are accustomed in this part
of the world to furious tirades from government officials (and occasionally
editors) when they react to statements they disagree with. There is no sense of
is therefore refreshing when sometimes officials adopt a
different — and more effective — approach.
The Kenya Tourism Board
recently reacted with commendable restraint to comments made by Toronto mayor
Mel Lastman who said ahead of a trip to Mombasa to promote Toronto’s bid for the
2008 summer Olympics that he was dreading the visit.
“Why the hell do I
want to go to a place like Mombasa?” he said in an unguarded moment. “Snakes
just scare the hell out of me. I’m sort of scared about going there, but the
wife is really nervous. I just see myself in a pot of boiling water with all
these natives dancing around me.”
Needless to say there was some
understandably heated responses from Kenyan officials. And Lastman on his trip
to East Africa had to do a great deal of diplomatic footwork.
Kenya Tourism Board refused to join it. Instead it observed in commendably
appropriate terms: “It sounds like Mayor Lastman is in enough ‘hot water’ as it
is. Kenya is renowned the world over for its hospitality, so we’re glad he
enjoyed his holiday — and the dancing.”
Somebody meanwhile has drawn
Muckraker’s attention to Patrick Chinamasa’s tribute to Border Gezi. He said
Gezi had a unique ability to fearlessly lead, “like a good shepherd, from the
front, the rear or the middle”.
This saw him keeping up “a punishing
schedule”, Chinamasa observed.
Most people, especially the MDC, will
immediately understand what the minister meant!
Equally maladroit, it
appears, is President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda who has been less than
flattering about his ministers. Castigating them for slavishly following World
Bank and IMF policies, he described his Minister of Finance as “the minister for
He said his bureaucrats were shunning his “bush economic
ideas”. To show how angry he was, he said, he slept during the budget speech.
“I was sleeping most of the time. Sleeping is a safety mechanism. If you
don’t sleep you can burst.”
He said he had heard of proposed new
electricity tariff hikes through the media and vowed to fight them. He said he
hadn’t attended the cabinet meeting that approved them.
“We shall have
to go to the bush to fight it. I will never leave buyekera (rebel) activities. I
will die a muyekera (rebel).”
Why do Zanu PF so dislike a leader who is
clearly a man after their own hearts?
It has been interesting to watch
how the official media has tried to spin the proposal by Commonwealth leaders to
set up a team to bridge the current impasse between Zimbabwe and Britain.
“International community finally realises need for land distribution”,
the Herald told us last Friday.
But haven’t we been repeatedly told by
the official press that the international community already accepted Zimbabwe’s
claims on the land question? Haven’t we been force-fed a message of
unquestioning solidarity by France, Belgium, South Africa, Zambia, Botswana and
just about everybody else over the past year? That Britain had been completely
isolated on the issue?
So why are we hearing only now that “the
international community has finally accepted” the need for land distribution?
In fact of course the government media has been throwing dirt in the
public’s eyes for some time. All countries accept the need for land reform, they
just don’t accept that it has to be unlawful and violent. You don’t have to be
able to read between the lines to gather that. SA Reserve Bank governor Tito
Mboweni this week said “Zimbabwe has caused a lot of difficulties, both
politically and economically...”
Mugabe last week amusingly tried to
pretend that the latest initiative was an attempt to help the British out of a
fix. He has been staring at the sun again. Everywhere else it has been reported
as a climb-down by Mugabe who is now facing an international consensus that land
reform will have to be approached differently.
The government should
stop misleading the public. Sooner or later Zanu PF will have to face up to the
fact that it is the one isolated on this issue. Does it really think the UNDP,
Britain, South Africa and donors will give Zimbabwe money without first ensuring
that it is not wasted, stolen or misused as it was the last time? Time for a
We were interested to hear that the late Innocent Mugabe,
President Mugabe’s nephew, was “doing special tasks in the President’s Office”
and was a member of the national taskforce on land. In fact Innocent Mugabe was
instrumental in intelligence gathering ahead of farm invasions and is the fourth
key supporter the president has recently lost.
In his eulogy, Mugabe,
who “went down memory lane”, reminded mourners that the young Innocent wasn’t so
innocent: he used to steal maize from the granary and sell it. He also liked his
beer, we are told, and “would ensure he asked for it before he left”. He studied
for his “O” and “A” levels in the UK.
Mugabe said he had known Innocent
“as a small boy when he returned from South Africa where he attained his first
We rather thought you had to be quite a big boy before
obtaining a degree!
Anyway, we should be grateful for this unique
presidential insight into what it takes to qualify for the CIO: British or South
African-educated, a juvenile delinquent, well-connected, and a liking for beer.
Does Jonathan Moyo actually invite public ridicule? His statement this
week that the MDC and its supporters should “desist from compromising the
judiciary by making unfounded, irresponsible and malicious political attacks on
targeted individual judges” reeks of hypocrisy and double standards.
Does he really think we all have such short memories? Wasn’t it only
this year that he and his sidekick Patrick Chinamasa were “targeting” certain
judges for removal with an abusive and racist campaign which they only agreed to
stop after immense damage had been done to the country’s standing? Why does he
foolishly assume that nobody recalls his remarks about the Chief Justice and
other Supreme Court justices.
We all also remember statements by Moyo
and Chinamasa slamming the MDC for wasting the “valuable” time of Zanu PF MPs
who had to devote themselves to preparing for court hearings on electoral
petitions instead of serving the people. They were also wasting public resources
by bringing the futile petitions, we were told.
Now the MDC has won four
of its appeals amidst evidence of fraud and violence by the ruling party,
including its most senior members wielding guns and threatening their opponents
with death, Zanu PF is appealing those nullifications and is extending its
appeals to include the Seke result and the Masvingo mayoral poll.
come these appeals are not a waste of time and resources? What sort of double
standard is this?
Could Moyo’s “concern” about what he calls “malicious
attacks on individual judges” be in any way connected to attempts by the
government to appoint to the Chief Justice’s post a judge who enjoys little
respect among his peers because he has difficulty exercising an independent
Finally, whose money is Moyo using in his civil suits against
independent newspapers? Not public money, we hope, because these matters relate
to his previous career as an academic in Kenya and therefore should not be a
charge on the public purse. Whatever the case, we expect him to disclose in the
public interest any legal charges he may incur which are passed on to the