15 August 2000
From The Daily News, 14 August
Tsvangirai attacks commercial farmers
MORGAN Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition, has attacked the commercial farming community in Zimbabwe for being indecisive, evasive and for failing to take a principled stand in the political affairs of the country. Tsvangirai, president of the MDC, told The Daily News yesterday that white Zimbabweans had as much right to participate in politics as any other citizens and there was no reason or justification for them to be non-partisan. He said: "As far as support for political parties, they should be clear. This is not a question of sitting on the fence. They should make a choice as Zimbabweans. They cannot become opportunists. I think that all the whites who have remained in Zimbabwe are committed Zimbabweans."
Commenting on reports that the CFU had withdrawn all the litigation that it had instituted in the law courts against President Mugabe, Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri and the leader of the war veterans, Chenjerai Hunzvi, Tsvangirai said: "Commercial farmers want to sup with the devil with the hope that they can buy time. There is no buying time here. The white commercial farmers are so evasive and it is their evasiveness that is going to expose the membership of the CFU." In a statement last week, the CFU president, Tim Henwood, said the withdrawal of the litigation was meant to improve the environment for "meaningful dialogue" with the government.
As he campaigned for Zanu PF candidates in the run-up to the parliamentary election in June, Mugabe accused commercial farmers and industrialists of funding the MDC. Mugabe accused commercial farmers of mobilising their black labour force on the farms to vote for the MDC during the election. Yesterday, Tsvangirai denied the MDC was controlled and manipulated by the large-scale farming community and industrialists. He said: "We of the MDC do not need any patronisation by whites or commercial farmers. This assumption that we are patronised by the whites is totally false and ridiculous."
Tsvangirai said the government's intention to now take more than 3 000 commercial farms to resettle landless blacks was Mugabe's punishment against the whites. He said: "I think that the farming community is in total disarray. They do not know whether or not to proceed with farming. They realise that they are now the target of Mugabe. He wants to get rid of them. Whether the economy is going down on its knees, he does not care. This is an act of revenge against perceived support of the MDC by white commercial farmers." He said in the long run, it was the nation that would suffer as farming production would cease with some banks and financial institutions collapsing.
The MDC leader said his party would not support a government-sponsored motion in Parliament condemning a law that is being proposed by the United States government to enforce economic sanctions on Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe Democracy Act of 2000 currently before the US Congress is due to be tabled in the next few weeks. If the proposed law is passed, no US assistance may be provided to the government of Zimbabwe and no indebtedness by the government to the US government may be cancelled or reduced. Conditions for restoration of eligibility for assistance and debt relief were that the rule of law must be restored and that there must be an end to the lawlessness, violence and intimidation sponsored, condoned or tolerated by the government, Zanu PF and the party's supporters. Tsvangirai said the same conditions noted in the proposed US law were exactly what the MDC has stated - that pre- and post-election violence was being orchestrated by the State.
From The Star (SA), 15 August
Land plan on impossible deadline: black union
Harare - Zimbabwe's government will find it impossible to resettle landless blacks on 3 000 white-owned farms before the summer rains, the president of the union representing black commercial farmers said on Monday. "I would say certainly we would not be able to settle that number in one season. It's impossible," said the president of the Indigenous Commercial Farmers Union (ICFU), Thomas Herrera. He defended the government's plans for land reform while unveiling his own union's position on the issue, saying such a programme was "necessary for economic growth in the agricultural industry" which contributes 16 to 18 percent of Zimbabwe's gross domestic product. He saw a time frame of five years as more realistic: "If we did it in five years, that would be very good."
President Robert Mugabe's controversial land redistribution programme, launched last month, has received international condemnation for its potential risk to productive farming. Two weeks ago, the Zimbabwean government unveiled plans to seize more than 3 000 white-owned farms for resettlement of landless blacks under a fast-tracked resettlement programme. About 804 farms were initially earmarked in June for resettlement. Herrera said that a fast-track system of land distribution "has its good and its bad" points, but emphasised that it "may be necessary". "There is need at times to take off pressure, and an accelerated, fast-track, call it what you will (is) a way of taking off pressure." The ICFU represents about 1 500 black farmers.
From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 14 August
Zim poll report to be redrafted by delegates
Two months after the Zimbabwean election, the South African parliamentary monitors still haven't decided if it was fair. The multiparty South African parliamentary delegation that observed the Zimbabwean elections in June is approaching consensus that the poll was credible and reflected the will of the people. But, because of the violence that marked the runup to Zimbabwe's elections, the delegation is unlikely to characterise them as having been "free and fair", according to MPs on the delegation.
