|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Howard Burditt, Reuters
CHINHOYI, Zimbabwe - Mobs loyal to President Robert Mugabe went on the rampage in Zimbabwe yesterday, beating whites at random and injuring seven women and three men.
Police told whites to keep out of Chinhoyi, a town 100 kilometres northwest of Harare, after supporters of Mr. Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Unity-Patriotic Front party massed in the streets, stoning cars carrying whites and attacking one woman in her 70s while she lined up in a post office.
The warning came the day after an elderly white farmer died in hospital in Harare after being beaten by suspected farm invaders.
Ralph Fenwick Corbett, 76, is the seventh white farmer killed since pro-government militants began forcibly occupying white farms 18 months ago.
Mr. Mugabe has lost no opportunity to vilify whites in public and has encouraged his followers to invade 1,700 of their farms. Critics have repeatedly said Mr. Mugabe's fiery and racist rhetoric would eventually provoke mob violence in a country where race relations have been generally harmonious.
Chinhoyi lies on one of Zimbabwe's main tourist routes: the main road linking Harare with Mana Pools National Park and Lake Kariba.
The violence was apparently sparked by the arrest of 22 white farmers on Monday night. The farmers said they were responding to an appeal for help from landowner Tony Barklay after squatters who have occupied his farm stormed his house. The farm invaders claimed they were attacked by the farmers.
When police arrived, they ordered the whites to report to Chinhoyi police station where they were arrested on charges of "public violence" and assault. They were still in custody last night.
When six of the farmers' wives tried to visit their husbands yesterday morning, they found a mob of about 40 youths wearing ZANU-PF T-shirts massed outside the police station.
Two of the women were attacked and the gang then rampaged through the streets, assaulting whites at random.
Dr. Chris Lewis treated five of the victims for cuts, bruises and concussion.
He said one woman in her 70s was set upon by two men inside the post office, near the ZANU-PF headquarters building.
"They called her a 'white bitch' and then they hit her. She was badly slapped around. She was quite hysterical," he said.
Another patient was a woman in her late 60s who was assaulted as she waited at the checkout in a supermarket on the main street. Witnesses said she was jostled by four men, one of whom rammed her with a shopping trolley.
Dr. Lewis also gave 45-year-old Hendrik Spreeth 20 stitches for two stab wounds, each more than seven centimetres deep.
"He was chased down the street by four men. He was kicked, beaten, punched and stabbed in the arm," the doctor said.
Betty Smith, 80, a farmer, was in a store on the main street when her son, John, 50, joined her.
"His shirt was torn to pieces and the blood was pouring down. They beat him with sticks and they beat the hell out of him. I came here in 1948 and I never even imagined it could be like this," she said.
Another 40-year-old woman was punched in the face as she left the police station. She had visited to register her car and was hit through the window as she drove away.
"This was clearly orchestrated," one farmer said. "The farmers were in jail and they knew that white people would come and visit them. They had the mob waiting."
Philip Chiyangwa, the ZANU-PF MP for Chinhoyi and the local party leader, blamed farmers for the violence.
He accused them of attacking squatters on their land.
"When these farmers go haywire, they begin to start using their guns," he said. "There should not be any provocation from the farmers. These people must not provoke us."
In the Corbett case, a black worker found the old man lying unconscious on his bedroom floor on Saturday morning. The intruders had trussed him up and bludgeoned him with an axe, leaving the walls of the room covered in blood. His telephone line had been cut.
Mr. Corbett had lived alone since the death of his wife, Norma, in 1992.
His cattle ranch, Lannes Farm, near Kwekwe, 240 kilometres southeast of Harare, was occupied by squatters a year ago and has been overrun by up to 100 followers of Mr. Mugabe.
A handgun and a blank cheque were stolen during the raid and it is unclear whether the attack was politically motivated.
But landowners believe no incident of this sort can be separated from the land invasions.
Malcolm Vowles, a spokesman for the Commercial Farmers Union, said yesterday it was unclear if occupiers on Mr. Corbett's farm had murdered him.
But he said the attack was "certainly linked to the prevailing lawlessness and to the fact that at this time, it would be seen that there would be no consequence to committing a crime against a white person."
