Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index

SBS REPORT - Australia June 2000


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?


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?


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?


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?


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?


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?


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.




Back to the Top
Back to Index

   HARARE, June 22 (AFP) - Zimbabwe's police commissioner on 
Thursday warned international observers monitoring parliamentary
elections to abide by the laws governing their conduct or risk being
locked up until after the vote.
   The commissioner, Augustine Chihuri, said some observers had 
gone to a police station in the company of high-ranking party
officials to try to secure the release of arrested political
   They tried "to lecture to our police on how educated they are" 
and called police officers "uneducated morons," he told a news
   "Already we have had some observers acting contrary to the laws 
of the country... police will not hesitate to use the same laws
against them," he said.
   Asked what will happen to observers who breached the rules, 
Chihuri said: "the laws of the land will apply. They will be kept in
safe custody until the (election) directorate releases them and
maybe send them home."
    He said some observers had expressed open bias toward or 
against certain political parties.
   "Surely this behaviour cannot be allowed to go on," he said. 
   "This type of provocation is unwarranted. 
   "We expect observers to only come and observe and stick to their 
mission and terms of reference," Chihuri said.
   A police spokesman, Superintendent Crowd Chirenje, earlier 
announced on state television: "If the conduct of the EU observers
and foreign journalists is going to be characterised by this glaring
partisan alliance with the opposition parties, particularly the MDC
(Movement for Democratic Change), and trivialisation and undermining
of police and government, then we see nothing positive about the
observers. In fact they risk being arrested for flouting the laws of
this country."
   Zimbabwe has denied accreditation to more than 200 foreign 
observers.          Mariyawanda Nzuwah, chairman of the election
directorate, told the press conference at which Chihuri spoke that 
those denied registration were still free to move around the
country, but could not enter polling stations.
   "We are not according them official status but they can move 
around the country," he said.
   Nzuwah said those denied accreditation were from five 
non-governmental organisations.
   President Robert Mugabe said not everybody could be allowed into 
the country as observers.
   "We have allowed the Commonwealth, we have allowed the EU, we 
have allowed the OAU, we have allowed individual observers from
various countries, the ambassadors... but there is a limit, we can't
just allow everyone in the world to come," the president said on
state television.

CHIVU, ZIMBABWE, 22-JUN-2000: Chenjerai Hunzvi (L), leader of the
Zimbabwean war veterans, meets with EU election observers Herrmann
Ron Helmut of Germany (R) and Graca Fernandes of Portugal (2ndR)
after speaking to followers in the town of Chivu some 150 km south of
Harare, June 22, 2000. Hunzvi spent his last day of campaigning ahead
of the 24-25 June parliamentary elections touring his constituency.
[Photo by Odd Andersen, copyright 2000 by AFP and ClariNet]
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zimbabwe's economy is in crisis   
"I didn't see any violence. I have covered all the provinces," Mugabe told a reporter at a rally. 
Terror rules in Mugabe's laagers
 Zimbabwe's economy is in crisis   
   HARARE, June 22 (AFP) - Zimbabwe's economy is in crisis, with 
political violence now sweeping the country finishing off years of
economic mismanagement and unchecked corruption, analysts say.
   President Robert Mugabe and his ministers blame white 
Zimbabweans, Britain, and the outside world in general.
   Deputy Industry and Commerce Minister Obert Mpofu accused 
white-managed companies earlier this month of cutting back
operations to create economic chaos ahead of parliamentary elections
this weekend.
   "We are taking stock and compiling the names," Mpofu said. "When 
we come back into power we will not hesitate to help workers to buy
those companies."
   Business leaders counter that they cannot obtain enough foreign 
currency to operate, and tourism has come to a virtual dead halt.
   A critical shortage of foreign currency has led to erratic fuel 
supplies, leading to long queues at petrol stations, and the
occupation of some 1,500 white-owned commercial farms by squatters
led by independence war veterans has disrupted agricultural exports.
The squatters burned tobacco stocks on a number of the farms.
   A World Economic Forum assessment of 24 African countries 
released Wednesday put Zimbabwe in 23rd position, followed only by
   The report blamed some of the woes of Zimbabwe and Kenya (in 
22nd position) on the protracted rule of Mugabe and Kenyan President
Daniel arap Moi.
   It noted that the expenditure of the Zimbabwe government had 
become chronically excessive, with lending rates above 65 percent
"punitive to investors" and inflation fuelled by a government
liquidity lifeline to struggling banks.
   Mugabe says the government will soon reintroduce price controls, 
but economists say they would only exacerbate the underlying
problems and are predicting the government will have to raise taxes
and slash spending.
   Donors have meanwhile suspended aid, and investors are staying 
   Ordinary people are hurting, with the price of vegetables up by 
about 200 percent recently and inflation running at some 60 percent
and rising by the day.
   Unemployment is estimated at around 50 to 60 percent of the 
   Farmers are holding back their crops because the government has 
pegged the Zimbabwean dollar at 38 to the US dollar -- the parallel
rate is 55 to the dollar.
   Shortages of petrol, diesel and paraffin (used by the poor for 
cooking and lighting) result in queues that sometimes stay put
overnight and become so bad-tempered that riot police have to be
   People are cutting down trees around Harare for firewood because 
paraffin is so short.
   Zimbabwe imports electricity from Angola, South Africa, 
Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia, and the state
utility is starting to ration power, saying it does not have access
to the foreign exchange it needs, with a resulting shortfall of 10
to 25 percent of power at peak times. It owes 35 million US dollars
to Mozambique and 20 million to South Africa.
   The Commercial Farmers Union says the white farmers have lost 
four billion Zimbabwe dollars (more than 100 million US at the
official exchange rate) since the occupations started.
   The Standard Chartered Bank is warning that the economy will 
shrink by at least five percent this year.
   "Zimbabwe's economic outlook has deteriorated dramatically in 
the last six weeks," the bank said in its May economic review.
   The rate of economic decline will accelerate after the elections 
"unless there is a radical change in policy, not just in regard to
land, but also in macroeconomic management," said the British-based
bank, which has branches throughout Zimbabwe.
   "It is now clear that lasting -- as distinct from temporary -- 
damage has been inflicted on commercial agriculture," it said.
   The report said economic indicators showed the budget deficit 
was currently running at an "unsustainable" rate of some 20 percent
of gross domestic product.
   "I didn't see any violence. I have covered all the provinces," 
Mugabe told a reporter at a rally
   HARARE, June 22 (AFP) - President Robert Mugabe and police 
denied Thursday that politicial violence was widespread in Zimbabwe
ahead of parliamentary elections at the weekend, despite the deaths
of at least 32 people in political attacks, including one on Tuesday
and another on Wednesday.
   "I didn't see any violence. I have covered all the provinces," 
Mugabe told a reporter at a rally.
    The president, whose comments were broadcast by state 
television, acknowledged the start of the campaign had been
   "It was started by the MDC (the opposition Movement for 
Democratic Change) which wanted to demonstrate its existence in the
country," he said. "Our side retalialiated in a big way, yes."
   Police chief Augustine Chihuri told reporters that there was not 
as much violence on the ground as reported by the media.
   "There is much more violence in the press from your pens .. than 
what is happening on the ground," he said.
   "The situation has been dramatised, sensationalised and blown 
out of proportion. Only dotted cases of violence have taken place,"
he told a news conference, saying security would be adequate during
the two polling days.
   "Everyone is provided with enough security to be able to vote in 
peace, but not in pieces," said Chihuri.
   He said police were beginning to deploy across the country 
Thursday for at least six days while some special units were on
   "The police are going to be very firm and action will be taken 
without hesitation or delay," Chihuri said.
   The election directorate which is in charge of organising the 
polling said all was in place to enable the smooth-running of
elections Saturday and Sunday.
   Polling in Zimbabwe's fifth parliamentary elections is expected 
to start Saturday at 7:00 a.m. (0500 GMT) and end Sunday at 7:00
p.m. (1700 GMT).
   Counting will start Monday and results are expected same day.

