Harare (Zimbabwe Independent, January 12, 2001) - Jonathan Moyo seems to think that part of his job description includes responding to every opinion poll held in any part of the world if it concerns President Mugabe. When the BBC's Focus on Africa programme carried out an Internet poll recently to find out who listeners would most like to see following Jerry Rawlings into retirement, the vast majority of respondents said Robert Mugabe was the obvious candidate.
He was followed - way behind - by such reprobates as Daniel arap Moi of Kenya, Charles Taylor of Liberia, and Cameroon's Paul Biya.
Newspapers and radio/TV stations carry out opinion surveys of this sort all the time. But instead of ignoring this entirely legitimate expression of opinion by BBC listeners, Moyo felt compelled to rubbish it in the usual over-the-top language with which he is now indelibly associated.
He likened it to polls carried out by Gallup for the Helen Suzman Institute which he called "bogus" despite the fact that they - unlike him - have proved remarkably accurate in predicting voting trends.
Gallup found a clear majority of those sampled in its most recent survey wanted Mugabe to go. Now, it seems, a majority of people who listen to the BBC's Africa service agree.
"For the British to rely on such surveys to describe a whole continent and its leadership not only smacks of colonial arrogance gone whacky but is also contemptuous of the democratic right of African people to choose their leaders through the ballot box," Moyo raved.
Leaving aside the obvious irony of the Nutty Professor calling other people whacky, why does he think that letting people - the vast majority of them African - express their views on their leaders via the Internet "smacks of colonial arrogance"? Or is he saying that Africans should only be allowed to express themselves through their manipulative governments or rigidly regulated broadcasting systems? That the Internet is out of bounds to Africans?
He also took a pot shot at the Standard accusing it of being "always quick to peddle British and Rhodesian propaganda at the expense of the African view, let alone the Zimbabwean national interest".
But who is the spokesman for the "African view" and the "Zimbabwean national interest"? Surely not an unelected official whose only mandate comes from a discredited president who has trampled all over the national interest? An official who doesn't dare stand for election anywhere because he knows what the people's answer would be; who attended four rallies in Bikita West but was not allowed to speak at any of them apart from chanting slogans because local Zanu PF officials know what ordinary voters think of him?
As for the BBC being used to "caricature Africa and its leaders", who was it who last year described Mugabe as a caricature of African leaders who have lost their way? Wasn't it Archbishop Desmond Tutu? And is he not an authentic African?
Meanwhile, Lovemore Madhuku should be more circumspect about lending himself to the state's deceitful agenda by making naive and gullible statements to the Herald.
The evidence to date looks as if Zanu PF might have managed to bludgeon the voters of Bikita West into electing their candidate, Col Claudius Makova, to parliament. Muckraker's question: Will there be room for him in the House?
Six years ago, when Makova was public relations officer for the army, he took a group of journalists on a tour of facilities in the Eastern Districts. His helicopter was forced to come down suddenly during the tour. Muckraker speculated that given Makova's presence, there could have been a weight problem on board. We also felt the expansive colonel was not the sort of image the new leaner and meaner army should be projecting.
He sued us in the courts and let it be known that if he won he would be taking Muckraker to the cleaners. He lost. The judge said it was all fair comment.
The evidence was there for all to see bulging out of the witness box.
Muckraker is not impressed by bullies whatever form they take.
According to the MDC's health spokesman, Dr Tichaona Mudzingwa, Chenjerai Hunzvi was openly urging his followers last week to throw stones and petrol bombs at MDC supporters. To show how it's done Hunzvi threw a petrol bomb himself, Mudzingwa alleged at a press conference last Friday.
That the police have done nothing about such a clear breach of the law confirms our worst fears about Zimbabwe's descent into lawlessness and police complicity.
We ask the question again: what has been done about the killers of Martin Olds, David Stevens, and Tichaona Chiminya? Or for that matter any of the killers who terrorised voters in the run up to the June election?
Meanwhile, state-orchestrated political violence in Bikita persists. Morgan Tsvangirai told the same press conference last Friday that immediately after the Zanu PF congress Border Gezi led a group of war veterans that included Hunzvi and Joseph Chinotimba to Bikita West with the sole mission of unleashing a reign of terror there.
"For one-and-a half weeks villagers were indiscriminately beaten on sight," he said.
Assisting the bandit movement were 30 to 40 CIO operatives and youths brought from other Zanu PF provinces in 26 vehicles, Tsvangirai charged.
The MDC must be aware by now that it is fighting a ruthless monster in the Bikita West constituency. The same tricks used to disenfranchise thousands of potential voters in Marondera West are being used to the full. The Zanu PF gang know violence works; without it they have no vote and they have no scruples about beating up people to extract it from them.
