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Murder charges have been dropped against the Zimbabwean guerrilla-war veteran alleged to have shot dead a white farmer.

Daniel Chitekuteku, 41, has been released from custody after charges were dropped for lack of evidence.

David Stevens was the first of six white farmers killed in more than nine months since President Robert Mugabe began his attempt to seize white-owned land.

Independent Online reports Chitekuteku's release was confirmed by Fungai Nyahunzvi, magistrate's court prosecutor in the town of Marondera, about 75km east of Harare, where the alleged killer was being held.

Stevens, 48, was abducted from his farm, Arizona, by a mob of veterans in the Macheke area near Marondera on April 15.

Chitekuteku was arrested in September after a witness claimed to have seen him shoot Stevens.

About 2,000 white-owned farms have been invaded since February.
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Attack on blind UZ students regrettable says deputy minister

12/4/00 7:37:20 AM (GMT +2)

Political Reporter

The Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Rugare Gumbo, last week told Parliament it was sad that blind University of Zimbabwe students had been caught in the crossfire during demonstrations by students in solidarity with their lecturers striking for better pay.

Gumbo was replying to a question from the MDC's Nomalanga Khumalo (Umzingwane), who had asked if it was police procedure to use force or teargas to quell student disturbances, especially if blind students were involved.
A number of blind students were beaten up by the riot squad during student demonstrations last month. Two spent the night outside their shattered hostels as a result.
"It is obviously not police procedure to use force to quell any disturbances," said Gumbo. "In this particular case, the police were obviously forced to use teargas. It's unfortunate that disabled people were caught in the crossfire. If people behave in an unruly manner to disturb peace, we will be left with no choice."
Asked whether it was right to use the army to deal with public demonstrations, Gumbo said the army would always be called in when the police saw that there was potential for the situation to deteriorate into chaos.
The use of the army to assist the police was nothing new in the world, as the United States of America did it when it was confronted by potentially volatile situations, said Gumbo.
"I would want to repeat that if there were disabled people who were caught in the cross fire, that is regrettable," he said.
Meanwhile, the Leader of the House, Patrick Chinamasa, told Parliament that 20 percent of the land being acquired for resettlement purposes would be reserved for war veterans, 10 percent for war collaborators, 10 percent for political detainees and restrictees with the remaining 60 percent being given to the landless peasants.
The government wants to acquire five million hectares from the commercial farmers.
"The MDC is not doing their members any good by telling them not to participate in the resettlement programme," said Chinamasa. "The government is in control regardless of the propaganda that we are losing. People are being given land as we sit here, people are being given land at a reasonable pace."

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War veterans kick out resettled villagers

12/5/00 9:18:00 AM (GMT +2)

Daily News Correspondent, Gweru

About 900 villagers from Mvuma and Chirumhanzu who were allocated land on
Sebakwe North Farm under the government's fast-track resettlement
programme this year have allegedly been kicked out by war veterans and
business people. The 65 000-hectare farm is part of the Central Estates of

In a petition sent to the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and
National Housing Ignatius Chombo last week, the villagers accused the
provincial land committee, chaired by governor Cephas Msipa of hijacking
the land redistribution programme to benefit war veterans, politicians and
business people in and outside the province.
A spokesperson for the war veterans, Lovemore Mudondo, denied the charge.
He said: "It is not true that war veterans have hijacked the villagers'
initiative." He would not elaborate.
The villagers claimed they were the first to be resettled on the farm in
August following an agreement with the farm owner, Nick Van Hoogstraten
and Msipa.

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Mnangagwa’s ‘wild goose chase’

Brian Hungwe
THE Speaker of parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa is seeking legal advice on how to deal with MDC parliamentarian Evelyn Masaiti for suing President Robert Mugabe in the US over political crimes committed in the run-up to the June 24-25 election.

Legal analysts however dismissed Mungangwa’s moves as an “exercise in futility” as Masaiti had committed no wrong.

Mnangagwa said if the MDC MP had a case to answer, parliament would go through “the normal procedures” and decide what action to take against her.
“I have asked for legal opinion on whether it is permissible for a member to sue in another jurisdiction his or her head of state,” Mnangagwa said, adding he had consulted the legal counsel to parliament on the issue.

Government is increasingly laggering itself from reality and looking for scapegoats to redirect attention from pressing economic problems on the ground.

Minister of Justice Patrick Chinamasa recently told parliament government was also looking at the US Mugabe suit to determine what course of action to take against the complainants, and the MPs who supported the Zimbabwe Democracy Bill.

