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Farm Invasions and Security Report
 Monday 31st July & Thursday 1st August 2001
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.
In Beatrice, about 100 illegal occupiers prevented the owner of Silver Oaks, and his mother from leaving their homestead for 3 days.   
Demands by illegal occupiers to farm owners to vacate farms, work stoppages, requests for farm workers to be paid and vacate farms, removal of livestock and continuous intimidation to both farm owners and workers is prevalent throughout the country.  
There were no reports received from Matabeleland Region.
Mashonaland Central 
Mvurwi - The situation at Hariana remains unresolved and the owner has still not been able to return to the farm. Illegal occupiers started a fire on Mandindindi, but took flight when the owner arrived to investigate. Subsequently, the owner was falsely accused of threatening them with a weapon and a group of 200 illegal occupiers assembled at the homestead to evict him. This was prevented by police intervention, but the owner was barricaded in the house for the full day and illegal occupiers held an all night 'pungwe' outside the homestead. The owner has since vacated the farm temporarily for safety reasons. A large group of illegal occupiers visited Kazilo and threatened the owner with death if he did not leave within 24 hours. The situation was resolved and work has been allowed to continue. The group then went to Mwembezi, where tractors were temporarily prevented from working, before moving onto Impinge and stopping all work. Police were informed of the situation and are expected to respond. A work stoppage is ongoing at Muirend due to a labour dispute.
Tsatsi - Work on occupied farms continues to be hampered by illegal occupiers threatening reprisals. Pegging, hut building, brick making and poaching with dogs is taking place on a daily basis.
Mutepatepa - The farm supervisor on Bourtonvale was seriously assaulted and a house in the farm village damaged by illegal occupiers. Police responded but no arrests were made. A work stoppage occurred on Guitingwood due to a labour dispute. Ongoing work stoppages at Frinton, Brockley, Chinenga, Solomio and Katanya are to be attended to by the DA. Illegal occupiers continue to drive cattle onto Minto despite being ordered by police to desist from doing so.
Mashonaland West North 
Chinhoyi - Illegal occupiers told the owners of Hillandale and Baruka Farms to stop farming activities and vacate the farm and proceeded to switch off irrigation systems and intimidate farm workers. About 60 illegal occupiers prevented the owner of Portelet Estates from planting tobacco seedbeds, demanded that cattle and ostriches be removed off the farm, cutting down of gum trees and burning of fire guards be stopped, as the farm belonged to them. War vet Mataka has the original copy of the owners statement to Chinhoyi police, of his intimidating threats to the owner by illegal occupiers, dated 9 July 2001, in his possession. A complete work stoppage has since occurred. Illegal occupiers chopped down a game fence on The Range, which surrounds wheat lands and are not allowing for it to be repaired. The owner's cattle and sheep are being moved by illegal occupiers, and requested the owner vacate the farm. Laughmains Farm has been pegged. Illegal occupiers on Mwari have pegged cultivated lands, including farm workers land. The manager of Portelet Farm received an aggressive threat from illegal occupiers saying they are going to "come and get him". 
Banket - The owner of Glen Athol Farm was stopped from irrigating tobacco lands again by illegal occupiers, who are threatening to destroy irrigation pipes and intimidating farm workers. A section 5 with the incorrect farm name was delivered to the owner of Wannock Glen Farm. Illegal occupiers on the farm are building huts. Pegging commenced on Buxton Farm.
Umboe - Illegal occupiers on Windsock Farm prevented the owner from planting cabbages and given 1 months notice for the owner to vacate the farm. The owner of Wychwood Farm was informed that pegging would commence on the farm and that 30 families were to be resettled there.  The owner of Long Valley Farm was threatened and told to tell his farm workers to vacate the farm village. The owner referred the matter to the lands committee.
Doma - Green Valley Farm was pegged and 30 illegal occupiers resettled. A recent fire caused on the farm by illegal occupiers has resulted in most of the grazing being burnt. The owner of South End Farm was prevented from irrigating tobacco lands by illegal occupiers. Illegal occupiers instructed the owner of Windale Ranch to stop irrigating and liming and to remove cattle off the farm.
Trelawney / Darwendale - Illegal occupiers on Sheligh Farm told the owner that 1/3 of the farm belongs to the owner and 2/3 to them, and in exchange for this, the owner must support ploughing and tillage, seed and fertilizer, transport to clinics and hospitals, security for their houses, livestock to be removed off the farm and the use of the farm grinding mill for their maize. Illegal occupiers told the owner that they were open to negotiation. The owner of Bickleighvale Farm was told by illegal occupiers to remove his tractors off the lands. 15 illegal occupiers on Ziroto Farm are erecting huts and stopped farm workers from laying down irrigation pipes. The situation is peaceful. Illegal occupiers and 4 farm workers on Elveden farm held a meeting with the owner and informed the owner that he may grow 40 ha of dry land tobacco, and in return they want lands ploughed for them as well as the DDF land preparation redone and all last years tobacco lands, amounting to about 93 ha in total. The remaining lands have been pegged and illegal occupiers are demanding that the owner set their pegs in concrete. The owner informed illegal occupiers he was not prepared to meet their demands and was threatened by illegal occupiers that they would report back to the Minister of Agriculture and inform him that the owner was not being co-operative. The owner is selling his cattle herd, due to having a weeks grazing left. Similar meetings are taking place on 4 farms in the district. 
Ayrshire - Illegal occupiers on Landfall Farm stopped the farm tractor from carrying out work and interfered with irrigation drip lines on tobacco lands. On Kanowna Farm, illegal occupiers are chopping down trees and commenced land preparation. A work stoppage occurred and when the owner reported the incident to the land committee he was told that they would not be helpful. The owner is seeking advise from the DA. In the northern areas of Raffingora there has been an increase in hut building and movement of cattle by illegal occupiers. Agritex pegging team are present on Minnehaha, and farm workers have been told to vacate their homes. Wood cutting continues at an alarming rate, and is being sold. A farm owner's vehicle was impounded by a local war vet and later returned. Hired tractors are moving into the district to start land preparation for illegal occupiers. A war vet leader received a threat letter which he presumed came from a local farmer. Police defused the tense situation.
Mashonaland West South
Norton - Illegal occupiers moved 4 tractors belonging to the owner of Serui Source to their camp, in an attempt to extort money from the owner. The owner and his son  remain unable to return to the farm, as illegal occupiers have set up road blocks to monitor and control all traffic. 3 head of cattle and 1 motor was stolen. Agritex are pegging on Tilford Farm on instructions received from the DA.
Chegutu - 5 electric motors were vandalised by illegal occupiers on Teith Farm.
Suri-Suri / Gadzema - The lands committee issued letters from the DA to occupants of homesteads on San Fernando Farm, to say that they must move out. Illegal occupiers were caught poaching a Kudu on Makuti which police refused to arrest them for. 8 illegal occupiers moved onto Curandooly and are building huts, and removed a load of firewood off the farm.
Kadoma - On Alabama, a visiting football team from Brompton Mine had their minibus attacked by illegal occupiers resulting in all the lights and windows being broken. The football teams' uniforms were stolen and some of the football team were assaulted. Police refused to respond. After the owner of Hellaby was stopped by illegal occupiers from grazing his own stover and pastures to his cattle, the owner has been forced to sell the whole herd. The owner has further been informed by illegal occupiers to vacate the homestead as it now belongs to them. Police refuse to assist. On Normandi North  about 60 illegal occupiers demanded compensation for their maize, which had been planted in the owners Sun hemp last year and did not produce any yields as a result. The owner and his wife were verbally abused, and about 400 bags of maize extorted from them under duress in the presence of the Kadoma police. The same group then moved to Alabama where the manager was forced to give illegal occupiers about 400 bags of maize, which was for the farm workers.
Mashonaland East
