Zimbabwe Farm invasions in Zimbabwe's northern area of Chinhoyi have
brought to the world's attention the alarming situation in the country:
lawlessness, state-sponsored violence, rule by the mob and racism against white
farmers. They also put in evidence another burning issue: the government's war
on the media. Journalists who tried to report independently on the events of
Chinhoyi were abused and intimidated by the mob. The New York Times reporter who
came to the courthouse for the hearing of 22 white farmers had his notes torn. A
Daily Telegraph reporter was told when she appeared at the same spot, "We will
hurt you, you bitch." The journalist from the only privately owned daily, the
Daily News, had to flee after the reporter from the state-owned Herald pointed
him out to the aggressive mob.
This is a pattern. The government of
Robert Mugabe is trying to cleanse the field of independent voices, leaving only
the state propaganda mouthpieces.
The commander in chief of this war on
media is the minister of information, Jonathan Moyo, once a critic of the Mugabe
regime but now his master's voice.
The campaign against foreign media which
started this year has seen two reporters expelled; accreditation of another one
was not renewed. The BBC has been banned from the country. Screening of new
journalist visa applications can take up to a month.
The local press suffers even harsher
treatment. A reporter and an editor from the independent weekly Standard were
tortured in January 1999. The offices and the printing house of the Daily News
were bombed in April 2000 and January 2001, respectively, and last week the
editor and three others were detained for a day after the paper ran a story
about use of police vehicles in farm looting in Chinhoyi.
The Mugabe regime introduced with the
Broadcasting Law a de facto state monopoly of radio and television broadcasts.
Mr. Moyo is setting up new bodies that will decide on ethics and who qualifies
as a journalist. Soon Parliament will discuss a Freedom of Information Act that
has already been criticized by the Media Institute of Southern Africa and the
World Press Freedom Committee.
American lawmakers want President Mugabe
to provide assistance to "support an independent and free press and electronic
media in Zimbabwe." (The Zimbabwe Democracy Act, recently passed by the Senate.)
Freedom of the media is also among the demands made on Mr. Mugabe by the
European Union and the Commonwealth if he wants to avoid being further
criticized and ostracized.
Some time ago a Zimbabwean professor of
philosophy commented on the reasons for any government's attack on the media:
"Empirical evidence from throughout the world shows that when ruling politicians
become nervous about the security of their political positions, they target the
press with reckless abandon."
Comrade Minister Jonathan Moyo (he is the
author of that quote) would do well to realize that empirical evidence from
throughout the world demonstrates how other, even more repressive regimes than
the one he is representing lost the information war.
The Soviet Union under Leonid Brezhnev
had its samizdats, and Radio Liberty beaming in from abroad. In Poland,
clandestine newspapers were printed, news circulated on cassettes, and
clandestine radio broadcasts were made even under the state of emergency imposed
by General Wojciech Jaruzelski.
More recently, Slobodan Milosevic failed
to silence the independent radio station B-92, and printed news was smuggled
into Serbia from Bosnia and Montenegro.
Those who want to speak the truth in
Zimbabwe have a wide choice of techniques and tricks that pierced through
tighter gags than the one the Mugabe regime is trying to impose.
Comrades Brezhnev, Jaruzelski and
Milosevic have few admirers and no streets named after them. One day Harare
citizens will see Robert Mugabe Street renamed, too.
The writer, a senior political analyst
at the International Crisis Group, contributed this comment to the International
"I do not want to go to a place where I am going to be murdered. I found out
half my labour force had been murdered just because they said they wanted me
"They said I was a racist but how can I be racist when my friends and my
girlfriend were black?"
His solicitor Barry Clark said: "The appeal is on the grounds that Mr
Wilkie-Page feels it is unsafe to return because of the situation with regard to
farmers in that country and he will be in fear of persecution."
A Home Office spokesman said he could not comment on Mr Wilkie-Page's
individual case and that each appeal is assessed on its merits.
The turmoil in Zimbabwe has
been caused by Robert Mugabe's opportunism
t may be no accident that the latest
outbursts of thuggery in Zimbabwe have flared up in Chinhoyi. The first fatal
clashes in the black nationalist uprising after Zanu, Robert Mugabe's liberation
party, turned from civic protest to armed struggle against the Ian Smith regime
took place in this rich farming region.
Chinhoyi (then called Sinoia) became an emotional symbol in the war against
the settlers and so this was the spot that the president chose for his final
rally in last year's violence-ridden election campaign. In an act of calculated
humiliation, he even summoned a group of white farmers to sit in the VIP tent as
though they were his supporters. Now 21 of them are in prison, denied bail on
flimsy-looking charges of assault. Others are on the run with their families,
leaving a hard core to take out their guns and guard their beleaguered property.
Mugabe, meanwhile, uses the crisis for new bombast against the foreign coverage
of Zimbabwe: "What is our crime? Our crime is that we are black."
Whether the latest crisis escalated by accident or has been deliberately
orchestrated by Mugabe, it highlights the lawlessness that continues to be
Zimbabwe's biggest problem. The president is trying to turn it into an issue of
racism but his case is thin. Most violence in last year's election was
"Shona-on-Shona". It had little to do with whites and blacks, just as it had
little to do with "war veterans". Most of the thugs were not old enough in the
1970s to have held guns or helped as bush messengers for the liberation army.
The largest number of victims were either black farm workers of the type who
lived on the white-owned farms of Chinhoyi or rural subsistence farmers in the
so-called communal areas. The blunt message was that they should vote for
Zanu-PF or face even more violence.
tactic worked well in the constituencies of Mashonaland, but it was remarkably
unsuccessful elsewhere. Almost half the electorate showed considerable courage
in opting for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The fact that
the MDC, the largest multi-racial party in Zimbabwe's history, did well in
Zimbabwe's cities, with their large populations of rural migrants, shows ethnic
identity has ceased to have much political relevance in most Zimbabweans' minds.
The MDC's white candidates got as much support in the largely black
constituencies where they ran as did the party's black candidates. In Bulawayo a
tribally based party, Zapu 2000, failed miserably against the MDC's David
Coltart. In the welter of violence that pervaded Zimbabwe's elections last
summer, ethnic antagonism between Shona and Ndebele hardly ever emerged.
The problem in Zimbabwe is not racism but violation of the rule of law. In
the latest incidents in Chinhoyi, it has been sadly clear - again - that the
police are unwilling to take action against the so-called war veterans. This
fits the pattern that Mugabe has also encouraged with his attack on the
country's independent judiciary. Using intimidation and other forms of threats,
he has forced several judges to retire. Although he tries to present the issue
in racial terms, there is no foundation for it. Some of the white judges he
castigated were just as independent, and critical of the executive's
high-handedness, in the days of Smith.
Some of Mugabe's foreign critics, particularly those on the right, like to
portray Zimbabwe as a "typical African basketcase". There is undoubtedly a
strong racist core to this view. Others, at least in Britain, have never
forgiven him for winning the first majority-rule election against the
expectations of the Thatcher government.
In fact, Zimbabwe does not conform to easy stereotypes, as its leading
historian, Terence Ranger, and two co-authors pointed out in an illuminating
recent study, entitled Violence and Memory: One Hundred Years in the "Dark
Forests" of Matabeleland. In contrast to the violence in other parts of
post-colonial Africa, they say Zimbabwe's problems after independence in 1980
were not the product of a disintegrating or failed state, or of a
retraditionalisation of politics round the concept of a strong leader, the Big
Rather, they were the consequence of an excessively strong state inherited
from colonial Rhodesia. An already powerful security system became even more
centralised and entrenched after Smith's unilateral declaration of independence
in 1965 as the settler regime imposed unity in the battle against international
sanctions and later against the guerrilla armies.
Ranger and his co-authors also point to the problems caused by the
"commandist" ideology and the belief in a one-party state and a strong executive
presidency that Zimbabwe's African leaders took from European Leninism. These
were shared by Joshua Nkomo's Zapu as much as Mugabe's Zanu-PF. This, they
write, explains why "Zimbabwean nationalism turned out to be authoritarian
rather than emancipatory, and we are under no illusions that had Zapu won the
1980 elections things would have been very different".
The sad fact is that Mugabe has turned out to be Smith's heir. Whether he
uses racism for opportunistic reasons or whether he believes in it, he is making
an issue where none ought to be. What Zimbabwe needs is rule of law, democracy
Land reform is undoubtedly a high priority, but there are plenty of schemes
on offer that would bring it about - not least the one that foreign donors
worked out with the Zimbabwean government in 1998.
Under that scheme the government agreed to accept a transparent and
democratic distribution system in which the recipients of land would be chosen
after community consultations. War veterans would not be the main beneficiaries
so much as people with proven farming ability. The cooperative model would give
way to individual tenure and the new African owners would get title to the land
instead of being leaseholders of the state.
Unfortunately, that agreement withered because Britain and other donors were
slow to put their cash promises on the table, and Mugabe turned the issue into a
political batteringram by authorising war veterans to occupy farms.
The United Nations has tried to broker a compromise, but without a return to
the rule of law it cannot begin. Now, with Mugabe in his present mood, it is
probably too optimistic to expect any improvement until after next year's
election. He is desperate to stay in power, and next year's campaign may be even
Violence and Memory: One Hundred Years in the "Dark Forests" of
Matabeleland by Jocelyn Alexander, Jo Ann McGregor and Terence Ranger (James
HARARE An outspoken Zimbabwean journalist was questioned by police for more
than two hours yesterday in connection with a report alleging the government had
drawn up a "hit list" of critical journalists.
The report, published in Zimbabwe's Sunday Standard newspaper, said the list
included almost all prominent journalists working for the country's independent
media and that foreign correspondents were being closely watched.
Basildon Peta, special projects editor of the independent Financial Gazette
and a correspondent for The Independent newspaper of London, was summoned for
questioning after saying he had also been warned about the hit list.
In an essay published yesterday in The Independent, he said one police
officer told his lawyer they wanted to talk to him so they could offer
protection, but another said they planned to arrest him.
Shortly after leaving Harare's central police station yesterday, Peta said he
had not done anything wrong. "I think they are finding it difficult to find
anything to nail me on," he said.
Over the past 18 months, ruling partybacked militants have occupied hundreds
of white-owned commercial farms, and the government has pledged to seize nearly
95% of the farms owned by whites to redistribute to landless blacks.
Parliamentary elections last June and subsequent by-elections have been
wracked by violence, which human rights groups blame mainly on ruling party
militants. The violence is expected to increase ahead of presidential elections
scheduled for next year.
The government's handling of the crisis has been condemned by a handful of
fiercely independent publications, whose journalists have in turn been
physically attacked by militants and verbally abused by senior government
officials. Several foreign journalists have been expelled from the country and
the government has introduced stringent new press legislation.
"Despite all these threats against me I will keep on doing my job as a
journalist, but it certainly worries me," Peta said.
On Wednesday, Mark Chavunduka, the Sunday Standard's editor, was summoned by
police and warned that he faced prosecution on criminal libel charges for
reprinting an article from the Sunday Times of London that alleged Mugabe was
terrified of the ghost of former guerrilla commander Josia Tongogara, killed in
Mozambique in 1979.
Chavunduka denied defaming anyone and demanded to know who had lodged a
complaint. Chavunduka was abducted and tortured with reporter Ray Choto in
January 1999 after they alleged there was unrest in the military, which had
suffered losses in the war in the Congo.
The independently owned Daily News and Zimbabwe Mirror have also been warned
of imminent prosecution for alleging police complicity in recent farm attacks in
President Robert Mugabe lashed out on Wednesday at white farmers who have
accused his government of discriminating against them.
"Why should they be treated as if they are next to God? If anything they are
next to he himself who commands evil and resides in the inferno," Mugabe said on
Aug 24 2001
12:00:00:000AM Business Day 1st Edition
ZIMBABWE: Twenty thousand black farm workers and their
families were thrown out of their homes this week as President Robert Mugabe's
war veterans intensified their campaign to destroy Zimbabwe's white farming
The war veterans and other militant supporters of Mr Mugabe have brought 14
white-owned farms in the productive Hwedza district to a halt and forced the
labourers to disperse. Many of the labourers have nowhere to go and can be seen
by the side of dusty roads seeking shelter from the bitter winter nights.