Targeted was Masaiti, together with other four Zimbabweans who lost their relatives as a result of the political violence mostly orchestrated by the ruling party.

Parliamentary sources said government did not take kindly to MPs who campaigned for the Zimbabwe Democracy Bill that sought to bring sanctions against the country for not upholding democratic values, and was looking at “how to deal with them”.

Legal experts described moves by Chinamasa and Mnangagwa as a “wild goose chase” that would not bear anything.

Advocate Edith Mushore told the Independent that parliament had no legal basis to deprive Masaiti of her right to sue in her individual capacity, anyone for deeds done to either herself or relative.

“Everyone is entitled to sue for damages arising out of the wrongful death of a relative, if it has been established that that person caused the deceased’s wrongful death,” Mushore said.

She said parliamentarians were accountable to their constituencies, the executive and the judiciary.

“That must not in any way be confused with an individual’s right to sue in her individual capacity,” Mushore said.

“What possible right has parliament to interfere with Masaiti’s personal right? Are you inferring that Masaiti be deprived of protection of her legal right simply because she was voted into parliament? It defies logic,” she said.

UZ law lecturer Lovemore Madhuku described the moves as political and an attempt by Zanu PF to expel Masaiti from parlia- ment so as to create another by-election in Muta- sa, a rural constituency that she won.
“There is no law against what Masaiti did,” Madhuku said.

He said parliament had jurisdiction to discipline its own members for conduct which it deemed detrimental to the interests of parliament.
“Whenever you are acting within the law, it will be wrong for parliament to proceed against a member who is merely exercising his/her right,” Madhuku said.

Prominent lawyer Sternford Moyo of Scanlen and Holderness, said it was “certainly not an offence to institute legal action where you feel you have got a case”, even in foreign courts.

“In general, a person who feels that he has a case is entitled to approach and institute litigation,” he said.

“Apart from an order of costs, where the litigant errs for taking his or her case in a forum that does not have jurisdiction, I cannot think of any penalty likely to be imposed on the litigant for instituting legal action.
“The act itself is not objectionable,” Moyo said. “A head of state enjoys immunity before the courts of the country he is visiting unless the act in question is purely commercial.

“That objection is taken before the court itself and is determined by the court where the litigant errs in taking action in a forum that does not have jurisdiction.”

Mnangagwa said when members of parliament took the oath of office in terms of parliament’s standing orders, they took an oath to the state, which was personified in the president and indicated that they would respect and observe its principles.
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Pressure mounts on Mugabe

Dumisani Muleya
INTERNATIONAL pressure is mounting on the beleaguered President Mugabe to resolve the deteriorating land and economic situation in the country to preclude an implosion of great proportions in Zimbabwe.

Yesterday South African President Thabo Mbeki and Nigerian leader Olusegun Obasanjo were in the country to engage Mugabe on the situation. The two leaders are understood to have nudged Mugabe in their private meeting to confront the crisis in a manner that would not precipitate collapse. They promised to offer a helping hand to their besieged counterpart.

The meeting by the three heads of state coincided with the visit to Zimbabwe by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) boss Mark Malloch Brown.

After the heads of state meeting at State House, Obasanjo said in a press briefing Zimbabwe should follow the letter of the law in executing the land reform programme currently bogged down in the courts.

“What I think Zimbabwe should do is to strictly follow the law that is already in place for the resolution of this problem,” Obasanjo said.

He was responding to a question on what Zimbabwe should do to resolve the land crisis.

Asked about Obasanjo’s statement after the press briefing, Foreign Affairs minister Stan Mudenge said: “That’s what we have said and we will follow our laws. That’s exactly what we are doing.”

The Nigerian leader’s statement comes at a time when Malloch Brown is making a last ditch effort to save the land redistribution exercise which is reeling from a severe cash crunch.

Malloch Brown is expected to meet President Mugabe today to discuss the way forward on the land reform problem. The UNDP is playing the role of broker between international donors and Zimbabwe. Donors are with- holding money on land reform in protest against arbitrary measures adopted by Harare.

Malloch Brown began his talks with senior government officials in his quest to rescue Zimbabwe out of isolation from international financiers over land reform.

Malloch Brown, a special envoy of the United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan, is today expected to meet President Mugabe in what is expected to be the prime of the international effort to negotiate the halting of the infamous fast-track land resettlement programme. Malloch Brown is also expected to meet with representatives of the Commercial Farmers Union and other farming organisations to hear their representations on the land reform programme.

“I hope I can help put in motion a broader process to re-open dialogue between all stakeholders leading to the implementation of an internationally supported land reform programme,” he said in a statement issued by the UN information office last night.