Beatrice - 4 illegal occupiers, 1 known as Mombie, demanded the homestead keys from the manager of Argyle Ranch. When the farm manager refused, another 10 illegal occupiers arrived and forced the homestead security gate open, broke into the manager's homestead and deposited their belongings inside. When the illegal occupiers left, the manager, deposited their belongings outside the security fence which he reinforced with extra locks. The manager informed police, and received no reaction. Illegal occupier Chitsinde arrived on the farm in the evening with a tractor and trailer carrying about 30 youths bearing pangas. 20 litres of diesel was stolen after the mob broke into the tractor shed. 5 senior farm workers were forced by illegal occupiers  to return to Rusimbiro in Harare South where the illegal occupiers base camp was. The 5 senior farm workers were only returned to the farm the following morning. Illegal occupier Chitsinde then proceeded to demand that all work on the farm cease and that the owner vacate the farm by the end of the day. 3 farm workers who reported in for work were assaulted by illegal occupiers, resulting in 1 farm worker sustaining a fractured arm.  About 30 aggressive Illegal occupiers who were under the instruction of Chitsinde, surrounded the owner, demanding he leave the farm. Beatrice police reacted in the company of senior illegal occupiers, Mapfumo and Maddocks from Joyce Mine. All farm keys were returned to the owner and the illegal occupiers left. About 100 illegal occupiers broke down the security fence and prevented the owner of Silver Oaks and his mother from leaving their homestead for 3 days. Police responded but were unable to assist. After negotiations from farmers in the district, the situation was resolved. The owner of Goldilands has been allowed to return back to his farm. The owner of Nengwa has been allowed to return to his farm and to water his onion seed beds. Illegal occupiers are claiming ZW$50,000 for compensation from the owner of Evergreen for maize allegedly eaten by the owner's cattle. The situation was resolved. The owner of Gwalia was harassed by illegal occupiers.  The situation was defused. Illegal occupiers demanded that the farm store on Maas Plein be closed down. The demand was refused and situation defused.
Bromley / Ruwa / Enterprise - Extensive fires have been started on the farms by illegal occupiers burning their plots to clear land. In  1 case where a fire got out of hand, a plastic water tank was destroyed.   
Featherstone - The owner of Dunkirk continues to receive harassment from illegal occupiers.  The owner of Ngesi was assaulted by an illegal occupier and sustained a broken hand, after an altercation involving the cutting down of trees. Police arrested the illegal occupier who returned back to the farm that evening.
Harare South - About 40 illegal occupiers moved onto Walmer. 3 of the illegal occupiers then proceeded to Nyatsime and told the foreman that they wanted to meet with the farm workers. The foreman and farm workers refused to attend the meeting and the 3 illegal occupiers left. DDF ploughed lands on Swallowfield. Farm workers on Auks Nest met with resident illegal occupiers where they were told that if they wanted plots their names needed to be recorded and plots on other farms would be made available to them. Illegal occupier Chidakwa instructed brick contractors on the farm to stop working.
Marondera - About 13 farms have been shut down in the Ruzawi area. 3 farms have been allowed to continue working.  Farm workers on Polotime were forced out of their houses and the owner told to vacate the farm with his cattle by illegal occupiers. Farm workers on Rupanga refused to vacate their homes after receiving demands from illegal occupiers. 15 illegal occupiers demanded a work stoppage on Mushangwe farm and that the owner move his seedbeds to another section on the farm, all cattle be moved off and farm workers paid and told to vacate the farm. The owner refused to adhere to the illegal occupiers demands and received further threats
Marondera South - There were a number of fires on farms in the area caused by illegal occupiers.
Marondera North - The owner of Nyagambe received a death threat from illegal occupiers if work on the farm continued. The labour dispute which occurred on Norfolk farm has been resolved and work allowed to commence. Section 5 orders have been delivered to some farms in the area. The land committee visited 3 farms, following up applications for delisting by way of the government forms. The Committee were surveying single owner aspects claimed by farm owners.  247 bags of Rhodes grass seed was stolen from Cambridge farm and the work stoppages continues.
Macheke / Virginia - The owners of Mignon and Howgate were told by illegal occupiers to stop all work on the farm. DDF have been pegging on Methven. The owner was further instructed to stop work except grading and to move cattle and farm workers from the top section of the farm to the bottom. Piping and fencing was stolen from Klipspringer Kop and a cow snared and killed. Illegal occupiers are building huts on Spes Bona. Pegging is occurring on Mafuti farm. 9 farm owners received Section 5 orders. Illegal occupiers told the owner of Warren farm to instruct his farm workers to move out of their houses. The owner told illegal occupiers that it was their job to do that and a peaceful meeting was held where the labour refused to comply. Illegal occupiers on Richmond farm instructed that the owner to move cattle off the farm, which he refused. The owner of Camdale was instructed by illegal occupiers to move his cattle. The owner was unable to contact the DA and police did not respond. The owner of Hazeldene was forced to close the farm store, and verbally threatened by a drunk illegal occupier.  Illegal occupiers demanded that the owner of Nyagadzi replace the drip irrigation which he had uplifted. The owner refused, and illegal occupiers started chanting outside the homestead gate. When the owner did not go out to talk to them they tried to evict farm workers from their houses. Police refused to respond.  Illegal occupiers on Nyadema who were cutting down the trees, resulted in some of the farm fences being broken. Police were notified and took a report but refused to react. The owner of Royal Visit reported to the police that there was tree cutting and hut building on the farm, a missing calf and 450m of fencing wire stolen. The police did not attend. About 25 illegal occupiers tried to evict the owner of Kournine farm from his home. The owner of Marylands was surrounded by about 20 aggressive illegal occupiers and severely abused and intimidated. The owner was told to move his cattle and close up operations and vacate the farm within 2 weeks. Mrewa lands committee were notified.
Wedza - Illegal occupiers are being transported to farms in the area by truck and  accompanied by the DA. On 5 farms, farm workers were chased out of their farm village by illegal occupiers and were residing in the farm barn complexes. The situation has since been resolved.  A government vehicle smashed through the gate on Hefa farm to gain access onto the farm.  Theft of electrical equipment has been rife in the district. On Mt Arthur illegal occupiers asked the owner to move poles and plough land for them, which was refused.  Extensive pegging is still taking place by illegal occupiers, gates and locks are being smashed in order to gain entry onto farms. More poaching has taken place on Lilliefontein. 3 impala and a cow were snared on Rapako. Grids have been ripped up and poles put across roads to prevent access to certain parts of the farm.
Headlands - There was a large build up of illegal occupiers on Padeswood who were waiting for Mutasa to address them, when he didn't arrive the crowd dispersed.
Mutare - Illegal occupiers barricaded the farm road and shut down operations on Mountain Home.
Masvingo East & Central - Illegal occupiers on Wondeza moved the owners cattle off the farm and are currently dismantling buildings on the farm.
Chiredzi - 18 poachers threatened game scouts on Wasara Ranch. 11 poachers were seen with about 160 kg's of dried meat on Mangwezi Ranch. When a neighbouring farm owner and his game scouts tried to apprehend the poachers, the farm owner and his game scouts were assaulted, who then proceeded to the stone the vehicle as the farm owner and game scouts drove away. The neighbouring farm owner retrieved about 40 kg's of the meat. Police are investigating. 
Mwenezi - There has been an increase of illegal occupiers on Moria and Limburgia Ranches. 130 head of red zone cattle have been moved onto Bubani by illegal occupiers, with the threat that another 1200 head of cattle still to come. 70 head of red zone cattle have been moved onto Bar G by illegal occupiers. 30 head of red zone cattle were moved onto Swanscoe, of which its main function is breeding bulls. The owners of Groenveldt, Kayansee, Bea and Bothasrus have been informed that illegal occupiers will be moving their cattle onto the farms. The owner of Marungudzi has 150 head of cattle belonging to illegal occupiers on his farm. The movement of red zone cattle into green zone properties has been orchestrated by the DA Beitbridge and the provincial veterinary officer of Matabeleland South. The veterinary department in Beit Bridge issued a permit to move cattle from Lesanth which is a green zone to Flora  which is a clear zone farm.
Shurugwi - 4 illegal occupiers broke through the homestead security fence and threatened a farm owner's wife to take over the farm. A neighbouring farm owner responded and took the illegal occupiers to the Shurugwi police.
Gweru - A cattle rancher had his whole farm burnt out by illegal occupiers resulting in the owner having to put 400 head of cattle into pens to be fed as there is no grazing. There have been armed trespassers seen on some farms in this area.
Somabhula - A Vungu Rural District Council vehicle was seen ferrying people onto farms in the area, while the same Council claims to be unable to maintain roads due to lack of fuel.
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From the Daily News

