|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
From BBC Radio 4, 30 July 2002
File on Four
With Grant Ferrett
(Transcript of a programme on BBC Radio 4)
Grant Ferret: Zimbabwe is on the brink of a famine which could engulf six million people – nearly half the population. In spite of restrictions imposed on the BBC by the government in Harare, File on Four has travelled to Zimbabwe and witnessed widespread hunger in towns and cities as well as the countryside. We’ve also discovered disturbing evidence of the manipulation of food distribution at all levels by the government and its supporters, raising uncomfortable questions about how the outside world should respond to appeals for assistance.
Unidentified: "There’s a direct link between the shortage of food and its distribution in a partisan way and the starvation that is already occurring. There will indeed be starvation in Zimbabwe – people are going to die."
GF: In our journey across the country we’ve compiled the most comprehensive first-hand account of the extent of the shortages in Zimbabwe, and of political interference in attempts to alleviate the crisis. As the United Nations appeals for hundreds of millions of dollars in aid, we ask how far can and should the international community go in trying to rescue Zimbabweans from the actions of their own government.
GF: In the remote north-west of Zimbabwe, on the shores of Lake Kariba, church-goers implore God to hear their cries for help. The people here are going hungry. This is an arid corner of the country. The soil is poor. Even in the best of years, it’s a marginal farming area - and this is not the best of years. The rains last season were erratic and the crops have failed. Villagers are reduced to foraging to survive.
Translation of villager speaking in the background: "Right now is nothing but just sitting. Nothing to eat. Yesterday we had some fruits – some wild fruits – but is not yet ripe, so there is no choice but just to eat it raw as it is. We are just hopeful that this issue is resolved quickly, otherwise our kids will die of hunger."
GF: A similar pattern is emerging in much of rural Zimbabwe. With at least six months until the next harvest, families are already struggling to keep going. The very young and the old are the most vulnerable. Anderson Mudimba is nearly 80. He recently lost his eyesight. He and his family live in a crude wooden shelter on a barren windswept plain. They have no income, no animals – and no food.
Translation of Anderson Madimba speaking in the background: "From six o’clock in the morning up to late, no food. We don’t know actually what we shall do or who helps us to have food, because we have waited and waited, no assistance at all which is coming."
GF: Over an open fire, a pot of what looks like thick green porridge is bubbling away. It’s all they have to eat.
Translator: "They normally survive on their staple food – maize. But now there is nothing like that. It’s very hard to come by. So, they’re surviving on leaves."
Translator: "Leaves. They’re surviving on leaves."
GF: Can this family remember when it’s been this bad before - in this area? When was it last like this?
Translation of Anderson Madimba speaking in the background: "He is saying he was born in 1923. Since he was born he has never come across such a situation in his life. Even before this country was independent, he was actually living a happier life than what he is experiencing now."
GF: International aid programmes are in place to help people like Anderson Mudimba and his family. They were due to receive food several weeks ago from one of the local partners of the UN World Food Programme. But the delivery was stopped at the last minute by government supporters calling themselves war veterans. They accused Anderson of backing the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, or MDC.
Translator: "The war veterans blocked it. They are saying only the war veterans should be given this food, because the war veterans believe the food comes from overseas, that it comes from the whites, the whites which support the MDC. So they believe they are coming here to campaign for MDC. That’s their belief."
GF: The opposition says supporters of the ruling party, Zanu PF, are waging a campaign of retribution in the wake of the closely-fought presidential election in March. Robert Mugabe was returned to power, but only after sustained violence and allegations of vote-rigging. Anderson Mudimba’s local opposition MP, Jealous Sansole, says government food supplies are being used as a weapon in the campaign.
Jealous Sansole: "They are mostly using food to intimidate people. Each time there is distribution of food, they tell people that all those who belong to MDC, they are not capable of having that meal because that food belongs to Zanu PF. You have to have a Zanu PF card for you to have food."
GF: This evidence of political interference in the distribution of food, and the blocking of some food aid, creates a dilemma for agencies such as the World Food Programme, the WFP. Can they operate in Zimbabwe without becoming entangled in president Mugabe’s struggle to stay in power? The WFP’s regional director, Judith Lewis, insists they can.
Judith Lewis: "We’ve been very clear with the government that we will monitor our food, we will not have any political interference. In fact, we’ve issued a zero-tolerance policy for any interference from anyone in terms of targeting, in terms of criteria for beneficiaries. But in situations where our implementing partners have been threatened in any manner, we are prepared to suspend distribution. We’ve had less than a dozen instances since we have started our food distributions in February and we have gone through and shut down every one of the operations to check the details, go to the site, discuss with the people who are responsible for the distribution, to be sure that our food is in fact being distributed to the poorest people and the most vulnerable people in Zimbabwe."
GF: But if there’s a family which is existing on leaves, and isn’t getting food aid because it’s blocked by government supporters, surely it suggests that something’s going seriously wrong here?"
Judith Lewis: "That’s not acceptable. I’m going to check this out immediately to see what the problem is."
GF: Because of the ban on BBC journalists travelling into Zimbabwe, we were unable to speak to a government spokesman inside the country. Our requests for an interview with Zimbabwe’s High Commission in London, and the Embassy to the European Union, were turned down. But we did manage to contact the ruling party’s foreign affairs spokesman, Didymus Mutasa, by phone. On a poor quality line from Harare he denied categorically that there was any political interference in the relief effort, but added that aid agencies such as the World Food Programme must work at the direction of Zanu PF.
Didymus Mutasa: "If they want to give anything, they should give it through the government. Yes, why not. There is no international government of Zimbabwe, there is only a Zanu PF government of Zimbabwe, and that has got the right to do what it thinks fit to be done for Zimbabweans."
GF: The World Food Programme said that one of the problems of operating in Zimbabwe was that the government wanted to control at every single level, the aid effort.
Didymus Mutasa: "What’s wrong about that? Surely if the World Food Aid Programme is to succeed here in Zimbabwe, and if the officials want it to succeed, then they should come and be told what to do by the government."
GF: In spite of the ruling party’s assertions, File on Four’s investigations in Zimbabwe suggest that political manipulation of food is commonplace. One of the worst affected areas is the rural district of Binga, which registered the biggest vote for the opposition during the presidential election. For the past two months, the local church organisation was prevented from running a feeding programme for more than twenty-five thousand schoolchildren.
Here at the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Binga, there are the vehicles – I can see at least seven or eight of them here – which are intended to deliver food. Just across the way there is a small hut which contains a hundred tons of food aid which should be distributed to children in the region. But, government supporters – so-called war veterans – are preventing the food from being distributed. They say that if these trucks leave the compound here, they’ll be burnt.
With its workers threatened and its compound blockaded, the Catholic Commission was understandably cautious in its public comments. One of its workers did speak to us on the condition that we didn’t identify him for fear of attack by war veterans who support the government.
CCJP worker: "The war vets don’t want us to distribute food to the communities. They came to our offices and camped outside the gates, watching every movement that we make."
GF: So, you have vehicles here, and you have food here, and you have the organisation to provide food for thousands of children, but you’re being stopped by war veterans?"
CCJP worker: "Yes, we have food, we have one hundred and fifteen tons of food that is stocked in our warehouse at the moment, and we have enough vehicles and personnel to distribute this food."
GF: The project serves a dual purpose – providing a guaranteed meal each day for children, while also encouraging them to attend school. We went to one of the schools affected, an hour’s drive from the nearest tarred road. The sparsely furnished collection of single-storey buildings has few desks or books. Teachers, who were too frightened to be named, told me the withdrawal of food aid had an immediate effect.
