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Strike paralyses Harare (BBC)

              Opposition support is strong in the cities
              Business in Zimbabwe's capital has ground to a
              halt after workers began a general strike in
              protest at what unions see as a collapse of
              law and order.

              Early reports say the usual morning rush hour
              in Harare and other towns and cities failed to
              take place, and commercial farms also seemed
              to be observing the strike. Most shops and
              factories also remained closed.

              The one-day stoppage was called by the
              powerful Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
              following months of escalating violence ahead
              of the recent elections, and continued
              occupations of white-owned farms by
              supporters of President Robert Mugabe.

              The stoppage has won the backing of white
              commecial farmers and the main opposition
              Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

              The government has condemned the action as
              illegal and has warned that it intends to step
              up its controversial land resettlement

              Correspondents expect the strike to be
              strongest in cities and towns, where recent
              election results suggest profound
              dissatisfaction with President Mugabe's

              But what was planned as a three-day strike
              was reduced at the last minute to a
              one-day action.

              A union official said the leadership had resolved
              to limit the stoppage to Wednesday to give the
              government a chance to respond.

              "If the government does not respond, we
              will go on a much longer strike," said acting
              ZCTU Secretary-General Nicholas

              The unions called the strike because they say
              the government is refusing to stop intimidation
              and attacks on farmers and labourers by the
              self-styled war veterans who are occupying
              hundreds of white-owned farms.

              Some war veterans are refusing government
              orders to quit the farms they occupied, and
              the situation has been described by the
              Commercial Farmers' Union, which represents
              white farmers, as close to "total anarchy".

              Vice-President Joseph Msika has confirmed
              that the land resettlement programme will be
              expanded to take in 3,000 white-owned farms,
              about 75% of the total.

              The army will be used to provide logistical

              Our correspodent says, however, that
              Zimbabwe does not have the financial
              resources to carry out such an ambitious
              programme which would, in any event, lead to
              complete economic collapse.

              The government has already announced the
              devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar in what it
              said was a short-term measure to arrest the
              current economic decline.

              Finance and Economic Development Minister Dr
              Simba Makoni said the exchange rate had been
              depreciated from the current level of 38 to 50
              Zimbabwe dollars to the US dollar.

              Dr Makoni told the press the devaluation would
              ensure that the exchange rate promoted
              export competitiveness and economic growth.

              The business community had described the old
              rate as unsustainable.

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NATIONAL STAY-AWAY Following further consultation with the business community and the impact on the economy it was decided this afternoon that the stayaway be for one day only being Wednesday 2nd August. Clearly all farmers should follow suit.
Thursday 3rd and Friday 4th will be normal working days but you are encouraged to observe the stay away for Wednesday 2nd August.
These mixed signals are sincerely regretted.



We apologise for the delay in yesterday's report but there was a powercut at CFU last night.

Horseshoe - There are ongoing stoppages of land preparations, and pegging. There is a stand off between police and war vets at Nyamsewe Farm, and a total work stoppage.
Victory Block - War vets visited Mount Fatigue which was reported to Vivelkia Police Station. War vets Mondo, Dube, Chibayanzara and Mangena visited Muir of Ord Farm, Mutenda Mambo, Prangmere Farm and gave verbal eviction notices of 21 days. The owner of Prangmere has also received information from an unidentified source, that war vets would be visiting the farm to stop owner from picking and exporting citrus. Nothing so far has transpired.
Mvurwi - Numbers have increased and pegging is ongoing on some farms in the area. Glendale - There has been an increase of approximately 30 to 32 invaders on Bauhenia Farm. Police have been reluctant to react. Plain clothes police were making inquires about proposed work stoppage from owner of Boroma/Brawlands. Mutepatepa - There has been an increase of approximately 40 invaders on Dimon Farm, with the threat of more to come.
Mazowe/Concession - The owner of Maryvale Farm was given a eviction notice this morning, which led to his being evacuated for safety reasons. The war vets then proceeded to chase him, and the incident was reported to the police.

