|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
From ZWNEWS, 12 June
By Michael Hartnack
After a three-year lull in executions of convicted murderers, Robert Mugabe's new hangman has been busy. But, reflecting the regime’s persistent double standards, the killers of opposition supporters and farmers are alive and free. On May 31 three men went to the gallows in Harare Central Prison - one for a murder committed back in July 1995. Edmore Masendeke and his accomplice, Hardlife Zano, strangled an elderly widow, Eileen Carlisle, in Masvingo, during a robbery. In return for giving evidence for the state, Zano escaped with a 15-year jail sentence and may be freed within two years, with remission for good conduct. Anthony Muuzhe was hanged for burning to death two children aged five and two in October 1995 in the Zhombe communal area near Kwekwe. He had wired shut the door before setting fire to their hut in an attempt to kill their mother. Noel Rukanda was hanged for raping and strangling 14-year-old Vimbayi Zingoni in September 1997. Because of the elapse of time since their trials, Masendeke and Muuzhe would have been entitled to commutation of their death sentences under a 1995 Supreme Court ruling, but Mugabe annulled this by a constitutional amendment. The Cabinet confirmed the death sentences in October yet it still took another seven months for their executions to take place.
Zimbabwe resumed hangings last October after a break due to the death (from natural causes) of the last public hangman, a white man. The identity of his successor is supposed to be a close-guarded secret. However, he is generally believed to be a white expatriate to whom I was introduced in a bar some years ago. He had gained a reputation as a pompous bully in his former occupation. Since he took over, six people have been hanged. In all, there have been 69 judicial executions since 1980 independence. Those hanged included two French former mercenaries in the Rhodesian army convicted of shooting a cafe owner. Mugabe ignored appeals from the pope to commute their sentences, but kept secret a further 13 hangings before a 1988 papal visit. A nationwide petition to abolish capital punishment attracted several thousand signatures, but there appeared to be general support for retaining the death penalty, particularly in cases of murder involving witchcraft.
The state media, with Mugabe's apparent blessing, have been calling gleefully for the hanging of a farmer currently on trial over a fatal traffic incident involving land claimants on his farm. However, none of the murderers of 11 farmers and 200 opposition supporters has been brought to justice since unrest was launched in February 2000 by state-funded "war veterans". In the 1980s, Mugabe gave amnesties to up to 2 000 security force members involved in the murder of suspected opposition supporters in Matabeleland and elsewhere. A Cabinet minister implicated in four witchcraft murders was never put on trial. Morgan Tsvangirai's opposition Movement for Democratic Change and the Commercial Farmers Union say many of the more recent killers can be identified. The murderers of farmer David Stephens abducted him from a police station with officers looking on. Martin Olds was besieged in his homestead while police maintained roadblocks to ensure no one came to his rescue. In many other cases, say human rights groups, the authorities colluded with the murderers.
Former Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay, forced to retire last year, told British jurists that Mugabe's government had, from its earliest years, simply ignored court orders when it chose. Recently, the regime aroused further international outrage by arresting the president and secretary of the Law Society of Zimbabwe on allegations of discussing, in cahoots with the British High Commission and the MDC, unspecified mass protests to force a re-run of the March presidential elections in which Mugabe claimed a disputed victory. The state-run Herald invented, with impunity, the lie that the arrests "caused a flurry of activity at the High Commission" - when it was closed for Queen Elizabeth's jubilee. By contrast, 16 independent journalists have been arrested under the new Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act for "publishing false reports" - i.e. items with which the authorities disagree. Mugabe’s double standards remain the biggest single objection to the employment of the death penalty in Zimbabwe: the regime itself is involved in acts that outrage basic norms of human decency and lawful conduct. Suspicions arise that behind use of the death penalty in these circumstances is a braggart wish to show "we hold power of life and death.’’ A second more generalised problem is the dubious efficiency of police work, and the wide discrepancies in the quality of legal representation accused persons can afford.
I am not a Zimbabwean, but as one of your concerned African brothers in the region, I would like to warn my fellow brothers and sisters who are so much into Zanu PF that politics is one of the ugliest games ever.
Never ever think that your
leaders have your interests at heart. If they had, since they are so much
against the West especially the British, why is it that up to now they: haven’t
called back their children who are studying in Europe and America? Continue
going overseas for shopping? Continue speaking in English (a big symbol of
colonisation)? Continue having pride in being addressed with European titles
such as “Dr” or “Professor”?
Continue driving luxurious cars (a Western invention – I stand to be corrected, but I don’t remember ever reading that your Sekuru Kaguvi or Mbuya Nehanda invented even a tricycle or at least a wheelbarrow)?
