|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Swathes of farms lie fallow as...
New absentee landlords refuse to take up land
Blessing Zulu/Augustine Mukaro
AS the sun sets on the disruptive land reform programme it has emerged that thousands of resettled farmers are still to take possession of their allocated pieces of land, greatly compromising Zimbabwe’s food security in the coming season.
Top government officials, Zanu PF supporters and friends and relatives of the powerful allocated land under the A1 and A2 models are still sitting on the sidelines. The model A2 scheme is the worst affected.
Agricultural analysts said good rains alone would not guarantee food security due to the absence of farmers to till the available land. Most allotees of the chaotic land reform exercise have snubbed the offer citing lack of government support and incentives to undertake a sustainable farming business.
In the A2 model only half of the 54 000 plots are understood to have been demarcated and just 20% of the pegged plots have been taken up.
The Zimbabwe Independent last weekend toured Mashonaland West
province, which used to produce an estimated 40% of the country’s major crops
such as the staple maize, tobacco and wheat. The fields lie idle with no
production or land preparation taking place despite
the fact that planting is due to start next month. Not only is the land lying fallow but state-of-the-art irrigation equipment and multi-million dollar grain storage facilities are either redundant or have been pillaged.
Officials at Lions Den silos said the facilities have not received any grain for storage since the beginning of the farm invasions two years ago.
"Grain has instead been taken out of the silos and the facilities have become a white elephant," an official said.
Commercial farmers’ representative body Justice for Agriculture (JAG) estimates that equipment worth $14,5 billion has been lost in the commercial farming sector to seizures, looting and vandalism.
"About $14,5 billion worth of movable assets have been illegally impounded or looted since February 2000 and JAG will be suing the ruling party Zanu PF after it has completed working out the total losses sustained by both farmers and farm workers," JAG said.
Makonde Rural District Council assistant administrator Dan Zvobgo said land uptake, particularly in the model A2 scheme, has been very disappointing.
"Model A2 in general has received a bad response from the new farmers because it did not take into cognisance distances farmers had to travel to their new properties," Zvobgo said.
"Applicants were allocated land anywhere in the country and that means some farmers have to travel from one end of the country to the other but those expenses are not covered."
Zvobgo said land preparation in his district and the country as a whole had been greatly hampered by the unavailability of draught power.
"We only have eight tractors running in the whole district and that is not enough to service all farmers in time for the planting season. That alone should reduce the intended hectarage under crop," he said.
"This is a common phenomenon throughout the country, no district has enough tractors to plough for the new farmers and the virgin land they are moving onto cannot be tilled with ox-drawn ploughs."
He said the situation has been worsened by the lack of spares and fuel.
Commercial Farmers Union Mashonaland West/South regional executive Ben Freeth said there was hardly any land preparation by either commercial farmers still on the land or the new occupiers.
"The new farmers do not have the requisite equipment for land preparation while commercial farmers are not preparing the land either because their future is not certain or they are being stopped by the occupiers," Freeth said.
CFU vice-president (commodities) Doug Taylor-Freeme said most of the fast-track resettled farmers were reluctant to take up the land because of lack of incentives.
"The whole of the agricultural sector has come to a standstill," Taylor-Freeme said.
"Vast tracts of fields are lying idle with new farmers facing serious financial problems but failing to borrow from the banks because of lack of clarity and security."
Taylor-Freeme said in the tobacco sector alone an estimated 60 million kilogrammes have been lost due to the delays in land preparation.
"There is no activity on the ground," he said. "Seed beds should have been planted at the beginning of June but this could not be done because of the confusion in the sector."
Prominent farmer in the Banket area, Vernon Nicolle, said the family’s farming operation had not been running at full capacity and irrigation equipment worth over $100 million was also lying idle.
"Our family can produce 10 000 tonnes of wheat under irrigation and 3 000 tonnes of maize and 3 500 tonnes of soya beans," said Nicolle.
"This year because of the disturbances we will produce only 3 000 tonnes of wheat. We harvested 1 200 tonnes of soya beans and 2 000 tonnes of maize."
There is no land preparation on Alaska Farm, Olympus Farm, Hunyani Farm or Rukoba Farm. Only a handful of settlers have built makeshift structures on these plots but no land preparation has started.
A glimmer of hope in the province was seen 11km outside Lions Den along the Mhangura Road at three properties, Emily Park, Chifundi and Gordonia, where model A1 resettled farmers have a promising wheat crop.
Farmers at Emily Park said they were looking forward to harvesting close to 20 tonnes of wheat.
"Our crop looks very good as you can see," Albert Chikwereti, one of the farmers, told the Independent.
"We just call on government to increase the loaning of inputs and draught power so that we can put more land under crop. We have the potential of doing better but the limiting factor is that we can’t borrow money since the banks want security."
Agricultural experts said the derelict condition of land in Mashonaland West was just the tip of an iceberg.
"The situation is actually much worse in other provinces," one analyst said.
"Many of the farmers who are moving onto the farms now are making efforts to beat the August 23 deadline at which government threatened to repossess all plots not yet taken up."
At Little England a few kilometres out of Banket, only two farmers out of about 200 allocated land have moved onto their properties. One farmer, the only person seen on the property, had moved in with a caravan and built a wooden cabin. Several rickety temporary structures, which were abandoned last year, are dotted across the farm.
Some model A1 farmers in the province said they were not preparing land for next season because their future was uncertain follow-ing constant threats from prominent Zanu PF figures and their cronies to remove them from the farms.
Settlers from Nyabira communal lands who settled on Golden Stairs, Sortbury and Little England farms accused provincial governor Peter Chanetsa of derailing the land reform programme by wanting to remove them from farms they had occupied for the past two years.
"Chanetsa brought riot police to forcibly evict farmers from Sortbury and Golden Stairs and this makes us question whether government wants to see us farming next season," one settler at the farm who requested anonymity said.
The settlers said Chanetsa had laid claim to six properties in the province: Gabaro Farm in Karoi, Riverside Farm in Norton, Elwin farm in Raffingora, Sligo Farm in Zvimba North, and Deary Farm in Nyabira.
Other prominent politicians embroiled in the continued farm seizures include Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo, banker Enock Kamushinda and Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Washington Simbi Mubako who is currently making inroads to occupy the 1 200-hectare Between Rivers Farm.
Zimbabwe Farmers Union’s pre-
sident Silas Hungwe confirmed his organisation was aware that the majority of the land allocated had not been taken up because of lack of incentives and financial support.
"We urge the new farmers to occupy their plots since failure to do so will put government in a dilemma on whether it has resettled genuine or cellphone farmers," Hungwe said.
Chombo last week told the press that in Matabeleland South, only 117 model A2 farmers have been allocated land from a possible 2 259 who had qualified for the plots.
The problems in the agricultural sector have been compounded by the stance taken by banks which last week spurned Lands and Agriculture minister Joseph Made’s efforts to force them to fund the land reform programme to the tune of $160 billion for this season’s crop. The money is for tillage and the purchase of agricultural inputs like fertiliser, seed and chemicals.
There are less than two months to go before the onset of the rains but Zimbabwe’s promised land rainbow has not appeared.
Mr Mugabe had set a deadline of midnight on Thursday for them to leave, in time for Zimbabwe's liberation war celebrations on Sunday.
But with most of the farmers claiming legal protection after the high court nullified one eviction order on Wednesday on the grounds that the mortgage-lender had not been informed, only about 300 had left their properties by late yesterday.
"It's very peaceful all around the country, there's been no mass exodus and no evictions," John Worswick of the Justice for Agriculture campaign said. "Though we're not being complacent: this may be only a lull before the storm."
Two campaigners were arrested on Wednesday, apparently to prevent them challenging the eviction orders in the courts.
"It's becoming almost impossible to operate," the Rev Tim Neil, one of the two, said shortly before his arrest in Harare. "I've had the police round and I'm sending the staff home."
Mr Neil runs a refuge for 150 farm workers made destitute by the land seizures.
