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Continued issuance of acquisition notices baffles commercial farmers

6/27/02 10:43:37 PM (GMT +2)


Farming Editor

THE government intends to compulsorily acquire 86 commercial farms for
its controversial land reform programme.

The announcement by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural
Resettlement, Dr Joseph Made, caught the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) by
surprise.

Their spokesperson said most commercial farms had been listed for
acquisition by the government and wondered where the 86 farms were from.

In the past, the government has been accused of duplicating
acquisition lists, causing confusion and wasting taxpayers' money.

In two latest preliminary notices to acquire land (Lot 53 and 54),
Made said the government would acquire 41 commercial farms in the first
notice and a further 45 farms from the second notice.

He said: "Notice is hereby given, in terms of Subsection (1) of
Section 5 of the Land Acquisition Act (Chapter 20:10), that the President
intends to acquire compulsorily the land described in the Schedule for
resettlement purposes.

"Any owner or occupier or any other person who has interest and right
in the said land, and who wishes to object to the proposed compulsory
acquisition, may lodge the same, in writing, with the Minister of Lands,
Agriculture and Rural Resettlement . . . before 22 July 2002."

CFU spokesperson Jennie Williams on Tuesday said: "What surprises me
is that the government continues to list farms for compulsory acquisition
when only 20 farms were left out as of 7 June 2002."

The designation of the 86 commercial farms comes at a time when the
government has given 2 900 commercial farmers a 24 June deadline to stop
farming operations.

Amendments to the Land Acquisition Act gazetted on 10 May 2002,
indicated that once a farmer received a Section 8 acquisition order from the
government, he/she had 45 days to cease farming operations and a further 45
days to leave the farm.

The first 45 days expired on Monday and this means the 2 900 farmers
cannot continue with farming operation but start to prepare to leave the
commercial farms in the next 45 days from Monday.

The mass evictions come at a time when Zimbabwe is facing severe food
shortages due to drought and disruption caused by farm invasions. The bulk
of the wheat crop is produced by commercial farmers while about 45 to 50
percent of maize is produced by this sector in normal years.

About 80 percent of beef exported to the European Union is produced by
commercial farmers.

According to the CFU, up to 27 percent of farmers with title deeds
were not producing anything due to enforced shut-downs and land invasions.

The CFU said operations were either wholly or partially continuing on
73 percent of the farms with title deeds "demonstrating the resilience of
Zimbabwean commercial farmers".
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7.14 pm Mr. Michael Ancram (Devizes): I beg to move, That this House
deplores the deteriorating political, economic and humanitarian situation in
Zimbabwe; condemns the continuing violations of basic human rights committed
by the Mugabe regime; reaffirms the view that following the rigged
presidential election in March the current Zimbabwean government lacks
legitimacy; regrets the failure of Her Majesty's Government and the EU to
implement sanctions and exert effective pressure on the Mugabe regime to
hold new free and independently monitored presidential elections; recognises
the growing politically-induced humanitarian suffering in Zimbabwe, and its
effects on her neighbours; and calls on Her Majesty's Government to take
effective action to build an international coalition to apply whatever
pressure is necessary, in line with the Harare Declaration, to restore
democracy in Zimbabwe through fresh Presidential elections.

This debate should have taken place a long time ago, and it should also have
taken place in Government time. Zimbabwe is not a far-off land about which
we know little; it is a land that we know all too well. Zimbabwe is in
crisis. Her people are suffering-suffering from starvation, suffering from
a breakdown in the rule of law, suffering from the loss of basic democratic
freedoms, suffering from a systematic violation of human rights and
suffering from a vote-rigging despot who uses intimidation and lawlessness
to impose his will upon his people.

If we were talking about Kosovo or Bosnia, the Prime Minister would rightly
insist on our moral duty to intervene to save the people from tyranny,
dispersal and torture. If we were talking about the Indian sub-continent,
the Foreign Secretary would be jetting in to exercise persuasion and
economic muscle to restore normality. If we were talking about the middle
east, prime ministerial envoys would be whistle-stopping around the region
seeking support for political action to deal with the crisis. But we are
talking about Zimbabwe, yet from the Government there have been silence and
inaction.

Until Question Time this afternoon, there had been no recent statements in
the House on Zimbabwe and there has been no evidence of the creation of the
international coalition to bring pressure to bear on the Mugabe regime that
was promised by the Foreign Secretary when he told the House that an
international coalition was "exactly what we have been seeking to put
together and have, indeed, put together."-[Official Report, 21 March 2002;
Vol. 382, c. 449.] He could have fooled me. He certainly fooled the
people of Zimbabwe.

It is starkly indicative that it has taken the Opposition to bring this
matter to the Floor of the House. I have accused the Government of
dithering over Zimbabwe, but I confess that I am wrong. Since March, there
has not been enough action to merit the description "dithering." There has
only been silence, broken astonishingly last week on 20 June when the
Foreign Secretary claimed, as he did earlier today, that sanctions were
working and that Zimbabwe's Government were experiencing-I think these are
the words he used-isolation from the rest of the world. Who does he think
he is kidding? Certainly not the people of Gib-[Interruption]-Zimbabwe, or
of Gibraltar; certainly not the people of Zimbabwe.

Let me say to the Foreign Secretary that the people of Zimbabwe feel a sense
of betrayal that Britain has turned its back on them and that it is afraid
to take on the Mugabe
25 Jun 2002 : Column 804 regime. They see the Government ensconced in their
well-practised mode of supine inaction. Many Zimbabweans to whom I have
spoken recently believe that we no longer care about what happens in
Zimbabwe. I can only tell them that Conservative Members care passionately.

Hugh Bayley (City of York) rose- Mr. Ancram: Perhaps the hon. Gentleman
cares passionately, so I shall be delighted to give way to him.

Hugh Bayley: I have taken an interest in Zimbabwe for a long time. When the
right hon. Gentleman's party were in power, Mugabe wiped out the opposition
party, ZAPU, and 10,000 Zimbabweans were butchered in Matabeleland. What
protests did the right hon. Gentleman's Government lodge; what sanctions
did they apply; and why did they later invite Mugabe to Britain on a state
visit?

Mr. Ancram: I do not understand whether the hon. Gentleman is suggesting
that that is any reason to ignore what is happening in Zimbabwe today. I
count 10 Labour Members in the Chamber for this debate, and that is a sign
of how much the Labour party cares about what is happening in Zimbabwe.

We know that the crisis in Zimbabwe is getting worse. It is important that
not only the House but the country should know about what is horrifyingly
growing unchecked in Zimbabwe. We cannot turn a blind eye to it and we
cannot afford to be squeamish. Our motion refers to the "deteriorating
political, economic and humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe"

and to "the continuing violations of basic human rights".

The truth is stark. According to the report of the independent Physicians
for Human Rights, between January and April this year, there were 961
documented cases of torture. There have been many more since then.

Some of the cases are horrifying. A Movement for Democratic Change
supporter was attacked three times. Eight-months pregnant, she was kicked
so badly in the groin and lower abdomen that she suffered internal bleeding
for which she was prevented from getting treatment. Subsequently, her
eight-day-old baby was physically abused by Mugabe's thugs while she was
gagged to silence her screams. She was told by them that her baby should
die because it was "MDC property".

Documented cases of torture include severe beatings, mutilation by fire,
whippings, permanent disfigurement and crippling, much of it taking place in
the custody of the police or the military. One victim in May was abducted
in front of the central police station in Bulawayo and taken to a militia
camp. He was accused of being an MDC supporter. A flaming log was taken
from a fire and forced against his feet. His mutilated feet were then
beaten. A former policeman accused of being MDC was beaten about his head
with a metal bar and then more generally with sjamboks by ZANU youth
militia. When he complained to the police he was told: "anyone suspected of
being MDC will be beaten up".

25 Jun 2002 : Column 805 The fact is that the police turn a blind eye to
such torture and abuse, probably because more than 90 per cent. of such
cases emanate from the actions of persons linked to the Government-the army,
the police, the militia, the veteran groups. There is little fear of
repercussions because the Government have let it be known that grants of
clemency and amnesty will be forthcoming.

An apologist for Mugabe told me the other day that I should not be too
censorious about what was happening in Zimbabwe because "this was Africa".
Such comments are a slur on that great continent. The abuse is not African;
it is the abuse of a fascist dictatorship. The international community can
no longer stand by and let it happen.

After elections in March that were internationally judged to be rigged and
stolen, the Foreign Secretary told the House:

"we do not recognise the result or its legitimacy."-[Official Report, 14
March 2002; Vol. 381, c. 1035.] I hope the right hon. Gentleman will
confirm that that remains his position.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Jack
Straw): Yes.

Mr. Ancram: I am grateful for that. Mugabe and his henchmen have ridden
roughshod over democracy in Zimbabwe. It is worth recalling that the
principles of the 1991 Harare declaration-this is ironic-state:

"We believe . . . in the individual's inalienable right to participate by
means of free and democratic processes in the society in which he or she
lives".

Yet two days after the elections, Mugabe laid formal charges of treason
against the leaders of the MDC. Between January and August this year, the
Parliament will have been closed for all but two days in May, when
legislation was pushed through without consultation or debate.

In terms of the law, Mugabe has ignored any rulings that did not suit him.
On 9 April, a senior Government official, George Charama, said that it was
the intention of the Government to ignore rulings by the court which were
not in the Government's favour. The contemptuous Government reaction to the
Supreme Court ruling that the Public Order and Security Act did not apply to
certain internal meetings of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions only
helps to corroborate that.

Press freedom and freedom of expression are also under attack. The
draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act has already
allowed the arrest of more than a dozen journalists on various charges.
Poets, too, have been jailed under that legislation for poetry critical of
Mugabe.

Zimbabwe's economic outlook is even bleaker. The violent land-grabs
continue. Yesterday, 60 per cent. of Zimbabwe's remaining white farmers
were told to close down. Many of them will not even be allowed to complete
the essential grading of the tobacco that used to provide 30 per cent. of
Zimbabwe's foreign currency. Agricultural output has fallen 67 per cent.
from last year. Farmers are being dispossessed and their labourers are
losing their jobs and watching helplessly as their families face hunger and
homelessness.

Unemployment has soared to 70 per cent. Business closures are rife.
Everyone is suffering except for those who are in Mugabe's pocket.
Inflation has now reached 25 Jun 2002 : Column 806 122 per cent. Skilled
people are leaving Zimbabwe. Wildlife, so essential to the tourism
industry, has been devastated, including the rare black rhino. The dire
economic crisis is beginning seriously to damage neighbouring economies as
well.

Then there is the Mugabe-created and fuelled humanitarian crisis. Some 6
million people face malnutrition in Zimbabwe. The United Nations estimates
that Zimbabwe needs 1.5 million tonnes of food aid, including 1.3 million
tonnes of corn. Mugabe cynically and dishonestly blames the white
imperialists, but the blame lies firmly on his shoulders. He is even
blocking grain imports from the port of Beira.