Why do they continue wearing expensive suits instead of the skins Kaguvi and Nehanda wore? Continue using forks and knives when eating?
Continue to send their wives to buy clothing in Europe? Continue using English names, eg Robert, Jonathan, Aeneas, etc?
And why is it that your President and many of his closest followers continue throwing insults at the whites and saying they hate everything about them, yet they continue using everything that the whites have brought to Zimbabwe?
Brothers and sisters, please open your eyes. These Zanu PF crooks are simply trying to corrupt your minds by filling you with hatred against the whites as they continue with their looting and cause suffering to many innocent souls.
The truth is that white people are simply human beings as any of us.
Colonialism is now history. Do you honestly think under Morgan Tsvangirai or any other sane and democratic President Zimbabwe will be re-colonised? I really don’t think so.
Because of the greed of Zanu PF leaders, there is now so much suffering among the ordinary people who continue listening to the numerous lies by your leaders. How many promises have they made to you? Just to mention a few, they promised education for all, health for all and housing for all by the year 2000. Has any of that been delivered? They promised land to the landless – is the land being distributed to the landless or only to the big fish and their relatives?
Oh, come on, you people of Zimbabwe, wake up and fight for you rights! That government of yours has long outlived its usefulness.
This report does not purport to cover all the incidents that are taking place in the commercial farming areas. Communication problems and the fear of reprisals prevent farmers from reporting all that happens. Farmers names, and in some cases farm names, are omitted to minimise the risk of reprisals.
NATIONAL REPORT IN BRIEF
· Chiredzi - cutting down of trees and burning of fields has reached alarming proportions. Poaching is very severe and out of control. To illustrate the extent, a landowner dispatched his Toyota Land Cruiser to a base camp to uplift poached meat. The Land Cruiser was fully loaded with game meat on Dombedeema Ranch.
· On Newbiggin Farm, Chakari, Agritex came around wanting to do an inventory of all movable assets. The main Agritex officer for the area was allocated the 4 hectare drip irrigation scheme and wants the owner to teach him how to use it, but also demands the owner get out of his house.
· Kadoma - Government officials are canvassing the area to make inventories of all movable assets as they say they will be taken with the farm.
· Save Conservancy - poaching and snaring continue daily. 40 army and police officials are said to be moving through the area trying to control the poaching.
· On Eureka Ranch, Mwenezi, army and police officials were deployed to clamp down on the poaching activity. So far, 21 poachers have been arrested. The DA has told the settlers to be off the property by 07.06.02 or face being removed.
· The Lot 21 A, Mwenezi, owner was charged with “poisoning the water” in the cattle drinking trough. The vet and local police were sent to investigate the matter. The owner wants to know why he would want to put poison in the water when his own cattle drink from the same trough!
Petty theft ongoing in the province otherwise all is quiet.
Mvurwi - The owner of Braijule Farm received a visit from the DA. 60 to 70 of the farm workers have been allocated plots on the farm. When the owner attempted to move his irrigation equipment he was stopped. On Eastwolds Farm, A2 settlers have started to arrive and have brought 40 head of cattle with them.
Macheke/Virginia - Labour evicted from their houses on one farm. No RRB number given for this incident. One Section 5 Order received. One farmer was told to vacate his house the water supply was cut and they threatened to burn down the house if the owner did not vacate.
No report received.
MASHONALAND WEST (SOUTH)
Norton - On Serui Source settlers told the owner he is not allowed to continue grazing any of his cattle on the property. On Idaho Farm there were 2 bulls, 3 cows and 2 calves stolen, and a pedigree Simmental bull was slaughtered. The stolen cattle were retrieved and the thieves caught.
Selous - On Norwood the settlers are using the owner’s implements at will, including his irrigation equipment. This is a small single-owned farm and the owner has been deprived of any income over the last year. On Exwick Farm settlers parked a tractor in front of the homestead gate to prevent the owner getting in and out. They also commandeered all the irrigation equipment for a 40-hectare scheme. The District Administrator has sanctioned this.
Chakari - On Newbiggin Farm Agritex came around wanting to do an inventory of all movable assets. The main Agritex officer for the area was allocated the 4 hectare drip irrigation scheme and wants the owner to teach him how to use it, but also demands the owner get out of his house. On Tawstock the owner’s truck, carrying irrigation pipes, was stopped at a police roadblock. Police say the Lands Committee has to sanction any movement of movable assets. The pipes were impounded at Alabama Farm which is the main "war veteran" base in the area.
Kadoma - Government officials are canvassing the area to make inventories of all movable assets as they say they will be taken with the farm.
