The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Dear All,

Cathy Buckle lives in Marondera in our province, having been forced off her
farm last year. She wrote the book "African Tears" which is currently in the
bookshops in S.A. and the U.K., and is well into the sequel now. It will be
published soon. She is the only author as far as I know that is describing
what is happening on the farms. Her problem - people are afraid to talk to
her. She also has begun to write articles for our Independent newspapers.
Here are two recent examples from our area. The second article was last
night. I asked the poor family to get in touch with C early this
morning - they are at their wits end - what harm can some publicity do them

Love to you all.   G

What's really happening.

On a cold and moonless night this week while most Zimbabweans sat around
warm fires watching TV, spending time with their families or trying to work
out how to survive financially, there was terror, hijack, abduction and
beating going on in the countryside. Because the invasion of companies in
towns and cities have come to an end, people seem to think that everything
has gone back to normal - nothing could be further from the truth. If your
company was one of those invaded, your employer taken away, your vehicle
hijacked, your employees beaten to a pulp, then you will know how it feels.
For you it may now be over, but for hundreds of farmers and their workers,
it is still going on day after day. You may read the facts and figures and
statistics in connection with farm invasions but these are real people who
are helpless, powerless, alone and scared. Real people who are black and
white, rich and poor and who put their lives on the line every single day
to keep producing the food we eat. These are people who have to remain
nameless, faceless and voiceless if they are to survive another day.

One night this week a large group of 'war veterans' approached a man in a
bar. They ordered him to drive them out into the neighbouring farming area
where they relieved him of his vehicle and then left him on the side of the
road. The 'war veterans' then proceeded to a house where nine security
guards are stationed. They assaulted two of these unarmed men, leaving them
bruised, bleeding and deeply traumatized. The remaining seven guards were
ordered outside and forced into the stolen vehicle. These seven men were
outnumbered by more than four to one, they had no option but to do what
they were told. The 'war veterans', travelling in the vehicle they had
hijacked earlier and now the security vehicle also, took the seven guards
to a nearby town, to a public and well know watering hole and beat them up.
In front of witnesses who could, or would do nothing, seven men were
assaulted. They were then driven a few kilometres into the countryside to
the edge of a resettlement area. The seven security guards were lined up
and beaten, kicked and punched. They were completely outnumbered,
defenceless and unarmed.

The two guards who had been left behind called the police. The police told
them that their report had been 'copied' but that they did not have anyone
to send to the scene. The two guards were desperate, seven of their
colleagues had been abducted and their vehicle had been stolen, they called
on the farm radio for help. Five commercial farmers immediately went out in
the cold and the dark to see what they could do to help. The first priority
was to secure medical assistance for the beaten guards. One needed hospital
care and the farmers took him to the police station to ask for help. The
farmers were told that there was no one available at that time and so they
arranged for the badly beaten guard to be taken to hospital privately. As
they have been for sixteen months, the farmers were alone, without
protection and without assistance. They did not give up though, there were
seven men depending on them. It was not a question of rich and poor, black
and white, employer and employee, it was simply a case of human beings
putting their lives on the line for each other, doing whatever needed to be
done to help each other.

It took more than three hours for a semblance of sanity to return. One
farmer remained at the police station waiting until they had men available
to go with him to the scene of the abduction. The police wanted to help,
they had to clear it with their superior though and these things take time,
a very long time. The other farmers went out into the night. They had no
idea of where to go, where to look or where to start. Looking for seven men
in the dark along a myriad of dusty back roads is about as easy as finding
the proverbial needle in a haystack. The grass lining the roads is tall,
visibility is restricted to the beams of car headlights and yes, even for
men, it is scary. You don't know what you are going to find around the next
corner. Will it be a tree across the road, will it be armed 'war veterans',
will it be a mob of abductors who seem to have more rights than you?

There was an overwhelming sense of despair, complete and utter despair.
What do you do when crimes such as assault, abduction, hijack and car theft
are classed as being 'political'? What do you do when there is no
accountability, when there are no clear cut chains of command? When
officials at the highest levels are not prepared to be hurried, not
prepared to make decisions or take action? Who do you turn to for help?

In the cold and the dark one of the stolen vehicles was found abandoned,
then another and then the seven abducted security men. They are all alive,
they are 'alright' but the memories will be there to haunt them at night
for a long time to come. The cuts and bruises will heal quickly but the
memories will take much longer.

Neither the farmers nor the security guards want to talk about what
happened to them. If they do will it be worse tomorrow? Zimbabweans across
the country have come to accept this. We are all filled with despair and
frustration. We throw our hands up and say: "this shouldn't be happening"
and we do nothing. It is happening though, every day and every night. The
people that grow our food are under attack. This is not a case of blacks
against whites, or of employees and employers or of those with land and the
landless. It is a case of anarchy, lawlessness and terror. The people out
in the countryside are at the end of their tether and if those of us in
town do not start taking an interest, do not start speaking out, we will
all be very hungry very soon.


Article 2

What's really happening.

By CB.

Not long before midnight, 25 'war veterans' arrived at the locked gate of a
farmer's home. Getting in was not going to be a problem. They had been to
this same house three times in the last few weeks. They had seriously
weakened the gate last time they were here, it was bent from where they had
attached ropes and tried to pull it down with their car and there was also
a large and roughly patched hole in the mesh. Within a few minutes, under
the glare of the security lights, 25 war veterans were inside the farmer's
garden. It was time for a pungwe. 10 workers had been dragged out of the
farm compound and ordered to join in, 4 German Shepherd dogs had been cowed
into silence and because it is winter and was cold, the 'war veterans' lit
a fire on the lawn, outside the bedroom windows. Let the pungwe begin.