Marondera North - Numbers have increased to 120 on Rakata and Oxford. There are threats of repercussions if the work stoppage takes place. Almost all the squatters in the district are now concentrated on these two farms.
Marondera South - The owner of Igava continues to be unable to proceed with land preparation due to threats. Liaison with Police continues as it has done for weeks. Huts have been built in lands on Ruware, preventing the preparation of lands for the coming season. The occupiers have told the owner that if he goes ahead and ridges for tobacco, they will plant maize in the ridges. 20 sheets of asbestos was stolen from the dip area on Nyamwera. On Thursday another 8 sheets were stolen from further down. Judging by the tyre tracks, the same vehicle was used both times. Constable Mandinike visite the farm at 0600hrs yesterday, took the statement and then left the farm.
Beatrice - The DA with 11 car loads of people (about 50-60) arriving for immediate response to the resettlement program. They wanted to settle on Allandale mapped as Dunedin (a farm south of Ruwa that was conceded.) After a lot of talking and once convinced that it was the wrong farm, they left.
Harare South - Land prep has been stopped on Dunottar. The war vets made a lot of noise and are now making a brick field in the land they are wanting to prepare. Peggers went to and left Albion.
Wedza - 1 cow on Bickleigh was speared in the stomach and had to be put down. 2 cows have been stabbed in the back but it is uncertain whether they will have to be put down or not. There was 1 cow and calf stolen on Emma. The energiser from the electric fence on Devon was stolen. Zanu (PF) Marondera told the manager that they were coming back in 2 weeks' time to take over the farm (leader is war vet Chirinda). A cow was slaughtered on Rhodesdale, and there is an escalation of house building. There is an escalation of building on Makombe. Chigwadere is doing his rounds with the police support on most of the Wedza farms.
Enterprise - Destruction of trees and construction of permanent structures continue.
Bromley/Ruwa - Harare leadership continues to be a problem to farms in Bromley South Airport areas.

The likelihood that cropping plans for the coming season will be cancelled is increasing by the day. Prevention of land preparation through threats, obstruction by hut building e.t.c. look as far away as ever from being resolved, and even where no such restrictions occur, the continuing state of confusion and lawlessness is likely to influence farmers against risking expensive money on a crop they may not be able to see through the season. Decision time, if not already reached, is imminent.

Banket - War vets upset because a Zanu PF poster on Doondo Farm went astray. There is renewed tree cutting and pegging of irrigated tobacco lands and maize lands.
Chinhoyi - The owner of Koodoovale Farm has been told to remove all his cattle. Umboe - On pata and Umboe Farms, war vets are chopping trees in order to build houses.
Karoi - On Fiddlers Green the road to the seed beds has been blocked and there is a work stoppage. Approximately 50 occupied St Brendans. There are about 40 communal cattle on Highdale destroying the seedbeds site. This has been reported to Police. On Pendennis the rims and tyres of the tractor were stolen on 29 July. This was reported, the police were collected and brought to the farm but no investigation was carried out. Seedbed piping was chopped and sprinklers stolen, This was reported but no RRB number was given. Almost a third of the farm was burnt by war vets in retribution for the neighbour's cattle getting into their vegetable garden. The manager’s house on Deerwood was broken into. On Ardingle there was a work stoppage. The war vets are very active and want the whole farm. On Vuka about 100 war vets remain in a camp around the house, and the farmer is still unable to go home. Mabunda is indoctrinating labour. 1 labour house was burnt down and all workers were made to attend a meeting addressed by war vet Majambuza. 40 visited Springbok Heights and told the clerk that they were going to peg the whole farm. On Pendennis war vets burnt the remainder of the farm. This was reported to Karoi police, and they have not reacted. The owner of Hesketh Park was stopped from collecting wood, cutting and stumping the fire guard. The labour is being chased out of the lands and threatened.
Ayrshire - Chiwe Farm occupiers have increased to 60. There is no control by the ZRP to stop tree cutting and clearing. War vet Kandachepa is allocating land and moving around neighbouring farms. A crowd from Raffingora township has increased poaching and tree cutting on Minehaha. There are 4 separate war vet camps on Cornrise. On Mafuta Farm there has been intimidation of the manager by 4 resident war vets. On Pamwachete Farm war vets demand a map of the farm and were given one. On Kelston Park war vets are threatening to increase their numbers.
Tengwe - There has been a new occupation on Taurus Farm by 30 peggers. There are 6 resident occupiers on Woodlands/Tulbach. They sent a written demand for the labour to vacate their homes on Tulbach by Tuesday 15 August. The ZRP have been informed. There is no change to the other affected properties in the region: work stoppages and illegal brickmaking continue.

