|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
|Defiant Mugabe Vows Seizures of White Farms to
11 Aug 2001 15:48 UTC
Speaking Saturday at ceremonies to commemorate Zimbabwe's war of liberation
from Britain, Mr. Mugabe accused Washington and London of racism for attacking
his government. He said western nations are trying to stop his efforts to
correct colonial imbalances.
The Zimbabwean leader told supporters that they are being condemned because
they are black and in America, Mr. Mugabe said, "blacks are a condemned race".
The United States, Britain and the European Union are considering economic
sanctions against Zimbabwe's government unless the Mugabe government ends its
attacks against the opposition, the independent media and the judiciary.
The Zimbabwean leader vowed that the land seizures would continue if
sanctions were imposed.
Mr. Mugabe also warned white farmers accused of attacking bands of black
squatters that their attacks will bounce back on them. He said the farmers must
realize the futility of attempting to resist farm seizures.
Twenty white farmers are awaiting trial on charges of attacking squatters at
Chinhoyi, about 100 kilometers northwest of the capital, Harare. Some political
analysts said today's speech was one of the most hostile
Mr. Mugabe has made since he led Zimbabwe to independence 21 years ago. The
once-prosperous southern African country has been gripped by a political and
economic crisis for the year.
Speaking Saturday at ceremonies to commemorate Zimbabwe's war of liberation from Britain, Mr. Mugabe accused Washington and London of racism for attacking his government. He said western nations are trying to stop his efforts to correct colonial imbalances.
The Zimbabwean leader told supporters that they are being condemned because they are black and in America, Mr. Mugabe said, "blacks are a condemned race".
The United States, Britain and the European Union are considering economic sanctions against Zimbabwe's government unless the Mugabe government ends its attacks against the opposition, the independent media and the judiciary.
The Zimbabwean leader vowed that the land seizures would continue if sanctions were imposed.
Mr. Mugabe also warned white farmers accused of attacking bands of black squatters that their attacks will bounce back on them. He said the farmers must realize the futility of attempting to resist farm seizures.
Twenty white farmers are awaiting trial on charges of attacking squatters at Chinhoyi, about 100 kilometers northwest of the capital, Harare. Some political analysts said today's speech was one of the most hostile
Mr. Mugabe has made since he led Zimbabwe to independence 21 years ago. The once-prosperous southern African country has been gripped by a political and economic crisis for the year.
The bands of war veterans looted farms in Chinhyoi, 120 miles northwest of the capital Harare.
Forty white families were forced from their homes on Thursday in retaliation for skirmishes with the militias on Monday.
Twenty white farmers were bailed by a court for inciting public disorder in relation to Monday's fighting.
President Robert Mugabe warned white farmers on Saturday against attacking militants.
"We warn them to desist immediately from continuing these kinds of organised attacks," Mugabe told supporters at a rally to commemorate Zimbabwe's national war heroes.
Supporters of the ruling ZANU-PF party have invaded hundreds of white-owned farms, backing a drive to seize 8.3 million hectares (20.7 million acres) of the 12 million Mugabe says are in the hands of 4,500 whites for redistribution to blacks.
|Last Modified: 22:05 UK, Saturday August 11, 2001|
Presidential spokesman Bheki Khumalo said some countries that had followed "loud diplomacy" have had to retreat from that position.
"The only way to go is through continued engagement with the Zimbabwean government," he said.
He was reacting to an appeal by Opposition Leader Tony Leon that strict sanctions be imposed against Zimbabwe at the upcoming Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in Malawi.
Mbeki will leave from Pretoria for the conference on Sunday morning.
Leon said on Friday he had written to Mbeki, asking that the South African delegation to the SADC heads of state and government summit in Blantyre raise the issue of violent attacks and intimidation in Zimbabwe for urgent discussion.
He called for diplomatic and political sanctions against the Zimbabwean government if it did not take immediate action against the perpetrators of violence and so-called "war veterans".
Khumalo said one should keep in mind that Zimbabwe was not a province of South Africa, but a sovereign state.
He said the president was concerned about the situation in Zimbabwe, and had often said that he wanted the land reform process there to take place under the rule of law.
The Commonwealth foreign ministers' initiative was the mechanism Mbeki hoped would deal with the Zimbabwean situation.
He said Mbeki had rejected the call for sanctions and that the interests of the Zimbabwean people should be put first.