Drumming, shouting, singing, chanting, ululating - the 'war veterans' went
on and on into the night. Lights went on inside the farm house but no-one
came out, no one dared and so the men in the garden stepped up the
intimidation, increased the noise. Stones, rocks and sticks were gathered
up and pelted onto the roof of the homestead. The 'war veterans' want this
farm desperately, but they want the house too. They want the owners out and
they called their dogs in to increase the noise and the terror they were
playing out in the middle of the night. The 'war veteran' instigating this
midnight madness, the 'base commander', is determined to get these farmers
out, to have this land and this house for himself. He has been told by his
superiors to leave these people alone. He has been told that negotiations
for delisting are advanced, that this is an extremely productive property
but he is a law unto himself and he knows only too well that the police
will do nothing to him, that he will get away with this horror. He is,
after all a 'war veteran' and his is the only law Zimbabwe knows.

The war veteran hosting a pungwe on a farmer's lawn in the middle of the
night also knows that inside the house are a young couple with three
children under 10. For weeks he has been harassing them, intimidating them,
doing everything he can to wear them down, to tip them over the edge so
that they will leave, so that
he can have everything that is theirs.

Inside the house, the farmers are at their wits end. They can smell the
smoke, hear the singing and chanting and the noise as rocks repeatedly hit
the roof is totally terrifying. The children are crying and scared and the
parents do not know what to tell them, how to calm them, what to say that
will reassure them. What can a mother tell her children, how can she tell
them not to be scared when she herself is sobbing and shaking? She fears
for their lives on this night from hell and she prays for dawn, for help,
for sanity. She fears for their minds too. Her five year old son has
endured months and months of fear. The little boy is now beginning to show
the signs of prolonged distress, he is quiet and withdrawn and seems to be
permanently unwell. This innocent five year old child has headaches, a
recurring sore throat and complains of ear aches. The doctors can find
nothing physically wrong with the child but the psychological effects of
prolonged stress are as clear as day.

Shortly before one in the morning the police finally arrive at the farmers
home. They do not attempt to move the 25 'war veterans' from the lawn. They
do not arrest them for trespassing. They do not make them put out the fires
burning outside the bedroom windows. They do not tell them to remove their
dogs. The police did try and talk to the 'war veterans' but the midnight
revellers ordered them to leave. The police do not speak to the farmer or
his wife, they say that there is nothing they can do now, they are
outnumbered, they will return in the morning. The police are not on the
property for more than five minutes. Later in the night Support Unit arrive
on the farm. They too say they can do nothing and will also return in the
morning. The farmer, his wife and their three children under ten are alone.

When dawn came the 'war veterans were still in the garden. They had covered
all the doors leading out of the house so that no one could go in or out
and everyone waited for political intervention.

What is happening on Zimbabwean farms is not about land. The 25 'war
veterans' having a pungwe outside a farmers bedroom window in the middle of
the night are not landless peasants. These men throwing rocks on roofs,
shouting, chanting and singing do not want to be farmers. These men want
what other people have got.They want our homes, our posessions, our
livelihoods. They do not want to 'liberate' land stolen from their
ancestors, they want the good life and they are taking it. They are being
allowed to take it and day after day, night after night, we are letting
them get away with it. This is what is happening on Zimbabwean farms every
day. People are being evicted from their homes, children are being
traumatised and the psychological scars are deepening. This is not fiction,
it is happening every single day and we are allowing it to continue.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Friday July 6, 12:43 AM
Zimbabwe admits that food shortages loom
HARARE, July 5 (AFP) -
Zimbabwe's government admitted Thursday for the first time that the country faces food shortages later this year and may need international aid.
"That there will be shortages in national production is confirmed. The uncertainty is the magnitude," Finance Minister Simba Makoni told journalists Thursday.
Previously government officials have adamantly denied reports -- some compiled by its own agencies -- that the normally self-sufficient nation would not produce enough cereals this year to meet its needs.
Makoni said government has already contacted "key members of the international community to indicate that we will be short and will need assistance."
"Notwithstanding factors influencing our relations with other countries, when human lives are involved I would hope we can find common cause to mitigate it," he said.
"I am very concerned, so are other leaders, because our budget has not provided for food imports," Makoni said, warning that if the government had to import foodstuffs Zimbabwe would have "to live beyond our means."
As recently as Tuesday, Lands and Agricultural Minister Joseph Made insisted that food shortages were not an issue, claiming some sections of society were creating artificial shortages of food in the country.
"I am aware that there are a number of people who are involved in activities...meant to create an aspect of shortages," Made said.
A regional food security agency, local farming bodies, and the government's agriculture monitoring agency have forecast food shortages for months, although they have differed on the exact amount of the shortfall.
Shortfalls are also expected in other countries in southern Africa, meaning Zimbabwe may have to look farther afield for grains to import.
But with the long-running shortage of foreign currency here, the government could have to struggle to find enough money to buy maize and wheat.
Most international lenders have cut off aid to Zimbabwe because of the slow pace of economic reforms and criticism of the government's human rights record.
Commercial farms in Zimbabwe have struggled to operate since February last year, when veterans of the liberation war began leading the violent occupations of white-owned farms, which account for most of the country's commercial production.
Small farmers who produce food for their own consumption have also suffered because of erratic rains and rampant inflation, which made it difficult for them to buy fertilizers and other supplies.
Zimbabweans consume between 1.8 million and two million tonnes of maize per year, experts say.
State officials estimate that only 1.4 million tonnes of maize will be harvested this year, while the nation's reserves are nearly empty.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Thursday, 5 July, 2001, 11:33 GMT 12:33 UK
Indefinite strike threat in Zimbabwe
A deserted auction room in Harare
Many businesses shut during the 48-hour stoppage
Union leaders in Zimbabwe have threatened an indefinite strike unless the government reverses its recent 70% hike in petrol prices.

