|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
The Council had a brief exchange of views on Zimbabwe following an update by UK Foreign Secretary Robin COOK on the deterioration of the situation in this country in recent weeks.
The Council will take the necessary steps to propose to the government of Zimbabwe a comprehensive and balanced dialogue. The Council will come back to this issue in due course.
FARM INVASIONS INFORMATION BULLETIN
02 July 2001
COMMERCIAL FARMERS' UNION
Every attempt is made to provide a comprehensive report of ongoing activities in relation to farm invasions, but many incidents are unreported due to communications constraints, fear of reprisals and a general weariness on the part of farmers. Farmers names and in some cases, farm names, are omitted to minimise the risk of reprisal.
NATIONAL REPORT IN BRIEF:
There were no reports received from Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West (South) and Matabeleland Regions.
Mashonaland West North
Chinhoyi - DDF tractors and air drills are on various farms. Agritex pegging on various farm and Section 5's are being delivered. Pegging also taking place on farms that are not listed. Illegal occupiers lit fires on Alaska Farm, Listonshiels and Magog Farm. 40 hay bales were burnt on Magog farm and DDF tractors ploughed 1 ha of rye grass. Illegal occupiers tried to prevent the owner of Portelet Farm from paying farm workers. There has been an increase of illegal occupiers onto the farm.
Doma - Illegal occupiers are pegging on Green Valley.
Mutare - The owner of Brooksville received threats from illegal occupiers saying they would be coming to plough the owners wheat. The owner reported the incident to the lands committee. Illegal occupiers intending to peg on L'Amour farm left after the owner informed then that the farm had only been gazetted.
Masvingo East & Central - A DDF tractor ploughed an illegal occupier's vegetable plot, on Lothian Farm which has led to an altercation between illegal occupiers.
Mwenezi - Illegal occupiers are lighting fires on farms and leaving them unattended. Police told illegal occupiers on Battlefields Ranch that they had illegally moved cattle and that they were to round up their cattle and move back across the veterinary line.
Chiredzi - Illegal occupiers started fires on Eaglemont and Crown properties.
Save Conservancy - The situation remains unchanged.
Gutu / Chatsworth - Deforestation, movement of cattle and pegging of plots continue.
Shurugwi - The owner of a farm in the area has shut down the supply of electricity and water to a homestead on the farm which has recently been vacated. Illegal occupiers threatened the owner that they would burn his vehicle and blockade farm roads if he did not return water and power supplies. Police have been notified.
On Saturday morning came the news that the old African townships were cordoned off by the army and the police, while the men of the notorious Fifth Brigade were conducting searches within the cordon. Early in the afternoon we heard that my own house had been searched, that the Fifth Brigade commander had checked that it was indeed my home, and had left.
I was furious at this invasion of my home, and I resolved to go there and check it out. My hosts urged me not to go, but, seeing that I was determined, my wife insisted on coming with me. I told my security man to drive off across the deserted town. As we approached the cordon of soldiers and police, he flatly refused to go on, saying that if by any chance he survived what was bound to happen, he would get the blame for exposing me to danger. My wife agreed with him, and for almost two hours we drove aimlessly around the deserted city, discussing what to do. In the end caution prevailed, and we drove back to the former European suburb, where we had spent the night.
About 8pm there was a telephone call. There had been shooting at my home, and sporadic fire was continuing in the neighbourhood. My driver and two other members of my household were known to be dead: there might be more casualties, but nobody was certain. The Fifth Brigaders were still asking the neighbours where I was, but those who knew were not saying. Never before had I wished that I were dead, but I wished it then. I wished I had died when Ian Smith's raiders had attacked my house in Lusaka and missed me by an hour. Then I would have died at the hands of the enemies of my people. But now the attempt on my life was being made on the orders of the African government of Zimbabwe, by people claiming to act on behalf of the nation that I had worked for decades to create. It was the bitterest moment of my life.
Later it became clear what had happened. The Fifth Brigade men had entered my house, searched it and found me absent. They had then questioned my people about where I was, and on getting no reply had shot three of them out of hand. They had then rampaged through the house, smashing up the kitchen and aimlessly breaking the furniture. Apparently for their amusement they had also damaged three of my cars, putting rifle butts through the windscreens and ripping the upholstery.
This was sheer unprovoked murder and hooliganism directed at me, but striking at people whose only offence was to have served me loyally. Robert Mugabe had decided to have me out of the way, and he evidently did not care what method was used. But I hold the legitimate government of Zimbabwe innocent of this atrocity. Mugabe was acting not as prime minister, but as leader of his party Zanu. I had once asked him directly: 'What is the supreme organ in Zimbabwe?' he had answered: 'The supreme body in Zimbabwe is the central committee of Zanu (PF) my party.' I told him that could not be so: that the supreme organ of the country could only be its elected parliament, speaking for all the people. As the prime minister chosen by parliament, Robert was the top man of the country. But as leader of his party he was just a politician like me, with the same rights but no more. As leader of Zanu he acted outside the law: but the law and the constitution of Zimbabwe remain in force, and I hold the ruling party, not the lawful government, responsible for the attempt on my life.
It was my wife maFuyana who determined what I was to do. 'It appears to me,' she said, 'that your friends have gone out of their minds. Now that they have come straight out to kill you, you have got to leave. If you survive abroad you can return, and help the country out of its present problems. If you stay, you will die, and there will be no repairing the damage that will do Zimbabwe.' I pleaded with her that we should stay together, since if I left her alone they might well kill her and the children too. But she insisted that nobody should leave their country in time of trouble, unless it was absolutely necessary. It was her duty, and the children's, to stay and see things through. But equally it was my duty to go, since only if I survived would there be a hope of peace and reconciliation. She was weeping: when I argued that I, too, should stay she accused me of being selfish. And so I gave in to her argument. Once more I was heading into exile.
To leave Zimbabwe was the toughest decision I ever had to take. I knew my enemies would say I had run away, and I expected they would invent stupid stories about my flight. That clown, Herbert Ushewokunze, the minister of home affairs, told the newspapers I had 'escaped' disguised as an old woman. People will believe anything if they will believe that. Whoever saw an old woman of my height and my weight, with a clipped moustache and one of the best-known faces in all Africa? And if the police had information about this old lady, why did they not arrest her? Anyway, I did not escape, I decided to leave, and I left. For a year I had lived the life of a hunted animal. I could hide no longer.
On the Monday I had been summoned to report to the police: if I reported the killers would follow me from there, and if I did not report I would be called a fugitive suspect, with every soldier and policeman in the country licensed to shoot me out of hand. Those were the arguments for leaving. I resisted them until my wife's words sank in. Then I said, 'Right, I'll do it.' I did it, and surprised even myself.
