|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
The Final Act
I well remember September the 23rd 1976. It was one of those occaisions, like the assassination of Kennedy, where you can clearly remember where you were and what was going through your mind at the time. For Americans, I am sure that September the 11th 2001 will oscillate in their minds for life and beyond in the same way.
On that fateful day (September 23rd, 1976) I was with a small group of friends in Mount Pleasant, Harare. The others were all academics of one kind or another at the University of Zimbabwe. We sat in the study and watched a small television set as Ian Douglas Smith, Prime Minister for 17 years, came onto the screen to address the nation. This was the man whom we had fought for at least 15 years over his policies of isolation and racial intolerance.
Three years before that evening, I had led a small group of 35 of the most outstanding young Rhodesians in an effort to persuade him that he was going to loose the war and would eventually have to give up power. We tried to persuade him to negotiate his way out of the laager and get a deal with his opponents that would allow a transfer of power under controlled and managed circumstances. At the end of a three hour discussion, he very pointedly, said to the group I had put together with a colleague, "I could never live in the kind of Rhodesia that Cross here wants, we are not losing the war, we are going to win and I cannot see any sense in changing our course".
All except 8 of those young leaders left the country within 6 months. They could see little sense in continuing to fight for a lost cause. We lost in that way some of the very finest young future leaders we have ever produced. My colleague, Tom, left the country and became head of the Boston Consulting Group in Europe, married a German girl and is now a global player in business circles.
The country that night in 1976, was on its last legs, exports were falling, emigration was draining away the talent we needed to go on, global opposition was intensifying and the bush war was clearly being lost at that stage. Military leaders said that what we were engaged in was a holding operation to give political leaders time to sort things out. Every white male that could walk was spending half his time in uniform in one capacity or the other. We were losing the sympathy and support of those essential to our survival.
Smith came on the television and with that poker face of his, that seldom showed what he was really thinking, he stated that he had just come back from a meeting in Pretoria where he had conceded a transfer of power to a new government elected under universal suffrage. The rest of what he said was somewhat lost on us as we erupted with joy and relief that our long night of working and waiting was now over, there was something to look forward to at last.
Today you have to pay tribute to that man for accepting the inevitable and then agreeing to oversee what for him was a complete anathema – a transfer of power to a majority elected government under international supervision. He went on to tell the nation what he had agreed to and then staying in his post until it was done and then he retired from the scene. Always a recalcitrant, but honest man who never abused his position and was always distressingly frank. Kissenger said that it was one of the saddest days of his life that he had to end Ian Smith’s dreams in this way, but there was no alternative.
In four years, Mugabe was in power – taking over in a manner that was not to his liking any more than it had been Smiths, all were forced to compromise by the events of September the 23rd, 1976.
Now here we are, 26 years later. Somehow back to where we started. The economy in freefall, the government at war with the people, the country in a state of complete isolation and even those friends on whom our very survival depends are now at the stage of active opposition. At the helm, a man very similar in many ways to Ian Smith, very tough on his opponents, completely intolerant of any opposition in his own party, committed to a path that has run out of space on the edge of a precipice, with no where else to go. Those of us, who live under the regime, see no future for our children or ourselves if he does not go, but how, when?
We started the process of change three years ago when a "peoples convention" called for the establishment of a new political party that would fight Zanu PF and give the country a democratic alternative. The people who sponsored this initiative had tried everything else – to no avail. Mugabe would not listen, would not change course. His own Party totally under his control, too terrified of the consequences of doing anything other than standing behind the Master. Instead of leaving the country – voting with our feet, as it is called, we stayed and fought back, using democratic activities where we found space to maneuver. A great deal has been achieved in those three years. MDC now controls half the elected seats in Parliament, 6 out of 25 of the towns and cities, including the two major cities of Harare and Bulawayo. We are accepted throughout the world as a potential alternative government, capable of turning the country around when we finally take power.
This ground has not been won without struggle or pain – 150 of our members and leadership has been killed in politically motivated activity, thousands have been beaten and tortured, raped and burnt. The government has had to attack all the pillars of democracy – the media, the judiciary, and the independent businessperson, to try and halt our advance. Our acceptance as an alternative administration has also not come easily. We have been consistently bombarded with calls to join in a government of "national unity". We have been called all sorts of names – not only by the Zanu PF propaganda machine but also by countries in Africa who saw us as a challenge to the hegemony over power of the former liberation movements.
And now? I have that same feeling as we had in September 1976; change is in the air. Mugabe has run out of space. He is losing the war with his people, he has lost the support of those in Africa on whom his future depends and the global community has decided that he simply cannot be allowed to continue to stand in the way of positive change in southern Africa. The difference is that I do not see Mugabe accepting this in the same way as Smith did in 1976. I think he will resist and will therefore fail in a way that will be devoid of the dignity that Ian Smith has, even today, in this country that he so nearly completely destroyed.
There are two other elements in the situation today that also set the stage for a different outcome. Smith never starved his people. Mugabe has done so on a scale never before seen in Africa. In the Ethiopian famine in the 90’s, Ethiopia had 70 per cent of the food it needed to get by – distribution was the main problem. We have barely 25 per cent of the food we need to survive in the next 8 months. People are going to die here, and Mugabe is to blame.
