|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
does not purport to cover all the incidents that are taking place in the
commercial farming areas. Communication problems and the fear of reprisals
prevent farmers from reporting all that happens. Farmers names, and in some
cases farm names, are omitted to minimise the risk of reprisals.
107 farmers were taken from farms to police stations around the country today for continuing farming operations. The police have been laying charges for being in contravention of Section 9 of the Land Acquisition Act. In all cases farmers have been informed that they are to remove all personal property from their farms – while some have been given time to do so no ongoing attention to crops and livestock is to be permitted.
More than $3.72 billion dollars worth of ongoing crop and livestock production is at risk, ranging from a potential loss of 25% of the coffee crop in the Chipinge district, to large areas of wheat and barley, particularly in Mashonaland West Province, while some dairy operations are at risk in the Midlands. In Matabeleland Province cattle operations are severely disrupted, while wildlife and ostrich properties go untended due to the detention of their owners. In the Highveld provinces of Mashonaland tobacco grading will be disrupted, resulting in a short supply of Virginia tobacco to the auction floors, while tobacco seed beds may be lost. .
It has been calculated that $5.6 billion dollars worth of farm assets are at risk on these untended properties. On 10 farms alone in the Chegutu area $570 million worth of movable assets are at risk.
These developments follow the Court hearings in Matabeland South yesterday, where farmers with Section 8 Orders were remanded out of custody on $5 000 bail until 6th September, 2002. Today there has been a countrywide round up by the police, of farmers in occupation of their properties. The modus operandi employed by the police has varied on a province-by-province basis.
In most instances farmers were taken to rural police stations and bail hearings were conducted where magistrates were available. Generally speaking farmers have been released on $5 000 bail and a Court date set within the next two weeks.
In Manicaland two farmers were remanded in custody until 21st August, one of whom is 67 years old and on medication, despite vigorous protestations by their legal counsel. In Matabeleland, which has had twice as many farmers detained as any other province, 25 farmers remain in custody, including 1 farmer who was granted bail in Gwanda yesterday, who was re-arrested today, despite being given a date to appear in Court. In Midlands Province there were no arrests or detentions until this afternoon, when 5 farmers had been called to Gweru Central for questioning. In Masvingo Province in the sugar producing areas farmers were given warned and cautioned statements and asked to return on Monday, while in Masvingo town lawyers were able to negotiate the release of elderly farmers from Masvingo East.
Published Aug 18, 2002
HARARE, ZIMBABWE -- A white farmer who obeyed the government's order to abandon his land was tracked down by police and ruling party militants Saturday, handcuffed and beaten, a farmers' group said.
Andrew Smith suffered head injuries and a broken leg in the attack at his home in Harare, said Jenni Williams, a spokeswoman for the group Justice for Agriculture. After the attack, Smith was taken into police custody and detained near what was his farm, 20 miles northwest of Harare.
"We are attempting to secure his release from custody and into hospital," Williams said.
It was not known why Smith, who left his farm about a month ago, was targeted. Police and militants who went to the farm looking for Smith instead found the caretaker and beat him up.
The attackers then drove to Harare, allegedly beat up Smith and took him back to a holding facility near his farm.
Police spokesman Andrew Phiri said he had received no information about the attack.
Ruling party militants have attacked at least 12 farmers since the deadline for them to vacate their land expired Aug. 8. The government ordered about 2,900 whites to leave their farms, saying the land was to be redistributed to blacks, but several hundred farmers resisted the evictions.
Seventy-seven white farmers have been arrested over the past few days for flouting the eviction order, police said Saturday. At least six were freed on bail Friday, Phiri said.
Farmers convicted of flouting the eviction orders face up to two years in prison and a fine.
The government has targeted 95 percent of properties owned by 4,000 white farmers for confiscation under its land reform program, saying the measure is necessary to correct the legacy of inequitable land ownership left by the colonial era.
However, critics say the program is a bid by the increasingly unpopular government to cling to power amid more than two years of economic chaos and political violence.
Half of Zimbabwe's 12.5 million people face severe food shortages, a problem that aid agencies blame on drought and the farm seizures.
Resettled Farmers in Demo Against Free Bail for Suspects
The Herald Govt mouth piece (Harare)
August 17, 2002
BUSINESS ground to a halt in Chipinge yesterday when hundreds of resettled farmers and war veterans demonstrated at the magistrate's court against the granting of free bail to three suspects who allegedly burnt District Development Fund tractors last month.
The resettled farmers demanded the immediate removal of Chipinge provincial magistrate, Mr Chikwana, who they said was biased against Zanu-PF members.
They also accused the magistrate of delaying the prosecution of offenders who supported the MDC while "fast tracking" cases involving ruling party supporters or war veterans.
They noted their concerns in a petition to Zanu-PF provincial chairman Cde Mike Madiro, provincial governor, Cde Oppah Muchinguri, the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association, the police and the Central Intelligence Organisation.
