The authorities in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, have decided to embark on a publicity campaign to promote cremation rather than burial as an acceptable way of disposing of the dead in the face of the worsening Aids epidemic.
The city cannot afford to expand its cemeteries, which are running out of space, and hopes to encourage cremation as a way of saving resources.
But there is deep rooted cultural opposition to the idea.
Aids has wrought havoc in Zimbabwe, as in many neighbouring countries, destroying the traditional extended family and contributing to the collapse of the economy.
The role of burial
An estimated 200 people are dying every day as a result of the disease nationwide.
One thing it has not yet changed, though, is the widely held aversion to cremation.
The dead would simply not accept it [cremation]
Necessity, though, has pushed Harare city council towards challenging this cultural norm.
Official figures say that of the 16,000 people who died in the capital last year, fewer than 800 were cremated and the cemeteries are almost full.
The local authority has considered various options, such as expanding the cemeteries, but does not have the money.
As part of its efforts to promote cremation, the city council points out that it's both quicker and cheaper than burial.
But a spokesman for Zimbabwe's traditional healers' association has dismissed the idea as un-African.
"The dead", he said, "would simply not accept it".
From the Daily News
Augustine Chihuri, the
Police Commissioner, yesterday threatened to crush the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) if they call for mass action to press President Mugabe to resign
before the next presidential election.
“Some misguided elements
within our society may be contemplating to engage in criminal activities or to
disturb the peace, including the so-called mass action which is an uprising
against a legitimate government,” Chihuri told guests at a pass-out parade at
Morris Depot in Harare.
From the Daily News
SOLDIERS at the Zimbabwe
National Army barracks in Darwendale, Mashonaland West, are reportedly
organising farm invasions in the area, including in nearby Trelawney where they
allegedly harassed a farm manager on Saturday.
The six soldiers, led by an
army sergeant identified only as Gwene, are
From the Daily News
Hani Yamani, the owner
of Air Harbour Technologies (AHT), the company that won the controversial $5
billion tender to construct the new Harare International Airport yesterday made
fresh allegations of corruption against Cabinet Ministers.
He alleged that President
Mugabe was fully informed of the deals involving some of his most trusted
ministers, including Emmerson Mnangagwa and Enos Chikowore, the former Minister
of Transport and Energy.
‘Ensure majority’s land needs are satisfied’
He said this after a two and half hour meeting that dwelt extensively on the current land reform in Zimbabwe with South African President Thabo Mbeki and President Mugabe at a city hotel.
It is in this spirit that the international community should come and support Zimbabwe’s ongoing land reform programme by making available financial and technical assistance.
The high-level meeting, called for by Mr Obasanjo, was expected to send a clear message to the international community on the importance of Zimbabwe’s land reform.
Mr Obasanjo said the reform programme had to be carried out in accordance with existing laws as the Government had been following.
"The land reform in Zimbabwe is an issue that is not only current, it affects almost everyone’s life in this country and includes lives of others beyond.
"One thing we all appreciate is that the struggle for independence in Zimbabwe was really a struggle for land reform which is essential and we should not lose sight of that," said Mr Obasanjo.
The meeting came ahead of United Nations Development Programme administrator and UN special envoy Mr Mark Malloch Brown’s consultations in Zimbabwe on the land reform.
Both Nigeria and South Africa have in their individual capacities been courting France, Norway and the United States to jump onto the land reform support bandwagon. It is hoped that this would ultimately help end the polarisation between Zimbabwe and Britain over compensation, since the latter was refusing to provide funding to rectify colonial ills.
One diplomat was heard remarking to Cde Mugabe: "There is now light at the end of the tunnel, except for a few scattered British spots."
The Minister of State for Information and Publicity, Professor Jonathan Moyo, said the meeting of the three heads of state was an indication of the importance and seriousness of the subject. "It is a harbinger of good things in sight. The meeting shows beyond any doubt that the ill-considered campaign by the MDC and its foreign backers to isolate Zimbabwe has failed as it was destined to. Zimbabwe is a major regional and international player and will remain so because of its track record," said Prof Moyo.
Meanwhile, Mr Obasanjo’s flight was delayed by about two hours following a technical fault that affected the runway and field lighting system. The lighting system had gone off and brought back on around 8.20 pm. Cde Mbeki left as scheduled around 6 pm.
Besides the land issue, the meeting also discussed regional conflicts affecting Southern Africa and West Africa.
