Harare, July 21 (Bloomberg) -- About 300 Zimbabwean farmers signed on to a resolution vowing to shut down their operations if police don't intervene to stop war veterans from invading land and disrupting farm work, Agence France-Presse reported. Forty-five farmers in Mashonaland Central province on Saturday said they would go on strike if veterans occupying one farm didn't let the farmer return, said Malcolm Vowles, a Commercial Farmers Union official. Another union spokesman said 42 farmers in four provinces -- Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central and Masvingo -- stopped operations earlier this week, AFP reported.
Zimbabwe's government last week said it would begun resettling blacks on some of the 804 farms it plans to seize in a program to redistribute to blacks half of the land owned by about 4,000 white farmers.
Diesel woes: commuters cry foul
7/21/00 9:50:51 AM (GMT +2) - Staff Reporter
COMMUTERS in Harare and
Chitungwiza are angry over the acute diesel shortage which has resulted in most
of them reporting late for work since Monday.
Most of those who spoke to
The Daily News complained bitterly at the manner in which the fuel situation was
being handled, alleging there was no transparency and consistency in fuel
The diesel shortage has forced many transport operators to ground some of their buses.
A Chitungwiza resident, Honest Kamambo, said he had braved the chilly morning weather to walk from his home to Makoni shopping centre, 10 km away, to get transport to Harare.
Said Kamambo: 'I start work at 8 am but I have to be at the bus stop as early as 4 am, and I still get to work late.'
Kamambo urged the new Minister of Mines and Energy, Sydney Sekeramayi, to speedily address the fuel situation.
Nobert Masara, a transport manager with Chawasarira Transport said the problem was unlikely to end soon unless foreign currency reserves improved.
'The situation is tough. We have been forced to reduce the number of buses on the roads because there is not enough diesel and we don't know when we will get our next supplies,' said Masara.
Windy Leevy, a supervisor at a service station in Mabelreign said although they had adequate petrol in their pumps, there has been no diesel since last week.
Long, winding queues are now a common sight in the suburbs during peak hours.
Touts at pick-up points are reportedly demanding kickbacks from desperate commuters, while commuter omnibus operators were said to be raising their fares, especially during the rush hour.
Maxwell Bismark of Kuwadzana said he paid $25 from town to Kuwadzana Extension on Monday because there were very few buses on the route.
The fare is normally $15.
7/21/00 9:46:48 AM (GMT +2) - Staff Reporter
THE Combined Harare
Residents' Association yesterday called on the government to control the police
and soldiers, alleged to be beating up innocent residents in the high-density
In a statement, the
association said it had received reports of State-sponsored post-election
violence, with residents in most wards complaining of beatings by the uniformed
'The Combined Harare Residents' Association calls on the State to deal with any elements within the uniformed forces or among members of the public who are involved in this campaign of terror,' said the statement.
'History is replete with evidence that violence as an instrument of political coercion is ineffective and counter-productive.'
Police and soldiers are alleged to have beaten up people in Mabvuku, Tafara, Chitungwiza, Mbare, Dzivaresekwa, Kuwadzana, Glen View and other high-density suburbs, with some sustaining serious injuries.
The police have tried to justify the deployment of the police and the army in the suburbs on the grounds that they are there to deal with any outbreak of post-election violence.
Any incidents of violence by the officers, the police said, should be reported to them.
The police have said even the army was guided by the police charter in their actions in the suburbs.
But most people in the former townships are convinced the beatings are carried out as punishment for the urban people who voted overwhelmingly for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in last month's parliamentary election.
The MDC won all the seats in Harare and Chitungwiza.
'The Combined Harare Residents' Association regrets and condemns all forms of violence whether perpetrated by individuals or uniformed bodies against their countrymen and women,' the statement said.
Colonel Chancellor Diye, the army spokesman, yesterday refused to comment, insisting that written questions be submitted.
14 members of Zanu PF terror gang to be sentenced on 26 July
7/21/00 9:49:29 AM (GMT +2) - Staff Reporter.
FOURTEEN Zanu PF
supporters who appeared before the Gokwe Magistrates' court on Wednesday facing
charges of public violence were convicted and remanded in custody for sentence
on 26 July.
The State's case was that
on 22 June, two days before the election, the accused held a Zanu PF rally at
Karova Business Centre and afterwards proceeded to Karova Primary School.
