Note : In our 3 June edition, we carried a report from News24 regarding a fatal attack on a man at a bus terminus in Bulawayo. Investigations have established that this attack almost certainly did not take place. The feeling is that this report was black propaganda spread by a CIO operative.
From The Financial Gazette, 8 June 2000
By David Masunda
"Are We In For A Fight Or It's Just A Farce?"
Harare - In his award-winning novel Anthills of the Sava-nah, acclaimed Nigerian Writer Chinua Achebe talks of the great battle that was witnessed when the leopard finally caught up with the tortoise. The tortoise, realising that the end was nigh, begged for a simple request: that he be allowed to tear the grass and make such a scene that anyone who passed through would be impressed that although his life had been lost, the tortoise had put up a great fight.
Now that the two main political parties in Zimbabwe have finally unveiled their 120 members each that they hope will win them the June 24-25 parliamentary election, are we in for a real battle or just the farce that the leopard allowed the tortoise to get away with?
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Edmore Kambudzi says at least in one constituency - Buhera North - there will be a great battle in which the ruling ZANU PF party will be destroyed. Manicaland governor Kenneth Manyonda is the ruling party's candidate pitted against Morgan Tsva-ngirai, the head of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and a former trade unionist.
Kambudzi, who is quite familiar with the area, said the people of Buhera North were bitter at the slow pace of development in their region since Zimbabwe's independence from Britain in 1980. "This is a constituency where there are severe problems. Those people are in a mood to change the government," he told the Financial Gazette this week. Kambudzi said despite the fact that MDC candidates were relatively unknown when compared to those fielded by ZANU PF, there were "chances that people will disregard everything to vote for a change of government".
He said political violence sweeping the country, which has been blamed on veterans of the war of independence and ZANU PF youths, was of little consequence and might actually backfire on the ruling party on polling day.
"In 1980, there was a lot of violence against people voting for ZANU PF," Kambudzi recalled. Even on polling day, army helicopters flew all over the country distributing anti-ZANU PF literature and gun-totting youths were everywhere warning people from supporting the party, but the majority still voted President Robert Mugabe and his party into power.
"The determining factor is that there are severe economic problems and people are looking for political change. They hope that a new government can change things," he said.
Jonathan Moyo, a former University of Zimbabwe lecturer and now ZANU PF spokesman, says the only thing remarkable about the MDC was that "the British had managed to sponsor an opposition that had fielded the required number of candidates". Mugabe has been embroiled in a verbal match with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, which started when he accused Blair of being behind a "citizen's arrest" made on him by a member of the gay movement while the president was on a private visit in London in October last year.
Tension between the two leaders reached fever-pitch in February when the war veterans and youths from ZANU PF invaded white commercial farms with Mugabe's approval. Five white farmers and scores of black farm hands have been killed in violence that has stalked the farms since then. Blair and members of his Cabinet have publicly rebuked Mugabe. The President, on the other hand, says Blair is using the farm invasions and the violence as a ploy to escape from obligations which Britain made to Zimbabwe shortly before independence.
Mugabe insists that Britain must pay for the land reform programme as promised at the Lancaster House conference in 1979. The conference led to Zimbabwe's first general elections and independence. Mugabe accuses the Blair government of using its international clout to demonise his government and trying to remove him from power by supporting the MDC.
The MDC, like Blair's Labour Party, boasts strong links with trade unions and has drawn many of its candidates for the coming general election from local labour ranks. By fielding 120 candidates, the MDC becomes the first party since 1980 to challenge ZANU PF in all parliamentary constituencies. Said ZANU PF's Moyo: "It is obvious from the names of the MDC candidates that these are people with no political history, no political background and no policy."
Both Kambudzi and Moyo said the defections of 20 former ZANU PF members to the ranks of independents challenging the two major parties during the election would have little impact on the fortunes of ZANU PF and the MDC. In fact, said Moyo, the MDC was likely to suffer more from the defections because the independents would eat into the bulk vote of people opposed to ZANU PF. "There is nothing new about the independents; the phenomenon has been with us as far as one wants to go," Moyo said.
"Independents are disgruntled people seeking personal glory and the only vote that they get is that which will normally go to the opposition. They are most likely to split the opposition vote."
Kambudzi said independents were not to be trusted. He said the defections of the 20 was a "ZANU PF strategy to hoodwink the people". Kambudzi said history had shown that ZANU PF's "independents" returned to the party fold once the elections were over. "You should not trust these ZANU PF independents," he said.
Mutare South candidate and former ZANU PF Member of Parliament Lazarus Nzarayebani said although he was standing as an independent, his soul was still with the ruling party. His gripe was with Mugabe's style of leadership. "The party's leadership must simply change. We cannot continue to be led by people who have lived beyond their age," said the out-spoken former MP who said he was busy campaigning but was worried about the scale of violence unleashed by ZANU PF in his constituency. Nzarayebani said he had been taken aback by the amount of work the MDC had done quietly in rural areas.
He was sure that the labour-backed party would have swept the rural vote was it not for the violence campaign unleashed by ZANU PF during the past three months. Nzarayebani said ZANU PF's campaign of terror was now gaining the upper hand in some rural constituencies. "What they do is that when they come into the area, they target the most prominent MDC member and severely assault him. After that, the MDC rank and file just get too scared," he said. Nzarayebani said given the distortion of the political arena by the intimidation and violence, people were likely to vote for individuals they knew and trusted than for political parties.
The last word though should belong to Heneri Dzinotyiwei, the president of the small Zimbabwe Integrated Party (ZIP) which is fielding five candidates throughout the country. Dzinotyiwei, a UZ mathematics lecturer standing on the ZIP ticket in the crowded Harare East constituency, said although it was difficult to play numbers, all indications pointed at the opposition vote triumphing over the ruling party at the polls regardless of the violence and intimidation.