From The Guardian [UK] 22nd June 2000,2763,334937,00.html
Terror rules in Mugabe's laagers
Andrew Meldrum in Mataga
Thursday June 22, 2000
James Zhou has two gaping wounds where his buttocks used to be.  For
supporting Zimbabwe's opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), he suffered unspeakable torture and his brother Finos was beaten to
"I thought I had the right to support any party of my choice," the visibly
terrified Mr Zhou said in his hospital bed.  "But now I think these politics
are dirty.  It's not good."
Violence and torture are rampant throughout rural Zimbabwe before the
crucial parliamentary elections this weekend.
Teachers, doctors and nurses have been picked on.  More than 13,000 rural
people have fled to the relative safety of the cities, according to the
Human Rights Forum.
Confronted by swelling support for the MDC, President Robert Mugabe's
government is also using new voting regulations and restrictions on
observers in a frantic attempt to reduce the size of the opposition vote.
These aspects of intimidation are evident in Mataga, 250 miles south-east of
The Zhou brothers were abducted from their home near Mataga on June 4 by 18
supporters of President Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.  They were taken to Texas
Farm, where they were beaten and burned for more than
24 hours.
The violence was prompted by the fact that Finos had signed nomination
papers for the local MDC candidate for parliament.
Finos died of internal injuries on June 6.
James will need extensive skin grafts and reconstructive surgery to restore
his backside.
Despite numerous identifications, the police have not arrested anyone for
the Zhous' murder and torture.  They have not gone to Texas Farm which, war
veterans and other Zanu-PF supporters have taken over for use as a torture
The Zhou brothers' horrific story is depressingly familiar in Mataga.
Another man was wrapped in plastic bags which were set alight.
More than 150 cases of assault, rape, genital mutilation and other torture
of opposition supporters have been recorded, yet the police have taken
virtually no action.
At first glance the town appeared normal to three visiting journalists, with
people going to the shops along the main street.
But just minutes after we got out of our car at the post office we were
surrounded by about a dozen youths, some wearing Zanu-PF T-shirts.
They questioned us and ordered us to stay where we were.  We decided to move
on.  We went to some shops owned by opposition supporters which had been
vandalised and burned by Zanu-PF.
A truck roared by filled with young men waving iron bars, clubs and
They shouted and jeered at us.  One pointed at us and pulled his machete
across his throat as if to slit ours.
The people at the shops were obviously frightened and would not speak to us.
At the Mataga police station the officer in charge assured us that the
situation was calm and normal and that opposition parties were free to
campaign.  He admitted that the MDC offices had been burned down and he knew
of no MDC people we could meet.
A few minutes later we found the officer laughing with the leader of the
gang that had surrounded us.  They were clearly in league with each other.
It was getting dark so we decided to leave.  The truck with youths waving
crowbars and clubs followed us to the edge of town.
We came to a crossroads and stopped to decide way to go.  A man leaned into
the car and demanded to see our Zanu-PF cards and to search our vehicle.  We
said he was not a policeman and he had no right to demand anything.
He shouted and eight men approached our car.  We sped off and they threw
stones at the car.  We came to another group setting up an illegal roadblock
and drove right through it.  Once again stones were thrown at us.
The intimidation we encountered was minor, and it was clear that if we had
been local Zimbabweans much more serious assaults could have occurred.
But Mataga is not all menace and fear.  It is also full of heroic
resistance.  The MDC candidate for the Mataga area is a courageous woman
called Sekai Holland. She was held by the Mataga police without charges for
two nights and then taken away to the nearest city, Zvishavane.
She has not been able to return to Mataga because of the roadblocks.  Her
car was burned and more than Z$85,000 (£1,460)
was stolen from her by Zanu-PF supporters.
"They are terrorising our area," said Lewellin Sibanda.  "But we go back to
campaign at night and to put up posters.
They cannot stop us because the people want change."
Crunch time for Zimbabwe,2763,334867,00.html
There is a real danger that the loser - most likely Zanu-PF - will reject
the election result Zimbabwe:
special report Andrew Meldrum in Harare
Thursday June 22, 2000
Whatever the outcome of Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections this weekend, the
period following the results will be nearly as crucial as the voting itself.
Whichever side wins, President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party or the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), it will be important to see
if the loser accepts defeat.  There is a danger that either side, but
particularly Zanu-PF in the event of an MDC victory, will violently reject
the result.
Zimbabwe has been traumatised by the terror unleashed by Mugabe during the
election campaign, yet the opposition has grown in strength.  The MDC
appears on the verge of a historic victory, in which it could win a majority
of the 120 elected seats, and possibly of the total 150 parliamentary seats
(Mugabe appoints 30 of them).  The mood of the country has swung in its
The intimidation and the blatant propaganda of the state news media appear
only to have infuriated the public.
The small and listless crowds at rallies for Mugabe and the Zanu-PF
candidates have been dramatically shown up by the turnouts for the MDC -
even though MDC supporters knew that they were exposing themselves to the
risk of beatings by attending the rallies.
Certainly Zanu-PF's current stranglehold on parliament, in which it held all
but three seats, is over.  At the very least, the MDC should win 40 seats,
which would be an impressive accomplishment.  The nine-month-old opposition
party has been able to campaign freely only in 25 constituencies.  With 40
seats, the MDC could function as a viable opposition, working to hold the
government accountable.
But it is likely that the MDC will win more than 60 seats.  It should sweep
all 40 in urban and semi-urban areas, where antipathy to the government is
particularly marked.  The two southern provinces of Matabeleland should
provide another 12 MDC seats because of the hatred the Matabele people have
for Zanu-PF.  They cannot forget the massacres of the mid-80s, in which
