|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
pbs online newshour
ZIMBABWE LAND BATTLE
RAY SUAREZ: White farmers in this southern African nation raced against the clock this week to meet a government demand ordering them to pack their belongings and evacuate their farms. Their flight intensified after the government arrested nearly 200 white farmers in the past week for refusing to comply. Yesterday, police fingerprinted this group and then led them off in handcuffs, an event broadcast live on state television. President Robert Mugabe has ordered 2,900 of the country's 4,500 white commercial farmers to turn over their land as part of a highly criticized land redistribution plan.
Under Mugabe's order, the land would be redistributed without compensation to black Zimbabweans, many of them veterans of the guerrilla war against white rule in the 1960s and '70s. More than half of the country's best farmland belongs to whites, who are a minority and gained possession during decades of colonial rule. They make up less than 1% of the country's population of 12.5 million. Mugabe's plan was a big part of his re-election campaign this spring and had been so in previous elections. He said it was unfinished business left over from 1980 when the nation of Zimbabwe was created from the former British colony of Rhodesia. Yesterday, Bush administration officials said Mugabe should no longer be considered the legitimate leader of Zimbabwe even though he recently won re-election.
WALTER KANSTEINER: We do not see President Mugabe as the democratically legitimate leader of the country. The election was fraudulent and it was not free and it was not fair. So we're working with others, other countries in the region as well as throughout the world, on how we can, in fact, together encourage the body politique of Zimbabwe to, in fact, go forward and correct that situation.
RAY SUAREZ: The farm evacuations come at a time when southern Africa is suffering from the worst drought and food shortage in a decade. As many as six million Zimbabweans are at risk of starvation by year's end. Another six million in neighboring nations are also at risk, a situation exacerbated by land takeovers, according to the U.S. State Department.
ANDREW NATSIOS: Those farms are all shut down now. Either they've been confiscated or people are being arrested now. It is madness to arrest commercial farmers in the middle of a drought when they could grow food to save people from starvation.
RAY SUAREZ: U.S. officials also said Mugabe was committing gross violations by limiting emergency food aid to his political followers in the most severely affected region of the country. They said farmland was also being distributed to Mugabe's cronies. The white-owned farms once earned a big share of Zimbabwe's export income and helped feed its fast-growing population. Over the past two years, mob attacks on white-owned farms have led to the death of at least 100 white and black Zimbabweans, including at least eight white farmers. Mugabe says the land will now be distributed fairly, and last week he said white farmers need not fear if they complied with his order.
PRESIDENT ROBERT MUGABE: All genuine and well-meaning white farmers who wish to pursue a farming career as loyal citizens of this country have land to do so. We have been generous. No farmer we said need go without land, but what we will not accept is that they should have two farms, more farms, 135,000 hectares. To all this, no.
RAY SUAREZ: Farmers said that is not true. Yesterday, this farmer's wife read a court order delivered to her. After living on the property for 34 years, she and her husband had 14 hours to pack and get out.
LYNN FULLER: We have to vacate the premises immediately, never to access again without a police escort. Apparently, there's been a directive from the president and the vice president's office stating one man, one farm still applies. Well, this is one man, one farm. This is the only farm we have.
RAY SUAREZ: Farmers who refuse to leave face a fine and up to two years in jail.
|The origin of land seizures|
RAY SUAREZ: For more on the situation in Zimbabwe, we go to Bill Fletcher, president of the Trans Africa Forum, an organization promoting research and commentary on Africa; and Jeffrey Herbst, a professor of political and international affairs at Princeton University and the author of "State and Politics in Zimbabwe." We invited representatives of the Zimbabwe government to appear, but they declined.
Professor Herbst, the deal that created Zimbabwe and ended the civil war promised that there would be no confiscation of farms, that farmers would be compensated if they wanted to leave the land. What happened between then and now?
JEFFREY HERBST: Well, the Mugabe regime ran out of reasons why it should be re-elected especially after the transition in South Africa, and as it sought desperately to reward its own followers and keep others from seizing power, took the land issue as a kind of populist cause that it could try to advance its own interests and appeal to the population who are still concerned about the inequalities inherited from colonialism.
RAY SUAREZ: But is there a historical wrong that needs to be righted? In effect, is Mugabe correct in one part of his analysis and perhaps wrong about the timing or something?
JEFFREY HERBST: Well, the inequality of a few thousand white farmers owning over half the land in a country is clear. However, the Mugabe regime after independence in 1980 did not embark on a particularly ambitious land resettlement program. Indeed throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, it was not that interested in land reform. It only refocused on the land program... land problem after 1995 when the president's own popularity began to decline.
