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Victoria Falls has been very hard hit over the last 9 months, being almost wholly dependent on tourism.  Yet the Vic Falls business community have still found it within themselves to involve the town with the surrounding communal lands.  This is practical - not just emotional - involvement.  Let loose a CAT in your area.
From the Vic Falls CAT, 6 December
The business community in Victoria Falls decided in late October 2000 to form a Community Areas Trust to be utilised in developing selected projects in the area.
The Trustees elected were: Paul Connolly, Richard Lowe, Ray Stocker, Leon Varley and Keith Vincent. The aims of the Trust are to finance and develop deserving community projects in the Vic Falls Area, and to get recognition for the business community of Victoria Falls as being indispensable to the welfare of the people who need it most.
By the second Trustees' meeting on 21 November 2000 there was $ 127 430.00 in an interest bearing account. Ploughing of the communal areas  before the rains, and development of the Ndlovu Irrigation Project Co-operative were decided on as priorities. On Saturday 2 December a tractor and harrow were taken to Chief  Mvutu's  area, having already harrowed upwards of 40 acres in the Chisuma Area.  It was decided that the tractor and harrow would work for two days in each of the five Chiefs' areas in our constituency, by which time the rains would have properly set in.  By that time approximately 400 acres would have been ploughed, the tractor time donated by Keith Vincent and Wilderness Safaris, the harrow time donated by Greenways, and fuel and maintenance etc financed by the CAT.  The Government charges $1400/acre to plough in the communal areas, so this exercise would have cost, to those that cannot afford it and therefore would otherwise not have had the facility, in the region of $ 500 000.00!
On Saturday 2 December 2000 a group of the Trustees, accompanied by Peter Nyoni (MP) and Chief  Mvutu visited the Ndlovu Irrigation Project.  The community was found to be vibrant and hard-working under very adverse conditions, and the Trust had targeted this as being a deserving project.  It grows primarily fruit and vegetables for local markets.  A diesel motor, a 5000 litre tank (donated by Wilderness), cement, stone and asbestos roofing were donated to an extremely appreciative crowd.  The project is on-going and will be completed by the end of the rains, and a vast segment of the rural community will benefit.  The opening ceremony promises to be a grand affair, with various radio, television and newspaper representatives present, and a local farmer already donating a beast for the celebrations.
We had that morning donated a drum of diesel to Chief Mvutu to run his borehole, which had not operated for some time through lack of fuel. On returning there were hordes of people converging on the borehole with containers, some in scotch carts, to collect water.  It was most satisfying to see that the lives of so many people could be made so much better so quickly with so little. Waiting for us was a group of about 20 women who requested an audience.  They were from a distant area where a cluster of 10 boreholes were all broken down, most of which had not been useable for 20 years.  The list of projects to prioritise grows and is seemingly endless.
We obviously desperately need any donations you can afford.  On 6th December we are meeting with the First Secretary of the British High Commission, who has already shown considerable interest in the CAT. With your permission, your donations will be advertised and we assure you they will be utilised to the greatest benefit of the community.  Cheques should be made out to "The Vic Falls Community Areas Trust" and our books of account are totally open for inspection.
Please forward this message to anyone you feel might be interested, and mail donations to "The Vic Falls Community Areas Trust", P O Box 299, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
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From Sekai Holland (an MDC candidate in the June elections and an Australian National)

On Sunday 26 November at around 7-9 pm, the MDC's Secretary for International Affairs, Mrs Sekai Holland, was attacked with a group of other MDC supporters by around 60 'ex-combatants'. The incident took place at the Beatrice Primary School polling station as voting in the Marondera West by-election drew to an end. Here is Mrs Holland's account of the attack.

My spirits, which my UK visit lifted for the first time in a long time - are down again. I was severely physically assaulted by 60 'ex-combatants' last night outside the Beatrice Primary School polling station. We were driving in two cars back to Harare from Buhera North, following the final rally of a two-day consolidation rally in the MDC President's constituency. We had to stop off at this particular polling station to check on the three MDC monitors we had visited on Saturday, after the first rally. On that occasion, I was with MDC MP Trudy Stevenson, who is a specialist in elections. She wanted to check what was going on at the station.

We found that the three monitors had been threatened by 'ex-combatants' camped outside their polling station, across the road in the ZESA complex and at the beer hall next to it. The 'ex-combatants' were also preventing MDC supporters from voting. Before anyone went to vote, they were made to shout, yes, shout those ridiculous Zanu (PF) slogans. People were then shown a voting paper and told exactly how to vote: Zanu (PF), of course.

