The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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ZIMBABWE: Warning of more political violence

JOHANNESBURG, 27 December (IRIN) - Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai warned on Wednesday that the deaths of three members of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) - allegedly by ruling party supporters - signalled the start of a violent presidential election campaign, news reports said.

Trymore Midzi, an MDC youth leader in rural Bindura, about 60 km north of the capital, Harare, died in hospital on Monday after being beaten and slashed through the head with a machete. MDC officials said he was attacked by a group of ZANU-PF militants. His death followed the killing of two other MDC members, Titus Nheya and Milton Chambati, last week.

Tsvangirai said the fact that three MDC people had been killed made it "obvious now that ZANU-PF is not going to retreat from its campaign of violence as we head towards the elections" in March. President Robert Mugabe kicked off his re-election campaign this month announcing a "real war" against the opposition.

An independent journalist in Harare who asked not to be named, told IRIN on Thursday that the situation would "definitely deteriorate" as the presidential election approached. He predicted that violence and intimidation would spread from the rural areas and into the MDC's urban strongholds.

Pro-democracy activists believe that at least 110 people have died in politically motivated violence since last year's parliamentary election, the South African newspaper Business Day reported.

Tsvangirai's warning of more violence to come follows a visit by a high-level delegation of South Africa's African National Congress (ANC) to their ZANU-PF counterparts last week, widely seen as a bid to put pressure on Mugabe to ensure free and fair elections.

Although the ANC has not commented on the visit, Business Day quoted ZANU-PF chairman John Nkomo as saying on Wednesday that the ANC was "satisfied" with his party's commitment to free and fair elections. "We were happy to assure them that from our side, elections will be free and fair but we expect other political parties to do the same," he reportedly said.
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Mugabe 'militia' in terror attacks

ZIMBABWE'S opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, said yesterday his
supporters were being attacked and killed by an unofficial militia
established by Robert Mugabe's government.

Mr Tsvangirai said incidents of deadly assaults were rising ahead of
presidential elections in March.

The funeral will be held tomorrow of Movement for Democratic Change youth
organiser Trymore Midzi, who died after an attack in his home town of
Bindura west of Harare. Another MDC official was beheaded and a third was
beaten to death, according to Mr Tsvangirai, who accused the government of
operatiing an unofficial militia. "They are operating under the guise of
national service, and about 1,000 of them have been let loose to terrorise
MDC supporters in the towns."

( Daily Telegraph, London)

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Independent (UK)

Zimbabwe: We'll ignore the death threats to fight this despot
Basildon Peta
28 December 2001
President Robert Mugabe has never had much of an ear for views divergent
from his own. In 2001, the Zimbabwean leader's intolerance of the media
reached its most extreme level since he took the helm of this impoverished
country at the end of white rule in 1980.

The year opened with a resounding warning to the media: the bombing of a
printing press owned by Zimbabwe's only independent daily newspaper, The
Daily News, on 28 January. The year closed with the introduction of a
despicable media law, intended to lead to the closure of all independent
publications in Zimbabwe. The new Access to Information Bill, due to be
passed by Parliament on 8 January, bans foreign journalists from working in
Zimbabwe and obliges local journalists to apply for licences every year.

The Bill vests sweeping powers in Mr Mugabe's chief propagandist, the
information minister Jonathan Moyo, who will personally select who works in
the Zimbabwean media. Mr Moyo's hatred of every basic tenet of democracy is
now on public record and his vituperative outbursts against proponents of
freedom have become depressingly predictable. Last week, he described Tony
Blair as a "boyish leader" and an "ignoramus" who should at "best be in
charge of a kindergarten school".

