white farms targeted
minister tells farmers the government will defend noble cause' in court
HARARE Zimbabwe's land minister, Joseph Made, told the nation's white farmers
yesterday that the government had increased the amount of land it wanted to
resettle with black smallscale and commercial farmers to 8,3-million hectares or
90% of the whiteowned land in the country.
In his first speech ever to the Commercial Farmers' Union, Made said the
government planned to resettle "not less than 8,3-million hectares", up from the
original target of 5-million hectares. According to union statistics, white
farmers own about 9-million hectares of land.
Made's attendance at the union's annual congress allowed for a dialogue with
farmers some had not expected after he jilted the farmers last year, saying he
had not received an invitation.
Made who became the minister of land, agriculture and rural resettlement in
July last year gave the farmers no assurances of an end to the violent
occupations, and played down the effect of the invasions on agriculture.
"I want to urge the farmers or producers so affected not to take the law into
their own hands, but to always consult with government and, in particular, with
my ministry so that we minimise head-on collisions," he said.
"If you so desire to take the government to court in this noble exercise, the
government is left with no option except to defend our noble cause in the
courts," he said.
The union, which represents 4500 mostly white large-scale farmers, has
already won a supreme court ruling declaring the land reform scheme
unconstitutional and ordering police to evict squatters. The government has yet
to enforce the ruling, and has passed a law legalising the presence of squatters
on hundreds of farms.
Made declined to answer questions about how the government planned to deal
with an expected food shortage, including a projected shortfall of at least
400000 tons of maize.
The continued occupation and listing of white-owned commercial farms for
compulsory acquisition was, said the farmers, a political move in the runup to
next year's presidential election.
"The exercise is not about land reform at all, and this phase in our history
will inevitably pass," said Jerry Grant, the union's deputy director.
"Those actions are truly political," union director David Hasluck said.
President Robert Mugabe said in parliament last week the land reform
programme posed "stiff but urgent political challenges" to Zimbabwe.
The union launched a proposal in May that would offer 1-million hectares of
land plus support inputs for the resettling of landless black people.
Dubbed the Zimbabwe Joint Resettlement Initiative, the proposal is yet to
receive state endorsement.
But the farmers are committed to pushing it forward and "continue to strive
for sustainable agrarian reform", Hasluck said. "(The initiative shows) we are
committed to orderly peaceful agrarian reform. It is a catalyst and has
credibility as it is based on consensus, not conflict."
The farmers see their offer as "the obvious alternative to the illegal
fasttrack approach" adopted by the state.
Last month diplomats said a UN-organised expert team was expected to visit
Zimbabwe this month in a fresh bid to find a solution to the violencewracked
land reforms. Sapa-AFP.
Aug 03 2001
12:00:00:000AM Business Day 1st Edition
Failure to hold
free and fair election will have serious consequences'
WASHINGTON The Bush administration's ambassador-designate to Zimbabwe warned
this week of "serious consequences" for President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu
(PF) party if next year's presidential election is not free and fair.
Joseph Sullivan, previously US ambassador to Angola, predicted "increasing
political and economic instability" in Zimbabwe and pledged that his "highest
priority" would be the security of US citizens living and travelling in the
country. Sullivan was speaking at his confirmation hearing before the senate
foreign relations committee, which unanimously endorsed legislation asking the
White House to consider seizing foreign assets of those responsible "for the
deliberate breakdown of the rule of law, politically motivated violence and
Sullivan said Harare had to "recognise the absolute criticality of a free and
fair elections to its continued legitimacy as a democracy within the
An election that accurately reflected the wishes of the Zimbabwean people
"could set the stage for international assistance aimed at Zimbabwe's economic
recovery, including resolution of the long-standing land issue", he said.
"Conversely, failure to hold a free and fair election would have serious
consequences for the international standing of Zimbabwe and its leaders."
Sullivan promised support for Zimbabwe's "dynamic civil society" and said he
would lobby for the deployment of election observers from the start of
campaigning. He would support the independent media "in every way possible".
Tipped to succeed Sullivan in Luanda is Christopher Dell, previously chief of
the US mission in Pristina, Kosovo.
He called US relations with the MPLA government "positive and no longer
clouded by distrust".
Angola was "increasingly important to our energy security", Dell said, noting
it supplied 3,5% of US imports, and 7% from non nations which, like itself, are
not members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Meanwhile, In Wellington, New Zealand, Phil Goff, the new foreign minister,
said yesterday he had ticked off Zimbabwe's new diplomatic representative,
Florence Chitauro, over the Mugabe regime's record on human rights.
Goff told parliament: "I raised the undermining of the independence of the
judiciary and the press, the attacks on lawyers representing political parties
or political representatives in court, threats against diplomatic missions and
international aid agencies and continued intimidation and violence against those
opposed to President Mugabe's regime."
White farmers will likely lose 90% of land
Zimbabwe Minister cautions union against trying to stall
Reuters, Agence France-Presse
Howard Burditt, Reuters
Members of the Commercial Farmers' Union listen as
Joseph Made, the Agriculture Minister, reiterates the government of Zimbabwe
will continue with its program of settling blacks on white-owned
HARARE - Zimbabwe's Agriculture Minister told nearly 400 shocked white
farmers yesterday they will lose more than 90% of their land to black
In his first speech to the mainly white Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU),
Joseph Made said the government would take 8.3 million hectares rather than the
5 million previously identified for compulsory acquisition.
According to CFU statistics, white farmers own about nine million hectares of
Mr. Made also warned white farmers not to clash with war veterans and black
peasants who have occupied their properties for 18 months.
"Government intends and is going to address the issues of social and
political injustice as far as the land question is concerned," Mr. Made told the
CFU annual congress.
He did not say why the government had raised the target.
The CFU, which represents 4,500 mostly white large-scale farmers, has already
won a Supreme Court ruling declaring the government's land reform scheme
unconstitutional and ordering police to evict squatters.
The government has yet to enforce the ruling, and has passed a law legalizing
the presence of squatters on hundreds of farms.
The CFU has launched a proposal that would offer one million hectares of land
plus support inputs for the resettling of landless blacks. Dubbed the Zimbabwe
Joint Resettlement Initiative (ZJRI), the proposal is yet to receive government
In June, union officials said they felt the government was determined to
nationalize all land owned by its members after it raised its target to 5,000
farms from 4,000.
The government says the resettlement program's aim is to correct colonial-era
imbalances that have left the tiny, white minority owning a disproportionate
amount of farmland. Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's President, maintains the 4,500
white farmers own 70% of the country's best farmland, while a majority of blacks
are squeezed into barren districts.
