farmer's widow hits back at Mugabe slur
Maria Stevens' world caved in the
day her husband, David, was dragged away,
beaten and shot dead by supporters
of her adopted country's leader.
Stevens has been grieving since the
killing two months ago. Her daughter
Brenda, 14, has suffered recurring
The pain became all the more unbearable over the weekend when
Robert Mugabe attacked her husband's memory, saying the white
deserved to die.
David Stevens "started the war. He was the one
who started firing," Mugabe
told supporters at an election campaign
His widow said that was ridiculous. Her 48-year-old husband was
he was abducted from his farm on April 15 by ruling party
"Mugabe is bitter and hateful" because David Stevens threw his
support - his
peaceful support - to the political opposition seeking to end
decades of authoritarian rule, said Mrs Stevens, 39.
don't want David's death to be nothing. I've lost everything. I don't
lose that as well," she said, adding that David was no white racist
exploited local blacks.
He ran a profit-sharing programme with his
employees. His workers owned 60
of the 280 cattle on the property.
was a decent man who was good to the labour and helped in the
community. We didn't have any smart cars, we lived with our
David Stevens was the first of five white
farmers killed in a nearly
four-month stand-off between landowners and armed
squatters and ruling party
militants who have occupied more than 1,400
Date: Sunday 28 May 2000 10:34
Subject: Waiting for the
Dear family and friends,
This week saw the news
that the President has now signed into law the
compulsary acquisition of
white owned commercial farms. He says he's only
going to pay
compensation for the improvements which is housing, buildings,
dams and fencing. The only problem, however, is that the
haven't got any money so they say they will pay one quarter of
improvements value on acquisition, another quarter two years later,
the balance after five years. The belated payments will attract 4%
which is complete and utter insanity as the cost of borrowing
money is now
over 50 % and a small investment I have is currently earning
interest. So 4% is an insult in the extreme. However, we have
no say in
the matter as it's now law. For the time being the President
says he's only
going to take the 841 farms that were listed for
resettlement in 1997/98.
Ian and I were never on that original list but
as we bound a communal land
and as the government have said they will
take all farms bordering communal
lands, we wait with baited breath for
the registered letter. The 841 farms
will all be served with letters of
compulsary acquisition this week and
this will undoubtedly exacerbate an
already volatile situation.
The war vets leader, Chenjerai Hunzvi
was asked this week if he would now
instruct his men to move off all the
other farms that are squatted. He
laughed and said that this would now
depend on the CFU and the owners of
the 841 farms - he would wait to see
if they would accept this new law and
vacate their homes. This is an
explosive situation that will undoubtedly
lead to major confrontations
and bloodshed if, as we suspect, the President
intends to move people
onto these farms before the elections in order to
Marondera is bracing for a "Star Rally" this coming
weekend and we believe
it is to be addressed by Mugabe. All week there
have been groups of rent a
mob youths going door to door in Marondera
town, throwing stones on roofs,
rattling gates and threatening people
with looting and burning if they
don't attend. My sister, Wiz, has had
three such visits this week, two at
night and one during the day and they
are pretty terrifying. She has stayed
locked in with the curtains closed
so the reign of terror moves into the
towns and still the police do
nothing. We had one big truck load of about
100 rent a mob youths go into
our communal land earlier in the week, they
apparently had a list of all
opposition supporters and were going to go and
"re-educate" these people.
We don't know what happened as no one is saying
anything anymore and
everyone you see these days either won't greet you or
simply puts a
finger to their lips.
These same trucks have also been going farm
to farm and demanding donations
in the form of mealie meal, meat and
money - as always, accompanied by the
threat of burning and beating if
you don't comply. I'd like to think that
when they come to my gate, I'll
tell them where to get off, but it's easier
said then done when it's one
against a hundred.
The "war vets" visited Watershed College in
Marondera, the senior school
next door to where Richard goes, this week
and instructed the headmaster
that all teachers are to attend the Star
Rally this weekend in Marondera -
or face the consequences. A completely
ridiculous demand which will,
however, probably be complied with - what
would you do if you were in
charge of 600 kids and had that
responsibility to contend with? The same
message has been passed on to
Digglefold School where Richard goes and of
course the kids have picked
up dog ends and have had to endure another week
of terror and fear and
As for us on the farm, we've had a suspiciously
quiet week. Edward seems to
have disappeared for a while, leaving a
one-legged cripple in charge of the
operations. This man has spent most
of the week propping up the counter in
our store, listening to what
people are saying and trying to scare Jane.
She's a clever cookie though
and has simply resorted to switching the radio
onto volume 200 and
knitting endless pairs of green gloves! We've had the
usual number of
poeple wandering on and off the fields, cutting trees and
making off with
the wood. I've had to dig deeper and deeper into my pockets
this month to
survive because firewood sales are one of our biggest winter
earners but no one's buying any because they're free to take as much
they can carry off, knowing that we're powerless to stop them. We
warned earlier in the week that there was a big meeting scheduled to
place in our field
this Saturday and for the first time in
three months decided we would go
out for the day. There is nothing more
soul destroying than watching these
huge gatherings of 200 plus people
all over our land so we packed up the
braai and took ourselves off with
our neighbours to a little game park on
the other side of town. When we
got to the gate, instead of asking the guy
on the gate where the animals
might be, the question was: " any invaders
here" ! We had a wonderful
day just sitting under the Msasa trees and
listening to the birds - a day
we all deserved and a day which reminded us
why we're not giving up our
right to stay in this country without a fight.
When we got home the dregs
of the meeting were still in our fields and we
were told that a couple of
hundred had been there during the day. It's all
wonderfully quiet again
this morning and I've been out tending my vegie
garden and the 25 beds of
giant garlic I planted in January before all this
nonsense started. I
wonder if we'll still be here to harvest it in October
and if there will
still be any hotels with customers who will want to
Assuming we all get through next week's Star Rally
unscathed, I'll write
Much love, C
Date: Saturday 27 May 2000 16:53
Subject: Zimbabwe this Week
I was present on Thursday when a High Court Judge was asked to decide on two issues raised by the MDC. The first was the legality of the action taken by the Registrar General to remove 86 000 white voters, who, in 1984 had held dual citizenship, from the voters roll. Secondly, a proposed delay in the nomination court to allow the opposition time to look at the roll and to consider the outcome of the delimitation exercise. Advocate Morris presented our case and the State was represented by the Attorney General. We got the delay we asked for and the Judge reserved his position on the issue of the disenfranchised voters. However he was clearly in sympathy with the MDC case on both issues as being both justified and legal.
We are almost ready for the nomination court – now planned for the 3rd of June and do not expect any real difficulties except finding the deposits for each candidate! Then we are into the last three weeks and what waits for us on the 24th and 25th of June. The international pressure on Mugabe is immense – this past week we heard of the efforts made by the Secretary General of the UN to get Mugabe to go back to a reasonable basis for the land reform exercise and to create the conditions required for an election. This was reinforced by 12 member States of the UN including South Africa and Mozambique and is the kind of pressure we have been calling for. Mugabe has to respond by Monday and we will then know which way he is going to move. If he rejects the UN position he runs the risk of further isolation – especially within the region, and this could be serious. The PAC demonstrations yesterday in SA and a visit to Zimbabwe by PAC leadership was clearly designed to put pressure on Mbeki and the ANC.
I understand that Mbeki and Chissano played a key role in the development of the UN position and this would suggest that they have an investment in this new approach. The approach was discussed in both London and Washington and includes penalties for not going back to the 1998 land reform agreement and creating the conditions required for an election in June. However if Mugabe accepts these new conditions and we see a return to a rational basis for land reform and a return of peaceful electioneering, then Mugabe is politically dead in the water as these are the only things he has with which to fight the MDC. The Churches have agreed to mount a campaign which will say – "you have a responsibility to vote, your vote is your secret" and this will help with the elections and hopefully help overcome the very real fear that has been instilled in peoples minds by the recent Zanu PF campaign.
The state of the economy has continued to deteriorate and it is now clear that the government has no solutions to offer. Domestic debt climbed to over Z$100 billion this week – exceeding even our most pessimistic targets of a few weeks ago. This is fueling inflation, which again accelerated this month, and interest rates, which are crippling business. The government reiterated its position that the exchange rate to the US dollar will not change – this means we have strengthened against other key trading currencies over the past year and all our exporters are now really suffering from the low rate being offered by the Banks. Informal market rates are now over 50 to 1 compared to the formal market rate of 37 to 1. Shortages of foreign exchange are affecting all sectors and this is also inhibiting business levels and supplies of essential inputs.
On the political front we have continued with our "silent campaign" encouraging people to spread the word but not to expose themselves to the bully boys of Zanu PF. We held a rally in Bulawayo on Thursday (Africa Day) and this attracted a capacity crowd in White City Stadium. At the same time a peace rally in Bulawayo attracted about 8 000 people and we felt that this was very encouraging. At smaller rallies around the country MDC is attracting fair crowds despite police blockades and intimidation and threats. In our suburb we are seeing groups of MDC people putting up posters and campaigning so Zanu does not seem to have been able to cow the urban voter as they have in the rural areas.
We saw the voter’s roll and constituency boundaries on Friday for the first time – still only restricted access (we could not get copies of anything – only look at copies in government offices). They say we will not be able to get copies for another week. We will now start the process of auditing the roll (5,1 million voters) and reviewing the work of the delimitation commission. The results of the latter were most peculiar, as we had expected that the urban vote would be much larger because of the 2,5 million registrations in February/March/April. Still Justice Sandura has a good reputation and we can only hope that he has done a fair job of the exercise. That’s the problem with there being no transparency and having the whole process controlled by Zanu PF functionaries.
It must be noted that according to our information, Zanu PF have had the voters roll for a
month and full access to the delimitation process as it took place.