They assaulted Mugove Masora, a teacher at the school after accusing her of being a supporter of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.
They then went back to Karova Business Centre, where they assaulted Lindiwe and Caroline Makuvaza, accusing them of being supporters of the MDC.
The 14 to be sentenced are: Marvellous Dhobhani; Mutsvakiwa Tadzimirwa;
Lazarus Hove; Shadreck Revesai; Munyaradzi Matutu; Edwin Masukume; Pepukai Togara; Verdin Sai; Hlanganiso Dhlamini; Morgan Kupowa; Muzondiwa Sibanda; Levison Gwisai; Nevious Njobo; and Abson Machokoto.
The accused first appeared before the Gokwe Magistrates' court on 18 July and were denied bail. Lovack Masuku represented the state.
HARARE, July 23 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's white farmers are being forced to stop work in the face of continued threats from self-styled war veterans who have invaded their farms, the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) said on Sunday.
But CFU president Tim Henwood denied a report in Sunday's independent Standard newspaper that the union's 4,500 members would close their farms in protest against the invasions.
"No, we cannot confirm that report. But I can say that in some areas like Shamva people have been prevented from working and are stopping work as a reaction to a security problem," he told Reuters.
Farmers in Shamva, 90 km (55 miles) north of Harare, have been threatened by black militants who have occupied more than 1,000 farms countrywide since February with the backing of President Robert Mugabe. Last week the union said 60 farmers in the wheat-producing area of Glendale, 60 km north of Harare, had stopped farming after one was forced off his property.
The CFU said militants were still threatening farm labourers and giving farmers ultimatums to relinquish their properties or face violence.
On Saturday, police stood by and watched as four labourers were beaten by veterans at a farm near the Zambezi valley, about 220 km north of Harare, farm owner Jane O'Donoghue told Reuters.
Police had been called to investigate a wave of game poaching on Vuka Estates.
"They allowed the veterans to pick out four members of our labour force and beat them up," O'Donoghue said. "The situation between our labourers and the veterans is getting more tense."
The CFU said in a statement that some police were trying to be more responsive to land owners' complaints. But it said they were being pressured to side with the invaders, most of whom back Mugabe's ZANU-PF and its promises to seize more than 800 white-owned farms on prime land for black resettlement.
"Of concern is that certain police officials who are trying to do their work are coming under political pressure."
ZANU-PF narrowly defeated the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in an election last month that was marked by violence and intimidation. Some 31 people, mostly MDC supporters, died in the run up to the poll.
The violence has battered Zimbabwe's economy, which is enduring its worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1980. There are severe shortages of fuel and foreign currency and unemployment is at a record high.
In addition, Mugabe's resettlement plan has damaged the farming sector and discouraged donors from resuming aid.
Analysts have warned that growth in the sector, which accounts for 20 percent of Zimbabwe's gross domestic product and 40 percent of export earnings, could plunge 20 percent if the land crisis is not resolved soon.
A CFU survey showed that as of June 29, 1,525 farms -- 28 percent of all farms owned by its members -- had been invaded.
Mugabe is demanding that Britain foot the bill for farms the government plans to seize. Britain has offered to pay 36 million pounds ($54 million) towards land reform, but only if the invasions are halted.
Zimbabwe farmers lay down their hoes
Harare - The number of Zimbabwean farmers vowing to close down operations in protest at continued harassment by land occupiers on their land grew to 300 on Friday. This week, 42 farmers have already downed hoes. A prominent member of the farming community in Mashonaland West said around 300 farmers had resolved to go on strike to protest against the failure of police to stop supporters of the ruling Zanu-PF party who have been disrupting work activities and invading farms. "We resolved that there will be a shutdown of the farming and commercial area if any further incident occurs and police fail to respond to it," said the farmer, who asked to remain unnamed.
White farmers in several provinces launched work stoppages this week in protest at police inaction against war veterans who have spearheaded the often-violent invasion of hundreds of white-owned farms since February. A spokesperson for the country's commercial farmers said 42 farmers in four provinces had halted operations this week. The four provinces are Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West and Mashonaland Central, all in northern Zimbabwe, and Masvingo, in the south. The farmer from Mashonaland West stressed, however, that farmers were not calling for the police to evict the squatters, but merely to intervene to stop acts of lawlessness. "(The police) have got to comply and return the situation to the status quo," he added.
