Not only are the farmers
Names removed for protection
X and I are directors of ZZZ, an irrigation
consultancy and supply company, dealing solely with farmers. We have been
operating for nearly 12 years now, and employ 23 people on a permanent basis.
With an average of five dependants per employee, this makes the number of people
dependant on Iricon to at least 115. Occasionally we also employ up to 10
casual workers, depending on our work load, which brings the number of
dependants to 165.
Due to an almost 90% reduction in business since
February this year, as of 01 December 2000 our company has been forced to go
onto a three day week. This means that we will only be open Monday, Tuesday,
Wednesday each week and that our workers will only be receiving 60% of their
monthly salaries. There will be no bonuses either for our workers. (two of the
directors have not received salaries since March 2000!! I.e. X &
In the New Year we will re-assess our situation, and if this trend of
no business continues, we will have no option but to close down permanently
before we get into a position where we are unable to repay all our debts
(probably at the end of January). This will result in these 115 people being
without income, and the likelihood of them ever being permanently employed again
will be very small (more than likely none-existent).
Our average wage
bill is in the region of Z$280,000.00. Income tax, levies and payments to
social security, etc in the region of Z$60,000.00. This means that if this ONE
company is forced to close down, there will be nearly Z$350,000.00 LESS money,
each month, available for spending on the market. This may sound like a small
sum of money, but if this figure is extrapolated to each small business which
has been forced to close, it will multiply into a huge sum of money.
It is obvious that our "powers that be" have not given a thought to
this negative effect of the farm invasions, as is illustrated below:
Vice President, Mr. Msika is a personal friend of an (ex-) employee of a large
tractor supplying company in Harare. He went to this company to visit his
friend, only to be told that he had been made redundant, together with 50% of
that company's employees. This minister was astounded, and enquired as to why
the company was struggling. When he was told that it was due to the farm
invasion, this learned man asked "but why should happenings on the farms be
affecting you people here in Harare?"
I have no idea what X and I
will do. We have signed as co-guarantors on all our loans, bank overdrafts,
etc, and stand to lose the whole lot unless things change drastically. I don't
like to be a pessimist, but I am sure it is highly likely that we will have to
Things are tough for ALL of us here in Zimbabwe - of course it
all starts with the farmers, but the stakes are much higher once the ripple
effect has made its way down through the entire economy.
Fuel woes to resurface
FUEL queues may soon be back to haunt
motorists who had enjoyed a period of relative plenty since the New Year.
Noczim debts have continued to mount while the country has not been able
to fully utilise the US$75 million Absa facility negotiated at the end of last
year, sources said this week.
Industry sources said the current levels
of supply were not guaranteed as major supplier Independent Petroleum Group
(IPG) of Kuwait was awaiting payment for fuel supplied in December.
Kuwaiti company is owed a whopping US$40 million. The sour-ces said Noczim owed
other fuel suppliers Engen US$26 million and BP US$18 million.
said the current position of normalcy was a result of supplies secured just
after Christmas. They said no ship had docked in Beira for over a week now,
posing a threat to the current stocks.
“The situation is not looking
good at the moment because the foreign currency situation has deteriorated
further and there are problems with the Absa facility,” the source said.
He said Zimbabwe had not been able to utilise the loan facility bro-
kered last December by Jewel Bank (CBZ), as Absa had demanded payment of
collateral which the government could not provide. The Zimbabwe Independent was
also told the facility was more expensive by $5 per litre. Sources said the
Noczim board was against the signing of the deal but were pushed into it by
officials from the Ministry of Mines and Energy.
Absa Bank of South
Africa, Jewel Bank’s technical partner, signed a line of credit with Noczim to
pay for fuel imports.
Noczim had managed to convince IPG to supply US$40
million worth of product but this had not yet been paid for. The sources said
the line of credit only worked if government could pay for the product
Nkomo attacks war veterans
ZANU PF national chairman John Nkomo has
taken a swipe at war veterans in Matabeleland, describing them as indi-sciplined
and insolent after the former fighters closed rural district council and party
offices in Plumtree.
Last Wednesday, a group of war veterans stormed
offices of the Bulilimamangwe Distri-ct Council and closed them after accusing
the employees of supporting the MDC. In addition, the war veterans, who have
developed a reputation for purging alleged anti-Zanu PF sympathisers from the
party’s ranks, also closed the Zanu PF offices in the border town, 100km
south-west of Bulawayo.
“We believe that there are genuine grievances
but there is also an element of insolence and indiscipline by some war veterans
who probably got carried away,” Nkomo told the Zimbabwe Independent last week.
“I was discussing with the national commissar, Border Gezi, to convene a
meeting with the war veterans and the party leadership to address this issue.
“War veterans belo-nged to a political army, be it Zanla or Zipra. So
first and foremost the party comes first. Before they can do anything they must
refer to us,” he said.
Nkomo said the party had a secretariat and a
commissariat to which they could channel their grievances.
and civil servants are run under the supervision of a minister
and those are
Zanu PF ministers. Why should the war veterans not see the need to work through
that (system),” he said.
“We have provincial structures in Matabeleland
South and the high- est political office is that of the governor to which they
should submit their problems before taking matters into their own hands,” he
The war veterans, who had vowed that the offices would remain
closed until they had an audience with Matabeleland South governor, Stephen
Nkomo, eventually held a meeting with him last week. Nkomo assured them that
their grievances would be attended to.