Anyone who thought the destruction of The Daily News's printing press was as
bad as it was going to get, was naive. Five days before the bombing, the
77-year-old president's Government had vowed to implement all measures
necessary to silence the media, saying it had become "a threat to the
security of the nation".It soon passed a Bill that banned private radio and
television stations and entrenched the state's monopoly control over the
audio visual media. The Civic Society activist Mike Auret Jr, who had dared
to set up a private radio station, immediately went into hiding and has not
been heard from since. His broadcasting equipment was seized by the police
and the army, and the makeshift studios of Capital Radio completely

During the year, at least 24 journalists working for the private media were
brutally assaulted by Mr Mugabe's supporters when they tried to report on
farm occupations by the ruling party's militants. Commercial farms have now
effectively become no-go areas for independent journalists as word has
spread that we are enemies of the regime. In one of the assaults, Collin
Chiwanza of The Daily News only escaped death by hiding in the bush for two
days. Prominent professionals, such The Daily News's editor, Geoffrey
Nyarota, virtually ran their newspapers from prison cells as the Zimbabwe
police regularly arrested newsroom chiefs from the non-Government media. At
least Mr Nyarota was recognised abroad; he won four international journalism
awards in 2001.

There were other arrests. Mark Chavunduka, editor of The Standard, was
detained over an accurate report carried in his paper that Mr Mugabe had
been sued in a New York court by families of 36 opposition supporters
murdered by the Government in the run-up to the June 2000 parliamentary
elections. A New York District Judge later ruled against Mr Mugabe, saying
he was liable for the deaths.Three foreign correspondents, including David
Blair of The Daily Telegraph and Joseph Winter of the BBC, were, with
varying degrees of force, shown the door, never to return.

An exposé by The Daily News that the police had aided the looting of white
farms caused the arrests of six of its journalists in June. In virtually all
of the 30-plus arrests of reporters and newspaper managers, the police could
not produce formal evidence to pursue the charges in court. It all confirmed
that the detentions and intimi- dation were purely intended to break our

In August, The Standard revealed the existence of a hit list of journalists
to be harmed or killed by the Government. Topping that hit list was myself,
The Independent's correspondent in Zimbabwe, and the only black journalist
writing for the British media. Prior to its publication, I had received
numerous death threats. Packets of bullets were left on my doorstep on three
occasions, with notes stating that I would be dead before the 2002
presidential election in March. In November, Mr Mugabe's Government formally
labelled me and five other journalists working for the foreign media as
"terrorists". It went on to approve the Public Order and Security Bill
(POSB), which imposes death and life sentences on anyone accused of
assisting terrorism.

Both the POSB and Access to Information Bill forced a December Commonwealth
Ministerial Action Group meeting to put Zimbabwe on its agenda – the first
step towards suspending the country from the 54-nation grouping. Meanwhile,
Zimbabwe's economy virtually collapsed with foreign currency reserves drying
up and multilateral donor agencies withdrawing from the country.

Inflation, which was below 50 per cent at the start of the year, soared to
103 per cent in December. The unemployment rate rose to 60 per cent; key
manufacturing firms folded. The Chief Justice, Anthony Gubbay, was fired and
Mr Mugabe appointed a loyalist to take charge of the Supreme Court. About
110 opposition supporters were killed in 2001 and many more casualties are
expected as Zimbabwe approaches the March presidential election.

But for many of us in the media, despite all the enormous risks we now face,
it's "Aluta Continua'' against Mr Mugabe's tyrannical and despotic rule.

How could it not be? He is wrong.

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Mugabe 'giving farms to cronies' - claim

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe is being accused of forcibly taking farms
to give to his cronies.

The land resettlement exercise is planned to take farms from white farmers
to give to landless peasants.

But political friends of Mr Mugabe are reportedly taking the pick of the
farms for themselves.

Top army, government and officials from the President's Zanu Party have all
allegedly benefited. None have farming expertise and it's claimed many
immediately sold the land and equipment on.

The scheme is supposed to redress years of British colonial rule where land
was taken and farmed by whites.

By giving the land back to locals, many supposed war veterans, it is
ostensibly meant to promote black commercial farming.

Zimbabweans have generally agreed that land redistribution is necessary to
correct the inequities in land ownership created by decades of colonialism.

But there is now a growing consensus that the president is merely using the
land issue to benefit his supporters and friends, according to the reports
in the South African press.

It's alleged the gifts will also ensure their loyalty ahead of a crunch
presidential election next year.

Most of Mr Mugabe's supporters who were allocated land under the fast-track
model are said to have had no farming expertise.

