trades white farms for oil By Michael Evans, Defence
PRESIDENT Mugabe may be forced to give Libya much of the
prime land he is seizing from white farmers in order to pay for an oil deal
with Colonel Gaddafi, diplomatic sources said yesterday. The full extent
of the bizarre arrangement between the Zimbabwean and Libyan leaders was
revealed hours before Mr Mugabe's midnight deadline for 2,900 white farmers
to leave their properties.
The sources said that Mr Mugabe owed Libya so
much for imported oil that he was preparing to give thousands of acres to his
"friend", Colonel Gaddafi, to repay his debts and to stay in
The net result would be to negate Mr Mugabe's avowed goal of
returning land to Zimbabwe's black population.
The extent to which Mr
Mugabe is "in hock" to Colonel Gaddafi was not an issue apparently discussed
with Michael O'Brien, the Foreign Office Minister, who returned last night
from Tripoli after meeting the Libyan leader in the desert for talks about
Lockerbie bomb compensation and the war on terrorism.
depends on Colonel Gaddafi for supplying his country's oil needs - about
800,000 barrels a month. Seventy per cent of that comes from the Libyan oil
company Tamoil, whose ultimate owner is the Libyan Arab Foreign Investment
Last December Mr Mugabe visited Tripoli to secure a deal with
Colonel Gaddafi under which oil worth $360 million would be supplied to
the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe. However, for 21 days in May,
Tamoil turned off Zimbabwe's oil because Mr Mugabe had failed to pay for
the fuel supplies. According to oil industry sources, the
desperate Zimbabwean leader contacted Colonel Gaddafi to plead for the
oil supplies to be resumed.
One diplomatic source said: "Colonel
Gaddafi has always had this dream of being the leader of Africa and he has
engineered it so that Mugabe is totally dependent on him. So he agreed a
special discounted rate for the fuel, which was disastrous for Tamoil. It was
only Colonel Gaddafi's personal intervention that forced Tamoil to resume oil
While the oil company is now having to face the consequences
of the arrangement between Mr Mugabe and Colonel Gaddafi, the Libyan leader
is spreading his influence and his investments in Zimbabwe.
As part of
the deal fixed in Tripoli, Libya agreed to provide the fuel in exchange for
shareholdings in Zimbabwe's state-run companies. Libya now has a controlling
stake in the Jewel Bank, formerly the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe, as well as
the state travel company, Rainbow Tourist Group.
It is now believed
that as part of the deal to pay back the Libyan leader for his generosity, Mr
Mugabe will hand over some of the most valuable farms to Colonel
Sources said that Colonel Gaddafi's "misguided support" for Mr
Mugabe had brought one of his state oil companies, Tamoil, to the verge
of bankruptcy. Tamoil's European investors and creditors - the company
has offices in Monaco, London, Milan and Geneva - had also been placed in
a vulnerable position by the Libyan leader's political manoeuvres,
the sources said.
Mr Mugabe's acceptance of the special oil deal with
Colonel Gaddafi, for which he could not pay, had also left Zimbabwe exposed
as the Libyans tried to seize assets and recoup losses.
The other 30
per cent of Zimbabwe's oil needs are supplied by IPG of Kuwait and overland
from South Africa.
In the past Libya has granted Zimbabwe a 120-day
moratorium after every delivery, which amounts to $30 million worth of fuel
each quarter. The Libyans set three conditions: cash payment, investment in
properties and businesses or bilateral trade in exchange for fuel. If the
conditions were not met, the fuel was cut off.
A group of white
Zimbabwean farmers, among thousands facing eviction without compensation, are
trying to raise money in Britain to help them start over in neighbouring
Mozambique. "It is no good sending a farmer to Mozambique without equipment,"
Christopher Ryan, a financier, said on a fundraising visit to
London. Derek Arlett-Johnson, who lost his Zimbabwean farm to Mugabe two
years ago said he had doubts about the scheme as the Mozambicans refused
to hand over land ownership.
Zambia, Tanzania and Uganda were also
trying to lure dispossessed farmers, with varying degrees of success, he
farmers face hunger as government fails to assist
8/7/02 9:45:15 AM (GMT
RESETTLED farmers in Chief Chivero's area
in Mhondoro have lambasted the government for not fulfiling its promises to
assist them to get started. The farmers, interviewed at the weekend, said
they had fallen on hard times. Lydia Muzenda, 62, of Muzindaweshumba
resettlement scheme, said they were near starvation.
nothing to eat," she said. "We are buying a bucket of maize at an
unaffordable price of $1 000 or more." Muzenda said she feared the worst if
they failed to secure draught power to till their newly-acquired land. The
settlers said they had made several vain attempts to secure maize grain at
the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), as the government had promised to help them
with food relief until the next harvest. Joseph Made, the Minister of Lands,
Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, has repeatedly assured the settlers that
the government would support them with farming inputs, including seed and
fertiliser. Muzenda said when she moved to Mhondoro from her original home in
Gokwe, she sold five of her cattle to raise money to transport her
"Most of us on this scheme don't have cattle to till the land,"
she said. "We have waited, in vain, for a long time to get the
District Development Fund tillage tractors." Muzenda said they held
monthly meetings to discuss their problems and possible solutions, but there
was still no positive response from the government.