10,000 to 20,000 Matabele civilians were killed by the army on Mugabe's
orders.  The eastern province of Manicaland, which voted strongly against
Mugabe's draft constitution in the February referendum, is expected to
provide another 12 MDC seats.
That would bring the MDC 64 seats.  There would be considerable domestic and
international pressure on Mugabe not to load the 30 appointed seats with
Zanu-PF stalwarts - and several Zanu-PF backbenchers might be encouraged to
cross the floor and join the MDC, at least on crucial issues such as the
Congo war, land reform and economic management.
A recent public opinion poll suggests the MDC might even do better than
this, winning 70 seats, and political analysts at the University of Zimbabwe
say it could win 80 and an absolute parliamentary majority.
The MDC might be an unknown quantity to outsiders.  But inside Zimbabwe it
seems to offer the best hope of reversing the economic decline and the
racial and social divisions caused by Mugabe's policies.
Mugabe has driven Zimbabwe's once strong economy to its knees.  The MDC has
attracted top businessmen and economists, black and white, who have put
together an impressive recovery package.  The cabinet will be reduced from
Mugabe's 54 ministers to just 15.
Government spending will be reduced accordingly, in particular by
withdrawing Zimbabwe's 13,000 troops from the Congo war, which is estimated
to be costing US$32m a month.
Morgan Tsvangirai, the president of MDC, has been a dynamic labour leader
for 20 years, and the party's base comes from the trade union movement.  But
Tsvangirai and others recognise that pragmatic market-driven economic
policies will encourage economic growth.
Tsvangirai also offers a return to respect for civil rights.  He wants the
police to uphold the law and for the government to respect court rulings.
The MDC says a commission of justice must investigate the 30 murders and the
thousands of beatings committed by Zanu-PF.  It will not seek retribution,
but the country must have justice.
The MDC also has a wealth of expertise in its ranks.  As well as labour
leaders, it has attracted human rights lawyers, women's activists, leaders
of student groups and community leaders from across the country.  In
ordinary circumstances, it is almost certain that the MDC would win a
parliamentary majority and form the next government.
But Mugabe and his party are desperate and determined.  They have changed
the voting regulations twice in the past week to reduce the role of
independent monitors.  They might as well advertise that they want to
increase their chances of rigging.
It is quite possible that Zanu-PF will intimidate and rig its way to a
spurious victory.  And there is also the possibility that Mugabe will use
the army to carry out a coup if the MDC wins.  But neither course of action
would be sustainable.
The economy is on the verge of collapse - and the cities are seething with
1pm British Summer Time --update
Zimbabwe keeps foreign observers out of elections
Mark Tran
Thursday June 22, 2000
Zimbabwe today refused to budge from its decision to keep out more than 200
foreign observers to monitor this weekend's elections which will see
President Robert Mugabe fight for his political life.
Mr Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party remained defiant despite a barrage of
international criticism.  Jonathan Moyo, a Zanu-PF campaign manager, said
only Zimbabweans would determine whether their elections were free and fair.
"There is no requirement that international observers must ensure anything
of this sort.
It's the voters that decide," he told the BBC.  He added that some foreign
observers had shown bias by criticising election conditions in Zimbabwe
before the vote.  "In the face of such kind of conduct, you would expect us
to accredit organisations with such bias?"
Election organisers yesterday refused to accredit over 200 monitors from
foreign non-governmental organisations to enter polling stations or
interview election officials.
"[They] are free to move around the country, but will not be accorded the
rights and privileges provided by [the Electoral Act],"
Mariyawanda Nzuwah, chairman of the National Election Directorate, said in a
Zimbabwe has authorised 300 monitors from the Commonwealth, European Union,
Organisation for African Unity and the Southern Africa Development Community
to observe.
The US yesterday joined others in criticising the Mugabe government, saying
it had failed to create a climate conducive to credible elections.  The US
said Harare had extended a ban to staff from the American and other
embassies, and this would detract from the credibility of the polls.
Philip Reeker, a state department spokesman, said in Washington: "We
strongly disagree with such actions to limit observation efforts, and we
really...deplore the government of Zimbabwe's failure to create a climate
conducive to credible elections."
The head of the 150-strong EU electoral observer group yesterday said the
election campaign was the most violent he had seen.
"We have never encountered so many problems with accreditation anywhere in
the world," Pierre Schori said during a tour of Zimbabwe's second city,
"And we have never seen such violence.
Intimidation and violence have no place in a democratic environment and must
be condemned."
Violence has been rampant in the runup to Saturday and Sunday's vote with
more than
13,000 rural people fleeing to the relative safety of the cities, according
to the Human Rights Forum.
But true to form, Mr Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe for the past 20 years, was
contemptuous of criticism.  He told an enthusiastic rally of 40,000
supporters in a Zanu-PF stronghold yesterday: "We want this election to be
peaceful, (but) I am not saying that if the opposition provokes you, you
must fold your arms.  If they attack you, you hit them back with an axe."
Mr Mugabe predicted that his party would trounce the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC), the opposition group that has emerged as the most credible
threat to Zanu-PF in
20 years.  The president has sought to tar the MDC by accusing it of
receiving financial support from Britain, the former colonial power in
"The MDC has won abroad, especially in Britain.  That is where they are
conducting their election.  Here, this is Zanu-PF land,"
Mr Mugabe said.  "We rule the roost here.
These British puppets are not going to win here."
But the MDC appears likely to win at least 30, and perhaps 60, of the 120
elected seats in parliament.  Some optimists believe that, even if the 30
Mugabe-appointed MPs are included, the opposition may win the 76 seats
required for an overall majority.
Back to the Top
Back to Index
White minister defends Mugabe
By David Blair