Zanu-PF district co-ordination committee chairman Cde Timothy Mapungwana said settlers in the district had been incensed by the release on free bail of the three youths who allegedly burnt the DDF tractors.
Following the protests, the three suspects were eventually brought back into remand.
However, the farmers said the burning of the tractors would derail land preparations for the coming agricultural season.
The angry farmers are also reported to have forced Mr Dirk du Plooy, the owner of a service station that is alleged to have been used as a communication centre for the MDC, to close down his business and leave the town within 48 hours. They called for the immediate designation of Mr du Plooy's farm.
The angry mob warned Mr du Plooy of unspecified action if he did not comply with the order.
Meanwhile, police in Chipinge were making frantic efforts to bring before the courts on Monday next week, farmers who defied Government orders to vacate their farms after the expiry of the 90-day grace period granted under section 8 of the Land Acquisition Amendment Act.
Some of the farmers were said to have gone to stay with their colleagues whose farms had not been designated, leaving their movable property on the farms.
A total of 13 farmers in Chipinge have been served with the section 8 notices compelling them to leave the farms.
Mugabe's axe finally falls on loyal farmers
By Basildon Peta
Dysfunctional Zimbabwe worries Commonwealth
SUVA, Aug. 17 - The eleven Pacific members of the Commonwealth warned on
Saturday of stronger action against Zimbabwe but stopped short of
threatening to expel the deeply troubled southern African nation.
Commonealth countries at the annual Pacific Islands Forum discussed
the crisis in Zimbabwe, where President Robert Mugabe's government has
ordered thousands of white commercial farmers to vacate their land so it can
be given to landless blacks.
The Pacific Commonwealth leaders expressed ''deep concern'' over
Zimbabwe and noted with regret that Mugabe has so far spurned international
attempts to promote reconciliation and the rule of law.
''Pacific Commonwealth leaders...recommended further action by the
Commonwealth should there be no rapid change of approach by the Zimbabwe
government,'' the leaders said in statement read by Fiji Prime Minister
The leaders called for an immediate end to political violence in
Zimbabwe and for an end to the forced eviction of farmers.
At a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Australia in March,
members decided only to suspend Zimbabwe from councils of the Commonwealth,
which meant Zimbabwe was able to compete at the Commonwealth Games in
Britain last month.
A tri-nation panel of the leaders of Australia, South Africa and
Nigeria was set up to decide on what other action to take against Zimbabwe.
The Pacific leaders backed ongoing efforts of that ''troika'' to
encourage dialogue with Zimbabwe, efforts which have so far been ignored.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard would not be drawn on what
action might be taken and refused to speculate whether the troika might
recommend Zimbabwe be suspended completely or expelled.
''I'm not offering a view on that, self-evidently Zimbabwe has not
responded,'' Howard told a news conference.
The land crisis coincides with a drought causing food shortages in
much of southern Africa. An estimated six million Zimbabweans, nearly half
the population, are short of food because of disruption on the farms and
''The drought is more serious in Zimbabwe because there is a
dysfunctional government,'' said Clark, who this week described the
evictions as ''lunacy.''
The Pacific leaders said it was important the Commonwealth was seen
to be acting the same way over Zimbabwe as Fiji, which it suspended and
imposed limited trade sanctions on after a coup in May 2000.
Fiji has since been readmitted after returning to democracy with
general elections last year.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon is hosting a Pacific
democracy roundtable in Fiji from Monday.
Aid agencies fear catastrophe in Zimbabwe Scotsman.com - Scotland on Sunday - Article Index 01:11
Aid agencies fear catastrophe in Zimbabwe
DECLAN WALSH IN CHADEREKA
THE foreign aid agencies have yet to reach Chadereka, a sleepy village deep in the Zambezi valley, so the pangs of hunger are starting to bite hard. As throughout Zimbabwe, maize meal is the staple food, but this year neither God nor President Robert Mugabe have provided.
"We should be eating twice, maybe three times a day," said Dzidzai Musinyare, a 22-year-old mother of four . "Now it is barely once."
Last week Musinyare went to the government grain store, 60 kilometres away, in search of food. She had no choice: private trading of maize is forbidden in Zimbabwe. But when she reached Muzarabani, there was nothing. So she waited - one day, then two, then three.
"Five days, for just one bag of maize," she said with disgust. The return bus fare cost more than the bag of precious grain.
Across the country, the same story is repeated - a chronic shortage of maize, exacerbated by stubbornly destructive government policies, is pushing a once-plentiful country towards famine. As Mugabe runs out of money and ideas, his people are slowly starting to starve.
According to aid agencies, more than half of Zimbabwe’s 12.5 million people are going to need urgent food assistance in the coming months. The UN is appealing for $285m to stave off what it calls the "largest food crisis in 50 years".
