GRAHAM DAVIS: As the white tribe of Zimbabwe gathers to despatch yet another of its own, there are tears not just for an individual, but a whole way of life.
PRIEST: We not only mourn him, but we mourn the situation that we find ourselves in this country.
GRAHAM DAVIS: It's a memorial service for Tony Oates, a white farmer whose parents were Australian and who'd spent some of his life in Queensland, only to die in a hail of gunfire defending his property from intruders.
Elaine Oates was being attacked by two black men when Tony came to her aid. He was shot, but managed to kill one of the intruders before he died. It wasn't a farm invasion in the form that's become common here, for they were known criminals intent on robbery.
But many here hold the government ultimately responsible, convinced that by sanctioning farm invasions, the state as also given criminals the nod for an open season on whites.
For those who remain, there is no peace of mind - their thoughts now not just of their friend, but of themselves; whether to go, whether to stay, whether they'll be next.
How many more funerals can you come to like this?
DAVID ROCKINGHAM-GILL, COMMERCIAL FARMERS UNION: Wow - nasty question.
GRAHAM DAVIS: It's a nasty business.
DAVID ROCKINGHAM-GILL: Ja, a very nasty business indeed. But the thing is, I think that we're going to hang in there and we're going to carry on farming.
GRAHAM DAVIS: No matter what happens?
DAVID ROCKINGHAM-GILL: No, no matter what.
GRAHAM DAVIS: Yet equally determined to hang in there is the man Zimbabwe's 70,000 whites blame for their present sorry predicament - Comrade President Robert Gabriel Mugabe.
ROBERT MUGABE, ZIMBABWEAN PRESIDENT (TRANSLATION): Take your country! Take control! Power to the people's needs!
GRAHAM DAVIS: Mugabe was once a hero of Africa's liberation struggle, revered by his people, respected around the world. Now, though, history will judge him harshly, as a despot who tarnished what was once the jewel of Africa.
PETER HAIN, UK FOREIGN OFFICE MINISTER: The policies that have been followed by both him and his government over recent times have brought his country really to the edge of the abyss. And so it's been transformed from one of the strongest countries in Africa, with the best infrastructure, very high skills base, a successful economy, a beautiful country, into this country which is being systematically devastated.
GRAHAM DAVIS: Peter Hain, once a notable anti-apartheid crusader, is now Britain's Minister of State for Africa. And the mother of Empire isn't happy with its former colonial charge at all.
PETER HAIN: There were high hopes, and as somebody who campaigned against the old racist regime of Ian Smith throughout the late '60s and 1970s, who, as it were, metaphorically marched in the freedom struggle alongside Robert Mugabe, to see the sad and systematic decline of Zimbabwe under his leadership has not just been very sad, but very painful for many of us.
GRAHAM DAVIS: It's now 20 years since Zimbabwe gained its independence - a process forged at the Lancaster House talks by former British foreign secretary Lord Carrington.
LORD CARRINGTON, FORMER BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: It's such a marvellous country, it really is a wonderful country, and to see it brought to this stage by what's happening now is so sad.
GRAHAM DAVIS: Are you surprised?
LORD CARRINGTON: Well, I'm surprised because he started so well. Everybody thought at independence that what is now happening was going to happen then. And in point of fact, Mugabe started really quite well, and he was very magnanimous. The idea that Ian Smith, who put him in jail for 11 years, was allowed to stay both in Parliament and his own farm, I mean, it is quite magnanimous. So it started well, and I think it's tragic, what's happening now.
GRAHAM DAVIS: Ian Smith, of course, is full of cheery 'I told you so's about all of this.
LORD CARRINGTON: He's been waiting for 20 years to say so.
GRAHAM DAVIS: The white African chief who declared unilateral independence for the former Rhodesia from Britain in 1965 is now 81, and still living in Zimbabwe. He's also lived to see the fulfilment of his dire predictions of the chaos that would accompany black rule.
IAN SMITH, FORMER RHODESIAN PRIME MINISTER: I've got to say that, because it isn't good today. And I don't like to dwell in the past, and I think bitterness and vindictiveness is sterile. I've never believed in that, and that was part of the way I was brought up. I think it's better to look to the future.
Can I give you one example of our successes here? I used to love it when visitors used to say to me, "You've got the happiest black faces we've seen in Africa here, Mr Smith." We used to run a wonderful country here. We had the best race relations in the world. That was Rhodesia.
GRAHAM DAVIS: I don't want to get into an argument with you about the fact that this was minority rule, but do you think that the blacks were better off under your government than they are now?
IAN SMITH: I don't think there is any doubt. I think if you ask them, they will tell you that. They say that openly today.
GRAHAM DAVIS: I put the question to James Chikerema, no white supremacist himself; indeed a veteran of the liberation struggle who's known Robert Mugabe all his life.
JAMES CHIKEREMA: To a certain extent, he's right, because the police, during the time of Ian Smith, did their work professionally. But the present police force, under Mugabe, has been so corrupted that it is no longer professional.
