COMMERCIAL FARMERS' UNION Farm Invasions and Security Report Thursday 17th
Every attempt is made to provide a comprehensive
report of ongoing activities in relation to farm invasions, but many incidents
are unreported due to communications constraints, fear of reprisals and a
general weariness on the part of farmers. Farmers names and in some cases, farm
names, are omitted to minimise the risk of reprisal.
NATIONAL REPORT IN
BRIEF: The foreman who was abducted by illegal occupiers on Santidza Ranch
in Mwenezi, has returned after being held hostage by an illegal occupier for 2
days. Please be warned that a Mr Dube claiming that he works for Mr Bartlet
of Makombi Estates is using a cheque book and letterheads under this name and
claiming to be a member of the CFU and ZTA, this is not so. REGIONAL
There was no report received from Matabeleland
Mashonaland Central Centenary - Seedbed planting was stopped
at Lawley's Valley, as illegal occupiers wanted to use the area as a football
field. A number of work stoppages of varying degrees are ongoing in the eastern
part of the district. Mvurwi / Victory Block - The compensation dispute
between illegal occupiers and the owner of Blighty Farm is unresolved. Two
farmers in the area have been approached by illegal occupiers wanting a portion
of wheat to be grown on their behalf. Five farms in the area have been stopped
from working. General harassment is restricted to "damaged maize compensation".
One claim was paid immediately, due to pressure from illegal occupiers and
government personnel on site. "Fast tracks" have been attempted on two farms.
Both were unsuccessful due to poor administrative organisation. Local police are
strictly neutral in all instances. Communal cattle continue to be purposely
grazed on boundary farm lands. Mutepatepa - A large crowd gathered at Amanda
Farm in anticipation of the Governor's arrival.
North Chinhoyi - The DA and Agritex arrived and Portelet Farm and commenced
pegging. About 100 illegal occupiers arrived on Chasaki Farm. The D.A. informed
them to resettle on Pondorosa Farm. Illegal occupiers have started pegging on
Bandira Farm. Banket - Illegal occupiers are still on Mimosa Farm despite
orders from the Land Committee to vacate. Ayrshire - Illegal occupiers are
arguing amongst themselves over plots of land on Kelston Park. There have been
several cases of extortion over old labour dispute.
South Norton - Police were unable to take an official report for the
extortion of land on Elston and Hunyani Estates, giving the reason that
problems concerning land, were out of their control. Official war veteran
forms are being used for this extortion purpose. A road block set up on Wilbered
Farm by illegal occupiers, resulted in cattle not belonging to the owner,
gaining access to a patch of illegal occupiers sweet potatoes. Maine Farm has
not been fast tracked as was initially reported, but has had a preliminary visit
by the DA. Suri-Suri - On Kasama Farm, the workforce is being asked to pay
$40.00 to become members of ZANU (PF) and $300.00 to enter a lottery for plots
on Cigaro Farm which Agritex moved onto with the blessing of the D.A. Chegutu,
to divide up plots. Chegutu - On one property, Chegutu police reported that
half of the people that have been fast tracked by D.A.'s office are known or
wanted criminals. The assistant D.A. Chegutu has allocated himself a plot on
Leny Farm which is conceded but not paid for, and is asking the owner for a fee
if he wishes to plant wheat there.
Mashonaland East Marondera -
Illegal occupiers attempted to drive off the lessee of Theydon when they
stretched wire across a road on the farm at neck height. The lessee had a very
close shave but fortunately managed to get off his motorbike in time. When
reported to police, on the basis that there was no specific suspect was not
willing to assist. A work stoppage has occurred. Illegal occupiers returned to
Shavanoya and blocked all roads leading to the farm, cut of water and demanded
to be given part of a maize land. A work stoppage occurred Eirene. 60 illegal
occupiers huts have been erected on the farm, some of them on tobacco seedbed
site. A work stoppage occurred Uitkyk after numerous threats and demands for the
removal of all cattle from farm. The owner and his wife were forced to vacate
their home and remove their belongings on Notgrove. Illegal occupiers continue
to pressure the owner of Cotter to take over the cottage or main homestead. A
work stoppage occurred on Cambridge. Featherstone - There has been an
increase in activity with threats of fast tracking and ongoing harassment. 68
families were resettled by illegal occupiers on Nyamazaan, with previous plot
holders being told to move on. Illegal occupiers informed the farm workers of
Calais to vacate their homes when grading had been completed. Harare South /
Beatrice - Illegal occupiers cut through a security fence on Nebo, and demanded
that the new lessee desist from building extra housing for his labour, and that
they did not want to see him on the farm. Illegal occupiers demanded that the
owner and his farm workers stop working and vacate Stirling Farm. The manager of
Logan Lee Farm received death threats from illegal occupiers. Bromley / Ruwa
- The owner of Masun was prevented from putting in a pasture for dairy
cattle. Macheke / Virginia - 21 farms currently have work stoppages. Cattle
are not being allowed to graze freely and have been confined to game park areas.
A work stoppage has occurred on Barrymore. The owner of Athlone is being
harassed over compensation for illegal occupiers maize allegedly damaged by
cattle. Wedza - Work stoppages have occurred on Markwe and Shaka. A work
stoppage occurred on Bolton but work is again back on track. Plenty of new
illegal occupiers huts are going up, in particular on Bolton, Leeds, Chakadenga,
Poltimore, Markwe and Rupako.
Manicaland Nyazura - Police have
reacted to a labour dispute on Geran Farm, illegal occupiers who barricaded the
road to the seed beds on Claire Farm and Shalem. Mutare - The owner of
Fairview has been forced to close down and pay off his labour at the end of the
month. Disruptions have started up again on Laverstock.
Masvingo Masvingo East and Central - Labour are being recruited on Fomax
Dairy Farm by illegal occupiers, to go to a nearby farm and stump out trees.
Payment of $3000 per hectare is being offered. One cow belonging to a
neighbouring farm was slaughtered on Fomax Dairy Farm. Chiredzi -
Deforestation and poaching continues with much movement on and off
properties. Mwenezi - The foreman who was abducted by illegal occupiers on
Santidza Ranch has returned after being held hostage by an illegal occupier for
two days. Gutu / Chatsworth - Continued harassment and deforestation
Midlands Gweru East / Lalapanzi - Agritex pegging teams
are active on properties recently identified for the first time.
MAZOE Citrus Estates has suspended operations after war veterans demanded
the immediate removal of employees suspected to be linked to the MDC.
The estate employs nearly 10 000 workers. Operations stopped on Monday
after a group of so-called war veterans and Zanu PF supporters stormed offices
and ordered all the workers to down tools until the personnel manager, Richard
Chiweta, and an employee, Farasten Muzondo, had been dismissed for allegedly
sympathising with the MDC. Chiweta was accused of protecting Muzondo in the
face of orders by the war veterans that he be fired for his alleged MDC
allegiance. It is illegal under Zimbabwean labour laws to discriminate
workers on the grounds of their political affiliation. Mazoe Citrus Estates
is the largest exporter of oranges and processed citrus products. Workers
told The Daily News yesterday that trouble started on Sunday when Elliot
Manyika, the provincial governor of Mashonaland Central, had his rally at
Glendale Shopping Centre called off because less than 50 people turned up.
Apparently angered by the low turnout, Manyika is alleged to have ordered
Zanu PF youths and war veterans to mobilise support in Mazowe and adjoining
areas. The youths then went about beating up people in sections of Mazoe
Estates. Several were treated for injuries at Howard Mission Hospital in
Concession. Manyika yesterday said he was invited to the failed rally by a
Councillor Madhende and Evan Christophides, the chief executive officer of Mazoe
Estates. Manyika said: “The meeting flopped, but I am not the one who called
for that meeting. As far as I am concerned, I am not responsible for whatever is
happening at Mazoe Citrus Estates, unless you are saying that as a public figure
I am not supposed to be invited to meetings.” Manyika denied any connection
with the activities of war veterans in Mazowe. In Mutoko, war veterans
yesterday forced the closure of Ruenya Granite (Pvt)Ltd, leaving 140 workers
jobless. The decision was taken after eight workers, saying they were Zanu
PF supporters, claimed their contracts were prematurely cancelled because the
company wanted to recruit MDC sympathisers. Lynda Scott, the company¹s
spokesman, said: “At the end of March, 15 contract workers who had completed
their contract periods were advised that their contracts had expired and that
these contracts would not be renewed in the case of eight of the newest
workers.” She said the affected workers resisted the move, saying they were
being victimised. “They demanded outrageous redundancy packages,” she
said. “We advised them to follow the proper grievance procedures if they had
any queries,” she said. Ruenya Granite is jointly owned by South African and
Zimbabwean motor-racing ace, Abe Smit. The workers then threatened to
assault Smit, the managing director, if he ignored their demands. The
workers wrote a letter to President Mugabe, accusing Smit of racism and of
supporting the MDC. Then they wrote to Smit: “This letter serves to confirm
you are not at liberty to terminate the services of Zanu PF members for no
reason and employ MDC members until their party comes to power.” He said a
war veteran, named only as Urombo, ordered him to reinstate the workers, fire
those allegedly affiliated to the MDC and in future to employ Zanu PF supporters
only. Meanwhile, former employees of Frese Zimbabwe, a Norton company that
is under liquidation, said they are angry that war veterans and a former
colleague extorted $300 000 from Malcolm Fraser, the provisional liquidator, and
forced auctioneers Ferreira¹s to release a company car on 4 May. Fraser was
appointed liquidator by the High Court last month.
From FinGaz War vets ‘sack’ scores of Mat North teachers
Staff Reporter 5/17/01 7:43:40 PM (GMT +2)
BULAWAYO — Supporters of Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU PF party were this week
accused of chasing away scores of teachers and civil servants from their jobs in
rural Matabeleland North on charges that they supported the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC).
Several teachers recounted to the Financial
Gazette this week how they were ordered out of their schools in Nkayi,
Bubi-Umguza and Lupane districts by the war veterans after schools re-opened for
the second term last Tuesday.
"I was told to leave immediately with my family," said Themba Ncube, a
qualified primary school teacher who fled Nkayi with his wife, also a teacher,
"We left the school in a hurry for our safety. The children at school have
no one to teach them. We have reported the incident to the relevant authorities
in the region," he said.
Ncube spent the whole of this week in Bulawayo after being "sacked" from
his teaching post.
He added: "There are many other teachers and civil servants who have been
chased away. The war veterans have produced a list of those they want to be out
of the region.
"They told us at the close of last term that they did not want us, but we
came back when the schools re-opened last week hoping that they were not
serious. It looks like they are serious."
In Bubi-Umguza, the headmistress of Saw Mills Primary School was also
reportedly ordered out of her school. This week she declined to give any
details, saying she feared for her life.
Union representatives of teachers voiced anger and concern at the
harassment of their members and urged the government to intervene.
"We have got the reports of what is happening to the teachers and other
civil servants. It is a very worrying situation. Teachers should be left to do
their work of teaching," said Leonard Nkala, leader of the Zimbabwe Teachers’
Abednigo Bhebhe, the MDC’s MP for Nkayi, said the new wave of violence,
which follows similar harassment of villagers and workers by the veterans ahead
of last year’s general elections, was destabilising his constituency.
"What is happening is quite disturbing and villagers have warned that they
will end up taking the law into their own hands," he told the Financial Gazette.
"There are a lot of teachers that have been allegedly fired by the war
veterans. I am going to personally talk to the regional office director, Dan
Moyo, who also happens to come from the area, over the issue to see how the
teachers can be protected," he said.
Moyo declined any comment.
The "sacking" of the teachers comes at a time when the Matabeleland
regional office is battling to engage qualified teachers to fill thousands of
vacant posts in most schools.
According to regional educational sources, remote and poor Binga district
is the hardest hit by the lack of qualified teachers.