Once the decision was taken, we sent our people out to reconnoitre the roads, first to the south-west and then southwards, towards the Botswana border fence which is, at its nearest, about a hundred kilometres from Bulawayo. All that Sunday the men kept coming back to report that it was impossible to pass. Every few kilometres there were roadblocks and men with guns, soldiers or police or men from the security service and the Fifth Brigade.
As commander-in-chief of the Zipra army during the war against the previous regime, I had acquired some knowledge of military tactics and - more important - of the military mind. I knew that every minor road would be blocked. But something told me that they would never expect me to do the simple thing and drive right down the main highway towards the border. That is just what we did. At half-past midnight we set off down the road to Plumtree, beyond which the main road and railway pass on to the Botswana frontier- post. The timing was chosen to pass through Plumtree at 2.30 or 3 am, when soldiers in any army are inclined to take a nap. That was the chance we took, and it worked. I must add that the only people to know of the plan were my wife and the young men who accompanied me.
I deliberately left my son and daughter, and her husband, out of it. It was best they did not know, in case of repercussions later. The leader of our group was Makhathini Guduza, a member of the central committee of Zapu. He drove off first in the truck, a half-ton pick-up with a canopy, together with one man. They were unarmed. I rode behind in the station wagon with Jackson Moyo and three other young men: we had two AK rifles and three pistols ready for use. Guduza's vehicle kept about two hundred metres ahead of ours, so that we could clearly see each other's lights.
We had arranged a simple set of signals. If he saw something suspicious on the road, he was to stop and keep on all his lights including the brake light. If he then switched everything off, it meant that all was clear, and we were to pull up to him for a discussion. But if he left all his lights on the four passengers in my car were to get out and move clear of the road with our weapons, and our driver was to move cautiously ahead. If it came to fighting, the plan was that one of the boys would stick by me, and the others were to fan out right and left before opening fire, to give the other side the impression that there were a lot of us. Then I as commander was to shout, "Close up!", and on that word of command we would retreat, join up, and try to work our way forward around the obstacle in the direction of the border. We were perfectly ready to shoot if it came to that: I did not like it, but there it was.
So we drove out through the former white suburbs to join up with the main road. In Bellevue, just before we picked up the highway, we passed a single car. Between there and Plumtree, a distance of just under 90 km. we met no others. Ten kilometers short of Plumtree we stopped: Guduza went ahead to scout, and I and my three boys took up defensive positions on the roadside. In Plumtree, we knew, there was a government force of about 2 000 men. Guduza came back and reported that they seemed to be there alright, but asleep: there were no police on the road, and the townships were dead quiet.
I said, "Let's go." We sandbagged the pick-up, and I got in the back with three guards and the guns. That was how we drove right into Plumtree, turning left at the township as we entered it, and so on southwards on the Mpandeni road. Now it was only 10km to the border. We knew this was the riskiest part, but our headlights showed nothing but the rabbits jumping around. Next we had to find the place where we knew the border fence was unguarded, and this was where we made our first mistake. We turned down the wrong track, and found ourselves at a dead end by a little country school. I took the risk of waking up the teachers, who directed us back towards the highway - and there once again we took a wrong turning, which we realised when the lights of Plumtree once again came up in front of us. As we turned back the sky was starting to brighten in the east, and we knew there was very little time.
But at last we identified the corner, drove down the dust track and came to the village we were looking for. A countrywoman, up early fetching water, pointed to the line of trees and the riverbed just beyond them that marked the border. We drove down and turned left at another track, stopped at the bank of the dry Ramakwabane river, and walked across to the two border fences on the Botswana side. I am no lightweight, but the boys pushed and I climbed the fence, and at last we were over in no-man's land, and up again to the Botswana fence. It was exactly twenty past six in the bright morning when I climbed down the wire onto the safety of Botswana soil.
From then on it was all welcomes. The chief of the nearest village had been my pupil for a while back in 1939, when he lived on the Zimbabwe side of the border. He greeted me and sent for the local headmaster, who organised transport to take me to Francistown, where the police took over. By 9 pm that night we were safe in Gaborone, the capital, and lodged on the orders of the president of Botswana in a small house. For the past two days I had barely rested. Now the tension was over, and I fell into the unconsciousness of deep sleep.
Poor Zimbabweans back strike
Harare - The hunger pangs factory worker Steven Tagwireyi feels at night makes him support a planned two-day national protest strike starting Tuesday. Tagwireyi said he and his 110 colleagues support the strike because soaring inflation has made life so difficult, even for the 40 percent of adults lucky enough to have jobs. "Once we ate chicken or meat stew every day" said Tagwireyi, a 32-year-old part-time laborer at a Harare plastics maker. "Now it's a luxury we can't afford."
The strike, called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, protests a 70 percent rise in fuel prices that sparked similar increases in commuter bus fares. The government has declared the strike illegal. It said strikers attempt to paralyze the commuter transport network to prevent workers opposed to the strike from reaching their jobs. Authorities said they would deploy buses to take workers to their jobs and cancel the licenses of bus companies supporting the work protest.
Lovemore Matombo, president of the federation, dismissed government allegations the planned strike was "economic sabotage" by political opponents of President Robert Mugabe that would worsen unemployment by forcing more businesses to the wall. "It is they, not us, who have created inflation and large scale unemployment through mismanagement and corruption," Matombo said. "We are withdrawing our labor for two days as the only resort we have to make them listen."
The federation vowed to defy the government's ban but urged workers to stay home and not take part in public demonstrations against the government. "We know they are going to deploy the police and army and they are going to provoke the situation," Matombo said. The main fear was that strike supporters may attempt to barricade roads to stop the government's promised deployment of extra state-owned buses to ferry opponents of the strike to work, he said. Authorities would likely move quickly to crush any unrest, said John Robertson, a privately employed economic analyst, based in Harare. "With a rapidly shrinking economy and the political crisis deepening, the smallest excuse would be needed to declare a state of emergency" with sweeping powers of arrest, detention without trial, the suspension of parliament and rule by decree, Robertson said.
Unemployment has soared during the worst economic crisis since independence from British colonial rule in 1980. About 70 percent of Zimbabwe's 12.5 million population live in poverty. Tagwireyi earns $58 for the equivalent of 15 working days a month. His bus fare, rent, his two children's state school fees and electricity charges leave him with about $16 a month. That's to pay for food, medical expenses and leisure. "It's killing us," he said. "But at least I am lucky to have a job." About 80,000 workers lost their jobs in the dwindling economy in the year that ended March 2000, according to government figures. Political violence and the drying up of hard currency earnings and investment are estimated to have cost another 120,000 jobs. Police Monday set up check points on the main streets into the impoverished outlying townships of Harare where most workers live. Supermarkets were swamped with shoppers panic buying food for the week.