GRAHAM DAVIS: Would you agree that it's a terrible indictment of the Mugabe regime that ordinary people felt safer under Smith than they do under him?
JAMES CHIKEREMA: I agree, it's a terrible indictment.
GRAHAM DAVIS: This weekend, the people of Zimbabwe get to make a definitive pronouncement on the Mugabe years in elections for the national parliament. His own job isn't up for grabs for another two years in a presidential poll, but there are clear signs the ruling ZANU-PF will be decimated in parliament, and could even lose the election altogether.
Two weekends ago, ZANU forced the people of Kwekwe to attend a Mugabe rally by going from house to house and telling them to be there, or else. They came out, but when the President began to speak, many turned their backs on him and left.
JAMES CHIKEREMA: You see these people being herded at the so-called "Star Rallies". Look at them properly - they are not happy people. They are forced to go there against their will. But I strongly believe that in the secrecy of the ballot box, they are going to call the tune. They are going to say, "Enough is enough."
GRAHAM DAVIS: According to British sources, Mugabe has been given a report by Zimbabwe's Central Intelligence Organisation that points to catastrophe for the party.
When he addressed a rally in Harare on Saturday, defeat was stamped on his face. He was gazing at a crowd a fraction of the expected strength and again, people walked out on him.
The rhetoric has become more desperate, the gestures more reminiscent of a past dictator with the same kind of moustache.
ROBERT MUGABE: The whites cannot be our cousins. They are not our cousins - they will never be cousins. They can be citizens in our country or residents in our country, but never our cousins. More so that they are the greatest racists in this world!
GRAHAM DAVIS: For ZANU-PF, it was a dismal affair, and Mugabe conceded for the first time the party had a struggle on its hands. His fears were confirmed the following day, when four times as many people attended an opposition rally in Harare.
More and more, the man leading the opposition charge, Morgan Tsvangirai, of the Movement for Democratic Change, is looking like a winner.
MORGAN TSVANGIRAI, LEADER, MOVEMENT FOR DEMOCRATIC CHANGE: Robert Mugabe is a violent President who does not love the people of this country. He only loves power.
GRAHAM DAVIS: Suddenly, many people are forecasting the once-unthinkable - a win for the MDC.
JAMES CHIKEREMA: Obviously, I cannot see Morgan Tsvangirai and his majority in parliament working amicably with Mugabe.
GRAHAM DAVIS: Does that mean Mugabe has to go?
JAMES CHIKEREMA: That will mean that he has got to go.
GRAHAM DAVIS: But although Morgan Tsvangirai now sense victory, he doesn't expect Mugabe or his defeated ZANU-PF MPs to go quietly.
Could he launch a countermove against you, using the armed forces or his supporters?
MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: So far, I think the armed forces are out, the police are out - I think they're professional institutions. But I think he has got other institutions at his disposal. I mean, some war veterans, gangsters and the ZANU-PF thugs may roam rampage in the country.
GRAHAM DAVIS: So far, Mugabe's thugs haven't had access to firearms, though there have been reports of the ruling party importing a shipment of AK47s.
MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: I understand they were intercepted. But there is greater evidence that he may be prepared for that worst outcome.
GRAHAM DAVIS: And if that happens, what?
MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: Well, I think that we'll just have to call... I mean, it won't last long; of course, it will be able to be repressed. The army, the police will have to be instructed to put that insurrection to a stop.
GRAHAM DAVIS: But we're talking about a very bloody outcome?
MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: Oh yeah.
GRAHAM DAVIS: Zimbabwe right now is on the brink, and what happens here in the coming days and weeks will affect the whole of southern Africa. If the country does plunge into chaos, it won't just be thousands of whites taking flight, but many more blacks; a mass exodus into neighbouring countries - South Africa, Zambia, Mozambique and Botswana - that the region as a whole is desperate to avert.
PETER HAIN: This is an African problem which is affecting and besetting the whole subcontinent. I think the African leaders are very aware of that, and I think they are on the case. But don't exactly expect megaphone diplomacy, because that's not the African way.
GRAHAM DAVIS: But if the message is being given, it's evidently not getting through. Mugabe himself has ceased to give media interviews, leaving his Information Minister, Chen Chimutingwende, to deliver some disturbing news.
If you lose, will you accept the verdict of the people?
CHEN CHIMUTINGWENDE, ZIMBABWEAN INFORMATION MINISTER: Depends. I don't think we're going to lose, so that discussion, I think, is meaningless to me.
GRAHAM DAVIS: When you say the words "it depends", what does that mean?
CHEN CHIMUTINGWENDE: It depends how we lose. If we lost in circumstances we consider unfair - I don't know what they could be - then that's a different matter.
GRAHAM DAVIS: These are the first pictures of the destruction now being wreaked in the countryside, even before the poll is held, not against whites, but blacks - those who support the opposition. In a perverse reversal of form, Mugabe, the liberation fighter for black freedom, is now at war with his own people.
LOCAL RESIDENT: When the war ended in 1980, we thought, "Now it is the time to settle down." But unfortunately, after 20 years in power - the present government is now 20 years in power - they destroy their own people's property.