Last week about 500 war veterans swooped on a wildlife-rich conservancy in
Bubi-Umguza and demanded that its owners allocate them pieces of land for
Analysts say the violence by the veterans is aimed at intimidating voters
to support President Robert Mugabe in a crucial presidential ballot due next
Nqobile Nyathi, Business News Editor 5/17/01 7:45:10 PM (GMT +2)
ZIMBABWE’S foreign exchange crisis has deteriorated sharply in the past few
weeks, with the country’s import cover reportedly down to less than a week and
virtually all travel for holidays and business by locals having ground to a halt
except for travellers who can get hard cash from the parallel market, it emerged
Although it was not possible this week to ascertain from the Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe how much import cover the country has, foreign exchange dealers said
it could be down to a week or a few days.
"The market is very dry," one dealer told the Financial Gazette. "The
Reserve Bank will never tell you what reserves we have left, but with the kind
of shortages we’re experiencing this week, it’s possible that our import cover
is down to a week or less.
"We were counting on the opening of the tobacco auction floors to actually
improve the situation, but this doesn’t seem to have happened. Before the
tobacco season opened, we were down to weekly inflows of less than US$10 million
and now we’re only slightly above that."
Dealers said the minimal inflows going through the banking system fell
short of the country’s weekly requirements, estimated at US$50 million ($2.8
"The situation is very difficult for local companies, especially those who
depend significantly on imports," said Edmore Tobaiwa, chairman of the Zimbabwe
National Chamber of Commerce’s economic, international trade and regional
"According to estimates from economists in the chamber, we’re probably
sitting on a couple of days of import cover."
A snap survey of commercial banks and bureaux de change this week revealed
that they were unable to process foreign exchange applications, with some banks
saying their backlogs dated as far back as November.
Although most financial institutions advised that clients seeking hard cash
could make further inquiries next Monday, they were unable to promise that they
would be in a position to sell any foreign currency at all.
"At the moment, we’re not selling any forex because we don’t have any at
all," a foreign currency teller with a Harare commercial bank said.
"What we’re doing is putting people in the queue and the queue is very
long. You can phone us on Monday, but I’m not promising anything."
Another forex teller said: "We don’t have anything at all at the moment.
The problem is that our suppliers are not coming forward with forex. They would
rather go to the parallel market and even the exporters are not bringing
anything to the banks."
Traders said holders of hard cash preferred the parallel market, where most
of Zimbabwe’s hard cash transactions are now taking place because it offers
The American greenback is trading at over $120 on the parallel and black
markets, well above the official $55, and the British sterling is around $180,
more than double the $80 prevailing on the official market.
"We have no foreign currency, but there is currently a black market that is
not accessible to us because we have stipulated rates that we have to stick to,"
Bureaux de Change Association of Zimbabwe chairman Nesbert Tinarwo told the
"We were hoping that with the tobacco money coming in, this would make a
difference but it seems that what is coming from tobacco is not being felt in
the market," he said.
"It’s probably going to debts of companies such as NOCZIM (National Oil
Company of Zimbabwe) and ZESA (Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority). We’re
living from hand to mouth and we don’t know when it will end. The situation is
actually becoming worse."
Worsening hard currency shortages have made business and holiday travel
almost impossible and are threatening the operations of companies that rely on
imported raw materials and other inputs.
Zimbabwe has already halted virtually all its foreign loan repayments
because of the forex crisis, which in turn has caused agonising fuel shortages
which threaten to bury an already tottering economy.
Tobaiwa said Zimbabwe will increasingly have to rely on locally produced
goods if the shortages persist because importers are unable to buy foreign
"We’re in a Catch-22 situation," he said. "One on hand we need forex to
import and produce and on the other hand we need to produce so that we can
generate forex and import."
The Zimbabwe Medical Association (ZIMA) said the worsening foreign currency
shortages, which have already significantly affected drug imports, had made it
difficult for patients to travel abroad for treatment.
In the past, Zimbabwean medical aid societies had been able to provide
clients with Letters of Guarantee (LOG) promising that the societies would pay
foreign hospitals treating their members, but these are under threat because of
the forex crisis.
"The hospital will accept the Letter of Guarantee, but when the medical
society goes to the banks to try and get money, there is no money and the
medical society defaults," said ZIMA secretary-general Andrew Bowman.
"If they continue to offer Letters of Guarantee they can’t honour, their
names become dirty."
The chief operations executive of Cimas medical aid society, Lawrence
Toendepi, said the society continued to cover its members for treatment not
available in Zimbabwe using LOGs, although some foreign health service providers
had threatened to stop accepting these because of forex supply uncertainties.
"Three weeks ago, Cimas and some specialists who refer children to
Morningside, a paediatric hospital in South Africa, were advised by the hospital
that it (the hospital) would not be accepting any LOG from Zimbabwean medical
aid societies due to delays in settlement," he said.
"Cimas has since re-negotiated payment arrangements with this hospital and
for now the hospital continues to accept Cimas LOGs."
He said the medical aid society was considering other measures that would
enable it to continue sending its members for treatment outside the country.
"Over the last two to three months, it has become increasingly difficult to
obtain forex . Where available, the foreign currency is at premiums way above
the official rate and therefore it now takes longer for the society to secure
the currency to pay the foreign health services providers."
SEVERAL top government
officials, including some Cabinet ministers, are backing a shady
multi-billion-dollar deal to get a fixed telephone licence using the assets of
state-run Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (PTC) as the scramble for the
soon-to-be-unbundled parastatal escalates, it was established this
Industry sources said
government and ruling ZANU PF party officials had lined up behind a company
seeking to provide fixed telephones in Zimbabwe by using the PTC’s licence, thus
evading paying billions of dollars for a new licence and infrastructure.
Top management at the PTC, which will soon be renamed TeleOne as it
unbundles its operations, last week refused to sign the proposed new deal with a
company called WorldTel despite mounting pressure from the officials.
The PTC management has now referred the matter to Transport and
Communications Minister Swithun Mombeshora who until yesterday was said to be
busy in meetings and would not take calls.
WorldTel, headed by a retired
International Telecommunications Union official, had worked out a deal that
would see it sharing unbundled PTC assets without incurring much investment
costs nor having to apply for its own licence.
The sources said the
whole deal was aimed at giving WorldTel the lucrative fixed telephone licence
"through the back door" because the firm did not have the pedigree to acquire
its own licence in an open tender system due to its lack of a track record and
because it had reneged on an earlier deal with the PTC.
Gazette has the names of the top politicians and officials involved but cannot
name them at this stage for legal reasons.
The ex-governor of Zimbabwe’s
Reserve Bank, Kombo Moyana, who was mentioned in official documents as a key
adviser to WorldTel and was alleged to be pushing the PTC to sign the deal, said
this week he was no longer directly involved in the project.
"It was not
me in my personal capacity," Moyana said. "I used to advise WorldTel through the
Trade and Investment Bank from where I have now retired and my role was merely
advisory, just as any other bank would do.
"I can get called from time
to time to advise on the bank’s project but I am not directly involved. So there
is no point in mentioning me in the story at all."
Telecoms experts said
if passed in its present form, the PTC/WorldTel agreement would rank as one of
the most prejudicial and dishonest deals ever in post-independent Zimbabwe and
would seriously hurt the value of the PTC’s privatisation.
Industry Minister Nkosana Moyo is said to have advised against reducing the
value of the PTC by granting prejudicial concessions to firms seeking to share
Moyo unsuccessfully tried to push the government to engage
in a transparent privatisation of the PTC, arguing that it was the only
parastatal that could attract substantial foreign interest and earn Zimbabwe
According to official documents shown to this newspaper,
the WorldTel problem that came to the boil last week has its roots in a joint
venture agreement between the parastatal and the company signed in January 1999.
The PTC allegedly entered into that deal under pressure from former
Information Minister Chen Chimutengwende, whose ministry was responsible for the
Under the deal, WorldTel was supposed to invest huge sums of
money into the local telecoms infrastructure and then feed into the PTC’s
technical system to provide the country with an additional 150 000 fixed
WorldTel failed to raise the money required and reneged
on the project through much of 1999 to last year.
In the meantime, the
PTC had changed its network and introduced new technology that made the first
WorldTel deal irrelevant.
PTC management officials were flabbergasted
three weeks ago when WorldTel’s local front men approached them saying they now
wanted to sign a shareholders’ agreement with the corporation and proceed with
WorldTel had by now sweetened its offer with a joint
venture agreement signed between it and PowerTel, the telecoms subsidiary of the
Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA). A copy of this joint venture was
also shown to the Financial Gazette.
PowerTel was formed to handle
ZESA’s internal telecoms but is also mired in charges that it has been using its
fibre-optic link between Harare and Bulawayo to issue private firms with
telecoms bandwidth in contravention of the terms of its licence.
sources said the joint venture firm between PowerTel and WorldTel was now
seeking to proceed with the 1999 deal signed between the PTC and WorldTel, a
deal that would be used to manipulate the PTC’s licence and offer WorldTel fixed
Under the provisions of the new Postal and
Telecommunications Act, which seeks to de-regulate this crucial sector, the PTC
is already licenced but its competitors have to pay hefty licence fees of up to
$17 billion to enter the market.
PTC management was said to have been
firm in its refusal to proceed with the deal for its licence to be exploited by
WorldTel last week. The sources said the PTC was adamant that should WorldTel
sue for breach of contract, the parastatal would win in court because WorldTel
had reneged on the 1999 agreement.
The sources also said PTC management
was unhappy about the manner the joint venture between PowerTel and WorldTel had
been reached because the PTC itself had been eager to conclude its own deal with
The PTC feels that it could use the ZESA pylons to augment its
fixed telephony services but has failed to reach an agreement with PowerTel.
But it is believed that senior ZANU PF politicians and government
officials have rallied behind the WorldTel/PowerTel project and are mounting
pressure on the PTC to sign up.
The Financial Gazette has it on good
authority that the Privatisation Agency of Zimbabwe and Price Waterhouse
Coopers, a PTC privatisation consultant, have flatly opposed the deal,
dismissing it as an attempt to enrich the pockets of individuals who are taking
advantage of the PTC’s unbundling.
Fears were also expressed this week
by telecoms experts on the appointment of Caxton Muzangaza, a ZESA employee, to
chair the new PTC (TeleOne) board given the ongoing squabbles on the deal
involving WorldTel, PowerTel and the PTC.
THE docket of MDC president Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, who
might be charged for allegedly breaching the Law and Order Maintenance Act, has
reportedly gone missing from the Attorney General’s Office.
According to sources, the docket and video tape of the rally, where Mr
Tsvangirai allegedly called for the violent ouster of President Mugabe, went
missing in circumstances yet to be explained.
Deputy Attorney General, Mr Bharat Patel, could neither confirm nor deny the
missing docket when reached for comment yesterday.
"I cannot comment because the matter is still not clear. I am not sure of the
details," said Mr Patel, quizzing The Herald reporter on his source of
Mr Tsvangirai’s trial was supposed to open at the High Court last week but
was referred to the Supreme Court after he challenged the legality of the law
under which he was being charged.
If the Supreme Court rules in favour of Mr Tsvangirai, who if convicted on
the present charges might face life imprisonment, the Attorney General’s Office
will have to draw up a new charge.
But if the appeal fails, the matter will be referred back to the High Court
Charges against the opposition leader arose after he allegedly told a crowd
of about 20 000 people, at his party’s first anniversary celebrations last year,
that " . . . what we would like to tell Mugabe today is that . . . please go
peacefully. If you don’t want to go peacefully, we will remove you violently".
Superintendent Bothwell Mugariri of Police General Headquarters said police
were not aware of the missing docket.
He said the procedure with dockets was that whenever investigations were
completed the docket would be handed over to the Attorney General’s office,
which decides whether to prosecute, or not.
prominent war veterans who turned rogue were yesterday arrested in Harare for
allegedly extorting $1,4 million under the pretext of solving a labour dispute.
Also arrested were 10 employees of the raided company. Both rogue veterans
and employees are expected to appear in court today.
Police suspect that nearly $200 000 was deposited directly into the bank
accounts of the war veterans while more money, allegedly extorted from the
company, was used to buy furniture that has since been seized by police.