Mr. Made warned farmers, who are entitled to challenge the seizure of their
land in court, against trying to slow down the land reform process by contesting
"If [you] continue contesting the issues of land beyond any reasonable limit
... then I think we are going to have a problem," Mr. Made said. "If you desire
to take the government to court in this noble exercise, the government is left
with no option except to defend our noble cause in the courts."
At the start of the two-day congress on Wednesday, Tim Henwood, the CFU
president, said the country's crucial agricultural sector was threatened by the
"fast-track land redistribution" scheme and rising lawlessness.
Farm production has fallen sharply in the commercial sector in the past year,
with output of key crops, such as the staple maize, dropping by over 60% in the
wake of farm invasions by supporters of the government's seizure program, he
Mr. Made declined to answer questions about how the government plans to deal
with the expected food shortage, including a projected shortfall of at least
400,000 tonnes of corn.
He insisted the government's land reform scheme "is not an economic issue, it
is a social- political issue."
The scheme has been wracked by violence since February, 2000, when
pro-government militants, led by veterans of the 1970s liberation war, forcibly
occupied as many as 1,700 white-owned farms. Eight farmers have been killed and
scores of farm workers assaulted in the violence that has followed.
|Hope lingers among Zimbabwe white farmers
Zimbabwe's 4,500 white farmers on Thursay wound up a two-day annual congress
hopeful that the land crisis gripping the country was a hard but passing phase
that could end after presidential elections next year.( AFP )
convinced each other not to despair, but to carry on farming and make efforts to
engage President Robert Mugabe's government in initiatives for orderly and
viable land reforms in its scheme to resettle landless blacks.
ongoing occupation and listing of white-owned commercial farms for compulsory
acquisition was, according to the farmers, a political move in the run-up to the
presidential poll due next year.
"The exercise is not about land reform
at all, and ... this phase in our history will inevitably pass," said Jerry
Grant, the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) deputy director.
are truly political," CFU director David Hasluck said, while urging the farmers
to be part of the solution to the land crisis, rather than remaining
In one of the few signs of progress towards a meeting of minds
since the farmers' last congress, Lands Minister Joseph Made addressed the
meeting and took questions, after failing to attend last year.
Robert Mugabe told parliament last week that the land reform programme posed
"stiff but urgent political ... challenges" to the southern African
Last May, the CFU launched a proposal that would offer a million
hectares of land plus support inputs for the resettling of landless
Dubbed the Zimbabwe Joint Resettlement Initiative (ZJRI), the
proposal is yet to receive government endorsement.
But the farmers are
committed to push it forward and "continue to strive for sustainable agrarian
reform", Hasluck said.
"ZJRI demonstrates we are comitted to orderly
peaceful agrarian reform," said Hasluck adding "It is a catalyst and has
credibility because it is based on consensus not conflict."
see their offer as practical and "the obvious alternative to the illegal
fast-track approach" adopted by government.
"What we are offering is
something that can be implemented now," he said.
"ZJRI has been
formulated and crafted to fit local, regional and international expectations,"
Last month diplomats said a UN-organised international team of
experts was expected to visit Zimbabwe this month in a fresh bid to find a
solution to the violence-wracked land reforms.
The mission would include
officials from the United Nations, the European Commission and the World Bank to
try and urge Mugabe to return to a 1998 agreement his government and
international donors entered into, under which donors would provide money to buy
land from white farmers for resettlement with black farmers.
Zimbabwe's land issue is well understood by the majority of countries in the
Nigeria has set about organising an international fact-finding
mission to examine Zimbabwe's land reform scheme, while the Organisation of
African Unity last month lent its support by setting up a committee of seven
countries to represent OAU at any international forums where Zimbabwe's land
issue may be raised.
Regardless of the politicisation of the land issue,
the farmers reaffirming their commitment to farming as an "obligation to
"We must plan to stay on farming by any means because if we are
not farming we are not fulfilling our role and obligation in society," Hasluck
"As farmers, we have to do the best we can to survive the present
chaos and be ready once more to play our part when the time comes," said Grant,
adding: "The country will once more be governed pragmatically and
While Hasluck said it appeared government treated the
farmers' agrarian reform proposal as "secondary to presidential
"Government is in denial of what is wrong with the economy
and the need for a political consensus," Hasluck said.
Made told the
farmers that government has hiked the original size of white land it targetted
for compulsory acquisition by more than three million hectares, to more than 8.3
The move is aimed to correct colonial-era imbalances
that have left the tiny white minority owning a disproportionate amount of prime
|Mugabe swears in 3 new judges |
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe swore in three additional judges to the
Supreme Court on Thursday, after a series of losses from the existing bench, the
official ZIANA news agency said.( AFP
The appointments increase the size of
the nation's highest bench from five to eight, in a move Justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa said was aimed at easing the court's workload.
critics have slammed the appointments as an attempt to influence the judiciary,
they have also said the new judges were too professional to be swayed by party
Under Zimbabwean law, Mugabe has unrestricted powers to appoint
judges or to expand the size of the bench. Such appointments are reviewed only
by the Judicial Services Commission, which is also filled with Mugabe
Justices Vernanda Ziyambi, Luke Malaba, and Misheck Cheda
took their oaths on Thursday, ZIANA reported, two days after another High Court
Michael Gillespie, who has been a High Court judge for
five years, tendered his resignation to Mugabe on Tuesday and will effectively
cease work at the end of August.
Two other High Court judges, justices
James Devittie and Esmael Chatikobo, resigned in May and June
International legal groups have criticized the government
for making threats against judges and their families earlier this
Former chief justice Anthony Gubbay went into early retirement
after Chinamasa reportedly told him the government could no longer guarantee his
safety. He was replaced by a judge widely seen as pro-government.
Govt seeks fuel from Sudan
locked in negotiations to import petroleum from Sudan, Africa's biggest country
wracked by decades of civil war, to ease the chronic fuel crisis ahead of next
year's presidential election.
Official sources said plans for the
arrangement were at an advanced stage. It is understood authorities were anxious
to seal the deal before year's end.
Zimbabwe is currently surviving on
makeshift deals with different fuel merchants. The Independent Petroleum Gr oup
of Kuwait is the main supplier. Numerous fuel contracts signed before have
collapsed due to financial constraints.
Sudanese deputy ambassador to
Harare, Osa ma Ahmed Abdelbari, this week confirmed talks were in progress.
"We are still negotiating and we expect that by December an agreement
will have been reached," Abdelbari said. "We have very good relations with
Zimbabwe and we want to help."
But Mines and Energy minister Sydney
Sekeramayi professed ignorance of the deal, saying: "I'm hearing it for the
Abdelbari said private companies were also keen to import
fuel from Sudan. He said his country exported 500 000 barrels of crude oil a
day, but had the potential to sell more.
