|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
A senior government
minister in Zimbabwe has acknowledged problems
with its land redistribution programme.
Special affairs minister John Nkomo told the BBC that in some areas
60% of the land allocated to black, small-scale farmers had not been taken
Thousands of white-owned farms have been seized by the government and
given to black farmers.
About five million Zimbabweans need food aid because of huge
shortages, partly blamed on the land policy.
Land redistribution is the policy on which
President Robert Mugabe and
his government have staked their reputations over the past three years.
It has dominated their political agenda and been the centrepiece of
two election campaigns.
But the hastily implemented scheme, referred to by the government as
fast-track land reform, has been beset by serious problems.
The land seizures were marked by violence and repeated court defeats
for the authorities.
Now, the ruling party chairman and special affairs minister has told
the BBC that even when farms have been acquired, many of the intended
beneficiaries have failed to resettle the land they had been allotted.
"In some cases, the percentage of people who took up the farms that
they were allocated has not been encouraging.
"In some cases you have almost 40% of people who were allocated the
land who've taken up the land."
Mr Nkomo blamed funding problems, saying resettled farmers had
difficulties in obtaining loans from banks.
The reality is that the government's controversial policy was poorly
planned and implemented from the beginning.
Some of those allocated land had little or no experience of commercial
Others had no desire to move from their homes.
Those who did move often did so with minimal support, sometimes unable
to afford even to pay for seed or fertiliser.
The upheaval has contributed to two years of severe food shortages
which have left millions of Zimbabweans dependent upon emergency aid.
Nonetheless, President Mugabe and his ministers maintain that land
redistribution has been a success and that, in time, it will produce bumper
There is no sign of that yet.
I appreciate your response to my amateur analysis of the situation in
Zimbabwe. I didn't expect the reaction to be unanimous either way. Contrary
to what you say I did try and balance negative with positive, taking the
position of the devil's advocate in several instances. The fact that the
negative outweighs the positive (or that you chose to see it that way)
should tell you something.
I am not "hell-bent" on trying to justify why I am not living in Zimbabwe
and I am far from comfortable where I am. As I stated in my essay, I left
when I was 12. Being of that age I didn't really have a choice, but I do
not regret my parents' choice to leave. Having lived on three continents
has given me a view of the world that I believe I may not have had the
privilege to gain had I lived my whole life in one country, whether that be
Zimbabwe or any other. I do not know your situation, so I cannot compare
your view of the world to mine. As I did also say, I could see myself
living in Zimbabwe again -- that's hardly something I would say if I was
justifying my living somewhere else.
As it happens, I do not call myself an ex-Zimbabwean, as you asked I not
do; I call myself an ex-Rhodesian because I have never lived in Zimbabwe
and I'm sure, if I was to try applying for one, the Zimbabwean government
would deny my application for a Zimbabwean passport. (I'm sure you're aware
of Judith Todd's situation.) The Zimbabwe government is happy to deny me
the birthright that people in the country where I live take for granted --
i.e., the right to citizenship of the country of my birth. (The name may
have changed, but it seems that I'm out of luck on a current Rhodesian
passport too, so I'm in a bit of a quandary. I would be a stateless person
if I was not a naturalised citizen of the country in which I now live, a
situation in which many ex-Rhodesians and ex-Zimbabweans find themselves.)
Since the government of Zimbabwe denies any connection to me, I have no
choice but to deny any connection to the government of Zimbabwe.
I am not blind to the fact that there is an international schism between
"Rhodesians" (you know, the ones who "took the chicken run" before 1980)
and "Zimbabweans" (the ones who chose [or had no other choice but] to stick
it out, many of who eventually gave up). I think the root of the schism
lies in envy on both sides and is a useless waste of energy.
You also seem to have missed another point I made -- that being that whites
are an insignificant political force in Zimbabwe. I know you'd like to
think that you're all in it together, but you're not and that's obvious
from the de facto segregation that exists, not only in Zimbabwe, but in
Zambia and South Africa. You're along for the ride no matter whether you
think you are part of the "team" or not.
