|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
From ZWNEWS, 16 March
MP in Bulawayo car chase
MDC MP David Coltart was involved in a car chase yesterday morning, with an unidentified vehicle chasing him through Bulawayo’s southern suburbs. The vehicle, a blue Mazda pickup truck, was driven by three young men, one of whom was armed with what seemed to be a service issue rifle. Coltart had left his home soon after 9:00 am, travelling with his 9 year old son and his 18 month old daughter. Stopping briefly to talk to the security guard at the gate of his home, he saw the truck, which had been parked further up the street, drive slowly past. It is thought that the truck had intended to follow Coltart as he left his home, but had not anticipated him stopping at the gate. Coltart took a different route to that which he had intended, and a chase ensued as the pursuers found and followed him again. The MP, who is also the opposition justice spokesman, contacted his security detail, who intercepted the two vehicles, and delayed the pursuers long enough for refuge to be found at a safe house in Bulawayo. The pursuers stayed parked outside the safe house for some time. Coltart and his children left the safe house without being seen, and are now elsewhere in the city. There have been four carjackings in the area over the last week or so, one taking place at the home of an immediate neighbour in which the car owners were beaten and the car stolen. Service issue rifles were used in the attacks. In each of these cases, however, cars had been followed back to the area from the city centre. Information received around the time of the incident contained a warning to opposition leaders that the government intended a further escalation of the repressive measures taken over the last month, in an effort to forestall any protests against the state’s human rights abuses and dire economic conditions.
Vol 44 Number 4 - 21 February 2003
A confidential government audit of Zimbabwe's land reform has found
widespread evidence of corrupt allocations and the use of violence by senior
politicians and military officers to evict landless small farmers the very
people President Robert Mugabe claimed the land reform policy would help.
Reports of corruption and abuses uncovered by the auditors will embarrass
Mugabe, who has staked his domestic reputation on the speedy transfer of land to
Zimbabwe's more than two million landless poor farmers. Now, from the
government's own investigations, it appears that not only has the policy
precipitated a catastrophic fall in food crop production which, along with the
regional drought, is causing as many as seven million Zimbabweans to go hungry
but, above all, the policy has financially benefitted the nomenklatura of
Mugabe's ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front
The audit(1), of which Africa Confidential has obtained a copy, reveals that some of the worst violations of the land reform policy were committed by Mugabe's closest political allies, such as Air Marshal Perence Shiri and Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, as well as Mugabe's sister, Sabina Mugabe. This is the President's dilemma: his credibility with the ZANU-PF grassroots supporters demands action against violators named in the audit but many of these are major figures in his own political network. The report of those violating the 'one man, one farm' rule reads like a list of the ZANU-PF elite and their allies: Information Minister Moyo, presidential sister Sabina Mugabe; former Higher Education Minister Ignatius Chombo; Defence Minister Sydney Sekeremayi; the Air Force Commander, Air Marshal Perence Shiri; Provincial Governors Eliot Manyika, Obert Mpofu, Peter Chanetsa, Josia Hungwe; newspaper publishers Ibbo Mandaza and Mtumwa Mawere; and Barclays Bank Chief Executive Alex Jongwe.
(1) Addendum to the Land Reform and Resettlement Programme National Audit Interim Report (February 2003).
The clashes started, opposition officials said, when ruling party militants armed with stones and clubs attacked opponents of President Robert Mugabe where they planned to rally.
One person was wounded seriously after being hit by a car speeding from the violence, said Welshman Ncube, a senior official with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. An unknown number of people were arrested, he said.
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said he had no immediate information on Sunday's unrest.
The rally, planned for the western Harare voting district of Kuwadzana ahead of a parliamentary by-election later this month, was canceled due to the unrest.
Opposition officials said their candidate, Nelson Chamisa, arrived for the rally with colleagues but found the venue taken over by ruling party militants loyal to Mugabe.
Police told them ruling party supporters were being cleared from the venue. Opposition officials said the unrest began when armed ruling party militants refused to leave and attacked opposition supporters arriving for the rally.
Ncube said the vehicle Chamisa and an opposition lawmaker were traveling in overturned while their driver tried to flee the stadium over rough ground. Neither was injured.
Chamisa and several high-ranking opposition officials were to have addressed the rally. When the tear gas and live ammunition was shot in the air, the speakers fled.
Zimbabwe is in the midst of its worst economic crisis since gaining independence from Britain in 1980, with massive shortages of food, fuel and essential imports.
Almost half of the country's 13 million people face possible starvation because of a food crisis blamed on erratic rainfall and the government's chaotic and often violent seizure of white-owned commercial farms.
The opposition accuses the government of stifling its activities through violence, police torture, intimidation and stringent security and media laws.
In the past month at least 300 people, including clerics on a peace march, have been arrested for staging political demonstrations declared illegal under the security laws.
By Barnaby Phillips
BBC Southern Africa correspondent
Zimbabwe has been suspended since last March
Leading African members of the Commonwealth had argued in favour of Zimbabwe's immediate readmission.
Zimbabwe was originally suspended in March last year after Commonwealth observers reported violence during the presidential elections.
The extension of Zimbabwe's suspension for at least another nine months is a significant setback to President Robert Mugabe and will encourage the opposition.
In recent weeks, it has appeared that the diplomatic tide has been turning in President Mugabe's favour, despite the desperate political and economic situation in Zimbabwe.
Two key African leaders, South African President Thabo Mbeki and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, have argued that sanctions against Zimbabwe should be lifted and that it should be allowed back into the Commonwealth.
These presidents, along with Prime Minister John Howard of Australia, comprise a Commonwealth troika mandated to deal with Zimbabwe.
The Commonwealth Secretary, General Don McKinnon, said he had consulted leaders across the organisation and that the broadly held view was that Zimbabwe's suspension should remain in place until the heads of government meeting due to take place in December.
Mr McKinnon said the troika had now also concluded that this was the most appropriate action.
This decision will not endear Mr McKinnon to President Mugabe's Government, which has already said the secretary general is no longer welcome to visit Zimbabwe.