There are at least 14 big
private companies holding commercial fuel licences in Zimbabwe while 246 small
private firms as at June 30 had direct fuel import licences.
understood the number of direct fuel import permits had since dramatically
increased due to a huge fuel black market. Government officials and cronies are
deeply involved in the illicit trade.
Diplomatic sources said the Sudan
oil arrangement was likely to spark a row with the United States which was
opposed to petroleum deals involving Khartoum. This week Washin gton vehemently
objected to a fuel deal between Sudan and Kenya.
Zimbabwe, which is
harbouring Sudanese rebel leaders, wants to join countries like China and
Malaysia its main allies in the scramble for Sudan's vast oil reserves. The move
is likely to cause serious ructions in the international community.
US is opposed to the fuel trade involving Sudan because it says the Khartoum
regime is using oil revenue to fund its military campaign against John Garang's
Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) and its military wing, the SPLA.
The SPLM/SPLA, which has offices in Harare, has been fighting Khartoum since
its formation in 1983 but the civil war has been rumbling on since Sudan's
Independence in 1956.
There is now a global campaign to force
international companies and countries tapping Sudan's huge oilfields to abandon
operations because the industry is fuelling the war.
Mugabe security risk at Chogm
PRESIDENT Mugabe has
been declared a security risk at the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of
Government Meeting (Chogm) in Brisbane, Australia, with organisers fearing angry
demonstrations by human rights activists.
Mugabe has been given the highest
possible security rating at the club gathering for mainly former British
colonies to be held from October 69 in the Queensland capital.
organisers have put in place very elaborate security arrangements for Mugabe,
the first ever to be seen at a Chogm meeting. In addition to antiglobalisation
protesters, authorities fear gay activists and other human rights demonstrators
could make life difficult for them.
Sources in Australia said the
security threat had created tensions between Mugabe's security team and the
Australians as authorities in Harare were insisting on beefing up handlers to
boost security around the presi dent who is arguably now the world's most
The Australians have indicated they are perfectly able
to contain any difficult situation and there was no need for extra security
personnel from Zimbabwe.
Security sources in Harare this week said Mugabe
required the extra protection to prevent the likelihood of another Peter
In February gay activist Peter Tatchell embarrassed
Mugabe when he tried to effect a citizen's arrest in Brussels before Zimbabwean
security men pummelled the protester and thwarted the arrest. Tatchell has
threatened to strike again in Brisbane and Mugabe's security team are wary of a
similar attack from the strong gay movement in Australia.
"I do not
think it is fair to put the president at risk by leaving his security
arrangement to the Australians and I do not think mukuru (the boss) would accept
that arrangement," a senior intelligence source told the Independent this week.
The Australian High Commissioner to Zimbabwe, Jonathan Brown, yesterday said
his government had arranged adequate security for the visiting heads of
"What I can say is that the Australian government has
organised adequate security for each visiting head of state," he said.
"In the same vein we are aware that some heads of state will attract
more attention than others... We will take appro priate action to ensure tighter
Asked if Mugabe fell in the category of leaders likely to be
targeted, Brown said Tatchell planned to travel to Australia to demonstrate and
Australian security was prepared for him. Tatchell is Australianborn.
Mugabe has gained international notoriety for his lawless land reform
programme and his promotion of violence agai nst white farmers.
leaders on the highsecurity list include the Queen who will be present as
Australia's head of state and head of the Commonwealth, Australian Prime
Minister John Howard and leaders from India, Sri Lanka and Canada.
Lanka is increasingly viewed as a repres sive regime which has sworn enemies in
the Tamil Tigers, while Canada is accused of abuses against Native inhabitants.
So is Australia itself.
"Australian National University lecturer Clive
Williams, an expert in politicallymotivated violence, has shortlisted India, Sri
Lanka, Zimbabwe and Canada as the countries whose representatives can be at the
receiving end of terrorist violence during the Brisbane Chogm," according to the
IndoAsian News Service.
Amnesty International this week said it would
protest against the policies of Mugabe, Malaysi an premier Mahathir Mohamad,
Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi, and Sri Lankan president Chandrika Kumara
tunga. Amnesty said Mugabe will be targeted for inciting violence against white
farmers, political killings and homophobia.
"Robert Mugabe has a very
repressive regime. Anybody who is in opposition to Mugabe is in great danger of
being killed, tortured or imprisoned," Amnesty Inter national spokesman Ross
The Australian government has set up a highly trained
security force of 1 600 personnel to protect the 52 heads of state.
security personnel have been carry ing out counterterrorism exercises as part of
their preparation for guarding the international visitors.
personnel will also keep a close eye on antiglobalisation campaign group M1 and
Australian socialist outfit S11 which are perceived to be potential sources of
disruptions to the meeting.
Fast track to take 15 years
GOVERNMENT'S fast-track land resettlement
programme will only achieve its full productive potential in 15 years, a World
Bank-sponsored study on land reform says.
The study sought to examine
the impact of re-allocating five million hectares of commercial farmland to the
The report acknowledged that the land reform programme was
economically viable if carried out in a manner that allowed resettled farmers to
make the investment necessary to achieve productive potential.
analysis shows that the viability of the land reform exercise depends on support
from government during the first five years of resettlement.
said: "Results seem to be equally promising in terms of production and
employment, assuming that the farmers throughout these periods would belong to
the high-performance group."
According to Roger van den Brink, the World
Bank resident representative in Zimbabwe, the report is the first in a series,
and only looks at the effects of land reform on the beneficiaries.
subsequent reports an economic model will be developed to capture the effects of
land reform on key economic variables such as production and employment in the
entire agricultural sector, as well as other sectors of the economy.
study comes at a time when hordes of war veterans and ruling party supporters
have intensified their commercial farm invasions. In some cases they have burnt
crops such as tobacco, wheat and export grass.
Critics blame government
for a skewed resettlement programme where people are being dumped on farms
without proper infrastructure.
"Government administration costs include
all types of costs necessary to smooth the process of resettlement," the report
The researchers estimated that the administration costs include
both costs specific to the resettlement (US$200 per farmer in the first year)
and farmer support costs of US$50 a year.
It said the infrastructure
costs covered electricity, water, sanitation, farm road construction, building
schools, clinics and animal health facilities.
agricultural experts have pointed out that none of the inputs or support network
vital to the success of the scheme have been put in place and the World
Bank-sponsored study therefore remains academic.
Gonarezhou still occupied
DESPITE government assurances that
the Gonarezhou National Park will not be occupied under the fast-track land
reform programme, resettlement in the park continues unabated, the Zimbabwe
Independent has been told.
The latest invasions have resulted in some
parts of the natural habitat being destroyed by fires.
This comes hard
on the heels of Zimbabwe's claim at a meeting in Harare last month of the
Ministerial Committee of the Gaza-Kruger-Gonarezhou Transfrontier Park that
there were no invasions in the park.