Addressing a rally in honour veterans of the guerrilla war that ended white rule, Mr Mugabe also warned white farmers against organising attacks on black squatters.
What is our crime? Our crime is that we are black and in America blacks are a condemned race
"We will proceed with land reform with or without their cooperation, with or without sanctions. Let that be known here and abroad," Mr Mugabe said.
Saturday's rally came after a week of rising tension following the clashes and subsequent arrest of the white farmers.
They are accused of ganging up on and brutally attacking defenceless resettled farmers at a farm on Monday.
But the farmers say that war veterans tried to attack one of them.
To loud applause, Mr Mugabe warned the farmers to desist from continuing with what he called organised attacks.
"Mind you, acts of this nature have the ability to bounce back and ... when they bounce back and hit them, they should not cry foul," he said.
Mr Mugabe also accused white farmers of lobbying the United States and Europe to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe.
Last week, the US Senate approved and passed on to Congress a bill that threatens sanctions unless the Zimbabwean Government respects democratic rule and law and order, and carries out a legalised land reform programme.
President Mugabe denounced the sanctions threat as racist and aimed at thwarting his efforts to "correct colonial imbalances".
"What is our crime? Our crime is that we are black and in America blacks are a condemned race. We are a black government with a European community, the whites," a visibly angry Mr Mugabe told several thousands supporter.
Zimbabwe has been plunged into political and economic crisis for the past 18 months after a government-back campaign of land seizures began.
Many occupations have been carried out by self-styled war veterans.
The government has targeted about 95% of the land owned by whites - some 4,600 farms - for confiscation
By Ed O'Loughlin, Herald Correspondent in Johannesburg
Stepping up a two-pronged offensive against Zimbabwe's white minority this week, President Robert Mugabe's party sent youth gangs to attack white farmers and ordered police to arrest them if they reacted in self-defence.
The focus of this week's unrest was the northern town of Chinhoyi - in Mr Mugabe's home district west of Harare - where 23 farmers were arrested and in some cases beaten after they went to the aid of a colleague attacked by party militants. Twenty-one of the farmers were still being held without bail yesterday.
On Tuesday the violence escalated when police allowed a group of pro-government youths to rampage through the town, stoning white motorists and assaulting 10 whites, including three women and an elderly man.
Witnesses said one victim was stabbed and another slashed.
The police again stood by on Wednesday while the youths, who claim to be veterans of Mr Mugabe's pre-1980 liberation army, took over the courtroom where the white farmers were to apply for bail.
As the youths chanted death threats, the magistrate, Mr Godfrey Gwaka, was forced to postpone the hearing out of concern for the security of the accused.
Journalists working for foreign media and for Zimbabwe's own beleaguered independent press were harassed and forced to flee the town.
Armed squatters were burning and looting farms across the region, forcing the evacuation of about 40 white families, farming officials said.
The only people arrested in connection with this week's attacks have been white.
According to the Government and police, the violence was sparked on Monday when a large group of white farmers attacked and assaulted a group of peaceful blacks participating in the government-backed invasion of one of 1,700 white-owned farms.
"It is true the farmers have been attacking people ... It is the farmers who are unleashing this violence," the Police Minister, Mr John Nkomo, said on state television. "Measures are being taken to nip it in the bud."
According to the Commercial Farmers' Union, which represents most of the 4,500 mainly white large farmers, the arrested men had gone to aid a colleague when - as has become commonplace in Zimbabwe - police refused to protect him against a gang of youths attacking his home.
The Chinhoyi attacks were not the only anti-white violence in Zimbabwe this week. On Monday Mr Ralph Corbett, 76, became the ninth white farmer to be murdered since February last year. Last weekend suspected ruling party militants bound him with wire and struck him on the head with an axe, leaving him to bleed to death in his farm in the Midlands province.
In Nyathi, east of Harare, a farmer, David Joubert, collapsed and was taken to hospital after being assaulted by "war veterans" on Tuesday. The 52-year-old has since been charged with attempted murder.
Professor John Makumbe, a political scientist at the University of Zimbabwe, blamed the violence on the "hooliganism" of government supporters taking advantage of Mr Mugabe's decision to abandon the rule of law.
"There is general dereliction of duty on the part of the police force," he said. "It's deliberate as long as the victims are whites or members of the opposition. It's the opposite story when members of ZANU-PF [the ruling party] are the victims."