Selous - Spencer Estates has had a new occupation of about 20. The occupiers say they will take the whole farm and bring more people tomorrow as this farm is now on the "new list". There have been similar threats on other properties.

Masvingo East and Central - There are 15 occupiers on Fomax Farm pegging plots. Wondedza Farm: Refer to yesterday’s report. The situation is being defused on this property.
Chiredzi - There is continued tree cutting in this area. There is a new occupation of 93 on Mungwezi Ranch. Occupiers are pegging plots, cutting trees and building shacks.
Mwenezi - The situation remains the same. Minaarshof Ranch over the last weekend was occupied by 200 families. They set up camp and began chopping trees.
Save Conservancy - The situation remains the same - many people everywhere, continued tree cutting and poaching.
Gutu/Chatsworth - Tree cutting continues.

Middle Save - Massive tree felling is taking place in the Chipinge A Safari Area east of the Tanganda/Chiredzi road.

No report.

Gweru East - Another heifer has been slaughtered on Safago.
Shurugwi - On Beacon Kop a young cow has died from being beaten up, and a large cow was slaughtered and the meat taken.

CC Sales Notice

The following bull sales have been postponed:

- Bell-Inn Hereford Bull Sale scheduled for today postponed to 19 September

- Combined Brahman Breeders bull sale scheduled for Wednesday postponed to 31 August

- Bazil Smith Beefmaster Bull Sale postponed scheduled for Thursday to 10 August

- Norton cattle sale scheduled for Wednesday postponed to 23 August

- Mvurwi cattle sale scheduled for Thursday postponed to 15 August

Any queries - contact Harare Branch: 04-252230-45 / 011-600078 (Tim Coughlan) / 011-601083 (Allister Banks)




We apologise for the delay in yesterday's report but there was a powercut at CFU last night.


In general, the shutdown has been fully supported by all areas.

Centenary - Police have telephoned some farms to find out whether the shutdown has gone ahead. Work has continued as normal at Everton Farm, where serious threats were made by war vets should a shutdown take place. Coffee planting has been allowed to continue at Ria Dora and there appears to be a general build up of numbers in the district.

Mvurwi - A delegation of war vets went to Kireka Farm to advise the owner that they were to take over the whole farm, after which they moved peacefully on. Tsatsi - A group of war vets accompanied by Police went to advise the owner of Ramahori that they would be going to take names of those who required plots of land on the farm.

Glendale - War vets broke into the fenced area at Virginia yesterday to build huts until the Police arrived and put a stop to it. The war vets moved off but took part of the broken gate with them. War vets are building structures at Bauhenia, Verona and Brawlands and Police have failed to react to these incidents as yet. At Chirobi war vets are attempting to cut poles in spite of being told not to by the Police. Some farmers have taken the stance that if the situation does not improve, the work shutdown will continue tomorrow.

Mutepatepa - Work at Amanda has been shutdown today regardless of threats by war vets to stop work tomorrow should this action proceed. Two groups of about 20 war vets have gone to Argyle Park and Felton to build houses.

Shamva - War vets went up to the homestead gate at Chipadze and were threatening the owner and the labour because of the work shutdown. The Police reacted fairly well to the situation and the war vets have since moved on. At Annandale, war vets attempted to get the labour back to work.

Harare West/Nyabira - A war vet, currently serving in the army, visited Derry Farm with an aggressive group of 8 and pegged the farm, supposedly to give plots to troops returning from DRC. War vets attempted to break into the homestead at Mayfield this morning. The community reacted to give support to the owner. The Police Nyabira have now arrived and the situation is very tense at the moment (13.15 hours).