Farmer brutally attacked

8/6/01 7:51:48 AM (GMT +2)

Staff Reporter

RALPH Fenwick Cobbert, a Kwekwe farmer, is in the intensive care unit at the
Avenues Clinic in Harare where he is on a life support system after he was
savagely attacked with an axe by a group of suspected war veterans and Zanu
PF supporters on Friday afternoon.

Cobbert, 76, a widower, was admitted to the Avenues Clinic on Saturday
He was struck with an axe on his head and sustained a deep cut. Doctors said
the right side of his brain was severely damaged. Details of the attack are
still unclear.
War veterans occupied Cobbert’s farm last year and have been allocating
themselves land, stealing cattle and disrupting farming activities on the
Cobbert’s daughters, Cheryl and Brenda, who flew in from South Africa
yesterday, said doctors told them their father would be on the respirator
until tomorrow before a review of his condition is made.
Cheryl said the incident happened on Friday night at Lannes Farm in Kwekwe.
She said according to police preliminary investigations, Cobbert’s attackers
attempted to strangle him with a length of wire before striking him on the
head with an axe.
The assailants allegedly disconnected telephone lines and locked the farmer
indoors before attacking him.
One firearm was reported missing and police investigations are in progress.
A farm worker found Cobbert lying unconscious. The worker had noticed a hole
in the the security fence surrounding the farmhouse and decided to
He rushed to the next farm to seek for assistance from Cobbert’s neighbours.
They rushed Cobbert to Stanley House Clinic in Kwekwe, from where he was
transferred to the Avenues Clinic in Harare.
Cheryl said she did not understand why her father was attacked.
She said: “Before Zanu PF even started talking about land, my father
allocated his workers land to grow crops and build houses. He loves his
workers and they will find life very difficult without him.”
Cheryl said the Cobbert family held Zanu PF responsible for the savage

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From the Daily News

MDC activist injured in attack

8/6/01 7:58:16 AM (GMT +2)

Staff Reporter

RONALD Majongwe, an MDC activist in Kuwadzana 4 in Harare, was seriously
injured in the early hours of Friday when suspected Zanu PF supporters broke
into his house, dragged him into the streets and whipped him with sjamboks.

Majongwe, 24, sustained severe cuts and lacerations on the back and arms.
He said he was asleep when he was disturbed at around 2am by loud banging on
his door. The door was suddenly swung open as a group of men, some wearing
balaclava masks, forced their way into the room.
“They ordered me to get out of the room and to remove the sweater which I
was wearing,” said Majongwe.
No one came to his rescue as he screamed for help.
He said: “They forced me to walk to the main road where they beat me on the
back, chest and head with electric cables and batons.”
He was forced to roll on the ground. He thinks the motive for the attack was
political. He had not reported the attack after his release, saying an
earlier report had yielded nothing.
Majongwe said he was released after two hours. He said he identified two
Zanu PF youths who were part of the group.
In almost similar circumstances, James Likumba, a Zanu PF supporter in
Epworth, escaped unhurt when identified war veterans raided his home just
before midnight on Thursday.
Likumba, 40, said he had been working with the war veterans since they
started invading farms near and around Epworth.
“I stopped working with the war veterans after they stole my cellphone. I
reported the case to the police, but they did not take any action against
them,” said Likumba.
He said about 15 war veterans, most of whom he recognised, came to his home
armed with axes, metal rods and slashers.
Likumba escaped through the back door, and reported the case to the police.
He said when he returned with the police, his colour television set, solar
panel and radio were missing.
His wife, Farisi Jonifani, was abducted by the war veterans on the same
night, but she too escaped.

