Mugabe told the black Zimbabwe
Farmers Union in Bindura, north
of the capital Harare, that he
would not bow to international
pressure and told donors who
have suspended aid to his
country that he did not want their
"We are now in the process of
settling people and have identified
the slightly more than 3,000
farms we shall gazette and
acquire. The war vets will stay on
all the farms until we resettle
them," he said.
"The donors can stay with their
money. We will not give up our
land because of what the donors
He denied saying at a news
conference with visiting South
African President Thabo Mbeki on
Wednesday that he would have
war veterans removed from farms.
"I didn't say war veterans should
be removed," he said.
From BBC News, 3 August
Mugabe calls off farm invasions
The Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe, has said that the invasion of white-owned farms by war veterans and other government supporters will end by the end of the month. It is the first time Mr Mugabe has set a date for ending the often-violent occupations which his critics say have seriously damaged Zimbabwe's agriculture-based economy. The statement came on the day of a widely-observed general strike called by trade unions and commercial farmers seeking an end to lawlessness in Zimbabwe. Mr Mugabe made his announcement at a news conference after talks with his South African counterpart, Thabo Mbeki.
A BBC correspondent in Zimbabwe, Joseph Winter, says it may be the price paid for South Africa's help in getting foreign donors to resume aid to Zimbabwe. Mr Mugabe said that the government would have acquired enough land by the end of the month for the veterans and others to move on to. He said land not acquired by then would be vacated. The so-called veterans, who have occupied hundreds of white-owned farms in the past few months, have previously been told to leave by government ministers and even the vice-president. But they have responded that they only obey orders coming from Mr Mugabe. Expanding on the president's comments, the new Agriculture Minister, Joseph Made, told the BBC that within the next month the government would acquire around 400 farms and these would be sufficient to resettle those who have been occupying farms countrywide. It was not clear how this affected plans announced by the government on Monday to seize more than 3,000 farms for redistribution.
The CFU, which represents white farmers, went to court on Wednesday to challenge the way the way the redistribution process was being handled. "We are not seeking to obstruct the land redistribution process because we know that a proper scheme is essential for the country's social and economic stability," said the CFU director, David Hasluck. Speaking before Mr Mugabe's announcement, the ZCTU described the strike as highly successful and said that 90% of workers had heeded its call to stay away. In the capital, Harare, and in towns across the country most shops and factories remained closed, and all but essential work ceased on white-owned farms. By noon, usually bustling car parks and street markets in Harare were virtually deserted. However state-run media described the stoppage as a flop.
Correspondents say that support for the strike in Zimbabwe's urban areas reflected profound dissatisfaction with President Mugabe's government, as indicated by recent elections results. On commercial farms, the strike was even more widely observed, with only essential tasks like milking still carried out. Groups of self-styled war veterans, some of them armed, did visit some white-owned farms to tell those who participated in the strike that they would be prevented from resuming operations. The strike was originally due to have lasted three days, but was scaled down at the last minute, allegedly to give the government a chance to respond.
From News24 (SA), 3 August
Mugabe to remove squatters
Harare - Under mounting pressure at home and from neighbouring South Africa, Zimbabwe's president promised on Wednesday to remove his party militants from white-owned farms they have occupied for six months. A one-day general strike protesting a breakdown in law and order shut down the economy on Wednesday while the embattled President Robert Mugabe met with South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki in Harare. After their talks, Mugabe, 76, stooped and weary, promised for the first time to end illegal land occupations he has backed since they began in February.
Mugabe said the occupiers would be removed by the end of August from white farms not slated to be confiscated under a national land distribution plan. The occupiers, who have seized around 1 600 white-owned properties, would be taken to farms that are due to be nationalised. "Certainly within this month we will have concluded the exercise," Mugabe told reporters. A one-day general strike shut down factories, farms, banks and shops across the country to protest the breakdown of order in the country. It was called by the main labour federation, the opposition MDC and the CFU, representing about 4 000 white farmers.
Mbeki's visit also pressured Mugabe to restore law and order, as South African officials worried that Zimbabwe's instability could spill over in the region. "We will swim together or sink together," said South African Finance Minister Trevor Manuel. Dangling the prospect of South African economic aid, Manuel said the two countries discussed "rewards for the tough decisions Zimbabwe has to make" to rebuild its crumbling economy and restore confidence in beleaguered agriculture, tourism and investment activities. He did not elaborate.