CFU president Tim Henwood said the harassment of commercial farmers and their workers had continued despite assurances by Vice-President Joseph Msika that Zanu-PF supporters, who have occupied 1 500 commercial farms, would now be resettled properly. He said the CFU had informed the police that the situation on the farms was now untenable but nothing had been done. Msika last week launched a programme under which more than 30 000 people would be resettled at once on 200 farms. Commercial farmers in Glendale, one of Zimbabwe's prime commercial farming areas, also opted to close down operations.
From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 22 July
Police move on squatters after strike by farmers
Glendale - WHITE farmers in Zimbabwe returned to work yesterday after their strike forced the police to act against militant squatters. The success of 40 farmers in Glendale district, who shut down their operations on Tuesday and demanded that police restore order on a property where invaders had forced the owner to flee, has emboldened landowners in other regions. Farmers in neighbouring Shamva district confirmed yesterday that they will mount a strike from today and meetings to discuss action have been held in at least four other districts.
The farmers switched off their irrigation systems and stopped all work on their land, leaving their crops untended. In Glendale 35,000 tons of wheat due for delivery to the silos were put at risk. In Shamva, 12,000 tons of maize and 15,000 tons of wheat will abandoned for the length of the strike. While a national strike is unlikely, the CFU is advising groups of farmers to follow Glendale's example where the protest began after a mob of 40 squatters armed with axes, whips and chains invaded Mukoko farm and ordered labourers to stop work. They broke into the homestead and built a bonfire on the veranda.
Neighbouring farmers in decided to make a stand. Chris Thorne of Irenedale farm who joined the strike, said: "We demanded that the police restore order on Mukoko and this was the only way we could induce them to do something." Despite the murder of five farmers since April and two High Court orders declaring the land invasions to be illegal, President Robert Mugabe has repeatedly backed the squatters, leaving the police unwilling to act against them. Yet in a swift operation on Thursday, police removed the invaders from the Mukoko farmhouse and allowed the workers to resume their normal routine.
Nick Brooke, who had fled his property after receiving death threats, was able to return to his land. Other farmers also went back to work yesterday morning, after all their demands had been met. Mr Brooke said: "The squatters are still on the farm, but they are far away from the homestead and everything seems to be calm." Crowds of squatters are on the move around Glendale and the situation remains tense. Farmers are determined to resume strike action if necessary. Mr Brooke said: "We aren't going to negotiate with these guys. They must let us get on with our lives, otherwise we will close down until the police respond."
Farmers across Zimbabwe have been encouraged by Glendale's success. In Shamva district, 60 miles north of Harare, farmers are mounting a strike in protest at the ordeal of Graham Rea, one of their members, who was expelled from his Hopedale farm by squatters who threatened him with death. Agriculture is the backbone of Zimbabwe's economy and a strike by commercial farmers cannot be ignored. In Mazowe and Concession, about 30 miles north of Harare, strike action is under serious consideration and brief stoppages have already broken out. In the Marondera region where the first white farmer was murdered in April, more than 150 landowners met on Thursday and are on the brink of stopping work.
From The Zimbabwe Independent, 21 July
Zanu PF meets to discuss Mugabe's future
ZANU PF is scheduled to hold a potentially explosive central committee meeting today, with authoritative party sources confirming that members are calling on President Mugabe to discuss his future plans, the Zimbabwe Independent has gathered. The succession issue has once again moved up the party's agenda as a growing number of central committee members see their own future threatened by an incumbent who is likely to face a drubbing if he stands in 2002. The issues debated at the central committee meeting will be referred to the national consultative forum to be held tomorrow. MPs and the party's provincial leaders will attend tomorrow's meeting.
The national consultative body is a broader organ of the party that comprises members of the politburo, central committee, and war veterans. The body considers issues discussed in the politburo and central committee and can make recommendations. The long-awaited special congress of the ruling party, which had been earmarked for February this year following last year's December congress, will be discussed with party sources indicating it was likely to be held after the Heroes Day celebrations, once the party budget had been drawn up.