At that point without an approach that would protect property rights and address inequalities, it sought to use rather blunt instrument of land seizures to address what is quite rightly an historical wrong. However, there were ways of going about it that could have protected the country's infrastructure, its long-term agrarian potential and redistributed the significant resource to the African majority.
RAY SUAREZ: Bill Fletcher, do you agree with that analysis?
WILLIAM FLETCHER: I agree with the gist of the analysis. I think that President Mugabe took a legitimate issue, which was the land question, and used it to serve illegitimate objectives. I think there's very little question of that. I think that the way that the issue was manipulated in the last election was outrageous. Nevertheless, having said that, the response of the United States government in this has been just as outrageous and I believe is actually inflaming the situation.
RAY SUAREZ: How so?
WILLIAM FLETCHER: Well, the United States, I feel, is once again the Bush administration is trying to play God. They're selectively deciding which countries to go after, which ones to leave aside with no level field, no clear criteria. Here we have a situation where the United States, prior to the election, as well always Britain, in taking their stand against Zimbabwe gave Mugabe the ammunition he needed in order to discredit or attempt to discredit the MBC, the opposition political party. As of yesterday's statement, he not only embarrasses the government of South Africa and Mozambique and Botswana, but he goes even further in making the internal, genuine opposition appear to be nothing more than agents of imperialism.
RAY SUAREZ: Well, you heard Andrew Natsios in the opening piece talk about how it's madness to kick farmers off the land in the midst of a food shortage. Is the United States wrong when it says that about the government of Zimbabwe?
WILLIAM FLETCHER: I think the United States government, the Bush administration is completely disingenuous when they talk about this. Their concern - this is issues of white farmers. If this was any other country in Africa they wouldn't have spent a moment in a press conference. I mean, that's what makes this completely disingenuous. There needs to be land reform in Zimbabwe, there's no question about it. The question is not whether there's land reform but when and how it takes place, and whether it is a democratic process in which the rural poor of Zimbabwe actually benefit from land reform or whether or not it turns out to be to the benefit of the elite.
The United States government by intervening in this way so openly, so brazenly ends up twisting the situation so that anyone that dares to oppose Mugabe, President Mugabe ends up looking like an outsider. This is dangerous for the internal opposition and it's dangerous for those... anyone else that wants to see genuine democracy come to Zimbabwe.
RAY SUAREZ: Professor Herbst?
JEFFREY HERBST: I would have to disagree. It should be remembered first that in addition to the few thousand white farmers, they have tens of thousands of African farm workers who are also going to lose their livelihood. Zimbabwe is a country whose government is directly responsible for impoverishing and perhaps causing to be malnourished millions of people. There aren't many human rights situations in the world right now that are more desperate than that.
It should be remembered also that at the press conference, not only did the Bush administration officials dial up the volume on the Mugabe regime, but he also announced a significant increase in food aid that the United States is providing to people who would otherwise starve. Therefore, I think that it must be said that the Bush administration policy is consistent with the problems that are going on in Zimbabwe right now.
RAY SUAREZ: Does the world community in effect get handed the bill for Zimbabwe's internal agrarian policies?
JEFFREY HERBST: Of course. This is a problem that we've seen over and over again. Any time you give food aid, a certain amount of it is going to be diverted by the government for its own purposes as was said at the press conference. Sometimes as much as one third of the food aid goes to the government and then it uses it to reward its followers and pursue its own ends.
However, the other two-thirds or more of the food aid goes to starving people. We can't turn our back on the millions of people in Zimbabwe who are going to be malnourished or starved. We have to provide that food aid. On the other hand, we have to recognize that the Mugabe regime will benefit from the aid that we are providing.
RAY SUAREZ: Bill Fletcher, in light of what Professor Herbst said and your own criticism of U.S. policy, where should people go from here on out, those who would want to be externally friends of Zimbabwe?
WILLIAM FLETCHER: I think that the critical question is the involvement of southern Africa. The southern African nations must deal with this situation themselves. They do not need the United States and Britain entering into this situation and further destabilizing it. And I must say that I don't think that the Bush administration is consistent about anything except in its Machiavellian approach to international politics these days.