A feature of the campaign this week has been some outlandish statements by political candidates – there was the instance of the Zanu PF candidate for Kariba who stated that any one found voting for the MDC in the elections would be killed afterwards. Several Ministers stated that the vote would not be secret – this included the Minister for State Security who, when he wanted to hold a rally in Marondera (a small town 75 kms from Harare), closed the town down and forced everyone to go to a rally – then would not let anyone leave before it had finished. Then there was the Minister of Home Affairs (responsible for the Police) who said it was OK for Zanu thugs to occupy commercial and industrial properties in the towns!! Since it is illegal to intimidate voters under the Electoral Act – we are looking at the possibility of taking up the issues raised by these erudite gentlemen and taking them to court to challenge their candidacy. It would cause a few problems for Zanu if their candidates were disqualified before the election because of their inflammatory rhetoric.
But one must say that the general atmosphere has quietened down a bit this week – still lots of problems on farms and in some village communities, but no so intense or physical. Then one has to say – the weather is really fantastic at this time of the year. I always call April/May our champagne months with blue skies, crisp mornings and zero humidity. It makes up for a lot – if only we could get the rest right for once – hang in there, help is coming! As Tony Campolo (Professor of Sociology at the U of Penn) said a few years ago – be encouraged, I’ve read the book, we win.
Harare, 27th May 2000.
Zimbabwe Opposition Says Voters' Roll in Disarray - HARARE (Reuters) May 27
3:16 PM ET
Village life not safe from Zimbabwe's violent politics - Reuters - May 28
2000 2:59AM ET
Dead men voting mar Zimbabwe rolls - opposition
- Reuters - May 28 2000 5:29AM
Zimbabwe Opposition Says Voters' Roll in
Saturday May 27 3:16 PM ET By Jeremy Lovell
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), on Saturday raised fresh concern over whether elections in June will be
fair, saying that the voters' roll was in disarray and included people long
The government published the list of 5.5 million voters on Thursday after
the MDC won a court victory extending the deadline for the nomination of
candidates by five days.
``The roll is in an awful mess. We have already discovered several dead
people on it, and that is only going from A to C in two constituencies in
Bulawayo,'' MDC candidate and legal secretary David Coltart told Reuters. ``One
of them had been dead for three years.
``Some friends of mine who have been very happily married for 30 years find
themselves in two different constituencies. One wonders if the constituency
boundary runs through the middle of the matrimonial bed,'' he added.
In South Africa, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) closed ranks
with Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF, saying in a joint statement
after talks that the election process was being properly managed.
``The parties noted that the government of Zimbabwe had set in motion the
process of conducting elections in accordance with the laws of Zimbabwe,'' they
ANC Secretary-General Kgalema Motlanthe said after talks with a ZANU-PF
delegation headed by National Chairman John Nkomo that the focus on the white
domination of Zimbabwe's 4,500 commercial farms was legitimate.
He said Britain had no right to insist on transparency or any other
conditions before signing over the rest of a land redistribution grant promised
``The ANC does not accept any conditions put forward by the British
government'' for the funding of land reform, he said.
``We believe this is deliberately aimed at compounding an already difficult
situation.... We believe that is their intention,'' he said.
Britain has agreed to boost its aid to Zimbabwe by $53.11 million, most of
it for land reform, but only if the process of redistribution is transparent and
favors landless blacks over the ruling elite.
Resolution Of Land Question Urgent
``...the parties agreed on the urgent need to resolve the land question in
Zimbabwe,'' the ANC and ZANU-PF said in their statement. ``In this context, the
parties call upon the British government to immediately honor its obligation in
the resolution of the land question in Zimbabwe.''
The meeting followed conflicting statements from South African President
Thabo Mbeki and his government on whether elections in Zimbabwe on June 24-25
can be free and fair in the light of the anarchy sweeping the country.
Mbeki has said fair elections can be held, but an ANC motion in parliament
in Cape Town took the opposite stance.
An international group of observers has said the current climate of
intimidation in Zimbabwe could obstruct a fair poll.
Deaths, Beatings In Intimidation Campaign
At least 24 mostly black people have been killed, hundreds beaten or raped
and many others forced to flee their homes in a government-sponsored campaign of
land invasions and political intimidation over the past three months.
Two of the dead, a father and son who supported Bishop Abel Muzorewa's
United Parties opposition group, were buried in a simple ceremony outside the
tiny rural village.
``They came at midnight, dragged him from his house and beat him to death
right here,'' Anne, one of 72-year-old Matiwane Mushaya's three surviving wives,
told Reuters, pointing at her feet as she stood in the middle of the dusty
compound of tiny Nyamhanga village, an isolated settlement 125 miles northeast
``He was a good man,'' she said as the three women huddled together in
front of the small, square mud and log hut in the center of the village.
In an incident on Thursday, one attacker was killed and six arrested when a
group of about 30 war veterans tried to storm the police station in the town of
Mvurwi about 60 miles north of Harare.
It was the first time a ZANU-PF supporter had been killed in the
Village life not safe from Zimbabwe's
Reuters - May 28
2000 2:59AM ET
NYAMHANGA VILLAGE, Zimbabwe, May 28 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's violent politics
came to this tiny rural hamlet for the first time two weeks ago, leaving behind
it two dead men and at least three shattered women -- their lives changed in one
It was on Tuesday, April 16 that a group of supporters of President Robert
Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF suddenly arrived at the dusty cluster of mud and log
huts, dragged 72-year-old Matiwane Mushaya from his bed and beat him to death.
``They came at midnight. They broke down the door of his house, pulled him
out and beat him to death here,'' Anne, the youngest of Mushaya's three
surviving wives told Reuters, pointing to her feet.
The group of men then went to the nearby hut of his son Anis and repeated
No one came to help the two men as the killings took place, most men being
absent and the women and children in the hamlet cowering in their huts listening
to the cries and thuds.
The crime of the two men was signing up to support Bishop Abel Muzorewa's
United Parties in parliamentary elections set for June 24-25, although
Matiwane's younger brother Wilson said he was unaware that he had made the
change from ZANU-PF.
At least 24 mostly black people have been killed, hundreds savagely beaten,
many raped and others forced to flee their homes in a tide of violence unleashed
three months ago after Mugabe lost a referendum on a new constitution.
MODEL AFRICAN VILLAGE
It was the first defeat for the authoritarian leader of the former Rhodesia
in 20 years in power since winning independence from colonial Britain in 1980.
The attack on the Mushayas was the first time the violence had disturbed
the harsh everyday life of the lost hamlet, at the end of a rough path off a
gravel road 10 km (six miles) from the nearest shops and 40 km (25 miles) from
the nearest tarmac road.
``He was a good man,'' Anne said as the three women, huddled together in
front of their dead husband's hut, burst into weeping and keening, silently
watched by their own and other children and women unable to do or say anything
Nyamhanga Village, 200 km (120 miles) northeast of Harare and in the middle
of nowhere, could have been taken from a museum's depiction of a typical African
A waist-high fence runs round the cluster of huts to keep out the cattle
and goats and the less aggressive of the predators.
Inside the dusty compound are a cluster of low, thatched mud and log huts
with wood cooking fires permanently smouldering outside and blackened pots and
pans lying to dry in the warm winter sunshine.
A few dogs lounge around watching disinterestedly as scrawny chickens and
young children meander around among the structures.
Raised platforms contain quantities of maize -- well out of the reach of
domestic animals and rodents alike.
MEN FIND WORK AWAY
The women are all at work in the fields, tending to the crops of maize,
pumpkin and sunflower, and the boys are with the livestock.
Apart from Wilson Mushaya who lives in an adjacent compound, not one man is
to be seen. Most find what work they can in the towns, coming home occasionally
to bring food and money.
Hilda, Matiwane's eldest surviving wife, says she can't remember how long
they had been married.
Gladys, with her six-year-old daughter Treda next to her, says she was
married in 1983 while Anne says she was married in 1985.
All three pose self-consciously for a photograph, with Hilda clutching
their dead husband's identity card.
Anne leads the reporters through the bush to the two mounts under which lie
her husband and his son. Gladys follows but Hilda does not want to make the trip
through the snake-infested undergrowth.
As the reporters leave, trailing billowing clouds of dust behind their
cars, the sound of the crying women can still be heard through the air.
Dead men voting mar Zimbabwe rolls -
Reuters - May 28 2000
HARARE, May 28 (Reuters) - Zimbabwean opposition leaders reviewing
electoral rolls for next month's parliamentary election said on Sunday they
expected they would have to go to court to back their candidates.
``Our white candidates are on the roll, but we expect problems over dual
nationality,'' Nomore Sibanda, a spokesman for the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), said.
``We are obviously going to have to go to court, but in the meantime we are
putting our candidate list together in time for Saturday's deadline,'' he added.
Nominations for the June 24-25 parliamentary vote, called by President
Robert Mugabe during a three-month spate of political violence that has killed
at least 24 people, close on June 3.
Mugabe has said that any white Zimbabwean who also holds a foreign passport
will be excluded from voting and from standing as a candidate. The bulk of
Zimbabwe's whites, many of whom also hold British citizenship, support the MDC.
Zimbabwean law precludes dual nationality.
Observers say that could disenfranchise thousands of white voters, but the
impact on the vote would be minimal as whites make up less than one percent of
Zimbabwe's 12 million people.
The MDC, which led a campaign to defeat constitutional reforms sought by
Mugabe in February, is considered the most potent opposition faced by the
76-year-old leader in the 20 years he has ruled since independence from Britain.
David Coltart, one of a handful of white MDC candidates, said on Saturday
that the party had already found several dead people on the electoral roll and
various other anomalies such as a married couple registered in different
``It is an awful mess, although some of it is quite hilarious,'' he said.