Police spokesman, Superintendent Bothwell Mugariri, confirmed the arrests but
would not disclose the names of the suspects.
Senior Zanu-PF officials in Harare province also confirmed the arrests
including those of war veteran impostors.
War veterans Harare province chairman, Cde Joseph Chinotimba, immediately
commended the police for arresting the suspects.
"We gave a directive to the police that any person found extorting money from
employers and workers should be arrested," said Cde Chinotimba.
The clampdown follows Govern-ment instructions to arrest rogue war veterans
and impostors invading companies and extorting money under the guise of solving
Sources close to Cabinet said the issue of rogue elements and impostors was
discussed extensively in Cabinet on Tuesday.
There was a consensus that the actions were criminal and unjustified.
Company invasions could not be equated to the demonstrations over land which
were understandable, in that the desire for land was a long-standing fundamental
But even then, the Government had accepted demonstrations but had not allowed
people to settle themselves on the farms. People were being resettled using
But war veterans, or the rogue elements, could not, on the basis of what they
had done on the farms, mount a similar challenge in urban areas.
"The Government decided yesterday (Tuesday) that very stern measures will
have to be taken against these rogue elements. The stern measures will be taken
by all arms of security, led by the police. All those guilty of unlawful conduct
will have to be taken in and made answerable," said a source close to the
Home Affairs minister, Cde John Nkomo, told a news conference yesterday that
some of the war veterans had held company bosses hostage to induce payment of
large sums of money.
The minister said the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare,
and no one else, handled labour disputes.
"In this regard, therefore, all labour disputes shall be resolved by bona
fide Ministry of Labour officials," said Cde Nkomo.
He said a labour committee formed by Zanu-PF recently, to deal with labour
issues, was only meant to be a conduit through which people, who felt the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union was short-changing them, could forward their
grievances to the ministry.
Cde Nkomo urged the extortion victims to report to the police.
"All those cases brought to the police are already being investigated and we
will leave no stone unturned in our quest to bring the perpetrators to book.
"I want to advise all those who are being coerced not to pay any money to
anybody. Those who paid would be regarded as accomplices."
The team dealing with this issue was headed by a senior police officer. If
necessary, Cde Nkomo said, the Government would deploy more officers "including
the rough ones".
"We want to assure the business community that everything possible will be
done to ensure their security, the security of their businesses and the security
of both their homes and their business premises.
"We are aware that some have been pursued up to their homes. To the criminal
elements we are saying it does not matter who you are, we will pounce on you."
Cde Nkomo said while the Government appreciated the need for labour disputes
to be resolved fairly it could not allow a situation where "every Tom, Dick and
Harry hides under the noble banner of liberation war veterans and proceeds to
"We said those people (the Zanu-PF labour committee) would receive complaints
and forward them to the Ministry of Labour. But it was at that point that some
people have abused a well-meant arrangement.
"Zanu-PF is the party that is in Government and it cannot, as a party,
undermine the functions of a Government ministry."
The leadership of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association
has dissociated itself from the actions of the rogue war veterans.
There was evidence of rampant extortion, abductions and violence, which had
nothing to do with the welfare of the workers.
The rogue elements were terrorising industry and commerce, demanding payments
from companies on behalf of workers and then turning to the workers for
"They (rogue elements) are fleecing the employers and the employees. It is
clear that there is no focus other than sheer criminality," said a Cabinet
The Government had been meeting ambassadors and chief executive officers of
companies that have been adversely affected by the actions of the war veterans.
Foreign Affairs officials met the South African High Commissioner, Mr
Jeremiah Ndou, and Senior Secretary, Mr Willard Chiwewe, met the Danish
ambassador, Mr Erik Fiil, and assured him of the mechanism that were afoot to
redress the situation.
This came as a result of invasions of companies with South African ties and
the forced closure of Dandy Zimbabwe, a Danish-owned chewing gum manufacturing
company in Norton.
"Our expectations are that these measures must bring about an immediate
turnaround of this lawlessness," a Cabinet source said.
Foreign judge for Ugandan looting enquiry
From The Zimbabwe Independent, 18
War vets blame govt for
Senior Zanu PF officials say the government itself is as much
to blame as they are for the current industrial chaos because it sanctioned a
kangaroo court to usurp the functions of the Labour ministry in the settlement
of disputes. The company invasions strategy, they claim, was party policy aimed
at dislodging the MDC in the capital. Zanu PF Harare province officials and
lower-ranking war veterans have been targeted in the crackdown announced by Home
Affairs minister John Nkomo on Wednesday. The new government stance yesterday
saw police arresting suspected company raiders and extortionists in an attempt
to bring the situation under control. Police said 16 people had been arrested
yesterday bringing the total number of arrests so far to 26. At least 19 of the
suspects have appeared in court while seven were due to appear. Although war
veterans leader Mike Moyo was yesterday held by police over company invasions,
the arrests were seemingly focused on less powerful offenders while the
ringleaders remained free.
Police yesterday stationed members of the Support Unit at the
entrances to the two residences of Harare provincial vice-chairman Chris
Pasipamire along Rhodesville Road in Greendale. The police said they were keen
to question other war veterans and executive members of the Zanu PF Harare
province, namely Douglas Mahiya and Endy Mhlanga. Party sources said the arrest
of the war veterans was likely to cause tension in the capital if their leader
Joseph Chinotimba was not also brought to book. He is regarded as Zanu PF’s
chief hatchet man in the company raids.
Zanu PF officials yesterday pointed out that government backed
the war veterans and ruling party supporters in the formation of a committee
that usurped the Labour Tribunal in handling labour disputes. Sources said
government was now distancing itself from the activities of war veterans and
Zanu PF provincial leaders because the strategy was backfiring. It is understood
the late Zanu PF political commissar Border Gezi was personally involved in
establishing the Zanu PF committee whose activities generated the current chaos
pervading the industrial and commercial sectors. The committee was chaired by
Pasipamire, a war veteran. It included provincial chairman Amos Midzi and
provincial commissariat secretary Joseph Chinotimba who spearheaded the campaign
of company invasions. Pasipamire denied that his committee generated lawlessness
and assaults on companies. "Basically we were facilitating dialogue between
employers and workers," he said. "We didn’t have Ministry of Labour powers to
deal with the issues but we pushed them through the labour tribunal," he said.
Chris Mutsvangwa, Zanu PF Harare provincial secretary for administration, also a
war veteran, said the committee was set up in conjunction with the Ministry of
The opposition MDC has accused Zanu PF of creating the chaos.
"The Zanu PF strategy to seduce urban voters is backfiring and now the chickens
are coming home to roost," MDC spokesman Learnmore Jongwe said. "The strategy of
masquerading as messiahs in labour disputes has instead resulted in hundreds of
innocent workers being thrown out of their jobs as a result of company
closures." Home Affairs Minister John Nkomo announced on Wednesday - a day after
a cabinet decision on Tuesday to halt the invasions - that police would clamp
down on company raiders and ordered the self-appointed labour disputes arbiters
to stop their activities. "They are doing a lot of disservice to my party and
government," Nkomo said this week. But Nkomo denied that government had allowed
the situation to deteriorate this far. He claimed police were overwhelmed.
Cabinet was said to have awoken to the damage that war veterans and Zanu PF
officials were causing to the image of the country and above all to the economy
which has been dealt a body blow by the war veterans-led assaults.
The activities of war veterans last week led Canada to impose
economic sanctions on Harare. This followed an incident involving Canadian High
Commissioner to Zimbabwe James Wall who had attempted to rescue the director of
a Canadian aid agency from the clutches of war veterans. The European Union has
also adopted a tough line. "The strategy has resulted in the imposition of
sanctions by the international community," Jongwe noted. "Generally the strategy
has resulted in the intensification of Zimbabwe’s isolation," he said.
Government’s crackdown is seen as a damage-limitation exercise. But observers
said the problem, which has seen companies close or suspend operations, was
started by government when it launched the factory invasions in late February
and allowed an arbitrary committee to poke its nose into delicate labour issues.
Nkomo said at the press conference on Wednesday that the Zanu PF labour
committee should stop henceforth dealing with labour matters. "People have the
right to seek redress for their problems," Nkomo said. "However, all labour
disputes are a responsibility of the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and
Social Welfare and no one else," he said.
Nkomo said war veteran impostors who raided companies would be
dealt with by the police. But Jongwe said there were no impostors. "Minister
Nkomo should not talk about impostors that do not exist as causing mayhem in the
companies but should instead talk about the Zanu PF-sponsored Joseph Chinotimba
and Chenjerai Hunzvi and other Zanu PF hoodlums who have been committing
extortion and acts of thuggery in broad daylight," he said. Despite the
ministerial announcements that war veterans had no business in labour disputes,
scores of people were at the Zanu PF Harare offices along Fourth Street
yesterday to air their grievances. There was a slight commotion mid-morning when
riot police moved in to disperse them.
From News24 (SA), 17
Harare - The docket relating to a charge of terrorism being
brought by prosecutors against Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
has vanished, the state-owned daily Herald newspaper said on Thursday. "The
docket and video tape of the rally, where Mr Tsvangirai allegedly called for the
violent ouster of President (Robert) Mugabe, went missing in circumstances yet
to be explained," the paper said. Tsvangirai, Mugabe's only serious challenger
in next year's presidential elections, faces charges of terrorism and inciting
violence, arising from a statement he made last year suggesting that Mugabe
could be removed from power violently if he did not step down before the polls.
The High Court has granted a request by Tsvangirai to have the Supreme Court
determine whether the law under which he is being charged is
From The Daily News, 17
Stand up against Zanu PF terror,
It is time Zimbabweans stood up to the terror-tactics of Zanu
PF and chose a government they prefer, the MDC president, Morgan Tsvangirai,
told a rally in Mabvuku, Harare, on Saturday. "In Zambia and Mozambique the
people refused to extend the terms for their presidents," said Tsvangirai. "The
power lies with the people. Mugabe cannot stop you even if he visits a prophet
or a n’anga." He said no one was born a leader or a war veteran and so there was
no need for them to fear Mugabe and his militia. He was addressing about 2 000
people at Number One Ground in Mabvuku.
Tsvangirai said Mugabe had a choice to ensure Zimbabweans
followed a democratic route to elect their leader by abstaining from violence.
He condemned the police for allegedly attacking Justin Mutendadzamera, the MDC
Member of Parliament (MP) for Mabvuku, and his wife, Hilda, on 18 October last
year. He said: "Assaulting an MP is anathema. It is unheard of anywhere else in
the world that an MP is assaulted by the police." Riot police rudely woke up the
MP and his wife by throwing stones on the roof of their Mabvuku house early in
the morning and then stormed in, it is alleged. They allegedly severely beat up
Mutendadzamera and his wife, accusing them of organising violent food riots that
rocked the high-density suburb. Tsvangirai said a time would come when everyone
would say, "Enough is enough". Mutendadzamera accused the police of turning back
MDC supporters from attending the rally at the Mabvuku turn-off.
In Mufakose on Sunday, Tsvangirai told about 8 000 people that
Mugabe was like Ian Smith, the president of Rhodesia. "The only difference
between Mugabe and Smith is the skin colour, but their deeds are similar," he
said. "Mugabe is sanctioning intimidation tactics against his own people. He is
relying on Chenjerai Hunzvi and Joseph Chinotimba to remain in power." Hunzvi
and Chinotimba are war veteran activists. Tsvangirai said Zanu PF was now
employing a scorched-earth policy by causing havoc on the commercial farms and
in the private companies in Harare, because it knew that it would not remain in
power for long. Meanwhile in Bulawayo, Mathula Lusinga, the national
vice-chairman of the MDC youths league, at a rally in Mpopoma launching the
Bulawayo mayoral campaign, said youths should protect people from being
continually intimidated by war veterans and Zanu PF. "We all have rural homes
and we know how our relatives there are suffering," he said. "We must start in
the rural areas."