Teacher 1: "Most of the children are pulling out of this school - because of hunger."
GF: And what about the children who do come? How are they?
Teacher 1: "They don’t concentrate. They are weak, and they are always complaining of hunger. They also talk about that there is nothing at home to eat."
Teacher 2: "After breaktime, you find concentration is really a problem. They don’t faint as such, but they will be sleepy, which really show signs of hunger. You can’t learn on an empty stomach. You can only concentrate if you’ve had enough."
GF: According to the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, the interruption of its feeding programme caused not just hunger but death.
CCJP worker: "Recently we got information that three children died after having eaten poisonous roots because of the desperate situation. And we also have received reports from the hospital that twenty seven children have died of malnutrition-related diseases. For us it is sad, especially when we have food around and we have people who are starving in the communities, but the war vets won’t allow us to distribute the food there."
GF: Within the last few days, the school feeding programme has resumed. But the manipulation of food in Binga extends beyond the sole scheme. War veterans wearing Zanu PF T-shirts have insisted on accompanying deliveries by one international agency. Three shops belonging to opposition officials have been looted of food and destroyed. George Shire, a Zimbabwean academic based in London with long-standing links to the ruling party, blames the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace for causing the problems in Binga.
George Shire: "The Catholic Institute of Justice is seen by ordinary people in Zimbabwe as part and parcel of the opposition. That will explain the tension between these agencies and the ordinary people."
GF: This project has vehicles, it has personnel, and it has over a hundred tons of food rotting inside the compound because war veterans won’t allow them out. Surely that’s indefensible?
George Shire: "It is defensible. They are…I think you’re taking things completely out of context. You have a legitimate government in the country, OK, and I would urge the Catholic Institute on Justice to work with the government to make sure that food is distributed appropriately."
GF: Binga recorded the biggest vote of any constituency during the presidential election for the opposition. Do you think the people of Binga are now being punished?
George Shire: "There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that people of Binga were punished in any shape or form. The war veterans would not be as effective as they are without the support of local people I know that as somebody who was involved in armed struggle…
GF: So the people of Binga support being starved into submission by war veterans?
George Shire: "I’m sorry, I’m sorry, this is not true, your facts are wrong. There is no evidence that suggests that the state, in any shape or form, has impeded the distribution of food to people in Binga simply because they voted otherwise."
GF: In another area nearby, in Hwange West, I spoke to a family existing on leaves. That family was denied food aid by people who, again, described themselves as war veterans…
George Shire: "Well…"
GF: They said the food was not for MDC people…
George Shire: "The war veterans are not responsible, or have access to, the food distribution process in any part of Zimbabwe - OK?"
GF: They forced, from the evidence…
George Shire: "They’re not, they’re not, I’m sorry, they’re not…"
GF: What about the evidence I uncovered in Zimbabwe…
George Shire: "Well, you didn’t uncover that evidence because it’s not true…"
GF: But our travels around Zimbabwe indicate that the denial of access to food for political reasons is being carried out by government supporters, officials and agencies across the country. Since the election in March, human rights groups say Buhera, the home region of the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, has become the centre of a purge of opposition supporters, backed by local Zanu PF officials, war veterans and the police. Among those who’ve fled is Prosper, a former teacher, who couldn’t get food for his young family.
Prosper: "The problem is of buying food. They only allow Zanu PF members to buy the food. There was a war veteran who was saying: ’You are MDC, you are not going to buy this food. Buy maize. Go back to the back of the line.’ So when you reach the number is near, they start taking you again back."
GF: So they make you queue until there’s no maize left?
Prosper: "Yes, whenever the queue is near they take you back again."
GF: The latest confrontations in Buhera and Binga fit into a wider campaign of violence and intimidation against the opposition which began more than two years ago. John Makumbe is a senior lecturer in political science in Harare and a founding member of the pressure group Crisis in Zimbabwe, which has been documenting the violence. He says the number attacks rose sharply in the months immediately after the presidential election earlier this year.
John Makumbe: "The war veterans have punished those who they allege are supporters of the opposition, and as people who are alleged to have voted for the MDC, are punished – not just in the sense of being beaten up and raped and murdered, and, you know, made to disappear, but even in terms of being refused food. And we are at the moment looking at more than seventy to ninety thousand people who are displaced, as the result of the violence in rural areas. We are looking at schools in many areas of the country being closed, and teachers are being beaten up, for supporting the MDC."
GF: Human rights groups estimate that in the first six months of the year, there were fifty-seven politically-linked murders, and over a thousand cases of torture, as well as hundreds of rapes, disappearances, and unlawful detentions. The Amani Trust, which helps victims of torture and violence, has compiled a study of a hundred and eighty cases. Tony Reeler is director of the Trust.
Tony Reeler: "The injuries were clearly indicative of systematic torture rather than simple assaults. The kinds of injuries we saw definitely implicated that the beatings were very systematic, they were confined to people’s backs and their buttocks, there were people who were beaten on the soles of their feet. You can’t beat people on the soles of their feet unless you do this as a deliberate exercise. A certain number of rapes as well. It all conformed to a picture that we would say categorically was systematic torture."
GF: And what happens to those people who have been detained by the police? Once they are released can they return to their homes?
Tony Reeler: "Many of them have been told that they’re basically banned and must leave the area. Some of them have been detained for periods up to twenty days, and then released without charges. Some have been charged, some have been charged and also experienced torture in detention. But the basic picture seems to be of displacing these people from that district and formally told by the police that they are banned from the area and they must get out."
GF: The allegations of officially-backed violence are categorically rejected by George Shire, who argues that politically-motivated attacks are perpetrated by supporters of the opposition, as well as the ruling party.
George Shire: "People linked to both political parties have been involved in violence of one kind or another including death of ordinary people. You have a culture of violence in Zimbabwe that is generated by people connected to all political parties. I condemn all violence. I know of no state institution or agency that would condone that violence."
GF: In Buhera, for example, the Amani Trust suggests that hundreds of people have left the area, partly as the result of detentions by the police in which many people have been beaten, some of them on the soles of their feet. This is systematic torture by government agencies…
George Shire: I think that’s a very serious charge to make, because there is no evidence to suggest that the institutions of the state have been dishing out violence to ordinary people in the manner in which you are describing. I keep on saying to you again – violence in Zimbabwe has been orchestrated by people – young people in the main – linked to both political parties. But to claim that the violence being meted out by the institutions of the state is not true."
GF: Nonetheless, human rights workers like Tony Reeler of the Amani Trust maintain that according to the internationally accepted definition, what’s taking place in Zimbabwe amounts to state-sponsored violence.
Tony Reeler: "Our conclusion in calling it torture i.e. implicating the state, is that the state has not repudiated the actions of key groups operating in the community - specifically, the war veteran militia, the youth militia, and Zanu PF supporters. The state has the power to stop that kind of violence. When you see no attempt by the state to stop that violence, then you can only conclude that the state tolerates it, and that fits with the definition of the UN convention, and therefore we have no difficulty in calling it torture i.e. state-sponsored."
GF: Those who’ve been displaced like Prosper, who fled Buhera for the capital, Harare, have no doubt they’re being punished for their political beliefs.
Prosper: "Police officers and Zanu PF members accompanied by war veterans are looking for the supporters of MDC. So we fled from home to bushes to big cities. The number can reach seven hundred to eight hundred people who had fled from their homes to find some other places for refugee. These people, they don’t feel safe to stay at home."
