|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
From The Daily News, 23 August
Fresh evidence links police to farm looting
Police officers and vehicles were allegedly involved in the recent orgy of raiding and looting of farms in Mashonaland West. Farmers and scores of farm workers and villagers in the area where more than 40 commercial farms were raided last week, have confirmed the alleged involvement of the police. Villagers say war veterans incited them to loot. They said they were assured they would not be arrested because the exercise was part of the land reform programme.
Investigations have established that a war veteran based in Chinhoyi, known as Comrade Maguvaza, drove a police vehicle to a number of villages where he allegedly met Zanu PF officials hours before the looting spree began. Sources in the area said Maguvaza drove to the homestead of Fred Chitsinde, the Zanu PF district chairman for Makonde in Village Five, where hundreds were resettled in 1991. When Maguvaza left, a Zanu PF supporter, known as Cornelius Dicho, is said to have moved around the village telling people that those who wanted land should go and invade Winter Farm, a commercial farm near the resettlement area.
Dicho allegedly told the villagers the move had been sanctioned by the police and there was no need to fear. Winter Farm was subsequently raided and property worth millions of dollars was looted and an unspecified number of beasts slaughtered, allegedly in the presence of the police who said they wanted some of the cuts, preferably the hindquarters. Farm workers say at Cotswold Farm in the Mhangura area, the invaders stole, among other things, a water pump and five car batteries. They also slaughtered the farm’s biggest bull, a Hereford. Said one worker: "The police took the meat as well, a whole hindquarter, and put it in their vehicle. The police were putting pressure on the invaders." At Richmond Farm, a worker said: "The pressure was coming from the police, saying the government had given permission."
At Long Valley Farm, which was also raided, the police are alleged to have loaded their vehicle with bags of maize meal. Although the farmer, Anthony White, said he could not state categorically that he saw the police taking away the maize meal, his workers had told him that the police vehicle was full of looted goods, mostly maize meal. White said he stopped the police to hear what they were doing about the destruction on his farm. The police officers told him they were going back to Mhangura for reinforcements because they were grossly outnumbered by the invaders. They left but did not return to the farm, he said. "The police did not want to co-operate," said White. "Two police officers were here, but I hear they were inciting my workers to help themselves to my property."
From ZWNEWS, 24 August
Broken toys and broken lives: a tale of wanton destruction
An eyewitness account from Chinhoyi and other districts attacked by Zanu PF militants
Despite a broken arm, the man had cycled several kilometres when he flagged us down on the dirt road in Doma.. He was stuttering, could hardly get the words out. "They are coming," he said , "there is a big gang heading towards that farm. We must tell the police." Radio messages from spotter planes and vehicles on the ground had already told us that invaders were on the way, the police had been told and had once again refused to react. And yet this poor guy, still with faith in law and order thought that if he got on his bike and pedalled ten kilometres to the police post at Doma, maybe he could stop the wanton destruction and violence that was sure to follow the arrival of the group. We hadn't the heart to tell him his trip was in vain, and thanked him for the information. When we drove off he resumed pedalling valiantly toward the police post.
The man is one of ten of thousands of farm workers whose lives and livelihoods, along with those of white commercial farmers, are being wrecked in the latest wave of pillage and looting by militants of President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF party. Since the new attacks started Aug. 7, at least 4,000 black farm workers and their families have been made homeless, no one is helping them, and the Mugabe regime has reportedly refused to let non-governmental agencies assist.
Human rights organisations and others struggle to compile the statistics. The Amani Trust, which monitors human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, recorded 11 political murders, 61 disappearances, 104 cases of unlawful detention and 288 incidents of torture last month alone - and that is just a small, confirmed part of the picture. Behind the figures lie stories of personal pain, tragedy and immense bravery by political opponents of the Mugabe administration, by rural school teachers and health professionals, farm workers, commercial farmers and anyone else caught in the wave of state-sponsored terror.
For example, an elderly female domestic worker came across her employers' goods hidden in the bush. She ran to Mhangura, the nearest town, and with her own money hired a vehicle to collect the property, transported it to the Mhangura police station and asked officers there to keep the goods safe. She was arrested for theft and, despite her employers' efforts, remains in jail. I think her name is Janet Zuze. The Herald says that because farmers are paying fines for workers like her, and other workers who were forced to loot, the farmers (and the British Government) organised the looting themselves.
