"The Zimbabwe Situation" news page
Zimbabwe Workers Destitute
The Associated Press, Wed 9 Aug
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - The occupation of
white-owned farms by ruling party
militants has impoverished hundreds of
farmworkers and their families, the
workers' union said Wednesday.
General Agricultural and Plantation Workers Union warned the situation
worsen for the farm workers if the government goes ahead with its
nationalize the white-owned commercial farms without making
the hundreds of thousands who work and live there.
militants and squatters have illegally occupied more than
farms, demanding they be seized, divided up and turned
over to landless
President Robert Mugabe has described the occupations as a
against unfair ownership of huge swaths of Zimbabwe's best
farmland by a few
thousand white descendants of British and South African
Farm disruptions by the militants have driven
some 5,000 workers from their
homes in the past six months, said Philip
Munyanyi, the union leader.
At least another 10,000 jobs were in
immediate jeopardy on hundreds of farms
that the government plans to seize
and redistribute to landless blacks over
the next few weeks, he
In most districts, workers were told they would not receive any of
Around the town of Bindura, 50 miles northeast
of Harare, militant squatters
on the occupied farms seized workers' houses
for themselves, forcing the
displaced to erect makeshift shelters of plastic
sheets and straw.
Police failed to restore order and farm owners were
powerless to intervene,
``Many people have no place to
stay anymore. They are desperate, they are
just wandering about,'' he
The Commercial Farmers Union, which represents most of the
farm owners, said government officials told them that 214
white farmers were
scheduled to receive confiscation orders by the end of the
Under existing labor laws, departing farmers are not obliged to pay
their workers, Munyanyi said. New occupiers are required to take
responsibility for the workers.
``This has not been addressed at
all. We must have legislation to provide
for workers,'' he said.
government has listed 800 white-owned commercial farms it has targeted
confiscation and announced earlier this month it is selecting another
properties, making up about half the nation's white-owned land,
resettlement by landless blacks.
That plan threatened the jobs of
at least half the 700,000 workers employed
by white farmers, Munyanyi
``While there has been talk of compensation to farmers, there has
talk of compensation for workers,'' he said.
facing its worst economic crisis since independence in 1980 and
disruptions have cost the country up to a quarter of its crops of wheat
tobacco, Zimbabwe's biggest source of desperately needed hard
according to farm union estimates.
Copyright 2000 Associated
Press. All rights reserved.
NEWS Thursday 10 , August
Banks suspend new loans to
8/10/00 11:20:49 AM (GMT +2)
Commercial banks have suspended new loans to
commercial farmers until the
government acts on the current chaos on farms
and halts the ongoing farm
invasions, the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU)
Neil Wright, the CFU chief economist, said the banks
had made it clear, in a
series of meetings with the CFU, that they would not
be granting any new
loans to farmers until the land invasion confusion was
As of last March, farmers owed banks and other financial
President Mugabe has said repeatedly his
government would not order war
veterans, who have invaded more than 1 500
commercial farms since February,
off the farms.
The invasions have so far
cost the country more than $500 million in lost
productivity, according to
The international community has come out strongly against the
invasions, saying Mugabe should stop them immediately or face
Largely because of this, the United States
Congress has in the pipeline
legislation which would effectively deny
Zimbabwe most US aid until the
invasions are ended.
Commercial banks have
been hesitant to give loans to farmers because of the
recovering their money. They say farmers would not be able to
pay back the
loans in the event that their farms are acquired under the
Under the second phase of the land reform programme, the
targeted at least 804 commercial farms.
Wright said: "The
banks and the CFU have decided that no money would be made
there is stability in the commercial farming areas. We want
to see a policy
designed to end the lawlessness on the farms before any
He said commercial farmers were unlikely to farm this coming season if
veterans were not moved off the farms.
"'We might miss this year's
production season if government does nothing
about the farm invasions,"
Wright said, adding that Zimbabwe was likely to
face a food and economic
crisis if commercial farmers were not allowed to
farm this year.
commercial farmers said they had failed to settle their debts as a
lost production caused by the farm invasions.
