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Farmer sues invaders

DAILY NEWS: 6/13/01 8:31:41 AM (GMT +2)

PHILEMON Matibe, the MDC parliamentary candidate for Chegutu whose farm was occupied by Zanu PF supporters and war veterans has engaged lawyers to sue the invaders for unlawful occupation of his property.

The invaders have given Matibe seven days to pack his belongings and leave the farm or risk unspecified action by them on him.
Matibe contested the Chegutu seat and lost to Webster Shamu of Zanu PF.
However, he has since filed an electoral petition challenging Shamu's victory.
The hearing of the petition was scheduled to begin in the High Court on Monday but was postponed following the invasion of the farm.
Matibe said the main reason for the invasion of his farm was to distract his attention from the pending legal challenge of Shamu's victory.
"The occupation of my farm has been necessitated by the election petition," said Matibe. "It is quite clear that Shamu is afraid of losing the Chegutu seat because of a number of irregularities which now form the basis of the pending petition."
The petition was postponed to later this month.
Matibe, who employs nearly 100 workers on the farm, said: "I am very concerned about the plight of my workers. They have now been rendered destitute and I am extremely worried about their welfare."
Matibe has instructed his lawyer, Thomas Masendeke of Honey and Blanckenberg to sue the government for the unlawful occupation of the farm, which he bought in 1999.
"In essence what the government is saying is that I am not entitled to own land in Zimbabwe. But I am a black person and the government's land reform programme is meant to empower indigenous people," said Matibe.

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Dear family and friends,

This week's letter is not going to be a documentary of what's been happening politically in Zimbabwe this past 7-days. It is going to be about farms & farmers & about the death, this week, of the man who has been one of the prime movers in ensuring that thousands & thousands of ordinary Zimbabweans will soon be looking starvation in the face.

When Chenjerai Hunzvi died I sent out a letter saying that I did not rejoice at the man's death & I had many angry letters in response to my sentiments. I still do not rejoice at his death. I feel incredible sadness that any human being could allow themselves to be used the way Hunzvi has been used this past 16-months. Used & paid to rape, torture, beat, burn & kill. Used & paid to cause suffering & misery. Used & paid to ensure crops were not planted. Used & paid for a political cause which will never feed the thousands of people now jobless & homeless. Used & paid to lead 13 million people to starvation.

Perhaps it is as well Hunzvi died before 13 million people got angry enough to ask him why he had done this? I do not know how Chenjerai Hunzvi will rest in peace, I do not know how he will face his God. As a white person, & an ex farmer, I am not alone in my conviction of approaching starvation.

BBC's Veronique Edwards asked a high profile black, non farming Zimbabwean this week about the threat of starvation. When he told her about wheat not being planted, a grossly insufficient maize crop and no foreign currency to import food, Ms Edwards suggested the man was exaggerating the situation. Tendai Biti angrily retorted that he lived in Zimbabwe, he saw the situation on the ground with his own eyes & rightly said that he found Ms Edwards accusation as extremely insulting. It is equally insulting to hear people calling black Zimbabweans Uncle Tom if they dare tell the truth. It is insulting in the extreme to black Zimbabweans & merely perpetuates a racist, colonial mentality that we left behind two decades ago.

I wish I could tell you what has been happening on Zimbabwean farms this week since the death of war veterans' leader Chenjerai Hunzvi. I wish I could tell you of the terror being experienced by farmers this week when huge groups of men have gathered at the farm gates, shouting, whistling & drumming. I wish I could tell you of the terror a woman went through when she was abducted this week. I wish I could tell you of the horror of having the farms gates smashed down by youngsters calling themselves war veterans this week. I wish I could tell you of the nausea & horror of seeing fields being burnt down, cattle being slaughtered, people being barricaded into their own homes, people being told to get out of their own homes or they would be killed. I wish I could tell you but I cannot. I cannot tell you because if I do, the farmers say, tomorrow 'they' will come back with reinforcements.

Less than a year ago I was on a farm, I know what it is like to have 'them' shouting at the gate. I know what it feels like to see 300 people chanting & waving their fists on my land. I know what it feels like to see a bloated, slaughtered, decapitated cow lying, in the field covered in bloodied, frenzied flies. I know what it feels like to be threatened, sworn at, scared, watched. I know what it feels like to have a tree cut & strewn across my roadway so that I cannot get out. I know what it feels like when the police do not come because 'it is political', do not come because they ‘have no transport'. I know what it feels like to be told I have 2-hours to get out of my own house. I know what it feels like. For almost a year I lived it. For almost a year I told the world about it, week after agonising week, terrified of repercussions, I told about it.