     HARARE, Zimbabwe — When Zimbabweans go to the polls this weekend, at
least one white farmer will be enthusiastically supporting President Robert
Mugabe's ruling Zimbabwean African National Union-Patriotic Front party.
     Timothy Stamps, the health minister, is the only white member of a
government whose leader seizes every opportunity to denounce "British
settlers" before crowds waving placards reading "Zimbabwe for the blacks."
     Yet Mr. Stamps is the inheritor of a 20-year tradition. In the first
flush of enthusiasm for independent Zimbabwe, ZANU-PF drew considerable
support from a white community eager to make amends for having supported the
regime of Ian Smith.
     Mr. Smith, 80, was the last prime minister of white-ruled Rhodesia from
1964 to 1979. He led a breakaway administration that resisted British
attempts to lead the colony toward majority rule, and once vowed that whites
would rule for 1,000 years.
     Throughout his rule, Mr. Mugabe has kept at least one white in the
Cabinet and five have served in total.
     Others have been elected to parliament on the ZANU-PF ticket —the last,
Jacobus de Wet, another white farmer, is not seeking re-election.
     [Mr. Mugabe, meanwhile, continued to advocate violence yesterday by
urging his supporters to strike "with an ax" if they were attacked, Reuters
     ["We want this election to be peaceful [but] I am not saying that if
the opposition provokes you, you must fold your arms. If they attack you,
you hit them back with an ax," Mr. Mugabe told an enthusiastic rally of
40,000 supporters in a stronghold of his ruling ZANU-PF party.
     [At least 29 persons, mostly supporters of the Movement for Democratic
Change, have died in violence linked to the election or the occupation of
hundreds of white-owned farms by pro-government militants since February.]
     Mr. Stamps, who has a dairy farm near Mazoe, 30 miles north of Harare,
is fiercely loyal to the man whom he calls "my president," and deeply
resents his portrayal in the British press.
     "You are burning our president at the stake. If journalists had written
the same about [British Prime Minister Winston] Churchill in 1940, they
would have been interned," he said.
     "Constantly reporting our failures and frustrations is something that
depresses us. There is almost an atavistic attitude that you must fail
because you are Africans. That is the cause of President Mugabe's anger."
     In a government where ministers call each other "comrade," Mr. Stamps
lapses easily into rhetoric heard in communist Cuba or North Korea. Zimbabwe
is a victim of "violent and rapacious capitalism" and ZANU-PF's role is to
safeguard the poorest against the harsh winds of "a benighted world."
     He reeled off a list of successes, achieved in the teeth of the
onslaught from the "immoral" West.
     "We have the safest blood supply in Africa, thanks to our AIDS
screening program, we responded far better to Cyclone Eline than some of our
neighbors — with much less help — and there has been a massive expansion in
the provision of education."
     In 1979, the last year of the Ian Smith regime, 73,540 children went to
secondary school. By 1998, this had risen more than tenfold to to 847,296.
     Few whites have a good word for Mr. Stamps, who usually is branded an
apologist for a repressive regime that has ruined the economy, broken its
own laws and blamed "settlers" for every new disaster.
     He responded to this criticism with a weary shrug. "I am always asked,
'How can you work for these evil people?' My answer is that I don't see them
as evil. I see them as people who have been wronged."
     Redressing the wrongs of the colonial era is, he said, Mr. Mugabe's
life mission, and he argued that his fellow white farmers have a special
duty to join ZANU-PF's crusade.
     "They must open their eyes and look to the long term. The recalcitrance
of some farmers, not all, has been our main problem in solving the land
issue," he said.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