This week, the investigations
into the complaints lodged by the war veterans claimed their first victims when
eight staffers of the Bulilimamangwe rural district council were suspended for
allegedly aligning with the MDC and “using government property to further their
The MDC in response organised a demonstration in
Plumtree last Thursday to protest the forcible closure of the Bulilimamangwe
District Council offices and disruption of services by a horde of the
self-styled liberation fighters.
“We are mobilising to demonstrate
against this action,” MDC vice-president, Gibson Sibanda, said.
to restore law and order because what the war veterans are doing
The presidents of Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia, all allies of assassinated
Congolese president Laurent Kabila, were on Sunday preparing to meet to assess
All three countries deployed troops to the Democratic Republic of the Congo
to support Mr Kabila's presidency after rebels tried to oust him in 1998.
News of the meeting came as Mr Kabila's body lay in state in Lubumbashi, the
capital in his home province. The body was due to be flown to Kinshasa for
The body was returned to Lubumbashi from Harare where officials said the
wounded president was taken for treatment shortly after being shot three times
by one of his own long-serving bodyguards. Details surrounding the assassination
remained unclear but government officials said Mr Kabila was shot while he sat
in his office on Tuesday while speaking with his private secretary. The assassin
was shot dead by other soldiers after the president's secretary raised the
Joseph Kabila, the dead president's son, was appointed president shortly
after his father's death but opposition groups have said they do not acknowledge
him as the nation's leader.
The Congolese government has indicated that it will return to the negotiating
table soon after the funeral in a bid to end a two-year old civil war. On
Thursday, the justice minister said the government would continue to seek the
withdrawal of Rwandan and Ugandan forces which had supported rebels since 1998.
Academics appointed on ethnic, political lines
ETHNIC and political
considerations have taken centre stage in the recruitment and appointment of
senior staff at two institutions of higher learning, Bindura University and the
National University of Science and Technology (Nust), the Zimbabwe Independent
has been told.
Indications were that the government was reluctant to
appoint a new vice-chancellor for Bindura University and that it would not renew
the term of office of the vice-chancellor at Nust.
Academics who spoke
to the Independent said top government officials were sacrificing
professionalism on the altar of political patronage. “Homeboy” criteria were
being used in the appointment of academics to senior positions at the country’s
universities and tertiary institutions.
Nust vice-chancellor Professor
Phineas Makhurane, whose term of office expires in May, was not likely to be
kept on. The permanent secretary in the Ministry of Higher Education, Michael
Mambo, has been tipped to take over.
Academics said that Mambo does not
have sufficiently convincing academic credentials to warrant his appointment.
They said there were other academics with a track record who have either been
overlooked or sacrificed in the process.
They said the route Mambo was
taking was similar to that taken by James Chitauro when he was appointed acting
vice-chancellor of Bi-ndura University des- pite not having any known academic
track record. He had, prior to his appointment, been permanent secretary in the
Higher Education ministry.
Makhurane, described as one of the country’s
best university administrators, is understood to have declined to apply for an
extension of his term of office.
Academics said Makhurane (62) was
aware of the government’s reluctance to renew his term of office. He could have
gone for another three years as the retirement age is 65.
“There is no
one in Zimbabwe who is more experienced in university administration than
Makhurane,” the source said.
Makhurane served as the pro-vice-chancellor
of the universities of Botswana and Zambia prior to joining the University of
Sources said Nust’s pro-vice-chancellor Clever Nyathi’s three-year
term of office that had been extended by a year after expiring in 1999, was not
going to be renewed despite him being one of the country’s most respected
academics and a very experienced administrator.
“What is strange is that
we have other pro-vice-chancellors having their terms of office extended, like
Professor Levy Nyagura, for no reason,” the source said.
specialised in bio-chemistry, declined to comment saying he had now left Nust.
“There are strong feelings that the whole issue borders on tribalism,”
the source said.
The sources said the position of vice-chancellor at
Bindura University would be re-advertised because of political interference in
the appointments of the vice-chancellor and pro-vice-chancellor positions last
Professor Cowden Chikomba, who had been the pro-vice-chancellor at
the university, had been punished for allegedly supporting the appointment of
Professor Misheck Matshazi whom he wanted to take over as pro-vice-chancellor.
Sources within government said Matshazi was not the favourite choice of
the former Minister of Higher Education, Ignatius Chombo, or Mambo.
having left the Ministry of Higher Education for Local Government, Chombo is
believed to be still pulling the strings.
The position of Higher
Education minister Herbert Murerwa was not immediately clear but sources said
Chikomba was no longer the choice for the vice-chancellorship after siding with
Matshazi whom he believed was the only choice suitable for the job.
Academics told the Independent that Chombo wanted to bring in Professor
Sam Tswaya, who was his campaign manager when he was contesting the 1995
“It is now pay back time. Tswaya is Chombo’s
blue-eyed boy and they want to see him there (pro vice chancellor),” the source
Murerwa told the Independent that he would be meeting President Robert
Mugabe to discuss the shortlisted people for the vice chancellor’s post at
“Recommendations have been made with regard to the
applicants for the vice chancellor’s post and I will have to discuss this with
the chancellor,” Murerwa said, adding that the pro vice-chancellor’s post had
since been advertised.
On the fate of Makhurane, Murerwa said he was
waiting for him to make a decision on whether he intended to have his term of
Murerwa denied that Mambo was being tipped to take over as
“Mambo is happy where he is,” Murerwa said. Murerwa
said that Nyathi’s term of office had come to an end and they had since
advertised the pro vice-chancellor’s post.