You're also welcome to your (and apparently Mandela's) opinion that a man
should die where he is born. I disagree. The world is too big a place to
spend it all in one place so that you can ensure you are still there when
Maybe we did meet during my stay. From what I saw and was told, the white
population (at least in Harare) is so small now that the old cliché that
everybody knows everybody else and their business is almost true.
As for analysing the society in which I currently live -- perhaps you
missed a few of my thinly-veiled criticisms of that very society
interspersed in what I wrote. I also clearly stated that I do not consider
that society paradise and neither do I consider Zimbabwe hell. That said,
people in the society in which I live are free to criticise their
government and the leader of the country. People outside the country in
which I live do not ask tourists coming here to report back on what is
"really" happening here because they can't get straight answers from people
here who are afraid to speak their thoughts because of fear of possible
repercussions -- the genesis of my essay. You might be content to live in
that climate of fear, but I and most people are not.
I am afraid that I consider your "reality" to be rose-coloured optimism at
best. Whether or not it's their own fault (or whether it's the fault of us
evil, imperialist Europeans), black Africans have proven themselves
incapable of governing themselves and their continent. I highly doubt that
the next 40 years in Africa will be any different to the last 40 years; sad
but true. As I pointed out in my original essay, it may be many generations
(assuming the human race doesn't destroy itself before then) before they
figure it out and, whether or not they do, your optimism and the seeds you
planted will be blowing in the wind.
Zimbabwean Interest Rates Claim First Business Victim
02 Jan 2004, 16:26 UTC
unpredictable economy has claimed its first victim since reforms
were implemented by the country's Reserve Bank, late last month. An asset
management company has closed its doors, unable to pay investors, and
several others are teetering on the edge of a liquidity crisis.
Interest rates, which soared to beyond 600 percent before Christmas,
appeared to have dropped to between 200 and 300 percent Friday, but they
remain about four times higher than in the last three years.
The increase in interest rates has taken its first victim, ENG Asset
Management, which handled hundreds of millions of Zimbabwe dollars' worth of
investments for a range of clients.
The government-controlled Herald newspaper reported that the company's
directors had been summoned to the central bank before Christmas, but failed
to show up. The company's telephones went unanswered Friday
Meanwhile, Trust Bank, one of Zimbabwe's newer large banks, announced, in a
statement released to the media on Wednesday, that it has no liquidity
The bank's statement appeared to be prompted by fears expressed within the
financial sector that it might not be able to meet its obligations.
A pro-government weekly publication, the Business Tribune, said Friday that
Trust Bank and five other banks also were in financial trouble.
The governor of Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank, Gideon Gono, said he would clamp
down on speculators in the financial sector when he announced his new
The Business Tribune said Mr. Gono had pumped billions of Zimbabwe dollars
into several banks that are under threat.
Mr. Gono was not immediately available for comment Friday.
While interest rates were kept artificially low, many companies and new
businesses borrowed heavily, and now find themselves in trouble trying to
keep up to date with their loan repayments.
Before Christmas, some retailers were changing prices daily, to keep up to
date with the sudden spike in interest rates in early December. Many are now
offering up to 40 percent discount on goods because, they say, increased
interest rates mean they can no longer afford overdrafts.
The management at a major hardware and building suppliers outlet in Harare
said Friday the company had to wipe out its overdraft immediately by
discounting goods and clear the overdraft within a week, or face bankruptcy.
Several financial analysts said Friday ENG Asset Management would not be the
last casualty in Zimbabwe's increasingly chaotic financial sector.
Economists Disappointed With Zimbabwe Reforms
24 Dec 2003, 00:47 UTC
are expressing disappointment with the financial
reform measures announced December 18 by Zimbabwe's new central bank chief,
Multilateral economic organizations were hoping that Mr. Gono's monetary
policy statement would contain tangible measures to halt Zimbabwe's
accelerating economic decline. Instead, say policy experts, Mr. Gono
resisted bold measures that might have included a currency devaluation. He
chose to maintain the current, trade distorting system of having two
exchange rates one set by the government, the other by the free market.
