|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Howard Burditt, Reuters
LUSAKA - African foreign ministers backed Zimbabwe's controversial land reform program yesterday and accused Britain of seeking to isolate and vilify its former colony in Europe and North America, diplomatic sources said.
The ministers named South Africa, Nigeria, Algeria, Cameroon, Kenya and Zambia to a committee to support Zimbabwe in future talks with the European Union and other parties on land reform, the sources said.
African diplomats said the resolution was unanimously adopted early yesterday by the OAU council of ministers. It will be put to OAU heads of state today.
"Its very likely that it will go through in its present form. Zimbabwe was seen as victim and there was lots of sympathy. The feeling was that the EU and the United States were pressing too hard on Zimbabwe," a senior diplomat said.
Zimbabwe has been mired in economic and political crisis since February, 2000, as self-styled war veterans, encouraged by the state, seized hundreds of white-owned farms. Thirty-one people have been killed.
President Robert Mugabe contends land redistribution is necessary to address a century-old imbalance in land ownership and says Britain, the country's former colonial ruler, must pay compensation for the seized land. London has said it will not finance land reform amidst chaos and disregard for the rule of law.
Mr. Mugabe plans to confiscate five million hectares of the 12 million hectares held by white farmers and has earmarked more than 5,000 farms for redistribution to landless blacks.
The farmers say they support the principle of land redistribution but oppose land seizures.
In the latest incident, war veterans invaded a farm in western Zimbabwe yesterday and forced tourists to abandon a hunting safari, the state ZIANA news agency said.
Quoting farming officials, ZIANA said about 80 war veterans broke down the gates at Cedric Wilde farm in Matabeleland North province, pegged out land and forced a group of tourists to abandon a safari on the farm.
The independent Standard newspaper reported war veterans had invaded two other game farms in the province, and demanded ostriches on them be killed after the birds chased several of the invaders.
Since February last year, war veterans have led the often-violent invasions of white-owned farms and businesses, and the tourist industry -- once a major foreign exchange earner -- has seen a steep decline.
On Friday, the Independent newspaper said war veterans in central Zimbabwe had ransacked the camp of four Spanish hunters and forced them to move out, accusing them of being foreign journalists.
At a farm east of the capital, Harare, yesterday, a mob of war veterans freed four white farmers they had been holding since Friday.
"They said they want to take over the farm. We hope we can come to some kind of agreement when tempers have cooled down," said Iain Kay, owner of Chipesa Farm.
Earlier yesterday, the veterans beat a farm worker before withdrawing from the farmhouse where they had been holding and threatening to kill the four farmers.
Neighbour Lindsey Campbell said 60 veterans had invaded Mr. Kay's farm on Friday, beating some employees, chasing away 120 others and forcing Mr. Kay and his son David to lock themselves in the farmhouse.
A police constable was shot dead at Mr. Kay's farm in April last year when it was first invaded by militant supporters of Mr. Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF led by self-styled veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s independence war.
Mr. Kay was severely assaulted at the time and left for dead. The invaders moved out of the property months later, but have been coming back and threatening to occupy the farm.
In neighbouring South Africa, meanwhile, the opposition Pan Africanist Congress yesterday called for an urgent land summit as more than 5,000 squatters continued to occupy private land northeast of Johannesburg.
Land redistribution in South Africa has moved slowly, with just12,150 of 67,500 land claims granted since 1998.
From The Zimbabwe Standard, 8 July
Yet another MDC MP’s home raided
Armed police yesterday raided the home of MDC member of parliament for Hatfield, Tapiwa Mashakada, and arrested his security guard and 13 party youths. Mashakada told The Standard yesterday that two police truckloads from Hatfield and Epworth police station raided his home just after midnight and took away his security guards. The raid followed a spate of attacks by war veterans and Zanu PF supporters on MDC supporters in Epworth which falls under Hatfield constituency. "They (the police) banged my gate at around 1pm and we opened for them. They then took my security guard but they were not violent. I think they want to question him on the violence that has been taking place here," said Mashakada.