GRAHAM DAVIS: It's a struggle within a black majority of 12 million for control of the country's future. The white minority of 70,000 are merely scapegoats for a crisis of Mugabe's own making.
ROBERT MUGABE: You are now our enemies, because you really have behaved as enemies of Zimbabwe, that we are full of anger.
WAR VETERAN LEADER: We must warn them straight away that we have cast our net - the whole country! We have cast our net, and those who think they can fight us in the farms, they will be caught by the net!
WHITE FARMER: Anarchy is not something that anybody can live under. I've been here for 61 years now - this farm was opened up in 1939 - and now I'm getting out.
ROBERT MUGABE: If the farmers start to be angry and start to be more violent, then of course they will get that medicine delivered to them.
WHITE PRIEST: The police - they guys who make sure that law is obeyed - are part of lawlessness. The ramifications are absolutely frightening.
GRAHAM DAVIS: This is the face Zimbabwe is ow showing to the world, 20 years after its black majority gained independence. It's the tyranny of the mob - violence, racism, fanaticism.
WAR VETERAN LEADER: (To white farmer) These people who have come here doesn't want you to be here any more! It's now up to you to be here, if you want to clean up my shoes.
WHITE FARMER: I'm a Zimbabwean - I think my entitlement to land is as strong as anyone else's, regardless of my skin colour. I haven't stolen any land from anyone, and certainly, this farm has not been stolen from anyone.
WAR VETERAN LEADER: These are oppressors! They came here to oppress us, to steal out land! He says he bought this farm in 1987 - he bought our property!
GRAHAM DAVIS: Yet as we'll see, the real oppressor, the real kleptomaniac, is the Comrade President himself - a man many think is now showing signs of madness.
IAN SMITH: He does seem to be unbalanced. There are people who say - and I don't know if there's any proof of this - that he's not well mentally.
GRAHAM DAVIS: But this is the talk of Harare, is it?
IAN SMITH: Yes, yes. And the world.
GRAHAM DAVIS: That he's losing it?
IAN SMITH: Yes.
GRAHAM DAVIS: In the world according to Robert Mugabe, Britain, the former colonial power in Zimbabwe, is run by a "gay mafia" headed by Prime Minister Tony Blair.
TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Of course, it is a disgraceful situation in Zimbabwe, and we condemn utterly the barbaric attacks on farmers. It is totally and utterly unacceptable.
ROBERT MUGABE: These are the gays of Blair's government talking, and they're angry with us because we are critical if this gay philosophy and gay way of life, and they would reach for anything against Zimbabwe.
PETER HAIN: When you accuse Tony Blair of being a "gay gangster", and all of us ministers as being sort of footsoldiers in that gay gangster gang, well, you really have to ask what is going on here? These are not serious statements by somebody claiming to be a serious leader - these are the rantings of somebody who's lost the plot.
GRAHAM DAVIS: Of course, there are gays in Zimbabwe, just as there are anywhere. But there are few societies as homophobic as this one, and the chief homophobe is the President.
ROBERT MUGABE: If dogs and pigs know their mates, can human beings remain human beings if they do worse than pigs?
GRAHAM DAVIS: However extreme that might sound to outsiders, many Zimbabweans agree, as evidenced by what happened when a lesbian activist tried to address a constitutional commission hearing last year.
WOMAN: There are lesbians in Zimbabwe from all races and creeds, and I'm one of them.
MAN: All Satanic!
WOMAN: Discrimination against women is high in Zimbabwe...
MAN: Should not be heard in Africa. We don't like that in Africa.
JAMES CHIKEREMA: Black people of this country are terribly anti-homosexuals.
GRAHAM DAVIS: So when he calls homosexuals "pigs and dogs", most people agree with him?
JAMES CHIKEREMA: In this country, all people agree with him - all African people.
GRAHAM DAVIS: And yet we know there are homosexuals here, don't we?
JAMES CHIKEREMA: Oh yes, it is known they are, but all the same, as far as the people are concerned, they are dogs and pigs.
GRAHAM DAVIS: Such is the burden of being gay in Zimbabwe. While Mugabe may be playing to a sympathetic gallery, what no-one can understand is how the British Prime Minister comes into it.
What this is is yet another diversion - another way of drawing attention away from Mugabe's pitiful record.
LORD CARRINGTON: He's been there too long. The economy's going wrong, there's a great deal of corruption. I think he's determined to win that election, and I think one of the ways of winning that election is intimidation of the black workers in the rural areas, and he's determined to see that they don't vote for the opposition.
GRAHAM DAVIS: Only by travelling deep into the countryside can one appreciate the extent of the reign f terror ZANU-PF has unleashed on anyone who defies it. Harare is firmly in MDC hands, but this is where the election will be really decided and where ZANU is concentrating its battle to hold the line.
We're inspecting the damage inflicted on MDC supporters with this woman, Sekai Holland, the party's candidate for Mberengwa East, in Midlands province. She's destined to be Foreign Minister in an MDC government.