In Other News:

Noczim boss arrested over $218 million scam

Farmer brutally attacked

Masvingo detectives in court for $40 000 bribery

Zanu ousts Kumbula from presidency

More than 1 700 titles vie to be on Africa’s best 100 books list

MDC activist injured in attack

Union gives PTC ultimatum over salary appeal

Inspection of voter material continues

Firms get nod to research on modified maize, cotton

On-line travel magazine launched

Firm’s closure leaves over 5 000 jobless

Ex-worker says legal aid society mismanaged

Fired workers camp outside union offices

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From the Daily News

Noczim boss arrested over $218 million scam

8/6/01 7:25:03 AM (GMT +2)

By Conrad Nyamutata Chief Reporter

NICHOLAS Kitikiti, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Mines and
Energy, was arrested on Saturday in connection with a scam in which the
National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim) was swindled out of about $218

Kitikiti, who is also the chairman of Noczim, is detained at Borrowdale
police station in Harare. He is expected to appear in court today facing
allegations of fraud.
As investigations into the scandal widen, police sources said detectives
were also keen to interview Chris Kuruneri, the Deputy Minister of Finance
and Economic Development, in connection with the approval of the failed
On Saturday, Kitikiti spent six hours under intensive interrogation by
detectives from the Criminal Investigation Department¹s fraud squad. He was
first picked up on Friday and released at around 11 pm. Kitikiti was
interviewed together with Felix Ndlovu, Noczim¹s financial director. Ndlovu
was arrested on Friday night and is also expected to appear in court today.
Noczim is understood to have lost $146 million in local currency and US$1,3
million (about Z$71, 5 million) paid to Quenora Investments to procure fuel.
The company allegedly failed to deliver the fuel and Noczim has been
demanding its money back.
Quenora Investments is said to have reimbursed Noczim but in cheques which
were, however, not signed.
Patricia Mitchell and Peter Lotriet, directors of Quenora, have also been
Police sources said during the lengthy interrogation, Kitikiti denied any
wrongdoing in the botched deal. He is said to have blamed Ndlovu.
The sources said when Kitikiti was released on Friday night, police had
considered listing him as a witness in the case.
However, Ndlovu is reported to have “spilled more beans” in the absence of
Kitikiti, his boss. After studying the case, police recalled Kitikiti on
Saturday. He was interrogated again before he was arrested.According to the
sources, Kitikiti was involved in the approval of the deal for Quenora to
supply fuel.
Some memoranda in the hands of the police suggested that there were other
top government officials who had pressured Noczim to accept Quenora as an
In the deal, Noczim is understood to have given Quenora the $146 million in
local currency so that the company could source foreign currency on the
black market to purchase fuel.
Lotriet, according to the police, claims he secured foreign currency from a
bureau de change at the rate of US$1 to Z$127.
The currency deal was orchestrated with the bureau de change in such a
manner that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe would not detect that an illegal
foreign currency transaction had been conducted.
Lotriet, said the police sources, claims he gave the foreign currency to a
businessman named only as Aziz, who is based in Dubai, to secure fuel for
Noczim. Aziz is said to be the owner of a company called Eastpark.
However, Noczim still failed to secure the fuel. Under pressure to refund
the national oil procurement company, Quenora is said to have written the
unsigned cheques.
Police are also keen to interview Aziz, who is believed to be out of the
The scandal comes against the backdrop of a fuel crisis which has crippled
the country for the past two years.
Last year, top Noczim officials were arrested and charged of defrauding the
oil procurement company of more than $1 billion. The officials were
subsequently dismissed and nothing has been recovered from them. The former
Noczim managing director, Morgan Mpundu, died before the government could
retrieve Noczim funds from him.
Kitikiti told The Herald on Friday his ministry was working flat out to
bring the culprits to book.
Enos Chikowore, the former Minister of Transport and Energy, resigned as a
result of the continuing fuel crisis caused by rampant corruption at Noczim
in addition to the chronic foreign currency shortage.

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From Business Day

US bill racist, says Zimbabwean minister

HARARE A US senate bill which could usher in visa restrictions against
people responsible for violence in Zimbabwe was racist, Zimbabwean
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo said in an interview yesterday with a
progovernment newspaper.
"The bill is a racist bill because it's targeting African people whose crime
is to seek the restoration of their fundamental rights," Moyo said in The
Sunday Mail.

"America is basically a racist country. Its history is a history of racism,
slavery and colonialism. Our former slave masters can never be our
liberators," Moyo said.

The bill, which was passed late on Wednesday, asks the administration of
President George Bush to consult other nations on ways to implement visa
restrictions and other targeted sanctions against those responsible for
political violence in Zimbabwe.

Known as the Zimbabwe Democracy and Recovery Act, the bill would also double
funding for democracy programs in the southern African nation, and urges US
support for observers in the upcoming parliamentary and 2002 presidential
elections in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe is embroiled in a bitter land row over government attempts to seize
land from white farmers without compensation in a bid to correct
colonial-era inequities.

The land reforms have been accompanied by violent invasions of white farms
by militant veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation war.

The veterans have also been tied to political violence that has left some 35
people dead during the past year.

"I can't see a normal president signing such a racist bill," said Moyo.

Meanwhile, on Saturday Zimbabwe's leading civic groups called for an end to
political violence, economic decay and land reforms and stressed the need
for free and fair presidential polls in 2002.

The one-day meeting ended with a list of resolutions and demands for which
the group threatened civil disobedience if government failed to accede to

"The conference believes that the crises in Zimbabwe must be resolved
immediately before the country descends into chaos," the groups said.

They also called on regional and international bodies such as the United
Nations, the European Union, the Commonwealth and African Union "to use
their influence to bring about a restoration of peace, functioning democracy
and the rule of law" within the ailing country.

Zimbabwe is in the grips of its worst depression yet, with inflation and
unemployment rates at more than 60% and foreign currency reserves all but

While acknowledging the need for land reform in the country, the groups
condemned the violence associated with what has been dubbed "fast track"
land reform.

The groups said they accepted present inequities and felt there was a need
for major land reform which was properly planned and executed.

They agreed on a need for comprehensive constitutional reform before the
2002 presidential elections, and called for the establishment of an
independent electoral commission and a code of conduct for the political

President Robert Mugabe, in power for 21 years, has used his majority in
parliament to clamp down on dissent ahead of presidential polls. The war in
the Democratic Republic of Congo has also partly been blamed for Zimbabwe's
economic ills. Sapa-AFP.

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From the Times of India

Nigeria to host talks on Zimbabwe land issue

BUJA: Nigeria will next week host talks between the foreign ministers of
Zimbabwe, Britain and four other Commonwealth countries over the
controversial land issue, officials said on Monday.

"We will be hosting the talks next week," Foreign Ministry spokesman Adegbo
Onoja said, declining other comment.

A state-run daily in Harare on Monday reported that the Commonwealth group
would be meeting in Nigeria August 15-17 to seek ways to heal strained
relations between Zimbabwe and Britain over the land issue.

The meeting would be the first of the group of seven -- Nigeria, South
Africa, Kenya, Australia, Jamaica, Britain and Zimbabwe itself.

"It is understood that all the seven foreign ministers have accepted the
invitation by Nigeria to attend the crucial talks expected to normalise the
frosty relations between Harare and London as a result of the government's
current drive to redress colonial land imbalances," the paper said, quoting
"well-placed" sources.

Relations between Zimbabwe and its former colonial master Britain have been
strained in recent years over Harare's controversial land reforms.

The Commonwealth ministerial group was created in June.

Separately, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) last month set up its
own special committee on Zimbabwe's land crisis, which comprises Nigeria, as
the chair, Algeria, Cameroon, Kenya, South Africa and Zambia.

The seven-member ministerial meeting in Nigeria comes ahead of the
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be held October 6-9 in
Brisbane, Australia.