Home production has been devastated by the land-grabs. Andrew Meikle,
chairman of Commercial Grain Producers, projects a harvest of only 498,000
tonnes this year compared with 1.47 million last year and 2.1 million in
2000. Wheat is expected to run out by the end of the month. The crisis is
massive and it is politically induced. My hon. Friend the Member for
Meriden (Mrs. Spelman) will have more to say on that in her winding-up
speech.

The horrifying truth is that Mugabe is using starvation as a political tool.
He is primarily responsible for his people's hunger. The PHR report vividly
describes how the feeding plan in Midlands school has been altered to keep
MDC children from obtaining food. A ZANU-PF councillor is chillingly
reported as having said:

"even if stone was to melt, MDC children will not get the food because it is
ZANU food".

While our Government may say little, others have spoken out. USAID head,
Andrew Natsios, describes Mugabe as tyrannical and predatory. Mary
Robinson, the UN Human Rights Commissioner, has accused Mugabe of being
primarily responsible for the hunger and deprivation afflicting Zimbabwe.
Mugabe may blame drought, but the truth is that his people go hungry
alongside full dams with the waters unexploited.

We must make no mistake about it: the crisis and the evil are real, and real
international action is urgently needed. It simply does not wash for the
Foreign Secretary to say, as he did at Question Time today, that action is
being taken. The right hon. Gentleman has to answer some central
questions. What has exclusion from the Councils of the Commonwealth
achieved? How many meetings has Zimbabwe been excluded from? Will it still
attend the Commonwealth games at the end of next month? Will any Zimbabwean
Ministers attend those games? What message will that give to Mr. Mugabe?

Then there are the EU targeted sanctions which the Foreign Secretary
apparently believes are isolating the Zimbabwean Government. I thought that
Mugabe and senior members of his regime were supposed to be banned from
travelling. In the words of the Foreign Secretary in January, that policy
was "clear, unanimous and unambiguous"-so clear, apparently, that Mugabe was
able to attend the United Nations in New York; so unanimous that Grace
Mugabe was recently able to go shopping in Spain; and so unambiguous that
police chief Augustine Chihuri was able to attend a meeting of Interpol in
Lille in May, and Mugabe, with offensive irony, was able to attend a UN
conference on world hunger in Rome a few days ago. Dr. Olivia Muchena,
Minister of State in the Vice-Presidents office, a former Deputy Minister of
Agriculture, is allowed to travel 25 Jun 2002 : Column 807 at will.
Kumberai Kengai, ex-Minister of Agriculture, is receiving medical treatment
in the United Kingdom. Why is the travel ban list not comprehensive? The
asset freeze includes Mugabe, individual members of the Government of
Zimbabwe and any natural or legal persons, entities or bodies associated
with them. But only 20 individuals are named in the travel ban.

It is time that the Government faced the facts. EU targeted sanctions are
not working. The author of the recent International Crisis Group report
described the sanctions as a joke. He went on to say:

"Britain and the EU talk tough and do nothing. They threatened Mugabe that
if he stole the election they would come down hard on him. Mugabe must be
laughing at them."

What an indictment!

The sanctions regime needs to be strengthened both in scope and extent; it
needs to encompass more targets; and it needs to be given more bite. I
would like the sanctions regime to include the immediate families of those
who are on the banned list. Why has the EU perversely postponed further
consideration of such an urgently needed review of the sanctions until 22
July? Ministers met-what was it, a week and a half ago? Did they not
consider at that time whether the sanctions were working? Last week's
General Affairs Council conclusions contained one page about Zimbabwe and
not a single action point.

The Government have lost the plot on Zimbabwe. The overriding objective
must now be to secure new, fresh, independently monitored presidential
elections. Any fudged and artificial compromise between ZANU-PF and the MDC
that falls short of that would be a victory for Mugabe's dishonesty and his
despotic behaviour, and the MDC are right to reject it.

Tony Baldry (Banbury): My right hon. Friend has said a lot about the EU,
but is this matter not also a test for Africa? Today, the G8 is discussing
in earnest the New Partnership for Africa's Development. If NEPAD is to
have any substance or meaning, surely the heads of Government of other
African states should bring pressure to bear on Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is a
test of whether NEPAD will work for Africa.

Mr. Ancram: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for making that point, which I
intended to make a little later in my remarks. I fully agree with him. The
coalition I mentioned could bring pressure to bear on NEPAD's African
members to exert pressure through NEPAD. I think that that would have a
substantial effect, so it is one of the things that we would like to see
being done in the coming days.

We should no longer expect Mugabe to listen to reason. He mocks the British
Government's rhetoric and the Prime Minister's high moral pronouncements.
He now believes that he can literally get away with murder and that we will
not react, but I tell the House that the time has come when we have to act.
Of course we should not try to act alone: we have to build a powerful
international coalition to meet the challenges of what is now an incipient
rogue state. With ourselves, such a coalition should include the European
Union, the United States, the Commonwealth and, most important of all, South
Africa and its neighbours, along with Nigeria.

25 Jun 2002 : Column 808 The coalition's objectives should be the re-running
of the presidential elections, democratically conducted and independently
monitored and refereed, if necessary involving further talks between ZANU-PF
and the MDC to negotiate the means of setting such elections in process.
The coalition must be strong and cohesive enough to exert on Mugabe the
political, economic and, if necessary, military pressure needed to achieve
its objectives. It must be bound together by an understanding that failure
to deal with the crisis in Zimbabwe threatens the whole region and will make
international economic support for the region less practicable.

Mr. Straw: Just now the right hon. Gentleman mentioned military pressure,
and in his preliminary remarks he made a reference to Kosovo. Is he
suggesting that we should either unilaterally or multilaterally take
military action against the Mugabe regime?

Mr. Ancram: No, I am not. At this stage I do not wish to rule anything in
or anything out in judging what is necessary to bring sufficient pressure to
bear on Mugabe to hold fresh elections. However, if the coalition is to be
effective, it must have the means-whatever means are necessary-to achieve
its objectives. For that reason, I mentioned the three areas of economic,
political and military pressure very deliberately in that context.

The coalition must have strong and clear aims. In African terms, it should
aim to isolate Zimbabwe diplomatically if the violence and intimidation do
not cease, and it should persuade countries such as Libya to cease the
material help that they currently give to Zimbabwe, which only serves to
encourage Mugabe. In Commonwealth terms, the coalition should seek to
secure the implementation of the Abuja agreement of last September in
respect of the rule of law in Zimbabwe and the proper transfer of land.
[Interruption.] The Secretary of State for International Development says,
"We have tried," but I do not believe that we have tried hard enough. I
want a coalition that can bring real pressure to bear. In EU and US terms,
the coalition should extend targeted sanctions to directors and top
officials in ZANU-PF affiliated businesses and strengthen the freezing of
assets against them. The sanctions must be made effective in ways that they
currently are not.

At the same time, the coalition should make the public in southern African
aware of current levels of corruption in Zimbabwe. It should implement the
recommendation of the UN panel on the illegal exploitation of natural
resources in the Congo to make Mugabe face up to the realities of Zimbabwe's
crisis. As I said in answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Tony
Baldry), at the G8 summit, progress on the NEPAD initiative should be linked
to stronger and more credible efforts by African Governments to resolve
Zimbabwe's crisis.

The time for appeasement and empty rhetoric is over. Supine inaction must
now be replaced by action-[Interruption.] The Foreign Secretary returns to
his usual theme: in the past when I have called on the Government to stop
talking and start doing, he has always responded by accusing me of offering
no plan for action. If he had been listening for the past few minutes, he
would have realised that I have laid out a clear pattern of action that a
coalition can and should take.

Time is running short. If disaster is to be averted, the Government can no
longer afford to look the other way-the problem will not resolve itself.
Hiding behind the alibi 25 Jun 2002 : Column 809 of our colonial past to
excuse our inaction will no longer wash. Yet again, I call on the
Government to cease the hand-wringing and the empty rhetoric, and to stand
up against dictatorship for democracy and the rule of law.

I remind the House of what the Prime Minister said at his party conference
last October, when he told the country that he would heal the scars of
Africa:

"if Rwanda happened again today . . . we would have a moral duty to act
there", and added that he would "not tolerate . . . the behaviour of
Mugabe's henchmen".

The Government must now demonstrate that the Prime Minister's words are more
than mere rhetoric. Let us see action-and let us see it now, before it is
too late.

7.37 pm The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr.
Jack Straw): I beg to move, To leave out from "House" to the end of the
Question, and to add instead thereof:

"expresses its grave concern at the abuse of human rights and suppression of
freedom of expression in Zimbabwe, the increase in poverty arising from the
policies of the ruling party, and the impending humanitarian crisis in the
country; reaffirms the view that the outcome of the recent Presidential
election does not reflect the will of the Zimbabwean people; recognises the
need for Land Reform but also recognises that this needs to be done
responsibly; welcomes the actions taken on Zimbabwe by Her Majesty's
Government in co-operation with the EU, the Commonwealth, the US and others;
further welcomes the efforts of the Governments of South Africa and Nigeria
to facilitate dialogue between ZANU (PF) and MDC, and deplores ZANU (PF)'s
withdrawal from these talks; further welcomes the Government's commitment of
32 million to humanitarian relief in Zimbabwe outside official channels;
and calls on the Government to encourage other donors to stand by the people
of Zimbabwe at this difficult time."

I am grateful to the right hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram) and the
Opposition for organising this debate in Opposition time. The fact that it
is the first Opposition debate devoted to a foreign affairs subject for two
years illustrates the difficulty that the right hon. Gentleman had in
persuading his right hon. and hon. Friends in the shadow Cabinet to agree
to it. That is emphasised by the fact that the Leader of the Opposition
takes almost no interest in Zimbabwe or, indeed, in Africa.

Mr. Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight): Will the Foreign Secretary give way?

Mr. Straw: No, of course I will not.

The Leader of the Opposition has made only one foreign policy speech in the
whole time that he has occupied that post-getting on for a year. In that
speech, on foreign policy and the world, there is not a single reference to
Zimbabwe, still less to the rest of Africa.

The speech that we have just heard from the right hon. Member for Devizes
is long on indignation and almost wholly devoid of action. He says that his
agenda for action beyond that which we are already doing is to rule nothing
in and to rule nothing out. I thought that he gave away his real interests
when, in a slip of which Freud would have been proud, he said that not even
the people of Gibraltar would be fooled by what we are doing.

25 Jun 2002 : Column 810 That illustrates only too well that he could as
well have applied his speech to Gibraltar as to Zimbabwe, despite the
entirely different circumstances.

Mr. Turner: How many people have been murdered in Gibraltar?

Mr. Straw: None as far as I know-or if they have, the Gibraltar police have
investigated. I merely point out the fact that the right hon. Member for
Devizes made an extraordinary but highly revealing Freudian slip.

What we heard today, and what we hear from the right hon. Member for
Devizes each time the issue is raised, is the usual incantation in which he
calls for the establishment of an international coalition, including members
of the Commonwealth, the European Union, the United States and countries in
southern Africa, to take effective action against the regime. When we have
achieved exactly that-in the Commonwealth, with Zimbabwe's suspension, and
in the EU, with targeted sanctions against the ruling party and the
military-the right hon. Gentleman has scarcely been able to hide his
disappointment.