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 is facing 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.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

 Daily Press Briefing Index
 Wednesday, June 21, 2000

 Briefer: Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman

 7-10 Accreditation of Foreign Election Observers / U.S.
 Encourages Release of Cuban Defectors to UNHCR

 DPB #63
 WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21 2000, 1:45 P.M.

 QUESTION: Zimbabwe?

 MR. REEKER: Zimbabwe, sure.

 QUESTION: Do you have anything new regarding the accreditations of foreign
 observers? And, more generally, what's your assessment of the situation
 there three days ahead of the election?

 MR. REEKER: Further to add to what Ambassador Boucher said yesterday, we
 deplore the decision to refuse accreditation to the US election observer
 delegation, which includes members of the International Republican
 Institute, the National Democratic Institute, and the US Embassy in

 The lack of accreditation and the Government of Zimbabwe's limitation on
 observer access will detract from the credibility of the elections which
 are due to take place this weekend, June 24 and 25. That is going to
 further tarnish Zimbabwe's reputation for holding open elections. The
 Government of Zimbabwe's actions are certainly a setback to the democratic
 process. The Government of Zimbabwe and the ruling Zimbabwe African
 National Union Patriotic Front is primarily responsible for these deeply
 troubling developments and the election climate which we see now in

 We still hope very much that the people of Zimbabwe will be able to
 their views this weekend in the elections and that the voting process will
 be free of manipulation and intimidation. I'll note, as Ambassador Boucher
 mentioned yesterday, the deadline for the observers to be accredited is
 June 22nd. We've urged - and we continue to urge - the Government of
 Zimbabwe to accredit all foreign election observers, governmental and
 nongovernmental, before that deadline.

 We've been in touch at the highest available levels of the Zimbabwean
 Government to urge reconsideration of their decision. I think both the
 International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute
 put out some strongly worded statements on the situation in Zimbabwe
 yesterday. I would refer you to them for their specific plans. I'd also
 note that we are concerned that 17 African observers belonging to the
 European Union delegation were denied accreditation as well. We call upon
 the Government of Zimbabwe once again to accredit all international

 QUESTION: Do you mean that US diplomats were denied accreditations?

 MR. REEKER: It is also our understanding that employees of embassies in
 Zimbabwe will not be given observer accreditation, which would be required
 for them to enter polling places and counting centers.

 I mean, this is truly a sort of outrageous step against the standard
 practice. It makes absolutely no sense. And our diplomats will of course
 monitor other aspects of the election process as they have been doing up
 this point but, without the accreditation, they can not effectively
 the actual polling and counting process.

 The limitations on diplomats' access as election observers hinders the
 diplomats' ability to observe the elections in any sort of meaningful way,
 and we strongly disagree with such actions to limit observation efforts.
 And we really, as I indicated at the beginning, deplore the Government of
 Zimbabwe's failure to create a climate conducive to credible elections.

 QUESTION: The government has said that it was just because these are NGOs
 and they're not going to accredit NGOS, but they would credit foreign
 officials. So you are saying that that is incorrect; that they have also
 refused to accredit foreign --

 MR. REEKER: My understanding is that they have said they will not accredit
 NGOs; they will accredit foreign officials but not employees of embassies
 in Zimbabwe, which makes no sense and, as I indicated, certainly flies in
 the face of standard diplomatic practice as, again, as sort of effort
 fails to create any kind of conducive climate for credible elections.

 QUESTION: By employees of embassies, do you mean Zimbabwean citizens who
 are employed by the embassies, or American citizens who are attached to

 MR. REEKER: I understand diplomats. Our diplomats generally all over the
 world observe elections and are accredited as election observers. The
 Government of Zimbabwe has given us the understanding that our people at
 our embassy there will not be given observer accreditation. And while we
 will continue - our diplomats will continue to monitor other aspects of
 election process without the accreditation, they'll be unable to enter
 polling places and they will be unable to effectively monitor and observe
 actual polling and counting processes.

 QUESTION: Phil, is this unprecedented?

 MR. REEKER: I would have to go back into the annals of electoral process
 and the standards of international observation, but I would point you to
 the statements released yesterday by the International Republican
 and the National Democratic Institute, which would lead one to believe
 this was a most unusual and perhaps unprecedented step.

 MR. REEKER: Yes. Zimbabwe?


 MR. REEKER: Then let's go to Terri.

 QUESTION: There are reports again that the US has invited these defecting
 Cuban doctors to come to the US. Have we been able to confirm that yet?

 MR. REEKER: I don't have anything further for you on that, other than to
 say that we continue to push the Government of Zimbabwe to release the
 doctors to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which is the appropriate
 and required step under international law.

 QUESTION: You don't know whether there's been an offer made to them that
 they would be welcome to come to the US?

 MR. REEKER: I am not in a position to discuss that.