Around the world, & worse, in Zimbabwe, everyone thinks that because it is no longer all over the newspapers, the terror on the farms has stopped - it has not. Day after agonising day it goes on & yet everyone is silent. This week another 3 Zimbabwean farmers in one small area, threw the towel in, packed in their dairy operations & are leaving. It has not stopped. It is still not about land. It is still being done by men who are being used & paid. It is still purely about politics.

When I wrote the story of my farm I was terrified of repercussions, not just scared but terrified, paranoid. It took a wonderful black man, some may call him an Uncle Tom, to make me see sense. He showed me, by his own actions, that fear is all consuming. He told me that if I allowed fear to continue ruling my life it would mean that 'they' had won, that I had allowed them to rule my life. Nothing in Zimbabwe is now as it seems.

Mid week police moved in & evicted squatters from Gadzanga farm on Central Estate in Mvuma. Why did they do this? Central Estate is owned by Nicholas Hoogstaten, a well known, self professed financial backer of Zimbabwe's ruling party.

Yesterday I went to Richie's school for a small show put on by all the students.
Depicting fashion across the world, I sat enthralled, often laughing & sometimes with tears in my eyes at these future Zimbabwean leaders. Black, white & brown children, holding hands, singing, dancing, saying (and often forgetting) their lines. This is the true face of Zimbabwe & I am so proud to be able to say that I am not leaving my country.

I am not giving in, I am not giving up & I am not shutting up either. The horror on the farms is continuing. Stories such as those recounted in 'African Tears' are being replayed every single day & while they continue I will keep telling of it.

Until next week,

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Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe
Media Update # 2001/24
Monday 11 June to Sunday 17th June 2001


Judging by its deafening silence, the government evidently did not
believe the 70% fuel price increase warranted an explanation. But
none of the media appeared to make any effort to extract one
either. The nearest the nation got to being given an official
statement on the need for such a massive price hike could only be
found in the state-controlled media, from NOCZIM itself, merely
explaining that up until now fuel was being sold at below cost and
the increase was necessary to restore the company's viability.
While most of the media focused their attention on the likely
effects of the increase to commodity prices and the economy
generally, there has been no fresh investigation into NOCZIM's
business practices.

The state media suppressed the ZCTU's response to the
increases, while The Daily News appeared to miss the story,
leaving The Financial Gazette (14/6) as the only paper to carry
news of the ZCTU's strike threat as a stand-alone story. The
Herald (14/6) buried it in a story about a sharp rise in commuter
fares, The Chronicle ignored it altogether, and ZBC's audiences
would only have known about the threatened strike via an attack on
the decision by the fake Zimbabwe Federation of Trades Unions
(ZFTU) led by Harare City Council employee, Joseph Chinotimba.
ZBC also censored news of the High Court's decision overruling
Justice Minister Chinamasa's attempt to postpone the Bulawayo
mayoral election, and all but censored Chinamasa's own statement
declaring that he would appeal against the ruling.
Even the impending eclipse of the sun by the moon was used by
the state media as a vehicle to convince the nation that Zimbabwe
was back on the international tourist map.

The state media was given the job of announcing the fuel price
increases (ZBC TV and Radio- 8pm 12/6 and Zimpapers the next
morning), in the form of a statement by NOCZIM. This appeared to
lay most of the blame on what it described as overrated country
risk factors resulting in unduly high finance charges, and to rising
international oil prices.
Subsequent media coverage however, did not subject this claim to
any scrutiny. Nor was there any effort to investigate NOCZIM's
procurement practices. Instead, the increases attracted similar
responses from the public and private media, concentrating on the
economic fall-out from the increases. Economists, analysts and a
variety of business organizations, including the ZNCC, CZI and the
Consumer Council were widely quoted - even by ZBC - either
explaining the effects of the price hike or expressing disapproval of
the magnitude of the increase.
The privately owned Press however, also quoted political analysts
predicting civil unrest and the negative impact the increases would
have on President Mugabe's re-election chances.
In an editorial that reflected the stance of the private Press, The
Daily News (14/6) stated that ordinary Zimbabweans were being
made to pay for government corruption, especially that which is
plaguing NOCZIM.
And while the state media focused their attention on the rise in
commuter fares and other transport costs, nowhere was the
opinion of the commuter or any ordinary working Zimbabwean
accessed in any of the media. Nor has there been any effort to find
out just how badly working class incomes will be affected.
Instead, The Herald (14/6) and ZBC (ZBC, 6pm and 8pm) the same
day tore into commuter minibus operators, accusing them of hiking
fares arbitrarily. ZBC reported that commuters were shunning the
smaller minibus operators for the larger omnibuses, which had still
not increased their fares. It implied that the minibus operators were
profiteering but that they would lose out to the omnibus operators
who were doing better business. However, the broadcaster provided
no evidence for any of these assertions.
The Daily News, which managed to report the fuel price increases
quoting ZBC (13/6), then missed the opportunity of following up the
story (14/6) with news of reaction to the increases, including the
ZCTU's announcement that it was considering calling a national
strike if the increases were not reversed.
To its credit however, The Daily News (15/6) was the only paper to
report the first incidents of civil unrest (in Kuwadzana and Warren
Park) that had been predicted in the privately owned weeklies.
The Standard (17/6) reported that an emergency meeting of the
ZCTU's general council had set July 2nd and 3rd for the national stay-
away. Its state-owned counterpart, The Sunday Mail, also reported
that the ZCTU's general council had ".endorsed the decision by
the labour body to go on a two-day mass stay-away to protest
against the recent fuel hikes." It then quoted anonymous
"affiliates" in the same story to come up with the headline, No
Consensus Over Planned Stay-Away. Also in the story was Joseph
Chinotimba in his role as spokesman for the ZFTU, urging workers
to ignore the ZCTU call.
ZBC was careful to censor news of the ZCTU's call, but gave
extensive airtime to a propaganda statement from the ZFTU instead
(14/6 TV 8pm and 15/6 Radio 2, 6am and Radio 3 6am and 8am),
criticizing the labour organization:
"Threats for the so-called mass stay-away by the British
sponsored MDC leadership in the ZCTU to protest against fuel
prices must be treated with contempt by all workers who are
interested in resolving genuine labour issues."
MMPZ notes that such blatantly biased news selection and
suppression by ZBC once again condemns the national
broadcaster as a mouthpiece of government and an unreliable
source of information.