GF: Prosper and thousands of others are finding that life is little easier in Zimbabwe’s urban areas. The whole country is suffering food shortages. The capital hasn’t been spared the hardships.
Otilia: "During the winter it’s very cold at night. We give out blankets."
GF: Otilia works for a local charity which helps families affected by HIV and AIDS. Her job takes her to Harare’s most deprived suburbs every day. Places like Epworth, an impoverished township criss-crossed by potholed dirt roads.
Otilia: "We are going to Epworth. It’s a very poor suburb with a lot of people who are living in poverty. We are seeing some of the orphans who are on our programme already and assessing new orphans."
GF: The project gives out clothes and bedding and helps to pay school fees. It also provides food, including mealie meal, the staple of the Zimbabwean diet produced from maize.
Tichaona is eighteen years old and has just taken his A-levels. He hopes one day to become an economist. Since his father died as a result of AIDS he has been the head of a household of five living in a makeshift two-roomed dwelling. Water is drawn from a well. Even with help from Otilia, Tichaona and his family find themselves going hungry.
Tichaona: Sometimes we have to just drink tea. It’s getting worse and worse. There’s nothing we can do nowadays. In the supermarkets, if you ask for mealie meal and sugar, they will tell you they haven’t received any deliveries. There are a lot of people who are suffering. Even if they find the basic commodities, they won’t have the money to buy that food."
GF: Supermarkets like this one have taken on a forlorn air, the aisles devoid of basics such as mealie meal, cooking oil, sugar and salt. Many potential customers simply don’t bother coming to the shops any more. In an effort to give an impression of normality, the shelves are stacked with other goods, such as toilet rolls and expensive breakfast cereals.
Prices for the goods which are still available put them beyond the reach of many. Annual inflation is conservatively estimated by the government at well over a hundred per cent. Mealie meal costs more then three times the price last year. When the food shoppers really want occasionally arrives, supermarkets are besieged.
Queuing for basic necessities has become part of everyday life for many Zimbabweans. In front of me in this Harare suburb, the queue of perhaps several hundred people is snaking around to the back door of the supermarket. The queue today is for sugar. It apparently lasts about an hour or two to get from the back up to the front to buy a couple of bags of sugar. It’s being sold at more than the government-controlled price, but people are prepared to pay – they’re desperate.
It’s not just the poorest who’re being affected. All but the very rich are constantly on the lookout for food. In the kitchen at home, Otilia, relates the daily struggle to find something in the shops.
Otilia: "I things have just arrived, I’ll just get into queue very quickly, and grab whatever I want. Now salt, sugar, everything – you queue for it."
GF: Following independence in 1980, Zimbabwe grew into one of the most successful economies in Africa. A highly productive and efficient commercial farming sector helped it become a net exporter of food. Now, it’s unable to feed itself.
Otilia: "During the old days, people were poor, but everything was - was there. But now, you can’t have the food. If you want to buy the food, it’s on the black market, and you are poor – three times or two times the usual price. They are going out without food. Last week, we saw a man lying down the road, because he had gone two days without food, and he was almost fainting because he had nothing in his stomach."
GF: By the end of the year, The United Nations World Food Programme estimates that six million Zimbabweans will need help. Concerns over political interference contributed to a low-key response from donors to an international appeal last December. Now the WFP’s regional director Judith Lewis warns that without a more whole-hearted and rapid reaction this time, Zimbabwe is heading towards famine.
Judith Lewis: "We’re going to see an absolutely devastating humanitarian crisis. There are a number of causes – man-made and natural. Clearly, Zimbabwe has been affected by a major drought. We also have seen the devastating longer-term effects of the land reform policies in Zimbabwe. There’s so many factors that have just converged at one time and that’s why we’re looking at such a dramatic humanitarian crisis right now."
GF: As Judith Lewis hints, the food shortages are in part the result of president Mugabe’s policies and his government’s mismanagement. The strategic grain reserve was run down even before the drought. Seed and fertiliser for small-scale farmers was handed out far too late during the last planting season. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change says the problems so far are entirely the fault of the government. Welshman Ncube is the secretary-general of the party.
Welshman Ncube: We’ve already had an acute shortage of food, as long ago as the end of last year, and that is nothing to do with the current drought. It is all attributable to mismanagement. When the effects of the current drought are felt, this thing will be actually quite, quite terrible. You add to that the fact that there is no appreciation of the extent of the crisis. It’s as if you have a government which is in a state of denial, which is in a state of paralysis. They are not taking the steps that are required to bring into the country adequate food stocks to prevent a catastrophe."
GF: President Mugabe has declared a national disaster and appealed for international help. But he and his government maintain that the cause of the crisis is entirely down to the weather. George Shire rejects suggestions that the unfolding disaster is in any way man-made.
George Shire: "If the rains had come, in the last year or two, we wouldn’t be talking about famine in Zimbabwe, we would be talking about a bumper harvests, there have been two successive rainy seasons in which there has been no rain in Zimbabwe, and no other period in the history of Zimbabwe in the last twenty years has been affected in that way at all."
GF: The World Food Programme says that it is partly drought, but certainly it’s partly land reform, and government mismanagement as well. Do you accept that?
George Shire: No I don’t! I’m sorry, the land distribution programme which is coming to an end and has been operational in the last three years, when simultaneously there has been no rain, somehow the idea that changing that ownership in itself was being the cause and effect of the drought is really being economical with actualite. Some farmers have sabotaged farming themselves, a number of companies which are controlled by commercial farmers have been found in possession of tons of maize. People have been arrested and are being arraigned before the courts with precisely those issues, and I think to me it’s immoral for anybody to simply hoard food simply because you hope it will change the political climate of the day when people are starving."
GF: As well as detaining farmers, the police have raided food companies, accusing them of hoarding in order to push up prices. Businesses complain that they lose money every time they sell basic foodstuffs because of unrealistically low official price controls. The whole economy has buckled under the weight of government spending and debt. The International Monetary Fund withdrew several years ago. The local currency has collapsed, worth less than a tenth of its official value on the black market. One factor in the meltdown stands out above all others.
Zanu PF supporters celebrated as they illegally occupied thousands of white-owned farms. They were urged on by president Mugabe, whose government was facing a strong challenge in the elections.
Robert Mugabe: "Land must change hands, in favour of the majority of our people. The land is ours by birth, is ours by right, is ours also by struggle."
GF: The white commercial farmers provided an easy target. About four thousand of them owned the bulk of the best farming land. But they also formed the centrepiece of an industry which employed half the total workforce, and earned about forty per cent of Zimbabwe’s foreign currency, as well as feeding the nation. Now it’s being dismantled.
Unidentified: "Will you just grab your tea or coffee, have a seat, and we’ll make a start. OK, we’ll go through the incidents that have happened over the farms the last couple of weeks."
GF: Commercial farmers have been meeting across the country to discuss what to do in the run-up to the 10th August – the deadline given by the government for the majority of them to abandon their homes and businesses.
John: "It’s very difficult to plan a week ahead. I’m finding it very difficult to know what I’m planting this year, and planting commences in under six weeks time."
GF: John, who didn’t want us to use his full name for fear of retribution, is typical of many commercial farmers. He lives in a house built by his grandfather who settled in what was then Rhodesia after the First World War. Although John’s main business is growing tobacco and exporting flowers, in previous years he has also produced more than enough maize to feed the several hundred people who live and work on the farm. But the squatters who invaded the land and are now resettling it, have ordered him not to grow food.