At least five white farmers have abandoned their land under threats of
violence and 20 more farms have been forced to stop all work. The war veterans
go to new properties each day .
In Hwedza the campaign is led by man called Chigwedere, described by one
farmer as "a war lord crazed by his own power".
"He is creating a humanitarian crisis here," the farmer added. "His aim is to
rid this area of white farmers and he doesn't care how much misery he causes to
our workers. Our workers are frightened and suffering and Chigwedere is
preventing us from even offering them any assistance." Nearby a grey-haired man
carrying a suitcase on his head stopped to catch his breath. He was too
frightened to give his name.
"We were thrown off our farm yesterday and our family was scattered," he
said. "Last night we slept under a tree. We hope we can find some friends a few
miles away where we can get some food and a place to sleep. Then we must keep
moving because of all this trouble." On the back roads there were more families
lugging their belongings in duffel bags and satchels. Some were heading for the
nearby towns of Marondera and Ruwa.
The war veterans are starting fires which are sweeping through hectares of
dry grazing pastures. Columns of smoke can be seen rising from the rolling
Meanwhile, 21 white farmers who were arrested when they tried to help a
besieged neighbour remained in jail last night despite Monday's high court order
to release them on bail .
They were not released, because officials had not yet produced the warrants
for their release, the official Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation reported.
The continuing disturbances caused by the land invasions are blamed by
veterinary experts for an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease that has hit the
country and halted its once lucrative export trade of beef to Europe.
Rachel Donnelly adds from London:The British Foreign Secretary, Mr Jack
Straw, yesterday condemned the persecution of journalists in Zimbabwe but
insisted the country's invitation to the Commonwealth conference in Australia
should not be withdrawn.
In a strongly worded attack on President Mugabe's "outrageous" attempts to
stifle dissent, Mr Straw told the London Independent that freedom of speech must
In recent days Mr Basildon Peta, a journalist working for the newspaper in
Harare, discovered he was at the top of a "state-sponsored hit list" of
journalists who were to be "killed or harmed" before next year's presidential
elections. Commenting on the developments, Mr Straw said it was "a mark of
Mugabe's government that it has sought to silence its critics, and that in turn
is a mark of a brutal regime and an insecure one."
South Africa is hardening its stand against Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe
as his country's deepening crisis threatens to have a greater impact on the
whole region, officials and analysts said on Thursday.
Scathing comments about Zimbabwe by South African Reserve Bank governor Tito
Mboweni have reinforced other signals that his government is putting more
pressure on Mugabe, they said.
"The president has said he is very concerned about what is going on in
Zimbabwe," Bheki Khumalo, spokesman for President Thabo Mbeki, told Reuters on
"Over the next few weeks he will meet the presidents of Malawi, Botswana and
Mozambique in Zimbabwe to try and seek a solution. That process will unfold over
the next few weeks."
Mboweni, alarmed by the rand's slide to record lows against the dollar,
pound, and euro, stepped up the official rhetoric sharply on Wednesday, saying
of Zimbabwe that "the wheels have come off there."
"The situation has become untenable when it is seen that the highest office
in the land seems to support illegal means of land reform, land invasions, the
occupation of land, beating up of people, blood flowing everywhere," Mboweni
Economic analysts said that Mboweni's comments helped support the battered
rand, which had dived to a new low of 8.45 to the dollar earlier in the day in
response to comments by a fringe South African politician in Harare.
Thami ka Plaatjie, secretary-general of the Pan-Africanist Congress, warned
that an explosion in South Africa over the slow pace of land reform was
inevitable, and its consequences would be "too ghastly to contemplate".
First public concern over Zimbabwe
Southern African leaders acknowledged publicly for the first time 10 days ago
that Zimbabwe's deepening political and economic crisis was causing concern and
appointed a committee of presidents to try to resolve Zimbabwe's problems.
A week earlier, Mbeki admitted - also for the first time - that his efforts
to avoid collapse in South Africa's northern neighbour and biggest trading
partner had failed, and the crisis was threatening the entire region.
"We sit across the border from Zimbabwe, and critical for South Africa must
surely be that we don't have a situation that the IMF warned about at the
beginning of this year: a meltdown in Zimbabwe," he said.
Mbeki has come under fire in the past for taking a neutral stand on Mugabe's
support for the seizure of Zimbabwe's mainly white-owned commercial farmland.
Top South African officials have repeatedly said that a similar land-grab
would not be tolerated at home, but the absence of strong condemnation of
Zimbabwe's controversial land reform has undermined the credibility of those
Land transfers must be legal
Mboweni stressed on Wednesday that any transfer of land in South Africa would
have to take place within the framework of the law. Mbeki's spokesman echoed
that position on Thursday. "I want to reiterate what the governor said last
night. The South African government will not tolerate any land invasions of any
sort. The full might of the law will take its course against anyone organising
land invasions," Khumalo said.
Political analysts said the South African government was becoming more
worried about the likelihood of an influx of refugees from Zimbabwe, where
unemployment is running at more than 50% and inflation at 75%.
The collapse of democracy there also undermined Mbeki's recovery plan for
Africa, dubbed the "New Africa Initiative". "The softly, softly approach has
definitely disappeared," HSBC Securities political analyst Nic Borain told
"The South African government has made that very clear in the past few weeks
- it is very worried about a meltdown in Zimbabwe. Mboweni's comments fit very
much into the hardening of attitude."
Harare - The
Zimbabwean government threatened on Thursday to punish journalists who "tarnish"
the image of its security forces.
It offered no response to stinging criticism by the South African Reserve
Bank Governor a day earlier of the way it had been seizing farmland and
silencing its opponents
It offered no response to stinging criticism by the South African Reserve
Bank Governor a day earlier of the way it had been seizing farmland and
silencing its opponents.
The warning to journalists came a day after an independent newspaper editor
was briefly arrested for reproducing a story published by Britain's Sunday Times
which claimed that Mugabe was being haunted by the ghost of the commander of his
1970s independence war fighters, General Josiah Tongogara.
Vice-President Simon Muzenda told a police parade on Thursday that "errant
journalists" - especially those he accused of portraying the army, police and
secret service as "barbaric and morally decadent" - would face the full wrath of
"The government is aware of the subtle strategies being perpetuated by
unpatriotic citizens and sell-outs to portray Zimbabwe as a society devoid of
law and order," Muzenda said.
Mark Chavunduka, editor of the Sunday Standard, said on Thursday that he was
briefly detained by police on Wednesday over the ghost story, and said he may
face defamation charges.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwean officials who normally relish challenging Mugabe's
critics were either unavailable or declined to comment on Wednesday's damning
attack by the South African central bank head on Harare's land reform programme.
Zimbabwe has been in crisis since February 2000, when militants began
invading white-owned farms, saying that more land should be turned over to the
black majority. The government has backed the militants, but farm output has
South Africa's rand dived to fresh lows on Wednesday on worries about
mounting instability in Zimbabwe, its largest African trading partner.
"The wheels have come off there," Mboweni told an investment conference on
Wednesday, abandoning South Africa's largely quiet diplomacy towards Zimbabwe.
"The situation has become untenable when it is seen that the highest office
in that land seems to support illegal means of land reform, land invasions, the
occupation of land, beating up of people, blood flowing everywhere," Mboweni
Political analysts in Zimbabwe said Mugabe's government must have been
stunned by Mboweni's tough remarks.
"It's unexpected from South Africa and they must be quite surprised at the
hard tone of Mboweni's statement," said political analyst Masipula Sithole.
"I think the temptation in this case would be to pretend nothing was said
because it undermines the government's posture that it enjoys unquestioned
solidarity," Sithole added.
Zimbabwe is grappling with an acute fuel shortage, a hard currency crisis and
looming food shortages which threaten to spark street protests.
Pro-government militants occupying white-owned farms have stepped up the
pressure on farmers in the past few days after a Sunday newspaper quoted
Agriculture Minister Joseph Made as saying owners must quit properties targeted
for resettlement by the end of August.
August 19, 2001 Please note that this article does not necessarily reflect
the views of the Movement for Democratic Change.
What can you say
about these people in Zanu PF? In the past two weeks they have persistently
shot themselves in the foot on a daily basis. The farm invasions were
world-wide news; ethnic cleansing it was called in a dozen respectable
newspapers. Pictures of pets being put down by a vet and of thousands of
homeless workers and their families displaced by the invasions did not help
either. 21 middle aged white farmers were held for over two weeks while the
magistrate and then the Judge pondered how to make a decision that would not
infringe their legal training or infuriate their political masters. The
charge, they "beat up" a group of young thugs who out numbered them by about
5 to 1 in a melee that resulted when they tried to rescue some of their
number from a hostage situation.
Then they locked up Geoff Nyarota again
- I lose count how many times he has been detained - it must be some sort of
record. This time they really did it - they charged him and three other
senior staff from the Daily News under an Act that had been struck down as
unconstitutional three years before. They were released only to be charged
with sedition under the same Act a few hours later - but not held over this
time. You cannot attack the press like this and get away with it - the story
was headlines all over the globe for two days.
Mugabe went off to meet
his brother heads of State in Blantyre and fully expected what he had always
got before - grudging respect for his tough stand and public support for the
"Land Reform Policy" he was pursuing. In fact he got a shock. Not only was
the atmosphere decidedly cold, he was not allowed any comfort and instead,
the other SADC leaders decided that they could not endorse his programme this
time and they assigned three of their number to "talk to Mugabe" outside of
The impact of this turn of events on the situation here
was immediate. The word went out, back track; this is a diplomatic
landslide!! The state-controlled media went into a frenzy of badly designed
propaganda - these farm invasions? They are the products of an evil plot by
the British who want to discredit the Zimbabwe government. Moyo was a laugh a
minute - talking about "brutal assaults by farmers on legally settled
farmers". The one I laughed at most was a picture of a group of settlers in a
field of wheat commandeered from a commercial farmer - their complaint, the
farmer has turned off the electricity - they called it economic
But the chilling thing about all this is that it is part of a
greater plan - one on such a scale that people find it difficult to believe
that they really mean to do this to their own people. Mad Made said it all on
Sunday - all farmers who have been designated must leave the land and let
the government get on with the settlement of small-scale farmers aided by
the army. Pleas went out from anxious Ministers watching the tell tale signs
of a new season - please go and occupy the land we have won for you. Start
land preparation now so that you can grow something this summer. Time is
running out for this land revolution and if they cannot persuade at least
half a million people to move onto these farms soon, their whole strategy
will be in ruins.
The consequences of this madness will be another
year of hardship and hunger for the country. Sanctions are now almost certain
under the American initiative - albeit aimed at the Zanu elite and not the
people of Zimbabwe. The EU will follow suit with their own sanctions on the
Zanu elite and that is going to make things very difficult for them. The next
hurdle for Mugabe is the meeting in Lagos where he must face the British in
an environment where the majority of African leaders are now a bit ashamed of
what he is doing and wish he were on another continent. That meeting will be
chaired by a man who thinks Mugabe is now a hindrance to African
As for those of us in the trenches - we have to dig deep to
find the strength to carry on despite the hardship and the hunger. We have to
quietly prepare for the day when we can go over the top in a charge that will
take us with our votes in our hands to fight the final battle. If we can win
that one, we will help turn the situation here around and play a vital role
in the new renaissance movement in Africa. It would seem at this stage that
we will have little or no help in that final battle - no
international monitors, no proper voters role and a totally biased
administration of the whole procedure.
Zimbabwe government is reportedly mulling the possibility of holding
presidential elections earlier than the expected date of April next year, a
weekly independent paper said on Thursday.
The Financial Gazette
quoted unnamed "authoritative" sources as saying President Robert Mugabe's
cabinet last week started considering holding early elections because the
fast-worsening economic climate is likely to militate against Mugabe's
re-election if polling is held in April.
"An early election date for
January was toyed around with, taking into consideration the expected fall in
living standards by April, the time at which the election is expected to be
held," the sources told the paper.
Mugabe's current presidential term of
office expires in April. He has been at the helm of the country since
independence from Britain in 1980 -- first as a prime minister until 1987 before
he became executive president.
He has overwhemingly swept to victory in
the past four elections.