Throughout Zimbabwe, workers stayed away from their jobs on Wednesday, shutting down business and industry, and the white farmers union said most of its members stopped all but milking and other essential work. In Harare, some stores opened briefly, but supermarkets and banks remained closed after staff failed to show up, managers said. "Everyone around us is out, so we are closing, too," said Ian Sibanda, a furniture store manager. "Let's hope the government sees people are serious about this."
From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 3 August
Protest strike halts Zimbabwe
Harare – Zimbabwe’s town centres fell silent yesterday as a general strike called in protest at the "breakdown of law and order", joined by white farmers for the first time, paralysed the economy. Factories closed, shops were shut and streets emptied of traffic. The usually bustling bus stations were silent and Harare's main shopping areas empty. The ZCTU claimed that 90 per cent of the workforce had joined the strike, although government departments were largely unaffected and most schools and hospitals continued as normal. The CFU confirmed that virtually all of the 4,000 white farmers in every province had joined the protest, even as squatters, who sparked the closure by illegally occupying 1,600 properties and mounting a terror campaign against President Robert Mugabe's opponents, singled out striking landowners for a new wave of intimidation. Riot police armed with batons and tear gas were deployed in strategic positions around Harare and a military helicopter flew overhead, although no violence was reported.
Nicholas Mudzengerere, acting secretary-general of the congress, said: "I am very pleased by the response to the stayaway. We are waiting for the government to reply to our demands and guarantee a return to law and order." Mr Mudzengerere said the congress's general council would meet on Saturday, adding: "If the government does not respond, I cannot rule out another stayaway." In Harare's black townships, Mbare and Highfield, streets were filled with striking workers enjoying an extra day off. Moses Sibanda, a bank clerk, was clear about the purpose of the protest. He said: "We have got to stop those guys on the farms from beating people. All the time, they are beating people and the government does nothing. We support the white farmers because our entire economy comes from them."
Fields in Zimbabwe's agricultural heartland were deserted as many farmers defied intimidation to join the strike. Squatters in the Karoi area, 150 miles north west of Harare, issued dozens of threats. A farmer said: "They are telling us, 'You've closed now, so you're closed for ever. We will take your farm.' They've told our workers never to come to work again if they down tools today." Paul Stidolph was trapped by a mob of 40 armed with clubs and axes at the gates of his Grand Parade farm. He said: "I told them I was joining the stayaway and they shouted, 'You are an enemy of the government. We've been ordered to take your farm'." Only a rescue mission by neighbouring farmers, who have formed a rapid reaction unit and use a light aircraft to track the squatters, drove away the gang and saved Mr Stidolph. He said: "It's exactly this sort of intimidation and harassment that we want to stop. I'm all for this stoppage because it's the only way to make that point." Other farmers paid a heavy price for their determination to join the strike. Irvine Reid, whose Calgary farm has been occupied by 14 men he believes to be police and army officers, was ordered to leave his property. He said: "The first question they asked was 'Is the farm working today?' Then they told me to go or else." Mr Reid and his family fled for the safety of Harare. Jack Callow fled from his Maryvale farm after being threatened by a mob of 12 who screamed: "We want the whites out of Zimbabwe. You whites must go."
After a meeting with President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa yesterday, Mr Mugabe injected more uncertainty into the farm crisis. He repeated promises by ministers that squatters would be removed from farms that have not been listed for resettlement, despite failing to enforce previous pledges of a return to normality on Zimbabwe's white-owned farms. Mr Mugabe said: "We will be removing the war veterans from the farms we are not resettling." Asked when this would happen, he replied: "Within the next month." Past performance means few landowners will take comfort from his latest comment.
From The Star (SA), 3 August
Mugabe assures Mbeki land-grab will end soon
Harare - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has assured President Thabo Mbeki that the farm invasions by self-styled war veterans will stop before the end of this month, SA government sources said on Wednesday night. The embattled Mugabe gave the assurance to Mbeki during a high-level meeting between the two countries in Harare on Wednesday. "Mugabe said his government would act against war veterans by settling them on farms that the state would have acquired mainly from white farmers. "Those who had invaded farms which had not been earmarked for the land resettlement programme would be moved out,'' said a senior government official who was at the talks.