From ZWNEWS, 8 August
Nyathi rancher beaten, to be charged with attempted murder
Matabeleland rancher David Joubert was yesterday ambushed in the Nyathi district by Zanu PF thugs, severely assaulted within the presence of seven police officers, and then arrested and taken to the local police station. He is expected to be charged with attempted murder today. This latest assault incident occurred after more than twenty farmers were arrested in Chinhoyi on Monday and Tuesday, and the death in hospital of Ralph Corbett, 76, a farmer from Kwekwe in the Midlands, who sustained fatal head injuries on Friday during an axe attack by a Zanu PF mob.
The same group who attacked Joubert had earlier been ferried onto his ranch near Turk Mine north of Bulawayo in government vehicles on Sunday evening. They camped overnight, and then on Monday abducted thirteen people from the nearby mine. Later that day they laid an ambush for Joubert’s game guards. In the melee which followed, in which the abducted people were used as human shields, the game guards fired shots from their shotguns, and several members of the gang, and the abductees, sustained minor birdshot injuries. The game guards managed to escape, but the mob then rampaged through the ranch compound and burnt several of the staff quarters to the ground.
It is presumed that the charges expected to be brought against Joubert relate to this earlier incident, although Joubert was nowhere near the scene of the ambush and subsequent arson. As has become the norm in Zimbabwe, Joubert – a victim of a severe assault – was arrested, while none of his attackers have been apprehended. In the more extreme cases such as this one, and the incidents in Chinhoyi yesterday, in which people were assaulted inside a police station, the police have stood by and watched as serious crimes take place.
After the Monday ambush of the game guards on Joubert’s ranch was reported, the Nyathi police had initially responded in a professional manner. However, after pressure from the governor of Matabeleland North, Obert Mpofu, and the arrival in Nyathi of Detective Inspector Marima from Bulawayo – notorious in the Matabeleland capital for being a Zanu PF placeman – the behaviour of the police changed. Marima was involved in the abduction and assault several weeks ago of the MDC MP for Nyathi, Fletcher Dhulini. A senior and reliable source within the Zimbabwe Republic Police in Matabeleland, known to be strongly opposed to the state-sponsored lawlessness which has spread across the country, confirmed on Monday that orders have been received from headquarters in Harare that violent incidents were to be "manufactured" in order to provoke farmers into reacting with violence – thus providing justification for the wholesale forcible removal of commercial farmers from their land, and/or the declaration of a state of emergency across the whole country.
From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 8 August
Mugabe mob attacks whites
A mob loyal to President Robert Mugabe went on what was described as an "orchestrated" rampage in Zimbabwe yesterday, beating whites at random and injuring at least 10. The scene of the attacks was Chinhoyi, a town 60 miles north-west of Harare, on one of the main tourist routes to Mana Pools national park and Lake Kariba. Supporters of Mr Mugabe's Zanu PF Party massed in the streets, stoning cars carrying whites and attacking shoppers, stabbing one victim. Police told whites to stay out of the town and after the violence many white townspeople fled to nearby farms. Mr Mugabe has lost no opportunity to vilify whites in public and has encouraged his followers to invade 1,700 of their farms. Critics have said repeatedly that his racial rhetoric would eventually provoke mob violence in a country where race relations have been generally harmonious. The violence was apparently provoked by the arrest of 22 white farmers on Monday night.
The men said they were responding to an appeal for help from Tony Barklay, a landowner, after squatters who had occupied his farm stormed his house. The invaders said the farmers had attacked them. When police arrived, they ordered the whites to report to Chinhoyi police station, where they were arrested on charges of "public violence" and assault. They were still in custody last night. Six of the farmers' wives tried to visit them yesterday and found a mob of about 40 youths wearing Zanu PF T-shirts massed outside the police station.
One of the women was attacked and the gang then ran through the streets, assaulting other whites. Magdalina Hartmann, 72, was assaulted in a post office where she had gone to withdraw money from her savings account. She said: "I was standing in the queue and a man came up to me and said: 'You white bitch, I am going to hurt you.' "He said it three times and then hit me on my arm. I could not stop crying then or now. I don't know what I have done to make people hate me like this." Mrs Hartmann's doctor said that she had been "badly slapped around".