Govt withdraws disputed land cases from court
Attorney-General’s Office has begun withdrawing land dispute cases that are
before the Administrative Court, raising questions as to whether the government
is serious about observing the legal framework.
The government, however,
argues that the withdrawals are strictly technical.
It is believed that
over 100 land cases are pending before the Administrative Court.
Wednesday last week the Attorney-General’s Office had withdrawn two cases before
they had been heard. According to sources the government has won one case which
was not contested and the other was likely to be
withdrawn before being
Last year the government withdrew 108 land cases citing lack of
preparedness on its part. At the time it was also argued that procedures such as
the delivery of the notices of acquisition had not been followed.
Sources in the legal fraternity have questioned the commitment of the
Attorney-General’s Office to the legal process. It is now largely felt that the
government is paying lip service to the legal process and at the same time
launching attacks on commercial farmers for refusing to share farms with the
The deputy Attorney-General, Bharat Patel, confirmed the Civil
Division had withdrawn the cases but argued this was purely on a legal basis
since some procedures had not been followed in the initial notices that were
Legally, government cannot acquire a farm if the Administrative
Court has not deliberated over any objections lodged by the owner. Justice
Minister Patrick Chinamasa would not comment as he said he was on leave.
The Registrar of the Administrative Court, a Mrs Chapwanya, however said
that the cases had not been withdrawn but merely set aside.
officials from the civil division asked for the cases to be set aside as they
are still looking for more information,” said Chapwanya.
She went on to
say that other cases were likely to go ahead as planned.
Concern has been
raised that every time the government withdraws cases, tens of thousands of
dollars in legal fees are paid thereby prejudicing the taxpayer unnecessarily.
The January 9 case, pitting government against Koos Erasmus of
Smith-field farm in Mvuma, was the first to be withdrawn. The government, which
was represented by Ms E Hlonglo of the Attorney- General’s office, said that it
was withdrawing the case for unspecified reasons.
Advocate Adrian De
Bourbon representing Erasmus however argued that in terms of Sections 5 and 7
(6) of the Land Acquisition Act the confirmation hearings must be heard within
30 days. De Bourbon therefore argued that failure to observe this requirement
would remove any protection the farmers had under the laws of Zimbabwe since the
government could still go ahead and issue another acquisition order.
Senior army, police officers join land grab
SENIOR army and
state security officers as well as members of the police are involved in illegal
land seizures and cultivation on stolen property alongside villagers, it was
learnt this week.
Investigations by the Zimbabwe Independent show that
members of the uniformed forces and state agents have grabbed plots in the Mount
Hampden commercial farming area where they are growing crops.
A visit to
the area this week revealed that the soldiers and government workers spent
considerable time on the farms conducting personal business.
obtained indicated that Lieutenant Colonel Mugwisi, Colonel Max Chinyanganya,
deputy Minister of Health David Parirenyatwa, war veterans secretary-general
Andy Mhlanga and an assistant police commissioner, Moyo, among others, had been
drawn into the chaotic scramble for land.
It was also said that Defence
Minister Moven Mahachi’s Doxford Farm located in the Jumbo Mine area and
government’s Henderson Research Station near Mazowe Dam which measures about 5
000 acres were seriously undertilised. Invaders have been kept away from the
farms. Government has said it is targeting underutilised farms regardless of who
Sources said Mugwisi, who works in administration at the army
headquarters, has a 25-hectare plot of maize at Danbury Park Farm located 15km
outside Harare along the Old Mazowe road. The Independent saw the plot during a
visit to the farm. Sources said Mugwisi was often seen at the farm in a green
Peugeot 306, registration number 36BF00.
However, Mugwisi would not
comment on the issue.
“I’m not allowed to talk to you. Phone our public
relations department at KGVI,” he said.
Efforts to get comment from the
department were unsuccessful at the time of going to press.
Chinyanganya of the Zimbabwe Staff College, sources said, had a seven-hectare
maize plot, which he grabbed last November at Selby Farm in the Mount Hampden
area. Sources at the farm said he frequented the area in a green Mazda B1800
pick-up truck with registration number 12BB97.
But Chinyanganya denied
seizing a plot.
“It’s true I drive a military vehicle. I work for the
Staff College,” Chinya-nganya said. “I don’t have a plot. My business in the
military is clear and my terms of reference are also clear. People can say what
they want but I don’t have a plot,” he said.
denial, farmers insisted that he had a plot at the farm currently occupied by
landless villagers and government supporters.
It was said Chinyanganya
picked up his employees from Chitungwiza every morning en route to the farm and
Sources confirmed that Chinyanganya last year blocked police
from evicting invaders from Selby Farm.
It is understood that the deputy
sheriff was as signed police officers at Malborough Police Station to go and
evict people who had illegally occupied the farm, but Chinyanganya blocked the
A police spokesman at Marlborough confirmed the incident but could
not give details of the current status of the case. A Selby Farm spokesman was
also reluctant to discuss the issue apparently for fear of reprisal.
Danbury Park Farm the Independent spoke to people who were working on one plot
which they said belonged to Parirenyatwa.
“He was here this morning but
he left just before you arrived. He went back to Harare and left his son
overseeing operations here,” a worker said on Tuesday.
employees said they were paid $20 for weeding out a portion of land measuring
one metre by 100 metres.
“The money is very little because it is painful
to finish weeding out this area,” said another worker as she showed the
Independent the tracts of land that she had worked for the day.
to get comment from Parirenyatwa were unsuccessful. Sources at Mugutu farm
confirmed that Mhlanga had a 15-hectare plot on which he had planted a maize
crop and beans. Assistant Commissioner Moyo of Morris Depot was also said to
have a plot with a crop of maize and beans as well.