Ex-combatants beat man to death
8/10/00 11:14:31 AM (GMT
veterans occupying Mara Farm near Ruwa allegedly beat up a man yesterday
died on his way to hospital.
It is alleged that the ex-fighters
surprised Samson Mbewe and three other
men as they loaded irrigation pipes
from the farm onto a vehicle.
Police in Hatfield confirmed the incident and
said they were investigating
Yusufu Kawejele, a clerk at the
farm, said that four men were allegedly
surprised by war veterans as they
were removing irrigation pipes. Kawejele
said the war veterans had visited
the farmhouse to use the telephone to
report an incident in which an
eight-month-old child was burnt to death.
"As they were making the call, they
heard some suspicious noise outside the
house and went outside to
investigate," said Kawejele.
No arrests had been made by yesterday
DIESEL, PETROL SUPPLIES IN CITY ERRATIC
FUEL supplies were erratic yesterday with very few service
limited supplies of diesel and petrol in
Stocking service stations reported that they had received weekly
petrol ranging from 5 000 to 8 000 litres of petrol compared to
weekly deliveries of 20 000 litres.
There were no petrol queues in
town and service stations attendants said
they were not rationing the
commodity preferring to sell the limited petrol
stocks until they receive
Diesel was hard to come by and a stocking service station
Mazorodze Road had a long winding queue of motorists who could
only get $500
worth of diesel each.
Stakeholders in the fuel industry
yesterday warned that the overall supply
situation in the country still
They said in their regular statement of fuel facts that
the inland supply
situation remained tight though imports were
"Consumers should continue to cut down on all unnecessary
possible," said suppliers.
"The oil industry continues
to maintain a close working relationship with
key stakeholders who are all
committed to finding a long-term solution to
Zimbabwe's fuel needs," said the
spokesperson for the oil industry Mr Tom
however beginning to panic as they rushed to fill up their
tanks for the
coming Heroes' holiday.
The country has been facing a fuel crisis since
December due to a shortage
90-YEAR-OLD PENSIONER MURDERED PROPERTY WORTH $100 000
MR George Edward Marsh, a Harare pensioner,
was brutally murdered early on
Sunday morning as he slept in his Mount
The 90-year-old widower was bludgeoned with an iron bar by
an unknown number
of assailants who got away with property worth over $100
Mr Marsh's murder is the second in the suburb in the past four
In July another pensioner, Mr William Hunt, was killed last July
was struck several times on the head by three men who raided his
home in a
botched robbery. His killers are still at large.
distraught gardener, Mr Musiwa Kandemaurwa, said he was shocked
to find Mr
Marsh lying in a pool of blood when he reported for duty on
Mr Marsh lived alone.
Mr Kandemaurwa said when he arrived there were
visible signs that criminals
had broken into the house, murdered Mr Marsh
before getting away with pieces
of furniture and other household
He did not hear any noises from his servant's quarter, about 50
the main house.
"I was very, very disturbed to see the
boss lying there dead. Some people
are real animals because he was just a
helpless old man who liked everyone."
Mr Marsh, a former civil servant,
is survived by his South Africa-based son
Brian who is expected to fly into
the country today.
Funeral arrangements will be finalised when Brian
Police spokesman Chief Superintendent Wayne Bvudzijena said
force had launched a massive manhunt for the murderers they were
for public assistance in the case.
He, however, dispelled
the notion that they were not protecting residents
patrols, he said, are deployed countrywide. Most murders, he said,
actually committed by people who were known to the victims.
where robbers just broke into a house and murdered people were
Chief Supt Bvudzijena called on people who felt that their
were insecure to form or join neighbourhood watches which were
effective in reducing crime.
In June, a Trelawney farmer was
shot dead by two robbers who had raided his
farmer, Mr David Oates, managed to shoot dead one of the
robbers before he
died, the other robber got away.
ENTIRE DDF FLEET GROUNDED DUE TO MISUSE
THE entire District Development Fund vehicle fleet has been
grounded due to
misuse of vehicles in this department that has been rocked by
corruption over the years.