With troops reported to be deployed around the country for the holiday, many farmers sent their families to Harare for the weekend. Last year the anniversary was marked by the looting of white farms in Chinhoyi.
"We'll keep out the way for a day or two, but we're going straight back home," said Kote Van Rensburg, who arrived in the capital with her four children yesterday.
"Maybe we're being overly optimistic, but there's no way I would think of leaving my farm whilst there's seed in the ground."
Senior officials would not comment yesterday, leaving Mr Mugabe to reveal how he plans to eject the farmers in his speech to the nation tomorrow.
But the state media seemed to be primed for confrontation. The Herald accused "British farmers" of sabotaging government efforts to find an amicable end to the standoff.
"Zimbabwe now needs people who want to see a success of this country and not saboteurs who will gloat on the failures of Africa," its editorial said.
Officials accuse white farmers of wrecking their farms to prevent them being taken over successfully by landless peasants, thereby contributing to the severe food shortage. The farmers say they are struggling to protect their property from looters. The 2,900 due for eviction have been banned from farming for the past 45 days.
"There are squatters burning down everything, all the farm buildings," said Mrs Van Rensburg, seven of whose eight farms have been overrun. "It's not intimidation exactly, it's just that they're doing everything they can to make us give up hope."
Almost all the farmers have begun legal challenges to their eviction orders.
This week's ruling that the order served on Andrew Kockett, a tobacco farmer in the north-east, was void had a parallel five weeks ago when Jean Simons of Chinhoyi won a similar ruling.
She has since been chased off her farm by thugs, but Mr Kockett said his ruling, which gives him four months protection was so far being respected.
Early yesterday a local hotelier and official from the ruling Zanu-PF party arrived to take over Mr Kockett's farm. "He didn't look very pleased when I showed him the court order," Mr Kockett said.
The eviction order, requiring more than 3,000 white farmers to hand over their farms as part of the government's land redistribution programme, came into force on Thursday night.
But although state television reported on Friday evening that only 400 farms had been vacated, no action has so far been taken against those farmers who are staying put.
Sunday is Heroes Day, honouring those who fought against the white minority government in what was then Rhodesia in the 1970s.
President Robert Mugabe will make a speech marking the occasion, in which he is expected to outline the government's position on the issue.
Farmers face fines and up to two years in jail if they failed to obey eviction orders.
"The law will take its own course. It's simple and straightforward," he added.
The farmers were given hope by a last-minute decision of Zimbabwe's High Court - it ruled on Wednesday that a mortgaged farm could not be seized if the mortgage company had not been properly informed.
Farmer Colin Shand told BBC News Online that he was staying put.
Zimbabwe state television reported on Friday evening that 400 white farmers had left their homes, but did not given any source for that figure.
"Farmers are generally staying at home to assess the situation," said Ben Zietsman of the Commercial Farmers Union.
The redistribution of Zimbabwe's best farmland from whites to blacks formed the basis of President Robert Mugabe's re-election campaign in March this year.
But donors say that the fall in agricultural production is one of the reasons
for Zimbabwe's current food crisis.
Up to half of the population - six million - face starvation this year, aid
agencies have warned.
In a landmark decision on Wednesday, High Court Judge Charles Hungwe said the
state could not confiscate land owned by Andrew Kockett because it had not
informed the National Merchant Bank, which has a mortgage registered over the
The judge said the acquisition was "null and void".
Concern about the land reform programme was one of the reasons why the
International Monetary Fund suspended financial support for Zimbabwe.
Mr Mugabe argues that the seizures will right the wrongs of British
colonialism, under which 70% of the country's best farmland was concentrated in
He says giving land to poor black families will increase their living
But donors say that the fall in agricultural production is one of the reasons for Zimbabwe's current food crisis.
Up to half of the population - six million - face starvation this year, aid agencies have warned.
In a landmark decision on Wednesday, High Court Judge Charles Hungwe said the state could not confiscate land owned by Andrew Kockett because it had not informed the National Merchant Bank, which has a mortgage registered over the property.
The judge said the acquisition was "null and void".
Concern about the land reform programme was one of the reasons why the International Monetary Fund suspended financial support for Zimbabwe.
Mr Mugabe argues that the seizures will right the wrongs of British colonialism, under which 70% of the country's best farmland was concentrated in white hands.
He says giving land to poor black families will increase their living standards.
Pretoria - Zimbabwe, on the brink of starvation after three years of
inclement weather and the imposition of its production-unfriendly land
redistribution programme, needs to find at least $240 million to buy 1.2 million
tons of maize, its finance minister Simba Makoni revealed yesterday.
Speaking after a meeting of Southern African Development Community (SADC) finance ministers yesterday, Makoni told journalists he had reallocated Z$21 billion (R4.1 billion) from various ministries and departments to fund the procurement of foodstuffs, but finding the foreign currency to pay for imports was proving difficult.
"Foreign currency is a serious problem, but we have committed proceeds from all tobacco sales to food imports and are seeking the assistance of the international community."
Makoni denied the food shortage had been caused by the land redistribution programme which seeks to hand nearly 10 million square kilometres of white-owned commercial farmland to blacks.
"It is not the primary cause, but it has contributed (to the problem)," he said, saying that three successive seasons of bad weather were behind the food shortages.
Zimbabwe is one of six SADC countries - the others are Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesotho and Zambia - facing severe food shortages. This was one of the key areas of talks at yesterday's meeting.
Discussions ranged from how to procure the food that was needed as well as how to distribute it to the needy.
Twelve of SADC's 14 countries were represented at the meeting. Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo were absent.
Two memoranda of understanding (MOU), covering macroeconomic convergence and taxation, were signed by the ministers. The MOU on macroeconomic convergence lays the grounds for a protocol, to be adopted by 2004, that will deal with issues such as inflation rates in member states, budget deficits, debt levels and the balance of payments.
These will be discussed fully at the council of ministers meeting, set down for Luanda, Angola in September.
South African finance minister Trevor Manuel, who chairs the committee, said SADC was moving away from reliance on donor funding. South Africa funds about 20 percent of the organisation's $14 million annual budget, and it was likely that its contribution to SADC's coffers would be limited to this percentage despite the country making up about 70 percent of the region's total gross domestic product.
Dulini-Ncube's treatment not surprising
Dear Editor, THE callous treatment meted out to the MP for Lobengula, Fletcher Dulini-Ncube, at the hands of Zimbabwe Republic Police should come as no surprise to any of us.
The disregard for the
basic norms of human behaviour demonstrated by the slavering minions of the
illegal Mugabe regime are completely in keeping with the behaviour of this
desperate band of petty tyrants and pseudo-liberators. Let me list a few of the
crimes against Zimbabweans and other Africans which our leader and his cohorts
have indulged in over the years:
Poorly chronicled acts of intimidation in the name of liberation from the
Second Chimurenga; killing of "sellouts" and others who dared to criticise the
omniscience of the liberators under the inane deceit that the end justifies the
means. Of course, Gukurahundi and the deaths of thousands of our brothers,
sisters, fathers and mothers;
The post-Independence betrayal of the principles of freedom and equity that
inspired many to sacrifice their lives or their personal well-being to fight the
Cynically sprouting socialist ide-als in the '80s while setting up an archaic
feudal system based on patronage, nepotism and corruption that will take
generations to overcome;
The war in the Democratic Republic of Congo resulting in the deaths of some
two million people, supposedly inspired by some fraternal pan-African fallacy
but really just Mugabe and his mates joining in the traditional feasting by both
foreigners and Congolese - from Leopold the king of Belgium to Mobutu Sese Seko
- in the pig's trough of Congo's riches;
The murder of some 160 Zimbabweans who dared to oppose President Mugabe's
destruction of the economy;
Indeed the land is the economy and vice-versa and Mugabe has done very well
in destroying them both;
The continuing rape and pillage by Zanu PF militia and so-called war veterans
of our people and our assets in the name of some delusional third Chimurenga
dreamed up by the nutty professor and his fellow opportunists;
The evil deceit that can send farmers into region 5 to cut out a plot from
the mopane forest to scrape (perhaps) a crop for a year or two before the land
is exhausted. Does Mugabe really think a nation of peasant farmers is the way
forward? Did he ask anyone? No doubt once the poor peasant abandons his little
plot, some chef will step into the breach to take over the land, employ some
white manager and make a fortune from game ranching or some such ecologically
The elimination of the middle-class through emigration and the consequent
flight of capital and expertise that will blight this country for years to come;
The imminent famine, which isentirely the result of Mugabe's determination to
get rid of white farmers because some of them had the temerity to oppose his
psychotic megalomania. The farce of reconciliation was little more than a
cynical ploy to retain the (white) commercial sector to provide taxes for the
destruction of PF Zapu and the crushing of some supposed plot. Those whites who
acquiesced, aided and abetted this also have a lot to answer for; these John
Bredenkamps, Billy Rautenbachs, Peter Hoogstratens and their ilk who have little
interest other than profit-seeking to guide their behaviour; and
The politicisation of food aid in a cold-blooded and calculated attempt to
murder MDC supporters.