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From the Peoples Daily

Yunnan's Cured Tobacco Exported to Zimbabwe

Cured tobacco produced in southwest China's Yunnan Province has been
exported to tobacco producing countries like Zimbabwe in Africa and Brazil
in South America.

In recent years, this province enhanced its cooperation with international
big tobacco companies, importing advanced cultivation and processing
technologies, and learning business management experience from their

The high quality of its cured tobacco has won the overseas markets. The
province has so far exported 500 tons of tobacco to Zimbabwe and, for the
first time, 39.6 tons to the Netherlands this year.

Another 430 tons to be exported to Zimbabwe is under negotiation.

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From the Daily News

CFU quizzes Made over source of $15bn pledged to small-scale sector

8/6/01 8:54:14 AM (GMT +2)

By Takaitei Bote Farming Editor

Dr Joseph Made, the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement,
says the government will soon make available $15 billion to support the
small-scale farming sector amid fears the government could be printing

David Hasluck, Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU) director, lambasted the move,
asking Made: “Where is the money coming from? If we can just print money, we
do not need to produce and we can all be happy.”
Hasluck said this soon after Made addressed delegates to the CFU annual
congress last week.
The minister did not respond.
Made had said the government had set aside $15 billion for the smallholder
sector in order to achieve certain targets set for the sector for livestock
and crop production for the season 2001/2002.
Made said: “Cereal production has generally declined over the last 10 years.

“The issue of cereal production is very, very important in terms of our food
security and industrial growth. To this effect, I would like to indicate
that we have set targets for the other sectors other than the commercial
farming sector.”
With the $15 billion to be available in the 2001/2002 farming season, the
smallholder sector is expected to reach a target of 4,8 million tonnes of
maize next year.
Both the smallholder and commercial sectors have never in the history of
Zimbabwe produced a total crop of anywhere near the tonnage set by the
The highest achieved output in the country since independence is around 2
million tonnes.
This year, both the smallholder and commercial sectors produced a total
maize crop of only 1,4 million tonnes, which is less than the domestic
annual requirement of 2,1 million tonnes.
Other targets set for next year include producing 125 000 tonnes of wheat,
541 000 tonnes of cotton, 400 000 tonnes of groundnuts, 39 000 tonnes of
soyabean, 30 000 tonnes of sunflower and 176 000 tonnes of sorghum.
Made told the commercial farmers: “It is my hope that soon after congress we
will be receiving your proposals as to what your projected production will
be for the commercial farming sector.
“It will also be important for this proposal to include the resources that
you anticipate to utilise in order to achieve your production proposals,
that is the budget, inclusive of foreign currency requirements as well as
the support you will need from the ministry.”
Responding to Made, the farmers said while agricultural resources were a
priority to farming and that targets were important for planning purposes,
the government should remove controls on maize and wheat marketing.
Hasluck said the controls on maize and wheat marketing imposed by the
government last month would discourage production.

In Other News:

Barter exports for energy debts, urges Makoni

Firm moves against Internet viruses

CFU quizzes Made over source of $15bn pledged to small-scale sector

Farm invasions could hit $2,2bn EU beef earnings

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From The Star, 5 August

SA man free after being held on Zim farm

A South African citizen was on Sunday allowed to leave a farm in Zimbabwe after being refused exit by a group of war veterans for two days. Foreign Affairs spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa confirmed that Graham Coleman, a South African vacationing in Zimbabwe, had by Sunday afternoon left the farm, situated approximately 100km east of Harare. So-called war veterans had invaded the farm - leased by Coleman's brother Eric - on Friday. Coleman had been visiting his brother.

Mamoepa said the South African High Commission in Zimbabwe had been in contact with representatives of the war veterans and the police to ensure the group left the farm, and that no-one was harmed. "We express our sympathy with them and are happy that they have left the farm... we are satisfied with the work done by the High Commission." The Zimbabwe police were periodically visiting the area to ensure the situation was under control, he said. The Democratic Alliance said in a statement earlier on Sunday that Coleman had sent a message to the party's leader Tony Leon after apparently being unhappy with the efforts of the High Commission. DA official David Maynier, who had been in contact with Coleman, told Sapa he (Coleman) believed the commission had not taken enough steps to ensure his safety. Maynier was not sure how Coleman had got the message through to Leon.

From The Norway Post, 5 August

Norway's mission to Zimbabwe under surveillance

The offices of the Norwegian Directorate of Development in Zimbabwe is reported to be under surveillance by the country's authorities, according to The Financial Gazette. The reason is supposedly President Robert Mugabe's fear that the nation's political opposition will be given foreign assistance. According to the newspaper, the homes of some of the personnel of the embassies and foreign aid missions to Zimbabwe are also under surveillance. Norway's Charge d'affaires, Tom Eriksen at the embassy in Harare has sent a report on the matter to the Department of Foreign Affairs in Oslo, Dagsavisen writes. President Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF party, in May pushed through a bill in Parliament, making it illegal to support Zimbabwe's biggest opposition party, MDC. Embassies and aid missions which break this ban risk being expelled from the country, The Financial Gazette writes. Norway's Charge d'affaires deny that any Norwegian development aid is given to political parties.

From The Star (SA), 5 August

Naartjie and chocolate pull hiker through

Harare - A 22-year-old Israeli tourist survived for two weeks in the bitter cold and rain in a remote Zimbabwean mountain range, thanks to a 100 gram chocolate bar, a naartjie and spring water, the country's media reported on Saturday. The independent Daily News said Ifat Madar was found on Thursday in the south-eastern Chimanimani mountains, suffering not much more than swollen feet. Madar said she saw no-one during the fortnight in the mist-shrouded mountains until a rescue party found her on the Mozambique side of the border that straddles the range.

Mozambican officials took her to the town of Chimoio about 100km north of Chimanimani for immigration formalities before she had an ecstatic reunion with her father, Ammon Madar, back in Zimbabwe. "It's good to be back," the Daily News quoted her as saying. "It was like a bad dream from which I desperately wanted to wake up." Her discovery ended a massive search operation mounted by national parks officers, the army, an air force helicopter, a private aircraft and many volunteers, including a rescue expert flown in from Switzerland. "All these days we were actually looking for a body," said Guy Cary, director of Outward Bound, a mountain training school in the range. "It was raining and bitterly cold up there," Madar added.

From The Daily News, 4 August

Reserve Bank officials in alleged $1,4bn scam

Mutare - Three senior officials at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) are said to have been asked to step down amid reports that $1,4 billion in proceeds from jewellery sales may have disappeared. The jewellery was manufactured by Aurex (Pvt) Limited, a subsidiary company of the RBZ, sources in Harare said this week. The Aurex jewellery consignment was sold to an undisclosed foreign country - most likely the United States of America - but proceeds from the sale never found their way into either Aurex or RBZ coffers, the sources confided.

The matter is understood to have been investigated by the anti-corruption unit of the National Economic Consultative Forum (NECF), a quasi-government, multi-sector body set up about three years ago to help spearhead the country’s economic revival. The NECF, according to our sources, recommended that the three senior RBZ officials step down for their respective roles in the transaction. It was not immediately clear what roles they played. The three officials, who were all said to be out attending workshops and could not be reached for the past five days, are reportedly resisting measures to remove them.