Obasanjo said the leaders during the two-and-a- half hour meeting discussed southern African and West African regional issues. These include the Congo war and multi-lateral peace initiatives on it. The situation in the Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone as well as other trouble spots in that region were examined.

“President Mbeki gave a run-down on the situation in the southern Africa region as a whole,” said Obasanjo. Mbeki did not speak at the press briefing.

Zimbabwean officials yesterday tried to rein in speculation on the visit by the two leaders with presidential spokesman George Charamba saying the leaders had come to express their solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe.
At the end of the meeting Obasanjo said he was available to mediate in the land row between Harare and London.

Western diplomatic sources have maintained that they would only support a land reform process that was transparent and based to a large extent on what was agreed at the donors conference in 1998.

The sources said Malloch Brown comes to Harare having done his homework after a visit to European capitals last week.

“He is very clear on what the European Union expects Mugabe to do before the donors come back to Harare,” said a Western Diplomat.

The position of the European Union is that “we are fully behind the UNDP effort to find a solution to the deadlock”.

The EU head of delegation in Zimbabwe Asger Pilegaard reaffirmed Europe’s conditions before the resumption of aid.

“The EU has always been part of the land reform programme but we cannot support the fast track programme,” said Pilegaard.

“Zimbabwe has to go back to the principles of the 1998 land conference. We are anxiously waiting for the outcome of the meeting and I hope it will bring change to the present scenario,” he said.

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Sadc clips Mugabe’s wings

Dumisani Muleya
REGIONAL ministers of defence and security last week moved to drastically clip President Mugabe’s powers in the Southern African Development Community’s (Sadc) Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, the Zimbabwe Independent has established.

The ministers, who met in Harare on Thursday last week to discuss the fate of the contentious Sadc offshoot, recommended to Mugabe — the current chair of the organ — that the agency be attached to Sadc’s structures and not function as an autonomous body.

Diplomatic sources who attended the meeting said Foreign Affairs minister, Stan Mudenge, tried in vain to prolong debate on the issue in a bid to thwart the 14-member bloc’s efforts to curtail Mugabe’s powers. Mudenge suffered a diplomatic coup in the process, the sources said.

The ministers approved the Piggs Peak Draft on the proposed structures and operations of the organ before forwarding the document to Mugabe. The draft was previously discussed at a ministerial meeting in Swaziland on May 26.

“President Mugabe will now have to study the document and then put it to his Sadc counterparts,” a diplomatic source said.

“Sadc leaders will then meet to either adopt, amend, or reject the new structures and modus operandi of the organ,” said the source.

The status of the organ has been in dispute since Zimbabwe first proposed
it as a replacement of the Frontline States in Windhoek in 1994. While Sadc heads of state and government agreed in the Gaborone Communique of June 28, 1996 to establish the agency, its draft protocol had not been ratified, depriving it of legal mandate.

Mugabe has been accused by his Sadc counterparts of hijacking the organ to pursue an aggressive interventionist policy in the region. Two years ago, he clashed over the issue with former South African President Nelson Mandela when the latter was Sadc chair. Mandela wanted Mugabe, as the chair of the organ, to report to him because he was chair of the Sadc summit, the supreme congregation of the regional grouping. Mugabe rejected the idea although Mandela’s argument has now virtually won the day.

“President Mugabe has abused the organ before. For instance, he used it to intervene in the Congo war without first securing the Sadc summit’s approval,” one diplomat said.

“Mugabe convened a regional ministerial meeting in Harare in 1998 to discuss the Congo situation and after that he claimed Sadc had agreed to send troops to the Congo. In actual fact it had not. His decision had to be regularised later by the summit after skirmishes with Mandela,” the diplomat noted.

Sadc summits held in Blantyre, Maputo, Port Louis and Windhoek discussed the question of the organ but failed to make progress. Regional leaders had been waiting for recommendations from ministers on how to resolve

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Tsvangirai steps up diplomatic offensive

12/5/00 8:21:09 AM (GMT +2)

Tarcey Munaku, Political Editor

THE Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said yesterday its diplomatic initiative to lobby Southern African Development Community (Sadc) states achieved another major success last week after Morgan Tsvangirai held high-level talks with senior leaders of the Frelimo government of Mozambique and the official opposition, Renamo.