Non-government observers say the attacks on whites are an attempt by the 76-year-old president to use racial scapegoating to boost his flagging popularity.
Since losing a constitutional referendum last year, Mr Mugabe has encouraged his "war veterans" to invade 1,700 white-owned farms and promised to seize 95 per cent of the country's white-owned land for redistribution to his supporters.
Economists say disruption to agriculture caused by the farm invasions could lead to starvation this year.
|Strikers shot dead|
8/10/01 10:06:54 AM (GMT +2)
From Zerubabel Mudzingwa in Kwekwe
Two workers were shot
dead and 10 others seriously injured on Wednesday night when riot police and
soldiers from the Redcliff air base near Kwekwe fired live ammunition at
thousands of striking Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (Ziscosteel) employees.
Paul Sibalo, the president
of the Iron and Steel Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe, yesterday identified the
deceased as Samuel Masivatsva and Never Daniels, employees of Ziscosteel and
residents of Torwood suburb.
Their bodies were taken to the Kwekwe General Hospital mortuary, while the injured, whose condition was described as critical, were admitted to Torwood Hospital in Redcliff.
Dr Selestino Dhege, who treated the injured, said their injuries were consistent with bullet wounds.
He said four of the victims were likely to be transferred to Bulawayo for specialist treatment because of the critical nature of their injuries.
According to Sibalo, trouble started at around 4:30pm when the riot police randomly fired teargas into the company premises to drive out the strikers.
The police and the army declined to comment on the incident, referring all questions to their headquarters in Harare.
More than 4 000 Ziscosteel workers downed tools on Tuesday morning, demanding salary increases of 400 percent, which the management said they could not afford given the parlous financial state of the company.
The government holds the major equity in Ziscosteel with an 89 percent shareholding.
The company, with a labour force of 4 171, has been struggling to pay for basic raw materials and was at one time forced to stagger workers’ salaries.
The workers staged an overnight sit-in inside the company premises on Tuesday and had threatened to continue with the sit-in until a combined police and army unit forcibly moved them out on Wednesday night.
Yesterday, the workers gathered at the union offices in Torwood where they were addressed by two officials of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), who described their grievances as genuine and urged them to continue with the strike until the grievances were fully resolved.
The workers claim they are grossly underpaid, with some junior employees earning a gross salary of about $2 600 a month.
They said their salaries were last reviewed more than two years ago.
The workers accused the company of buying 10 luxury cars for its top management early this year while Ziscosteel was reportedly in dire financial straits.
Ziscosteel spokesperson Fortunate Chikukwa said the strike was costing the company about $20 million a day in lost business.
“The risk to the plant, which is cause for concern to management, is the state of the coke ovens which should not be allowed to stop. Otherwise, Zisco loses US$30 million (Z$1,65 billion) worth of investment,” she said in a statement.
By yesterday afternoon the coke ovens and the troublesome blast furnace No.
4 were reported to have collapsed due to low temperature after all the workers, including the line managers, had been driven out of the plant.
In a related development, workers at Lancashire Steel Company in Kwekwe and at two other Ziscosteel outlets downed tools in solidarity with their colleagues at the Redcliff plant.
Meanwhile, the ZCTU, in a condolence message for the two dead workers, called for an inquiry into the deaths and a public report on the outcome.
Wayne Bvudzijena, the police spokesman, yesterday evening confirmed the shooting on ZBC-TV.
Bvudzijena said the army moved in around 6pm to support the 45 police officers outnumbered by more than 2 500 workers.
He said a group of workers mobbed one of the soldiers, seven of whom were armed. The soldier’s weapon went off accidentally, killing two workers and injuring four others, he said.
|160 farmers flee Makonde|
8/10/01 9:28:46 AM (GMT +2)
TWeNTY Makonde farmers
arrested on Monday and Tuesday appeared in court for the second day yesterday as
160 of their colleagues from 200 farms in Doma and Umboe in Mashonaland West
fled from war veterans and settlers who shot at them and looted their property.
The Commercial Farmers’
Union (CFU) reported that at least two farmers had been shot at, with more than
$10 million worth of property looted from farmhouses, two stores and one
butchery looted and four farmers’ vehicles and large quantities of fertiliser
The CFU spokesman said: “One farmer was under siege for eight hours and there were three blocked roads.”