A war veterans leader in
the area named Msofova and an unidentified headmaster were also cultivating
significant portions of the farm.
“There are a number of army officers,
CIO members, police officers and senior Zimbabwe Prison Service officers who
have plots in this area,” said a farmer who asked not to be named.
send their drivers or come here by themselves frequently. A certain colonel
based in the Congo was supposed to arrive in the country to check his plot on
Wednesday but the situation there prevented him from coming,” the farmer said
Some of the vehicles spotted on the commercial farms had the
following registration numbers: 424 007D (Toyota Cressida), 875007C (light blue
Nissan Sunny), 337007P (green Datsun), 580007R (Nissan Sunny), and a 750000R
“We have also seen a lot of police vehicles here. They don’t
come here to do their job because they have not done anything about the crisis.
In fact we discovered that they are also farming,” one farm manager said.
Police vehicles seen in Mount Hampden included those with these numbers:
ZRP 857D, ZRP 473S, and ZRP 193M. Private vehicles had also been seen there.
These included a 441 793J registration truck and a car with foreign registration
“The car with a foreign number plate is driven by a lady
who is always immaculately dressed and she looks like a really big shot,” a
All those involved are in violation of the law and of court
orders and therefore liable to prosecution at a future date, the Independent was
Zanu PF’s brute force could backfire in 2002
say despite regaining Bikita West constituency in last weekend’s by-election,
the ruling Zanu PF’s coercive political recovery plan is not sustainable.
Commentators warned that the ruling party’s strategy could backfire in
the 2002 presidential poll if it remained underpinned by crude political
violence and the unrelenting use of force.
Zanu PF’s Claudius Makova,
who lost to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)’s Amos Mutongi in June last
year, pipped the opposition’s Bonnie Pakai in the hotly contested poll by 12 993
votes to 7 001. About 51% of the 40 000 registered voters in the area voted last
weekend compared to 35% last year.
Analysts had no doubt that Zanu PF’s
scorched earth policy in the run-up to the election contributed significantly to
the outcome. It was evident that the poll was not necessarily decided around
issues and leadership qualities but largely through intimidation and force.
The election, seen as a barometer of strength between the two main
parties in rural areas, put to the test Zanu PF’s elaborate electoral recovery
programme conceived last year as a direct response to government’s shock defeat
in the constitutional referendum. Violent land seizures are the cornerstone of
the strategy now geared for the presidential election.
rural areas are Zanu PF strongholds while the MDC now holds sway in the urban
areas. Although most of Zimbabwe’s voters live in rural areas, analysts said the
presidential election would be an open race. A by-election in a remote rural
constituency co-uld not be an indicator of the possible outcome of a national
poll, they said.
Professor Masipula Sithole, a political analyst who
witnessed the Bikita voting exercise, said while the poll, by fair means or
foul, confirmed Zanu PF’s superiority in rural areas, it also raised the
question whether violence was sustainable as an electoral tool.
PF’s political recovery strategy prevented the MDC from making inroads in the
Bikita countryside,” he said.
“Violence was heavily employed in the
process. But one wonders whether that approach will work in the long-run because
violence is not sustainable as an election strategy,” he said.
did not decide the poll. It was like a war zone,” Sithole pointed out. “The
presence of the army, police, state security agents, war veterans, partisan
militias and warring parties made it like that,” he said.
understood that Zanu PF had put in place an elaborate strategy to ensure people
voted in large numbers. Chiefs and headmen were tasked to bring to the polling
stations people under their leadership who were then instructed who to vote for.
War veterans and the ruling party’s youth brigade complemented their efforts by
using coercion to ensure people voted.
There were also other tactics
employed by Zanu PF which critics said were inimical to the principle of a free
and fair election. Analysts said clear cases of treating — giving voters
something to influence their voting behaviour, such as the handing out of “money
for projects” — as well as bribery influenced the election result. This was also
the case in the election last year and that was why the MDC was challenging in
the courts results in 39 constituencies.
The opposition was also accused
of fanning violence by bringing in youths to the constituency. According to
ruling party spokesmen and state media, the youths blocked Zanu PF people from
going to vote.
Although the MDC was reported to have been involved in
clashes with the ruling party and accused of killing a Zanu PF member, it
apparently could not match the state machinery which meted out well-honed acts
of brutality against opponents.
“What is significant about it is that
the legacy of violence now seems to be the norm rather than the exception,” said
Alfred Nhema, a UZ political analyst.
“But it also highlights that the
MDC needs to do more work if it wants to dislodge Zanu PF in rural areas,” he
Jonathan Moyo, Zanu PF deputy information secretary, claimed the
Bikita result depicted the national mood.
“The people of Bikita have
spoken and through them the people of Zimbabwe have spoken,” Moyo told the
“This is an indicator of what is going to
happen in future by-elections and the presidential election,” he said.
But MDC secretary-general Professor Welshman Ncube dismissed Moyo’s
assertion saying it was unfortunate that Zanu PF officials found it right to
celebrate “the victory of violence”.
“As far as we are concerned the
Bikita by- election was decided by violence and manipulation of traditional
leaders,” Ncube said.
“We maintained our support base but Zanu PF
increased its supporters
through intimidation,” he said.
said it was important to note that the MDC support base was not really eroded.
