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Civil Society in Zimbabwe:
A Report From the Front Lines
By Hopewell Gumbo
Zimbabwe Indymedia
July, 2002

  Sustaining a vibrant civic movement in neo-liberal post election Zimbabwe
is a nightmare. What's more the people of Zimbabwe may have to inhabit this
nightmare for the few more years that the current regime may still retain

  An effective confrontation of the complex challenges facing civil society
in contemporary Zimbabwe requires an exhaustive examination of the current
crisis. These factors include the agendas of the funders and the funded
groups; the funding itself; the nature of its availability and the political
and legal environment it dictates.

  Zimbabwean civil society emerges from a strenuous period stretching from
the mid nineties to the current post parliamentary and presidential election
period. This period saw spectacular dimensional changes, particularly with
respect to how the crisis arising from the IMF sponsored ESAP programme had
to be dealt with. Different groupings understood the crisis differently but
students, organized together as the Zimbabwe National Students Union, ZINASU
and workers organized as Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, ZCTU were key
forces on the ground.

  Other broader coalitions like the National Constitutional Assembly were
also effective and sought to broaden the base of the fight for
constitutional reforms, by grouping together civic organisations from
various schools and philosophies. The churches also came in on particular
issues some including civic issues. The Organization of Rural Associations
for Progress (ORAP) played a key role in bridging the rural urban gap as an
important partner of the National Working People's Convention of February
1999. Of course workers and students were also involved in their particular
day to day issues.

  But, nevertheless, one striking reality was the galvanization, though not
on a clear ideological path, of the various struggles by civil society
towards transforming the sporadic and spontaneous resistance to
neo-liberalism into a coherent demand for political power as the solution to
the neo-liberal crisis under ESAP. Demands for a wage increment became
demands for a new government as demands for education grants by students
became demands for a government that would provide for education. Demands
for a new constitution became demands for bread and butter issues as
constitutional provisions were seen as a hindrance to the right to fight for
better education health and wages. At this time the neo-liberal ESAP crisis
resulted in an ever-increasing cost of living with the prices of basic
commodities becoming increasing exorbitantly. The state also sought to make
further reforms with programs like ZIMPREST and the later Millennium
Recovery plan being mooted. These were swallowed as the movement became
bigger and more demanding and a real threat to ZANU-PF power as shown in the
results of the referendum and later the parliamentary and the presidential
elections. The government lost the referendum on the new constitution and
narrowly won in the parliamentary and presidential elections. Expectations
from the entire civil society movement on the outcome of the elections had
become very high as the elections seemed to provide real hope for change.
People who had been mobilized under the National Working People's
Convention, later to be the Movement for Democratic Change, saw the
parliamentary route to power as an effective strategy for resolving the
Zimbabwean crisis.

  The MDC assumed the political legitimacy to lead civil society after the
national Working People's Convention. It carried the people's hopes. But
hopes for political change through elections sank after the Presidential
elections. The result of the 2002 presidential election posses a litmus test
for civil society in Zimbabwe. Civil society must now decided where it
stands and asses its strength and weaknesses, and its future.

  The three main players at the moment in the civic environment are the
activists who provide the numbers, the think tanks that provide both the
leadership and ideological barometer of the movements in the form of
academic contributions, and that many victims of the crisis who provide the
courage to say 'no further!' The other major player is the donor community,
mainly foreign, who provide most if not all of the financial "support." At
times donors play a major role in determining the activities of civil
society activity. Of course the government is also a critical player as
quiet often, civil society finds itself having to bash against the many arms
of the state machinery.

  The evolution of the civic movement has been accompanied by developments
in the mass support base. There was a significant rise in the number of
people participating in civic matters as the last century drew to an end.
This pattern was repeated in all the sectors of civil society. The most
significant sector was one that grouped masses in struggles for bread and
butter issues, which later became political demands. But their growth was
not just a mere coincidence. Massive funding was poured in to the civic
movement, mainly from the West. This was for various mobilization work
particularly towards and after the constitutional referendum of 2000.
Massive funding meant availability of resources that could be used by the
administrators in any way to build the numbers. This meant that, at times,
people were paid for transporting themselves to mass meetings and other
activities. This development did not generate noble results. While the
numbers of activists grew very quickly the ideological growth of the
movements did not match their numerical growth. Massive discrepancies could
be seen. On various occasions youths and women could be heard discussing how
lucrative belonging to one organization was as opposed to the other.