That is precisely the reason people like Gezi and Hunzvi were sent into a constituency that is not theirs. To force people to vote for Zanu PF. That is why Zanu PF has imposed a virtual media blackout as they did in Matabeleland and the Midlands in the 80s. ZBC has been reduced to covering funerals, which are now Zanu PF's main campaign fora.
Muckraker's attention was caught by a review in the Zimbabwe Mirror last week of a conference in Gaborone on the region's evolving security "architecture".
Professor Mwesiga Baregu of Sarips told the meeting that the real threat to Sadc security was globalisation and its attendant structural adjustment programmes.
"It is no coincidence that almost all African countries that have embraced IMF and World Bank structural adjustment programmes have ended up with collapsed economies," he was reported as saying.
So it has nothing to do with elderly dictators plundering their countries' resources to maintain themselves in power? Nothing to do with structural adjustment not being carried through as parastatals remain the happy hunting ground of corrupt cronies? Nothing to do with failure to put in place policies that enable businesses to expand and grow, or spending millions in foreign currency on a war nobody wants - except of course Sarips professors who were seen on ZTV not so long ago justifying it on spurious nationalist grounds?
Wouldn't it be true to say that the biggest threat to regional states is redundant nationalist thinking that seeks to camouflage political autocracies engaging in corruption, human rights abuses, arbitrary rule and failed economic policies, claiming they are the victims of prescriptions that simply require that they stop living beyond their means - i.e. spending scarce resources on themselves and their military hangers-on - and instead engage in good governance which does work everywhere else including a number of African states?
And by the way, the Sadc security organ has no future whatsoever so long as it is perceived to be a tool for President Mugabe to exert his authority in the region. It shouldn't have taken another donor-sponsored conference to ascertain that!
We loved the Mirror reviewer's comment on all this: "A point that came to light was that most people who commented on the Sadc organ did so without adequate knowledge of what they were talking about." Quite!
'According to well-informed sources in the political rumour mill some cabinet ministers in the Zanu PF government are calling for drastic measures to be taken against the independent press," a Financial Gazette columnist has reported.
Some were calling for certain papers to be banned, others were seeking more subtle measures.
"Frankly, a national communications policy as envisaged by those seeking it in the Zanu PF government should not be allowed to see the light of day," the columnist says.
"One would understand, with the usual deserved contempt, if the various measures for controlling the independent press being considered by the cabinet were coming from some misguided Zanu PF gerontocrats and ideologues of the ruling party's central committee.
What is alarming is that the calls are coming from cabinet ministers who should know better..."
The cabinet's obsession with the independent press is a sign of a beleaguered government, the Fingaz columnist suggests.
"When ruling authorities lose all sense of policy initiative, as has become the case with the Zanu PF government, they also lose the moral high ground.
When that happens, average politicians with no vision beyond their ill- defined self-interest, tend to resort to using threats of institutional harassment of dissenting opinions which appear to be poised to take the moral high ground.
"There is virtually a national consensus that the Zanu PF government, which has squandered the opportunity and privilege to govern the country well, now belongs to the dustbin of national history. In the hope of living to rule another day, Zanu PF politicians are seeking to cover up their misrule by demanding that there should be only one way of reporting news, the Zanu PF way which is all about sunshine journalism...
"It is disingenuous and unfair for any responsible person to claim that the chaotic and discouraging picture of Zimbabwe today is painted by the independent press; the picture is one of reality and not a painting."
The columnist was of course Jonathan Moyo writing in April 1992.
Johannesburg, (UN Integrated Regional Information Network, January 11, 2001) - Zimbabwe's defence headquarters on Thursday denied a local newspaper report that up to 300 soldiers have been court-martialed in the past month alone for refusing deployment in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Military spokesman Colonel Chancellor Diye told IRIN that courts martial were a normal disciplinary measure in any army. But he denied that any had taken place as a result of soldiers refusing to fight in the DRC, where Zimbabwe is supporting the Kinshasa government against Ugandan and Rwandan-backed rebels.
Zimbabwe's independent weekly 'The Financial Gazette' alleged on Thursday that as units were being rotated in December and extra troops assigned to the DRC to beef up a troubled southern front, some soldiers had refused the call-up. The newspaper quoted an unnamed senior army official as saying "there was a lot of resistance from a significant number of soldiers". Among the reasons cited was a lack of military equipment following losses suffered in the battle for the southern DRC town of Pweto.
The army official said that some court martialing had taken place inside the DRC affecting, among others, a battalion commander who had abandoned equipment and fled the rebel advance. Some 300 Zimbabwean soldiers crossed into Zambia from Pweto in December, alongside over 3, 000 DRC troops and several thousand more refugees.
"The story is totally false. We've never experienced any problems concerning our troops refusing to go the Congo. Instead it's the opposite - everyone is raring to go, morale is very high. We have a disciplined armed forces that are highly motivated," Diye said. He added that press reports last week of reinforcements being sent to the DRC were incorrect, and any fresh troops ordered into the Congo were part of a normal rotation of units.