All reported to be quiet. Marondera town shut down in full scale. Only a hand full of businesses open including two fuel stations, a stock feed company where unloading was taking place and a few small dealers. Otherwise both commercial and industrial areas very quiet.

With regard to the stay away all districts contacted have not generally experienced repercussions by mid-morning.
Wedza - Lilliefontein one cow shot last night.
Macheke/Virginia - Bimi Farm war vets have demanded keys to a vacant cottage saying they are coming this afternoon to collect them.
Bromley Ruwa and Enterprise - Rise Holne Farm war vets considered the stay away to be confrontational but attempts are underway to calm the situation down. Harare South and Beatrice - Dunottar - brick making continues in a tobacco land. Joyce Mine - intimidation by war vets yesterday police attended. Rosarum Store used as a base for War Vet Mavangira over a number of months has now been closed down by management amidst threats that it would be trashed if it was closed. Featherstone - area unable to contact.
Marondera - Springvale Farm, two resident families were forced to vacate their homes last night by war vet Garwe but they returned today.


Karoi and Chinhoyi towns more than partially closed.

Umboe - 12 suspicious people walking down the road towards Mhangura from Lions Den.
Doma/Trelawney/Darwendale - All quiet, nothing to report.
Chinhoyi - Greenspan section of Hunyani Farm, the foreman was approached by Gambo, the war vets leader. The leader was armed with a knobkerry and 8 youths with sticks. He was told that the war vets have officially taken over Greenspan section as no work was taking place. They will be in charge from now on. Later, labour informed that they must go to the football field and they would be told they were not to work on Thursday or Friday.
At 0900 hours at Hunyani Farm 9 war vets were in the garden at the kitchen window, but later the farmer reported all was in order.
Pamene Farm 12 or 15 occupiers pegging on the farm. Peaceful.
Braeside - elephants and other animals being looked after. War vets wanted all work to stop and no essential services to operate. Position defused for today. Banket - Fennemere Farm - war vets tried to get the people to start work. When they were unsuccessful they went to Wannock Glen to the compound to get the people back to work. 25 farmers made a quick reaction and the negotiating team got the nonsense stopped.
Raffingora - At Mafuta and Msitwe River Ranch the war vets wanted to know who ordered the work stoppage. They were given a signal from ZCTU.
Karoi - Up to 11.00 a.m. a few logs roadblocked the Buffalo Downs Road and it was cleared by the police. A bit of a problem this morning at Hesketh Park, but farmers pitched up in strength and the scene was defused.
Tengwe - A tractor was commandeered from Jambo Farm and support group was deployed. The tractor and invaders then visited Kapena and Taurus Farms and chased the labour off the farms. Two police details were despatched. The tractor was recovered and returned to Jambo Farm. The police are attending to the scene at the moment.. One farmer's vehicle got windows and lights broken by the invaders.


General - Every farm and almost every business in town has shut down.

Kadoma - There was a cyanide plant stopped on Milverton. A road block was set up and a foreman's motorbike stolen. Maize theft continues and police tell the owner that he must turn a blind eye. On Alabama pegging took place yesterday behind a plough and ploughing has stopped. On Inniskillin 60 war vets arrived this morning and told the owner that he could not prepare for the coming season as the farm was their's.
Chakari - On Blackmorevale Farm there are now about 440 people. Wood is being taken off the property by tractors at night. Police still have not reacted following reports covering a week.
Selous - Yesterday invaders on Wicklow tried to stop ploughing.
Suri Suri - On Lismor 40 came to peg under War Vet Makoni. There was also a new invasion on Pax Farm.
Norton - There is currently an invasion on Saffron Walden. On Windsor Farm there were death threats and Col. Mutasa wanted to move into the cottage. Col. Mutasa then went to Msasa Farm and has managed to get it signed over. Parklands has also been visited by Col. Mutasa and Rusike armed with .303s and shotguns who say that no whites are allowed on farm. Police have not reacted and we suspect they are on shut down too!
Chegutu - There is a threatening situation on Concession Hill Farm where the owner is being castigated by Gilbert Moyo for joining the shut down.