  The Daily News of 30 April 2002 reported that: Man Cooked up Story on

  The MDC believed the man cooked up the story to extract money from the
party, which had helped others in the same boat. This is just one example of
how the flood of money corrupted the civic movement. The money also ensured
that at times people of various ideological backgrounds mingled for the sole
aim of creating the numbers that would win rewards from donors. This is not
to undermine the understanding of the issues by the activists. "Wars" would
normally break out at election times when leadership would be viewed as a
vehicle for the control of the financial resources of organisations. This
was contrary to the low volume of debate and effort put into building the
movement. All the ideological work was left to intellectuals and this
brought its own problems. These are very evident in the current MDC where
the intellectuals now largely subscribe to the neo-liberal agenda and grass
roots activists, many of whom have suffered as a direct consequence of
neo-liberalism, are just bought in to toyi-toyi when numbers and credibility
are needed. The middle class MDC leadership, together with the labour
bureaucrats and big white bosses believe that giving actual power to grass
roots activists would bring 'instability' in to the movement.

  It is important to note that the MDC is inseparable from the more vibrant
groups whose more direct challenges to both neo-liberalism and
authoritarianism are strongly related to the hovering nature of the MDC. The
MDC is seen as a "child" of civil society in the eyes of the majority of its
membership. But with the total subordination of the civil society leadership
to the MDC the majority, who provide numbers but not leadership in return
for resources, have actually been made the children of the MDC parent.

  This is compounded by the newly flamboyant living style of the civil
society leadership. They must always have the latest cars etc. One woman at
a meeting said Nhasi tinoisa wedu. Tigopota tichikwira maPajero
iwayavo.(This Shona expression means, that today we will elect our own so
that we can also enjoy these Pajeros) These contradictions will continue to
hound the movement for now and the future. The numbers will continue to
swell but only on paid up rentals. If a better pay master arises we may then
have a massive exodus of activists from the movement, at the cost of a
decade of dangerous work.
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      14 Aug 2002 00:00
      Don't punish hungry Zimbabweans, aid groups warn
      By Kate Kelland

            Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe gives a speech in Malaysia.
            Photo by BAZUKI MUHAMMAD
      LONDON, Aug 14 (Reuters) - With global condemnation of Zimbabwe's
President Robert Mugabe growing, aid agencies are warning potential donors
not to punish the people of the southern African country for the actions of
its government.

      Drought and political conflict have combined to threaten as many as
six million poor and needy across Zimbabwe with starvation, famine or food

      Charities say if they are not helped now, a humanitarian disaster is

      And they also urge people to dismiss suggestions that by stemming the
famine with aid and thereby quelling potential unrest within a hungry
population, donors are somehow propping up a regime which is under sanctions
from the European Union, the United States, Canada, New Zealand and

      British Foreign Office minister Peter Hain warned this week that food
aid was being used as a "political weapon" by Mugabe's government, which he
said was denying aid to areas where there are large numbers of opposition

      "Zimbabweans are now racked with starvation, the country torn apart by
state-organised violence," Hain said.

      "Despite Harare's claims that this is purely a result of drought,
everyone knows it is a man-made tragedy: one man's."

      International sanctions against Mugabe's government include travel
bans and an asset freeze on the president, his wife, and around 70 of his
top officials and associates.

      But aid agencies stress there are no sanctions on goods and say
donors -- both individuals and governments -- can be confident any help they
give will go to the people who need it, and that those getting it will know
who to thank.


      Jane Cocking, Oxfam's regional programme manager in Zimbabwe, says all
international aid goes direct to projects on the ground, bypassing Mugabe
and his regime.

      "It's a ludicrous misreading of the situation to suggest that aid is
propping up Mugabe's government," she told Reuters.

      "People in Zimbabwe, in any village community where you sit under a
tree and talk to them, are quite sure about where they are getting
assistance from. They know the difference between the minimal amounts coming
through official channels and what they get from international donors.

      "The idea that they think the food aid is coming to them 'love from
Robert Mugabe' and are grateful to him rather than the international
community is a complete misreading of the situation," Cocking said.

      In a speech on Monday, Mugabe rejected claims his government was
directing food to his supporters only and away from areas where the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change is strong.

      "We shall feed all, even the stooges and puppets," he said in an
apparent reference to opposition supporters.

      But the British government's Department for International Development
says it is getting frequent reports of what it calls the "politicisation of
distribution programmes".

      "Criticism of political bias in Zimbabwe's distribution of food
remains high," it said in a briefing on Zimbabwe this week.

      Aid agencies, including the U.N.'s World Food Programme (WFP) -- the
main food aid agency operating in Zimbabwe -- say the hungry are stretched
to the limit and some are already being forced to seek out roots and leaves
to eat.

      Meanwhile, much of the country's farmland lies fallow and unproductive
as Mugabe forces through a land reform programme under which 2,900 of
Zimbabwe's 4,500 commercial farms run by minority whites must be handed over
to blacks.

      The United Nations says Zimbabwe needs around 705,000 tonnes of food
aid to last until the harvest in March next year. So far the WFP has
distributed just 26,000 tonnes of food aid.

      Will Slater, a spokesman for the British Red Cross said it was
dangerous to allow political arguments between governments stand in the way
of aid for starving people.