The attacks in Makonde came as 20 farmers appeared before Chinhoyi senior magistrate Godfrey Gwaka, on charges of public violence after a clash with illegal settlers at Listonshields Farm in the Chinhoyi area on Monday morning.
Gwaka yesterday postponed to this afternoon his ruling on a bail application by Lawrence Chibwe of Stumbles and Rowe, and Roseline Zigomo of Atherstone and Cook, for the farmers. The State is opposing bail, saying the farmers’ lives would be in danger.
Initially, 22 farmers appeared in court on Wednesday, but Gert Pretorius, 72, is in hospital after he collapsed in the dock on Wednesday. Mark Shaw has been released.
Chibwe said he was threatened on Tuesday evening in front of police officers by a person he identified as a senior war veteran at the Chinhoyi police station.
He said: “He asked me why I was representing whites. No arrests were made by the police.”
The situation at the court remained tense yesterday as hundreds of Zanu PF supporters in and around the court complex waited for the magistrate’s decision.
|Police top list in corruption survey|
8/10/01 9:41:27 AM (GMT +2)
By Lloyd Mudiwa
POLITICIANS and police
officers are perceived to be the most corrupt people in southern Africa, says a
Southern African Development Community (Sadc)-wide survey released this month.
According to the survey,
southern Africans overwhelmingly indicated that politicians were the most
corrupt in the region.
“Politicians are perceived to be the most corrupt in their societies while teachers and traditional leaders were seen as being less so,” reads a report on the survey, conducted in May and June of 2000 by the Human Rights Research and Documentation Trust of Southern Africa (Sahrit) and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI).
Sahrit promotes human rights and good governance within southern Africa, while the NDI is a non-governmental organisation working for democratic governance in the region.
The survey showed that governments would face credibility problems in attempting to combat corruption on their own, with most respondents saying they did not believe their elected officials were committed to fighting corruption.
They needed to work in partnership with civil society, the private sector and the media, if they are to be believed.
One of the 57 standard questions in the questionnaire asked a representative sample of 1 694 individuals on issues related to ethics in their communities, countries, the Sadc region, Africa and elsewhere.
It questioned them on how they would describe, with respect to corruption, nine different groups of professions in their countries.
That is, to what extent they thought people in the different professions were corrupt?
The professions were civil servants, police officers, immigration and customs officials, government tender boards, teachers, judges, businessmen and women, politicians and traditional leaders.
Responses were received in Zulu, Oshiwambo, Kiswahili, French, Portuguese, and English, as well as other languages.
Politicians and police officers were seen as the most corrupt with 72,6 percent of respondents indicating that all or most politicians are corrupt and 72,4 percent thought all or most police officers are corrupt.
The majority of civil servants, immigration and customs officials and government tender boards were also viewed as dishonest.
For these three groups respectively, 64,9 percent, 63,5 percent and 61,2 percent of the respondents reported that all or most are corrupt.
Less than half the respondents felt, however, that all or most judges, teachers and traditional leaders are corrupt.
About 42,7 percent, 37,1 percent, and only 27,4 percent of the respondents reported that all or most judges, teachers and traditional leaders are corrupt, respectively.
There were no significant differences in the responses of the different demographic groups for male, female, rural and urban southern Africans pertaining to any of the nine professions.
Southern Africans with higher formal education were more likely than those with little education to feel that officials involved in the government tender process, politicians and businessmen are corrupt.
The same group of respondents indicated that teachers and judges were less likely to be corrupt.
The study also showed that southern Africans overwhelmingly believe that corruption is a serious problem.
Over half the respondents said they personally experienced corruption all the time or many times implying corruption is very real in the Sadc region.
Most southern Africans believe that corruption is worse in the public than in either the private or non-governmental sectors, and in urban rather than rural communities. They believe there is a strong-link between corruption and economic performance, with three-quarters feeling that most major economic problems in their countries were caused by corruption.
|Makoni urges government to restore international relations|
8/10/01 9:38:00 AM (GMT +2)
SIMBA Makoni, the
Minister of Finance and Economic Development, said yesterday Zimbabwe should
restore normal relations with the international community as one way of
resuscitating the economy.
In his first quarterly
report on the economy to Parliament, Makoni blamed the continuing macro-economic
instability, the acute shortage of foreign currency and the volatile situation
on the commercial farms for the economy’s poor performance in the last six
He said Zimbabwe received substantial external support when it enjoyed sound relations with the international community. Makoni said 204 companies had closed down between January and June this year, with about 2 500 workers retrenched by 208 companies.