And so on ad nauseam. So let no one be surprised at the ill-treatment of
Dulini-Ncube. I suppose we should be grateful that his underlings did not cut
the doctors' hands off for daring to help an enemy of the state as would happen
in many another country in this bleeding world.
But be sustained by the certainty that this evil will pass, as it always
Poorly chronicled acts of intimidation in the name of liberation from the Second Chimurenga; killing of "sellouts" and others who dared to criticise the omniscience of the liberators under the inane deceit that the end justifies the means. Of course, Gukurahundi and the deaths of thousands of our brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers;
The post-Independence betrayal of the principles of freedom and equity that inspired many to sacrifice their lives or their personal well-being to fight the colonialists;
Cynically sprouting socialist ide-als in the '80s while setting up an archaic feudal system based on patronage, nepotism and corruption that will take generations to overcome;
The war in the Democratic Republic of Congo resulting in the deaths of some two million people, supposedly inspired by some fraternal pan-African fallacy but really just Mugabe and his mates joining in the traditional feasting by both foreigners and Congolese - from Leopold the king of Belgium to Mobutu Sese Seko - in the pig's trough of Congo's riches;
The murder of some 160 Zimbabweans who dared to oppose President Mugabe's destruction of the economy;
Indeed the land is the economy and vice-versa and Mugabe has done very well in destroying them both;
The continuing rape and pillage by Zanu PF militia and so-called war veterans of our people and our assets in the name of some delusional third Chimurenga dreamed up by the nutty professor and his fellow opportunists;
The evil deceit that can send farmers into region 5 to cut out a plot from the mopane forest to scrape (perhaps) a crop for a year or two before the land is exhausted. Does Mugabe really think a nation of peasant farmers is the way forward? Did he ask anyone? No doubt once the poor peasant abandons his little plot, some chef will step into the breach to take over the land, employ some white manager and make a fortune from game ranching or some such ecologically suitable activity;
The elimination of the middle-class through emigration and the consequent flight of capital and expertise that will blight this country for years to come;
The imminent famine, which isentirely the result of Mugabe's determination to get rid of white farmers because some of them had the temerity to oppose his psychotic megalomania. The farce of reconciliation was little more than a cynical ploy to retain the (white) commercial sector to provide taxes for the destruction of PF Zapu and the crushing of some supposed plot. Those whites who acquiesced, aided and abetted this also have a lot to answer for; these John Bredenkamps, Billy Rautenbachs, Peter Hoogstratens and their ilk who have little interest other than profit-seeking to guide their behaviour; and
The politicisation of food aid in a cold-blooded and calculated attempt to murder MDC supporters.
And so on ad nauseam. So let no one be surprised at the ill-treatment of Dulini-Ncube. I suppose we should be grateful that his underlings did not cut the doctors' hands off for daring to help an enemy of the state as would happen in many another country in this bleeding world.
But be sustained by the certainty that this evil will pass, as it always does.
Harare - Zimbabwe's white farmers waited on
Friday for President Robert Mugabe's next move, after hundreds moved off their
lands to meet a deadline to give way to black settlers or face jail.
Mugabe returned from a trip abroad on Thursday and is expected to set out the
government's stance on the farms in a major address early next week.
Hundreds of farmers withdrew to towns and cities ahead of the midnight
deadline set by Mugabe's government, but many said they hoped to be able to
The government has ordered 2 900 of the country's 4 500 white farmers to hand
their farms over to landless blacks in a programme to reverse the overwhelming
white domination of the land created under colonial rule.
"It is very quiet here today," said Vernon Nicolle, one farmer who has
decided to stay put in the belief that the government orders can be overturned.
Those most at risk moved out
He said he was confident the situation was beginning to turn in favour of the
farmers, who have avoided open confrontation with the government and the bands
of pro-Mugabe liberation war veterans who have occupied hundreds of farms.
"The legal fraternity is starting to find gaps in the government's armoury.
They (the government) have not adhered to the rule of law, everything has been
done through intimidation".
Nicolle, who has lived on his farm in the Banket district for most of his
life, said local farmers had ensured that those considered most at risk had been
moved out of the area. But most people in his area had decided to stay.
Elsewhere, he said white farmlands were almost entirely abandoned, adding:
"Some of the areas are morgues."
The disruption to farming in Zimbabwe, once southern Africa's bread-basket,
comes as millions in the region face famine.
Mugabe to clarify government's position
Mugabe is expected to clarify the government's position on the farms in a
speech marking Heroes Day, which mainly commemorates those who fought in the
1970s independence war against Britain.
Last year's commemoration was marked by violent looting of farms around the
northern town of Chinhoyi by pro-government militants and some farmers fear a
Newly-formed farming group Justice for Agriculture said on Friday morning it
had received no distress calls from farmers.
Mugabe gave about two-thirds of the white farmers a 90-day deadline in May to
quit or face up to two years in prison.
On Thursday, dozens of trucks laden with household goods rumbled into the
capital Harare and other towns as farmers withdrew to relative safety ahead of
Might return after the holiday
In a newspaper notice on Friday, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said this
year's Heroes Day would be celebrated on Monday as the day, a public holiday,
had fallen on a Sunday.
Some farmers have said they might return to their land after the holiday if
they feel it is safe to do so. Many already have black settlers on their farms
and it was feared some might use force to evict farm owners as the deadline
Land owners were also waiting to see how Mugabe would react to a High Court
ruling earlier this week that the state could not confiscate land owned by one
particular farmer because it had not told a bank, which had a mortgage over the
Neither Mugabe nor any other government official has commented on the ruling.
Aid workers say the farm dispute has severely disrupted food production and
is exaggerating the effects of a regional drought that has slashed production in
six southern African countries.
'Shape up or ship out'
Nicolle said his region produced 27 000 hectares of wheat last year, but that
now only seven hectares had been planted.
He said one of his three farms had been occupied by what he called "weekend
farmers" - black settlers from the higher echelons of Zimbabwe society - and had
produced nothing for over a year. "It's just weeds and a mess," he said.
Zimbabwe's official Herald newspaper said on Friday the land issue was a
political issue rather than a legal one.
It said the "British farmers" in Zimbabwe were determined to hang on to large
tracts of territory while blacks went without land, and had undermined efforts
by white farmers of Afrikaner origin to negotiate solutions with the government.
"Let it be made clear to them once and for all - they have a choice to shape
up or ship out," the newspaper said. "Zimbabwe now needs people who want to see
a success of this country and not saboteurs who will gloat on the failures of
Mugabe returned from a trip abroad on Thursday and is expected to set out the government's stance on the farms in a major address early next week.
Hundreds of farmers withdrew to towns and cities ahead of the midnight deadline set by Mugabe's government, but many said they hoped to be able to return.
The government has ordered 2 900 of the country's 4 500 white farmers to hand their farms over to landless blacks in a programme to reverse the overwhelming white domination of the land created under colonial rule.