If you look at the situation in Africa, two million people have died in the Congolese civil war. What level of interest has the Bush administration had in this situation? Next door in Angola the country was destroyed through the direct involvement of the United States. What attention is the Bush administration paying to reconstruction assistance in the Angolan nation? Yet we come to Zimbabwe. I am not an apologist for President Mugabe. But this differential in stands is something that I think cannot be tolerated. It embarrasses the forces in Zimbabwe as well as the allies, the other countries in southern Africa that really do want to see a negotiated, reasonable settlement to the situation, short of civil war.
|The role of other African nations|
RAY SUAREZ: Well, Bill Fletcher 20 years ago Zimbabwe was one of the leaders of the front line states trying to push to the end of the apartheid in South Africa. Now that there's this new body called the African Union and Thabo Mbeki, the South African president, is one of its leaders will South Africa return the favor and really intervene in a meaningful way?
WILLIAM FLETCHER: I hope that there's involvement. I want to be careful about this term "intervention." I think that there needs to be pressure on President Mugabe. I sincerely wish that he had stepped down from office some years ago. I think that had he, he would have been a great hero for the African world. I think he's unfortunately stayed on much too long but I think that there has to be quiet pressure but very firm pressure but conducted by Africans, not by the United States, not in this cavalier manner that it engages in, in which it endangers people that it claims are its friends.
RAY SUAREZ: Professor Herbst, what about Bill Fletcher's point that being too heavy handed from outside only digs in Robert Mugabe's heels and takes away power and influence from those inside the country trying to oppose him?
JEFFREY HERBST: The internal opposition in Zimbabwe have consistently said that they welcome outside pressure on Zimbabwe, outside pressure to try to make the elections held a few months earlier to be free and fair and now outside pressure for the government not to violate human rights and to assist constructively in the agrarian situation.
The United States is a major player in Zimbabwe because we are feeding many, many Zimbabweans and I think in fact that both the Clinton and Bush administrations approached the Mugabe problem in a nuanced and constructive manner. There was quiet diplomacy for a long time. Many lifelines were thrown to Robert Mugabe by both the Clinton and Bush administrations. He refused them. He's acting now because of the domestic political imperatives he faces to stay in power -- not because of what is said in Washington.
RAY SUAREZ: Is the world roused to southern Africa's plight? Will the people there that face severe food shortages be getting the help they need?
JEFFREY HERBST: We've learned a great deal about how to respond to humanitarian disasters over the last 25 years. I think the international community has responded well to the drought in southern Africa. It was understood very early on what was happening, and a great deal is being done. The problem is these situations don't get resolved unless the governments on the ground participate constructively.
You can talk all you want about giving aid through non-governmental organizations and bypassing the government. But unless the governments of Zimbabwe and the other governments in the region play their role, then many of their own citizens will be hurt. And so far, the government of Zimbabwe not only through land seizures but through a variety of other economic policies has made it about as difficult as possible for the international community to help its citizens.
RAY SUAREZ: Professor, Bill Fletcher, thank you both.
WILLIAM FLETCHER: Thank you very much.
Mugabe men 'use rape as revenge'
By Christina Lamb in Manicaland
Hundreds of girls as young as 12 are being raped or forcibly kept as concubines in rural Zimbabwe by President Robert Mugabe's youth militia as part of a campaign that human-rights lawyers have branded "systematic political cleansing" of the population.
"They are raping on a massive scale," said Frances Lovemore, a counsellor at the Harare-based Amani Trust which monitors torture. "Girls as young as 12 or 13 are being systematically taken and used and abused because of their families' political views."
The organisation is compiling video evidence that it hopes to use to help to bring Mr Mugabe to trial at the international court of human rights. An investigation by The Telegraph found that rape camps had been set up for youth militia and riot police in rural areas.
Victims living in hiding related how they had been gang-raped by police and self-styled war veterans, and had their genitals burnt with iron rods. They said that they had been abused in revenge for their parents not supporting Mr Mugabe, 78, in the presidential poll in March.
Other opponents of the government were badly beaten. As a final indignity, in a land where half the population is on the verge of starvation, victims claimed that militia members often urinated on the family food.
A former militia member recounted how he and others were instructed to attack wives and daughters of opposition sympathisers.
Human rights activists believe that this is part of a programme to drive out, kill or terrify into submission all those who oppose the president. Didymus Mutasa, the of Mr Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF, has even spoken of halving the population to six million.
Details of the violence have emerged as world attention focuses on Mr Mugabe's campaign to evict white farmers while famine threatens.
Critics say the land reform programme is a cover for his war on opposition. "This isn't about race or land, it's about a political tyrant who wants to kill, break down and cripple all opposition," said Roy Bennett, a farmer who is an MP in Manicaland, eastern Zimbabwe, for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
Britain has mounted an extensive diplomatic campaign to encourage African leaders to join in opposition to Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe.