This morning, as he has so often done, the right hon. Gentleman made
similar remarks on the radio to those that he made this evening, describing
what is unquestionably a profoundly dire situation, and implying that all
that rests between peace and harmony in Zimbabwe and the current
circumstances is what he describes as inaction by the British Government.
Would that that were the situation. When put on the spot, as the right hon.
Gentleman was this morning, and asked what Britain could realistically do,
given its history with Zimbabwe, he said:

"I think we shouldn't try to do anything on our own . . . this is a
situation which has wider implications than just within Zimbabwe."

He went on to say:

"I would like to see now an international coalition put together which would
put pressure on Mr. Mugabe's regime and make sure that a number of things
are done."

What the right hon. Gentleman does, which is a deception of the good people
of Zimbabwe, is to make the wish the deed. The wish is straightforward:
that we move quickly to new elections, which are properly monitored at every
stage and which Mugabe and his henchmen do not steal. The wish is that that
regime has an agricultural policy which allows the farmers to do what they
are dedicated to and skilled in-that is, planting and growing crops-rather
than the current circumstance. The wish is that that regime signs up, in
deed as well as in words, to the Harare principles and allows the judiciary
to operate properly, observes human rights and ends the arbitrary arrest and
detention of Opposition spokespersons and journalists.

We share those wishes. The question is how they can be achieved. That can
be only by an international coalition and international co-operation. I
wish we could have gone further in some respects. The constraint is not the
desire or the wish of the United Kingdom, but the need to ensure that we get
together an international coalition.

Let me remind the House of the steps that we are taking, both bilaterally
and with our partners in the Commonwealth, the EU, the US and countries in
the region to encourage reform and avert further disaster in Zimbabwe.
Bilaterally, we have introduced a range of sanctions, including an arms
embargo and a reduction in
25 Jun 2002 : Column 811 development assistance to the Government of
Zimbabwe, to ensure that the regime cannot divert UK funds for its own ends.

However, in recognition of the scale of the economic disaster engulfing the
country, we have increased our own humanitarian relief to Zimbabwe, but our
aid moneys go direct to impartial groups such as non-governmental
organisations and Churches, ensuring that those most in need, rather than
ZANU-PF insiders, benefit. In the past 12 months we have committed 10
million in humanitarian assistance. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of
State for International Development, who will wind up the debate for the
Government, announced last week 45 million of further assistance for the
region, of which we expect almost half to go to Zimbabwe.

Over the past 12 months, we have promoted international action against Mr.
Mugabe's regime. I noticed that when my hon. Friend the Member for City of
York (Hugh Bayley) asked the right hon. Member for Devizes about the cosy
relationship that existed under the Thatcher Government and, I may say, the
Major Government, the right hon. Gentleman's answer was devoid of content.
The record of the previous Government, once the noble Lord Carrington had
ceased to be Foreign Secretary, was not altogether a creditable one, to put
it mildly.

That continued through the astonishing blindness that the previous
Government showed in the mid-1980s when, as my hon. Friend said, 10,000
people in Matabeleland were slaughtered, and the reward that President
Mugabe received for that was a state visit, which gave him the most
astonishing endorsement of his actions. Much more recently, when the
President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons, my right hon.
Friend the Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook), was Foreign Secretary,
throughout the period that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for
International Development has held her post, and since I have held my
present post, President Mugabe's principal complaint about the current
Government was that we have not been easy to deal with-unlike the previous
Government, we have been told repeatedly, who turned out to be remarkably
easy to deal with. That is a charge to which I and my right hon. Friends
are only too happy to plead guilty.

Mr. Andrew MacKay (Bracknell): The Foreign Secretary and I were both in the
House in the mid-1980s. There is some merit in his criticism of the
Government whom I served at that time, but I have a clear memory that there
was next to no mention from those on the Opposition Benches of what was
happening in Matabeleland. There was certainly no Supply day debate, and
the only person who comes out of it with any credit is my hon. Friend the
Member for Macclesfield (Sir Nicholas Winterton). We do not need any
lessons from the Government on the dreadful tragedy of Matabeleland.

Mr. Straw: As I have said before, the record of the hon. Member for
Macclesfield (Sir Nicholas Winterton) is one which stands starkly in the
House. He has taken a consistent approach to the matter, and I pay credit
to him, as I have done before. I admire the frankness of the right hon.
Member for Bracknell (Mr. MacKay) about the record of the previous
Government, which stands in stark 25 Jun 2002 : Column 812 contrast to the
attitude of the right hon. Member for Devizes, who speaks from the
Opposition Front Bench on Foreign Affairs.

As to our position, I am happy to go through the record, but I expect that
it will transpire that we raised the issue at the time. It was the party of
the right hon. Member for Bracknell who were in government, and they did
nothing about it. Yes, we are in government now, and I shall run through
the efforts that we have made in response to the flagrant breach by Mugabe
and his people of the Harare principles, and the even worse humanitarian
disaster into which the country is being plunged by that regime.

We have strongly supported regional efforts led by South Africa and Nigeria
to establish a dialogue between ZANU-PF and the Opposition MDC. One of the
critical things that we had to do was to end the myth that Mugabe had so
cleverly perpetrated, that he was involved in a bilateral dispute between
him, President Robert Mugabe, the leader of the freedom fighters in the
whole of Africa, and the former unpleasant colonial power, the United
Kingdom. It has taken considerable effort, persuasion and diplomacy by the
British Government-particularly by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of
State for International Development and by my predecessor, which I have been
happy to follow-to build up the confidence of the other African nations
about our good faith in respect of Africa as a whole, and to assure the
Governments, particularly the leading Governments such as South Africa and
Nigeria, that we are doing that not as some post-colonial exercise, but out
of our commitment to the peoples of Africa, whatever their race, colour or
creed.

In addition, the European Union has adopted a package of targeted sanctions
against the leadership of ZANU-PF. The measures imposed in February this
year include a travel ban, an assets freeze and a ban on arms sales. The EU
applicant states, the United States, Switzerland, Norway and New Zealand
have since adopted similar measures, but in the case of the US, ones that do
not go quite as far.

Mr. Ancram: The Foreign Secretary accused me earlier of not having put
forward any suggestions. I made a suggestion specifically about extending
the list of those against whom sanctions would be applied. Can he confirm
that that is his intention when he meets his EU colleagues again at the end
of July?

Mr. Straw: We will indeed review the operation of sanctions when we meet on
22 July. There is a strong case for an extension of the measures, but I
will not give specific notice of what I have in mind, for the simple
reason-[Interruption.] I am very happy to brief the right hon. Gentleman on
the usual terms. The more specific notice that is given of what we have in
mind, the easier it will be for the regime to take pre-emptive action. I
would have thought that that was astonishingly obvious to
everybody-apparently except him.

Of course, we want the sanctions to operate in the most effective way. The
right hon. Gentleman asked me about the fact that Mugabe and some of his
people had attended a number of international meetings. That was made clear
in the terms of the common position that the EU adopted earlier this year.
When such common positions are overridden by treaty obligations such as
those arising from the United Nations charter, the treaty obligations 25 Jun
2002 : Column 813 will take precedent. That is no different from what has
happened with regard to the fact that the United States has imposed the most
powerful sanctions against Cuba ever since Fidel Castro took power, and
banned Fidel Castro and his Government from travelling to the United States.
I wonder whether any Opposition Members know how many times Fidel Castro has
travelled to New York in apparent breach of that ban in order to attend the
General Assembly of the UN. If anyone would like to tell me the number, I
shall happily give way.

Mr. Menzies Campbell (North-East Fife): Forty.

Mr. Straw: The hon. Gentleman mentions that number from a sedentary
position. [Hon. Members: "You sent him a note."] I will not tell hon.
Members what the note said-[Interruption.] I am extremely happy, however,
for the hon. Member for West Suffolk (Mr. Spring) to see the note; indeed,
it is being passed to him.

Mr. Michael Jack (Fylde) rose- Mr. Straw: I hope that the right hon.
Gentleman wants to give me the answer.

Mr. Jack: I am sorry that the Foreign Secretary has reduced this debate to
an auction of information. I speak as somebody who does not know a great
deal about this matter, but I am desperately worried about what constituents
of mine who work in Zimbabwe are telling me about the situation there. They
convey to me a sense of impotence and a feeling that whatever is contained
in his list of sanctions appears currently to have no effect on Mugabe. We
are currently facing the final takeover of white-owned farms. What comes
next? More importantly, what advice has he received, especially from
African leaders who might understand Mugabe better than we do, about what
will make this man come to terms?

Mr. Straw: That is the issue. Of course, I understand the right hon.
Gentleman's frustration; everybody shares a deep frustration. If only it
were possible simply by wishing for an international coalition to end the
damage that Mugabe is doing, it would be done. If it were possible to do
"what happened in Kosovo", which the right hon. Member for Devizes airily
cited as something that we should be doing in Zimbabwe, it would be done.
However, it is irresponsible to cite that example as a criticism of the
Government and the international community and neither to rule it out nor
rule it in. Everybody knows that the suggestion that we embark on a bombing
campaign, as we had to do in Kosovo for 78 days, comes from fantasy land,
and it would be deceiving the people of Zimbabwe to pretend otherwise.

The right hon. Member for Fylde (Mr. Jack) asked what would happen next; I
will tell him. The situation is likely to go from a terrible situation to a
worse one. That is the point that we are making powerfully to our partners,
especially those elsewhere in Africa, so that they can increase the pressure
that they are already exerting on the Mugabe regime and recognise that this
is a disaster in which they have moral responsibility, just as we do, for
the poor people of Zimbabwe and of the rest of southern Africa who are being
so severely damaged by the regime.

On the other point made by the right hon. Member for Fylde, it is worth
while to embed in the minds of Opposition Members the issue about Fidel
Castro. Tough 25 Jun 2002 : Column 814 sanctions have been taken by the
United States in respect of Cuba, and Cuba is the first to say that they are
tough. There is a travel ban on its leaders, but on 41 occasions, Fidel
Castro, in apparent breach of those sanctions, has gone to New York to speak
to the General Assembly of the UN.

Mr. George Howarth (Knowsley, North and Sefton, East): At length.

Mr. Straw: I am sorry to tell the House that I will speak at slightly less
length than Fidel Castro can usually be expected to do in a short speech.

The position on the sanctions imposed by the United States on Mugabe and the
rest of the 20 is the same. They have been put to very considerable
inconvenience and also humiliated, as they are not treated as visiting
dignitaries or heads of state. As I mentioned in Question Time earlier
today, we know from the criticism of them inside ZANU-PF that they are
desperate for the sanctions to be lifted because we have gone to the heart
of part of their corruption. I am offended by seeing Mrs. Mugabe going to
Madrid, no doubt to spend thousands of pounds shopping while the people of
Zimbabwe are starving. [Interruption.] I hope that the people of Zimbabwe
find out about exactly what she is doing. Yes, I understand the point about
the extension of the sanctions, but if we are to be effective, we must also
ensure, as the right hon. Member for Devizes said, that we get other
members of the European Union on board.