SEKAI HOLLAND, MDC CANDIDATE: Yes, the ZANU-PF people have concentrated here now, because they've been instructed by senior ZANU-PF officials to stamp out MDC before the elections. So they are going to all the MDC strongholds, and stamping out means this, yes.
GRAHAM DAVIS: It's what remains of the home of a retired policeman named Godwin. He counts himself lucky to have been away at the time, convinced he'd have been killed. The women and children managed to hide.
GODWIN: They've destroyed everything. They've destroyed my life. No, I've got no regret about it, because I joined the party on my own. I wasn't forced to, like what is happening to ZANU-PF - they are forcing people to.
SEKAI HOLLAND: The people who burned the houses were taken by the police, and exactly a few hours later, they were back here harassing the whole community again.
GRAHAM DAVIS: Right, so the police took no action against them?
SEKAI HOLLAND: No.
GRAHAM DAVIS: Is she worried about her own life?
SEKAI HOLLAND: Yes, she's saying that. She's saying as soon as we leave, they're going to be here.
GRAHAM DAVIS: Godwin put his whole police pension into this property. This is what e gets for having the temerity to want change.
GODWIN: I worked for British South African police for three years, and the rest of my services, that was the President's ruling party, the government. But they have destroyed me. That's the government that I worked for. How could they do this to me? I just don't know. I just don't know where to start.
GRAHAM DAVIS: We're the first to record this kind of black-on-black terror, and only because we've got our own protection - an MDC squad from a Harare karate club, led by Saddam, the man in the trench coat and Stetson. They're now being deployed in areas like this to face down ZANU-PF thugs and protect party workers from further attack.
GODWIN: I saw them demonstrating and kicking ZANU-PF people in Mataga.
GRAHAM DAVIS: And what happened?
GODWIN: Ow! You could not look twice.
GRAHAM DAVIS: A bit like a Bruce Lee movie, was it?
GODWIN: Yes! Yes! These are dangerous guys. They've been trained.
GRAHAM DAVIS: So they're good to have on your side?
GODWIN: Yes, very good. I need them - wherever we go, I need them.
GRAHAM DAVIS: This is a vigilante force made necessary by the complete breakdown of law and order here. Without it, the MDC simply wouldn't be able to contest rural seats like this.
When we first met up with Sekai Holland in the town of Tsvisivane, we were besieged by ZANU-PF hooligans in our hotel - but only until the karate boys arrived.
SEKAI HOLLAND: ZANU-PF people ran away when the MDC security was sighted, so we don't have any ZANU-PF people around us.
GRAHAM DAVIS: Well, we did have, until your security people arrived.
SEKAI HOLLAND: Yes, but this is the way that we live every day - that as soon as they catch sight of any of the MDC candidates, they start working out the best method of killing us. We are not safe while Mugabe is the president! We are not safe while ZANU-PF is the ruling party! We are not safe!
GRAHAM DAVIS: Another day, another trashed property. It's the home of yet another former policeman, named Tongisu. Their state pensions make them relatively wealthy, and ZANU activists are motivated by envy as much as politics.
TONGISU: I joined the MDC on my own. I'm a grown-up chap, well-matured, I am an ex-police officer. I thought this was a democratic country, and I never knew it would come to such an extent that people are killed, houses stoned. I thought this was just an election.
SEKAI HOLLAND: We are evacuating all the women and children who want to go out of the area. We are taking them to Harare, and we've set up a halfway house there.
GRAHAM DAVIS: Sekai Holland spent the Smith years in Australia as a ZANU activist. She studied at the ANU in Canberra, which is where she met her Australian husband Jim Holland, a former engineer who now runs an e-mail server business in Harare.
JIM HOLLAND: I worry every time she leaves Harare and goes down to Harare and Mberengwa. But I think she knows what she's doing, I think she has a lot of support down there, and people are going to protect her. That's all that I can hope for.
GRAHAM DAVIS: Do you fear for her life?
JIM HOLLAND: There's definitely a risk, because so many people have been killed in this campaign so far.
GRAHAM DAVIS: You were in Australia for a long time; you've got two Australian children, an Australian husband...
SEKAI HOLLAND: And an Australian grandchild.
GRAHAM DAVIS: Why come back to all of this, when you could have a quiet life back in Rozelle, in Sydney?
SEKAI HOLLAND: When we got married, Jim made a promise that when Zimbabwe got independence, he'd take me home. He's fulfilled his promise - I think the question should be asked what he is still doing here! (Laughs) He brought me home.
GRAHAM DAVIS: Now, Jim, could find himself the husband of Zimbabwe's Foreign Minister - if the MDC can wrest control from Comrade President Mugabe.
JIM HOLLAND: They've already said that they're going to go to war if ZANU-PF doesn't win.
GRAHAM DAVIS: Is it just rhetoric, or do you think they'd do that?
JIM HOLLAND: Well, the nightmare scenario, of course, is that they will do that. The war vets themselves claim that they've got arms cached throughout the country. And Mugabe himself, as Commander-in-Chief of the army, could attempt to rule through the army.