From the Herald
Beer price goes down today
In statement in Harare yesterday, National Breweries said the price of beer had been reduced by 11 percent with immediate effect. The reduction follows the reduction of excise duty from 80 percent to 60 percent.
A 375 ml bottle of Castle, Lion and Pilsener would now cost $20,50, down from $23, while Bohlinger’s and Zambezi are now at $23, as opposed to the previous price of $26. Castle and Lion quarts, which previously cost $41, would now cost $36,50, while cans are now pegged at $27,50 compared to the previous $30.
The reduction of the prices on beer comes at a time when National Breweries had already announced a reduction in sales because of a depressed market. These changes are expected to stimulate demand.
For the soft drinks, a 175ml and 200ml bottle would cost $11,60, a 300ml kingsize $12 and one litre bottle is now pegged at $31.
The slide in the prices follows adjustment of duty on carbonated soft drinks announced by Dr Makoni when he unveiled his 2001 budget in Parliament on November 16.
The duty was reduced from 25 percent to 15 percent with effect from today.
The reduction of prices on beer and soft drinks comes at a time when the economy has been going through its worst crisis, reflected in runaway inflation.
From the Herald
Council of Chiefs considers court action against CFU
The council agreed at a meeting held in Harare yesterday to consult their lawyers on how to proceed with the matter.
President of the Council of Chiefs, Chief Jonathan Mangwende, said the CFU had erred by taking President Mugabe to court over the land issue as he was merely a custodian of the land.
"The President does not own the land. The land belongs to the chiefs. The white settlers took the land from the chiefs and not the President. So any court action by the union should be directed at the chiefs,’’ said the chief.
The chiefs would sue the CFU for grabbing the land and demand compensation for the loss of wealth and the land.
Chief Mangwende said the Government made a mistake by extending the hand of reconciliation, which the whites mistook for weakness.
"We will not rest until the land is given back to us. Even if it means war, we are prepared. I call upon people on the farms not to move off until the issue is resolved.’’
Chiefs have the prerogative to distribute land in their capacity as tra-
ditional and spiritual leaders of the people of Zimbabwe.
The chiefs said: "We will rightfully institute court action to stop the current judiciary system from presiding over the land issue as they are not qualified to adjudicate under traditional law.’’
The Minister of State for Information and Publicity, Professor Jonathan Moyo, said the development was healthy in that it empowers an important voice, which was hitherto silent.
There was no doubt that the chiefs were dispossessed of the land on behalf of their people and that the colonial occupation of land targeted them.
"Land is part of our heritage and there is no better spokesman for the heritage than the chiefs. The futility of the CFU going to the courts and thinking they have the monopoly of the courts and the lawyers is now being exposed.
"It is unfortunate that the CFU had sought to weaken the courts by giving the impression that the courts were only for them,’’ said Prof Moyo.
CFU president Mr Tim Henwood said he was pleased to see that traditional leaders had respect for the courts.
The CFU is contesting the constitutionality of the compulsory land acquisition and the fast-track resettlement programme.
The Supreme Court has since ordered occupiers to vacate the farms.
By Cris Chinaka, Reuters, 12/1/2000
ARARE, Zimbabwe - President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria urged President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe yesterday to follow existing laws strictly as his government embarks on a program to seize white-owned farms for black resettlement.
Obasanjo and President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa held private talks with Mugabe here on Zimbabwe's worsening political and economic crisis, which has been fueled by the dispute over land seizures.
''What I think Zimbabwe should do is to strictly follow the law that is already in place for the resolution of this problem,'' said Obasanjo, who was the only leader to speak to reporters after a four-hour meeting.
Mugabe has used presidential powers to bypass the country's constitution and to avoid paying compensation for seized lands.
Obasanjo's comments came a day after Zimbabwe's justice minister lashed out at white and Asian judges, warning that their opposition to the seizure of white-owned land could plunge the country into war.
Zimbabwe's courts, with a majority of black judges, have handed down several rulings against Mugabe and his followers since the land invasions began in February.
The government has ignored a number of court orders to evict self-styled 1970s independence war veterans who have occupied white farms in support of Mugabe's program.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court ordered the government to stop the land grab and to evict squatters. But Mugabe has repeatedly said he would not heed any court order that interfered with his land redistribution.
Obasanjo also called on the international community to provide funds for land reform in Zimbabwe.
''We call on the international community to give support for the resolution of this issue, and ... to support it materially, so that compensation, which is also part of the law, will be paid,'' Obasanjo said.