General - Section 8 orders continue to be issued throughout the region.
Masvingo East and Central - Nothing to report.
Chiredzi – the Wasara Ranch owner has done his own census on the property as follows:
Huts vacant 24
Huts occupied 77
Communal Cattle 255
Communal Donkeys 55
Communal Dogs 72
Communal Sheep and Goats 55
General Comments - cutting down of trees and burning of fields has reached alarming proportions. Poaching is very severe and out of control. To illustrate the extent, a landowner dispatched his Toyota Land Cruiser to a base camp to uplift poached meat. The Land Cruiser was fully loaded with game meat on Dombedeema Ranch.
Save Conservancy - poaching and snaring continue daily. 40 army and police officials are said to be moving through the area trying to control the poaching.
Mwenezi - More of the same: theft, snaring, poaching. At Rutenga Ranch settlers drove the owner’s cattle along the road into the kraal and instructed the labour to not release the cattle. Cattle were chased away from the water point and have been without any food or water for 48 hours. The owner has reported this to the Police. Apparently, the DA has told settlers on the property to be off the property by 07.06.02 or they will “face being removed”. As of 10.06.02 no one has moved off. A meeting was held where it has been disclosed the local MP went to see “a Minister” in Harare and the message is no one moves off the property, as it is to be cut up into plots and made available to settlers. On Eureka Ranch army and police officials were deployed to clamp down on the poaching activity. So far, 21 poachers have been arrested. The DA has told the settlers to be off the property by 07.06.02 or face being removed. More settlers moved on to Quagga Pan B apparently moved off Sossonye Ranch. The Alandia Ranch owner had an A2 settler visit him and request an appointment with the DA, Mwenezi. The Lot 21 A owner was charged with “poisoning the water” in the cattle drinking trough. The vet and local police were sent to investigate the matter. The owner wants to know why he would want to put poison in the water when his own cattle drink from the same trough!
Gutu / Chatsworth - Ongoing disruption to farming activities.
No report received.
No report received.
In the margins of the United Nations’ World Food Summit in Rome, Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General, has twice demanded that Mr Mugabe permit a free market in grain to try to avert a famine. UN sources said that the Zimbabwean President had refused on both occasions.
Instead Mr Mugabe told Afrikone, an African television station, yesterday that the West “enjoys seeing Africans suffer ... The more we suffer the happier they are”. He added: “The only good imperialist is a dead imperialist.”
On Monday Mr Annan privately urged Mr Mugabe to lift the state monopoly on all imports and sale of grain into the drought-stricken country, where commercial farming has almost collapsed because of the Government’s land seizures. He repeated the demand later in the week, but was disappointed again.
Mr Mugabe’s defiance threatens Zimbabwe with mass starvation. Six million people face malnutrition unless large amounts of cereals, especially maize, are brought into the country. The Government controls all grain imports and distribution and is expected to import about 300,000 tonnes of grain this year, with a further 60,000 tonnes already promised in food aid.
But the UN estimates that Zimbabwe needs 1.497 million tonnes of food, including 1.345 million tonnes of maize. It believes that the private sector could take care of two thirds of the 1.137 million-tonne shortfall, if the Government agreed.
“If there is no free market and no food on the market, we are going to have a hell of a time,” Judith Lewis, the regional director of the World Food Programme, said.
A senior Western diplomat said: “One does not have leverage over Mr Mugabe because he is just prepared to trade people’s lives to keep his power.”
The summit, which is designed to combat world hunger, is drawing to a close with Third World leaders rounding on their Western counterparts for not attending.
President Mbeki of South Africa said that their absence showed that they “do not care about human life”. He said that the world’s leaders, including President Bush and Tony Blair, had come to Rome only two weeks ago for a Nato Russia meeting. The fact that they had not returned to discuss how to tackle worldwide starvation suggested that “they obviously don’t think the problem of 800 million starving people is important”.
Only two Western nations had sent their Prime Ministers: Italy, which is hosting the summit, and Spain, which holds the presidency of the European Union Council of Ministers. Mr Mbeki said this showed that the priorities of the developed world were “fundamentally wrong”.
Alun Michael, the Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, finally arrived in Rome yesterday. But he did not speak publicly and left after five hours, making Britain the only EU nation not to have made a statement at the summit. Clare Short, the International Development Secretary, had said earlier that her department was not sending a minister because the four-day conference was “a waste of time”.
British officials insisted that, although Mr Michael had missed the first two days of the summit and would also miss its conclusion today, this did not amount to a boycott. Third World delegates said that Britain should either have boycotted the meeting or attended it “properly”.