The delegation - criticised for not having completed its report nearly two months after the elections - met this week to consider a draft report, to which far-reaching amendments were suggested. A new draft is due to be presented at a further meeting of the delegation within the next two weeks. The final report will be presented to Frene Ginwala, parliamentary Speaker, and will then be debated in the National Assembly. Twenty MPs - from the ANC (12), Democratic Party(2), National Party (2), Inkatha Freedom Party (2) and African Christian Democratic Party (1) - visited Zimbabwe for a few weeks in June. The delegation was led by ANC chief whip Tony Yengeni.
A majority of MPs on the delegation are understood to have taken the view that they could not condemn the outcome of an election which had, in the main, been accepted by all the major Zimbabwean political parties. Although the delegation was concerned at the level of violence and intimidation in the run-up to the election, its members are generally agreed that the conduct of the actual polling on June 24 and 25 was good. In its report on the election, the Commonwealth accused ZanuPF of using "a strategy of systematic violence" to crush opposition support, but gave no clear judgement on whether it believed the elections free and fair. European Union monitors noted that the scale of violence and intimidation in the run-up to the campaign and during the election period had marred the final result, while United States monitors said the elections fell short of free and fair.
From The Daily News, 14 August
Detained Mazowe farmer finally back on property
DUNCAN Parks, a Mazowe farmer, has now returned to his property, just over a week after war veterans detained him and 16 other farmers at his Maypark Farm. Hamish Turner, the chairman of the Harare West Farmers' Association, said Parks returned to his farm last Monday with his family. "All the farmers are back on their farms. The general situation in the area is not ideal because of the presence of war veterans but one can work on one's farm," he said. Turner said, however, there were no new invasions in the Mazowe area. He said although Parks and his family were not staying at the farm last week, they had made regular visits there without incident. They, however, had not slept at the farmhouse as they feared for their safety. War veterans at Maypark Farm detained 17 farmers for 24 hours and only released them after police and CFU officials intervened. The 17 included Parks' wife Isra, 53, and their son Stuart, 25. The war veterans held up the farmers overnight after Parks alerted his neighbours that the war veterans were threatening to break into his house. When Parks' colleagues arrived at the scene, the war veterans accused the farmers of trying to attack them and held them prisoners for the night. They were released the next day in the presence of CFU officials.
From The Daily News, 14 August
Zanu PF now bedroom party - Nkala
Bulawayo - Former Cabinet minister Enos Nkala, a founder member of Zanu PF who held various portfolios in different ministries since independence, says the ruling party is headed for doom. "Zanu PF structures have died all over the country," said Nkala, "and the party had to use violence to force a marriage with the voters. Zanu PF is in the grave, it is not possible to resurrect a dead body - my party is finished."He was referring to the violence unleashed by war veterans on innocent civilians in the name of the ruling party in the run-up to the June parliamentary election in an attempt to force the electorate to return Zanu PF to power. He said: "What remains is the spirit of the party, the body framework is all rotten. Robert Mugabe is the biggest killer of Zanu PF." He said Mugabe had not failed because he was a bad leader but because he was surrounded by "hyenas" who did not tell him the truth. "His ministers tell him a million lies and he likes those lies," said Nkala. "Resignations have started and many more will follow. Zanu PF will be a bedroom party. It's disgraceful to stand in front of people now and talk about Zanu PF. You can only talk about it in the bedroom." He said his perception of the future was that a party would be born out of the "Zanu PF fragments. The economy has been Zanu PF's deathbed," he said.
From The Financial Times (UK), 14 August
African leaders meet on Congo
African leaders gathered in the Zambian capital on Sunday for a make-or-break Monday summit to revive a peace deal for the DRC. Analysts say failure in the Lusaka talks could lead to a resumption of full-scale war in the former Zaire, a country the size of Europe. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who heads a three-nation southern African military alliance backing Congolese President Laurent Kabila, was the first to arrive in Lusaka and called for quick action. "If we have a fast-track (method of resolving the crisis) as an option to follow, that would be the best. I think all of us realise now that it doesn't serve any purpose in continuing the war," Mugabe told reporters at Lusaka airport. Mugabe has sent 15,000 troops, along with tanks and warplanes, to support the government of the Congo, Africa's third largest nation. Angola and Namibia have sent smaller numbers of troops to help it fight sharply splintered rebel armies who have the backing of Rwanda and Uganda.
Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa arrived shortly after Mugabe and was followed by presidents Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and Paul Kagame of Rwanda. Zambian officials said they expected Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni later on Sunday. Mbeki said regional leaders wanted to see the Lusaka peace agreement signed a year ago fully implemented and believed the belligerents in the Congo war were keen to resolve the crisis. "We must make sure that it (peace) happens. We can't proceed on the basis that it won't," Mbeki told reporters. "The agreement reached (in Lusaka) is an important agreement, endorsed by the UN and the OAU, and we are all operating on this basis - and it's got to happen," he said. Kagame added: "It is important that all the players show up and that we meet and frankly discuss these problems. And we should be able to find solutions to the many outstanding problems."