John: "There has been two years when we have not put a maize pip in the ground."
GF: And what about the squatters or settlers? Have they been growing enough to feed themselves?
John: "They were never going to be able to reap anything sizeable. Most of them got to a stage where they abandoned their crops. What these settlers set out to do, in theory, was to feed the nation, and yet they’ve been abandoned and they haven’t been able to do it. The twist to it is that I haven’t been able to do it as well, and when I was ready to plant, I did have the money to plant maize, I had all the inputs ready, the infrastructure was ready to go, my knowledge of planting is still here, and yet I can’t do it."
GF: As well as the white farmers, the United Nations estimates that more than eight hundred thousand people – farmworkers and their families – are being thrown off the land. More people are likely to be displaced than are resettled.
This camp is home to a hundred and fifty people, all farmworkers and their families evicted at gunpoint by squatters. Their employer was severely beaten. Faith was previously an office-worker on the farm. Now she’s living in a tent and relying on handouts.
Faith: "The conditions here are bad, because at the farm we are used to work for ourselves and do everything you wish with your money. But here we are only looking for help from somebody else."
GF: Are any of the people who live here able to work?
Faith: They are able to work, but now there is no work they can go and find, just because most of the farmers are being evicted. People were used to work, and do everything for themselves, so – aah – the situation here is horrible."
GF: In such a polarised society, the World Food Programme is left with serious difficulties. It’s been operating in Zimbabwe since February, but so far managed to distribute on thirty thousand tons of aid – the equivalent of just a few days national consumption. It’s efforts to find politically neutral partner agencies have been largely unsuccessful. The agency’s regional director, Judith Lewis, says there’s a huge task ahead if a devastating crisis is to be averted.
Judith Lewis: "We think we still have a long way to go. We know that we don’t have enough food to feed everybody in the country. The government has not told us we cannot work – we just have not been able to move as quickly as we would like to."
GF: Why is it so difficult?
Judith Lewis: Well, the government really would like to be able to call the shots in terms of where we should distribute food, so we still have to discuss very regularly with the government in terms of doing our own work.
GF: Do you think the danger really is that the World Food Programme is getting involved in propping up an unpopular government?
Judith Lewis: No, absolutely not. We are feeding hungry people. Hungry people don’t have politics.
GF: But the danger, surely, is that food goes in, but it goes in to people who are government supporters only.
Judith Lewis: No. Not the food that is being distributed by the World Food Programme. The World Food Programme will not be involved with that type of approach.
GF: Given the instances of political interference, do you think the WFP should be involved at all in Zimbabwe? Should it not say: ‘We can’t work in those circumstances. When there’s no political interference, then we’ll start working here.’"
Judith Lewis: The last option would be to have to pull out of Zimbabwe. We want to stay in Zimbabwe to help people who are not responsible for the causes of what’s going on in Zimbabwe, but are suffering nonetheless."
GF: President Mugabe’s government – suspicious about outside intervention following the barrage of negative publicity over the past two years – isn’t making that task any easier. Zanu PF’s foreign affairs spokesman, Didymus Mutasa, says western food aid will be accepted, but only if it is given unconditionally.
Didymus Mutasa: "There are true and genuine friends, like China, like Libya, like the Arab world, who will help us, and they will help us at our request. The rest of you can please keep your money, keep your aid, and keep yourselves out of Zimbabwe, and we will manage – thank you."
GF: Six million Zimbabweans…
Didymus Mutasa: "We will not come to you, we have not come to you to beg. If you want to help us, then help us. And if you don’t want to help us, well then shut up and keep where you are."
GF: Zimbabweans are already dying because of hunger. Even with a concerted and well-funded international effort, it’s likely that more will do so. But with reticence among donors and growing evidence of widespread interference by the government, a difficult situation shows alarming signs of becoming a disastrous one.
This report does not purport to
cover all the incidents that are taking place in the commercial farming areas.
Communication problems and the fear of reprisals prevent farmers from reporting
all that happens. Farmers names, and in some cases farm names, are omitted to
minimise the risk of reprisals.
HI-JACK OF LORRY
At 02h00 31 July 2002 a 7 tonne Volvo FL6, White, 599860W belonging to Northern Growers, Box 252, Karoi was hi-jacked full of Flue Cured tobacco. Growers number 1032 is on the propac and the paper. 84 bales are involved.
The hi-jacking happened at Banket and the driver arrived at Darwendale Police Station. The truck, which has no trailer, then proceeded to the main Harare - Chirundu Road.
NATIONAL REPORT IN BRIEF
· In the Midlands, Veld fires are occurring with increasing frequency causing serious damage to grazing resources and, in some instances, property, mostly caused through carelessness on the part of settlers while clearing fields. Worst case - destruction of about one and a half million dollars worth of hay bales in a barn.
· Masvingo East and Central – the Bon Air Farm owner reports a large Kudu Bull with massive horns was chased by packs of dogs and poachers on 31.07.02 until it finally broke its leg and fell. The dogs proceeded to kill it. The owner confiscated the meat from the poachers.
· Chimanimani - On Charleswood Estate, cattle were put into the minimal grazing area left to the farmer. Not long after, they were moved out by settlers.
· Doma - Settlers tried to burn down the Zesa electricity poles to steal the cable. Police given the motorcar registration number.
· Banket/Trelawney/Darwendale - At Woodleigh Farm a heifer valued at ZW$80 000-00 was slaughtered in the paddock. All the meat was ferried away leaving behind only a head.
· Raffingora - Pressure is experienced from a new labour union calling themselves Zimbabwe Agricultural Labour Consultants based in Banket.
In my communique of the 26th July, I singled out Tanganda Tea, which was wrong, as there was a large number of Tea Producers involved in the recent wage negotiation. They fall under Agro-Based Industry and not Agro-Industry.
The gentleman taken down to help with he negotiations was with H-GAPWUZ and not GAPWUZ.
I would like to apologise for any damage I may have caused between Tanganda Tea and its farming neighbours.
Judy Wilson, REO Mutare
Chipinge - A farmer was arrested on 28.07.02, for allegedly burning three DDF tractors. He was nowhere near the area but was reported to “have been seen” in the area. Another forester from Chimanimani area is also being held for the same incident. The two men went to court 01.08.02. The labour is still in a state of unrest. Some workers are not happy; as they are not being paid for the days they were on strike. Farmers have brought their labour committees into Mutare to have meetings with Ministry of Labour to try and solve the problem.
Chimanimani - On Charleswood Estate, cattle were put into the minimal grazing area left to the farmer. Not long after, they were moved out by settlers.
Nyazura - Theft on the increase, suspected to be the workers. Settlers are quiet and just sitting around.
Mutare - Agritex are buying irrigation equipment from a farmer who is selling up. Plenty of brick making ongoing.
Odzi - stumping still on going. Settlers are still going around looking for jobs.
No report received.
Harare South - Eight Section 8 Orders received. One farm manager attempted to report to Police the theft of MCB's but this was refused. Three tractors were towed away from one farm. A farmer reported his labour on strike. Pegging occurred on an unlisted farm. On one farm a meeting was held with the labour and labour from surrounding farms, where they were told they or the farmer would not be moved off the farm and no assets are to leave the farm. Another farmer was told to be off the farm by 22.09.02 and 33 people were moved on to the farm and told to erect permanent structures and no assets are to be removed. Theft of fencing reported. One farmer accused of hoarding maize; as had a small amount for his labour the ZRP were satisfied this was not hoarding. Another farmer's labour refused to load tobacco, demanding the remainder of their retrenchment packages.