Along the road, we met farm workers fleeing from the invaders. They did not want to be involved. The pattern is that a core group of Zanu PF militants shows up at a white-owned farm, has a look round and then goes off to collect people to loot. Often they will use the next door farm workers who are forced to steal and take the goods to their compounds. In some cases, the farm workers have risked beatings and worse by returning looted goods to the owners after the invaders have left. Others go along with it. We passed many people collecting on the roads, waiting to be picked up by already overloaded vehicles that Zanu PF militants had ordered farm drivers to steal. When you have nothing, and you see you neighbour acquire a TV set, it must be difficult to resist.
In the past week, as attacks spread to the Hwedza and Marondera districts, Zanu PF militants displayed a gruesome version of image-making. On six farms in the Hwedza district, the invaders first herded the workers from their houses into areas near tobacco barns. The farm owners were forced to pay the workers, some of whom then dispersed with their families into nearby communal peasant farming areas. Others just sat on the side of roads alongside bundles of belongings and their chickens. The Zanu PF militants told them that was ``bad publicity'' and forced them into the bush. Their fate is unknown.
And then there are the animals. On one farm in the Mhangura district, the pen foreman was beaten up after trying to protect the cattle. He failed, and Zanu PF thugs slaughtered the cattle by hacking off their heads with axes - often making several attempts before the writhing animals died. In some cases, cows, horses, chickens and other animals have not been fed or watered since the start of the new attacks. From a razed farmhouse, a pet dog escaped, spent a couple of days roaming the bush, before finding his owner at a neighbouring farm. The dog, which had been beaten, is almost all the owner has left. Man and dog sat on a neighbour’s lawn - a grown man with a huge Ridgeback cross practically sitting on his lap, the owner weeping while stroking his dog.
A boarding kennel in Harare has offered to take in for free domestic animals from the abandoned farms, but it is difficult to get them out. Many dogs are locked in neighbours' garages (so they don't fight with the dogs living on the property), and larger animals cannot be moved in the rush of departure. Chinhoyi vet Rob Gordon sewed up a Staffordshire terrier which had been almost chopped in half with an axe. Then Gordon headed to Lomagundi College, a local private school whose future looks grim, to put down the two dogs of a childless couple who have fled the country, leaving him with a request to destroy their beloved pets.
Many of the wives of white farmers sent to town for safety have no idea of the extent of the damage. I heard husbands breaking it to them on the phone that they had lost everything. Without their wives, the men cook awful meals, and occasionally find something to laugh about, like one man spending ages going through cupboards looking for the salt. I flew to the Mhangura area, with a couple of men who had no idea what they would find at the other end, if there was anything left at all. One was a missionary who runs an orphanage. He had gone to Harare not knowing there was any trouble a few days before, and had not been able to return. I saw domestic workers trying to restore their employers' homes, pathetically sweeping up the remains of children's jigsaw puzzles, sifting through fires to find unburned books, picking the glass from family photos. But no amount of clearing up is going to make this all right again.
As the Amani Trust's Anthony Reeler puts it: ``The rule of law has been replaced by the rule of thugs.''
|Mugabe targets Australia|
African analysts expect Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to come out fighting against his critics at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Brisbane in October - and Australia is likely to be one of his main targets.
Following Canberra's rejection of calls for Mr Mugabe to be banned from the conference, political observers in southern Africa see little prospect of Mr Mugabe staying away to escape growing condemnation for stoking political violence in his own country.
"Yes, absolutely, he will go," said Iden Wetherall, a senior journalist for the local Independent newspaper. "It (CHOGM) provides a platform for him to lecture the world and wag his finger," he said.
"He's going to use it as a propaganda platform. He's going to speak out on Aboriginal land rights... He will mobilise his friends in the Commonwealth - Malaysia, certainly, and some of the African states - and he will attack Britain and Australia."
An Africa analyst with a South African think-tank agreed. "He has a very strong desire to thumb his nose at the world and he has a great deal of fondness for these Commonwealth things. The thought of Aboriginal land rights people asking for his advice on land reform will deeply appeal to him," he said.
"He relishes the role of pitting himself against the colonial power of whites."
John Makumbe, a political scientist at the University of Zimbabwe, laughed when asked if he thought that the likelihood of diplomatic controversy and public demonstrations would deter Mr Mugabe from travelling to Brisbane. "If people in Australia think that, they don't know the size of his ego," he said. "Turn up at Brisbane and be the centre of the process? He loves that. He will be the centre of international media attention."