The Prime Minister, when he attends the Earth summit in Johannesburg, is to meet President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa to urge him to put more public pressure on the Zimbabwean President and to challenge his policies.
Mr Blair's intervention follows talks between Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, and his counterparts in Botswana, Mozambique and South Africa.
Mr Straw is also expected to be at the UN General Assembly meeting next month when Zimbabwe is on the agenda.
Mr Mugabe is continuing to gag all political opposition in his country and evict white farmers from their land. But, while the Government is under pressure from the Tory opposition and the US to take a firmer line on Zimbabwe, it is felt that nothing will be achieved without the support of African nations.
A Foreign Office source said yesterday: "There will be meetings in the margins of the Johannesburg summit and an opportunity in those meetings obviously to bring home to the African nations the damage Zimbabwe is doing."
Today, in an article for The Observer, Mr Straw launches an unprecedented attack on Mr Mugabe. He says his leadership has caused millions of people to starve and is based "on a fraud". The Mugabe regime, he says, is characterised by "intimidation and murder", and he calls the country "a self-made pariah, not a colonial victim".
"The scale of the suffering inflicted on Zimbabwe's black population is especially shocking," he writes.
The UK provide food through humanitarian aid – despite fears that opponents of the regime are not receiving assistance – and is also working with the European Union and the Commonwealth troika – South Africa, Nigeria and Australia – which have formed ties with both the ruling Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
Mr Mugabe is expected to announce a new team tomorrow
after dissolving the cabinet for the first time in 22 years. He will attend the
Earth summit, sparking a row over whether Mr Blair should boycott his speech and
refuse to appear on the same platform.
Britain Says Mugabe Is Leading His Country To Ruin
Sunday August 25, 2002 12:07 AM
Jack Straw says Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is leading his country to ruin.
The Foreign Secretary writes in The Observer that Mugabe's election victory earlier this year was "fraudulent".
He also condemns the ruling ZANU-PF party for its abuse of human rights and says Zimbabwe is a "self-made pariah, not a colonial victim".
He says Britain will "remain at the vanguard of international efforts to increase the isolation" of Mugabe's regime.
The comments follow the Tory Party's call for Tony Blair to refuse to appear on the same platform as Robert Mugabe during next week's earth summit.
Mr Blair is due to speak at the summit on September 2 on the same stage as the Zimbabwean President.
Mr Straw wrote: "A fraudulent election earlier this year was characterised by murder and intimidation.
"Human rights abuses, violations of the rule of law and economic illiteracy have made Zimbabwe an outcast regionally and globally.
"The scale of suffering inflicted on Zimbabwe's black population is especially shocking.
"In the name of his 'land reform' policies Mugabe is
reducing his people to starvation."
Zanu-PF has consistently portrayed the crisis as a bilateral dispute with Britain. It has claimed that the outcry in the UK and beyond is based solely on concerns about the plight of white farmers.
This is nonsense. While their plight is real, the indictment is wider: human rights abuses, violations of the rule of law and economic illiteracy have made Zimbabwe an outcast regionally and globally. It is a self-made pariah, not a colonial victim. The scale of the suffering inflicted on Zimbabwe's black population is especially shocking. At a time when drought has provoked a humanitarian crisis across the region, Zanu-PF is withholding food aid from opposition supporters. The United Nations estimates that up to 6 million people in Zimbabwe will soon be unable to meet their minimum food requirements.
The European Union and United States have called for an end to the madness and imposed a range of sanctions targeted at the regime. Earlier this year President Mbeki of South Africa, President Obasanjo of Nigeria and Prime Minister Howard of Australia voted to suspend Zimbabwe from the Councils of the Commonwealth. Mugabe can be under no illusions about the extent of his international isolation. Is there more we can do?
The Opposition is proposing that we force countries in the region to take further action against Mugabe by threatening to suspend our support for a vital new programme. The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NePAD) marks a different approach to Africa's problems. African leaders developed the plan, recognising that they - not the outside world - must resolve the continent's problems. In return for increased development assistance, more debt relief and greater opportunities for trade, African governments are embarking on political and economic reform. The case for NePAD is overwhelming: a child in Africa dies of disease, famine or conflict every three seconds. This shames the civilised world.
It is scarcely credible that the Opposition suggests we qualify our support for this plan. In doing so, we would in effect hold an entire continent responsible for the sins of one man. Our aim must be to isolate Mugabe, not his neighbours.