Mr. John Redwood (Wokingham): Surely the moral of the tale about the United
States and Castro is that the sanctions did not work, as the United States
did not get what it wanted by imposing them. Will the Foreign Secretary
give the House some indication of what pressures he would like to place on
this evil regime to get rid of the starvation, murders and bestiality if he
could get all the partners that he needed in the coalition to agree with us?
Will he set out to the House what he would like them to do that would bring
this man to account?

Mr. Straw: What I would like to happen is clear. I would like President
Mugabe to recognise the error of his ways and the disaster into which he has
plunged Zimbabwe. I would like him to leave office, allow elections to take
place immediately, stop interfering with humanitarian relief, get the
farmers, whether they are white, Indian or black, back on to the land,
respect the rule of law and allow this wonderfully prosperous
country-[Interruption.] I am asked how that would happen, but that is the
point. I say to Opposition Members that the issue for the international
community is how we do this. That is the truth of it. I have not sought at
any stage to pretend that there is some magic wand waiting to be used.

Mr. David Borrow (South Ribble): Does my right hon. Friend agree that we
in this House need to have some recognition of what influence we can have in
this situation and accept that Britain's role, however active and vigorous,
will not solve the problems on its own? The key players in making changes
in southern Africa are the neighbours of Zimbabwe, and the Republic of South
Africa in particular. Without the Republic of South Africa moving, there is
very little that he and his colleagues can do.

Mr. Straw: My hon. Friend's observation is accurate. To suggest that we
could take action without an alliance
25 Jun 2002 : Column 815 and coalition from Africa, and South Africa in
particular, would be a pretence, as such action would bilateralise the
dispute, make us ineffective and make any international coalition almost
impossible to achieve.

One of the many things that we have done is to secure a situation whereby
the decision on the suspension of Zimbabwe from the councils of the
Commonwealth was taken not by us, not by the Commonwealth ministerial action
group, of which the United Kingdom is a member, but by a troika of the
current chair of the Commonwealth, Prime Minister Howard of Australia, and
two key members-President Obasanjo of Nigeria and President Mbeki of South
Africa. It is hugely to their credit that they made the decision that they
did once the Commonwealth observers found that the elections had been
neither free nor fair.

Mr. Richard Spring (West Suffolk): As the Foreign Secretary knows, the G8
and NEPAD have a close relationship and there is an opportunity for the
Prime Minister to raise this matter. What will he say to the G8 about
bringing direct influence to bear on NEPAD to build the coalition to take
the process forward?

Mr. Straw: The Prime Minister will discuss Zimbabwe with his colleagues in
the G8 and with African leaders. Last week, I had a long meeting with
Foreign Minister Zuma of South Africa. All the African leaders understand
the disaster into which Mugabe is plunging the continent, especially the
sub-continent. If the leaders of South Africa, Nigeria and all the other
countries in southern African thought that there was a magic wand for saving
not only Zimbabwe, but southern Africa, they would have followed that
through. One of the tragedies of the situation is not only what Mugabe has
done to the Zimbabwean economy-gross domestic product declined by 10 per
cent. last year, unemployment is running at 70 per cent., inflation stands
at 122 per cent. and the industrial sector is collapsing-but the damage
that is being done to the rest of southern Africa, including, in particular,
South Africa. The decline of the rand-although it has recently improved, it
went down by 31 per cent. in the past year-is almost wholly attributable to
the damage done by the Mugabe regime.

Sir Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield): The situation facing the wonderful
people of that once prosperous country in central southern Africa is
catastrophic. I receive daily e-mails and faxes about their suffering. Is
it not time to consider different ways of tackling the problem? Earlier
today, during Question Time, I floated an idea that was responded to, but
not positively enough. Would not someone like the modern father of central
southern Africa, Nelson Mandela, be a figure around whom a group of
countries could bring pressure to bear on Zimbabwe, and perhaps also on
Libya, which continues to fund and to support Mugabe? If that were done,
the international community, including Libya, could unite to bring about a
change of Government in order to do something for the people of Zimbabwe,
about whom I practically cry because of their suffering.

Mr. Straw: I am happy to discuss the hon. Gentleman's proposal regarding
the involvement of 25 Jun 2002 : Column 816 President Mandela. My own
sense, which is shared by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for
International Development, is that if President Mandela felt that he had
been able to act as a positive intermediary in the situation, he would have
done so. It is a lamentable commentary on Mugabe and his isolation that
none of the offers of intermediation has positively been taken up.
President Mbeki and President Obasanjo said that they would help to broker a
constructive dialogue between ZANU-PF and the MDC, but that offer has so far
been refused. However, I am happy to pursue the idea and to have it drawn
to President Mandela's attention.

Libya's route back into the international community partly depends on its
showing a responsible attitude towards Zimbabwe and in respect of Sierra
Leone. We are aware of that, and it is a point that has repeatedly been
made to Libya in the dialogue that is taking place.

I know that other hon. Members wish to speak, and I shall therefore shortly
draw my remarks to a close. One of the excuses that Mugabe has used in
respect of Zimbabwe is to blame the current famine entirely on drought. It
is true that drought has played a significant part in the failure of the
maize harvest, but there is no doubt that policy failures-not least the
mismanagement of the exchange rate and the chaotic land reform
programme-have greatly exacerbated the situation. That is illustrated by
the following figures. The United Nations estimates that Zambia and Malawi,
which have suffered similar droughts, have lost one quarter of their food
production capacity, but that figure rises to three quarters in respect of
Zimbabwe. The UN declares that "current government policies in Zimbabwe
pose formidable constraints" to a resolution of the crisis. The UN world
food programme estimates that as a result almost half the population-up to 6
million people-will be unable to meet their minimum food requirements in the
next 12 months.

The tragedy is that a year ago Zimbabwe still had a chance to return to the
path of sustainable development. On becoming Foreign Secretary a year ago,
some of my first contacts were with my South African and Nigerian
counterparts. At that time, we agreed there was still a prospect that
Zimbabwe could rehabilitate itself. So last September at Abuja,
Commonwealth Ministers, including myself, set out, with Mr. Mugabe's
agreement, a clear road map for Zimbabwe-via the Harare principles-back to
prosperity and international respect. Tragically, ZANU-PF did not grasp
that opportunity. In the run-up to the presidential election, the regime
pressed ahead with its land reform programme, intimidated and even killed
members of the Opposition, and implemented further measures to curb freedom
of speech. That culminated in a stolen presidential election, which
compounded the country's isolation. Since then, the regime's
actions-ranging from further restrictions on the media and harassment of the
legal profession to further violence against the Opposition and intimidation
of those who work in the farming sector-suggest that it has no plans to
change course.

That is why we have to continue, with international agreement where
appropriate, to strengthen the measures taken against Zimbabwe. I say to
the right hon. Member for Devizes, who asks me to advertise a long list, in
advance of international agreement, of the measures that 25 Jun 2002 :
Column 817 could perhaps be taken, that the only people who would be
comforted by such a pre-emptive list would be members of the Mugabe
regime-especially if it transpired, for various reasons, that it was not
possible to ensure that each of the measures was implemented in full. I
promise the House that we are aware of the continuing need to ensure that
the existing measures that have been taken are made as effective as possible
and that they are strengthened where appropriate.

This debate takes place as world leaders in the G8 are gathering to agree,
we hope and believe, a new partnership for African development-an area in
which my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for International
Development and the Prime Minister have been in the lead for some time.

As far as the rest of Africa is concerned, it is worth noting that on the
whole the story has been one of much better news than in Zimbabwe. Africa
has huge problems-poverty, lack of educational and employment opportunities,
hunger and low life expectancy are still the fate of many in African
countries-but there are signs that democracy is taking root. In 1975,
Africa had only three elected leaders-today there are more than 30-and there
are no military governments in sub-Saharan Africa. Ten years ago few
people-least of all those in the Conservative party-believed that South
Africa would emerge from the shadow of apartheid with a tolerant,
multi-racial government. Thanks to British intervention, last month the
people of Sierra Leone were able to vote in an election free from the threat
of violence and intimidation. Had we turned a blind eye, as some suggested,
to the plight of that country, its people would now be suffering a fate
worse than that of Zimbabwe.

There has been a breakthrough in the world's largest conflict in the Great
Lakes. The Democratic Republic of Congo ceasefire has held for nearly 18
months. There is further to go, and I am glad that my right hon. Friend
the Secretary of State for International Development will visit the region
between the end of July and the beginning of August. Prompt action by the
Government prevented an outbreak of hostilities between Uganda and Rwanda
last November. There are promising signs of economic growth throughout
Africa. More than 20 African countries achieved a growth rate of 4 per cent
last year. Zimbabwe's decline stands in stark contrast to that better news.

Within the limits of our influence, we shall do all that we can to promote
efforts by the international community, especially leaders of other
Governments in the region to return stability to Zimbabwe. That has been
our goal since the beginning of the country's slide into chaos three years
ago. Thanks to our diplomacy in the past 12 months, the involvement of the
Commonwealth, the European Union and the United States, we have been able to
show that the issue is of international concern.

Human rights abuses and violations of the rule of law have made Zimbabwe an
outcast in the region and the wider world, thus belying Mr. Mugabe's claim
that his country is a colonial victim. I am confident that the
international community will continue to unite in condemning what has
happened and working together to ensure that the true voice of the
Zimbabwean people is heard and that there is a pathway back to peace and
prosperity for that benighted land.

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Daily News

Plot to kick Zvobgo

6/27/02 9:35:21 PM (GMT +2)


From Energy Bara in Masvingo

A PLOT by the ruling Zanu PF party's Masvingo province to oust Dr
Eddison Zvobgo, 67, at one time the party's secretary for legal affairs and
former long-time Cabinet minister, hit a snag this week because the
provincial body has no power to expel him.



Zvobgo, a founding member of Zanu PF, dismissed the attempt, saying
those conspiring to remove him were "small boys" in the Masvingo executive.

His sin, according to Zanu PF's Masvingo executive, stems from his
failure to campaign for President Mugabe's re-election last March.

Zvobgo yesterday described the individuals behind the plot as "too
junior" to remove him from the party.

He said: "Those who have been talking of firing me are too junior to
me.

I am a senior member of the party and cannot be summoned by small
boys."

In a letter copied to the provincial executive, the Masvingo Zanu PF
district co-ordinating committee, chaired by Absolom Mudavanhu, recommended
that Zvobgo, the MP for Masvingo South, be expelled.

Zvobgo, a former politburo member, now sits in the party's central
committee.

The provincial executive, chaired by Dr Samuel Mumbengegwi, later
adopted the proposal and intended to forward it to the national executive as
party factionalism in Masvingo continues to rage.

But a Zanu PF provincial meeting on Saturday, which was attended by
Zvobgo, agreed that it was out of the provincial executive's jurisdiction to
eject senior party members.

A Zanu PF official who refused to be named said yesterday: "The
provincial executive has no power to restructure the central committee.