      "As in most disasters and crises there are a variety of factors which
compound each other," he told Reuters. "But it doesn't serve any purpose to
focus on the politics. The end result we have to focus on is that we have a
humanitarian crisis which could get a lot worse in coming months."

      "If people give money then they are giving money to support people who
are facing starvation and facing famine -- that's the only thing they will
be supporting with their money."

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NZ urges Commonwealth to expel Zimbabwe

      August 13 2002 at 07:06PM

Wellington - Prime Minister Helen Clark called on Tuesday for Zimbabwe to be
expelled from the Commonwealth and threatened tougher sanctions against
President Robert Mugabe's government.

In a hardline speech on Monday, Mugabe quashed hopes among white farmers for
a reprieve from a government order to turn over the bulk of their lands to
blacks. He appealed for international aid to combat drought and starvation
in his country.

Clark, an outspoken critic of Mugabe, said she was "very, very shocked" by
Mugabe's comments and angry that the international community was being asked
to help out an "outrageous" government.

Zimbabwe "should have been suspended (from the Commonwealth) some time ago
and I would be very happy to see them suspended now," she added.

In March, Zimbabwe was suspended for a year from the councils of the
Commonwealth - a move that fell short of expulsion - for the "high level of
politically motivated violence" that marred the presidential elections.

Full expulsion would further isolate Mugabe's government and cut off an
important diplomatic channel to potential aid donors.

Clark said she would discuss Zimbabwe when she met Australian Prime Minister
John Howard and Commonwealth Secretary General Don McKinnon at a summit of
Pacific leaders in Fiji at the weekend. - Sapa-AP

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Mugabe admits farms given to army officers

      August 14 2002 at 11:08AM

Harare - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe yesterday vowed to withdraw his
troops from the Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday, but did not say

Speaking to members of the armed forces at the country's National Defence
Force Day celebrations, Mugabe also admitted that farms had been given to

At a ceremony held at the inner city Rufaro Stadium in the poor township of
Mbare, Mugabe told his troops that procedures for withdrawal from the
war-ravaged DRC were under way. "We are now going to work on a process of
withdrawing our troops from the DRC," he said.

"Zimbabwe harbours no extra-territorial expectations and there is nothing
sinister about troops deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Alongside Angola, Namibia and Chad, we have been in the DRC as a result of
an SADC mission after the shameful invasion of the DRC by Rwanda and Uganda.
Zimbabwe had to take direct action to contain a threatening situation."

Meanwhile Mugabe admitted that the defence forces had benefited from the
seizure of white-owned farms in Zimbabwe.

"Land redistribution in Zimbabwe is being finalised, giving real ownership
of land to Zimbabweans.

"Officers and members of the defence forces have also benefited from and
will continue to benefit from the programme," said Mugabe.

Meanwhile, the UN World Food Programme said the eviction of white farmers
would worsen a food crisis facing six million people in the country. - Own
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Zimbabwe Militants Besiege Farm

Wednesday August 14, 2002 5:10 PM

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - Ruling party militants attempted to push a family of
white farmers off their property Wednesday in the most serious bid to force
defiant farmers to honor a government eviction order, farmer representatives

The standoff at a farm northeast of Harare came nearly a week after a
government deadline passed for 2,900 white farmers to leave their land as
part of the government's land reform program.

Police were called to Condwelani farm near Bindura, 55 miles from Harare,
but did not immediately intervene, said Jenni Williams, spokeswoman for
Justice for Agriculture, a white farmers' support group. Police in Harare
had no immediate comment.

The incident was the most serious of the dozens of attempts by militants to
enforce evictions, Williams said.

The militants dragged some belongings out of the house while the owners hid
in locked rooms inside along with visiting reporters, the farmers' group

Terry Hinde, who runs the farm with his son Christopher, said he was ``in
the process of being evicted'' by militants and asked a moving company to
collect his family's belongings while he sought legal advice to challenge
his removal, Williams said.

The government says its program was a final effort to correct colonial era
imbalances in land ownership by taking white-owned farms and giving them to
blacks. Critics say it is part of the increasingly authoritarian
government's effort to maintain power amid more than two years of economic
chaos and political violence mainly blamed on the ruling party.

Pressure on a few of the hundreds of farmers defying a government order to
leave their land has mounted since the weekend, a symbolic holiday marking
the guerrilla war that ended white rule two decades ago.

Five farmers in southeastern Zimbabwe left their land early Tuesday after
local officials, armed police and soldiers warned them they were violating
the eviction laws, and elsewhere militants threatened violence if farmers
did not abandon their properties.

A black settler on one farm in the Banket tobacco and corn district fired a
pistol in the air in an effort to drive the owner and his black workers away
Monday, Williams said.

At least four other farmers were under pressure from black settlers to
leave, Williams and the Commercial Farmers Union, representing 4,000 white
farmers, said.

Impatient settlers waiting for their land may have been emboldened by
President Robert Mugabe's remarks Monday praising militants and ``young men
who have fought with the farmers during his program of land seizures over
the past two years.