As the three leaders discussed international assistance for land reform in Zimbabwe, UN special envoy Mark Malloch Brown arrived in Harare and was expected to meet Mugabe tomorrow.
Malloch Brown, who also heads the United Nations Development Program, is expected to discuss how the UN can help Harare reach an internationally acceptable plan for land reform.
Obasanjo gave no more details of the talks, but diplomats had expected Mbeki and Obasanjo to push for a solution based on the 1979 Lancaster House accords that paved the way for independence for the former British colony of Rhodesia, ending a nationalist war and white minority rule.
The accords said Britain would help fund independent Zimbabwe's land redistribution program, so long as land was acquired on a ''willing seller, willing buyer'' basis.
Britain provided cash in the early years after independence in 1980 but stopped when Mugabe adopted a compulsory acquisition policy in 1992.
Mugabe has said that land ownership in Zimbabwe is concentrated in the hands of a few thousand white commercial farmers who hold a total of 30 million acres.
Under Mugabe's plan, the government is to seize about a third of that white-owned land.
Britain has sought help from Obasanjo and Mbeki in the face of Mugabe's refusal to pay for land he says rightly belongs to blacks. Obasanjo enjoys warm relations with Mugabe, while Mbeki is leader of Zimbabwe's biggest trading partner.
De Klerk warns African leaders of cultural extinction
Nkechi Nwosu and Clifford Ndujihe
UNLESS African leaders equip their citizens, especially, children with the proper quality of education, the phenomenon of globalisation may lead to the continent's cultural extinction.
Former President of South Africa, Frederik Wilhem de Klerk gave this warning in a keynote address he gave at the second session of the Anyiam-Osigwe Memorial Lecture series held in Lagos, yesterday.
And in an exclusive chat with The Guardian, the former leader who struck the final blow to Apartheid in South Africa, posited that Nigeria's many problem could only be resolved through the conference table.
In his address titled: "Leadership and its application to Child Development in Africa," De Klerk posited that education would equip African children for effective competition in the globalised information economy and make them proud of the continent own rich cultural heritage.
Klerk noted that although globalisation brings the promise of economic growth and prosperity, it also poses a serious threat to healthy cultural diversity.
With half of the world's estimated 6,000 languages seen disappearing in the next century, Klerk said: "Our cultural diversity is now under greater threat than the bio-diversity of our planet." Klerk was the white leader who broke ranks and drowned all criticism at the risk of his life to hand power to black president Nelson Mandela in 1994.
He warned: "It would be bitter irony if after winning our political freedom, we were to be robbed of our identity as Africans by a new brand of cultural imperialism."
He therefore urged African leaders to nurture the people's cultural heritage.
Another challenge he identified was poverty.
AIDS, conflicts, ignorance and illiteracy, throw up conditions of poverty deprivation, he noted.
According to him, because most of Africa lagged behind in the global race for prosperity, the "rest of the world is inclined to marginalise our continent-despite their protestation to the contrary.
Klerk observed that poverty, conflict and political instability always go hand in hand, not just in African alone. But all nine African countries enmeshed in bitter conflict expectedly are among the poorest on the continent with an average per capita GNP incomes of only $188.
He said that "Africa needs a fair break from the rest of the world ñ a fair break with its crippling debt and a fair break with access to First World Markets and First World investments."
Klerk noted that the plight of African children was a challenge to leaders, and people of good conscience throughtout the world?
He advocated a major parley to trash out issues, otherwise Africa would become a burden to the whole world.
In his address, President Olusegun Obasanjo who yesterday called for adherence to the rule of law to resolve Zimbabwe's problems, paid glowing tributes to De Klerk as the man who destroyed apartheid, even as he urged Nigerians to eschew bitterness and humble themselves.
Obasanjo, represented by Solid Minerals Development Minister, Kanu Godwin Agabi said: "We must reconcile ourselves and make peace, with the destiny which cast us together. That is the duty we owe not only to our ancestors whose sweat and blood gave us this nation, but also to the black race which is still in chains.
"As we condemn apartheid, racism and other forms of discrimination elsewhere, we cannot afford to practice it here at home. Our states, our local governments and all our institutions and people must open up and reach out to one another. It is unacceptable to me that indigenes of one state or local government cannot find employment in other states and local governments. This has led to the weakening of our democracy and our fight against corruption."
