COMMERCIAL FARMERS’ UNION
URGENT SECURITY REPORT
Wednesday 13th December 2000
Kwekwe farmer murdered
Early yesterday evening, Kwekwe farmer, Henry Elsworth was murdered in an ambush at his farm gate. He and his son, Ian, were returning to the farm at about 18:00hrs yesterday evening. When they stopped at the farm gate, a gunman opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon. Ian Elsworth, who was driving, was shot five times – twice in the left ankle, once in the left femur, once in the right groin and once in the left elbow. After Ian got out of the vehicle and collapsed, his father, Henry, who had been shot at least once, staggered around to the drivers side to attempt to start the car. He was shot in the stomach and died fifteen minutes later. Ian Elsworth is in a stable condition in the Avenues Clinic.
COMMERCIAL FARMERS’ UNION
Statement from CFU President – Tim Henwood
Wednesday 13th December 2000
Yesterday evening, an elderly Kwekwe farmer and his son were ambushed at their farm gate by at least two, possibly three gunmen armed with semi-automatic assault rifles. Henry Elsworth (in his late sixties) and his son Ian (aged 20) were returning by vehicle to their farm, Grasslands, in the Kwekwe farming area situated in the Midlands province of Zimbabwe. As they reached the farm security gates, the gunmen opened fire. Ian, who was driving, was shot five times from the waist downwards. He collapsed after he got out of the vehicle in an attempt to take cover. Henry Elsworth, who had by then been shot at least once, staggered around to the driver’s side to attempt to start the vehicle. He was shot in the stomach and died soon after. Ian was transferred to the Avenues Clinic in Harare and is in a stable condition. It is significant that no attempts were made to steal the vehicle or any other property.
I, along with all other law-abiding citizens of Zimbabwe, am outraged by this incident. This was not a random criminal act - the murder of Henry Elsworth represents the ultimate political intimidation against farmers and is a desperate reflection of the depths of lawlessness to which we have sunk. In this prevailing state of lawlessness I urge farmers to continue to exercise extreme vigilance.
From the outset of the campaign of violence against commercial farmers, it has been evident that land is not the primary motivating factor. If land were the issue, then our persistent and genuine efforts to be part of the solution to land reform in Zimbabwe would not have been brushed aside as they have.
In 1991 the Commercial Farmers’ Union reaffirmed its commitment to land reform in a comprehensive proposal formally presented to Government. In 1997, then President, Nick Swanepoel, launched the private sector “Team Zimbabwe” concept, proposing a donor-funded programme to resettle 1.5 million hectares of land. This programme was structured around the objectives of poverty alleviation; revitalisation of communal and resettlement areas; indigenisation; enhanced agricultural production and building investor confidence. The Government response to this was to proceed with the attempted mass compulsory acquisition of nearly 1500 farms.
Attempts to resolve the crisis precipitated by this attempted mass acquisition culminated in an International Donor Conference in September 1998. In the communiqué issued after this conference, all stakeholders, including Government, committed to planned, phased and orderly resettlement, starting with the 118 farms conceded to Government. Against the spirit of this agreement, in November 1998 Government served compulsory acquisition orders on 841 properties.
More recently, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was poised in June 2000 to launch a programme, within the framework agreed at the September 1998 Conference, to resettle at least 200 farms with full donor support. The CFU played its part by compiling a list of 189 farms that were on offer for sale to Government – a list that I personally handed to Vice President Msika. After reaching agreement with the UNDP, the Government launched the fast-track resettlement programme with the listing of 804 farms on 2nd June 2000. The UNDP had no option but to withdraw the programme.
To this day, the Commercial Farmers’ Union remains committed to the principles of socio-agrarian reform in Zimbabwe, but within the framework of the Law and in such a way that builds, rather than destroys our economy. We cannot and will not accept the prevailing state of lawlessness and the persistent persecution of our members, the vast majority of whom are Zimbabwean citizens and all of whom are committed to the development of this country. I urge all law abiding citizens of Zimbabwe to unite towards a common goal of restoring law and order so that we can get down to the business of rebuilding our Nation.
