23 August 2000
In this issue :
Paraphrased letter from a Matabeleland farmer
The vehicles listed below have been used in farm invasions and intimidation in the Inyathi drea of Matabeleland in the period 15 to 19 August. The invasions have been particularly well-supported at weekends, indicating that the participants are in employment. The quality of the vehicles is again evidence of their affluence, as is the flamboyant use of cell phones. If you recognise any of these vehicles, and know who owns or drives them, please report them to CFU Bulawayo office - tel 69223.
Model colour Reg. number
Peugeot 504 saloon beige, battered 331 116 H
Mazda B1800 pickup red, no canopy, new 757 310 M
Mazda 323 saloon white 572 044 L
Peugeot 504 pickup white, with canopy 599 045 K
Opel Voyager st. wagon, Kadette 483 348 C
Mazda 323 hatchback 3 door 661 138 C
Mazda 323 saloon 4 door green 651 947 M
Peugeot 504 saloon green 572 999 L (not sure of last digits)
No description 592 076 P
Nissan 3 tonne lorry 685 584 Z
No description 452 859 M
From The Star (SA), 22 August
War vets' homes torched by Zimbabwean police
Chitungwiza - Zimbabwean police burned down huts and brick houses built by liberation war veterans who have occupied a white-owned farm just south of Harare, but veterans vowed on Tuesday to stay on the land. A reporter who visited the scene said dwellings erected by the veterans for about 100 black Zimbabweans on the Stoneridge farm in Chitungwiza, 10km suth of the capital, were reduced to smouldering ruins. But defiant war veterans refused to move, calling the crackdown an act of betrayal. "Police officers started to set everything on fire and destroy everything around them" said Chipo Dziki, one of the occupiers. "They took us by surprise - it is betrayal." We will stay until we get our land", said another occupier, Mbuya Chembire. "Even President Robert Mugabe won't make us move."
Witnesses said more than 100 police officers went to the farm on Monday night and ordered veterans to remove their belongings from their houses before setting the buildings on fire. But police did not order the veterans off the land. The farm had been occupied since May, and war veterans had allotted parcels of land to about 100 people who were living in clay huts and shacks. Since February, vterans of Zimbabwe's independence war have led sometimes violent occupations of white-owned farms to urge the government to speed up its land reform plan.
Two weeks, ago, a dozen black children living on a neighboring farm were taken hostage by war veterans. The white-led CFU said some of the children were sexually molested. Seven war veterans had been arrested in connection with the incident. The state-owned daily Herald said the action against veterans showed that police were beginning to restore order. The police had previously been accused of standing by or supporting the land occupations, which had largely been approved by Mugabe.
From Ananova (UK), 22 August
Squatters ordered off white farms while Mugabe's away
In their first serious response to Zimbabwe's six-month-old farm occupations, police have started tearing down shelters built by militants squatting on some white-owned farms. Police have destroyed scores of the shelters and ordered more than 700 occupiers to evacuate farms on the western and southern outskirts of the capital Harare. About 100 squatters were driven off a farm near Chitungwiza, a township south of Harare, on Monday. Earlier this month, ruling party militants on the farm were accused of abducting and sexually molesting 17 farmworkers' children. Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said officers also arrested 13 militants who threw up makeshift roadblocks and halted traffic for several hours on a main road into Harare from north-eastern Zimbabwe.
It was unclear how long the police action would continue or whether it would be extended countrywide. Significantly, the move came when Marxist President Robert Mugabe was out of the country. Home Affairs minister John Nkomo ordered the action while Mr Mugabe was attending an economic summit in neighbouring Mozambique. Two previous orders by senior ministers for occupiers to leave private land - one made by Vice President Joseph Msika when Mr Mugabe was away at a summit in Cuba - have been quickly revoked by the president. In recent weeks, Mr Mugabe has come under increasing pressure to restore law and order in farming districts, which are the backbone of Zimbabwe's economy. He has dashed previous hopes for an end to the tense land stand-off that has disrupted the production of wheat, corn - the staple food - and tobacco, Zimbabwe's main hard currency earner. Mr Nkomo told the official Zimbabwe news agency that police would no longer tolerate lawlessness on farms and urban plots and said new illegal occupations would be prevented. "There should be no interference with normal farming activities. I expect all concerned to take note that anarchy and all other similar negative attitudes shall be dealt with swiftly and thoroughly."