 QUESTION: Can you just - and I know that I'm just not understanding this,
 but you're right; it doesn't make any sense. So the Zimbabweans, they have
 said that they would accredit foreign officials. So did they say to the
 we want to accredit your foreign officials or we want to credit
 specifically those that work at the embassy? And have you offered other
 officials, or would you, if they continued to not --

 MR. REEKER: My understanding is that employees of embassies, not just the
 United States Embassy, but embassies in Harare, in Zimbabwe, will not be
 given observer accreditation, which is what they would require to enter
 polling places and the counting centers, which is contrary, completely, to
 the earlier suggestions that foreign officials would be accredited as
 election observers. My understanding is that's still the case if the
 foreign official comes from outside of the established embassy community.

 QUESTION: Are you thinking about offering? Are you looking for officials
 that might --

 MR. REEKER: I'll have to check and see. What we're saying right now, a day
 before the accreditation deadline approaches, is that we're urging, as we
 have done, the Government of Zimbabwe to accredit all foreign election
 observers: governmental, nongovernmental, accredited diplomats, and any
 non-diplomats that are coming for this purpose before that deadline.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Victory Block - Farmers in the area are unhappy about yesterday's transport problem for the Mashumbi Pools rally, where the 30t rig meant for the area was re-directed, along with three others for Mvurwi and Horseshe, to the communal area.  The three 7t farm trucks were not able to accommodate all the people who wanted to go and as a result, the war vets on Velvlekia Farm have become very hostile.  The three trucks returned late last night and one had to be pulled by a tractor as well as have a puncture repaired after the youth on board demanded to be taken to where they were camped.  The farmers have decided that because of this incident no further requests will be considered until the situation is resolved.
Mazowe/Concession - The war vets at Glenara have accused farmers of reporting that a white farmer had been killed and have become hostile. (This is untrue.) Two weapons have been seen in their possession. It has not yet been confirmed what type.
Mwenezi - A letter has been received by the owner of Quagga Pan Ranch from the parents of the poacher that was killed by their game scouts a few weeks ago. The parents are demanding compensation of 45 head of cattle by 28 June, or else they will personally collect them on 29 June. The employees on the farm have been threatened with the killing of their families and themselves if they enter the rural areas. This has all been reported to the Police.
The rest of the Region is quiet or has nothing to report.
There was a new occupation of Hashu Farm in Gweru East by a peaceful group of 10. Movement of the Zanu PF youth continues in Kwekwe.
Kariba - Pesha Safaris, who own a number of trucks, have been visited three times by Zanu PF over the past ten days with requests to use the trucks to transport supporters to various Zanu PF functions. The requests have been denied and there have been no threats.
Raffingora - On Bassett Farm yesterday, three MDC supporters were assaulted, and one was hospitalized; Police arrested 5 youths. Many farmers have reported the presence of Zanu PF youth, presumably educating labour on voting and intimidating.
Youths yesterday met with war vet  Mrs Day. She arrived at Raffingora Garage, and there was a lot of verbal abuse aimed at the staff in attempts to undermine the agreement reached for the opening of the Raffingora Garage.  She then proceeded to Dalston, and entered the office security fence with the large crowd that had gathered, and verbally abused the owner's wife. Mutorashanga Police and Black Boots intervened and the crowd dispersed to the beerhall.
More demands have been made at Nkuya Farm, another pungwe was held at Marewana Farm, and there has been a build-up of numbers on Chiwe. The 14 occupiers of Mafuta have advised that they will return to Mashonaland Central to vote.
Chinhoyi - On Dendadales Estate, approximately 40 occupiers have been making a lot of noise. Game guards had death threats from the war vets if they shoot any animals. The owner of Sheepridge Farm  was told to take all his labour to a rally in Chinhoyi on Friday. The farmer said he had no insurance for that and he was told that the war vets would deal with the people.
Umboe - One occupier has moved his cow and scotch cart onto Highbury Estate. This has been reported to the Veterinary Department.  The witness to a burning shack on Portelet Estate has been threatened by a Zanu PF mobile unit.
Chegutu/Selous - A group of war vets has been visiting farms where war vets are stationed. This has been led by the chief war vet for the area, who is a serving member of the airforce and drives an airforce vehicle. Yesterday the Chairman of the Chegutu Rural District Council visited two farms to say that they were to be taken to reward war vets for having won the elections for Zanu PF. There is a meeting for all farm foremen in the Chegutu constituency with the Zanu PF candidate. Observers will be present.
Battlefields - There have been demands that farm workers attend a rally tomorrow morning. The farm owner has said that this can be done after work hours. The war vets want compensation in the form of an impala for having to reorganise his schedule.
Norton - Brick-making by warvets continues on Tilford Farm.
Kadoma - Normandy North farm has been re-occupied.
There is still confusion regarding constituency boundaries and polling station locations. Even the MPs are unclear in instances.
Wedza - A roadblock on Bolton which has been dismantled by the Support Unit is back up again. Propol has now been advised. Another roadblock has been set up on the corner of Lillifontein and the Chivhu road, mainly being up at night.  Two beasts were shot on Skoonveld and the meat taken. A gun shot was heard on on Lillifontein at 12:05 this morning. Farm labourers on Bow and Epsy were assaulted at about 11:30 last night; there appear to be informants in the farm villages of Chard, Rentnoor and Beere who are pointing out who says what and supports who. On Poltimore a second grid on the farm has been ripped up. There was a work stoppage on Lustleigh and 60 of the labour were told to report to Chakadenga to peg with Agritex. On Imire the youth from Markwe Farm are collecting IDs around the area.
Marondera - A group of 10-12 left a note telling the owner of Munemo that they were coming to peg and he was not to interfere. Zanu PF youths addressed the labour on Tuesday and when told that they were not allowed to during working hours, they promised to return yesterday. Monora Farm had a surprise visit from MDC yesterday, which caused the resident war vets to call a meeting for 6 pm. By about 5:30 pm about 60 youths had gathered. After a lot of shouting and singing, the meeting was dismissed and about 8 people were assaulted. The youth were after the top managers on the farm, who ran away.  The Police arrived at about 9:45 last night to stop the intimidation. Some of the houses in the farm village have been damaged and some of the labourers belongings burnt. The youth accused the farm labour of calling the MDC supporters and promised to return tonight. They were armed with sticks and ZESA cable whips.
Macheke/Virginia - There are random demands for transport to the rally in Mtoko.
Bromley/Ruwa/Enterprise - A road block on Aylmersfield was removed by the Taskforce.
Beatrice/Harare South - There is an increase in political activity in Beatrice South, with meetings on Argyle Ranch which coincided with the paying of the farm security guards. The farmer requested a Police escort to the house with the wages, and war vet Hodzvi complained that the Police were being used to intimidate him and accused the Constable of being an MDC supporter.  In Eastern Beatrice a meeting was held on Muriwai. The farmer was repairing a combine and caused a bit of a problem as he would not be attending the meeting. He ended up going, and the Beatrice Neighbourhood Watch, which looked in on the meeting, said that Hodzvi again claimed the Policeman on Neighbourhood Watch was being used to intimidate him.
Iladlem's Rest was labelled as being an MDC stronghold and some of the labour were assaulted, followed by a pungwe. Hodzvi, the Police and the Taskforce are handling the situation.
Harare South is quiet but war vets are hinting that after the elections they will be taking over the farms.
Marondera North - Minister Sekeramayi will be addressing 3 meetings today.
Featherstone - There was a buildup in numbers on Kuruman A, and labourers made to pay for the war vets' pegs. There was an increase in the numbers of peggers on Jackalsdraai and Knokola.
Nothing to report.
Middle Save - There were three assaults on farm labourers last night.
Odzi - Labourers wives were prevented going to work by the war vets, returned home and their husbands said that they were not being stopped from going to work.  On their way back to work they were stoned by the war vets, which resulted in the labourers assaulting the war vets.  An opposition rally later in the day went off with no violence.
Old Mutare - A lot of intimidation by war veterans on farm labour is taking place.  The farmers are doing all they can to counteract this but there are threatened pungwes for Friday night with the war vets saying they will escort the labourers from the pungwes to the voting booths.
Correction to Report of 19 June 2000 - Incident on Five Streams Farm - The Driver from Five Streams left the farm with 28 people for a league football match in Penhalonga, and 22 who wished to attend a rally at Manica Bridge. On return from the football match he passed through Manica Bridge to collect those who attended the rally at approx 5.30pm. On departure from Manica Bridge a pedestrian from Penhalonga who was being chased by opposition supporters attempted to board the truck while it was moving, he slipped and fell under the wheels of the truck and was killed. At approx 6.00 pm the farm truck was turning off the main road to return to the farm and was hit by a haulage truck at the rear of the vehicle. The farm driver had overtaken the haulage truck 3 or 4 km before the turning and the haulage truck driver was a few hundred metres behind him at the time.
The driver had given way to two oncoming vehicles and was hit as he was turning right. 41 people where injured in the accident and 4 farm labourers were killed. Three at the scene and one on the way to hospital. The farm driver had a blood test and had no alcohol in his blood. The driver of the haulage truck disappeared from the scene and was found by police at 2.00am. It was now to late to test him for alcohol. He made a statement at Penhalonga police station, was then taken to the hospital by
the police, and has since disappeared again.  Those who had attended the rally where extremely drunk, as they had been supplied with a free tanker of beer. None of the labourers who had attended
the football match had alcohol in their blood.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