Exporters, said Mr. Gono, will be allowed to keep half of the their foreign
exchange earnings but must surrender 25 percent at the official exchange
rate of 824 Zimbabwe dollars to one U.S. dollar. The free market rate is
6,000 Zimbabwe dollars to one. Mr. Gono pledged to restrain money supply
growth and bring the current 500 percent inflation rate down to 200 percent
by the end of 2004.
The economic message contained no measures that would halt the precipitous
decline in food production that is associated with a socially disruptive
land redistribution program.
Tajudeen Abdulraheem, a London commentator who heads the Pan African
Movement, blames President Robert Mugabe for a land reform that he says has
impoverished the people it was intended to help.
"More black people have been killed or continue to be harassed or have been
victimized [in the confiscation of white farms] than white people," he said.
"What kind of land reform is this that targets the black people that it
claims it (the government) wants to return the land to? For me, the issue in
Zimbabwe is a governance issue, in terms of an intolerant administration and
an intolerant political elite that has been exhausted and is exhausting the
Mr. Abdulraheem, a Ugandan, believes the crisis in Zimbabwe has deteriorated
to the point where the issue is how Zimbabweans can rid themselves of a
leader he compares to Uganda's former president Idi Amin.
"We've been down this road before," he said. "The same thing [as with Amin
when he got rid of the Asian traders]. Mugabe is very popular among many
Africans simply because we are still stuck in the anti-imperialism,
anti-colonialism mold. Many Africans are still stuck at fighting Ian Smith
[the former Rhodesian leader who still lives in Zimbabwe], whereas the
burden for the majority of Zimbabweans today is not Ian Smith. It is Robert
Mugabe and the Zanu-PF regime."
Economists anticipate further distress in Zimbabwe amid predictions that
inflation could soon reach 800 percent and unemployment 70 percent. Food
production continues to decline and half of Zimbabwe's population is now
dependent on food assistance.
Mugabe offered an olive branch
By John Kerin
January 03, 2004
SECRETARY-general of the Commonwealth Don McKinnon has adopted a more
conciliatory line on Zimbabwe, saying he hopes the pariah state can be
rehabilitated and make a swift return to the "Commonwealth family".
Mr McKinnon's olive branch in an end-of-year statement on the state of the
Commonwealth follows a divisive fight between African and non-African
nations at the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit in Nigeria in
December that threatened to split the organisation.
Largely at the instigation of Tony Blair and John Howard, Zimbabwe's
suspension from the Commonwealth was extended for a further year from early
December - but the move led Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to quit the
Zimbabwe was suspended in 2002 over concerns of a rigged election, continued
suppression of the political opposition and human rights abuses by Mr Mugabe
and his ruling Zanu PF party.
In the statement Mr McKinnon, a former New Zealand foreign Minister,
described Mr Mugabe's decision to quit the Commonwealth as "a very
"However the doors of the
Commonwealth will always remain open and we
continue to hope that progress in Zimbabwe will allow the country to come
back to the Commonwealth family," he said.
Acting Prime Minister John Anderson told The Weekend Australian yesterday
that Australia was insisting Zimbabwe remain suspended from the
He said Mr Mugabe had "ignored repeated calls by the international community
to implement political and social reform". "The Commonwealth and the
international community cannot turn a blind eye to what's been going on in
Zimbabwe. What we are seeing is a continuing tragedy," he said.
"Zimbabwe was a country which started with a sound basis for independent
governance and social and economic stability and it has all been hopelessly
Mr McKinnon also said that despite the extensive media focus on Zimbabwe,
the Commonwealth would adopt a new role as a powerful lobby group to revive
flagging world trade liberalisation talks.
"The Commonwealth is trying to put these trade talks back on track," he
"Trade is one of the most effective tools against poverty ... but developing
countries are often prevented from accessing rich countries' markets and
trading their way into sustainable growth."
His statement came as confusion persisted yesterday over whether
constitutional reforms endorsed by Pakistan's parliament this week would
strengthen or weaken its case for readmission to the Commonwealth.