According to a document released by
workers this week, the vehicles were
grounded last month amid allegations
that misuse of vehicles by officers had
reached unmanageable levels.
workers charge that the department's directorate was responsible for
plunder of DDF's resources and called for heads to roll.
director (name supplied) is accused of allocating himself at least four
and three trucks for personal use in addition to equipment used at
One vehicle is used to ferry the director's children to and
from school by a
DDF driver while the trucks are used to carry produce from
DDF director general Mr James Jonga is said to
have sought police assistance
of late to trace the misuse of the department's
Mr Jonga was said to be out of his office yesterday attending a
According to the workers, logbooks for the
vehicles were only introduced
last month, meaning there had been very little
control over the fleet's
Workers also took issue with the
way the fund was paying various companies
for services the DDF had the
capacity to handle.
They cited the award of a maintenance contract of DDF
tractors to a foreign
company yet the fund had skilled manpower capable of
carrying out the work.
Huge purchases of low quality tyres that are not
suitable for local weather
conditions have cost the fund almost $20
Despite the tyres being of a poor quality and unsuitable
directorate insisted on buying the tyres from a South
Morale among workers is said to have hit an all time low
being used to the benefit of Government officials rather than
"The directorate is insensitive, does not listen to
new ideas, does not make
use of acquired implements and equipment for the
benefit of the
"The Government does not seem to want to
rock the boat that looks after its
ministers and other officers holding high
offices," reads part of the
The DDF is in such
financial doldrums to the extent that revenue has gone
down by more than 50
percent compounded by an ageing fleet and obsolete
In the current budget the DDF was allocated $1,3 billion which
issued periodically instead of the previous one-off
So rife has corruption been at the fund that Parliament
was last year
prompted to set up a committee to probe DDF.
committee found that high-ranking Government officials had contracted
fund to carry out several jobs without payment.
It recommended that the
DDF Act be changed to make the fund operate as a
statutory body accountable
to the accounting officer and not the director.
Regular audits were also
called for to constantly check assets and equipment
MUCHAPERA ARRESTED OVER BLACKFORDBY FARM INCIDENT
WAR veteran, Cde Chigwamhure Mawariro (42), alias Mabhunu
among the eight people arrested on Tuesday afternoon on
kidnapping, indecent assault and extortion at Blackfordby Farm,
Cde Mawariro, identified by farm workers
as the mastermind behind the
kidnapping of 17 school children last Saturday,
is expected to appear in
court today together with seven other people picked
up at an identification
parade, said police spokesman, Chief Superintendent,
The ex-combatant, who led hundreds of home-seekers from
invade Stone Ridge Farm in April, has been jointly charged
together with the other seven men but faces another separate
extortion. He is being accused of forcefully driving off with a
belonging to Blackfordby Farm.
Although the Zimbabwe National
Liberation War Veterans' Association has
since denied involvement in the
Blackfordby incident, early investigations
by The Herald indicated that rogue
war veterans on Saturday night kidnapped
17 schoolchildren and held them for
about six hours before police rescued
The war veterans'
association has blamed the Movement for Democratic Change
"planting" the information and the party's infiltrators for
image of the war veterans.
After the police secured the release of the
children the same rowdy group
pounced again on the farm compound during the
same night and force-matched
more than 20 parents to an all night vigil where
they were forced to sing,
toyi-toyi and smoke mbanje.
non-governmental organisations, which include human rights
ZimRights, the Law Society of Zimbabwe, The Girl Child Network
the Progressive Teachers Union, have all roundly condemned the
called on the authorities to move swiftly on the case.
a statement the Southern Alliance for Children's Rights said:
involvement of children in violent activities on the farms infringes
the children's basic rights. It is a violation of the Child Protection
Adoption Act Chapter 5:06 (1996), the UN Convention on the rights of
child and the Africa Charter on the rights of the child which
Zimbabwe - pause for
"To fight tyranny is not an option, it is a duty"
I have heard a very disturbing rumour this morning
person I respect very much, who I expect would
be a good source.