The two leaders also agreed on a strategy to restore international confidence in Zimbabwe. In terms of this plan, Zimbabwe would restore the rule of law and adjust its policies accordingly, as displayed by its willingness to devalue the Zimbabwean dollar earlier this week. The two leaders also discussed the situation in the war-torn DRC. Mbeki is believed to have impressed on Mugabe the need to facilitate the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping force in the DRC. The United Nations peace mission would pave the way for the withdrawal of the foreign troops. Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia are backing DRC President Laurent Kabila, while Uganda and Rwanda are aiding rebels trying to topple Kabila.
"The president (Mbeki) is confident that Mugabe can turn the situation around. He is now surrounded by a new cabinet which has a new vision for the country. There is no reason for the international community to panic,'' said the source. Authoritative sources said Mbeki had told Mugabe that South Africa's efforts to mobilise the international community to return to Zimbabwe were being hampered by the continued violence and occupation of commercial farms. Mbeki advised him that the land reform exercise should be implemented in an orderly manner. Mbeki told Mugabe that South Africa was likely to succeed in convincing international donors to assist Zimbabwe if the country returned to the rule of law, said one source, adding that Mbeki had said donors he had spoken to during his recent visit to Sweden were all willing to assist Zimbabwe if the country implemented land redistribution appropriately.
Officials said Mbeki had also told Mugabe that Norway and Saudi Arabia, the two countries the South African president had recently managed to coax into supporting Zimbabwe's land reform programme, had decided to withhold their assistance until order returned to the farms. Mbeki has been under fire for his failure to condemn the illegal land invasions and the lawlessness in Zimbabwe. The two leaders first met on their own before they joined an enlarged meeting including ministers. The Financial Gazette newspaper reported on Wednesday that Mugabe had been going behind his cabinet's back, telling war veterans to remain on the farms and to ignore his ministers who had been urging them to vacate the farms.
From The Daily News, 2 August
Banana in town
THE most famous convict in the country, the former President of Zimbabwe, Canaan Sodindo Banana, took a brisk midday walk-about in the centre of Harare yesterday 220km from the prison where he is serving a 12-month sentence. Banana, convicted of sodomy, calmly conducted private financial business with the chief executive of the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe, Gideon Gono, in the latter's office in Union Avenue. Wearing his trademark Mao-style royal blue suit and sporting a blue denim peaked baseball cap, the former President was upbeat and effervescent as he spoke to The Daily News after his 15-minute meeting with Gono. Asked when he had been released from Connemara Prison near Kwekwe where he is serving one year for sodomy, Banana said: "No, I have not been released. I am still inside. I have only come to Harare to get my medicines. You know I am on medication. This is what they call open prison."
Emerging from his office, Gono acknowledged the presence of The Daily News crew before shaking hands and bidding farewell to the jailed former Methodist minister. There was no armed or uniformed prison warden guarding Banana. He left the bank through the back entrance, accompanied by a man in civilian clothes. Banana said he would be pleased to grant The Daily News an in-depth interview at Connemara Prison about how he is coping with life in jail. He was convicted by the High Court in January last year on 11 counts of sexual assault and sodomy committed while he was ceremonial president. He appealed to the Supreme Court against conviction and sentence, but in May this year, the Supreme Court upheld the conviction and sentence. He was also ordered to pay $250 000 to Jefta Dube, his former aide-de-camp who he sodomised.
Perhaps it was
desperation at the
continued harassment, or perhaps it was
a misplaced confidence after the stinging
rebuke Zimbabwe's voters delivered to
their desperate president. But three
weeks ago a few dozen white farmers hit
back against the government and went on
Even before their
protest culminated in
yesterday's widely respected nationwide
general strike to demand the restoration of
the rule of law, many farmers had cause
for regret. Robert Mugabe responded to
the defiance in his favoured manner - he
focussed his ire on the whites and greatly
raised the stakes.
announcement that it
will now seize about two-thirds of all
white-owned farmland threatens to bring
Zimbabwe's burgeoning crisis to a head
Just a few days ago,
debating whether Mr Mugabe would run for
another term as president in two years or
step aside for a younger candidate in the
hope of reviving Zanu-PF's popularity. Now
the debate is over whether Zimbabwe's
economy can survive Mr Mugabe's rule,
however short it might be.