Mugabe is not entirely to blame. A sharp drought at the beginning of this year decimated the maize crop, particularly on the thin soil of communal areas, where most black farmers live. And as food stocks run low, Zimbabweans’ ability to cope has been severely hampered by the scourge of HIV/Aids - an estimated one in three adults is infected with HIV and there are more than 600,000 orphans.
Nevertheless, Mugabe, who ordered a police sweep of defiant white farmers on Friday, arresting more than 80 for their refusal to move off their land, bears enormous responsibility for his people’s suffering. Aid workers say this should be a manageable crisis, but it risks becoming a full-blown disaster.
The seizure of white-owned commercial farms has thrown the agriculture sector into disarray at the moment when it is most needed. Commercial farmers accounted for almost half of national maize requirements. Combined with the effects of drought, maize production has collapsed by 70%.
Some black settlers on white farms have grown maize this year but their crops have been meagre. Many are poor and inexperienced commercial farmers. Without government help with fertiliser, seeds and know-how, their crops often fail .
Perhaps the most important impact of the land grab has been on Mugabe’s ability to import replacement maize. The lucrative tobacco crop, a key foreign currency earner, has been badly hit. Now as the government struggles to import food from abroad, it is discovering that there is precious little hard cash with which to buy it.
Equally troubling is that the current uncertainty means there is no guarantee that planting will go ahead as normal at the end of the dry season, hitting next year’s crop.
Aid agencies are scrambling to help. A famine is not inevitable, they say, but the early signs are already showing.
In thousands of villages like Chadereka, school absentee rates have soared as parents send their children to search for wild berries and fruits.
Theft is on the rise in previously placid rural areas. Prostitution is also growing: young women are flocking to the southern border town of Beitbridge to make money for food from passing truckers.
Some international aid is on the way. The WFP says it has enough food to last until Christmas, maybe longer. The British government, the butt of Mugabe’s frequent rants, is spending £32m this year. However, it won’t be enough.
The bulk of Zimbabwe’s food will have to come through the government or private imports. Neither source looks reliable.
Peasants like Dzidzai Musinyare have to buy their food from the Grain Marketing Board, a government agency with depots around the country that has a monopoly on grain sales. But because Mugabe has no foreign currency, its shelves are usually empty.
The other option is to liberalise the grain market and allow traders to bring in food from abroad. But the currently fixed prices would undoubtedly rise sharply, perhaps tenfold. Foreign donors are desperately trying to persuade Mugabe that this is the only way forward. So far, he has refused to listen.
Instead, government employees have been accused of playing dirty politics with food aid. The deputy minister of foreign affairs Abednico Ncube was reported as telling villagers that food "will be available only to those who dump the opposition and work with Zanu-PF".
One diplomat said: "Things are getting worse and worse, yet it appears he [Mugabe] is more interested in power politics than helping his own people."
Mugabe fails to heed pleas of starving
Declan Walsh reports from the Zambezi Valley, where land redistribution has
fatally deepened a drought-led food crisis
Sunday August 18, 2002
A straggly queue trailed around the fence of the government grain store in
Muzarabani, a village on the floor of the Zambezi Valley in northern
Zimbabwe. An old man shook his head in disgust. The shelves were empty -
'This is crazy. We've been waiting here for five days,' said 68-year-old
Sinet Muzanenhamo, slumped under the shade of a tree. A truck had come to
the store, known as Grain Marketing Board (GMB), three days earlier, he
explained. But it carried just 100 bags of maize for more than 1,000 waiting
people. He got nothing.
'By now, we are eating only once a day,' he said, fingering a piece of worn
cardboard that showed that he was 10th in line. 'We fear that soon it will
be nothing at all.'
All across Zimbabwe, the story is the same - a chronic shortage of maize,
exacerbated by stubbornly destructive government policies, is pushing a once
plentiful country to the verge of famine.
The full folly of President Robert Mugabe's land redistribution programme is
being laid bare. Yesterday farm groups said that 80 white farmers had been
arrested and some charged for defying government orders to vacate land
targeted for redistribution to landless blacks. Of the remaining 4,500 white
farmers, 2,900 have been told to quit their land without compensation.
Nearly two-thirds are refusing to go.
According to the United Nations, more than half of Zimbabwe's 12.5 million
people are going to need urgent food assistance in the coming months.
Famine is not inevitable - yet. Aid food is starting to arrive, and
malnutrition rates remain relatively low - around 5 per cent in some areas.
But it is a fragile stability, aid workers warn.
'People's capacity to cope is almost exhausted,' said Chris McIvor of Save
the Children-UK. 'Once that goes, there can be a very rapid decline. We
could be looking at a catastrophic situation by December.'
Across the country, the early signs of starvation are starting to show. In
classrooms, children are fainting or dropping out of school entirely to
search for wild food. Some have died after eating poisonous roots. To the
south, young women are flocking to the border town of Beit Bridge, to
prostitute themselves to the passing truckers. There is competition from
wild animals. Near Chadereka, two men lie in hospital, one of them close to
death. He was attacked by an elephant while picking berries off wild trees;
a buffalo gored his neighbour.