rumour is that Bob is planning to announce - this
weekend (for obvious
political reasons) - an amnesty
for all perpetrators of political violence
This has to be one of the lowest of the low
political tricks that could ever be brought up at this
time! It is bad enough that over 30
Zimbabweans have lost their lives (the
loss of even
one life would have been too much), and that there
over 18000 (yes - eighteen thousand plus!)
documented cases of human rights
threats, beatings, abductions, rapes, thefts
property, destruction of property, and murder), in
violence since the Referendum. It
is bad enough that the Government at NO
stage made any
statements clearly denouncing the violence and
throw the full weight of the Law against
the perpetrators. It is bad enough
that through his
direct instigation that the land issue has
side-tracked from a nation-building exercise, to a
political tool to
gain mileage for ZANU-PF and to
punish/destroy political rivals. It is bad
he has ignored both the established Law of the
of Zimbabwe - numerous of which he
himself has instigated - and allowed the
descend to a state of near anarchy. It is bad enough
ZANU-PF were allowed (while he turned a blind
eye) to use state funding and
machinery to conduct the
party's election campaign, and to do so with
unprecedented capaign of violence and intimidation
using paid hoodlums
and so-called war veterans.
Now there is a possibility that he is going
his fellow Zimbabweans that he and his criminal
totally above the Law of Zimbabwe!
This would ensure that they get away -
Why? An amnesty should only be granted when
it is for
the greater good of the people! How can sweeping a
campaign of violence under the carpet be
good for the people of Zimbabwe?
This would be another
exercise like the 5th Brigade era in Matabeleland!
would benefit? The vast majority would be Bob and
criminally-minded entourage. What about MDC and other
supporters? I'm sorry, but I am of the firm
opinion that they must take the
Law as it comes - if
they were involved in the violence, the Law should
applied to them. Equal rights and equal
responsibilities to all
Zimbabweans, and - if
necessary - equal punishments!
To give amnesty
in this case would have (to name only
a few) the following
- Zimbabweans would be given a clear lesson
violence and crime is acceptable when it is expedient
ends - the party in power can just cover
up afterwards and say "gee, that was
too bad - you
lost, we won, and we'll sit pretty with all that we
gained (that we took from you) with the law on
- no victim of
political violence would have any
redress in the Courts - not for threats,
criminal slander, not for racial / ethnic insults, not
beatings, not for disabilities, not for trauma,
not for thefts, not for
destruction of property (and
be clear that some people have lost everything
they owned!), not for loss of livelihood, not for
for rape, not for murder!
- it could seriously undermine challenges in
Courts by MDC for re-runs in Constituencies where the
obviously skewed through violence and
intimidation. I am led to believe that
it may not
curtail them completely as the challenges are
- it would do serious damage to the economy as
institutions and insurers would be unable to
recover monies lost through
loans and insurances to
persons who were victims of political violence
it would allow criminals with blood on their hands
to continue in political
office or positions of trust,
and to continue the perpetuation of a
political order that seeks to subjugate all
Zimbabweans at all
costs - even if it means destroying
the whole country!
Where, in fact
would the consequences of an amnesty
end? We can be sure that if it is
exercised, then it
will be done again, and again, and again ... How
this be in any way Constitutional?
We must fight for the rule of
Law and for justice to
be done in Zimbabwe. Until each and every
is accorded their full rights as a person, and as a
will have no real justice. Without
justice, we will never have peace. You
establish justice through abandoning the Law, or by
rights of the people in any way. Peace
comes from justice, and justice comes
the Law - fairly and impartially!
If you are as
outraged as I am at the mere possibility
that this could be being considered
by the President,
please pass this on as far as you can. Express
COMMERCIAL FARMERS' UNION
FARM INVASIONS UPDATE
THURSDAY 10 AUGUST 2000
The President of the Commercial Farmers' Union, Mr.