Government this week admitted
people were settling in the park but said authorities were in the process of
finding alternative land for the invaders.
Deputy minister of
Environment and Tourism Edward Chindori-Chininga said alternative land had to be
found for the people who had moved into the park area.
cannot settle people in the national park," Chindori-Chininga said. "Whatever
circumstances resulted in those people going into Gonarezhou National Park, they
must be reversed and re-addressed.
"We have sent out teams to find out
whether people are actually in the national park. We have now come to a
conclusion that there are people in the national park and what we have now done
as a ministry is that alternative land has to be found," he said.
situation has generally remained unchanged in Gonarezhou since May when the
Independent revealed the park was being demarcated for land resettlement.
Most of the people resettling themselves are from the Chikombedzi area,
which abuts the park. On Saturday new settlers were busy clearing tracts of
land. Their fires could clearly be seen at night.
Only last month people
from Matibi 2 approached the Warden for Chipinda Pools, asking to be allocated
portions of land in the park.
The latest wave of invasions follows a
meeting, which was held at Masvingo provincial governor Josiah Hungwe's office
on July 19.
The meeting was attended by National Parks officials, war
veterans, Cattle Producers Association representatives and officials from the
Sources who attended the meeting said the
governor was more concerned with the possibility of a foot-and-mouth outbreak
than the environmental disaster unfolding in the province.
round of invasions raised fears that Zimbabwe was in breach of the Transfrontier
Agreement it has signed to much fanfare with regional neighbours.
Zimbabwe told its regional partners in the Transfrontier project that
all moves to resettle people in the park had been stopped.
Chindori-Chininga said: "If we allow what is happening in Gonarezhou to
continue, people in Hurungwe can also go into Mana Pools, Nyakasikana, Hurungwe
Safari area and Chewore North or South."
Young in bid to help Mugabe out of crisis
recent forays into Zimbabwe are part of an international initiative to talk
President Mugabe into accepting recommendations on how to extricate the country
from its current crisis, it has been learnt.
The former United States
ambassador to the United Nations and mayor of Atlanta visited Zimbabwe in June
at the request of Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and Thabo Mbeki of
South Africa. The two are leading a Commonwealth initiative to save Zimbabwe
from international ostracism.
Last month the Atlanta Journal and
Constitution quoted Young as saying Obasanjo had asked him to “go and talk to
your friend (Mugabe). He will talk to you. He will listen to you.”
said the result of the visit was Mugabe’s agreement to work with the
Commonwealth ministerial committee on the issue of land distribution.
Young was in the country last month for a follow-up meeting. The
authorities in Harare however touted Young's visits to Zimbabwe as a gesture of
solidarity with the Zimbabwean government and an endorsement of Mugabe's
policies on land.
Diplomats have said Young's effusive praise of
Zimbabwe's notoriously prickly ruler were clearly designed to give him the
leverage he needed to mediate. They said the involvement of Young was part and
parcel of Mbeki's quiet diplomacy in dealing with Harare, which in turn was an
extension of Obasanjo's efforts which commenced in Cairo last year.
sources said the move appeared to be working as Mugabe had for now agreed to
work with the Commonwealth team which he had earlier rejected. The next step was
to facilitate dialogue between London and Harare ahead of the Commonwealth Heads
of Government Meeting (Chogm) in Brisbane, Australia, in early October.
Efforts to get a comment from Young were not successful this week, as he
had not responded to an e-mail message sent at the beginning of the week.
However, aides disclosed that Young was indeed involved in the shuttle
diplomacy although they were quick to point out he was not deriving any personal
benefit from it.
Young heads a public relations company called GoodWorks
ACROSS Zimbabwe men and women calling
themselves war veterans have reduced our land to a near desert and our people to
a fearful and beaten nation. They have broken every law in the book, intimidated
farmers, beaten workers, tortured and traumatised citizens from all walks of
life, raped women and literally got away with murder.
Since 1997 people
calling themselves war veterans have been receiving a pension from our
government. This pension is paid to them from the taxes and levies we all pay
every month. This pension has recently been increased by 25%, backdated eight
months and people calling themselves war veterans now take home more money than
most minimum wage earners in Zimbabwe. The men and women who have declared war
on whites, blacks, farmers, workers, teachers, nurses, doctors and land owners
now take home $6 875 a month. This income is tax-and-levy free but it can only
be described as blood money.
In exchange for $6 875 a month, a war veteran
must do the following: squat on private property, cut down trees, slaughter
livestock, harass, shout and intimi- date, evict people from their homes, steal
their property and, most important of all, he must be able to guarantee a nation
of cowed, hungry and unemployed people by the time the presidential election is
called in 2002.
For 17 months war veterans have been threaten- ing a return
to war. They have been looking for any excuse to blame someone else for the
disasters and destruction they have brought upon our nation. At no time have
they behaved in a manner befitting their status. They have neither earned our
respect nor shown Zimbabweans that they are worthy of our gratitude for freedom
and democracy. Across the board, Zimbabweans have held their heads up high. We
have listened to their calls of land for the landless, we have heard their cries
that this is the “third chimurenga”, we have watched in dignified silence as
they have taken the land and the food in the fields. We have stood by, helpless
and powerless as they have raped, burned, tortured and murdered.
Are we to
keep holding our heads up in silence as these men and women calling themselves
war veterans move into our homes now?
A fortnight ago a white farmer knocked
over a man in a traffic accident. The man died and the farmer immediately
reported the incident and was taken into police custody. The man who died was a
31-year old accountant, employed as a finance manager at Mutare Board and Paper
Mills. The deceased was neither a war veteran nor a landless peasant and yet he
was inspecting his newly allocated plot of land on a commercial farm at the time
of the accident.
The farmer, not char-ged, tried or convicted, immediately
had his home broken into by war veterans. Valuables were stolen, property was
destroyed and the secre- tary-general of the War Veterans Association announced
that the traffic accident was cold-blooded murder. “This is a revolution” he
said, “this is the time to show the white minority that they must leave
Recently a mob of 50 youngsters decided that they wanted the
home and personal possessions of a Beatrice man. They told him he had 30 minutes
to get out of his house or risk being killed. When the farmer refused, they
broke down the fence and moved into his garden. For five days and nights the mob
refused to leave. They chased the police away, lit fires all over the garden and
took turns in drumming, ululating and beating on tins to try and get the farmer
and his 78-year-old mother to leave their home.
For five days and nights
this farmer, a born and bred Zimbabwean, refused to give these mobsters his
home. For five days and nights a woman the same age as our president, endured
the noise, the taunts, the smoke and the terror. She refused to leave her home.