She said the
settlers had spent a lot of money travelling to the Chegutu GMB depot to get
maize grain without success. Nelson Takawira, 42, of Stokesay resettlement
area, said: "The rainy season is only a few months away but we are still to
prepare our fields for planting." "We haven't received the promised maize
seed from government," he said. Another settler at Zimbo, who refused to be
identified, said non-governmental organisations involved in the food aid
programmes should them help to avert starvation which he said was now very
imminent in the area. The government has discouraged the NGOs from
distributing food unless this is done through the government or Zanu PF
Court reprieve for Zimbabwe farmers A
High Court has ruled that many eviction orders are illegal, just ahead of the
deadline for hundreds of white farmers to vacate their properties. Up to
3,000 white farmers must leave their land by midnight local time (2200 GMT)
on Thursday or face a fine or imprisonment.
But a judge has ruled that
the state cannot seize farms which are mortgaged to banks, without first
informing the financial institutions.
The redistribution of Zimbabwe's
best farmland from whites to blacks formed the basis of President Robert
Mugabe's re-election campaign in March this year.
But donors say that
the fall in agricultural production is one of the reasons for Zimbabwe's
current food crisis.
Up to half of the population - six million - face
starvation this year, aid agencies have warned.
In a landmark decision
on Wednesday, High Court Judge Charles Hungwe said the state could not
confiscate land owned by Andrew Kockett because it had not informed the
National Merchant Bank, which has a mortgage registered over the
The judge said the acquisition was "null and
"Farmers in the same situation as me - which is I believe the
majority - in very few cases or in no cases has the bond holder been served
with these notices," Mr Kockett told South African radio on
"Whether that automatically gives the other farmers cover I
don't know," he said.
Wait and see
But the government has
refused to enforce previous court orders that they evict those who had
illegally occupied white-owned farms.
The BBC's Alastair Leithead in
Johannesburg says the ruling may not change the situation on the
Some farmers have already decided to leave their properties and
allow the Zimbabwean Government to seize the land.
Land reform is
Mugabe's main policy
Others are waiting to see whether police will
use their powers to forcibly evict them.
The government has warned
that those who defy the eviction will be arrested, and farmers could face
fines and up to two years in prison.
"The laws of the country will be
enforced without hesitation," Vice-President Joseph Msika
Other farmers have adopted a more defiant
tone ahead of the deadline.
"Our position is that people should not give
in because we are in a crisis as a country," Justice for Agriculture (a
splinter group of the Commercial Farmers Union) chairman David Connolly told
Reuters news agency.
Zimbabwe faces mass
Concern about the land reform programme was one of the
reasons why the International Monetary Fund suspended financial support for
Mr Mugabe argues that the seizures will right the wrongs of
British colonialism, under which 70% of the country's best farmland
was concentrated in white hands.
He says giving land to poor black
families will increase their living standards.
However the seizure
programme coincides with a period of severe economic crisis in the
For immediate release 18:00 GMT, Thursday 8 August 2002
ZIMBABWE UNION LEADER TAKES KEY POST IN "SAVE ZIMBABWE" CAMPAIGN
"Save Zimbabwe" campaign has announced the appointment of Mr Ephraim Tapa as
Chief Spokesman for the campaign.
Until February of this year Mr Tapa was
President of one of Zimbabwe's most powerful unions, the Zimbabwe Civil
Service Employees Association, and served on the General Council of the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions.
A civic leader and outspoken critic of
the Mugabe regime, Mr Tapa , together with his pregnant wife, was abducted on
February 16 by members of the militia. He was held in the militia camp for
almost a month, during which time he was severely beaten and tortured. Mr and
Mrs Tapa were rescued on the day that plans were being finalised for their
Mr Tapa said that the "Save Zimbabwe" campaign offered the
best hope yet of bringing change to Zimbabwe. "In the month since its launch,
the campaign has already achieved an astonishing international impact. It is
particularly valuable that this is a non-partisan movement, as it is drawing
support from a wide range of interests all committed to the same
Mr Tapa said that the simplicity of its aims also enabled a
strong internationalconsensus to build behind the campaign . "We are calling
for the restoration of democracy, human rights and legitimate government
for Zimbabwe. These aims, quite simply, are the limit of our objectives. We
are not campaigning for any political party; we are not advocating policies
or proposing solutions. These are for the politicians and the people
of Zimbabwe. Give them these freedoms, guarantee them these rights, and
they will take care of the rest".
"Save Zimbabwe" said that Mr Tapa's
understanding of the workings of government, and his knowledge of conditions
in Zimbabwe would be an "enormous attribute" for the campaign. "Ephraim has
seen the best of Zimbabwe - the intelligence, kindness and tremendous courage
of its people. But he has also seen the worst, in the savage and corrupt
brutality of the regime and its followers. Nobody is better qualified to talk
about Zimbabwe today"
ZIMBABWE: Deadline ticks closer for farmers to leave their
JOHANNESBURG, 8 August (IRIN) - From midnight on Thursday almost
3,000 farmers in Zimbabwe will have to leave their land under the government's
controversial fast track land reform programme which aims to transfer ownership
of land from white farmers to landless black people.