The original core of
a few dozen white
farmers went on strike last month in
protest at the continued occupation of
their land by "war veterans" and
escalating violence. Even the government
said the occupations should stop in favour
of a more orderly distribution.
Dozens of other
farmers across the
country joined the protest which forced
the hand of the unions and the main
opposition party, the Movement for
Democratic Change. They were not only
bound to support the strike but had to be
seen to organise it.
But the evident role
of whites in promoting
the protest further angered Mr Mugabe,
whose government hit back by
quadrupling the number of farms facing
confiscation to 3,000. While the farm
seizures might strengthen Mr Mugabe's
political control in the short term,
ultimately they look disastrous for his
country's economy and damaging for the
The earmarked land
produces a good
proportion of the country's agricultural
exports. Tobacco earned Zimbabwe about
£250m last year but revenues are
expected to drop by at least one-fifth this
year. Manufacturers are warning of large
scale redundancies. Already there is talk
of a looming food shortage.
Neither will the
chaos of the land
distribution help Mr Mugabe. Whether
there are 500,000 families who want to
move, as the government says, is a moot
farms are large - the
3,000 earmarked for redistribution cover
nearly 20,000 square miles - much of the
land is of poor quality or barren. If the
farms are subdivided into hundreds of
thousands of small plots, some are going
to be left with the scraps.
And, although the
recent changes to the
constitution permit the confiscation of
farms without compensation, there is still
an established process of notification and
appeal to be followed.
The government has
the procedure for the original 804 farms
but if, as it says, it wants to seize the
additional land before the rains in a few
weeks it will have to ride roughshod over
its own regulations and defy the courts.
Strike brings Zimbabwe's cities to a halt
Chris McGreal in Harare and Andrew Meldrum in Norton Thursday August 3, 2000 (The Guardian)
A general strike shut down
Zimbabwe's major cities yesterday in
protest at the government's arbitrary
application of the rule of law as President
Robert Mugabe insisted that he will press
ahead with the wholesale confiscation of
The widespread support
for the strike
called by Zimbabwe's trade union
confederation, and backed by the main
political opposition party and farmers, was
a further demonstration of disillusionment
with the government a day after a
one-third devaluation of the national
Zimbabwe is facing its
crisis since independence 20 year ago.
Many township residents
are also angered
at the deployment of the army in poor
neighbourhoods where soldiers regularly
beat presumed opposition supporters.
South Africa's president,
added to the pressure on Mr Mugabe at a
summit in Harare yesterday. South Africa
is deeply worried about the cross-border
impact of its neighbour's crisis. Mr Mbeki
said he rejected a request for a meeting
from Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the
opposition Movement for Democratic
this week to quadruple the amount of
white-owned farm land targeted for
redistribution, and the severe economic
consequences if it happens, will do
nothing to bolster international confidence
in the region. The South African rand was
driven down further yesterday by the
devaluation of the Zimbabwean dollar.
Mr Mugabe said yesterday
government would press ahead with the
expropriations but said war veterans would
be removed from any farms not on the list
"There is a process now
going on of
acquiring land in accordance with the law,
and in the context of that acquisition we
will then be resettling those in need of
land _ we will be removing all war veterans
from the rest of the farms," he said.
Riot police were deployed
in many parts
of Harare yesterday to prevent
anti-government demonstrations but there
were no reports of violence. Most people
stayed at home as the strike closed
almost all factories, banks and large
businesses although some smaller
establishments opened. Harare's streets
were largely deserted but some people
took advantage of the day off work to join
the long queues for fuel. Even those who
might have wanted to go to work could not
because public transport shut down.
Many schools were shut.
did go to work, some parents kept their
children at home for fear of violence. The
university closed after lecturers and
students joined the protest.
Hopewell Gumpo, president
of the national
students union, said: "We condemn the
heavy-handedness of the police and the
army in parts of Harare. We demand
among other issues a transparent land
redistribution programme to the landless
in a peaceful and orderly manner."