Zvobgo is a senior party member and cannot appear before the
provincial executive. The meeting resolved that it was unconstitutional to
do so."

Last month, the Zanu PF spokesman for Masvingo, Raymond Takavarasha,
said the party was on a restructuring exercise which would result in Zvobgo
being gradually eased out.

Contacted for comment yesterday, Takavarasha claimed the weekend
meeting discussed the restructuring exercise, not the Zvobgo issue.

Zvobgo, who has in the past been told by senior party members,
including the late Border Gezi, to leave Zanu PF, has declared he will not
leave the party he helped form with colleagues such as Mugabe.

The Masvingo strongman was dropped from most key party organs after
the parliamentary election in 2000. He refused to work with the Mumbengegwi
executive in the run-up to the 9-11 March presidential poll, saying he did
not want to be used.

Zvobgo slaughtered 14 beasts in celebration of Zanu PF's victory in
the 2000 parliamentary election.
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MBENDI

Zimbabwe's police provide time window to farmers
Africast has reported that the Zimbabwe police will not be enforcing a
deadline for farmers to cease in their farming activities. They have stated
that they will instead begin with evictions in August. The police say that
they do not have the man-power it would require to monitor who is in the
fields. President Mugabe has made various comments regarding the deadline
this week. The strongest of these seems to be that White farmers will be
allowed to keep one farm each. He has stated that the government is opposed
to a scenario where one farmer own twenty farms. Meanwhile the Commercial
Farmers' Union has stated that there are hundreds of farms listed for
possession by the government, where the owners do not own other properties.
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Mugabe land policy appalling: Downer


Australia was appalled at Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's push to kick
white farmers off the land, forcing the country into famine, Foreign
Minister Alexander Downer said.

White farmers in the African nation are being forced to leave their land as
part of a government policy to redistribute their farms to landless blacks.

Mr Downer told journalists that what had happened in Zimbabwe in recent
months was absolutely appalling.

"The determination of Robert Mugabe, not only to kick people off their land
on the basis of race, but also to force his country into starvation, is a
simply appalling thing for any head of state to do," he said.

"The sense of anger here in Australia about the disgraceful behaviour of
President Mugabe who is plunging his country into self-imposed famine is
palpable."

About 3,000 white farmers were given until midnight last Monday to stop
working their farms, and just over a month to leave entirely, after the
government amended its land acquisition law last month.

Parliamentary secretary Peter Slipper said consideration should be given to
making President Mugabe the first defendant before the International
Criminal Court, which comes into being on July 1.

"If Robert Mugabe is not tried by the International Criminal Court in the
coming months or years then it's obvious that court won't be achieving what
most of us do hope it will," he said.
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FinGaz

More farmers to challenge evictions

Staff Reporter
6/27/02 9:04:36 AM (GMT +2)

THE court challenge this week of two white Zimbabwean farmers seeking
a reversal of the government's eviction notices is expected to open the way
for more than 1 000 single-farm owners to also take their cases to the
courts.

There are currently 1 024 single-owned farms out of nearly 3 000 farms
which have been served with Section 8 eviction orders by the government. All
the owners of the 3 000 must stop farming immediately and quit their
properties by August.

Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) president Colin Cloete yesterday said
the farmers were anxiously waiting for a ruling to be made on the test cases
of two farmers, who made urgent chamber applications to the High Court to
have the evictions stopped.

He said most of the farmers were insisting on taking legal action to
be allowed to finish their farming operations.

Cloete said the union, which met yesterday to deliberate on the issue,
was of the position that individual farmers should take the issue of
eviction as they saw fit.

The CFU would not institute any class action against the government
after the Supreme Court last year ruled that the government's land reforms
were legal.

"A couple of farmers are going to challenge it (the eviction orders)
as individual cases," Cloete told the Financial Gazette. "I reckon they are
waiting for the ruling of the test cases."

In a chamber application, one of the farmers declared that his
eviction order signed by Lands and Agriculture Minister Joseph Made on May
29 2002 was invalid because he was not at the time "a lawfully appointed
minister of government".

Cloete said the CFU was trying to meet Made to ask whether the
government could extend the time-span of the eviction notices.

The CFU had instructed its members that wherever possible individual
farmers should contact their governors and district administrators to get
permission to continue farming.

Meanwhile a group of ruling ZANU PF politicians and war veterans is
approaching individual farmers asking them to desist from politics if they
are to be spared from the current evictions, farmers have reported.

The exercise is said to be rife in Mashonaland West, East and Central
and Masvingo.

Nearly 3 000 white farmers countrywide have been served with eviction
notices and are supposed to have stopped farming operations after Monday
this week.

President Robert Mugabe has constantly accused the commercial farmers
of supporting and bankrolling the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) and derailing his fast-track land reforms.

Cloete said some farmers had individually been targeted after the
disputed March presidential election and accused of conniving with the MDC.

Last week outgoing Zimbabwe Tobacco Association president Kobus
Joubert said white commercial farmers should not take part in politics but
concentrate on farming.
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FinGaz

More farmers to challenge evictions

Staff Reporter
6/27/02 9:04:36 AM (GMT +2)

THE court challenge this week of two white Zimbabwean farmers seeking
a reversal of the government's eviction notices is expected to open the way
for more than 1 000 single-farm owners to also take their cases to the
courts.

There are currently 1 024 single-owned farms out of nearly 3 000 farms
which have been served with Section 8 eviction orders by the government. All
the owners of the 3 000 must stop farming immediately and quit their
properties by August.

Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) president Colin Cloete yesterday said
the farmers were anxiously waiting for a ruling to be made on the test cases
of two farmers, who made urgent chamber applications to the High Court to
have the evictions stopped.

He said most of the farmers were insisting on taking legal action to
be allowed to finish their farming operations.

Cloete said the union, which met yesterday to deliberate on the issue,
was of the position that individual farmers should take the issue of
eviction as they saw fit.

The CFU would not institute any class action against the government
after the Supreme Court last year ruled that the government's land reforms
were legal.

"A couple of farmers are going to challenge it (the eviction orders)
as individual cases," Cloete told the Financial Gazette. "I reckon they are
waiting for the ruling of the test cases."

In a chamber application, one of the farmers declared that his
eviction order signed by Lands and Agriculture Minister Joseph Made on May
29 2002 was invalid because he was not at the time "a lawfully appointed
minister of government".

Cloete said the CFU was trying to meet Made to ask whether the
government could extend the time-span of the eviction notices.

The CFU had instructed its members that wherever possible individual
farmers should contact their governors and district administrators to get
permission to continue farming.

Meanwhile a group of ruling ZANU PF politicians and war veterans is
approaching individual farmers asking them to desist from politics if they
are to be spared from the current evictions, farmers have reported.

The exercise is said to be rife in Mashonaland West, East and Central
and Masvingo.

Nearly 3 000 white farmers countrywide have been served with eviction
notices and are supposed to have stopped farming operations after Monday
this week.

President Robert Mugabe has constantly accused the commercial farmers
of supporting and bankrolling the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) and derailing his fast-track land reforms.

Cloete said some farmers had individually been targeted after the
disputed March presidential election and accused of conniving with the MDC.

Last week outgoing Zimbabwe Tobacco Association president Kobus
Joubert said white commercial farmers should not take part in politics but
concentrate on farming.
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FinGaz

UN takes food aid concerns to Mugabe

Staff Reporter
6/27/02 9:05:54 AM (GMT +2)

KENZO Oshima, under-secretary-general of humanitarian affairs at the
United Nations (UN), will raise with President Robert Mugabe at a meeting
expected to be held by the two in Harare today the world body's concerns
regarding emergency food aid provision and distribution in hunger-stricken
Zimbabwe, diplomatic sources said yesterday.

Oshima is in Zimbabwe as part of a UN mission, which includes
representatives of the UN's Crisis Prevention and Recovery Committee and the
World Food Programme, examining southern Africa's worst food crisis in
recent years.

The delegation will also visit Zambia, Malawi and Angola to talk to
national authorities and the donor community on the crisis.

The sources said Oshima was expected to bring to Mugabe's attention
the question of transparency in food aid distribution and check whether all
deserving people were being given access to food aid.

Although the government says the distribution of food aid has been
handled fairly, the opposition MDC and some non-governmental agencies claim
that ruling ZANU PF activists are barring MDC supporters from getting the
aid.

At least six million Zimbabweans - or half the population - face
famine unless huge food imports start arriving now after crops failed last
season and also because Mugabe's supporters seized most farms from February
2000 in the name of land hunger.

Oshima is also expected to press Mugabe to allow players from the
private sector to import the staple maize and other foodstuffs and also
reduce bureaucratic delays and speed up inflows of food imports into the
country, once the region's chief food exporter.

Before the food crisis, Zimbabwe was already grappling with its worst
economic and political crisis shown out by record high inflation of 122.5
percent, unemployment of nearly 70 percent and poverty of 80 percent of the
population.

The country is being shunned by the rest of the world after Mugabe in
March was declared winner of what the international community said was a
highly flawed ballot.

Meanwhile the UN says in its latest humanitarian situation report on
Zimbabwe that 600 000 children - or 30 percent of under fives out of two
million - are already vulnerable to nutritional problems due to the
deepening food crisis.

It says a total of one million pregnant women are also at risk.
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FinGaz


US blasts farms' seizure

Staff Reporter
6/27/02 9:07:54 AM (GMT +2)

THE United States has blasted the government's seizure of commercial
farms, saying the exercise has led to gross human rights abuses and
compounded Zimbabwe's political and economic crises.

A US State Department spokesperson said the government-backed land
seizures had exacerbated the food crisis in Zimbabwe and southern Africa.

"A fundamental duty of every government is to put in place the legal
and policy framework to enable its citizens to feed themselves, a duty that
the government of Zimbabwe has wilfully scorned at great cost to the people
of Zimbabwe and the region," the spokesperson noted.

The US aired its concerns as most white commercial farmers in Zimbabwe
this week started the countdown to a 45-day deadline to cease farming
operations just when the country is facing severe famine.

Washington said the shortfall in Zimbabwe's agricultural production
was in a very large measure due to the government-sponsored seizure of
commercial farms and its failed economic policies which were having a direct
impact on food availability and prices throughout the region.

The US also lamented the destruction of Zimbabwe's agricultural
sector, once one of the most developed and productive in southern Africa.

"The destruction of Zimbabwe's agricultural sector will take years to
fix, if ever, thereby consigning Zimbabwe - once a prominent agricultural
exporter - to the role of food importer and aid recipient," the spokesperson
said.

The US said it will continue to provide food assistance to help the
most needy in Zimbabwe, but stressed that the Harare government bore much of
the responsibility for the country's growing humanitarian crisis.

United Nations agencies say at least six million Zimbabweans - other
statistics say up to 7.8 million - need emergency food aid between now and
next year out of a population of 12 million because of the disruption of
farming caused by seizures of commercial farms and drought.
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FinGaz

White farmers challenge order to quit

By Cris Chinaka
6/27/02 9:10:04 AM (GMT +2)

TWO white Zimbabwean farmers filed a lawsuit this week seeking to stop
a government order that they abandon their farms, in a test case closely
watched by 3 000 others also facing eviction.