All reported to be peaceful and quiet. Reports of some business remaining open today.

Chiredzi - War vets going to ranches and enquiring why they are closed down. Issued a death threat to the Workers Committee member in the presence of the police at a clothing factory on a ranch and took away the keys. Dispol has been informed. The war vet who issued the death threat is Mutemachani, who already had a suspended sentence for pre-election disturbance. He was accompanied by war veterans Masuku, Magamire, Sam Marodze and eight other war veterans. Dispol Chiredzi has reported that police will be on standby if it gets out of hand.


All quiet except for Chipinge West Farm where the war vets, in retaliation for the farmer supporting the stay away, have chased the cattle all around his farm and his homestead.


All very peaceful. No further report.

Midlands generally reporting some incidents alongside no activity. Gweru appears to be approximately 95% closed down today.

Gweru - noted Somerset Estate had some +/-15 occupiers dropped off yesterday afternoon. Cutting trees, pegging plots and clearing land.
Gweru East - All is quiet.
South Lalapanzi - no report, but probably quiet.
North Lalapanzi - on Sanjo Ranch invaders have occupied portions of this property clandestinely. Farmer only discovered this later on. They seem to be peaceful. Mvuma - generally quiet, but on Lovedale Farm occupants are building structures and clearing land. Continuing to do the same on Wyldegrove.
Somabhula - On Boulder Beacon aggressive occupiers demanded weapons from farmer. These were later returned except for a revolver. ZRP were alerted and are reacting. In the same area, increased activity is occurring on occupied farms to the north of the main Bulawayo Road.
Shurugwi - On Corrangamite occupants are reported to be chasing cattle out of paddocks and preventing the feeding of cattle.
Hunter Road South - nothing to report.
Hunters Road North - nothing to report.
Kwekwe - quiet.
Mberengwa/Zvishavane - Despite Governor's instructions at a meeting on Monday, 31st July, the farmer from Kinsale Farm is still not permitted to move back to his farm in the Zvishavane District. There is a meeting ongoing at the moment (12.15 p.m.) and the outcome could be that he is hopefully permitted to return to his farm.

CC Sales Notice

The following bull sales have been postponed:

- Bell-Inn Hereford Bull Sale scheduled for today postponed to 19 September

- Combined Brahman Breeders bull sale scheduled for Wednesday postponed to 31 August

- Bazil Smith Beefmaster Bull Sale postponed scheduled for Thursday to 10 August

- Norton cattle sale scheduled for Wednesday postponed to 23 August

- Mvurwi cattle sale scheduled for Thursday postponed to 15 August

Any queries - contact Harare Branch: 04-252230-45 / 011-600078 (Tim Coughlan) / 011-601083 (Allister Banks)
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Harare, Zimbabwe, Aug. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Following are comments from Eddie Cross, secretary of economic affairs for Zimbabwe's biggest opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, on the 24 percent devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar. He also talks about today's national strike and the meeting between the South African and Zimbabwean presidents, Thabo Mbeki and Robert Mugabe:

On the devaluation:

``I don't think that its enough. It's too little but we've got to welcome it. It's a welcome sign that the new cabinet members are having some influence.

``A partial devaluation of the (Zimbabwe) dollar is not enough for the big industries such as gold and tobacco to be profitable.''

It won't do ``a great deal to inflation. The bulk of the economy is already trading at 65 (Zimbabwe dollars) to 1 (U.S. dollar.

``It's obviously going to impact on the cost of fuel. I would imagine that would have to go up again.

``That's going to cause a lot of unhappiness. The average Zimbabwean spends 15 percent of his salary on commuting.''

On the one-day national strike:

``This is the first truly national strike we've had. Previous strikes have been by urban workers on macroeconomic policy and taxation.''

On the meeting between Mbeki and Mugabe:

``Our indication is that South Africa has hardened its position towards Zimbabwe. Mbeki has to do something about Zimbabwe.