Pakistan was suspended in 1999 after Pervez Musharraf seized power in a
military coup. But General Musharraf has instituted democratic reforms and
won praise from prime ministers Howard and Blair for his role in the war on
USAID Donates Sorghum Worth $12 Million to WFP
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
January 2, 2004
Posted to the web January 2, 2004
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) on Wednesday announced a
donation of 30,000 mt of sorghum, valued at $12 million, for distribution in
Zimbabwe by the World Food Program (WFP).
Estimates indicate that more than five million rural Zimbabweans, around
half the population, need food aid before the next harvest in April. The
number of food-insecure people in urban centres is less well quantified, but
may be as high as one million. Preliminary information suggests that these
numbers may increase over the coming months, USAID said.
WFP is targeting 4 million of the most vulnerable Zimbabweans for food aid,
while the C-Safe consortium, grouping the NGOs Care, Catholic Relief
Services and World Vision are feeding another 400,000 people.
"The US government remains concerned about Zimbabwe's on-going humanitarian
crisis, and is committed to providing assistance to the most food-insecure
members of the population. To improve the country's ability to respond to
the humanitarian needs of the Zimbabwean people, the US government
encourages the government of Zimbabwe to institute economic policy reforms
that provide incentives for the private sector to play a role in feeding
Zimbabweans," USAID said.
Lack of donor funding for WFP's US $311 million regional appeal, two-thirds
of which is earmarked for Zimbabwe, forced the food agency to halve its
cereal ration to more than 2.6 million hungry Zimbabweans in December.
"Without sufficient food people won't have enough energy to cultivate crops
for the year's first harvest which is vital for stabilising a household's
food needs," WFP regional director for Southern Africa, Mike Sackett, warned
Zimbabwe's lean season starts in January, a period when granaries tend to be
exhausted and people facing food shortages are most reliant on food aid.
Zim army chief threatens striking doctors
By Blessing Zulu
THE recently-appointed Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander General Constantine
Chiwenga has threatened striking doctors with detention if they do not go
back to work, it has been learnt.
General Chiwenga took over charge of the army on Thursday from General
Vitalis Zvinavashe who has retired from the force.
The former Zanla guerilla chief chaired a meeting between Health minister
David Parirenyatwa and three Hospital Doctors Association (HDA) members on
December 22. The meeting, described as tense, was held at Parirenyatwa's
office at Mukwati Building. The minister who called the doctors to the
meeting introduced them to Chiwenga whom he said was going to chair the
Parirenyatwa confirmed that Chiwenga was part of the meeting in question but
denied that he threatened the doctors.
"General Chiwenga attended the meeting I had with the HDA," Parirenyatwa
Asked in what capacity the general had attended the meeting, he said
Chiwenga was a concerned party.
"You are well aware that army doctors are helping in the hospitals so
naturally he is concerned like anyone else. He was merely appealing to the
doctors to go back to work," he said.
However, sources close to the meeting said Chiwenga, who was in an
uncompromising mood, ordered the doctors back to work.
"We want to leave this meet-ing with an agreement," Chiwenga is reported to
have told the doctors.
"If you refuse to co-operate we can take you to the army barracks and detain
you and you will see what will happen," he said.
"I have fought 45 battles since I was 17 years old and I have never lost.
This one is just a cup of tea and we can solve it within a matter of
minutes," he said.
Junior medical doctors embarked on industrial action two months ago, while
medical specialists and nurses from major public hospitals have been on
strike for over a month.
Sources privy to the meeting told the Independent that Chiwenga even offered
to give the doctors millions of dollars.
"Chiwenga told the HDA members that he was prepared to fork out $70 million
from his own pocket to be shared amongst all the striking doctors," a source
The money was supposed to be shared among the more than 120 doctors who have
embarked on the industrial action.
The crisis deepened last month when the Public Service Commission tried to
use the legal route to force the doctors back to work. This failed when
seven HDA members were acquitted in the magistrates' court.
Chiwenga told the doctors at the meeting that the acquittal was academic.
"You are going to town over the court decision. I am sorry to inform you
that we do not respect that ruling. We are the ones who are in power and we
can choose to ignore that ruling. Court order or not we rule this country,"
Chiwenga was reported as saying.