At least 24 people have been killed, hundreds beaten or raped and many
others forced to flee during a three months of land invasions and political
intimidation by war veterans and other supporters of Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF.
ZANU-PF DENIES ORGANIZING VIOLENCE
The party has denied orchestrating a campaign of intimidation and accused
the MDC of fomenting violence.
In an incident on Thursday, one attacker was killed and six arrested when
about 30 war veterans tried to storm the police station in Mvurwi, a town north
Sibanda said he was pleased that the police had repelled the attack, after
acting almost as agents of ZANU-PF.
``The police are finally becoming police again,'' he said. ``But they still
have some way to go.''
MDC activist Topped Whitehead told Reuters on Sunday that police in the
eastern town of Chimanimani had started to evict war veterans who had invaded
the farm of parliamentary candidate Roy Bennet after a standoff lasting several
Mugabe has condemned the violence but said the invasions of more than 1,000
of Zimbabwe's 4,500 mainly white-owned commercial farms are justified because it
has taken too long to give blacks land seized under colonial rule.
South Africa's ruling African National Congress demanded unconditional
British funding for land distribution on Saturday, closing ranks with Mugabe.
Zimbabwe has accused Britain of reneging on promises to help settle the
land redistribution issue.
But critics say the land-grab is a ploy to disguise corruption in a
government whose ministers have taken much of the land so far redistributed, and
divert attention from Zimbabwe's worst economic problems since independence.
When violence in Africa appears on your news,
it is easy to say "Oh well that is Africa". However this was not the
case in Zimbabwe. Now because of this Government sponsored violence the United
Nations World Food Programme has issued a food warning for Zimbabwe, as they did
for Somalia 8 months ago.
Our elections are due for the 24th & 25th of June so we need
the international pressure to keep up even beyond that date. The Government
sponsored "hit squads" are a reality, although thanks to
international pressure their activities have been limited since the death of
Martin Olds on the 18th of April 2000. In the Matebeleland area of Zimbabwe the
5th Brigade of the Zimbabwe National Army have been deployed. This Brigade was
responsible for the genocide in Matebeleland in 1983/84, and their mere
presence, let alone the threats that have come with their deployment, have put
great fear into the people in this Zimbabwe province. In 1983/84 figures of
between 20,000 and 50,000 murders were committed by this Brigade. The true
figures have never been revealed by the Government, who until recently tried to
deny that this ever happened. The report commissioned by the Government of this
genocide has never been released. Unfortunately then we did not have the power
of the Internet and satellite television.
Even to me it seems amazing that a whole country of more than 12
million can be held to ransom by less than 50,000 Government sponsored thugs.
But unfortunately this is the case and the reason for this is that they are
backed up by the Zimbabwe Republic Police, who at the best do very little and at
the worst aid and abet these thugs. Any efforts by Zimbabweans to hold peaceful
mass demonstrations have been met by the Government sponsored thugs, and
therefore in the main have been ineffectual.
I was absolutely appalled at Mr Don McKinnon, the head of the
Commonwealth, after having been kept waiting for a full day by President Mugabe,
met with him for a couple of hours and then had the audacity to stand in front
of the international television crews and declare that he believed that the
elections would be free and fair. A short trip out of Harare, anonymously,
wearing an opposition tee shirt and he would have in very short order got the
true picture. I don't believe he even met with any of the opposition parties or
the Human Rights organisations. And his "free and fair" statement came despite
the fact that President Mugabe had given the same assurances to the Presidents
of South Africa, Mozambique and Zambia a few weeks prior. The situation has in
fact grown worse since both of these meetings. While I am well aware that Mr
McKinnon is new to his present role with the Commonwealth it is horrifying the
damage he has done by his "free and fair"
I am forwarding a copy
of an email from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. Please could you read this and pass this on to as many people as
possible to help to keep the pressure up as I know that with time people
generally get tired of hearing about troubles in other countries and
unfortunately this is the case with Zimbabwe as the news about Zim seems to have
dried up on the international news bulletins. So if you are able to take some
time for this I would really, really appreciate it.
As you will see from the violence report that it is the average
Zimbabwean that is bearing the brunt of this violence. All we are asking for is
a free and fair election so that Zimbabweans may choose a Government that will
respect their wishes and in turn stop the rampant corruption in order for the
country's economy to be put back on track. At this stage we have an inflation
rate of over 70% and an employment figure that has been quoted at over 50% but
this is growing daily with more and more companies retrenching and going on to
short working weeks.
I am also attaching an extract article (Bottom Line) from our
farmer magazine published here in Zimbabwe. This article is well worth a read
as it shows possible ramifications to the country should this vigilante terror
and lawlessness be unleashed in the urban areas.
By Richard Winkfield
It is not difficult to imagine that those laying claim to productive agricultural land and all the sophisticated development that is on it, have also cast their avaricious eyes on land in the industrial and commercial areas of the towns and cities of our country.
I want you to picture a small general medical practice in the Avenues (an area in Harare). It is run from an old house built in the thirties and it sits on an acre of land. A masterpiece of colonial architecture.
Rabble move in one day, claiming to have constitutional rights to the ground and demand half the rooms and use of the reception area. They then install their own traditional healer, with the various accoutrements of his profession, who then insists on money, food, drugs and equipment.
Next; imagine a church in a suburb. They are generally situated on a couple of acres. The same demands are not improbable and a spirit medium tries to set up his business in the vestry but not before his mates assault the incumbent and his staff.
Then try to imagine an industrial complex in Workington. It covers an area of 16 acres of land. It has been developed to assemble and manufacture machinery and equipment. The investment runs into billions of dollars and it has countrywide branches. A group move in and occupy half the covered area and erect temporary “shelters” from the sheetmetal and steel stocks as a symbol of these rights. They take over the machine room and proceed to knock about with the operators, poke around and damage the lathes and milling machines and then place a tinsmith in one of the large sheds. They insist on using the main entrance, the general manager’s office and a section of the reception area.
To cap it they put up a crude sign in front of the gat advertising a co-operative (“second hand aluminium irrigation pipes urgently needed”). All the regular workers are, of course, driven off with threats to their lives. Given these very extreme cases that are occurring at this very second in the farming areas and the Presidential powers over the Constitution concerning land, this is not a tasteless joke.
Why should it not happen anywhere else?
People in the cities might be aware of what is occurring every day out there in the country but they only have the big picture. The small agonies are not generally revealed. The anguish of losing your house, pets, treasured possessions, the awful feeling caused by the total loss of privacy and human rights, the inexpressible emotion engendered by seeing young hooligans playing with your personal computers, defacing the Steinway piano, lounging on your furniture, defecating at random in the garden. The terror in the dark with a mob of drunken hooligans baying for your blood at the gate, the crash as it succumbs to the mass of bodies, the hysterical chanting, shouting, drumming and dancing in the garden, on the veranda, through the rooms.
All this with absolutely no recourse to the law whatsoever and little help from helpless and equally anguished neighbours.
To see your furniture moving out of your driveway loaded on a police vehicle must be the last straw. The term daylight robbery fails to express the complete disregard for human dignity and the blatant and oppressive show of power that is occurring every single day. Whoever takes just one moment of time to extrapolate the interpretation of the amendments to the rules of Zimbabwe, and fails to realize the possibility of complete, total, unmitigated anarchy throughout the land affecting every single viable business, is blind to reality.
The farms will go first. As they become gradually untenable and defunct due to all the many reasons we already know, the occupants will move back to the urban sprawls to look and plunder at richer pickings, leaving behind chaos, women, children and the old.
This is the truly black picture of what might occur – massive disinvestments, a collapsed economy, a political meltdown, and complete lawlessness throughout the land.
Do not ever think it has not happened elsewhere before or for some extraordinary reason we are exempt from the awful inevitability of all this now. But there is absolutely nothing like adversity to bring people together.
Whilst the evil we see is virulent for sure it does not have the backing of the majority of people. It will burn itself out and needs our help to hasten this. We have to believe this. By believing this we can change minds and attitudes and instill a will in every one we come into contact with every day that the madness can be stopped. Good has always been victorious over evil. God alone will determine when this is to be in His time. If we are not for Him then we must be against Him and therefore we will continue to suffer the consequences. Therefore we cannot fail Him, ever.
The following web page has links to International Politician's
email addresses for the USA, Canada and Australia.
So please with a little help of your time, by passing this email
on, your actions could help to positively affect the lives of over 12 million
people. Many thanks to you all
For the latest updates on the Zimbabwe situation, please visit the
Political violence report update
Despite Mr McKinnon's assurance that he believes Mr Mugabe
genuinely wants a "lessening of violence" that is clearly not happening. Please
do what you can to bring these facts to the attention of people who count. We
need violence monitors deployed in Zim as a matter of urgency. In haste'
"Unleashing the violence: a report on political violence in
Zimbabwe" for the period 15 to 19 May 2000.
ZIMBABWE HUMAN RIGHTS NGO FORUM
VIOLENCE MONITORING PROJECT
The Unleashing of Violence:
A report on political violence in Zimbabwe
Update for the week ending 19 May 2000
A report compiled by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Non-Governmental Organisations Forum
24 May 2000
The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (also known as the “Human Rights Forum” has been in existence since January 1998. Nine non-governmental organisations working in the field of human rights came together to provide legal and psycho-social assistance to the victims of the Food Riots of January 1998.
The Human Rights Forum has now expanded its objectives to assist victims of organised violence, using the following definition:
“organised violence” means the interhuman infliction of significant avoidable pain and suffering by an organised group according to a declared or implied strategy and/or system of ideas and attitudes. It comprises any violent action which is unacceptable by general human standards, and relates to the victims’ mental and physical wellbeing.