Foreign aid has not yet reached Chadereka, a sleepy village further inside
the Zambezi Valley, near the border with Mozambique. With maize hardly
available, villagers have turned to masawu - berries normally used for
making moonshine - to fill their stomachs.
'But this type of food, it doesn't stay,' complained Dzidzai Musinyari, a
22-year-old woman who was seven months pregnant. 'You eat it, go to the
toilet and then it is all gone.' Her five-year-old son was starting to
suffer from diarrhoea.
The valley people used to farm cotton, then use their earnings to buy maize
grown in the fertile highlands. Not any more.
The crisis cannot be blamed entirely on Mugabe. It was sparked by a sharp
drought at the beginning of this year, wrecking the maize harvest.
The scourge of HIV/Aids made things worse: one in three Zimbabwean adults is
infected with HIV, and there are more than 600,000 Aids orphans.
Grandparents find themselves struggling to feed the children of their dead
sons and daughters.
But if bad weather sparked the crisis, Mugabe's ruinous policies have made
it infinitely worse. He has closed down food-producing white farms. He has
beggared the economy, cutting off access to foreign currency needed to
import food. He has maintained a steely grip on the monopoly of maize
imports, though private trade is vital to fend off disaster.
Zimbabwe used to be self-sufficient in maize, with commercial farms meeting
almost half of the requirements. But this year, drought and farmer
intimidation have caused production to plummet by 70 per cent.
More significantly, the tobacco industry, which brought in much of the
country's foreign currency, has also collapsed. As the government struggles
to import food from abroad, it is discovering that there is precious little
hard cash with which to buy it.
Under current plans, a famine can be averted if the government, aid agencies
and private traders each import one third of the maize deficit. The aid
agencies should keep their part of the bargain, at least until Christmas.
But the government is broke, so scepticism abounds that Mugabe will be able
to import 500,000 tonnes of maize in the coming months, as promised. He is
refus ing to allow private traders to bring in food from abroad, because
prices would inevitably rise, perhaps as much as tenfold.
Foreign donors are desperately trying to persuade Mugabe that this is the
only way forward. Those with money, mostly in urban areas, could become
self-sufficient, leaving the aid agencies and government to concentrate on
the most vulnerable people in rural areas. But this would also highlight to
Mugabe's supporters how poor his policies have been, so he has refused to
Instead, his cronies have been accused of playing dirty politics with food
aid. In June, war veterans shut down a Catholic Church project to feed
40,000 people in the western Binga province. They claimed that the project,
which is funded by the British agency Cafod, was being run by supporters of
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
More recently, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abednico Ncube, was
quoted in a local newspaper as telling villagers that food 'will be
available only to those who dump the opposition and work with Zanu-PF'.
Some 13m people in southern Africa, across Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi,
Swaziland and Lesotho, are threatened with famine in the coming months.
Zimbabwe should be anchoring the region; instead it is pulling it down.
While the suffering is most extreme in Malawi, the sheer scale of numbers
makes Zimbabwe the most vulnerable country. But Mugabe has acted with an
arrogant cool towards international aid. He recently warned parliament of
the need to 'remain wary of countries and organisations which seek to take
advantage of our hour of need'. There were 'sinister interests', he claimed,
that wanted to use the 'cover of humanitarian involvement'.
The irony is that foreign money is the only thing keeping his country from
slipping into starvation. Britain, which is frequently derided as the great
colonial evil, is putting £32m into Zimbabwe this year. The European Union
has pledged ?35m (£22m).
One frustrated diplomat said: 'Things are getting worse and worse, yet it
appears he is more interested in power politics than helping his own
Speaking at Heroes' Acre, the national shrine for black liberation fighters,
Mugabe vowed last week to ensure that 'no Zimbabwean starves to death'.
It is increasingly clear that the ageing autocrat is running out of both
money and ideas. But if he does not find a way of getting food into
Zimbabwe, fast, a preventable disaster may soon become an inevitable famine.
80 farmers arrested as Mugabe 'cleans up'
August 17 2002 at 07:07PM
By John Matisonn
Zimbabwean police and war veterans on Saturday stepped up the
long-threatened nationwide crackdown on farmers, increasing the number in
prison to 80, including two women and one black farm manager.
Farmers were divided over whether there was a clear pattern in the swoop,
which included those who have eviction notices and those who don't, and
farmers who have only one farm, which President Robert Mugabe said earlier
this week was allowed.
In raids that began before dawn, farmers including leaders of Justice for
Agriculture (Jag) solidarity group and supporters of the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) were among the targets.