From Business Day (SA), 2 July
More to Young than meets the eye
Critics thought Andrew Young was off his rocker when he said recently Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was managing the land crisis in his country better than Britain was handling political problems in Northern Ireland. But if the information that is beginning to filter out of Harare is to be believed, the former US ambassador to the United Nations definitely has all his marbles intact and might have been on a much bigger, and potentially far-reaching mission to Zimbabwe than seemed apparent at the time.
Young has apparently hatched a plan in conjunction with some regional leaders and long-suffering Zimbabwean businessmen that could get Zimbabwe out of its present economic and political crisis. The talk, too, is that he has the tacit approval of Washington and London. The first part of the plan, insiders say, is to charm and gain the confidence of Mugabe, hence Young's overdramatisation of the strife facing London in Northern Ireland in comparison to the Zimbabwean crisis.
The second, and more difficult part, will concentrate on making Mugabe realise it is possible to dust off Zimbabwe's worsening image as a pariah state, a la Libya and Iraq, if he makes certain political compromises. This includes amending the constitution to allow powersharing between the ruling Zanu PF party and Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change. Depending on other developments, the masterminds behind the plan are also musing about the possible postponement of next year's eagerly anticipated presidential elections, meaning Mugabe will be guaranteed the presidency for one more term while Tsvangirai becomes prime minister during that interim period. This, they hope, will avert possible bloodshed in the run-up to the 2002 elections and afford time to resolve Zimbabwe's worsening crisis.
Although it is easy to dismiss the existence and content of this plan - more so given that both Mugabe and Tsvangirai have previously dismissed the idea of a government of national unity - recent events in Zimbabwe and elsewhere suggest it would be unwise to do so now. To begin with, Mugabe's hold on power is unquestionably at its weakest since independence in 1980. If one were, for example, to discount the 30 non-constituency seats that the constitution vests in the president's hands, the opposition could now be the majority in parliament following the recent nullification by the courts of a number of seats won by Mugabe's party in last year's general election. This means there is scope for the MDC to mount a legal challenge in court to demand to form a new government, and ultimately press for Mugabe's ouster.
Among other recent developments is the fact that the Zimbabwean crisis featured prominently in talks between presidents Thabo Mbeki and George Bush when they met at the White House a fortnight ago. It has been interesting to watch. A few days later, the US state department was arguing vigorously in a New York court that Mugabe was entitled to immunity in the US in a lawsuit filed against him by the relatives of victims of the violence in the run-up to last year's parliamentary election in Zimbabwe. In addition, Kenya's President Daniel arap Moi, who met Mugabe in Nairobi two weeks ago, and whose country is a member of the Commonwealth team that will soon visit Zimbabwe, was in Washington last week where he met Vice-President Dick Cheney. Could this not have been a follow-up to his meeting with Mugabe?
And as if to stock the rumour mill further, Tsvangirai, Mugabe's chief rival for the leadership of the country, is in the US meeting influential figures, among them the new US assistant secretary of state for Africa, Walter Kansteiner. It is not inconceivable that the MDC leader might also meet Young, Secretary of State Colin Powell and, maybe, even Bush himself, for there is renewed interest in the region by the Americans. Then there is also the small, but significant, matter of Robin Cook's demotion and removal as UK foreign minister, which pleased Harare no end. While he was seen as standing in the way of Britain's interests in Europe, Cook and Peter Hain were also seen as impediments to warmer relations between London and Harare.
Young has appeared to confirm the plan by saying that his meeting in Harare with Mugabe was at "the suggestion of some of my friends among the leadership in Africa". The question to ask is, could Mbeki be among these friends? "The violence and suffering (in Zimbabwe) will continue worsen unless we come together to create an orderly, rational and moral solution for Zimbabwe. Can this be done without Mugabe? I do not believe so," Young says. And he is absolutely right. Mugabe holds the key to the resolution of Zimbabwe's myriad problems. If he plays ball, Young and his friends will succeed. But if Uncle Bob doesn't like the plan, then the idea is as dead as a dodo.
From The Washington Times, 2 July
US proposes to cut aid to Zimbabwe
The Senate is considering cutting off non-humanitarian aid to Zimbabwe to promote a return to the rule of law after a series of government-inspired attacks on white farmers and opposition figures, said Sen. Russell D. Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat. The proposed legislation is "not about favoring any party, it's about restoring the rule of law," said Mr. Feingold, speaking last week at a subcommittee hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001, proposed in response to the corrupt electoral practices of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, would prevent the resumption of non-humanitarian aid to the country unless specific conditions were met regarding the rule of law and electoral practice. Although Mr. Feingold, a co-sponsor of the bill, emphasized the impartiality of the legislation, a free and fair election undoubtedly would bolster the position of Zimbabwe's opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which won almost half the seats in parliamentary elections last year despite widespread intimidation and accusations of fraud.
Zimbabwe is experiencing its most devastating political and economic crisis since winning independence in 1980. Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the MDC, speaking to reporters and editors at The Washington Times last week, denounced Mr. Mugabe as a tyrant who was leading Zimbabwe on a "suicidal" path to economic ruin. Mr. Tsvangirai said the country's economy is expected to shrink by 10 percent this year and that Mr. Mugabe's land-grabbing policy is exacerbating the economic decline.
The Commercial Farmers Union in Zimbabwe announced late last week that the number of farms listed for nationalization has risen to approximately 4,500. Mr. Tsvangirai said the "farm invasions," in which ZANU-PF militants seize and occupy the listed farms, would lead to a poor harvest and a "critical shortage" of food. Mr. Tsvangirai rejected descriptions of the invaders as "war veterans" and called them political "thugs" who are too young to have fought in the war of liberation in the 1970s. Sixty percent of Zimbabwe's population is younger than 40, many too young to remember the struggle against white rule in the former Rhodesia. Mr. Tsvangirai attributes Mr. Mugabe's policies to a loss of credibility among the young.
The political situation in Zimbabwe is increasingly repressive. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, on a recent trip to South Africa, characterized Mr. Mugabe's methods of keeping power as "totalitarian." Furthermore, broadcasting is state-owned, and foreign journalists are under growing pressure to leave. A British journalist, David Blair, has been refused a renewal of his work permit and will have to leave. Such incidents are no surprise to Mr. Tsvangirai, who said: "I have been the subject of harassment. But that is the nature of the game. That is why we fight against this tyranny."
Mr. Mugabe has agreed to a Commonwealth ministerial mission that would seek to address the land dispute. The mission, proposed by Nigeria, will consist of the foreign ministers of four African countries and three others, including Britain, and is scheduled to meet in South Africa next month. Mr. Mugabe has consistently held that Britain, the former colonial power, should compensate any white farmers displaced by his land-redistribution scheme. With presidential elections scheduled for early next year, the international community is eager to ensure that free and fair elections take place. Robert Rotberg, of the World Peace Foundation, urged Congress at last week's hearing to pass the aid-cutoff legislation quickly, calling for a "clear and assertive policy position."