Story filed: 12:44 Thursday 27th December 2001

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Zanu PF rewards Joseph Chinotimba

12/28/01 1:10:57 AM (GMT +2)

By Lloyd Mudiwa

JOSEPH Chinotimba, the self-styled commander of farm invasions, is among
several Zanu PF members that include Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO)
officers and Cabinet ministers, who have been allocated farms in prime
farming areas, a South African weekly has reported.

The Sunday Independent says another official allocated prime land was Elliot
Manyika, the Minister of Youth Development, Gender and Employment Creation.

According to the paper, Joseph Made, the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and
Rural Resettlement, has allocated prime farms to top army, government and
Zanu PF officials under the shady A2 model commercial farming resettlement

Augustine Chihuri, the police commissioner, Webster Bepura, the executive
mayor of Bindura, Menard Muzariri, the deputy director-general of the CIO's
internal unit, and Dickson Mafiosi, Zanu PF's youth chairman for Mashonaland
Central province, are named as other beneficiaries.

Among applicants given formerly white-owned farms are senior police and
defence force officers, Cabinet ministers, MPs and civil servants, the
Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) said.

CFU deputy president Doug Taylor-Freeme, in a presentation to a ministerial
delegation of the Southern African Development Community which visited
Zimbabwe two weeks ago, said land was given to Zanu PF loyalists in
accordance with the so-called A2 scheme.

The scheme allows Made to bypass official procedure by signing a letter
granting an applicant land to lease for 99 years with an option to buy.

The scheme was introduced after the government said it had completed
resettling people under the much-criticised fast-track land resettlement

Made's ministry established a committee to examine applications of potential
beneficiaries of land under the scheme.

But according to the newspaper, an official close to the committee said most
people recommended by the committee were sidelined in favour of the VIPs.

There is now a growing consensus that President Mugabe is using the land
issue to reward his supporters and friends, and ensure their loyalty ahead
of a crucial presidential election next year.

Most Mugabe supporters allocated land under the fast-track model have no
farming expertise. Reports say many of them have deserted their land and
sold all the equipment and seed packs they had been allocated.

The CFU says farm seizures have become more violent as top Zanu PF officials
have resorted to forcibly evicting individual farmers and taking their
properties under the A2 scheme, ostensibly meant to promote black commercial

Jeni Williams, the CFU's spokesperson, said some of the beneficiaries were
moving on to properties before the completion of the legal formalities on
land acquisition.

Guy Watson-Smith and his family on Friday fled to South Africa following the
alleged seizure of his two Beatrice farms in September by Retired General
Solomon Mujuru, the former army commander.

Watson-Smith is the CFU's provincial chairman for Mashonaland East.

A director and shareholder of Hanagwe (Pvt) Ltd which owns Alamein and Elim
farms about 70km south of Harare, Watson-Smith fled hours before his lawyer
filed an urgent application in the High Court.

Chihuri reportedly chased away Mark Butler and seized his property in the
rich Shamva farming area. Chihuri, however, denied ever harassing the

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Zimbabwe opposition says fourth member killed

HARARE, Dec. 27 — Zimbabwe's main opposition party reported on Thursday the
death of a fourth member within a week after an attack by suspected members
of the ruling ZANU-PF party linked to forthcoming presidential elections.
.The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said in a statement Laban Chiweta
died in hospital on Wednesday of head injuries sustained earlier this month
in Bindura, 80 km (50 miles) northeast of Harare.
       It said the suspected assailants included new graduates from the
government's recently introduced national service training programme.
       ''The unprovoked attack on Chiweta and others took place in the
presence of police officers who could neither rescue the victims nor arrest
the assailants,'' the MDC said.
       ''These militias find encouragement for their bloody and murderous
activities from the ZANU-PF leadership, and in particular, from President
(Robert) Mugabe's call on them to treat this election as a war,'' it added.
       Mugabe launched his bid for re-election over a week ago with a
declaration of ''real war'' against his political foes, saying ZANU-PF would
act like an army in its quest to defeat the MDC.
       The MDC, whose leader Morgan Tsvangirai poses a strong challenge to
Mugabe in presidential elections set for March, said the latest death
brought to 87 the number of opposition activists and supporters killed since
February 2000.
       On Wednesday, Tsvangirai said Trymore Midzi, an MDC official in
Bindura, died in hospital on Monday after being attacked by ZANU-PF
supporters last Friday.
       His death followed that of Titus Nheya and Milton Chambati who were
also allegedly killed by ruling party supporters in the Mashonaland West
province at the weekend. Police have only been able to confirm the death of
Chambati as a result of political violence.
       The government blames the latest upsurge in violence on MDC youths it
says have been attacking ZANU-PF supporters in the party's rural
       Last Saturday, Tsvangirai urged southern African governments and the
rest of the international community to ensure free and fair elections in
       He told an MDC conference Mugabe was using ''rogue elements'' of war
veterans, ZANU-PF youths and army personnel in a campaign of violence ahead
of the elections.
       At least 31 people, most of them opposition supporters, were killed
in political violence before parliamentary elections in June last year,
which the MDC narrowly lost.