From Business Day (SA), 23 August
Police evict farm invaders
HARARE Zimbabwean police are cracking down on war veterans who have invaded thousands of white-owned farms across the country. The police action, launched quietly two weeks ago, comes amid mounting international pressure on President Robert Mugabe's government to rein in rising lawlessness in farming districts. It also follows the recent decision by the CFU to drop all litigation against the government for its failure to maintain law and order. Sources in the cabinet said yesterday the government was particularly keen to remove war veterans from farms which it had not designated for compulsory acquisition.
Yesterday police intensified their action and evicted hundreds of war veterans from farms. They also destroyed shacks on Monday built on a farm by war veterans. At least 200 policemen were deployed on the farm where some of the self-styled war veterans have vowed to stay put. Home Affairs Minister John Nkomo, under whom the police fall, and police commissioner Augustine Chihuri were not available for comment.
Analysts said the police crackdown was causing ructions in some political circles. Some ruling Zanu (PF) officials were said to be angry with Nkomo's move. They were said to be threatening to confront him to dissuade him from "arresting their party supporters". A clique of Zanu (PF) MPs and their associates are said to have drafted a plan to form an organisation called the National Development Assembly to address a number of problems facing the ruling party, with Nkomo's action being one of the issues of concern. Nine MPs including Zimbabwe's former intelligence chief, Shadreck Chipanga, are said to be associated with this move.
From The Daily News, 22 August
War vets accused of allocating land for kapenta, mealie-meal
KARIBA's land hungry people have accused the war veterans of asking for Zanu PF membership cards, kapenta and maize meal for their names to be on the list for possible resettlement under the fast track land redistribution programme. "The war veterans told me that there was no land for the opposition," said Shame Vheremu, a member of the MDC. "They said this programme was going to benefit Zanu PF supporters only. They told me to go to Tsvangirai if I wanted land." But Norman Munhedzi, the chairman of war veterans association in Kariba, denied the allegations. "We are not asking for anything. It is not even a requirement that people declare their political affiliation. All that we need is a Zimbabwean national identity card for one to qualify."
Meanwhile, a row has erupted between war veterans in Hurungwe and Makonde over Kuti Farm where the provincial governor, Peter Chanetsa launched the resettlement programme two weeks ago. The Hurungwe group invaded the farm in February. It accused its counterparts in Makonde of trying to get pieces of land without a fight. "We were here when things were so bad," said Enerst Karimamunga of Hurungwe. "We soldiered on. But now land is going to people who didn't even experience the war we fought in these farms." Kuti Farm is among 804 farms compulsorily acquired by the government for resettlement.
From The Daily News, 22 August
16 Zesa power generators break down
Sixteen power generators used by the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) have broken down, compounding the already weak power supply of the utility, officials said. Zesa says it is unable to repair them because of foreign currency shortage. In addition, two power stations at Kariba are down and four others at Hwange Power Station are out of service owing to serious mechanical faults. In a statement, Zesa said the Harare power plant had limited power outages and could not sufficiently supply electricity to the city. Munyati power station was shut down because there is no coal for the generators, while another power station in Bulawayo has limited coal stocks. Zesa said it had suffered more operational losses in most of its core business activities, including generation, transmission and distribution systems.
The debt-ridden parastatal introduced power rationing on 27 January. "Regrettably, the authority has been forced to depart from that programme on several occasions due to the continued supply shortfalls mainly as a result of foreign currency and fuel shortages," said a Zesa spokesman. The persistent fuel shortage has seriously affected Zesa's thermal power stations. We have recently concluded an agreement with SNEL of the DRC to increase power supply from 150 MW to 250 MW, payable in local currency," said the spokesman. Additional electricity would only be obtained after the upgrading of the line between Zambia and the DRC.