However, Dr Makumbe did not believe that Mr Mugabe would be able to act as aggressively as he would like to against the wealthier and predominantly white Commonwealth states such as Australia, Britain and Canada.
Dr Makumbe said Mr Mugabe was still smarting from the diplomatic rebuff he had received at a meeting of the Southern African Development Community two weeks ago when he was removed as the head of its security organ and a tri-nation commission was appointed to investigate the Zimbabwe crisis.
Following a wave of state-orchestrated attacks on white-owned farms in the Chinhoyi region west of Harare, African heads of state for the first time expressed concern about Mr Mugabe's plans to seize 95per cent of his country's white-owned land. Previously, they had expressed varying degrees of solidarity with his claim that he was merely seeking to correct colonial-era injustice.
"The Chinhoyi situation really cost him a lot of face with the international community ... He has a lot of repair work to do and I don't know if he has the capacity to do it," Dr Makumbe said.
"He's praying that he will be able to make it to Brisbane. Then he will be able to say he's never missed a Commonwealth meeting, and we are still a democracy. He will then next year run the least democratic election you've ever seen."
From The National Post, (Canada), 24 August
Ottawa may back move to ban Mugabe
Australia wants to exclude leader from summit
Edmonton and Johannesburg - Canada may back a move to ban Robert Mugabe from a summit of Commonwealth leaders in Australia in October, John Manley, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, told the National Post yesterday. This follows suggestions by John Howard, the Australian Prime Minister, that his government would back moves to exclude Mr. Mugabe, the Zimbabwean President, from the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Brisbane, and signals from South Africa's top banker that his country was losing patience with the continuing chaos and mayhem in Zimbabwe.
Mr. Manley said Canada is concerned about the steady deterioration of law and order in Zimbabwe, where government-backed militants have launched violent attacks against white farmers, political opponents and other critics, destroying the economy and prompting widespread international criticism. The Canadian government suspended direct aid to the African nation in May. The Foreign Minister said the matter will be high on the agenda when the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), to which Canada belongs, meets in London next month.
Mr. Manley said he expects his Australian counterpart to make the case for excluding Zimbabwe from the Brisbane meeting when the ministers gather in London. "Our first task will be to deal with it in that context. I know the Australian Foreign Minister will certainly have some clear views. Of course, it's been a matter of concern for the British as well," he said. Concerns have also been aroused by Mr. Mugabe's refusal to allow a surveillance mission of representatives from Australia, Barbados and Nigeria to tour his country. "Zimbabwe has very insistently taken the position that they don't fall under the mandate of CMAG. We will have to deal with that too," Mr. Manley said. Moves to exclude Mr. Mugabe from the meeting are gaining momentum as his government intensifies its campaign of terror against whites, journalists, opposition Members of Parliament and judges.
In Johannesburg on Wednesday, Tito Mboweni, South Africa's Reserve Bank Governor, told investors it was "time to call a spade a spade" because Zimbabwe's leaders appear not to understand diplomatic language. "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 ... beating up of people, blood flowing everywhere," Mr. Mboweni said. "I am saying this as forcefully as I am because the developments in Zimbabwe are affecting us and are stressing us unnecessarily ... the wheels have come off there."
As Mr. Mboweni spoke, the South African currency, the rand, hit a new low, driven down by the continuing uncertainty. There is also concern the Zimbabwean crisis is damaging tourism throughout the region, scaring off investors and creating a flood of illegal migrants. The central banker's hard-hitting speech was the toughest heard from a senior South African official on the topic of Zimbabwe. The government has finally lost patience. In a TV interview three weeks ago, Thabo Mbeki, the South African President, admitted for the first time that his efforts to reason with Mr. Mugabe had failed, although he continues to mute criticism of his old comrade in an effort to maintain open lines of communication.
It was also clear yesterday Mr. Mbeki was pleased to hear Mr. Mboweni making the kind of statements that other officials cannot. "Why should we be angry?" asked Bheki Khumalo, a spokesman for the President's office, regarding Mr. Mboweni's statement. "We are indeed very concerned. We want to avoid an economic meltdown in Zimbabwe. That is why we are sending a task force there to see how we can resolve the crisis." Ten days ago, 13 southern African leaders took an uncharacteristically hard stand against Zimbabwe when, at South Africa's behest, they appointed a committee of presidents to try to resolve the crisis.