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From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 27 December

Mugabe militia killing opposition supporters

Harare - Zimbabwe’s opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, said yesterday that his supporters were being attacked and killed by an unofficial militia established by President Mugabe's government. Mr Tsvangirai said deadly assaults were rising ahead of presidential elections scheduled for March. He said: "Three Movement for Democratic Change people have been killed in attacks. It is obvious now that Zanu PF is not going to retreat from its campaign of violence as we head towards the elections."

Today the funeral will be held of MDC youth organiser Trymore Midzi who died in a private hospital after being attacked in his home town, Bindura, 40 miles north west of Harare. He was found by his brother after being so savagely beaten that he needed 72 stitches to his head and many more in other parts of his body. Mr Midzi was repeatedly beaten by Mr Mugabe's supporters earlier this year but refused to stop working for the MDC, according to his younger brother, Roy. Another MDC official was beheaded and a third was beaten to death, according to Mr Tsvangirai. He said he would not be going to any of the funerals. "It will attract too much attention if I go, and that can lead to our people being hurt." He said Mr Mugabe's national servicemen, so-called war veterans and the ruling party's youth brigade had made it impossible for the MDC to hold rallies in many rural districts. "However we are managing to quietly campaign, and people are courageous."

Mr Tsvangirai said the government was operating an unofficial militia. "They are operating under the guise of national service, and about 1,000 of them have been let loose to terrorise MDC supporters in the towns and rural areas." The group was blamed for an attack on a doctor and a disability therapist at a rural hospital 15 miles south of Harare after a Christmas party. Mr Tsvangirai said he had reports that they later went into a township on the outskirts of Harare on Christmas Eve and caused "havoc." Mr Tsvangirai presents Mr Mugabe with his first serious challenge when voters go to the polls in a presidential election due before March 17. Yesterday the police said they could not confirm nor deny whether any suspects had been arrested in connection with any of the violence of the past few days.

From The Cape Argus (SA), 24 December

Farmers say Zimbabwe faces famine

Chinhoyi - The destruction of Zimbabwe's commercial agriculture is set to plunge the country into famine next year. Farmers who worked the rich, red soils last season in Chinhoyi, 100km north-west of Harare, say they have measured crops produced by the beneficiaries of President Robert Mugabe's land-grab - and they predict that harvests will be less than five percent of the normal level. "I produced 12 000 tons of wheat and 5 200 tons of soya beans this year off 2 000ha of fully irrigated land," said Clive Nicolle, one of a family of more than 60 who are celebrating their last Christmas together before a score leave to farm in other African countries and overseas. "The war vets closed me down, we dismantled the centre pivot (for irrigation) and sent the combine harvesters away," he said. "This land is now unproductive and ecologically damaged. I have measured what has been planted by the settlers, and if the rains continue this farm will produce no more than 400 tons of maize and cotton this year."

The Nicolle family and others in the district produce all Zimbabwe's wheat. All the grain in storage was seized by the government three months ago. "Next year Zimbabwe will produce about 25 percent of the normal wheat crop," said Nicolle. Another farmer 8km away, who asked not to be named, said: "Apart from other crops, I would have grown 10 000 tons of maize. The settlers will reap no more than a ton. They are stealing food I have given to my workers, and I feel sorry for all of them, and for us. There is going to be no food." On each of the scores of farms in the district which have been shut down, workers and their families far outnumber "settlers". In many cases, farm workers have been thrown out of their homes, while others wait in fear for the violence that often accompanies evictions.