Macheke/Virginia - General theft, report of a house break-in, one cow slaughtered and 15 cattle missing. General hassles from labour demanding retrenchment packages.
MASHONALAND WEST (NORTH)
Doma - Some settlers trying to move on to Nellivale Farm. One strike reported at Nirvana Farm.
Settlers tried to burn down the Zesa electricity poles to steal the cable. Police given the motorcar registration number. Section 7's and Section 8's being served. The DelaRosa Farm owner was locked out of his house.
Umboe/Chinhoyi - Massive burning of grazing on 29.07.2002, with five fires going at once. Umboe reported receiving Section 7's but very few so far. A farmer was made to move his cattle for the third time.
Kariba - Many people from Chinhoyi have gone to Chirundu to see if they can plant early maize.
Karoi - Agritex is going around asking questions about the wheat crop. No bad news at present. Rocklands received a Section 7 on 30.07.02.
Tengwe - Some bush fires. Reuben Maramahoko M.P. is encouraging some farmers to plant crops.
Some extortion reported from Mvurachena. A robbery occurred at Erewhom on 24.07.2002, where a VCR and some alcohol was stolen. Much of the veld burnt out.
At Woodleigh Farm, a heifer valued at ZW$80 000-00 was slaughtered in the paddock. All the meat was ferried away leaving behind only a head. No suspect was picked up and the case was reported to Banket Police for investigation. At Bessville Grange Farm a man was arrested for theft of 50 kg of soyabeans valued at ZW$ 5 000-00 from the land. The soyabeans were recovered and the accused handed over to Banket Police for charges. Sundown Farm reports theft of 2 inch x 9m irrigation pipes valued at ZW$30 000-00 from the seedbeds. No suspect picked up as yet. Vehicle theft occurred at Mariondale Farm of an Isuzu: engine number 765649 KB280, Reg No. 532-017D, blue in Colour. At Ayshire Downs, there was illegal netting of 20 kg of fish. The accused was handed over to the police. Riverhead Farm reports theft of 2 MCB's valued at ZW$800 000 from ZESA switchbox and one electric motor (value not given). No suspect picked up as yet. Between Rivers Farm reports theft of 2 knapsacks, 2 watering cans, 1/2 x 25 litres tamarone, 1/2 x 5 litres copper, 25 x 500 grams chemicals and wheat theft 2 x 50 kgs valued at ZW$2000-00 from the sheds. 40 kg of wheat was recovered and the accused handed over to the police. Burnhills Farm also reports theft of 28 sprinklers (value not supplied). Accused handed over to the police. At Ashley Farm, cattle were driven out from the paddock to Chitombowizi area. All the cattle valued at ZW$100 000-00. Accused was arrested and cattle recovered in Chitombowizi area and driven back to the farm. At Clydesdale Farm, a person was netting and in the possession of 15 kg of fish using a 1 x 12m net and 1 x 15m net. Accused handed over to the police. Stockfield Farm had a house break-in. Stolen was a Sharp radio, a 6310 Nokia cellphone, portable phone, TV decoder and five CD's valued at ZW$740 000-00. No suspect picked up as yet. Shipton Flowers reports theft of a water tap valued at ZW$35000-00 from the pipeline at the barns. No suspect picked up as yet. At Ilanga Farm a 6-month-old calf was slaughtered in the paddock and only a head and skin were left behind, and the rest of the meat was ferried away. On Sholliver Farm, accused were arrested for poaching and in possession of a warthog and a spear. Usham Farm had a house break-in. Items stolen not disclosed as yet. Kasanzi Farm reports theft of a 12-volt battery from an energizer. Zanzandare Farm had a theft of 5,5 hp electric motor (value not supplied) from the pump house at the dam, serial No. AA00090. No suspect picked up as yet. Shirleigh Farm reports theft of a submersible pump valued at ZW$500 000-00 from the borehole. No suspect picked up as yet. Wynhill Farm suffered theft of 90 x hydron screws valued at ZW$180 000-00 from the land. No suspect as yet. At Monga Farm an accused was arrested for arson at the beerhall in the compound. Myeti Farm had 200 m of electric cable (valued not supplied) stolen from the pivot at the field. No suspect as yet. At Riverside Farm, the settlers called yet another meeting on 30.07.02. A total of twenty settlers attended (out of forty). They were adamant to make it political, by insisting on the Pamberi's before the meeting. Farm labour is very wary and hesitant to participate - but did. Points from the "meeting" are
are to do all year round cropping (instructed by Government). This will begin
in April 2003, after the rains. Their cropping programme will include
horticulture, to be funded by donor organisations and/ or Government. For this they will need the use of the
farmer’s irrigation pumps/ pipes: for which they will pay for the ZESA, theft,
repairs etc with the money from the donors. When the cost per day in ZESA was
mentioned to them, they were not perturbed at all as they were 100% certain the
government would meet these bills.
b) The Land Preparation rate the Farmer quoted (same as the Gvt. DDF rate) per hectare, was far too much. The settlers felt the farmer is making a huge profit. They further went on to say that they think it would be better if they supplied the diesel, and Farmer supplied the equipment and labour for free! Having tried to explain there is no possible way this could be accommodated financially, it would pay the Farmer to shut down totally, they again were not concerned at this. Nor were they concerned about the 100 farm workers families' jobs that would be lost.
c) The white man has lots of money. This comment arose a number of times, to the extent that one could not even try to explain to them differently!
This farm does not have a Section 8, but has been unable to utilise any of the fields, even for grazing cattle!
Raffingora – at Farm 1 severe trouble continues. The owner paid off his labour with full packages, who now want more. Settler Chimere is trying to evict owner from the homestead and told the labour they will be working for him from October 2002. On and off strikes continue. Wheat has been planted here. At Farm 2 strikes and negotiations continue. Settlers threaten to take out the pumps for the wheat irrigation if retrenchment packages are not paid. The owner has no cash to pay it anyway. Another strike occurred on Farm 3, with labour demanding packages. This was sorted out by Zanu PF Matafari. At Farm 4, Kangachepe is still on farm most days travelling from Mafuta farm. He is still battling to find enough settlers to take plots and encouraging labour to force the owner to pay retrenchment packages. Labour went on strike after they were paid. The owner is still off farm. There was a break in to the main homestead on the evening of 28.07.02 with a VCR, clothing and cell phone stolen. Investigations continue. Police were notified. Farm 5 has pressure from one settler to vacate the manager’s house. Other A2 settlers are threatening to switch off pre-irrigation. The Farm 6 owner went to Ministry of Lands and Agritex confirming no Section 8 to date. "War vet" Kangachepe threatens to come back but has not arrived. It has been decided no deals to be made until Section 8 arrives. The owner has found out the map of settlers boundaries has changed whereby Mr. Mutasa (campaign manager for Chombo) was allocated the Misiyesi homestead and two plots of 100 ha and the D.A. Shumba Chegutu, allocated the main homestead and two plots of 100 ha. At Farm 7 there are major problems with labour demanding retrenchment packages in full and strikes on and off. Lorries for bales are not being loaded. There is major pressure from A2 settler, Mr. Chunga, to vacate the house, disrupting the labour and threatening the owner. Visits by Ministry of Labour Chinhoyi have been no help at all. NEC Denver Chinhoyi is unable to attend and ALB Harare not very helpful. The Farm 8 owner returns from absence on 01.08.02. The Lt.Col. settler who has planted wheat disrupting labour on the next door farm. A report of 29.07.02 states the Lt. Col. obtained keys to the main homestead and stole one of the children’s mountain bikes. Police notified. Borehole has stopped working – collecting water from Katawa in bowsers. The Lt Col. Is adamant the owner must repair the borehole when he returns. The Farm 9 owner and his wife came back on the farm intermittently after the D.A. had removed the youth from the workshop yard. This must be the first time for three months. Farm 10 reported theft from the main homestead. The owner is off the farm but in the District. At Farm 11, the black manager reports he was ordered out of the main house back into the manager’s house by settler Chirama. The main house was broken into – carpets etc. stolen, but no entry into the two locked bedrooms. Boreholes have stopped working – labour and settlers getting water from the dam and river. Various other farmers are threatened with eviction from houses. Settlers are lighting veld fires throughout the district. Farmers are all trying to continue despite the increasing labour unrest. Pressure is experienced from a new labour union calling themselves Zimbabwe Agricultural Labour Consultants based in Banket. Farmers are visited by GAPWUZ checking on seasonal workers – agricultural holidays paid, grades of workers and back pay where necessary with a 33% commission on any dues for non-union members.