The wife of one of the MDC monitors had been visited at their home and threatened with all manner of ills if her husband went to monitor. In shock, we went with a monitor to the shops, where we bought three loaves of bread for them. They had eaten some of the tinned food bought for all monitors, but there was no sadza because the cooks had fled when threatened by the unruly mob outside the polling station calling themselves 'ex-combatants'. Promising to check on the monitors' families, we drove off to Harare, but not before a number of heads peeped over the walls to see our car passing by their 'bases' - as they call every place they camp.

On Sunday, Mhashu (the MP for Chitungwiza who was recently in Manchester) and I took our cars and travelled with full loads to Murambinda in Buhera for the second rally. We had a wonderful experience with some 50,000 people - 10,000 higher than the attendance at Saturday's rally in Buhera business centre. The president has divided his constituency into two parts. Happily and feeling most satisfied that we had secured that seat already, we drove back to Harare via our three MDC colleagues monitoring at the Beatrice Primary School polling station. As some of us were wearing MDC T-shirts and other party paraphernalia, we stopped outside the school and the three among us without paraphernalia ran to talk to the three monitors inside.

As soon as they left us, a light blue Zanu (PF) pick-up truck parked horizontally in front of my car. I thought nothing about it, really. I was basking in the glory of the Buhera rallies. A young man came to the side of the car on my side and asked me a question I would have understood under normal circumstances. He asked me what I was doing there. I answered him as I would answer any sensible person. I told him that I was waiting for some colleagues who had gone inside. He stared into my face and asked the same question only louder. I repeated my reply. The next thing, I was shocked into reality when a 14-year-old orphan travelling with us to live with one of the MDC women activists, Mrs Daniels, was grabbed by the neck and choked right before our eyes. She was gasping for breath, and as we tried to work out what to do, Mr Mhashu's driver - who was travelling in my car - was dragged off. In a twinkle of an eye, he had his wallet grabbed, his watch snatched off his wrist, and his trousers forced down. As we began to absorb these events without a rescue plan among us, the same young man who had questioned me sidled up to the car window and slapped me hard on my left cheek, grabbing my spectacles from my face.

I am very short-sighted, so that was the end of my visuals. The man then tried to drag me out of the car by pulling my left shoulder then my green MDC T-shirt, which he tore off at the buttons when he failed to drag me out. I rushed to the driver's seat, grabbed the steering wheel and dug my heels beneath the pedals for protection. Then suddenly an older man appeared in the passenger's seat, asking me a very stupid question. He asked me why I was screaming. That just made me so annoyed. There were all these 'ex-combatants' crawling all over my car and abusing everyone inside it.

There where his assistants beating the hell out of me. There, in front of everyone, they tore my T-shirt off me in their vain attempts to pull me out of the car. The 14-year-old leapt into the passenger's seat and demanded that we drive off, but the Zanu (PF) pick-up was blocking our way. She then began to vomit profusely out of the window. This made the ex-combatants scatter, for - believe me - the puke was prolific and it stank. Then Mr Mhashu's driver suddenly leapt into the car and unlocked my grip on the steering wheel. He then drove to a side opening I had not seen and into the polling station.

We told the ZRP we were being threatened with death. They reluctantly took their guns and loaded them. Strangely, they instructed us to drive in front of their Defender. The driver refused, insisting that the police drive in front of us, which eventually they agreed to do. The 'ex-combatants' went crazy, braying for the blood of everyone in the car. There were three cars blocking our path this time, right in front of us. The police carrying their guns went towards the 'ex-combatants' and instructed them to remove their cars from the road. They refused and began again to pound our car.

We just sat there. One car then drove straight at us. Our driver just made it through that narrow opening, and at 160 kms in a heavy downpour he raced to Harare. We went to Mrs Mhashu first to explain how we had been separated from her husband's team at the polling station, and what had happened to us.

We tried the cell numbers of those in Mr Mhashu's car but their cells were switched off. We then proceeded to the central police station, where we made a report on Mr Mhashu and the six others in the car; their disappearance and our fears for their fate; the kidnapping of Mrs Tsvangirai's sister from our car with another young man; and our trepidation at what might befall them in the hands of the 'ex-combatants'.

We also reported our worry regarding the three monitors. We spent quite some time at the station because we were interviewed about all manner of irrelevancies. Eventually I left for the 24-hour emergency clinic, where the doctor gave me a thorough check and a tetanus shot, since there were some abrasions on the left side of my face. We eventually got home by 1 a.m., and as we parked the car, the driver saw a petrol bomb planted on the back of the truck. So it was back to the police by phone, and a new round of interviews began.