Farmers in Chinhoyi asked journalists not to approach the "settlers" for comment. "It will endanger our lives," one said. In August, government supporters went on a rampage in the district, leading to the arrest of 22 farmers and businessmen and their workers. Their trial begins next month. None of the looters and arsonists was arrested. Shops will run out of the staple food maize within three weeks, according to sources in the grain sector, and on Monday there were no chickens, cooking oil or sugar in Harare's shops, which are better stocked than elsewhere in the country. The World Food Programme issued an urgent appeal for $60-million two weeks ago. Sources in non-government organisations say it is unlikely funds will emerge in time, nor will logistics be in place to stave off starvation in rural areas where most Zimbabweans live.

Comment from New Vision (Uganda), 21 December

Zimbabwe's angry leader

Last week we could not afford bread. This week we cannot get bread," said a Zimbabwean worker last October, after resident Robert Mugabe imposed price cuts on basic foods that drove most producers out of the market. But Mugabe had a solution for that too: "The state will take over any businesses that are closed. We will re-organise them with workers, and at last the socialism we (always) wanted can start again." Bit by bit, the facade of democracy and moderation that Mugabe has constructed in Zimbabwe for the past two decades has fallen away, exposing an angry and frightened 77-year-old dictator who would rather bring the temple down around his ears than yield power gracefully. As the violence against opposition parties and the white minority and the assaults on the media and the courts have grown, Zimbabwe's reputation has been sinking as fast as its economy - and it's dragging a whole region down with it.

Zimbabwe, a country of 11 million people whose main source of income is agriculture, really matters only to Zimbabweans. South Africa, with four times as many people and enormous symbolic importance as the only developed country in the African continent, matters much more. The two countries have little in common except a border, but their fates are linked, because the global markets are as ignorant as they are prone to panic. Just as a debt crisis in Argentina can stampede investors into a panic-stricken exodus from markets throughout Latin America, so a political crisis in Zimbabwe can lead them to treat the whole of southern Africa as 'unstable'. Since Mugabe unleashed the crisis in Zimbabwe less than two years ago, South Africa's stock market has tumbled, its currency has halved in value, and foreign investment has collapsed – even though it is a stable democracy with completely orthodox economic policies.

It is mostly Robert Mugabe's fault. Once revered as a liberation hero and respected as a man who had put his own Marxist and authoritarian instincts aside for the good of his people, he has become, in the words of Desmond Tutu, former archbishop of Cape Town, "almost a caricature of all the things that people think black African leaders do." Five years ago, Zimbabwe was a model of development in Africa: a relatively poor country where most people nevertheless had access to education and basic health care, and some hope of a better future. Now there is 100 percent inflation, no foreign exchange, and the looming prospect of international sanctions. Three-quarters of Zimbabweans live in abject poverty, and a 40 percent fall in agricultural production this year, directly due to the political violence, means many face actual starvation.

How has this happened? It is mainly due to the fact that after 21 years of Mugabe's rule, the country has outgrown him. He always ran a de facto one-party state behind a democratic facade, but just as he was planning to crown his career with a new constitution enshrining one-party rule, a democratic opposition emerged in the country. The mainly urban-based Movement for Democratic Change fought for the rejection of the new one-party constitution in a referendum in February 2000, and its victory was a profound shock for Mugabe. Suddenly, his own power seemed in question. He responded by launching the wave of government-sponsored political violence that has since devastated the country. Despite all the intimidation and vote-rigging, Mugabe's Zanu PF party came within a whisker of losing last year's parliamentary election. The MDC could still win in March if pressure from South Africa, the European Union, the Commonwealth and the United States forces Mugabe to accept international monitoring of the election. Robert Mugabe is yesterday's man, and today's Zimbabweans (thanks largely to his policies) are better educated and more sophisticated than their parents' generation. As an official inside the Central Intelligence Organisation said recently: "We can read the writing on the wall. There's a lot of document shredding going on."

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