Michael Quintana, editor of the Harare-based Africa Defence Journal told IRIN that although he had not specifically heard of any court martialling in the army, "morale has been rather low, especially of late." DRC ex-combatants interviewed by IRIN in northern Zambia last week alleged that some Zimbabwean troops on the southern front were demoralised by their conditions. A 'Washington Post' report from Pweto on 2 January said that the Zimbabwean garrison had abandoned intact at least six armoured personnel carriers in the scramble to escape the advancing Rwandans and rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) allies. Diye told IRIN that he did not have "full details" of the hardware left behind.
Zimbabwe's dire foreign exchange shortage has reportedly hurt its ability to maintain equipment levels in the armed forces. Hardest hit has been the air force. According to Quintana, its fleet of British-built Hawk ground-attack jets that were initially used extensively in the DRC has been reduced to two operational aircraft, and only half-a-dozen helicopters are flying. "The Zimbabwe Air Force, for all intents and purposes, is no longer an air force. Flying hours have to be husbanded very carefully," Quintana said.
Diye also denied the 'Washington Post' report that Zimbabwean troops and armour had supported a DRC military advance against Rwandan positions at Pepa late last year, which precipitated the counter-attack by Kigali that led to the loss of Pweto. "It's not true. We are sticking to our ceasefire lines and are not participating in any offensive of any kind."
This item is delivered by the UN's IRIN humanitarian information unit (e- mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; fax: +254 2 622129; Web: http://www.reliefweb.int/IRIN), but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer.
Arriving in Bikita West, where voters go to the polls in a by-election this Saturday and Sunday, is like arriving in a battle zone. Police weighed down with tear gas canisters and carrying automatic rifles with bayonets fixed, search all vehicles.
A short distance along the road, my car was pursued by two truckloads of people dressed in the uniform of Zanu-PF's youth brigade, led by notorious War Veteran leader Chenjerai Hunzvi.
Mr Hunzvi's attempt to stop me failed, but it provided a vivid, personal illustration of the fear he and his supporters try to instil in all those they believe to be opposed to them.His behaviour would perhaps be less surprising were it not for the fact that he was elected as an MP last June.
The poll in Bikita West follows the death of the sitting opposition Movement for Democratic Change MP.
The seat makes no significant difference to the balance of power in parliament, but both sides are campaigning hard.In the face of intimidation, the MDC is still campaigning. They are bringing in youths from outside the constituency in a show of defiance.
But its rallies are poorly attended and those who do turn up hang back in the shadows of shop doorways.
At one rally, I spoke to an MDC supporter who was watching from a distance. She said she was nervous of Zanu-PF members making lists of who was attending. "In the evening now, they will follow that list, from house to house, beating all those who are here."For its part, Zanu-PF accuses the opposition of initiating the violence, and points out that one of its members has been killed during the campaign.
Nathan Shamuyarira, the party's information secretary, said that after more than 20 years in power, President Mugabe and his party still have much to be proud of.
"Zanu-PF offers two important things. First and foremost it offers stability. We've had a stable government here for the last 20 years. The second thing is democracy. It's Zanu-PF that brought democracy to this country."
The opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has held several rallies in Bikita West. Although he has talked of sending large numbers of supporters to the area, he denies adopting the tactics of the ruling party."What MDC is doing is not to meet force with force. It is to protect our members. What we want is for people to come out and vote. If there is so much violence, I don't think we could get many people to go out and vote and that would be tragic, because that is what Zanu-PF is looking for."
The example of last year's general election suggests that intimidation can be highly effective, particularly in isolated, rural areas. Once again, voters are being denied the right to cast their ballots free from the fear of violence.
With presidential elections less than 18 months away and campaigning already well under way, Zimbabwe is heading for yet more confrontation and instability.
Harare (Zimbabwe Independent, January 12, 2001) - Government's fast-track land resettlement programme is the economic Gukurahundi for commercial farming in the Matabeleland region where current and potential agricultural investment, estimated to be worth over $1 billion, is threatened by the chaotic resettlement exercise.
While government has stubbornly persisted with the illegal fast-track system aimed at redressing past land imbalances, commercial farmers in Matabeleland feel the programme is hitting them hardest.
Matabeleland is a largely cattle producing area and the current ad hoc resettlement has caused more harm than good. The system has been criticised for not following a set-down, transparent procedure and for allowing self-styled war veterans and communal people to literally walk onto any productive farm and reduce it into a pole- and-dagga squatter camp.
In some cases, where wildlife and tourism ventures take place, farmers have reported rampant poaching and destruction of natural resources whose replacement is incalculable. Many fear the region will never recover.
Government has said it wants to resettle about 150 000 families this year, but not even a third of that number have been resettled despite enthusiastic claims about the success of the programme.