Farmers who received
a Section 8 notice on or before 10 May this year were forced to down tools on 24
June and start winding up their affairs. If farmers ignore the order to leave
they face a fine of Zim $20,000 (US $375) or two years in jail, or
"We hope there will be no force involved," Commerical Farmers Union
Director (CFU) David Hasluck told IRIN. "There are not many [farmers] who are
intending to leave their property unless they are told to. People won't move
unless they are pressured."
He said that of the 3,000 Section 8 notices,
about 1,000 fell due on Friday.
He said there had also been indications
at local government level that several farmers would not have a problem and
would be able to stay on their land, although the way this was decided appeared
to be random, he said.
President Robert Mugabe's land reform programme
has been cited as one of the factors contributing to critical food shortages in
Zimbabwe. A World Food Programme (WFP) report said that disruptions to farming
saw agricultural production drop dramatically. Combined with drought and rising
food prices, this left up to six million Zimbabweans facing hunger and the
cash-strapped government unable to buy the stock needed to fill the food gaps.
Hasluck predicted another decline in production for the coming season
saying that in addition to the land reform disruptions, the government's control
over the sale and purchase of grain were further obstacles to
"Prospects for farmers are not good," he said.
Worswick, Vice President of the newly formed Justice for Agriculture, which
represents farmers who intend challenging their notices through the courts,
said: "This weekend is a damp squib. The majority of farmers have grounds to
challenge the Section 8 orders."
An example of which was the latest High
Court ruling stating that the government could not seize mortgaged or bonded
farms without first informing the lenders.
Worswick said: "Many have
brought action in court and if they are targeted it will only highlight the
illegality of the land reform programme."
News agency AFP reported that
Zimbabwe's Vice President Joseph Msika addressed a CFU convention on Wednesday
night and urged cooperation for agrarian reform.
However, he also sounded
a warning. "The protagonists of this unfortunate approach [challenging Section 8
notices] should be warned that the laws of the country are paramount and will be
enforced without any hesitation and with no regard to any external
It was not immediately clear where the farmers and up to
300,000 farmworkers and their families would move to.
Some had chosen to
emigrate overseas or settle in neighbouring countries while others were being
accommodated through a CFU programme which had a database of people worldwide
willing to help, Hasluck said.
However, some had no idea where they would
go. "Where must we go? We are Zimbabweans?" asked the sister of a farmer who has
had his land confiscated. [ENDS]
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BREAD was in short supply in parts
of Harare this week as bakers and retailers warned Zimbabweans to brace
themselves for a fresh shortage of the staple unless the Grain Marketing
Board (GMB) increases wheat supplies to millers.
Long queues of
customers waiting for bread could be seen yesterday at several Harare bread
outlets visited by a Financial Gazette news team.
Association of Zimbabwe chairman Armitage Chikwavira blamed the bread
shortage on what he said were erratic supplies of wheat by the state-run
"One of the big milling companies was on Friday last week forced
to close its operations because they said they had not received their
wheat allocations from GMB," he said yesterday.
The GMB had not
responded to written questions sent to it by this newspaper up to the time of
going to print last night.
The state-grain utility last month increased
the allocation of wheat to millers from 4 000 to 6 000 tonnes a week. But
millers say they want 7 800 tonnes which is what they used to get a week from
the GMB before the current shortages set in.
Gweru baker David Govere
said bread was also running short in the Midlands town.
supplies were intermittent this week after drying up towards the end of last
Govere, who is also president of the Mashonaland chapter of
the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, said the bread shortages
would worsen unless the GMB quickly imported at least 125 000 tonnes of
wheat which he said would be enough to feed the country until the next
harvest in October.
The GMB has said it will import only 50 000 tonnes
of wheat but none of it has arrived in Zimbabwe yet.
"We will continue
to have bread shortages, especially during weekends when millers are closed
because we have inadequate flour supplies in the country and some bakers
might even fail to produce bread at all," Govere said.
Zimbabwe's biggest bakeries, Bakers Inn, said it had this week managed to
produce its normal 320 000 loaves a day only because of the strategic
reserves of flour it kept.
Managing director Burombo Mudumo said: "Bakers
Inn was producing bread at its normal capacity over the past few days owing
to our strategic reserves but our mates have been affected by the failure of
millers to supply flour to their bakeries."
Last week millers applied
to the government to be allowed to increase the price of flour by up to 25
percent, citing rising output costs.
It was not clear this week whether
the Ministry of Industry had approved the millers' request, which would mean
a new increase in the price of bread.
If the bread shortage persists,
it will only be the latest basic commodity to be in short supply in Zimbabwe,
which is grappling with severe shortages of nearly everything, including
foreign currency, the staple maize meal, sugar and salt, because of a
deepening economic crisis blamed on the government's mismanagement.