From The Zimbabwe Independent, 18
Zim secures 40m litre fuel
Zimbabwe is in the process of securing 40 million litres of
fuel through a fuel-for-equity deal with a South African company, Engen,
bringing a temporary reprieve to the current wave of fuel shortages, the
Zimbabwe Independent heard this week. Petrozim owns the oil pipeline between
Feruka in Mutare and the fuel storage tanks in Mabvuku, Harare. The National Oil
Company of Zimbabwe owns 50% of Petrozim. It is understood that Engen, which is
50% Malaysian owned, was interested in a stake in the pipeline and would use
fuel supplies as equity.
Sources in the oil industry said part of the 40 million-litre
consignment from Engen had already started arriving in the country and this
should last about a month at current consumption levels. The sources said IPG
was also expected to pump fuel up to Mutare from Beira. "Queues are not expected
to disappear completely but we are not going to experience total stock-outs in
the next four weeks," the source said. Yesterday Mines and Energy minister
Sydney Sekeramayi refused to comment on the issue saying "I have no comment on
that" while Noczim chief executive Webster Muriritirwa referred the paper to the
ministry for comment. Sources said 6 000 cubic metres out of the 40 000 cubic
metres had already arrived at Feruka in Mutare from Beira. The sources said the
IPG fuel that had been in the holding tanks at Feruka was all distributed last
It was not clear at the time of going to press what the size of
the shareholding to be sold to Engen is likely to be, but sources said the
company had been generous in its terms with the bankrupt Noczim. The government
has made overtures to dispose of Noczim assets, which include a fleet of motor
vehicles, residential properties and the head office in Harare’s city centre.
Zimbabwe has been struggling to secure lines of credit to procure fuel due to
the indebtedness of Noczim and the bad state of the economy. This has resulted
in erratic supplies over the past 18 months. Numerous attempts to solve the
crisis have failed due to the shortage of foreign currency.
From The Star (SA), 17
Britain in bid to get Zim talking
Harare - Britain is seeking to re-open dialogue with Zimbabwe
in a bid to heal relations which have become strained since Harare embarked upon
its controversial land reform programme, a state-run newspaper said Thursday.
The Herald daily quoted unnamed diplomatic sources as saying London had
approached the Mozambique government to help it re-establish contacts with
Harare. Mozambique's foreign minister, Leonardo Simao, is expected in Harare
next week to deliver the message from Britain, the paper said. "The sources said
London now felt there was need to restore communication and re-open discussions
on the land programme, an issue that has led to a serious rift between the two
countries," it said.
Britain has led strong criticism of President Robert Mugabe's
government, particularly over its land reform programme under which about 71 000
families have been resettled following the invasions of hundreds of white-owned
farms by veterans of the country's liberation war and landless peasants. Mugabe
has repeatedly told Britain, the former colonial power, to stop meddling in the
troubled southern African nation's affairs. Harare accuses Britain of
bankrolling the opposition MDC, which won half the seats in parliamentary
elections last year. Mugabe, meanwhile, has referred to Prime Minister Tony
Blair's government as "gay gangsters" after a run-in with activists protesting
his strong views against homosexuality during a visit to London last year. The
diplomatic source quoted by the paper accused Britain of abusing communication
lines by resorting to "publicity stunts". "They thought they would win through
pressure what they need to settle through justice and a sense of historical
responsibility," the source was quoted as saying. Britain's foreign secretary
last year approached Nigerian leader Olusegun Obasanjo to help normalise
relations between London and Harare.
From The Star (SA), 17
Zim minister rejects plan for
Harare - Zimbabwe's Environment and Tourism Minister Francis
Nhema has slammed the allocation of wildlife parks for the resettlement of black
peasants, including areas that are part of the Transfrontier agreement between
Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa. Nhema's criticism of his government's
policies came after Gonarezhou park, one of Zimbabwe's foremost conservation
parks, was demarcated for resettlement last week under the government's
controversial fast track resettlement programme. He said the development
threatened Zimbabwe's multimillion-dollar hunting industry. The demarcation of
Gonarezhou came barely two months after the signing of a Transfrontier agreement
between Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa, encompassing Gonarezhou, the
Kruger National Park and certain Mozambican areas bordering South Africa as a
regional conservation area.
In a letter to vice-president Joseph Msika, Nhema said
representations submitted to his office indicated that properties earmarked for
wildlife parks and horticulture had been allocated to settlers with no
consideration for the foreign currency generated by activities taking place
there. "Ranches that have Zimbabwe Investment Centre certificates have been
allocated for resettlement," said Nhema in the letter. "As long as the above
issues are not addressed, the tourism industry will not recover and Zimbabwe
will face difficulties at the next meeting of the Convention on International
Trade in Endangered Species in our campaign to resume trade in ivory.
Conservancies should remain wildlife areas, but allow for participation by local
communities and indigenous entrepreneurs." He said the government should vow to
honour the commitments made to Zimbabwe's hunting clients at the Safari Club
International Convention held in the United States of America recently. United
States hunters contributed significantly to the US$25 million (about
R197-million) netted by Zimbabwe from hunting in 1999.
From The Monitor (Uganda), 17
Foreign Judge to Head DRC
President Yoweri Museveni will appoint a foreign judge to head
a judicial inquiry into the alleged looting of DR-Congo’s mineral wealth by top
UPDF officers. "We are going to appoint a judicial inquiry to be headed by a
judge, preferably a non-Ugandan - because if you appoint a Ugandan judge they
would say that you are going to be biased," Museveni said yesterday while
addressing donors attending a Consultative Group meeting. "There was a group of
experts appointed by the UN although they were not experts - that group led by a
lady from Ivory Coast, [that] did a superficial and shallow analysis," he said.
The inquiry comes in response to findings by a United Nations panel of experts
on the illegal exploitation of DR-Congo’s natural resources and other forms of
wealth that implicated President Museveni’s family members and top government
officials. Museveni said that the inquiry would exonerate him from 'the
malignment’ by the UN team. "I thought they were serious people that group that
maligned me but they were superficial and possibly malicious analysts," he
MEDIA MONITORING PROJECT ZIMBABWE MEDIA UPDATE # 2001/19 Monday 7 May to
Sunday 14 May 2001
Media inadequately covered the Masvingo
mayoral elections. The Zimbabwe Independent and The Zimbabwe Mirror (11/5)
had no story on the event while The Daily News and The Financial Gazette
failed to inform its readers about important electoral issues. However,
the Daily News provided the most comprehensive and impartial coverage of the
pre-election violence. The state media put on a partisan performance,
preferring to urge the public to vote Zanu PF. This message was supported by
the prominent coverage given to alleged defections from the MDC to Zanu
1. MASVINGO MAYORAL ELECTION
In an election, media
coverage would have information that would enable voters to make informed
decisions about who to vote for. The public broadcaster, ZBC, should provide
opportunities for candidates to publicly express their policies and to
interact with the public and/ or journalists, where possible. However, this
was glaringly missing. Of the paltry 13 articles on the elections in
the mainstream public and private press, coverage concentrated on the
pre-poll violence at the expense of the other critical electoral issues such
MMPZ statistics on coverage in the two dailies show
that in The Herald of the six stories covered and the 13 voices quoted on
campaigns, five voices (38%) favoured Zanu PF, three voices (23%) were
from the police, two voices (15%) were from government. The single voice
from the MDC was denying allegations from Zanu PF that an MDC rally had
flopped. In The Daily News, of the four stories reported and the fifteen
voices quoted eight (53%) were MDC, three voices each (20%) were
accorded to Zanu PF and the police, while the remaining one voice
belonged to a professional. Of all media, only The Financial Gazette
quoted an independent candidate in a week where it predominantly quoted the
MDC (five voices (50%). Zanu PF, the police and residents were quoted
once. On radio 1, 19 stories were about the mayoral election campaign. 9
voices were Zanu PF, three were of MDC and 11 of the voices were
unidentified. On radio 2 there were only four stories on mayoral elections.
Three favoured Zanu PF. On ZBCTV, out of the 34 voices given to election
campaign, 17 or 50% were of Zanu PF, and the remaining 50% were equally
divided between the MDC, Masvingo residents and polling agents. As in
The Herald, the voice of the MDC was quoted only denying allegations
made by Zanu PF's supporters that MDC was perpertrating political violence.
Only once did ZBCTV refer to an MDC rally, in a 15 sec piece which stated
that the rally flopped. All state media were guilty of political advertising
for the ruling party to which they gave pre-rally publicity. The Herald
(10/5), ZBC (radio- 10/5 and 11/5 morning bulletins), carried updates on the
progress of the ruling party campaigns. Details on the MDC rallies only
emerged in the private press. The Financial Gazette (10/5), for instance,
reported that ". the ZANU PF dominated Masvingo town council . denied the
MDC permission at the last minute to use Mucheke stadium for a campaign
meeting on the pretext that a soccer match was to be played there later that
VOTING Only on voting day did the ZBC audience meet one
of the opposition candidates where on ZBCTV's 8pm (8/5), MDC Chaimiti
was quoted expressing confidence that he would win. All weekend media
reported that the voter turnout was low. MDC was again quoted in a negative
context when MP Silas Mangono refuted Zanu PF supporter allegations that MDC
had fiddled with the voters roll to ensure that Zanu PF did not vote (13/5,
2. POLITICAL VIOLENCE
Reports of political
violence were minimal and partial in the state- owned media. Predictably, the
weeklies carried few articles on political violence. It is important to
compare the two stories on this rally that appeared in the privately and
state owned media. The Herald (11/5) and - in an attempt to highlight ZANU
PF's "unbridled support" (Herald Editorial.) carried a front-page article
which stated that thousands of people attended ZANU PF rallies and that
the town had closed down. ZBC (ZBCTV, 11/5, 8pm) in a lengthy six minute
report in which it quoted all six Zanu PF officials reported that none of
the people could fit into the hall. The Daily News (10/5) took a different
angle. It reported that "Business came to a virtual standstill . after ZANU
PF supporters ordered the closure of the town to force residents to
attend mayoral campaign rallies addressed by Vice Presidents Muzenda and
There were only two reports on political violence on
ZBC. All of these implicated the MDC. Both The Daily News and The
Financial Gazette provided substantial evidence on the violence perpetrated
by war veterans. The state-owned media did not subject the role of war
veterans in the political violence to any scrutiny. In fact, war veterans
were presented as victims of MDC perpetrated violence (The Herald 9/5)
- a point reinforced in an editorial comment MDC: Violence doesn't
pay. In addition, The Herald carried only four reports of violence in the
week compared to 13 in The Daily News. Only one company invasion by war
vets was reported (The Herald 7/5) in which an Affirmative Action Group
official was quoted justifying the action. Of the other three political
violence reports, two blamed the MDC, a point reinforced in an editorial
comment (The Herald 11/5), and the other was on ZANU PF intra-party
political violence. In contrast, The Daily News carried 13 political
violence articles, including five on company invasions. Both ZANU PF and MDC
were accused of the pre-poll violence in Masvingo, with The Daily News
highlighting the partiality of the police. The private press subjected the
partiality of the police to scrutiny, quoting both MDC and police officials
who confirmed selective prosecution. Both MDC and ZANU PF were accorded
space to comment on the political violence although in the Daily News the
MDC voice outnumbered that of the police and Zanu PF (10 voices to three
each). The Herald quoted four Zanu PF voices versus none of the MDC and
three of the police.
There were contradictory statements in the private
and state-owned media. The Herald (8/5) and the ZBC reported that seven
MDC youths had been arrested for political violence, and quoted police
spokesperson Bothwell Mugariri who confirmed the arrests. The Daily News
(7/5) reported that both MDC and ZANU PF youths had been arrested for
violence, corroborating its reports with quotes from both MDC and ZANU PF
The Financial Gazette (10/5) reported of a blitz on Masvingo
MDC leaders, also highlighted the role of the war veterans in the pre-poll
The police in Masvingo was reported to have refused to
talk to the Daily News. MMPZ notes with concern the increasing number of
incidents in which the police have refused to avail information to The
Daily News. The police refusal to divulge information to some sections of
the press is antithetical to the principles of freedom of information.