A Congolese government spokesman confirmed Kabila was planning to attend the summit. "The president will be in Lusaka, that is certain" he said. Congolese rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba and former foreign minister-turned-rebel leader Bizima Karaha had also arrived. Mediator and Zambian President Frederick Chiluba expressed confidence the talks would rescue Congo's collapsing peace deal, signed in Lusaka in July 1999. "I am confident. I never give up...A boxer never gives up his punch bag. I am a punch bag for peace," said Chiluba adding that commitment and will were crucial for success.
The war in the former Zaire moved into a third year a week ago with no sign of an early end in sight. The UN, which agreed in February to send 500 ceasefire observers and 5,500 troops to protect them, called off plans to deploy the first unit last month after Kabila refused to let them go to areas under his control. Botswana's former president, Sir Ketumile Masire, given the task of organising all-party national dialogue by the OAU, says the Congo government has blocked him from starting the job. Kabila's government refused to attend a meeting he called in Benin and stopped local political leaders leaving to attend. Kabila toppled veteran dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997 with the help of Rwanda and Uganda, who were keen to stop cross-border raids by opponents based in the then Zaire.
But Kabila fell out with his neighbours, whose alliance raised hopes of a fresh start in the troubled heart of Africa after the horrors of the 1994 genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda. Rwanda and Uganda then fomented a revolt by members of Congo's ethnic Tutsi Banyamulenge minority and sent troops to support them. The revolt, which began in the east on August 2, quickly escalated into a regional conflict. Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia sent troops to prop up Kabila. Chad briefly joined the pro-government alliance. Today the rebels control the east and parts of the north of the Congo.
From The Daily News, 14 August
Bridget Mugabe appeals to Sally Mugabe for help
PRESIDENT Mugabe's sister, Bridget, caused a stir at the National Heroes' Acre on Heroes' Day when she performed a ritual at the grave of Sally, President Mugabe's first wife. Her actions at the late First Lady's grave left many of the small crowd gathered at the shrine to pay their respects to Zimbabwe's fallen heroes shocked. As her brother wound up his speech, Bridget detached herself from the crowd and headed for the grave of her late sister-in-law, who died of a kidney ailment in January 1992, and is the only woman buried at the National Heroes' Acre. With one hand on her hip and a finger pointing at the grave, Bridget broke into an improptu song. She demanded to know why the late Sally did not seem to realise that her husband was now under siege, troubled by so many people, especially by MDC president, Morgan Tsvangirai.
Acting as if she was in a trance and in direct communication with the spirit of her departed sister-in-law, Bridget, who works in the Ministry of Youth Development, Gender and Employment Creation, asked why the late Sally had abandoned her husband. Bridget is one of Mugabe's two sisters. Her elder sister, Sabina Mugabe, is Member of Parliament for Zvimba South. Wearing a purple and white outfit, Bridget took many at the shrine on Friday by surprise. Intoning in Shona she said: "Sally, Sally, how can you afford to sleep while your husband is troubled by some people? What is wrong? Why are you angry?" The President's sister literally blamed the late Sally for neglecting Mugabe in the face of mounting challenges facing Zanu PF and government, especially from the opposition MDC. "Do you know of a person called Tsvangirai?" she asked almost in tears. "Did you ever hear of him during the time we were fighting and struggling to free this country from its former colonial masters?" This was in reference to Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, and his party which won 57 of the 120 contested seats in Parliament in the June election and nearly unseated Zanu PF, which got 62.
When he addressed an unusually sparse crowd which failed to fill the terraces at Heroes' Acre unlike on previous such commemorations, the President, who wore a black suit befitting the occasion, wondered aloud whether the nation still supported him and stood by his "revolutionary ideals". His face downcast, he said in a sombre voice: "I ask a question which everyone of us must answer and if the answer is positive, then you must cherish it in your heart. I am a Zimbabwean. I am equal to anyone who is Zimbabwean. I am for the values, revolutionary values of the past, for the continuance of the revolution that preserves those values. Are you with me or are you against me, I ask?"
The President laid a wreath on Sally's grave as Bridget, called him by their totem, Gushungo, and continued to implore her departed sister-in-law to take care of her husband. The First Lady, Grace, did not accompany the President as he went around the graves of the fallen heroes and greeted their families. Kiki Divaris, of the Child Survival Foundation, and Josiah Chinamano's widow, Ruth, stood beside Bridget as she performed her ritual at the grave. "Muroora, why don't you slap with the back of your hand those that speak ill of your husband? Why should you let him be tormented?" Bridget appealed to Sally. At that point a relative tried to stop her from continuing with her graveside drama. Muroora is Shona for daughter or sister-in-law. According to African beliefs, a deceased person has the power to watch over and protect the surviving members of his/her family, especially the children and spouse and to counsel them when in time of trouble.