Matabeleland farmers, together with colleagues in other parts of the country, have been in and out of the courts to put brakes on the fast-track system and force government to adhere to a clear redistribution method. However, the outcome of the legal contests remains uncertain.
Government, citing impatience with commercial farmers, is keen to have more than 20 000 people resettled in Matabeleland by year-end come hell or high water.
Provincial governor for Matabeleland North, Obert Mpofu, said the time for negotiation was long past, action was the only thing now.
Rancher Harry Greaves said his safari and motorcycle tours, which are part of his ranching business, had been seriously affected by the fast-track system launched on his farm last August. In addition, his fiancee's $200 000 furniture factory on the farm which was set to create over 200 jobs had been put on hold as a result of the uncertainty.
"I have had problems of poaching and damage to infrastructure," Greaves said. "We have seen a lot of trees cut down and about 6 000 hectares of land burnt. Another major problem is that since the farm was invaded we cannot secure credit from the banks for inputs for this year's crop."
Greaves said he had planted only half of the possible paprika and maize crop due to lack of finance. The farm was also a major supplier of eggs whose prices have stagnated after disturbances on the farms.
Last year Greaves went on full security alert after receiving death threats due to his no-compromise stance on the illegality of the fast-track land resettlement exercise in the Nyamandlovu district.
Greaves, a successful safari operator in the family-owned Fountain Ranch 75km north-west of Bulawayo, said he has lost up to $400 million in revenue as international clients cancelled bookings citing political disturbances on the farms. He has challenged the legality of the fast-track exercise prior to the ruling by the courts.
There are four families on Greaves' 42 000 hectare Fountain Ranch which has been in the farming business for the past 100 years. The farm started safari operations covering hunting, photographic and motorcycle expeditions 15 years ago. About 80% of their clients are from Europe and the rest from America.
Despite the death threats which have unnerved some of his neighbours, Greaves said he was staying put on his farm to proceed with planting and marketing of the tours.
As more farmers challenge the legality of the fast-tracked exercise in Matabeleland North, government and the war veterans have viewed this as direct resistance to the land reform programme. More than five groups of people have resettled on Fountain Ranch, which covers five properties, and some have put up temporary structures after having been allocated plots.
"We have been trying to explain to these people that what is happening is illegal and that we will hold all individuals in this indiscriminate fast-track liable through the civil courts," he said. "Some of them have been quite hostile to our workers and that could be the reason for these threats."
Greaves, who employs 350 people at peak cropping season, is also engaged in poultry and beef production, and horticulture. He grows paprika for export.
"We will try to market our safari business for 2001 given that the land invasions and the fast-track system have led to 100% cancellations by our clients," said Greaves.
"The situation took a turn for the worse with the killing of Martin Olds on April 18 2000."
The future of the motorcycle tours, he said, was a complete disaster because their European agents had not included the farm in their 2001 brochure and they will now have to wait for January 2002.
The Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) confirmed that several of its members had received death threats and that they were monitoring the situation.
Another commercial producer, Peter Cunningham, who runs the Dollar Ostrindo Group, lamented the negative impact of the farm invasions. Over $80 million has been invested on land valued at $5 million in his group's operations.
The Dollar Ostrindo Group is engaged in ostrich production and intensive cropping for export. The operation employs 1 000 people and exports over eight tonnes of ostrich meat to the European Union (EU) earning approximately US$30 000 a week. The group is also involved in crocodile ranching.
Cunningham said the land constituted 6% of the current investment because it was bought in 1995 as an uncontested property and it had since been granted an EPZ status due to its world-competitive ostrich production.
Commercial farmers believe the farm has become a model success story due to its use of modern production technology and unmatched skills in breeding and processing of ostrich products. The farm boasts its own hatcheries and tanneries for both ostrich and crocodile skins.
In 1997 the group initiated a communal farmers ostrich-breeding programme giving each resettlement village 50 ostriches to start its own project.
In 2000, the farm operation alone was expected to generate US$7 million from cattle rearing and cropping. However, the occupation of the farm under the fast- track system has pushed losses to more than $400 000 on cattle alone and more millions will be lost in the prime ostrich exports. This was after the farm invaders introduced poultry onto their plots.
Veterinary regulations insist that there should be no poultry in the vicinity of ostrich breeding.
"Our export certificate will not be approved unless the war veterans are taken off the farm," said Cunningham. "Over $1,8 million worth of exports a week are under threat. Besides, the war veterans have completely burnt the farm land and 3 000 trees are estimated to have been cut down."
Other losses include cut fences and 40 ostriches worth $15 000 each have been killed.
The looming closure of the tannery operations will have ripple effects on the operations of 40 other ostrich producers and rural farmers whose business rely on the tannery.
"The ostrich industry is still growing and needs all the support it can get to make it viable," Cunningham said.
"The technology we have introduced in this operation is unbelievable. If the tannery closes down it will have ripple effects on the ostrich industry in Matabeleland.