From News24 (SA), 2 July
Don't desert us, MDC asks UK
London - Zimbabwe's main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai urged Britain not to turn its back on its troubled former colony during a meeting with new Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on Monday. Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), met Straw at the Foreign Office for the first time since Straw replaced Robin Cook last month. He used the occasion to urge the government to continue keeping a close eye on Zimbabwe, a country blighted by violence since President Robert Mugabe introduced a controversial land reform scheme last year.
A Foreign Office spokesperson said: "Tsvangirai appealed to the world to continue to focus its attention on what is happening in Zimbabwe. He stressed it was not only important for Zimbabwe but for the international community as a whole. He urged Britain to keep a close eye on what is happening in Zimbabwe." The spokesperson said Tsvangirai recognised that Britain was very "engaged" in Zimbabwe, due to historical ties, and pleaded with the government not to desert the country now.
Tsvangirai, who also met junior foreign minister Valerie Amos, responsible for Africa, requested the meeting with Straw as part of an international tour. Last weekend the opposition leader was in Washington and later this week he will travel to Strasbourg where he will meet representatives from the European Union. Straw and Tsvangirai, 48, also discussed the "situation on the ground" in Zimbabwe. "They were very interested to hear his assessment of the situation. He is the leader of the opposition so his assessment needs to be seen in that light," the spokesperson added.
Mugabe's government last week listed another 1453 farms it plans to seize as part of the controversial land reform scheme. This follows another list published one week ago of 577 farms, for a total of 2030 farms listed in the last eight days. Zimbabwe has a total of about 5500 commercial farms. The government plans to take the mostly white-owned farms and resettle them with poor black farmers in a bid to redress colonial-era inequalities in land ownership. Mugabe's land reforms have been heavily tied to political violence against Tsvangirai's MDC, which has posed the most serious challenge ever to his 21-year rule.
From ZWNEWS, 2 July
We shall overcome
In London on Sunday evening, several hundred people, including opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, joined in prayers for peace and reconciliation in Zimbabwe at the church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square. In a service of moving contrasts, the rhythms of Shona music and dance echoed through the historic church, as did the sounds of traditional Western hymns such as ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’. In colourful dress, the Black Spear group performed several Shona hymns, starting with ‘Tiri vana maWari’, while the congregation clapped to the beat.
"We shall overcome", MDC leader Tsvangirai declared in an address. "The MDC is unique in providing a solution to the conflict through non-violence. We have chosen to be different." Tsvangirai, in London as part of a trip to Europe, also read one of the lessons : Matthew 5, verses 38-48, which includes the exhortation "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." The congregation said the noted prayer "Victory is ours through Him who loves us" which the former Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Rev. Desmond Tutu, wrote during the apartheid era, and sang the African anthem ‘Nkosi sikelela iAfrica’. A collection taken during the one-and-a-half hour service, which was conducted by the Rev. Nicholas Holtam, is to be divided between St Martin-in-the-Fields and orphaned children in Zimbabwe through the Zimbabwean AIDS Support Network.
om Business Day (SA), 2 July
Zimbabwean union gears up for strike
Harare - Zimbabwe's main labour movement on Saturday called for a two-day national strike, scheduled to start tomorrow, after President Robert Mugabe's government failed to meet a deadline to reverse recent drastic fuel price hikes. The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) gave the government 14 days to scrap the 70% fuel price rise, which state oil importer National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim) imposed on June 12. On Saturday ZCTU secretary general Wellington Chibebe said the government had continued to "dither on crucial matters to address the day-to-day prices of basic commodities as a result of the 70% increase. Following government's failure to respond within the 14 days, the general council resolved to carry out a two-day national protest on Tuesday and Wednesday," Chibebe told a news conference.
On Saturday the largely stateowned Herald newspaper reported that the government had declared the proposed strike illegal. "Any worker who participates in the illegal withdrawal of labour because of this planned stayaway should know that he/she is participating in an illegal activity," the paper quoted Labour Minister July Moyo as saying. "That (the strike is illegal) is the perception of the government. That does not address the issues of the hardships workers are facing," Chibebe said.
After declaring the strike illegal, the government said yesterday it would deploy buses to carry workers to their jobs and cancel the licences of private transport operators supporting the work protest. Transport Minister Swithun Mombeshora warned private transport operators which include thousands of minivan taxis which ferry the bulk of the country's commuters they risked losing their licences if they joined the strike, the Sunday Mail said. Moyo alleged on Friday that the union had not followed routine labour law procedures in calling the strike. However, Chibebe dismissed Moyo's claim, saying his organisation met the 14-day mandatory notice required in terms of the constitution to embark on such action. He said the ZCTU was prepared to take government head on. "The protest is the only weapon workers have to force government to reverse the fuel price hikes." Apart from the possible arrest of strike leaders and threats to cancel transport licenses, it was not clear how the government could enforce the ban and break the strike.
The government has urged unions to demand higher pay from employers to meet the rising cost of living. But the ZCTU which has the support of most of Zimbabwe's 1,2-million workers said that government was asking workers to bale out a state oil company "notorious for corruption" and inefficiency. Zimbabwe has suffered erratic fuel supplies since December 1999 after Noczim's credit lines were cut over a Z9bn (163m) debt. The business community said the fuel rises would drive up costs and force the closure of companies hit by the worst economic crisis since independence from Britain 21 years ago.
Meanwhile, political analysts warned that a big national strike could raise the political temperature close to boiling point. Political tensions in the country have barely abated since early last year, when a violent campaign, blamed largely on supporters of Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF, killed at least 31 people before last June's general elections. Earlier this month police moved into Harare's Mabvuku township after crowds barricaded a main road in protest against the fuel price increase. The increase has sent public transport costs soaring, forcing most commuters to walk to work.
From ZWNEWS, 2 July
A day in the life of a truck driver's family: a survival battle
By A Special Correspondent
The Mataruka family crouches round a small smoky fire in a two-room shack in a Harare suburb, waiting impatiently for their evening meal: a pot of cabbage. For Rabson and Dadirai Mataruka and their five children, this is the only real meal of the day. Breakfast was a shared small pot of porridge, lunch a slice of unbuttered bread for each of the children. ``I just play draughts with the other guys over the lunch-break and this helps me to forget about my hunger,'' says Mataruka, as he watches his wife attempting to coax more life into the fire while at the same time trying to comfort the youngest child, 3-year-old Rudo.