"It is at this congress that Mugabe will either speak or hint on the future party's leader because we have waited for too long. That is why we shall raise it tomorrow (Friday)," the party source said. "This culture of fear, that certain issues do not need to be discussed are killing the party," the source added. "Twice we raised it this year to be part of the agenda, but nothing happened. This time they are saying we shall be discussing the post-election results, the land issue and the national economy," the source added. The party's secretary for information, Nathan Shamuyarira, could not be reached for comment. Mugabe has remained mum over the issue, denying that he was grooming any of his lieutenants for higher office.
At one point, Mugabe is believed to have hinted to international financiers that he would prefer either the new Speaker of parliament, Emmerson Mnangagwa, or new Minister of Mines and Energy, Sydney Sekeramayi, to take over from him. The two seem to have been drowned by electoral outcomes in recent weeks. Party sources said the issue of the national economic recovery programme would take centre stage, as the party now realised that the next election battle would centre on economic issues. "The main reason why people voted against us was because they were not happy with the economy. As a party we are seriously looking into that," a party source told the Independent. "The people in rural areas voted for us because they were happy with the way we have tackled the land programme, so the issue of land as well will take centre stage," he added.
From Business Day (SA), 22 July
Mugabe says white farmers being used by Britain
HARARE - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe on Friday said white farmers were being used by former colonial power Britain to re-establish control over the country, the state Ziana news agency said. "They are a natural fissure and a beachhead for the retention or re-launch of British and European influence and control over our body-politic," Mugabe was quoted as saying at a central committee meeting of his ruling Zanu (PF) party. Mugabe lamented Zimbabwe's economic crisis, with its high unemployment and high inflation. Unemployment is estimated to be running at about 50%, with inflation at about 60%. "Little wonder then that the bulk of the support and vote for the opposition came from urban or peri-urban dwellers, chiefly from among the unemployed or frustrated youths," the president said. He comforted party stalwarts with the fact they had won the election, narrowly. ""When all is told, your party, Zanu (PF), triumphed and a win, however slender, is a win, while a defeat, however close, is just that," Mugabe said. But "both the party and government should remain aware that we face formidable enemies who have thrown stiff hurdles along our path", he said.
From The Independent (UK), 22 July
Wave of invasions hit white farmers of South Africa
Mangete - John Hunt and his wife Pat Dunn stare in anger at the squatter homes dotting the rolling fields of their sugar farm in KwaZulu-Natal. "We're being invaded, Zimbabwe-style," she said. There are 5,000 squatters on 63 farms in Mangete, on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast, and their numbers are growing. Crime has escalated, crops are being destroyed, jobs and fields have been lost and farmers' lives are being threatened. The Mangete farms are being claimed by the local chief, Khayalesha Mathaba, under South Africa's sluggish land-reform programme. But four years have passed since the claim was lodged, and local Zulus have become restless - moving on to farms, erecting huts and planting crops in fields that are not theirs. Contradictory laws make it illegal to squat on disputed land, but almost impossible to evict anyone who does so. Farmers are paying a high price - in threats, theft, lost crops and legal fees. In the past week, six farms in Mangete have been attacked. Last year more than 600,000 rand (£60,000) worth of sugar cane was destroyed by squatters, and this year the loss will be higher. The community has spent R300,000 on legal fees defending the claim on their land.
"Things are coming to a head because we just can't farm any more," said Ms Dunn, chairman of the Mangete Landowners' Association and leader of the vast mixed-race Dunn clan, who own most of the farms in the area. She is one of 3,500 descendants of a Scotsman who became a Zulu chief in the 1800s. "We are being threatened all the time," Ms Dunn said. She was recently accosted in a field by a squatter who told her: "If you can't live peacefully among us, you can't live at all." Her husband, a management specialist who worked as a British aid consultant in Swaziland before settling in South Africa, added: "We just want the government to act. We've spent years trying to resolve this dispute, getting nowhere."
The state's inactivity over the farm squatting is "tantamount to complicity, as in Zimbabwe", Ms Dunn said. "What makes us really mad is that this problem would never have arisen if the claim had been settled soon after it was lodged in 1996, and people offered alternative land, which is available." Hundreds of South African farmers have been murdered in the past decade, a reflection of both high crime and anger felt by many black people towards farmers who they believe have exploited them and their land. Hundreds of thousands of blacks were dispossessed of land under apartheid. A countrywide survey in March showed 54 per cent of black South Africans supporting land-grabs in Zimbabwe, and in recent months there have been threats of invasions in several provinces.