'It's a political cleansing'
The chairman of Jag, David Connolly, was visited and questioned at 5am on
Saturday even though he does not have an eviction notice. He was not
Jag alleged that Tony Smith, who left his farm a month ago, was severely
beaten by police and war veterans at his Harare home. Jag alleges he was
handcuffed and severely beaten, and that he has a broken leg and head
Among the 80 in custody from earlier arrests is David Olds, whose brother
Martin and mother Gloria were murdered in separate incidents.
No arrests have been made in those cases.
This week, some of the new black farmers attended the annual congress of the
Zimbabwe Farmers' Union, which represents 100 000 peasant and small scale
A Jag spokesperson said farmers from all affiliations were being targeted.
But the opposition justice spokesperson, MDC MP David Coltart, said Mugabe
was seeking to crush anyone associated with the MDC or Jag, which has no
political affiliation but believes in using the legal system and the
constitution to fight evictions.
"There are now good whites and bad whites," Coltart said. "Farm owners who
support Zanu-PF have been left alone, but small farmers, who run a
foundation to educate farm workers about Aids, get targeted. It's a
Mugabe's men storm farms as arrests begin
By Jane Flanagan in Johannesburg
Up to 100 white farmers, including an elderly woman, were arrested yesterday
in Zimbabwe for defying a government eviction order as President Robert
Mugabe's controversial land reform programme threatened to reach a violent
Hundreds of police and war veterans stormed white-owned farms around the
country and arrested those accused of defying government orders to quit
"We had the names of 84 farmers who had been arrested by midday with reports
of further arrests coming in all the time," said Jenni Williams, spokesman
for the farmers' pressure group, Justice for Agriculture (JAG) . "At this
rate we will have easily reached 100 by this evening."
The crackdown is the culmination of a two-and-a-half-year campaign which
began in February 2000 with the forced occupation of white-owned farms by
so-called "war veterans" sparking an international outcry.
The arrests came eight days after the expiry of a deadline for 2,900 white
farmers to quit their land. They were also ordered to remove all their
belongings and to sack their labour force.
About half of those who received eviction orders ignored them in the hope
that Mugabe would not make good his threats.
Mugabe vowed last week that he had no intention of abandoning his policy of
evicting white farmers despite predictions that half the country's
population of 12 million was on the verge of starvation.
"There are those who believe that the land reform programme can be reversed
. . . this is not reversible," Mugabe told an annual gathering of the
mostly-black Zimbabwe Farmers Union. "This is not [Tony] Blair's land, this
is Mugabe's land," he said.
Last night relatives were still trying to track down an elderly woman who
was carried off in a police van. Flo McKay had been looking after her son's
farm in Wedza, 100 miles south-east of Harare, while he was on holiday.
"When police discovered he was away, they took the old lady instead," a
One farmer, who had moved off his land, was beaten unconscious and sustained
a broken leg after pro-Mugabe activists tortured a member of his staff into
revealing his employer's new address.
Seven farmers appeared in court on Friday. A further 77 have been arrested
for failing to comply with eviction orders, Ms Williams said.
Of those arrested, 20 were later released and ordered to appear in court in
the next few days, while 57 remained in custody.
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said he could not comment on the latest
arrests or say how many farmers were behind bars pending charges on new
legislation which carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail and a fine.
But those already in police custody - including 75-year-old Robin Grieves,
who is blind - are expected to spend the weekend in jail before being
brought before the courts.
Sue Fould, the British-born wife of rose farmer Ian Fould, who is being
detained by police, said: "They are not only arresting those who stayed on
their farms but also those who left property on their farms."
Ms Williams yesterday said she was "not surprised" at the mass arrests. "Our
eyes have been wide open for a long time now and we always believed that
Mugabe was not prepared to negotiate over this or implement his land reform
plans legally or without violence."
The Foreign Office confirmed yesterday that four Britons had been refused
entry into Zimbabwe in the past two weeks in apparent retaliation for
European Union sanctions preventing the travel of Zimbabwean cabinet
ministers and Mugabe's supporters in Europe.
Zimbabwe: 141 white farmers arrested
August 18, 2002 Posted: 1:37 PM EDT (1737 GMT)
HARARE, Zimbabwe (Reuters) -- Zimbabwean police have arrested 141 white
farmers over the last three days for defying government orders to leave
their land for redistribution to landless blacks, farming groups said on
President Robert Mugabe's government has ordered 2,900 farmers of the
country's remaining 4,500 white commercial farmers to quit their land
without compensation, but nearly two thirds have defied an August 8
The disruption to agriculture in Zimbabwe, once the bread-basket of southern
Africa, comes as millions in the region face food shortages.
Farmers' lobby group Justice for Agriculture (JAG) said on Sunday latest
figures showed 141 farmers had been arrested since Thursday for defying
"Thirty-five have been in court and are out on bail. Ninety-six are still
technically under arrest and due to appear in court," Jag said, adding 10
more farmers had been released after signing statements saying they had been
In a separate statement, the main Commercial Farmers Union, grouping 4,500
mainly white producers, said police arrested 107 farmers on Saturday alone
for continuing farming operations.