The Human Rights Forum operates a Legal Unit and a Research and Documentation Unit.
Member organisations of the Human Forum are:
The Amani Trust
The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace
The Legal Resources Foundation
Transparency International (Zimbabwe)
The University of Zimbabwe Legal Aid Clinic
Zimbabwe Association for Crime Prevention and the Rehabilitation of the Offender
Zimbabwe Human Rights Association
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association
The Human Rights Forum can be contacted through any member organisation or the following personnel:
The Chairperson, c/o P O Box 5465, Harare – cell phone #091 233 712
The Co-ordinator, c/o P O Box CY 1393, Causeway – cell phone # 091 337 699
The Project Lawyer, c/o P O Box 5465, Harare – cell phone #091 238 070
The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum was established to address the problems of the Food Riots in January 1998. It provided legal and medical assistance to people who were caught up in the associated violence. It includes the following human rights organisations: AMANI Trust, Legal Resources Foundation, Transparency International, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), University of Zimbabwe (Legal Advice Centre), Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association, ZimRights.
The politically motivated violence, which has spiralled in the past two months, is a matter of immense concern to all the members of the Human Rights NGO Forum.
The Human Rights NGO Forum has started a project to record and act upon cases of political violence and to support and unify the initiatives being pursued by individual members of the Forum. It began gathering statements from victims on 11 May 2000. The project has already received a large number of survivors’ accounts of torture and beatings, as well as cases of murder. Together with the numerous reports of political violence in the press, these victims’ accounts provide yet more evidence that the nation is under sway of brutal forces engaged in a war upon democracy. All the victims of violence who have been interviewed so far have accused Zanu (PF) supporters and war veterans of attacking them.
The information presented in this weekly report is a summary of the statements given by victims and witnesses. At this stage we have neither been able to verify the allegations made by victims, nor to establish independently that their statements represent a full and accurate account of events. Victims have also made reports to the police in some instances, but there have been few arrests. Many of those interviewed have had to leave their homes, sometimes deserting their families in order to escape death or serious injury. Houses have been burnt down and property destroyed or looted. Some victims are displaced, others are homeless; all are living in terror of another attack.
Every victim who reported political violence to the project could name several other people who had been similarly assaulted. Although all the interviewees are male, they have spoken of assaults upon their wives or other members of their families. Many of the victims have been severely injured, some maimed for life. Along with pain and fear, most have either lost their jobs or are unable to return to them. They are trying to find ways to survive and to pay medical costs and they and their families are in desperate need of immediate practical support. Many need trauma counselling. The physical wounds of the victims are often apparent and the NGO Forum has also seen the hospital records of some of the victims. Where necessary, the NGO Forum has arranged to have an independent medical assessment carried out by a forensic nurse.
At this stage, the NGO Forum is not able even to begin to estimate the number of people who have been affected directly by violence in the run up to the parliamentary elections. What is clear is that the violence has swept across the countryside and has affected huge numbers of people, particularly in Mashonaland East and Mashonaland Central. While some areas remain fairly peaceful, there are rural districts where whole communities have suffered and people have either fled their homes for urban centres, or have taken to sleeping in the bush at night. The violence now appears to be rising in certain high-density suburbs of Harare.
Office holders and supporters of parties in opposition to Zanu (PF) are the primary targets of political violence, in particular those belonging, or suspected of belonging to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). A clear pattern is emerging of systematic searches and assaults upon members of the opposition. People whose political affiliation is not clear are not spared, with door-to-door searches for any evidence of opposition links now common. The campaign to crush opposition support among teachers has been particularly vicious. Election monitors and human rights activists, including many from the Forum itself have also been targeted. In some areas it has become impossible for non-governmental organisation groups to hold meetings for fear of being invaded by Zanu (PF) supporters and war veterans who appear to regard all gatherings as suspicious.
The rule of law has become almost meaningless in today’s Zimbabwe. For as long as the authorities continue to fail to either condemn or punish abuses which are being perpetrated in the name of Zanu (PF), it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that the violence is sponsored or encouraged at the highest level of government. With every incident reported come further allegations that Zanu (PF) candidates and members of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) are directing attacks and housing and paying Zanu (PF) youths and war veterans to carry out the assaults. With every day that passes without firm action being taken to root out the perpetrators, these claims gain in credibility.
Not all the violence has come from Zanu (PF) supporters. There have been some reports of violent attacks by MDC members upon Zanu (PF) supporters in the high density areas of Harare and in a number of other parts of the country. The police have arrested MDC supporters in connection with some of these incidents.
The NGO Forum appeals to all political parties and their supporters to refrain from using force and to take precautions for their own safety in the run up to the 2000 elections. It is now beyond question that damage has been done to the electoral process as a result of violence. All efforts must be directed at identifying what can now be salvaged for democracy. It is in the interests of all Zimbabweans, whatever their political affiliation, that the few weeks left before the election be peaceful ones.
A Discussion of the Interviews from 11-19 May
The violence monitoring project has so far interviewed 21 victims of political violence. None of these were from commercial farms, although it is clear that farm workers have been among the worst affected by political violence and gathering their statements will be an important objective of the project. Supporters of United Parties (UP), Zimbabwe Union of Democrats (ZUD) and Zanu (PF) have also been victims of political violence and the project has begun research and interviews into some of these cases, which will be included in future reports. This week’s update, however, focuses on the massive intimidation and brutality that has been directed at the active members of MDC, both in town and the countryside. All of those interviewed were targeted because of membership, or suspicion of links to the MDC. Several of those interviewed in the past week came from Harare, as well as some from Murehwa, Shamva, Bindura, Mberengwa and one from Wedza. The project has also been collecting reports of assaults and killings from several sources as well as press reports on political violence.
It must be emphasised that the interviews taken are merely a small random sample but they indicate that violence is now an endemic problem in rural areas and is beginning to affect some urban residents. They also provide further substance to the claim that there is a central authority directing the violence. They show consistencies of method, language and operation of the attackers in different parts of the country which appear to be beyond coincidence. While the victims all identified their attackers as supporters of Zanu (PF), including ex-combatants ¾ sometimes because of their T-shirts ¾ they often did not recognise them as local residents. In the words of one witness, the troublemakers are being “imported”. A number of victims accused Zanu (PF) representatives, including parliamentary candidates of instigating or sponsoring the violence. Frequently there was either suspicion or evidence of CIO involvement in the assault.
Groups which seem to be led by “war-veterans” have established makeshift camps, often in public buildings, Zanu (PF) or ZexCom offices (the offices of the war veterans) or are operating from bases in nearby farms. There are reports that in general these camps are where Zanu (PF) supporters sleep, eat and drink. They send out raiding parties from their base to hunt down opposition members, sometimes bringing them back to administer beatings and torture. These groups are functioning as a militia, which many allege are being paid for intimidating, beating and even killing MDC supporters at standard rates.
In Mashonaland East, the ZexCom offices at Murehwa growth point is a known torture house, Chipesa Farm in Marondera is also a centre for the planning and implementation of violence. In Mashonaland Central, a building belonging to a Zanu (PF) member in Mount Darwin has been occupied by Zanu (PF) youths who are said to be under the command of local CIO officials. The army came in and broke up the unit which had been responsible for widespread violence in the surrounding villages several weeks ago, but there are now reports that the youths have moved back in. In Karoi, the Zanu (PF) offices in the high-density suburb of Chikangwe are being used to house a militia who chant slogans and sing all night, bringing opposition members for beating there. In front of the offices is a small improvised grave which has written on it: “Rest in peace, Morgan Tsvangirai.” Another camp has been established at the Magunje growth point, behind the shop of the parliamentary candidate, Mark Madiro. Other Zanu (PF) parliamentary candidates who have been accused repeatedly of harbouring the attackers or providing transport for them include Gladys Hokoyo of Budiriro, Harare; Sabina Thembani of Mufakose, Harare; Nicholas Goche of Shamva, Mashonaland Central. Saviour Kasukuwere the parliamentary candidate for Mount Darwin has been accused of directly assaulting MDC supporters.
It is worth noting that the violence broke out simultaneously in several areas. Most people date the first attacks in their area date from around 13 April, although the assaults in Harare are more recent. The attackers regularly demand that MDC members surrender their T-shirts and party cards; that they name other MDC supporters in the area; and that they publicly renounce their MDC membership and join Zanu (PF). In several instances they have threatened to “cut off the head” of an MDC member. Weapons commonly being used include sjamboks, axes, knobkerries, rubber truncheons and sticks. There are increasing reports of guns being used, mostly AK 47s and 303 rifles. Petrol bombs are being thrown at cars, property and people. Torture techniques involve beatings with electric cables, beatings on the soles of the feet, tying of the penis and electric shocks.
The police have taken little or no action to protect MDC supporters in the majority of cases, although MDC supporters have reported some of these incidents to them. Although some MDC members interviewed admit involvement in fights with Zanu (PF) members, the statements gathered should help to dispel the myth perpetuated in the state media that MDC supporters are causing most of the violence.
Targeting Party Activists
Most interviewees were active members of the MDC who had been systematically singled out for attack. Their names have been changed in this report for security reasons.
Mr Deve is a youth district chairman for MDC in Kambuzuma, Harare. He survived torture and assault at the hands of men he alleges are CIO operatives. He is now in fear of his life and unable to return to his home. On 28 April 2000, following an MDC meeting and a drink in a local bar, Mr Deve was walking home when he was seized by a gang of six men. They were armed with a gun and were driving a Mazda 626. They said: “You think you are clever, you MDC people are now behaving like you are already ruling the country.” Mr Deve says he recognised one of the men who lives in his local area and “is from the President’s office.”