But observers see next year's poll as more of a
challenge, given mounting economic hardships and the emergence of the Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC), a popular opposition party which is the first to
have a significant representation in parliament.
By Ed O'Loughlin, Herald (Govt Controlled newspaper) Correspondent in
As Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis grows, the
Government has accused Britain of colluding with white farmers to stage-manage
the recent looting and vandalism of dozens of white-owned farms.
The allegations follow 18 days in which bands of militant Government
supporters have driven dozens of white families from their farms, particularly
in the Chinhoyi region of Mashonaland West, 140 kilometres west of Harare.
After touring the region with foreign diplomats on Wednesday, the provincial
governor, Mr Peter Chanetsa, accused London of aiding a deception plan to
discredit the Government.
White farmers had removed items from their homes and displayed them for press
photographers flying overhead in aircraft provided by the farmers, he said.
"These developments would therefore indicate that recording of the
stage-managed looting was a pre-planned move specifically designed to give the
false impression of mass victimisation of whites and lawlessness."
The British High Commissioner, Mr Brian Donnelly, who had been on the tour,
said the claim was "completely unfounded ... absolute nonsense".
The tour came on the same day that 21 white farmers from Chinhoyi were freed
on bail, 17 days after they were arrested for allegedly assaulting self-styled
liberation war veterans who had invaded a neighbour's farm.
The Government says the men had seriously assaulted a group of peaceful
settlers. The farmers' union says its members went to the aid of a colleague
after police refused to move against an armed gang assaulting his home. None of
the "war veterans" was arrested.
President Robert Mugabe has attacked the farmers as criminals who were "next
to he who commands evil and resides in [the] inferno".
Mr Mugabe has repeatedly demanded that Britain, the former colonial power,
fund his campaign to seize most white-owned commercial land and redistribute it
to land-hungry blacks.
The Government says that it is not acceptable that about 4,500 white farmers
should own 12million hectares of developed land while hundreds of thousands of
black subsistence farmers are crowded onto a similar amount of unproductive
communally held land.
Last weekend the Agriculture Minister, Mr Joseph Made, told the
state-controlled press that the white owners of about 95per cent of the
country's commercial land should leave their homes and land "within the next 12
Farmers and the growing black opposition movement accuse Mr Mugabe of using
racial scapegoating to distract attention from the economic crisis created by
his corrupt and authoritarian ruling party.
With the currency collapsing to 10per cent of its value from a year ago, and
with agriculture output sharply down, some United Nations experts are predicting
starvation in the months ahead.
Zimbabwe's crisis has sparked the strongest criticism yet from a senior
African figure. The governor of South Africa's reserve bank, Mr Tito Mboweni,
said on Wednesday that "the wheels have come off there".
"The highest office in that land seems to support illegal means of land
reform, land invasions, the occupation of land, beating up of people, blood
flowing everywhere," Mr Mboweni said.
FORMER state president, Canaan Banana, said this
week the presidential term should be limited to two tenures and that Zimbabwe is
not an individual’s private personal property but belongs to all Zimbabweans.
“All of us must be reminded that Zimbabwe is not one individual’s
private and personal property but belongs to us all,” Banana told 30 journalists
attending a four- day presidential election reporting workshop in Beitridge.
“In fact, as I have observed elsewhere, this nation belongs to the dead
and the living, the already born and those yet to be born.
incidents of intimidation, torture, rape and murder that marked the June 2000
election and some recent by-elections are strategies and tactics that are too
expensive to be entertained,” said Banana.
“The people of Zimbabwe
deserve an atmosphere of peace and serenity to enable them to exercise their
freedom of choice without fear of victimisation from any quarter.”
said the people of Zimbabwe should say no to politicians who sacrificed the
lives of innocent Zimbabweans to achieve political ends. Leaders of all
political parties contesting next year’s presidential election should exercise
political tolerance, he said.
Dumisani Muleya THE Leadership
Code, which politicians disregarded with impunity in the early years of
Independence, is expected to bounce back if the envisaged Prevention of
Corruption Amendment Bill is passed into law.
The Bill, currently being
drafted, will make it an offence for civil servants to accept gifts without
permission from the Public Service Commission. It will also make it an offence
for public officers to possess wealth they cannot account for.
Leadership Code, which the government tried to follow soon after Independence,
had similar provisions as those in the proposed Bill, but failed to work as
senior politicians and civil servants lined their pockets through misuse of
Political commentators this week said Zimbabwe was just going
through the motions in enacting the Bill, saying the likelihood of its
implementation was slim. Most senior Zanu PF functionaries are today
multi-millionaires of repute, having benefited from shady deals in the
procurement of fuel, construction of various government buildings and simple
graft. As new leaders come on stream, the process repeats itself.
Prevention of Corruption Amendment Bill is part of a regime of legislation being
mooted by the government to deal with corruption in line with a Southern African
Development Community (Sadc) protocol against corruption.
include the Criminal Law Code, the Anti-Corruption Commission Bill and the Money
Laundering Bill. The Anti-Corruption Commission Bill will establish an
anti-corruption commission to investigate and deal with corruption at all
levels. With its formation, Zimbabwe will join other countries in the region
like South Africa Botswana, which have similar bodies.
The memorandum of
principle for both the Anti-Corruption Commission Bill and the Prevention of
Corruption Amendment are ready for signing by the Minister of Justice, Legal and
President Mugabe recently signed a Sadc Protocol
against Corruption, whose draft was adopted at the Sadc heads of state and
government meeting in Malawi this month.
Muleya INTERNATIONAL pressure mounted yesterday
on President Robert Mugabe to tackle the country's snowballing crisis before it
reaches breaking point. Worries about Zimbabwe's crisis - already
reverberating throughout Western Europe and North America - are also growing
louder in other quarters of the globe. Oceania countries this week joined in
hauling Mugabe over the coals.
Two federal coalition Australian MPs,
Queensland Liberal Peter Slipper, and National Party Whip, Paul Neville, accused
Mugabe of turning the "Switzerland of southern Africa into a cot case". They
described him as "a dangerous, malicious and aged dictator".
said Mugabe had reduced a once-prosperous country into an economic and political
"Corruption and mismanagement has turned a once wealthy
country into an economic and political disaster area," said New Zealand Foreign
Affairs minister, Phil Goff.
"Violence and intimidation against all of
those seen to oppose government - black and white - has been widespread," he
British Foreign secretary, Jack Straw, said the world must move
fast to confront the rapidly deteriorating situation, which is increasingly
hardening international opinion and generating heated polemics.
told the British Broadcasting Corporation it was critical not to "play into the
hands" of Mugabe by allowing him to turn the current problems into a "black
versus white" or "Britain versus Zimbabwe" duel. "The important point to
bear in mind is that this is now an international problem," he said. Straw was
reacting to calls for London to decisively act against Harare.
home, South Africa's Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni publicly acknowledged
for the first time the crisis in Zimbabwe had inflicted damage on the South
African rand and economy.
"I wish to call a spade a spade," Mboweni
said. "The wheels have come off in Zimbabwe. In a globalised world, no country
can behave as if it was an island."
Mboweni told the South African
Broadcasting Corporation developments in Zimbabwe were "distressing the southern
African region unnecessarily". "It is untenable for the highest offices in
Zimbabwe to be seen supporting illegal means of land distribution. Land
redistribution must be resolved according to the law," he said.
African President Thabo Mbeki, among other regional leaders, has also castigated
Harare saying: "What is happening in Zimbabwe is wrong." However, the
Australian debate on Zimbabwe this week was more acute. The issue ended up
drawing in Prime Minister John Howard, who was called upon to defend the two MPs
who slammed Mugabe after sharp attacks on them by the Zimbabwe High Commissioner
to Canberra, Florence Chitauro.
The former Public Service minister, who
was defeated in Zanu PF primaries before last year's general election, wrote to
Slipper after his remarks, calling him a "racist".
However, Howard, host
of the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Brisbane,
dismissed Chitauro's accusations.
"Well, Peter Slipper is certainly not
racist. Certainly not," Howard said. "Peter Slipper is a very tolerant,
open-minded person. There are difficulties in Zimbabwe...government there is
indifferent to proper democratic processes," he said.
Parliament House in Canberra, Howard said he understood the rising tensions and
emotional outbursts over the Zimbabwe crisis. Australian Foreign Affairs
minister Alexander Downer also defended Slipper in interviews with the
Australian Broadcasting Corporation, saying Chitauro's knee-jerk reaction was
"Well, first of all I know Peter Slipper and I know he's not
racist," Downer said. "The second thing I'd say is that we get reports from our
High Commission; we don't depend on media reports, and the reports have been
disturbing over quite sometime now," he said.
Downer went further: "I'm
a member of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group; Commonwealth Foreign
ministers have discussed this issue. I think it's only fair to say that there's
widespread concern amongst Commonwealth countries, and no doubt others as well,
about the violence that there's been in Zimbabwe, attacks on farm workers, on
farmers, politically-related violence and the like. There's no question of
that," he said.
"I think the temperature should fall a little but the
fact is in the Australian community there is a lot of concern about what's been
happening in Zimbabwe," he said.
"Remember the context; Australia was
one of those countries at the CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting)
in Lusaka many years ago that helped to bring about an independent Zimbabwe,"
"And what has been going on in Zimbabwe in recent
times, not just on the farms but the collapse of the economy and other
difficulties...those problems have caused a lot of concern in this country. So
it's inevitable that you'll get the sort of calls we've had in the last few
Forward Maisokwadzo IN its
strongest statement yet on President Robert Mugabe’s contentious fast-track land
reform programme, the Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) says government should not
confiscate land for political capital, but should instead focus on increasing
“Government should not just grab land for
resettlement from commercial farmers at random,” said the ZFU’s policy document
on Zimbabwe’s land reform programme.
The union, representing about 300
000 small-scale farmers, raised concerns that ruling party thugs and remnants of
the liberation struggle had already moved onto the farms without a plan of
“The implementation in some areas shows that government
departments have lost control of the programme and implementation is now more
partisan,” the ZFU said.
“There are signs of breakdown of law and order
in general which is encouraging other groups not to follow government policy
procedures, hiding behind political party backings.
together with intimidation tactics, has resulted in government departments
losing control of the programme,” the ZFU said.
The union, although
accepting government’s target of confiscating an additional five million
hectares of white-owned land, said: “The fast-track strategy does not seem to be
addressing the problem of landless people but shifting one group (commercial
farmers and farm workers) for the communal farmers without adequate production
The ZFU said the land should, however, be acquired in a manner
that ensured that when the target of 8,3 million hectares was met, the
resettlement sub-sector should have the same land distribution pattern as the
current large-scale commercial sector.
“Mechanisms should be put in
place to make sure that acquired land is improved in terms of infrastructure
before settlement and put to better use thereafter,” the ZFU said.
for this year’s worst example of obsequious, bootlicking journalism goes to
Admore Tshuma of the Chronicle. While there were a number of contestants from
the Zimpapers stable for our Bootlicker Award, nothing could beat Tshuma’s
account on Monday of Information minister Jo- nathan Moyo’s reception in
Bulawayo last weekend.
Some examples: “Although granted the freedom of
Nkulumane suburb, Prof Moyo left his car and walked a distance of about 50
metres followed by a sizable crowd. He was stopped and mobbed by residents who
praised him for his political conduct.
“To underscore his appreciation
for the minister’s surprise visit, a youth recited a poem dedicated to Prof
“‘Jonathan Moyo, namhla siya thaba ukukubona. Jonathan Moyo, why
didn’t you come before John the Baptist? Jonathan we love you. Jonathan you are
great, great great,’ said the youth to a round of applause.
Zanu PF slogans the residents told the minister that they had always desired to
If that doesn’t inspire an urgent need to throw up, the same
writer filed the following last weekend after a function to mark the launch of
the Unity Cup:
“Scores of people who attended the ceremony at a city
hotel said they were charmed by his dynamic and down-to-earth attitude which
made them jostle to shake his hand. Prof Moyo’s popularity, especially in
Matabeleland, stunned everyone at the event, including hordes of journalists
from both private and public media.
“Some residents said Prof Moyo’s
mesmerising glamour made him by far the most popular politician in Matabeleland
since the death of Vice-President Dr Joshua Nkomo.”
drivel continues in the same vein with people “scrambling for a memorable
“Please can I be afforded a chance to talk to Prof Moyo. It
has always been my dream to talk to him,” said Mlamuli Moyo as he waded through
a group of security agents.