By this time my husband, Jim, had received a phone call from Mr Mhashu and Mr Chikuwa, the International Relations Co-ordinator, who was among the six in the car together with Mrs Daniels. Their story was incredible. They had seen the Zanu (PF) candidate for Marondera West come to my car on the driver's side as some other man was hitting me on the passenger's seat.

When I started to holler loud and long with much pain in my scream, they fled as they believed we would all be massacred. They claim that Hunzvi was also in the double cab blocking me on the side. It was he, they claim, who was directing all these operations. There is only one way out of this township, and it was where the 60 'ex-combatants' were raising hell and demanding our blood unless all of us surrendered! The same old nonsense.

Mhashu's group drove their car to a house on the outskirts of the location, and asked the owner if they could leave their car there as it had run out of fuel. They then crept into Beatrice farms where Stevens had been murdered. They went into a graveyard so that Mrs Daniels could remove her MDC regalia. She had been the envy of all of us as she wore her MDC head-dress, MDC white T-shirt, and long MDC Zambia cloth wrapped around her body. All that had to be thrown away as the 'ex-combatants' gave chase to them with torches and lights. Ghosts are a really frightening phenomenon to most of us. But fighting for their lives, the group hid in the graveyard long enough for the 'ex-combatants' to turn back as they were too scared to search inside the graveyard. The group then walked for an hour and a half to the main highway and got lifts into Harare, where they rang Jim to tell him what they had last seen of me. Jim explained to them what had happened to our party of nine. At that time, we were all worried about the two kidnapped from my car and the three monitors. Only later did we discover that the two kidnapped from our car had been found alive.

In shock, we spent the next day putting our heads back into shape. My whole left side is in a very bad way. It is really difficult to explain to others how, as the hours roll by, we all feel increasingly empowered.

So friends, this is how it was that Sunday. We have just heard the announcement that MDC lost the seat. For us, it's back on the road to refine our strategy to minimise Zanu (PF)'s vote theft strategy. The MDC president is unaware of all this drama as his cells are out of range, just as they are in my constituency. He is still basking in the hugely successful two-day rally. We have derived great strength from this 'incident' - as the police describe it. For it was only this morning that it dawned on me that we came face to face with Steven's killers. Like the friends who were attacked with him, we were the lucky ones this time.

We are all the more determined to channel our energies into ensuring that we lay the foundations of a peaceful society with self-respecting, humane people who find violence disdainful.

Regards, Sekai Holland
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Militants in Zimbabwe have abducted a white farmer and forced him to drive them to President Robert Mugabe's office during a dispute about land they seized.

The militants wanted Mr Mugabe to stop farmer Lance Kennedy planting crops on land they claimed for themselves, according to Malcolm Vowles, a spokesman for the Commercial Farmers Union.

Armed troops and police guarding Mr Mugabe's State House complex refused to admit the group of 20 militants.  Police persuaded the militants to return to Mr Kennedy's farm and escorted them there, freeing the farmer to enter his homestead.

The abduction is another sign of increasing lawlessness in the southern African nation.

Law and order started breaking down in February, when ruling party militants began illegally and violently occupying white-owned farms. More than 1,700 farms are now occupied.

Six white farmers have been murdered since the occupations began.

Mr Mugabe has described the illegal and often violent occupation of white-owned land as a justified protest against disparities in land ownership in the former British colony of Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was known before independence in 1980.

The government has also begun confiscating some of the 3,000 white owned farms it says it will carve up and hand over to landless blacks.

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Wednesday 6th December 2000




Mashonaland Central

Centenary - Strathaird and Whistlefield were fast track resettled over the weekend and 'settlers' are planting.  Work continues to be prevented at Casa Mia.

Horseshoe - Planting and house construction by invaders continues.

Victory Block - Invaders at Mutendamambo and Msitwe River Ranch have threatened retaliation for cattle damage to their illegally planted crops.  Poachers are seen at Prangmere on a daily basis.  Invaders have begun planting maize in a land sown with Rhodes grass at Mount Fatigue.

Tsatsi - Tractor ploughing continues at Rivers and Three Sisters.

Glendale - Invaders have continued to plough in germinated crops of soyas and cotton at Thrums.

Mazowe / Concession - With the exception of cultivation of existing crops, work continues to be prevented at Sunnyside and invaders continue to plant illegally.  An aggressive group of invaders visited Duncombe yesterday and threatened the farm foreman with death.  The group returned later and damaged the tobacco crop on the farm.

Shamva - 3 armed individuals arrived at Lions Den and questioned farm labour before leaving.    Police are investigating.  No planting has been allowed at Dawmill yet.