"The campaign of violence, if anything, has hardened feelings and created greater opposition to the ruling party," Dzinotyiwei told the Financial Gazette.From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 8 June 2000
Mugabe accused of 'state terrorism'
Harare - A WAVE of "state-sponsored terrorism" against opponents of President Robert Mugabe is threatening free and fair elections in Zimbabwe, Amnesty International said on Thursday. Amnesty's Africa Director Maina Kiai has accused the government of using liberation war veterans to intimidate the electorate before the parliamentary elections on June 24-25. "There is a deliberate plan. It started with the farmers, then moved to the farm workers and on to teachers and businessmen and now to the opposition," Kiai said in Harare. "It is clearly state-sponsored terrorism." At least 27 people have died and hundreds, mainly supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, have been beaten, raped or forced to flee their homes.
The violence follows the invasion of hundreds of white-owned farms since February by liberation war veterans claiming land they say was stolen during the British colonial era a century ago. Mugabe has approved of the invasions but denied responsibility for the violence. "The war veterans are a controllable group with a clear structure and this group is now being used by the government," Kiai said. "Amnesty International believes that the climate is not conducive for free and fair elections."
From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 9 June 2000
Mugabe gets his ban on British poll observers
By David Blair in Harare
THE European Union and the Commonwealth have caved in to President Robert Mugabe's demand to exclude Britons from their election monitoring teams, it emerged yesterday. After a campaign that has been exceptionally violent even by Zimbabwean standards, all remaining hopes of a free and fair contest are vested in the teams of election observers, who have already arrived in Zimbabwe. Mr Mugabe made clear last month that he could accept scrutiny from "our friends", but "not from Britain".
With the clear approval of the British Government, the EU and the Commonwealth have quietly accepted this ruling. The EU has committed a team of 200 to the task and the first 105 are due to start work today. Irene Eich, speaking for the EU, confirmed that no Britons were among their ranks. She said: "If there is a particular sensitivity about sending observers from a given country, then it is not done."
The Commonwealth, whose credibility has already been damaged by the resignation of Moses Anafu, formerly its most senior observer in Zimbabwe, after the disclosure of his business links with Mr Mugabe's government, has promised a team of 40. The first six arrived last week. A statement issued by its Secretariat does not list any Britons among their number.
However, Richard Lindsay, spokesman for the British High Commission in Harare, said: "We regard it as important to get observers here, rather than respond to an inflammatory comment."
Mr Mugabe added to the tension yesterday by threatening white farmers who oppose the seizure of their land. Addressing 4,000 supporters at a campaign rally in Mupandawana, 130 miles south-east of Harare, he said: "If they try to resist, they will die." At least 28 people have been killed during the last three months of political violence, five of them farmers.
Amnesty International launched a report yesterday, Terror Tactics, in the run-up to parliamentary elections, which documented killings, abductions and rapes. Maina Kiai, director of Amnesty's Africa department, said Mr Mugabe's government had been guilty of: "A deliberate, systematic human rights violations, constituting state sponsored terrorism."
From The Financial Gazette, 8 June 2000
National Report - New Poll Regulations Rejected
Harare - Zimbabwe's opposition political parties, human rights and civic groups yesterday condemned last-minute changes made by the government to the electoral regulations which give controversial Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede absolute control over the movement of monitors during the critical June 24-25 parliamentary election. The opposition parties and rights groups called on election observer missions from the European Union, the Southern African Development Community and others in the country to publicly censure moves by President Robert Mugabe to alter the electoral rules.
Mugabe can single-handedly make laws in the absence of Parliament, which has been dissolved in preparation for the poll. He has agreed to make Mudede accredit all election agents, monitors and observers. Under the proposed new regulations, Mudede will issue a code of conduct to the observers or monitors, election and polling agents. Anyone contravening the code could be fined up to $10 000 or barred from entering polling stations and from carrying out their work. The agents and observers would not be allowed to accompany ballot boxes when they are ferried from polling stations to counting centres.
Sources said yesterday that the new regulations could be gazetted into law today. "When you subject the monitors to Mudede whom they are supposed to be monitoring, you are virtually subverting the autonomy and independence of the monitors and observers," said National Constitutional Assembly spokesman Brian Kagoro. In the absence of an independent electoral body, the Electoral Supervisory Commission should be entrusted with the accreditation and management of agents and observers, he said.
Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace director Tarci Zimbiti said: "The international observers who are here can now see for themselves that the whole process is defective right from the word go." The United Parties' David Mukome said unless the international observers quickly challenged the proposed regulations, they risked being used to bless the "daylight rigging of elections by the ruling ZANU PF party".
Learnmore Jongwe, spokesman for the country's largest opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, said Mugabe's ZANU PF had realized that violence perpetrated by its youths and war veterans on the electorate was not working and had now resorted to "technical means of subverting the election result". The Zimbabwe Union of Democrats' Isaac Manyemba said the system was flawed because it gave more powers to Mudede, "a political appointee".
Meanwhile Mudede told the Financial Gazette yesterday that thousands of prisoners in Zimbabwe's jails would not be entitled to vote. The government has said an estimated one million Zimbabweans living abroad, especially in South Africa and Britain, will also not vote because the government does not have the money to facilitate their balloting. It will however allow diplomats and members of the security forces, plus their spouses, living abroad to vote.
From The Independent (UK), 9 June 2000
Threat of farm seizures causes financial chaos
By Basildon Peta in, Harare
The decision by Zimbabwe's government to seize 804 farms without compensation has thrown the country's financial services sector into turmoil, as it emerges that banks are owed about 6bn Zimbabwean dollars (about £60m) by the affected farmers. Banking industry executives said the huge debt may have to be written off with serious consequences for Zimbabwe's already beleaguered financial sector.
Most international banks have been shunning their Zimbabwean counterparts because of the severe foreign currency shortage in the country. Banks are forced to use the official rate of Z$38 to US$1 but because of the shortage, foreign currency exchanges have hiked their rates from Z$44 in late April to Z$60 last week. Although the bank executives estimated the financial sector's exposure the 804 farms at about Z$6bn, the actual figure could be higher.