The Financial Gazette (10/5) story quoting Minister Jonathan Moyo
as saying that President Mugabe would not stop company raids formed the
basis of Minister Moyo's attack on the private press in The Herald (11/5) in
which he said "There now appears to be a pattern that has developed within
the oppositional press to deliberately twist, distort, misrepresent and
falsify news and information for political purposes at the expense of
the public's right to know, and at the expense of the interests of
professional and ethical journalism". The denial was also quoted in the
electronic media on 10/5 8pm bulletins.
attacks on company were ignored in the electronic media. The assault on a
Danish envoy only came to light in the form of a government response in
parliament to MDC queries (9/5 8pm television)
The Standard (13/5)
reported that suspected Chief Chiweshe attackers had been beaten, relying
solely on the victim for comment. The paper also reported that SOS offices
had been closed after war veterans had invaded offices. The Sunday Mail
(13/5) did not have a single article on political violence.
(a) MDC COURT CHALLENGES
The MDC court challenges
received substantial media coverage. However selective reporting and bias
was reflected in both the state media and The Daily News. The state media
reported that the MP Chiyangwa had retained his Chinhoyi seat but ignored
that Zvobgo had lost his application (ZBC, 9/5). The Daily News (10/5)
underplayed Philip Chiyangwa's court victory in an article headlined High
Court dismisses Zvobgo's application as Chiyangwa wins in which Chiyangwa's
victory was only reported in the 15th paragraph. Only The Daily News
(12/5) reported that a deal had been struck between MDC's Zachariah Rioga
and ZANU PF's Eddison Zvobgo to drop the election petition for Masvingo
South, and instead join hands to work against political violence in the
constituency. The article however begged for more comment from the MDC
The state-owned media, reported that MDC Zaka West
candidate had withdrawn his petition after defecting to Zanu PF (The Herald
9/5). ZBC however highlighted the defection where Musimuki was quoted at
length on ZBCTV (3 mins 30sec) attacking the MDC (8/5, 8pm) at the expense
of the real story; the electoral petition withdrawal. The Daily News
ignored the development altogether while The Herald (9/5) quoted ZANU PF
secretary for administration Emmerson Mnangagwa who attacked the MDC, but
did not quote MDC. The Financial Gazette (10/5) and belatedly in The Daily
News (12/5) quoted MDC spokesman Learnmore Jongwe as saying Musimuki had
tried to extort money from the MDC. The Financial Gazette (9/5) added that
Musimuki had been offered a job as a headmaster and Z$ 800 000 by ZANU
If, initially the defections to Zanu PF were newsworthy, they now no
longer are. However, the ZBC continues to give prominence to
uncorroborated reports about defections. On the 10th, MDC youths from
Bindura were reported to have defected to Zanu PF. On the 11th the MDC
youths who attacked and stoned President Mugabe's Highfields home during the
June elections as well as Dr Hunzvi's surgery and Bikita and Mutoko also
defected. There was no information on the state of individuals who were
arrested in connection with the cases. Neither was there a comment from the
police on whether they would be charged or not.
OF JUSTICE DEVITTE
Reporting in the state media were at variance with
each other. While the ZBC merely announced that resignation of Devitte (8/5
ZBC, am bulletins); The Herald (8/5) speculated at length on the
resignation quoting unnamed legal analysts but not Justice Devitte
himself. The report linked the resignation to the nullification of June
Election results in three constituencies and speculated that the Judge had
been ". offered a job and permanent residence status "possibly" in
Australia". The article also quoted another unnamed legal analyst who
dismissed the resignation: It does not make sense to sentence someone to
the gallows and then leave the country the next day. Some of
these judges are making political judgements as part of building their
CVs and not for the promotion of justice.
Barnabas Thondhlana WHILE
excitement is running high over First Banking Corporation’s initial public
offer, questions are being raised about the bank’s shareholding structure,
especially Zanu PF’s dominance in the company.
First Bank’s current
shareholding structure has AM Treger (Pvt) Ltd holding a 20,7% share, which will
be diluted after flotation to 13%. Zanu PF holds a 40% shareholding in
Treger through Zidco Holdings, in which the party has a 55% stake through
M&S Syndicate. The other 45% is held by Unicorn Imports and Exports based in
the United Kingdom.
Zidco Holdings itself has a 20,7% shareholding in
First Bank, which will also be reduced to 13%.
Investments Ltd, described in the prospectus as “an investment company set up in
1997 by indigenous Zimbabweans to facilitate their participation as investors in
key industries in Zimbabwe”, has a 20,7% shareholding in the bank.
is thought to be the vehicle through which Mutumwa Mawere, Edwin Manikai and
John Mkushi, together with a number of high-flying political heavyweights, hold
a substantial interest in the bank. The managing director of
Ukubambana-Kubatana, Tendayi Mundawarara, is a director of First Bank.
Total Finance, with a 11,7% stake, is described as the “holding company
for the interests of a number of non-resident Zimbabwean shareholders”, top
among whom is Stan Mtangi, based in the United States.
Ltd, a Mawere company, has a 11,2% shareholding which will be diluted to 8,8%.
Other shareholders are the Local Authorities Pension Fund (1,3%), Zesa Pension
Fund (1,1%) and the Mining Industry Pension Fund (1,1%).
“The bank today
has over 70% shareholders with links to Zanu PF or Zanu PF itself, and the new
structures will have about 45% party holding,” said one market analyst. “Add to
that the 8,8% that management holds through Sovre Enterprises, then there is
over 59,2% in the hands of a party-linked clique.”
The issue of two
directors — Jayant Joshi and Dipak Padya -— both of whom are described as
British citizens in the prospectus and both representing Zanu PF-linked
companies, has also raised eyebrows.
“However, the issue will be
oversubscribed,” another analyst said. “In the event that the share faces
under-subscription, there obviously will be mopping up of shares by pension
funds like the MIPF where Mkushi is chairman, and the National Social Security
Authority where Manikai is chairman.
Zimre, whose majority shareholding
is in the hands of First Bank-linked companies, will obviously also be bulldozed
into purchasing the shares,” the analyst said.
Investments holds a 20% stake in Zimre, as does Endurite, a company in which
Zanu PF has strong interests. Although the bank’s figures are exciting, one
banking executive asked whether the profits achieved last year could be
However, market analysts were agreed the share will be
snapped up due to its attractiveness and the thirst for new scrip on the bourse.
Dumisani Muleya FORMER senior
cabinet minister and Zanu PF Masvingo maverick Eddison Zvobgo says the ruling
party is in a quandary because it has been infiltrated by “strangers” who are
currently ravaging its fabric.
Commenting on Zanu PF’s defeat last
weekend by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the Masvingo
mayoral election, Zvobgo said his party performed dismal-ly due to the strategy
of opportunists who wanted to “harvest where they had not planted”.
“Baboons are on the run in Masvingo,” Zvo-bgo said. (Last year
Vice-President Simon Muzenda said Zanu PF supporters should vote for any
candidate the party fielded even if it were a baboon.)
“As is well
known, they tend to want to reap where they did not sow,” he said.
Despite extensive co-ercion and the use of state resources, as well as
applying saturation coverage in the media, Zanu PF was beaten by over 2 000
votes. The result was seen as a confirmation of its declining popularity,
especially in the urban areas.
Dzikamai Mavhaire, a former Masvingo
provincial governor, deputy minister, MP and Zanu PF provincial chair, said the
Masvingo poll was tainted by vote-buying and violence.
“There was the
problem of people distributing money to get votes. If you distribute money to 2
000 people you will get 2 000 votes,” he said. Zanu PF got 2 188 votes while
the MDC received 4 532. It is understood Zanu PF dished out millions of dollars
to secure votes.
“We used to have our own style of campaigning and a
system of winning elections,” pointed out Mavhaire.
“This time it was a
different style: we had people closing shops and forcing people to attend
rallies. People came from Harare with sticks and sjamboks to beat up people in
Masvingo to vote for them,” he said.
“You don’t beat up people for them
to vote for you. You don’t close shops and then expect shop owners and their
customers to vote for you,” he said. “At the end of the day we were
political commissars against ourselves,” Mavhaire said.
there were “visitors” in Zanu PF who wanted to manoeuvre to the top while
destabilising the party and undermining its electoral prospects.
misery of the party is that strangers, visitors, and opportunists are finding
their way improperly into top party positions,” Zvobgo observed. “The
genuine stalwarts are now standing aside and when that happens disaster sets
in,” he pointed out.
Zvobgo — who holds sway across vast swathes of
Masvingo and has stood up to President Mugabe on several issues — believes Zanu
PF could have won the poll if leaders known by the people were in charge.
“I was never involved in this election at all,” he said.
not involved because I was not given an opportunity. I was not invited and I
felt I shouldn’t interfere lest things go wrong.”
The Zanu PF
heavyweight, who has been in active politics for over a generation, said the
ruling party’s controversial restructuring exercise was sabotaging the party and
had a bearing in the Masvingo poll outcome. “I don’t think the position of
the people of Masvingo has changed,” he observed.
“They are simply
disgruntled and unhappy about the manner in which the party’s restructuring
exercise has been done.”
Zvobgo recently attacked the late Zanu PF
political commissar Border Gezi saying he was “overzealous” in his shake-up
programme. He urged the party leadership to sort out the re-organisation
“If that is not done nothing will change,” Zvobgo warned.
“I’m sure the senior leaders will seriously consider and revisit the
Masvingo question in our post-mortem (of the election),” he said.
election is a practical exercise,” Zvobgo noted. “It’s judged by results and
nothing else. One cannot brush aside that they (MDC) won and it was admitted by
both parties involved as a quiet, free and fair election,” he said.
party (Zanu PF) has to sit down and make an analysis of issues in order to
ascertain what went wrong and take corrective measures,” he said. “Political
survival is important and you don’t ignore facts if you want to survive. You can
ignore rumours but not facts. We just have to do something not only in Masvingo
but also in other provinces,” he advised.
“We also need to ensure that
leaders who are known to the people -— and not strangers — are involved in party
issues and actually play an important role,” he said.
Zvobgo said the
solution for Masvingo was for his party to call a meeting between the current
provincial executive and the dissolved one.
“First and foremost we need
to call the dissolved executive which was directly elected by the people for a
four-year term at a provincial conference in 1999 to meet the current team and
discuss issues,” he suggested.
“If we call them together then the party
chairman Cde John Nkomo should handle the matter. I’m sure a way forward can be
found because the problem is simply that the former executive and the people are
unhappy about the way the restructuring has been done,” he said.
secretary for administration Emmerson Mnangagwa this week said his party would
deal with internal problems to revive its electoral fortunes.
Mavhaire-led provincial executive was ousted last year by the war veterans who
accused it of fuelling factionalism.
Mavhaire, a key member of the
Zvobgo camp battling for supremacy with Masvingo provincial governor Josiah
Hu-ngwe’s faction, recently warned that his executive’s removal through a “coup”
would prove disastrous. Mavhaire — renowned for telling Mugabe in 1998 to
step down — said Zanu PF did not win Masvingo because its campaigns were devoid
“In our campaign there was not an iota of an idea about
how we were going to solve economic problems,” he said.
fundamentals are totally upside down. There are always long fuel queues but we
did not deal with these issues during our campaign,” he added.
Dumisani Muleya SENIOR Zanu PF
officials say the government itself is as much to blame as they are for the
current industrial chaos because it sanctioned a kangaroo court to usurp the
functions of the Labour ministry in the settlement of disputes.
company invasions strategy, they claim, was party policy aimed at dislodging the
Movement for Democratic Change in the capital.
Zanu PF Harare province
officials and lower-ranking war veterans have been targeted in the crackdown
announced by Home Affairs minister John Nkomo on Wednesday.
government stance yesterday saw police arresting suspected company raiders and
extortionists in an attempt to bring the situation under control.
said 16 people had been arrested yesterday bringing the total number of arrests
so far to 26. At least 19 of the suspects have appeared in court while seven
were due to appear.