Last year it got 7 721 votes in the constituency while this time it amassed 7
001 votes. Zanu PF saw its support rise from 7 441 votes to 12 993 thanks to the
commitment of state resources and intimidation in the area, critics say.
Said Sithole: “Bikita was a Zanu stronghold before it lost it to the
MDC. But what it did now was to re-activate its supporters and as a result
regained the seat. The MDC did not really lose supporters,” he said.
MUCKRAKER - Bandits and ballots in Bikita
THOSE who believe
Jonathan Moyo has completely lost it will have had their fears confirmed by a
statement last weekend that could only have emanated from a deeply disturbed
Moyo said the CFU was guilty of “criminal sabotage” and of
transforming itself into an unlawful body by warning the public of the danger of
cattle being let loose on rural roads by war veterans.
The CFU was “bent
on usurping the power and authority of statutory bodies” like the Zimbabwe Road
Traffic Safety Board by issuing such statements, Moyo declared.
by warning of the dangers of the spread of foot-and-mouth disease, the farmers’
orga- nisation was creating alarm in international beef markets and there-by
sabotaging the eco- nomy. It was being assisted in this by “pockets of mischief
among the blatant and mercenary privately-owned media which is colluding with
hate campaigners”, he said.
The CFU had crossed the line of acceptable
fair comment, Moyo pontificated.
He will presumably define for us where
that line lies! After all, President Mugabe established new horizons of hate
speech in his address to Zanu PF’s special congress last month. The CFU would
have a long way to go in matching that. But to suggest its warning on stray
cattle and the threat of foot-and-mouth disease usurps statutory bodies and
amounts to economic sabotage is not simply far-fetched, it is patently absurd
and invites public ridicule.
Is there not a clause in the ubiquitous
Law and Order (Maintenance) Act about bringing the government into disrepute?
Because that’s what he’s doing.
Then he was at it again attacking the
SABC for its “unprofessional” coverage of the Bikita West by-election. Despite
Moyo’s frantic efforts to get his friend Snuki Zikalala, formerly head of SABC
news, to place a more sympathetic spin on events in Zimbabwe, it seems the
corporation has declined to cooperate. Moyo accused it of “double standards” and
“The coverage has exclusively and rather unashamedly
relied on partisan views in support of the opposition MDC party which has strong
links with Tony Leon’s so-called Democratic Alliance,” Moyo raved.
particular he objected to the appearance on SABC’s Today in Africa programme of
Zimbabweans Hope Zinde, Daniel Makokera and the Independent’s MD Trevor Ncube.
He said the three made “false and inflammatory” remarks about ruling
party supporters who they “flippantly” referred to as “thugs”.
should know there was nothing flippant about that reference. They are thugs. And
they are led by a psychotic maniac called Hitler who, when he’s not chucking
petrol bombs around, is practising the ripe language acquired during his
strawberry-picking days on a Kent farm.
Moyo, in his complaint to SABC,
attempted to play on Africanist solidarity by establishing a link between the
MDC and Tony Leon. The depiction of Zanu PF supporters as a violent band of
marauders was not in keeping with the corporation’s claims to be telling “a true
African story”, he suggested.
In other words it can only be a true
African story in Moyo’s book if the thuggery is called mobilisation and threats
by ministers to “cleanse” a constituency of opposition supporters is portrayed
as adopting a bold stance against the imperialist enemy!
despite ANC attempts to pene-trate SABC, those working there, and particularly
the new regime in the News department headed by Barney Mthombothi, still have
some sense of professional self-respect and are not going to sink to ZBC levels
of distortion despite Moyo’s frantic urging.
South Africans will
conclude, as Zimbabweans have already done, that Zanu PF is incapable of winning
an election unless war veterans have first beaten the living daylights out of
voters. Indeed, Border Gezi shamelessly thank-ed the war veterans for the good
work they had done in Bikita!
Nathan Shamuyarira was reported as saying that
the result was “the beginning of the end for the MDC”. There would be no
democracy or change coming from that party, he said.
As there will
certainly be none coming from Zanu PF it looks as if our fate is sealed. But
just as Zanu PF was celebrating its victory in Bikita West events in Kinshasa
Central conspired to put a damper on things. If as reported, Zanu PF has lost
its candidate there its whole regional strategy could be facing collapse. No
amount of corpulent colonels in the House can stop the rot if that proves to be
the case. Shamuyarira gloated too soon!
The worst feature of
intimidation in Biki-ta West was a government minister telling villagers that
headmen would register people voting and from those registers Zanu PF would be
able to tell who voted for which candidate.
“We will not be fool-ed,”
Education minister and Zanu PF interim provincial chairman Sam- uel Mumbengegwi
was reported as telling people gathered at Mureti School. “We will be able to
find out who our enemies are and we will ruthlessly deal with them. We want to
cleanse this area of all anti-Zanu PF elements.”
He said government
officials would be instructed to issue free seed-maize only to Zanu PF members.
Foreign Affairs minister Stan Mudenge, who struts around the chancelleries of
Europe claiming Zimbabwe is a democratic state, told the same audience that the
government would use its civil service reduction exercise to “fix MDC supporters
by retrenching them”.
The new French ambassador’s response to all this
was to say his country believes that Zimbabwe’s government is attached to the
values of human rights and democracy. He is evidently blind as well as obtuse!
Crude threats directed at illiterate villagers who do not know their
vote is secret compounded the climate of coercion spawned by Hunzvi and his
mercenary band. The state media has been fulminating against MDC youths who were
brought into the area to protect their supporters from intimidation. These were
“imports” from Harare, government papers alleged, who were using “dirty tactics
to coerce” voters.