The executives expressed disappointment that the government had rushed to seize the farms in a desperate attempt to secure votes for the 24 and 25 June general elections without even taking into account the consequences of its actions for the financial sector. Jerry Grant, the deputy director of the Commercial Farmers' Union, said that the 804 farms on the government list represented a quarter of the commercial farming sector. Mr Grant said the owners of the designated farms had to settle their debts using whatever money they were given as compensation by the government, which has said it will pay only for improvements to farms and not for the value of the land being appropriated.
"Any compensation payable should cover the amount owed to the bank and, if it doesn't, it is the obligation of the owner to make up the shortfall. That's a problem because if farmers are not paid for the value of the land, then what they get may not cover the degree of indebtedness to the bank," he said.
In addition, compensation will be spread over years and paid as and when the cash-strapped government has money. Thousands of government supporters and veterans of the liberation war have invaded more than 1,000 of the country's 4,500 white-owned commercial farms demanding the land they say British settlers stole a century ago. President Robert Mugabe has justified the invasions, saying that the process of land redistribution has been too slow. The government published a list last Friday of 804 mostly white-owned farms that are to be redistributed without compensation.
Analysts said banks were likely to end up holding worthless title deeds because the security on which they gave loans to farmers would now belong to the government. "Whoever is owed money and had used the farm as security is in trouble. The bank that advanced the money against the farm is exposed," said Welshman Ncube, a University of Zimbabwe constitutional law expert. "The government has the power to cancel title deeds and they become worthless once the land is acquired. If the farmer can't pay his debt and there is nothing that the bank can recover from him, it has to write off the debt."
David Coltart, a Bulawayo-based lawyer, said: "The individual farmer is liable to the bank. But, of course, the bank's main security is the farm and if the farm is no longer there, the bank has no security and most farmers have no other assets other than their farms. He warned that while in theory the banks can turn to the farmers to recover their money, "in practice they will have to write off billions of dollars and this could cause the banking sector to collapse."
Other sectors that are likely to feel the knock-on effect include the agriprocessing industries, and small agricultural towns.
Supporters of Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF party are repeating human rights abuses that were a feature of the white Rhodesian government they ousted in 1980, Amnesty International said yesterday. "One of the most critical issues in the history of human rights in Zimbabwe is the fact that serious violations of human rights have neither been investigated nor the perpetrators identified and punished," said Maina Kiai, Amnesty's director for Africa. "Amnesty International is concerned that this longstanding climate of impunity is facilitating the repetition of similar human rights abuses in the run-up to the June elections."
From BBC News Online, 8 June 2000
Crying for the return of land
By Joseph Winter in Harare
The Gobo people are angry, bitter and they want their land back. Until 1970, they lived in one of Zimbabwe's most fertile areas in the central region of Mvuma. Then their land was designated as a "European area". Shortly afterwards, the Rhodesian trucks arrived and took the inhabitants off to Silobela, 150 km away. In a small, recently harvested maize field at the end of 50 km of dirt roads, Maposa Muzvazva complains about his home of the past 30 years. "There's less rain, the soil is less fertile, the water isn't clean and we don't have enough land to feed ourselves - just six acres per family".
His neighbour Zarura Muridzo says that to make matters worse, when they were evicted, each family was only allowed to take three head of cattle, even if they had sizeable herds. He says that the remainder was sold to white farmers at a non-negotiable price of just three Rhodesian dollars per animal.
They all want to go back to their fertile soils in Mvuma. At the very least, they want more land for their children. When I asked him how much land they needed, Maposa replied: "I am having six acres plus I have five boys, some are already married, so I need six times five to enable those boys, my children, to have their land too. So 30 acres or 40".
Maposa says that since the forced removals, he hasn't once been back to Mvuma to see what has become of his home. "We didn't want to see our beloved land in another shape." He also says that since it was private property, he ran the risk of being beaten or arrested for trespassing or as a suspected poacher on the land where he grew up.
And what should happen to the white farmers who now live in Mvuma, I asked. "That's up to the government", says Maposa in a matter-of-fact way. His friend, Augustine Gobo, says: "The present government should let us share the land with the whites. We are not saying they are our enemies, they are our friends."
"Most them were born in Zimbabwe, so they are Zimbabweans. We can't chase them away, but let's share the land."
Augustine is one of the lucky few. In 1983, just after independence, he was given a much larger plot of land but still near Silobela, a long way from Mvuma. He has now built up his herd of cattle and has planted fruit trees in his homestead. The extra land means extra income and he's got a solar panel providing electricity for lighting and a small television. But he still wants to go back home. "That's where my ancestors are buried and that's where I want to live," he insists.
He also points to his growing family and says that even his 12 acres and access to grazing land isn't enough for them all.
Government critics blame Robert Mugabe for making rash promises about land redistribution which he cannot keep. They point out that the amount of land is fixed, while the population is ever-expanding and argue that the culture of everyone owning a plot of land will eventually have to change to take this into account.
Nevertheless, Augustine Gobo remains loyal to Robert Mugabe. What does he think about the invasions of white-owned farms by war veterans? "What you have termed invasions, we call repossessions. I'm not saying its good or bad but it's a catalyst, it will speed up the reallocation of land. If the commercial farmers, those who own more than one farm, if they had given up one or two of them, it would have cut a long story short. Right now, we would be talking about peace and harmony in this country."
But Maposa Muzvazva is starting to have doubts. He says that "if those people in power felt sympathy for us here" the government's first priority at independence in 1980 would have been land reform. He laments, "today we are even crying to get our land back".
From The Financial Gazette, 8 June 2000
Judges face the sack?
JUSTICE Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa this week met two of the six Zimbabwean High Court judges accused of carrying dual citizenships, prompting fears in the legal community that Zimbabwe might be preparing to dismiss all foreign judges.
Mnangagwa confirmed to the Financial Gazette on the sidelines of a ZANU PF Politburo meeting held at the party's headquarters in Harare yesterday that he was in the process of "interviewing" all the six white judges to ascertain their citizenships. International media reports say Zimbabwe intends to fire all judges with foreign passports just after the June 24-25 poll. The government has in the past accused judges of the Supreme and High courts of being ill-qualified to pass judgment in politically sensitive issues because they are not Zimbabweans.