The country has been in an uproar since February last year, when self-styled "war veterans" began to invade white-owned commercial farms so the properties could be redistributed to landless black farmers. Mr. Mugabe has ignored pleas to end this program of land seizures and his anti-white rhetoric becomes harsher by the day. "They will not be treated like special creatures," he said this week of the 21 white farmers who had been in prison since Aug. 6 for allegedly inciting violence by war veterans. "Why should they be treated as if they are next to God?" he asked on state television. "If anything, they are next to he who commands evil and resides in [the] inferno." The farmers were released on bail this week, but forbidden to return to their farms. Yesterday, the Zimbabwean government issued yet another threat to journalists.
From The Independent (UK), 25 August
Mugabe orders secret burials of his soldiers killed in Congo
Harare - President Robert Mugabe's army, which is fighting a secret and unpopular war in the Congo, has decreed that the bodies of soldiers who fall in combat be buried in the jungle rather than come home in body bags. Sent to die in his war-for-profit in the Congo, they are being buried there without the knowledge of their families, The Independent has learned. To avoid stirring public unrest, the regime has kept the number of soldiers who have died a closely guarded secret.
In an exclusive interview, an officer among the estimated 16,000 Zimbabwean troops serving in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) said 22 members of his battalion had been buried in situ earlier this year after top officers ordered that their bodies should not be repatriated. He said other corpses were left to decompose. The source, a captain, said: "I think the reason the army is burying its dead soldiers in the DRC is to control the damage and alarm that would greet the arrival of many dead bodies in Harare. Most of the families of the dead soldiers are still under the impression that their brave sons are on tour of duty. Top officers have instructed that a greater majority of those who die in combat should be buried in the DRC."
The war is unpopular in cash-strapped Zimbabwe, which has neither a border nor historical links with the former Belgian Congo. Zimbabwe's British-advised defence force was for many years considered one of the most professional in Africa - one which would not willingly leave its men to rot on the battlefield. But in August 1998, the country entered the DRC war on the side of the late Laurent-Desire Kabila, alongside Angola and Namibia. As payment, Zimbabwe has received diamond and cobalt concessions and top officers are known to have struck lucrative business deals.
But Zimbabwe's rock-bottom reserves of foreign exchange are believed to have led to a shortage of weaponry. Low-ranking soldiers are receiving their promised $13 per day bonuses in worthless Congolese francs. It is understood that all but one or two of Zimbabwe's 12 British-made Hawk fighter aircraft are grounded due to a lack of spares. Britain stopped supplying spares last year but these are usually available on the black market. Officially, Zimbabwe's contribution has been long described as 11,000-strong, backed by the Hawks. Harare earlier this year claimed to have withdrawn 2,000 men but is known later to have sent reinforcements, which may have pushed the number as high as 16,000. The source also criticised top Zimbabwean officers for adopting lavish lifestyles and using professional soldiers to guard their mining concessions.
From The Times (UK), 25 August
Nations poorest battle to survive on wild berries
Harare - In a country threatened with economic disaster and dire food shortages, the Binga district is a forgotten backwater at the bottom of the Government’s list of priorities. It is the poorest area of Zimbabwe and at this time of year, while most peasant communities have just finished reaping their harvest of maize, the national staple, the 3,000 Batonka people of Sinakoma have already run out of the grain. This year had been particularly bad, said Brother Leonard Chiti, a Jesuit who is researching the abysmal poverty of the area. As early as June, communities had started to apply for food relief from the Government.
The nearest small town, Gokwe, is 125 miles distant, along bad roads. Summer temperatures commonly hit 40C (105F), rainfall is scant but torrential when it does fall, and the flat sandy terrain is useless for crops. Most families manage to grow perhaps one 50kg bag of maize a season, and then rely on food relief. "People shouldn’t be growing anything there," Brother Chiti said. "But what else can they do?" People spend half their time in the bush, collecting wild fruits. They have become extremely adept at knowing what is edible and what is not.
Fees at the only two schools in the ward are nine Zimbabwe dollars (11p) a term, but attendance is low, Brother Chiti said. Parents cannot afford to raise the cash. "People are thin; the children show signs of malnutrition," he said. "When I go there for a meeting I usually buy a goat and some cooking oil and provide a meal, and people are really happy."