GRAHAM DAVIS: So far, the army has stayed above the political fray, and the MDC is naturally hoping that will continue.
SEKAI HOLLAND: Our military has refused to actually be used to beat up civilians. They've put out two statements that they're professionals and they will not go with the whims of any government, and that they are there to serve the government of the day.
GRAHAM DAVIS: Yet as we've seen in Fiji, it takes only a section of the military to cause mayhem. Mugabe's fortunes are closely aligned with those of the military leadership - not just politically, but economically, through Zimbabwe's role in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Zimbabwe has 12,000 troops in the Congo, helping to prop up the regime of President Laurent Kabila. There's no strategic reason for it to be there, and some are suggesting a baser motive - Robert Mugabe's bank accounts.
IAN SMITH: He was wealthy before he went into the Congo. But they tell me that in the Congo now, this is a different game altogether. He's in there with Kabila, into diamonds and things like that, cobalt and copper and uranium, and that he's getting rich in the Congo in addition to getting rich in this country.
GRAHAM DAVIS: The military is also involved, with reports that a European company, Oryx, is paying a company called Osleg - run by senior Zimbabwean officers - to protect its diamond mines.
CHEN CHIMUTINGWENDE: I've never heard of that company. I don't know it. And I don't think that statement can be true. It's not true.
GRAHAM DAVIS: Have you heard of a company called Osleg?
CHEN CHIMUTINGWENDE: No.
GRAHAM DAVIS: Well, it's a company that apparently is made up of senior members of the armed forces here.
CHEN CHIMUTINGWENDE: I don't know it, and I don't think it's true.
GRAHAM DAVIS: The President, in his Savile Row suits, is certainly a lot more wealthy than his salary might suggest, with a young wife, Grace Mugabe, who's said to be an African version of Imelda Marcos.
MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: Well, her shopping sprees are legendary, as I've said.
GRAHAM DAVIS: How does she pay for all this stuff? Do we know?
MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: I'm sure that her husband has stashed some money somewhere, externalised some funds, and that's what she's using.
GRAHAM DAVIS: Where do you think his money has come form?
MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: From the nation, of course.
GRAHAM DAVIS: In what sense? Expropriation - is that what it is?
MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: Of course, yeah.
GRAHAM DAVIS: And, says the opposition leader, no-one else has seen once cent from the Congo.
MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: We know that Kabila is supposed to pay us in foreign currency, and that foreign currency has never landed here. It's not been recorded in the Treasury.
GRAHAM DAVIS: Does that lead you to suspect that maybe these diamonds are a source of income for him personally?
MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: I think so.
GRAHAM DAVIS: The military hierarchy - indeed, the whole ZANU elite - owes much to Mugabe's largesse. Everyone in Zimbabwe agrees on the need to redistribute the land preserved in colonial times for whites, but in an orderly and legal manner. Well before the current invasions, Britain and the United States were funding a program to buy up white farms for the rural poor. But they baulked at funding Mugabe's payola.
PETER HAIN: Half the land he has handed out, by way of this distribution program over the last two years, has been to his cronies.
GRAHAM DAVIS: Farms for the boys?
PETER HAIN: Farms for the boys that are not being farmed.
GRAHAM DAVIS: It all makes nonsense of the antics of people like Chenjerai Hunzvi - 'Hitler' Hunzvi - Mugabe's stormtrooper in the land invasions; no veteran himself and bordering on the certifiable.
CHENJERAI 'HITLER' HUNZVI, WAR VETERANS LEADER: We don't care what the British are going to say. If they want to fight with us and we know they are there fighting us, we will fight them. Not only here in Zimbabwe, but in UK.
JAMES CHIKEREMA: That man is absolutely nuts! He's absolutely nuts. In the first place, he never participated in the liberation struggle of this country - never ever. He's a nobody.
GRAHAM DAVIS: Hitler Hunzvi, Stain Mau-Mau - many here have simply had a gutful of the comrades. The whole economy has ground to a halt. Just getting fuel in Harare has become a major preoccupation. Inflation is running at more than 50%. Everyone carries huge wads of a currency plunging by the day.
And of course, it's all Britain's fault. The opposition are white stooges, the international media is biased, and who cares what the world thinks anyway?
CHEN CHIMUTINGWENDE: It depends what you think. If it's in our favour, we care for it. If it makes sense to us, we care. If it doesn't, if it is aimed at destroying us, then we don't care for it - in fact, we should fight it.
GRAHAM DAVIS: And fight it they do. On April 1, the opposition began a march in central Harare. As word spread to ZANU's headquarters, its thugs began to assemble outside, pulling branches from trees to turn into beating sticks.
What happened next in the heart of the capital plunged a stake through the heart of the economy, as the world witnessed a rampaging mob singing out whites for attack.
WHITE MAN: I got beaten up by the so-called ZANU-PF guys. They were nothing but a set of hooligans and thugs.
GRAHAM DAVIS: For Mugabe, of course, it was all counterproductive.