It is believed that the six, including Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay, are holders of dual British and Zimbabwean citizenships. It is an offence for Zimbabweans to have dual nationality. The Zimbabwean judiciary has had an uneasy relationship with the government over the past 20 years, with the government openly questioning and, at times, defying High court judgments.
The latest standoff between the government and the judiciary centres on the seizure of white-owned farms by independence war veterans and followers of the ruling ZANU PF party, which began in February. Two High Court rulings ordering the veterans off the farms have been ignored by the police, who were ordered by President Robert Mugabe to do so.
Mnangagwa said: "As soon as the probe is complete, I will make a comprehensive report and issue a public statement clarifying the whole situation."
Government sources confirmed yesterday that moves are underway to introduce legislation in Parliament that would require that only Zimbabwean nationals become judges. Under current legislation, there are no prohibitive clauses which bar foreigners from being appointed to the bench. Two of the five Supreme Court judges, including Justice Gubbay, are white. Four of the 20 High Court judges are also white but some are Zimbabwean by birth. Justice Gubbay declined to make any comment on the issue this week.
From News24 (SA), 8 June 2000
Fuel shortages disrupt Mugabe's election campaign
Harare - Serious shortages of fuel across the country and queues of thousands of angry motorists outside service stations have re-emerged in the last week to play havoc with the election campaign of President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party. Traffic in the centre of the capital, Harare, clogs daily as queues wind sometimes in three coils round the block and motorists wait for around six hours to be served. In the suburbs, people sleep in their cars overnight in lines three or four kilometres long.
Often the reward is minimal. Many service stations ration their customers to between five and 10 litres. But the need is frequently desperate, demonstrated by the many people who push their vehicles along as the queue inches forward. At points along the queues, knots of people can be seen talking, often animatedly. "These queues have become unofficial MDC (the opposition Movement for Democratic Change) rallies," said service station attendant Michael Chikona. "Everybody shouts about Mugabe and Zanu-PF."
Michael Dynes, a British visitor, last week had an introduction to what has become a way of life in Zimbabwe with a three-hour wait. "I was sitting in my car and this fellow came up to me and launched into a furious tirade against Mugabe. He didn't know me from a bar of soap. I was staggered," he said.
The situation is as bad for the urban poor who don't have cars, but use paraffin for cooking and lighting. The fuel is just as hard to get and people carrying five litre plastic bottles can spend whole days waiting. Unseasonal rain during the last two days has worsened the discomfort of already bitterly cold days and nights. "If anyone shouted "pamberi neZanu-PF" (forward with Zanu-PF, the ruling party slogan) around here, they would be lynched," said a garage owner who asked not to be named.
Zimbabwe has been struggling with fuel shortages for most of the last six months, but the reason for the current crisis, fuel industry sources said, is that the government last month failed to pay for the use of the 300km pipeline, jointly owned by the Mozambique government and British multinational Lonrho, which links the Mozambique port of Beira with holding tanks in the eastern Zimbabwean border city of Mutare. The pipeline was closed down.
Mugabe, however, has his own conspiracy theory. "The British are interfering with our fuel supplies," he told a crowd of Zanu-PF women supporters last week. "They are even trying to divert ships with fuel destined for this country. This is why we can say they are bad."
His remarks provoked disbelief and mirth, as well as a cartoon in the independent Daily News which showed a flotilla of tiny British police launches trying to stop a huge oil tanker bearing down on them. "This is a ridiculous suggestion. We have not, and do not intend to do anything to restrict Zimbabwe's fuel supplies," said a spokesperson for the British high commission here.
Zimbabwe's fuel crisis began in early December last year when international oil companies cut off supplies because the state-owned National Company of Zimbabwe failed to meet payments on its debt for fuel purchases. The crisis continued until early April when Mugabe, keenly aware of the effect on his plummeting popularity, personally took control of the situation and struck a deal with a Kuwaiti company, International Petroleum Group, for fuel worth $60 million.
The interest rate from the consortium of European and Arab banks who lent the money is double market rates, because of Zimbabwe's rock-bottom credit rating. Mugabe has been in a race to ensure, at any cost, not only that there is plenty of fuel available in the run up to elections on 24-25 June, but also to hold down the price, as well as the price of bread, maize-meal, the national staple, and even to freeze hard currency exchange rates. His deal with the Kuwaitis saw the fuel queues disappear, apart from sporadic shortages.
But the pipeline shut, and it was a matter of days before the queues came back again, just as Zanu-PF began to prepare for the last days of its election campaign.
From Pan African News Agency, 8 June 2000
Zimbabweans Cross Into Botswana In Search Of Petrol
GABORONE - Scores of Zimbabweans were seen crossing to buy petrol at Botswana's border town of Ramokgwebana Wednesday, raising fears it could face a fuel shortage soon. Most of the Zimbabweans reportedly crossed the border post with their cars while those on foot carried containers. A Botswana principal customs officer Wednesday confirmed that long queues of Zimbabwean vehicles had crossed into Botswana in search of fuel.
The official explained that no extra charge is imposed on the petrol because all goods from Botswana are duty free. He added that those who have bought petrol from Botswana are only required to make a declaration of the commodity when they are crossing back to Zimbabwe. The official expressed fears that fuel shortage was looming at the border town, which has only one dealer selling petrol.
One of the Zimbabweans from the border town of Plumtree was quoted as saying that they have been without petrol since Monday. President Robert Mugabe's government has been reeling under an economic crisis highlighted by an acute fuel shortage. Early this year, the Zimbabwean government, which has exhausted its foreign exchange reserves, struck a deal with Botswana to supply it with fuel on credit.
From The Guardian (UK), 8 June 2000
Congo War Blamed for 1.7M Deaths
NEW YORK - More than 1.7 million people have died in eastern Congo as a result of the 22-month civil war in the central African country, a U.S. aid group said Thursday. The International Rescue Committee performed a mortality study in three provinces in eastern Congo to determine the impact of the fighting that began in August 1998 and has brought five foreign armies into the conflict.