“These are the people who have brought violence to
Bikita,” the Sunday Mail fatuously claimed.But it omitted to point out that
Hunzvi and his gang of thugs were imported first, bringing petrol bombs with
them. Indeed the MDC only alerted its youths in response to the depredations of
war veterans. And what could be more “coercive” than the thre-ats of Mumbengegwi
As for dumping MDC supporters in the Gona-rezhou national
park, which the Herald thought was a great joke, Mudenge must not complain when
foreign papers use headlines like “Mugabe throws opponents to lions”. Far from
getting rid of a problem it has simply generated more adverse publicity for
Mugabe who is being compared to the Emperor Nero.
Chairman of the
Electoral Supervisory Com- mission, Sobhuza Gula-Ndebele, who appears to have
awoken from a deep slumber, says he will be proposing a code of conduct for
“We are very concerned by growing intolerance,” he
said last week.
Why is he only now concerned about it? Where has he been
since June and what has happened to the report the ESC is supposed to have drawn
up on the general election? How long does it take them when this was just about
all they had to do? And where are the 1 937 missing ballots in Bikita? A total
of 22 564 people had voted by 2pm on Sunday, we were told, but the final figure
was 20 627.
Lovemore Mudhuku, who took a hit in this column last week
for making “naive and gullible” statements to the Herald regarding a recent BBC
survey, now says he was not only misquoted but had words put in his mouth by the
The Herald quoted him as saying that publication
of the BBC report by the Standard was “sheer proof that the paper has an agenda
against President Mugabe”.
Madhuku says he would never have used such
poor English as “sheer proof”. He should have added that the whole country
currently has “an agenda against President Mugabe”!
He said it was not
the first time the paper had misquoted him.
Muckraker’s question is: at what
level were his remarks changed to suit the government’s age-nda? And how often
does this happen?
Curiously, the word “sheer” appeared again in Monday’s
vacuous Herald editorial saying “we see nothing wrong with the Judge President’s
speech”. Of course they don’t. They don’t see anything wrong either with the CIO
kidnapping opposition supporters and dumping them in Gonarezhou!
what of Dr Norman Mlambo of Sarips who claimed the BBC survey was part of a
wider “onslaught” by the British which started in 1996 when the government said
it was going to start the land acquisition programme.
“The British were
adamant and said the land should not be taken from the whites,” Mlambo told the
Did the British say that, Dr Mlambo? Or did they say “if you
want British taxpayers’ money land reform should be properly planned,
transparent and aimed at poverty alleviation”? They never said “land should not
be taken from whites”.
As Mlambo has not accused the Herald of
distorting his remarks we can safely assume his disingenuous assertions
represent the views of Sarips which we have long suspected as being part of the
problem, especially when its spokes- men support Zimbabwe’s military
intervention in the Congo.
Nobody at Sapes/Sarips has ever done a survey
to work out how much land could have been acquired and properly distributed
legally and peacefully with the money that has instead been siphoned by the
government for its operations in the Congo. Why doesn’t the Herald get Ibbo
Mandaza, Sam Moyo, Mwesiga Baregu, and the rest of the team to give us some
answers on that!
The Zimbabwe Mirror was last week conducting one of its
raving Moyo-style attacks on this column for having dared to suggest Ben
Hlatshwayo’s editorial role at the pro-Zanu PF weekly should have been disclosed
to the paper’s readers. It was none of Muckraker’s business, the author of
“Behind the Words” yelled at us from the other side of town.
enough. But what else is the Mirror going to conceal? We are intrigued to know
how a paper that carries virtually no advertising apart from in-house ads and
has never been remotely self-sufficient, is going to manage the transformation
into a daily. We know about the Samdef funding proposal which derives its
strength from indulgent Dutch and Scan- dinavian backers. But why is there no
attempt to run the paper as a paying business? Have the owners, like their
political affiliates, become completely unable to function independently of
We welcome, as all Zimbabweans will, police commissioner
Augustine Chihuri’s assura- nce that he will resign as soon as another party
comes into power. We would of course rather he went earlier. He has been
derelict in his duties by failing to uphold the law or court orders. He has
moved with uncharacteristic speed against MDC members accused of trivial
offences while ignoring the crimes of the party he says he supports.
also appears to misunderstand his mandate. It is to behave professionally by
upholding the law and the rights of all Zimbabweans, irrespective of their
political allegiance. If he can’t understand that he shouldn’t have accepted the
job in the first place. We have no doubt that posterity will regard him as an
unmitigated disaster as a commissioner. He has become part of the rot which Zanu
PF has allowed to erode the fabric of the nation.
Apart of course from
his failure to properly investigate election-related killings, journa- lists are
also concerned that the commissioner has done next to nothing to identify those
responsible for abducting and torturing Mark Chavu-nduka and Ray Choto, as he
was ordered to do by a court last year. What has happened to that investigation
and how long does it take him to perform elementary police work of this sort? If
he is being block- ed by the President’s Office or the army we want to know.
The only reason people had hoped for victory in last Sunday’s soccer
match was their contempt for Lesotho. Absolutely nothing to do with Zimbabwe’s
We all knew things were in disarray in the camp.
The players complained about nearly everything, from accommodation to food and
measly daily allowances.
No, those who did not accept the $50 daily
allowance could leave the team, said Zifa vice-chairman Vincent Pa- mire. He
said players should put their country before mammon. The
have any money, he claimed.