Harare West / Nyabira - The owner's son was assaulted by a group of invaders at Mayfield yesterday and the same group has moved onto Sigaro today.  Lance Kennedy of Sigaro Estates, was abducted from his farm by war veterans following a planting dispute.  Approximately 20 war veterans surrounded Mr Kennedy, who was in his vehicle at the time, accusing him of planting in "their" area of the farm.  The war vets took the vehicle keys and Mr Kennedy's cell phone and several got into the vehicle.  The war vets stated that since the Governors were failing to provide sufficient support to them, they would take this matter directly to President Mugabe.  They proceeded, in Mr Kennedy's vehicle, to State House, but returned to the farm without seeing the President.  Mr Kennedy is back on the farm and is reported to be unharmed.

Mashonaland East  

Beatrice - A DDF tractor has been going around ploughing some farms.  On Dunrobin the tractor has ploughed about half a hectare in each paddock and instructed that the cattle could not go into paddocks that had been ploughed.  The tractor then moved onto Evergreen farm and again ploughed up lands and instructed that the farmer could not rotate his cattle grazing.   There was tension when invaders ploughed up a land that the labour had been given and had planted to maize.  The police attended the scene and it was defused.  Planting continues on Nengwa and Goldilands using hoes.   The owner of Eden Farm is still not on the farm for safety reasons. The homestead was broken into - there were three arrests made yesterday and some property recovered.

Bromley / Ruwa - 2 shots were heard from the land invaders base camp on Dunstan.  There is a serious situation developing on Leister and Lincoln with the local base commander.  Following threats of assault there are now work stoppages.  Local farm invaders have ploughed at random in 6 of the farmers 8 paddocks on Upton farm telling him to remove his cattle from ploughed land.  They have further instructed him that he may not bring his cattle to the dip tank or weaning area.  The police have stated that they will abide by the High Court Order and not the Supreme Court Order until they receive fresh instruction from PROPOL.

Enterprise - There was a dispute between a tractor driver and clerk on Atlanta Farm.  The farm invaders intervened which resulted in the clerk and his child being severely assaulted.  30 people believed to be back from Cambridge in Marondera North arrived on Colga farm.  

Harare South - Invaders have erected huts on Nyarakuru farm but they are planting maize in a fallow land on Albion farm that is not listed.  About 6 - 8 ha has been planted already.  There are three invaders planting on Cordor farm which is listed.   There is tension between the farm labour and squatters on Marirangwe which has been delisted.  There has been a gathering outside the Harare South Club everyday this week and the farmers were advised that they were waiting for the DA who intends to fast track Gilston, Swallowfield and Rusimbiro.  This morning there are invaders planting maize on Stoneridge.  Section 8 Orders were served on Gilston, Bremar (Bremar A Lot 1 of Kimcote), Dunnotar and Nyatseni.  A DDF tractor has been ploughing on Dunluce farm.  When the owner and his neighbour approached the driver he ran away.  He later returned to collect the tractor and left he farm.  

Marondera - There is a new invasion on Danrose which has been delisted.   Police, who had failed to respond to the owners complaints of illegal occupation, hut building ploughing and planting, reacted promptly when war vet John Tsango reported that his hut on Mari Farm had burned down after illegal occupiers set fire to a paddock.   Police have called the owner of Monte Cristo in to answer accusations from squatters that his cattle have damaged their paprika on his farm.  The owner has been charged with Malicious Injury to Property although there was no paprika planted on the farm.  Invaders Magege, Makorokoto and Sarah with 5 others arrived on Marirangwe farm on Tuesday afternoon to inform the owner that they will be ploughing today.  They attempted to persuade the owner to allocate part of the farm to them.  When the owner refused, they became more aggressive but eventually left, vowing to come back.  Over last weekend Makorokoto and probably the same group as above, also attempted to persuade the owner of Elmswood to hand over a section of the farm.  A well-dressed group of individuals in late model cars arrived on Lydiasdale and a tractor is back there ploughing today.  

 Marondera North - Invaders planting maize next to a seed maize land on Cambridge Farm.   Seed maize needs to have a physical isolation distance so that the seed is not contaminated by pollen of other varieties.  Ploughing continues on Seaton and Rakata.

Macheke/Virginia - On Monday, two tractors arrived on Castledene Pines and started ploughing waterways, which are constructed to prevent soil erosion.  The police said that they could not help only the DA could.  The DA said he would contact Agritex and get them to go and sort the problem out.  There has still been no reaction.  On Tuesday, some oxen were used to plough land on Royal Visit farm.   Police instructed the invaders to move off the farm as they did not have a cattle movement permit.  The invaders have left the farm.