"In all cases farmers have been informed that they are to remove all
personal property from their farms - while some have been given time to do
so but no ongoing attention to crops and livestock is to be permitted," CFU
"More than $3.72 billion Zimbabwe dollars ($67.6 million) worth of ongoing
crop and livestock production is at risk," the union added.
Mugabe, who has been in power since the country gained independence from
Britain in 1980, says his land drive is aimed at correcting colonial
injustice which left 70 percent of the best farmland in the hands of white
JAG says most of the targeted farmers have only one farm each and nowhere
else to stay, nor any other source of income outside agriculture.
Aid agencies say nearly six million Zimbabweans -- half the national
population -- need food aid this year, part of a wider food crisis
threatening nearly 13 million people in six southern African countries.
Zimbabwe now needs food aid after drought and the farm invasions slashed
output of the staple maize crop.
Mugabe's government blames the shortage of maize solely on the drought that
has hit small-scale black farmers who produce 70 percent of national output.
Zimbabwe has been in crisis since pro-government militants led by veterans
of the 1970s liberation war began invading white-owned farms in early 2000
in support of the government seizures.
ABC News Australia
Posted: Mon, 19 Aug 2002 6:32 AEST
Call for international intervention to help Zimbabwe farmers
The son of a Zimbabwean farmer who has been arrested for refusing to leave
his farm says international intervention is needed to prevent the situation
More than 130 farmers have been detained over the past few days for refusing
to comply with a Government deadline for white farmers to give up the land.
Robert Carey left Zimbabwe seven months ago to avoid the hostilities and now
lives in north Queensland but his father chose to stay and was one of those
arrested on the weekend.
Mr Carey says he fears the worst is yet to come.
"I think what's going on is pathetic, we're all just standing watching," Mr
"I think probably the only way will be military intervention.
"I don't know if anyone's prepared to do that but it's probably going to be
the only way," he said.
Christian science monitor
Zimbabwe's political tool: food
Since Friday, 133 white farmers have been arrested. Opposition says Mugabe
is exploiting food crisis.
By Nicole Itano | Special to The Christian Science Monitor
HARARE, ZIMBABWE - Even with foreign aid pouring into the country, observers
say that Zimbabwe will not have enough food for its people over the coming
year. In this looming crisis, the government sees an opportunity - to gain
political leverage by withholding food from political opponents, says Sam
Mlilo, an organizer for the opposition party here.
Mr. Mlilo says that members of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
party come to him looking for food, as drought and President Robert Mugabe's
controversial land redistribution program have edged Zimbabwe closer to
famine. But Mlilo has to turn his fellow supporters away.
"I have no resources, no food for you," he tells them, "and the next day, I
hear that they have surrendered their party cards because they have been
starving." Mlilo, a former university professor who lives in Mberengwa East,
an area wracked by violence during the country's March presidential
elections, adds: "It's really working. [The government's] plan is going to
That plan, according to opposition leaders such as Mlilo and aid groups, is
to starve the opposition into submission, forcing their allegiance to Mr.
Earlier in the year, some 50 MDC supporters were beaten and shot, allegedly
by Mugabe supporters in the run up to the March elections. But as rural
villagers are reduced scavenging for roots and berries, or selling their
remaining assets to buy high-priced food on the black market, the MDC and
local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) say food is the government's
The government denies this charge. Speaking to the nation last week during
Zimbabwe's independence day celebrations, Mugabe promised that the
government would feed everyone, even the "stooges and puppets," one of his
favorite term for opposition supporters he claims are working for Britain,
the country's former colonial master.
In two short years, Zimbabwe has gone from a food supplier to becoming one
of the largest humanitarian emergencies on the continent. Mugabe's plan to
give white-owned farms to landless blacks has crippled the country's
commercial-farming sector. Yesterday, more than 133 white farmers were
arrested for defying orders to vacate their land.
Over the next nine months, the country faces a 1.5-million-ton
food-production shortfall and the specter of six million starving if it
doesn't receive sufficient aid, according to the United Nations' World Food
Program (WFP). Even with aid, Zimbabwe is likely to face a half-million ton
shortfall. But despite pleas from the UN to allow the private importation of
food to help fill the projected gap, the government has maintained a steely
grip on the market. Late last year, private wheat and corn imports were
banned, and the government-run grain marketing board, which is managed by
top military and intelligence officials, was given control.
Known MDC supporters are being turned away from grain depots, while party
big men are buying up grain and selling it on the black market at a profit,
say some observers. NGOs also report that MDC supporters are being
discriminated against in government-run food-for-work programs.
The Food Security Network, a coalition of 54 local NGOs that has been
monitoring the situation in Zimbabwe, says politicization of food aid has
been reported in at least 33 of the country's 54 districts. They say many of
the depots are being run by youth militia from Mugabe's ZANU-PF party or by
intelligence officers, and that more food is being sent to ZANU strongholds
than to MDC areas.
