By Alex Bell
22 June 2009
In comments to the international media Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has
once again moved to downplay the severity of the farm invasions, creating a
ripple of anger across the commercial farming community.
In an interview on Sunday with the UK's BBC 'Andrew Marr Show', Tsvangirai
again referred to the current wave of farm invasions as isolated incidents,
saying: "The incidence of so-called farm invasions, I can count them." He
also moved to dismiss the critical fact that farm production had been halted
in Zimbabwe, saying the farm invasions are "not an explosion that it is
almost like we have started all over again to disrupt farm productions."
Tsvangirai then said during an interview on Monday with the BBC's Radio
Four, that the political parties had agreed to a land audit, as an answer to
the current land attacks, despite the fact that a comprehensive land audit
will take several years to complete.
In May, Tsvangirai shocked the embattled farming community by referring to
the ongoing farm attacks as 'isolated incidents' that had been 'blown out of
proportion'. Observers argued that Tsvangirai was merely fulfilling his role
as the country's money magnet, as the farm attacks have critically swayed
Western governments away from handing over developmental aid to the unity
government. But while the government has treated the often violent land
attacks and illegal prosecution of farmers as a mere embarrassment, the
offensive against the farmers has intensified.
Trevor Gifford, the President of the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU),
expressed great concern that the Prime Minister has again dismissed the
attacks, saying Tsvangirai is playing a 'game' in an attempt to secure
government funding. He explained that the attacks on farmers are likely to
intensify, saying the government "has always wanted the remaining
commercial, white farmers off farms." Gifford continued that farmers "are
being persecuted and abused," in farm attacks that have been "all but
legalised in terms of the law, because of offer letters."
Chegutu Farmer Ben Freeth at the same time expressed concern that the "truth
of the farm attacks has become the biggest casualty in this situation."
Freeth's Mount Carmel Farm has come under repeated attack this year by thugs
working for ZANU PF top official, Nathan Shamuyarira. Freeth, his family and
his staff have been repeatedly and violently threatened, while his farm has
been taken over by invaders. Freeth's farm stock, including thousands of US
dollars worth of maize and mangoes, have been sold off, and local police
have done nothing to prevent the attacks from taking place.
"When the truth becomes a casualty then everything starts to fall apart,"
Freeth said. "Our country is in dire need to locally produced food, and
simply anyone who eats is now the loser in this fight."
By Peta Thornycroft
22 June 2009
Zimbabwe's state media is accusing Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of
flouting cabinet rules because he published a pamphlet about his ongoing
visit to western countries without cabinet permission. President Robert
Mugabe's office says the legality of the publication is being investigated.
George Charamba, spokesman for President Robert Mugabe, says he is
investigating whether publication of the pamphlet broke any laws. Reports in
the state media have suggested Mr. Tsvangirai was breaking cabinet rules by
reporting publicly on his trip to western countries before he reported to
The pamphlet was published by Mr. Tsvangirai, apparently to present a
positive interpretation of his meetings with western leaders. Most of its
content has already been published by news agencies.
The media in Zimbabwe is dominated by state-owned enterprises all of which
remain loyal to Mr. Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party. They have barely reported
on Mr. Tsvangirai's meetings, except for his failure to raise the
approximately $7 billion finance minister Tendai Biti says is needed to
reconstruct Zimbabwe's economy.
Mr. Tsvangirai said he was going overseas for three weeks to end Zimbabwe's
isolation with western nations. However, while he was welcomed by the United
States, Britain and European countries, all expressed concern that there are
still too many violations of last September's global political agreement
which led to the formation of the inclusive government in February.
Mr. Tsvangirai raised approximately $115 million dollars during his
three-week trip, largely for humanitarian and good governance projects. The
money will be administered by the United Nations and non-governmental
The state media has, in turn, been criticized by the Zimbabwe Media
Monitoring Project, which in its latest report says the state media
continues to ignore the political agreement's demand for non partisan
journalism. Media lawyers in Harare say that there is nothing illegal about
the pamphlet in terms of existing legislation.