Dr Chris Lewis treated five victims. He said that all were shocked. One woman was "quite hysterical". Dr Lewis treated another woman in her late sixties who was assaulted as she waited at a supermarket check-out. Witnesses said she was jostled by four men, one of whom rammed her with a shopping trolley. Hendrik Spreeth, 45, needed 20 stitches for two 3in stab wounds. Dr Lewis said: "He was chased down the street by four men. He was kicked, beaten, punched and stabbed in the arm." Betty Smith, 80, a farmer, was in a shop on the main street when her son, John, 50, joined her. She said: "His shirt was torn to pieces and the blood was pouring down." "They beat the hell out of him with sticks. I came here in 1948 and I never imagined it could be like this." A woman in her forties was punched in the face as she left the police station. She had gone there to register her car and was hit through the window as she drove away.
One farmer said: "This was clearly orchestrated. The farmers were in jail and they knew that white people would come and visit them. They had the mob waiting." Philip Chiyangwa, the Zanu-PF MP for Chinhoyi and the local party leader, blamed farmers for the violence. He accused them of attacking squatters on their land. He said: "When these farmers go haywire, they start using their guns. There should not be any provocation from the farmers. These people must not provoke us." A Foreign Office spokesman said that Brian Donnelly, the newly appointed British high commissioner, had "registered his concern at various levels in the Zimbabwean government and was awaiting their response". But by late last night there had been none.
From The Guardian (UK), 8 August
White farmer killed by Zimbabwean war veterans
Johannesburg - An elderly white farmer has been murdered in Zimbabwe and more than 20 others arrested for assault after defending themselves from attack by so-called war veterans. Ralph Corbett, 76, a rancher farming near the town of Kwekwe, was trussed with wire and beaten about the head with an axe on Friday in what his family say was a politically motivated killing. He died in hospital yesterday. Mr Corbett is the ninth white farmer killed since President Robert Mugabe launched the land invasions nearly two years ago. The murdered farmer's land has been occupied by "war veterans" for a year.
His daughter, Cheryl Miller, said the attackers stole a gun but other valuables were not touched. "The war veterans are responsible for the lawlessness. They have made it clear they want whites out of the country and this is the way they are going about it," she said. In a separate incident, the Zimbabwean police said they will charge 23 white farmers with public violence and assault after detaining them for fighting with blacks. The farmers, from the Chinhoyi area about 60 miles from Harare, had gone to the assistance of one of their number after dozens of black squatters attacked his house. None of the squatters was arrested.
The state news agency, Ziana, alleged that about 60 white farmers were beating the squatters with sticks and stones in an attempt to drive them off the farm owned by Antony Barklay. But farmers' representatives claimed that the invaders barricaded Mr Barclay inside his home and he called for help. "A farm owner was besieged in his house and two farmers came to [his] assistance, and those farmers were stoned and assaulted," said Malcolm Vowles, spokesman for the Commercial Farmers' Union. The farmers say that when they called the police to say Mr Barklay's life was in danger they were told that a constable would be sent the 15 miles to the farm on a bicycle. They took this to mean the police would not help.
The farmers say that six of their wives were beaten at the Chinhoyi police station when they tried to visit. Yesterday, the police issued a warning on the farmers security radio network warning whites not to go into Chinhoyi after a mob attacked people on the streets and in a supermarket, injuring at least 10, most of them white. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says the upsurge in violence is part of a political strategy by Mr Mugabe to further intimidate his opponents.
On Monday, the police arrested the MDC's security chief and accused him of attempted murder. Tendai Nyamushanya was detained over an incident which the party describes as an assassination attempt on its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, after his convoy was attacked during a campaign last month. Mr Nyamushanya's lawyer says his client drew his gun but did not shoot anyone and that so far as he knows no one has lodged a complaint. He says the detention is purely political. Another MDC security official was arrested yesterday when he tried to take breakfast to Mr Nyamushanya in jail. Earlier this week, South Africa's president, Thabo Mbeki, conceded in a BBC interview that his efforts to persuade Mr Mugabe to drag his nation from the brink of collapse had proved futile.