He said the government was consulting its partner countries and international organisations to share experiences in managing crisis situations. He said the price of fuel would remain high for the remainder of the year due to events on the international scene.
He said: “Inflation is now over 60 percent and there are major reductions in output for crops such as maize, flue-cured tobacco, sorghum, tobacco and paprika, and the tourism sector declined sharply due to the country’s negative image. Average hotel bed occupancy rates dropped from 30,4 percent for the past five months of 2000 to 27 percent the same period this year.”
All economic sectors in the country are experiencing negative growth. For example, the construction sector has so far declined by 53 percent. A total amount of $55,6 billion was collected as revenue against a target of $60,9 billion, giving a negative variance of 9 percent, Makoni said.
|Tension high as settlers quarrel over property on farms|
8/10/01 9:51:28 AM (GMT +2)
From Our Correspondent in Bulawayo
Commercial farmers in
Matabeleland say tension is mounting on occupied farms as settlers quarrel over
property and infrastructure on allocated land.
Ben Zietsman, the
Commercial Farmers Union Matabeleland president, and the Member of Parliament
for Nkayi, Abednico Bhebhe, confirmed on Tuesday there was rivalry on the farms
over farmhouses and property.
Zietsman said: “Factions have developed in Nyamandlovu where settlers are claiming territories on the basis of property on the farms. There is a lot of confusion.”
But the official position is that farmhouses should b e turned into communal infrastructure, like clinics or schools, for use by the settlers within a specific area.
But because of the chaotic nature of the reform programme, settlers were reported to be taking over the property.
Incidents of settlers fighting each other have been reported in Nkayi and Nyamandlovu, over the ownership of farm property on allocated land.
Some of the settlers yesterday said they had become suspicious of favouritism in the allocation of properties, after it emerged that influential people were getting land on which there were farmhouses.
One settler at Nkayi said: “We have realised that most of the prominent people, like civil servants and top war veterans, have been allocated land that includes farmhouses.”
Abednico Bhebhe, the MP for Nkayi, said he had received reports of settlers fighting over property.
“I understand one person was seriously injured in a fight over the property,” he said.
One Nkayi settler is reported to have been rushed to hospital following a fight with another occupier over farm property.
|Roman Catholic priest deported|
8/10/01 9:32:25 AM (GMT +2)
FATHER Gabriel Ignatius
Maguire, a Roman Catholic priest with St Gerard’s parish in upmarket Greystone
Park, Harare, has been deported in unclear circumstances.
Maguire, 53, in the country
for the past six years, left Harare last night for London, bound for his native
Maguire worked at churches in Mabvuku and Tafara for two years before he was appointed the parish priest at St Gerard’s.
Patrick Chinamasa, the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, and his wife are members of the parish.
|Matabeleland atrocity report to remain secret|
President Robert Mugabe will not allow publication of the Dumbutshena and Chihambakwe reports which detail the atrocities committed by government forces in Matabeleland during the early 1980s as the information is protected under the Official Secrets Act, a government minister has said. Information minister Jonathan Moyo told the Zimbabwe Independent last week in Bulawayo that there was no law compelling Mugabe to make the two reports public. "Under the Official Secrets Act President Mugabe is entitled to decide whether or not to publicise the Chihambakwe and the Dumbutshena reports," Moyo said. "Besides, publication of these reports is likely to cause agitation in the nation."
Moyo, who was addressing journalists at the Bulawayo press club last Friday, accused certain sections of society of trying to use the Matabeleland atrocities as a trump card for their campaign strategy in the forthcoming presidential election. Moyo said: "You are bent on causing alarm in the nation. I also lost uncles and relatives during the Gukurahundi. Even my uncles lost their close relatives during this period, but I am not as bitter as everyone else in Matabeleland."
He was responding to questions that the ruling party was unpopular in Matabeleland and the Midlands as a result of government's failure to publicly apologise and compensate people for the atrocities it committed in the two regions during the 1980s strife. Moyo said: "Zanu PF is now very popular in Matabeleland North and if there is any by-election in any of the constituencies in the province, Zanu PF will definitely win it. The people are not concerned about those Gukurahundi issues. What they want is to move ahead."