General - There are more and more military officers trying to intimidate farmers. One Col. said he was working on behalf of the Commissioner of Prisons!
HI-JACK OF LORRY
At 02h00 31 July 2002 a 7 tonne Volvo FL6, White, 599860W belonging to Northern Growers, Box 252, Karoi was hi-jacked full of Flue Cured tobacco. Growers number 1032 is on the propac and the paper. 84 bales are involved.
The hi-jacking happened at Banket and the driver arrived at Darwendale Police Station. The truck, which has no trailer, then proceeded to the main Harare - Chirundu Road.
Report to follow on Monday.
Masvingo East and Central – the Bon Air Farm owner reports a large Kudu Bull with massive horns was chased by packs of dogs and poachers on 31.07.02 until it finally broke its leg and fell. The dogs proceeded to kill it. The owner confiscated the meat from the poachers. He also continues to fight fires on his property started by settlers in this area.
Chiredzi – the wet weather has dampened the surge of veld fires. Poaching and snaring continue and plenty of busy settlers reported moving around on several properties.
Mwenezi - More of the same happening in this area, cutting of trees continues, snaring and poaching is ongoing.
Save Conservancy - Poaching and snaring continue in this area.
Gutu / Chatsworth - Nothing to report from this area.
Summary for month: Theft, stock theft and poaching are so common that no one bothers to tell the office about them. Section 8's and 7's are being served sporadically but not always reported. This is due to the fact that farmers are dealing directly with Land Committees and, in some cases, getting Sec 8s lifted in return for agreeing to subdivision etc. So far 48 known section 8s have been served affecting 85 title deeds. Veld fires are occurring with increasing frequency causing serious damage to grazing resources and, in some instances, property. Mostly caused through carelessness on the part of settlers while clearing fields. Worst case - destruction of about one and a half million dollars worth of hay bales in a barn. Inspection of maize stocks by GMB officials has started again.
No report received.
From ZWNEWS, 4 August
Dulini-Ncube returned to hospital
Police late yesterday returned Fletcher Dulini-Ncube to his hospital bed, having detained the Bulawayo MP all day in custody. Dulini-Ncube had been taken by members of the Law and Order Section from the Mater Dei hospital early on Saturday, where he was recovering from a surgical operation to remove one of his eyes on Friday. A doctor’s report, detailing Dulini-Ncube’s medical condition, and the severe danger to him of secondary infection if he was kept out of hospital, was given to the police at 11 am, but the police nevertheless kept him in custody all day. Dulini-Ncube is understood to have been in extreme pain during his time in custody. An application for bail will be pursued by his lawyers on Monday. The state accuses Dulini-Ncube of being implicated in the murder of Cain Nkala, a Matabeleland war veterans’ leader, in November 2001.
An application for indictments against Dulini-Ncube, Sony Masera, and Army Zulu to be quashed was thrown out by High Court Judge Chiweshe on Thursday. Lawyers for the three had argued that the prosecution had no evidence linking the three with the murder apart from confessions by two other accused, which they later retracted in court, saying their confessions had been extracted under torture. Another of those arrested at the time of Nkala’s death, Simon Spooner, was also visited by Law and Order Section police yesterday. It is understood that the police questioned him in connection with the whereabouts of Army Zulu. The charges against Spooner were formally dropped two weeks ago. Dulini-Ncube and Spooner were among 14 MDC members who spent several weeks in illegal detention after Nkala’s body was found. Two of the accused, Khetani Sibanda and Sazini Mpofu, remain in prison, despite an order from Chief Justice Chidyausiku for their release.
Comment from The Zimbabwe Standard, 4 August
Over the top
Being last on the list
Increasingly disturbed leaders in a troubled central African country are said to be preparing to hit back against sanctions imposed by unperturbed leaders of various western nations. Of particular concern is a list published by the central bank of a small muddy patch in the Irish Sea which names bad people from the troubled central African nation alongside bad people from elsewhere in the world. Meanwhile, the disinformation minister in the troubled central African nation is said to be particularly angered by the fact that his name, most of his colleagues and the young wife of the most equal of all comrades appear alongside the notorious Gossamer bin Liner on the list. Mr Bin Liner is a notorious Muslim with a price on his head. He also orchestrated the blowing up of several important buildings in North America by having aeroplanes fly into them at high speed. Mr Bin Liner's name appeared on the list, together with dozens of other less notorious Muslims, several months ahead of the leaders of the troubled central African nation, a fact that has led to some rivalry and discontent among the elite Pariah Nations' Club. The list also contains names from a strange sounding Asian country, an extremely vexed sort-of-country rich in oil and diamonds in West Africa and more notorious Muslims than most of us thought existed.
Still, the leaders of the troubled central African country are angered by the fact that their names appear at the bottom of the list, well beneath the notorious Muslims, the secretive, strange sounding Asians and the crude West Africans with all the diamonds. "It's a known fact that we should be at the top of the list," said one disturbed leader from the troubled central African country. "It's one thing to fly aeroplanes into buildings, but we'll achieve much the same result without fireballs and red mist." Meanwhile, another troubled leader vowed that the troubled central African country would respond to the sanctions in kind. "If we can't go there and shop in Harrods and Bloomingdale's, then they'd better watch out," he warned. "Right now we're devising our own plan to stop them coming here to do their shopping at MaiFattie's tuck shop-and if that doesn't send a firm message, nothing will." At this point a worried aid to the mouth-frothing leader pointed out that due to the shortage of food, MaiFattie was now known as MaiThinnie. "In that case we'll boot out all the imperialist running dog foreigners who're already here, then see what happens," said the troubled leader, while his audience wiped themselves down. "Unless they're fraternal revolutionary doctors sent over here by Comrade Fido," he added quickly.
The list caused further consternation when the first of the troubled central African nation's leaders was sent back from the muddy patch in the Irish Sea recently. After a vicious interrogation that included terrifying questions like: "Is this your name?" and "Do you know that you're not supposed to be here?" the victim was placed on an aeroplane and flown home without once being forced to crash into an important building. Leaders of the troubled central African nation pointed out that the treatment of their colleague amounted to torture and vowed to report the matter to the Pariah Nations' Club - just as soon as the Pariah Nations' Club decided where to situate themselves and who would pay the rent. Meanwhile, insiders pointed out that even inoffensive and little visited countries close to the Arctic Circle had refused access to leaders from the troubled central African nation, proving that countries famous primarily for being boring were at last sitting up and taking notice of the curious behaviour displayed by the troubled central African nation's self-appointed leaders.