20 June 2000

The extensive powers of the Elections Directorate have been further boosted
by the failure today of the Electoral Supervision Commission to challenge
statutory instrument 161A and 180 of 2000 - which gave the Registrar
General the capacity to accredit monitors, observers and journalists.

The statutory instruments were promulgated on June 7 in terms of the wide
sweeping Presidential Powers Act. It was the first of two changes to
electoral laws in the fortnight before elections. The ESC defeat came in
the Harare High Court today when Judge Chidyausika ruled against them.

What the ruling means, in essence, is that only one observer or monitor
will be at each polling station. The judge said observers were different
from monitors and there was nothing wrong with the Electoral Directorate
bringing stipulations with regard to observers under their wing. There was
nothing unconstitutional with the Registrar General accrediting observers
and monitors.

The Movement for Democratic Change has expressed its concern over the
potential that reduced numbers of monitors observing the electoral process
can heighten the risk of electoral fraud and intimidation of individual
voters. "We are concerned that at this stage it appears that monitors may
have to be awake over four days and four nights - two days of voting, and
two days of vote counting - or 96 hours," MDC Elections Director, Paul
Nyathi said.

"We hope we will be able to rotate polling agents. It will be impossible
for an individual to remain awake for such a long period of time. We have
trained 15 000 polling agents for the 5 000 constituencies, anticipating
that the law would remain at two polling agents and one reserve. That has
now changed. We hope we will be able to put them on a shift basis.

"There is incredible confusion over the electoral process. Government has
failed to publish a list of polling stations - only three days away from
voting. There is too much uncertainty and too little clarity. This in
itself impacts on the fairness of the voting process," Nyathi said. "There
has been a process of progressive disenfranchisement which has disturbed us
- ranging from huge numbers of young people who registered being left off
the voters rolls, to ZanuPF thugs going onto farms and villages seizing or
burning people's identity documents, to direct attacks on candidates,
polling agents and members.