Tim Henwood, announced this afternoon that the Union is withdrawing all
litigation that it has initiated in the past two weeks on matters concerning the
acquisition and occupation of commercial farms in the country. This has been
done with a view to improving the atmosphere for meaningful dialogue from which
it is anticipated that a solution will be attained that will be more
satisfactory than any that can be secured by continuing to pursue the protracted
process of law.
recently acquired by Section 8 Order in Mashonaland West North has been examined
by the government evaluators, and the fixed assets are now being stolen. No
government representative is available to take care of the buildings etc. and
the Police are unwilling to act against the perpetrators who now claim to "own"
65 war vets have started pegging with steel pegs on Drumarda Farm. Police are
in attendance but have yet to take action, and the owner has been unable to
locate Agritex. A guard surprised war vets stealing a security fence on The
Range. The war vets are reported to have fired a shot over the guard's head.
Victory Block -
Kangachepi has been a nuisance and has been making demands on Mutenda Mambo, Under Cragg, Brandon and Chiwe
50 war vets claiming that Mazowe Ranch is ancestral burial ground have proceeded
to peg on it. There was a tense situation on Belgownie Farm after the owner
refused a demand for accommodation. Police were able to defuse the situation but
war vets threatened to return. Workers from Jumbo Mine are claiming to be war
vets and have demanded accommodation from the owner of Marodzi River. The owner
refused and was then threatened with their return to take over the farm. The
same group moved onto Riversdale, and it is suspected that this group started a
fire at Cartreff.
20 war vets are picking maize outside the homestead of Chiwaridza Farm. Police
are reluctant to intervene. War vets have also demanded to move into the
Marondera - War vets
Shasha, Zininga and Dafi arrived on Arcadia and warned the owner that he must
not destroy their huts as he had pulled one down that was in the middle of one
of the lands that he needed to prepare. Shasha told the owner that he must not
pull any of the huts down until they have found other land. Shasha has already
been allocated a plot on Myembi Farm by the Governor. On Alexander the war vets
told the owner he no longer needs the farm as he owns two farms. They told him
to leave the farm.
Wedza - There
are now 5 villages up on Iamba (about 30 adults). 1 villager has dug a well, and
there are vegetable gardens. A duiker was found dead in a snare, and a heifer
was snared but survived. 20m of fencing was stolen. On Shaka 2 farm workers were
arrested for selling stolen fences.
- There were work stoppages on Mignon, Mug and Welcome Home, and problems
continue on Chikubakwe.
MASHONALAND WEST NORTH
The owner of
Dendanyani was sent a letter from war vet Peter's Parandale
Farm group, saying that by 4 p.m. all work was to stop and the farmer was to
vacate farm, or else the war vets would show their true colours. The farmer was
away and by 11 p.m. there were no reports. This is contrary to the
results of last week's meeting. On Nevern Place war vet
Peter and 40 others stopped work, were very
aggressive and wished to see the farmer, who was away. The Police reacted and
defused the situation.
threats to the foreman of Jenya to tell the owner to pay for the upkeep of an
ex-employee of the family. War vets demanded a work stoppage on Hesketh Park,
which was refused by labour. On Trokiadzi hunters were stopped by war vets and
their vehicle held. The Member in Charge was notified, and the situation was
resolved by hunters but they are not allowed to do further hunts. On Deerwood no
pre-irrigation is allowed. Tengwe Police reacted, and war vets demanded that
Dispol reacts. There are large numbers on Mlichi, and threats to build
structures and stop work. The owner of Runnimede was threatened by war vets. On
Mukuyu war vet Moyas Chembe and 10 others told the farmer to vacate the farm
within 24 hours, and the labour were told to finish work yesterday (Wednesday).
Today they would be given land. This was reported to the Member in Charge, who
said he would report to Mabunda. War vets arrived at the gate on Toekoms and
asked the owner why she was on the farm. She replied that she would move off if
the Government wanted her off, and the war vets claimed that they are the
Government and they will tell her what to do. The owner of Tivoli was given 24
hours to vacate the farm. On Kupeta the land for the second crop has now been
pegged. Rydings School was visited by war vets. There was a work stoppage on St
Brendans. On Romford war vets prevented labour from making fire guards. They
have built structures and pegged the whole farm. A meeting was held on Mlichi,
and war vets were told to move onto uncontested farms. If there was no land
then they must wait until more land is identified. On Landithy war vets
demanded retaliation against the labour, who assaulted them on Sunday. War vets
disarmed guards, blocked the roads to the farm and were very aggressive.