Zimbabwe's descent toward economic collapse has brought hunger and hardship to the Matarukas and hundreds of thousands of other urban families - reducing to the status of near-beggars even many of those lucky enough to have a job. Mataruka, a 48-year-old truck driver with a delivery company based at Msasa, an industrial area 13 kms west of the capital, earns $4 765 a month. Soaring inflation and fuel price hikes means that bus fares to work would now cost Mataruka $1 200 a week - just over his entire salary. But well before President Robert Mugabe's government enraged trade union leaders by announcing June 13 a 70 percent rise in fuel prices, Mataruka had ceased to be able to afford bus fares. Last year he started walking to work.
Each morning at 5 a.m.. he leaves the family home at Budiriro and walks 18 kms to the Harare city centre, where he gets a lift to Msasa in time to start work at 8 a.m. When he finishes at 4.30 p.m. there is no lift, and Mataruka walks the entire 31-km way home. ``You found me here today because I have just come back from the countryside,'' says Mataruka, further in debt after borrowing money to attend a family funeral. ``Under normal circumstances I only get back home around 8 p.m.'' Referring to the daily long trek home, he adds ruefully: ``The evenings are the most painful.''
Zimbabwe's economy has crumbled over the past few years. State-sponsored invasions of white-owned commercial farms by supporters of President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF government, and attacks on political opponents, the judiciary and the media, have hit the two biggest foreign exchange earners, agriculture and tourism. Foreign governments and international agencies have retaliated by cutting aid. Inflation and unemployment are both running at 60 percent, and food shortages loom. Mugabe's government, desperately short of foreign currency, faces having to import about 579 000 tonnes of maize and wheat.
Mataruka battles on. Last year he moved the family from their four-roomed rented house to the two-room shack. Inside, crockery, blankets, water-containers and broken wooden chairs pile upon each other. ``When one of us gets a cough it spreads like wildfire throughout the family because, as you can see, there isn't even proper ventilation,'' he says. ``Lately, I think these two rooms are now infested with bed bugs,'' he adds in a whisper. He struggles to pay school fees - a total of nearly $400 a month for the four older children - even though he doesn't expect them to find jobs. Each year, Zimbabwe's secondary schools turn some 300,000 students on to the shrinking job market.
Money for food and clothes is a monthly battle. His wife used to crochet tablemats and sell them to other women who in turn sold them to tourists. But few tourists come anymore. Now Mrs. Mataruka illegally grows maize on municipal land. ``The groceries of kapenta (dried fish), a bottle of cooking oil, two kilograms of sugar, three bars of soap and a small packet of salt do not even last two weeks . we borrow continuously from local loan sharks.'' A meal with meat is a treat, once every two weeks. What about applying for a plot on one of the white-owned farms being taken over by former nationalist guerrilla fighters and other Zanu PF supporters? ``I'm not a farmer,'' says Mataruka. ``All I ask for is a job that gives me a living wage and a government that understands that its citizens have to survive. They expect our votes but at the same time they want to kill us.'' The cabbage is ready. Mataruka shakes his head in dejection. ``There is no way our lives will ever improve again, unless of curse the government makes a deliberate move to improve the economic situation.''
From The Zimbabwe Standard, 1 July
CIO, war veterans invade Tsvangirai’s village
War veterans and CIO agents have descended on MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai’s home village of Nerutanga in Buhera North. Villagers from the area told The Standard last week that the war veterans and state agents, who in the last few weeks set up their bases in the village, had been intimidating and harassing opposition supporters ahead of a possible by-election following the nullification of Zanu PF’s election win in last year’s parliamentary election.
The High Court recently nullified the election result of the constituency where Zanu PF’s Kenneth Manyonda had defeated Tsvangirai. In possible anticipation of a by-election and in preparation for next year’s presidential election, the ruling party has embarked on a massive terror campaign in the whole constituency targeting school teachers, "uncooperative" traditional leaders, and other civil servants. However, of late, the war veterans have intensified their campaign by invading Tsvangirai’s home area where they have terrorised villagers and the local MDC leadership.
A number of MDC supporters from the village have been on the run as a result of the terror campaign. MDC branch secretary for the area, Willard Magadzire, told The Standard that scores of families had been forced to abandon their homes and had fled to mountains for safety. Magadzire himself had his homestead burnt and property worth over $100 000 destroyed by the marauding Zanu PF supporters. Magadzire said the ruling party supporters were also causing terror in nearby villages of Nharira and Gwebu.
Police, despite being told of the violence, have characteristically refused to intervene and arrest the culprits. "We have reported the matter to the local police but this has not helped. Every time we ask about the police inaction, the police tell us that they are afraid of the CIOs. We are exposed," said Magadzire. "I left my family in Buhera and I am not sure of their safety. Our supporters are now staying in mountains while others have moved in with relatives who stay in other places. The situation is bad."
From ZWNEWS, 1 July
Turbulent priest says farewell
By a Special Correspondent
In an emotional three-hour service Sunday, hundreds of Harare parishioners said goodbye to Canon Tim Neill, the Zimbabwean priest who is going into self-imposed exile in protest at government meddling in the Anglican church. At least 600 people crowded onto straw bales and pews in the garden of St Luke's church in Greendale suburb, for Neill's farewell service. Neill, who has been accused of fomenting racial divisions within the Anglican church, has been rector at St Luke's for 16 years. Members of the congregation sang for Baba (Father) Neill - mostly in Shona. Teenagers danced for him, blue-scarved members of the Mothers Union gave him gifts and church officers promised to carry on his work.
Neill, whose active stand against the government of President Robert Mugabe has been welcomed by many churches in Zimbabwe, was sacked as Vicar General of Harare by the government in February. He refused to resign, instead choosing to go into exile to protest against anti-canonical procedures which put a staunch Mugabe supporter into office as Bishop of Harare. Neill first came to prominence in March last year, when St Luke's distributed a pamphlet criticising Mugabe's stance on land invasions after the president refused to stop war veterans illegally occupying white-owned farms. The government said then his parish had to be prepared to be treated as part of the opposition trying to oust Mugabe from power.
Earlier this year, Neill was bypassed for election as Bishop of Harare after Mugabe's friend Norbert Kunonga was brought in, in a move Neill argues bypassed canonical law. Kunonga in his enthronement speech lashed out at priests in Harare calling them "tools for other races" and "religious Uncle Toms." In February, Neill claimed to have survived an attempt on his life after a government-owned vehicle tried to run his car off the road as he was returning home after giving a speech criticising the government.
While Neill has over the past year spoken out fearlessly against the government - he said in an interview last week that the international community had to do "anything that makes it hard for the regime to survive, anything that takes away its credibility" - his words on Sunday bore little trace of bitterness. He made only one reference to the "disgraceful things happening in our nation." "You know what to do," he urged the congregation, as one woman told of how Neill had healed racial rifts in the church by setting up house-meetings where blacks and whites could eat and talk together. While he has cut all ties with the Anglican church in Zimbabwe, Neill has said he wishes to stay on in the country, possibly to work with an NGO.