``They are the new war veterans ... not impostors but genuine fighters for
their land,'' he said. Land occupations have been led by veterans of the
independence war, politicians and ruling party militants.

The government has taken no official action against the hundreds of white
farmers who stayed on their farms after a deadline passed Thursday.

The farm standoff came as half Zimbabwe's 12.5 million people face a severe
hunger crisis, according to the U.N. World Food Program. The WFP blames the
crisis on drought combined with the agricultural chaos caused by the

Overall, the government has targeted 95 percent of white-owned farms for
seizure in its often-violent land reform program.

The Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans' Association, which has led
the often violent farm occupations, has said it its members would not take
the law into their own hands to remove defiant farmers.
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from Totallyjewish

Zimbabwe Farmers

by Alison Swersky - Aug 15

The hopes of Zimbabwe's Jewish farmers were dashed this week after President
Robert Mugabe said he would arrest anyone who stayed on their property in
defiance of an eviction order.

In June, the government ordered 2,900 white farmers to stop all production
and vacate their farms without compensation to allow for black resettlement.

The deadline was the culmination of a brutal two-year campaign of land
occupation that has seen at least 12 people murdered.

A handful of Jewish farmers had backed a successful lawsuit against the
government's land reform policy, where the high court ruled the government's
policy was illegal.

However, Mugabe dismissed the decision, upholding the August 8 deadline for
white farmers to leave their land and homes.

Peter Sternberg, acting president of the Zimbabwean Board of Deputies, told
TJ in a guarded telephone call that he was resigned to the lawlessness of
the government.

He said: "I'm not surprised they haven't taken any notice of the court
decision but I don't want to say anymore. We have heard that overseas calls
are monitored.

"Food is going to be in very short supply as exports will slowly come to an
end. Even now inflation and food prices are climbing sky high, which is very
worrying. We are short of milk and bread all the time."

Sternberg became head of the 700-strong mainly elderly community after the
former president emigrated to Australia earlier this year.

But the father-of-three has no plans to follow his children to London or New
York. He added: "When all your assets are in one country it is very
difficult to up and leave and take nothing with you, and the rate of
inflation is so high many people can't leave even if they wanted to."

To compound the low morale of the Jewish community in Zimbabwe, the country'
s Israeli embassy is due to close at the end of the month.

High school teacher Rabbi Bryan Opert, the only minister in central Africa,
was forced to flee to Cape Town six months ago because he couldn't even
afford to buy disposable nappies for his new baby.

He said: "Mugabe has set many deadlines like this but hasn't followed
through, probably because at the back of his mind he knows the country needs

"The war veterans squatting on the land don't have the skills to keep the
farms running and we won't be able to produce our finest exports like beef,
citrus and tobacco."

He added: "Zimbabwe is the most exquisite country, full of natural
resources, but with Mugabe in power things will not get any better."
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Mugabe's opponents rebuke UK
Robert Mugabe
Mugabe is using land for politics, say his opponents
Opponents of President Robert Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe have rebuked the UK Government for failing to do enough to help the plight of Britons in the troubled country.

The criticism from Zimbabwean campaign groups came amid reports that the first white farmers were being evicted from their land by militants.

The government has failed to understand the misery faced by Britons forced to return from Zimbabwe

John Huruva
Movement for Democratic Change
Wednesday's reprimand for UK ministers followed reports that Prince Charles had written to Tony Blair about the obstacles facing British citizens leaving Zimbabwe.

Ministers say they are giving the right help while also trying to ease problems in Zimbabwe, but the Conservatives say much more is needed to prevent an "enormous humanitarian crisis".

An estimated 2,900 white farmers should have left their houses by midnight last Thursday as part of President Mugabe's land reform programme.

Britons misery

In London, John Huruva, UK spokesman for main Zimbabwean opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change, accused UK ministers of letting down British citizens caught in the troubles.

"The government has failed to understand the misery faced by Britons forced to return from Zimbabwe," said Mr Huruva in a statement.

Michael Ancram, shadow foreign secretary
Zimbabwe faces an enormous humanitarian crisis, says Ancram
"It is not doing enough to help their own citizens rebuild their lives."

Zimbabwean human rights activist Albert Weidermann said some British citizens were getting so little help once they arrived in the UK that they had no choice but to return to Africa.

Those criticisms came after opponents of President Mugabe held talks with Conservative shadow foreign secretary Michael Ancram in London.

Mr Ancram has written to UK Prime Minister Tony Blair raising concerns that the British High Commission in Harare is putting "unnecessary obstacles" in the way of people wanting to return to the UK.

Peter Hain, Foreign Office Minister
Peter Hain says the EU is putting pressure on Mugabe
President Mugabe's voting laws meant many Britons had to renounce their British citizenship, said Mr Ancram.

In the past, they had been able to reclaim their UK status even after renouncing it several times but they were now being told they could do so only once, he continued.