The power authority, reeling under a heavy operational loss of nearly $1 billion, imports power from South Africa's Eskom, DRC and Mozambique's Cabora Bassa. The executive chairman of Zesa, Sydney Gata has denied reports that Eskom has threatened to cut off supplies to Zimbabwe because of a mounting debt. "We never received threats to cut supply of electricity from Eskom," he said. But Gata said the South African company was under pressure from its consumers not to continue to supply Zesa with power without payment while "it quickly disconnects South African consumers for failing to pay their bills". Gata said Zesa owes Eskom and the Cabora Bassa Company of Mozambique US$20 million and US$35 million respectively. Gata also said that Zesa's contract with Eskom runs up to 2003. He said Zesa would soon get a loan facility of US$95 million from the Standard Chartered Bank in London to clear its debts with suppliers from neighbouring countries.
From The Daily News, 22 August
Foreign Press in Zimbabwe forced to reduce operations
Foreign journalists working in Zimbabwe have been forced to scale down their operations after the British and American foreign offices warned them they could be targets of government-sponsored intimidation. Some foreign journalists told The Daily News yesterday they had either increased security around their homes or scaled down their operations so they did not work late. This was after intelligence reports that Western journalists in Zimbabwe could be targeted for violence as President Mugabe continues to attack the foreign Press for his country's negative image abroad. Mugabe has, in almost all his speeches before and after the June parliamentary election, attacked the foreign Press for worsening Zimbabwe's plight through their articles. Only last week, at the Heroes' Day commemoration, he lashed out at the foreign Press for describing the land reform process at "a land grab".
The US embassy is said to have called US journalists based in Zimbabwe to warn them to "watch their backs". The British Foreign Office has warned that Western journalists could be targets of violent intimidation. The warnings have been circulated through London and Washington. Foreign journalists who spoke to The Daily News on condition of in anonymity for fear of reprisals said the US-based Associated Press planned to strengthen security at the home of its reporters. A story written by Andrew Meldrum for The Observer newspaper in London said a US embassy official had phoned him to say the embassy had received intelligence reports "that government agents, presumably from the notorious CIO, planned to harass British and American correspondents". Meldrum, who has been reporting from Zimbabwe for the past 20 years, said he was taking the warning seriously. Neither the British nor US embassies were willing to discuss the issue. Efforts to get a comment from the Minister of State for Information and Publicity in the President's Office, Jonathan Moyo, failed.
Editorial from The Daily News, 22 August
Recounts alone not a fruitful exercise
Less than 24 hours after Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede announced the final results of the 24 and 25 June general election, MDC president, Morgan Tsvangirai, gave notice that his party would challenge the poll results in at least 20 constituencies. The number of constituencies in which results are being disputed has since nearly doubled.
Explaining his party's reasons for challenging the results in specified constituencies, which included Buhera North where he himself narrowly lost to former Manicaland governor, Kenneth Manyonda, Tsvangirai said that Zanu PF had won in most of the rural areas because of political violence or subversion by either its ordinary supporters, war veterans or both. That these are, indeed, valid grounds for challenging the poll results in most, if not all, rural constituencies, no one can doubt. With the obvious exception of the group of observers from South Africa which consisted mostly of parliamentarians, and which group appears to have had an agenda of its own in setting itself up as a separate observer group in the first place, all independent observer groups, foreign and internal, were unanimous that the election was neither free nor fair.
Indeed, even the somewhat maverick, if a little naive, Commonwealth Secretary-General, Don McKinnon, declared as much. Having earlier badly tarnished his image by allowing himself to be used by President Mugabe to gloss over his party's terror campaign, McKinnon found himself at the end having to endorse the Commonwealth Observer Group's verdict. The high level of pre-election violence unleashed on voters by Mugabe's Zanu PF, he told the world, had rendered the holding of a free and fair election impossible.