"We had plans to extend it to black farmers and more than 1 000 have been trained. It was hoped that in future some technology gleaned from this operation would be a base for black farmers."
Cunningham said they were losing their market share in a big way as South Korean clients had gone to South Africa for supplies fearing the farm upheavals in Zimbabwe. During a meat fair last year in France, there were seven interested buyers but they said Zimbabwe posed too high a risk.
The farm has an estimated indirect loss of more than US$1,2 million for the meat and US$4,5 million for 18 000 hides which were bound for the Australian market.
Peter Goosen from Nyamandlovu bought his farm in 1995 and has invested $26 million in developing what was once derelict land. The farm has a turnover of $25 million generated from ostrich and paprika farming. It employs 125 permanent staff and up to 100 on contract.
In addition, it produces maize and sunflower. All the paprika on the 12 hectares is exported and this year 20 hectares have been planted.
The fast-track system has affected several developments on the farm, which include a US$3 million community centre and clinic, which German and US donors have expressed an interest in funding.
Goosen said whatever was produced on the farm, which is Christian-based, went to the church and the communities. Along with other farmers in Nyama-ndlovu, Goosen has adopted Insuza area to uplift the communities there.
He estimated that since the farm was targeted by the fast-track resettlement, his direct revenue losses would be around $1,5 million and indirect ones are over $35 million, including the stalled community projects.
"We have objected to the fast-track and we have signed a petition against this, including lobbying churches here and elsewhere," he said. "We cannot do anything of a major capital nature and have attended Mpofu's fast-track programme meetings and heard him saying that people will have the land but should not interfere with farm activity. However, they say one thing and are doing another," he said.
Another commercial farmer and safari operator, Peter Johnstone, has been running Rosslyn Safaris since 1996 and has to date lost about $6 million due to invasions by war veterans. This led to cancellations of lodge and safari bookings as the farm offers hunting and photo safari activities. Last year the operations earned about $12 million instead of the more than $15 million anticipated due to reduced sale of wildlife and less ostrich meat harvested.
Johnstone said he had bought his ranch 13 years ago with a certificate of no interest and three years ago bought $7 million worth of wildlife now valued at more than $60 million.
He had also spent more than $1 million putting up infrastructure such as game fences and also improving the local natural resources. But all this investment was set to go up in smoke if no solution was found to the fast-track land resettlement.
"It would be an expense to cut down all the stumps, remove the mess and get back the confidence of some of our clients as some had a rough time, " said Johnstone.
"War veterans demonstrated on the farm and some of my clients were traumatised. We can be as productive as anybody else as our hunting is good and we specialise in bow hunting of which films have been made."
Commercial farmers in Matabeleland also expressed fears about the fate of their workers, many of whom have become redundant due to collapsed productivity on the farms. Some are homeless on those properties earmarked for resettlement.
Inyathi commercial farmer and wildlife producer, Dave Joubert, said although the need for land redistribution was unquestionable, the method of doing it was.
"We support land redistribution and have done so for years," said Joubert.
"However, the fast-track system has destroyed major developments in the region and set back development for many years."
Joubert said he bought his farm in 1994 and has a certificate of no interest issued after comprehensive investigations that the farm was not suitable for resettlement. But last November it was invaded by up to 120 people who occupied the heart of the safari area and caused $5 million worth of damage.
"Although the land was unsuitable for agriculture we have come up with one of the finest sites for a dam greater than Inyakuni," he said. "We have made a proposal to donors to create this dam on the farm under which 6 000 hectares of land can be irrigated."
He said the concept for the dam and irrigation scheme had been recommended by the local administration in Inyathi but the local governor's office was not for the idea.
Joubert, along with Johnstone and Greaves, has also proposed creating a wildlife conservancy for communal people covering 200 000 hectares.
The proposed conservancy would boost animals stocks in the area and treble the potential trophy fees to $17 million.
This would be direct income for rural communities, as the conservancy would absorb Umguza, Winter Block and in future, Mguza Block areas.
"The dam will actually be the major development factor in the whole of Matabeleland North from Nkosikazi area to Nyamandlovu district," he said.
CFU regional president Mac Crawford said the fast-track system had opened floodgates for anyone to descend on commercial farms.
"There is a breakdown of law and order as now even the police and army are involved in the resettlement," said Crawford. "It is a land-grab and on top of that the economy of Matabeleland has suffered tremendously. The Bulawayo agriculture markets are collapsing as farmers cannot sell their produce."
Crawford said the agricultural industry was in a serious condition which government did not seem worried about.
"There has been no official communication from government," he said.
"As far as I know, there has been nothing as people are being daily resettled and some are even resettling themselves. At the end of the day we are saying sanity has to prevail. There is no will on the part of the government to resolve this yet there have been numerous opportunities to do so."