"If this is true, it would mean in practice that British citizenship is being forfeited under duress and that the UK Government seems on the face of it to be helping Mugabe to get his way," he said.

'Sticking to the law'

Mr Ancram is also worried that the High Commission may now be charging prices at black market exchange rates for people using its services.

A Foreign Office spokesman said there was no question of the High Commission doing anything other than applying the nationality laws.

There had been no change in policy where those laws allowed ministers' discretion, he said.

The Foreign Office says the High Commission has switched to "parallel" exchange rates for its charges after losing £400,000 in taxpayers' money last year.

Sanctions regime

Foreign Office Minister Peter Hain on Tuesday insisted help was being given to people fleeing Zimbabwe, whether they were British citizens or asylum seekers.

Mr Hain argued the focus should be on helping to change the situation in Zimbabwe itself.

Targeted sanctions against Mr Mugabe and his chief supporters were already in place and Zimbabwe had also been suspended from the Commonwealth, said Mr Hain

The issue would, however, be raised at this month's Earth Summit.

Mr Ancram said that was not good enough and a humanitarian crisis caused by Mr Mugabe's policies threatened to spill out beyond Zimbabwe.

The Earth Summit was a chance to form an international coalition to put pressure on Mr Mugabe, said Mr Ancram, although he did not specify what kind of tactics could be used.

South African backing was "key" to making the Mugabe regime let in monitors to ensure fair food distribution, as well as to hold fresh elections, he added.

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  AFX-Focus) 2002-08-14 17:39 GMT: UK Tories say govt blocking former
British nationals' return from Zimbabwe
      LONDON (AFX) - The Conservative Party has accused the government of
blocking attempts by former British citizens resident in Zimbabwe from
returning to the UK.
      Shadow Foreign Secretary Michael Ancram has written to Prime Minister
Tony Blair outlining allegations that the British High Commission in Harare
is "placing unnecessary obstacles in the way of people wishing to return to
the UK".

      Ancram said Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has forced British
people living in the country to renounce their citizenship.

      "In the past the British High Commission has taken this into account
and it has in no way been allowed to affect basic British rights. This
renouncement has now become more or less routine, and many British people in
Zimbabwe are now coming up for the second or third time round," he wrote in
his letter.

      The Foreign Office said British law is "absolutely clear" on the issue
of citizenship.

      "Under section 12 of the British Nationality Act, British nationals
wishing to do so may renounce their British nationality. And under section
13 they may resume their British nationality if they so wish, although they
are not permitted to do this on more than one occasion," a spokesman said.

      Ancram said this means "in practice that...citizenship is being
forfeited under duress and that the UK government seems on the face of it to
be helping Mugabe to get his way".

      He also attacked the government's decision to charge for consular
services at the black market rate instead of the official rate.

      The Foreign Office admitted that it was under pressure to recover all
consular costs and using the official rate of 90 Zimbabwean dlrs to the
pound had resulted in a 400,000 stg loss last financial year.

      "We are under standing instructions from Parliament to recover the
full cost of providing consular and visa services worldwide. In view of our
obligations, the government therefore decided to move to full cost recovery
with effect from June," the spokesman said.

      "This involves using the parallel exchange rate (1,000 Zimbabwean dlrs
to 1 stg, according to Ancram). The High Commission's legal advisers have
confirmed that it is legal to do so."
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From ZWNEWS, 14 August

Violence continues ahead of elections

Two murders, two attempted murders, seven cases of torture and 205 cases of malicious damage to property were documented by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum during July. There were also six cases of unlawful detention or arrest, one kidnapping, and 14 cases of assault during the month. Teachers, schoolchildren, and suspected supporters of the opposition MDC have borne the brunt of the violence. The July figures bring the toll of murders this year to 59, the documented cases of torture to 1024, and the number of kidnappings to 220, and the incidents of unlawful arrests or detentions to 280. The violence was in many areas related to the upcoming local elections.

Cosamu Mudzimuirema of Buhera South was severly assaulted by members of the riot police. An MDC committee member, he was arrested during a raid at his home, having been accused of taking part in the burning of Zanu PF members’ houses. He fled to Harare where he received treatment until he died on 16 July. Richard Ncube, the MDC organising secretary for Zhombe, died from injuries sustained after he was allegedly kidnapped and assaulted by Zanu PF youths at a torture camp. Ncube was abducted from his home by Zanu PF youths sometime in February. He was taken to St Paul’s Primary School in the village where the youths operated a torture camp. Police from Zhombe eventually rescued him from the camp. His uncle claimed that he never fully recovered from the torture, and at the time of his death could hardly walk. The police report into his abduction said "The complainant was kidnapped by a group of youths and taken to a certain place in the village where he was then assaulted all over the body with sticks, booted feet, clenched fists."