``On average, some 2,600 people are dying every day in this war and our research found that the first months of 2000 were even worse than 1999,'' the study's author, epidemiologist Les Roberts, said in a statement. Roberts' research determined that about 600,000 deaths would be expected under normal conditions in Congo, but that since the war started, more than 2.3 million have died. While 200,000 deaths were attributed to violence, the rest were the result of disease and hunger created by the war.
``The loss of life in Congo has been staggering,'' said Reynold Levy, the president of the International Rescue Committee. ``It's as if the entire population of Houston was wiped off the face of the earth in a matter of months.''
The United Nations has brokered a cease-fire between Congolese President Laurent Kabila and two rebel groups, but fighting continues between Rwandan and Ugandan troops, which support opposing rebel factions. More than 20 million people live in the five provinces checked by IRC researchers. The group conducted five mortality surveys between April 18 and May 27 to help determine the best aid programs for the region and collect information about the war's impact. IRC called for increased humanitarian assistance to the region, unfettered access for aid workers and an immediate cease-fire.
From The Star (SA), 8 June 2000
World Bank turns down Zim appeal
Harare - The World Bank has turned down a special appeal from Zimbabwe to fund the importation of essential drugs and pharmaceuticals because of the government's failure to settle loan arrears. Health and Child Welfare Minister Timothy Stamps said this week he had appealed to the World Bank to fund the importation of the drugs and avert shortages at state-run hospitals and clinics nationwide.
Hope Philips Volker, operations officer of the World Bank in Harare, said the World Bank, through the International Development Association, was funding only one project in Zimbabwe, covering the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. The World Bank has frozen about R1,5-billion worth of aid because of the government's failure to meet a deadline on an overdue loan last month.
From News24 (SA), 8 June 2000
US Senate threatens to cut Zim aid
Washington - A US Senate panel approved a measure Wednesday that would suspend bilateral aid to Zimbabwe, saying the country had become increasingly totalitarian under President Robert Mugabe. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted unanimously to pass the bill, which would need approval by the full Senate and by the House of Representatives before being presented for President Bill Clinton's consideration.
The bill would suspend US bilateral aid to Zimbabwe, including debt relief, and would require US representatives at multilateral lending institutions to vote against loans to Zimbabwe. US aid to Zimbabwe during 2000 had been budgeted at $12.1 million.
"Increasingly over the last 20 years, President Mugabe's leadership has become more totalitarian," Republican Senator Bill Frist said in a statement. "The farm invasions in Zimbabwe are nothing but a cover for an assault on democracy and the rule of law, the collapse of the economy, and a desperate effort to win over rural, landless voters," said Frist, who heads a subcommittee on African affairs.
The bill would also provide aid to promote democratic reforms, including financial support for people in need of legal aid in Zimbabwe and aid to promote press freedom. If Clinton and the Congress judge that democracy has returned to Zimbabwe, the United States would reopen its bilateral aid and release an additional $16 million to aid land reform, according to the bill. The bill also reiterated US support for a team of international observers sent to Zimbabwe to monitor parliamentary elections there on 24-25 June.
From Reuters, 8 June 2000
US Sanctions Would Hurt Zimbabwe People - Opposition
By Stella Mapenzauswa
HARARE - Zimbabwe's main opposition party Thursday welcomed U.S. condemnation of President Robert Mugabe's handling of a land crisis, but warned economic sanctions would hurt average Zimbabweans the most. The powerful U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday approved a bill to suspend bilateral U.S. assistance to Zimbabwe until democracy and the rule of law are restored.
The bill, which still must be approved by the full Senate, would direct U.S. officials at multilateral lending institutions to oppose loans, credit lines or other benefits to Zimbabwe's government. It also would help democratic groups mount legal challenges to the election results or repressive practices.
From The Daily News, 8 June 2000
MDC predicts poll victory
LONDON Zimbabwe's main opposition party predicted yesterday it would win the parliamentary election set for 24 and 25 June, ruling out any boycott of the poll in the face of intimidation it blames on President Mugabe.
Officials of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), visiting Britain to brief parliamentarians and the media, said the people in Zimbabwe were ready for change. "We believe we're going to have difficulty failing to win the elections," MDC campaign co-ordinator Richard Maasdorp said.
The MDC, posing the biggest challenge to Zanu PF's 20 years in power since independence, blames Zanu PF supporters for a campaign of terror including shootings, rapes, beatings and house burnings. At least 28 people, mostly MDC supporters, have been killed in violence accompanying a government-sponsored occupation of commercial farms. The government denies responsibility for the unrest and accuses the opposition of attacking Zanu PF supporters.
The MDC officials dismissed the land crisis as a "Mugabe mirage" designed to deflect attention from economic woes and said they believed the tactics would ultimately backfire. Gandhi Mudzingwa, a political adviser to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, said any boycott of the poll would be "tantamount to betrayal" of the party's dead and injured supporters. "Boycotting the election is not an option to us," he said. "The desire for change in Zimbabwe pervades the whole society."
The MDC officials said the party needed US$609 000 (about $22,8 million) to protect its 120 parliamentary candidates, field observers at polling stations and set up information centres. "If Zanu PF somehow through intimidation get in, they'll entrench themselves and we'll see the country go in the direction that none of us want," Maasdorp said. "An MDC as a strong opposition is not an option because we know . . . that people don't want the status quo."
If it wins in less than three weeks, the MDC said it would create jobs and restore investor confidence through equitable land resettlement and it would pump money into health and education. It would also pull Zimbabwean troops from the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo and rewrite sections of the Constitution to remove some of the executive powers enjoyed by Mugabe, whose term runs for another two years. The party expressed confidence that the police and the army, which have largely stood by during the farm invasions, would respect the will of the people but hoped that foreign election monitors would stay on afterwards to ensure a smooth transition.
From The Daily News, 8 June 2000
MDC candidate flees Gutu following death threats
CRISPA Musoni, the candidate for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Gutu North, has fled his home after allegedly receiving death threats from war veterans and supporters of his rival, Vice-President Simon Muzenda. His wife has taken leave from work until after the elections while his 11-year-old daughter has transferred to a school in Harare. Musoni said he fled on the advice of his friends after suspected Zanu PF supporters, driving in a car, had tried to smash into his vehicle.