"We went to one depot that was being run by youth militia," says the
director of one prominent NGO, who asked not to be named out of fear of
retaliation from the government. "That in itself is outrageous. These are
the same people who were beating and torturing people in the first four
months of the year," referring to alleged violence around the March
election, which most observers say was rigged in favor of Mugabe. The
government has threatened to ban NGOs critical of the state and to seize the
passports of their workers.
The WFP says that food is being distributed to all, not just to those in a
particular party. But local NGOs and the MDC say that monitoring has been
poor. They accuse aid agencies of looking the other way to avoid
confrontation with the government, allowing it to influence who receives
"The lists of beneficiaries are all being drawn up by rural committees,
which are relying on chiefs and headmen who are all in the pay of the
government," says Eddie Cross, spokesman for the MDC on economic affairs.
"On principle [the WFP and aid groups] will not act in a political manner,
but they're allowing themselves to be manipulated."
The WFP and donors deny such allegations and say that they have thoroughly
investigated all charges of political bias in the food-distribution process
and found them untrue. The biggest problem, they say, is just that there's
not enough food aid for everyone.
Since the ranks of the needy are so vast, it is nearly impossible to prove
whether someone was left off a list because of political affiliation. Still,
several cases of direct interference by ruling-party militants have been
In the town of Binga, near Lake Kariba, war veterans stopped food
distribution by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace for almost two
months, saying that the commission was a political organization that was
using the food to foment antigovernment sentiment. In another district, a
local NGO says its workers were beaten by war veterans who claimed that bags
of cornmeal were being distributed with pro-opposition material inside.
The biggest challenge for the donors may be the next phase of the crisis -
the recovery phase. Feeding the hungry is usually followed by long-term
efforts to improve food security, but according to the WFP, donors will
likely be hesitant to subsidize new farmers placed on land taken from white
Christian Science Monitor
Zero Reform in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe once fed much of southern Africa. Now it can't feed its own people.
A long drought is partly to blame, but most of the responsibility rests with
President Robert Mugabe.
Mr. Mugabe, a hero of his country's struggle to end white minority rule, has
decided for the past two years to refight that battle in Zimbabwe's fertile,
and once very productive, countryside.
His campaign to forcibly remove white farmers and redistribute their land to
blacks has populist appeal. British settlers at the end of the 19th century
seized the best land, and whites still farm half that land. It's an
injustice overdue for adjustment.
But Mugabe's way of addressing it is bringing chaos, not justice. Police are
now starting to round up hundreds of farmers who ignored the government's
Aug. 8 deadline to leave.
The time is ripe for international and regional pressures to be concentrated
on Mugabe, to keep him from deepening the crisis. Zimbabwe's neighbors,
particularly South Africa, need to break out of their silent tolerance of
Mugabe's authoritarian ways and push for a negotiated settlement of the land
issue. Plans to compensate farmers must be worked out.
A quieting of the situation might partially revive Zimbabwe's agricultural
sector - something that would benefit the country's people much more than
Mugabe's botched, politically motivated "land reform."
Clark rallies action against Zimbabwe
New Zealand is leading renewed calls for the Commonwealth to take stronger
and swifter action against Zimbabwe as it deteriorates into further crisis.
Prime Minister Helen Clark initiated a move at the Pacific Islands Forum for
11 Commonwealth members - comprising 20 per cent of the Commonwealth member
states - to call for a rapid reassessment.
In the process, New Zealand and Fiji are on a fast-track to friendship after
buddying up at the Fiji forum on the matter.
Fiji argued that double standards must not apply: the same rules should
apply to Zimbabwe as they did to Fiji when it faced Commonwealth action
after the 2000 coup.
In reality, the move is intended to put pressure on Commonwealth leaders,
particularly South African President Thabo Mbeki and Nigerian President
Olusegun Obasanjo, who must make recommendations on action such as full
Australian Prime Minister John Howard is also part of the troika. The forum
stand is likely to strengthen his arm to convince the African leaders to
look beyond suspension from the councils of the Commonwealth.
The 11-country grouping issued a statement "recommending further action by
the Commonwealth should there be no rapid change of approach by the Zimbabwe
Helen Clark, the first New Zealand Prime Minister to visit Fiji in 16 years,
heaped praise on Fiji for the way it had co-operated with the Commonwealth
following the coup to return to constitutional government.
That is what set Zimbabwe apart from the Fiji situation.
"Fiji co-operated with the Commonwealth fully in this process. That hasn't
been the case with Zimbabwe.
"Fiji saw the opportunity to be assisted by the Commonwealth to work back to
a constitutional process," she said.
Fiji Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase had pointed out that if "Fiji is treated
in that way when it departs from the rule of law and the constitution then
it is only fair that the rules be applied evenly".