From The Zimbabwe Standard, 1 July
Armed war vets terrorise villagers
Bulawayo - Armed bands of former Zipra combatants have caused panic among the civilian population on the new resettlement areas in the Nyamandlovu area, north-west of Bulawayo. The war veterans are said to be harassing suspected supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change, and sexually abusing women settlers. According to some settlers at one resettlement scheme near Deli, groups of rowdy war veterans, some clutching Kalashnikov combat rifles, roam the resettlement areas on a daily basis, intimidating those who do not possess Zanu PF membership cards. Seven settlers were reported to have abandoned the new homes after war veterans kept on harassing and threatening to kill them.
"Nobody feels safe in this place because of harassment by war veterans. Whenever we make reports to the Nyamandlovu police, they tell us they can’t touch war vets," one villager told The Standard during a recent visit. "There is complete lawlessness in this country and something must be done to stop the harassment of civilians by these war veterans," said Kabelo Mlothswa, who claimed to have been tortured by three war veterans. Sometimes, the war veterans invade white-owned farms and ranches in the district and demand fresh milk and amasi (a dairy product). If the farmers refuse to give them the milk and game meat, they are severely assaulted. Police in Nyamandlovu refused to speak to The Standard saying they were instructed not to talk to journalists from the independent media. The officer who answered the phone told the paper to send questions to Harare. "Anything to do with war veterans, please ask our Harare headquarters," said the officer.
The Standard also visited the Deli resettlement area to investigate allegations that some women settlers were being sexually assaulted by the former freedom fighters. When this reporter arrived in Deli, he was confronted by four war veterans dressed in military style khaki outfits, who promptly "arrested" him for entering what they called "a protected area". The men took the reporter to their leader who simply introduced himself as the field commander of Nyamandlovu resettlement area and was "licensed" to eliminate suspected MDC spies and foreign journalists.
"Who told you to come here? Were you sent by MDC? Everyone reports to me in this place and you must be punished for disregarding our rules," he said. "You are a journalist, I have no comment," added the self-styled field commander. He however, later gave his name as Comrade Dabudabu and agreed to speak to The Standard. He denied accusations that his men were sexually harassing women on the farms, and that one of his men wanted to kill a villager suspected of being a member of the MDC. "We don’t harass civilians here. We only kill spies sent by whites," Cde Dabudabu claimed. However, the women settlers who were brave enough to speak to this paper said two of their colleagues had been raped by war veterans on the farms. The victims had been attacked after allegedly turning down the war veterans’ advances. "If you are raped here, the police will not do anything because they were told not to interfere with the war veterans," said Cecilia Moyo who was allocated a stand in the area when land was being parcelled out.
02 July 2001
Lessons from nursery tales
WHEN Little Red Riding Hood met the wolf, the phrase "charm offensive" didn't enjoy common usage. Fortunately Zimbabweans can learn from Little Red Riding Hood, who was naïve even by nursery standards, and take the government's charm offensive with the caution it warrants.
The ruling elite in Zimbabwe has been paying huge sums of money for advice, principally from people of debatable morality. Men like Mr Herman Cohen, spin-doctor to several dictatorships, will almost certainly have advised the Zimbabwean government to spruce up its image ahead of the Commonwealth Conference. President Robert Mugabe does not want to be top of the Commonwealth's list of troublesome countries and one way to limit the damage will be to appear reasonable.
That's why people like Mr Mugabe and Professor Jonathan Moyo are embarking on a charm offensive. Apart from the despicable act of booting out a British journalist (and even that was couched in the language of reasoned diplo-speak), Moyo and Mugabe have toned down their rhetoric. They want to be friends with the British, we hear, and they even went so far as to congratulate Tony Blair on his electoral victory, assuming, one supposes, that he will have forgotten that just months ago he was a gay gangster.
Perhaps more than any other sector in Zimbabwe, farmers need to be sceptical about the amount of reason and light emanating from the ruling party. There is much reason for hope - but it is not to be found in a newly enlightened ZANU - PF. The ruling party has changed its approach, but the agenda and the objectives remain the same. Mr John Robertson, a leading economist, recently said, "In all of the moral indignation being expressed by ZANU - PF in its passionate claims for the recovery of 'land for the landless' is missing, not just one vital point, but a whole raft of points. As commercial agriculture is crucial to the continued survival of about half the paid employment in the country, brings in about half the foreign exchange earnings and generates about half the taxes collected by government, closing it down could cut the size of the economy by half. And the half that is left would inevitably shrink."
Much of the responsibility for ensuring that does not happen lies with farmers, because Mr Robertson is entirely correct in his belief that it is the ruling party's goal to create a country based on patronage. "In terms of their plan, the ruling party also insists that this process of capturing economic territory has to be accomplished specifically by themselves. This is so that the reallocation of the prizes, the captured assets, will fall entirely within the party's gift. Dressed up as socialism and Marxist-Leninist thinking on the redistribution of wealth, and energised by disingenuous righteous indignation, the policy is actually designed to enrich and firmly entrench a tiny, powerful and morally bankrupt minority."
That is Mr Mugabe's intention, but he is unlikely to achieve it.
The Zimbabwe Joint Resettlement Initiative will probably emphasise the tactics the party will use over the coming months. Its proposals will almost certainly be accepted, even lauded, by the government in the very near future. One cabinet minister has already praised it and others will follow.
Still, there's a danger that there'll be encouraging talk in the corridors of power and lots of rhetoric about a new spirit of cooperation - but no change on the ground. The reason for this is simple: while ordinary Zimbabweans never believed that Zimbabwe's crisis was brought about because of land, ZANU -PF and the people it negotiates with are working on the principle that until the land issue is resolved, the real issues cannot be tackled. The rest of the country, and the international community, is taking a more holistic view by insisting that land may be an issue, but it is not the only issue - and that all problems contributing to the crisis must be resolved simultaneously. If farmers don't adopt this approach as well, they will be the butt of huge resentment for attempting to solve their problems in isolation - and will stand accused, rightly or wrongly, of solving their problems at the expense of ordinary people who are suffering as much, if not worse, harassment and intimidation at the hands of the ruling party.
Zimbabwe's progress towards the 2002 presidential elections will be carefully stage managed at a public level. The government will be eager to present itself as a willing partner in dialogue, both at home and abroad. It will concede that it has made errors, some large, and that the mess needs to be resolved. But diplomats, the important ones at least, have already said that there is absolutely no possibility of changing their approach until definite action is taken to end the Zimbabwean crisis - and definite action goes well beyond solving problems on the farms.