The raid follows similar raids on MDC offices in Harare on Thursday and another one on the party’s Bulawayo offices on Friday. Four people died last week when violent clashes rocked Epworth, bringing the total number of such casualties to six in 10 days. The four were buried yesterday in Epworth at a ceremony attended by hundreds of MDC supporters and their MP. Mashakada took a swipe at the police for arresting the MDC youths. He accused the force of being biased and not arresting Zanu PF youths who killed MDC activists. "The police have a right to investigate any cases but the law should not be applied selectively. We have perpetrators of violence who have been positively identified. The people who killed our youths are well known and their names have been supplied to the police but no action has been taken. Being a war veteran or a Zanu PF supporter should not be a ticket for immunity," said Mashakada.
War veterans and Zanu PF members have set up a base for torturing their victims at McDonalds Farm in the area. The police have continued to pay a blind eye to the torture of opposition supporters, Mashakada said. "Our supporters are being killed in broad daylight and people are no longer safe here. The situation gets worse when you know you don’t have police protection," said Mashakada. "The police were in fact aiding the torture of MDC supporters by continuously arresting and beating them in cells for no reason," he said. The survivors of the violence are now kept at a secret location.
From IRIN (UN), 7 July
New Land Grab to Put 300,000 Jobs On the Line
Two farming experts said this week that farm workers and their families would emerge the biggest losers if the government pressed ahead with its planned land seizures. Godfrey Magaramombe, director of the Zimbabwe Farm Community Trust (ZFCT) - a non-governmental body which works to improve the conditions of farm workers in Zimbabwe - and Ewan Roger of the Agriculture Labour Bureau, noted that very few farm workers had been considered for resettlement under the present fast-track exercise, the Financial Gazette reported on Thursday.
About 40 000 farm workers had already lost their jobs after self-styled mobs of war veterans seized commercial farms last year and halted production in many of them, the report said. "The government is not including the farm workers in the resettlement scheme and some workers already displaced by these disturbances are already creating illegal settlements on the fringes of the commercial farms," Roger was quoted saying. The government said last week it had targeted another 1,000 large-scale commercial farms for compulsory acquisition. Although it had listed more than 2,000 farms for seizure, the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) said only 1, 000 farms were new listings. The CFU sad the new listings brought to 5,000 the number of properties listed for compulsory acquisition under the Land Acquisition Act and represented eight million hectares of all fertile land in Zimbabwe.
According to the report, although top CFU executives refused to be interviewed on record this week, industry experts said the mainstream commercial farming community would be left with only 800 farms if the government proceeded to seize all the farms listed last week. Until now the CFU had a membership of 3,600 farmers who shared 5,800 large-scale farms employing 350,000 registered farm workers, the report said. Magaramombe was quoted saying that apart from the 40,000 farm workers who had already lost their jobs, he fully supported CFU estimates that 300,000 more would lose their jobs by the middle of next year if the government proceeded with the acquisitions advertised last week.
From The Zimbabwe Standard, 8 July
March and memorial service for Nabanyama
Bulawayo - More than 1 000 people yesterday braved the wet and chilly weather and poured onto the streets for a march and memorial church service for Patrick Nabanyama, a Movement for Democratic Change polling agent, who was abducted before last June’s parliamentary elections and has never been seen since. The memorial service attended by the MDC vice president Gibson Sibanda, the party’s director of elections, Paul Themba Nyathi, the MDC legal affairs secretary, David Coltart and a majority of Members of Parliament for the Matabeleland region, was led by Archbishop Pius Ncube and drew people of mixed races together.
The procession, carrying banners and flowers, left the St Mary’s Cathedral in the city and marched along the city centre before converging at the Presbyterian church for the memorial service. "We are against violence and as a church we support dialogue and we say as citizens you should stand for these rights," said Archbishop Ncube. "It is when good people like you do nothing that evil triumphs." Ncube said there was a lot of suffering in the country, but people were bearing it silently. "There is a lot of hypocrisy in Zimbabwe; there are people who pretend that everything is normal when that is not the case. People in this country are suffering," he said. "There is no church that supports violence. We believe in tolerance," he added.
Nabanyama, a former Zapu activist during the liberation struggle, was the polling agent for Coltart in last year’s parliamentary elections. He was abducted in front of his family by a gang of men suspected to be war veterans and Zanu PF supporters, a few days before the June elections. Coltart told the gathering it was sad that a year after Nabanyama’s disappearance no one has been brought to book. "The people who abducted Nabanyama in broad daylight are people who are well known in Nketa but nothing has been down concerning their prosecution," said Coltart. "We know the men and we know they are totally unrepentant." Coltart said there was a culture of impunity in Zimbabwe and if that culture was not ended then more people would go the same way as Nabanyama.