From IRIN (UN), 7 August
Bread prices double since January
The cost of bread in Zimbabwe has more than doubled since January, after a seventh price hike in as many months, AFP reported on Tuesday, quoting a local consumer watchdog. The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) saidbread prices went up by 15 percent this week, but the domestic ZIANA news agency reported a hike of between 7.5 percent and 20 percent. A standard loaf of white bread now costs around 50 Zimbabwean dollars (US $0.90) up from 23 Zimbabwean dollars (US $0.42) in January this year.
The retail price of bread has been going up nearly every month since the beginning of the year by an average 15 percent. The consumer council has condemned the bread price hike, which bakers blame on rising cost of inputs - flour, sugar, yeast, labour and fuels. "Consumer Council (of Zimbabwe) strongly protests against unjustified monthly price hikes of basic commodities," said CCZ director Elizabeth Nerwande. A 30 percent hike in the price of bread sparked riots in the capital in October last year.
Prices of basic commodities, including fuels have doubled, in some cases tripled in the last 18 months as Zimbabwe goes through its worst ever economic crisis. "Consumers cannot finance the economic crisis forever," said Nerwande in a statement. Economists have said the southern African country is going through the "great depression" due to political instability. The current economic crisis is characterised by inflation at around 60 percent, unemployment hovering around similar rates and critical shortages of foreign currency.
From The Zimbabwe Standard, 5 August
Commonwealth gives Mugabe ultimatum
As pressure continues to mount on President Mugabe because of the prevailing anarchy in the country, it has emerged that the Commonwealth intends to act strongly against him at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be held in Brisbane, Australia, in October. High level sources within the Commonwealth, a club of former British colonies, confided to The Standard last week that Mugabe had until October to "sort out the mess" in Zimbabwe or risk topping the meeting’s agenda. The sources said the Commonwealth had decided to use this strong approach because of the deepening crisis within Zimbabwe. State-sponsored terrorism has, over the last year, taken its toll on Zimbabwe and reduced the country to a state of lawlessness. Commonwealth countries are concerned that unless they confront Mugabe and take action against him, if necessary, the crisis in Zimbabwe could spill into neighbouring southern Africa countries with disastrous consequences for the region.
"Many southern African countries are suffering because of Mugabe’s policies. The message we are trying to get through to Mugabe is that "you are alienating yourself from the Commonwealth and we really want to help you." "We are not on a very productive path right now. Mugabe has totally rejected the United Nations initiative. He has rejected the Nigerian initiative and all this will have to be looked into at Brisbane. If he doesn’t sort out his mess, then it will be left for the leaders gathered in Brisbane to see what further action can be taken," said the source.
Diplomatic sources said the Commonwealth was now putting issues of governance high on its agenda and would take a tough stance against Zimbabwe if its record did not improve. Said the source who preferred anonymity: "Issues of governance are very much at the forefront of our work. We are the only international organisation that has set rules which our members are supposed to adhere to and we have the ability to get them to do so. We want to help Zimbabwe rebuild its democratic institutions. It is not only about having democratic elections but having democratic institutions. For example, in Fiji the army and the judiciary remained relatively stable when a coup took place last year. In Zimbabwe, these institutions have been politicised and compromised and this has to stop."
The government has been using the army and the police to ensure effective election campaigning which has included the harassment of opposition parliamentarians and their supporters. The judiciary, on the other hand, has been rocked by resignations following the ruling party’s onslaught on judges it sees as sympathetic to the opposition. The source reiterated that the Commonwealth was firmly behind a transparent, legal and orderly form of land reform. The club, he said, would not support Zanu PF’s haphazard and chaotic land reform whose purpose was political. "The land issue will remain important. There cannot be peace in Zimbabwe until the land issue is resolved, but it cannot be resolved through violence and electioneering. The process has to be sober. We have tried to engage Mugabe on the way forward on land reform but we are not getting any fruitful results. The problem is also that there are countries which are supporting him publicly and possibly giving him a false sense of security," said the source.