Mr Deve was abducted and beaten in the car, then taken to waste ground, where he was forced to lie down. He was held down by four of the men, while the fifth inserted a wire into his penis and anus. He remembers little after this, since, he explained: “I fainted and they left me for dead.”
Mr Deve came round eventually and managed to reach the roadside, where a passerby took him to the police, who then called an ambulance. He says that members of the CIO came looking for him at the hospital. Mr Deve was medically examined and has injuries consistent with the torture described. He is due to have an operation, but there is a chance that he may never be able to have children. At present he is in much pain and deeply anxious following threats and a break in at the place he had sought refuge. He spoke of the continuing threats to his life:
These people are coming looking for me now. They are phoning my brother in Mutare. They even know where he stays and the phone number and they also know where my cousin stays in Hatfield. They are just including everyone, thinking birds of a feather flock together. One of my sisters has been harassed. Three young brothers have been harassed.
The situation in rural areas is acute, with the MDC organisers in the frontline of a campaign to destroy the party in many areas. Attacks upon MDC activists are now very common.
The story told by Mr Ndlovu from Murehwa was typical of what is happening in the rural areas. The 75-year-old chairman of Musani South was fortunate to escape in time when he saw a gang of some 100 Zanu PF supporters approaching his house on 9 May, around 4:45 pm. They came in a lorry and two pick up trucks to his house, but Mr Ndlovu, who had already been beaten by war veterans only a month earlier, saw them and immediately fled. His wife however was determined to find their grandson whom she thought was still at their house. The little boy had run home, but Mrs Ndlovu was still there when the attackers arrived. Pointing a gun at her head, the Zanu (PF) supporters demanded she hand over her husband’s T-shirts and books related to MDC. They confiscated MDC manifestos and T-shirts and then, demanding to know where Mr Ndlovu was, they marched his wife to a bus stop at Musami mission, forced her to lie down and then beat her with sjamboks and chains.
The neighbouring house which belonged to Mr Ndlovu’s brother was burnt down and the family lost everything. Although both Mr Ndlovu and his brother made reports to the police, when they asked what protection they could be given, the police simply said: “If you surrender to these people its much better.”
Mr Ndlovu left Musani for Harare the day after the incident, but his wife was reportedly still receiving threats and property had been stolen from the house. Mr Ndlovu also described a previous incident in which his grandson was beaten. He says schools in the area have been closed and that the Brother at the mission has been forced to give up his car to the Zanu (PF) supporters. Ndlovu believes the men behind all of these attacks are “camped at the Shanuwe restaurant in Musani growth point ... under the command of an Ndebele ex-combatant called Ncube.” He also accuses the local Zanu (PF) leadership of involvement in this violence.
The chairman of Macheke district MDC also narrowly escaped a crowd of Zanu (PF) supporters who said they had come to “get me and chop off my head.” He believes that they were led by ex-combatants from Marondera, Mutoko and Murehwa, under the command of a man called Garwe and that their intention was to take him to their base at Fault Farm, Marimatombo. He is currently in Harare, awaiting news of the security situation in Macheke. He described the attempted assault on 14 May:
During the day, more than 100 of them arrived, Zanu (PF) supporters and ex-combatants. They were armed with axes, sticks, catapults, machetes and bicycle chains. There was one group coming from the south, one from the north and one from the west. They tried to block the way to the police station. They said they had come to “get me and chop off my head.” They shouted: “He’s there, get him.” I was in the garden. I was running to the police station. On the way I saw another group of guys coming from the front. They were wearing Zanu (PF) T-shirts. As I reached the Mutare road a bus was passing and I managed to get it to stop and I asked if I could have some assistance. I got on. Then their car dropped some people in front of the bus and they started to hit the bus. They were saying: “We want him, make him get down.” The driver moved the bus bit by bit to the police station. Then I managed to get off and run inside. The police started to give me a hand. They told me to hide in the radio room and I went in there.
In Budiriro, Harare, there has been a spate of abductions and torture at the surgery in Budiriro 4 belonging to war-veteran’s leader, Chenjerai Hunzvi, as well as reports of retaliation by MDC members. One MDC supporter, Takundwa Chipunza, is known to have been killed by Zanu (PF) supporters inside or near the surgery. The NGO Forum has interviewed several people from Budiriro who say they were captured and taken to the surgery. They have given consistent accounts of the activities and identities of the militia which has its base there. They have been medically examined and bear physical scars of their torture and have the accompanying emotional problems. One of the first to be captured was Mr Matongo, aged 38, who lives near the surgery and runs a small hardware business there. He is an MDC member and following severe beatings, he revealed some information about the structures of MDC in the area. He was kept inside from 11 am until 7 pm. He described the perpetrators.
All the time they were beating me with electrical wires. There were about 120 war veterans and Zanu (PF) supporters. They spoke both Shona and Ndebele. Both men and women beat me. They beat me with the kind of electrical cord used by ZESA (the electricity company). They were beating me on my back and some of the women were using bottle tops (metal) to pinch the skin around my groin.
It was the same three men who beat me each time and three ladies. The ladies were using their hands to slap me. There was an officer and a commander in charge. The officer was from Matabeleland, an Ndebele man known as Dube. The other man was an old man, more than 50 years old, a war veteran. He was from Manicaland, but he was just known as the “Commander”. There were also some who said they were CIO there, but they didn’t carry a card.
Other victims of the torturers at the surgery said that there were many Ndebele and Venda speakers among them and confirmed that they had come from all over the country. One identified himself as a soldier from Mutare, while another group were from Gutu.
27-year-old Mr Saidi from Budiriro admits taking part in a fight against the Zanu (PF) supporters at Hunzvi’s surgery on 16 May, the same date that Chipunza of the MDC was killed there. He argues that the fight was begun by Zanu (PF) supporters who stoned an MDC meeting near the surgery and that the MDC members then chased Zanu (PF), fighting with them near the surgery. He says a number of the group at the surgery were armed and that the battle ended when one of them shot at him. His leg was injured. He then heard the attackers turn on Chipunza. His account goes on as follows:
After we ran away the youth were chasing us. Then Chipunza found that it was free and he ran out. As he got out he didn’t know where the Zanu (PF) youth were. He ran straight into them. They shouted the captured man is out. That’s why they didn’t capture me. They were too busy beating him. Later we found he was dead.
Rooting Out Opposition Supporters
The account given by a resident of Murehwa, a successful peasant farmer in his 50’s, illustrates how flimsy the basis for an attack may be. Mr Maregere is not an opposition member, but he says: “People are threatening my life, claiming that I am a leader of an opposition party. The only reason Maregere could find to explain why he has become a target was that several months ago, when attending a funeral in Harare, he was given 20 MDC T-shirts by a relative. He took them back to his home village and distributed them, pleased to hand out what he viewed as “something to wear”. This was the extent of Maregere’s political activity, so when last week Maregere heard a rumour that he would “lose his head” he thought it was a joke. Since then, his family has suffered a brutal assault and lost their home and possessions.
The incident happened on the evening of 15 May, when Maregere was away. When he returned the following morning, he found that his wife had been badly beaten by Zanu PF supporters. The elder three of the Maregere’s six children and a cousin were also assaulted and their home and crops had been burnt to the ground. The Zanu (PF) supporters, armed with pickhandles and sjamboks, had arrived at the house demanding to know Mr Maregere’s whereabouts. When they found he was not at home, they began an aggressive interrogation of his wife, beating her throughout. One of the gang threatened to kill her. The group then went through the village searching for Maregere and beating other villagers and relatives. Another interviewee witnessed the burning of Maregere’s home. He was ordered to empty his bag and show his “MDC things”. He was beaten with pickhandles and he had visible wounds on his back at the time of the interview. When they found he had nothing of a political nature, he was robbed.
Assaults upon Teachers and Civic Activists
Attacks upon teachers are not only directed at opposition supporters, but appear now to be part of a policy against those who have the capacity to inform their communities. It may also be that educated individuals are regarded as a threat because they are capable of exercising their choice at the ballot box without succumbing to the belief which is spreading across some rural communities that Zanu PF will know which individuals have voted for the opposition, and will target them after the elections.
The two teachers interviewed by the project last week were both involved with the opposition, but they were also able to speak of the intimidation which has affected their colleagues as well as of their own experiences. Mr Mpofu described the assaults upon teachers at Chitimbe school in UMP, Mashonaland East. He is a supporter of MDC, who had helped the party to campaign on one occasion. He left the province for Harare when the violence began, but his car which was left behind was burnt. He also told of how his two friends, both teachers, were badly beaten and left for dead. The wife of one of them was raped. Some of the perpetrators were arrested, but later released having been fined $500 for common assault, although the man suspected of rape is thought to be still on remand. A teacher from Shamva, who is also an MDC member reported a series of attacks which ended with his home being burnt down. He has had to leave the area for Harare in fear of his life.
Many teachers have had to flee their homes and take emergency leave from their jobs. Schools in some areas are unable to function as a result. A project monitor in Mashonaland West reports that Mudzimu Secondary School has not been opened because of threats to the teachers. A number of schools in Mashonaland East have also been affected.
An incident described by a staff member of Amani Trust who is working on an agricultural project in Mount Darwin confirms just how vulnerable teachers are to accusations of opposition involvement.
At the time of the referendum, when the NCA papers telling people to vote no came round, Mr Madhuku, who is an ex-teacher and can read and write well was explaining to people in the group to say what this paper was about. He was a strong supporter of Zanu PF who was tortured during the liberation struggle, but the war vets were annoyed by the ‘no’ vote, that is why they accused him. It was organised that they would come and beat him and his family so someone warned him not to sleep at home. He spent two nights sleeping in the bush with his family. He was made to do the toyi-toying with the youth for two days it was about 8 kms and he is an old man. Then the youth said to him: “We have tried to find out all the accusations but have failed.” He told the youth they were free to search his house. But they found nothing. They didn’t beat him. His daughter was accused of tearing down a poster for the Zanu (PF) candidate, Mr Dokora. She was usually schooling in Chinoyi and was there on holiday. They told her “isn’t that the same as killing a person, tearing down a poster.” She denied it.