The Dumbutshena and the Chihambakwe reports, Moyo said, were not commissions of inquiry and Mugabe under the circumstances had a right not to publish them if he felt they threatened national security. "Those were compiled reports and they are not national commissions. The president has a right and a mandate to decide whether to publicise those reports or to keep them secret," Moyo said. The Information minister cited examples of countries that had kept national investigations into problem areas secret and said Zimbabwe, like any of those countries, had a right to keep the information secret. "Even countries like the United States of America have not come out in the open to publicly declare results into investigations in the murders of people like John Kennedy," said Moyo. "Those are sensitive areas and why would someone want Zimbabwe to publish such sensitive information when other countries have a right not to?" In fact, the investigations of the Warren Commission into Kennedy's assassination were published as soon as the report was produced.
An estimated 10 000 civilians were butchered by the North Korean-trained Five Brigade at the height of the dissident menace. Church organisations' assessments indicate more than twice that number of people perished in as-yet unquantified killings. A Mugabe-appointed committee led by former magistrate Johnson Mkandla to assess the extent of the atrocities disbanded after failing to get financial support from the government. Mugabe has not publicly apologised for or acknowledged the atrocities but has described the murders as "moments of madness".
|Another attempt to oust Mugabe from control of SADC defence organisation|
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is set to finally unlock President Mugabe's iron grip on the grouping's contentious organ on politics, defence and security when it meets next week in Malawi, it was learnt yesterday. Heads of state of the 14-member bloc meet in Blantyre, Malawi, from August 12-14 to finalise plans to transform the organisation into a modern, centralised institution. SADC structures are currently scattered all over the region with each country running a sector from its capital. But diplomatic sources said the long-standing dispute over the organ was once more expected to take centre stage.
Mugabe has been clinging to the organ since it was set up in Gaborone in 1996 to fill the void left after the Frontline States dissolved in 1994. He managed to retain the chair of the body during a stormy extraordinary SADC meeting in Windhoek in March after President Sam Nujoma and other leaders aligned to Harare intervened on his behalf. South Africa and its allies, particularly Mozambique and Botswana, wanted to force Mugabe to relinquish the post but later changed their stance after intense diplomatic lobbying. Harare authorities touted the outcome as a diplomatic victory for their embattled leader, although it was made clear that he would be forced to surrender the organ in Blantyre.
Sources said the enduring controversy over the organ should be resolved this time in Malawi where - coincidentally - it erupted in 1997 during a heated SADC summit. South African President Nelson Mandela, then SADC chair, openly opposed Mugabe's monopoly of the agency during the summit and even threatened to resign as SADC chair if he didn't get his way. The dispute over the organ revolved around the implementation of the Gaborone protocol. South Africa wanted the organ to be integrated within SADC structures and report to the SADC leaders' summit while Zimbabwe argued that it should be an independent institution capable of holding its own summits.
Pretoria argued that issues of politics, defence and security were too sensitive and important to be effectively left to one member state. But Harare contended the organ could not be attached to SADC structures because SADC was a donor-funded body susceptible to interference and in any case the organ needed to be headed by an long-standing regional leader. The South African argument has since won the day. The August 1999 Maputo summit directed the Council of Ministers to review the operations of all SADC departments including the organ and report back within six months. After intense behind-the-scenes diplomatic haggling, an extraordinary meeting of the SADC ministers of foreign affairs and the inter-state defence and security committee then met in Swaziland on October 26-27 1999. The hastily assembled conference recommended that the organ should be part of the SADC structures and report to the summit.
|Punishment is swift for those who embarrass President Mugabe in Zimbabwe's press|
|By Jan Raath|
President Mugabe's penchant for sacking editors in the state-controlled press knows no bounds. Eight have departed in the past year. This week it was the turn of Henry Muradzikwa, the editor of Ziana, the domestic news agency which until now has provided a fairly professional service, and Kuromba Munodawafa, the editor of a rural newspaper group, a former guerrilla commander, unimpressed with the direction taken by the revolution for which he fought.
The carnage began when Jonathan Moyo, Mugabe's information minister, was appointed in July last year and immediately sacked Bornwell Chakaodza, the editor-in-chief of Zimbabwe Newspapers, for an indirect suggestion in an editorial that the party's murderous election campaign may have been on the excessive side. Ray Mungoshi of The Herald, the publisher's flagship, and Funny Mushava of The Sunday Mail, its largest weekly, lasted only six months. They were booted out in January for displaying less than zealous fervour. By default went Thomas Bvuma, the deputy editor of The Herald, regarded as an ally of Chakaodza.