Although war veterans leader Mike Moyo was yesterday
held by police over company invasions, the arrests were seemingly focused on
less powerful offenders while the ringleaders remained free.
yesterday stationed members of the Support Unit at the entrances to the two
residences of Harare provincial vice-chairman Chris Pasipamire along Rhodesville
Road in Grendale. The police said they were keen to question other war veterans
and executive members of the Zanu PF Harare province, namely Douglas Mahiya and
Party sources said the arrest of the war veterans was
likely to cause tension in the capital if their leader Joseph Chinotimba was not
also brought to book. He is regarded as Zanu PF’s chief hatchet man in the
Zanu PF officials yesterday pointed out that government
backed the war veterans and ruling party supporters in the formation of a
committee that usurped the Labour Tribunal in handling labour disputes.
Sources said government was now distancing itself from the activities
of war veterans and Zanu PF provincial leaders because the strategy was
It is understood the late Zanu PF political commissar Border
Gezi was personally involved in establishing the Zanu PF committee whose
activities generated the current chaos pervading the industrial and commercial
The committee was chaired by Pasipamire, a war veteran. It
included provincial chairman Amos Midzi and provincial commissariat secretary
Joseph Chinotimba who spearheaded the campaign of company inva- sions.
Pasipamire denied that his committee generated lawlessness and assaults on
“Basically we were facilitating dialogue between employers
and workers,” he said.
“We didn’t have Ministry of Labour powers to deal
with the issues but we pushed them through the labour tribunal,” he said.
Chris Mutsvangwa, Zanu PF Harare provincial secretary for
administration, also a war veteran, said the committee was set up in conjunction
with the Ministry of Labour.
The opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) has accused Zanu PF of creating the chaos.
“The Zanu PF
strategy to seduce urban voters is backfiring and now the chickens are coming
home to roost,” MDC spokesman Learnmore Jongwe said.
“The strategy of
masquerading as messiahs in labour disputes has instead resulted in hundreds of
innocent workers being thrown out of their jobs as a result of company
Home Affairs Minister John Nkomo announced on Wednesday — a
day after a cabinet decision on Tuesday to halt the invasions — that police
would clamp down on company raiders and ordered the self-appointed labour
disputes arbiters to stop their activities.
“They are doing a lot of
disservice to my party and government,” Nkomo said this week. But Nkomo denied
that government had allowed the situation to deteriorate this far. He claimed
police were overwhelmed.
Cabinet was said to have awoken to the damage
that war veterans and Zanu PF officials were causing to the image of the country
and above all to the economy which has been dealt a body blow by the war
The activities of war veterans last week led
Canada to impose economic sanctions on Harare. This followed an incident
involving Canadian High Commissioner to Zimbabwe James Wall who had attempted to
rescue the director of a Canadian aid agency from the clutches of war veterans.
The European Union has also adopted a tough line.
“The strategy has
resulted in the imposition of sanctions by the international community,” Jongwe
noted. “Generally the strategy has resulted in the intensification of Zimbabwe’s
isolation,” he said.
Government’s crackdown is seen as a
damage-limitation exercise. But observers said the problem, which has seen
companies close or suspend operations, was started by government when it
launched the factory invasions in late February and allowed an arbitrary
committee to poke its nose into delicate labour issues. Nkomo said at the
press conference on Wednesday that the Zanu PF labour committee should stop
henceforth dealing with labour matters.
“People have the right to seek
redress for their problems,” Nkomo said. “However, all labour disputes are a
responsibility of the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare and
no one else,” he said. Nkomo said war veteran impostors who raided companies
would be dealt with by the police. But Jongwe said there were no impostors.
“Minister Nkomo should not talk about impostors that do not exist as
causing mayhem in the companies but should instead talk about the Zanu
PF-sponsored Joseph Chinotimba and Chenjerai Hunzvi and other Zanu PF hoodlums
who have been committing extortion and acts of thuggery in broad daylight,” he
Despite the ministerial announcements that war veterans had no
business in labour disputes, scores of people were at the Zanu PF Harare offices
along Fourth Street yesterday to air their grievances. There was a slight
commotion mid-morning when riot police moved in to disperse them.
Muleya CONFUSION reigns in the ruling Zanu PF
over whether or not President Robert Mugabe needs to be nominated as the party’s
candidate for next year’s presidential election.
Party heavyweights have
been issuing contradictory statements over the issue, confirming reports that
there was no consensus that Mugabe should be the candidate.
chairman John Nkomo insisted last week that Mugabe would have to be nominated.
This week party information chief Nathan Shamuyarira said Muga-be was
the only candidate. He said there would be no further consultation on the
“The president has already been nominated. That was done at our
special congress last year,” Shamuyarira said.
“Mugabe is our candidate.
There will be no more consultation.” Shamuyarira — one of Mugabe’s closest
court-iers — insisted that it was not necessary to confer because Mugabe was
given a new mandate to head the ruling party for five years at the 1999
congress, and the decision was reaffirmed last December during the party’s
Nkomo — understood to be at loggerheads with
Mugabe’s closest lieutenants over a range of issues — told the Zimbabwe
Independent last week that the president would have to be properly selected to
represent Zanu PF in the presidential poll according to party procedures.
“What the president has said is that he will offer his candidacy for his
party and the nation, which is fine, but we still have to nominate him,” Nkomo
“Nomination is in terms of procedure. We are doing this not
because we doubt him but it is a process that has to be followed,” he said in
But this week Nkomo refused to discuss the issue, apparently
for fear of worsening friction over what ruling party officials see as a
Zanu PF deputy secretary for information Jonathan Moyo
over the weekend told the official press that Mugabe was the sole party
candidate. His remarks appeared designed to rebut Nkomo’s.
Moyo, who is
also Information minister and now seemingly close to the president, was quoted
as saying Mugabe would not be subjected to the internal selection process.
“Therefore, the question of who the party candidate is, is not only
straight forward but is also settled in terms of the party’s policy directives
as adopted at the annual conference of the party and endorsed by the party
congress and above all as enshrined in the party’s constitution,” he said.
“In particular the candidacy of President Mugabe was endorsed by the
1999 party congress and the special congress last year,” said Moyo. It is
understood that Zanu PF is mulling a new leadership structure that would be led
by secretary for administration Emm-erson Mnangagwa.
Mnangagwa, who was
beaten for the party’s chairmanship by Nkomo in 1999, last week told the
state media he had no presidential ambitions.
Mugabe spreading misery in the region — Foundation
Godfrey Marawanyika THE
World Peace Foundation has accused Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe of
spreading misery to his countrymen and the region at large.
of the foundation, Robert Rotberg, who is also director of the Program on
Intrastate Conflict at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in the
US, said Zimbabwe’s economic and political problems threatened the region.
The World Peace Foundation is a human rights organisation based in the
“The economic and political cancer of President Robert Mugabe’s
regime in Zimbabwe now promises to spread to South Africa and so endanger the
continent,” said Rotberg. “Zimbabwe’s man-made tragedy desperately threatens all
its neighbours and deeply compromises American attempts to help Africa help
He said Mugabe’s “paramilitary troops” had brutualised and
killed opponents, assaulted lawyers, human rights activists and democratic
reformers and invaded factories and NGOs as well as farms.
intimidation had increased in most parts of the country amid fears of serious
shortages of wheat and maize — Zimbabwe’s staple food. Despite warnings from
the Sadc early warning unit of serious food shortages facing the country, the
government has dismissed the fears.
Rotberg said Zimbabwe “virtually has
no foreign exchange at the mo- ment”.
“Zimbabwe has had virtually no
foreign exchange since September, and production of its biggest exports, tobacco
and gold, has shrunk considerably,” he said.
“A trickle of petroleum and
electric power continues to arrive from South Africa.
experience long lines for gasoline and frequent black- outs. Inflation has
soared, the currency has lost much of its value against other currencies, gross
domestic product has fallen 10% and unemployment has reached 60%.”
“Nearly a million immigrants have walked into South Africa from Zimbabwe
— an exodus that endangers South Africa’s economic future,” Rotberg said.
“President Mbeki fears the spread of Zimbabwe’s violence to his own
country,” he said.
“Most Western donors, including the International
Monetary Fund, have already frozen aid, and many charitable organisations have
abandoned their operations — not least because of attacks by paramilitaries,” he
Dumisani Muleya THE International
Bar Association (IBA) has expressed further dismay over the continued assault on
the judiciary and erosion of the rule of law in Zimbabwe.
The IBA —
which last month produced a report condemning what it called “unrelenting and
vicious” attacks on judges — last week wrote to President Robert Mugabe
protesting at the worsening situation.
Legal sources said the letter was
copied to Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa and Acting Chief Justice Godfrey
The IBA’s latest action followed political pressure on
Justice James Devittie following rulings which went against Zanu PF. Devittie,
who recently struck down three Zanu PF electoral victories in last year’s poll
on the grounds that they were influenced by intimidation, said he would be going
on leave in July pending resignation towards the end of the year.
High Court judge did not reveal the reasons for his decision but political
pressure has reportedly been brought to bear on him by war veterans.
IBA said in its letter that Mugabe was reneging on his undertaking to protect
judges and curb lawlessness.
But authorities were yesterday evasive on
the issue. Principal press secretary in the President’s Office, Munyaradzi
Hwengwere, referred questions to his boss, George Charamba, who could not be
reached for comment at the time of going to press.
Chinamasa said he had
not seen the letter. “I’m not aware of that. I have not been in the office. I
also have not even had an opportunity to read the report because I have been too
busy,” he said.
Chidyausiku, who was recently promoted in controversial
circumstances, was equally cagey.
“Normally I don’t make statements to
the press. If I have to, I follow the correct channels. I can’t disclose
anything. Why don’t you find out from the IBA itself?” he said.
he had received the letter, Chidyausiku said: “That’s what I don’t want to talk
Lord Goldsmith QC, who headed the IBA team to Zimbabwe, said
last week in London it appeared government was backtracking on assurances that
the rule of law and judges would be protected from attacks.
report we highlighted the attacks on the judiciary which had taken place in
recent months and which led to the enforced resignation of Chief Justice Anthony
Gubbay,” said Goldsmith, who is also co-chair of the Human Rights Institute.
“In meetings with government, we were given assurances that intimidation
of judges would stop.
“If the reports are true that Justice Devittie has
resigned following threats to him consequent upon his decision as a judge in
three election cases in Zimbabwe, it means the assurances given by the
government are worthless.”
The Law Society of Zimbabwe last week
condemned lawlessness and expressed concern over Devittie’s resignation which it
linked to harassment of the judges.
“Justice Devittie’s resignation from
the bench underlines the urgency of the need to contain the growing culture of
violence, threats of violence and general lawlessness,” the group said.
The IBA delegation recorded in its report assurances given on behalf of
government and by the Acting Chief Justice that attacks on the judiciary would
The report also made it clear that it was the responsibility of
government, and in particular the Minister of Justice, to protect judges from
The IBA recommended that: “Government should zealously
protect the judges of Zimbabwe against threats of physical violence. The
government should loudly and clearly denounce any such threats.”
group further said “acts of intimidation and harassment which constitute
criminal offences should be rigorously investigated and dealt with in accordance
with the law.
“It is the responsibility of the Minister of Justice and
the Attorney-General to act as well as that of the police force,” the IBA said.
“Given the importance of the judiciary to the people of Zimbabwe, none
of those persons should need to wait for a formal complaint before acting to
investigate an affront to the court or reported threats to the judges,” the
group pointed out.
Government reacted with anger at the IBA findings
which it saw as constituting a further dent in its already battered image.
Harare had announced before the report was released that it would reject its
contents claiming the IBA team was biased.
Staff Writer ZIMBABWE is in the
process of securing 40 million litres of fuel through a fuel-for-equity deal
with a South African company, Engen, bringing a temporary reprieve to the
current wave of fuel shortages, the Zimbabwe Independent heard this week.