Wedza -  War vet Nyati along with a group of 60 people pegged on Chard and then moved onto Oklahoma farms.  The district ignored them and they all moved off the farms again.  There are six individuals planting maize in a pasture ploughed for  katambora  rhodes grass seed on Fels.  The police have stated that they are sticking to the invalidated High Court Order until they receive new instructions.  The matter has been taken up with PROPOL.  Some cattle went into a paddock and ate some maize  illegally planted on Fair Adventure.  The invaders then took the cattle and held them saying that the cattle would not be released until they had received 15 bags of 50kgs of mealie meal as compensation.  The situation was defused.   THERE IS AN ANTHRAX OUTBREAK IN CHIHOTA - PLEASE BE AWARE OF THIS AND VACCINATE CATTLE.   


Mashonaland West (North) 

Chinhoyi - Work stoppages and illegal ploughing/planting is taking place on Zintafuli, Long Valley, Magog and Dumalan farm.  There is a build up of numbers on Montgomery Farm where illegal occupiers are expecting to be allocated plots.

Trelawney / Darwendale - Army personnel from Darwendale visit Shirleigh Farm most weekends and 21 illegal permanent houses are in various stages of construction.  The personnel refuse to identify themselves.  Army personnel are similarly regular visitors to Harefield Farm where DDF have ploughed 5 hectares in rhodes grass pastures.

Banket - Illegal occupiers from Newlands and Dunphaile farms have translocated to Montgomery Farm.  Illegal planting continues on Templeton Ranch and Wigtown.

Aryshire – The community responded to assist planting on Cornrise Farm, which has been severely delayed due to interference by illegal occupiers.  Police had arrested a total of eight invaders after they attempted to prevent land preparation.  The owner was slightly assaulted during an altercation.  Encouraged by the police response, farmers contributed tractors and manpower and the planting was completed with police protection.  The community is considering similar assistance to the owner of Raffingora Estates who is unable to proceed with land preparation for maize. 

Karoi - Widespread illegal planting is taking place, and seed maize isolation distances have been violated.  22 eviction notices have been issued through the Magistrates Courts. Police officials will be required to assist in the eviction process or face being held in contempt of court.  The Karoi community is united in its stance towards the restoration of law and order.

Tengwe - Illegal planting is taking place on illegally settled farms.

Doma - Illegal ploughing is taking place on Highbury.


Mashonaland West (South)

Norton - War veteran Musa has started planting into land prepared for marigolds on Saffron Walden.  Mrs Rusike remains intractable on the issue of 400 hectares of seed crops which has not been planted on Parklands.  The District Administrator attempted to persuade the owner On Nyadgori to co-exist with the legal occupiers, but the levels of violence, stock-theft, poaching and destruction of crops make co-existence a very unattractive option.   

Chegutu - On Mount Carmel Farm three cattle were axed and at least one slaughtered with the meat removed, close to the war veteran encampment on Arbor Farm.  The DA has also attempted to persuade the owner of Just Right to “co-exist”.  War vet Gilbert Moyo is claiming compensation for crops that he planted in lands prepared and fertilised by the owner in anticipation of farming.  Illegal cattle movement from the Mhondoro has taken place on Bexhill, Farhnam, Tiverton, Ranwick, Queensdale, Nyadgori, Le Rhone, San Fernando and various other properties.  Correction to report on Monday 4th December – contrary to the implication that Veterinary officials issued permits for cattle to move from the anthrax area, the permits were issued for the cattle to be moved back into the quarantine area.  We sincerely apologise for the misleading information in this instance.  Police are saying that it is up to the Veterinary Department to remove them and the Veterinary Department is saying that once they have issued permits it is up to the Police to enforce the law.  With the anthrax outbreak having killed a number of people it is vital that someone makes a decision soon.  On San Fernando the chief war vet who was taken off the property and resettled elsewhere has come back to demand compensation for the huts that he built on San Fernando.   

Kadoma – Illegal stumping continues on Kanyemba Farm.



Chipinge – The courts have issued eviction orders for five properties in the area.  Approximately 300 people accompanied by the DA, army and police arrived on Holland Farm and DDF tractors immediately started ploughing. A meeting between the owner, the F A Chairman and the DA to resolve the issue was unsuccessful.

Rusape - There is some ploughing on Clifton farm.

Burma Valley - DDF tractors are ploughing on Mazonwe Farm.