How could the players deal with this raving
madness? They stayed in camp and when the day of reckoning arrived they simply
refused to risk their lucrative football careers overseas for a country whose
leadership takes their lives for granted.
All over the world companies
fight hard to provide sponsorship for football teams. They know that is where
they get maximum advertising exposure. Football associations never have to
scrape the bottom of the barrel to finance players.
Zimbabwe is not a normal country. Otherwise why would we continue to have people
like Leo Mugabe as chairman of Zifa or Pamire telling players in camp for a
crucial match to go to hell and get away with it?
What key competencies
does Leo have in football apart from sharing a surname with his maternal uncle
and presiding over the decline of soccer in Zimbabwe in macabre sympathy with
his uncle’s performance on the eco- nomic front?
The reason we lost the
match against little Lesotho was not because of “useless skipper” Norman Mapeza.
Nor the absence of Peter Ndlovu. It is the Zifa administration that is rotten.
And the gangrene is infecting the players.
Meanwhile Muckraker was left
wondering just how many children Pamire has. After he was verbally attacked by
football fans at Bar-bourfields stadium he told reporters his sons had come to
his rescue. He says his sons intervened and beat up those who were abusing him,
effectively meaning all the 20 000 people at the stadium. What does he takes us
for? The brain-dead Zifa executive?
Zimbabwe is to get a new British
High Commissioner. Peter Longworth returns to the UK in June after an eventful
tour of duty. The government has chosen to misrepresent British policy on land
in order to win votes from its rural constituents.
forthright defence of Britain’s position and refusal to be mealy-mouthed — as so
many diplomats are — has won him many friends in Zimbabwe at a time when the
nation as a whole has rejected Mugabe’s crass claims to be benefiting ordinary
Longworth’s successor, Brian Donnelly, was formerly British
ambassa- dor to Belgrade. London clearly thinks that dealing with one Slobodan
qualifies him to deal with another!
Comment - Kabila’s legacy to Zimbabwe lies in Bikita
IT seems they
celebrated too soon! Scenes on ZTV of euphoric Zanu PF ministers toasting their
victory in Bikita West were followed by a news blackout as the same ministers
froze in fear as the news from Kinshasa sunk in.
Nobody was allowed to
say anything until President Mugabe had pronounced on the issue. But it
certainly wiped the smile off their faces.
One minister, who only the
day before was saying Zanu PF would win every seat it fought — even though he
seems remarkably reluctant to contest one himself — could not be persuaded to
make a comment on the consequences of the reported death of Zanu PF’s friend and
ally, Laurent Kabila. The fiction was maintained that Kabila was being attended
to by a team of Congolese doctors in Harare right up to yesterday afternoon.
We won’t shed any hypocritical tears here for a corrupt tyrant who lived
by the sword and died by it. But his legacy for Zimbabwe was evident in last
weekend’s Bikita West by-election. There the culture of violence and brutality
which is a by-product of Mugabe’s Congo intervention was all-too-evident.
Bikita West is the graveyard of Zimbabwe’s nascent democracy. And Zanu
PF is only too keen to ensure it remains there. Their spokesmen have made it
clear that the methods honed there will now be applied across the country.
Supposedly independent bodies such as the Electoral Supervisory Commission
and the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, by calling on both sides to eschew
violence, have added to the impression that the election-related mayhem was the
responsibility of all players. But the facts speak for themselves.
Within 24 hours of the conclusion of Zanu PF’s special congress, men
facing criminal charges of corruption and violence moved in on Bikita setting up
their camps at schools to be used as polling stations. Joseph Chinotimba, still
on the Harare municipal payroll, Francis Zimuto, aka “Black Jesus”, and
Chenjerai “Hitler” Hunzvi laid the ground for systematic intimidation.
The country expected no less from these thugs whose followers were paid
and equipped by the state, marching around in olive-green uniforms tailored
specially for the occasion.
But what was even more shocking were reports
of ministers telling villagers that Zanu PF would find out which way they voted.
Education minister Samuel Mumbengegwi was reported as telling an audience that
village headmen would register people who voted and thus be able to tell who
Zanu PF’s “enemies” were and “deal ruthlessly with them”. He spoke of
“cleansing” the area of all anti-Zanu PF elements.
said seed-maize handouts would be confined to Zanu PF supporters, Foreign
minister Stan Mudenge was reported as saying the civil service reduction
exercise would be used to retrench MDC supporters. His colleague Border Gezi
used taxpayers’ money to reward voters belonging to the ruling party.
The pattern is clear. Headmen and chiefs were made to perform as payback
for the hefty salary hikes they received ahead of the June poll. The connection
arguably constitutes an electoral bribe. Then illiterate villagers, ignorant of
their right to a secret vote, were led to believe that Zanu PF could find out
which party they chose. Seed handouts were linked to their performance. Just in
case they didn’t get the message, Hunzvi and his gangs were on hand to ram it
This they did, going door-to-door in some villages weeding out
suspected MDC supporters and subjecting them to beatings. People were forced to
attend all-night pungwes, they had their identity cards seized and property
In one case a petrol bomb was thrown at an MDC vehicle near
Nyika growth point. Luckily nobody was injured.
Compounding this and
probably directing much of it, CIO officers are alleged to have ferried 13 MDC
youths to Gonarezhou and dumped them there.
The police have done absolutely
nothing about this or any other case of election-related violence apart from
conducting the odd “interview”.