Farmers reacted in force, and the situation was resolved by the Police. The
owner of Pompey is still awaiting permission to pre-irrigate. War vets visited
Peverill and demanded their poles back from structures which were dismantled by
labour. The labour told them to move on. War vets then demanded a work
stoppage, and labour refused. War vets revisited La Rochelle wanting to peg
unpegged land. There was pegging and building on Romford, and fire guards have
been burnt, and farming operations stopped.
Poachers were chased through Zebra Vlei towards Fynnlands. They set fire to
Zebra Vlei. A fire was started on another property yesterday, and the workers
were chased away when trying to extinguish it. A war vet made threats with an
axe, and later claimed to the Police that he was the one that was threatened and
MASHONALAND WEST SOUTH
Norton - On one property there are
still major problems in continuing farming operations. The owners have
virtually been under house arrest for several weeks and are having to manage
their seed beds with binoculars. Weekend "time-sharers" have evidently bought
plots from the resident war vets and have so far built 21 houses. The movement
of cattle has been restricted and the owners have not been able to ear tag their
cattle for export. No pre-irrigation has taken place and one war veteran has
taken over the block for the irrigated tobacco. Last weekend fires were set and
so far the owner has had to supply approximately 100 cords of wood. The D.A.
does not believe it is his responsibility although the Governor has said that it
is. The Police have been notified on a number of occasions over the last couple
of months but there has not been a single arrest made. Clearly if the owner is
not going to be allowed to farm he cannot carry on paying labour
Selous - Two
conceded properties received Section 8 orders today. Tree cutting is rife on
Lot 1 of Northwood and Meadowlands.
Chegutu - The
outcome of the court case regarding war veteran Gilbert Moyo is unknown. There
was, however, a threat that the owner of Tiverton had to be off his property
within a day, and Gilbert Moyo's followers put up road blocks on Concession Hill
Farm. There were four air force vehicles on Kutawa and the D.A. is making plans
to resettle this property. Air force vehicles were also seen on Torphin Farm.
On Donore the labour were told to be off within a day. This is a
conceded property and it is uncertain whether this is a Government or war
Suri Suri - On Maridadi pegging was in process.
Kadoma - On Damvuri there has been a new occupation of 30-40
people. Hunting clients arrive on Saturday, and Police have no transport. There
was an occupation on Queensdale.
Masvingo East and Central -
On the eastern side of Masvingo there is a lot of movement.
Chiredzi, Mwenezi - A lot of movement
has been reported and there is tree cutting
and pegging of plots.
Conservancy, Gutu/Chatsworth - Situation
remains the same.
Odzi - On Green Valley
Vineyards, war vets led by
Magondo prevented workers from entering the farm for work yesterday morning.
Keys were taken off a security guard after there was a threat to slit his throat
if he did not comply. The owner, upon hearing this, armed himself and walked
down to the main gate. War vets are purported to have said that they were glad
to see the owner was armed and then ran off. That evening about 50 war vets broke through the security fence and moved
through the house.
arrived and established that Magondo's main gripe was
that the owner had pointed his weapon at him that morning (untrue).
Additionally, Magondo wanted accommodation. He is continuosly interfering with work and threatening
labour on the farm. Pungwes are still being held regularly with some labour as
well. He has been instructed by war vet leaders not to
interfere with workers and operations. The situation at present is
Nothing to report.