Chimanimani - Nhuka Farm (deceased estate) was broken into by a group amongst whom was Mr Tsopo who said that they were coming the next day to plough.  This was reported to the police and Agritex who advised that this farm was going to be returned to a research station and no one had any right to be there.  On Jantia farm the owner and his son have been given death threats and told that all their livestock will be destroyed.



Masvingo East and Central - 30 people have begun illegal ploughing/ planting preparations on Dromore Farm.  Burning, clearing of lands and planting continues on Lothian Farm.  Ploughing, pegging and planting continues on Beauly Farm. The owner of Yettom and Marah Farms owner is in process of translocating 500 cattle onto another property. War vets continue to occupy and demarcate plots on Chidza Farm.  A list has been received of 26 properties that will be fast tracked in December.

Chiredzi - A busload of illegal squatters was dropped off on Wasarasara Ranch yesterday and Faversham Ranch is being fast tracked.

Gutu / Chatsworth - Felixburg Farm is being fast tracked and a list has been received of a further 19 properties to be fast tracked in December.



Kwe Kwe: The farmer on Loozani Estate reports he is unable to plant 20 ha of tobacco crop and cattle have been forced into a game fenced cropping area where they are herded. He has also been prevented from planting 50 ha of soyas in spite of his offer, which was refused, to plant crops for the war vets on a cost recovery basis in his fields. The farmer on Marivale Ranch has been accused of sabotaging efforts by occupants to establish a cropping area on his property.



Filabusi - On Moonthals (de-listed) DDF are ploughing the 24 ha irrigable land and want to plough a further 5 ha outside the fenced irrigation block.  Police have failed to act.  Angelsea was fast-tracked by the DA and Rural Council and has been overrun to the extent that the owner can no longer keep his cattle on this 2500 ha farm.

Beit Bridge - Only 14 out of the expected 70 beneficiaries of fast-track settlement of Jopempi Farm turned up for the allocation of plots. Nyamandhlovu - Police have notified settlers on Fountains farm and four other farms belonging to this same company, to vacate the properties.  This order has been ignored and today a further 80+ people have come onto the property.  Police have not responded to reports despite personal assurances by PROPOL Sibanda that a taskforce had been dispatched.

Gwanda - The dams on Blanket and Sheet farms are being fished out, to the extent that local meat sales have been depressed due to the increase in fish sales.

Insiza – The occupation of Wessels Block Farm, which is unlisted, continues with no response from ZRP despite a written request for eviction.  There have been six cases of suspected deliberate fires in the last month.


Malcolm Vowles, Deputy Director (Admin & Projects). Harare 309800-18.


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MDC mailing list -

6 December, 2000

The MDC regrets the death of 8-year-old Brian Alfaneti, who was killed in
a petrol blaze on Monday night.

The boy died in his own home, when his father’s petrol stocks caught fire
and burned the entire house.  The boy’s father is a commuter omnibus
driver.  He was keeping fuel in the house because the present situation is
so desperate, he cannot afford to be without petrol stocks.  The boy was
holding a candle to help light the way for his father to refill the tanks,
as there was a blackout in Zengeza 5, the family’s suburb.  The fuel
caught fire and exploded into a fierce blaze which destroyed the home and
took the boy’s life.

Today’s Herald quotes Superintendent Edward Mbewe of the Chitungwiza
police station as blaming the boy’s father for the tragedy.  He questioned
how the father could keep such flammable materials in the house, and was
quoted as saying that the police may charge the father with culpable
homicide and hoarding of fuel. 

Job Sikhala, MP for St Mary’s, the constituency of Zengeza 5, mourns the
death of the boy.  “It is always tragic when life is cut so short.  It is
all the more depressing, though, that it was caused through an avoidable
accident. “

“The boy was holding a candle, because his neighbourhood was being
load-shedded, due to the government’s nonpayment of electric bills.  He
was helping his father to fill tanks with petrol that was kept in the
house.  The father needs a reliable fuel supply for his job, and he must
keep this at home because government nonpayment has jeopardised the
country’s fuel supplies.  To blame the boy’s father is to miss the much
larger message being demonstrated, tragically, though this devastating
accident,” he continued.

“Zanu PF is responsible for this death.  The fuel crisis caused this
death.  If any one is to be held culpaple for this accident, it should be
the ruling party.  The boy is one more victim of Zanu PFs mislead and
mismanaged policies of economic oppression.  I am deeply saddened by this
loss of life, but more so I am angered that the cause is the self same
government which the people chose to look after their interests and their
futures.” said Sikhala.
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From CNN:
Mugabe Rejects Pleas to Restore Law and Order to Land Reform
African Defence Chiefs Sign Deal on Congo Pullback
Zimbabwe Troops, Refugees Flee Congo Fighting

Mugabe Rejects Pleas to Restore Law and Order to Land Reform

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- The government rebuked a top U.N. envoy Wednesday for trying to "lecture" President Robert Mugabe on the need to restore law and order to Zimbabwe's program to confiscate white-owned land.