BLACK MAN: The more they terrorise us, the more they attack us and Zimbabweans, the more they are cultivating the spirit of resistance and the spirit for change.
GRAHAM DAVIS: But along the way, the collateral damage has been extraordinary. Zimbabwe is rightly celebrated for its natural beauty, but the election violence has destroyed its tourist revenue. At the Changamira Lodge, outside Harare, the staff still set the table, but like some of the animals here, the business is well and truly stuffed.
CHANGAMIRA RESORT LODGE PROPRIETOR: We have no guests at the moment, no. Nothing.
GRAHAM DAVIS: How can you make a go of it with no guests whatsoever?
PROPRIETOR: Well, we're having a hard time, ja - a very hard time, ja.
GRAHAM DAVIS: It's against this sorry background that some Zimbabweans are looking not to the future, but the past, nostalgic for an era of stability that's now been lost.
BLACK MAN: Life was better before independence. The currency could maintain its value; now, goodness me, the currency is losing its value, things are expensive, the economy is deteriorating every day.
BLACK WOMAN: So let the whites keep the farms, then. Let everything be how it was, so that when we grow up, we can also have something to look up to.
BLACK WOMAN: If they go, we will lose everything, you know? Farmers, those are the ones who are bringing us food and everything. So cost of living, it will be too high if they go. If we lose them, everything is going to be tough for us.
GRAHAM DAVIS: Even the great white African chief, Ian Smith, has had his farm invaded, and to save his workers from any further trouble, has retired to his Harare home.
Were they hostile to you personally?
IAN SMITH: No - no, they were not. In fact, when I went to the farm after they'd been there for a couple of weeks, I got a very warm welcome from a few of them, who welcomed me and said, "How nice to see you, Mr Smith."
JAMES CHIKEREMA: He did commit some atrocities during his time, during the liberation struggle. But today, I know people who have met him in the streets in Harare, walking there, who would go to greet him and talk to him. They have no...any hostility against him at all
GRAHAM DAVIS: There's no security at Smith's home, and he leaves the front door open. He lives next door to the Cuban Embassy - a striking irony, given that Fidel Castro sent legions of revolutionaries to help bring him down.
IAN SMITH: I've got no problems with the Cubans. We're actually friends - we get on well together. We acknowledge one another. Rhodesians did have a facility for getting on with other people.
GRAHAM DAVIS: So the old saying about the only good Commie being a dead Commie doesn't apply if they live next door to you, is that it?
IAN SMITH: (Laughs) Well, I think I can say I know some Communists who are better than a lot of so-called capitalists in this free world, so let's treat people on merit.
GRAHAM DAVIS: For many people here now, Zimbabwe's Marxist President isn't a good Communist at all; a man with all the trappings of a capitalist tyrant - someone who Archbishop Desmond Tutu described as almost a caricature of an African dictator.
Unlike Ian Smith, Robert Mugabe is surrounded by bodyguards. Would he be able to retire graciously in his own country? His boyhood friend, James Chikerema, doesn't think so.
JAMES CHIKEREMA: It is going to be very difficult for him to live peacefully until he apologises for the massacres he caused in Matabeleland and the Midlands.
GRAHAM DAVIS: In the early 1980s, Mugabe sent the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade into Matabeleland to wipe out opposition to his regime.
20,000 people were massacred.
JAMES CHIKEREMA: More than that - I think 35,000 people died.
GRAHAM DAVIS: Do you blame him for those massacres?
JAMES CHIKEREMA: Of course. There was no need, really, to go to that extent of massacring innocent people. I really blame him for that.
GRAHAM DAVIS: Do you think what he did there in Matabeleland is the key to present events, in the sense that he will stop at nothing to stay in power?
JAMES CHIKEREMA: This is absolutely correct.
GRAHAM DAVIS: Morgan Tsvangirai hopes that in the event of an MDC majority in parliament, the President will come to his senses. He's prepared, in the interests of restoring stability, to allow Mugabe to see out the two years he still has left as head of state. But given the circumstances, it will be a very strange marriage indeed.
MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: We all hailed him as a hero of the nation. In fact, we would have died for the man. That's the support he enjoyed in the country. I think he has gone through a level of transformation which is unbelievable. Today, he is the nation's foremost liability.
JANA WENDT: Graham Davis with that report. And Zimbabwe's High Court has refused to restore the powers of the country's electoral commission, just three days before parliamentary elections. As a result, 200 foreign observers will continue to be denied access to polling stations this weekend.
|Violence flares as Zimbabwe heads for polls|
|The head of the European Union observer mission to
Zimbabwe has expressed concern about the level of violence and intimidation in
the run-up to this weekend's parliamentary elections.