The other situation that is different is that Mugabe has failed his people – Smith never did, to the end he fought to defend the interests of the white minority. Mugabe has not defended the interests of the majority who elected him into power. He has abused his position and impoverished his people while at the same time corruptly bankrupting the state for his own benefit and the benefit of his clique. Ian Smith never needed an armor plated Mercedes Benz, even at the height of the civil war. He drove an ordinary Peugeot sedan, with one security detail and a driver.
The end is near and Zanu PF knows this as does Mugabe – hence the panic and sudden flurry of military activity. It will not protect him now, just as it never protected Ian Douglas Smith in September 1976. Do not lose hope – we are waiting for the dawn of a new and better day.
Bulawayo, 23rd June, 2002
Barnaby Phillips |
BBC southern Africa correspondent
The Commercial Farmers' Union says that 2,900 farmers must surrender farms in line with recent changes to the law, which give the Zimbabwean Government sweeping powers to take land.
Any farmer who carries on working their land 45 days after receiving an acquisition notice could face two years in prison.
The number of farmers affected represents about 60% of the total of white farmers who were in Zimbabwe at the time that land seizures began two years ago.
Last month the government passed the legislation, giving farmers 45 days to stop working land which has been listed for acquisition and redistribution.
The government was not available for comment, but a state controlled newspaper said the authorities had rejected requests from farmers that they be allowed to stay on.
Some white farmers appear to be in a defiant mood and say they will carry on farming.
One said, you can't just wind up 50 years of work in 45 days.
Donors say the food shortages now affecting millions of Zimbabweans are directly linked to the often chaotic redistribution of land.
But the government says that by taking land from white farmers and giving it to landless black peasants, it is ensuring greater self-sufficiency in the future.
Please circulate this to every farmer you know. The nation’s future is at stake. ACT NOW!
forward this e-mail to open-minded Zimbabweans. Awareness,
followed by discussion, is needed. Please continue to share this
information with other farmers
It is of vital importance that all farmers understand the legal
ramifications of what is happening.
It is important to repeat here that ALL operations have to have stopped by
25 June 2002. This means that any activity on a farm must have ceased,
whether it is your general operation, or even removing your
95% of commercial land has been set down for compulsory acquisition
1. Are you aware of the fact that when a section 8 notice is served
on you that the WHOLE farm is no longer yours and belongs to the Government.
You then hand over your title deeds - and your right to ownership and
possible compensation is GONE!
2. Should you decide to choose the “400 hectare option” available,
are you aware that you have to hand over your title deeds? It is important
to investigate the motive of the people who are trying
to persuade you to make this deal.
3. The more farmers who decide to hang on to their title deeds, the
stronger the bargaining power of your representatives. Once you hand over
the title deeds they are gone forever.
4. Know your rights! Funds have been set up to pay for legal advice.
You need to know all the legal implications and all your options. To take
advantage of this, telephone 04 250113.
5. There is interim support available for all farmers and their
workers who are serious about long term farming in Zimbabwe. You will not be
6. Another alternative is to go public and expose the legitimacy and
injustice of what has happened to you.
There is a propaganda campaign in place at the moment to tell farmers that
they can and should move back on to their farms and continue their farming
activities. Is this campaign by the police and local
authorities a vessel of empty promises? How confident are you that once
NEPAD is wrapped up, that you will be allowed to continue farming? . You
don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work this one
One hears the comment in Zimbabwe from many people that the leadership in
CFU is totally neutralised.
Make up your own mind on this. Should you agree, have you lobbied enough
for your best interests to be heard and acted upon?
Thoughts to share with those of your friends in town and who are in industry
GROWING FOOD IS NOW ILLEGAL
WHEN WILL IT BECOME ILLEGAL TO MANUFACTURE A PRODUCT?
THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY NEEDS TO SUPPORT THE FARMERS
FACT - Mugabe said in Rome that he will start on the mines and industry
UNITY - ONE FOR ALL - ALL FOR ONE
19 March 2002
The Commonwealth takes an unexpectedly tough line over the violence and electoral fraud by suspending Zimbabwe from the organisation for at least a year. It is among the most serious measures the Commonwealth can take against one of its 54 member countries.
17 March 2002
President Mugabe is sworn-in for another six-year term, promising to speed up a controversial, and sometimes violent, land reform programme. The ceremony was boycotted by European diplomats, and leaders of Nigeria and South Africa. The Commonwealth will decide next week whether to suspend Zimbabwe.
13 March 2002
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe wins a fifth term in office amid accusations of ballot irregularities and ruling party violence. He defeated rival Morgan Tsvangirai by a substantial margin in a presidential election described by foreign and local observers as deeply flawed and unjust.
9 March 2002
As polling booths open long queues of voters form in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, and in the country's second city, Bulawayo, for the most fiercely contested presidential election since independence in 1980.
11 January 2002
16th August 2001
The Zimbabwean government announces plans to use the army to identify farms for takeover, as plans are drawn up for the evacuation of up to 25,000 British nationals in Zimbabwe. The cabinet in Zimbabwe is reported to be considering a possible state of emergency.