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From ZWNEWS, 14 August

Internal confusions

By Michael Hartnack

Robert Mugabe, on a Zimbabwe state holiday which - even in less traumatic times - was notorious for militant anti-white rhetoric, delivered a mixture of menace and false assertions Monday, adding to the chaos and confusion over seizures over commercial farms. He made no mention of his long vaunted Aug. 9-10 deadline for 2 900 farmers to leave, but said the land will be taken over by the end of August. Meanwhile, a majority of white farmers hang on, nervously defying eviction orders and threats of jail; the Commercial Farmers' Union, vainly seeking to mollify the authorities, tells members to avoid confrontation, while a militant lobby tells farmers to stay; and the High Court rules that the regime cannot seize mortgaged farms. Mugabe and his two octogenarian vice presidents, Simon Muzenda and Joseph Msika, go on contradicting themselves, each other, and the realities in the rural areas, while the CFU keeps offering compromises and being called racist. All that is certain is that food shortages worsen and queues for staple items get longer and longer. Mugabe added to the confusion in his Heroes' Day speech Monday by reiterating a patently false claim that farmers are allowed to keep a single farm, and adding a new one: that "loyal" white farmers would be allowed to stay - when 95 percent of all commercial farmers have been ordered to leave their properties.

As well as the rhetoric, there is confusion over exactly what the law is, who is breaking it, and what the facts are. The Commercial Farmers' Union says 6 022 farms covering 10,2 million hectares are targeted for takeover in the next few months - 95 percent of all white holdings; and that 2 900 of their 4 500 members have received "Section 8" eviction orders under the Land Acquisition Act, which required them to be off their properties by midnight August 8-9 on pain of two years' imprisonment. The CFU believed 30 percent had complied, while the rest were anxiously awaiting developments, and trying to safeguard their assets. Many had sent their families to safety. However, acting Minister of Agriculture Ignatius Chombo said a total 2 000 orders had been issued and 400 had complied with a deadline he believed was 24 hours later. "All the excuses by the farmers show what an arrogant and racist bunch they are," said Chombo, while the US State Department described the evictions as "reckless and reprehensible" when 6 million Zimbabweans already lack adequate food. Chombo likewise dismissed as "raw racism" the plea by CFU president Colin Cloete for a moratorium on Section 8 seizures and evictions, in order to sustain crop production.

Fearing being seen as provocative and also afraid that the police have orders to make mass arrests of farmers at some unspecified time, the CFU dissociated itself from test cases brought last week by farmers facing eviction. In the first, George Quinell won a temporary stay on the grounds his Section 8 order was invalid. His lawyers argued that Joseph Made ceased to be Agriculture Minister on April 1 (and was therefore not lawfully entitled to sign the order) because Mugabe has failed to gazette a new Cabinet after claiming victory in disputed March 9-11 elections. The matter has yet to be argued and formally decided. In the second case, Andrew Kockett obtained an interdict against seizure of Tengwe Estates because it was mortgaged to National Merchant Bank. Banks and other creditors who have been given title deeds as security have first claim, ruled High Court judge Charles Hungwe. At the inaugural meeting last Tuesday of a militant lobby within the CFU, the Justice for Agriculture Group (JAG), Zimbabwe's most distinguished black advocate, former judge Eric Matinenga, went much further. The legislation under which Section 8 orders were promulgated was irregularly passed by Parliament, he said, as well as being unlawful and unconstitutional. Matinenga added he had no confidence that Mugabe's regime would heed court injunctions against seizures and evictions, even if farmers wrested these from a subverted judicial bench, and declared that Zimbabweans must make a show of standing for their rights. "We must record for posterity. Sooner or later we are going to have to explain what we did," said Matinenga. "When you look at the manner in which government has legislated - it has simply criminalised those who are not criminals and made criminals saints or martyrs."

Cloete disowned JAG the following day at the CFU's 59th annual congress - possibly its last. He said CFU leaders still wished for dialogue not confrontation. Vice President Msika, invited to address the congress, said the evictions would be carried out, and also made the startling claim that only 74 white farms had been offered to the authorities for resettlement, (54 in the previous two days) under the CFU's compromise land reform plan. Cloete insists 5 million hectares have been offered, but ignored. There had been a "reticence to deal with offers," said Cloete, in a masterly understatement. Contradicting Mugabe's February 7 statement, "We will take all the land,'' Msika told Cloete: "There is room and space for everyone in this country. We are not usurping farms from anyone." Whites whose farms were acquired should apply for new land, he added, saying this way ``no one should be rendered homeless.'' "I am not a racist. I repeat, I am not a racist. I despise racism," he pledged, apparently forgetting that during the election campaign he declared: "Whites are not human." His audience had not forgotten, either, that two years ago - during one of Mugabe's many absences abroad - Msika raised false hopes by announcing that war veterans and squatters should leave commercial farms immediately. Mugabe, also flying in the face of facts, boasted Aug. 2 during a trip to Malaysia, "There is no farmer being deprived of the land, we are kicking nobody out." He added that the exercise had "gone very well" and bumper crops were expected. Diplomats in Zimbabwe can only go on facts: a catastrophic drop in production by commercial farmers while the 350 000 "new" farmers, about whom the authorities boast, show no sign of stepping into the gap. By December, 7,8 million people may be starving. By March, many may be dead.