A 45-day countdown for the white farmers to leave their land began on
Tuesday, but many vowed to stay put rather than watch vital crops rot in a
nation short of food.

The order was the latest shot by the government in its battle to seize
white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks - which it asserts
is needed to redress the imbalances of the colonial era.

"Two farmers are taking legal action. They will act as test cases.
They are looking for interim relief, which is expected to be granted or
denied on Friday (tomorrow)," Jenni Williams, a spokeswoman for the
Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU), said.

The CFU did not join the legal action and will keep talking to the
government on behalf of its 3 150 members, she said.

"I think the worst blow will be if the legal action is denied. Then we
will know that there is no semblance of law in Zimbabwe. There's no
predicting which way the court will go. It will close the final legal door
if it's denied," Williams said.

About 3 000 white farmers were given until midnight on Monday to stop
working their farms, and just over a month to leave entirely after President
Robert Mugabe's government amended its land acquisition law last month.

Agriculture Minister Joseph Made told state radio this week the
government was moving to finalise the farm seizures and would soon begin
sub-dividing the targeted farms for redistribution to blacks.

An estimated 250 000 farmworkers stand to lose their jobs if the
agricultural operations are shut down.

Jean Simon, who owns a farm in Raffingora province some 125 km (78
miles) northwest of Harare, had to stop grading 200 000 kg of tobacco and
watering seedlings for next season's crop.

"We are stranded because of the law and the move that we should stop
all operations. I have 340 workers here who have over 1 000 dependants. We
are being stopped from earning a living," she said.

Simon said she had appealed to the government to continue working her
500-hectare (1 236-acre) farm with its tobacco, maize and livestock but had
received no response.



"This is not a money issue ... when we are facing starvation we are
fighting about who should be growing food," she said.

Zimbabwe is one of six southern African states facing severe food
shortages. Analysts blame its crisis partly on disruptions caused by the
"fast-track" land acquisition programme. - Reuter
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FinGaz

Lawyers, scribes meet human rights probe team

Staff Reporter
6/27/02 9:09:24 AM (GMT +2)

ZIMBABWE'S lawyers told an African human rights probe team this week
of a well-orchestrated plan by the government to cow the judiciary and
suppress dissenting voices as the political climate worsens.

The Law Society of Zimbabwe (LCZ) on Tuesday told members of the
African Human Rights Commission, currently in the country to investigate
allegations of human rights abuses by the government, of the intimidation of
lawyers seen as opposed to President Robert Mugabe, as well as the general
breakdown of law and order.

They expressed concern about the selective application of the rule of
law, the independence of the judiciary and protection of lawyers from
harassment by the security forces.

"We really hope that as an African commission on human rights, they
would be listened to by our government," Mordecai Mahlangu, a council member
of the LCZ, told the Financial Gazette yesterday.

The commission, led by Gambia's Jainaba Johm and which reports to
African heads of state and government, is in Zimbabwe to investigate reports
that Mugabe has been cracking down on his opponents in order to stay in
power.

It is expected to meet Zimbabwean journalists today to hear their
views on the human rights situation and the repressive media and public
security laws introduced by the government early this year.

The meeting has been jointly arranged by the Zimbabwe chapter of the
Media Institute of Southern Africa and the Media Monitoring Project of
Zimbabwe (MMPZ).

"We will make a presentation to the commission on the repressive laws
and the general situation in the media," MMPZ project co-ordinator Andy
Moise said.

Several Zimbabwean journalists and lawyers have been arrested under
the draconian Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).

Mugabe's critics have accused the 78-year-old leader, who in March
controversially won a second term in office, of using POSA and AIPPA to
silence opponents.

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FinGaz

Govt to set up land bank

Staff Reporter
6/27/02 9:10:48 AM (GMT +2)

HE government has set up a five-member steering committee to draw up a
structure of a new land bank to be set up early next year to support an
agro-led economic recovery programme, it was learnt this week.

The new bank, initially earmarked to come on stream in the second half
of this year, would see the government selling off its shareholding in the
Agriculture Bank of Zimbabwe (Agribank), which is operating as a commercial
bank.

Official sources said this week the government's Cabinet Action
Committee on Land - one of several panels set up last August to try to
refloat the crumbling economy - had established a steering committee to work
on a structure of the new bank.

The sources said Agribank's managing director Taka Mutunhu was leading
the steering committee, but Mutunhu yesterday denied any involvement. He
said the new bank project was being handled at ministerial level.

It was not possible to get comment from Agriculture and Lands Minister
Joseph Made, who was said to be out of his Harare office since last week.

He had also not responded to written questions sent to him by this
newspaper last week and could not be contacted on his mobile telephone.

According to the sources, the Action Committee on Land headed by Made
threw out an initial proposal brought by the steering committee.

The proposal suggested the setting up of a holding company, with the
government as the majority shareholder, consisting of two business units - a
commercial bank and the land bank.

"That one was thrown out and the committee was told to come up with a
structure of the land bank and how it will function," said one source. "The
(steering) committee was told to bring its fresh proposals before the end of
next month."

The government had initially intended to set up a credit guarantee
institution last year with the support of Zimbabwean banks and the United
Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

However this fell through because the UNDP pulled out, citing
violations of last year's Abuja agreement on the land question, while local
banks were not willing to pledge large sums of money.

The sources said if the government set up the new bank, it would then
relinquish its stake in Agribank, which would need to be privatised like
most state parastatals.

Although Agribank would continue operating as a commercial bank, it
was not clear this week if the government would immediately let go of its
entire stake or only part of it.

"The Agribank will go the same way of firstly commercialisation and
then privatisation," another source said.

"But the government will be either the sole owner of the land bank or
will have the majority shareholding."

Agribank is currently raising funds to give loans to peasants who are
being resettled by the government under its land reforms, but it is the
government that is guaranteeing the loans through the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe.

So far this year, the government has guaranteed $2.1 billion, which
Agribank is raising.
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Daily News

MDC mayoral candidate escapes petrol bomb attack

6/27/02 10:09:03 PM (GMT +2)



before the nomination court sits next week. I am lucky to be alive as
you can see from the extensive property damage."



The nomination court sits on 4 July. Mugomba escaped unhurt. Zanu PF
is fielding Fanuel Phiri, the acting Kadoma mayor, who took over the job
after the death of Ernest Shamuyarira in February.

Mugomba said two petrol bombs were hurled into the house shattering
two bedroom windows. All the property in the bedroom was gutted.

"I suspect this was done by Zanu PF supporters in order to stop me
from taking part in the election," he said.

Mugomba reported the matter to the police, but when asked for comment
yesterday, an officer at Rimuka police Station said the officer-in-charge
was out of his office on business.

Mugomba said both the fire brigade and the police responded quickly to
his report and part of his property was rescued by the fire-fighters because
the fire was only limited to his bedroom.

"The police were very co-operative following the report," he said.

Mugomba, an engineer by profession, is the chairman of the Kadoma
Residents and Ratepayers' Association, district chairman of the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions and chairman of the Southern African Development
Community water project research in the area.

Despite the harrowing experience, Mugomba vowed to remain focussed on
the key problems affecting the residents of Kadoma.

"I want to urge the residents of Kadoma to be tolerant, desist from
any form of political violence and to pursue the development of our city,"
the opposition candidate said.

He said his party had promised to beef up security at his house in
order to safeguard his life and property.

Learnmore Jongwe, the MDC spokesperson, yesterday condemned the
attack, saying: "The MDC is worried by these wanton acts of terrorism by
Zanu PF, which is illegitimately clinging to power after stealing the March
presidential election.

"The attempt on Mugomba's life is evidence that Zanu PF has
permanently adopted violence as an integral part of its campaign strategy in
every election."

Mugomba said the attack was the first major incident of political
violence in the area since the March presidential election, disputably won
by President Mugabe.

The attack comes at a time when a delegation of the African Human
Rights Commission is in the country to meet political parties, government
officials and all interested parties, to hear evidence on alleged human
rights violations in the country.

Kadoma town falls under the Kadoma Central constituency which was won
by the MDC's Austin Mupandawana in the 2000 parliamentary election.

Mupandawana polled 12 049 votes against the Zanu PF candidate's 5 666.
In the 9-11 March presidential election, MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai
polled 14 446 votes against Mugabe's 9 346 in the town.

The MDC has won all the mayoral elections conducted since the 2000
parliamentary poll in which it won 57 seats, mostly in urban areas.

Bulawayo, Harare, Chitungwiza, Masvingo and Chegutu now have MDC
mayors.

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Daily News

Meldrum's lawyers contest formal remand

6/27/02 10:39:06 PM (GMT +2)


Staff Reporter

THE lawyers for Andrew Meldrum, the United Kingdom's Guardian
correspondent in Harare have said their papers were in order when Justice
Anne Marie Gowora refused to make a ruling on their client's application in
the High Court for a review on a decision by Lillian Kudya, a Harare
provincial magistrate, to place him on formal remand.

Kantor and Immerman, in a letter dated 14 June to Joseph Manzunzu, the
registrar of the High Court, said their client's papers were in order.

The letter, part of the court record of A Meldrum vs Lillian Kudya and
the Attorney General (AG) HC 4256/02, was copied to Rodrick Tokwe of the AG'
s Office. Meldrum, an American, is the first journalist to be tried under
the internationally-condemned Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act (AIPPA).

His trial opened at the Harare Magistrates' Court on 12 June, the same
day that Gowora declined to give a ruling on his application for the review.

The outcome of the application in the High Court might have determined
whether the trial against Meldrum, now awaiting a decision on 12 July would
be dropped at the close of the State case or would go ahead.

Meldrum applied to the High Court for a review after Kudya turned down
his application on 2 May for refusal to be placed on formal remand and for
the matter to be referred to the Supreme Court for a determination on the
constitutionality of charges against him.

He is charged with contravening section 80 of AIPPA by publishing a
false story of a Magunje woman allegedly beheaded by Zanu PF supporters.

Gowora postponed the matter for a week, to give Meldrum's lawyers time
to put their papers in order.

The lawyers said: "Annexure 'A' to the police's Request for Remand
Form, which contains the allegations being levelled against your client, is
not on record.

"Missing is the portion of the magistrate's judgment, where she
refused your client permission to challenge the constitutionality of the
offence he is being charged with."

Gowora had also directed Meldrum's lawyers to further serve notice for
the application for review to Kudya and the AG, who were barred after
failing to respond in the stipulated period.

They said: "The presiding judge indicated that Annexure 'A' to the
Request for Remand Form was not on record. We have since perused the file
and confirm that the annexure is indeed in records at the Harare Magistrates
' Courts and the copy of the review proceedings filed with the courts.

"We do not know how these two copies could have been missed. For ease
of reference, we once again attach a further copy."

On the magistrate's refusal to refer the matter to the Supreme Court,
the lawyers said Kudya declined to refer the case, despite her failure to
find that the application was frivolous and vexatious.