The Commonwealth joins a host of other international organisations and countries, among them the European Union and the United States, who have threatened to act strongly against Zimbabwe if Mugabe’s regime continues to sponsor anarchy. Mugabe and his cabinet ministers face personal sanctions from the European Union if an EU general council meeting in October resolves that he has not done enough to stop political violence and ensure the restoration of the rule of law. In June, the EU gave Mugabe a two-month deadline during which he was to end political violence and publicly commit himself to the holding of free and fair presidential elections next year.
The Standard was on Thursday vindicated when the United States Senate passed the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act 2001 which seeks to formalise sanctions against Zimbabwe and place travel restrictions on Mugabe, his cabinet ministers, his service chiefs and their families. Government spin doctors initially made concerted efforts to deny the story following reports that the Act had been approved by the US senate foreign relations committee. Government officials also confidently stated that the Bill would take considerable time to pass through both the Senate and the House of Representatives. However, having been fast tracked through the Senate, the Bill is now set for its final stage, debate and consideration in the House of Representatives, before American President George W Bush signs it into law. The Bush administration has already made clear, its desire to descend heavily on wayward Mugabe.
|By Amadi Ajamu
Article Dated 8/2/2001
Dear Friends, It is with great pleasure that
we announce the upcoming visit of the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe,
Robert Gabriel Mugabe to Harlem, New York.
President Mugabe will be in New York during the month of September 2001 to
attend the United Nations General Assembly meeting of the Heads of State. During
his official visit he will return to Harlem to address our community and update
us first hand on the current situation in Zimbabwe.
Please join the ORGANIZING MEETING for President Mugabe's Return to Harlem on
Friday, August 3, 2001 at 7pm at the Mount Olivet Baptist Church, 120th Street
and Malcolm X Blvd, Harlem, NY.
You may recall on September 7, 2000 while in New York for the Millennium
Summit of the United Nations General Assembly, the Pan African community hosted
President Mugabe at the Mount Olivet Baptist Church in Harlem. Over 4,000 people
rallied in support of President Mugabe and the Zimbabwean people at that
President Mugabe, the Zimbabwe African Nation Union - Patriotic
Front(ZANU-PF), and the people of Zimbabwe are in the midst of fundamentally
changing the political and economic paradigm on the continent of Africa. Under
the slogan of "Land To The Tillers!" they have courageously embarked upon a land
redistribution effort to turn over Zimbabwe's vast farmlands to the millions of
poor landless indigenous people.
Heretofore, the land and the agriculturally based economy of Zimbabwe has
been controlled by a handful of descendants of colonialist settler Cecil Rhodes
and his British partners who forcibly stole the land from the people of
Zimbabwe, formerly known as Rhodesia. President Mugabe, a veteran of the
liberation struggle for independence, has led the fight to complete the process
of liberation through economic independence.
Land is the basis of independence and control of the natural resources, the
means of production, must be in the hands of the indigenous people.
Please join us as we honor and celebrate the Zimbabwean people and their
fearless unrelenting struggle to FREE THE LAND and set an example for the
continent of Africa and the Diaspora.
Friends of Zimbabwe
President Mugabe will be in New York during the month of September 2001 to attend the United Nations General Assembly meeting of the Heads of State. During his official visit he will return to Harlem to address our community and update us first hand on the current situation in Zimbabwe.
Please join the ORGANIZING MEETING for President Mugabe's Return to Harlem on Friday, August 3, 2001 at 7pm at the Mount Olivet Baptist Church, 120th Street and Malcolm X Blvd, Harlem, NY.
You may recall on September 7, 2000 while in New York for the Millennium Summit of the United Nations General Assembly, the Pan African community hosted President Mugabe at the Mount Olivet Baptist Church in Harlem. Over 4,000 people rallied in support of President Mugabe and the Zimbabwean people at that historic event.
President Mugabe, the Zimbabwe African Nation Union - Patriotic Front(ZANU-PF), and the people of Zimbabwe are in the midst of fundamentally changing the political and economic paradigm on the continent of Africa. Under the slogan of "Land To The Tillers!" they have courageously embarked upon a land redistribution effort to turn over Zimbabwe's vast farmlands to the millions of poor landless indigenous people.