Writing in the Guardian this week, Michael Ancram urged the Prime Minister to put Zimbabwe at the centre of the World Summit on Sustainable Development which opens in South Africa tomorrow. This summit is not about events in any specific country - it's about the future of the entire planet. Mugabe's record is the epitome of unsustainability. He is seeking any opportunity to deploy his rhetoric about the bogus dangers of ex-colonial powers undermining the sovereignty of African states. We must not elevate his reckless agenda to the centre of the stage at the summit.
So what is Britain doing to ease the crisis?
We are providing £32 million of assistance this year. Clare Short is rightly insisting that all official food aid is distributed outside Zanu-PF or state channels, and is properly monitored to ensure the most needy are helped irrespective of their political views.
Britain will remain in the vanguard of international efforts to increase the isolation of the Zanu-PF regime. With countries in the region, the Commonwealth, the EU and the US, we will review the impact of the current sanctions regime. We will not use economic sanctions. Mugabe's policies have already imposed too much economic hardship.
The actions of Zanu-PF undermine the fundamental principles that underpin Britain's foreign policy: respect for democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Mugabe is learning that when these principles are violated, it provokes an international response.
Mugabe can only defy world opinion at tremendous cost
to his own people. Africa and Zimbabwe deserve better. We will continue the path
of tough sanctions and generous aid, and work resolutely with the region, Europe
and the US to ensure Zimbabwe gets the legitimate and democratic government it
so desperately needs.
Mugabe dissolved his 22-person Cabinet on Friday, causing shockwaves domestically and internationally. He had stalled on appointing a new Cabinet since the disputed presidential elections in March.
The move also came on the eve of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, where several Western leaders are expected to try to push the Zimbabwean crisis onto the agenda.
Observers and Zanu-PF insiders are divided on the implications of Mugabe's action. Some argue that it spells the end of his reign of no compromise and is an attempt to rescue his country's collapsing economy and resolve its growing humanitarian crisis. Others say he will appoint a firefighting team to resist growing international pressure to abandon his controversial land-reform policies.
The reshuffle could mean that Mugabe has given up trying to reconcile with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Some had believed he had delayed the appointments of a new Cabinet so that MDC members could be incorporated once a deal was struck.
An MDC spokesman said Mugabe's announcement of a new Cabinet would be inconsequential as "he is an illegitimate leader".
But ANC secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe - President Thabo Mbeki's special envoy to Zimbabwe and facilitator of talks between Zanu-PF and the MDC - said the termination of the Cabinet was a "positive move".
"We look forward with optimism that the best team will be selected who will be able to stabilise the situation and create immediate steps towards national unity," he said.
Speculation within Zanu-PF is that hardliners are likely to dominate the new Cabinet and reformers will be punished. Those widely seen as candidates for removal in the reshuffle include Finance Minister Simba Makoni and International Trade Minister Herbert Murerwa, both of whom have been criticised by Mugabe's allies.
The deputy chairman of the SA Institute for International Affairs, Moeletsi Mbeki, said Mugabe was bound to continue the policies he has pursued since 1980 and was unlikely to make drastic changes to his Cabinet.
Hardliners such as Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Land Minister Joseph Made and Information Minister Jonathan Moyo were likely to be retained, said Mbeki.
"They have no constituencies and are entirely at Mugabe's beck and call. They are hired guns who will be there as long as they keep firing."
Zimbabwean political commentator Masipula Sithole said the new Cabinet would be "full of dead wood".
Political analyst Brian Raftopoulos said he expected a "mixed-generation team". "Whatever the composition, it would give a clear indication of what direction Mugabe wants to take."
The Zanu-PF MP for Mutoko North, David Chapfika, who chairs the parliamentary finance committee, and Jewel Bank chief executive Gideon Gono are tipped to replace Makoni.
The Zimbabwean government's recent eviction of white farmers has prompted an outcry from Western leaders, some of whom vowed to draw attention to the crisis during the Johannesburg summit.
But Pahad said South Africa, which is chairing the summit, was determined to keep the agenda focused on issues such as sustainable development, ending poverty and environmental degradation.
"We hope that no particular issue, whether it is Zimbabwe or the situation in the Middle East, should detract from the fundamental issues which people have come here to discuss," Pahad said.
New Zealand's Prime Minister Helen Clark - one of the main agitators for stronger international action against Zimbabwe - has requested a number of bilateral meetings with world leaders, including President Thabo Mbeki and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
"She will be keen to have a public discussion and has an extensive programme of media contacts and interviews where she will raise the matter. Our line has been consistent to call for stronger Commonwealth action against Zimbabwe," said the country's deputy high commissioner to South Africa, Catherine Grant.