T K Henwood
President – CFU
13th December 2000
9 December 2000
From The Star (SA), 8 December
Collect your 'refugee' troops, Zimbabwe told
Lusaka - Zambia has asked Zimbabwe to take home 300 Zimbabwean soldiers who have fled fierce fighting in the DRC. The soldiers were among a group of 1 000 troops fighting, with the Congolese government, against rebels. The troops crossed the border into Zambia on Tuesday after rebels captured the town of Pweto, near the border. "The Zimbabwean high commissioner has been informed that the refugees include Zimbabwean soldiers and we have requested their repatriation back to Harare," Zambia's foreign minister, Keli Walubita, told reporters late on Thursday.
Zimbabwe is the backbone of a three-nation military alliance, with Angola and Namibia, that backs the embattled government of the DRC's President Laurent Kabila. Rwanda and Uganda support separate rebel groups fighting to topple Kabila. Kabila's government said on Wednesday that its troops had relinquished Pweto in a "tactical withdrawal" before the signing of a new disengagement deal. Earlier on Wednesday defence chiefs from the six countries involved in the war, as well as rebel groups, signed an agreement in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, to begin withdrawing troops from frontline positions from mid-December. Up to 60 000 Congolese refugees have fled to Zambia in less than a week because of the heavy fighting. The Zambian government has appealed to the international community to provide shelter, food and medical care. "The situation is very grave. There is very strong pressure on the local community," Walubita said. Zambia has 231 000 refugees, most of whom are Angolans. Others come from the Congo, Rwanda and Burundi.
From The Daily News, 8 December
MiG jet shot down in DRC
Rwanda was reported yesterday to have shot down a Zimbabwean MiG jet-fighter during fighting for the control of Pweto town in Katanga Province in the DRC. But Zimbabwean military officials, while confirming the attack on Pweto, denied their jet was shot down. The New Vision, a Ugandan newspaper, said the jet was brought down on Sunday amid heavy fighting in the DRC. Vast quantities of equipment, including several tanks, armoured personnel carriers, machine-guns, howitzers and ammunition were also captured. Zambian defence officials said up to 300 Zimbabwean and 1 000 Congolese soldiers fled to Zambia on Tuesday to escape fierce fighting in Pweto, which was captured by the Rwandan-backed rebels on Sunday. Pweto is home to hundreds of armed Interahamwe militia, security officials said.
On Wednesday, General Vitalis Zvinavashe, commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, confirmed the attack on Pweto. "Yes, Pweto was attacked but I do not have details about the results of the attack." He would not say whether Zimbabwean and Congolese soldiers had fled into Zambia. Zvinavashe was unavailable for comment on the shooting of the Zimbabwean jet. But Colonel Chancellor Diye, the army spokesman, denied the incident. "That is not correct," he said. "Nothing of that sort happened." On the Zimbabwean soldiers fleeing the war, Diye said: "General Zvinavashe made it clear that he would make a statement once he has the details." Zambian officials in Harare could not be reached for comment.
The fighting in Pweto flared as defence chiefs from the countries involved in the DRC conflict met in Harare on Tuesday to discuss a timetable for withdrawal from frontline positions. Stan Mudenge, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, said at the signing ceremony he was confident hostilities would end after the agreement in Harare. He said the commanders were in control of the soldiers, and since they had signed the agreement, the fighting would stop. There has not been any comment about the latest developments from President Laurent Kabila of the DRC or his allies. The casualties on the Rwandan side and the Congo rebels were not readily established. The capture of Pweto on Lake Mweru near the Zambian border, is considered one of the most significant blows to a fragile peace deal signed in Lusaka last year.
A Zambian official said they would disarm all the armed troops who fled to their territory and confine them in a camp far away from the border. In Kigali, Rwanda, a senior military officer said their rebel allies were in control of Pweto. The officer said some "bodies of government troops had started floating on Lake Mweru". Zambian intelligence said the capture of Pweto has put the town of Kasenga under threat. Kasenga is a gateway to Lubumbashi, the capital of the mineral-rich Katanga Province and DRC's second largest city.
From Associated Press, 9 December
France introduces DRC resolution
United Nations - France introduced a resolution in the Security Council on Friday backing Secretary-General Kofi Annan's proposal to deploy additional military observers to verify the latest cease-fire in Congo. Encouraged by the latest cease-fire pledge by African nations at war in the troubled central African nation, Annan on Thursday recommended extending the UN mission in Congo by six months and advised deploying additional UN military observers to ensure that all sides stick to the agreement. The secretary-general kept open the possibility of mobilising infantry troops to back the observers, and the French draft resolution expresses readiness to deploy these troops "as soon as he considers that conditions will allow it."