Those working for human rights organisations are equally viewed as a threat to Zanu (PF) support in some areas. The ZimRights representative in Mashonaland East described how his brother, also a member of ZimRights was picked up by the war veterans and Zanu (PF) supporters who are operating from the ZexCom offices in Murehwa centre. This office has been named as a notorious torture house and militia camp by several other people from Murehwa where suspected opposition supporters are taken on a regular basis.
They picked up my brother. They were suspecting I am a very important opposition member in Marondera. They were asking him where I was. They beat him and were hitting him under the foot. They whipped him and he had some lacerations on his back. He was released and spent some time in hospital. He identified one guy from the President’s Office who was among the attackers. Later, when they realised they had made a mistake, this guy went and apologised to my brother. I have approached the police about the matter.
A Summary of Reports of Political Violence made to the Human Rights NGO Forum from 13-19 May 2000
It should be noted that this is not in any way a comprehensive report of political violence which has occurred in the period, rather it is a selective view of cases which the project has been researching. Many of the incidents listed below took place some time ago, but are listed here as they were reported to the project in the week under review. They are ordered by the date on which the incident occurred. Some of the reports were made directly to the project by victims or witnesses¾several of these have received prior or subsequent press coverage. Other cases are being noted here as reports which have yet to be verified either by the project or by other sources, as far as we are aware. The project has not detailed cases relating to threats and intimidation or destruction of property as these too numerous to document.
13 May 2000: Sgt Alex Chisasa was killed at 9:30 pm, by a gang of 5-6 on the Jack Quinton bridge near his home in Mupinge, Chipinge area. He is thought to have been beaten to death with an iron bar. Chisasa was stationed at Chisambange police station. His killing is thought to have been political as immediately before the incident he was drinking beer in the township, dressed in civilian clothes. He was publicly criticising the political strategy of Zanu (PF) and the party’s use of war veterans. His death was brought to the attention of the project, but no further details are available at present.
16 May 2000: Takundwa Chipunza an MDC supporter from Budiriro, Harare, was killed, allegedly by Zanu PF supporters, 12 of whom have been arrested and are on remand until 5 June.
21 April 2000: MDC members were drinking at Wasara-Wasara beerhall in Gokwe, the Midlands, around 9:45 pm. They were approached by about 20 Zanu (PF) youths and “war veterans” and one of them was abducted. He was taken to their office at the council building, where he was brought before around 200 Zanu (PF) supporters. He was then tortured with electric shocks and beaten on the soles of the feet at gunpoint. The assault was led by a war veteran named Shenje.
28 April 2000: An MDC member was tortured, allegedly at the hands of CIO operatives in Kambuzuma, Harare. He has gave a detailed statement of his ordeal.
8-16 May 2000: Three people interviewed said they had been tortured at Chenjerai Hunzvi’s surgery in Budiriro between these dates. Each claimed to have seen other people being tortured inside¾there are unconfirmed reports of four more victims. Takundwa Chipunza, who died of beatings outside the surgery, is also suspected of having been tortured at the surgery.
13 April 2000: An MDC member from Bindura gave a detailed statement about an assault near Rushinga in Mashonaland Central on this date. He lost an eye as a result of a beating with an iron bar, allegedly at the hands of the Zanu (PF) candidate for Mount Darwin, Saviour Kasukuwere. He claims many others were beaten at the same time and the project is continuing to gather reports on this incident.
15 April 2000: An MDC member from Wedza reported injuries to his mouth and teeth following being ambushed and stoned by a gang of suspected Zanu (PF) supporters. He claimed that there have been several subsequent assaults upon MDC members in the area, including the local district chairman, who has now fled the area, and a youth whose leg was broken. He claims the perpetrators are not local, but are being organised by Zanu (PF) officials, brought in by them from the farms and housed at the growth point at weekends.
17 April 2000: In Gokwe, the Midlands, an MDC supporter, wearing a T-shirt, was stopped by seven Zanu (PF) youths who beat him with a beer bottle, fists and logs. The assault happened around 8:00 pm. The victim was left cut and bruised, but he managed to make his way to Gokwe police station. They refused to take a statement because “it was politically motivated.” He then went to hospital for treatment.
18-21 April 2000: The chairperson of MDC youth Mufakose, Harare gave a detailed statement saying he was living in fear and had been threatened repeatedly by men he believes were CIO operatives. He also alleged that there have been more than eight assaults upon MDC supporters in the suburb between. In one case an entire family and their lodgers were beaten. He said those responsible were well-known locally and were staying at the Zanu (PF) offices near the Gwonyambira bar in Mufakose.
17-20 April: A mob of Zanu (PF) supporters, war veterans and state agents came looking for of an NCA coordinator and ZimRights member in Nyadire Mission, Mutoko. When they failed to find him, they abducted his wife and child, threatened and insulted them and later released them. They then set up a camp at Nyadire Mission Farm, where they brought several local residents and beat them.
17 April 2000: Zanu PF supporters invaded an election monitors training workshop in UMP, Mashonaland East accusing participants of belonging to an opposition party. The following day, the Zanu PF supporters began burning houses and attacking local residents. One woman’s ear was cut off, another pregnant woman was badly beaten, a child was cut on the hand and several other people were badly beaten. Some of those attacked were UP supporters.
24 April 2000: An MDC member from Shamva gave a statement about an attack upon him by alleged Zanu (PF) supporters. His hand was broken by a knobkerrie and his head was cut twice with an axe. He was also beaten by sjamboks all over his body. He was left for dead. 21 houses including his own were destroyed on the same day. He claims that CIO operatives came to hospital looking for him, and he has had to leave the area.
26 April 2000: A teacher from Gokwe, the Midlands was severely beaten by Zanu PF officials, war veterans and supporters. He says “a prominent state security officer” accused him of being MDC and told him he was now in the hands of army generals. He was stripped naked, robbed, interrogated and beaten with a baton stick.
8 May 2000: A university student from Bindura, Alphonce Mushinyi, gave an account of an assault upon him by alleged Zanu (PF) supporters.
9 May 2000: Zanu (PF) supporters abducted an MDC member in Karoi, beat him severely and then left him unconscious on the outskirts of Chiedza township. He was badly bruised, but one of the Karoi hospital staff told him that: “we do not treat MDC people”. When the incident was reported at the police station, an officer there was reported to have scolded the victim, saying: “I once warned you not to participate in MDC activities, but you did not bother to listen.”
9 May 2000: War veterans and Zanu PF supporters occupied Pachedu farm belonging to Roy Bennett, an MDC candidate in Chimanimani. They began assaults upon farmworkers and local residents.
10 May 2000: An MDC youth reported arming himself with an iron bar and a bottle in order to take part in a “rescue mission” of MDC supporters who had been abducted and taken to Hunzvi’s surgery in Budiriro. He claims that on the way to attack the surgery, he was discovered by police, who set dogs upon him, found his weapons and then hit him in the ribs with baton sticks. He says he was detained for five days and placed in handcuffs and leg irons. A statement was also taken from another MDC supporter who was not armed, but was detained in the same incident.
13 May 2000: An MDC member from Macheke township was interviewed by the Forum. He reported being beaten on and chased from his home the following day.
14 May 2000: Zanu (PF) youths are alleged to have visited the home of two MDC members in Chiedza township, Karoi. When the targets did not open the door, the Zanu (PF)youths broke it down and attacked those inside. After a fight the youths retreated. The next day about 40 youths returned, surrounded the house and attacked the MDC members, one of whom was hit on the head with a stone. The house was damaged and property was stolen.
14 May 2000: An MDC member from Chinoyi was reading a newspaper at the Municipality offices when he was abducted and taken to a room in the municipality offices where he was badly beaten between 2-4:30 pm.
15 May 2000: A man from a village in Murehwa reported assaults upon his wife, three children and a cousin. Another man from the village also reported being beaten in the same incident.
16 May 2000: A Mazda truck full of Zanu (PF) youths came to Chiedza township in Karoi and in full view of the police, abducted the local MDC vice-chairman, who has not been seen since.
16 May 2000: Eamonn Oliver, the production manager of Border Timbers in Chimanimani was captured by Zanu (PF) supporters and forced to attend a rally. He was beaten repeatedly and ordered to chant Zanu (PF) slogans.
Report on political violence
13- 19 May 2000
This section gives a selection of newspaper reports during the reporting period. Some of the reports relate to incidents prior to 13 May.
Murder, assaults and harassment of opposition members other than MDC
The Secretary General of ZUD, Isaac Manyemba, had received death threats and members of his party have been harassed by Zanu (PF) supporters.
In Murehwa a female was assaulted by Zanu (PF) supporters for being a ZUD organiser and selling the party’s cards and T–shirts and distributing it campaign materials. Her pregnant daughter was assaulted with sticks and fists by Zanu (PF) supporters as they looked for keys to open the wardrobe to search for ZUD materials.
In Mutare Ms P Chikukutu, ZUD parliamentary candidate for Mutare South, lost all her campaign materials to Zanu (PF) supporters. In Gokwe, Collen Nyoni, the ZUD parliamentary candidate for Gokwe Central was intimidated and harassed and her ZUD campaign materials and party cards were confiscated. His mother was threatened with eviction from the area by her headman because her son was supporting a party other than Zanu (PF).In Mbare West ZUD member Spiwe Jera was harassed and intimidated by Zanu (PF) supporters.