Other officials at the RBZ, Aurex and NECF were not forthcoming when contacted for comment, amid suggestions within financial and political circles that the matter was being kept firmly under the carpet to protect the image of the central bank. Aurex, which has undergone a restructuring exercise and announced a new board of directors on Thursday, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reszim Investments (Pvt) Limited, which in turn is wholly-controlled by the RBZ. The company, based at Ruwa outside the capital, manufactures jewellery for export to the US, which earns it an average of $55 million (US$1 million) a month in foreign currency earnings.

Both John Dhliwayo, the managing director of Aurex, and Ignatious Mabasa, the RBZ spokesman, said they were unaware of the matter. Nonetheless, the pair suggested this newspaper submit questions in writing. At NECF, the chairman of the anti-corruption unit, businessman and politician Phillip Chiyangwa, denied the quasi-governmental body had investigated such an issue. "I’m hearing this for the first time from you," said Chiyangwa, referring further questions to Nhlanhla Masuku, the NECF’s chief spokesman. Masuku did not return messages left at his office. "There have been all sorts of rumours going around about that, but there is no substance to it," Lovemore Chihota, the chairman of Aurex, said on Thursday. He then suggested the newspaper visit him for a face-to-face interview over the allegations.

In advertisements flighted in issues of yesterday’s newspapers, Aurex said it had appointed new directors as part of a restructuring programme that would culminate in the marketing of machine-made and hand-made jewel products to Europe, the Middle East and the Americas. "Currently, Aurex is producing and selling jewellery to the American market only," the company said in the advertisement. "The exports are earning the country an average of US$1 million a month in foreign currency." At the official exchange rate, that is $55 million a month, or $660 million a year.

From The Zimbabwe Independent, 3 August

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 peasantry. 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. The analysis shows that the viability of the land reform exercise depends on support from government during the first five years of resettlement. The report 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. In 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. The 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 said. 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. Economists and 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.

From The Zimbabwe Independent, 3 August

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. "Basically you 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.

The 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 Veterinary Department. 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. The latest 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."

From New Vision (Uganda), 5 August

UN Ponders Buying Weapons From DRC

Bafwasende, DRC - The UN Security Council is considering a proposal to buy weapons from the renegade armies in the DR Congo as part of a peace initiative, a UN official said here on Sunday. Under the Lusaka protocol 11 agreement, the UN is mandated to commission a project to work out a programme for demobilising the renegade armies from the region, including the possibility of an amnesty. "One option being considered for disarming the negative forces is by purchasing rifles from them," he said in an interview. The non-government forces operating in the DRC, which are to be disarmed include, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), the former Uganda National Army (FUNA), the Interahamwe genocidaires and the West Nile Bank Front (WNBF). Others are the former Rwandese Army (Ex-FAR) and the Burundian Forces for the Defence of Democracy (FDD).

A special task force made up of elements from the belligerent forces, who are signatory to the Lusaka Accord shall be formed for the purpose of mobilising manpower and resources to track down any renegade forces which may be unwilling to surrender. The Joint Military Commission shall designate the assembled forces to bases and location identified by it. The UN will then set up a mechanism for screening, with aview to apprehending, trying or punishing all mass killers, perpetrators of crimes against humanity and related criminals.

Meanwhile, Captain Johan Potgieter, the Kampala-based senior military liaison officer for the UN Peace Mission in the DRC Congo, on Saturday flew to Bafwasende to oversee the withdrawal of the UPDF. The withdrawal from the northeastern Congolese town of Bafwasende has been slowed down by heavy rain and impassable roads. Potgieter said he got clearance from MONUC Kinshasa, to visit the UPDF base. "The withdrawal is going on well although slightly behind schedule," he said. He was accompanied by the deputy director of Military Intelligence, Lt. Col. Fred Mugisha, army spokesman Lt. Col. Phinehas Katirima, the co-ordinator of Operation Safe Haven, Lt. Col. James Musinguzi and Lt. Yerinde Tumwebaze.

Katirima and Mugisha addressed hundreds of Congolese civilians who urged the UPDF not to leave. Some of the equipment is stuck and food supplies are being sent after an interval of two weeks. The troops walking a distance of 520km from Bafwabwoli are expected in Beni by the end of this month. Mugisha informed the Congolese of the peace efforts in the region and the implementation of the Lusaka Accord. All individual debts were paid off prior to the arrival of the team there. Other institutional UPDF debts amounted to US$740 for medical bills and 800 litres of fuel. Alobe Litolombo, who spoke on behalf of the Congolese community, said their security was not guaranteed with the departure of UPDF.

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From The Independent on Sunday (UK), 5 August

Mugabe plot to rig election exposed

President's 'war veterans' to get more than one vote - and weapons training

Harare - Plans by Zimbabwe's President Mugabe to rig next year's presidential election have been exposed, just as his beleaguered nation begins gearing up for the crunch ballot which he is expected to lose. His plot hinges on the multiple registration of ruling-party supporters in different constituencies to allow them to vote several times; the second part of the strategy involves relocating more than 500,000 unemployed urban dwellers to commercial farms now being confiscated from whites without compensation.

Mr Mugabe, 77, who has been in power since independence from Britain was achieved in 1980, announced that he would run for another six-year term next April, despite his government's massive unpopularity. The business and financial newspaper the Financial Gazette described his rigging plans last Thursday. Mr Mugabe aims to outflank the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) by moving the hundreds of thousands of unemployed and other desperate urban dwellers into farming areas under the controversial fast-track land resettlement exercise.

The relocation of registered voters from urban to rural areas - in exchange for their pledged votes - will bolster the ruling Zanu-PF party's rural support. Mr Mugabe's party traditionally enjoys support in rural areas. The relocated people will get slices of land from the farms the Zimbabwe government has been seizing from whites. They will then be expected to transfer their votes to a rural constituency where they have been resettled. The plan was tailor-made to fit Zanu's overall presidential election strategy. A pilot phase proved successful in the recent parliamentary by-election in Bindura constituency, where 4,000 mainly Zanu supporters and "war veterans" were moved from surrounding towns registered as voters in the constituency. Zanu won the by-election by 5,000 votes.

Government officials admitted that Mr Mugabe was not leaving anything to chance and would do all he could to ensure he won the presidential election. He has vowed never to let the MDC, which he calls a British puppet, rule Zimbabwe. The president is known to have contracted an Israeli company to supply $20m-worth of riot vehicles and water cannons for the police force, which he has often used to intimidate opposition supporters. The Home Affairs permanent secretary, Mike Matshiya, assured the Israeli arms firm, Beit Alfa Trailer Company, that the Zimbabwe government would strain every nerve to raise the foreign currency needed to purchase the equipment. Zimbabwe is in the midst of a desperate hard-currency shortage. Fuel supplies are exhausted and the price of basic goods is rocketing.