A British government official said Blair would focus on the official summit agenda during his brief visit to Johannesburg.
"If he does see Mbeki, Zimbabwe will be something on the agenda. He would definitely want to exchange views on the matter. He is not expecting South Africa to do anything bilaterally but he is keen to move the Commonwealth process forward," the official said.
Australia's high commissioner to South Africa, Ian Wilcock, said while Prime Minister John Howard needed to consult with Mbeki and Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo on the latest developments in Zimbabwe, talks were unlikely to take place during the summit.
The three leaders were mandated by the Commonwealth to deal with the Zimbabwean crisis.
Pahad said Mbeki would hold discussions on Zimbabwe with Howard and Obasanjo at his "earliest opportunity" after the summit.
Mbeki's and Obasanjo's special envoys were still trying to break the impasse between the ruling Zanu-PF and the opposition MDC to restart reconciliation talks, Pahad said.
US assistant secretary of state for African affairs Walter Kansteiner's statement that South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique were working with the US government to "isolate Mugabe" because he was not a "legitimate" leader, was untrue, Pahad said.
"That is absolutely not possible. We will never do that. Even though we are concerned about developments, it is not our role to impose leadership or replace anyone," he said.
There has been no contact between Mbeki and Mugabe since a letter from the South African President urging his counterpart to return to the peace talks was leaked to Zimbabwe's state-owned press.
Mbeki has not yet received a response to the letter.
"Sections of the Zimbabwean media have launched constant attacks on our President, accusing him of colluding with big business, liberals and imperialists against their government . . . This is absolute nonsense. But it is an indication of the sensitivities involved ," Pahad said.
On the farm evictions, he said Zimbabwe had stated that it had given white farmers "sufficient time" to vacate their land.
"Our view is that the land redistribution process, which is fundamental to resolving Zimbabwe's problems, should be done in a way that does not create greater uncertainty and instability in the country," said Pahad.
He is afraid that police will arrest him again or inflict beatings on his wife and children, but is eager to tell his story. 'I want the world to know we are living in Hell in Zimbabwe. Anyone who supports the opposition has no safety or protection,' says the determined Chipwanyira. 'Maybe if people know what we are going through then the international community will put pressure on Mugabe to stop this.'
His harrowing story highlights the persistence of reports of state-sponsored violence and torture in Zimbabwe.
Chipwanyira, 34, is from the Buhera district of southeastern Zimbabwe. 'I am a peasant farmer and the deputy constituency secretary for the MDC [the Movement for Democratic Change, Zimbabwe's opposition party].
'On 14 July four riot police and two members of the CIO [Central Intelligence Organisation] came to my house. They fired guns at me. I was very much afraid and I fell down. They beat me with their fists and baton sticks. My arm broke and I fainted. I only woke up at the police station.
'The police told me that I was selling Zimbabwe to the British and that I did not fight to liberate Zimbabwe. They told me to go to Britain. They asked me what we discussed at MDC meetings, especially when the party's president, Morgan Tsvangirai, was present. I did not want to disclose anything,' said Chipwanyira. 'For three days the police kept beating me. They held me down and beat my feet until they were swollen like big balls. They beat my back and my legs. They smashed my fingernails. This was at the police station. I know the names of some of the police constables who did this.'
Then the police told Chipwanyira that he and nine other MDC supporters would be charged with attempted murder for allegedly burning down the home of a government education officer.
'That man told police that two different people burned down his home, but they arrested more than 10 MDC supporters anyway. That shows us it was all politically motivated,' says Chipwanyira. 'The police denied medical treatment, even though my arm was broken and I was urinating blood and I had bad wounds all over my body.'
In early August, the 10 men were formally charged and released on bail but barred from returning to Buhera. 'Zanu-PF [Zimbabwe's ruling party] is doing this because they fear defeat in the Buhera council elections in September. They don't want any MDC officials to be able to campaign. But even though we are not in Buhera, we are not safe. We are in hiding.'
Chipwanyira has been separated from his wife and four children, aged 14, nine, five and 18 months. 'I haven't seen my family for six weeks. I am so worried about them that I have trouble sleeping. Are they safe? There is no food so how can they sustain themselves? Other peoples' homes have been burned. Where is my family? This is Hell for me right now.'
He is staying in a safe house with many other victims of Zimbabwe's political violence. 'People from the MDC are here and other people who were not even in politics. Look at the plight of the workers on commercial farms. Thousands are being evicted and they have no jobs, no homes, no blankets. They are now desperate because of one man,' he said. 'The government must stop this brutality on its citizens.'