From The New York Times, 4 August
For Zimbabwe's white farmers, time to move on
Banket, Zimbabwe - This is the season for winter wheat, the time when lush, green seedlings usually blanket the earth. But these days, the roaring tractors have been silenced and many fertile farms are idle. Here in this hungry land, where the United Nations says six million people - half the population - are threatened by famine, the government of President Robert Mugabe has ordered thousands of the country's most productive farmers to stop farming. The white commercial farmers, who are among the largest producers of wheat and cornmeal, help feed the nation and fuel the economy. But they have been condemned as racists and enemies of the state because they have refused to turn over their land to the government - land that was seized from blacks during the days of British colonial rule. And now, officials say, the day of reckoning is finally at hand. By Aug. 8, the government has announced, most of the nation's white farmers must leave their farms for good. As the deadline approaches, many farmers are packing their bags. The threatened expulsion of 2,900 white farmers has shaken a country already reeling from drought, a collapsing economy and the political violence condoned by an increasingly authoritarian government. Some say officials are punishing the farmers for financing the opposition in the presidential election last March, an election that most Western officials believe was rigged to ensure Mr. Mugabe's victory. Others say that Mr. Mugabe, 78, who came to power in the 1980 election that ended white rule, is desperate to secure a place in African history as the revolutionary who returned the land to his impoverished people.
Officials of the World Bank and Western governments agree land should be redistributed in Zimbabwe, where the legacy of colonialism has left a tiny white minority with more than half the fertile soil. Whites make up only 1 percent of the population. But farmers and foreign donors have balked at participating in this program, which has been dogged by violence and cronyism ever since it was revived two years ago in what is widely viewed as a tactic to bolster Mr. Mugabe's waning popularity. Prominent politicians loyal to Mr. Mugabe now control scores of fertile farms while many poor blacks are stranded on arid stretches without adequate water or sanitation. The government, which claims to have acquired more than 5,000 properties, actually has title deeds to fewer than 100, recent statistics show. As government-backed militants have swept across the country, invading the farms in the past few years, several white farmers and dozens of black farm workers have been killed while thousands of other black laborers have been evicted and left homeless. The government has refused to pay white farmers for their properties, saying it will not pay for land stolen by British settlers. Britain has agreed to finance a well-run land redistribution program, but not the one that is currently in place. So farmers who are forced off their properties receive nothing right now for the land they have lost. The United States and the European Union, which have already imposed sanctions on top officials, have criticized Zimbabwe's treatment of its farmers, and diplomats here are quietly pressuring officials to reconsider their stance. It is still unclear how the government will actually deal with whites who defy the deadline. Some officials have threatened to crack down, while others have promised to be lenient with farmers who agree to give up some of their land. But recently officials arrested 16 white farmers for continuing to farm past June 24 - the date when most farmers were ordered to stop working - leaving little doubt that some hard-liners are willing to force citizens to endure even greater hardships as they struggle to redraw the colonial map.
Meanwhile, the exodus of whites from Zimbabwe's farms is quickening. In July, Adrian Wilkinson was loading his belongings into his Isuzu pickup truck, trying to beat the government deadline. In normal years, he grows about 740 acres of winter wheat. This year, he will produce no wheat at all. Militants threatened him when he tried to plant. A few weeks ago, they barricaded him and his wife inside their farmhouse, pounding on the doors and singing for blood. So the Wilkinsons have decided to give up their 3,000-acre farm, where they grew tobacco, soybeans and corn, and the red brick farmhouse where they raised their children and savored the best years of their lives. "On Monday, I took out my stove and my dishwasher," said Mr. Wilkinson, 50, who plans to live off his savings in a smaller house in town, where whites feel more secure. "Today, I'm going to take out this washing machine and the tumble dryer." He staggered under the weight of the washing machine and then wandered wistfully through his emptying house, choosing what would stay and what would go. He chose the two white highchairs, where his grandchildren used to squirm and wiggle, and his wife's satiny red slippers. A swivel chair. Two toasters. Ten blue-tinted wine glasses and a matching pitcher. Mr. Wilkinson did not weep when he locked the door and turned his back on his red roses and tiger lilies. But under the surface, desperation simmers. He swallows what he calls "happy pills" to get through the day without drowning in rage or sorrow. At night, he takes sleeping pills. He has consulted a counselor to cope with the anger that boils up inside, particularly when he thinks about the government's refusal to pay him for his property. He had dreamed of retiring, but not like this. "Am I angry?" he asked. He clenched his steering wheel as he drove past the palm trees, the metal gate and his empty fields. He has lived at this farm all his life. "I'm not against black advancement, but this is my life; it's my home," he said finally. "I'm losing everything." Over the past two years, as the farm invasions spread, about 15 percent of the country's white farmers have left their properties, according to the Commercial Farmers Union, which represents about 3,500 white farmers.
By May, about 30 percent of commercial farms had stopped producing altogether because of threats from government-backed militants, the union said. The combination of land seizures and this year's severe drought has been disastrous. In 1999, agriculture accounted for 20 percent of Zimbabwe's domestic product, the World Bank says. A year later, the figure had dropped to 11 percent, and experts say it has continued to decline. The production of corn - the country's staple food - plunged by nearly 70 percent this year, the United Nations says. It predicts that the production of winter wheat, which is harvested in October, will be down by as much as 40 percent. With the situation so dire, white farmers are increasingly questioning whether they have a future in Zimbabwe. At the Banket country club, where dozens of farmers met recently to consider their options, union leaders pleaded with members to stay put. "We've been harassed and terrorized for political gain, but we are still all Zimbabweans here," said Ian Barrett, who represents the farmers who produce cooking oil. "We're still here! We're still strong!" But everyone agrees that holding on is difficult. In the town of Chiredzi, where 16 farmers were arrested for continuing to farm, most of the men have vowed to defy the deadline. They are hiring extra guards and bracing themselves for the worst. Officials have warned that farmers who defy the deadline will be arrested, tried and sentenced to two years in jail or a $363 fine.
Alain Faydherbe, 37, has decided that no matter what happens on Aug. 8, he will move to Mozambique, where officials are inviting white farmers to work that country's undeveloped land. Militants, known as war veterans because many fought against white rule, have invaded his farm and beaten his workers. "I've got three little kids," Mr. Faydherbe said. "Every time they hear a vehicle they ask if it's the war vets. They're afraid to sleep in their own rooms." John Nkomo, the home affairs minister, denied that officials have been mistreating the white farmers. He attributed the violence to a handful of criminals. He said the deadline was necessary to deal with farmers who have refused to turn over underused sections of their farms. "We have to deal with this land matter once and for all," Mr. Nkomo said. "As far as we are concerned, we are correcting an injustice." In the impoverished village of Chikhovo, where hundreds of hungry people waited hours to receive cornmeal from the charity World Vision, many seemed doubtful. They agreed that officials should right the historical wrongs that left blacks stranded on crowded, rocky soil. But Lloyd Tafirenyasha, who scrapes by on one bowl of porridge a day, said he could not understand how farmers could be evicted while millions of Zimbabweans were going hungry. "We wake up in the morning with no food," said Mr. Tafirenyasha, 18. "We need help. Those who are good in agriculture, they should continue. Those white farmers, they must stay for now."