An elderly black woman watched in silence last week as everything she
possessed was burnt to the ground by war veterans. When they had finished, she
was left only with the thin dress clinging to her slender frame. She has no
money, no savings book, no bed to sleep on thanks to the men and women who are
paid $6 875 a month. The woman watched in dignified silence as people young
enough to be her grandchildren took her life’s work.
Try as they might to
incite war, the men and women wreaking havoc across Zimbabwe, bringing poverty
and starvation to our nation, are beating their heads against a solid brick
wall. Their repeated and increasingly vicious attempts to fragment our society
are not working. Men and women, black and white, are linking hands across
We will not give in to this handful of thugs and mobsters. We do
not believe your cries of racism, colonialism, land hunger. We hear your calls
for war, your declarations of a third chimurenga but you will fight alone. The
blood money you are accepting now will be the price of your humiliation in the
months ahead. You, the war veterans who gave Zimbabwe freedom, have now given us
unity and you will fight alone.
The time is fast approaching when we will
not be able to pay your monthly pensions because there will not be enough of us
paying taxes anymore. As you strip us of our lives and livelihoods, you are
removing your own income too. Soon you will stand alone. You will fight
third chimurenga alone.
l Cathy Buckle is an author and a human rights
Brian Hungwe/Augustine Mukaro
Bindura electorate ponders the outcome of the election, questions abound as to
what role rigging played in Zanu PF’s victory in addition to the violence.
Of the registered 50 215 voters, only 25 849 people turned out on the day.
The MDC has blamed a combination of violence and rigging for Zanu PF’s victory.
Hundreds of youths who are not residents of Bindura were camped in the town
for one-and-a-half months to unleash mayhem against an innocent community whose
only crime was being resident in a constituency seen as pivotal for the
government. That they had a right to vote for the political party of their
choice was not something these youths understood.
As the old saying goes: “A
woman, a dog and a walnut tree, the more you beat them, the better they be.”
Zanu PF’s secretary for administration Emmer-son Mnangagwa told the Zimbabwe
Independent this week that the Bindura by-election was the “most peaceful
election of them all”.
“What would you expect the opposition to say? They
lost,” Mnangagwa said.
The situation on the ground however suggests
otherwise. Nobody was spared in the ensuing physical and intellectual battle for
the control of the hearts and minds of the people.
Bindura folk were
subjected to a relentless brutal campaign over nearly two months. Magistrates,
business people, members of the police force, nurses, teachers and doctors were
subjected to intimidatory tactics by political thugs hired to engineer terror.
The Independent visited Bindura provincial hospital on Saturday and Sunday
where nurses were living in fear. They had been forced to attend a tense
political rally at Bindura stadium two weeks ago, abandoning their patients as
Zanu PF spread terror.
A nurse told the Independent that their hos- pital
superintendent was against the whole idea of having nurses abandon patients to
attend the rally.
“Each ward was left with only one nurse to take care of
the patients,” one nurse said.
It would appear, the nurse said, pressure
came “from above” and the provincial medical officer succumbed. Not only nurses
bore the brunt of the campaign, but magistrates were also subjected to
A local magistrate, Feyi Gweshero Tito, had his
house invaded by war veterans two weeks ago. His crime: sentencing a group of
war veterans to prison for political violence.
Tito is understood to have
sought the protection of the police but it was not forthcoming.
magistrate was tight-lipped about the whole incident and referred all inquiries
to his superior, Munamato Mute-vedzi, who also preferred to maintain silence for
fear of victimisation.
The violent campaign trail did not end there.
Business people had to sing the same political songs, shut their offices and
attend political rallies where they were told to pledge monies for the political
In the Masvingo mayoral election, hundreds of war veterans were
bused into the town and paid handsome amounts for participating in the violence.
The whole approach backfired, and Zanu PF lost.
In Bindura, the same
tactics were employed but what carried the day was more likely rigging than
anything else, according to MDC officials.
Zanu PF increased its vote from
54,2% to 62,6 %, while the MDC’s vote went down by about 2 000 votes. Zanu PF’s
majority approximates the number of people it registered on the supplementary
Everyone that mattered in the government was inFrom Page 12
Bindura to either witness or coordinate the election.
of State for security, Nicholas Goche, his director for administration Maynard
Muzariri, staunch Zanu PF supporter police commissioner Augustine Chi- huri,
several senior army officers and Information minister Jonathan Moyo were all in
Bindura on Saturday night.
Moyo was busy thro-ughout the polling days,
running around polling centres oiling the party’s propaganda machine.
Chinotimba, who was being chauffeur-driven, moved from one polling station to
another throughout the polling days.
The Independent visited the urban
polling stations, Chipadze, Uro-nga South, Chiwaridzo and Trojan Mine.
Uronga South six teachers and the headmaster had been forced to flee the school
after being beaten up by a group of war veterans the previous week.
Chiwaridzo, a group of Zanu PF supporters wearing Elliot Manyika T-shirts were
busy singing, flouting the 100-metre distance mark from the polling station.
When the Independent visited Bindura provincial hospital on Saturday at
around 3pm, news of MDC officials having been severely assaulted and receiving
Shadreck Mashinya, the former MDC candidate for Shamva,
and another official Strenford Kachai had been assaulted.
Mashinya chronicled to the Independent how they were forced to push his a car
with a puncture and later assaulted by baton-wielding war veterans and other
hangers on at Candwell Farm along the Mt Darwin Road.
“We developed a
puncture and sought assistance from a nearby farm. Some of the war veterans and
Zanu PF youths at the farm identified us and the beating started,” Mashinya
“They forced us to push our car despite it having a puncture. They
beat us all over our bodies and we were only rescued by the police,” Mashinya
Kachai (25) said that he knew his assailant, whom he identified as
Ison Sakunzeka whom he went to school with.
“We were just lying helplessly
on the ground as the assaults continued,” Kachai, whose shirt was soaked with
For fear of further reprisals, Mashinya and Kachai were
taken to Harare.
Zanu PF had set up bases in the town where a number of
youths from the surrounding communal areas co-ordinated the campaign.
Tendayi Hall in Chipadze township was the Zanu PF control area, while the
MDC used a house in Chiwaridzo, which was also their stronghold.
filtered through that about 56 000 people were going to vote, when only 51 000
were registered voters, this sparked suspicions that all was not going well.
There were 16 mobile voting stations compared to last year’s eight. Most of
the mobile stations were stationed at fast-tracked resettlement areas at Dowmill
Farm about 20km from Bindura, and at Foothill Farm, 60km from town.
Thousands of people were included on the supplementary voters’ roll.
number of MDC polling agents were arrested at polling centres by the police on
Saturday on allegations of having perpetrated acts of violence in the run-up to
“This gave room for rigging because there were no
monitors,” an MDC official said.
The MDC had to run around looking for
monitors to replace their arrested polling agents.