This year, however, promises to be worse than ever. After 20 years of rule under President Mugabe’s Zanu PF party, all Sinakoma has got is one school and a half-built clinic. The World Bank was building homes for nurses at the clinic, but funding stopped last year when all international aid was halted because of the Government’s economic mismanagement and the breakdown of the rule of law. Last year Binga decided it had had enough and voted in MPs of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. "Is the Government going to assist this year?" Brother Chiti pondered. "What I suspect will happen, if there is any food aid to Binga, political considerations will come in. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are told, you cannot get food unless you indicate support for Zanu PF."
From The Times (UK), 25 August
Zimbabwe only three months from famine
London - For the first time in its 20-year history Zimbabwe faces the threat of famine unless emergency food aid can be distributed to the country’s poor in the coming months. According to a confidential Whitehall report prepared this month and seen by The Times, the production of maize, the staple diet for the black population, is down nearly a third on last year and shortages could become acute by November. "They have basically got three months left," a British official said. "They will need outside help or face food shortages," the official added.
The World Food Programme now lists Zimbabwe, once one of the continent’s most productive nations, among its list of countries facing "exceptional food emergencies in sub-Saharan Africa". Maize production this year is 1.47million tonnes, 28 per cent lower than last year and leaving a shortfall of half a million tonnes. Slumps in food production are not unusual in southern Africa, which is prone to droughts. This is, however, the first time that Zimbabwe will be unable to feed its population for entirely political reasons. Because of a related economic crisis it no longer has the foreign currency necessary to import food. What food is available is likely to be priced beyond many of the country’s needy.
Large parts of the farming sector have been brought to a standstill since last year’s policy of President Mugabe to allow so-called war veterans to seize land belonging to white farmers and people linked to the opposition. To compound the problem, there are fears that foreign countries may be unable to assist starving Zimbabweans because hardliners in the regime in Harare do not want to admit that there is a problem. British officials say that Mr Mugabe will not want to admit that he needs outside help to feed his people as he prepares for a tough re-election battle next spring.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which has attempted to mediate in the 18-month land battle, has drawn up an emergency relief plan, but is unable act until it is asked by the Government. "There is a plan ready to help Zimbabwe, but the Government has so far shown no urgency in responding to the crisis," Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said. While the world’s attention had been focused largely on the plight of white farmers, tens of thousands of black Zimbabweans were struggling to survive, he said. Those most at risk are former black farmworkers who have been driven out of their jobs by land seizures as well as the urban poor, many of whom have lost jobs during the country’s economic troubles.
The Foreign Office is hoping that, even at this late stage, pressure can be brought to bear on Mr Mugabe to halt the land seizures, restore law and order and reopen dialogue with outside countries. Nigeria and South Africa are pressing Mr Mugabe to back down and will mediate between Britain and Zimbabwe at a foreign ministers’ meeting in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, next month. Britain is under no illusions. It has withdrawn a standing offer to provide £36million to help to fund a peaceful land redistribution programme.
From Business Report [South Africa]
August 24 2001 at 12:14AM
Harare - Foot-and-mouth disease had spread to several parts of Zimbabwe since it was first detected last week, a top government veterinary officer said yesterday.
Stuart Hargreaves, the director of the government's Veterinary Services, told state media that the disease had been identified at six properties, located in the southwestern province of Matabeleland South, Matabeleland North in the northwest and southern Masvingo Province.
Five of the farms belong to the parastatal Cold Storage Company of Zimbabwe, while the sixth is a private ranch.
At least 100 farms, involving 100 000 animals have been inspected since the outbreak was detected last week.
The independent Daily News and farming officials said the outbreak had begun after occupiers planning to resettle on white-owned ranches took down perimeter fences, leaving cattle to mingle with wild animals.
Hargreaves dismissed these assertions while acknowledging the infections had resulted from contact between cattle and buffaloes. However, he did not indicate how the two species could have come into contact.
At least 7 000 head of cattle are to be destroyed in an effort to contain the outbreak.
Preliminary tests have shown that a foot-and-mouth strain called SA Territories Type 2 is the cause of the infection.
"At the moment we are able to cope. But if the need arises we [will] request international support," Hargreaves said.
The government has imported vaccines from neighbouring Botswana and has suspended the movement of cattle as well as beef and dairy products.
The move will affect the country's premier agricultural exhibition, due to open next week.
Zimbabwe exports beef to Europe, South Africa and other markets in Africa, and Asia. Annual exports total about US$86 million.
South Africa has beefed up patrols along the border to prevent contamination.