Comment from The Zimbabwe Standard, 8 July
Losing the propaganda war
There is little doubt that the government feels misunderstood by the international community. However ridiculous this may seem to those who have seen the Mugabe government shoot itself in the foot repeatedly, let us look at how successfully it is countering what it sees as a sinister international conspiracy to demonise it.
Last week, after what seemed like a period of hibernation, the president came out swinging against his perceived enemies. It was the old broken record, about being an international outcast because of the principled stance on the land issue. The president thundered that we had suffered worse deprivations than we were experiencing now, and that we were quite prepared to tough out sanctions. If he really believes that the majority of people see themselves as experiencing the unprecedented, rapidly worsening economic hardships because the world is against land reform, the man is really delusional. The vast majority of people put the blame for our economic woes squarely on his government’s inability to lead.
Even if you think this is patently unfair, you must counter that perceived unfairness knowing where it emanates from. You can then deal with the perceived misperceptions, head on. As it is, its failure to even acknowledge that Zimbabweans are generally unhappy with it means that much of the government propaganda is not even scratching the surface of it’s image problems. A lot of that propaganda is not only crudely done, it is often completely misdirected.
In the liberation war days, there was no doubt people steeled themselves for a period of suffering and hardship for they believed the outcome would be a free country. Mugabe, Nkomo and others, undoubtedly had majority opinion on their side. To any objective international observer, they also had the moral high ground. That can no longer be said of Mugabe now, which is why his reputation at home and abroad continues to plummet in inverse proportion to the shrillness of his threats and belligerence. It sounded so hollow and insensitive of Mr Mugabe to speak of Zimbabweans’ willingness to endure more suffering than they are already doing under his ruinous, and most unfortunate rule. Is the man really that far out of touch with pubic sentiment?
Before independence, people were willing to sacrifice relative safety, even their lives, for the goal of a free country, one in which they could live in dignity, and have at least a chance to strive for prosperity without being impeded by what race they were. What noble goal is Mugabe leading us to which makes him delude himself that the people stand behind him now? Is he really oblivious of the low opinion in which he is regarded by the very people he claims to be acting on behalf of? Does he think we cannot separate the issues of the rightness of land reform, from the wrongness of the beating, rape and killing of fellow Zimbabweans?
Sweden has been a country that has bent over backwards to support African countries like Zimbabwe which wanted to start afresh at independence. More than most "donor countries", it has been willing to fund alternative visions of development that the new African nations wanted to experiment with. It is not a "Johnny come lately" country that initially supported the racist ideal of Rhodesia, only to change allegiance after independence. Before and after independence, Sweden has been a steadfast supporter of the African cause, to the tune of billions of dollars. It has never been tainted by the stain of having colonies, and has no neo-colonial axe to grind. All this is significant in the light of the Mugabe regime’s loss of Sweden’s support on the international stage. In the context of Mugabe’s continued fall in stature, from world statesman to just another despot, the loss of Sweden’s support is significant. It is laughable that Mugabe must now cozy up to wily, self serving governments like those of Belgium and France, which have, at best, mixed legacies in Africa, and at worst, utterly disreputable ones. But this is how far he has degraded himself.
There is nothing surprising about periodic reports that Mugabe mouthpiece, Jonathan Moyo’s shocking vitriol is causing whispered consternation amongst Mugabe insiders, a consternation which gets louder every day. Let us, for argument’s sake, assume that I am an implacable Mugabe/Moyo critic who cannot look at these two men objectively. Can anyone give me a short list of ways in which Mugabe’s standing at home and abroad has improved since he hired Moyo to be his propagandist? If Mugabe feels a special kinship towards Moyo because they share combative, bull boy tactics, what about the little matter of results? What has Moyo achieved that has been to Mugabe’s advantage in the time he has been a minister? I would really like to know. Surely being an information minister means much more than hurling cleverer insults than the next guy? Virtually every time Moyo opens his mouth we look more ridiculous on the international stage. Tough talk may be alright on the schoolyard in a bravado contest, but surely if it loses you more than it gains you, and when the well being of a country is compromised by that loss, you try another tactic?