"The failure to refer was clearly a misdirection in terms of the law,"
they said.

They said they were not certain on what basis Gowora directed them to
serve Kudya and the AG notice for the application for a review.

"There is no obligation, in terms of the rules of the High Court, to
serve any further notices on the parties, who are barred," they said.

"We attach hereto a copy of a letter sent to the AG's Office on 30 May
which fully sets out our position on the automatic bar and the effect
thereof. There has been no response to the letter and the view we take of
the matter is that there is no legal basis, in terms of the rules, to effect
any further service of documents on the barred parties."

The lawyers requested that the copy of the letter be placed before
Justice Lavender Makoni who would preside over the matter on 19 June.

Makoni reserved judgment.
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Daily News - Leader Page

Chanetsa has no business being an ombudsman

6/27/02 10:17:26 PM (GMT +2)



BEATRICE Chanetsa, Zimbabwe's ombudsman, told a visiting team of
African human rights investigators that neither herself nor her office ever
received or heard complaints from anybody claiming to have been stopped from
taking part in any political party.

On allegations linking the Border Gezi "graduates" to human rights
abuses during the election campaign, Chanetsa was quoted in The Herald as
saying: "I found that very absurd."

An ombudsman is a public protector, a human rights watchdog. Zimbabwe
has none.

The facts on the ground are clear. Chanetsa was appointed to the
office in 1992. She was supposed to have had that job for five years,
although there is a provision for a maximum three-year extension of her term
of office.

In November 1999, she told The Daily News that she was working on her
1996 report which she expected to complete in December of the same year.

By October 2000, she was still working on the same 1996 report. This
time, she said it was to be completed two months later. The report was only
finalised in April 2002. That is the latest copy available to the public.

The Ombudsman Act states: "The Ombudsman shall annually lay before
Parliament a general report on the performance of his functions in terms of
this Act and may from time to time lay before Parliament such other reports
with respect to those functions as he thinks fit."

The abuses of 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001 are yet to be documented
and debated in Parliament.

Chanetsa is clearly violating the law by failing to submit these
reports as required by the law. As a lawyer, she knows that. Who is supposed
to supervise that office? Parliament?

The composition of our Parliament changed radically in June 2000, so
did our political culture. Complaints against abuse of power, administrative
corruption, abuse of State resources and gross violation of human rights
reached new heights during the period between February 2000 and today.

If Chanetsa has not heard about any of these issues, or is unaware of
the volatile political climate in our country today, then something is very
wrong somewhere.

"I was trained under the Tanzania national youth programme, so I told
them that the programme here is not different from the Tanzania programme,"
she reportedly told the delegation from the African Commission of Human and
People's Rights on a fact-finding mission on the human rights situation in
Zimbabwe.

She did not say when, nor did she give details of the Tanzanian
programme. What is clear is that the Tanzanian scheme was not initiated by
the late Border Gezi, or hastily put together for the purposes of an
election campaign, pitting Robert Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai and others.

In Zimbabwe's case, the strategy was surely to remove, in as
controlled a manner as possible, every single voice of the opposition in the
rural areas.

Chanetsa's office was made possible by a constitutional requirement to
protect the public against excesses of public officials and offer remedies
in cases where the rights of Zimbabweans are unmitigated by the normal
course of justice and the law.

Given Chanetsa's complete lack of capacity to see anything bad or
suspicious, why was she allowed to play down our concerns about the conduct
of the Border Gezi militia?

Ephraim Tapa, the national president of the Civil Service Employees'
Association, and his wife, Faith Mukwakwa, only managed to claim their
freedom after a High Court judge ordered the police to storm a Border Gezi
base in Mutoko in March.

Tapa's crime: failure to produce a Zanu PF membership card. Chanetsa
never heard about the agony of the Tapa family; nor any of the testimonies
from the militia about their brutal exploits on the instructions of senior
Zanu PF officials countrywide.

Zimbabwe will never be able to rebuild its lost image as long as
officials like Chanetsa ignore the demands of their offices to safeguard the
rights of ordinary people against bureaucratic excesses.

The investigations of the visiting African team must be used to garner
lost sympathy and support of those essential to our survival.
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FinGaz

Aid agencies call for more southern Africa famine relief


6/27/02 8:41:01 AM (GMT +2)

LONDON - Millions of people could face starvation in drought-wracked
southern Africa in coming months unless emergency food aid is stepped up
sharply, British aid agencies said this week.

"If political will internationally and within southern Africa is
exercised now, a tragedy for millions of people can be avoided," said
Brendan Gormley, chief executive of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC)
umbrella aid group.

"It would be scandalous if failure to act now meant that once again we
had to watch a human disaster gradually unfold on our television screens,"
he added in a statement.

DEC, which comprises 14 British aid agencies including Oxfam, Help the
Aged, the British Red Cross, Christian Aid, CAFOD and Tearfund, said the
lives of 13 million people could be on the line unless there was urgent
government action.

The United States has led the way in pledging food aid to the
drought-stricken area that covers Malawi, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Swaziland,
provoking strong criticism from its own farmers who accuse it of undermining
their market.

Britain, Germany, Japan, Australia, Canada, Finland, Swizerland, the
Netherlands and South Africa have followed suit, although with smaller
amounts of aid.

DEC said however that there still remained a yawning gap between what
had been promised and what was needed to avoid a repeat of the famines that
killed or displaced millions of people in Ethiopia and Somalia in the
mid-1980s.

But deep divisions remain among world governments on how to prevent
hunger.

Even a UN-sponsored World Food Summit in Rome earlier this month that
was supposed to help tackle the issue featured more bickering and
back-biting than problem-solving.

As has happened frequently in the past, the meeting revealed deep
north-south differences and a flat rejection from the rich United States and
European Union to pour billions more dollars into agricultural development
aid.

Regional analysts say the problem in the southern African region has
been compounded by failed government policies and political conflicts -
particularly in Zimbabwe and Malawi.

Food production has slumped in once surplus-producing Zimbabwe as the
government of President Robert Mugabe has seized thousands of mainly
white-owned commercial farms in the past two years arguing it was a belated
righting of colonial wrongs.

This week nearly 3 000 white Zimbabwean farmers faced a midnight
deadline to stop farming altogether despite critical food shortages and the
looming famine.

In Malawi, the food shortage problem was compounded by a government
decision to suddenly sell off its entire 167 000-tonne strategic food
reserve - not even retaining the 60 000 tonnes its own policy dictated.

The government said it had been told to sell the stockpile by the
International Monetary Fund - Reuter
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FinGaz

Millers appeal for urgent wheat imports

Staff Reporter
6/27/02 8:39:59 AM (GMT +2)

THE National Bakeries Association of Zimbabwe (NBAZ) has asked the
government to urgently import 50 000 tonnes of wheat to augment supplies
which it says are dwindling rapidly, with parts of Zimbabwe already
experiencing shortages of flour and bread.

NBAZ chairman Armitage Chikwavira said bakers and millers last week
told Industry and International Trade permanent secretary Stuart Comberbach
and his Agriculture counterpart Ngoni Masoka that the country, already
experiencing severe shortages of other basic food commodities, could be hit
by serious shortages of bread unless the government moves to buy wheat from
abroad.

He said Comberbach and Masoka told the bakers and the millers they
would forward their request to Finance Minister Simba Makoni for
implementation.

Makoni, Comberbach and Masoka could not be reached for comment this
week.

The government has in the past promised it will import some wheat to
avert a severe food crisis. It is now importing large amounts of the staple
maize meal, but shortages of foreign currency are hampering the food
imports.

Chikwavira said the baking industry faced collapse because wheat
supplies had reached critically low levels, with several parts of the
country such as Masvingo and Zvishavane having already run out of flour.

"We requested the government to import 50 000 tonnes of wheat to
sustain the baking industry that is facing collapse due to dwindling wheat
supplies," he said.

"Flour allocations to places like Masvingo and Zvishavane have totally
run dry and we are receiving calls from headmasters of schools that their
pupils are not receiving their daily bread."

Chikwavira said in the meantime the government has asked its Grain
Marketing Board (GMB) to increase the allocation of wheat to millers from 4
500 to 6 000 tonnes per week. The GMB had reduced these supplies, saying the
millers were exacerbating the shortages by hoarding wheat.

Like the shortage of maize, the shortage of wheat in the country is
largely self-inflicted because of seizures of productive farms by ruling
ZANU PF supporters.

The government's own chaotic fast-track land reforms have disrupted
agricultural production further.

Only 150 000 tonnes of wheat are expected to be produced this winter
season, down from 360 000 tonnes produced last year, because many farmers
could not plant the crop after being ordered by the government to stop
farming under its Land Act.

Zimbabweans consume about 400 000 tonnes of wheat a year, most of it
produced locally.

Apart from the looming shortages of wheat, controls on the price of
bread imposed by the government in October last year continue to pose a
serious viability headache to the baking industry.
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FinGaz

Restore real interest rates, adjust exchange rate, IMF tells Harare

By Joseph Ngwawi Business News Editor
6/27/02 8:42:58 AM (GMT +2)

THE International Monetary Fund (IMF) has told the Zimbabwean
government to restore real interest rates and immediately adjust the
exchange rate to a realistic level that would ensure the country's external
competitiveness and reduce the speculation associated with the current
foreign currency crisis.

According to a report released by the IMF last week, the Bretton Woods
institution noted that the loose monetary policy pursued by the Zimbabwean
authorities since January last year has aggravated economic imbalances,
fuelled inflation and increased the vulnerability of the banking sector.

The multilateral financial institution, which earlier this month
suspended technical assistance to Harare, urged the government to take
immediate corrective measures to mop up excess liquidity in the money
market, allow interest rates to become positive in real terms and dismantle
the subsidised credit facilities for farmers and emergent businesses
introduced in the past two years.

Finance Minister Simba Makoni has deliberately kept the money market
awash with funds as part of a plan to depress interest rates and reduce the
cost of borrowing on the government's domestic debt, presently estimated at
about $300 billion.

"Directors also stressed the need to ensure the health of the banking
system by dealing promptly with non-viable institutions and to fully enforce
prudential regulations and capital adequacy requirements," the report says.

The Fund expressed concern at the overvaluation of the Zimbabwe
dollar, which has seriously affected the country's international
competitiveness, fuelled the shortage of hard cash in the economy and
hampered efforts to build the level of usable foreign reserves, presently
estimated at three days of imports.

Analysts say the local dollar is overvalued by more than 200 percent
against the currencies of Zimbabwe's major trading partners.

The local unit has been pegged at 55 against the trade-weighted US
greenback since October 2000 despite calls by industry and economists to
devalue the currency and boost the competitiveness of exports.

The shortage of hard cash has also been responsible for the large
accumulation of external payment arrears and the widening spread between the
official and the parallel market exchange rates.

Zimbabwe owes more than US$1 billion in arrears to major donors and
multilateral financial institutions.

The IMF said an adjustment in the official exchange rate to a more
realistic level, supported by tight monetary and fiscal policies, was
urgently required to restore external viability and reduce the rent seeking
associated with foreign exchange rationing.