The MDC leader said that his separate meetings in South Africa with Almerino Manhengo, the Mozambican Minister for National Security in President Joacquim Chissano's Office, and Afonso Dhlakama, leader of Renamo, had been facilitated by the South African government of President Thabo Mbeki.
A spokesman for the Mozambican High Commission in Harare said yesterday the embassy was "not aware" of Tsvangirai's meeting with Manhengo and referred questions to the Foreign Ministry in Maputo where an official, who declined to be identified, would not confirm or deny that the meeting took place.
The South African High Commissioner, Jeremiah Ndou, said Tsvangirai was the leader of the MDC and travelled in and out of South Africa on private business which had nothing to do with the South African government.
He said his government had no business "involving itself in his private business", which the meeting with the Mozambicans was.
Tsvangirai said the South African and Mozambican governments had briefed President Mugabe on his meetings with Manhengo and Dhlakama.
He said: "The meetings were with the full knowledge of the South African government and Mugabe himself. Part of our initiative in the Sadc region is to meet all the political parties. The meeting with Dhlakama, which is being portrayed by Zanu PF as a clandestine one between the MDC and Renamo, was not clandestine at all."
The Minister of State for Information and Publicity in the President's Office, Jonathan Moyo, and his senior officials were not immediately available to comment.
Tsvangirai was accompanied to the meetings by the national chairman of the MDC, Isaac Matongo. He said the meetings were part of a diplomatic campaign by the MDC to engage Sadc leaders in dialogue on the political and economic situation in Zimbabwe.
He said: "This is not the end of the story. We intend to go to South Africa, Zambia and all the Sadc states. The initiative is having a positive effect.
We are carrying the message of the MDC and removing stereotypes and perceptions created by Zanu PF propaganda."
In October Tsvangirai led a four-member MDC delegation to Botswana where they held official talks with top ministers in President Festus Mogae's Cabinet, including representatives of opposition parties and human rights groups.
He said: "We have stated before that we want to engage all the governments and civic society in the region and, in this case, the Mozambican government facilitated this meeting. We met confidentially with the representatives of the Mozambican government with the approval of the Zimbabwe government."
On his meeting with Dhlakama whose Renamo fought a 15-year war against the government until peace was reached in 1992, Tsvangirai said he had discussed with him the necessity of avoiding another bloody conflict in Mozambique.
He said: "My position to Dhlakama was that we do not want any war in the region. We want to see the region stable so that the economy can improve and the people can prosper.
"He agreed with me and assured me that he was not in any way contemplating going to war. But he complained that the democratic options were being closed to him by the Chissano government. I pointed out to him our disapproval of any destabilisation in the region and recommended to him the democratic path we are following in Zimbabwe."
Tsvangirai said the Mozambican government had been "quite appreciative" of his discussions with Dhlakama.
He said: "It is not for me to defend the record of Renamo, but it is up to the people of Mozambique to choose which political parties they want in Parliament. Renamo is a political factor in Mozambique which cannot be ignored. The Mozambique government appreciates my role in impressing on Renamo to desist from any resumption of war in Mozambique for the good of the region."

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08 November 2000

Chombo chooses chaos

WHEN Dr Ignatius Chombo told people to resettle themselves before the Zimbabwean rainy season began, he was admitting that the government's ill-considered "fast track resettlement" scheme has been a dismal failure.

He was also being grossly irresponsible.

Dr Chombo, who is the local government minister and chairman of a task force on resettlement, admitted that government lacked the resources to undertake orderly resettlement in the weeks remaining before the rains begin. "We'll have to attend to that later," he said, "Go ahead and resettle yourselves in time for the rains."

Well, yes. After eight months of terror and tyranny, after eight months of empty promises, it turns out that government had no plans to resettle anyone in the first place. Had these plans existed, orderly resettlement, even if ill-considered, would have been a possibility. As it is, no plans exist - or that's what Chombo's statement seems to suggest.

Technical staff are not available, transport has not been provided and people have not been selected - except, of course, the few thousand alleged war veterans who're to be allowed to take whatever suits them. If that's what government planning has come to in Zimbabwe, it's little wonder that most people believe the ZANU-PF has run its course.

But Chombo's statement is unlikely to have impressed many people. Opinion in the communal areas, long held to be ZANU-PF's heart land, has turned against the ruling party. The reason is simple enough: when President Mugabe gave war veterans precedent over communal farmers he alienated his own constituency. In a nation where the majority of people were born after Mugabe won independence, or were too young to remember the war, Mugabe's antics can only lose him friends. Yes, the people say, the war vets may have suffered for us, but that was 20 years ago - and now we're all suffering.