The French draft resolution calls for withdrawal of Rwandan and Ugandan troops and all other foreign forces from Congo in compliance with cease-fire agreements, and urges all parties to co-operate in disarming and reintegrating combatants. It asks Annan for a report by Feb. 15, including on a possible further UN deployment on the border between Congo and Rwanda. It also asks him for proposals on establishing a means to co-ordinate the withdrawal of foreign forces, the demobilisation of armed groups, security on Congo's borders, the safe return of refugees, dialogue among the opposing Congo groups, and economic reconstruction. The Security Council was briefed Friday by the secretary-general's special envoy to Congo, Kamel Morjane, on his report and the latest cease-fire.
Military officials from six African nations and two rebel factions pledged Wednesday to withdraw forces at least 9 miles from the front line to allow UN peacekeepers to monitor the fragile cease-fire. The disengagement, expected to take 45 days, is a fresh attempt at salvaging last year's failed Congo peace deal. Signed in Lusaka, Zambia, in July 1999, the accord called for the withdrawal of foreign troops to allow the UN to oversee a transition leading to democratic elections. But the deal fell apart soon after, with repeated violations of the cease-fire and Kabila barring the UN from deploying peacekeepers into government-controlled areas. Renewed fighting has sent some 60,000 refugees fleeing into neighboring Zambia since Sunday, UN officials said. Annan asked for a six-month extension of the UN mission to give warring factions a chance to demonstrate their commitment to the peace process.
Comment from The Zimbabwe Independent, 8 December
International Community No Longer Amused By Mugabe
Harare - President Mugabe was "not amused" by a "lecture" from UNDP administrator Mark Malloch Brown on the rule of law last week, the official media informs us. That's perhaps because the international community is "not amused" by Mugabe's contempt for the law. Even President Olusegun Obasanjo felt the need to remind our wayward leader that it was not colonial laws he was flouting but his own. "What I think the Zimbabwe government should do is to strictly follow the law that is already in place," he told the press after he and President Thabo Mbeki met Mugabe at State House last Thursday.
Despite energetic attempts to convince the public that other countries were showing "solidarity" with Zimbabwe on the land issue, it seems an international consensus has emerged - which includes the region - that while land reform is an important policy aim, it should not be attained by threats and lawlessness. Malloch Brown emphasised the need for consensus with internal stakeholders while Obasanjo stressed the need for Zimbabwe to find common cause with Britain and the wider international community. Mugabe is stuck up a cul-de-sac of his own making, it would appear. And all those appointed to rescue him - Mbeki, Bakili Muluzi, Kofi Annan - are washing their hands of the problem. An exercise commenced at the Victoria Falls mini- summit in April has come to nought, all because the government has proved impervious to reason.
It was a serious own-goal for Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa to have declared in the same week regional leaders and the UNDP chief were visiting Harare for crucial talks on the land issue that the government was free to pick and choose which laws it would obey. This scuppered any bridge-building and obliged Obasanjo, Mbeki and Malloch Brown to speak to Mugabe in the unambiguous terms he now says he took such exception to. The three leaders did not come to "amuse" him. They came to read him the Riot Act. Any country that refuses to obey its own courts or follow its own rules can hardly expect international respect or co-operation whatever the historical injustices it claims.
Which exposes the fundamental flaw in Chinamasa's ill-advised attack on members of the judiciary. The judiciary is there to interpret and uphold the laws of the land. In their recent judgements, the laws they were defending, whether on citizenship (1984) or land (1992 and 2000), have been passed by Zanu PF. The government is being required not to abide by some colonial edict, but by its own legislative enactments - one just a few months old! This point appears lost on ministers who have been only too happy to use colonial laws such as the Law and Order (Maintenance) Act to settle personal scores with critics.
But what is so egregious about Chinamasa's assault on the judiciary is the personal nature of the remarks made, especially when it now transpires he invented much of the information he used in his Nyanga speech. Justice George Smith, one of those under fire for being at the "core" of the Smith regime, says Chinamasa knowingly made false allegations against him and Justice Adam. Nearly every "fact" cited by Chinamasa in his curriculum vitae of Smith turned out to be wrong, Smith points out. He provided the correct details to an independent paper this week. They would have taken little effort to corroborate if Chinamasa had wanted to do so.