The warning comes the day after a 48 hour stayaway which brought the country to a standstill.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) President Lovemore Matombo said: "All the workers want an indefinite stayaway from work to force the government to bring about change."

Empty bus terminal
Bus terminals across the country were deserted on Tuesday
Government critics have called the massive price rises "a corruption tax", while the authorities declared the 48 hour strike "illegal" and a political ploy by unions aligned to the MDC opposition party.

The government has not yet reacted to the threat of an indefinite stayaway.

Business owners in the capital, Harare, said that 90% of factories were shut on Wednesday after employees failed to turn up for work.

Banks closed

Most banks and building societies were closed, but some shops were reported open.

Key economic indicators, 2000
GDP growth: -6.1%
GDP per head: $544
Inflation: 56.6%
Total debt per head: $406

A factory owner who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals told AP news agency: "I had four of my 30 guys come in and it wasn't worth firing up my machines and I sent them home.

But state radio said the response had been patchy and that it was mainly "business as usual.

Reports said the second city of Bulawayo was at a virtual standstill.

Three journalists who went there to cover the story had been detained by the police, but have now been released without charge.

Economic crisis

Zimbabwe is facing its worst economic crisis since independence and the petrol price rises imposed by the government on 12 June have further increased inflation, already running at almost 60%.

Bread in Harare
Prices of staples like bread have soared
Zimbabwe has been racked by a series of ZCTU strikes since the late 1990s.

They have generally been called in protest at what the unions call economic mismanagement by the government of Robert Mugabe, leading to a huge decline in living standards.

In 1999, the ZCTU was instrumental in forming the Movement for Democratic Change which is now the official opposition party with 56 seats in parliament.

The MDC president, Morgan Tsvangirai, expected to challenge Robert Mugabe in presidential elections next year, used to be the ZCTU's leader.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

from China Peoples' Daily

35 African Leaders Urge US to Stop Interference of Zimbabwe's Affairs

A majority of African heads of state have made representations to the United States Congress to stop passing the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Bill of 2001, Zimbabwe News Agency reported on Wednesday.

A total of 35 out of the 48 heads of state with diplomatic representation in Washington last Friday had instructed their envoys to sign an appeal to the Congress "to dissuade the American legislators from passing the Bill that would impose sanctions against Zimbabwe".

The African heads of state were following up on an Organization of African Unity (OAU) Summit Declaration last July which observed that the proposed Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Bill will prohibit assistance or debt relief to Zimbabwe by international financial institutions where the U.S. is a powerful member.

The African ambassadors endorsed 10 reasons given by the OAU for not supporting the Bill, saying that economic sanctions would hurt poor Zimbabweans most and disrupt economies of neighboring countries and that the Bill sought to influence Zimbabwe's domestic policies.

"Furthermore, these measures lose sight of the fact that political and social tension in Zimbabwe today stems from the unresolved colonial land division whereby 4,500 white farmers, mostly of British origin, still hold 60 percent of the best farming land to the exclusion of millions of landless and unemployed indigenous African whose grandfathers were driven from those lands without compensation," said the ambassadors.

They said Zimbabwe remained committed to the principles of democracy in spite of the political and social disturbances.

"The disagreements between the executive and the judiciary have been resolved by mutual agreement," the ambassadors said.

President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and Morgan Tsvangirai's opposition Movement for Democratic Change were capable of resolving their differences through dialogue since both parties were responsible for the violence in the country, they added.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


from the Independent, UK

Tenant farmers invite Mugabe to join rally

By Alex Duval Smith

05 July 2001

A group of South African tenant farmers has invited the President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, to join a rally of land invaders.

Joachim Hlatshwayo said his Mpumalanga labour tenants' committee had sent an invitation to the 77-year-old leader – who since last year has masterminded a campaign of occupations of white-owned land – to Zimbabwe's high commissioner in South Africa.

Mr Hlatshwayo said: "We want President Mugabe to advise us on how to proceed to get land. The group's members are largely in Mpumalanga, in the north of the country, and in the Free State, in the centre.

As part of President Mugabe's campaign to stay in power, begun in February last year, there have been more than 1,500 occupations in Zimbabwe, almost all of them against white owners of land. It is understood that a far greater proportion of South Africa's arable land is white-owned.

Yesterday, trade unions in Zimbabwe staged the second day of a two-day general strike in which they said 90 per cent of workers had stayed away from their jobs. The action was called to protest a 70 per cent increase in fuel prices.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe
Media Update # 2001/26
Monday 25 June to Sunday 1st July, 2001


·   The state owned media took advantage of the ZCTU's
    decision to postpone the two-day national strike to make
    unsubstantiated claims that the stay-away had been
    delayed due to a lack of consensus within the labour
    movement. While the private Press did not cover the
    impending strike extensively, the state media went to great
    lengths to portray the ZCTU as a discredited labour
    organization whose threat was aimed at "destroying the
    economy". It also provided extensive publicity to the
    ZANU PF-affiliated ZFTU run by Harare municipality driver
    Joseph Chinotimba. Surprisingly however, none of the
    media has investigated the credentials of the ZFTU to find
    out which unions comprise its membership and how many
    workers they represent.
·   The private press reported renewed efforts by the
    international community to persuade the government to
    restore the rule of law. But this was ignored by ZBC, and
    Zimpapers merely reported government's official reaction,
    which described the pressure without directly reporting it,
    as threats to Zimbabwe's sovereignty.

·   Having ignored the first anniversary of the death of national
    hero, Joshua Nkomo, the State media this year devoted
    extensive coverage to the man and the ZANU-PF
    organized commemoration of the second anniversary at
    the International Conference Centre.

·   The staff of MMPZ would like to express their deep sorrow
    at the death in the week of a greatly valued friend and
    colleague, Julius Zava. He was a sharp and tireless
    investigative reporter who refused to be intimidated by
    numerous crude and violent threats against him. MMPZ
    extends our sincere condolences to Julius' family; he will
    be sorely missed by Zimbabwe's media community.