James Chitongo, director of elections in the opposition United Party reported that two of their members had been killed by Zanu (PF) supporters and many others were severely assaulted wounded on the evening of 17 May. This had occurred in the in the northeastern district of Mudzi. The wounded included a local village headman called Mushayi and a child called Nyandoro who were severely beaten and left for dead by Zanu (PF) supporters. It was alleged that incidents of violence were taking place in that area almost every night. Police confirmed Wednesday’s killings and said several people had been arrested in connection with the violence.
Violence in Mutoko, Murehwa, Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe and Mudzi
Fifty three villagers, victims of political violence in Mutoko, Murehwa and Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe, have abandoned their homes and fled to Harare. The villagers abandoned their villages after either being attacked or receiving threats of violence from Zanu (PF) supporters and war veterans. Among them are schoolchildren. For the past week, the villagers have been sleeping at Mbare Musika bus terminus and at the Harare Railway Station in sad scenes reminiscent of the situation at the height of war of liberation in the seventies, when thousands lived in plastic shacks at Mbare Musika. Some have been given accommodation by well wishers. Yesterday, the villagers gathered at the ZimRights head office seeking refuge and food. “We spent the night in the bush and when I went to check the following morning, I heard the youths were still looking for me,” Chipuriro said. “I sold a cow for $1 000 to get bus fare to come to Harare.” The family is now living at the home of United Parties Secretary for Welfare, Emy Ncube.
Simon Chikazi had his right hand in a sling yesterday after he was allegedly assaulted by Zanu PF supporters from Mudzi. Chikazi, the UP parliamentary candidate for Mudzi, said he ran away from home on Thursday last week after being warned that a group of Zanu PF supporters was coming for him. He left his family behind. “I don’t have a permanent place to live and I am fearing for my family. I don’t even know where they are and whether they are still alive,” Chikazi said.
Rodwell Chichetu, an office orderly with the Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe council, said he left home on Thursday last week after getting a message that Zanu PF youths were looking for him. “I left at night and slept in the bush. I could not take my family with me and I am concerned about their safety,” Chichetu said.
Their granaries have been destroyed and their livelihood is threatened.” United Parties, deputy secretary-general, Godwin Mutambirwa said: “We are disturbed by this violence. We are now scared of holding open meetings because our supporters will be targeted. These are the same people who used to feed the comrades during the liberation war. Now their only crime is that they have pointed out Zanu PF’s weaknesses.”
Violence against civil servants
A wave of violence targeting civil servants and MDC) supporters has swept rural Matabeleland in the run-up to the parliamentary elections now set for 24 and 25 June. The deputy national chairman of ZimRights, Clement Moyo, said State security agents, war veterans and Zanu (PF) supporters were allegedly unleashing a reign of terror, especially in Plumtree district. Moyo said numerous people were taken to Plumtree hospital after being attacked in the night. He said one person was abducted after midnight and beaten up before being asked to identify houses of MDC officials. The man’s nightmare, Moyo said, began when 20 men, one donning a police uniform and armed with a pistol forced themselves into his house. After being severely assaulted and threatened with death, Moyo said, the man took the gang to another MDC member’s house. The rest of the group armed with axes and pipes beat up the MDC member and other supporters who were taken to hospital to be treated for injuries sustained during the severe beatings.
Moyo said the same group then proceeded to another area in Tshankwe where they beat up other people and told them to support Zanu (PF). He said there were widespread fears that schools might close because the violence was targeted at teachers. He said teachers were allegedly tortured at nearby Diba Primary School. At least five schools have been closed as a result of the escalating violence against schoolteachers. Zanu (PF) has accused schoolteachers of campaigning against the draft constitution.
“Violence is escalating in rural areas which will make it impossible to have free and fair elections,” said Moyo.
In Lupane the Matabeleland North regional chairman for ZimRights, Thokozani Sitsha, said elections monitors were being beaten up and harassed. He said the monitors' training manuals and certificates had been confiscated. Sitsha said the victims were told by CIO operatives that ZimRights would get them killed. “They also threatened them with disappearances, accusing them of inciting people not to go to Zanu (PF) meetings,” said Sitsha.
Political clash in Budiriro – report 1
One person died and 13 others were injured in clashes in Budiriro, Harare, on Tuesday night ignited after MDC youths allegedly started stoning a surgery belonging to Dr Chenjerai Hunzvi. Police had by yesterday arrested 30 people in connection with the violence, which also saw five buildings, including Dr Hunzvi's surgery, damaged following stone and petrol bomb attacks in the suburb.
Riot police hav
e restored order and a heavy police presence was keeping the peace yesterday.
The suspected MDC supporter, who died in hospital yesterday morning, has been identified as Takundwa Chipunza (38) of Budiriro 2.
Police and neighbours who witnessed the clashes described the violence as “terrifying”, especially since both parties allegedly chased away the police in order to settle their differences in a violent manner. “Although some youths had come earlier on to stone Cde Hunzvi's surgery, this was the first time that there had been clashes like that.” “The youths (MDC) and the war veterans appeared prepared for the fights because they refused to listen to police appeals to stop the violence," said Mrs Mabvuka, who lives near Cde Hunzvi's surgery, where most of the violence occurred.
Harare provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Tendai Nembire, said the police were investigating what had caused the clashes. She said both parties were involved, giving contradictory evidence.
Police investigations so far show that, as a result of long-standing differences between the MDC youths and war veterans, the MDC youths had toyi-toyed to Cde Hunzvi's surgery, where they began throwing stones and chanting anti-Zanu (PF) slogans. This allegedly resulted in an orgy of violence which only ended following intervention by the riot police in the early hours of yesterday morning. The situation in the suburb was still tense yesterday, with a heavy police presence in areas where the violence was concentrated.
On 19 May The Herald reported that 17 more people were arrested by the police between Wednesday and Thursday in connection with the violent clash in Budiriro. This brings the total of people arrested to 47.
Political clash in Budiriro – report 2
Rival party supporters clashed in western Harare, leaving one person dead and 18 injured, police said Wednesday. Witnesses said the violence Tuesday night started when about 15 youths attacked Takudzwa Chipunza, who was believed to have been a supporter of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party, police spokeswoman Tendai Nembire said. Chipunza died Wednesday at a Harare hospital from head injuries suffered in the attack. The overnight clashes occurred in the Budiriro township in western Harare. Four of the injured were in serious condition, Nembire said. Thirteen of those injured said they belonged to Zanu (PF).
Some clashes took place outside the office of Chenjerai Hunzvi. Fire bombs were hurled into two homes, gutting them. Opposition supporters smashed the windows of Hunzvi's offices, claiming that veterans had dragged their colleagues into the clinic last week and beaten and tortured them.
Incidents in Kwekwe
Two national executive committee members of the MDC had their houses burnt down in Kwekwe on Monday by suspected Zanu (PF) members camped at the party’s Kwekwe district offices and Amaveni guest house. Abraham Mtshena, the MDC chairman for Kwekwe district, said his family was caught sleeping and, when they tried to escape, were badly beaten up. Blessing Chebundo, an MDC national executive member, was alone when the group petrol-bombed his house. He escaped through the back door. The arsonists were believed to be using two white Mazda pick-up trucks, with one bearing the registration number 619-212F. Police in Kwekwe have confirmed the incidents but said no arrests had been made so far.
Several other houses belonging to known MDC supporters had their windows smashed last week, especially in Mbizo and Amaveni high density suburbs. Mtshena said his wife and five children were severely assaulted with slashers and knobkerries when they rushed out of their burning house in Mbizo's Section 5. They were treated at Kwekwe General Hospital and discharged. Mtshena was not at home when the incident occurred. Chebundo's house in Newtown was still smouldering when The Daily News visited the area on Tuesday.
Incident in Chimanimani
MDC officials in the eastern town of Chimanimani told Reuters that five more MDC supporters had been abducted overnight and could be dead. “Five people have been abducted. We have reports that they have been killed, but we are still trying to confirm that,” MDC organizer James Mundenda said by telephone. He said the attack had taken place on a farm owned by Roy Bennett, a white farmer and an MDC parliamentary candidate.
Farm invasions and other reports
War veterans and Zanu (PF) supporters are alleged to have compiled hit lists targeting farmers, opposition party candidates and activists and civil servants, especially teachers, officials have said.
In addition, pro-government militias, propagandists and hired thugs have intensified their assaults of political opponents and waverers at all night rallies and liberation war-style kangaroo courts set up at invaded commercial farms, growth points and in remote villages. The new wave has cowed thousands into submission and forced some to flee to towns and cities for safety and security.
In its latest land invasions update, the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) said: Featherstone- There is intelligence gleaned at Rosarum Store near the Dunn's Farm that more farmers are targeted by a hit squad. Those involved have been informed and may evacuate for their safety. The report does not give further details on either the hit squad or the targeted farmers. But it is now known that owners of Portugal and Zanka Farms in the area were evacuated last week because of the threat. The invaders have already been to Nyambiri and Swallowfield Farms where they were checking for party cards among farm workers.
Save Conservancy. “It appears that out of discussions held with senior police officials in Chiredzi that on Masapas, Levanga and Senuko Ranches, says the report. There appears to be a separate militant group of war vets. They refuse to accept any instructions from the Governor, Dr Hunzvi or even the police for that matter. “As a result, war veterans were still occupying safari camps. Game Scouts are being given a hard time by the war veterans”, says the report.
Villagers and teachers are arriving daily in Harare from rural Mashonaland, raising fears that new squatter camps might spring up soon on the fringes of the city. Already 53 villagers and their children are sleeping at Mbare Musika and at the main railway station after abandoning their homes in Mutoko, Mudzi, Uzumba, Maramba and Pfungwe. The CFU says there are reports of massive political violence in Maranda and Matibi 1 areas in Mwenezi. Hospitals and clinics are very busy.