Even some civil servants
implicit threat of dismissal and heeded the
strike call, although one finance ministry
worker enjoying the day in a Harare park
said he intended to tell his boss he had
tried to come to work but was threatened
At least one white farmer
who joined the
strike had his property seized by war
veterans as a punishment. But that did
not discourage many others, including Jim
Sinclair in Serui Source 45 miles south of
Harare, from joining the protest and telling
his labourers to take the day off.
"We must feed our pigs,
don't know about strikes, but otherwise
we have shut everything down. All the
farmers have shut down to protest the
lawlessness throughout the country.
"We need to get a message
this country cannot go on like this. We
are at one, my employees and myself.
We have suffered work interruptions,
invasions, threats of violence. We've had
enough," he said.
The day before the
strike, one of Mr
Sinclair's neighbours was threatened by a
group of armed supporters of Mr Mugabe.
They forced him to sign
away his farm and
told him to leave his home.
Mr Sinclair expects the
government will "take some form of action
to punish us for participating in this strike.
But I believe we still have to do it and we
may have to do it again. We need to
impress that violence cannot be used to
run our country".
-Zimbabwe's white farmers
went to the
supreme court yesterday to try to halt the
seizure of more than 3,000 farms for
Factories, farms and businesses across Zimbabwe
down on Wednesday as the vast majority of Zimbabwe's
1.4m workers observed the one-day strike called by the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions.
Union officials claimed 80-90 per cent
support for the
stoppage, but government offices and institutions were
open, as were many small businesses. Large
companies and the country's main manufacturing
industries were closed, along with the banks and leading supermarkets and
The stay-away was peaceful, with few
reports of violence or intimidation. The
strike was called by the ZCTU, with the support of the Commercial Farmers'
Union, in protest at the breakdown of law and order in Zimbabwe in urban areas
as well as on commercial farms.
Well supported though it was, the stoppage
is unlikely to influence government
policy. The best hope white farmers now have of reversing the government's plans
to take over 3,100 white-owned commercial farms covering 5m hectares seems
to be pressure from South Africa.
Farmers and business leaders are waiting
anxiously to see whether President
Robert Mugabe will soften his stance on land expropriation without compensation,
following Wednesday's discussions in Harare with President Thabo Mbeki of
South Africa and senior South African cabinet ministers.
Western governments and foreign investors
in southern Africa hope Mr Mbeki is
pressing Mr Mugabe in private to restore the rule of law in Zimbabwe.
So far, however, Mr Mbeki has refused to
criticise Mr Mugabe in public, and the
Pretoria government has even held out the possibility of loans to prop up the
Mr Mugabe said on Wednesday that the war
veterans illegally occupying
white-owned farms would be removed by the end of the month.
However, observers said it was doubtful how
he would honour this pledge. He
has said in the past that he will not use the army to remove the veterans from
The best news the country's beleaguered
4,500 white commercial farmers have
had for some time was Tuesday's decision to devalue the Zimbabwe dollar by
almost 25 per cent to Z$50 to the US unit from Z$38 previously.
The devaluation has been welcomed by
businessmen and the tobacco industry,
though some economists believe that the government should have gone further
and tried to eliminate the free-market premium altogether.
Foreign exchange dealers said they expected
the free-market rate, which had
been as high as Z$68 to the US dollar, to narrow, perhaps to about Z$60.
This would leave a 20 per cent premium at
the new official rate, according to
some stock brokers.
The opposition Movement for Democratic
Change welcomed the devaluation, but
warned that the "overdue" adjustment did not go far enough to give the country a
competitive real exchange rate.
Economists said that, while devaluation had
lowered the trade-weighted real
effective exchange rate, making Zimbabwe's exports more competitive, the real
rate was still 20 per cent higher than it was at the end of last year and nearly
double its levels of January 1999.
Bankers say a further downward adjustment
is inevitable and could come within
two months. Much will depend on supplementary measures to be announced
soon by Simba Makoni, finance minister.
The main beneficiaries will be the tobacco
and gold sectors. Other exporters,
including the tourist sector, had been selling currency earnings at the free-market
rate and could be temporarily worse off if, as dealers predict, the free-market
premium declines over the next few weeks.
Economists are unanimous in predicting a
sharp increase in the inflation rate.