Big Zimbabwe strike vents anger at Mugabe

Reuters - Aug 2 2000 12:10PM ET

HARARE (Reuters) - President Robert Mugabe's political and economic critics vented their anger at Zimbabwe's slide toward anarchy Wednesday with a largely peaceful one-day strike that paralyzed the country.

Shops and factories were closed and streets deserted in the three major cities -- Harare, Bulawayo and Masvingo -- as farmers, workers and the political opposition delivered the most broadly based challenge yet to Mugabe's 20-year rule.

Mugabe made no public appearances Wednesday, but spent part of the day in talks with visiting South African President Thabo Mbeki, who has said his country will help Zimbabwe recover from its deep economic crisis.

``This visit is in line with the commitment that the South African government made earlier this year to support the Zimbabwean government,'' a South African spokeswoman said.

Police said they arrested several youths who laid rock barricades across roads in dormitory townships around Harare.

In Norton, about 25 miles west of the capital, police arrested two men who tried to take over a white-owned farm, but then looked on as a bigger mob of self-styled war veterans brandishing automatic weapons arrived to take possession of the farm and threatened reporters interviewing farm staff.

The strike came a day after Mugabe's new finance minister, former businessman Simba Makoni, bowed to market pressure and devalued the Zimbabwe dollar by 24 percent to 50 to the U.S. dollar. The unit trades informally at 60 to the U.S. dollar.

Market analysts said the devaluation would encourage exports and boost desperately low foreign reserves, which would help farmers and manufacturers import necessary supplies and relieve a persistent fuel crisis.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) called the strike to protest against political intimidation and the occupation of hundreds of white-owned farms by self-styled veterans of the former Rhodesia's 1970s liberation war.


The strike was backed by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the mainly white Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), who said nothing was being done to rein in government supporters angry at their ZANU-PF party's poor showing in parliamentary elections in June.

The MDC, highlighting the near collapse of Zimbabwe's economy, won 57 seats to the ruling party's 62 as ZANU-PF targeted the white domination of productive farmland.

In contrast with their usually heavy-handed response to strikes, police operated only small patrols and soldiers were not in evidence as the country ground to a halt Wednesday.

Chief Superintendent Wayne Bvudzijena told Reuters: ``We have not heard of any major incidents on farms. There were two or three incidents in Harare townships where people put stones on the road and police dealt with that.''

A CFU spokesman said the Norton incident was the only one reported during the day.

``We hope the police will handle the case professionally. Overall, the reports we have are that it was mostly quiet on the farms, with many on strike,'' the spokesman said.

Acting ZCTU president Isaac Matongo said only civil servants turned up for work, after being warned the strike could cost them their jobs.

``The indications we have are that the call for a work stoppage has been heeded. We estimate 80 to 90 percent of the people did not go to work,'' he told Reuters.

A government spokesman said, however, the strike was a flop with civil servants including teachers and nurses at work.

``Factories and private industry would have been functioning if employers had not locked out their workers. The so-called strike is a flop. Those who have not gone to work have not done so voluntarily,'' said the spokesman, who asked not to be named.

The government has said the strike could further damage the already battered economy and increase unemployment.

Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce chief executive Wonder Maisiri told Reuters the strike could not be separated from the current political environment adding: ``The strike is costly, but so is the political environment that has caused it.''


Joseph Muzulu, chief economist at banking group Finhold, said the strike would hit export production.

``There are things which are time-bound, like flowers, and these will be heavily affected. There is going to be heavy loss in output and foreign exchange,'' he said.

With foreign exchange reserves estimated around one day's imports, unemployment at 50 percent, inflation at 60 percent and interest rates around 70 percent, Zimbabwe is facing its worst economic crisis since independence in 1980.

Mugabe had resisted devaluation because it would impact on voters already fighting runaway inflation, but analysts said Makoni probably had persuaded the government of the need to send a positive signal to investors and Western donors.

Exporters including tobacco farmers have been holding back crops and export earnings, expecting a devaluation.