At Manhenga, Chipa- dze
and Chiwaridzo MDC polling agents were arrested on Saturday. Reports surfaced
that ultra-violet UV light ink detectors were faulty and some were using expired
At Uronga and Foothill a UV machine was found using a battery
that expired in March 1999.
Information surfaced that at Uronga and Foothill
there were possi- bilities that people voted twice and these are the areas where
people had just been resettled.
The supplementary voters roll was combined
with the main voters roll making it difficult to differentiate between new and
An MDC information officer told the Inde-
Bindura yesterday that Pvebve discovered that the polling officers were using
faulty UV detectors.
“When Pvebve went to Nzirawa polling station, he
discovered that 215 people had already voted using the faulty machine,” the
“There is a possibility that several of these people had voted
twice. Rigging began on the very first day of the election.
agents were arrested during the monitoring process,” he said.
was arrested at Chipadze and we had to run around looking for another polling
The official, who still fears retribution, said they were going to
meet the election directorate officials and file a petition.
that, about 21 MDC youths who were supposed to vote were abducted at Manhenga
and have not yet been found.
minister Jonathan Moyo, who is on a crusade against “unprofessionalism” in
journalism, evidently do-esn’t give a damn about professionalism in his own
dealings with the media. Last week he invented a story about the Zimbabwe
Independent “colluding” with the BBC and then at the weekend embellished the
story further. He said we had published “off air and off the record
conversati-ons” which he had held with BBC correspondents in London.
attempting to justify his suspension of accreditation of BBC correspondents in
the cou- ntry whose reporting he objected to because it cast the government in a
Moyo cited a story by Rageh Omaar on the opening of parliament.
Omaar said President Mugabe had “vowed to continue with the forcible
acquisition” of com- mercial farms. Moyo decided this was unaccep- table
language because Mugabe had made specific reference to a Supreme Court judgement
which appeared to suggest acquisitions co-uld proceed. Moyo said he was at a
loss to know where the reporter got the alleged vow to continue with forcible
Moyo evidently needs some help here. Firstly, the High Court
ruled on March 17 last year that the occupation of farms was unlawful. It
directed the commissioner of police to enforce the law. The government’s lawyers
consented to the ruling but it was not obeyed. In fact it was held in contempt.
A further order was issued by the Supreme Court on November 10 last year but
this again was not enforced.
On December 21 the Supreme Court again declared
that the relevant ministers and police should comply immediately with its order
of November 10 and the High Court order of March 17. They refused saying land
redistribution was a political matter.
It is therefore a matter of public
record that for much of last year and this year the government refused to obey
court rulings and persisted with its illegal seizure of land. It also refused to
remove its supporters who it had directed to occupy land.
When former Chief
Justice Anthony Gubbay recently reminded readers of the Sunday Times of these
transgressions, some idiot in the government’s information de- partment said he
was motivated by “an inherent hatred for the government and the ruling party”.
The spokesman accused Gubbay of en- forcing “his rule of law”. In fact he
was upholding laws passed by the Zanu PF government in 1992 and 2000. And the
government’s lawyers agre- ed.
At the beginning of this year ministers, led
by Moyo, launched a campaign of calumny and invective against members of the
judiciary. Judges were threatened by ministers and war veterans. The aim of the
campaign was to remove the Chief Justice and other members of the Supreme Court
and to replace them with supporters of the regime.
This succeeded to the
extent that one of their nominees to the Supreme Court concluded that there was
no legal basis for the Administrative Courts to demand the existence of a land
reform policy framework before they could confirm or reject government
acquisition orders. Other members of the Supreme Court disagreed and the
Administrative Courts have now proceeded on the basis that a plan is in fact
needed. In the circumstances, Mugabe’e re- marks in his address to parliament
last week were disingenuous.
War veterans remain illegally on farms that
they have invaded using threats and violence. Farmers and their workers have
been abducted, assaulted and in several cases murdered. Mugabe has repeatedly
said that he will not allow the law to get in his way.
contention that Mugabe vowed to continue with the forcible acquisition of farms
therefore amounts to fair comment, given the record. Moyo’s reaction would
indicate the government is now only too aware of the damage caused to its
international image by over a year of lawlessness. But its career in crime
cannot be sanitised by back-dated legislation and helpful comments by a friend
on the bench who has in the past had numerous rulings overturned on appeal.
As for the Zimbabwe Independent, we have had no contact whatsoever with
Rageh Omaar or any other BBC correspondent. So where Moyo gets the impression of
“collusion” and “off air” conversations is a mystery. He clearly invented it,
just as he invented the allegation that our reporter Brian Hungwe had spoken to
the BBC on Sunday about events in Bindura.
How can we have a minister who
manufactures false charges against the independent press lecturing us on ethics
Moyo helpfully dis-
closed his motivation in all
this two weeks ago in an article he planted in the Herald. Saying the Public
Access to Information Bill will hold accountable journalists (but apparently not
ministers) who deliberately create and invent stories, he cited Independent
stories about a clash between Mugabe and Vice-President Mu-zenda over the award
of a telecoms tender. Moyo took exception to the word “clash” in the heading to
that story and to another which suggested Muzenda had clashed with Simba Makoni
over an Arda loan from Spain.
That’s not all. “Another paper, the Financial
Gazette, also recently carried a story alleging that Vice-Presidents Mu- zenda
and Msika were not happy with the performance of Prof Moyo,” the Herald
So there we have it. Political self-interest raises its ugly head.
Moyo will table a Bill that will seek to prevent the independent press from
exercising its duty of subjecting his seriously flawed record to public
scrutiny. He has also set up a panel of cronies to assist in this task.
gave as an example of “unacceptable” reporting the way in which Lands minister
Joseph Made was being “demonised” over the issue of grain deficits.
think enough is enough,” he told the Herald. “It’s obvious the people who are
blowing this matter out of all proportion are (not) intere- sted in grain but in
fact incensed and generally unhappy of the success Dr Made has made in
spearheading the fast-track resettlement pro- gramme.”
So are we to be
prevented from drawing attention to Made’s misleading claims on grain stocks?
Will we not be allowed to point out that Agritex got its homework right and the
minister got it badly wrong? Not wrong in a matter of detail but wrong on a
And is it seriously suggested that even if Moyo is right that
we are unhappy with the random unplanned resettlement that will create
widespread destitution — and indeed is already doing so — we will not be allowed
to say so?
Any such attempt to muzzle the media will be ultra vires
constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression and not even the most
shameless of Zanu PF’s collaborators on the bench will be able to rule in Moyo’s
favour when the matter is tested in the courts. But what all this shows is the
extent to which Zimbabwe has become an Orwellian dictatorship with the Minister
of Information directing news- papers on what headlines they can use and whether
they can describe the reversal of Muzenda’s curious interventions in the
telecoms sector as a clash or not!