Also yesterday, Obasanjo urged President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe to strictly follow the law as his government embarks on a programme to seize white-owned farms for black resettlement. He urged global funds for the land reform to pay legal compensation.
Obasanjo and South African President Thabo Mbeki held private talks with Mugabe in Harare on Zimbabwe's worsening political and economic crisis, fuelled by the land grab.
Obasanjo's comments came a day after Zimbabwe's Justice Minister lashed out at white and Asian judges, warning that their opposition to the seizure of white-owned land could plunge the country into war.
Also speaking at the memorial lecture Dr. Alex Ekwueme who chaired the occasion, said in Nigeria family structure traditionally, was the custodian or guarantor of societal values.
Noting that when extended, family structure was both a regulator of personal conduct and provider of a welfare and insurance scheme, he contended that the mutilation of family values was responsible for the nation's present problems.
"The breakdown of these traditional family values engendered, in part, by large-scale urbanisation and attendant relative anonymity of the population, has contributed in no small measure to Nigerias present problems of indiscipline, violence and crime," he stated.
Oba of Benin, Omo N'Oba Erediauwa II, represented by Chief Nosakhare Isekhure, harped on the need for respect for culture and traditional values, a lack of which he said was responsible for most of the myriad of problems facing the nation.
In a special message to President Obasanjo, the eminent monarch called for urgent attention on the plight of the Nigerian child.
"We are talking about children. We have more children on the streets and highways today than before. They don't go to school and nobody has done anything for them. On our way to Lagos from Benin, we saw many lepers on the highway begging. It is a shame that nothing has been done for them," he said.
The high-point of the event was the presentation of awards to De Klerk, Ekwueme, Professor Bolanle Awe and Professor T.C. Okeahialam for their contribution towards "a holistic approach to human existence and development..
1 December 2000
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From The Guardian (UK), 1 December
African leaders criticise Mugabe for farm seizures
Harare - The Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, was sharply reprimanded yesterday for his violent land seizures by two of Africa's most powerful leaders, the South African president, Thabo Mbeki, and the Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo. The two travelled to Harare in a last ditch effort to persuade Mr Mugabe to uphold the rule of law and make his land redistribution acceptable to the international community. But, following an unprecedented two and a half hours of talks, Mr Obasanjo made it clear that they had failed to make a breakthrough.
"What I think the Zimbabwean government should do is to strictly follow the law that is already in place for the resolution of the land problem," Mr Obasanjo said as Mr Mugabe sat to the side with pursed lips and downcast eyes. It is a rare occasion when two African leaders publicly criticise a fellow head of state. Mr Mugabe did not speak at the conference. Mr Obasanjo said the handling of Zimbabwe's land redistribution was important to the entire southern African region. "The issue of land reform in Zimbabwe is an issue that is not only current but it affects almost everybody's life in this country and the lives of others beyond this country," he said. "We do know that there is a law that stipulates what needs to be done and how it should be done so that this problem can be resolved."
Mr Mugabe's "fast track" land seizures have broken his own Land Acquisition Act that was passed by parliament in early November. He has repeatedly assured international leaders that he is following legal procedures but his promises have been starkly contradicted by the numerous violent incidents in which white-owned farms have been overrun by veterans of the war against Rhodesian rule, often armed, and other supporters of Mr Mugabe. Five white farmers have been killed this year and scores more attacked. Thousands of black farm workers have also been beaten. Mr Mugabe has blatantly flouted orders from Zimbabwe's supreme court and high court to stop the illegal invasions. Instead, he and his cabinet have attacked the country's top judges as racists.
Mr Obasanjo implicitly acknowledged that Mr Mugabe had not agreed to change his policies and that it was not currently possible to have fruitful negotiations with the international community to raise funds for land reform. The Nigerian leader offered his services as a mediator once Mr Mugabe is closer to the position of potential donors, specifically Britain. "It takes two to tango," he said. "When the British and Zimbabweans say 'yes, you can continue to mediate', we are available to act as mediators."
A special envoy of the United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, was also in Harare yesterday with a package of financial assistance for land reform that will be made available only if Mr Mugabe stops his land resettlement. Virtually everyone, including international donors and Zimbabwe's white farmers, agree that thorough land reform is needed to redress the historic injustices in which white British settlers seized vast tracts of African land without paying compensation. But all international parties agree that Mr Mugabe must follow the laws of his own country in acquiring the land and carry out the reform in a way that will improve the lives of the resettled farmers.