Zimbabwe imports all its petroleum and 40 per cent of its electricity. These
increased costs will have to be passed on to the consumer.
One bank economist expects devaluation to
add some 8 per cent to consumer
prices over the next two to three months, which, with second-round effects and the
worsening shortages partly caused by the land crisis, would push inflation above
70 per cent by September.
Protest strike halts Zimbabwe
By David Blair in Harare (The Telegraph)
ZIMBABWE'S town centres fell silent yesterday as a general strike called in
protest at the "breakdown of law and order", joined by white farmers for the
first time, paralysed the economy.
Factories closed, shops were shut and
emptied of traffic. The usually bustling bus stations
were silent and Harare's main shopping areas
empty. The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
claimed that 90 per cent of the workforce had
joined the strike, although government departments
were largely unaffected and most schools and
hospitals continued as normal.
The Commercial Farmers' Union confirmed
virtually all of the 4,000 white farmers in every
province had joined the protest, even as squatters,
who sparked the closure by illegally occupying
1,600 properties and mounting a terror campaign
against President Robert Mugabe's opponents, singled out striking
landowners for a new wave of intimidation.
Riot police armed with batons and tear gas
were deployed in strategic
positions around Harare and a military helicopter flew overhead, although no
violence was reported.
Nicholas Mudzengerere, acting
secretary-general of the congress, said: "I am
very pleased by the response to the stayaway. We are waiting for the
government to reply to our demands and guarantee a return to law and
order." Mr Mudzengerere said the congress's general council would meet on
Saturday, adding: "If the government does not respond, I cannot rule out
In Harare's black townships, Mbare and
Highfield, streets were filled with
striking workers enjoying an extra day off. Moses Sibanda, a bank clerk, was
clear about the purpose of the protest. He said: "We have got to stop those
guys on the farms from beating people. All the time, they are beating people
and the government does nothing. We support the white farmers because our
entire economy comes from them."
Fields in Zimbabwe's agricultural heartland
were deserted as many farmers
defied intimidation to join the strike. Squatters in the Karoi area, 150 miles
north west of Harare, issued dozens of threats. A farmer said: "They are
telling us, 'You've closed now, so you're closed for ever. We will take your
farm.' They've told our workers never to come to work again if they down
Paul Stidolph was trapped by a mob of 40 armed
with clubs and axes at the
gates of his Grand Parade farm. He said: "I told them I was joining the
stayaway and they shouted, 'You are an enemy of the government. We've
been ordered to take your farm'."
Only a rescue mission by neighbouring farmers,
who have formed a rapid
reaction unit and use a light aircraft to track the squatters, drove away the
gang and saved Mr Stidolph. He said: "It's exactly this sort of intimidation and
harassment that we want to stop. I'm all for this stoppage because it's the only
way to make that point."
Other farmers paid a heavy price for their
determination to join the strike.
Irvine Reid, whose Calgary farm has been occupied by 14 men he believes to
be police and army officers, was ordered to leave his property. He said: "The
first question they asked was 'Is the farm working today?' Then they told me
to go or else." Mr Reid and his family fled for the safety of Harare. Jack
Callow fled from his Naryvale farm after being threatened by a mob of 12
who screamed: "We want the whites out of Zimbabwe. You whites must go."
After a meeting with President Thabo Mbeki of
South Africa yesterday, Mr
Mugabe injected more uncertainty into the farm crisis. He repeated promises
by ministers that squatters would be removed from farms that have not been
listed for resettlement, despite failing to enforce previous pledges of a return
to normality on Zimbabwe's white-owned farms.
Mr Mugabe said: "We will be removing the war
veterans from the farms we
are not resettling." Asked when this would happen, he replied: "Within the
next month." Past performance means few landowners will take comfort from
his latest comment.
Clipboard soldiers tour farms
HUNDREDS of bemused white farmers, wearily accustomed to invasion by
axe-waving mobs, have had a new kind of visitor. Small groups of polite
soldiers, armed only with clipboards, have been touring farms on seemingly
innocent fact-finding missions.
Most white landowners in Mashonaland have
received a delegation of army
officers. Lindsay Campbell, a farmer's wife from Marondera, was visited by a
smiling captain and two junior soldiers. She said: "They were very pleasant,
very courteous, not in the least bit hostile."