"It is very quiet here today," said Vernon Nicolle, one farmer who has decided to stay put in the belief that the government orders can be overturned.
Those most at risk moved out
He said he was confident the situation was beginning to turn in favour of the farmers, who have avoided open confrontation with the government and the bands of pro-Mugabe liberation war veterans who have occupied hundreds of farms.
"The legal fraternity is starting to find gaps in the government's armoury. They (the government) have not adhered to the rule of law, everything has been done through intimidation".
Nicolle, who has lived on his farm in the Banket district for most of his life, said local farmers had ensured that those considered most at risk had been moved out of the area. But most people in his area had decided to stay.
Elsewhere, he said white farmlands were almost entirely abandoned, adding: "Some of the areas are morgues."
The disruption to farming in Zimbabwe, once southern Africa's bread-basket, comes as millions in the region face famine.
Mugabe to clarify government's position
Mugabe is expected to clarify the government's position on the farms in a speech marking Heroes Day, which mainly commemorates those who fought in the 1970s independence war against Britain.
Last year's commemoration was marked by violent looting of farms around the northern town of Chinhoyi by pro-government militants and some farmers fear a repeat.
Newly-formed farming group Justice for Agriculture said on Friday morning it had received no distress calls from farmers.
Mugabe gave about two-thirds of the white farmers a 90-day deadline in May to quit or face up to two years in prison.
On Thursday, dozens of trucks laden with household goods rumbled into the capital Harare and other towns as farmers withdrew to relative safety ahead of the weekend.
Might return after the holiday
In a newspaper notice on Friday, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said this year's Heroes Day would be celebrated on Monday as the day, a public holiday, had fallen on a Sunday.
Some farmers have said they might return to their land after the holiday if they feel it is safe to do so. Many already have black settlers on their farms and it was feared some might use force to evict farm owners as the deadline expired.
Land owners were also waiting to see how Mugabe would react to a High Court ruling earlier this week that the state could not confiscate land owned by one particular farmer because it had not told a bank, which had a mortgage over the property.
Neither Mugabe nor any other government official has commented on the ruling.
Aid workers say the farm dispute has severely disrupted food production and is exaggerating the effects of a regional drought that has slashed production in six southern African countries.
'Shape up or ship out'
Nicolle said his region produced 27 000 hectares of wheat last year, but that now only seven hectares had been planted.
He said one of his three farms had been occupied by what he called "weekend farmers" - black settlers from the higher echelons of Zimbabwe society - and had produced nothing for over a year. "It's just weeds and a mess," he said.
Zimbabwe's official Herald newspaper said on Friday the land issue was a political issue rather than a legal one.
It said the "British farmers" in Zimbabwe were determined to hang on to large tracts of territory while blacks went without land, and had undermined efforts by white farmers of Afrikaner origin to negotiate solutions with the government.
"Let it be made clear to them once and for all - they have a choice to shape up or ship out," the newspaper said. "Zimbabwe now needs people who want to see a success of this country and not saboteurs who will gloat on the failures of Africa."
Prices rocket as controls fail
Godfrey Marawanyika/Stanley James
ZIMBABWE'S price control system, designed to create stability in the cost of
goods and services, has failed resulting in shortages of controlled commodities
on shop shelves and a thriving parallel market on the streets bursting with
supplies of the same goods.
A spate of price increases in the last two months has fuelled the inflation rate to an unprecedented 122,5%. The Zanu PF government based its presidential election campaign on the land issue and maintaining price controls. The controls have been in force since October.
The controls represented a shift from market-oriented policies to a command
economy, introduced to protect the interests of the ruling Zanu PF party against
growing isolation by donor agencies like the World Bank and the International
Zimbabwe has experienced a surge of price increases for goods such as bread, sugar, cooking oil, milk and transport fares shortly after the disputed victory of President Robert Mugabe in the March presidential poll.
More increases are on the way.
Products under the controls regime have become scarce in most retail outlets
but are in abundance on the black market.
"For price controls to work, government has to put in place subsidies to cushion manufacturers against production and price disparities," said one analyst with a leading commercial bank.
"Salaries have not been rising in tandem with price increases, pushing most salaried workers against the wall."
This has been evidenced by a 60% drop in the purchasing power of the ordinary consumer during the first quarter of 2002, a situation projected to worsen against a background of soaring inflation.
Although the minimum wage has remained pegged at $8 600 a month, economists have said the poverty datum line for a family of six should be $30 000.
Zimbabwe's growing debt and poor credit rating have resulted in a massive flight of capital and the country's skewed land policies and refusal to respect human rights and the rule of law have earned it a pariah status.
Government has failed to rein-in the budget deficit and is continuously borrowing from the domestic market to fund day-to-day operations. Domestic debt has risen to $300 billion and foreign debt now stands at US$800 million.
Due to the erosion of purchasing power and incomes, the country has also witnessed the mushrooming of money-lending institutions as people struggle to make ends meet.
"These institutions have devised a way of avoiding the controlled interest rates," said the analyst.
Economic commentator Tony Hawkins said the ultimate result of the price controls would be more shortages and a boom in black market activities resulting in further price increases.
"There is no way the price control system will create stability in price levels given the current economic hardships," Hawkins said.
He said the price control regime posed the threat of a shrinking industrial base as price ceilings did not match cost outlays.
He warned the country risked losing investment opportunities as most investors were wary of the controls that have cut into the bottom line.
"The controls have failed to serve the purpose they were intended for because of the prevailing hyper-inflationary trends that have reduced the purchasing power of ordinary consumers," he said.
"While technically the introduction of price controls was noble, government failed to do its homework in time because they wanted to survive politically - which they did - but they have failed to curtail the black market," said an analyst with a Harare discount house.
"The sprouting of the black market is a clear indication of government's
The Central Statistical Office (CSO), which monitors inflation trends, has said the escalating cost of living was being driven by the wave of price hikes.
The CSO said that as of the beginning of the year, prices of various goods surged by almost 60% thereby eroding the purchasing power of consumers by about 40%. It said the ideal salary for a family of six should be around $25 000.
According to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, the decline in spending patterns had resulted in the value of the local currency unit dropping by almost 600% over the past decade. The value of the $1 coin today is now about six cents compared to 1996.
Hawkins said that such a drop showed price controls were not the real mechanisms to foster price stability as they created a cost-push inflationary environment.
University of Zimbabwe economist Dr Phineas Kadenge said price controls had failed as evidenced by the current shortages of goods.
"A number of companies have suspended or scaled down production processes as a result of low returns arising from the controls," Kadenge said.
He said the real solution lay in government subsidising companies to ensure they continued realising profit otherwise the impact of the price controls would always be in the form of price increases and shortages.
Kadenge said it was imperative for economic stakeholders to come up with a framework that promoted the reduction of costs of production for companies currently facing difficulties owing to the deteriorating economic environment.
The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries has said price increases have brought with them the shrinkage in productive sectors, escalating costs of production and a decline in output levels for various economic sectors.
Industrialists a fortnight ago petitioned the Ministry of Industry and
International Trade for a review of prices in tandem with the volatile economic
High on the agenda of the petition was a proposal to adjust prices of food commodities upwards as the controlled prices were hampering production and leading to shortages. There has not been any response to date from Industry and Trade minister Dr Herbert Murerwa.
Kadenge warned that the imminent review of prices was likely to deal another body blow to consumers hard-pressed with other economic hardships owing to the macro-economic policies of the embattled Mugabe government.
The concerns come against a backdrop of some 700 company closures between the year 2000 and 2002. One of the country's former blue-chip sectors - tourism - has seen at least 100 closures since January.
"It would have been prudent if government had consulted industry before they implemented the price controls," said one industrialist.
"As it is now, we cannot plan for the future because we do not know what we will be told on what to produce and how much to produce. For some of us in the food and beverages sector, we will be forced to retrench and relocate to more accommodating economies," he said.
Harare-based economist Howard Sithole said the price controls were designed to protect the consumers, "but these have been hurt most because of the scarcity of the products, especially basic commodities".