“‘There are few politicians of your calibre.
Is it really true that I have finally met Prof Jonathan Moyo?’ he asked in
Another fan, Anderson Chikwaya, was quoted as praising Moyo
for his role as a “leading academic”.
“Whenever you talk, you talk
sense,” Chikwaya gushed. “Salvo after salvo. You are a role model. Those who
think they can perform better than you are just fooling themselves.”
Finally, “political analysts” were quoted as saying “the mobbing of Prof
Moyo was not surprising as he had established himself as a dedicated and
So it’s congratulations to Admore Tshuma for
producing some of the most fawning journalism imaginable in a field where many
more experienced colleagues in the public sector were left on the starter’s
This comes just a week after Moyo had assured parliament that
Zimpapers was not run by his department but by a board of directors.
Apart from the obvious impression that journalists have been bought to
write blatant puff pieces of the sort quoted earlier, if it is true that Moyo
does not run Zimpapers from his office then how do we explain the uniformity of
stories appearing in the Herald and Sunday Mail and on ZBC and their marked
similarity to his own statements?
The latest example can be found in a
story suggesting a group of Zanu PF land invaders had been assaulted by white
farmers seeking to rescue a colleague barricaded in his farmhouse.
farmers were subsequently arrested and detained when they reported as instructed
to the Chinhoyi police station. Their wives, a doctor, and other people were
subsequently attacked at the police station, at a post office, and on the
streets of Chinhoyi by Zanu PF mobs. A wave of arson and looting followed on the
“Looting in the Chinhoyi and Mhangura farming areas
erupted following the arrests of 20 white farmers and one Briton who had
attacked and beat up defenceless resettled farmers...” the Herald reported,
parroting the official line.
On Saturday an editorial referred to “the
attack of (sic) defenceless farmers who were properly resettled on a farm in
All this before a court had ruled on whether the detained
farmers were guilty of any such crime and when evidence had been heard that six
of the farmers were arrested at the instigation of a Zanu PF mob outside the
police station where they had gone to enquire after their colleagues.
But the officially-inspired deceit didn’t stop there. We soon had a spin
that involved the British high commissioner, ex-Rhodesian soldiers, and the
farmers destroying their own homes.
The British high commission and the
farmers had been “implicated” in the looting of their own properties, we were
The evidence? High commission officials “visited the area and
arranged legal representation for the British citizen”.
In other words,
a routine consular duty had been elevated into a conspiracy.
British high commission has been accused of being behind the disturbances,” the
Herald reported on Monday. And who has “accused” the British high commission of
being behind the disturbances? The Herald of course, no doubt at the instigation
of the Ministry of Information!
In the absence of any other evidence,
the Sunday Mail was obliged to resort to speculation that the current British
operation in Macedonia was a preparation for similar “intervention” in Zimbabwe!
The new high commissioner, Brian Donnelly, was described as a “rabble
rouser”, although in fairness the semi-literate Mail probably meant
trouble-shooter. And the farm workers seen “looting” their employers’ property
were used as “proof” that the farmers organised the whole episode of lawlessness
In fact, a simple enquiry would have elicited the answer
that the farm workers had been asked by their employers to recover as much of
their property lying around as possible before it was carried off by the real
looters. But by changing the word “recover” to “loot” the government media made
it look as if the farm workers had been told to steal their employers’ property.
When the police predictably arrested the farm workers instead of those
responsible for the arson and pillaging, the farmers naturally sought to have
them released. But this was used as further “proof” of a plot and the police
duly assisted Zanu PF’s agenda by refusing to let the workers go, describing the
farmers as “pests”.
It is obvious to anybody over the age of 10 that the
government’s spin doctors have been attempting to reverse a public relations
disaster by blaming a concerted assault on the farms in Chinhoyi on the farmers
This wouldn’t be so bad if it were not so mind-insulting. We
are asked to believe that the farmers concerned in Chinhoyi, Mhangura and Lion’s
Den all collaborated in the destruction of their life’s work, burning down their
homesteads, destroying their crops, killing their livestock and family pets, and
then ordering their workers to loot what property was left. All to discredit
You would have to be a very devoted follower of President
Mugabe to swallow such childish invention. But this is the line the state papers
and broadcaster have been told to follow. And they all duly obeyed without a
single reporter raising the obvious question: “If we keep telling such
transparent lies like these, won’t the Zimbabwean public stop taking us
In all this, one salient point has been forgotten: that it
was the president himself who last year said that white farmers would suffer
“very, very, very severe violence” if they “provoked” his supporters.
for Moyo’s claims that Zimpapers are not instructed by his department, is he not
aware that Zimpapers and ZBC staff occasionally “spill the beans” — to use a
favourite Herald expression — on exactly how far he goes to ensure absolute
compliance at the Herald, Sunday Mail and ZBC with his idiotic stories? That it
is not a matter of handing down the official line for the day but actually
making sure it appears exactly as directed!
Statements from the police
also look as if they have been dictated from Munhumutapa Building. Wayne
Bvudzijena is no longer taken seriously because of the partisan nature of his
public statements and the police generally are suffering a self-inflicted
We had Senior Assistant Commissioner Albert
Mandizha, officer commanding Bulawayo province, appealing to the public last
weekend to “desist from harassing and abusing officers on duty”. This followed
an incident involving an irate Umguza farmer who allegedly set his dogs on two
policemen patrolling his farm.
“Get away from here you useless
policemen, you are not helping us in any way,” he is alleged to have told them.
“You fail to protect our relatives in Chinhoyi. See what your bloody government
is doing to the farmers. I do not want to see you.”
While the bit about
“our relatives in Chinhoyi” looks like some inventive reporting by the Herald,
the farmer’s sentiments appear genuine enough and can be easily related to by
the public at large. The police are generally useless. They stand by while your
home is being looted and burnt. And then, in many cases, arrest the victims of
violence and lawlessness.
Why did they need to arrest Geoff Nyarota at
12.45am if not to harass him? Why are they hostile to Zimbabweans seeking to
exercise their constitutional rights? Why does Wayne Bvudzijena put out
ridiculous and childish statements calculated to bring the force into disrepute?
Last week the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme phoned the Daily News to
ask why they hadn’t got the police to comment on the presence of police vehicles
during looting on farms before publishing the story. News editor John Gambanga
patiently explained that the police had a policy of refusing to answer questions
from the Daily News.
Then the Focus reporter called Bvudzijena who,
after some blustering, admitted that he was not going to talk to the Daily News
when they were “abusive” about the police.
In other words he is unable
to adopt a professional approach to his work regardless of what he might think
about a newspaper’s views.
A final thought on this topic: Why does a
government that constantly proclaims its implacable hostility to all things
colonial remain so attached to colonial laws like the Law and Order
(Maintenance) Act that was specifically designed to suppress African
Our attention was caught last Saturday by a book review by
Herald political writer Tim Chigodo. Headed “The loony who helped to write the
dictionary”, the review introduced readers to a book called The Professor and
It looked interesting. Was this Chigodo’s own “tell-all”
account of his encounters with his ministerial master and even more elevated —
but fatally delusional — personalities? Was it an exposé of how stories are
faxed from Munhumutapa Building to Herald House with instructions on which page
they are to appear?
Sadly, it turned out to be an account of “murder,
insanity and the making of the Oxford English Dictionary” by Simon Winchester.
The subject of the book, Dr William Chester Minor, was a psychopath, we are
told, who was so obsessed by his own depravity that he cut off his organ with a
“The surgical removal of the genitals,” Chigodo helpfully
warns, “is at best of times a dangerous practice that is rarely performed by
Thanks for the tip Tim! When can we expect a surgical account
of other madmen losing their organs in places like Blantyre?
Minister of Information seems to think all Zimbabweans are fools. He told the
Sunday Mail last week that government was not even contemplating declaring a
state of emergency. It was the “enemies of the people”, declared Moyo, who
started this rumour about a state of emergency so that the government would be
likened to the Rhodesian regime.
But this is utterly false. It was
Foreign Affairs minister Stan Mudenge who came out on ZBC TV recently saying a
state of emergency would be the only option if sanctions were imposed on
Zimbabwe. He said this was a matter of survival and Zimbabweans should brace
themselves for tough measures by the government.
If anything, it is the
government which has been courting sanctions for the country by its stubborn
refusal to restore the rule of law on the farms and in high-density suburbs. It
is government which is afraid of democratic elections in the country. This
explains why the mob calling itself war veterans has been allowed to run riot in
the country while the police stand by with arms akimbo.
And thanks to
Barney Pityana, chair of South Africa’s Human Rights Commission, for puncturing
Moyo’s pretensions. On Tuesday Moyo was holding forth in the Herald denying that
there was any ethnic cleansing taking place in Zimbabwe and accusing Tony Leon’s
Democratic Alliance, which had raised the issue, of ignorance. Moyo demanded an
apology from whites for colonialism, racism and apartheid.
on Monday said Mugabe’s targeting of whites was racist. It was a matter of
serious concern he said in the run-up to the Durban conference.
the Herald was trumpeting Moyo’s remarks on Tuesday morning, the South African
press was reporting what Pityana had said, thus removing fears that the Zimbabwe
issue would be swept under the carpet.
If the government thinks it has a
problem with the independent press in this country, spare a thought for Zambia’s
President Frederick Chiluba who was accused by The Post last week of being a
In a biting editorial last Friday, the Post said Chiluba presided
over a deeply corrupt government that pilfered public property. Chiluba
protected his “thieving band of ministers”, the paper said.
“It is very
difficult to avoid calling President Frederick Chiluba a thief because he is a
thief. We have stated this many times and we will continue to do so,” the paper
said. Now that’s telling it like it is!
Brian Hungwe AS the nation
braces itself for the watershed 2002 presidential election, arson, threats and
murder are taking root in Mashonaland Central where Zanu PF has embarked on a
relentless drive to eliminate the opposition Mo- vement for Democratic Change
(MDC) support base.
A total of 47 587 people voted for the MDC in the
entire province in the parliamentary election last June. These are the people
being hunted down, displaced or forced to rejoin Zanu PF.
by the Zimbabwe Independent last week revealed suspected MDC supporters were
being displaced from their homes and their farming plots which are being seized
and pegged by war veterans, with the blessing of local chiefs.
police have been reluctant to intervene, as orders “from above” were given “not
to meddle in politics”, according to MDC officials.
political violence is painfully isolating for the victims and disintegrating
well-knit cultural links that have known no violence since independence — until
last year when the MDC emerged as a threat to Zanu PF.
a priest who spoke to the Independent said, had a psychologically devastating
effect on children who should be enjoying the so-called fruits of independence.
“Does Mugabe really want to have the country do down with him?” he
asked. As he spoke, Bindura’s Chiwaridzo suburb — about 100km away — had
been plunged into mourning after a three-month-old baby residing at No 1716 in
the suburb died from teargas smoke thrown after Zanu PF supporters stormed into
an MDC meeting.
In the run-up to the parliamentary by-election, violence
had erupted and the police intervened.
MDC’s losing Bindura
parliamentary candidate Elliot Pfebve said that the family had been in and out
of hospital with the kid since July, following the teargas attack.
child succum-bed on Thursday last week,” he said.
The murderers of Peter
Mundandishe (31), a security guard in Bin-dura, killed during the height of the
election fever, are still at large. His decomposing body was found along the
Bindura-Harare road during the counting of votes. The police have said they are
MDC Mashonaland Central provincial chairman Tapera
Macheka said Mundandishe was their election agent.
“He was abducted. We
did not know where he was until the last day of vote counting,” Macheka said.
When the Independent visited Mt Darwin last Sunday, war veterans were at
it again, harassing Methodist Church of Zimbabwe delegates that had come to
The war veterans accused the church elders of having “MDC
whites” amongst the congregation.
A priest who requested anonymity said:
“They wanted to know where they were coming from and what it is that they wanted
at the meeting.
“Every white person is associated with the MDC in the
Mt Darwin’s officer-in-charge, Chief Inspector Cheure, told the
Independent that he was not prepared to comment on the matter and referred all
questions to police headquarters.