And suffering they are. Advising people to take whatever suits them is one thing, but if they can't afford to buy the seed and fertilizer they'll need in the next couple of weeks, an utterly pointless exercise becomes an absurdity. Seed sales are down - drastically. This is partly due to the cost of seed and partly due to a complete loss of faith in the Grain Marketing Board (GMB). But both of those are just symptoms; the people of Zimbabwe understand that the cause of those symptoms lies with ZANU-PF's gross mismanagement of the economy. Rampant corruption, a misguided, greed-fuelled war in the Congo and a knuckle headed refusal to bow to the inevitable advent of multi-party democracy are the reasons that Zimbabwe is in the doldrums - and that's before one even considers the calamitous effect, understood by all, of Mugabe's fatuous land seizure plans.

Still, Chombo has chosen his own destiny. There are reformists within the ruling party and, even if they're a little too shy to make themselves known, Dr Chombo has shown that he sees a future in aligning himself with the president. Fortunately for Zimbabwe, but unfortunately for Chombo, almost the entire country thinks that reform is long overdue - and this means that Chombo's views belong to an almost insignificant minority.

It will be interesting to see how the land grabbers respond.

Already the country has seen a renewed surge of violence from the hard core party faithful. The ultimate lunacy will come when the party forces people to resettle themselves - or else. There are already signs that this is a possibility. No doubt the feckless party propaganda machine will present this as a popular uprising of land hungry peasants - and doubtless no one will believe it.

That's because no one believes ZANU-PF's hard core any longer. Whether it is the president himself or those like Chombo, Made, Border Gezi and the so-called war veterans (and not even all of them support the chaos), Zimbabweans no longer have any faith in the party's bizarre rhetoric. In truth, this is a sort of war and the more support the hard core loses, the more desperate and daft its rhetoric becomes - which loses them more support still. ZANU-PF has lost sight of the fact that propaganda works only if government works, but with government failing to meet even the basic requirements of civilised society, the propaganda is little more than wasted effort.

That means that Dr Chombo's plea for people to resettle themselves was said in desperation more than hope. Yes, there are land hungry people out there, but no, they won't be found in anything like the numbers ZANU-PF claims. But it goes even further. Even the land hungry are unlikely to heed Chombo's plaintive call because they don't believe him - and that means the only people who'll move in any numbers will be hard core supporters who're ordered onto the farms. And, as everyone knows, their numbers are diminishing at a spectacular, and pleasing, rate.

But that doesn't mean that it is time to relax. With ZANU-PF in a corner, the renewed violence of the last few weeks is likely to be taken to higher levels still. The reason for this is simple if not comforting. For the first time in 20 years, the ruling party finds itself on the losing side. It has become increasingly desperate - and it finds itself with only one policy it can use to retain power over a disenchanted electorate. That policy is violence, which hopefully means the crisis is coming to a head.

Brian Latham
Editor- The Farmer

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Another brutal attack

A FARM manager at Dawnmill Farm in Bindura, Mr Keith McGaw was left with a fractured skull and received 18 stitches to the head following yet another brutal attack on a farmer by so called war veterans.

Mr McGaw was rushed to Glendale Hospital from where he was transferred to the Avenues Clinic's Intensive Care Unit in Harare.

In an interview soon after being moved from the ICU, Mr McGaw said he had seen children herding cattle and goats along a busy road at the farm as he was passing by and told them that it was dangerous as an accident could occur. On his way back he said he had again warned the children who, apparently, were herding cattle belonging to the people who invaded the farm where he is employed. They told him to go and talk to the "war vets" at their camp.


He said it was while attempting to talk to the "war veterans" at their base camp that he was attacked.

Mr McGaw said, "I was sitting on my motorbike speaking to them. They said this was Zimbabwe and they could do whatever they wanted and whenever they wanted."

He said one of them suddenly struck him with an object from behind and the rest of them joined in assaulting him. He was hit across the face and fell from his bike. While on the ground he was kicked all over the body until he fell unconscious.

He said a woman who was in the "war vets" camp came and poured some water over him.

"She took me to the road and pointed me in the direction on my security boom where there is a communication radio."

It is understood that one of the assailants armed with an axe aimed a glancing blow to his head causing blood to gush out. The wound required 18 stitches.

Mr McGaw said all he had wanted was for the livestock to be removed off the road. He refuted a report in the pro-government Herald, which alleged that he had threatened the war veterans with his firearm. He said he had no weapon with him at the time of the attack.

Incensed by the brutality of the attack the farm workers descended on the "war veterans" camp and chased them off the farm but they later returned.


Following the clashes between the "war veterans" and farm workers, 14 farm workers were arrested.

  By Thursday afternoon four of the 14 farm workers had been released while the other 10 were taken to court on charges of assaulting "war veterans".