"Consumers have actually been hit twice, because they spend a lot of time in queues waiting for goods which are non-existent, and where available, are beyond their reach. Consumers have been affected most by the prices controls."
From the Washington Post, 10 August
Zimbabwe ends altered-corn dispute
Ending a dispute over gene altered corn, the Zimbabwean government and international aid agencies have reached an accord for the quick release of thousands of tons of food aid for the hunger-stricken nation, according to sources in Africa and the United States. The agreement - in the form of a memorandum of understanding involving the government, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.N. World Food Program and Zimbabwe's Grain Marketing Board - provides for the U.N. agency to deliver U.S. corn to the Zimbabwean government, which in turn would give the agency an equal amount of domestic corn from its own reserves to be distributed to hungry Zimbabweans, sources said. The deal is expected to be finalized next week.
More than 17,000 metric tons of whole corn has been sitting in the holds of a ship docked in the South African port of Durban since late July because of a standoff between President Robert Mugabe's government and the aid agencies. At issue was whether Zimbabwe, which strictly limits importation of genetically modified seeds, would accept the load of American corn - a mixture of conventional corn and patented, high-tech kernels that bear extra genes for hardiness. About half of Zimbabwe's 12.5 million people are on the brink of famine, according to the World Food Program, because of drought and the disruption of agricultural production caused by the government's eviction of white farmers from some of Zimbabwe's most productive land as part of a land reform program. International aid groups have warned that food aid must be dispatched quickly to Zimbabwe and its similarly stricken neighbors, but Mugabe's government has balked at accepting grain donated by the United States because it was not certified as being free of genetically modified material.
Zimbabwean government officials contend that if some of the U.S.-donated seeds were planted instead of eaten, they would give rise to plants with gene-altered pollen. That pollen could contaminate surrounding fields, rendering a potentially large portion of the nation's future corn harvests unexportable to European and other nations that restrict imports of genetically engineered foods. The government has said it wants to mill the kernels and distribute the corn as meal to ensure that none of the seed is planted. But that position led to a deadlock, because USAID, which donated the corn, and the World Food Program, which is distributing it, have been unwilling to give it directly to the government - the only entity willing to absorb the cost of milling. The agencies have insisted that the food go to nongovernmental groups for distribution because of evidence that the government has diverted food aid for political purposes.
The new agreement gets around that problem by calling for an unusual trade. The U.N. agency will deliver the 17,500 metric tons of corn from the United States to the Zimbabwean government, which can do whatever it wants with it. In return, the government will give the World Food Program an equal amount of corn kernels currently stored in that country. The U.N. agency will pass that corn to nongovernmental organizations for distribution to the poorest and hungriest people in Zimbabwe – people who aid officials believe might otherwise never have seen the food that was being held by the government. It was not immediately clear how the Zimbabwean government came to possess the 17,500 metric tons it is now agreeing to trade to the World Food Program, or what it had intended to do with that food as the country slipped into its worst food crisis in decades. Diplomatic sources in southern Africa said they were not aware that Zimbabwe had any such reserves. But sources said the deal would accomplish the bottom-line goal of getting the corn to the countries' neediest citizens. "The main thing is that the food gets into the country so poor people get access," said Per Pinstrup-Andersen, director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington.
LAND for the PEOPLE?
CHEFS GRAB FAST TRACK LAND FOR THEMSELVES
Date July 2002 - as reported in press
NB - many of these also have 99-yr leases on other farms at very cheap
rent - see 1999 list.
Joseph Msika Vice President Umguza Block (part)
Simon Muzenda Vice President Chindito and Endama farms, Gutu
Obert Mpofu Governor Mat North Umguza Block (part)
Sabina Mugabe Sister, MP Gowrie Farm, Norton & Golden Stairs
Elliot Manyika Minister Youth etc Duiker Flats
Shuvai Mahofa Dep Minister 1 Lothian Farm Gutu 2. Plots at ZAKA Scheme
3. Spring Sp 4. Lochinvar 5. Eyrie/Lauder/Wragley
Samuel Mumbengegwi Minister Irvine Farm Gutu
Augustine Chihuri Police Comm Woodlands Farm (Butler)
Sydney Sekeremayi Minister Defence Maganga Estate
Swithun Mombeshora Minister Mash West farm
Nicholas Goche Minister Security Ceres farm Mash Central
Edward Chindori-Chininga Minister Mash Central farm
Saviour Kasukuwere MP Pimento Farm (part) Mash Central & Bamboo Creek,
Peter Chanetsa Governor Mash West Biri and Greensleeves, plus Gabaro,
Riverside, Elwin, Sligo and Deary farms (Mash West)
Stephen Nkomo Governor Mat South BEA Ranch
Josaya Hungwe Governor Masvingo Lot21A of NRA (Nuanetsi Ranch) 2.
Winterton 3. Lot 1 of Constance
Herbert Murerwa Minister Industry & Trade Rise Holm farm, Arcturus
David Parirenyatwa, Dep Minister Health Rudolphia farm
Kembo Mohadi Dep Min Local Govt BEA Ranch (part)
Mrs Kembo Mohadi BEA Ranch (part)
Swithun Momeshora Minister of Transport Ormeston Farm, Mash West
Paul Mangwana Dep Minister of Justice Faun farm, Chegutu
Mike Moyo War Vet Mayfield farm, Masvingo
Tobaiwa Mudede Registrar General Ballineethy farm, Mash Central
Ambrose Mutinhiri MP Marondera West Waltondale Farm, Mash East
Joseph Chinotimba War Vet leader Pimento Farm (part) & Wakatai Farm
Boniface Chidyausiku Ambassador to UN Estees Park farm
Solomon Mujuru retired army chief Elim and Alamein Farms
Constantine Chiwenga Army commander Risumbe Extension farm
Mariyawanda Nzuwa Chair Electoral SC Stella Farm
Ambrose Mutinhiri MP Waltondale Farm Mash East
Reward Marufu Grace's brother Leopard's Vlei Farm Mash Cen
Dickson Mafiosi Mash Central ZPF youth chairman Pimento (part )& Melfort
Willard Chiwewe PS Min foreign Affairs Maxton Farm
David Chapfika MP Mutoko The Groove Farm
Chief Charumbira Lots 5 & 6 of Mkwasine Central, Sangokwe North
Chauke MP Chiredzi North Farm 748/Ngwindi Sugar Estate
Reuben Barwe ZBC Sunnyside Farm
Webster Bepura Mayor Bindura Avondur Farm
Wayne Bvudzijena ZRP Spokesman Mabubu and Koodoo Hill farms
Freddy Chawasarira CEO Zimtrade Goede Hoop
P Chinamasa Minister's sister Buffalo Downs farm
Christopher Chingosho PA Mash East & Lands Chairman Makarara, Showers B,
Solitude, Retreat of Sanzara, Chigori and Rapids and Lot 6 of Mkawasine
Nobbie Dzinzi MP Musarabani Dendere Farm
Kara Regional Liaison Defense Force Farm 36
Donald Kasukwere Saviour's brother Usaka and Sangokwe North, Mwenezi
Joseph Macheka ex-Mayor of Chitungwiza Cairnsmore
Supa Mandiwanzira ZBC (Grace Mugabe's Nephew) Lang Glen
Witness Mangwende former Min Higher Education Rudolphia farm
Masoka Ngoni, PS Lands & Agriculture Dunmaglas farm
Godwin Matanga Dep Police Commissioner Nurenzi farm, Wedza
Peter Mbizvo PS Youth, Gender & Empl Lazy 7 Ranch Barwick
Endy Mhlanga SG War Vets Assn Nalire Farm
Philip Mugadza ZIFA/businessman Kiaora
Livingstone Muzariri President's Office CIO Avondur farm part
Vivian Mwashita ZPF Women's League former MP Wakatai farm
Patrick Nyaruwata Chair ZWVA Nalire farm
Kindness Paradza journalist-politician NDA Manicaland farm
Sam Parirenyatwa (brother) Danbury Park farm
Christopher Pasipamire ZPF Mayfield farm
Jonathan Samkange lawyer Sheba Ranch
Florence Sigudu MD Metropolitan Bank Dunedin farm
Paddy Zhanda - Colcolm / Cotton Co / Chair ZANU PF east -Chifumbi Meadows
Paradzayi Zimondi Head of Prisons Upton farm
Irene Zindi former MP Howickvale farm, Mash Cent
Oscar & Shelton Zindi Rutherdale farm
Mr Zindove DA Mwenezi Soetveld Ranch
Plus other ministers, ZanuPF MPs & officials, police, CIO, army, etc..
|We were all hoodwinked by Mugabe
DECLAN WALSH IN HARARE
THIS weekend Colin Shand is truly home alone. His wife has left for England to stay with their daughter. His other daughter lives nearby but her farm has been claimed by a civil engineer from Harare. This week she fled with her husband and children to a rented house 30 miles away.