In Rushinga, reports surfaced of
eleven people having been displaced from their homes, their huts torched.
Zanu PF believes Mashonaland Central is its stronghold and wants to
widen its support base by hook or by crook, since the presidential election
winner is by popular vote.
The situation in Shamva, about 20km east of
Bindura, is particularly disturbing. It is yet another constituency where
violence has superseded peace, madness overtaken logic, and rancour divided an
otherwise peace-loving society.
Between June and August, nine huts
belonging to MDC supporters have been torched in Chidembo village under Chief
Ms Nyakubaya’s homestead had one hut razed by angry Zanu PF
supporters on June 26. Gumisai Mukore lost two huts on the same day, and another
recently-married young man in the area — only identified as Weston -—last week
had his hut burnt as well.
They all fled into the bush.
told the Independent that they sought a court order on Friday last week, which
they will serve on the police force compelling them to escort the victims home
and arrest the assailants.
“They are reluctant to do their job,” he
On Heroes Day, at a time when senior Zanu PF politicians were
mourning lost heroes of the liberation war, Zanu PF supporters burnt down two
huts belonging to Mrs Mukarate under headman Chidembo’s area. Gift Mazwi’s
homestead in the same area had three huts burnt.
Reports were made to
the police, but no arrest had been made, though the culprits were known.
The Minister of Home Affairs and Zanu PF national chairman John Nkomo
said this week his office had not yet received the arson reports or heard that
people had fled their homes.
“Police can act. They cannot surely receive
orders that they should not intervene (on behalf of the evicted MDC supporters)
if the situation there is like that,” Nkomo said.
Wayne Bvudzijena also claimed he had not received the reports and was going to
The targets in the Shamva constituency are 5 621 MDC
supporters that voted for Joseph Mashinya in last June’s election.
Mashinya lost to the Minister of State Security Nicholas Goche — who is
alleged to have been behind the political mayhem now taking over — by over 13
Goche’s driver Jonathan Banda allegedly left his job
protesting that driving thugs to harass and intimidate political opponents in
the country was not a noble job under the sun.
Macheka told the
Independent on Sunday that Banda had been hired to ferry party thugs from
Shamva, Bindura, Harare, Chegutu and Kadoma to spearhead terror and instil fear
in MDC supporters during the last by-election in Bindura.
in protest,” Macheka said.
“The thugs were under orders to kill at least
one MDC supporter to signal that they meant business in the (Bindura election)
campaign. The strategy was to frighten the MDC and win votes,” he said.
The order was sanctioned by a senior government official (name
supplied). Minutes of a Zanu PF meeting held ahead of the by-election were
leaked to the MDC officials, a copy of which is in possession of the
Independent. Mashinya narrated how his Toyota Cressida station wagon was
burnt to a mere frame, his shop windows shattered and two lorries overturned in
Shamva on May 30.
He said over 300 “angels of death” descended upon his
business at around 3pm and looted the shop.
“My three colleagues ran
away. They went after them,” Mashinya said. He implicated one Solomon
Chinodakufa in the arson, whom he said was still at large despite the gravity of
“It is all about politics, where you belong,” he said.
“They forced us to chant Zanu PF slogans and sing songs that denigrate
At a time when the villagers had rested from the
mayhem that took place after Border Gezi’s death and the recent by-election in
Bindura, another devil has descended upon them.
“There are no more
devils left in hell, they are all in Mashonaland Central,” said Macheka.
“If only God could hear our prayers. We have had enough of this and
cannot continue to bear this any longer until next year. People are dying, huts
are being torched on a daily basis, we are all wondering why,” he said.
“Zanu PF is doing everything possible under the sun to make sure the MDC
has been destroyed once and for all. It is another Gukurahundi happening here.”
Closely related villagers are being forced to assault each other,
creating divisions in well-knit families with a long-standing culture of
During the Independent’s visit to the province last week,
details were gathered of murder and arson perpetrated and directed at MDC
supported, with senior Zanu PF politicians implicated.
“They have got
the resources and we don’t,” Macheka said.
At Mt Darwin, war veterans
mounted guard at the District Administrator’s offices and were busy monitoring
the situation at the business centre and directing traffic at the local bus
“War veterans have taken over as policemen in the Mt Darwin
constituency. There is a special team selected from amongst the war veterans to
monitor the situation,” a young man who identified himself only as Munozivei
“The police are not doing anything. The war veterans are fed at
the DA’s offices and paid every month,” he said.
At the DA’s gate, a war
veteran wearing a worn-out ‘Land is the economy, the economy is land’ T-shirt
manned the entrance into the complex.
Mt Darwin is one area where it is
illegal to read a copy of the Zimbabwe Independent, the Standard, the Financial
Gazette and the Daily News.
A commuter omnibus driver, who refused to
identify himself, warned this reporter to lie low as the war veterans had a
tendency to harass “any new face from Harare where the MDC was born”.
“Especially when you get into Mukumbura there are roadblocks, you are
searched, and thoroughly interrogated. They want to know what you are doing in
the area, where you are going whom you want to meet,” he said.
vendors from Harare that had come into the constituency selling second-hand
clothes, dishes and cool drinks were not spared.
“They were told to go
back to Harare where they came from,” he said.
Mashinya said that Zanu
PF realised that locals were now unwilling to participate in violence so had now
recruited gold panners to do their dirty work.
Gold panning is big
business in Mashonaland Central with over 3 000 panners eking out a living from
Mashinya told the Independent that a lot of the panners
had formed an unholy alliance with Zanu PF thugs.
“Some of these panners
do most of the dirty work,” he said. “They seem to be aliens because they speak
a very different language from that spoken here.”
Forward Maisokwadzo THE
country’s agriculture-driven economy is poised for headlong decline as President
Robert Mugabe’s government looks set on shifting from sophisticated and
productive commercial farming to small-scale agriculture to suit his peasant
constituency — his one remaining support base.
Production in the
commercial farming areas, long dominated by white farmers, is forecast to shrink
in the coming seasons as productive land is parcelled out to ruling party thugs
and war veterans for political reasons, a development which has already hurt the
Analysts warned that as long as the Mugabe-led
government continues to expropriate land without compensation and fails to put
in place a legally constituted and systematic land reform programme, the
consequences to the agro-based economy could be fatal.
With the economy
projected to decline by between 5% and 12% this year, agriculture is expected to
be one of the major contributors to recession. Analysts said if the level of
production by commercial farmers goes down — as is widely feared — agriculture’s
contribution to the GDP will fall from 17% to about 8%.
government compulsorily acquires the targeted 8,5 million hectares of commercial
farmland, this means increased peasant farming, which however does not meet
national demand because of little yield,” said independent economist John
Commercial farmers produce up to ten tonnes of maize per
hectare compared to communal farmers’ production of not more than three tonnes,
resulting in a huge deficit in yield and cash incomes.
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) shadow minister for agriculture, said it
was unfortunate that government is turning the whole country into a communal
“Government should transfer land to blacks without disrupting
production,” said Gasela.
“We need to empower the people whom we are
giving land to maintain production,” he added.
He said the current
situation had undermined even the confidence of those commercial farmers who
were still producing for the country, further worsening production which will
automatically result in food shortages.
“Land reform is a process which
should benefit the country economically and is not for political capital as Zanu
PF wants it to be,” he said. Zimbabwe has a total land area of 39,6 million
hectares. Thirty-three million hectares are devoted to agriculture while the
rest is reserved for national parks, forests and urban settlements.
agricultural sector contributes about 33% of formal employment and accounts for
over 40% of national exports.
According to the government’s glossy
document on land reform and resettlement circulated at the Blantyre Sadc summit,
the objective is to acquire over 8,3 million hectares from the large commercial
farming sector for redistribution in order to decongest the over-populated and
over-stocked wards and villages for the benefit of landless people.
While the government recognises agricultural development as a key
strategy for poverty alleviation and overall economic development, analysts said
the ruling elite was operating unscientifically as they were playing the
political game at the expense of improving productivity in the sector.
Experts said as long as land remained the major resource which
determined the country’s fate, one could forget about economic development if
the process was not carried out properly.
“Government is ensuring the
collapse of the viable agricultural sector,” Robertson said.
redistribution exercise is all about bankruptcy and hunger,” he said.
Robertson called upon government to rebuild confidence and implement
long-term decisions in the land acquisition programme, which did not inflict
social misery and further dent the country’s sliding economy.
exercise is destructive, instead of boosting the country’s confidence.
Government is thinking of remaining in power, leaving people starving,” he said.
To worsen the situation, banks have also snubbed funding farmers because
of the uncertainties caused by the controversial exercise.
which is used as collateral security, is under threat of compulsory acquisition
by government and we as banks cannot risk putting our money in that sector,”
said a bank executive.
“We are withholding funding, not because there is
no lucrative business in the agricultural sector. We will resume funding only
when a proper land reform exercise has been put in place,” he said.
Agricultural experts said the problem with small-holder farming
manifested itself in poor farming skills, limited use and unavailability of
technical inputs owing to poor infrastructure, inadequate provision of back-up
services and training, issues government is still failing to address.
One of the major challenges being faced, particularly in the small-
holder sector, is how to increase yields of food crops such as maize, sorghum
and millet and cash crops like groundnuts, cotton and tobacco as well as
The Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU), representing small-scale
farmers, has criticised the fast-track land reform saying people have been
resettled without a proper plan.
ZFU’s policy document on resettlement
said it was critical to provide training to assist resettled people given that
the selection criteria being used has no link with agricultural skills.
“With no training and no support services the rest of the fast-track
will be land degradation, overgrazing, deforestation, farm mismanagement (with)
small to no yields achieved,” said the ZFU.
It said implementation in
some areas shows that government departments had lost control of the programme
and implementation was now partisan.
“There are signs of breakdown of
law and order in general which is encouraging other groups not to follow
government policy procedures, hiding behind political party backings.
“This lawlessness together with intimidation tactics has resulted in
government departments losing control of the programme,” the ZFU said.
“The fast-track does not seem to be addressing the problem of landless
people but removing one group to accommodate the communal farmers without
adequate production support services,” ZFU said.
“Unskilled people can
cause extensive environmental and land damage if they are dumped on the land and
left on their own.”
The union says government should not just grab land
for resettlement from commercial farmers at random.
“A change in tenure
system per se will not guarantee increased productivity. Measures still need to
be taken to ensure that other requirements such as functional input and product
markets, roads and water for irrigation are in place,” the ZFU said.
president Silas Hungwe said the opportunities presented by the land
redistribution programme should be buttressed by well-crafted development
“Unless the resources are injected from one source or
another, the severe poverty in which many smallholder farmers find themselves
today will never be overcome, indeed it will only get worse,” said Hungwe.
Analysts said the repercussions of the land issue were extremely serious
in all sectors of the economy as it significantly contributed to scaring away
Robertson said there was also a high level of
insecurity as resettled farmers did not know whether they would permanently stay
where they have been resettled.
“Settlers are afraid of another
resettlement exercise after having first benefited under the fast-track
programme,” he said.
A Word Bank-funded research document on land reform
in Zimbabwe says it would take 15 years for resettled farmers to reach full
The report noted that land reform can only be economically
viable if carried out in a manner that allows farmers on resettled land to make
the investment necessary to achieve their productive potential.
“Zimbabwe is entering a period of macro- economic stress, with pressure
on its balance of payments,” the report said. “Agricultural exports are a major
source of foreign exchange, and links between agriculture and industry are
important. Any analysis of the potential impact of land reform should also
account for links between agriculture and the urban economy, including product
and labour markets.”
Analysts said that indigenous people’s
participation in agriculture has been hampered by a number of factors, among
them access to good land, water and finance.
“They contribute about 30%
towards the agricultural sector’s gross output from the fragile land on which
they are settled,” one analyst argued.
He said there was a
discriminatory tenure sys- tem between the smallholder indigenous far- mer and
the mostly white commercial farming sector.
“There is need for
government to reform the tenure systems to allow the smallholder farmers to have
more rights, which will improve management and investment in the land,” he said.
Government had already set aside $15 billion for the smallholder sector
for both livestock and crop production for the 2001/2002 season.