Musoni, a businessman, showed The Daily News some minutes allegedly stolen from war veterans' offices by his sympathisers. Musoni went into hiding last month, leaving his family behind. But when some minutes of a war veterans' meeting suggested the abduction of his wife or child to force Musoni out of hiding, he decided to remove his family from Gutu.
"We unanimously agreed that in order to retrieve Mr Musoni out of hibernation, it is better we kidnap his first friend, wife or child," read part of the minutes, dated 29 April. "Circulate for a broader programme on 4 May. Please attend Gutu North." The minutes were signed by a P Chinhata. Musoni said he had information Zanu PF militants and war veterans wanted to rape his wife and murder her to force him out of hiding. A letter he produced called for a meeting at Muzenda's house in Harare allegedly to discuss Musoni's fate. The letter, bearing a stamp for Gutu War Veterans, is headed "Murder Musoni C, secret file". It was signed by a P Chinhata. The third document was allegedly written by a war veteran known by the nom de guerre Cde America on behalf of another ex-combatant known as Satan.
Musoni said of all the people signing the letters, he only knew Cde America. The letter was directed to the provincial governor and the President's Office. "We write to protest over the behaviour of one of our sons, Mr Musoni who has since turned to MDC," read part of the letter. "He funds the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)...We, therefore, request to be granted permission to deal with him accordingly. We call for an enquiry meeting on 29 April in Masvingo."
The letter, dated 24 April, was copied to Shuvai Mahofa, the Zanu PF candidate for Gutu South, and Muzenda. Musoni said while these documents might not be genuine, he could not take chances. He had taken the copies to Gutu police but nothing had been done, he said. Musoni said last month, a car carrying Zanu PF supporters had allegedly tried to drive into a group of his supporters. "We remained grouped, with me in the centre," said Musoni. "We said we would die together. But the driver became hesitant. That is when I decided I should leave."
On another occasion, a Land Cruiser carrying Zanu PF supporters allegedly tried to smash into his car. Musoni said he escaped. He alleged Muzenda's supporters, known as field supporters, had mounted a reign of terror, some of them using government vehicles. "There are so many incidents of people being beaten up badly," said Musoni. "Muzenda has been preaching violence."
He, however, said he would still win the election despite the intimidation. Musoni said he hoped sanity would return after the election. He said he had tried to get some security but he was against the idea of surrounding himself with youths. He said the youths would be tempted to retaliate. He said he was not living at one place, fearing attacks. "But I am still going to win unless a miracle happens," said Musoni. "When I started campaigning for the MDC, Zanu PF dismissed me as being hopeless. But when they realised the rising popularity of the MDC, the threats, assaults and intimidation began," he said.
Musoni runs a take-away at Gutu-Mupandawana.
From Pan African News Agency, 8 June 2000
Western Media Condemned For Distorting Facts on Land Issue
LUSAKA - Zambia and Zimbabwe Thursday accused Western media of distorting information concerning the land issue in Zimbabwe where war veterans have invaded white-owned farms. The accusation was made during official talks in Lusaka between Zambia's ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy party and its Zimbabwean counterpart, ZANU-PF. The movement's national secretary, Michael Sata, assured Zimbabwe that Lusaka would not be swayed by the international media reports on the land issue.
"What is reaching all of us from the Western media is very distorted because that is the picture they would like to give that Zimbabwe has come to an end because of the war veterans, who are putting pressure on the government which they say is slow to take action," he said. Sata, who is also minister without portfolio, reiterated Lusaka's full support for President Robert Mugabe's position on the land issue. He said black Zimbabweans cannot boast of independence without owning land in their own country."Our president (Frederick Chiluba), on local and international fora, has come out very openly to put out Zambia's stand on the current affairs in Zimbabwe...The Zambian government agrees with the feelings of the Zimbabwean government that independence without land is nothing," Sata added.
He said that while Zambia would like to see the land issue resolved in Zimbabwe, white farmers should respect the laws of that country if they want to stay in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe cannot have two laws, one to protect the minority and the law for the majority. "Laws of Zimbabwe are going to be made by Zimbabweans, they are not going to be made by someone else and decision and style of government cannot be approved by another government because the style of government is what we got independence for," Sata said.
ZANU-PF national chairman John Nkomo accused the Western media of misrepresenting the land issue. Nkomo, who is also local government minister, said the delegation is on a mission to brief their Zambian colleagues of what is happening in Zimbabwe and to solicit for comments. The delegation, which has held similar consultations with the South African and Namibian governments, is to proceed to Botswana.
From IRIN (UN), 8 June 2000
South Africa Demands End To Violence
Johannesburg - A senior South African official said this week that conditions had to be created to end the rural violence in Zimbabwe and the occupation of more than 1,000 white-owned farms by independence war veterans and supporters of President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party. Sipho Pityana, Director General of the Department of Foreign Affairs, said in an address to the South African Institute for International Affairs (SAIIA), that "all parties should find an amicable solution to the problem".
He cited four objectives outlined by President Thabo Mbeki: That a commitment is obtained to solve the Zimbabwe land question under a framework agreed in 1998; that the violence be stopped; that conditions are created for an end to the occupations; and that these objectives are pursued "in a manner that would be beneficial for all the people of Zimbabwe and the rest of Southern Africa"
He recalled that South Africa has engaged several world leaders to help fund the land resettlement programme "as a matter of urgency". He said a group of 20 South African parliamentarians had joined a Southern African Development Community observer team sent to monitor the 24-25 June parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe. "These observers will have the responsibility to draw to the attention of relevant authorities any problems detected so that these may be attended to in a timely manner in order to protect the integrity of the electoral process rather than wait until the end only to pronounce on the fairness or otherwise of the elections," Pityana said.From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 8 June 2000
Zimbabwe court affirms polls date
THE Zimbabwe High Court on Thursday dismissed a last ditch effort by an opposition party to delay parliamentary elections scheduled for June 24-25. Rejecting the opposition claim for a delay to the ballot, the court said the Zimbabwe Union of Democrats (ZUD) had failed to prove a need to revert to 1995 constituency borders. Had the court upheld the application, the voters' roll would have had to be redrafted and candidate nominations reopened, which would have forced a delay in the election date.