Two men from the "war veterans" gang of six that attacked Mr McGaw had also been arrested by the time of going to press.

The farm, according the owner Mr Ian Miller, has not been listed for compulsory acquisition. At the time of going to press about 96 illegal occupiers were at his farm pegging the land that is yet to be prepared for this season's cropping in the presence of police.

Recently war veterans in Karoi attacked and seriously injured Mr Marshall Roper as they tried to prevent him from planting his tobacco crop. The farm had not been listed for compulsory acquisition.

Mugabe goes whites bashing

ZIMBABWE'S beleaguered President Robert Mugabe this week launched yet another vitriolic attack on the country's white community saying he would revoke the reconcilitation policy and put on trial for genocide his opponents in the 1970s liberation war.

Addressing Zanu-PF members in Harare, Mr Mugabe claimed whites had rejected the hand of reconciliation he extended to them at independence in 1980 by aligning themselves with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) which he accuses of trying to return the country to colonialism.

Mr Mugabe was apparently angered by unprecedented moves led MDC which, this week, tabled a motion in Parliament to impeach him for wilfully flouting the constitution and gross misconduct.

He said his ruling Zanu-PF would put on trial those who fought on the side of former Rhodesian prime minister Ian Smith on the same lines as the Nazi war tribunals in Europe. "In Europe they are still charging people for the Nazi war crimes; what can stop us doing the same here," Mugabe said.

"Ian Smith and his fellow whites committed genocide during our liberation war. We buried hundreds of cadres at places like Nyadzonia and Chimoio in Mozambique and other places who were killed by the white imperialist regime. They will stand trial for their crimes," he said adding that his government was looking for an effective way to revoke the reconciliation policy.

"They must take note that the Coltarts, Aurets and the rest of them will not be free from arrest, "Mr Mugabe said referring to David Coltart and Mike Auret, both MPs of the MDC.

Meanwhile media reports said Mr Smith, currently in the British capital, London on a speaking engagement, dared Mr Mugabe to put him on trial saying he would welcome the chance to tell the world Mugabe was a gangster who had plunged the country into anarchy.

Bank warns on economic decline

THE speed and manner in which land reform is undertaken will determine whether economic decline accelerates in 2001 or whether the economy bottoms out in preparation for a recovery in 2001.

According to Standard Chartered Bank, the other main influences to drive economic performance in 2001 will be commodity prices, climatic conditions in 2000/2001-rainfall season and government's economic policy.

The bank said the economy stagnated during 1999 with preliminary estimates suggesting GDP was barely changed and initial forecasts pointing to strong output in commercial agriculture this year with official figures showing a surge in small-scale production of maize and cotton and an increase of at least 15% in flue cured tobacco volumes.

In mid year, the Commercial Farmers Union estimated an 18% rise in the value of commercial output but because costs have been rising far more rapidly than prices in real terms the bank said production was estimated to fall 13% in 2000.

This forecast, according to the Standard Chartered Bank, has since been revised, partly taking into account increased Zimbabwe dollar revenue arising from devaluation. As a result Large-scale commercial production, at current prices is forecast to rise 28% this year while real output falls some 10%.

The bank said although this would be offset to some extent by increased smallholder production, the overall effect is likely to be a decline of at least 10% in agricultural value added in 2000, which would knock about 2% off Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

It said 20001 tobacco crop will be smaller due to a combination of factors such as uncertainty in respect to farm production costs, lower average prices and difficulties in sourcing key inputs such as diesel, foreign exchange, coal and bank loans. These are expected to result in at least 20% reduction of tobacco output in the coming season.

Already the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association indicated that there is a shortage of coal as Wankie Colliery's performance is well below expectation this year. On average deliveries of coal were 50% down between April and September this year.

On commodity prices, Standard Chartered bank said Zimbabwe as an importer of oil has been hard hit by the steep rise in fuel price, while the market prices for its two main exports, tobacco and gold continued to be depressed.

As a result, Zimbabwe's terms of trade have deteriorated markedly, although this has been offset, to some extent, by firmer prices of nickel, cotton and sugar.

It is expected that there will be 5% GDP decline driven largely by reduced output in commercial agriculture, mining ,tourism and manufacturing while the retail sector volumes will also fall.

Rural councils face dwindling revenues

RURAL District Councils (RDC), most of them dogged by perennial financial problems, now face imminent collapse as they grapple with a dwindling revenue base because commercial farmers who contribute a greater part to their coffers through taxes, are being systematically dispossessed of their farms under government's controversial land reform programme.

Commercial farmers have been accused by some government officials of reneging on tax payments to RDC saying they are breaking the law.