At the end of the meeting, Chiwenga said he was giving the doctors 24 hours
to go back to work but this call has been ignored as the doctors have
resolved to press on with their industrial action - Zimbabwe Independent
Nation Reaps Benefit from Zimbabwean Farmers
LUSAKA, Jan 2 (IPS) - White Zimbabwean
farmers who sought refuge in Zambia,
have helped the country pull out of a crippling food shortage that saw
millions of people relying on food aid last season.
The landowners were forced off their properties in Zimbabwe during the
fast-track land reform programme that began in 2000. Over 100 of them have
since settled in Mkushi, a fertile maize-growing area in central Zambia that
is favoured by commercial farmers. The Zimbabweans either rent land for
farming from the locals, or go into partnership with owners who do not have
the capacity to till huge tracts of land.
The Zambia Investment Centre (ZIC) says it has issued certificates to 31
Zimbabweans to allow them to begin commercial farming.
These farmers, having had their fingers burnt once, are not in a hurry to
put down roots in Zambia just yet. But as one of the migrants, Jimmy
Stewart, says: ”It's farming that we know and do best. So we just want to
see where the land lies, if you will excuse the pun, before we apply for
permits and licenses and buy land.”
Deputy Agriculture Minister Chance Kabaghe has nothing but praise for the
farmers, even though their arrival prompted anxiety amongst Zambians - and
some discomfort in relations between Lusaka and Harare.
”People saw them as the enemy, seeking refuge in Zambia. Because they were
white, people were also scared that the history of racism would resurface.
Even people in government thought there should be solidarity (with
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe), and we should refuse them (entry),”
”But we saw them as potential investors who could improve our food security.
We have now been vindicated.”
His boss, Agriculture Minister Mundia Sikatana, is more grudging with
accolades. He explains that Zambia, reeling from the effects of two
successive droughts, had a shortfall of 635,000 metric tonnes of grain last
year. Food prices rocketed and 2.9 million people were in need of
”This season we were determined to prioritise agriculture with timely input
distribution,” he said.
The government continued to support more than 150,000 local farmers with
subsidised maize seed and fertiliser. It also specified that commercial
farmers, both local and foreign, had to put at least ten percent of their
acreage into maize production to ensure Zambia did not suffer another grain
There is no figure to show exactly how much maize Zimbabwean farmers
produced as a result of this directive. But, some reports indicate that they
grew over 70 percent of the maize needed in Zambia.
ZIC notes in its end-of-year report that all the Zimbabwean farmers awarded
licenses had also started producing tobacco and wheat. ”They have what it
takes to undertake various farming enterprises and we would like more
farmers of the calibre of Zimbabwean farmers to invest in agriculture,” it
While acknowledging the farming prowess of the Zimbabweans, local farmers
complain they had an unfair advantage.
”I do not want to sound petulant - I am happy that we have a bumper harvest
and do not need food aid. But I feel a little peeved because we (local)
farmers have been made to look incompetent. There are reasons the
Zimbabweans had such a good crop,” Thrifty Stephenson, a Zambian farmer,
He says the Zimbabwean farmers had collateral for loans from local and
international financial institutions, while some also brought equipment and
machinery with them. This gave them a ”leg up” when they arrived in
Zambia. ”We are not talking refugees here. We are talking well-heeled
business people,” he says.
The Standard Chartered Bank of Zambia, for example, gave loans to more than
20 Zimbabwean farmers who had settled in Zambia, to acquire existing farms
or buy land. The bank's executive director of finance, Brighton Ngoma, says
his institution had set up an agricultural unit to help boost the sector.
The money being lent out was from the European Investment Bank and from
Standard Chartered itself.
Local farmers were also supposed to have benefited from the funds, but
discussions about this matter are still underway with the Zambia National
”It's not that we do not have confidence in the local farmers. We need to
make sure that we protect our investment and also attain our objective to
increase agricultural production. Already we are seeing the benefits of our
lending to Zimbabwean farmers, because the good harvest has helped reduce
inflation as well as stabilise the foreign exchange,” said Ngoma.
President Levy Mwanawasa announced recently that government would revitalise
farming through agricultural financing, tax exemptions for imported
equipment and low power tariffs. The government also wants to revive
co-operative banks that lend money to farmers at favourable rates, and
national marketing boards to buy their crops.