His closest neighbours are a group of settlers who seized control of his farm 18 months ago, but relations with them are not good. Last Tuesday night they tried to prevent him returning home, then attacked his vehicle with stones and axes. He was lucky to escape alive, he says.
Now Shand’s only companions are his 68-year-old cook, Steady, five dogs, one cat and the Colt handgun at his bedside. His lawyer has advised him that if attacked in his home he is within his rights to use the revolver.
"But the way things are now she says I’ll definitely go to jail, no matter what," he says matter-of-factly, hours before president Mugabe’s leave-or-be-evicted ultimatum expired.
The Shand farmhouse in Concession, 50 miles north of Harare, has a lonely, isolated air. Inside, Shand’s wife has stripped the walls of paintings and family photographs, "in case we are ransacked".
After independence many white Rhodesians packed up for South Africa. Shand stayed put. He believed Robert Mugabe’s promises of reconciliation, the 1980 television address where he declared to the nation: "Let us forgive and forget. Let us join hands in a new amity."
"He seemed like such a gentleman. Now we realise we were hoodwinked," he said, with soft bitterness.
Since then Shand has made friends with blacks. He is invited to the wedding of his cook’s son next month. The best golfer at his local club, where he socialises, is a black man. Sometimes he has black visitors to the house - but he would never allow one to marry his daughter.
"The black man and the white man, it’s different cultures. We’re not the same," he said, then added only half-seriously: "Especially now. I’ve become more racist since all this started."
As the night wears on, Shand sends e-mails and calls his wife. Then, at 9pm, the phone rings. There is talk of a compromise deal with lawyers from Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party. Shand is unsure what to do. He calls his neighbour, Archie. "We’ve lost, Archie, we’ve lost," he says, confused. "We’ve got to give them something."
But an hour later he has changed his mind. A conversation with a colleague from Justice for Agriculture - a newly formed group that is refusing to move off the land - steels his will. He will not sign any deal. "As far as I’m concerned my position is legal and the government’s is illegal," he declares.
In the morning, Shand shows me around his crumbling tobacco-curing sheds. Over the eight-foot security fence we see a man fixing the thatch on a new hut in an adjacent field.
Then a woman, probably a settler’s wife, spots us from the perimeter fence. It makes Shand nervous. "She has seen me now," he said. "Now she will tell the others that I’m here."
On Friday night he did not sleep until three in the morning. "I couldn’t get to sleep," he said. "It’s like waiting for a war to start."
Today he is locked inside his farmhouse, and won’t be leaving until the long weekend is over. "The majority of white farmers are in favour of land reform, but we want it done in a systematic manner, not like this," he said.
A beautiful country is being destroyed. Under a competent government, its inhabitants would prosper, partly through agricultural exports. But because of Robert Mugabe's misrule, hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans are already starving in the midst of what should be plenty. Because of the longer-term consequences of his brutality, millions of people will be condemned to generations of poverty, disease and famine.
Yet no one outside Zimbabwe seems to care. It is true that international bodies have passed bleating resolutions, saying that they do wish that Mr Mugabe would behave better. Curiously enough, he has taken no notice. It will require more than hand-wringing from the United Nations, the Commonwealth or the Foreign Office to chase him from office. The Government decided to take a tough line and ban Mr Mugabe's henchmen and their families from visiting London. But his government is not going to fall merely because his kleptocrats' wives are prevented from using their credit cards. All this is a dreadful example of human-rights abusers exploiting Western spinelessness, but the explanation is clear. Mr Mugabe has survived because he has been able to rely on support from a coalition of black racists, masochistic white liberals and white cynics.
Throughout Africa, the younger leaders insist the failed policies of the past must be broken with. To symbolise this, the Organisation of African Unity has been renamed. The new African Union (AU) claims that it will promote a new economic plan for development. This would be encouraging, were it true. But if these leaders were remotely sincere, they should have been willing to denounce Mr Mugabe. They have failed to do this for two reasons.
First, he can always deploy the rhetoric of anti-colonialism, potent among politicians wishing to divert attention from their countries' abject failure and who are always tempted to wallow in primitive emotions rather than address themselves to the formidable difficulties of governing.
Secondly, his most publicised victims are white farmers. It matters not that those men's forebears hacked their acreage out of the bush. It is equally irrelevant that, until recently, the white farms provided employment for hundreds of thousands of blacks, and were vital to the economy. It also seems of no consequence that their methods and successes could profitably be copied by other nations. On an African visceral level, the emotional satisfaction of blaming the white man for the continent's problems takes precedence over the continent's real difficulties.
By now, the British Government should have confronted the AU. If it did believe in a new dispensation for Africa, our ministers should have said, it must start by doing everything possible to prevent Mr Mugabe from wrecking an important African country. If necessary, it should be willing to co-operate in military action to remove him. If the AU were not prepared to do this, then all its talk about newness and progress would just be so much sales patter, designed to entice more foreign aid and to refresh Swiss bank accounts. Any African government which refused to repudiate Mr Mugabe and to assist in moves against him should have been informed that it would receive no aid from Britain, and that we would also do everything possible to block any aid from the European Union.
But this was never likely to happen. The upper reaches of British foreign policy are populated by far too many cringing liberals who will go into the most humiliating intellectual contortions before admitting that a black man could be blamed for anything, especially if he is in dispute with a white. In terms of the volume of human suffering, Zimbabwe is a black-on-black conflict. The miseries inflicted on the white farmers are only a tiny proportion of the misery which Mr Mugabe has inflicted on his country.
This is where the white cynics share the guilt. When Mr Mugabe won power, dismay was widespread among British conservatives. The hope had been that Bishop Abel Muzorewa would win the post-Lancaster House election, thus ensuring a pro-Western government and some continuity with the era of Ian Smith. In the event, however, Mr Mugabe did not seem too bad. He did not butcher all the whites in their beds; he did not apply to join the Warsaw Pact. He merely let his thugs loose against his fellow blacks in Matabeleland.
This was not mindless violence. Antagonism between the majority Shona tribe and the Ndebele of southern Zimbabwe had a long history. Joshua Nkomo, the leader of the Ndebele, was once asked – when in his cups – what would happen after independence. "When that day comes,'' he replied, "we'll drive the Shona dog before us, as we always have.''
Mr Nkomo had reckoned without weight of numbers, not to mention control of government power and command of military hardware. It was Mr Mugabe's North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade which did the driving. However, the outcome went far beyond any measures which could be justified as a containment of tribalism and an assertion of central authority.
Tens of thousands of Ndebele were slaughtered in a deliberate infliction of state terror. No one will ever know the exact figure and hardly anyone in the West has cared. Leftists averted their gaze from anything which might discredit a black government. Rightists shrugged their shoulders, believing that nothing better was to be expected from a black government.
In Britain, where more concern should have been expected given our recent historic ties with Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, no senior politician rushed to take an interest. The Tory government had no desire to re-engage itself with Zimbabwean affairs, or to re-open any wounds which might have resulted from the Lancaster House settlement. The Labour opposition was equally unwilling to annoy its friends in Africa.