As the United States strongly criticises Zimbabwe's Government for "serious human rights abuses", the BBC receives exclusive pictures which reveal the scale of looting and destruction of Zimbabwe's white-owned farms.
Twenty white farmers are charged with public violence and assault after tension and violence between the farmers and government supporters has been mounting in the town of Chinhoyi.
BBC journalist Joseph Winter is expelled from Zimbabwe with his wife and family after a terrifying ordeal in which they are subjected to intimidation and personal threats.
A bomb explosion in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, has destroyed the printing press of the country's only privately-owned daily newspaper, the 'Daily News'. The attack follows a week of demonstrations against the paper by government supporters.
After June's election in which his ruling Zanu PF party were successful, albeit with a much smaller majority, Robert Mugabe promised to press ahead with the seizure of white-owned farms.
In February 2000 groups of government supporting 'war veterans' began to systematically target white owned farms, using intimidation and often violence. By April, the courts were powerless to stop the incursions.
In this extraordinary report, the BBC's Ben Brown found himself inside a farm compound as it came under siege. The farmer argues with the militant group over the future of his livelihood for three tense hours before the police arrived.
Just days later a white Zimbabwean farmer was shot dead by war veterans. In this report his widow explains how she wants to stay in the country and see in a truly democratic government.
Joseph Winter |
BBC News Online
As ever, Zimbabwe's land reform programme is mired in confusion.
But it does seem likely that Monday's deadline is a major step towards President Robert Mugabe's goal of redistributing farmland from whites to blacks.
People are making the rules up as they go along
Jenni Williams, CFU
However, a CFU official who wished to remain anonymous told BBC News Online that the true figure was closer to 2,000 as the remaining 900 farmers have only received preliminary notices of the government's intention to acquire their farms.
And Agriculture Minister Joseph Made has been quoted as saying that only 10% of farmers are affected - around 300.
Lawyers are busy trying to interpret the legislation but they too all have their interpretations.
So far, many of the farmers are carrying on with their work as what passes for normal on Zimbabwe's farms.
They have developed thick skins in the past two years and many will probably wait until the police start taking action before they park their combine harvesters for good.
2,900 must stop farming
500 have given up land
One court case won by the government
95% of white-owned farms listed for acquisition
CFU membership down by 30%
But as before, President Robert Mugabe's militant supporters may not wait for the authorities before they take matters into their own hands.
"We're living in a climate where people are making the rules up as they go along," CFU spokeswoman Jenni Williams told BBC News Online.
On top of the breakdown of law and order in Zimbabwe's farming districts, the confusion stems from the numerous changes made to the Land Acquisition Act and the complex procedures set out before the government can acquire a farm.
But whatever the precise number of farms affected, this is a major intensification of the land reform programme.
Since 2000, the government has taken over around 500 farms - and these were given up to the government by their owners, a farmers' representative told BBC News Online.
Monday's deadline comes from the latest change to the law, made last month, which attempted to simplify matters and bypass legal procedures.
Most farmers who have received official notices that the government intends to acquire their land have appealed to the courts.
A CFU official said that the government had only won one case - largely because the civil servants were not meeting the series of legal deadlines set out in law.
And even that case has gone to appeal.
But while the majority of Zimbabwe's white farmers are still able to work, many have already started packing their bags.
Membership of the CFU has already slumped by 30% - to 3,200 from 4,500 just two years ago.
Our members may not be happy with what they've got but they have got something
"We're anticipating another big drop this year," said the CFU official.
But amidst the confusion, many people will be surprised to hear that some of those who have given up their land have been paid for it.
The farmers have said from the beginning that they would be willing to let go of their land if they receive adequate compensation.
President Robert Mugabe has repeatedly promised to pay for improvements such as buildings and irrigation systems - but not for the soil itself.
And this money has been forthcoming, according to the CFU.
"Our members may not be happy with what they've got but they have got something," the official said.
He said that many did not try to haggle with the government because the value of the Zimbabwe dollar is falling so sharply that they would just lose out even more through any further delay.
C is for countrymen, country
women and comrades is that it? Have you heard of four legs good and two
I is for injustice. If a bread manufacturer refused to bake bread at controlled prices and was shot for it, i suppose your advice would be all bakers must stay out of politics.
T is for totalitarian rule. Oh no! Not just the bakers but the millers as well. How dare they refuse to supply the baker who refuses to buy their flower? Why, they must force him to take and bake!
I is for intimidation. And if the millers and the bakers refuse to collaborate, you will confiscate all bakeries and grinding mills in the country and hand them over to the starving chefs to sell bread to the overfed masses at new and improved prices.
Z is pretty obvious. Are you or are you not? Because if you were, you would not have made that speech that exhorts a certain section of the community to give up their nationality and inalienable rights as citizens just because they belong to a particular sector of the economy. But then, you always ahve the baker's option.
E is for exuses, excuses. When are you going to wake up, straighten your spine and stand up like a man?
N is for never, because the love for money is the root of all evil. Ask Judas.