The ZCTU, apparently sensitive to potential damage to the economy, Tuesday cut the duration of the strike to one day from three. But Nicholas Mudzengerere, acting secretary-general of the ZCTU, said that if the government did not respond, a longer stoppage would be called.

Workers Strike in Zimbabwe

The Associated Press - Aug 2 2000 9:55AM ET

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - Workers shut down factories, stores and white-owned farms Wednesday with a strike to protest a breakdown of order in Zimbabwe, where months of political violence have left dozens dead and the economy in shambles.

In the main shopping district in Harare, the capital, only fast food shops remained open. Banks and stores were shuttered, and usually bustling parking lots and street markets were virtually deserted.

``Everyone around us is out, so we're closing too,'' said Ian Sibanda, a furniture store manager. ``Let's hope the government sees people are serious about this.''

Business also closed in other cities. The Commercial Farmers Union, which represents many of the country's white farmers, said most of its members stopped production across the country and were only carrying out milking and other essential tasks.

Small squads of paramilitary riot police were posted at strategic locations in Harare. But fewer were deployed than during violent strikes in the past, and most were carrying only batons instead of tear gas and stun guns. There were no immediate reports of violence.

The countrywide work stoppage was called by the main labor federation and backed by the white farmers and the country's main opposition movement. Their goal: to press the government to end six months of political violence that has claimed 31 lives, mostly opposition supporters and white farmers.

Unrest began in February, when government-backed squatters started occupying more than 1,600 white farms, trapping some white farmers in their homes and attacking others.

President Robert Mugabe called the occupations a legitimate protest against unfair ownership of land in this nation where the tiny white minority owns about a third of the productive land. But opposition leaders said he was just trying to boost his support among landless blacks in advance of parliamentary elections June 24-25.

On Monday, Mugabe's government confirmed plans to take more than half of all the white-owned farming land in the country without paying for it and redistribute it to 500,000 poor black families. White farmers expressed shock at the plan, though no timetable was given and it was not immediately clear whether the government has the resources to carry out the resettlement.

On Wednesday, Mugabe was scheduled to hold talks in Harare with President Thabo Mbeki of neighboring South Africa. Although Mugabe's office described the meeting as routine, Mbeki was being accompanied by top economic officials who have voiced concern over the effects of instability in Zimbabwe on South Africa and its neighbors.

The labor federation said farm disruptions have hurt the agriculture-based economy, leading to job losses in commerce and industry. An independent employers organization reported last month 60,000 jobs were lost in the first six months of this year.

Zimbabwe is facing its worst economic crisis since independence in 1980, with inflation reaching a record 70 percent this year and unemployment soaring to 50 percent along with a sharp decline in health, education and social services. The government devalued the Zimbabwe currency by 24 percent Tuesday in what it called a bid to stabilize the crumbling economy.

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Monday, July 31, 2000 5:37 PM

Death of a District of Zimbabwe

Dear All

Have you ever watched your parents as you get older and remember how they used to comfort and hug you when your life was in tatters, maybe over some all important prized bush knife you had lost because you did not put it away.  
Well I have for four months watched my parents lose everything except their family and wish I could return a hundred times that comforting reassurance to them that things will work out.
It started back in April when the war veterans moved onto my parents Ranch in the Midlands situated on the Lundi River .  At first the comrades were armed, the standard AK which the Police seemed to have a hand in and they set  up their base outside their home, getting drunk and disorderly every Friday and Saturday night when their Government paymasters arrived to resupply them. 
Back then in April  one Friday night they broke into the house and trashed what they could on the back veranda kitchen area .
Dad then chatted to his war vets and they agreed to move off to the farm store on the main road which suited them.  The Police never charged any one.  There  they hung around , poaching, stealing fruit off Dads orchard and cutting timber which the local intelligence service shipped to town for resale. 
Before the elections Mom and Dad decided that it would be better if they moved their vehicles off the farm and house contents as Ranching requires many hours around the ranch and with Mom alone in the house was not sensible.  My brother, his wife and young family and the folks moved into the nearby town, cramming their possessions into an old age cottage and a rented house .  Dad would then travel out to the Ranch and carry on with his ranching daily.  I laughed when Dad would phone and say better the war vets than Mom and the cramped conditions? 