Date: 22 Jun 2009 The announcement was made by UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, during a meeting
with Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai at Number 10 Downing Street
this morning. International Development Secretary Mr Alexander said: "Our £60million package will provide support directly to Zimbabwe's poorest
people. "Our assistance has already helped one million people in Zimbabwe get access
to clean water and has enabled two million to grow more food, as well as helping
get the worst cholera outbreak in the country's history under control. "The new inclusive Zimbabwean Government presents a real opportunity to help
the Zimbabwean people and to support economic, political and social reform. We
stand ready to provide more support should we see further progress towards
reform." The DFID money will not pass through the Government of Zimbabwe, or the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, rather it will be channelled through non-governmental
organisations or the United Nations. The £60 million pounds will include £4 million for local food production,
including tools, seeds and fertilizer, and £1 million towards text books for
Zimbabwean schoolchildren, to address the shortage of materials in the country's
newly reopened schools. The rest of the money will be spent on meeting humanitarian and other
A £60 million package of UK support for the people of Zimbabwe will be crucial in helping the country get back on its feet, International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander said today.
Date: 22 Jun 2009
The announcement was made by UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, during a meeting with Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai at Number 10 Downing Street this morning.
International Development Secretary Mr Alexander said:
"Our £60million package will provide support directly to Zimbabwe's poorest people.
"Our assistance has already helped one million people in Zimbabwe get access to clean water and has enabled two million to grow more food, as well as helping get the worst cholera outbreak in the country's history under control.
"The new inclusive Zimbabwean Government presents a real opportunity to help the Zimbabwean people and to support economic, political and social reform. We stand ready to provide more support should we see further progress towards reform."
The DFID money will not pass through the Government of Zimbabwe, or the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, rather it will be channelled through non-governmental organisations or the United Nations.
The £60 million pounds will include £4 million for local food production, including tools, seeds and fertilizer, and £1 million towards text books for Zimbabwean schoolchildren, to address the shortage of materials in the country's newly reopened schools.
The rest of the money will be spent on meeting humanitarian and other essential needs.
Zimbabweans are very good at voting: more Zimbabweans turn out to vote than citizens in many other strong western democracies. Last elections, the message from the MDC-T over the last ten years has been very simple: Vote for change. The party’s rallying call is ‘Chinja!’ - Change!
Who could argue with this? The country’s despotic regime had driven us into extreme levels of unemployment and poverty and imposed hellish conditions on all of our lives where terror and fear thrived. ‘Change’ - no matter what it was - was bound to be better than the misery we were all struggling to survive under.
So, as we all know, people turned out and voted overwhelmingly for change - year after year - until last year, when ‘change’ finally arrived. It perhaps wasn’t what we dreamed of or thought we’d get when we voted the Zanu PF party out of power, but the situation we have now in the form of the GNU is still different to what we had before: like it or not, it is a form of ‘change’.
But is it enough of a political promise fulfilled? Clearly not.
This weekend, news reports told us how Zimbabweans in London heckled Morgan Tsvangirai when he asked them to return home:
The response to his rallying cry was not what he would have hoped for. Instead of a wave of patriotic fervour, his words unleashed jeers from thousands of exiled Zimbabweans.
The Movement for Democratic Change president appealed for the best and brightest to return to help rebuild his nation. The plea was shouted down with chants of “Mugabe must go” and calls for politicians’ children to return first.
The MDC party slogan “chinja” (change), which Mr Tsvangirai used to get to power, was employed yesterday to mock his assessment of the situation in Zimbabwe, which, he said, was one of “peace and stability”.