However, Matabeleland North governor Obert Mpofu said government was responsive to suggestions and welcomed the cooperation of commercial farmers. He said the fast-track system had gone like clockwork in Matabeleland and he was optimistic it would achieve its aims.
"I am happy with the progress so far," said Mpofu. "The court orders from the commercial farmers have hampered progress. We have been doing this programme according to the law."
Mpofu said his office had not received any submission from farmers who needed reprieve from the fast-track system. He said his office was willing to listen to views from farmers who had genuine cases.
"We have only received court orders although there are some offers for farms from those farmers who agree to the land imbalances and seem to appreciate the need for equitable land distribution," said Mpofu.
"We have some farmers who have made offers. A few have made submissions that we are working on."
By Busani Bafana
Harare (Zimbabwe Independent, January 12, 2001) - A senior MDC official has urged British Prime Minister Tony Blair to arrest President Mugabe the next time he sets foot in Britain.
Sekai Holland, the party's Secretary for International Affairs, would also like to see President Mugabe and his "cronies" picked up in Europe, or anywhere else they might visit, their assets frozen and steps taken by the international community to put them on trial for "murdering" innocent civilians last year and during the campaign against Ndebele "dissidents" during the mid-1980s.
"Mugabe and his cronies should be declared international criminals," she said in London at the end of a two-month visit during which she helped establish MDC branches in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
"There should be a declaration by the international community that Robert Mugabe and his government are a criminal group. There should be an international mechanism set up whereby they are arrested, their assets are frozen and they should be put on trial."
Her suggestion came prior to a surprise statement in Cape Town from Peter Hain, minister at the British Foreign Office responsible for African Affairs.
Hain told a local newspaper that African attempts to modify President Mugabe's "fast track' land reform programme had failed.
Referring to attempts by leaders such as President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa to influence the Zimbabwean leader, Hain declared: "I sometimes wonder whether the leadership of southern Africa understands the gravity of the situation.
"Mugabe has created a police state comparable to the one that imprisoned him. How a freedom struggle can be so badly prostituted is a question for Zanu and Mugabe's conscience."
Holland is a veteran nationalist and was once a close associate and confidante of two of the original Zanu movement's most important leaders - the late Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole and Herbert Chitepo.
Holland said Blair should see the MDC not just as a successful opposition party in Zimbabwe but as a government-in-waiting. While in London she encouraged some of the 100 000 Zimbabweans living in Britain to play an active role in opposition politics or, if they are not interested in politics, to form civic organisations which will help ease the change from Zanu PF to MDC rule, whenever that might be.
She said: "Today there is a breakdown of law and order throughout Zimbabwe. Everyone knows that the MDC won the June general election but Mugabe carries on in power and Britain and the EU governments continue to talk to him about land reform and other subjects. The international community must start talking to the MDC because we are a government-in-waiting."
She also wants to see a "cross party" approach in Britain and other countries when it comes to dealing with the MDC. She will travel soon to the US for talks with Republican and Democratic Party leaders. She said the sometimes "romantic" attitude American blacks had towards President Mugabe was fast eroding.
"Because of Mugabe and other dictators, so many people believe Africans cannot rule themselves. Yet, before the arrival of whites in 1890 chiefs and their advisers in Zimbabwe were democrats. We must return to the rule of law and go back to our original inspiration - the spring of African democracy which was the vote.
"And it is really wrong to condemn all white farmers for not wanting to see blacks on the land. Just after Independence in 1980 I remember seeing white farmers on television offer Mugabe thousands of acres of their land for landless people. They also came up with a suggestion that could have raised millions of dollars to help resettle people properly but Mugabe didn't want that to happen. There was nothing in it for him - no financial kick-backs for his cronies."
By Trevor Grundy
Johannesburg (Mail and Guardian, January 12, 2001) - Rumbidzai Machova (13) of Govo village in Masvingo, Zimbabwe, has just passed grade seven. Machova has always been at the top of her class and her teachers thought she could turn out to be anything she wanted to be.
However, there is nothing certain anymore for Machova, who has always wanted to be a doctor. Her father, Tobias Machova, has recently moved out of Govo village to a remote farm, under the land redistribution programme.
At the farm where Machova and her family chose to settle there are no schools, clinics and not even borehole water to drink.
"I don't think she will be able to go to school next year," says Machova's father. "There are no schools here, especially secondary school, and even if there were schools I am only left with one cow and I cannot sell it to send her to school," he said.
From the farm where Machova and her family settled the nearest secondary school, Mudavanhu, lies about 50km from the farm.
Machova's case is not unique, according to Unicef Education Project officer in Zimbabwe Saul Murimba. The organisation has been monitoring the movement of children since the beginning of the land redistribution process.
"The patterns are not very clear because some parents are leaving their children in the villages with relatives to attend school while they move into new areas. However, an estimated 200 000 children have been affected," says Murimba.