The last-minute postponement of the two-day national strike by the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trades Unions (ZCTU) gave the state media
the opportunity to declare that the stay-away had failed to gain
union consensus [The Sunday Mail (1/7) and ZBC Radio (1/3, 1pm)
the same day]. Notably, ZBCTV ignored the story altogether in its
8 pm bulletin on Sunday.
Although The Sunday Mail and radio quoted a ZCTU statement
confirming the postponement by one day, neither of the state
media provided a shred of evidence that the delay was a result of a
lack of consensus beyond vague reference to "sources" within the
ZCTU general council. The state-owned paper merely attributed the
postponement to the labour organization's effort to ".shore up
support for what is otherwise a very unpopular decision", and
quoted Joseph Chinotimba in his role as ZFTU vice-president, as
saying the ZCTU's "about-turn" reflected the lack of support for the
labour movement.
Only The Standard (1/7) provided any context for the
postponement, quoting the ZCTU's secretary-general, Wellington
Chibhebhe saying that the industrial action had been delayed by a
day at the request of workers who had asked for time to prepare for
the strike.
He was also reported to have dismissed the government's
announcement on the Friday declaring the two-day strike illegal.
This was given prominence in the state media, as Zimpapers' lead
story it its Saturday editions (30/6) and on Radio 1/3 (6am and
8am bulletins).
In its efforts to discredit the ZCTU, The Herald's comment (29/6)
headlined, ZCTU Out to Destroy Economy, echoed the sentiments
of a story first carried by ZBC (8pm 27/6). The paper accused the
ZCTU of ignoring the plight of workers while extolling the virtues of
Chinotimba's ZFTU. Referring to the story, which the paper had
carried the previous day (28/6), about pay increases the ZFTU had
extracted from the management of one farm, the comment read in
part: "The ZFTU is showing the way, after having successfully
negotiated.salary increments averaging 200% for its
members. That is what trade unions should be preoccupied
with instead of protests."
It didn't think to ask what effect the size of this increase might have
on the economy if it was implemented throughout industry. The
story itself noted the ZCTU had only managed to negotiate pay
increases averaging 65% and quoted Chinotimba as saying: "We
are also moving into commercial farms and mines. Our advice
to all those who were awarded increments around 68% is that
they should come to our union."
But the story didn't seek any comment from the farm's
The Herald (29/6) also carried a front page story reporting that the
police would be on full alert.protecting people who want to go to
work during the proposed stay-away, and followed it up the next
day with another ministerial statement from July Moyo declaring
the strike illegal and threatening workers and employers who
participated in the stay-away.
By contrast, the private Press only carried three stories in the
countdown to the strike. The first two appeared in The Daily News
and The Financial Gazette (28/6) merely acknowledging that the
ZCTU had declared that the strike would go ahead. The third story
appeared in The Standard.


Only The Zimbabwe Independent (29/6) reported a new spate of
company "invasions" (15) under the auspices of the ZFTU,
describing them as "state-sanctioned extortion".
Only the Press reported incidents of political violence, but coverage
appeared to be piecemeal and polarized.
The Herald reported just one incident in which commercial farmers
were accused of instigating the violence (30/6). But no voices were
quoted in the report, which contributed to the state-propagated
impression that white farmers were the cause of violence on the
farms. This was reinforced by a report in the same edition of
President Mugabe's remarks to the Central Committee criticizing
farmers for attacking land occupiers and using these incidents to
discredit efforts for dialogue by the CFU.  The state media only
carried one other report of alleged political violence (The Herald
28/6), a court case about an alleged attack by MDC youths on a
ruling party supporter.
On the other hand, the private Press coverage of the violence
exclusively portrayed the MDC, private companies and white
farmers as being the victims of political violence perpetrated by
ruling party supporters and war veterans.
The Daily News (25/6) carried at least seven stories relating to
political violence during the week, including an attack on a bottle
store owned by an MDC MP and widespread violence in villages
within the Bindura parliamentary constituency where a by-election
is due to be held at the end of July. But the paper (30/6) also
carried a story about violence at Shamva Mine that first appeared in
The Financial Gazette (28/6) and tagged on a new report of more
violence against teachers, MDC activists and NCA members in the
Mt Darwin area. An unnamed teacher and headmaster were
reported as saying teaching staff in the area were living in fear of
losing their jobs.
The Standard reported widespread violence in the Nyamandlovu
area of Matabeleland North. The extraordinary eye-witness account
quoted villagers and war veterans who "arrested" the reporter, and
contained a statement saying that the police in the area had
refused to talk to The Standard because they had been
".instructed not to talk to journalists from the independent
This is not the first time that the private Press have reported being
hampered by the police in their investigation of stories, especially
those related to political violence. Such partisan selectivity in
providing information undermines every Zimbabwean's right to
unhampered access to fair and accurate information of public
interest and concern. MMPZ condemns the suppression and
censorship of this information by the police and the state-controlled