ZUD secretary-general Isaac Manyemba told reporters the party would consider an appeal, but that the "moral point" that constituencies were announced too late and without adequate documentation had been made.
From IRIN (UN), 8 June 2000
Court action over voters' register
Zimbabwe's general election was thrown into turmoil this week when thousands of ordinary people complained that their names were missing from the voters' roll and opposition parties accused the government of leaving out the names of young voters and whites sympathetic to them, 'The Financial Gazette' said on Thursday. The country's largest opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), on Wednesday threatened to take the matter to court unless Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede undertook in writing to prepare a supplementary roll of people omitted.
Mudede immediately dismissed the charges as unfounded. "Surely if it was intended that a certain section of the community should be disenfranchised, then why put the voters' roll to public inspection?" Mudede asked. Voters go to the polls on 24-25 June to elect a new 150-seat parliament.
Meanwhile, the MDC said that would set up a voters' roll "hotline" for people that had been left off the voters' roll, news reports said. MDC's election director Paul Nyathi, said during a press conference in Harare that telephone "hotlines" had been set up to receive complaints from people whose names had been omitted from the list. "This morning alone (Wednesday) in our Harare office we received 100 calls from individuals in and around Harare whose names do not appear on the voters' roll," Nyathi said. "We are receiving increasing reports from whites and young black people - mostly aged 20-28 - that they are not on the voters' roll," Morgan Tsvangirai, the president of the MDC said. "They have deliberately left off thousands of young people, precisely the sort of people who are the MDC's most ardent supporters," he added.
The MDC on Wednesday accused South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) of having double standards in its support for President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF party. "The ANC's endorsement of ZANU-PF is counter productive. We would have hoped they would have done all in their power to back free and fair elections," MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai said. "To publicly comment that there is no violence and that the figures that are being put forward are erroneous I think is just not taking reality into consideration. They are undermining their credibility," Tsvangirai said.
Banks in Zimbabwe could find themselves having to write off a debt equivalent to US $118.4 million over the government's decision to seize 804 white-owned farms, the independent weekly newspaper, 'The Financial Gazette' reported on Thursday quoting industry executives. "The executives estimated the financial sector's exposure to the 804 farms which will be used to resettle landless peasants at between $5 billion and $6 billion, (over US $132 million) although they said it was not yet possible to give accurate figures," the newspaper said.
The Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) also said it could not provide figures on the debt owed by the designated farms, although CFU deputy director Jerry Grant said the whole commercial farming sector owed about US $1 billion to the country's banks. "The government is required to notify anyone with an interest in the land being designated of its intention to acquire the land, and that includes the banks," Grant said. "Any compensation payable should cover the amount owed to the bank and, if it doesn't, it is the obligation of the owner to make up the shortfall. That's a problem because if farmers are not paid for the value of the land, then what they get may not cover the degree of indebtedness to the bank."
The newspaper quoted analysts as saying banks were likely to end up holding worthless title deeds because the security on which they gave loans to farmers would now belong to the government.
From The Daily News, 8 June 2000
Court denies war veterans, Zanu PF supporters bail
FORTY-SIX war veterans and Zanu PF supporters arrested last month for political violence after they allegedly kidnapped and assaulted scores of residents in Budiriro, Harare, have been further remanded in custody to 16 June.
Their application for bail, filed by defence lawyer Pisirai Kwenda of Musunga and Associates, was rejected by provincial magistrate Remigius Jemwa last week. About 90 people sustained serious injuries during the illegal detentions and assaults. The victims were allegedly tortured inside a surgery belonging to the chairman of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans' Association, Chenjerai Hitler Hunzvi, in Budiriro.
On Monday, Jemwa once again ruled against their bail application, arguing that if released the "feared group" could go back to Budiriro and cause more terror, particularly in view of the pending parliamentary election. Police say seven people died as a result of the assault and torture carried out in what is now being referred to as "Hunzvi's torture chamber". Kwenda indicated that he was going to lodge another application for bail before the end of the week. The State, led by prosecutor Fibion Shumba, has maintained that the group should not be granted bail as the accused were likely to intimidate witnesses.
From The Daily News, 8 June 2000
Suspected poachers caught, war vets threaten reprisals in Midlands
Daily News Correspondent, Bulawayo
WAR veterans are threatening the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) chairman for Gweru with violence, following the arrest of two members of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and a war veteran for alleged poaching.
The three appeared at the Fort Rixon circuit court facing charges of poaching at Debshan Ranch in Shangani and were remanded to 16 June. Ben Zietsman, the chief executive officer of the CFU in Matabeleland said the war veterans demanded that their mates be released from police custody. If this was not done, they would cause trouble for Midlands farmers, they said.
"We told them that the law had to take its course," said Zietsman. "How could we tell police not to arrest offenders?" He said the next day, the war veterans threatened staff at Debshan Ranch and threatened to burn down houses and kill the farm managers. Zietsman said the CFU acted quickly and evacuated all the managers to safety. On the third day, he said, the war veterans intimidated the ranch workers and prevented them from working. But police moved in and restored order.
According to Zietsman, the CIO members and the war veteran were the second group to be arrested on allegations of poaching. Members of a group arrested earlier had not yet been identified. He said the first group were allegedly using a vehicle in their poaching. The vehicle and firearms were now in the hands of the police, Zietsman said. Police in Bulawayo declined to comment yesterday, referring all the questions to Gwanda.
From IRIN (UN), 8 June 2000
UNHCR meets Cuban asylum seekers
JOHANNESBURG - UNHCR officials have been able to interview two dissident Cuban doctors held in a Zimbabwe prison who were detained last week after making a request for asylum to the Canadian authorities. The two were found to be in good condition. Dominik Bartsch, a spokesman for UNHCR, told IRIN on Thursday that they were likely to be released later on Thursday to have their case heard by a Zimbabwean eligibility committee on which representatives of the refugee agency will attend as observers.
