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Daily News

Family flees country as Mujuru invades farms

12/25/01 12:36:47 PM (GMT +2)

By Lloyd Mudiwa

GUY Watson-Smith and his family on Friday fled to South Africa after their
two Beatrice farms were seized by Retired General Solomon Mujuru.
Watson-Smith, 51, is a director and shareholder of Hanagwe (Pvt) Ltd which
owns Alamein and Elim farms about 70km south of Harare.

The farmer fled the country hours before his lawyer filed an urgent
application in the High Court. Watson-Smith is the Commercial Farmers’ Union
’s provincial chairman for Mashonaland East. “We were worried about our
safety knowing Mujuru would be named in court papers which are in the public
domain,” he said from Pretoria, where he is staying with relatives. “We will
stay in South Africa for as long as this takes.” Mujuru, 54, is a former
commander of the army. This is the first case brought before the courts by a
commercial farmer against a member of President Mugabe’s inner circle as a
result of seizure of land and assets.

Mujuru once sued the now-defunct Horizon magazine over a story he claimed
was defamatory. On discovering that Andrew Moyse, then the magazine’s
editor, was white, he reportedly told the court: “If I had known white
people had defamed me, I would have shot them.”

Watson-Smith claimed in the court papers Mujuru evicted him from his farm in
September and seized assets worth about R160 million (about Z$1 920
He alleged Mujuru in November forced him to grow at his own expense 140
hectares of tobacco on the farms, which he said were interdependent. The
tobacco production amounts to 500 000kg , which translates to about US$1,5
million (about Z$82,5 million).

The assets seized, including tractors, vehicles and irrigation equipment,
are worth $120 million. Part of Watson-Smith’s affidavit reads: “When I
asked Mujuru if I would be allowed to remove moveable assets, Mujuru said he
had paid for them and they were his as much as ‘the shirt on your back’ and
that I would be paid for the crop in the ground.”

The farmer is also suing Dr Joseph Made, the Minister of Lands, Agriculture
and Rural Resettlement, Dr Ignatius Chombo, the Minister of Local
Government, Public Works and National Housing, and the war veterans’
commander for Beatrice district known only as Zhou.
Zhou also sits on the district’s land committee.

Watson-Smith said Zhou threatened to kill him. He says he was unlawfully
evicted from the farms, on which he also grows paprika, groundnuts, maize,
pastures and katambora seed for export. In addition, he breeds 430 head of
cattle and keeps a 490-herd of commercial game.

Watson-Smith employed 120 permanent and about 40 seasonal workers from
adjacent communal lands. He is seeking an order for the immediate return and
recovery of all movable property on the farm. He said Zhou had, on behalf of
Made, Chombo and Mujuru, detained the property on his farms.

Elim Farm was gazetted for compulsory acquisition on 2 June 2000 but he
objected, in a letter to the Acquiring Authority. Watson-Smith again
challenged an acquisition order he received on 8 December 2000 and the
hearing is pending before the Supreme Court. Alamein Farm was gazetted for
compulsory acquisition on 25 August 2000 and although an acquisition order
was served on him on 5 December 2001, the 90-day notice period has not yet
expired and neither has he been served with an eviction order from a
competent court.

Watson-Smith said the district administrator randomly pegged his farms in
September without warning. His neighbour and his elderly mother on Silver
Oaks Farm were barricaded in their home for five days by war veterans after
he removed some of the pegs. Watson-Smith said he offered up to 417 hectares
of his farms, leaving him with 862 hectares. He said he promised to assist
resettled farmers with tillage, seed, fertiliser, transport and dipping
facilities, but the provincial administrator rejected the offer. He suspects
the farm was supposed to be kept in pristine condition for Mujuru.
On 18 September, Zhou, accompanied by two war veterans known only as Joe and
Chris, ordered Watson-Smith and his wife, Vicky, 44, to leave the property
immediately. Mujuru, travelling in a Pajero vehicle registration number
742-223N, visited the farm with Zhou six days later demanding farm records.
Watson-Smith was ordered to move his father and mother, both in their 80s
and ailing, off the farm on 8 December.

They were only allowed to carry their household goods. But before the family
had left, the farm was looted at Zhou’s instigation, Watson-Smith said.

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The Times of India

Accidents kill 70 in Zimbabwe in five days

HARARE: Seventy people have died in traffic accidents in Zimbabwe over the
past five days, double the figure over the same period in 2000, state radio
reported on Wednesday.

The radio quoted a police spokesman as saying the accidents, between Friday
and Tuesday morning, were caused by negligent drivers, defective vehicles,
speeding and drunkenness.

Police say they have set up road blocks and sent out patrols over the
Christmas period to try to curb carnage on the roads, which claims a
significant number of victims over national holidays.
( AFP )

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The independent

Mugabe party linked to deaths
By Alex Duval Smith
27 December 2001
Zimbabwe's main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change,
accused President Robert Mugabe's supporters yesterday of killing three of
its supporters.

Trymore Midzi, an MDC youth leader in Bindura, about 60km (38 miles) north
of the capital, Harare, died after being beaten and slashed through the head
with a machete.

Elliot Pfebve, the MDC spokesman, said Mr Midzi's assailants were 20
supporters of the ruling Zanu-PF. Mr Pfebve said the victim was taken to
hospital after the assault on Friday, then transferred to Harare and given
70 stitches to the head, before dying there on Monday.

According to the MDC – whose leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, is challenging
President Mugabe in an election expected in March – Mr Midzi was killed by a
group of trained Zanu-PF militia. "They attacked him in Bindura, and were in
uniform," Mr Pfebve said.

His death followed the killing of two other MDC members, Titus Nheya and
Milton Chambati, last week. Pro-democracy activists believe that at least
110 people have died in politically motivated violence since last year's
parliamentary election.

• The Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, seen as the only African leader
able to exert influence on President Mugabe, cancelled his trip to Zimbabwe
this week after the murder of Nigeria's Justice Minister, Chief Bola Ige.

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Murders spell election trouble
Erika Gibson

Pretoria - A general election shrouded in violence seems to be unavoidable
in Zimbabwe after three opposition leaders were murdered this past week,
allegedly by Zanu-PF supporters of President Robert Mugabe.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the country's official opposition
party, alleges there were at least 83 political killings in Zimbabwe this
year. The police claim the figure to be 25.

The latest murder was that of Trymore Midzi, a representative of the MDC in
Bindura, 60 km north of Harare. He died on Monday after he was allegedly
viciously attacked by alleged Zanu-PF supporters over the weekend.

The Daily News reports that Titus Nheya and Milton Chambati, both of the
MDC, died in similar circumstances in the Mashonaland West province last

MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, told Reuters "the murders are proof of
Zanu-PF's murderous strategy" in the preamble to the election in March.
Tsvangirai is seen as Mugabe's main threat in the upcoming elections.

He called on other governments in Southern Africa and the international
community to intervene and prevent the election from turning into a

Tsvangirai accused Zanu-PF of still using war veterans to do the dirty work
in its election campaign.

Zanu PF meanwhile accused the MDC of being Britain's hand puppet and said
it, with Britain's help, was inciting violence before the election. Zanu-PF
said the MDC sends hired youths to the regions to avenge the killings.

Mugabe has accused Tsvangirai on numerous occasions of being the favourite
of the international community to push him (Mugabe) from his seat in
retribution for the acquisition of white farmers' land.

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