But the saddest tale is that of Steve Mpofu, the editor for 12 years of The Chronicle, the daily paper of the western city of Bulawayo, and Zimpapers' longest survivor. In Mpofu's case, it was dedication to Mugabe that undid him. He fell doing what he knew to be his duty - censoring from his newspaper some of the most damaging revelations about the 77-year-old dictator ever published.
The affair began with a decision by the independent Daily News to serialise George Orwell's Animal Farm. The uncanny similarity between the regime of Napoleon, the porcine tyrant, and the Zimbabwean dictator's was seized on by repression-weary Zimbabweans. Geoff Nyarota, the editor-in-chief, says it would have given circulation a huge boost had its printing presses not been destroyed by a landmine in January, the work of suspected state agents. The paper is being printed on other companies' presses, which can do no more than 60,000 daily. The public is fascinated with the paper's cartoon of Orwell's head pig wearing spectacles identical to Mugabe's - copies are being furtively pinned up in conspicuous places.
The Daily News decided to follow it up with the ghosted autobiography of the late vice-president, Joshua Nkomo. Nyarota instructed his lawyers to request serialisation rights of Nkomo: The Story of My Life from the publisher, Methuen. Four days later, Nyarota was surprised to see The Herald and The Chronicle carrying the first instalment of the same book, presumably as an attempt to spoil The Daily News's plans. "We can only suspect that there is a mole among us who alerted The Herald," said Nyarota.
The book had never been banned in Zimbabwe, but neither was it ever marketed. For good reason. It is largely a harrowing account of Mugabe's strategy of deceit and brutality, first to pull control of the black nationalist movement from under Nkomo's feet, and then to smash Zapu, his party, after independence in 1980. The subjugation of the province of Matabeleland, in which up to 8,000 Ndebele civilians were massacred, takes up many pages. Nine months before Mugabe was to face his most important presidential election, Zanu (PF)'s main propaganda organs were publishing material daily which they didn't seem to realise depicted Mugabe as a malevolent, genocidal liar. "This was an error of judgment on their part," said Nyarota. "I can only think that they didn't read the book."
Four days into the series, The Daily News revealed that The Chronicle had removed a 1,385-word chunk of the opening section, although the state-controlled Herald had run it without amendment. The section is the most graphic part of the book: it describes Nkomo's last day in Bulawayo in 1983 before he fled to Botswana, the ransacking of his home by Mugabe's secret police and the murder of three of his staff there. "It was the bitterest moment of my life," wrote Nkomo. Mpofu told state TV that it had been left out "because of lack of space". Mpofu's sin was his embarrassingly clumsy attempt to protect Mugabe's image. Retribution - his "early retirement" - was swift.
Within days, however, The Herald was told that it was serialising the book without the Nkomo family's permission. Pikirayi Deketeke, The Herald's latest editor, said that "regrettably", the serialisation would have to stop. For Mugabe's growing team of "retired" editors, disgrace is borne in comfort. Like others before him, Mpofu can settle into semi-permanent suspension on full pay and perks or a vast payout.
|Mrs Ashleigh Walsh|
|I am the daughter and sister of two of the farmers
being wrongfully held for the fifth night, we left Zimbabwe as we lost our own
farm as a result of these invasions last year and decided that we were able to
start a new life in New Zealand and wanted to take our two young children to a
It shocks me to hear of the inhumane conditions my loved ones and friends are being subjected to.These are innocent men whose only crime is that they are trying to protect themselves against an evil and vicious situation.
Where will it end? Does anyone outside Zimbabwe care? Can you do anything to help in this desperate situation? If you can help in any way spare a thought for the innocent , dont let another Dad or Son become the next to die in the political bloodbath that once was such a beautiful and happy place.
|A previously unknown group calling itself "The Scorpions" threatened to bomb the hotel and hall hosting a regional summit|
|Blantyre - The Malawi govrnment deployed hundreds of
police in the commercial city of Blantyre Friday after a previously unknown
group calling itself ``The Scorpions'' threatened to bomb the hotel and hall
hosting a regional summit. Malawi Foreign Minister Lillian Patel told reporters
that bomb threats against heads of state visiting for the Southern Africa
Development Community summit had been made in anonymous letters sent to local
media, government and police. The threats were specifically against Zimbabwe
President Robert Mugabe, host Malawi President Bakili Muluzi and “five others.”