The opposition complains that it is immoral of Mr Mugabe to spend large sums of money on arms purchases at a time when the country cannot feed itself. The Finance Minister, Simba Makoni, has said that Zimbabwe has no money to import food. Information about plans to equip the police coincided with reports that groups of "war veterans" - Mr Mugabe's shock troops in his brutal campaign against white farmers - are undergoing training in gun-handling at the police's Morris Depot in Harare. Sources at the depot say veterans from all over Zimbabwe are undergoing training in batches of 50, in preparation for their deployment in the election campaign.

From ZWNEWS, 5 August

By a Special Correspondent

Violence wins in Bindura: but for Mugabe it may not be so easy

Stephen Madzimure, a 27-year-old supporter of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change, is still sporting a black eye and nursing a swollen left arm, two weeks after being attacked by ruling Zanu PF party supporters. "I'm one of the lucky ones because I still have all my limbs,'' says Madzimure. ``Some of my colleagues in the party were almost beaten to death. You are attacked after rallies or followed to your homes which is what happened to me.'' Madzimure is among hundreds of victims of the latest wave of state-inspired violence in the run-up to a key by-election in his home town, Bindura, 80 kms northeast of Harare.

For President Robert Mugabe, Bindura, the seat of a top Cabinet minister Border Gezi who died in a car crash in April, was one Zanu PF just couldn't lose. The party literally went on the warpath - maiming opponents, beating others senseless, drafting in supporters to the rolls. The bloodshed paid off. Electoral officers announced July 30 that the Zanu PF candidate Elliot Manyika had defeated the MDC's Elliot Manyika by 15 864 votes to 9 4564, a substantial increase in the government's majority. The success of ZANU-PF's month-long brutal political campaign in Bindura has aroused fears of even worse violence in another landmark by-election, at Chikomba, 140 kms south of Harare, in September. Chikomba was the seat of the architect of ZANU-PF's reign of terror, Chenjerai Hunzvi, the self-styled Hitler who was the leader of veterans of the war which led to independence in 1980. He died of suspected AIDS June 4.

For Zanu PF, Bindura provided a vital endorsement of violence as a strategy for survival, which Mugabe adopted after the massive rejection in February last year of a constitution which sought to widen his powers and provide for the seizure of white-owned farms without compensation. Many fear that violence will now escalate in every poll - from local to presidential elections. Thousands of farms have been invaded by Zanu PF supporters, at least 50 people, including political opponents, white farmers and their employees have been killed, and national elections in June last year, which Zanu PF won narrowly, were wracked by violence. The economy teeters on the brink of collapse, food shortages loom, and streams of Zimbabweans, black and white, have left the country.

Outside Zanu PF, however, many see Bindura - and perhaps Chikomba - as a one-off where the ruling party was able to focus its terror machine on one district. That will be less easy to do in presidential elections which must be held by April next year. "All we need to do is to ensure that the presidential election is relatively free, which is difficult to do with by-elections,'' commented MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, whose motorcade was stoned and came under fire when he campaigned in Bindura. Emmanuel Magade, law lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, said the result did not tell "us much about the future.'' ``They won in their stronghold and they did not change their campaign tactics,'' he added.

Few, however, are safe from political violence. Philip Marufu from Mount Darwin, 156kms north-east of Harare, recently told a court how he was abducted by Zanu PF supporters before the June elections, and held for a day in a storage tank with his 12-year-old son. The perpetrators, said Marufu, later brought their girlfriends to the closed tank and forced him and his son to listen to noisy sexual intercourse. Bindura magistrate Reyi Gweshero Tito had his house surrounded by Zanu PF youths after he convicted 17 party supporters of waging a campaign of violence in Mashonaland West. The youths sang revolutionary songs and forced the magistrate's wife to accept the post of treasurer of the youth wing. Among those sentenced by Tito was a brother of Chief Chiweshe, a local leader involved in the violence. The chief tried to stop people attending an MDC supporter's funeral, and ordered the destruction of granaries before he was beaten up by members of the MDC. Minister of Education, Sports and Culture Samuel Mumbengegwi and Foreign Affairs minister Stan Mudenge reportedly told principals and student leaders during a recent visit to the Masvingo province that they could be killed for supporting opposition parties. On July 30, some 100 army recruits rampaged through a nightclub and two bars in Masvingo, charging patrons with supporting the MDC, ransacking a till, and vandalising the premises.

From The New York Times, 4 August

Zimbabwe groups call on Mugabe to end violence

Harare - Zimbabwe's main civic groups called on President Robert Mugabe on Saturday to end a violent campaign by his supporters ahead of presidential elections next year or risk more trouble. At the end of a one-day conference on "Crisis in Zimbabwe'' some 500 delegates from development agencies, professional associations, church and human rights groups, labor and student unions urged Mugabe to set a program that would guarantee a free and fair poll. They demanded the establishment of an independent electoral commission, a new voters' register at least three months before the presidential election, a political code of conduct for the elections and media freedoms.

"The political climate must improve significantly if we are to have a free and fair election, and this means the government must bring to an end the political violence that its supporters are perpetrating on the opposition,'' they said in one resolution. "If the president and the government refuse to act on these fair demands, we reserve our democratic right to engage in civic action, including civil disobedience,'' they added. The conference said it supported land reforms in Zimbabwe, but insisted it was opposed to Mugabe's controversial seizures of white-owned farms that have been accompanied by a wave of violence. "We fully accept the need to end inequities in land ownership, but land reforms must be properly planned and executed,'' the conference resolved.

Brian Raftopoulos, an associate professor at the University of Zimbabwe's Institute of Development Studies, said in a report that Mugabe appeared bent on using violence to destroy the opposition. "The future of Zimbabwe is balanced on a knife-edge, as an aging and increasingly unpopular nationalist leader struggles to secure his political future,'' he said. "The test of a political transition is upon us as a nation, and the failure to deal with this challenge could lead to a heightened civil conflict within the next year,'' he said.

A spokesman for Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF party, Nathan Shamuyarira, dismissed Saturday's conference as a non-event. "These people survive on foreign funding...and they are just saying what their masters want to hear,'' he told Reuters. Mugabe acknowledges in broad terms that Zimbabwe is facing an economic and political crisis, but he blames both on sabotage by domestic and Western opponents seeking to oust him for his drive to seize white farms for blacks. The former Rhodesia -- which Mugabe has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980 -- plunged into crisis in February last year when self-styled war veterans, encouraged by his government, seized hundreds of white-owned farms across the country. The land chaos and violence against the opposition left 31 people dead before last year's general parliamentary elections. Political analysts say Mugabe, 77, faces an unprecedented challenge from Morgan Tsvangirai of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in presidential elections that must be held by April.

Comment from The Chicago Tribune, 4 August

Gloomy days in Zimbabwe

Hope appears to have gone on a long hiatus in Zimbabwe. A country that once offered a promising glimpse of Africa's future now limps along on a 50 percent unemployment rate. The annual rate of inflation tops 60 percent. One-fourth of the population is infected with HIV. Some 500,000 children have been orphaned by AIDS. Drivers sit in long lines to purchase rationed gasoline. Corn, formerly a major export, is in short supply. Construction projects abandoned by overseas investors stand frozen in place.