Agriculture minister Joseph Made said the government envisaged
production of 6 071 000 tonnes of maize, wheat, cotton, groundnuts, soya,
sunflower and sorghum during the 2001/2002 season.
But the Crop
Forecasting Committee estimates that output of most crops would be lower in the
2000/2001 season, suggesting that the land reform exercise will head the country
Finance minister Simba Makoni said there was a 54%
reduction in area planted to maize, particularly by the large commercial sector
as resettlement affected crop production. Among other crops projected to decline
are sorghum (40%), mhunga (31%), rapoko (64%), sugar (10%) and coffee (11%).
High input costs, exacerbated by foreign currency and fuel shortages
also significantly contributed to reduction in crop production.
all, Makoni said, the sub-optimal operational conditions on farms affected by
the fast-track resettlement programme heavily impacted on the agricultural
sector, the mainstay of Zimbabwe’s crumbling economy.
THIS weekend I embark upon a
two-week visit to Germany as a guest of the Goethe Institute and the German
government’s Press and Information department.
The visit is designed to
acquaint me with Germany’s media scene including the training of journalists.
There will also be a chance to see how Berlin is shaping up as the nation’s
I will of course be taking the opportunity to brief
the German media and Bundestag members on what is happening in Zimbabwe. In the
wake of systematic repression of civic dissent and state-orchestrated violence
and vandalism on the farms there has been a hardening of international opinion.
We can safely say there is unlikely to be a repetition of the disgraceful events
of February when President Mugabe was given red-carpet treatment by the leaders
of Belgium and France. The European Union has arrived at a common — and more
resolute — position on the lawlessness in Zimbabwe.
So have Southern
African states, it seems, at last week’s Sadc summit in Blantyre. Mugabe is no
longer getting the blanket endorsements he received from Sadc leaders only last
year. Indeed, a few are beginning to speak out on state-inspired racism and
violence in Zimbabwe.
So, I am pleased to say, is the Human Rights
Commission in South Africa.
Trevor Ncube will be attending the UN World
Conference Against Racism in Durban next week. We can be sure he will make full
use of his platform there to itemise human rights abuses. That includes a
pattern of ethnic cleansing in Zimbabwe that covers the Gukurahundi campaign of
the 1980s and the current dispossession of tens of thousands of people of
Malawian and Zambian descent on the farms.
There have been threats made
recently against a number of editors and journalists. I have already been asked
about these threats by radio stations in Britain and South Africa. My reply has
been the same: editors and journalists are obvious targets of a government
unable to come to terms with the consequences of its own misrule. Those who
report the truth are likely to be seen as enemies.
But we must not
become preoccupied with our own story. Ordinary Zimbabweans, in the towns and on
the farms, are all victims of an increasingly repressive regime intent upon
punishing opponents and critics. We are all in the same boat. We should
concentrate on reporting what is happening as accurately as possible.
have been concerned in recent weeks about print quality in the Independent.
Using the only newsprint available, which is of very poor quality, and having
our printing press work overtime on a variety of publications have taken their
Our press is currently undergoing an overhaul. And we are looking
at using alternative newsprint when the current batch runs out.
you, readers and advertisers, for your patience and for bearing with us. But a
month down the line we should be seeing a marked improvement.
ON March 3
last, in this column, I wrote: “Talking last week to a minister in the
Zimbabwean government, I was authoritatively informed that there is absolutely
no substance to prognostications of an imminent food crisis.
that those who were purveyors of doom, gloom and despondency were trying to
create self-fulfilling prophecies and thereby undermine the government.
Suggestions that Zimbabwe would run out of maize were, he contended, unfounded
rumours. And, with very great emphasis upon rebutting those rumours, he said it
was not that Zimbabwe was going to face a maize shortage, it was just that
‘there may not be a sufficient supply of maize to meet demand’.
government always has great reluctance to face up to negative facts, let alone
to admit to them, and in its recurrent avoidance of realities resorts to
gobbledegook and double-speak, I must necessarily take the minister’s
ludicrously contradictory statement as corroboration that Zimbabwe will not this
year have an adequacy of maize, the staple food of the populace, to feed the
country until the next harvest.
The exact magnitude of the imminent
shortage must be a matter of speculation, for no authoritative disclosures have
“However, some generally well-informed members of the
agricultural community suggest that existing resources will be exhausted by
about July or August, and that the shortfall against normal market demands will
be between 300 000 and 600 000 tonnes. Whether or not such estimates are
correct, it is becoming increasingly clear that there will be a maize shortage.”
At about that time, the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural
Resettlement stated that all suggestions of a looming food crisis were totally
baseless. With his own eyes he had observed the very substantial, highly
satisfactory, almost nation-wide maize crops which would not only provide the
population with all food needs, but would yield very pleasing surpluses for the
strategic reserves and for exports.
But, as the truth will always
eventually come out, the realities of imminent massive food shortages
increasingly became evident and, by June it was no longer possible for
government to prevaricate. With its back against the wall of fact, the country’s
executive eventually had no alternative but to admit to the insufficiency of the
2001 maize crop, with the consequences compounded by a greater than usual
inadequacy of winter wheat production. Several ministers, and a number of senior
civil servants, acknowledged that Zimbabwe was on the threshhold of a major food
At the same time, they of course gave unqualified assurances
and reassurances that government would ensure that none would suffer, and that
the available crop would be reinforced with imports to assure that all had a
plentiful supply of their food needs. To procure maximised crop availability at
contained prices, the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) monopoly would be reinstated,
despite Zimbabwe’s long history of general ineffectiveness of parastatals to
address national problems resolutely and constructively.
the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Simba Makoni announced that
the exchequer would have to expend at least $6 billion on food imports.
Presumably, although he did not say so, the minister will source the
required funding from the Vote of Credit, available to meet unforeseen
contingencies, but he also did not say where he would find the necessary foreign
exchange. The shortage of forex in Zimbabwe today is even greater than the
shortage of food will be in the absence of imports.
If, as many fear,
the minister further raids exporters’ foreign currency accounts (FCAs), which
are already subject to a mandatory 40% release into the money market at the
ludicrously unrealistic, fixed exchange rate, the last tenuous threads of export
viability will be destroyed and no foreign exchange will be generated, whether
for good imports or otherwise.
If, on the other hand, the forex needs
for food imports are sourced within the frowned-upon parallel market, the costs
of those imports will increase sixfold or more, burdening government with an
unsu- stainable expenditure of at least $36 billion.
government hopes that some of the desperately required food supplies will be
forthcoming as humanitarian aid from the international community. This is
probably partially so, but government should not “hold its breath” in an
expectation of considerable support.
Although the international
community has demonstrated, for many years, its sympathetic and comprehensive
support for those in severe need of humanitarian aid, nevertheless the
world-wide appeals for that aid considerably exceed the means available to the
donor states and agencies.
As a result, they must apply some
selectivity, and are understandably less disposed to assist those who have
inflicted the disaster upon themselves in disregard for law and order, human
rights, and well-intentioned advice.
A lesser inclination to provide
support is also occasioned by recurrent abuse and insult of the donors by the
aspiring recipient nation, by arrogant demands for the support which is
perceived as a virtual entitlement, and by recurrent misappropriation and misuse
of much aid previously given.
Nevertheless, Zimbabwe will probably
substantially overcome this year’s food crisis, for the politicians will
vigorously focus upon doing so. That will not be because of the magnitude of
their concern for the wellbeing of Zimbabweans, but because they are fearful
that mass starvation will impact negatively upon the presidential election
looming on the horizon.
The cost to Zimbabwe and its economy will be
immense, for the state’s deficit will soar, as will inflation, and the extremely
limited availabi- lity of foreign exchange will be further eroded, causing great
shortages of non-food essentials.
Further considerable economic decline,
business collapses and increased unemployment are inevitable. They would be even
greater were it not for the fact that undoubtedly some international aid will be
forthcoming, for some in the international community will put their concerns to
minimise human suffering above political considerations and their disdain and
contempt for the Zimbabwean government.
But next year Zimbabwe must face
an even greater food crisis, irrespective of climatic conditions in the
forthcoming agricultural season.
Innumerable commercial farmers will not
be able to plant crops for government obdurately refuses to contain, curb and
halt the lawlessness which has caused much commercial farming activity to be
Many of those who have invaded commercial farms (not even
as settlers under government’s foolhardy, ill- considered and destructive land
programmes, as distinct from the very constructive programmes which could be
pursued in collaboration with commercial farmers and the international
community) are refusing to allow the commercial farmers to prepare their lands
for the next crop, and doing all they can to obstruct any farming activity.
Other farmers, not yet victimised by those for whom law and order is
irrelevant, are unable to operate their farms due to lack of finance. The
government stance on land acquisition, and the unabated trespass by lawless war
veterans, actual and pseudo, has removed all collateral value of land and the
farm improvements thereon (much of which have been destroyed or vandalised by
the lawless) and, therefore, the farmers cannot raise working capital from
bankers, financiers and suppliers.
And most of those who have settled on
the lands, either officially under government’s programmes, or unlawfully but
with government condonation, do not have the resources to work the lands. They
cannot fund the crops that will be essential to feed Zimbabwe.
those commercial farmers and those settlers who do have the resources and the
oppor- tunity to plant maize crops will be ill-disposed to do so, save and
except for own consumption, as the mandatory sale of any maize crop to the GMB
at prices which do not even accord the producer cost recovery, let alone a
profit, gives no inducement to grow maize.
The result is that whilst
this year’s food shortage will have appalling economic consenquences, next
year’s food shortage will be so great as to cast misery throughout Zimbabwe,
mass starvation, gross malnutrition and intense ill-health (to be addressed by a
health deliver system described by the World Health Organisation as the world’s
Mugabe's foot soldiers flex muscle in ostrich farm stand-off
Syndey Morning Herald:
Thursday, August 23, 2001
Ed O'Loughlin Herald Correspondent in Nyamandlovu
The tall middle-aged white farmer stretched and then leaned back
against his utility , parked on the dusty side of the Victoria Falls road 40
kilometres north of Bulawayo. For an instant, the butt of a revolver protruded
from beneath his shirt.
What a way to live, he remarked to his friends.
Five metres away a group of black youths, self-styled veterans of the
pre-1980 independence struggle, were massing. Most were armed - with clubs,
hammers or hand axes.
A hundred metres up the road, in Redwood Park ostrich farm, Peter Goosen and
his wife Nan were barricaded in their office after 60 veterans tried to break in
and drag them outside.
Their intention, they said, was to cut off Mr Goosen's hands for refusing to
surrender his farm under the Government's fast- track land reform program.
In a move repeatedly condemned as illegal by the courts, President Robert
Mugabe has ordered pro-government militants to seize and occupy 95 per cent of
Zimbabwe's white-owned commercial land. Last weekend the Agriculture Minister
said that the farmers should leave their properties "within 12 days".
On Tuesday in Matabeleland, the foot soldiers of this land war retreated from
the office when Mrs Goosen produced a can of pepper spray. Then a group of 25
neighbouring farmers, summoned by radio, arrived at the farm and parked along
the road outside.
There they watched and waited, powerless to intervene. An inspector from the
local police station at Nyamandlovu, 50 kilometres north of Bulawayo, had
already visited the scene and left, saying he saw no potential for violence.
"The police accused us of aggravating the situation," said one farmer, who
requested anonymity. "We said, look, we are in a country where the police don't
enforce law and order. What do you expect us to do? They are threatening to chop
these guys' hands off and you don't intervene?"
It was a tense and unequal stand-off. Two weeks ago in Chinhoyi, 140
kilometres west of Harare, 21 farmers were arrested and charged with inciting
public violence after clashing with veterans who were attempting to storm a
neighbour's farm. It took them two weeks to get bail. None of the veterans were
It is not advisable for foreign journalists to approach the war veterans
because last year their late leader, Dr Chenjerai "Hitler" Hunzvi, ordered them
to attack reporters who do not work for the state media.
A police Land Rover drove past, and a few minutes later the farmers'
walkie-talkies crackled into life. It was Nan Goosen, calling from the office.
The police had now agreed to leave two officers to guard the farm overnight. It
looked like the situation was being defused.
It didn't look like it out on the road. Small groups of youths coalesced into
a gang of about 30 and began to drift silently down the road towards us.