From Washington File (US State Department), 2 August
Former White House official slams Mugabe for "perfect crime"
Washington - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF party have "committed the perfect crime," robbing citizens of their political rights while at the same time turning the "breadbasket of Southern Africa" into an economic wreck facing famine, says former White House official John Prendergast. Prendergast, a program officer with the International Crisis Committee (ICG), a non-governmental (NGO) human rights organization, served as a special adviser on African conflicts to the State Department and was a director of African Affairs at the National Security Council (NSC) in the 1990's during President Clinton's Administration. He has written six books on Africa, including a study of Sudan: God, Oil & Country: Changing the Logic of War in Sudan, published recently by ICG. He participated in a "Forum on Zimbabwe: Post Election Crisis," sponsored by the Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa in cooperation with Howard University's Ralph Bunche International Affairs Center. National Summit President Leonard Robinson said the July 30 discussion was timely, in part, because of the rapid decline of grain production in Zimbabwe - "Once characterized as the breadbasket of Southern Africa." Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Walter Kansteiner III also spoke on the panel stressing that U.S. policy toward Zimbabwe is based on a set of principles that have remained consistent. He said, "Those principles are: democracy, human rights, civil liberties and economic freedoms. That's what drives our interests and policies towards Zimbabwe.
"That said, the regime now headed by Mugabe in fact is not living up to those principles," Kansteiner told the panel. "They are not committed to free and fair elections, as we saw [in the recent presidential election]. They clearly don't abide by a notion of human rights that we find acceptable. And they are not terribly concerned about civil liberties. So, we've got a strained relationship with the government right now." Kansteiner stressed that "doesn't mean we have no relationship. In fact,....we have some 50,000 metric tons of food that have gone in to help the people of Zimbabwe from the people of the United States. So, there is a practical dialogue on a number of these issues, particularly the humanitarian and food issues, but we do have large problems in our relationship with the government." Prendergast spoke derisively of Mugabe and Zanu PF, noting both should be congratulated for a series of "perfect crimes;" the first of which was the stealing of the last presidential election held earlier this year. After using state power to intimidate the political opposition and the nation's judiciary, "the ruling party remains the ruling party and the President remains the president for another six years," he asserted. "The second of the perfect crimes," said the human rights activist, is "the theft of most of Zimbabwe's most valuable assets. For example, land. If there was a genuine effort to redistribute by the government since independence then one could consider current actions in a much more understanding light," he said. "Instead, the regime only made land an issue when it needed an issue to campaign on and it is now grabbing up many of the choice properties and doling out these estates to Zanu PF leaders."
Continuing, Prendergast said, "the third and perhaps most elegant of these perfect crimes is the theft of Congo's (DRC) minerals. Rather than contributing to efforts to resolve Congo's wars, Zimbabwe exacerbated them by supporting the Rwandan Hutu militias in their continued effort to destabilize Rwanda; thus keeping the war on a slow burn and justifying Zimbabwe's continued intervention in Congo, which is a brilliant cover-up of the huge mining interests of Zimbabwe's generals and politicians." "The fourth of the perfect crimes," added the former White House official, is "turning a profit on [Zimbabwe's] economic collapse and famine. One of the crucial requirements to stabilize the economy now would be to allow the foreign exchange rate to float rather than keeping it fixed at an artificial and absurdly low level" as is currently done. "They won't do that because key Zanu officials are making lots of money in the currency market, effectively trading on human suffering."
Prendergast, who traveled to Zimbabwe and observed its controversial presidential elections earlier this year, said, "the fifth of the perfect [Mugabe Zanu PF] crimes was the destruction of Zimbabwe's independent voices. The government has systematically punished supporters of the [political] opposition through rape, murder, torture and intimidation. It's gone after members of the media and NGOs who try to speak out on issues of concern. It has broken the back of some of the key mass organizations in Zimbabwe." The former official said, "there are many other crimes that have been perpetrated in Zimbabwe over the last few years, perhaps not as perfect as the ones I've just mentioned, but all with one common denominator - that is they [Mugabe and Zanu PF] got away with it. There have been hardly any consequences." On the other hand, Prendergast said the consequences for the people of Zimbabwe have been severe. "There is no compensation for the victims - for the hundreds of thousands of black farmers, workers and laborers made homeless" by the regime's expropriation of land. The economy has been devastated by the regime's intervention into the market and "has now produced some of the highest unemployment rates on the continent." At the same time, the nation now faces a famine that "has produced rates of deprivation and hunger that are unrivaled, at this point, throughout southern Africa in the midst of its own drought." He concluded: "Things are bleak for the people of Zimbabwe but it is not hopeless."
Rebutting Prendergast, Zimbabwean Ambassador Simbi Mubako said many of his nation's problems were a legacy of colonialism, which the Mugabe regime had worked hard to overcome. For example in education, "before independence Zimbabwe had only one university with 1,000 students. Now we have 10 universities" with many thousands of students. "This is an achievement of the last 22 years," he emphasized. The regime's land reform scheme - characterized as a disastrous "fast-track" grab of property outside the legal process by Malik Chaka, a staff consultant to the Subcommittee on Africa in the U.S. House of Representatives who also participated in the discussion, was fair because it was land that earlier colonialist regimes wrested without compensation from the original African owners, Mubako indicated. As for Zimbabwe being the breadbasket of southern Africa, Mubako termed it an exaggeration and said the recent reduction in grain production was due to drought affecting the region and not to the Mugabe regime's agricultural policies. He said, "We had another severe drought I remember in my lifetime in 1947 and this was the first time we received food aid from the United States. That was colonial time and white farmers were in full control at that time." Other serious droughts followed about every ten years starting in 1962, he said, and "again we had to ask for food aid from abroad. It is not true that we had sufficient [grain] for ourselves."
Commenting on the presidential elections, Mubako said, "from the point of view of the Zimbabwean government and from the point of view of Africans, the majority of the people who observed the elections" agreed that "they were not perfect but they were certainly not stolen. I would be the first one to admit there were some flaws but I would also add that those flaws were no greater than the flaws of the elections you had in Florida." (Mubako referred to the disputed vote count in Florida after the U.S. presidential election of November 2000.) Pointing out that an election is not necessarily "stolen on the day of the vote," Malik Chaka stressed that the Mugabe regime's intimidation of the political opposition and "its use of terror" predated actual balloting by more than a year. While there was political violence on both sides, the Congressional aide said, "most blood is on Zanu PF's hands - they had the state power on their side. "The country is going down fast," Chaka concluded.
The Herald (Harare)
August 3, 2002
Posted to the web August 3, 2002
The Government yesterday gazetted the full list of vehicles and goods that will have their import duty calculated at an adjusted exchange rate of Z$300 from Z$55 against the United States dollar.
The goods and vehicles, whose import duty will increase by more than 500 percent due to the exchange rate adjustment, were published in an extraordinary Government Gazette.
The vehicles include public transporters, racing cars, vehicles for the transport of goods of a payload of less than one tonne and double cab vehicles.
Goods affected include oil fats, foodstuffs such as meat and vegetables, beverages, cigarettes, tobacco, fruits, clothes, chocolates, manufactured radios, satellite decoders, car radios and electrical appliances. The increase in duty was announced by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Dr Simba Makoni, in a $52 billion supplementary budget last week.
The hike in duty is part of measures to raise the more than $52 billion needed to finance, among other things, the procurement of inputs for newly resettled farmers, civil servants' salary adjustments and loans for students at the country's State universities.