Mr Mugabe has pursued his land seizures because he is convinced it is his best chance to keep a grip on support among rural blacks. He is already reviled by urban blacks who largely support the opposition MDC. But Mr Mugabe's government badly needs cash, as it cannot pay for imports of adequate supplies of fuel or electricity. He may well agree to international demands so that he can receive assistance, but he will find it very difficult to reverse the land confiscations he has put in motion. Mr Mbeki at first refrained from publicly criticising Mr Mugabe's policies, but as Zimbabwe's farms descended into lawlessness, the contagion of instability infected South Africa, bringing about a dramatic drop in the value of its currency, the rand.From The Daily News, 30 November
Daily News was wrong
Professor Jonathan Moyo, the Minister of State in the President's Office has condemned The Daily News for publishing a story in which it was stated as fact that Yugoslav contractors built President Mugabe's residence in Zvimba. Moyo pointed out that it was Chinese contractors who built the mansion at Kutama Village.
On Tuesday The Daily News published a story which quoted extensively from a letter written to President Mugabe last year by Hani Yamani, chief executive of Air Harbour Technologies (AHT), the main contractors on the new Harare International Airport project. In the seven-page letter Yamani complained to President Mugabe that his local agents, businessman Tony Kates of CIE Mercantile and Heena Joshi had made certain unauthorised payments to three government ministers and a number of civil servants. Heena is the daughter of Jayant Chunilal Joshi, managing director of Zanu PF's trading company Zidco. She is a close associate of the First Lady Grace Mugabe. She sits on the board of the First Lady's Children Rehabilitation Trust.
Yamani attached for the attention of President Mugabe a schedule of payments allegedly made to Minister Herbert Murerwa then of Finance and now Higher Education, and the former Ministers of Transport and Energy Enos Chikowore and Simon Khaya Moyo. On the schedule is listed a payment to Zidco on behalf of the President for the construction of a residence. Professor Moyo did not challenge the rest of the allegations made by Yamani in his seven-page letter. Yamani says to the President in his letter, "Our bank transfers show that large sums were paid by us to Zidco and J C Joshi, with a big portion allocated for your residence, but it seems that the Joshis and their allies in government had imposed their own personal taxes on these sums, and of course, Heena Joshi never informed us."
Yesterday the Editor-in-Chief of The Daily News, Geoffrey Nyarota, admitted his paper made an error in assuming that AHT and Zidco were involved in the construction of the President's residence in Zvimba. Hualong Construction, the Chinese company responsible for the construction of the National Sports Stadium and which is now based in Msasa was, in fact, responsible for the construction of Mugabe's residence in Zvimba. "When our reporters saw the reference to a presidential residence in Yamani's letter they assumed the President owned only one residence of his own, the one in Zvimba," Nyarota said yesterday. "It did not occur to them that Yamani might be referring to another residence. For this genuine error on our part we wish to apologise most sincerely to His Excellency, the President."
AHT is, in fact, involved in the construction of President Mugabe's mansion in Borrowdale. Energoproject, the Yugoslav contractor responsible for building the Harare Sheraton and the International Conference Centre, are building the new mansion which is expected to cost more than $30 million when completed. Yamani says in his letter that $55 million was allocated for the project by AHT. Energoproject is now registered in Zimbabwe as Energo P/L. Payment for Energo is allegedly coming from Zidco. Zidco received US$20 000 (about $1,1 million) from AHT for the residence, according to Yamani. The money was handed over to Zidco by Heena Joshi.
The house, at the Y-junction of Borrowdale Brooke Road and The Green Valley Lane, is opposite the lavish Borrowdale Brooke residential area. It is located less than three kilometres from the First Lady's own mansion, Gracelands. Heena Joshi says the property on which Mugabe's new house is going up is one of 60 stands purchased by Zanu PF after independence. M&S Syndicate, Zanu PF's original trading company paid cash for many properties in the low density areas which have now been disposed of to party officials. Mugabe has said that Zanu PF bought the property for him as a present. Yamani says AHT allocated a total of US$1 million (about $55 million) for the construction of the President's residence. The record of payments submitted to Yamani by Heena reflects a payment of only US$20 000 out of the allocation for the President's residence. "If we have problems today," Yamani says in his letter to President Mugabe, "It is partly because of money diversions by Tony Kates and Heena Joshi." Efforts to contact Kates since Monday have been in vain.