But the farmers have pointed out it was becoming increasingly difficult for them to continue paying the taxes when they are not being productive, as "war veterans" occupying their farms and are persistently disrupting farming operations preventing them from generating the revenue they need to pay the RDCs.

Some RDC sources said the councils were in financial dire straits because commercial farmers were no longer paying unit tax to the councils. The sources said some commercial farmers' productive capacities had been greatly eroded as a result of the uncertainties created by the government as it continues to publish lists of properties for compulsory acquisition.

"There is no way that farmers can pay unit tax to the council when there is no production on the farm. At the other end RDCs have been relying heavily on the unit tax from the farmers and now that this tax is no longer being paid it means their revenue base is now limited to the more uncollectable sources," said the sources.

Critics of the controversial "fast track" resettlement exercise say the manner in which it is being implemented cannot economically empower its intended beneficiaries. They are convinced it is in fact designed to ensure the political survival of those in power ahead of the 2002 presidential elections.

They said there was no hope that those resettled are going to pay unit tax to the councils, as these were people being moved from the communal areas where no such taxes are levied.

In the meantime, most of newly resettled farmers will be looking to government to provide them with all the necessary inputs for them to be able to plant crops in the ensuing season.

The land identification and allocation is mostly being done without adequate involvement of the RDCs. The planning stage of resettlement is a critical one for RDCs, as this would enable them to plan how they would raise revenue from the resettled farmers.

Many of RDCs are anxious that they are not prejudiced as a result of the resettlement exercise and would want the new farmers to remain commercial since they are now in commercial farming areas.

Zimbabweans see through Mugabe's land hoax

ACCORDING to an opinion poll called "Political opinion and the crisis of Zimbabwe" published by South Africa's Helen Suzman Foundation last week, Robert Mugabe's land invasion tactic has been an unprecedented flop. The report states that 64% of people believe that land invasions have nothing to do with land reform - and that even 31% of ZANU-PF's own supporters fall into this camp.

The report, compiled by the HSF's Professor Bill Johnson, says that "opinion is extremely hostile to the farm invasions and that only among the radical core of ZANU-PF is there a majority that believes they will lead to land reform - so even there nearly a third of ZANU-PF supporters believe the invasions have nothing to do with genuine land reform."

And when respondents were asked whether so-called war veterans should be made to leave farms immediately, the results were unambiguous. Targeting traditional ZANU-PF supporters, the poll revealed that 66% of all Shona speakers, 64% of communal farmers, 57% of respondents in Mashonaland Central, 63% in Mash West and a staggering 75% in Mash East said they wanted the war vets off the land immediately. "This suggests that even in the heartlands of ZANU-PF support there was considerable irritation and resentment of the farm invasions which, once the possibility of the restoration of the rule of law was raised, is quick to express itself," the report stated.

The poll, which was conducted by Probe Market Research, an affiliate of Gallup International, also found that a mere 6% of the population believed land to be the most important problem facing Zimbabwe.

It also found that fully 70% of Zimbabweans believe that war veterans should be prosecuted for the crimes they have committed on farms. Even among ruling party supporters, the figure was a surprising 39%, somewhat diminished by 89% of MDC supporters who advocate prosecution.

Among communal land farmers, 67% believed that prosecuting war veterans for their crimes was a good idea, while in Mashonaland East a staggering 81% advocated taking them to court. Mashonaland East proved often to be the most vociferously anti-war vet province in the country.

The HSF report concluded by stating that: "…while the government may have embarked on its fast track resettlement programme as a desperate gamble to regain popular support it seems most unlikely that it can now achieve such a recovery with this issue. Not only does the land issue remain anchored near the bottom of the electorate's critical concerns, but it has actually fallen further. Moreover, the stronger the line suggested against the war veterans the more the people liked it."

Hang 'em high

INTERESTINGLY the Gallup poll published last week in Zimbabwe reveals a remarkable hardening of attitudes among a population long considered too generous towards poor governance. The poll, commissioned by the Helen Suzman Foundation, reveals that "Overall our respondents opted to take tough action against the war veterans by 70% to 21%."

The report went on to say that even among ZANU-PF's hard core there is a serious split with 39% of respondents wanting to see the so-called war vets charged for their crimes.

Interestingly, communal land farmers also opted for strong action against the invading ex-combatants. 67% of them said they should be charged and punished as against a paltry 24% who said the invasions were justified and understandable. "The stronger the line suggested against the war veterans, the more people liked it," said the HSF report.