The world has adopted a hands off approach in response to our government’s tough talk. "If you are so tough that you don’t need us, and don’t give a damn about our expressed concerns about the creeping dysfunctionality of your country, fine, go it alone,"; that has been the international reaction to the regime of Mugabe. Look at the results. Hunger, desperation like we have never experienced before, shortages - which began in earnest with the fuel crisis - deindustrialisation, increased unemployment and destitution. Is this how you win people over to your way of thinking?
The president’s statement about how we are prepared to follow him and continue to suffer under his misrule, is made even more preposterous by the fact that we don’t see him and his inner circle experiencing any of the hardships they have caused us. In the liberation war days, Mugabe & Co were at least symbolically in the trenches with the troops, sharing some of their trials and tribulations. And now? More people have to walk hours to and from work because bus fare is beyond their reach. A single meal a day is becoming a luxury for many citizens. Breadwinners are being thrown out of work in their thousands, with little prospect of being re-employed any time soon. New laws to try to stem the rising discontent are promulgated weekly. Official threats and warnings are the order of the day. In this scenario, Mugabe & Co are no longer the scrappy, lean revolutionaries of yesterday, leading by example.
On his way to speechifying on how the suffering masses are fully behind him in their suffering, he travels in style, by publicly-funded German limousine or French helicopter. I am not aware of any luxuries being curtailed at the presidential palace, not to make the president suffer as most of his fellow citizens are doing, but to symbolically express solidarity with them at a difficult time. All these blatantly obvious incongruities, and Mr Mugabe and his ministers dare to hope that they can win domestic and international opinion to their cause, whatever that cause is? This a textbook example of how to lose a propaganda war.
The ministers noted with concern British moves to mobilise European and North American countries to isolate and vilify Zimbabwe
OAU foreign ministers' resolution
The ministers propose that South Africa, Nigeria, Algeria, Cameroon, Kenya and Zambia make up a committee to support Zimbabwe in future talks with the European Union and other parties on land reform.
"It's very likely that it will go through in its present form. Zimbabwe was seen as victim and there was lots of sympathy. The feeling was that the EU and the United States were pressing too hard on Zimbabwe," one senior diplomat told Reuters.
Zimbabwe has been in an state of economic and political crisis since February last year when self-styled war veterans, encouraged by the state, seized hundreds of white-owned farms across the country.
The land chaos in the southern African country has left at least 31 people dead and has disrupted economic activity.
President Robert Mugabe says land redistribution is necessary to address a century-old imbalance in land ownership in the country.
EU and US back Britain
Mr Mugabe says Britain, the former colonial power, must pay compensation for the land to be seized by the state.
But London has said it will not finance land reform amidst chaos and disregard for the rule of law. Both the EU and the United States back Britain on the issue and have threatened sanctions.
Mr Mugabe plans to confiscate five million hectares (12 million acres) of the 12 million hectares (30 million acres) held by white farmers and has earmarked more than 5,000 farms for redistribution to landless blacks.
The OAU ministerial resolution said the land issue was essentially a colonial one despite British efforts to internationalise it.
"The ministers noted with concern British moves to mobilise European and North American countries to isolate and vilify Zimbabwe, leading to the imposition of formal and informal sanctions against it," the resolution said.
End of the OAU
After the summit, its 37th, ends on Wednesday, the OAU will officially disappear, having effectively voted itself out of existence.
It will be replaced by the African Union modelled on the European Union, with its own parliament, central bank and court of justice.
A combined plan to develop Africa which will be presented to the summit calls on African leaders to consolidate democracy, and on the developed world to increase aid and investment.
The African Initiative, as it is known, is a merger of the Millennium African Recovery Programme (MAP) led by South African President Thabo Mbeki and the Omega Plan spearheaded by Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade.
White farmers freed
Meanwhile a mob of Zimbabwean war veterans freed four white farmers on Sunday that they had been holding at a farm since Friday.
"They have allowed us to leave the farm now after protracted negotiations," farm owner Iain Kay told Reuters at his Chipesa Farm, 80 km (50 miles) east of the capital Harare.
"They said they want to take over the farm. We hope we can come to some kind of agreement when tempers have cooled down," he added.
The veterans beat up a farmworker earlier on Sunday before withdrawing from the farmhouse where they had been holding and threatening to kill the four farmers.