Petrozim owns the oil pipeline between Feruka in Mutare and the fuel
storage tanks in Mabvuku, Harare. The National Oil Company of Zimbabwe owns 50%
It is understood that Engen, which is 50% Malaysian owned,
was interested in a stake in the pipeline and would use fuel supplies as equity.
Sources in the oil industry said part of the 40 million-litre
consignment from Engen had already started arriving in the country and this
should last about a month at current consumption levels. The sources said IPG
was also expected to pump fuel up to Mutare from Beira.
“Queues are not
expected to disappear completely but we are not going to experience total
stock-outs in the next four weeks,” the source said.
Yesterday Mines and
Energy minister Sydney Sekeramayi refused to comment on the issue saying “I have
no comment on that”, while Noczim chief executive Webster Muri-ritirwa referred
the paper to the ministry for comment.
Sources said 6 000 cubic metres
out of the 40 000 cubic metres had already arrived at Feruka in Mutare from
Beira. The sources said the IPG fuel that had been in the holding tanks at
Feruka was all distributed last week.
It was not clear at the time of
going to press what the size of the sharehold-ing to be sold to Engen is likely
to be, but sources said the company had been generous in its terms with the
The government has made overtures to dispose of Noczim
assets, which include a fleet of motor vehicles, residential properties and the
head office in Harare’s city centre.
Zimbabwe has been struggling to
secure lines of credit to procure fuel due to the indebtedness of Noczim and the
bad state of the economy. This has resulted in erratic supplies over the past 18
months. Numerous attempts to solve the crisis have failed due to the shortage of
Africa B Dube
HUMAN beings have a conscience which guides them
to distinguish between right and wrong. Yet it seems that those in Zanu PF are
of a different make from the rest of us.
As human beings we always
entrust our affairs to those who hold political office. It is not a fault, but
confidence in our ability to choose those we perceive as ideal for government,
for those we choose are our highest ambassadors on the world stage. We trust
that they won’t embarrass us among other nations. We are proud of them. Yet more
importantly we expect them to address our grievances.
Parliament as a
democratic house of the people’s representatives is supposed to provide a forum
through which our needs, anger and dreams are to be given life.
we expect a responsible government. However, Zanu PF opposes everything that is
good about democracy. From free speech to freedom of association, life can be at
risk. You exercise freedom at your peril.
Fundamental freedoms are
supposed to be obeyed by any self-respecting responsible government. The
intimidation, torture and killings of members of the opposition which however
date back to Matabeleland and Midlands are a sign that Zimbabwe has had too much
of an oppressive government for far too long.
The events that took place
in Matabe-leland and Midlands provinces were the darkest period in
post-independent Zimbabwe. That people were punished by death for supporting
another party and are still being punished is outrageous. Yet those who presided
over the massacres have not apologised. In short, they have no shame.
Some still hold political office and have become richer at the expense
of the tax-payer. No resignations took place. Although people like Enos Nkala
can talk boldly about how bad Zanu PF is, the truth is that he would still be a
government minister had Mugabe not forced him out.
Power is nice, but a
Ndebele saying goes: ubukhosi ngamazolo (Power is like dew, at some point it
vanishes). President Mugabe and his party are not wise enough to receive such
wisdom. They seem to believe that they will rule in perpetuity. History is
totally against them. Others have walked the same path and tumbled. Ask Nicolae
Ceausescu of Romania, Adolf Hitler of Germany, Idi Amin of Uganda, or more
recently Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia.
Parliament as a house of the
people’s democracy has been turned into a comedy house. It hardly addresses the
Zanu PF has a curious way in which it appro-aches
national issues. Its biggest blunder and disservice to the nation is its
arrogance. The people’s needs and anger which are expressed by the Movement for
Democratic Change and independent media are perceived as a threat to the
The tragedy of Zimbabwe is that Mugabe does not want to
admit that an opposition party and free media are vital for democracy. He
chooses to see them as “agents of Britain”. If a party has such a leader then
national issues like mending the economy are relegated as the ruling party using
state apparatus confronts those it perceives as its “enemies”.
Parliament becomes a useless house as issues affecting the people are
not discussed and debated seriously. However, the Zanu PF party finds it
convenient to childishly raise as an issue the MDC’s open hand symbol,
challenging this as a violation of human rights. A student of parliamentary
democracy will be disappointed at the nature of debate.
Zanu PF treats
criticism as a threat. People who see criticism as a threat are always
confrontational and asking for a fight.It never occurs to them that being in
parliament is a privilege conferred on them by the people. What makes
Zimbabwe’s parliament a shame is that most of the Zanu PF members are not there
They got there through acts of violence encouraged by the
party’s leader, Robert Mugabe. They are not ashamed at sitting there and tabling
laws of the land. They wouldn’t be ashamed because they seek to pass laws that
will further oppress the people while at the same time maintaining them in
Be it laws to curtail demonstrations against government
misdemea-nours, laws to gag the media, or other suppressive laws, the Zanu PF
government message is clear — we take away your freedom because it threatens our
power and “revolution”.
At times their language is vulgar. Their
intentions are devoid of good. Their slim majority gives them some bit of space
to breathe and impose their will. What kind of a parliament houses the likes
of Chenjerai Hunzvi who breaks the laws of the land with impunity? He doesn’t
care about the law because he is immune from arrest. In short, he is above the
Judging by the calibre of people that Zanu PF puts up for election,
it wouldn’t be surprising to see Joseph Chinotimba vying for a parliamentary
seat one day. In Zanu PF there’s no shame or sense of irony.
to be proud of thei leaders. South Africans walk tall all over the world because
they had Nelson Mandela. They are not ashamed to tell anyone about their
Zimbabweans in Britain are ashamed of their president. Mugabe
is out of touch with the people’s needs and feelings. He can never be your true
friend. You somehow feel the best way to establish an understanding with him is
not to ask him critical questions because they upset him.
It is no
surprise that the Zanu PF congress failed to discuss the succession issue.
Are Zanu PF members not ashamed for failing to change the course of
events? Are they not ashamed that the youth have no meaningful future in a
country that is failing to create employment? Are they not ashamed that the
human rights abuses they commit against their people ridicules and chides the
Are they not ashamed that people are fleeing
their country because of serious economic and political problems? Finally, are
they not ashamed that the country is fast becoming an international outcast?
In all questions it would seem that they are not ashamed because their
aim is not to serve but to be served. The country will suffer because they are
after power and personal gain.
l Dube writes from the University of the
West of England.
The American Prospect SOMEWHERE in Africa a dictator sits in his presidential palace,
alone and forlorn. Just recently he deployed troops to quell an opposition rally
and a few unarmed civilians were killed. Nothing out of the ordinary, really;
but this time the international press have descended on his capital.
Foreign governments are calling for democratic reforms. And embarrassed
international financial institutions, which have long subsidised the corrupt
regime, are openly discussing a loan cutoff.
As he ponders the gross
unfairness of his current predicament, the dictator is momentarily despondent.
Abruptly, though, a smile comes to his face. There is still plenty of money in
his personal checking account — the state treasury — so all is not lost. Far
from it. The dictator flips through his Rolodex and reaches for the telephone.
Who’s he gonna call?
In all likelihood, lobbyist Herman Cohen in
Arlington, Virginia. In recent years, Cohen has emerged as the influence peddler
of choice for African despots in need of a public relations buff-up. His access
and client list are both sure to grow even more now that George W Bush — under
whose father Cohen served as assistant secretary of state for Africa — occupies
the White House.
Lobbying for foreign governments almost always poses
ethical dilemmas. Adwoa Dunn-Mouton, a former staff director for the Senate
Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa, worked as a lobbyist for several
African governments after leaving Capitol Hill. She says that she tried to prod
clients to take concrete steps toward democracy that would change international
perceptions about their governments.
“They didn’t want to hear it,”
recalls Dunn-Mouton who resigned after a brief career at the Washington
Strategic Group, a Beltway lobbying firm. “The whole point of hiring a lobbyist
was to have someone spin the situation so they wouldn’t have to make real
“Putting a happy face on murder and mayhem” is how Charles
Lewis, executive director of the Center for Public Integrity, describes the role
of lobbyists like Cohen who represent foreign dictators.
“Most of the
countries who hire them have virtually no money, but they need professional
schmoozers to promote their regimes,” he says. “They’re paying for
respectability and stature in Washington and, they hope, foreign aid and access
to American markets.”
Though a relative newcomer to the profession,
Cohen has quickly become one of Washington’s best-known lobbyists for foreign
nations. A key to his success is the contacts he formed, at home and abroad,
during a 38-year career in the State Department (where he served as ambassador
to Senegal, then to Gambia, before he became assistant secretary of state for
Africa). Cohen cultivated close relations with Mobutu Sese Seko of the
former Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo).
In 1992 Mobutu’s
power was eroding and there was a strong internal push for a transition to
civilian rule. Pro-democracy forces hoped Cohen, who went to Zaire, would press
the tyrant to step down. Instead, he appeared on government-run television and
announced that the aging kleptocrat was “enthusiastic for democracy”. In South
Africa, Cohen and George Bush’s administration lifted all sanctions on the
apartheid regime in July 1991 — a step opposed by Nelson Mandela who didn’t
become president of the country until three years later.
out of government service, Cohen became head of the Global Coalition for Africa,
a World Bank-affiliated organisation that preaches orthodox pro-business recipes
for the continent. In 1994 he and James Woods, deputy assistant secretary of
defence for African affairs under Ronald Reagan and George Bush the elder,
formed the lobby shop of Cohen and Woods International (CWI).
boasted to Legal Times about the wide range of contacts — from heads of state to
Central Bank governors — that he and his partner enjoyed in Africa.
can count on one hand the number of [top leaders] we don’t know,” he said.
Randall Robinson, president of the TransAfrica Forum, asserts in Defending the
Spirit: A Black Life in America that Cohen failed to promote democracy while in
office — something he could have done “with any competence and half a heart” —
and that he seeks to collect “representation fees from the very African
countries whose interests he formerly held in callous disregard.”
addition to offering clients strategic advice and chasing up foreign investment
and aid, CWI staffers write speeches, arrange official visits to the United
States, prepare briefing papers, testify before Congress, and spin the media.
Cohen has an especially easy time getting doors to open in the capital.
During a four-month stretch in 1999, he attended a breakfast fund-raiser for
Representative Edward Royce, a California Republican who chairs the House
International Relations Sub-committee on Africa; he lunched with Gayle Smith of
the National Security Council; and he had dinner at his home with William Swing,
US ambassador to Congo.
He’s a regular on the Hill, where he meets with
members of Congress and key aides.
“His name carries a lot of weight,
with Democrats and Republicans,” says Charisse Glassman, a staffer for
Democratic Representative Donald Payne of New Jersey, who also sits on the
One of CWI’s first big lobbying contracts came in
1995, when the firm agreed, in exchange for US$300 000, to coordinate media
relations for Omar Bongo, president of Gabon. The firm’s stated mission was to
present Gabon as a “politically stable and economically successful country” and
to “generate awareness of President Bongo and his national and international
Among those accomplishments was establishing the “very
concrete process of democratisation and democratic reforms”. As the ink dried on
the contract, the State Department released its annual report on human rights
around the globe. This report found that Bongo’s security forces were
responsible for “many confirmed extra-judicial killings” and that
government-sanctioned torture in Gabon was routine.
As to “the very
concrete process of democratisation” that had supposedly taken place under
Cohen’s client — who has been in power since 1967 — the State Department said
that the previous election in which Bongo allegedly won 51% of the vote was
“marred by serious irregularities, including a secret vote count that excluded
all but government observers.
“In Bongo’s home region of Haut Ogoue, the
number of votes cast for Bongo was greater than the population reported in the
Bongo is not only a thug but a crook as well. It’s
impossible to know exactly how much money he has stolen from the national
treasury, but a 1999 Senate report on money laundering indicates that he
deposited US$130 million with Citibank’s private banking department.