Politburo: Zvobgo, Shamu to go
Eddison Zvobgo, the legal affairs chief of the ruling ZANU PF, and publicity secretary Nathan Shamuyarira are lining up to quit their positions in the party’s Politburo organ ahead of ZANU PF’s extraordinary congress where President Robert Mugabe is expected to overhaul the party’s supreme policy-making body. As the Politburo met in closed session in Harare yesterday to debate the agenda of the December 13-16 congress, ZANU PF insiders said it looked virtually certain that the two men would quit their positions.
Zvobgo and Shamuyarira have already indicated in private that they will not offer themselves for re-appointment to the Politburo but have yet to communicate their decisions to the party’s presidium headed by Mugabe, the officials said. Shamuyarira said yesterday: "I do not want to quit my position in the Politburo per se, but I look forward to spending more time writing about national developmental issues and the history of the liberation struggle and leave the information and publicity functions of the party to be done by other people. However, all this will depend on the wishes of the people and my colleagues in the party. I personally would like to see more new faces in the Politburo to galvanise the party and bring foresight." Shamuyarira is expected to be replaced on the Politburo by Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, who already attends the organ’s meetings at the invitation of Mugabe.
Zvobgo, embroiled in behind-the-scenes political skirmishes with Mugabe after criticising the implementation of the government’s controversial land reforms, was not immediately available for comment. Authoritative sources however said Vice President Simon Muzenda is piling pressure for the expulsion of Zvobgo from the Politburo and the party over the legal secretary’s critical comments on the Government’s performance in the past year. According to ZANU PF sources, Zvobgo is being blamed for derailing the land reforms after he authored a document for the Politburo outlining the legal pitfalls that the government faces in its implementation of the scheme.
Zvobgo’s farm in Masvingo was seized by war veterans on Tuesday in a move which insiders say is politically motivated by factionalism in the province. It was not clear by yesterday whether the veterans had been removed by the police. Zvobgo’s political foes are also accusing him of harbouring ambitions to unseat Mugabe and of fanning factionalism in Masvingo, charges he denies. The sources said Mugabe, fighting for political survival amid growing dissent within his own party over his governance and facing a more confident opposition, is preparing to purge the Politburo by sacking all officials whose loyalties are questionable. Most of these officials are from the old guard which worked with Mugabe during Zimbabwe’s 1970s independence war but who the President now views as threats to his quest to run for another term as head of state in 2002. He will replace them with younger politicians drafted to mastermind Mugabe’s re-election, the sources said.
Meanwhile Dzikamayi Mavhaire, the head of the dismissed Masvingo provincial executive of ZANU PF, yesterday maintained that he is still the legitimate leader of the province and that members who this week quit their posts in a transitional executive set up by the Politburo had reverted to their former positions in the executive. "We are the legitimate leadership. The members who have quit their positions in the transitional executive have reverted to their positions in the old executive. Nothing has really changed," he told the Financial Gazette. "We are intact as an elected executive and we will be going to congress like that," he declared, raising the stakes in his combat with the Politburo which sacked his executive over charges of failing to run the province. But Didymus Mutasa, administration chief of the ruling party who is overseeing the congress preparations, insisted that the Masvingo executive remained sacked and that the Politburo-appointed team is working to come up with a new leadership for the province before the congress.
The Politburo’s meeting in Harare yesterday was understood to be also searching for new criteria for appointment to the organ, ZANU PF’s supreme body in the absence of a party congress. The sources said that unlike in the past when Mugabe and his two deputies appointed the organ’s members, there was now a growing realisation within ZANU PF that Politburo members need to be elected.
How many nails are left to go into the coffin of commercial farming in Zimbabwe?
Zimbabwe, according to local prominent economists and civic leaders, is now in economic, social and political meltdown. The following story, concerning a group of 17 farmers based in the Bindura/ Shamva districts in Mashonaland Central Province, is a microcosmic view of the current crisis in Zimbabwe.
Ian Miller's farm, Dawmill, is valued at Z$60 million, excluding his machinery. Add another Z$20 million to the value if you include all his tractors, implements, state-of-the-art irrigation equipment and other 'improvements'. He owes Z$20 million to the bank, his farm has been designated, and on 23rd October he was instructed to stop planting this year's crops by commanders of hundreds of self-styled war veterans, all of whom have built makeshift housing at the entrance to his farm and are moving ox-driven ploughs up and down his lands - in thin, intermittent strips because they do not have the seed or the equipment - which were previously prepared in September for a large commercial hectarage of soya beans.