Stewart, who has a 10-acre farm leased from a local resident, was reluctant
to criticise existing agricultural policies. But he agreed that it was
difficult to make commercial farming viable in Zambia. He cited high
electricity tariffs, duties on equipment and the lack of a good lending and
marketing policy. ”Basically we came equipped with our own money, some
equipment and good relations with international banks and donors. So we are
not affected by those problems.”
On the positive side, says Stewart, there is a steady and reliable supply of
manual labour, abundant land and water resources. Forty seven percent of
Zambian land is suitable for various types of crops.
Government appears to be keeping an eye on the Zimbabweans. ”The minister
(Sikatana) visited us here, I think, just to make sure we were doing what we
said we would do, and was quite happy with our output. So for the time
being, things are looking good,” Stewart says.
Kabaghe is confident that more Zimbabwean farmers will come when they
realise Zambia welcomes investors, and that it does not have the
land-ownership problems that have beset other countries in the region.
Stand up to brutal Mugabe, say South African bishops
by Pat Ashworth
CHURCH LEADERS in Johannesburg have called on the South African
government to condemn the ongoing violation of human rights in Zimbabwe.
They also urge Christians to stand up and protest as they did over
It is the strongest statement yet from the Churches in the region,
accused in the past of failing to stand in solidarity with their neighbours.
“To remain silent any longer renders us complicit in the brutality being
visited by Zimbabwean authorities on their own citizens,” say the leaders,
who include the Bishop of Johannesburg, the Rt Revd Brian Germond, and the
Bishop of Christ the King, the Rt Revd Peter Lee.
They describe graphic witness accounts of torture methods as a
“disgraceful record of physical abuse”; highlight the politicisation of
humanitarian aid; condemn the “systematic manipulation of young people” into
becoming killing machines for ZANU-PF, and declare themselves “confused by
the constant call for moral regeneration within our own country, by leaders
who appear to defend or overlook moral corruption in neighbouring states”.
They “reject with contempt” attempts to dismiss criticism as stemming
from ignorance or racism.
View from Crisis
Mr Mugabe was also condemned this week by the Crisis in Zimbabwe
Coalition for his withdrawal of Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth.
In Harare, cathedral parishioners are continuing their campaign to
bring the Mugabe apologist the Rt Revd Nolbert Kunonga to trial on 38
charges that include incitement to murder (News, 5 December).
The Diocesan Chancellor, Robert Stumbles, reacted swiftly to a
proposal by the Archbishop of Central Africa, Dr Bernard Malango, that
Bishop Kunonga should arrange a visit to Harare by the Archbishop’s
Provincial Secretary to assess the facts of the case and to meet individuals
at the cathedral.
Mr Stumbles submitted to the Registrar, Christopher Seddon, in a
letter on 15 December, that it was unheard of for a judge in any court of
law to seek facts in advance of the court case from witnesses who would
subsequently appear before him, or to order a defendant to arrange such a
“What the Archbishop has arranged (as happened in March) is for the
Bishop, who is the defendant, to have the chance to select who the
Provincial Secretary is to see. It also affords a potent opportunity for the
Bishop of Harare and/or the Provincial Secretary to endeavour to exert
persuasive influence over some of the witnesses who have laid charges
against the Bishop,” said Mr Stumbles.
View from Malango
Dr Malango defended his actions in an email indicating to “all of you
there in Zimbabwe” that he was not backing Bishop Kunonga, “nor do I intend
to do so. When the charges came to my attention, I did not hesitate but to
confirm that the case be brought before the Provincial Court as requested. I
am aware and mindful that when a case has been filed to court nobody should
interfere with the evidence.”
The accusation that he was delaying the hearing was “not fair and is
painful”, said the Archbishop, who has postponed the Provincial Secretary’s
visit. “A date for the hearing should be set and all parties notified.”
Cathedral parishioners have rejected the working paper on amendments
to the canons which was presented to the diocesan synod in September. They
have proposed detailed amendments, seeing it as an attempt to vest all
powers in Bishop Kunonga