In the main, diplomats are clever people. A few showcase evictions for the benefit of the press won't persuade cynical men in Europe and North America that Mr Mugabe is doing something tangible to bring democracy to his country - because, be warned, there probably will be an attempt to lay on carefully managed measures that prove Zimbabwe is once again committed to the rule of law.
Journalists will treat the rhetoric and stage management with hard-bitten scepticism, as will diplomats and aid workers. Farmers should be encouraged to follow their example.
This is not the time to be naïve. Dialogue is worthless unless it results in action to end the crisis. That probably won't happen, which is bad news, because it is essential to Mr Mugabe that the nation remains in a state of crisis until the presidential election. The good news, though, is that after the election it's unlikely to matter. Whatever the outcome, and at this stage the prognosis is far from good for the ruling party, the rules will change completely and Zimbabweans will be able to get down to the business of fixing things.
Editor- The Farmer
THE newly formed so called Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions appears to have adopted a strategy of intimidating employers to award unrealistic wage and salary increments in an apparent attempt to curry favour with farm workers as a way of boosting its membership.
However, under the law, the ZFTU can not recruit individual members but only affiliate unions, which makes its current campaign on behalf of workers illegal. The Farmer has established that most of its so called members, including the Zimbabwe Horticulture, Crocodile, Ostrich and Allied Workers Union, are not registered with the Ministry Labour and Social Welfare.
The union's unorthodox membership drive is at the centre of a labour crisis that paralysed operations of Butler Farms, Zimbabwe's largest cut-flower enterprise just outside Harare.
3000 workers at the farms went on strike this week demanding a wage increment of more than 200 percent apparently after ZFTU deputy president and war veteran leader, Joseph Chinotimba, stepped into the fray and tried to intimidate farm owner, Mr John Butler to accede to the demands.
In an interview, Mr Butler said about a month ago, his management was forced, under duress, to sign an unofficial agreement which would have seen most of the farm workers earning up to $4000 per month including various allowances. He said, however, the agreement carried a provision that it would only be implemented subject to the viability of the company.
According to Mr Butler, this was when Chinotimba came onto the scene and threw out the agreement suggesting that a new one be negotiated. "He tried to intimidate me to award increments of more than 200 percent but that is not possible," he said.
Mr Butler dismissed as misleading a report in the State controlled Herald which claimed that the farm management had agreed to award increments of up to 227 percent.
Meanwhile Mr Ewen Rodger, chief executive of the Agricultural Labour Bureau said wage increases "negotiated" by the newly formed ZFTU will not stand up if contested in court. This was after, Irvine's, a massive poultry producer, and Butler Farms, were coerced into signing wage increments of 150 and 227 percent respectively.
The negotiations were spearheaded by the self-appointed leader of farm and business invasions, Mr Joseph Chinotimba. Chinotimba, now vice president of the unrecognised ZFTU, travels the country in a newly acquired ZANU - PF Jeep Cherokee, while he is on permanent leave from the Harare Municipality. A former security guard in the municipality, Chinotimba's other job is that of a driver.
Rodger told The Farmer this week that farmers should not bow down to unrecognised unions. "This is clearly part of their (ZANU - PF's) political plan," he said. "The ZFTU is made up of a loose grouping of unregistered unions set up by government. They go on to farms, cause trouble and coerce people into entering agreements. You can see from the irresponsible reporting (in the Herald) that this is nothing to do with us," he added.
Mr Rodger said that these cases should be taken to court. "The courts will overturn the agreements," he advised, "but this takes time. The Ministry of Labour won't intervene because it's deemed 'political', while the police will be their usual useless selves."
The ALB chief executive said the best way of avoiding this problem was not to sign any agreement. "The only way to deal with tyranny is to stand up to it," he said. "If you bow down to it then it won't go away." This was proven by the fact that Butler Farms already had agreement with their workers, Rodger explained, but Chinotimba returned with a new set of demands. "The problem is that these people come and say, 'these are our new demands and they aren't negotiable so if you don't agree, we'll kill you,'" said Ewen Rodger, adding that people then tend to sign.
According to the Agricultural Labour Bureau deputy executive, Mr Joseph Mafanuke, there is, at present, only one union which represents farm workers, and this is the General Agricultural and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ), which is an affiliate of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions.
Mr Mafanuke advised farmers to immediately contact the ALB if approached by the ZFTU seeking to negotiate wage increaments for farm workers. "We understand they are going around the country trying to negotiate on behalf of workers" he said.
Poaching headache for wildlife producers
WILDLIFE producers are dismayed and disappointed by the manner in which the government's controversial fast-track resettlement programme is unfolding threatening to decimate entire herds of exotic animal species. Thousands of animals have perished, vast tracks of wildlife range disturbed, thousands of snares recovered, client hunting curtailed and photographic tourism reduced.
The Wildlife Producers' Association (WPA) said at its annual general meeting that the association was seeking government's support in stopping the massive poaching and other disruptive activities to the industry to enable a rebuilding of herds and operations in the national interest.
WPA chairman, Mr Wally Herbst, said due to the invasions of commercial farmland, the industry has experienced a downturn of more than 60% in tourism.
Most producers, concerned by the poaching activities by the new settlers and invaders, told the Environment and Tourism deputy minister, Mr Edward Chindori-Chininga that his ministry and the department of National Parks needed to control the poaching activities. It emerged that the problem of poaching is far more widespread than the much-publicised Save Conservancy and the Gonarezhou National Park where people have settled themselves and have continued poaching with impunity. They said these problems were a major threat to the EU meat market as fences had been completely destroyed.
Mr Chininga told the wildlife producers that he was aware of poaching and other problems but, "you must understand the need to address the land issue."
He said National Parks should to go down and educate people on what should be done with wildlife in newly resettled areas. Mr Chininga urged farmers to work together especially with the people "on the ground" to come up with models that would accommodate the indigenous people.
"There is lack of coordination all the time because stakeholders are not coming together. If there is better co-ordination then problems can be solved," he said. He said the current problems were a passing phase because resettlement cannot continue for many years.
Mr Chininga said there were particular problems with regards to the resettlement of people in natural regions 4 and 5 where large tracts of land are used for wildlife. He said people in these areas resisted being moved to other natural regions due to their traditional beliefs hence the need to allocate some and not all of them land in natural regions 4 and 5.
Deputy director (research) for National Parks, Mr Vitalis Chadenga said, "although poaching is a problem, dealing with it in isolation will not solve the problem. There is need to address the concerns of the those who are poaching"
Mr Herbst hoped an awareness programme would be started on the properties have been resettled to bring them into the WPA fold and enable them utilise the natural resources sustainably.
He said law and order was critical to the survival of wildlife and its habitats on game farms.