What they did do was helpfully lock up
MDC youths brought into the area to counter intimidation by war veterans and
Zanu PF bully boys.
It is therefore fatuous for organisations to call on
both sides to desist from violence. The source of that violence was evident from
the outset beginning with Mugabe’s sinister address to his party’s special
congress last month.
This is a foretaste of things to come. The
state-sponsored lawlessness stems in part from the Congo intervention where
Mugabe’s military and civilian followers have been able to follow their
instincts in punishing rebels and plundering resources. That wartime culture of
warfare and looting has spread south as we said it would. The illegal abduction
and torture of journalists in early 1999 was not a one-off event. It was a
precursor of what was to follow as the military took over.
Now Kabila is
gone Mugabe’s regional project stands exposed. With the
demise of its wilful
ally Zimbabwe’s over-extended position in the Congo has become hazardous.
So has the future of democracy at home. The Congo war has proved our
undoing — the symptom of an overweening autocracy gone bad. Zimbabweans now have
the unenviable task of confronting a desperate regime, committed to lawlessness
and violence as electoral tools, which has suborned the army and police while
inflicting untold economic damage on the country.
Court rulings are
ignored as all avenues for democratic dissent are closed
beating up the electorate, threatening villagers with starvation, breaking every
single electoral rule and then manipulating the media to make it look as if the
other side is at fault, Zanu PF has demonstrated it intends to make full use of
Public laughs off ‘three-day mourning’
THE general public yesterday laughed off President Robert
Mugabe’s declaration of three days of mourning for the late Democratic Republic
of the Congo leader, Laurent Kabila.
Most people interviewed by The
Standard in a survey dismissed Mugabe’s declaration, saying he was demeaning the
people of Zimbabwe.
What appeared to irk most people was that Mugabe had
the nerve to refuse the late Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole, one of the founding
fathers of the liberation struggle, national hero status, and yet had gone
overboard by ordering Zimbabweans to mourn Kabila, in whose war Zimbabwe has
lost billions of dollars and many soldiers.
The declaration, they said,
showed that Mugabe was bent on honouring his personal friends, even those who
had done nothing for Zimbabwe and at the same time “despising true Zimbabwean
heroes because of petty differences”.
Ironically, Mugabe’s decision to
order Zimbabweans to officially mourn Kabila has been countered by a significant
number of people publicly rejoicing over the death of the rebel turned
Nomatter Phiri of Highfield felt that since the deployment of
Zimbabwean soldiers was a unilateral decision, trying to force the three day
mourning period down peoples’ throats would not work: “The three days of
mourning have no significance to the people of Zimbabwe considering that when
Zanu PF made a decision to send our soldiers to DRC it was a party decision, not
a peoples’ decision. So why must the public be involved in the mourning of a
person whose country has cost us so much against our will?”
Mahari of Mabelreign questioned why the late Kabila is being given special
treatment yet some national heroes have died recently and no recognition was
Said Mahari: “What part did Kabila play in the liberation of
Zimbabwe? Known heroes like Ndabaningi Sithole and Enoch Dumbutshena were
totally ignored by Zanu PF, which went on to ignore the public’s disgruntlement
over their arrogance to refuse the two national hero status.”
happy with Mugabe’s decision was Nomathemba of Nyameni in Marondera, who said:
“Mugabe must explain to the nation what criteria he used to declare this man
some sort of national hero. We are now confused.”
citizen, Sekai Gambe of Mufakose, had no kind words for the President.
Gambe: “Mugabe thinks he owns the people of this country, which is why he thinks
he can ignore the public’s feelings. That is why he makes these strange
unilateral decisions. This three-day mourning period is a worse of time because
it does not have the emotional attachment that should come with it. Flags will
fly at half mast but deep inside people just do not care.”
Democratic Change shadow minister for foreign affairs, Tendai Biti, said in a
statement that although his party regretted the departure of the late DRC
President Laurent Kabila, his party has met the announced three days of mourning
with outrage and disbelief.
Said Biti: “Kabila was a non-elected
dictator who came to power through force. The DRC itself is not in mourning over
his death and for Zimbabwe, a democratic nation to mourn Kabila is offensive to
the principles of democracy.”
Biti added that president Mugabe’s
offensive and repugnant actions are an insult to justice, freedom and to the
ideals of democratic presidency that he is supposed to embody.
that his party declares these three days a time for the nation to reflect on
Zimbabwean troops in the DRC, to mourn the soldiers the country has lost and to
pray for the immediate return of Zimbabwean forces home.
Zimbabwe blackmails IMF
THE government has told the donor
community to provide financial assistance upfront for its land resettlement
programme to guarantee the rule of law in Zimbabwe.
Responding to issues
raised by the International Monetary Fund in its country report on Zimbabwe
published this month, government said donor funds were a prerequisite to
upholding law in Zimbabwe.
“Government enjoins the local commercial farming,
banking and other business sectors, as well as the international community to
extend concrete assistance for the various aspects of the programme.
extension of support for demonstrably accelerated resolution of the land issue,
will also facilitate enforcement of the due process of law,” reads government’s
response in the report.
The IMF staff team that assessed Zimbabwe had
objected to the current lawlessness in the country in relation to the
distribution of land.
Said the team: “The government must implement an
orderly land reform programme that is designed to garner domestic, and
international support. A speedy return to the rule of law is important in
rebuilding the confidence of domestic regional, and international investors and
the international donor support.”
In spite of countless court orders barring
government from seizing white-owned commercial farms, government has declared
that it will proceed with the compulsory acquisition of land.