The letters offered no reason for the action and gave no detail on when the
threat might be carried out.|
Heads of state will begin arriving in Blantire Saturday for the three-day summit that opens late Sunday. “We are taking the threats very seriously. The threats are the work of unpatriotic people,” Patel said, but gave no further details. Uniformed and plain-clothed police took positions around the city center where senior dignitaries are staying and at the main summit hall. Metal detectors were installed at the hotel where heads of state will stay and at the conference center. Uniformed policemen guarded the main highway leading to the conference facilities and police sources said paramilitary police and the army were on standby to deal with any problems.
Malawi is a politically stable southern African country but it has in recent weeks seen unrest linked to moves by President Muluzi to change the constitution so that he can extend his rule beyond the legal limit of 10 years. A senior political analyst at the University of Malawi, who declined to be named, told Reuters that Mugabe might have been targeted because his country hosts many Malawian immigrants working on white-owned farms, and a government-sanctioned land-grab campaign had left many of them jobless. Zimbabwe officials were not immediately available for comment.
August 10 2001 at 07:10PM
By Jeremy Michaels
Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon has written to President Thabo Mbeki calling on him to press for diplomatic and political sanctions against the Zimbabwean government at this weekend's Southern African Development Community's heads of state meeting in Malawi.
This followed his receipt of a call from a farmer in the Chinhoyi district of Zimbabwe, where farmers have been under siege from militants who have conducted a violent campaign of assault and looting in recent days.
Chinhoyi has been volatile since Monday, when clashes broke out between farmers and militants occupying a white-owned farm.
Twenty-two farmers - who were arrested in the wake of violence on Monday and charged with inciting public violence - were denied bail in the town's magistrate's court on Friday.
Leon said on Friday he suspected the Zimbabwean government itself was "creating conditions on the ground which would justify the imposition of a state of emergency and therefore the suspension of democracy and the rule of law.
"The time has really come for diplomatic and political punishment to be meted out to the government of President Mugabe," Leon told a press conference at the DA's offices in Parliament.
Meanwhile the Freedom Front said in a statement "the days of quiet diplomacy are long gone", calling on Mbeki to realise that Mugabe's actions were threatening to undo all of Mbeki's hard work to put Africa back on the international agenda.
Lumka Oliphant reports that armed Zanu-PF youths on Friday continued a violent rampage in the farming districts of Mhangura and Doma in northern Zimbabwe, looting white farmers' homes as their owners looked on helplessly.
A frightened family contacted by the Saturday Star said: "We are very distressed as we don't know what to do next. We have lived on this farm for 40 years and these Zanu-PF youths are now not far from us."
A woman, who did not wish to be identified, said government supporters had been moving from farm to farm in Mhangura, north of Harare, since Thursday, trashing, looting and commandeering tractors and trailers in order to transport plundered goods.
"People are running away from their homes before these men, armed with sticks, stones and pangas, can storm them.
"It's quite terrifying, and the saddest part is that we are not getting any reaction from the police."
Only a handful of the estimated 60 white farming families in the district were still in their homes.
Sapa reports that the Zimbabwe Joint Resettlement Initiative (ZJRI) team said on Friday it had identified 911 000 hectares of land for uncontested resettlement by landless peasants.
ZJRI head William Hughes said the team was delivering on a "commitment to motivate commercial farmers to deliver an initial tranche of 1-million hectares of suitable land for acquisition by the government on an uncontested basis".
He said this was in accordance with a written proposal made to Vice-President Joseph Msika in May.
"This tranche represents our farmers' combined hopes that all Zimbabweans can now sow and harvest together as members of an extended family unit," Hughes said.
The details were handed to a joint technical committee of the Land Task Force. The committee was headed by Olivia Muchena, minister in the office of the president.
"It has not been an easy task to consult, with care and sensitivity, over 3 500 Commercial Farmers Union members personally. We have endeavoured to respect their rights. This disclosure has been tendered in the utmost good faith and as a sign of our continuing commitment on behalf of all farmers who have remained steadfast for over 21 years - to a peaceful, organised and speedy land resettlement," Hughes said in a statement.