The Herald newspaper, a state-controlled government mouthpiece that reflects official thinking, said Mugabe "was not amused" by comments made by Mark Malloch Brown, a special representative of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, during a visit to Harare last week.

It quoted unnamed government officials as saying a Friday meeting between Mugabe and Malloch Brown achieved little. The envoy tried to lecture Mugabe on the rule of law, forcing Mugabe to take time to explain the background to the land seizures, The Herald said.

Several thousand whites own about one-third of the productive land in Zimbabwe, which also supports 2 million farm workers and their families. About 7.5 million blacks live on the remaining two-thirds. Since last winter, though, ruling party militants have illegally occupied about 1,700 white-owned farms, squatting on the land and disrupting farm production.

Mugabe has called the occupation a justified protest against unfair land ownership by the white descendants of colonial-era settlers who originally seized black land without paying.

The government has ignored two court orders to clear the squatters from the private land. Meanwhile, it has proposed its own program for seizing white land without paying compensation and has begun moving blacks onto hundreds of the 3,000 white-owned farms it has targeted for confiscation.

Before his departure Saturday, Malloch Brown, who is also the administrator of the U.N. Development Program, said he met with Mugabe to explore ways of moving the land reform process forward with donor assistance. But he warned Mugabe that donors would not support resettlement unless the law was observed.

The United Nations has estimated it would cost $500 million to $750 million to compensate the 3,000 whites for their 12 million acres of targeted farmland. But foreign loans have virtually dried up since political violence surrounding parliamentary elections in June left 32 people dead and thousands homeless. Most of the victims were opposition supporters.

African Defence Chiefs Sign Deal on Congo Pullback

HARARE, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Defence chiefs from six African countries as well as rebel groups fighting in Democratic Republic of Congo signed an agreement on Wednesday to begin withdrawing troops from front-line positions later this month.

But Namibia's high commissioner (ambassador) to Zimbabwe expressed concern that the accord could fail for lack of a formal signature from one of the main rebel organisations.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, who has deployed a quarter of his country's army in the former Zaire, urged the warring parties to cooperate in pulling their forces back at least 15 km (nine miles).

"Let today be a day of renewal of our common determination, commitment and resolve to ensure that peace wins in the DRC," Mugabe said at a signing ceremony in Harare.

"The implementation (of the agreement) should lead to the achievement of a rapid and total cessation of hostilities throughout the Democratic Republic of Congo," he added.

Mugabe also called on the United Nations to quickly deploy monitors to observe the partial withdrawal.

Zimbabwe is the backbone of a three-nation military alliance with Angola and Namibia that backs the embattled government of President Laurent Kabila. Rwanda and Uganda support separate rebel groups fighting to topple Kabila.

The agreement, which is expected to take effect from December 15 and be completed within 45 days, was signed by defence chiefs from the rebel groups and six countries involved in the two-year-old conflict.

The defence chief of the Ugandan-back Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC) was not present for the signing. But Zimbabwean government officials said the MLC had endorsed the plan at a meeting in Lusaka last month.


Namibian High Commissioner Ndali-Che Kamati said however he was concerned that the deal would fail without the MLC's formal signature.

"They are one of the main players in the conflict and if leaders in the region do not succeed in persuading them to sign, that spoils the chances of the agreement holding," Kamati told Reuters in Harare.

The MLC, headed by Jean-Pierre Bemba, operates in northern Congo and controls areas that are home to numerous gold and diamond mines.

Clashes in MLC-controlled areas have continued unabated since a shaky peace deal was reached by the combatants in the Zambian capital last year.

Wednesday's agreement was signed against a backdrop of renewed fighting that saw rebels capture the government-held town of Pweto earlier this week, triggering an exodus of refugees to neighbouring Zambia.

Zimbabwean army officials could not confirm reports on Tuesday that up to 300 Zimbabwean and 1,000 Congolese soldiers had also fled to Zambia to escape fierce fighting in the Pweto area in southeastern Katanga province.

"Pweto was attacked...but I have no details of the results of the attack," Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander Vitalis Zvinavashe told reporters.

All sides involved in the conflict signed a peace accord in Lusaka in 1999 and reaffirmed their commitment to it at a summit in Mozambique last month. But each side has repeatedly accused the other of launching fresh attacks in violation of the deal.