The next time Moyo proposes intervening
with unconstitutional and foolish initiatives of this sort, he should be told,
in the words of one Zanu PF apparatchik who objected to inquiries as to how he
became so rich so quickly, to “go hang”!
Just before we leave
subject of ethics and professionalism, how about this as an example. On July 25
the Herald reported that in response to a complaint by Moyo over the Daily News’
statement that no court could prevent the disclosure of Ibbo Ma-ndaza’s
properties, the Law Society had written back to say it had been assured by the
Daily News’ lawyers that there was no possibility of the paper defying the court
“While we agree that one of the possible interpretations of the sta-
tement is that it is a statement of an intention to defy the court order, which
would be totally unacceptable and conte- mptuous...we also recognise the fact
there is a variety of other possible interpretations such as the statement being
an expression of bravado in that the newspaper is expressing its belief that the
court will not issue a final interdict.”
That all seems clear enough. So how
did the Herald report it?
“The Law Society of Zimbabwe has des-cribed as
‘contemptu- ous and totally unacce- ptable’ the Daily News’ intention to publish
further material on Dr Ibbo Mandaza’s properties.”
Will this travesty of
reporting fall within the Mahoso committee’s ambit? Don’t hold your breath.
It hasn’t taken long for
one of the government’s bright new hopes on the
bench to get himself embroiled in controversy. It was reported last week that
Justice George Chiwe-she had defied advice from a Supreme Court judge to grant
15 incarcerated MDC suppor- ters bail. They were charged under the Law and Order
(Maintenance) Act. Despite the fact that the assistant registrar of the Supreme
Court wrote to their lawyer saying Justice Simbarashe Mu-chechetere would have
had no hesitation in granting bail, Chiweshe remained adamant claiming that if
released they might be involved in ongoing intraparty viole- nce.
This is a
curious ruling. Firstly, we should ask whether the Law and Order (Maintenance)
Act (1960) — due to be consigned to the legislative rubbish bin in the current
session — is an appropriate instrument for maintaining order in a
self-proclaimed democracy? Secondly, where judges have a choice between granting
some- body their liberty and continuing to incarcerate them they should have
solid grounds for keeping them locked up.
In this case those grounds were
not evident, especially seeing that the charges were not properly formulated and
there were doubts that the case would proceed. All the judge could say was that
the accused might become involved in political violence or become victims of it.
But is preventive custody a recognised remedy? Evide- ntly Justice Simbarashe
Muchechetere didn’t thi- nk so. But Chiweshe appeared unwilling to listen to
wiser counsels. In so doing he deprived 15 Zimbabweans of their right to liberty
and prevented them exercising their right to vote. Whose policy is that we
Chiweshe could be the victim of his own conceit. His wife Violet
recently testified in a divorce hearing that she had slept at a n’anga’s
residence so that her husband could get promoted to the bench.
“I never used
to have problems with him until he became a judge”, she told a divorce court.
has clinched one of ZBC’s top jobs, we are told. He
will be heading the corporation’s new-look television services unit.
brings with him a wealth of experience in broadcasting from the region,
including South Africa where he rose to prominence,” the Herald gushed.
didn’t say he became so prominent in South Africa that they had to kick him out.
A few months ago we asked why Tich was singing in praise of Jonathan Moyo’s
local content policy. Now we know. Let’s hope all that vast experience, not to
mention boot-licking, is put to good use reversing ZTV’s fortunes which have
sunk to new lows after it became a tool in the hands of Squealer Moyo. As it is,
there is not a person in the country who watches it if they have an alternative
channel to go to.
While we are on the
subject of propaganda, what
exactly is the state’s line on the recent stayaway? Is it that the stayaway was
a complete flop because workers ignored it? This line found favour in some
explanations. We had the Herald’s Marvellous Mapininga denying the evidence of
his own eyes, saying “about 80% of the country’s 1,2 million labour force did
not heed the stayaway”.
Really? Eighty percent? So how come post offices and
other government departments were closed Marvellous?
Then we had the line
that the strike was a success, but only because employers had locked out workers
who all wanted to report for work but were prevented from doing so.
are being told that $500 million of production was lost — even though the strike
was proclaimed a flop!
C’mon guys. Decide what the line is and then stick to
Meanwhile, the CZI have proved our point about what a useless lot they
are. We had Malvern Rusike pathe- tically suggesting that everybody needs to
“sit down and talk about issues”.
Why does he think Zanu PF will listen to
sense now when they have refused to do so for the past two years? Does he think
they will suddenly be seized by the seriousness of the situation when they
regard the economy as something to be milked — something which can never
collapse no matter how much they abuse it? And why should they take business
organisations se- riously when those orga-nisations are so scared of speaking
out on what underlies the country’s crisis?
We even had Callisto Jokonya
saying last week that the fast-track land programme, which every economist in
the country regards as a ticket to disaster, should be speeded up! Would you buy
a second-hand car from these guys?
And what steps has Wellington Chibebe
ta-ken against the police after their clumsy attempt to harass him for calling
This was clearly a case of the police acting on political
orders and it further compromises their integrity as a force. Zimbabweans have
every right to withdraw their labour and to align them- selves with a party of
The police should be told that in unambiguous terms. But once
again, we must ask: Why was Chibebe taken in for questioning if the strike was
such a flop?
Muckraker has been
keeping a dossier of individuals we
suspect are paid from the government’s slush fu-nd to write glowing accounts of
Mugabe’s murderous land policy, British subterfuge, or plots by the Western
press to rubbish Zimbabwe’s heroic leader. We can understand semi-literate
writers like Bright Matonga (the Herald has finally decided it is spelt with an
a) and AV Dhliwayo, who evidently think they are contestants in some
undergraduate essay competition on revolutionary nationalism for beginners,
claiming that Zimbabwe is the victim of a Western conspiracy.
But what about
David Martin, an old-guard party propagandist and close associate of Nathan
Shamuyarira, who has suddenly been brought back to life after a long and welcome
slumber. Is he a beneficiary of the fund or is he writing on the land issue out
of love for the cause?
Then there is Mi-chelle Hakata who we last knew as an
employee of the British High Commission. On a study course in London, she
appears to have been recruited to expose British media perfidy and puff up
Baffour Ankomah who- se New African magazine is an undisguised apologist for the
Mu- gabe regime.
Her piece on British journalists flagellating themselves
for not digging deep enough into Africa’s problems was a truly unedifying sight.
Did not one of them say that leaders who enrich themselves and impoverish their
people while claiming to be carrying out a revolutionary mandate are understa-
ndably likely to attract media scrutiny?