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From VOA News, 13 August

Mugabe endorses military seizure of white-owned farms

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe Tuesday formally endorsed seizure of white owned farms by members of the military. At the annual Zimbabwe Defense Forces parade, Mr. Mugabe said members of the security forces would continue to be rewarded with land. White farmers were hoping Mr. Mugabe would provide more clarity about their situation after his statement Monday, that the August 8 deadline for them to leave still stands. Hundreds have defied the order and have remained on their farms. Mr. Mugabe provided no new information when he addressed the Zimbabwe Defense Forces other than to say that the confiscation of white-owned land would continue. He said distribution of white-owned land would be completed by the end of the month and that more land would be given to members of the security forces, who he said had fought bravely in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Without giving any deadline, Mr. Mugabe said Zimbabwe's troops would be withdrawn following the recent peace deal between Rwanda and Congo.

No action has yet been taken against those who have defied the government order to quit their farms and remained in their homesteads. However, there have been sporadic incidents of violence. A white farmer and his workers in the Banket area, 80 kilometers north of Harare, are reported to have been shot at by a Harare businessman who claims to have been awarded the farm. No one was injured. Police did not intervene to disarm the man who said he wanted the farmer to leave the property so he could occupy the farm. The white farmer is one of the very few who has not been served with an eviction order. Tens of thousands of people who have been awarded land have been given until August 23 to take up residence. The government says if they are not in place they will lose the land to others. There are fears the August 23 deadline will bring more violence as those awarded the property try to take possession of farms still occupied by white farmers. Many farmers have already endured more than 30 months of intense physical and mental pressure from Mr. Mugabe's supporters. Hundreds of farmers were forced off their land in the last five months. And half of the approximately 3,000 farmers who remain on their land have been physically prevented from growing crops.

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ABC News

Zimbabwe Militants Force White Farmer Off Land

      Aug. 14
      - By Cris Chinaka

      BINDURA, Zimbabwe (Reuters) - Black militants armed with clubs and
stones forced a white farmer from his land in northeastern Zimbabwe
Wednesday, the first seizure since a government eviction deadline expired
last week.

      Nearly two thirds of the 2,900 farmers targeted under President Robert
Mugabe's land drive have defied the August 8 deadline to handover their
farms to landless blacks.

      About 60 mainly young militants loyal to Mugabe surrounded the
homestead on the Condwelani Farm near Bindura early on Wednesday -- trapping
Terry Hinde, his wife and son inside the farmhouse for several hours.

      Jenni Williams, a spokeswoman for the farm pressure group Justice for
Agriculture (JAG), said the family were later ordered to pack their
household goods and leave the property.

      "The Hinde family have been allowed out of the farmhouse. They have
been told that they must leave before tonight. They are packing up and are
going to be off the farm hopefully before night falls," Williams told

      A Zimbabwean journalist working for the independent Daily News and
another reporter for Britain's Daily Telegraph who were trapped with the
Hindes were allowed to go, Williams added.

      A Reuters journalist and freelance television crew were chased away
Wednesday morning when they arrived at the scene, some 55 miles north of the
capital Harare.

      The militants hit two of the journalists several times, accusing them
of supporting Mugabe's political opposition, and tried to overturn their
vehicle as they drove away.

      Witnesses said police had been to the farm earlier on Wednesday, but
left before the militants entered.


      The Hinde farm was first invaded more than two years ago and was
targeted for compulsory acquisition under Mugabe's fast-track resettlement

      In a second incident in the eastern district of Marondera, Hazel
Thornhill returned to her farm Wednesday to find it occupied by militants
after she had left over the weekend for safety reasons.

      "When we arrived at the farm we found a state of complete chaos. The
lock on the gate was broken off. They had broken into the house and our
belongings were scattered all over the yard," Thornhill said in a statement
released through JAG.

      "The police have to date not taken any action," she added.

      Police chief spokesman Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena could
not immediately comment on the incident.

      Mugabe, who has governed Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in
1980, vowed this week to push ahead with his land campaign despite severe
criticism at home and abroad.

      The land reforms have caused upheavals at a time when millions of
southern Africans in Zimbabwe and elsewhere face food shortages due to the
disruption on the farms and drought.

      In a televised speech Monday, Mugabe failed to say what would happen
to those defying the order for the handover of 2,900 of the country's 4,500
white-run commercials farms.

      But a government official said on Tuesday: "That is not an indication
they will be allowed to stay...and those who don't get this message might
eventually have to be forced to get out."


      Williams said the Hinde family planned to make an urgent appeal to
Zimbabwe's High Court to hold onto their farm.