Heretofore, the land and the agriculturally based economy of Zimbabwe has been controlled by a handful of descendants of colonialist settler Cecil Rhodes and his British partners who forcibly stole the land from the people of Zimbabwe, formerly known as Rhodesia. President Mugabe, a veteran of the liberation struggle for independence, has led the fight to complete the process of liberation through economic independence.
Land is the basis of independence and control of the natural resources, the means of production, must be in the hands of the indigenous people.
Please join us as we honor and celebrate the Zimbabwean people and their fearless unrelenting struggle to FREE THE LAND and set an example for the continent of Africa and the Diaspora.
Friends of Zimbabwe
August 8, 2001 Posted: 10:23 AM EDT (1423 GMT)
CHINHOYI, Zimbabwe (Reuters) -- Tension ran high in this Zimbabwe town before Wednesday's court appearance by 23 white farmers arrested for allegedly assaulting supporters of President Robert Mugabe's government who were illegally occupying a white-owned farm.
There was relative freedom of movement in the center of Chinhoyi, 75 miles northwest of the capital Harare, a day after mobs of pro-Mugabe war veterans attacked whites.
A Reuters correspondent saw three truckloads of militants driving into the town Wednesday but there were no reports of trouble.
Tuesday's attacks followed the arrest the previous day of 23 white farmers following clashes with militants occupying a white-owned farm in the district. Police said five settlers were seriously injured in the skirmishes.
Witnesses said at least one white man had been stabbed and another had his ear slashed during Tuesday's retaliatory attacks.
The arrested farmers were due to appear in court later Wednesday but court officials in Chinhoyi were unavailable for details on what the charges were.
Local sources said the atmosphere on surrounding farms remained tense Wednesday. They said two farmers were forced off their properties by suspected war veterans and supporters of the ruling ZANU-PF party who have illegally occupied white-owned farms with government approval since February 2000.
"There's a bit of trouble going on at the farms. One farmer's wife was chased out of her property by a mob," an official at the local branch of the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) told Reuters.
He said the woman had been rescued by a neighbor driving by as the mob gave chase some 30 yards behind her.
The militants say the farm invasions are a show of support for Mugabe's drive to seize 20 million acres of the 29 million acres owned by white farmers for redistribution to landless blacks.
Nine farmers have died in the violence that has accompanied the occupations, while scores of farm workers have been injured.
The latest victim was Ralph Corbett, 76, who died at a private clinic in Harare Monday night after unknown assailants allegedly hit him on the head with an ax at the weekend. His hands were tied with wire and he had been left for dead.
The CFU, grouping 4,500 mainly white farmers, said while evidence did not point to war veterans being involved in the attack, "it is felt to have been perpetrated as a direct result of the current lawlessness in farming areas."
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change Tuesday condemned Mugabe's ZANU-PF for the violence in Chinhoyi, saying it was meant to provoke a violent response from the public to justify a state of emergency or the cancellation of presidential elections due by April.
The police denied ZANU-PF was waging a campaign of violence across the country, or that there had been attacks in Chinhoyi.
Whites on High Alert
The Associated Press, Wed 8 Aug 2001
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — White farmers and their families braced for more racial violence as farmers accused of assaulting black squatters appeared in court Wednesday.
The 22 farmers suspected in Monday's attack were ordered held in police custody for another night and were to appear again in court Thursday. About 200 militants from Zimbabwe's ruling party gathered outside the court in Chinhoyi, 70 miles northwest of Harare.
Farmers' leaders in the corn and tobacco district said there were fears the hearing could trigger more violence against whites. Black militants are accused of attacking at least 10 whites Tuesday.
Thousands of squatters led by ruling party militants and independence war veterans have illegally occupied more than 1,700 white-owned farms since March 2000.
The farmers arrested Monday had gone to help a besieged neighbor, who had been chased into his house by militants wielding clubs and sticks, said the Commercial Farmers Union, which represents the white landowners.
The clash was believed to be timed to coincide with the upcoming Heroes' Day holiday honoring black guerrillas who fought in the independence war that ended white rule in 1980.