Dubbed "Africa's World War One," the Congolese conflict has claimed thousands of lives and displaced more than 1.5 million people in Africa's third largest nation.

Zimbabwe Troops, Refugees Flee Congo Fighting

JOHANNESBURG, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Up to 300 Zimbabwean and 1,000 Congolese soldiers fled to Zambia on Tuesday to escape fierce fighting in Democratic Republic of Congo, senior Zambian security and defence sources said.

The sources told Reuters by telephone from the Zambian capital, Lusaka, that the Zimbabweans and Congolese had fled the southeastern Katanga province port town of Pweto, captured by Rwandan-backed rebel forces.

The capture of Pweto, on Lake Mweru near the Zambian border, would be one of the most significant blows yet to a fragile peace deal signed in Lusaka last year.

"We have under our protection 300 Zimbabwean soldiers. The Zimbabweans crossed into Zambia today. Another 1,000 Congolese government soldiers also crossed into Zambia today," a senior security officer said.

The official said Zambia was now holding a total of 2,000 Congolese government soldiers.

"Our orders so far are to disarm all these armed soldiers and to confine them in camps far away from the border," another defence ministry official told Reuters.

In the Rwandan capital Kigali, a senior military officer confirmed the capture of Pweto and said Rwandan-backed rebels were now in complete control of Pweto port, airport, the main town and the border crossing to Zambia.

The officer said a Congolese government helicopter was also shot down in the fighting on Sunday and vast quantities of equipment including several tanks, armoured personnel carriers (APCs), machine-guns, howitzers and ammunition was captured.

"The (Congo) government forces and their allies are in bad shape. They lost a lot of equipment and they lost a lot of (human) forces," the officer told Reuters by phone from Kigali.

The officer said some bodies (of government troops) had also started floating on Lake Mweru. Rebel frontline units had meanwhile moved outside Pweto towards the town of Kasenga.

"The rebels are consolidating in positions outside Pweto. It is a purely defence strategy," he added.


Zimbabwe is the backbone of a three-nation military alliance, with Angola and Namibia, backing the embattled government of President Laurent Kabila. Rwanda and Uganda support separate rebel groups fighting to topple Kabila.

Zambian intelligence officials said the fall of Pweto had put the town of Kasenga under rebel threat. Kasenga is a gateway to Lubumbashi, the capital of the mineral-rich Katanga province and the country's second largest city.

"It appears that the Congolese government and their allies are desperately trying to reinforce Kasenga. Militarily it appears the rebels are targeting Kasenga and that is bad news for the government in Kinshasa," the Zambian official added.

The fighting in the Congo escalated as defence chiefs from the countries involved met in Harare on Tuesday to discuss a timetable for withdrawal from front-line positions.

Zimbabwean Foreign Affairs Minister Stan Mudenge, who chairs a committee on the implementation of a ceasefire agreement to end the 29-month-old war, urged defence chiefs on Tuesday to sign plans drafted by the panel last month.

Dubbed "Africa's World War One," the Congolese conflict has claimed thousands of lives and displaced more than 1.5 million people in Africa's third largest nation.

In Geneva, the U.N. refugee agency said up to 60,000 refugees fleeing fighting between government and rebel forces in the Congo had reportedly gone to Zambia in less than a week.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said more Congolese could join the outflow as fighting continued around Pweto, which has changed hands several times in recent days.

Only 10,000 refugees were confirmed to have arrived in the northern Zambian border town of Chiengi as of Monday, but the Lusaka government estimates that 50,000 more could be scattered in the woods and surrounding villages, according to UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski.

"Up to 60,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo have now reportedly fled to Zambia," Janowski told a news briefing in Geneva. In all, more than 80,000 Congolese may have fled the former Zaire since last May, according to the Geneva-based agency.

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The Zimbabwean government has accused a top United Nations envoy of trying to "lecture" President Robert Mugabe on the need to restore law and order, following the programme to confiscate white-owned land.

The state-owned Herald newspaper said Mr Mugabe "was not amused" by Mark Malloch Brown, a special representative of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, during a visit to Harare last week.

It quoted unnamed government officials saying a meeting between Messrs Mugabe and Malloch Brown on Friday achieved little.

Mr Mugabe says the occupation of about 1,700 white-owned farms by ruling party militants is a justified protest against unfair land ownership by the white descendants of colonial-era settlers who originally seized black land without paying.

The government has ignored two court orders to clear the squatters from private land and end the violent disruptions which have left production down by up to 80% on some farms.

The government has proposed its own programme for seizing white land without paying compensation and has begun moving blacks onto hundreds of the 3,000 white-owned farms it has targeted for confiscation.
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