Taking careful notes, the captain asked about
the size of her farm, her crop
programme and her title deeds. He visited the squatters who occupy Mrs
Campbell's land and warned them not to interfere with the daily rhythms of the
farm. The soldiers departed with a polite "goodbye".
When Vice-President Joseph Msika announced on
Monday that 2,237 more
white farms had been identified for acquisition, the purpose of the mysterious
visits was suddenly explained. The soldiers had been on a deliberately
low-key intelligence-gathering operation. Mrs Campbell said: "They were just
identifying more properties for their list. But they were so pleasant."
3 August 2000
Shutdown reports :
From Reuters, 2 August
Big Zimbabwe Strike Vents Anger at Mugabe
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe's political and economic critics vented their anger at Zimbabwe's slide toward anarchy on 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 on 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 40 km (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 MDC and the mainly white 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 on 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.''
From News24, 3 August
Zimbabwe grinds to a halt
Harare - Banks, factories and farms shut down in Zimbabwe on Wednesday as a general strike got under way to protest at government seizures of white-owned farms, which have sparked violence in the crucial agriculture sector. The protest against violence and intimidation on white-owned farms occupied by liberation war veterans and their supporters has drawn "very effective" support in the northern Mashonaland Central Province, regional farm union director Malcolm Vowles told AFP. In the farming district of Marondera east of Harare, Steve Pratt of the CFU, which represents some 4 00 white farmers, said the area was "dead quiet" with just a handful of businesses and one petrol station open. In the capital Harare, most banks and many large stores were closed and riot police were deployed in the streets. A military helicopter was seen over-flying the city early in the day.
The ZCTU expressed satisfaction at the initial response to the one-day strike. Isaac Matongo, ZCTU's acting president, said after travelling across the capital and to neighbouring towns that it appeared many people had heeded the call. "Where I am here, in the industrial sites, nobody is working," he told AFP from his mobile phone. "But you know you can't get 100 percent, but if you get 70 percent that's super." He described the atmosphere in the poor black townships - where the army has been accused of beating people in the aftermath of the June elections - as calm on Wednesday morning. "There is no violence in the townships, the atmosphere is very calm, and I have not heard of any incidents of violence," he said. He said people had stayed at home, and only riot police were seen in the streets. "It's actually the police that are struggling, because there is nobody to beat," he said.
Matongo said reports he received from the eastern border town of Mutare showed that many workers had responded well, with all the public commuter buses reportedly grounded. Matongo said Tuesday that the strike would serve as a "warning" to the government, which has not intervened to stop intimidation and attacks on farmers and labourers by liberation war veterans occupying hundreds of white-owned farms since February. The information ministry said early Wednesday that people were going about their business as usual. The CFU's Vowles said that in Mashonaland Central, "there are attempts by some war veterans to force farm workers to work." Noting that the occupiers had been bent on preventing work on the farms in efforts to disrupt operations, he said: "It's quite ironic." The action called by the ZCTU is the first since two strikes over deteriorating economic conditions brought the country to a standstill - and troops to the streets - in 1998.
From The Star (SA), 2 August
Streets of Harare deserted as strike sets in
Harare - Shops and factories were closed and streets deserted in Harare on Wednesday as workers began a general strike to demand an end to political violence and the occupation of white-owned farms. Farmers, industrial workers, businesses and the political opposition backed the one-day stoppage called by the ZCTU, making it the most broadly based challenge yet to President Robert Mugabe's 20-year rule. Groups of police armed with automatic rifles patrolled some bus stations and stood on street corners in Harare, but there was no sign of a major police or military intervention. At 8am (0600 GMT), the centre of the capital was deserted with only a few staff gathering outside two supermarkets waiting to see whether they would open. In the Willowdale industrial area on the outskirts of Harare factories remained closed and streets were deserted. The Kambuzuma, Warren Park and Kuwazana dormitory townships were quiet with small numbers of people boarding buses and taxis to the city. In the Mazowe district farm workers stayed in their housing units and there was no sign of workers in the fields at 7:30am when work usually is well under way.