This is of some significance as the state media gave such prominence to Chinamasa's allegations and Information minister Jonathan Moyo is threatening to take legal steps against the free media for, among other things, "malicious" and "defamatory" remarks about people in the public spotlight. Moyo is proposing to act against papers which have accumulated lawsuits and public complaints. This is all very convenient of course. Those papers that have been bold enough to do their job in exposing crime and corruption at the highest levels will be penalised while those that have betrayed their calling by remaining supine on the misdemeanours of our leaders will be spared. But what does Moyo propose to do about ministers who knowingly make false statements about judges in order to punish them for upholding the rights of citizens exposed to Zanu PF's programme of arbitrary and illegal farm seizures? Justice George Smith, it will be recalled, has called for investigations into the VIP housing scam and the looting of the War Victims Compensation Fund.
Chinamasa claims his government is fulfilling some historic agenda. In fact its proposals on land were rejected by Zimbabwean voters in two democratic tests this year. The only historic agenda it is fulfilling is one that has impoverished and discredited Zimbabwe. Are the courts expected to endorse that? We can appreciate Chinamasa's need to bark when his master tells him to. But at a time when Moyo is proposing to muzzle newspapers that have exposed Zanu PF's criminal career, it seems rather inappropriate for a minister to commit all the offences Moyo complains of and get away with it! Are we prepared to live with this double standard? Of course not. The Zimbabwean public expects newspapers to do their duty by exposing ministerial hypocrisy and mal-administration. They certainly expect newspapers to blow the whistle when ministers abuse the law and then attack those who the constitution has designated as the law's protectors.
This is misgovernance writ large. The law in any society is designed to prevent tyranny and anarchy. Zimbabwe now suffers from a fatal combination of the two. That, in part, was the point Malloch Brown made to Mugabe last week.
The government appears not to want massive inflows of international aid for land reform in return for an orderly redistribution programme. It would prefer to penalise the rural constituency it claims to care so much about. If Zimbabwe does not address the concerns of the UNDP and others it will forfeit international goodwill altogether. Nobody wants to co-operate with a rogue state. That in turn will compound the economic crisis we are going through and cause social unrest. At some point the government should care about this because it will have a political cost. Mass action, when it comes, may not be the organised sort favoured by the MDC. And the National Reaction Force can't provide a permanent defence to persistent miscreants who trade on a false view of what the nation wants.
From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 8 December
People power gains ground in Africa
Luanda - Human rights gained ground in several southern African countries in the past year, an annual report by New York-based Human Rights Watch said this week. The advocacy group's report suggested the region's move to democracy looked sustainable and that globalisation and Internet communication were major forces behind the changes. "To the degree that developments mirrored a change in the public's state of mind, and a perception that they could influence the composition of a government and its policies, it appeared that the human rights advances would endure," the report said.
Zimbabweans defeated a government-sponsored constitution in February, then in June only narrowly elected a ruling party, once thought unassailable, despite widespread violence and intimidation in the run-up to the polls. "The phenomenal transition in Zimbabwe was the most dramatic illustration of a yearning for democracy and human rights and of the dogged determination of civil society actors to engineer and orchestrate reform," the report said. "They ... pulled off a people-power revolution that achieved astonishing gains in a short span of time," it said.
Zambia was noted for opening a World Bank meeting to human rights and civil society observers for the first time. But other abuses "undermined the more meaningful economic reforms," the report said. Pretoria passed four acts required under South Africa's 1996 constitution, including measures promoting equality and access to information. But South Africa remained racked by "shockingly high" crime rates. "Violence against women, including sexual violence, remained a very serious problem," the report said. South Africa had one of the world's highest incarceration rates with an estimated 416 inmates per 100 000 citizens. The prison system suffered from prisoner-on-prisoner rape and overcrowding. In April it held 170 000 inmates in accommodation for 100 000.
The report had high marks for Mozambique. "Despite being pummelled by cyclone-driven floods...and severe tensions spawned by the 1999 December presidential and parliamentary elections, Mozambique was once again on its feet with the fastest-growing economy in the world." Mozambique's Portuguese colonial cousin, Angola, has not fared as well. The bulk of its human rights abuses centred around the 25-year civil war between Luanda and UNITA.