The farmers withdrew to a spot three kilometres down the road. A police Land
Rover pulled up beside the farmers' roadside position and several farmers went
over to talk to the inspector. It was better that you leave, said Inspector R.
F. Ncube smoothly. It was important that Mr Goosens should talk to the settlers
himself. Then there is no threat to him.
Australian supporters of the democratic movement in Zimbabwe have called on
the Commonwealth to put the "repressive situation" on the Brisbane CHOGM agenda.
The Prime Minister, Mr Howard, said it was disappointing Zimbabwe had refused to
receive the ministerial mission proposed by the Commonwealth.
THE Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, yesterday called on
the international community to help Britain ease the worsening situation in
He insisted that the treatment of white farmers was not the
sole responsibility of Britain, but of the whole world.
Mr Straw was
reacting to calls for action from Britain over President Robert Mugabe’s
treatment of farmers and opposition journalists in the African country.
The shadow foreign secretary, Francis Maude, demanded yesterday that Mr
Straw take tough action.
Mr Maude said: "Jack Straw should be pushing
for Zimbabwe to be suspended from the Commonwealth, for a travel ban to be put
in place against Mr Mugabe and his henchmen and their overseas accounts to be
"What is happening in Zimbabwe now has been happening in
Zimbabwe for well over a year," he added.
"That Jack Straw only
acknowledges it as an international problem now is typical of the ‘head in the
sand’ attitude of Tony Blair’s government."
Mr Maude concluded: "It has
been an international problem from the day the first white farmer was murdered
well over a year ago."
However, the Foreign Secretary said it was vital
not to "play into the hands" of the ruling Zanu PF party by turning the problems
into a black versus white, Britain versus Zimbabwe issue.
point to bear in mind is that this is now an international problem.
one of the things I’ve been doing since I took on this job ... is to ensure that
we broke away from this caricature that, frankly, is exactly what President
Mugabe wants in presenting this as a colonial issue between Britain and Zimbabwe
and making it an international issue.
"The Commonwealth is not the
British Empire, the British government does not control the Commonwealth."
Mr Straw said the Australian foreign secretary had made it clear that Mr
Mugabe would be at the meeting of the Commonwealth heads of state in Brisbane
next month, but added: "I oppose what Mr Mugabe is doing.
has to come through concerted international action. It is very easy to say
things in a situation, we know that. What is much more difficult and requires
frankly much greater exercise is effective action."
Zimbabwe, a group of white farmers had an emotional reunion with their families
after two weeks in jail charged with inciting violence.
"It’s been a
hell of a traumatic [experience] up to now. We’re just pleased it’s over," Les
de Jager said after his two sons and son-in-law were freed with 18 others.
The men were arrested on 6 August in the north-western town of Chinhoyi
for allegedly assaulting supporters of President Mugabe on a white-owned farm
occupied by the self-styled war veterans backed by the government.
crowd of about 100 people, thought to be supporters of the ruling Zanu-PF party,
shouted slogans and abuse at the farmers after they were released on bail.
The farmers left in a convoy of ten to 15 vehicles for Banket, a town
near Chinhoyi, where they were reunited with their families before leaving the
area for four weeks as part of their bail
ZIMBABWE: IRIN Focus on public health service crisis
HARARE, 22 August
(IRIN) - A fresh puddle of human blood on the floor, the sick old man lying
unattended on a wooden bench, and the old wheel chairs carelessly dumped on the
other side of the casualty unit of Harare Central Hospital reflect a sense of
total neglect and decay.
Peasant farmer Solomon Kamombe, who had
travelled more than 200 km from his rural home to see a sick nephew admitted at
the state-run hospital, paced anxiously up and down the
"This?" he shouted, brandishing a small piece of paper on
which the doctors had written the prescription he had to buy for his nephew.
"Why then come to hospital if all they have are ordinary pain killers?" he fumed
to no one in particular, before resuming his pacing.
crumbling health sector, with its under-funded and overcrowded hospitals and
crammed mortuaries, is an eloquent testimony to the more far-reaching decline of
a nation that a decade ago was a showcase of social service provision. At
independence in 1980, along with promises of education and housing for all, the
then avowedly socialist government of President Robert Mugabe made universal
health by the year 2000 its pledge to its people.
In the early days
startling successes were achieved, especially set against the neglect of the
majority of the population by the white minority Rhodesian regime. In education,
for example, the number of primary schools was increased by about 90 percent in
the first decade of independence, from 2,401 in 1980 to 4,549 primary schools in
1990. Enrolment shot up by nearly 200 percent from 820,000 to 2.4 million pupils
in the same period.
But it was perhaps in the health sector where Mugabe
and his government achieved their most remarkable success, and demonstrated how
much a developing nation could, with the right commitment, achieve.
"What inspired our policy on health was a desire to ensure that every
Zimbabwean at least had access to some form of health facility or care," Health
and Child Welfare Minister Timothy Stamps told IRIN. The statistics, said
Stamps, a trained medical doctor, were enough evidence of the correctness of
>From only 14 percent of Zimbabweanswith access to modern
health facilities in 1980, that number shot up to 87 percent thanks to a
national programme to build hundreds of clinics and hospitals across the
country. An aggressive vaccination campaign by the government with the aid of
non-governmental organisations saw polio eradicated in 1992, neo-natal tetanus
in 1998, while measles was brought firmly under control with only one death from
the disease recorded in 1998.
Three out of every four children in
Zimbabwe have been vaccinated against the six major child killer diseases,
according to a health study carried out last year by the government's Central
Statistics Office and a US firm. While fertility was reduced by about 60 percent
from seven children per woman per year in 1980 to 4.3 children per woman per
year now, infant mortality was also slashed to about 102 deaths per 1,000
But 20 years down the line, ask any ordinary Zimbabwean what they
think about the collapsing public health system - the only access to health
services for more than 80 percent of the 12 million population - and the answer
is far from complimentary.
"It is like a test of endurance," said Mary
Simomo. She was visibly angry and disappointed after being told by staff at
Harare hospital to buy drip-feed for her sick sister because it was out of stock
at the hospital. "It makes no sense for the government to boast that it has
built more hospitals than the former colonial authorities when the hospitals
have become merely places where people come to die," she told
Writing in the private 'Daily News' this week, Zimbabwe Catholic
Bishops Conference spokesman, Father Oscar Wermter, summed up the modest wish
list of many Zimbabweans. "We need drugs and medicines put back on the empty
shelves of our dilapidated hospitals," lamented Wermter.
But it is not
only essential drugs that are in short supply in Zimbabwe's hospitals. Morale
and commitment among nurses, doctors and even floor cleaners has hit rock bottom
with industrial action by staff now almost an annual ritual. A strike for better
pay by nurses and doctors at Harare and Parirenyatwa hospitals - the two largest
referral hospitals in the country - entered the fourth week this week with no
solution in sight.
Stamps said the devastating effect of the HIV/AIDS
virus and inadequate funding had combined to erode what was once one of Africa's
best public health systems. According to the minister, government spending on
health had dropped from US $35 per head per year in the 1980s to only US $11
last year, at a time when HIV/AIDS is placing an extra burden on public health
institutions. "When you do not provide the money you also do not get a good
health service," Stamps reluctantly admitted.
But others argue the rot
started setting in the public health system during the first decade of
independence, at the same time when some of the greatest strides were being made
in the sector. "The level of expenditure initiated by the government in the
early 1980s was unsustainable," University of Zimbabwe business studies
professor Tony Hawkins said.
Together with free education, the government
provided free health to millions of poor Zimbabweans between 1980 and 1991. But
this drove up debt as the state had to borrow the money to cover the
expenditure. With more than 50 percent of government revenue now going to
service a Z $194 billion (US $3.5 billion) domestic debt and the US $4.5 billion
owed to multi-lateral institutions and other foreign creditors, it was
inevitable the government would be unable to maintain public health spending
"A shortage of foreign currency has only helped worsen the
situation with prices of mostly drugs going up by about 145 percent this month
to place them beyond the reach of most people," Hawkins added.
forward, said Stamps, was for the government to now concentrate its limited
resources on prevention of disease rather than on costly treatments. "We have to
focus more on prevention as we have already successfully done with diseases such
as cholera because it is cheaper to do that," Stamps said.
But for the
many poor Zimbabweans with nothing but the collapsing government hospitals and
their equally poorly paid staff to depend on for treatment, seeking care for
almost any ailment no matter how minor has become a test of endurance.
'I cannot wait for the knock on the door'
- UK Ind
Police defy court order - again -
From The Cape Argus (SA), 22
Mission Mugabe for SADC heads of
Kampala - Heads of state from the Southern
African Development Community are to be sent on missions to Harare to encourage
dialogue between the various groups involved in the crisis. Willy Zingani,
spokesperson for Malawian President Bakili Muluzi , who chairs the SADC this
year, spoke after the "Smart Partnership Dialogue", which brought together heads
of state, business people and other influential figures from all over the
continent to brainstorm about the development challenges facing Africa. The SADC
initiative - spearheaded by Presidents Mbeki and Muluzi - to start a dialogue in
Zimbabwe will involve representatives from Malawi, Namibia, Angola, Botswana,
Mozambique and South Africa. The latest meeting in
Kampala focused on how to attract more foreign direct investments to Africa. The
meeting mainly discussed restoring law and order in Angola, the Democratic
Republic of Congo and Rwanda, countries which are or have been wracked by civil
war. However, Zingani said that in coming weeks, Muluzi would encourage dialogue
between President Robert Mugabe and opposition leaders. But details of how this
would be done were yet to be worked out. Also in Kampala on Tuesday, Mbeki held
talks with Zimbabwe Vice-President Joseph Msika, who represented Mugabe in
Kampala. No details were released.
From The Financial Gazette, 23
Tsvangirai rules out national unity
Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), this week ruled out any possibility of his party
forming a government of national unity with President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF.
Tsvangirai spoke after reports in Harare and Johannesburg earlier this week
suggested that South Africa’s governing African National Congress could be
inching towards supporting a government of national unity between the MDC and
ZANU PF to pull Zimbabwe out of a deepening economic and political crisis. It is
also widely known that some top members of Zanu PF, including former industry
minister Nkosana Moyo, would indeed favour such a coalition in the face of what
many see as an inevitable trouncing of Mugabe by Tsvangirai in presidential
elections due early next year. Tsvangirai said the concept of a government of
national unity arose out of a crisis situation and it was always an initiative
of ruling parties to harness divergent opinions and not the business of
opposition parties. "Our position as the MDC is that it is neither necessary or
likely that given the attitude and arrogance of Zanu PF that the issue of a
government of national unity could ever be considered," he told the Financial
Gazette. "We are not in the business of throwing a life line to people who have
ruined the country and are about to face an ignominious exit," he said.
The opposition chief said although the MDC was quite happy to
see this issue being debated nationally, his party would not participate in any
government of national unity with Zanu PF because the MDC did not want to
compromise its clean record as an alternative government-in-waiting. "We have
the credibility and calibre within the MDC structures to form a government. We
also have the credibility and confidence of the people of Zimbabwe to form an
alternative government so that is the route we will take and nothing else,"
Tsvangirai said. He said it was not in the interests of the MDC to contemplate
forming a government of national unity for short-term political gains. The best
way of tackling Zimbabwe’s crisis was to have a free and fair presidential
election to allow voters a chance to elect leaders to govern them. "The solution
is to have free and fair elections for people to choose their own leadership and
set this country on a new path, for a better life of all Zimbabweans,"
Tsvangirai said. "The idea and talk of a government of national unity is solely
to save people’s skins and to serve personal egos and interests but this is not
the objective of the MDC and we are not going to entertain it." Zanu PF has also
rejected the idea of a coalition government with the MDC.
From News24 (SA), 22
'The wheels have come off in Zim' –
Johannesburg - Reserve Bank Governor Tito Mboweni has blamed
PAC secretary-general Thami ka Plaatjie and the Zimbabwean government for the
slump in the rand, SABC radio news reported on Wednesday. In an off-the-cuff
comment at an African investment seminar in Stellenbosch in the Western Cape,
Mboweni said "the wheels had come off" in Zimbabwe. "In a globalised world, no
country can behave as if it was an island", Mboweni said. "It was untenable for
the highest offices in Zimbabwe to be seen supporting illegal means of land
distribution - land redistribution had to be resolved according to the law", he
added. Saying he wished to call a spade a spade, Mboweni said developments in
Zimbabwe were "distressing the southern African region unnecessarily". The
support expressed for the Zimbabwe land grabs by ka Plaatjie had also damaged
the rand, Mboweni said.