The state media failed to report renewed efforts by the European
Union to force Zimbabwe to restore the rule of law in the country,
preferring to drown its audiences with President Mugabe's
comments to the outgoing British High Commissioner that
Zimbabwe won't yield to threats of sanctions [ZBC, 28/6, 8pm and
Zimpapers (29/6)]. ZBC ignored the EU decision, first reported in
The Financial Gazette, and The Herald only reported it in the
context of a wildly emotional attack on the "hypocritical" position of
the EU by the president of the Indigenous Business Development
Centre, Ben Mucheche.
And in its edition the next day (30/6), The Herald only reported
additional pressure from the American administration in the context
of a vehement rebuff from Information Minister Jonathan Moyo,
echoing President Mugabe's remarks.
However, the story did quote the comments of the American
administration's spokesman for Africa as saying: "We cannot
have normal relations (with Zimbabwe) until the violence and
intimidation are ended and the rule of law is restored."
But it put his remarks in the context of a recent visit to the US by
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, "who is facing charges of
inciting the violent ouster of President Mugabe." thus giving
the impression that the MDC and its leader are to blame for the
present state of violence and lawlessness.
In the same vein, The Herald's comment that day criticized the
EU's threat of sanctions and accused the MDC of instigating
Against this background of growing international censure, which
included a demand from the EU to scrap curbs on freedom of the
media, The Herald (27/6) carried a follow-up story to the expulsion
of the London Daily Telegraph's correspondent in Zimbabwe, David
Blair, which willfully misrepresented the comments contained in a
letter to Moyo from Blair's foreign editor. It declared that the foreign
editor had threatened "a tirade of bad publicity from the
international media" if Zimbabwe did not renew Blair's work
permit, when, in fact, the letter merely pointed out that this would
be the reaction from the international community if Zimbabwe
expelled the reporter. The story was followed up by The Daily News
(29/6) reporting Britain's Foreign Secretary urging the government
to reconsider Blair's expulsion:
"The international community will not be impressed by any
actions of the government of Zimbabwe which make it more
difficult for the international media to report what is
happening there," the paper quoted the British politician as
saying. Precisely the point The Telegraph's foreign editor was
trying to make.


Only the state-controlled Press published a ZIANA agency report of
an announcement by Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, that
Government was working on a new law that would prohibit civic
groups from conducting any voter education among Zimbabwean
communities. No alternative and/or independent opinions were
sought on the issue. The Herald (26/6) simply quoted Moyo as
saying the policy would ".be expected to spell out that voter
education be carried out by the Electoral Supervisory Commission
and political parties only, not churches, aid agencies or civic
organizations". Moyo was also quoted accusing some NGOs of
campaigning for political parties using money from donor countries
contrary to Zimbabwean laws. This theme was amplified in the
Sunday Mail's question-and-answer with the minister on the topic.
The announcement was made as 15 local civic organisations were
about to embark on a coordinated voter education campaign, and
The Daily News (27/6) carried a response from some civic groups
condemning government's plan to restrict the activities of civil
society. The civic groups said the measure would deny citizens
their constitutional right to freedom of expression, association and
The Zimbabwe Mirror (29/6) reported that civic organizations had
threatened to defy the plan, but ZBC ignored the issue altogether.
MMPZ condemns the public broadcaster for failing to inform its
audiences of the government's intention to deprive the Zimbabwean
population of their basic democratic rights to receive and impart
information freely, especially that relating to electoral issues, the
very foundation of democratic society.


As The Daily News (27/6) and The Financial Gazette (28/6)
reported ZANU PF cadres meeting to thrash out a strategy that will
win it the upcoming Bulawayo mayoral election, the state media
swamped its audiences with articles glorifying the late national
hero, Joshua Nkomo (The Herald (30/6) and The Sunday Mail).
Zimpapers dailies (30/6) also announced it would serialize
Nkomo's book, "The Story of my Life" which, according to the
public media, was "allegedly" banned by the government. Both
papers actually carried the first edition of the serial although The
Chronicle edited a chunk out of the first chapter. The Standard on
the other hand, featured an article that appeared to reflect the
sentiments of the private Press in which political commentators
and civic leaders dismissed government interest in Nkomo, saying
his ideals had been "corrupted" and "prostituted" by the ruling
party which was trying to use his memory as a "trump card" to
win back its waning political support.

Over the weekend ZBCTV (30/6) gave live coverage to Nkomo's
commemoration gala. ZBCTV even rescheduled and cut its 'News
Hour' to 30 minutes and dropped all its evening programmes to
make way for Nkomo's commemoration, which was broadcast from
8 pm till 12.30 am. Questions about why ZANU PF and the state
media suddenly decided to pay so much tribute to Nkomo two
years after his death and after Matabeleland people resoundingly
voted against the ruling party in last year's general elections,
remain unanswered, raising suspicion that the sudden glorification
of the late ZAPU leader was nothing but a campaign gimmick.

The MEDIA UPDATE is produced and circulated by the Media
Monitoring Project Zimbabwe, 221 Fife Avenue, Harare, Tel/fax: 263
4 734207, 733486, E-mail:, Web: Feel free to respond to MMPZ. We
may not be able to respond to everything but we will look at each
message. Also, please feel free to circulate this message.
To unsubscribe, send a request to
Back to the Top
Back to Index

JOHANNESBURG, 5 July (IRIN) - The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)
was in a quandary after its two-day stayaway on Wednesday, over its next
move to force the government to scrap sharp fuel price increases. At the
same time, its leadership faced pressure from its members to plan
indefinite mass action, including demonstrations against President Robert
Mugabe, the ‘Financial Gazette’  has reported. The ZCTU was due to convene
a meeting soon to evaluate the impact of the mass action and to plot its
next moves, the weekly newspaper said on Thursday.

The stayaway forced virtually all businesses countrywide to shut down in
spite of the fact that it had been banned by the government. By late on
Wednesday, the report said, there was no sign that the government, which
increased fuel prices by an unprecedented 75 percent last month, would
reverse the increase. ZCTU secretary general Wellington Chibhebhe was
quoted saying: “We are synthesising what the people within our structures
countrywide are saying and we are aware of their feelings. Even before we
started this action, the signal we were getting from our forums
countrywide was to engage in a prolonged sustained effort and this is
still the feeling right now.” However, he said it was up to the full ZCTU
general council to map out the union’s next move when it met, possibly as
soon as the weekend. In terms of the law, the government must be given 14
days’ notice of any proposed action. The ZCTU estimated that more than 80
percent of workers heeded the call to stayaway.