According to the Zimbabwean High Commission in South Africa at least a million people have moved from the reserves into farms under the land redistribution programme.
The relocation of people to outlying areas has raised fears that the education system and health system may collapse as the Zimbabwean government has no money to develop the infrastructure in the newly occupied areas.
"It is going to affect the provision of education in a very significant way," said Murimba.
"I don't think the government will be able to provide infrastructure for 90% of the affected areas in the next 10 to 15 years. There hasn't been enough infrastructure anywhere and this just aggravates the problem".
Many schools report dwindling pupil numbers since the relocation to remote farms began. "Classes are basically getting empty as more and more children pull out of school to join their families in farms," says one school principal who refused to be named. "We don't know if children will come back when schools reopen," he said.
The Zimbabwean government has not paid much attention to this issue. According to the press secretary for the Ministry of State Information and Publicity, Munyaradzi Hwengere, the priority is on land. "As the president has said, land first and infrastructure will follow.
"The government's focus at the moment is on land and we will look at education, health and other things at a later stage. Children cannot go to school if they are impoverished. We first deal with the problem of poverty by providing land and then come other things," Hwengere said.
Recently the Ministry of State Information and Publicity under Professor Jonathan Moyo has published a 100-page document on the land redistribution programme, but the document doesn't deal with education, health or any other form of development.
Hwengwere said the government will seek aid from international donors to provide the infrastructure for schools, roads, clinics, water, electricity and houses. "We will invite international donors to assist with infrastructure but we will not allow them to interfere with policy issues." However, Murimba of Unicef says it is going to be very difficult for the Zimbabwean government to attract foreign donors since international organisations like the United Nations do not support the current policy on land redistribution.
By Scotch Tagwireyi
Harare (Zimbabwe Independent, January 12, 2001) - Government, battling to preserve the credibility of the police force which has been accused of partisan behaviour and human rights abuses, is scouting for alternative equipment to use in handling public disturbances to lessen the use of teargas and live bullets, a cabinet minister said yesterday.
"The police are not trigger-happy," Home Affairs minister, John Nkomo told the Zimbabwe Independent in Bulawayo yesterday. "The police are handling a delicate situation where today guns are found all over and we have had an increase in the number of armed robberies."
Nkomo said the police were reviewing their methods of handling public protests. His statement was made after accusations that the police were trigger- happy.
A number of people have over the years been caught in crossfire when police have opened fire to stop thieves. They have also maimed and killed civilians in an attempt to quell a demonstration or stop fleeing suspects.
Admitting that the use of teargas and live bullets had done more harm than good in the police line of duty, Nkomo said his ministry was looking at more humane options to quell public tensions.
"A problem that has pronounced itself each time we have incidents of violence is that we have no riot-control equipment. The use of guns and tear smoke is not ideal," Nkomo said. "It is not human-friendly because tear smoke affects even people who are not on the streets, babies and young children. We would like to acquire better equipment.
Live bullets should never be used unless there is a demanding situation and in that area again we are not adequately supplied."
Nkomo said if he had his way he would have teargas completely removed from the police anti-riot outfit. Three years ago government spent $200 million in teargas purchases alone. Nkomo said the alternative options that his ministry was looking at included the use of baton sticks, shields and water cannons that were in use in other countries.
"In the process of our training the deployment pattern will also take into account the need to be professional," he said. "Police are expected to manage situations where they themselves are physically assaulted. There are quite a number of instances where someone tries to take away the arms from the police and during the ensuing confusion unintended shooting occurs."
Urging the public to cultivate a better relationship with the police based on information-sharing on security issues, Nkomo said the force was doing its best in a difficult situation. He said there was a need to look at police training in gun handling and also the application of the current laws pertaining to guns.
In addition, he wanted to see more stringent monitoring of gun license holders.
"It is difficult to say where these guns are coming from. The forensic department has carried out investigations and we can confirm that in the majority of cases the guns are sourced locally," he said.
"These guns are owned by people who either have not for whatever reason licensed them or in some cases friends have entrusted other friends with guns totally outside the law."
The ministry, he said, wished to be stricter but was handicapped by current laws. The police were required to first fire warning shots before firing at suspects and Nkomo said this provision exposed the police to dangers of return fire.
Police commissioner Augustine Chihuri had established a commission of enquiry to investigate some of the public shootings and some officers had been disciplined after being found responsible for shootings.
"We are concerned with the level of training and I have taken a personal interest in this issue since joining the ministry," Nkomo said. "The commissioner has submitted plans to extend the training period to at least address the problem areas and to make the force more professional."
The minister blamed the escalation in public tensions on unresolved colonial legacies, in particular the land issue. Nkomo felt that there has been no acceptance of change from the colonial era to Independence.
"Zimbabwe is in transition and the policy of reconciliation between the colonial and current set-up was not fully embraced," he said. "The failure by the government to fulfil some of the promises which were dependent on the environment has increased the level of tension created by human greed and the refusal to accommodate and share in the case of land."