Three schools closed last week Wedza invaders started to building a house on the seed bed site on Rupaka Farm, while workers at Dean Farm were commandeered to a meeting at 10 pm last week and only returned to work at 7:30 the following morning. A beast was shot on Saltash on Tuesday and 17 cattle were slashed on Chakadenya Farm. Macheke/Virginia- “Workers at Chiringe Farm were assaulted on Tuesday night.
Excessive demands have been made on Nyagadzi but the situation was defused. The farmer on Glen Somerset was forced to sign over half of his farm. Through the Enterprise valley, says the CFU, demands for cattle, food, transport and interference with preparation for crops continues. Chinhoyi farmers were ordered to attend a rally on a nearby farm. The farmers were told to take their workers with them, and advised that a roll call would be taken at the rally.
In the villages, violence monitors have recorded eight cases of rape, 1 012 incidents of burns and attempted stranglings and 417 houses and properties have been destroyed. The monitors put the total number of violations to 5 078 as of last week.
The CFU said there were two new invasions on Rosalin and Verdun Farms in Harare South/Beatrice, Mafuti Farm in Ayshire, another unidentified farm in Gweru and Anthony Mitchell's Wayne Farm in Masvingo. Plans for wheat planting had to be abandoned at Kismet Farm in Doma, Kuti Estate and Hwanga Farm and in the entire Middle Save region. Land preparation for wheat, tobacco and tomatoes stopped last week in Banket, at Lions Den and parts of Chinhoyi. In Norton, a group of 150 Zanu PF supporters commandeered two tractors from Parklands Farm and threatened the owner. They went to plough on Kintyre and then proceeded to Aberdeen. The group then requisitioned diesel from Winson Farm and went on to Garvillin, said the CFU. There was building of huts on Rondor Farm in Chakari, pegging on New Begin and all workers on Blackmorevale Farm were told to get Zanu PF cards if they wanted land. Wicklow Farm in Selous has also fallen to 150 invaders. The owner of Hwanga and Bonya farms were ordered to remove their cattle before the end of May.
In Mwenezi, one farmer resisted an invasion by war veterans and Zanu PF supporters by openly telling them that the land he had would rather be shared by his workers than let it go to the invaders. The war vets moved off the farm. The situation was different near Gutu where 30 Zanu PF supporters moved into Blyth Farm and informed the owner that they had started to peg on Appin Farm, which also belongs to him. Appin Farm was designated for resettlement by the government two years ago. In Kwekwe a farmer was threatened and had evacuated his property for the time being. It appears that there is no solution to the intimidation and violence in this area.
Incidents against nurses
About 30 people allegedly abducted a nurse and two other people from Mnene Mission in Mberengwa on Monday. According to some nurses and teachers, three groups arrived at the mission at about 2.00 pm. They allegedly accused some nurses of being members of the MDC. They later abducted a male nurse, a temporary teacher and a Mutare Technical College student. The three people were allegedly taken to Texas farm about 20 km away where they were allegedly assaulted. They were brought back to the mission at 10.00 pm the same day. The groups promised to come back and clean up the place. Nurses they feared for their lives.
A Mudzi Hospital doctor said many victims of political violence, including an official at Chimukoko Clinic, had been admitted. The clinic has since been closed.
Incidents against teachers
About 30 people allegedly abducted a nurse and two other people from Mnene Mission in Mberengwa on Monday. Sources at the mission said that three groups of people wielding sticks allegedly terrorised nurses at the hospital. Teachers at the Mnene primary and secondary schools were also harassed, resulting in the abduction of a temporary teacher. According to some nurses and teachers, three groups arrived at the mission at about 2.00 pm. They allegedly accused some nurses of being members of the MDC. They later abducted a male nurse, a temporary teacher and a Mutare Technical College student. The three people were allegedly taken to Texas farm about 20 km away where they were allegedly assaulted. They were brought back to the mission at 10.00 pm the same day. The groups promised to come back and clean up the place. Nurses and teachers said they feared for their lives.
DN 18 May
Reports reaching the Mashonaland East regional education office show that hundreds of teachers have left schools in the province because of insecurity and harassment from war veterans and Zanu PF supporters. Some simply stayed away when schools opened last week after pro-government youths launched a campaign aimed at flushing out the opposition. The campaign, led by war veterans, involves all-night rallies, a census of party card-holders and the introduction of brutal loyalty lessons for villagers and civil servants. “The situation in the province is tense, especially in Mudzi,” said the regional education director, Chrispen Gundani. “Please be careful when you go there. I am very disturbed by the situation because students are losing out and teachers are being harassed and threatened. Students are losing out.”
Unemployed youths, using the Zanu (PF) campaign card as a source of income, adventure and pleasure, are moving from door to door, village to village, herding hapless peasants to daily political meetings, villagers said. From Nharira, Sadza, Hwedza, Marondera, Musami, Murehwa, Mutoko through to Nyamapanda, village life has taken a dramatic turn the usual, serene rural scene has been transformed into a brouhaha of Zanu PF war song and dance aimed at infusing fear into the rural voter, once assumed to be loyal to President Mugabe for life.
Gundani said many schools now had insufficient teachers and reports of continued harassment reached his offices every day. “We have sent out education officers to negotiate with local politicians in affected areas. In some cases, there is nothing we can do but wait until the situation normalises so the teachers can go back to the schools,” he said. Gundani said morale among teachers was very low. “Mnamba School in Murehwa was badly affected. Opening for the second term was delayed because teachers did not turn up. We had to negotiate with the local Zanu PF party leadership for things to normalise,” he said. At the neighbouring Dombodzvuku primary and secondary schools, only a few teachers are conducting lessons. “On Thursday last week, only nine teachers turned up. At the moment only three-quarters of our teachers are present. The school has a total of 24 teachers,” said one headmaster. At Chemhondoro School, secret service agents and war veterans held a meeting on Monday to diffuse the tense situation after teachers fled the harassment. In Mudzi, Mutoko and Murehwa, the situation looks like a repeat of the days of the liberation struggle. Those who fail to attend the meetings are harassed and accused of supporting opposition parties. Their houses are searched and, in some cases, property is stolen.
A crew from The Daily News attended one such meeting on Tuesday at Kurauone business centre and heard villagers being warned against supporting any other party except Zanu PF. At another gathering near the Nyamazera River in Murehwa, youths ordered villagers to invade farms in Macheke.
This report has been prepared by the Human Rights
Latest from home. (Names of people & places removed)
Date: Tuesday, 13 June 2000 18:32
Hi there, hope this finds you all well.
Just to let you know about a sticky situation in a Zim. farming area today. Farmer X was beaten up at a social gathering by his time sharers. Mrs X came on to say that a worker told her this was happening. It took about an hour for any-one to get there and police eventually got there. It took a while for them to get him out but he was released and at the time of writing is on his way to X Hosp. He is OK, we heard him speak on the radio. Things like this make us all a little twitched - the police reacted well but have said the injuries are from a motorbike accident!! It remains to be seen if this will be covered up.
Will keep you informed - my guess is that the press will be kept out of it to protect the X family - there have been retributions in the past if the press are contacted.
Cheers for now Me
Received via Craig Hartnett :
I would like to introduce a new, radical thought into the thinking in
Zimbabwe. About a year ago, my wife and I drove down to the middle of
Mexico, specifically to just south of the city of Guadalajara. I had
visited the city once before for a day, but this time was on holiday. It's
a long drive from Toronto, mostly over very good roads. The central plateau
of Mexico is a duplication of Zimbabwe in climate, agriculture, topography,
and, in our experience, the friendliness of the people. (Mexico was never
really studied in any detail when I was a student at P.E., which I consider
to be one of the very few flaws in the curriculum.) The major difference of
course with Zimbabwe is that the language spoken is Spanish, and English is
not understood by the vast majority of the population. There is, however, a
great demand for people who can speak English.
The country is booming. Many Canadian and US visitors go to Lake Chapala
just south of Guadalajara, and manage well without speaking Spanish. They
do, however, miss out on much of what Mexico has to offer. Many live very
well there year round on US$12,000 per year, total income. A car is useful,
but not necessary as public transportation is very good for both local and
long distance travel. The guest house where we stayed for a month had a
lovely garden with Hibiscus, poinsettia, jacarandas, a pool, and the
fountain typical of most Mexican gardens. It was deja vu, and absolutely
beautiful. Guadalajara, about 30 miles north, is Mexico's second largest
city, with over 5 000 000 population. A very well run city, with a strong
It struck me that the agriculture there was not as well developed as in
Zimbabwe, and that there is a good possibility of cross-fertilization of
ideas in this area. I have no information on immigration policies, other
than that Canadians are required to show some means of support. There is an
active group of house builders encouraging Canadians to move there. There
is a Web site at http://www.mexconnect.com/mex_/immigration.html which is
quite informative. I see they have a refugee classification, and an Embassy
in Pretoria. The Chapala area is covered at
http://www.focusonmexico.com/Lake-Chapala.html which is mostly for visitors
from North America. I don't have any idea of land prices, but houses in the
area we stayed in are much less expensive than here in Toronto. I do know
that farm and agricultural products are plentiful and cheap. Politically,
there are problems in the far south of the country, which appear to be
stabilizing at the moment. There is a great deal of US investment in the
central area, mostly in manufacturing. The cities are very historic with a
strong Spanish influence.
So what does all this mean? If one is thinking of leaving Zimbabwe, Mexico
is worth considering. It is, of course, a total break from the past, which
has both pros and cons. There may be far less support than in better known
areas. I feel that it is possible to do well in Mexico. It would be
necessary to learn Spanish eventually, which is a fairly easy language. I
took Latin at P.E., and this was a tremendous help in learning the language.
is almost unknown in Southern Africa, and bears further investigation.