In no uncertain terms he and 16 neighbouring farmers have been told, not only by the commanders organising the movement of the squatters, but also by every prominent politician in the province, that they are not allowed to plant their commercial crops. If they tried, the farmers were warned, they would end up, to quote one official, as "dead, or if not killed, then their wives' and children's heads would be served to them on a tray." Amongst the beleaguered group were Guy French and Keith McGaw - both of whom originally defied the order to stop planting - and were then beaten with whips and sticks; in the latter's case, axed in the head with a machete.
The 17 farms
support in the region of 4,000 people, 2,000 of which have been 'laid off' due
to the work stoppages. The farmers have not asked them to leave the farm; rather
they have been told that until they are allowed to plant again their services
are no longer required. None of the workers can be paid or assisted should their
livelihoods be taken away because the farmers are unable to afford it. The
Zimbabwean government, in the meantime, has no intention of compensating them
The government's rhetoric of 'giving the land back to the landless peasants', as mooted by its propaganda machine during the past year, is turned on its head when you see who neighbours the 17 farmers on the Bindura/ Shamva border. It reads like a Who's Who of Zimbabwean 'chefs': Governor of Mashonaland Central, Elliot Manyika; Minister of Youth, Sport and Recreation, Border Gezi; ex-army commander, Rex Nhongo; MP for Bindura and head of CIO, Nicholas Goche; Permanent Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Willard Chiwewe; the Mayor of Bindura, Webster Bupera; and the local chief in the area, Chief
Chipadze. Chief Chipadze recently had his farm repossessed by the banks for mismanagement and a spiralling overdraft. This has not bothered him because, in taking advantage of the illegal land grab, he has moved his labour on to Colin Huddy's farm nearby, which just happens to be called Chipadze, and which he is seizing after claiming he has ancestral rights. No one remains on his own farm; it lies derelict and useless. Alan Morkel, who neighbours Huddy, was also overrun by squatters at the beginning of the illegal land invasion. He has been so badly intimidated that he is currently in hospital having suffered a nervous breakdown. Since he vacated and closed down the farm a couple of weeks ago, every squatter has left and moved on to another farm. It too lies empty.
Talking to the farmers, they unanimously believe that the Zimbabwean government's only intention is to get rid of the white commercial farmer for as little cost as possible. The intimidation tactics suggested to the commanders controlling the invasions, the farmers confirmed after seeing a leaked mandate, was to break them down psychologically: through disruption of cropping thus depleting their earnings, and through physical threats and violence, which a number of them present had experienced first hand. Governor Manyika in a meeting with a group of Shamva farmers recently - which has been recorded on tape - said that as far as he was concerned he was the chief executive officer "and I have the power to command the police, the war veterans and the army in Mashonaland Central Province. You CFU (Commercial Farmers' Union) members are self-centred. I am an officer of Zanu PF." In other words, a self-styled commander-in-chief and all controlling chieftain of the province which, the farmers think, is exactly what the government is trying to achieve in its creation of a patrician state where the 'chiefs' have it all and the workers have nothing.
The tragedy of these land invasions and work stoppages on the commercial farms is that neither the farmer nor his workers have anywhere to go if they are forced to leave. When asked what their plans were in the event of an evacuation, they could not give an answer; they simply did not know. Even more worrying was the plight of the farm worker who would leave the land with probably two suitcases of belongings and nothing more. There is no compensation for farmer or worker, there is no social security, and no payment whatsoever for anything they legally own. "We know that when we leave we are destitute but the farmers can make a plan," said Ian Miller, "but what of our labour? They have nowhere to go, no money, no security and in the end no life. It is such a tragedy."
The knock-on effects on the economy from these farm's being over-run illegally - and then abandoned by the commercial farmers in the end through no choice of their own - is unquantifiable. The ZESA (electricity) bill alone for eight months of the year for the 17 farms amounts to Z$100 million. The soya bean seed being returned to the seed company by Ian Miller this week because he has not been allowed to plant it amounts to approximately Z$1.3 million. The combined wages each month of the 17 farms amount to Z$7 million. Agribusiness throughout the country is now completely debt-ridden, if not
bankrupt, because farmers can no longer pay their bills.