In case you are in any doubt about
where these columnists are coming from, how about this gem from Dhliwayo who we
are told hails from the University of the North (Turfloop).
must be given all the support he needs in his principled fight against forces
undermining democracy and political stability in Zimbabwe,” he wrote in the
Herald. “This is part of the dirty propaganda offensive orchestrated by some
right-wing sectors of the British ruling class and their media to undermine the
authority of government.”
And Matonga, attacking Basildon Peta’s stories for
not being “up to any standard”, said they “live (sic) one depressed”.
reader has called
in to ask why the new-look Herald published a photo of
Luci- ano Pavarotti that was over 20 years old. The answer is simple. The
Herald’s picture archives are still old-look.
Another asked if we were all
terribly sorry to hear about the fate of Jacques Chirac whose aides have been
questioned about questio- nable cash payments from when he was mayor of Paris.
Of course we are all devastated. But we have repeatedly warned of the fate of
leaders who embrace our own contaminated ruler.
You all recall the Jamaican
diplomat who arrived here a few weeks ago to announce premier Percival Pat-
tison’s undiluted support for land grabs. What happened in Kingston just a few
days later? Foreign leaders: You have been warned.
Finally, we are sorry
to have missed Bastille Day this year — especially the unscheduled
fireworks. Appa- rently some editors who have been the beneficiaries of French
patronage took the cry of “Aux armes citoyens” rather too literally and
proceeded to declare war on colleagues present who were minding their own
business in the hospitality tent.
It should surely be possible to imbibe
France’s finest produce without having to encounter lawless ele- ments roaming
around in militant defence of their property rights!
I HAVE been reluctant to get into an argument with Information
minister Jonathan Moyo because, as our MD Trevor Ncube often reminds me, "when
you quarrel with a fool the public won't know the difference".
he has made charges against me - that I "colluded" with the BBC and that this
paper published "off the air and off the record conversations" he held with BBC
correspondents phoning from London - which are patently false and which require
He made his remarks in the context of the withdrawal of
accreditation from BBC correspondent Rageh Omaar, describing the BBC's behaviour
as "unprofessional and unethical".
I would have thought ministers
fabricating stories was a more serious matter. At no stage did I "collude" with
the BBC - even though such "collusion" is hardly an offence. I have not met
Rageh Omaar, nor have I met any other BBC correspondent since Jim Fish brought
out a news crew in May.
I have not spoken to any BBC correspondent
except to do "on air" interviews. At no time have my interviewers ever raised
with me any conversation they may have had with Moyo.
I challenge him to
disclose what "off air" conversations we have published relating to him. I am
not aware of any.
Zimbabwean ministers, taking after their leader, are
becoming increasingly paranoid, imagining "collusion" between the independent
media and foreign interests at every turn. It is also of course part of their
electoral agenda to point to such connections to demonstrate that Zimbabwe is
under siege from its enemies.
But sadly, when politicians become
obsessed by their illusions they lose touch with reality.
probably been fed information which leads him to conclude that we have been told
something confidential about his conversations with Bush House. All he has to do
to prove his point is tell us which article or column in our paper disclosed
After all, we would hate to think he was simply making
it up as he went along!
Significantly, the state media was happy to
publish his remarks about the Independent without once phoning us to ask if they
were true or if we had any response to make.
It must be clear to all by
now that media professionalism is absolutely the last thing Moyo is concerned
I was surprised to hear the independent media was excluded from
the presentation of British High Commissioner Brian Donnelly's credentials at
State House last week and those of new ambassadors from Denmark and Indonesia.
What objection did they raise, if any? How do they think this treatment
accords with democratic pluralism which presumably the three countries subscribe
The cosy relationship between State House and a compliant government
media is one of the many distortions plaguing our media scene.
context, it should come as no surprise to learn that Andrew Young was perfectly
happy to address a Zimpapers breakfast recently where he escaped any penetrating
questions by journalists. He however has not been allowed to completely get away
with attempts to whitewash the electoral and human rights abuses of the Mugabe
Trevor was in Atlanta recently and was able to expose Young's
disservice to democracy and human rights in Zimbabwe.
No doubt many of
his erstwhile supporters were surprised to hear just how far the former mayor
was prepared to go in singing for his supper.
He will not continue to
get away with the pernicious claim that 30 killed is nothing as compared to what
happens in Atlanta or Johannesburg.
From ZHR NGO
The Zimbabwe Human Right Forum has just released a report -
'Who was responsible?' which begins to put together a picture of who committed
acts of violence, how often, and in what manner during the June 2000 election
campaign. The report contains a list of alleged offenders by name, and
implicates a number of key officials, many of whom still hold key positions in
government and other institutions, and could therefore continue their activities
in future elections. Drawn from witness and victim statements, the perpetrator
list contains 644 names but the actual number of perpetrators and the number of
political crimes they have committed is exponentially higher, due to the fear or
inability of victims to report their experiences.
Without a powerful independent judicial commission, it is
impossible to determine the number of perpetrators who committed acts of
political violence during the first half of 2000. One independent report has
estimated that there were well over 200,000 cases of political violence in the
first half of 2000. Given that 635 perpetrators were named from only about 1000
statements, it is clear that there are many thousands across the country who
took part in acts of violence in the parliamentary election period. But the fact
remains that the very first act of political violence committed was as heinous
and damaging as the hundreds of thousands that followed
Unfortunately, none of these alleged perpetrators are likely to
stand trial. The General Amnesty for Politically-Motivated Crimes, which was
gazetted on 6 October 2000, absolved most of the perpetrators from prosecution.
While the Amnesty excluded those accused of "murder, robbery, rape, indecent
assault, statutory rape, theft, possession of arms or any offence involving
fraud or dishonesty", very few persons accused of these crimes have been
persecuted. For example, in Mberengwa East, where nearly 230 persons were
arrested, only Wilson ‘Biggie’ Chitoro, an accused murderer, has thus far been
detained for any length of time for any crimes relating to the June 2000
elections. No one has yet stood trial. During the Buhera North election
challenge High Court Justice James Devittie requested that Attorney General
Andrew Chigovera arrest suspected murderers Joseph Mwale and Kainos Zimunya for
their role in the petrol-bomb murder of two MDC officials, but no action has
been taken. If murders are not being prosecuted, it is unlikely that any other
offences exempted in the Amnesty will be dealt with at all.
The legal precedent set by a lack of prosecution and the
implementation of the Amnesty has contributed to the current situation where it
can be argued that there is no law. Selective prosecution and crimes committed
by perpetrators who should already be behind bars are signs of a system that is
not just bent, but has been broken for some time. While the sheer number of
perpetrators in this report and the harrowing tales of torture which precede
them are quite daunting, what is perhaps more horrifying is the knowledge that
this is just the tip of the iceberg.