President Robert Mugabe isfacing the first serious threat to his 20-year autocratic rule from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, as ITN's Tim Ewart reports. View VIDEO Opposition activists have been campaigning in one of the poorest parts of Harare, out in strength for their own protection. Their parliamentary candidate says they are under constant threat from gangs, organised by war veterans who support President Mugabe: "ZANU-PF war vets are campaigning to try to find a way of shooting at me and killing me," opposition candidate Fidelis Mhashu told ITN. In rural areas the risks are even greater. At one roadblock, war veterans with sticks and clubs were stopping anyone they did not trust. Cars carrying opposition supporters and Commonwealth election observers were suddenly attacked and chased as they sped away to safety. A television crew was also set upon. Mr Mugabe has been rallying his apparently flagging supporters and dismissing talk of an election defeat: "It is impossible. We cannot lose. We are victors all the time," he said. But in Harare there is increasing confidence among opposition candidates. Long before land became an issue and white farms were invaded, Mr Mugabe was losing support in areas like Harare. With unemployment at 55 per cent and inflation at 74 per cent it would be dangerous for him to underestimate the level of discontent. The opposition is on a roll and say that even vote-rigging will not stop them now.
Travel Advice Zimbabwe
Elections are due on 24 and 25 June. There may be an upsurge in political violence in the period immediately afterwards.
The principal tourist areas of Zimbabwe have been largely unaffected by recent political unrest. Over the past few weeks there have been a number of violent incidents around the country with several people killed including farmers and political activists. Visitors, and British nationals resident in Zimbabwe, should continue to exercise caution.
All visitors should be alert to signs of disturbances anywhere in Zimbabwe and avoid any political rallies or other meetings. Violence associated with earlier events has affected bystanders and on one occasion was clearly directed at whites. The situation on the ground could change rapidly - visitors are recommended to check the latest situation with their hotels or lodges before travelling. Some of the land adjoining tourist lodges in the Lowveld has been subject to occupations although guests have not been affected.
Visitors to rural areas risk being drawn into potentially threatening situations related to the current series of land occupations and political activity. Do not go into any of the non-tourist rural areas including the commercial farms and the communal lands, or venture off the main roads between urban and tourist centres. Where possible, visitors should consider travelling by air. We have advised volunteer aid staff working in rural areas to consider remaining in Harare for the time being. Fuel supplies in Zimbabwe are erratic although public transport is largely unaffected. Visitors driving their own vehicles are advised to consider carefully before setting out on long distance journeys and to keep their tanks topped up as much as possible.
Crime levels in Zimbabwe are generally low although on the increase. Mugging and pick-pocketing are prevalent in city centres especially in Harare. Visitors should be particularly cautious when leaving banks and ATM machines. Visitors to Victoria Falls and other tourist centres should be wary as tourists, particularly backpackers, are at risk.
Thefts from vehicles are fairly common. Drivers should keep their vehicle doors locked and be cautious when travelling by car from Harare airport and at filling stations. Anyone offering to help to change tyres, which are sometimes deliberately punctured, should be regarded with great caution. If possible, vehicles should not be left unattended in isolated scenic spots in the Nyanga and Vumba areas of the Eastern Highlands. There has recently been an increase in the incidence of car-jacking.
Driving out of main towns at night should be avoided as vehicles are poorly lit and roads badly marked. Abandoned unlit trailers and heavy vehicles are a particularly dangerous hazard. Pedestrians and stray livestock are additional dangers. Emergency services can provide only limited help in the event of an accident.
The incidence of opportunistic theft, especially of handbags etc, is high, passports are at particular risk. Care should be taken at railway and bus stations, particularly when making phone calls from public phones. Visitors should carry photocopies of their passports, although banks will not accept photocopies for monetary transactions.
Long term visitors and residents should register on arrival with the British High Commission, Corner House, Corner Samora Machel Avenue/Leopold Takawira Street, P.O.Box 4490. Harare (tel: + 263 4 772990, fax: + 263 4 774617, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
| Old guard: Ian Smith is back as a
political adviser in Zimbabwe, 20 years after the end of white-minority rule.
(AP photo) |
But ghosts haunt. And as Smith has watched the nation he once dubbed the "jewel of Africa" crumble, he has been one of the most outspoken critics of its downfall.
"There are no jobs. We have one of the highest rates of unemployment in the world. We are churning out 300,000 students of higher institutions every year, and less than 10 percent get jobs. The economy has collapsed," said Smith, whose white supremacist government ruled what was then Rhodesia for 15 years before surrendering to black majority rule.
In the capital, Harare, fuel shortages have forced the closing of some gas stations, and water and garbage collections have been disrupted. Foreign investment and aid donors have fled. The value of the Zimbabwe dollar, which once had parity with the British pound, has dropped to less than 3 cents. Businesses are laying off workers.
In the months leading up to this weekend's parliamentary elections, more than 1,600 white-owned farms have been invaded by Mugabe supporters, led by veterans of his war against Smith's white rule. At least 30 people have been killed in political violence.
Mugabe's critics say he has done little to save the country from the brink of disaster. Facing the first serious challenge to his one-party government, Mugabe, once unopposed, is struggling to maintain his grip on power.
"When I went into a shopping center, I had a dozen people wanting to talk to me. 'What are we going to do Mr. Smith? How can we get things right?' It's understandable. They say, 'We haven't got a job and our children go to bed hungry at night,'" Smith said.