Two years ago Helen Clark refused to speak to Mr Qarase at the Kiribati
forum when New Zealand had been vociferous in its condemnation of the Fiji
In a long-running land resettlement policy, Mr Mugabe has ordered 2900 of
the remaining 4500 white farmers to leave their lands without compensation
to landless black settlers by August 8. An estimated 60 per cent are
refusing to go.
Six million Zimbabweans are facing food shortages through a drought which is
being exacerbated by the eviction of the farmers.
Helen Clark said Mr Mugabe was refusing to take calls from Commonwealth
Secretary-General Don McKinnon and was refusing to engage with the troika of
leaders dispatched to deal with the situation.
The troika was appointed at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in
Coolum near Brisbane in March to recommend action following shonky elections
Zimbabwe has been suspended from the councils of the Commonwealth - as was
Fiji - meaning it cannot attend meetings. New Zealand now wants its
immediate and full suspension from the Commonwealth but African states may
argue for sanctions before that step.
Helen Clark said the purpose of the statement was to support Mr Howard "and
to say that the situation in Zimbabwe is more intolerable than it was in
March and if there cannot be some engagement by Mr Mugabe ... then the
Commonwealth needs to address the issue again".
"The crisis is coming to a head and this statement is helpful to Mr Howard
and his endeavours."
Mr Howard would not comment on how difficult it might be to convince the two
African leaders to suspend Zimbabwe but he made it plain he also wants
"The rule book was thrown at Fiji. There is no reason other countries should
be treated more sparingly in a situation like this. It is not something we
can let drift indefinitely.
"The situation in Zimbabwe is deteriorating by the day."
Of the 16-member forum those that are not Commonwealth members are Palau,
the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Niue and the Cook
The issue was dealt with on the fringes of the Pacific Islands Forum, not on
the formal agenda.
In a speech a week ago, Mr Mugabe did not say what would happen to those
defying the eviction orders but a Government official said they would not be
Mr Mugabe, aged 78 and in power since the former Rhodesia gained
independence from Britain in 1980, says his land redistribution drive is
aimed at correcting colonial injustice which left 70 per cent of the
country's best farmland in the hands of 4500 white commercial farmers.
White farmers say they are not opposed to land reforms but the Government's
Most have said they are willing to give up some of it under an organised
programme, which has been offered by organisations including the
Commonwealth but been refused.
From The Sunday Times (UK), 18 August
Hoogstraten "to buy" MiGs for Mugabe
The notorious property magnate Nicholas van Hoogstraten, convicted of manslaughter last month, has been involved in secret negotiations to help the Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe buy Russian fighter jets. Leaked documents reveal that in return for underwriting the £250m purchase of 14 MiG-29s, Hoogstraten would receive 1.2m acres (500,000 hectares) of prime ranching property, much of which would be taken from white-owned farms. The Zimbabwean intelligence documents, obtained by The Sunday Times, disclose that Mugabe was told last month by the head of his air force that Hoogstraten was interested in underwriting the loan for the MiGs. At the time Hoogstraten was on trial for killing a former business partner. The document, dated July 5, states: "Mr van Hoogstraten is not unreceptive to the idea of underwriting the loan in exchange for an additional 500,000 hectares of land . . . his current circumstances though are creating difficulties in finalising the arrangements."
Mugabe, who is said to be worried by the superiority of the South African air force and the increased military power of Botswana, has been seeking to upgrade his air force for some years. According to the leaked documents, a Zimbabwean delegation travelled to Russia earlier this year to prepare a technical evaluation of the MiG-29 multi-role combat aircraft. The underwriting deal, outlined in an addendum to the technical evaluation, would make Hoogstraten the biggest landowner in Zimbabwe, where last week the government charged five white farmers and arrested more than 80 others for defying orders to vacate land. Hoogstraten already has a huge landholding of more than 500,000 acres after taking over three estates formerly belonging to Lonrho, the conglomerate built by "Tiny" Rowland, in the 1990s. This weekend Hoogstraten’s lawyer Giovanni di Stefano, who has also represented the assassinated Serbian warlord Arkan, denied "any specific allegations" of arms-dealing However, he added: "His (Hoogstraten’s) investments and sympathies with the Zimbabwe government are well known and while to date he has received no request for assistance, if any such request were received he would adjudicate each request on a purely business proposition."
Hoogstraten, 57, is in Belmarsh prison awaiting sentence for manslaughter after being found guilty of hiring two hitmen who shot and stabbed to death a former business partner, Mohammed Sabir Raja. The jury accepted that he had hired the men to harm Raja but not that he had specifically ordered his murder. The property baron’s ruthless and violent reputation stretched to Zimbabwe where he routinely threatened his farm managers, whom he labelled "white trash". He is said to have fathered five children by three different women there. Hoogstraten’s backing for the Mugabe regime won him friends within the ruling Zanu PF party and his lands have been relatively unaffected by the past two years of lawlessness.