ZBC was at it again when it ignored the High Court ruling
overturning the Justice Minister's attempt to postpone the election.
ZBCTV even ignored Chinamasa's statement declaring that he
would appeal against the court decision, while Radio 2's 6am
bulletin on June 15th was the only station to report Chinamasa's
However, The Herald, The Daily News and The Financial Gazette
(14/6) all reported the High Court ruling, and the dailies (including
The Chronicle) followed the story up the next day with
Chinamasa's declaration. But The Daily News was the only paper
to access comment from the MDC's David Coltart.
The polarity of the public and private Press was well illustrated in tit-
for-tat scandal stories about the two Bulawayo mayoral candidates.
Zimpapers' titles (13/6) first carried a story about the MDC
candidate, Japhet Ncube and an MDC councilor being investigated
about a money-for-housing favours scandal. The next day The Daily
News and The Financial Gazette carried a story about the ZANU
PF candidate, George Mlilo, hastily paying a fine and an
outstanding debt to the SPCA for his failure to look after a number
of pigs. Zimpapers pursued their story on Friday (15/6) but added
little to the original story beyond revealing that a confidential report
by Bulawayo's audit committee had implicated the two MDC

Only The Herald (12/6) followed up the initial court action following
the result of the Masvingo mayoral election, reporting that ZANU
PF had decided to lodge its petition seeking nullification of the
election with the High Court:
"The. move comes after various irregularities, most of which
have to be explained by the Registrar-General's office."
However, the paper did not take the story much beyond earlier
stories originally reporting the irregularities. Nor did it explain what
had happened to a report that was being drawn up for the court by
the Registrar-General's office. That story was originally reported by
the ZBC (6/6), but in the week it did not carry the decision to seek
the nullification of the Masvingo result.
However, the national broadcaster did carry extensive publicity
pieces passing as news items on ZANU PF's candidate for the
impending Bindura by-election. The ruling party's Elliot Manyika
was accorded more than eight minutes and featured six times on
ZBC's television news bulletins during the week, compared to
about three minutes allocated to him the previous week.


Although there appeared to be a decline in the number of incidents
of politically motivated violence during the week, the reports
reflected a resurgence of incidents on farms. The two dailies began
the week by reporting the violence on Blackfordby Farm the
previous Saturday. The next day (12/6), The Daily News reported
that a farm worker had died after being attacked by farm occupiers
at Blackfordby on Sunday, and that according to eye-witnesses, a
ZBC television crew at the scene had ignored the assault. The
Herald merely tagged the man's death onto the end of its court
story about the farm owner and a number of his workers being
remanded on charges of public violence.
ZBC, which reported the violence at Blackfordby on its Saturday
evening bulletins, failed to report the death of the farm worker.
During the week ZBC (16/6, 6pm and 8pm) reported an outbreak of
violence at Long Valley Farm in Mhangura.
The report quoted land occupiers accusing white farmers of
allegedly harvesting maize belonging to resettled farmers. No
comment was sought from the farmers. Instead, war veterans'
secretary-general Andrew Ndlovu, was allocated more than two
minutes to fire a broadside at the MDC and the commercial farmers.
He was quoted as saying violence was ".orchestrated by the
MDC and its white commercial farmer cronies in an attempt to
give tourists in the country, for the solar eclipse, an
impression that there is anarchy in the country."
He wasn't questioned about this ludicrous statement and no
comment was sought from the MDC. Moreover, ZBC allowed
Ndlovu to make an inflammatory call on "all the war vets and
those who are occupying farms to be vigilant and ready to
defend themselves".
Nor did ZBC challenge him over his appeal to the armed forces
commander, General Zvinavashe to speed up the reserve force
programme so that war vets could go to the farms and protect the
land occupiers. Do the police have a role here?
ZBC's reporting of violence on commercial farms has been slanted
against commercial farmers who have been blamed for inciting their
workers to beat up land occupiers without giving the farmers a
chance to respond. ZBC should be aware that continually
bombarding its audiences with such one-sided stories seriously
undermines its credibility.