Speculators have thrived on the back of the shortage of hard cash on
the official market by quoting sharply depreciated rates on foreign
currency.

Dealers on the parallel market are currently levying 700 Zimbabwe
dollars against one US dollar.

The report noted that while the required adjustment would be achieved
by a substantial upfront devaluation, followed by a return to the previous
crawling peg arrangement, the Fund considered that a unified, floating
exchange rate should be the ultimate objective for the Zimbabwean
authorities.
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FinGaz

Land reform: is it an event or a process?

Chido Makunike
6/27/02 9:01:45 AM (GMT +2)

This week the first batch of commercial farmers who were served with
acquisition notices will have to stop farming, by law, while they wind up
their personal affairs over the next several weeks.

At a time of famine, they will face jail terms and/or fines if they
continue their farming activities, according to a new law.

Meanwhile, the government some time ago announced that "the Third
Chimurenga" will officially come to a close at the end of August, when
everyone who applied for a piece of land for farming purposes would have
been allocated it.

Is something like land reform amenable to such arbitrariness, whether
with regards to cut-off dates, or the many other important criteria?

Is land reform an event, or is it a process?

Obviously it must have measurable ways of progressing, and of its
success being measured, so it can not be indefinitely open ended.

But surely it is absurd to talk in terms of the land reform effort as
being wound up and to be "completed" at the end of August.

To do so is to give the impression that a process of such momentous
effects on every aspect of Zimbabwean life can be turned on and off at the
whim or declaration of a politician, when the truth is far more complex.

This kind of thinking by the architects of land reform as currently
being practised in Zimbabwe today may haunt the effort in negative ways for
years to come.

It suggests a short-sighted approach to a huge issue that has needed
attention for a long time.

Unfortunately, whatever one's favoured explanation for why land reform
has been so delayed in Zimbabwe, the fact of the need to now get on with it
in earnest does not in itself mean that many of the nuts and bolts of a
long-term process can just be ignored or rushed through to meet some
arbitrary, political deadline.

Yet that is exactly what appears to have been the case.

Because of the need to not only finally address a long standing issue
of concern, but to do it in a dramatic, "revolutionary" way that also gave
President Mugabe and his party a reprieve from their political travails with
the electorate, many basic issues were left to be dealt with in an ad-hoc
way.

An example is the plight of the hundreds of thousands of farm workers
that all of a sudden find themselves with at best very uncertain futures.

It is all very well for a political fatcat to say that they too will
be allocated land, and will fend for themselves that way.

While a minister who has feathered his nest for years may do rather
well for himself if he suddenly finds himself out of his ministerial job, it
is utterly cynical to expect that hundreds of thousands of mostly barely
literate workers already surviving at the margins of existence will be able
to quickly, easily make the transition to being self supporting farming
entrepreneurs. There has simply been no provision in Mugabe's land reform
scheme for the massive human upheaval of a large number of soon to be
destitute workers.

Yet catering for them in the planning for land reform would have
almost necessarily meant that the process could not have been rammed through
into a time scale that was politically convenient.

Political expediency simply meant this important aspect, like many
others of a wholesale change in the land occupation structure, had to be
shunted aside to hopefully take care of itself somehow. But it will not
"take care of itself".

For those few farm workers who will be lucky to find jobs with the new
farmers, will those new farmers be in a position to provide schools, even
rudimentary medical facilities?

If we felt the white farmers did this poorly or grudgingly, will a new
farmer struggling to raise money for fertiliser, irrigation equipment, wages
and so forth for the first several years be able to provide even rudimentary
versions of such amenities?

Certainly it is not unreasonable to expect the new black farmer to pay
and generally treat his workers better than the stereotypical white farmer.
But are basic economics going to make this possible?

These and many others are issues that needed to be addressed at the
outset in a way they have not been and they cannot be solved with a
ministerial directive, or yet another fast track law because they simply
need resources to deal with.

Resources that are not there, and for which no provision has been
made.

One of the reasons that the whole effort had to be conducted in such
dramatic fashion, apart from Mugabe's political needs, was to punish the
white farmers in particular, and send a message to whites in general about
their nerve in supporting Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC opposition in an
en-bloc way.

Changing the social, racial and economic implications of the way
commercial farming land has been held may be the official and widely
accepted reason for the upheaval that has been experienced in agriculture
but an element of revenge has certainly also been a part of the reason for
the methodology.

But what price revenge? Even when we consider that as a group, the
white farming community have not exactly endeared themselves to the larger
society, is the clear vengefulness of their treatment justified?

If it is, does a vengefulness that is expressed in ways that will
disadvantage the black majority for longer, and to a far greater extent than
the whites, make sense?

Let us hope for the best and assume that this year we will have a
normal rain season so that we are able to get the amounts of foreign
currency that we require for all the various farming inputs and that all
those who have been allocated farming land take their new vocation
seriously.

In the unlikely event that all these variables, and others crucial to
successful land reform, fall in to place at once, I am still astonished at
the simplistic, romanticised version of farming that we have been sold.

I would certainly not expect government to launch this historical
process by emphasising to prospective farmers the many pitfalls awaiting
them on the long road to becoming seasoned farmers. Yet it is also a great
disservice to the eager would-be farmers, and to the nation at large, to
paint such a falsely glossy picture of it.

Even if we assume the most optimistic set of economic and
environmental conditions over the next few years, there is no way that the
new farmers are immediately going to match the productivity of the old
farmers.

The emotional ZANU-PF response to this is to scream "racism" and argue
that after all it is blacks who have enriched the white farmers all these
years, now the blacks are going to enrich themselves.

This facile, politically correct retort ignores the fact that more
than most other types of business, farming is a business with a long
learning curve and has many variables outside one's control.

Besides, weeeding ,watering or harvesting a tobacco or maize field are
not what in themselves constitute "farming" but a whole gamut of activities
covering the sourcing of finance, organising and supervising labour,
servicing machinery and many others.

It simply takes time to get all these systems in place and optimised
for each particular farmer.

It may help that a new farmer is a graduate of a farming school, or
that hegets concessionary finance, but the many othar factors that will
determine his or her success will simply have to be learned on the job over
the years, and at a particularly difficult time to be starting any new
enterprise in Zimbabwe. This is not an argument for people not to seize the
opportunity, it is simply to say that all these peculiarities of farming,
and our current messy political and economic environment, are such that the
revolutionary romanticism that seems to drive a lot of the effort will cost
us dearly for many years to come.

Even the more cautious, politically unsexy methods of land reform that
I would have favoured might have still entailed some years of reduced output
while the new farmers found their feet, but this could have been projected ,
budgeted and managed for. Explained to Zimbabweans properly, I believe they
would have been willing to endure a transitional period of reduced
agricultural performance as long as it was clear that it was part of a well
thought out process. It should actually have even been possible to have a
land reform process that adressed all the key issues without even a
transitional drop in agricultural output at all. But then this would have
been politically unacceptable, as it would not have met the requirement for
a pro-black land reform that in the process also caused whites maximum
disruption and discomfort, which is the great emotional appeal of the chosen
method for an embattled ruling group.

Because of this latter requirement, for example, it is considered
unacceptable to try to harness the skill base that the white farmers have
accumulated over the decades. As brutalised,embattled and desperate as many
white farmers now are, this would be quite possible to do. It would help to
avoid the new farmers having to re-invent the wheel over the first several
years of necessary but expensive experimentation, and trial and error.

So the blind need for revenge against the whites justifies not only
kicking them off the farms as unceremoniously as possible, and with maximum
humiliation to them, but throwing away all the knowledge they have acquired
about the systems of large scale farming. The fact of the matter is that
while there are now a small group of black large scale commercial farmers,
our political/economic history has been such that it is the white population
that has been the repository of the large scale farming knowledge base, and
it seems silly to me to fail to find ways to use to make the land reform
effort more successful, sooner, for the benefit of the black majority. So we
rush headlong into a reckless method of land reform that may very well be
far more disastrous for its intended beneficiaries than for the dispossessed
whites, but that's okay, at least we showed them that we can mess them
around the same they did us! And as for the joblessness,starvation, reduced
foreign currency earnings, the unavailabillity or non-affordability of farm
machinery and spare parts, and so much more? Let's worry about that
tomorrow, today let us sing and dance about the fact that we now have
possession of the soil!

The nitty gritties of agriculture for commercial and economic purposes
are simply not amenable to our political whims, as I fear we are going to
disastrously find out over the next few years. I am a type of a farmer in my
own right, and one of the most important lessons I have learned over the
years is that learning to be one is a process rather than an event, and that
it is much more involved and complicated than it first appears. I hope for
the sake of Zimbabwe that the politicians that have tried to force a process
into an event that fits a political season know what they have got us in to.

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FinGaz

Those who live in glass houses ...

Canisio Mudzingwa
6/27/02 9:00:58 AM (GMT +2)

THE Biblical adage to the effect that those who live in glass houses
should not throw stones has become of particular relevance to Zimbabwe,
especially in the wake of a possible mass action as proposed by the
opposition.

The simple reason why I say so is none other than safety because any
mass action at this volatile time will give the government a "justification"
for a crackdown on the opposition akin to the PF ZAPU and ZUM scenarios.

The political history of Zimbabwe is replete with incessant crackdowns
on the opposition political parties by the ruling party in a manner that is
fraught with ruthlessness and a pervasive gusto to maintain a one-party
policy in this country.

I will not reminisce on the notorious Fifth Brigade fiasco of the
1980s in which the Korean-trained brigade perpetrated a reign of terror in
the
Midlands and Matabeleland provinces under the guise of thwarting
dissident activity.

It is this crackdown that frog-marched PF ZAPU into the shackles of
submission and culminated in the "Unity Accord" under which PF ZAPU and Z
ANU PF "united" to form ZANU PF!

I am also not at liberty to delve into how the Zimbabwe Unity Movement
was utterly destroyed under the ruling party's untiring and vicious cycle of
bulldozing all barricades on the one-party-state road of autocracy.

My fears are that the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
has posed the greatest challenge to the ruling party since "independence"
and all that the latter is waiting for is an opportunity to make sure that
the MDC will "never, ever" be a problem again.

This determination can be catalysed by any grievous policy blunder the
underdog can make which will give the ruling party a justification to detain
leaders of the opposition, perpetrate merciless brutality on members of the
opposition and crack down on any movements that are likely to cause
"despondency" in the country.

My submission is that the MDC must never even think of mass action as
that will be tantamount to sacrificing its life on an altar of political
expediency. Mass action at this unfortunate time will be the worst blunder
any party can make as that will also affect the country's economy that is
already writhing in pain owing to quick-fix policies that defy all economic
fundamentals.

Mass action will not do the masses of this country, who have suffered
enough under the iron grip of the present regime, any good because of the
consequent "minimum force" which will be used to quell the action. The irony
of it is that in this country "minimum" force is so vaguely defined that it
can reach the cataclysmic heights of claiming the lives of innocent
citizens.



Canisio Mudzimu is a freelance writer. He can be contacted on e-mail
address cmudzimu@-hotmail.com
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