Road - On Nettlethorn and Wentworth Farms occupiers are
pouring on, burning stova and pegging lands. Local war vets say they are
occupying according to instructions received from the Governor's
Kwekwe - War vet Mhike, arrested for poaching and
breaking bail conditions, was brought to court, the case was postponed and the
accused is again out on bail. On Sherwood Block, war vets under the control of
Luke and Courage are occupying Sherwood Park Primary School and disrupting
activities on certain farms. On Dekel Farm war vets under Courage are cutting
and clearing 10 ha of land which is not arable. On Mooirivier war vets under
Luke are pegging lands due to be prepared for maize and paprika. The same
applies on Delvillewood Farm, but short pegs are being used, which are difficult
to see and could result in ripped tractor tyres. An Airforce member, Flight Lt.
Douglas is ferrying war vets around the property in an airforce vehicle. On
Sherwood Park there is pegging in the wheat lands under instruction from
Courage. Labour removed the pegs and were chased off the lands when trying to
carry out a scheduled irrigation move. It is not clear whether this is happening
on other wheat lands and farmers have been alerted to look out for pegs in lands
as they could seriously damage a combine tyre or wheat head.
On Bonstead there is severe
poaching and woodcutting and the farmer was advised not to prepare maize lands
for fear of restarting animosity with care taker war vets Gracious Tshoko and
Augustine. A second house has been occupied today.
On Dunlop Ranch the
opening and burning of lands is causing concern to neighbouring properties and
the rhino conservancy, as the area is heavily stocked with cattle and imported
game. An advance party of 6 led by war vet Frank Malambo have occupied Rolling
River Ranch. Police reaction is poor due to lack of direction from
Please note, the CFU
Information Room will only be open on Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 August, so no
report will be sent out tomorrow.
Zimbabwe's land crisis has deepened after banks cut off new loans to white
farmers, raising fears depleted harvests will result in food
The violent occupations of white-owned farms and the
uncertainty over a government programme to nationalise thousands of the farms
has prevented many farmers from paying back existing loans, according to the
Commercial Farmers Union and the Zimbabwe Bankers Association.
farmers produce nearly half the country's 2.2 million tons of corn, the staple
food, and most of its capital intensive crops.
Without loans for
equipment and materials, and with continuing disruptions, corn growers could
lose up to 40% of their harvests next March, said Neil Wright, chief economist
at the farmers union.
Preparations for planting ahead of seasonal rains
in November should now be under way, but in many cases they are
Disruptions to agriculture made by the ruling party militants'
occupation of 1,600 farms have made it impossible for farmers to give banks the
guarantees needed to secure loans, Wright said.
"No money will be
available until stability and law-and-order return to farming areas," he
In addition, many farmers delayed investing in future harvests
after the government announced this month it would confiscate 3,000 properties
and hand them over to landless blacks.
The Zimbabwe government has threatened to retaliate against any Western economic
sanctions by imposing emergency measures at home that could include the
suspension of democratic rights.
Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge described
the proposed Zimbabwe Democracy bill in the US Congress as a "shocking piece of
legislation" that sought to interfere with the country's domestic affairs and
"The government would have to take emergency
measures to survive. Doesn't that normally lead to the suspension of certain
democratic devices so the country can survive," Mudenge said. He did not
The proposed bill would curb aid and debt relief to Zimbabwe
to press the government to restore law and order and democratic
Nearly a decade ago, the government lifted a state of
emergency giving it sweeping powers of arrest and detention without
It also eased curbs on media freedom after the collapse of
Zimbabwe's Cold War East bloc allies and the adoption of Western-style economic
liberalization after 10 years of socialist policies.
The US bill, passed
by the senate, calls on the US government and its agencies and private
corporations to halt aid and investment to Zimbabwe and press international
financial institutions to which the United States belongs to maintain a freeze
on loans to the government.
Earlier this year, the US, Britain, the
former colonial power, and members of the European Union froze an aid package to
the government meant to assist in a land reform programme to handover
white-owned farms to landless blacks.
The package was frozen as violent
ruling party militants led by armed veterans of the bush war that ended white
rule in 1980 began illegally occupying white-owned farms to claim for
Mudenge described US and British support for government
opponents, democratic reform groups and farmers as "the politics of race" as
Western countries rallied behind their white "kith and kin." He said Zimbabwe
was also the victim "deliberate lies" of the white-controlled Western
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