Thus, it came as not much of a surprise that the MDC, which, barring the pre-election terror campaign, had been widely favoured to win by a landslide, took the decision to challenge the election results. In fact, the opposite would have been true. Had the MDC not disputed the results most of its supporters would have been surprised or even disappointed. Already, the MDC has successfully challenged the results in at least three constituencies, namely Mazowe East, Marondera East and Buhera North. In all of these constituencies all that the courts did was to rule that there were reasonable grounds to suspect electoral irregularities and duly proceeded to order a recount in each case.
And in each case the recount has yielded the same result: the number of votes did not tally with those originally given by Mudede. That all the recounts also so far have invariably had the apparently embarrassing effect of stretching the lead by which the winners beat their MDC opponents is neither here nor there. It is the fact of irregularities having been proved to have crept into the polls that is all-important. In addition to these ongoing successes in its challenges of individual constituency results, the MDC has also scored an important victory in its bid to prove conclusively that it was robbed of victory in a number of constituencies. Last week the Supreme Court nullified 6 000 postal votes cast in the June election, opening the way for possible fresh challenges by the opposition in those constituencies where such votes can be viewed as having been a decisive factor. The ballots in question were cast by members of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces on active duty in the DRC and we are told the constituencies affected by the ruling include Buhera North, Marondera East and West, Makoni East and West, Chinhoyi and Bindura.
It is said that the law is an ass. And this particular exercise makes it appear to be decidedly just that. The average citizen can be forgiven for regarding this whole process as needlessly tortuous and frustratingly long. What the opposition would like to see to force fresh polls is the establishment by the courts that sufficient undue influences such as duress, violence and threats were used and possibly swayed results in favour of Zanu PF in any given constituency. Yet all that these recounts have achieved so far is to emphatically confirm the results. We are told they are necessary to establish the fact that the electoral process was flawed. Maybe. Here is to hope this will lead to the logical next step - the staging of fresh polls in those constituencies. Anything less would render the whole thing a costly, fruitless exercise and, therefore, foolish.
From The Daily News, 22 August
MDC starts preparing for council polls
Bulawayo - THE MDC has begun to prepare for council elections in Harare and Bulawayo, party leader Morgan Tsvangirai said on Saturday. Addressing thousands of Bulawayo residents at a victory celebration party at White City Stadium, Tsvangirai said the MDC wanted to control all towns and cities. "Zanu PF should not be allowed to breathe in our councils," said Tsvangirai, to thunderous applause from the crowd. "Sleeping in Parliament and council chambers is now history."
Lucy Mativenga, the MDC national chairperson, said: "We cannot have MDC MPs and Zanu PF councillors. That will be akin to having the head of a fish and the body of a snake." Two former Zanu PF councillors in Bulawayo crossed the floor and joined the MDC. Tsvangirai introduced the defectors, Mike Parira Mpofu and Matson Hlalo, the former head of the Affirmative Action Group at the meeting. Another councillor, Charles Mpofu did not turn up. The MDC's vice-president, Gibson Sibanda said the three councillors were pushed into joining the MDC by Zanu PF's lack of transparency and its culture of violence. However, he warned defectors that they would not get automatic leadership positions in the party.
From The Daily News, 22 August
Struggle for governorship erupts
Bulawayo - A power struggle for governorship has erupted in Matabeleland South Province with two Zanu PF officials said to be engaging war veterans to decampaign the incumbent, Stephen Nkomo. Last week, the war veterans went to Nkomo's office where they told him to "improve" or they would throw him out of office. Nkomo could not be reached for comment. The Member of Parliament for Gwanda South, Abednico Ncube, and Abdul Nyathi, the first vice-president of the Zimbabwe Farmers' Union, are said to be undermining the governor's authority and have been bypassing him on various matters to make him look "a weak governor", officials said. The jockeying for the post is similar to that which led to the ousting of Welshman Mabhena as governor for Matabeleland North who was replaced with Obert Mpofu. Ncube is said to be campaigning for an appointment to office by President Mugabe as recognition for winning one of the only two seats which Zanu PF won in Matabeleland. Approached for comment, Ncube said: "Your paper always publishes lies. I am too busy to respond to your questions."