Meanwhile, a Reuters report on Thursday quoted analysts saying that Mugabe
’s unexpected restraint during the strike had fuelled speculation that his
government was divided on how to deal with its political opponents. Riot
police were deployed during the strike, but police did not crack down on
strikers as they had done in previous labour actions, the report said. “I
don’t think Mugabe’s slight restraint is a case of a new political
conviction. I think what we saw here was a new crisis over a campaign
strategy for the presidential elections,” political analyst Masipula
Sithole was quoted saying.

He said the ruling ZANU-PF party leadership was split between the hawks
who favoured last year’s violent campaign on the opposition, and doves who
believed the party “will not win by wielding the stick and using the fist
and knobkerrie”. Chenjerai Hove, a leading political commentator, said a
change of strategy in ZANU-PF would take time to implement. “I don’t think
they know exactly what to do at this stage. There are two major groups in
the party with very strong beliefs, one advocating violence and another
saying violence is proving counter-productive,” he was quoted saying.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Patrick Nabanyama – One year on

Patrick Nabanyama was abducted on 19 June 2000 from his house in Nketa, Bulawayo. He has been missing since then. His family, friends and concerned citizens are still looking for him. There will be a Memorial march and prayer meeting for Patrick on Saturday 7 July. The march commences at 9:30 am at St. Mary's Catholic Cathedral on the corner of Lobengula Street and 9th Avenue, and proceeds to the Presbyterian Church on the corner of Jason Moyo and 5th Avenue. The prayer service starts at 11:00 am.

It would be appreciated if the following could be observed: Dress code - black, or otherwise suitably attired for this sombre occasion; no political attire, literature or placards; Bring flowers if you can. This is a non-political and an inter-denominational occasion. All Zimbabweans regardless of their political or religious beliefs are encouraged to attend to show unity for democracy and human rights. With this Memorial the Friday Vigils for Patrick Nabanyama will cease. There will be no vigil this Friday, 6 July.

In this issue :

From The Guardian (UK), 5 July

West will monitor Mugabe re-election

Harare - The Zimbabwean opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, said yesterday he had secured pledges from Britain, Europe and the US to provide independent observers for next year's presidential election, when he will stand against Robert Mugabe. With seven parliamentary by-elections pending, Mr Tsvangirai is anxious for foreign monitors to be present in the coming months to prevent the intimidation of voters. There were widespread complaints of fraud and violence during last year's parliamentary elections.

The diplomatic offensive by the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has coincided with a two-day general strike by an estimated 3m Zimbabweans in protest at the government's recent 70% increase in fuel prices. Speaking in London yesterday, Mr Tsvangirai repeatedly distanced the MDC from direct involvement in the strike, but commented: "Increasing petrol prices [so much] has been suicidal. It's completely insensitive. If they are going to adjust the prices they should do it in a way people can still afford fuel."

In the past week Mr Tsvangirai has been received at the state department in Washington, by the new British foreign secretary, Jack Straw, and by three EU commissioners: Chris Patten, Neil Kinnock and Poul Nielsen. "Whereas before people were prepared to listen to the MDC but regard it as a protest movement, now there's acceptance of the MDC as a political party," said Mr Tsvangirai. Late last month the EU set a two-month deadline for Mr Mugabe to end Zimbabwe's political violence and interference with the independence of the judiciary, and guarantee freedom of speech.

Industry and commerce remained largely closed on the second day of the national strike, which was called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions as a protest against economic mismanagement. Although the anti-government strike was peaceful, local residents reported that army units had beaten people in Chitungwiza, Budiriro and Dzivarasekwa. The government stepped up its campaign yesterday to portray the strike as a failure. The state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation described the strike as unsuccessful and the work of foreign agents. The government-controlled Herald newspaper said that thousands of workers tried to go to their jobs but were locked out by white factory owners trying to sabotage the government.

From ZWNEWS, 5 July

Maize shortage: for the hungry, dangerous deadlines are slipping

By Michael Hartnack

While President Robert Mugabe’s government continues to dismiss experts’ warnings that the country faces dire maize shortages, time and money are running out. United Nations food experts say that since the South African railway system cannot cope with shipping more than 30 000 - 40 000 tonnes of grain a month to Zimbabwe, the country must begin imports now to meet a forecast 600 000 tonne deficit impacting next March. In April, presidential elections are due in which Mugabe faces the strongest challenge of his two-decade rule from Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

As well as the rail capacity problem, maize imports should begin while the country still has some foreign exchange to pay for them. Reserves had "practically run out", Finance Minister Simba Makoni admitted June 26. Exporters were ordered to hand over 60 percent of their earnings to the central bank at the "official rate" of Zimbabwe $55 to U$1, while the "unofficial rate" soared to Zimbabwe $160/U$1 in a blatant "parallel market" run by airlines, bureaux de change and other dealers. The official rate is, in reality, a disguised 65 percent surtax on the honest exporter who repatriates his earnings.

The surrendered funds will be used to pay for hand-to-mouth imports of fuel and electrical power, much of it from South Africa, and the continued presence of Zimbabwean troops in the Congo. Makoni acknowledged last week that the Zimbabwe dollar was "over valued," but was publicly disowned by his colleagues in the ruling ZANU-PF party when he urged devaluation. The impasse raises questions about whether Makoni’s future in the Mugabe Cabinet. After 12 frustrating months, fellow "technocrat" Nkosana Moyo recently quit as trade minister, faxing his resignation from Johannesburg.

"There is no need for the Government to import any maize,’’ Agriculture Minister Joseph Made insisted recently. ``It is absolutely untrue that we will have to import maize. I have been round the country to see there is plenty of maize in the communal and resettlement areas. I am confident no-one will starve since the maize is there." However, the Bulawayo Chronicle, a state-run newspaper, reported that 120 000 people are already facing starvation in the Gokwe South area of the Midlands.