      The High Court ruled last week that the state could not confiscate
land owned by one particular farmer because it had not told the bank, which
had a mortgage on the property.

      JAG has urged farmers to prepare fresh legal challenges against the
acquisition of their lands, saying it would first take the cases to a
Zimbabwean court and then internationally "if we do not get a fair

      In an apparent reference to court challenges, Mugabe warned in his
speech on Monday: "We brook no impediment and we will certainly suffer no
avoidable delays."

      Eleven white farmers have been killed since the land reform program
began with violent invasions by so-called war veterans early in 2000, some
in possible robberies fueled by a climate of lawlessness and others in
direct clashes with militants.

      Hundreds of black farm workers have been beaten and an unknown number
have died at the hands of the veterans, many of them too young to have
fought for the liberation of the former Rhodesia in the 1970s.
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Some help with poaching
As you know all farmers and ranchers who stayed on their properties over the last weekend, were waiting with baited breath, for some type of retaliation or military force to make them move off. This is in fact what happened in the Chikombedzi area Mwenezi. 
At about 4 pm on Thursday afternoon a truck load of army, support unit and local police arrived at Edenvale ranch. When the settlers and so called war vets saw this they were very happy because they believed that this military force had arrived to move the farmers and ranchers of their properties. What a shock for them and I must say, pleasant surprise for us, when it turned out that they were an anti poaching unit sent to virtually kick the poachers butts. (which turned out to be all the settlers and war vets) I must say that this unit really did a good job, and were extremely sympathetic and friendly to all of us.
Each rancher took out a mixed unit of 7 men every morning, this resulted in many arrests and butt kicking. Several poachers were caught red handed. On my property, Marakanga ranch we caught 2 war vets busy killing a kudu bull using 7 dogs and spears. Well it was a race between the army and myself who could shoot the most dogs. I am pleased to tell you that I won 5 to nil.
Whilst this antipoaching  effort was magnificent and a great boost to our moral, we must not be fooled, we must be aware that this effort is not about saving the wild life, but about the forth coming summit.    
Regards to you,
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Mwenezi Sitrep – August 14, 2002


This has been a weekend holiday of intense overseas and local media interest with at least 12 interviews given. The world is trying to understand why developed producing commercial farms are being destroyed as part of an intense racial and political campaign, when the rest of the nation is starving. The period was relatively quiet over the Section 8 deadline period and without the expected sensationalism their interest dropped.


MORIA RANCH – several months ago A1 settlers were removed from this productive farm when it was delisted. Part of the farm has fruit orchards and sugar cane under irrigation and the owner had sold another bigger property in Mwenezi to Government as part of a deal. However over the holiday weekend the Ministry of Lands insisted on marking out plots in the irrigation. On complaining to the local MP the manager was told the farm would be split up under the A2 scheme and that 8 new owners would move on there and then. The farmer was to be left with only 100ha irrigation “as that was his core business”. The rest of the ranch is otherwise waterless with water being piped from the Moria Weir. When asked what would happen to the farm’s cattle the MP explained that they would discuss that when they discussed the pumping of the water. The “new owner” of the 2000ha plot at the end of the pipeline (where there is the only grazing left) is no other than the Mwenezi MP himself – I. Shumba who is Deputy Minister of Education and whose Government vehicle is often seen on the property.


KLEINBEGIN – people settled here have lease out grazing for 2000 head of cattle, which are crowding out the owner’s 300 head left there. Game has been poached at a phenomenal rate on this property, which is part of the Bubi River Conservancy. On one night 6 eland and one giraffe were killed with only two eland carcases being transported away and the rest left to rot. Only one borehole remains intact and in working order and is near the homestead after the others were sabotaged. The entire settler, cattle and game population drink there and the borehole has now dried up. Thirsty game, which are being relentlessly chased by dogs, are seeking refuge within the security fence and being killed there. More people and livestock are being moved on every day as part of the intimidatory tactic.


LOT 21A – people being bussed in onto this property in large numbers even though it has been allocated as an A2 settlement area. There is a frantic chopping and clearing and building of houses. The only water on this farm is pumped from a depth of over 100 metres.


FAUNA – police were called in to mediate when militant settlers demanded Lister engines (which had been removed for safety after several had been badly damaged) be returned to pump water for the intensive resettlement on FLORA. A compromise was reached and a previously grazing area was released for use by the owner. Settlers promised to supply diesel and pay for pump repairs once the engines were put back. Water is a major problem on all Mwenezi properties and Government has made little effort to assist the people they have settled with water.


MWENEZI – farm workers who had paid the local warlord, Vundukai, in advance on the promise of receiving maize, were sidelined when a government truck delivered maize at the weekend. Only settlers were allowed to receive maize, and this is one of several deliveries the farm workers have been excluded from, over the past month. Some farm workers have only been able to access less than 10kg of maize per month to feed themselves and their families.

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