On Tuesday, several cars driven by whites were stoned in Chinhoyi town. Officials at a private clinic said 10 whites were hurt. Police warned whites to stay out of the town but did not arrest any suspects.
One farmer fled his home south of Chinhoyi town after receiving death threats Wednesday, but there were no reports of fresh assaults.
The government has listed 4,600 farms — about 95 percent of properties owned by whites — for ``fast track'' confiscation without compensation.
The government has ignored six court rulings ordering it to remove the squatters and to abide by its own land reform laws laying down a planned program for land nationalization.
In the Marondera farming district east of Harare, state administrator Chris Chingosho said Wednesday that white farmers were sabotaging their equipment and facilities to thwart the resettlement of landless blacks.
Farmers were pouring cement into their wells and smashing dam walls, the official Zimbabwe News Agency reported.
Ruling party lawmaker Rueben Marumahoko accused whites of obstructing the resettlement program. He called the land seizures ``the last stage in the liberation'' of Zimbabwe from white colonization, state radio reported.
Deon Lamprecht & News24
The farmers were arrested following violent clashes with supporters of President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF. According to the report, British nationals were also among those arrested by police.
The 23 were detained on allegations of public violence and assault with intent to cause injury. They were arrested on Monday and were expected to appear in court on Wednesday.
Farmers said they tried to defend themselves from attacks by Zimbabwe's self-styled war veterans. No militants were arrested after the clashes.
Meanwhile the South African High Commissioner Jerry Ndou has dispatched a delegation to Chinhoyi, Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa has confirmed. The situation in Chinoyi late on Tuesday night was quiet, but "very tense" following a day of violence during which at least 15 whites - 11 of them women - were injured, organised agriculture spokesperson Celvin Weare said.
"Farmers and businessmen stay indoors, not daring to go outside. Anything is likely to happen, the place could explode once again," he said. He confirmed that legal representatives of the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) had negotiated with the Zimbabwean police on Tuesday evening for the release of the farmers who were arrested.
"We are not allowed to talk to them, however, we believe they have been charged with instigating public violence and are expected to appear in court on Wednesday. I'm in my car outside the police station and a group of Zanu-PF militants are waiting outside, if our friends are released, the crowd outside is likely to attack them".
Weare confirmed that South African and British citizens were among those in detention, but "for security reasons" declined to give names or numbers. "All I can say, is that five or six women who wanted to visit their husbands in the police cells were assaulted in full view of the police by Zanu-PF supporters.
'The women deserved it'
"The police watched with crossed arms. Their only comment was that the women deserved it."
Problems in the Chinoyi area, where most farms have been invaded for a considerable time, came to a head on Monday night when "about fifty war veterans, armed with sticks and axes" arrived on the farm of Tony Barkley. "They threatened to kill him and he called on his neighbours for help."
Two farmers arrived. "They were seriously assaulted, however, but managed to escape to call for more help."
"A group of between 25 and 60 farmers and businessmen then arrived on the scene and a scuffle ensued with the farm invaders temporarily retreating. The Chinoyi police then ordered farmers in the area to report to the police station, where those who had been involved in the incident were arrested."
Another farmer, who chose to remain anonymous, said "whites were assaulted on the streets, shop windows were broken and cars damaged".
"The police chief said he could not protect us and ordered the whites to clean up the town."
'Nobody is on our side'
He and a few other farmers installed a temporary "operations room" in a house in Chinoyi. "I don't want to say we are hiding, but it's better if Zanu-PF don't know where we are.
"We are very nervous, nobody is on our side. However, we won't arm ourselves as that results would be catastrophic, we can only hope for the best."
Inspector Tarwiyeri Tirivavi, police spokesperson told Sapa-AP that 60 farmers had assaulted five squatters. The Chinoyi clinic treated squatters and farmers for injuries.
Malcolm Fowles of the CFU said "tension between commercial farmers and squatters was increasing as both groups want to plant on the same land".
The CFU and opposition leaders in Zimbabwe lay the blame for farm invasions over the past 12 months at the door of president Robert Mugabe, who wants to consolidate his political support ahead of next year's presidential election. - Spa, News24 & Media24