From The Star (SA), 22
Zim is a world issue,
says British minister
London - The conflict in Zimbabwe is an international problem
and should not be reduced to one of race or a colonial issue between President
Robert Mugabe's government and Britain, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw
said on Wednesday. Straw was reacting to pressure in Britain for action to be
taken to halt the violence and descent into lawlessness in Zimbabwe, which
formally gained independence only in 1980. It was important not to "play into
the hands" of Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF party by turning the problems into a black
versus white, Britain versus Zimbabwe issue, Straw told the British Broadcasting
Corporation. "The important point to bear in mind is that this is now an
international problem," he said, adding that Britain no longer had any kind of
controlling role in the Commonwealth, which is taking up the question. Australia
has made it clear that Mugabe will be at the meeting of Commonwealth heads in
Brisbane next month.
From The Financial Gazette, 23
Govt mulls snap election in
President Robert Mugabe’s Cabinet last week devoted its weekly
meeting to drafting a strategy that might lead to next year’s presidential
election being held as early as January, authoritative sources said this week.
The sources said some ministers and senior Zanu PF officials had expressed
concern that the rapid drop in living standards would be a major factor against
Mugabe’s re-election bid should the election be delayed further to April next
year as had originally been planned. "An early election date for January was
toyed around with, taking into consideration the expected fall in living
standards by April, the time at which the election is expected to be held," said
one highly placed source.
The presidential election looks certain to be fought over the
economy, a factor that might pose the strongest challenge to Mugabe’s
21-year-old rule. Mugabe will be opposed by Morgan Tsvangirai, the charismatic
veteran trade unionist at the helm of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC). The Wednesday meeting, which was held to find ways to enhance
chances of another Zanu PF win during the presidential election, had resulted in
the formation of Cabinet action committees tasked to identify and undertake
projects that would have quick turnarounds, some over a maximum of 60 days. The
committees are on macroeconomic action, infrastructure, fuel and energy, land
reform and agriculture, social services and alliance building.
An example of what the committees could do is the introduction
of the cheap train service to certain suburbs of Harare and Bulawayo that is
being coordinated by different ministries. The meeting, attended by Speaker of
Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa - one of Mugabe’s closest allies - also explored
ways of limiting the damage to the image of Zanu PF and Zimbabwe of recent
looting of property at commercial farms in Chinhoyi. One of the recommendations
of the meeting was the state-facilitated visit by Harare-based foreign diplomats
and some delegates from the Organisation of the African Unity yesterday to
commercial farms in Mashonaland West, where looting was widespread. Foreign
Minister Stan Mudenge took busloads of diplomats to commercial farms in
Mashonaland West, where massive looting by Zanu PF supporters and war veterans
was reported during the last few weeks. Information Minister Jonathan Moyo was
also part of the delegation.
According to the sources, the plan to facilitate the visit by
diplomats was aimed at reversing the negative sentiments against the Mugabe
administration within the diplomatic community over the handling of the land
issue. "The plan is aimed at seeking mileage and political sympathy on the land
issue ahead of the Commonwealth meeting in Brisbane," a source told the
Financial Gazette. According to the plan, the diplomats would also be accorded
an opportunity to listen to the eyewitness accounts of farm workers on how the
looting occurred as well as get briefings from the police and security agents.
The sources say the plan is ultimately aimed at easing mounting pressure on
Zimbabwe over its handling of the land issue and the breakdown of the rule of
law ahead of the summit of the Commonwealth Heads of State and Government to be
held in Australia in October.
Yesterday’s visit was also tailor-made for diplomats to meet
successful resettled farmers and hear their testimony on the land reform
exercise being undertaken by the government. The government has accused white
commercial farmers in Mashonaland West of paying their workers to loot property
at the farms to draw international condemnation of the resettlement exercise.
Zanu PF supporters and war veterans are accused of having gone on a looting
spree and damaging property worth more than $1billion during the last three
weeks after some white farmers in the area had clashed with the resettled
From News24 (SA), 22
British envoy accused of staging
looting in Zim
Chinhoyi - A provincial governor in Zimbabwe on Wednesday
implicitly accused the British High Commissioner of being involved in a plot to
loot white-owned farms, in a new allegation that Britain is trying to tarnish
Zimbabwe's image. Zimbabwe, through its official media, has accused Britain of
backing white farmers in engineering a widescale looting spree on their own
properties two weeks ago in a bid to trigger international condemnation of the
government's land reforms. On Wednesday Mashonaland West governor Peter Chanetsa
suggested that western-backed aircraft had been used to record the looting in a
highly organised media event, and that the British High Commissioner Brian
Donnelly insisted on heading to the area at the time.
"Investigations into the forces behind the mass looting have
established that the farmers instructed their farmworkers to randomly loot their
properties whilst two fixed wing aircraft and a helicopter equipped with
powerful photographic and transmitting gadgets hoovered (sic) above recording
all the activities," Chanetsa said in a statement distributed to journalists
during a government-organised trip to the area. The governor also said the
activities were "in turn were beamed on BBC, CNN and other western TV and radio
networks". "That the said aircraft were transmitting to those on the ground
coincided with an approach to Governor Chanetsa by the British High Commissioner
Brian Donnelly who insisted on proceeding to the Doma/Mhangura area to assess
the situation," the statement said. The looting, which lasted for several days,
was centred in the Doma and Mhangura districts in Chinhoyi. Donnelly, who was
part of Wednesday's media trip, was visibly furious at the allegation. "I reject
completely that I was in any way involved," he said. The British government and
media have been vocal in their criticism of President Robert Mugabe over his
controversial land reforms, which aim to redress colonial redress colonial
inequities in land ownership.
From The Independent (UK), 23
I cannot sit and wait for the knock
at the door. I must go to confront my accusers
By Basildon Peta in
AT 10.15am today I will put on my best suit and tie, get into
my Mazda, drive the 10 miles to Harare's notorious central police station and
turn myself in. I have been avoiding the police since finding out that I am top
of a government hit list to be "murdered or harmed" before the presidential
elections next year. For two days the police have been looking for me. On
Tuesday a group of detectives showed up at my office while I was out. I know
that for as long as I remain in this country, they can track me down. So there
is no point hiding any longer. I have no option but to confront my accusers,
those people who have called me a "British spy", an enemy of the state.
So this morning I will walk in to the police station,
accompanied by my lawyer, Linda Cook, hoping for the best. I know I have done
nothing wrong; I have not transgressed the law in any way. I have spent much of
the past 48 hours mentally scrolling through every incident that might have
inadvertently brought me into trouble with the police. Nothing so much as a
traffic ticket. And even if I had been caught speeding, detectives working under
the auspices of Zimbabwe's notorious Law and Order Department would hardly be
tracking my movements and seeking to question me.
All day yesterday my phone rang, with calls of support. While
those calls flooded in from Britain, the US, Ireland and South Africa, the
Harare Law and Order police were also on the phone, to my lawyer, playing a game
of good cop, nasty cop. While one of the detectives said they wanted to know
more about threats that had been made against me with a view to offering
protection, another said I could expect to have charges pressed against me. I
can live with being charged if I am then freed to challenge those charges with a
legal defence. What worries me is the prospect that they will chase away the
lawyer and hand me over to somebody else, with a more sinister purpose. Two of
my journalist friends, Mark Chavunduka and Ray Choto, were called in to the same
police station recently, only to be blindfolded, and handed over to the army for
torture. They went to London for treatment from the Medical Foundation for the
Care of Victims of Torture.
The two different versions offered by detectives working in the
same department for why they want to see me are not reassuring. My lawyer
suspects that the detective who spoke of wanting to guarantee my safety wanted
an easy way of getting me to the police station. Ironically, Mark Chavunduka,
who edits the Standard newspaper, was yesterday back in the same police station.
He phoned me from the station to tell me he has been charged with criminally
defaming President Robert Mugabe over a story published by the Sunday Times in
London, alleging Mr Mugabe fears he is being haunted by a ghost. Could I have
defamed anyone? I am certain I have not.
For now, I cannot concentrate on my job as an investigative
journalist highlighting the gross injustices perpetrated against the people of
Zimbabwe. Anyway, the police seem less interested in bringing to justice those
who have been allowed to get away, literally, with murder than pursuing
journalists. As I prepare to hand myself over to the mercy of President Mugabe's
law officers, I know that at least the eyes of the world have been drawn to my
plight and that of other Zimbabwean journalists. Who knows what awaits me in the
darkened rooms of the police station? Who knows where this traumatic and violent
episode will leave my country? But at least as long as I and my fellow
journalists continue to tell the truth, the world cannot ignore
From The Daily News, 21
Masvingo - Police in Masvingo have refused to comply with an
order by a magistrate to hand over about 50 soldiers, who went on a rampage two
weeks ago and beat up people in public bars and night clubs in Masvingo town,
for prosecution. A Masvingo magistrate, Shortgame Musaiona, on 8 August ordered
the police to bring the army recruits to court within seven days to face charges
either of public violence or of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily
harm. An official at the Masvingo magistrates’ courts said yesterday that the
police had refused to bring the soldiers to court, arguing that the $60 deposit
fines were proper.
"Police have not yet brought the soldiers to court because they
argued that the fines were enough," said the official. They also argued that
apart from the fines, the army recruits were going to face disciplinary action
at their work places. The recruits, who were arrested following the disturbances
in Masvingo, had been ordered by the police to pay deposits fines of only $60.
Inspector Simon Mbedzi, the Masvingo police spokesperson, yesterday refused to
entertain questions from The Daily News.
In a letter to the officer in charge, Masvingo Central
magistrate Musaiona said: "May you, with the powers vested in you, ensure that
the soldiers are brought before the court within seven days. The scrutinising
magistrate was extremely appalled and shocked at the manner in which your office
assessed the case. That young soldiers, supposed to be disciplined, ran amok
disturbing peace appeared to have been condoned or blessed in their actions
through the paltry and cosmetic fines they were ordered to pay. The scrutinising
magistrate is hereby refusing to confirm both the charge and the amounts
assessed as he feels appropriate charges ought to be a more serious offence of
either public violence or assault with intent to cause grievous bodily
The magistrate said since property worth thousands of dollars
was damaged while people were injured, it was in the interest of justice to
press appropriate charges against the soldiers. "The court views that
hooliganism is rife in these young soldier offenders and the public will feel
betrayed when insubstantial fines and wrong charges are preferred at the expense
of serious crimes. It is gross abuse of justice by requiring the soldiers to pay
$60 deposit fines, which amount is not commensurate with the assumed damage
caused. What type of justice is this?"
At least 10 people were injured, five of them seriously, during
the disturbances, leaving the Masvingo community dumbfounded. The injured were
treated at Masvingo General Hospital. The soldiers descended at Ritz Nightclub
at around 9pm and started throwing missiles, damaging window panes and beating
security guards at the entrance. They also stoned cars outside the nightclub
before forcing entry into the premises. Once inside, they opened one of the
tills and got away with $5 000 in cash. Patrons ran for dear life as the rowdy
soldiers indiscriminately beat up everyone in the club. The soldiers proceeded
to Landmark and Wild bars where they beat up people before smashing windows.
Windows were also smashed on shopfronts in the vicinity.
TWO commuter omnibuses were blown up in a petrol inferno and
several commuters sustained serious burns when the buses caught fire while
refueling at the premises of an illegal fuel dealer in Harare on Sunday
The dealers were busy draining petrol from containers when fuel
droplets ignited the engines, both of which were running, in a single big ball
of fire sending the commuters scurrying for cover.
Some of the commuters were not so lucky and sustained serious
burns including one of the bus drivers, police confirmed.
The injured were rushed to Harare Central Hospital. Several
containers of petrol were blown in all directions crashing on anything in their
Police said they were yet to press charges against the
Highfield fuel dealer.
Police warned motorists against buying fuel from unlicenced
dealers. Petrol and diesel supplies have improved in recent months since
critical shortages earlier in the year.