Chipwanyira's story is not unique. Several others staying at the safe house crowded round to recount similarly grim experiences.
Zimbabwe's police say they do not assault or torture those under arrest. 'We will investigate all reports of assaults,' said police spokesman Andrew Phiri. 'Reports of assaults should be filed at any police station; it does not have to be at the station where the assault allegedly occurred.'
However, Zimbabwean human rights groups charge that there has been an alarming rise in reports of torture by police.
'We are seeing a definite increase in the number of reports of violence at the hands of police,' says Tony Reeler, director of Amani Trust. 'In addition, many people report being held much longer than the legal period of detention. It looks like a sustained campaign by police to harass MDC supporters, particularly in the Buhera area where there are upcoming local council elections. We have reports from more than 100 people arrested in Buhera and a high proportion show signs of torture at the hands of police.'
Reeler charges that many people have been badly beaten on the soles of their feet. 'This torture technique is called "falanga" and in the past two years it has spread across Zimbabwe. It is compelling evidence that torture methods are being taught across the country.'
Amani Trust provides assistance to victims of political violence and is one of a coalition of groups that are documenting ongoing violence in Zimbabwe.
'The use of torture has reached epidemic proportions in Zimbabwe,' says Reeler. 'Our data suggests between 400,000 and 600,000 people have experienced some form of torture in the past two years. This is a terrible wound on the national psyche that will take years to heal.
'First, the torture must stop. Clearly this cannot happen without the political will of the government and the insistence on a wholly non-partisan role by the police. Then it will take a concerted effort of treatment and counseling and some national inquiry, such as a truth commission, to help Zimbabwe break out of this cycle of violence.'
Reeler said Zimbabwe must see a restoration of an even-handed rule of law and an end to the situation in which government supporters and officials can inflict violence upon critics with impunity.
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has condemned Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe as a "pariah state".
His remarks come amid signs that the Government is to step up pressure on the Harare regime at this week's Earth Summit.
Prime Minister Tony Blair is reportedly set to urge South African President Thabo Mbeki to back a plan for intensified sanctions against Zimbabwe during the summit in Johannesburg.
Although EU targeted sanctions are in place against the Mugabe regime, there have been calls for other African countries to isolate Zimbabwe as punishment for his land reform policy, blamed for mass food shortages.
Mr Straw, writing in The Observer, said Zimbabwe was a "self-made pariah, not a colonial victim".
He added: "Robert Mugabe is leading his country to ruin. The decline in Zimbabwe's fortunes has been swift and devastating.
"In the name of land reform policies he is reducing his people to starvation.
"A fraudulent election earlier this year was characterised by murder and intimidation.
"His continuing use of state-organised violence since then underlines his determination to hold on to power at all costs."
The embattled leader dissolved the government on Friday in a surprise move which officials said was linked to his programme for seizing white-owned farms.
Agriculture Minister Joseph Made, who leads the land seizure programme, has been kept on along with Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, Zimbabwean media said.
But Mr Mugabe dropped his liberal finance minister, Simba Makoni, who has openly differed with the president on how to rescue the country's economy, and also replaced the sole white minister in the cabinet.
Mr Makoni was replaced by Herbert Murerwa, the industry minister, who is seen by many as a Mugabe loyalist.
The white Health Minister, Timothy Stamps, had been ill for some time, and is being replaced by his deputy, David Parirenyatwa.
Mr Mugabe had faced accusations that his cabinet was illegal because he failed to reappoint his ministers after winning controversial elections in March.
White farmers and the opposition subsequently went to court to argue that the cabinet was illegal and that orders it made were invalid.
Britain has warned that Zimbabwe faces a mounting humanitarian crisis which it blames directly on Mr Mugabe.
He said the crisis affected both white farmers and their black employees who were also being thrown off their land.
"What we have to do... is to support the forces of democracy in Zimbabwe meanwhile, to sustain the people against starvation and, increasingly, to isolate the Mugabe regime," the British minister said.
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says there is no
point in Australia pursuing targeted sanctions against Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe has been suspended from the Commonwealth over its land reform policies, which have resulted in the eviction of white farmers from their land.
President Robert Mugabe has now dissolved his Cabinet.
Mr Downer has told Channel Ten that action by Nigeria, South Africa and Australia to suspend Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth is more likely to have an effect.
"So far the Nigerians and the South Africans have been unable to persuade President Mugabe to make any change," he said.