It is a tragedy of untold proportion and nothing is being done to overcome it. Corruption, economic mismanagement, lawlessness, anarchy and racism prevail throughout all sections of Zimbabwean society. The international community sits idly on the side putting minimal pressure on Robert Mugabe and his government to rectify the situation. Regional pressure too is almost non-existent. The objective of Robert Mugabe and his small, corrupt clique is clear: the destruction of all employment and a return to an agrarian subsistence economy which they will totally control with no opposition. In Ethiopia Mengistu tried it and subsequently the world spent hundreds of millions of US dollars in preventing the ensuing starvation. All Zimbabwe's regional neighbours' economies, including Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and of course South Africa, will now bear the full responsibility for their lack of serious effort to influence the situation. The impact on them will be far more serious than they realise. But when will they see it? When will they act on their own interests?
In the end the world's lending nations will be expected to pick up the pieces, but will they? Is Mbeki responsible for this tragedy? Is Mbeki hoping to salvage his 'Renaissance of Africa' policy? If so, he better get moving before he morally and practically sets his country back a decade. When will Africa's leaders show strong leadership? We wait and see.
Meanwhile Zimbabwe's downtrodden masses are quietly and peacefully waiting for change. The question remains: is it going to be possible?
From The Star (SA), 1 December
Zim forms body to probe Mugabe's impeachment
Harare - Zimbabwean Parliamentary Speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa on Thursday announced the appointment of a 12-member committee to investigate the impeachment of President Robert Mugabe for alleged "gross and malicious abuse of office". As expected, Mnangagwa's appointees from Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party heavily outnumber those from Morgan Tsvangirai's opposition MDC which last month invoked the constitution to press for Mugabe's removal after 20 years in power. Three of the four MDC nominees are prominent lawyers while only one of the eight Zanu-PF members is, apart from the committee chairperson, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa.
Parliamentary observers say a notable absentee from the Zanu-PF appointees is former justice minister Eddison Zvobgo, architect of the constitutional amendments which since 1987 have given Mugabe sweeping powers as executive head of state. Zvobgo, once considered a possible successor to Mugabe, has been under fire for alleged disloyalty to the president in his home province in the southeast of Zimbabwe. The committee will make its decisions by simple majority.
MDC legal spokesperson David Coltart, who is a member of the committee, said while it appeared unlikely the committee would recommend the president's impeachment to the house in view of its pro-Mugabe composition, it would be able to hear damning evidence of abuse of office. The MDC alleges Mugabe incited a wave of violence in which up to 40 people were killed, dispatched troops to the Congo and tolerated widespread corruption. Coltart demanded Chinamasa convene sessions of the committee so it might complete its work without delay. No time schedule has been given for it to undertake its work.
From the Times (UK), 1 December
...Zimbabwe’s dwindling white community won a landmark constitutional test case yesterday before a bench of black judges, who barred the Government from stripping many of them of citizenship. The five judges’ unanimous ruling is likely to outrage Mr Mugabe's ruling Zanu (PF) party, which sent militants led by former guerrillas to storm the Supreme Court last week in a protest at alleged pro-white bias in disputes over land rights...
From The Star (SA), 30 November
UN demands deny DRC sovereignty, says Kabila
Kinshasa - President Laurent Kabila said on Wednesday that UN demands for total freedom of movement for its ceasefire observers in the DRC amounted to a denial of national sovereignty. But Kabila, speaking on his return from the latest Congo peace summit, said his government would do what was necessary for the observers to fulfil their mission. Earlier, the UN said Kabila had agreed at the summit in Mozambique's capital Maputo on Monday to lift all obstacles to the deployment of its observers - but added that it wanted written guarantees. "With (UN special envoy) Ambassador (Kemal) Morjane, it's always a question of more freedom, in other words the scrapping of sovereignty," Kabila told the television. But he added: "We will give what it is necessary to give."
Amadou Toure, spokesperson for the observer mission, said in Kinshasa on Wednesday that Kabila had agreed in Maputo to drop a condition that observers deploying in the Congo had to transit through Kinshasa. "President Kabila announced his intention to lift all obstacles to the deployment of (UN) forces," Toure said. But Kabila has given similar assurances in the past and another member of the mission, Juan Pekmez, said the United Nations would need written guarantees. The United Nations, which accuses Kabila of dragging his feet on the freedom of movement issue, has deployed only about 100 observers in the Congo and capitals of countries caught up in the two-year-old conflict. South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki said in Maputo on Monday that those countries had reaffirmed their commitment to an April agreement in Uganda to pull back from front-line positions. Kabila, he added, had pledged to co-operate with the UN. But Kabila accused Rwanda and Uganda of refusing to negotiate in Maputo and deplored the lack of a final summit communiqué.
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