The mainly white CFU and the MDC, which delivered a strong challenge in the June election, backed the call, saying Zimbabwe was close to anarchy. Zimbabwe's government has condemned the strike as unnecessary and warned it will sack all public service workers joining it. But it said it would only move to protect those who wanted to work rather than intervene to prevent strike action. The ZCTU on Tuesday reduced the duration of the strike from three days to one, saying it would act as a warning shot against Mugabe's government. He is being urged to order an end to the intimidation of his political opponents and to order self-styled war veterans to leave white-owned farms occupied in the run-up to the elections.
From News24 (SA), 2 August
Business at standstill in Bulawayo
Bulawayo - Business came to a halt in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city, as tens of thousands of workers joined a general strike to protest the government's violence-ridden land grabs. "We have shut down because we are also concerned with the breakdown of law and order on the farms," said Joseph Moyo, a local businessman. Banks, offices, factories and shops, with the exception of a few food outlets, in the southwestern city were closed. Some business owners said they closed in solidarity with the unions, while others said they closed out of fear of violence or intimidation directed at their employees by supporters of the stayaway.
Most public transport vehicles were empty except those leaving the city centre as people appeared to be heading home after finding their companies were shut. All higher education establishments were closed as both lecturers and students joined the protest. Some schools were open, although most teachers stayed away. Hopewell Gumpo, head of the president of the Zimbabwe National Students Union, said: "We as the student movement have no other option but to engage in the peaceful protest together with the labor body and other civic organisations because we condemn the heavy-handedness of the police and the army in parts of Harare." He added: "We demand among other issues a transparent land redistribution program to the landless in a peaceful and orderly manner." Government offices were deserted barring a few civil servants. It was business as usual however for hospitals. Police were deployed at strategic points across the city, but by mid-morning no incidents of violence or intimidation were reported.
From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 2 August
Zim farms shut down to protest land grab
Harare - Farms across Zimbabwe shut down on Wednesday in protest over lawlessness sparked by government seizures of white-owned farmland as workers showed their solidarity by joining a general strike called by the unions. Banks, major consumer outlets and factories shut down at the call of the powerful labour movement to protest government seizures of white-owned farms, which have sparked violence in the crucial agriculture sector. It was business as usual however in government offices both in the capital and in other cities such as Chinhoyi and Marondera, state radio said, while in Bulawayo few civil servants turned up to work.
The political opposition, civic organizations, and white commercial farmers are all backing the strike organized by the ZCTU. The governor of northern Mashonaland East Province, Peter Chanetsa, slammed the stayaway, telling state radio it "revealed who is sponsoring the opposition and the ZCTU. Land redistribution is to go ahead despite the strike." He added that resettlements in his province would begin on Thursday. Months of lawlessness on occupied farms have disrupted the commercial agriculture sector, Zimbabwe's principal employer and a vital component of the economy - employing 26 percent of the labor force and contributing 15.7% of gross domestic product. Agricultural exports, particularly tobacco, bring in desperately needed foreign exchange.
The protest against violence and intimidation on white-owned farms â€“ some 1 600 of which have been occupied by liberation war veterans and their supporters since February - has drawn support across the farming community. The shutdown was "very effective" in the northern Mashonaland Central Province, according to regional farm union director Malcolm Vowles. In the farming district of Marondera east of Harare, Steve Pratt of the CFU, which represents some 4 500 white farmers, said the area was "dead quiet" with just a handful of businesses and one petrol station open. "There have been a number of threats in the past few days that if the stayaway goes ahead there will be repercussions, but as yet it hasn't occurred," he said, adding "touch wood". Journalists travelling through northeastern Mashonaland East Province said they saw no farming activity. The owner of a tobacco farm said operations were reduced to essential services such as watering seedbeds and sending out people to search for rustled cattle. The capital Harare was quiet, with most banks and many large stores closed while riot police patrolled the streets.
Meanwhile President Robert Mugabe, flanked by his entire cabinet, was on hand to greet visiting South African President Thabo Mbeki at the airport, which was functioning normally. About 100 ruling party supporters and war veterans chanted revolutionary songs to greet the South African delegation, in the country to discuss ways to help Zimbabwe overcome its economic crisis. Mugabe has not commented publicly on the strike, nor to a direct appeal for urgent intervention lodged a week ago by the CFU.