This was wrong all round. Mr Mugabe ought to have been condemned, and threatened with instant expulsion from the Commonwealth. Instead, he got away with a massacre. This may have led him to conclude that he could commit further massacres at his choice. And so he is, even if the agents are now starvation and disease rather than bullets and shells.
It would not be easy to remove Mr Mugabe by military means, especially when everyone is concerned with bigger game in Iraq. It is possible to take action against Sierra Leone, which is on the coast, but Zimbabwe is well inland, and we would require forward bases from a friendly neighbouring African country.
But if we really wanted those bases, does anyone doubt that we could obtain them? Does anyone doubt that we would already have taken action, if a white government were behaving in the way that Mr Mugabe is? If Mr Mugabe is allowed to complete the destruction of Zimbabwean agriculture, his country might take 100 years to recover. We have a moral duty to prevent him from sabotaging his people's future.
From The Sunday Times (UK), 11 August
War veterans starve on their looted land
The looming tragedy of Zimbabwe is written on the hungry face of Lydia Muzenda, 62, a black settler on white-owned farmland just south of Harare. She lives in a mud shack surrounded by sickly, straggling heads of maize and the stumps of trees cut down for use in building, heating and cooking. The shade cover has gone. The scrubby grass has given way to baked mud that the rains quickly turn into a quagmire. As the topsoil washes away, the farm becomes ever less fertile. Skinny goats pick at whatever grass roots are left. Muzenda and her friend Nelson Takawira, 42, are willing to work. But in common with other settlers who had been loyal supporters of President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party, they feel betrayed. Thousands of Zimbabwe’s war veterans and settlers are on the brink of starvation caused by Mugabe’s disastrous land-seizure programme. This has reached its most critical stage after the passing of Friday’s deadline for most white farmers to leave their land so it can be redistributed to landless blacks. For the war vets who are intended to benefit, the expiry of the deadline should have been a cause for celebration. Instead many were in despair, unable to feed themselves on the farms they occupied and bitter that cabinet ministers, high-ranking civil servants, MPs, army officers and other members of Mugabe’s elite had grabbed much of the best land for themselves.
When the veterans first invaded the white farms in early 2000 they were intended to be the vanguard of "resettlement schemes" extolled on television as miracles of peasant productivity. But while the black elite has grabbed many farms, owning far more than the 400 hectares (about 990 acres) decreed by the reform programme, the countryside has been denuded. The settlers were promised seeds, fertilisers and tractors. The promises were broken, with the result that hundreds of thousands are now destitute and the land is derelict. "We are starving, there’s nothing to eat at all," Muzenda said. She sold five cattle to transport herself and her possessions to a farm at Mhondoro. Now she lacks cattle to plough with. "If we don’t get the use of a tractor soon I fear the worst." She has made fruitless trips to the nearest town, Chegutu, to ask for maize from the local Grain Marketing Board. Takawira also sees starvation ahead: "The rainy season is only a few months away but we still have to prepare our fields for planting. We haven’t the means to plough and we haven’t even got seed."
Some 1,740 white farmers were reported yesterday to have risked imprisonment by defying the deadline and refusing to relinquish land they have made productive and profitable. They believe the government eviction orders could still be overturned in the courts. "In the middle of a raging famine where the government is appealing for donor aid it would just be a bit embarrassing to be arresting farmers for trying to go on growing food," said Jenni Williams of Justice in Agriculture, which is using the courts to fight the evictions. "I guess the point is that we are fundamentally law-abiding folk," said Ben Freething, who farms in Mashonaland. "Most farmers just cannot get their heads around the idea that they might be arrested for living in their homes and trying to carry on producing sorely needed food on land they either bought or which has been in their family for generations."
Another 1,160 white farmers did move, leaving areas of once-rich farmland abandoned. Many headed for Harare. The leafy, tree-lined streets of the capital were clogged with pickup trucks and lorries transporting household goods and there was hardly a house left for rent or sale. Some went abroad. Others tried to maintain a semblance of normality by fishing on Lake Kariba. Mugabe is due to give a speech tomorrow to mark Heroes Day, which commemorates those who fought in the independence war of the 1970s against white rule in the former Rhodesia. Last year’s commemoration saw violent looting of farms around the northern town of Chinhoyi and some farmers fear a repeat. The tension increased yesterday afternoon when troops moved out of barracks in Harare and other urban centres. While it seemed possible that they were preparing for the traditional Heroes’ Day march-pasts, observers said the movements looked bigger than usual. Some suggested that Mugabe was about to use the military as well as the police to force farmers off their land.
The only violent incident to be reported since the deadline passed was the assault of Kevin Smith, a farmer, by war veterans at Karoi. However, Ignatius Chombo, the powerful local government minister, revealed the regime’s fury at the refusal of so many farmers to comply with eviction orders. "All the excuses by the farmers show what an arrogant and racist bunch they are," he said, adding that "appropriate measures" would be taken against those breaking the law. Members of the white community were anxiously awaiting Mugabe’s speech for a sign as to whether they have any future in Zimbabwe. Mugabe has not wavered from his ideological determination to destroy the white farmers and their workers. They supported the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which came close to defeating him in flawed parliamentary and presidential elections.
For black Zimbabweans hunger - not politics or race - is the overwhelming issue. Zimbabwe was a land of plenty but now faces starvation caused by a combination of drought and the government’s gross mismanagement of the land issue. The settlers dumped by the Mugabe government onto poorly irrigated cattle land or game farms are among the worst-off. Having slaughtered much of the wildlife and cut down the trees for firewood, many have found the land incapable of supporting their families and have drifted away. "I try not to be a bitter man but now all my animals are dead or gone and so are the war vets and the settlers," said one white game farmer. The shock troops who blazed this trail of devastation were the war veterans. But last week they were in disarray after the imprisonment for embezzlement of Andrew Ndlovu, their leader. It takes a brave man to predict what comes next.
"The damage is done. What has happened is irreversible," said Colin Cloete, president of the Commercial Farmers’ Union. He is appalled at the cynical use of a reform programme ostensibly intended to redress colonial wrongs as a means of benefiting Mugabe’s cronies. "Some people call them cellphone farmers," he said. "They don’t really farm. They have jobs in town and treat the farms they take over as weekend retreats. We’re going to end up with a tremendous amount of derelict land." A high percentage of white farmers would still come back if the government relented. As they readily acknowledge, however, they make up less than 1% of the population and are not by any means suffering the worst. Millions of Zimbabwe’s 13m people who supported the MDC opposition have been thrown onto the scrapheap, too. Many are black farm workers who are being made homeless as the whites leave their land.
"We would be better off with only 6m people, with our own people who support the liberation struggle," said Didymus Mutasa, a Mugabe confidant and Zanu PF organisation secretary. "We don’t want all these extra people (farm workers)." Behind this thought is not just the idea that many farm workers in Zimbabwe have one Malawian or Zambian parent but also that those who do not support the Mugabe regime have put themselves "outside the nation". Such ideas have a chilling relevance now that famine threatens and the government is ensuring that food aid goes only to the party faithful. Vincent Hungwe, one of the regime’s rising young stars - formerly permanent secretary of agriculture and now of local government - said: "We may have to take this whole system back to zero before we can start it up again and make it work in a new way." Many black and white Zimbabweans who have been chased from their homes and their old lives already have a taste of what he means by zero.
From The Times (UK), 9 August
Zimbabwe fugitive finds safety in Britain
A leading opponent of President Mugabe has been given asylum in Britain after he escaped from an execution squad working for the Zimbabwean leader. Ephraim Tapa, who led the Civil Service union and was a member of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, was kidnapped with Faith, his pregnant wife, by a gang of so-called war veterans earlier this year. They heard their captors discussing the orders to kill them, and the arguments they had over whether to disguise their deaths as an accident. Even though he managed to flee to Britain in March and was given refugee status six weeks later, his wife is still in hiding in Zimbabwe with their three-week-old daughter. Members of his family have been threatened to betray his whereabouts. "If I go back, I would be dead within hours," he said yesterday. "I feel very fortunate to have escaped. Many don’t in Zimbabwe." Mr Tapa is keen to remind people that it is not just whites in Zimbabwe that are suffering, but the hundreds of thousands of blacks who are losing their jobs on the land as well.