Fred Visser, president of the Natal Agricultural Union, rejects comparisons between farm occupancies in South Africa and Zimbabwe. "This problem has been coming for years," he said. "It is linked to poverty, joblessness and people who moved to cities seeking employment returning to the land to survive. Invasions are not orchestrated, as in Zimbabwe." Such distinctions mean little to the Mangete farmers. On Friday last week, their land-claim trial was postponed yet again.
Chief Mathaba, who is head of the Macambini clan, claims the land belonged to their ancestors. Wilson Ndlovu, a spokesman for the chief, said: "We are simply going back to our fathers' land, which we were forced to vacate by coloureds who call us squatters." The clan, frustrated by delays, occupied land in anticipation of a favourable ruling, he added. The farmers dispute the claim, among other reasons because Ms Dunn's Scottish ancestor, John Dunn, was given 10,000 acres in the 1800s when there was nobody there. Dunn, a hunter and businessman, became a great friend of the Zulu king Cetshwayo, who made him the province's only white chief.
In keeping with tradition, such status came with tracts of land, cattle and permission to marry many women. Over the years, Dunn married 49 Zulu women and sired a total of 117 children, who have today spawned a clan some 3,500-strong, 500 of whom live at Mangete. When Dunn died in 1895 he left 10,000 acres to his children, parcelled into 100-acre plots. Sixty-seven children accepted plots in Mangete while others inherited in nearby Emoyeni. The remaining 2,500 acres were given to local Zulu families. It took 84 years for Dunn's descendants to obtain title to the land, their efforts being thwarted by successive white administrations until 1979.
Last week the KwaZulu-Natal agriculture minister, Narend Singh, held talks with farmers and traditional leaders on farm occupations. He promised to try and speed up claims, and said state land would be made available. Central government also appears to be waking up to the problem. It has developed new land redistribution policies and is speeding up the current programme which has resolved only a handful of the 65,000 land claims. In the meantime, Ms Dunn and her husband feel increasingly isolated. She showed me a letter they received in 1998 from the Home Affairs Minister, Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi. "As a descendant of King Cetshwayo who gave the land to John Dunn, I find it unacceptable that the descendants of Dunn should be robbed of their rightful inheritance," he wrote. As with everybody else with whom they have dealt, they have not heard from him since.
From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 21 July
South African land threats stir fear of copycat raids
AMONG the citrus orchards of the Waterval valley, one word is on the lips of every white farmer: "Zimbabwe." In the past week, at least five farmers in this region of Mpumalanga province, about 150 miles east of Johannesburg, have had property and farm equipment destroyed. Handwritten leaflets in poor English have warned white farmers and black workers: "I want my land now. . . I don't want to see any person working, otherwise I destroy this land." Police believe that the attacks and threats are the work of a lone disgruntled former worker who may be mentally unstable. They have not identified him publicly, but the man's first name, "Jan", appears on graffiti, scrawled on walls, calling for farm work to stop.
However, officers worry that resentment extends much more widely among the landless black rural population. For months, South Africa's white farmers have watched with horror the chaos unfolding in neighbouring Zimbabwe as black squatters have invaded white-owned farms while the government has moved to redistribute land. Even isolated signs of unrest at home stir fears that copycat raids might be staged by South African blacks. Dirk Winterbach, a farmer whose lorry has been set alight, said: "They are getting ideas from Zimbabwe."
The unrest in Zimbabwe has exposed the slow pace of land reform in South Africa since the fall of apartheid. Much of the agricultural land is held by white farmers. The government has managed to redistribute less than two per cent to black people - far short of the declared target of 30 per cent. Only about 10 per cent of the more than 60,000 claims for restitution of land taken during forced removals in the apartheid era have been settled so far.
The government has recently threatened to expropriate land for redistribution as a last resort - if the current system of "willing buyer, willing seller" fails. Mpumalanga is a region of particularly high tension. It has a high murder rate among white farmers - 13 last year - while farm workers complain of growing abuse. There are reports of white farmers evicting black workers for fear that they will stake a claim to the land. However, while police in Zimbabwe stood back while squatters went on the rampage against white farms, the South African police have mounted a concerted hunt, with tracker dogs, for the attacker known as "Jan".