Nkomo said his ministry was considering several financing options to be presented to the Ministry of Finance because the current budgetary allocation of $6,7 billion was insufficient.
He said the police were thin on the ground in terms of numbers due to reduced recruitment and the force lacked adequate transport, housing and educational facilities.
By Busani Bafana
Daily News: 1/12/01 8:59:47 AM (GMT +2)
Masola wa Dabudabu, Plumtree
SCHOOLS are about to
open, but the poor majority will drown their sorrows in cheap brew for their
children's educational future looks bleak and black.
This will be courtesy of
Minister of Finance Dr Simba Makoni's famous “beer to the people” budget.
Few of us will afford the school fees of our dear children; hence we shall resort to the cheap lager.
I truly sympathise with the rest of the economically hit people of our fair land.
Those fortunate enough to have jobs can look forward to hiking a ride on a bike, thanks to the low prices of pedal bikes and the hitherto general unavailability of fuels for
At first the problem was due to the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe's mismanagement, whence the entire management team and minister were relieved of their high-paying posts.
But the problem persisted. A man from Marondera East was tasked to revitalise the fuel supply lines.
The failures were evident as fuel queues had become a permanent feature of our everyday life.
Then there are our cousins of the great Duma dynasty who are in trouble.
The people of Bikita West should be ruing the day Amos Mutongi, their MP, died.
The most torturesome campaign teams from Zimbabwe's two major political parties have descended on rugged Bikita West. The campaign slogan is: “We shall give you wounds you never thought you would have for you to vote for us!”
The violence in Bikita West is rendering the larger part of the population useless zombies waiting to mechanically cast a painful vote for the party that wins their pain.
The economy is facing its most serious challenge since time immemorial.
Companies are closing down faster than one can say the word close. Some are treacherously relocating to neighbouring countries all in an effort to register their displeasure with the political destabilisation.
As if to throw back to us our assertion that “the land is the economy and the economy is the land”, we are being left with the land, but certainly with a tattered economy.
The skies are not clement too. As if the gods have placed a curse on our political mistakes, the skies are not opening up to give us the rains we all need.
If the rainfall situation does not change for the better, we shall all seek deliverance, just to hide from the hardships of this unfair world.
The soil is our entire mother! It shall be glad to hide us from the sad realities of the world that are controlled by wicked, powerful, power-hungry, greedy, inhumane, mad and plain unreasonable men.
A visit to the hospitals will reveal the hostility of our medical policy.
At each corner of our public hospitals are signs of a dying nation.
There is overcrowding, less care by the descendants of Florence Nightingale and a general disrepair of the hospital environment.
It is sickening to visit our hospitals. The minimally sick get sicker by being exposed to the sickest and the sickest see the horrors of death as they see others agonise and succumb to the call by the Lord.
Meanwhile, rats as big as rabbits and as rabid with plague as those of the Black Death and roaches as large as blue tits roam the floors with impunity.
Dying has never been this painful; especially that no one seems to give a hoot.
And the people keep on struggling. There are those who pride themselves in having been in the struggle.
“What struggle?” the majority asks. We are in the most painful struggle for mere survival.
No one chose to be in this new struggle, whereas the old struggle for liberation was a matter of choice for those who joined it. The struggle we are in now is the toughest. It takes no prisoners. It's dog eat dog.
One wishes that the new year could bring better things for the people of Zimbabwe.
The signs are not good though. The harbinger of worse times is open for all to see.
It is going to be better if I were to be proved a pessimist.
Daily News: 1/12/01 9:06:31 AM (GMT +2)
Denford Madenyika, Harare
I WISH to express my disgust at the so-called war veterans who have besieging this beloved country.
No one should misinterpret
my respect for the gallant fighters who risked everything for our liberation.
My main concern, however, is about such people as Chenjerai Hunzvi, masquerading as a leader of war veterans, but who never saw combat, who are now at the forefront of land invasions and occupations.
Every nation throughout the world respects its war veterans, but that does not give the veterans the right to be above society.
These so-called war veterans never fought in the liberation war. They are a bunch of lawless, ruthless thugs who are trying to run away from their problems or their past.
Anyone who lived in areas like Chivi and Berejena during the liberation struggle will find it hard to believe what is going on today.
Real ex-combatants died as poor as church mice, while some of them “tasted the comfort of jail” for daring to voice their opinions.
These so-called ex-combatants are just a bunch of opportunists who are fighting for their share of the loot in a corrupt government.
Which woman in their right mind would date the self-styled commander-in-chief of farm invasions Joseph Chinotimba or Hunzvi, unless it is through coercion?
Our country is being damaged irreparably.
It is our responsibility to stop it.
United we can stop them. True comrades do not harm their fellow countrymen.
They would fight to protect them.