"This decision gives enormous powers to the elections directorate. We are
concerned that they appear not to be coping with the process and are not
following their own law to the letter - earlier today we complained about
irregularities in postal votes and will lodge a High Court action tomorrow
morning with regard to the postal ballot process.

"Because of violence and intimidation directed against our electoral agents
and polling agents - including beatings from ZanuPF thugs: leading to the
hospitalisation of some of our agents, burning their houses, seizing their
documents and generally terrorising them we will not have polling agents at
four polls. The four are in Gokwe South, Zhombe, Gutu South and Bikita West.

"We are also concerned that not a single Zimbabwe based election monitoring
organisation has been accredited yet and we can only believe this is
because of past critical reports from those organisations saying, with the
wealth of their experience and research that the likelihood of these
elections being free and fair is not good," Nyathi said.

The ESC is to lodge an appeal against the decision.

JUNE 20, 2000

Contact: Jean Feedberg +1 202 797 4785

Fundamental Flaws in Election Process Cited

WASHINGTON, D.C.: The National Democratic Institute (NDI) commented today
on the refusal of the government of Zimbabwe to accredit NDI, the
International Republican Institute and other nongovernmental organizations
as observers of the June 24-25 parliamentary elections. The government has
also refused to accept observers from the United Kingdom and selected
observers from other countries, including those from Kenya and possibly

NDI President Kenneth Wollack said: "The refusal to accredit certain
observers violates international standards for democratic elections and is
counter to the practice of Zimbabwe's neighbors and virtually all
democratic countries." Wollack pointed out that, from NDI's experience,
this is only the second time in the past decade that a country has refused
to accredit observers from recognized international nongovernmental
organizations and is the first time that a country has attempted to
prohibit observers of specific nationalities. "These negative practices
isolate Zimbabwe from other countries in the region and beyond," he said.

Wollack added: "Regrettably, with just four days remaining before voting
begins, the conditions for credible democratic elections still do not exist
in Zimbabwe. Irreparable damage has been done to the electoral process,
particularly as a result of politically motivated violence. The lack of
effective government action against such violence has created an air of
impunity that further harms the election environment an environment that is
marred by anxiety and fear." He also pointed to a failure to provide a
level playing field for electoral competition and to serious flaws in the
legal framework for the elections.

Despite these fundamental flaws in the electoral process, political parties
and candidates are contesting the elections. "Zimbabwean citizens are
courageously mobilizing in large numbers to act as election monitors, and
the outcomes of the elections are uncertain," said Wollack. "It is
therefore important that international and domestic observation of the
elections be as comprehensive as possible."

The National Democratic Institute is a nongovernmental organization based
in the United States that supports democracy worldwide and has conducted
impartial international election observation in more than 50 countries in
Africa and around the globe. NDI organized a pre-election delegation to
Zimbabwe in May. The delegation was led by the Hon. Alex Ekwueme, Vice
President of Nigeria from 1979-83, and included current and former
parliamentary leaders from Mozambique, Namibia, Kenya and Canada, as well
as NDI's director of election programs. The delegation received technical
advice from the Chief Electoral Officer of South Africa, NDI's Southern
Africa regional director and NDI's Zimbabwe-based staff.

At a press conference in Harare on May 22, the delegation released its
17-page statement, which found that: "The conditions for credible
democratic elections do not exist in Zimbabwe at this time." The statement
contained a series of recommendations on improving the election process
that, unfortunately, were not implemented. Since May 22, NDI has continued
to carefully analyze political developments and electoral conditions in
Zimbabwe. Prior to the requirement of accrediting pre-election observers,
NDI teams traveled to all of Zimbabwe's 10 provinces. Those teams departed
the country last week.

NOTE:The full text of the May 22 pre-election delegation statement can be
found at NDI's web site: "".

National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI)
1717 Massachusetts Ave, N.W.
Fifth Floor
Washington DC 20036
Tel +1 202 328 3136
Fax +1 202 332 2581

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Our grateful thanks to the many of you who have committed resources to our
recent appeal for cars, drivers, cell phones and line of sight radios.

Sadly, we are still desperately short of vehicles for the deployment of
people and material resources into the rural constituencies.

Forgive us for labouring this point, but the supervision of ALL polling
stations, where possible, is essential to ensuring a free and fair election
this weekend.

We are so very close to achieving meaningful change for Zimbabwe.

Please consider who you can approach with this request for vehicles and
drivers, and circulate this email as widely as possible.

Please call 091-241197 or 091-220541 with any details you may have in this

Thank you for your generosity and belief in a new and dynamic future for
Zimbabwe, through the Movement for Democratic Change.


MDC Support Centre
8th Floor, Gold Bridge

Guqula Izenzo/Maitiro Chinja

"Freedom has always been an expensive thing. History is fit testimony to the
fact that freedom is rarely gained without sacrifice and self-denial."
(Martin Luther King)

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Travel Advice Zimbabwe
As at: 22 June 2000

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:

Back to the Top
Back to Index

'We created a fantastic country'
As Zimbabwe falters, Ian Smith returns to attack his successor
By John Murphy
Sun Foreign Staff

  Old guard: Ian Smith is back as a political adviser in Zimbabwe, 20 years after the end of white-minority rule. (AP photo)

HARARE, Zimbabwe - President Robert Mugabe has dismissed Ian Smith, the last white leader of this nation, as nothing but a "ghost" of its ugly colonial past.

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

Back to the Top
Back to Index