"Over 150,000 black farm workers have already lost everything. Many have lost their lives," he said. "Add their families to this number and you are talking about 750,000 who have no homes, no schools, but the world just stands and watches." The livelihoods of another 200,000 black farm workers and their families were also threatened as Mr Mugabe completed his land redistribution, which began two years ago. From his hiding place in Britain, Mr Tapa is campaigning for Western powers to do more to help the 1.75 million black farm workers and their families who were facing expulsion from their homes as the deadline for owners to vacate their farms expired last night. Mr Tapa argues that Whitehall and its allies could do more to get rid of Mr Mugabe. "Governments talk openly about overthrowing Saddam Hussein. Why not Mugabe?" He and other opposition figures in exile are urging an international coalition to launch an attempt to end Mr Mugabe’s rule. "There is not much more Zimbabweans can do. We need outside help now." With food supplies already dangerously short in Zimbabwe, the prospects for the thousands of refugees is perilous.
Mr Tapa, 40, and his wife, 25, were campaigning for the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, in February during the presidential elections, when they were kidnapped. They were driving to a primary school in Mashonaland, about 100 miles from Harare, where his wife worked as a teacher. Near the school the couple were ambushed by a gang wearing the colours of the ruling Zanu PF party and handed over to a group of war veterans, led by John Murwisi, a notorious local figure. The pair were dragged into a classroom, which was the veterans’ local headquarters. Mr Tapa was beaten so severely around the head that he lost consciousness. He remembers how at one point his captors, who were trying to torture him into revealing the names of fellow opposition leaders, began throttling him with a scarf. The gang bundled their hostages into a lorry and drove them to various forest hideouts where the gunmen chatted about how and where to execute the couple. "They were arguing about how soon our bodies would be found, and whether they should make it look like an accident."
Eventually they were taken to a veterans’ camp at Mushimbo, near the Mozambique border, where for much of their four weeks in captivity they were bound and blindfolded. "They were interrogating me about the MDC opposition party, their members and strategies," Mr Tapa said. "I had been beaten so hard on the face I couldn’t see." Mr Tapa said one of their captors took pity on them and agreed to smuggle out a message from the couple begging for help. When a police unit arrived at the camp, Mr Tapa was able to escape, but he knew he could not remain in Zimbabwe. Three weeks later sympathetic figures inside the regime helped him to leave the country. He will not reveal their identities to protect them from reprisals. "Not everybody in Government supports Mugabe, but they are scared of him." His wife was too unwell to risk escape with him, so she went into hiding. Three weeks ago she gave birth to their daughter. Mr Tapa does not know when he will see his wife and daughter. Mr Tapa said the President’s security forces have a vested interest in clearing properties as confiscated land is being given to Mugabe cronies. "Once the deadline passes for the farms to be evacuated it will be every man for himself. There will be looting on a scale Zimbabwe has not seen before, and I’m certain there will be killing."
Comment from The Sunday Telegraph (UK), 11 August
Mugabe must face trial for his crimes
By David Coltart
One of my Parliamentary colleagues in the Movement for Democratic Change is Fletcher Dulini-Ncube. A veteran campaigner for human rights and a former detainee in the Rhodesian era, he is diabetic. Last November Fletcher was detained by the Mugabe regime on trumped-up charges and held in solitary confinement for over a month under atrocious conditions, including the denial of adequate medical attention. As a result he had to have his right eye surgically removed last week. The day after the operation Fletcher was dragged from his sick bed and placed under arrest by the Mugabe regime's so-called Law and Order police. This weekend he lies in a Bulawayo hospital in leg irons under prison guard after a legal application to secure his release was dismissed by a recently appointed ex-war veteran judge. The inhumane treatment of Fletcher is but a small part of the regime's crackdown on its opponents. Thousands of farmers and their employees this weekend face summary arrest and eviction from their homes. We in the leadership of the MDC, the main opposition party to Mugabe, have been warned that our passports will shortly be withdrawn to prevent us from travelling abroad. Thousands of crimes committed against the opposition, including murder and rape, have not been investigated let alone prosecuted. The judiciary has been all but destroyed; independent journalists have been arrested. Even education has not been left alone: new laws will ensure the regime's control over the appointment of headmasters in private schools. Food is being used as a political weapon against thousands of ordinary Zimbabweans who oppose the regime. In short, Zimbabwe increasingly resembles Cambodia under Pol Pot. The regime's intention seems clear: to turn Zimbabwe into a nation of 12 million peasants dependant on its small super-rich, corrupt ruling-elite.
Mugabe, however, desperately needs the support of his neighbours and other countries to survive. Unlike Pol Pot, the Mugabe regime craves international legitimacy and, after 22 years in power, the Zanu PF elite have become accustomed to the good life. Having got away with even worse atrocities in the 1980s against Joshua Nkomo's supporters they assumed before the election in March, that the world would simply look the other way. Accordingly the regime has been stung by its partial suspension from the Commonwealth and the extension of targeted sanctions by the EU and other countries. Mugabe's response has not been to address the concerns of the West. It has been to travel to Cuba, Malaysia while some of his colleagues have been to Libya and Iran. Clearly he is trying to secure an international coalition which will force the West to relent and accept his regime, warts and all. No one can seriously believe that the regime has any intention of normalising the situation (as has been suggested by some in the Commonwealth recently). Just as the regime was prepared to use any means to secure victory in the presidential election so it will use them to retain power. The tragedy is that now, given the scale of the man-made famine combined with the Aids pandemic, that determination could well result in hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans losing their lives in the coming months. The only way that catastrophe can be averted is by the restoration of the rule of law in Zimbabwe. This alone will ensure that a massive summer maize crop is planted and irrigated by experienced farmers and that the exodus of thousands of talented Zimbabweans of all races stops. However the rule of law will only be restored through holding a fresh election that complies with acceptable standards.
There appears to be much hand wringing in the West about what to do. Food aid has been increased but that will deal with the symptoms, not the cause, of famine. Pleas have been made to Zimbabwe's neighbours to act but few African states have the political will to deal with the crisis. Mugabe has shown in recent weeks that he is quite prepared to divide the African Union and the Commonwealth to remain in power. The regime has not hesitated to play the racial card both domestically and internationally and the crisis is constantly portrayed as a spat between Britain and her former colony. Mugabe's purpose is to raise the stakes in the hope of deterring the West from taking sterner measures for fear of, for example, splitting the Commonwealth. The crisis is now so grave, however, that the West must not be deterred from taking decisive action. Two distinct courses of action should be followed.
First, those in Zimbabwe guilty of torture (as defined by the International Convention) should be investigated and prosecuted. Aside from the abuses of the past two years, food is now being used as a political weapon which is already resulting in thousands suffering. Many could die unless those responsible know that they will be held accountable for their actions. The vast majority of those who may die will be MDC supporters denied food solely because of their political beliefs. That is clearly a crime against humanity.
Second, the West, in conjunction with its democratic African allies, must now seriously consider its responsibility to protect Zimbabweans. The report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty published in December 2001 points out that where a population is suffering serious harm as a result of repression or state failure, and the state in question is unwilling to halt the suffering, the usual principle of non-intervention yields to the international responsibility to protect. The principle of state sovereignty, so readily used by the Mugabe regime to protect itself, is not absolute. With sovereignty comes a responsibility for the state to protect its people. But more than six million Zimbabweans face starvation as a direct result of the state's failure and its use of food aid as a political weapon. In these circumstances the civilised world has a responsibility to protect the Zimbabwean people and to do so it should intervene in the manner proposed by the International Commission. If future famines are to be avoided and if what was once the jewel of Africa is not to become another Somalia, governments in the West must act urgently with their African colleagues to address the root cause of the catastrophe now unfolding in Zimbabwe.
The author is Zimbabwe's shadow Minister of Justice