"On the other hand the counter to your question is I suppose if we were to trigger out smart sanctions, a policy which wouldn't be pursued by the South Africans and the Nigerians, what would that do? Denying the leaders of Zimbabwe access to Australia when they don't actually come here anyway."
From The Sunday Mail, 25 August
Sunday Mail Reporter
The New Cabinet
President Mugabe last night announced a new Cabinet which saw two full ministries being created and political heavyweight Cde Witness Mangwende bouncing back. One new face was introduced and two ministers dropped. Dropped are Dr Simba Makoni, who was the Minister of Finance and Economic Development; and Dr Timothy Stamps, who was Minister of Health and Child Welfare. Dr Stamps has been ill for some time. Cde Mangwende was appointed Minister of Transport and Communications. The new Cabinet also saw three former deputy ministers being elevated to full ministers. These are former Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Deputy Minister, Cde Kembo Mohadi, who now heads the Home Affairs Ministry, and the former Deputy Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Cde Paul Mangwana, who has been promoted to Minister of State, State Enterprises and Parastatals. The third one is the former Deputy Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr David Parirenyatwa, who takes over from Dr Stamps. The only new face is former diplomat and chief executive of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, Ambassador Amos Midzi, who becomes the Minister of Energy and Power Development.
It appears the new Cabinet puts emphasis on infrastructural, human resources, technology and economic development. This is shown by the creation of the ministries of Energy and Power Development, Small and Medium Enterprises Development and the retention of the ministries of Rural Resources and Water Development and Youth Development, Gender and Employment Creation. Cde Sithembiso Nyoni heads the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises Development. President Mugabe also appointed three Ministers of State to reflect the Government’s new thrust of rejuvenating the economy after the land reform programme. The three are former Minister of State in Vice-President Musika’s Office, Cde Olivia Muchena, who is now Minister of State, Science and Technology Development; former Minister of State in Vice-President Muzenda’s Office, Cde Flora Bhuka, who is Minister of State for the Land Reform Programme, and Cde Mangwana, who is Minister of State for State Enterprises and Parastatals.
President Mugabe also moved four ministers from their former ministries to head new ones. The former Minister of Home Affairs and Zanu-PF chairman, Cde John Nkomo, becomes Minister for Special Affairs in the President’s Office; former Minister of Higher Education and Technology, Cde Samuel Mumbengegwi, becomes Minister of Industry and International Trade, replacing Cde Herbert Murerwa, who has bounced back to his old ministry of Finance and Economic Development. Former Minister of Transport and Communications Cde Swithun Mombeshora is now Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education. Those who have remained in their ministries are: the Minister of State for Information and Publicity, Professor Jonathan Moyo; the Minister of Defence, Cde Sydney Sekeramayi; the Minister of Education, Sport and Culture, Cde Aeneas Chi-gwedere; the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Cde Francis Nhema; the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cde Stan Mudenge; the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Cde Patrick Chinamasa; the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, Cde Joseph Made; the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Cde Ignatius Chombo; the Minister of Mines and Mining Development (slightly changed), Cde Edward Chindori-Chininga; Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Cde July Moyo; Minister of Rural Resources and Water Development, Cde Joyce Mujuru; Minister of Youth Development, Gender and Employment Creation, Cde Elliot Manyika and the Minister of State for National Security, Cde Nicholas Goche.
President Mugabe also appointed six new deputy ministers, while six others retained their posts, in a re-shuffle which saw the total number of deputy ministers increasing from nine to 12. The MP for Buhera North and former Manicaland Provincial Governor, Cde Kenneth Manyonda, was appointed to the new post of Deputy Minister of Industry and International Trade, while Hurungwe East MP, Cde Rueben Marumahoko becomes the Deputy Minister of Energy and Power Development. Chief Fortune Charumbira replaces Cde Kembo Mohadi as the Deputy Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, while Zaka East legislator, Cde Tinos Rusere becomes the Deputy Minister of Rural Resources and Water Development. Gokwe South MP, Cde Jaison Machaya has been appointed Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining Development, while his counterpart from Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe, Cde Kenneth Mutiwekuziva, is now the Deputy Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises Development. Cde Shuvai Mahofa remains the Deputy Minister of Youth Development, Gender and Employment Creation, while Cde Chris Mushowe is still number two in the Ministry of Transport and Communications. Other deputy ministers who retained their positions are Cde Isaiah Shumba, Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture; Cde Rugare Gumbo, Ministry of Home Affairs; Cde Abdenico Ncube; Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cde Chris Kuruneri, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. The posts of Deputy Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Deputy Minister of Health and Child Welfare have been abolished.