And, despite Made’s denials of any impending crisis, The Herald, the main state-run newspaper, in a significant move reported July 3 that the Government plans to ban all private trading in maize. The paper said the government suspected white farmers of ``attempting to create false shortages by hoarding grain." Farmers, millers or private traders who disregard the measure will have their stocks or reserves confiscated," warned The Herald, which usually reflects official thinking closely. The Herald said emergency legislation will be rushed through Parliament to restore the parastatal Grain Marketing Board's monopoly over grain. The monopoly was abandoned six years ago under economic liberalisation policies sponsored by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

The projected maize shortages follow the invasions of white-owned commercial farms by ZANU-PF supporters – now being stepped up in increasingly chaotic fashion. Last week, the Commercial Farmers Union reported that all but 300 of its members' 5 500 properties were now subject to designation orders. A further 18 pages of notices appeared in Friday's Herald. Astonishingly, seven properties owned by South Africa's Oppenheimer family been removed from the list. Mining circles believe Anglo American's giant Unki platinum project at Shurugwe will now proceed after years of delay. "They must have been going through the deeds register picking up every white owned rural property," said CFU deputy director Jerry Grant. Schools, golf clubs, church missions and even the Feruka oil refinery grounds were listed.

Instead of the 5m hectares Mugabe said he would take, nearly 8m ha are now under the hammer. Promises that only foreign, absentee, or multiple owners would be designated, and that competent farmers would be left with at least one property, have proved hollow. Mugabe’s ploy appears to be to sustain his party’s grip on power by making farms part of a system of ZANU-PF patronage. And there are doubts whether it will be possible for future farmers, black or white, to obtain finance and sustain commercial production in the state of insecure tenure to which they are being reduced. "Be part or us, or part of someone else, in which case join that someone," raged Mugabe, referring to white farmers during an hour-long harangue to the Zanu PF central committee on June 29.

From News24 (SA), 4 July

Zim sacks grain body

Harare - The Zimbabwe government on Tuesday sacked the governing body of the country's Grain Marketing Board (GMB) in a bid to ensure food security, Lands and Agricultural Minister Joseph Made said on Tuesday. Made said the move was to allow the government to be directly involved in the operations of the parastatal which is responsible for marketing food grains in the country. The dismissal comes in the wake of reports of food shortages, which the government has vehemently denied.

"Due to the strategic importance of GMB in terms of food security for the nation, it is imperative that decisions regarding its operations are implemented expeditiously and effectively in the interests of the people," Made told a news conference. Made said some sections of the Zimbabwean society were creating artificial shortages of food in the country. "I am aware that there are a number of people who are involved in activities ... meant to create an aspect of shortages," he said. But he said he would move to apply measures that would ensure that "maize is secure for the good of the economy as this a staple".

The board was appointed in June last year and its term was to expire in July 2003. "It has been found necessary to bring forward the expiry date of the current board of directors of GMB," he announced. But he stressed that sacking of the directors was not an indication of problems or looming shortages. "I do emphasise that this exercise has to do more with our strategic needs, it's not the other way round of saying what is the problem," Made said.

From The Financial Gazette, 5 July

Govt thwarts Gubbay’s job bid in region

The Zimbabwe government has taken steps to halt any possible plans by judicial services departments in Botswana and Namibia to give beleaguered former chief justice Anthony Gubbay a senior judicial post, official sources in Harare said this week. Although Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa quickly denied any involvement by him and his officials in efforts to thwart Gubbay’s possible appointment, this newspaper has it on good authority that the government had de-campaigned Gubbay once it had emerged that the judicial services in the two countries could consider him for a job.

The two countries have in the past recruited several retired Zimbabwean judges. The Namibian government has already appointed a retired Supreme Court judge, John Manyarara, to its High Court bench in addition to two other Zimbabwean judges already serving there, Simpson Mtambanengwe and Niel Gibson. "I need to reiterate that we never forced Gubbay to resign. He resigned of his own accord. I also wish to state that I and my officials are not part of efforts to thwart his appointment by anyone," Chinamasa told the Financial Gazette. "In any case, if I may speak on his behalf, he is already nearly 70 years old and he retired voluntarily to take up his pension. Why would such a man who opted to retire of his own accord before his term expired want to take up another job? Why would he do that?" he asked.

Gubbay was quoted in the Zimbabwean media at the weekend as telling guests at a farewell party in Harare that he would have wished to serve his full term but had been forced to go. The former chief justice has elected to maintain his silence even in his retirement. His former secretary at the Supreme Court said yesterday Gubbay was still not ready to give any interview to the media. The Financial Gazette was thus unable to verify with him whether he was indeed interested in working in these two countries or whether the government had reacted hastily to mere rumours.

But a senior justice ministry official said: "The bottom line is that it would have been highly inappropriate for a senior judge who has retired in controversial circumstances to then immediately take up another job in a neighbouring country. It would have been an indictment on us. Once information had emerged in our corridors that Gubbay could be linked to any of the benches in the region, we took steps to inform the relevant authorities of our concerns. I am sure they understood us though the discretion is theirs. It didn’t matter whether he had indeed applied or not at the time we heard the information." The sources said it would, however, suit the government if Gubbay was to get a job in England, as was also being rumoured, as Harare would want to use this to confirm its own unfounded charge that Gubbay represented British interests on the bench.

Sources close to Gubbay said they understood his reasons for not wishing to talk to the Press now or comment on his forced resignation and future plans because this would still expose him to enemies in the volatile period ahead of presidential elections due next year. "As for his next moves, the professionals in Namibia may be interested in him but the biggest stumbling block would be President Sam Nujoma. I wouldn’t know about Botswana but President Festus Mogae seems to be reasonable," one source said. There was no immediate comment from the judicial services of Botswana and Namibia.