A similar phenomenon was seen when asked whether President Mugabe should be allowed to continue, whether he should be offered immunity in return for resigning, or whether he should be impeached and then tried for his crimes. Over half the respondents opted for the harshest option, preferring to see their president in court.

And even among the small remaining ZANU-PF hard core contingent, there was a massive split on the issue. "… the ZANU-PF bloc broke down the middle with just under half wanting the president to carry on as now and 44% envisaging either immunity for resignation or that the president might be put on trial even if he resigns."

Understandably in Matabeleland, where there is still strong resentment towards Mugabe for the Gukurahundi Massacres committed in the 80s by his notorious Fifth Brigade, respondents voted overwhelmingly for putting the president in the dock. Fully 65% said he should face trial and a mere 6% thought he could carry on until the next presidential election.

Analysts suggest that given an unforgiving national mood and the fact that respondents opted for the harshest actions against both war vets and Mugabe, ZANU-PF's ability to salvage credibility must be severely limited.

An unnecessary gap

STATING that the situation in Zimbabwe today was clearly "one of insipient revolt", Professor Bill Johnson of the Helen Suzman Foundation claimed that ZANU-PF could count on a mere 13% of the electorate if an election were to be called today. The figure indicates a complete collapse of the ruling party's support base - even in the communal land strong holds it previously dominated. The opposition MDC, he said, could count on over 60% of the vote.

"The mood is very strongly negative," said Johnson, who said that ZANU-PF was "still crumbling."

Meanwhile the MDC "clearly has the wind in their sails. They're the fashionable party," Johnson told a packed seminar in Harare, adding that Zimbabwe was on the verge of major change.

The report compiled by the HSF states that a shocking 37% of the electorate is either planning to leave, thinking about leaving or would leave if they had the means to do so. "This is a sign of dreadful crisis," the report concluded.

But attitudes to white immigration, given that whites constitute perhaps one per cent of Zimbabwe's population, were even more interesting. Proving that ZANU-PF's anti-white propaganda machine that cranks out racist rhetoric aimed at demeaning white Zimbabweans has been ineffective, only 3% of respondents thought whites should leave the country and "good riddance" to them.

"Even communal farmers, who might have expected to benefit from whites leaving, showed an 80% majority regretting white departures and even in the ZANU-PF heartland of Mashonaland Central only a third took a hostile or dismissive attitude towards white immigration and two thirds regretted it," claimed the report.

Mbeki slates Mugabe

SOUTH African president, Mr Thabo Mbeki, last week slated his Zimbabwean counterpart Robert Mugabe for lawlessness and seizing farms. Speaking to the South African Foreign Correspondents Association, Mr Mbeki said that Mugabe's approach to land seizure was wrong.

"This conflict is wrong. This approach, this occupation of farms, the seizure of farms, the disregard for the law, these things are wrong, these things must be addressed," Mr Mbeki said.

And on the day that an opinion poll in Zimbabwe showed Mugabe's popularity at an all time low, the South African president said it was up to Zimbabweans to decide "whether the elected president of Zimbabwe continues to be the elected president of Zimbabwe".

But Mbeki stopped short of withdrawing his much criticised support for the beleaguered Zimbabwean leader. 'We have to battle to avoid a collapse in Zimbabwe,'' Mbeki said, promising to continue providing electricity, fuel and assistance in transporting goods through South African ports, even if that helped Mugabe remain in power. "We have not proceeded from a position that our principal task was to criticize," he said

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Zimbabwe's War Veterans Ask Judges to Resign Within 14 days
2000.12.04 16:12:46

   HARARE, December 4 (Xinhuanet) -- Zimbabwean war veterans have  warned that they will give the country's judges 14 days to resign, following recent rulings on the land issue, a newspaper reported  on Monday. 
   According to The Herald, Deputy Chairman of the War Veterans  for Harare Province Mike Moyo said on Sunday that the war veterans are now declaring a war on the country's judges, whom are accused  of making their own laws which seek to reverse the gains of the  liberation struggle.    
   He said the judges will be removed from the bench by force if  they do not resign.
   "We are the custodians of the people's revolution and we will  not allow these colonial and racist judges to continue to serve  white colonial interests in Zimbabwe under the guise of the so- called rule of law," Moyo said.
   The Zimbabwean government has over the past few months clashed  with the courts and white commercial farmers over the occupation  of land by liberation war veterans, who have since this February  been occupying the land which they say was seized by colonial  settlers from their ancestors. 
   In some cases, the courts issued orders compelling the  government to evict the war veterans from the farms, but the  occupations continued.  
   The country's traditional chiefs should lead all the peasants  in the fight to reclaim their land, Moyo added.  
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