The ferocity of the crowd was such that he left the pulpit for two minutes before returning and saying: “I did not say ‘pack your bags tomorrow’, I said you should be thinking about coming home.” (Via The Independent)
The Zimbabwe Vigil
Some comments from the many disappointed and angry Zimbabweans who came on from the Cathedral to the Vigil, many of them first-timers:
- ‘When Morgan said “the schools have re-opened” everybody cheered. When Morgan said “the hospitals have re-opened” everybody was silent. When he said “there is peace in Zimbabwe” everyone heckled and booed and you could taste the anger in the air. One lady asked the question “if there are goods in the shops and the schools have re-opened where will everyone get money to buy food and send their children to school” – this was not answered.’
- ‘He was speaking like Mugabe. He is saying everything is now ok.’
- ‘The MDC expects everyone to agree or they are treated as an enemy’.
- ‘We have been betrayed by Tsvangirai’.
- ‘Today Tsvangirai was shot down in flames by Zimbabweans in the UK diaspora.’
- ‘How can Tsvangirai encourage people to go home when all his children are in the diaspora,’
Last month Morgan Tsvangirai addressed people at Wits university in South Africa. The refugee blogger who occasionally writes for ‘This is Zimbabwe’ sent us an email revealing his own disenchantment with the Prime Minister after he heard him speak there:
The Tsvangirai I once knew does not exist at all. The Prime Minister of Zimbabwe put in by the GNU said,” “President Mugabe was the cause of the problems in Zimbabwe and now he plays a crucial roll in the building of the country.”
If Mugabe plays a crucial role, why didn’t the MDC involve him in the formation of the [MDC] party? Why did they wait for the people of Zimbabwe to die before they come to their senses….?
Now I am in the diaspora, and they shake hands and forgive each other, but I have not forgiven anyone who tortured and abused me. I do not like Mugabe and Zanu PF, and if the MDC fall in the hands of Zanu they will lose my trust, my vote and my activism.
Many refugees claimed to be disappointed about Tsvangirai’s words after he also emphasised that even those people from the MDC who committed crimes claiming they were protecting themselves will face the court of law.
I spoke to [name and role supplied] of the Movement for Democratic Change Veteran Activist association (MDC VAA) now living in diaspora. He is also angry and even said that maybe the Prime Minister has been bought by Zanu PF.
I am so angry disappointed and we have to call an emergency meeting to address this. The GNU is failing to arrest Zanu people who are still invading the commercial farms and they want to arrest us…? How can he do this and claim it is safe at home?
I do not think this GNU will be for two years as it was agreed, it will take long in Zimbabwe. This Tsvangirai that is now saying Mugabe is a good man … what will he say in two years? Will he say Mugabe must go as before? Never! He seems he has been bought so the international community will lift sanctions against Mugabe and Zanu PF.
The anger expressed in this email, and the anger shown by those in London, indicates a growing bitterness with the lack of significant progress on the issues that have caused the most anger and distress to Zimbabweans. The most basic condition, set even before the MDC-T joined the GNU - namely releasing all political detainees - has still not been met. Human rights violations continue, and there are murmurings of militia bases being set up.
Zimbabweans do not feel safe and they do not believe that if they are abused that their persecutors will ever be brought to justice. The rule of law has not returned and the culture of impunity for Zanu PF loyalists persists. Rather than acknowledging the reality and enormity of these issues, calls to ‘go home’ gloss over profound worries and fears and provoke real anger.
The growing anger and mistrust being revealed is a cause for real concern and something I hope the MDC parties are taking very seriously indeed. The call to ‘vote for change’ may have worked for the MDC in previous elections, but I can’t help but ask, what happens when the next election rolls around and the people realise that ‘change‘ wasn’t enough, and what they really want is a firm promise of the return to the rule of law and democracy from a party they can believe in? Worryingly, who will the people vote for next time if they believe the MDC is incapable of fulfilling its promises? I hope the MDC parties are listening to the people right now very closely indeed and I hope they are thinking ahead to future elections.
I also hope the Zimbabwean people keep speaking out: if our politicians are failing to do what we asked them to do for us, say so, and keep saying so again and again, until the politicians finally hear us and take action.
This entry was posted by Hope on Monday, June 22nd, 2009 at 2:01 pm