Comment from The Guardian (UK), 5 July

Power to the workers

Mugabe faces a popular revolt

President Robert Mugabe's government declared this week's general strike called by Zimbabwe's trade unions illegal. That the vast majority of the country's 1.2m employed workers bravely chose to ignore the ban suggests that it is Zanu PF's choking grip on Zimbabwe that lacks legitimacy. The intimidatory threats issued by the despised "war veterans", who have turned their attention in recent months from white-owned farms to factories and businesses, were also ignored. Mr Mugabe's thugs would no doubt like to provoke the sort of violence with which they have been associated in the past. And as before, the security forces have tried to prevent free and fair reporting. That very little violence has so far occurred is vastly to the credit of Zimbabwe's citizens, not to a government that is now in a virtual state of war with its own people.

Mr Mugabe was right about one thing this week: this mass action is not just about the recent 70% rises in fuel prices, or the resulting inflationary impact on the cost of basic foodstuffs. It is not simply about an economy broken almost beyond repair, about schools without resources and hospitals without medicines. Nor is it only about corruption in high places, about the assaults on an independent judiciary, about the government's contempt for the rule of law. Mr Mugabe said the strike was, at heart, political. And he is correct. It represents an enormous challenge to his own continued tenure as president. And more than that, it challenges the power monopoly enjoyed by Zanu PF since independence over 20 years ago.

If last year's general elections had been properly conducted, the ruling party might already be out of office. By his egregious conduct then and since, Mr Mugabe has gone a long way to guaranteeing not only his own eventual downfall but also that of the movement he once honourably led in the battle against white minority rule. At age 77, he cannot last forever. His neighbours know it. His smarter associates and Zimbabwe's many overseas friends know it. His people know it and would wish to be shot of him. Yet by clinging to power, against all reason, and trying to fiddle yet another term next year, Mr Mugabe looks set to ensure that much that he painstakingly built up will be torn down with him. A man who was one of Africa's most respected revolutionaries is now on the wrong, losing side of a popular revolution. The clock is ticking. It is a great pity he cannot hear it.

From The Financial Gazette, 5 July

Moyo in trouble with chefs?

Vice Presidents Joseph Msika and Simon Muzenda are trying to persuade President Robert Mugabe to fire Information Minister Jonathan Moyo because he has become a liability and is alienating potential Zanu PF supporters in urban centres ahead of crucial presidential elections due next year. It also emerged this week that security reports compiled for Mugabe by the spy Central Intelligence Organisation had questioned Moyo’s conduct and raised concerns about the implications of his continued stay in office.

Mugabe, however, believes that Moyo is doing a good job and wishes that his other ministers could match Moyo’s robust rhetoric on national issues, authoritative official sources said. They said Muzenda, believed to be the architect of important appointments in the government, and Msika had agreed that both the party and the government were "better off without Moyo". "If President Mugabe insists on retaining Moyo in Cabinet, then Muzenda and Msika believe that he should be moved to another portfolio," one source said.

The two vice presidents are due to discuss a planned Cabinet reshuffle with Mugabe following the recent deaths of Cabinet ministers Border Gezi and Moven Mahachi. They are also expected to discuss ways to rejuvenate the party ahead of the presidential election next year and top on their agenda is Moyo and his effectiveness during that campaign, the sources said. The Movement for Democratic Change’s Morgan Tsvangirai is challenging Mugabe in the presidential poll.

Muzenda, Msika, Mugabe and ruling party chairman John Nkomo meet regularly as members of the party’s presidency to discuss issues affecting Zanu PF. The sources said Nkomo, the Minister of Home Affairs, was also not an admirer of Moyo but did not link him to the alleged bid to oust Moyo. They said the two vice presidents believed that Moyo’s overzealousness in dealing with political opponents and his general lack of experience was costing the party and the government crucial political support. "The two vice presidents are disenchanted with Moyo’s role as a government spokesman," said a top source close to Muzenda. "They both believe he has done more to antagonise and alienate potential supporters. Muzenda has particularly questioned how Moyo can be a government spokesman when he has never addressed a major rally," the source said.

Msika told the Financial Gazette this week that it would be outrageous of him to discuss the performance of a Cabinet minister in the Press. "I don’t know what you are talking about . . . Why don’t you talk to him (Moyo)? I never talk about another minister publicly. If I am not satisfied with the performance of a minister, I would talk to him directly," he said. Moyo himself refused to be interviewed on the matter. When he returned a call from this newspaper, he launched into a tirade against this reporter before he banged his phone down. "I am not going to talk to you. You people have become politicians and you have personally been writing things that are not true so please go ahead," he screamed before slamming his phone down.

Muzenda could not be reached for comment but an official in his office who refused to give his name over the phone said appointments to Cabinet were the prerogative of Mugabe and not Muzenda nor Msika. "They (Muzenda and Msika) are also appointed by the President and they don’t have any influence over the appointment of others," the official said. However, other sources said Mugabe always consulted his two vice presidents before making these appointments. "That is precisely the reason why people with close links to Muzenda and the late vice president (Joshua) Nkomo found their way into the Cabinet. Although Mugabe has the final say over these appointments, he consults his deputies," one source said. "In fact, I remember very well that during the 1995 Cabinet appointment Mugabe asked Muzenda and Nkomo to bring their own nominees. That was why people like (Stan) Mudenge, (Cain) Mathema and many others close to the two vice presidents ended up with ministerial positions."

Apart from Msika and Muzenda, the sources said Moyo had also fallen out of favour with most of his Cabinet colleagues, with the notable exception of Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Agriculture Minister Joseph Made. One Cabinet minister who requested anonymity said he believed the ruling party would lose the presidential ballot if Moyo remained in charge of the government’s information dissemination machinery.

Back to the Top
Back to Index