"There has to be an atmosphere of calm to enable clients and operators to go about their business of safari hunting and photographic tours. If wildlife loses its value because of the current land resettlement problems it will counter Zimbabwe's tourism programmes," said Mr Herbst.
Other problems discussed were the issue of animal translocation, delays in the issuance of export permits and the export of live animal.
Tobacco farmers want coal middlemen axed
TOBACCO farmers, blaming middlemen for the exorbitant cost of coal which threatened their viability last season, are now seeking alternative methods of sourcing the commodity at reasonable rates while others have gone further by calling for other sources of energy to cure their tobacco.
To cut the cost of coal, large-scale tobacco producers have urged their representative organisation, Zimbabwe Tobacco Association (ZTA) to apply to the country's sole coal producer, Wankie colliery, to become a registered merchant with respect to road hauled coal orders collected at the colliery or designated distribution centres.
Last year, tobacco farmers faced shortages and delays, which they say proved too costly to their businesses. Trelawney farmer, Mr Warwick Evans, said last year's early coal deliveries, which accounted for about one third of the coal for tobacco farmers, should have been delivered by the end of July 2000 at $2 144 a tonne. However, he said, these deliveries were only completed in December at a cost of $2 846 a tonne. This delay resulted in farmers paying any extra $151 million.
The shortages of coal, which is used by farmers to cure their tobacco, were due to poor performance by National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ), which provided limited wagons and a plant breakdown at Wankie Colliery.
Tobacco farmers are the second biggest customer to Wankie Colliery after Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (ZISCO) and feel that they should be allowed the same facility to purchase coal directly from the colliery as ZISCO.
Tobacco farmers are currently forced to purchase coal through the Coal Distribution Association, which makes coal more expensive as the farmers are made to pay the extra costs and commission.
Mr Evans said, "While one can understand that Wankie do not want to deal with 7 500 individual farmers, one cannot accept their refusal to deal with ZTA."
He said despite the introduction of liner trains to improve the supply situation, Wankie continued to hamper deliveries by deliberately choosing not to send coal on liner trains which resulted in NRZ's failure to supply enough wagons. Mr Evans said this resulted in the introduction of road-hauled coal, which is the most expensive option for the farmers." This resulted in substantial increases in the coal price which prejudiced the industry $43 million to $75 million."
He said tobacco growers were now victims of cartels or monopolistic trading on one of their main inputs.
But while some tobacco farmers were looking at ways to cut the cost of procuring coal from Wankie Colliery, small scale farmers have called for alternative sources of energy to coal which they say is not affordable to them.
The smallholder Commercial Production Committee urged the ZTA to investigate and commission research into viable and cost effective alternatives to the use of indigenous timber for curing tobacco. The committee said despite its shortage, it was now unaffordable and most smallholder farmers did not have electricity. They said wood was cheaper and smallholder farmers should intensify their forestation programme initiated through ZTA.
The ZTA, through the Tobacco Research Board (TRB), have signed an agreement with Dutch solar power company to experiment on the use of solar power in curing tobacco.
Zimbabwe to respond to EU veterinary team
THE director of Zimbabwe's Veterinary Service Department, Dr Stuart Hargreaves, says he is preparing a report to the European Union (EU) providing answers on how the country is responding to the recommendations of the EU veterinary inspection team which carried out an inspection in the country last January.
He expects to present his report to the EU in the next two weeks amid reports that one of the main problem areas, the Save Conservancy, which the EU inspection team was concerned about during its visit, has not improved.
Dr Hargreaves confirmed to The Farmer that he would be responding to the EU recommendations. "They are just answers on how we are implementing the recommendations they made when the came here."
However, he declined to elaborate further saying he did not want to pre-empt the contents of his report through the media before officially presenting it to the EU.
Following its visit in January, the EU veterinary inspection team prepared a report on Zimbabwe that centred on the implementation of veterinary control regulations. The report had four major components some of which included the need to beef up the veterinary department with adequate resources to effectively do its job and to urgently attend to the Save Conservancy and other areas where the so-called war veterans and land invaders had cut fences resulting in cattle mixing with buffalo which are known to be foot and mouth disease carriers.
Dr Hargreaves is said to have requested the EU team after its visit to allow Zimbabwe three months in which to rectify any problems. However, as he is preparing to present Zimbabwe's report, the Save Conservancy remains a major problem area as so called "war veterans" and land invaders continue to defy efforts by government officials to bring the situation under control.
Asked to comment on the Save Conservancy issue, Dr Hargreaves was cagey, "I can't comment on that. We are still busy investigating that issue," he said.
But he said, however, that a lot had been done to improve efficiency within his department. Dr Hargreaves said the veterinary department has been going through an institutional reform programme and restructuring so that it concentrates on its core business.
Meanwhile, cattle producers say they are still concerned with non-adherence to regulations on cattle movement and that some people were apparently not aware of the law of cattle identification. Cattle Producers' Association chief executive Mr Paul H'dotman said cattle nationwide must be identified with the brand of the farm of origin or the dip tank of origin and that Livestock Identification Trust ear tags can be used in place of a brand. He said that there was a need to make people realise that this is law.
Zimbabwe government lists about 80 percent of farms
THE Zimbabwe government last week used 18 full pages in the state-controlled broadsheet Herald newspaper to list hundreds of farms it intends to acquire for its so-called fast track resettlement scheme.
In 1998, the Zimbabwe government agreed to acquire five million hectares of commercial farmland over a five-year period. The scheme was to be paid for by western donors, though all donor money was withdrawn when farms were issued to government cronies instead of landless peasants.
The latest listing brings the hectarage to over five million hectares. "Seventy eight percent of all farms had been listed before today's list," said Jerry Davidson, of the Commercial Farmers' Union, adding that the new list would "probably take it to well over 80 percent." Davidson said some areas, like the coffee and tea producing eastern highlands district of Chipinge, had already had 98 percent of farms listed for acquisition by government. He believed "something in the region of 5 300 farms have now been listed."
David Hasluck, the CFU director, said, "About 804 of the farms on last week's list were listed in June last year, while there are also some new ones, so it looks like they've re-listed them all in case they left some out. It looks like they're working on the principle of listing everyone because these lists aren't compiled in the provinces, they come from Harare."
No official from Zimbabwe's agriculture ministry was available to comment on the latest mass listing of farms.
The move has caused speculation that the government intends to list all white-owned farms in Zimbabwe, forcing farmers who wish to remain in the country to seek them back through the courts. However, the move will cause apprehension among donors as it follows a European Union directive that the Zimbabwean government restores law and order and ends the illegal occupation of farms. The EU will meet in late August to consider whether it needs to take action against Zimbabwe.
There are an estimated 20 000 illegal invaders on Zimbabwe's commercial farms.