Although print media coverage was minimal, it focused on three
broad issues: i. Violent clashes on the farms between land
occupiers and farm workers. ii. Resistance by land occupiers to
leave farms. iii. New farm invasions

During the week The Herald (15/6) reported that protestors (war
veterans and villagers) blocked a road resisting eviction from a farm
in Masvingo and The Financial Gazette (14/6) reported that ZANU
PF supporters had seized a farm belonging to MDC secretary-
general, Welshman Ncube.


Although the solar eclipse has brought relief to the ailing tourism
industry, ZBC has taken the opportunity to peddle dim-witted
tourist observations to support ZANU PF propaganda that there is
no violence in Zimbabwe. In a painfully staged item showing an
artless music and dance reception for one hotel's "solar-tourists",
ZBCTV news (15/6, 8pm) quoted one German saying, ".I came
in February on a pre-tour and traveled through the country
because there are a lot of rumors about Zimbabwe in the
medias (sic).I had the opportunity to see that it is not the way
it is described." The reporter did not ask the tourist which places
he had visited to make such a baseless observation.
Saturday's issue of The Herald (the next day) reinforced ZBCTV's

The MEDIA UPDATE is produced and circulated by the Media
Monitoring Project Zimbabwe, 221 Fife Avenue, Harare, Tel/fax: 263
4 734207, 733486, E-mail: or info@media-; Web: Address
all queries and comments to the Project Coordinator. To
unsubscribe, simply send a request to

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MDC mailing list -
Press Statement 21/06/01
Re: MDC condemns harassment of civil servants.
The Movement for Democratic Change condemns, the 'firing' of 50 teachers
in Buhera on Monday and Tuesday by war veterans and Zanu PF supporters,
and general harassment of civil servants throughout the country. In recent
months a growing number of teachers in various parts of the country and
civil servants in general have been subjected to forced transfers and
dismissals at the hands of Zanu PF supporters.
The latest spate of harassment of teachers in Buhera shows further that
the Zanu PF government is no longer concerned with the education of our
children and the welfare of our teachers especially those in the rural
areas. It is driven instead by its selfish hunger for power against the
people's will.
The MDC recognizes the difficult conditions under which the teachers and
other civil servant are operating and will place their plight as a
priority under its new government. In the meanwhile, the MDC calls on the
government to take steps in protecting the civil servants from the
unlawful activities of Zanu PF supporters and to also look at improving
their conditions of service. The MDC government will respect and honour
the teachers and has thus drawn up an education policy that will place
attractive and competitive conditions of service for teachers, with
substantial incentives for rural teachers.

Fidelis Mhashu
MDC Shadow Minister of Education and Sport.

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MDC mailing list -
Press Release: 20/6/01
Re: Minister Moyo's comments on the Bulawayo mayoral case.
The MDC confirms that its legal representatives were advised on Monday 18
June 2001 by the Honourable Mr Justice Sibanda that an error had been made
in the High Court in issuing a final order rather than a provisional order
in the Bulawayo mayoral case. The MDC accepted that the error was genuine
and accordingly consented to a variation of the original order issued by
the High Court. The MDC looks forward to the argument of the matter on the
3rd of July 2001 and is confident that Justice will prevail.
Zanu PF's appointed propaganda functionary Jonathan Moyo's gratuitously
offensive attack on Hounarable David Coltart which is reminiscent of a
similar attack hurled at Honourable Justice Chatikobo by Moyo in October
last year was not called for.
That Moyo can summon enough courage to describe a lawyer of Honourable
Coltart's repute and standing in the legal profession, as a 'night lawyer'
is not only malicious but also mischievous and quite unfortunate. If there
is anyone who deserves a description that involves the word 'night',  it
is Jonathan Moyo himself the MP for the empty White City Stadium who is a
night politician by virtue of having somersaulted overnight from being  a
pseudo democrat to become a leading devil's advocate at the Zanu PF's
propaganda desk.

Learnmore Jongwe
MDC Secretary for Information and Publicity.
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