President Robert Mugabe's response to all this misery is to point blame elsewhere, particularly at white farmers. Whites comprise less than 1 percent of the country's population of 12 million, but own half of its arable land. Yet, for all his threats, Mugabe has avoided land reforms - outside of encouraging mob action against white farmers. He would rather have the scapegoats.

Once the world had reason to have higher hopes for Mugabe. He reached out to his country's white minority and presented a mostly pragmatic image to the world after Zimbabwe succeeded the breakaway British colony of Rhodesia in 1980, and Mugabe took over from Ian Smith's white-minority government. But post-apartheid South Africa under Nelson Mandela's wise leadership drew investments and attention away from Mugabe in the 1990s. As Mugabe has become more isolated, he has turned to his rogues gallery of friends, including Moammar Gadhafi, who recently came roaring into oil-starved Harare, Zimbabwe's capital, in a gas-guzzling 100-car motorcade.

Is it too optimistic to think that Mugabe's reign could end in the near future? Mugabe suffered a serious political setback in elections last year, when he barely held on to a legislative majority. A coalition of unions, church groups and farmers called the MDC won 57 of 120 contested seats in that election, and poses an unprecedented threat to his chances for re-election in 2002. This has made Mugabe more stubborn, even more tyrannical. South Africa, which fears an influx of refugees spilling out of an unstable Zimbabwe, has urged America, Britain and the IMF to lend a hand to ease Zimbabwe's shortages of goods and to promote land reform. Unfortunately, that might also help to promote Mugabe.

Mugabe could have learned a great deal from Mandela about human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law. Instead, he seems to have become more determined to rule by violence and intimidation and hope that no one outside Zimbabwe pays serious attention to his abuses of his own people. He's worked that ploy before. Three years after taking power, he launched his 5th Brigade, trained by North Korea, ostensibly to quell rioting in the territory of his principal rival. More than 10,000 of the minority Ndebele tribe were slaughtered while the world looked away.

The world is looking now. During his trip to Africa in May, Secretary of State Colin Powell was sharply critical of Mugabe's tactics and signalled that it was time for the leader to step aside. It can't happen soon enough.

From The Zimbabwe Independent, 3 August

Govt seeks fuel from Sudan

Government is 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 Group 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 first time." 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. It is 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 Washington 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. The 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.

From The Zimbabwe Independent, 3 August

Chinotimba's credentials questioned

Retired General Solomon Mujuru this week questioned the war credentials of Harare province war veterans' chairman Joseph Chinotimba, following complaints from Zanu PF politburo members that Chinotimba was a loose cannon interfering in the internal affairs of other provinces, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt. The politburo, which met on Wednesday, unanimously agreed that Chinotimba had to be advised to act in consultation with the provincial leadership of respective provinces he intended visiting.

Sources said Mujuru, who was a Zanla military commander during the liberation war, told the politburo that he did not know much about Chinotimba's revolutionary history. Mujuru was reportedly concerned about the elevation to senior party positions of people without clear liberation war credentials. "The general was very concerned that Chinotimba was amassing so much power to himself and taking certain initiatives without prior consultation with the party authorities," a source close to the meeting said.

Mujuru questioned why Chinotimba had a Cherokee Jeep allocated to him, when other top party officials were using their own resources to campaign for the party. Mujuru told the Independent yesterday that he was not prepared to discuss the matter because the paper was in the habit of writing stories without prior consultation with him. "Go and ask those sources of yours for more information," Mujuru said.

The governor for Manicaland, Oppah Muchinguri, reportedly complained at the politburo meeting that Chinotimba visited Manicaland last month and assumed authority in the fast-track land redistribution. "Muchinguri complained that Chinotimba just came to the province and did whatever he wanted as if he was the national chairman of the war veterans," the source said. Muchinguri was yesterday said to be in Harare when the Independent contacted her office in Mutare for comment. Chinotimba also raised the ire of the party leadership in Matabeleland when he went to Bulawayo in June to kick-start the mayoral election campaign without consulting the war veterans' leadership there. The party's acting secretary for the commissariat, Sikhanyiso Ndhlovu, reportedly warned Chinotimba not to assume too much power for himself in the province when he was just a Harare provincial war veterans and party member.

Contacted yesterday Chinotimba said those raising complaints against him were Movement for Democratic Change supporters. "I are (sic) busy campaigning for the national chairmanship post. Tell those people that I can be anywhere at any time. Let them come forward," Chinotimba said. "I will be standing (for the war veterans' chairmanship post) and I do not need to tell anyone where I will be going." Chinotimba refused to disclose his liberation war history. "You want to give that information to the British. No, I don't want," he said.

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From today’s Sunday Times (SA)

Messina borders on crisis as Zimbabwe's ills cross into SA


ECONOMIC disaster in Zimbabwe is crippling once-bustling Messina, South Africa's northernmost town.

Starved of cross-border trade, the town is dying. Retail trade has dropped 65% in the past four months as traffic from Zimbabwe slows to a trickle, and 16 shops will close at the end of this month.

"There's no money over there, which means they can't come and spend here - it's as simple as that," said Jayson Rana, chairman of the Messina Business Association.

"Messina is facing a crisis and we don't know what to do about it."

On Friday, an emergency meeting of business and government representatives was held in Messina to discuss ways of reviving trade, and a committee was established to consult the Zimbabwean government about re-opening the passenger train terminal at Beit Bridge, which was closed last year - a move considered vital in getting Zimbabweans back into SA shops.

In the last three months, Zimbabwean buyers have almost disappeared off Messina's streets, affecting everybody from fruit sellers to furniture dealers.

Although latest monthly immigration figures are unavailable, last year's 1.7 million border crossings were significantly down from the 2.2 million recorded in 1996.

In that time the town's retail sector also shrunk: butcheries decreased from six to two, auto-spare shops from five to one and shoe chain stores from five to two. In contrast, bottle stores increased from five to seven as people drink their troubles away, shop owners say. "I don't know where the people have gone," said Messina fruit seller Lawrence Makgoro, who hawks bunches of bananas and 50-cent naartjies out of a shopping trolley.

"Suddenly it all went dead," said shop owner Christo Swanepoel.

"We were just beginning to recover from last year's floods when Zimbabwe struck us. Now the recovery phase has been totally damaged by the war veterans," he said, adding that tourism to the area had also dried up since tour buses began dropping Zimbabwe from their itineraries.

The taxi industry, hawkers - even the sex industry - have also been knocked for a six.

Truck drivers complain that a prostitute now costs around R150 - almost three times as much as before when there were more paying clients.

Taxi owner Hans Ratshilele and street trader Mohammad Ahmed Dinad, both based at the Beit Bridge border post, said the combined effect of high import tariffs and the black market exchange rate of Z30 to the rand meant Zimbabweans earning rands preferred to spend their money at home.

"[Zimbabwean President Robert] Mugabe is killing us," said a café owner at Beit Bridge. "We can't carry on like this for much longer."


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