Hunched over like the handle of a cane, with a mop of gray hair, Smith, 81, is a smaller, weaker version of the ambitious young Rhodesian whose plane was shot down in World War II and who escaped by hiking over the Alps in his socks. He shuffles from room to room in his home next door to the Cuban Embassy in Harare's leafy suburbs.
Time has not changed the views of the man who was one of the world's most notorious white supremacists. And age has not taken away his willingness to spar with his longtime rival Mugabe, whom Smith's government imprisoned for 11 years during a war against black nationalists in which more than 30,000 people died.
Smith is not a candidate. He is an adviser to various opposition parties, including the Movement for Democratic Change, a new group mounting a formidable challenge to Mugabe's ruling party in the approaching elections.
"Mugabe is in a desperate position if he loses this election. When you've got a wounded animal in the corner, that's unpredictable and dangerous. He doesn't seem to be stable in his mind," said Smith.
"He is surrounded by a bunch of sycophants who tell him what he wants to hear. In every election, they've cooked the books. They don't allow themselves to be beaten," Smith said.
Smith has been a source of irritation for Mugabe but has also provided Mugabe a useful springboard for recapturing the spirit of his fight against white rule more than two decades ago. At a recent campaign rally, Mugabe brushed aside his nation's economic woes and attacked the inequities of British colonialism, concluding that he should have "taken Ian Smith's head."
"Ian Smith has been the major reason significant opposition has not developed in Zimbabwe," said Jeffrey Herbst, professor of African politics at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. "Ian Smith joins them and Mugabe points to it as a Rhodesian plot to take over Zimbabwe."
Ruling party leaders shrug off Smith's political challenge, dismissing him as a man out of step with the future of Zimbabwe.
"He's a racist old man," said Billy Hlongwane, a ruling party official. "He can be forgiven for being old."
Founded in 1890 by pioneers of mining giant Cecil John Rhodes, Southern Rhodesia, as it was known then, attracted thousands of white settlers in search of gold and agricultural riches. Like Rhodes, they dreamed of sharing in the dream of a British Empire in Africa stretching from the Cape of Good Hope to Cairo.
The Rhodesians were "more British than the British," Smith said.
Smith's father was a wealthy Scottish-born businessman who ran butcher shops and bakeries in a small rural town in Rhodesia.
At the outbreak of World War II, Smith quit his studies to become a fighter pilot for the British Royal Air Force. He crashed in 1943 and suffered serious injuries to his face that some have said explain his inability to smile. He was shot down over Italy in 1944, leading to his escape across the Alps.
He returned home and entered politics, supporting a system of white minority rule for his British colony.
In 1964, he was elected prime minister. Defying British terms for independence that would have led to black majority rule, Smith declared Rhodesia's independence Nov. 11, 1965.
Smith's rebellion cut Rhodesia off from much of the rest of the world. The United Nations imposed economic sanctions against the former colony.
Smith was reviled worldwide as a racist leader of a pariah nation. But at home, many white residents heralded him as courageous, patriotic man willing to stand up for what he believed in.
The sanctions were only partly successful. Anything it could not manage to import, Rhodesia tried to produce on its own. For many years, small Rhodesia manufactured its own televisions, air conditioners and other products. And it had some of the most highly productive land in the world.
"We created a fantastic country here," Smith said. "This wonderful, small Rhodesia.
"We had one of the highest rates of growth in the world at one time. That's because Rhodesians believed in what they were doing. We had happy people here. We never had political friction," Smith said of those days.
The black majority did not share that rosy view. In the 15-year war that ensued, Smith's army fought off attacks by the black guerrilla movement led by Mugabe and other revolutionaries. He imprisoned Mugabe and other "terrorists," as he called them.
"We were fighting a war against terrorists, not freedom fighters," he said. "Can you allow these people who were using petrol bombs to intimidate people, who were killing people, to be free?
"I would have to be convinced it would be a good thing to let them out of detention," he said. "My conscience is clear."
Smith spent huge resources on the war, which at one point was costing more than 30 lives and $1.5 million a day.
Sanctions, increased spending on the military and the guerrilla action eventually forced the white minority government to submit to black majority rule. In 1980, Mugabe became the first president of Zimbabwe.
Smith stayed in Zimbabwe, where he was a member of Parliament until 1987, when Mugabe scrapped the seats reserved for whites. Smith now divides his time between his house in Harare and his farm in the countryside.
Early in his first term, Mugabe spoke frequently with Smith, consulting him on economic and political matters. But when Mugabe announced that he was taking the country in a new direction, a Marxist one-party state, the two fell out.
"Who would invest in a Marxist state? Only a half-wit," Smith recalled telling Mugabe.
"I could see immediately he was upset. When I left, he refused to say goodbye to me and I walked out," Smith said.
He has not spoken to Mugabe since. "Let's be honest: Mugabe doesn't like me. I'm a thorn in his flesh. You know what I have the temerity to do is criticize Robert Mugabe and his one-party dictatorship.... I said I would have to criticize him if he continued to run our country down. And he doesn't like that."
Originally published on Jun 21 2000