HARARE As Organisation of African Unity (OAU) leaders meet today in Zambia to transform the grouping into an African Union, analysts say the confederation needs re-orientation to move forward.
Africa is attempting to transform the OAU into a union along the lines of the European Union.
However, analysts say African leaders have to bite the bullet of economic and political reform if the union is to establish itself as a serious agency for development.
The continent is riddled with dictatorships, civil wars, refugees, economic collapse, poverty and pandemic diseases such as AIDS.
Issues such as democracy, human rights, good governance, transparency and accountability which leaders such as Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe regard as "peripheral" or "extraneous" are largely ignored.
Despite winds of change blowing across the continent, different forms of absolutism still exist: dictatorships, tyrannies, old-fashioned monarchies and despotic establishments. Authoritarian and totalitarian regimes still hold sway while oligarchies take root.
University of Zimbabwe international relations lecturer, Solomon Nkiwane, says Africa must revamp its antiquated political and economic systems to make progress. "The African Union faces complex problems. It needs to overcome a whole range of issues overlapping from the OAU before it can advance," Nkiwane said.
"There has to be real transformation and not just a change of name."
Nkiwane points out that some African leaders are still locked in the Cold War ideological time-warp.
"The Cold War mentality still holds sway in a number of countries," Nkiwane said. "It is clear there are some African leaders who still practise Cold War politics and act in that spirit. This is a major problem."
A number of African countries were aligned to the former Eastern bloc before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. That was largely because they received military training and support from former communist countries during their liberation struggles.
Political scientist Mwesigu Baregu of the Southern African Political and Economic Series (Sapes) Trust says Africa needs purposeful economic integration. "The continent needs a collective vision which defines the forms and mechanisms of revamping and integrating its economies," he said.
"The African Union must put in place a sound policy framework and a comprehensive economic plan."
However, some analysts believe it would be difficult to achieve economic integration because the union is a large body comprising different economies relatively strong, weak, run down and, in some cases, virtually collapsed ones.
The EU is a different case study. It started in 1957 as a group of six countries Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and Luxembourg and then later admitted other countries under strict requirements.
Baregu thinks economic and cultural regeneration is critical for the development of any African union .
"Africa must have a strong cultural base upon which to construct its political, social and economic systems."
He says the union must adopt a holistic approach to Africa's renaissance agenda. Economic and political reforms are key to this, he said.
The Tanzanian academic further notes the union needs to overhaul its political systems, which are cauldrons of ethnic conflicts and civil wars.
"Africa needs open political environments," Baregu said. "One of the casualties of authoritarianism is always creativity and innovation."
Apart from resolving bloody conflicts, Africa has to deal with globalisation.
Analysts say the continent has to improve its infrastructure and communications networks as well as the quality of institutions to create accountable and sound policy systems.
It also needs to modernise its economies and narrow the digital divide with the West to cope with the current global economic dynamics, which include complex technological and scientific challenges.
Countries with outdated institutions find it difficult to cope in the current global environment in which competition in ideas and technology is high. For all its negative impact, globalisation rewards countries with market-friendly policies, but carries a high risk for those which avoid reforms and disregard basic requirements of macro-economic discipline.
Other analysts believe that globalisation is weakening states, disintegrating societies, and causing widespread economic vandalism.
They say Africa must take radical steps to develop its own development paradigms.
But, Baregu argues that the continent must adapt. "Globalisation is causing a lot of problems. But it is important for Africa to position itself to deal with its challenges."
"Africa has to adopt a policy of selective engagement. It needs to build a capacity to seize opportunities presented by globalisation while resisting negative impacts," Baregu said.
Commentators observe the African Union's first major test will be the advancement of President Thabo Mbeki's Millennium Africa Recovery Plan. Effectively a Marshall Plan for Africa it is to be presented to the G-8 countries in Genoa, Italy, on July 20 and 22.
Mbeki and other movers of the recovery agenda Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo and President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria are anxious to deal with Africa's remaining despots.
The reformist leaders believe a new political and economic order in the continent will not be a reality as long as dictators remain in the saddle. "Political neanderthals still ruling most African countries are a major obstacle to a renaissance," said Masipula Sithole of the University of Zimbabwe.
Sithole says the mandarins are retrogressive because they tend to view
organisations like the African Union as instruments for settling old scores with
former colonial and imperialist powers.