"This is good news because we have not only had access to them, but because the matter is now being handled in the proper manner in keeping with international conventions on asylum seekers," Bartsch said. The two doctors, Leonel Cordova Rodriguez, 31, and Noris Pena Martinez, 25, were taken from their home by armed soldiers in the capital, Harare, on Friday after approaching the Canadian embassy and allegedly denouncing the Cuban leader, Fidel Castro. They were bundled aboard a flight to Johannesburg. As officials accompanying them tried to get them to board a Paris-bound Air France flight for an onward journey to Havana, Cuba, a hastily written note was passed to an airline employee. Diplomats said they believed the two doctors were returned to Zimbabwe after the airline refused to take them on board.
Oluseyi Bajulaiye, UNHCR representative for Zimbabwe, said he was concerned at their plight and the way the matter had been handled. But after discussing the issue with the authorities, UNHCR representatives were able to meet them on Wednesday. "We have now interviewed them at the remand prison, outside the capital, Harare, where they have been held in separate cells," Bartsch said. "We found them to be in very good condition and we can say that due process in this case is being followed. We expect they will be released during the course of the day for the hearing."
From News24 (SA), 8 June 2000
Zim landowners extorted
Harare - A senior member of Zimbabwe's ruling party has bullied white landowners on the outskirts of Harare into committing large portions of their farms to the establishment of a new suburb, farming sources told AFP. The sources, who asked not to be named, countered claims made this week in the state-run daily The Herald that the farmers had willingly "donated" the land for distribution to landless farm and domestic workers.
Stalin Mau Mau, the parliamentary candidate for the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) in Harare East, claims to have obtained at least 720ha of prime real estate from property owners on the city's eastern outskirts to create a working class suburb there. But the sources dismissed suggestions that the affected farmers were giving up their land "freely and willingly", saying most of them had been forced to relinquish up to 20 or 30 percent of their farms with no guarantee of compensation.
Land in the area is valuable, with one-acre plots usually selling for 650 000-700 000 Zimbabwe dollars ($17 000-$18 500). Real estate agents refer to the area as the "golden triangle". The fate of the landowners is similar to that of 804 commercial farmers, whose properties were last week listed in an official government gazette for compulsory acquisition by the state. The government intends to resettle the landless on the acquired farms, without first putting in place any meaningful infrastructure.
Opponents of President Robert Mugabe have lambasted the move, saying his government has targeted some of the most productive farms in the country, and that the move would deal a severe blow to the country's agriculturally dependant economy.
But Mau Mau told AFP it was not his intention to disrupt agricultural activities on the "donated" farm land. "Mostly we've requested non-arable land," he said. "We feel sincerely the problem of land is not just agricultural. The question of compensation is not an issue," said Mau Mau. "It's a give-and-take situation. There's no coercion."
He said that "amicable agreements" between the landed and the landless were preferable to "overnight land grabs". Mau Mau said he intended to stick to city by-laws and "maintain as much order as possible" in resettling the landless, but recommended an order that "benefits everybody" and not one that "protects minorities".
Harare's northern suburbs are classified as "low density" and although previously sanctioned for whites during white minority rule, these affluent suburbs are increasingly shared with members of the black middle class. But Mau Mau, a former commander and veteran of the country's 1970s liberation war from white minority rule, described class distinctions as "dangerous" and distinctions between high and low density suburbs as "creating an environment for revolutions".
Sources informed AFP that when he visited some of the farms, Mau Mau had a "threatening crowd" of up to 500 supporters in tow. In each case, sources said he presented farmers in the hilly, wooded and picturesque region with an ultimatum: "Give up the land willingly, or face the consequences of a second option which he was not eager to discuss."
From The Daily News, 8 June 2000
Top Zanu PF leaders call for end to violence
Tarcey Munaku, Political Editor
THE top leadership of Zanu PF yesterday said violence against the opposition must stop and that the 24 and 25 June election must be seen to be free and fair. At a pre-election meeting in Harare for Zanu PF candidates contesting the 120 seats in Parliament, the message was driven home that the eagle's eye of international observers monitoring the election would be rivetted on Zimbabwe and any irregularity would be capitalised on to declare the poll not free and fair.
Vice-President Simon Muzenda, Zanu PF national chairman John Nkomo, party secretary for legal affairs Eddison Zvobgo and information and publicity chief Nathan Shamuyarira all took turns to emphasise that party leaders must tell Zanu PF supporters not to use violence in the election campaign. "We should tell our followers not to use violence," Muzenda said. "We should campaign by convincing people not by fighting them and beating them up." Nkomo, the Minister of Local Government and National Housing, said Zanu PF condemned violence from whatever quarter. He said: "Zanu PF has stood firm against violence. But we must make an unequivocal statement to denounce violence not because we want to appease anyone."
Zvobgo, Minister without Portfolio, said the party's candidates, in their election campaigning, should all the time talk "peace". He said foreign observers would be out in full force, "foraging" in all the constituencies before and after the election. He said: "They will be generally polite to us but do not be fooled. They propose to write reports, several of them, urging the international community to reject the results. If the results are rejected it is a serious case because the MDC will do everything in their power to ensure that the results are rejected by provoking Zanu PF so that we engage them in violence."
He said the Movement for Democratic Change and the international election observers had one objective: to have the results of the poll overturned. Zvobgo said Zanu PF should "resist the temptation" to retaliate against the MDC for the simple reason that its "mere existence poses a massive provocation". He said Zanu PF youths would be arrested by police during electioneering although he did not indicate for what reasons. His party, he said, would engage a law firm to represent any of its youths arrested by the police between now and polling days.
Shamuyarira, Minister of Industry and Commerce, said about 2 000 journalists from international news media would be reporting on the election. He said: "They will be looking for any form of violence and they will also be looking for extremist statements. We should avoid statements that can be regarded as extremist that will be outside the party policy. Any one alarmist statement will be overplayed by the international Press."
Shamuyarira said it was important for party candidates in their campaign to characterise the MDC as a "European party that is European-controlled". He said utterances attributed to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai that "whites are our cousins" should be hammered at every turn.