Time went on the elections passed with  just the normal hassles which go along with War vets demanding a slice of your life. Labor having their wages stolen and having to sing and dance naked with buckets of water on their heads to the praise of the great Mugabe.

Then the exciting news came that a foreign mining house had found diamonds in the communal lands to the south of them and wanted to speak to Dad about buying his ranch as it was the only one which suited them for resettlement of  six hundred families with one hundred and fifty hectares of irrigation. The mine was so badly needed for a district where the gold mines are closing down and thousands are out of work.  So what a wonderful opportunity to fulfil one of Dads lifelong dreams to turn his ranch into a training center for the district for which it is, was so ideally suited.

Then early July things turned sour.  The war vets approached Dad and said he was not to lock his house, barns and sheds one Friday night.  Dad refused, what a request and it was obvious what was up.  The next morning while going out to the ranch he saw his Massy Ferguson tractor on the side of the road , the engine seized.  The war vets had tried to steal it, to burn in the communal areas  to show that they can still do this. The Police for once reacted and the accused were arrested and charged with motor theft.  Police then called a security meeting with the farmers and the local war veteran commander was livid that a meeting had been called and demanded to know how they could do this without him as he was in charge of the district and not the Police and Government.  Death threats were then issued against my brother and they tried to find where he lived in town to carry this out.  So they moved again, further away. Mom and Dad remained.

7 th July 2000, Dad while on his normal trip to the ranch got to his entrance and found that for a far as the eye could see down the road all the major trees had been felled blocking entry in.  He has not been back into his farm since and the Police will not escort him  in as their Command in Gweru are obviously involved or pathetic.  The people working on the farm were chased off and Dad found housing for them in town.  After much leg work Dad managed to get the agreement with the local warlord that the labor could go back onto the Ranch and check the cattle of which $20 000 000 worth remained.  It was discovered that the war veterans had ransacked and damaged their house, used his grinding mill, milled and stolen his maize crop. They were also in the process of cleaning out his workshop. The interior fencing is being stolen at such an alarming rate that the cattle are now everywhere on the ranch.  Anyhow after a week of not being able to water his herd Dad managed to deploy his herdsmen into  the Ranch and rounded up the herd as best they could and reported back  to Dad on the condition etc of their cattle.  This week now eighty head have gone missing, just short of a million dollars stolen and still there is no intervention by the authorities to end this situation.

15 th July, the mining house announced they would not be developing the diamond mine due to the insecurity in the area and country.

Now I ask you as all hope fades for my parents ever recovering anything from their forty years of hard slog. 
Who are losers in this? 
My parents, who if ever they are supported by the Police and these hooligans and thugs are moved off to have to rebuild forty years or give up. 
The workers on their ranch?
Or is it the 600 hundred families which would have been moved from the communal areas onto their ranch to be greeted with brick under asbestos houses and fenced plots , plenty of grazing and a heifer herd to start them off, not to mention the one hundred and fifty hectares of irrigation and technical back up to which they would have had access to.  
Or is it the two hundred and fifty miners and their families which would benefit from the massive open cast mine and the training using the latest drag mining equipment and their families?
Or the country which now loses another business and the potential investment of millions and the right to earn even more through diamond exports? 
Or is it the district traders who are seeing their customer base slip into poverty as no investment comes into a mineral rich district.
What is it about the areas where Zanu Pf won the election through brutality that gives them the right to destroy the lives of many .

Now we enter a week of job stay away to protest against this madness which has been imposed on the country just because an era has come to the end which was supposed to be immortal . Watch the reaction of the President to the massive voice which just wants this madness to cease and get back having the basic right to work and feed ourselves .
I put my bottom dollar on a reaction of vindictiveness and retribution, like that of an abusive parent in a dysfunctional family. 

Common sense has to prevail.
It is hard to believe that the above events are taking place.  This is not just the death of a district but  Zimbabwe and the people who live here  because of the few who have no heart or morals.

Thank you

M. S.
(name protected)
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