CWI’s contract with Gabon lasted only a year, but there’s been no
shortage of business since. The firm’s clients have included Tunisia, the Ivory
Coast, Mozambique, and even Angola.
Perhaps the most notorious CWI
client was Charles Taylor of Liberia. He took power following a seven-year civil
war that Kenneth Cain describes in a Human Rights Quarterly article as “a
relentless campaign of sadistic, wanton violence unimaginable to those
unfamiliar with the details of man’s capacity to visit the abyss”.
According to Cain, Taylor “inaugurated the use of grade school-age
children as scouts, spies, and cannon fodder [and] explicitly employed terror
tactics, ethnic clea- nsing, and political assassinations”.
CWI’s lobbying included government officials plus “the business community, the
press, non-governmental organisations, and the academic world”. A Capitol Hill
staffer who asked not to be identified said that CWI adopted — understandably,
under the circumstances — a low-key approach on behalf of Liberia.
never tried to say that Taylor was a good guy — they knew they couldn’t get away
with that,” he says. “They’d talk about how cutting off Liberia would be
counterproductive and would result in a lessening of US influence.”
Among CWI’s most recent clients — until he was murdered in January — was
the president of Congo, Laurent-Desiré Kabila, who drove Mobutu from power. He
was paying the lobby shop US$250 000 to build “a more constructive relationship”
between Congo and the United States. Cohen was working on the project with
Edward van Kloberg, who stands out, even within the amoral world of Washington
lobbying, for handling accounts that few will touch. His clients have included
Saddam Hu-ssein of Iraq, Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania, and Samuel Doe of
One of Cohen’s specific tasks for Congo — and for another
client, Burkina Faso — is to water down legislation that would bar US imports of
“blood diamonds”, whose sale allows African governments and rebel groups to
finance their wars. Industry officials say that blood diamonds account for about
four percent of the world’s $6- billion-a-year trade, while human rights groups
argue that 15% is a more accurate estimate.
Last year Democratic
Representative Tony Hall of Ohio introduced legislation that would require that
diamonds sold in the US — where two-thirds of all diamond sales take place — be
accompanied by a certificate of origin, to ensure that no blood diamonds would
be allowed in the country. Deborah DeYoung, a Hall staffer, recalls that Cohen
came by the office to voice his opposition to the bill.
“He said that
our proposal wasn’t workable and that we should look at other types of control
measures, like monitoring ports,” she says. “He was advocating an approach that
wouldn’t shut down an industry that’s important to his clients.”
most recent contract — a five-year deal at US$600 000 per annum — was signed
last September with the government of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe. At the time,
Mugabe was in desperate need of a PR face-lift. His nation’s economy was in
shambles; and 32 people, mostly opposition supporters, had been killed during
parliamentary elections held three months earlier.
land reform plan — which would seize 3 000 properties without compensation and
give them to landless blacks — was generating criticism, partly at home but
mostly abroad. The contract calls for CWI to take the “necessary steps to
overcome recent negative publicity, and to restore enduring trust, confidence
and mutual respect between Zimbabwe and the international community”.
Firm lobbyists are specifically asked to smooth relations between
Zimbabwe and the International Monetary Fund, and to “counter anti-Zimbabwe
content in the international media”. As part of the latter effort, CWI is to
establish a Web site that will provide news from Zimbabwe as well as information
about business and tourism opportunities there.
CWI has been working
especially hard to head off congressional passage of the Zimbabwe Democracy Act.
Last September, to oppose the Bill, Cohen personally met with Republican
Representative Amo Houghton of New York.
According to disclosure forms,
Cohen “expressed the view that, while the objectives of promoting democracy and
respect for the rule of law were certainly laudable, Zimbabwe should be given a
few months to resolve its political crisis rather than rushing to impose
In an interview with TAP, Cohen defended the role
of the lobbyist in general and his firm’s work in particular: “We advise clients
on their situation in the US and tell them that if they really want to improve
relations, here are some things you have to do. We aren’t able to get them any
privileges that they don’t deserve.”
He said that CWI has turned down
clients — for example, the former dictatorship of General Sani Abacha in
Nigeria, which he called “beyond the pale” — and that the firm resigned from the
Liberia account after three months.
“We saw there was nothing to be
done, that the government just wanted us to wave a magic wand [to make its
problems go away].”
At the same time, Cohen said he’d be happy to renew
his firm’s contract with Congo if the new government there so desired, and he
acknowledged that CWI hasn’t been able to convince the government of Zimbabwe to
improve its record on civil and human rights. “That’s beyond our influence,” he
Given the scope of Africa’s troubles, particularly armed conflicts
and human rights-abusing governments, Herman Cohen’s future prospects are rosy.
After all, murder and mayhem are good for business. So, too, is a lack of
l This is an edited version of an article appearing in The
YOU can lead a horse to water, they say, but you can’t make
it drink. That is what happened in Masvingo last weekend.
official press has been trying to extract some comfort from the fact that Zanu
PF won 29% of the vote which is slightly more than it won in the parliamentary
poll. But this is clutching at straws. Where were all those “thousands” of
people who the Herald told us thronged to rallies by the two vice-presidents?
Businesses were closed early so everybody could attend, the paper said
last Friday. In fact war veterans made sure of that! New Mucheke Hall, Rujeko
Hall, and the town’s Civic Centre were all packed to overflowing, we were told,
so eager were people to hear the vice-presidents’ words of wisdom.
was historical (sic) for the small town to be host to at least six government
ministers, the two vice-presidents and war veterans leaders at one go,” the
Herald’s Masvingo reporter gushed.
Joseph Msika urged Zimbabwe’s
born-free population to study their history so they could “compare the colonial
past with the grandeur of the Independence brought about by the liberation
They did and found Zanu PF wanting. They could see no
grandeur on Masvingo’s streets. Just decay, poverty and hardship.
issue is not how Zanu PF’s attempt to rebuild its urban support base is
succeeeding, as the Herald pathetically contended, but how despite intimidation,
bribery, saturation TV coverage and abuse of state resources the ruling party
could still not find more than 2 188 people prepared to vote for it.
the millions in public funds Zanu PF used in trying to win the mayoral contest
came to nought. Were the “thousands” who attended the rallies persuaded this was
the party of the future? It doesn’t look like it. They judged the two hopeless
old men (one of whom can’t even manage his own bank account), the six ministers
and the war veterans’ leaders for what they really are: the messengers of a
corrupt and discredited party that rules through bribery and coercion. The party
of fear. The party of poverty. The party of the past. And they gave it the boot!
Zanu PF has woken up to the threat rather late. Last week the government
directed all local authorities to start patching up potholes, repair
streetlights, and improve water provision and refuse collection. Local
Government permanent secretary Finnie Munyira gave councils their marching
orders in Gweru on Friday.
What, it might be asked, has the mininstry
been doing for the past year? Why has it only now decided that the needs of
urban taxpayers’ should be attended to?
At least the Masvingo election
has provided a wake-up call for this one arm of government. But will councils
now take the necessary court action to secure the millions of dollars owing to
them from unpaid government subsidies and bills? It has been the government’s
refusal to remit these amounts year after year that has been partly responsible
for so much urban decay.
Bishop Norbert Kunonga confirmed widespread
suspicions that he is a mouthpiece for Zanu PF when he incorporated the party’s
bankrupt agenda into his address at his enthronement last weekend.
spoke of racial dignity and asserted that, whatever the legal and constitutional
rights of minorities to full citizenship, only “indigenous Africans” should
And in line with the ruling party’s position he dismissed human
rights as a decoy for concerns about land redistribution.
in human rights in Zimbabwe not a tactical self-defence mechanism against
grabbing of land by the government?” he asked.
At least he admits the
land is being “grabbed”. But it is clear from his sentiments that he does not,
despite the church’s teaching, believe in universal standards of justice and
human rights. And he appears to hold today’s youth in contempt.
think they are in a revolution yet they are in a ‘begolution’, the art of
begging. Begging which the European nations are doing to stop the land
distribution,” Kunonga said.
This is of course the ignorant half-baked
platitudes of a spurious nationalism which thinks Zimbabwe can go it alone and
the rest of the world can go to hell. It comes straight from the political creed
of the Archangel Robert Gabriel.
Bishop Kunonga, who has reportedly
described Mugabe as “God’s second son”, clearly cannot be expected to condemn
political violence and coercion when he agrees with Zanu PF policies!
have received dozens of calls from pained Anglicans in recent weeks asking why
they should be condemned in our columns for the sins of their leaders. They
point out that, had the laity been consulted, Tim Neill would have been
overwhelmingly voted in as Anglican bishop of Harare.
Contrary to the
usual racist insinuations in the state media, Neill enjoys support well beyond
the tiny constituency of “white priests” referred to in the Sunday Mail.
This is confirmed in the calls we are getting, none of which have come
from white readers.
At the time of the election Neill complained about
letters being circulated in support of other candidates that made scurrilous
racist charges against him and told him he would be given “a passport to hell”.
We now have some idea of where those letters may have come from!
Neill has accused the Anglican bishops of being in the pocket of government.
“Now I think it will be worse,” he says. “I think the bishops will
stifle criticism of Mugabe. They will more actively take his side.”
already have. At a time when other churches are beginning to speak out against
evil and tyranny, the Anglicans under the current leadership are likely to find
themselves — just as they did in the late 1970s -— on the wrong side of the
That goes for other churches collaborating with Zanu
PF. Anyone in any doubt about the scale of the problem should see a disgraceful
letter from Zimbabwe Council of Churches general secretary Densen Mafinyani
published in the Mirror on May 11 in which he refers to the “work” the ZCC
carried out with Border Gezi’s ministry. Public funds were used by that ministry
to buy votes. What part did the ZCC play in this?
How can Kumbirai
Kangai mislead European Union MPs with such audacity and think he can get away
“I pointed out that Zimbabwe had allowed the opposition to
challenge the results of the June 2000 parliamentary elections,” he told them at
an EU/ACP meeting in Gabon. “I reaffirmed Zimbabwe’s commitment to observe the
constitutional provisions relating to the independence of the judiciary and
freedom of expression.”
He said the government had “sufficient
information to justify its actions regarding the deportation of journalists
Joseph Winter and Mercedes Sayagues”.
Did the EU MPs ask what that
information was? Because we can be sure it was entirely spurious. As for
“allowing” the opposition to challenge the election results, we seem to remember
President Mugabe invoking a statutory instrument to prevent that challenge
It was the Supreme Court that upheld the rights of the
appellants, not the government which launched a campaign of unprecedented
invective against the judges for defying the executive and forced the Chief
Justice into early retirement by threats to his safety.
Let’s hope the
EU MPs have better memories than Kangai. And how dare he use the freedom of the
press as a prop for the government in its struggle against sanctions. Editors
are being threatened every week by the Office of the President because they
publish material inconvenient to his tatter- ed reputation. Kangai should
stop being such a cynical opportunist — in addition to his other qualifications!
The president’s legendary paranoia has taken on new dimensions recently
with motorists reporting a growing number of attacks by members of the
gas-guzzling presidential motorcade which sweeps through the capital at regular
intervals forcing everybody else off the road.
A prominent building
society director was a few weeks ago approached by the occupants of a black
Mercedes that had been part of the motorcade and severely assaulted. Although he
had pulled over when the mororcade approached, he had apparently moved off too
quickly after it had passed and followed it, although he kept a good distance
The men approached his car, opened the door and kicked and
punched him while all the time yelling abuse. He was badly bruised.
another incident in Bulawayo during Trade Fair, a young mother was taken into
custody after waving at the motorcade as it travelled through the city. She did
not have sufficient funds to pay a fine for “provocative behaviour likely to
cause a breach of the peace” and was detained overnight. Her family managed to
pay the $500 fine and organise her release the following day.
be glad to hear and record any further signs of panic in the ranks of the
There has been much accusation and counter-accusation
regarding the visit by the World Press Freedom delegation last week. They told
South Africa’s Star that Jonathan Moyo had threatened journalists with a
“violent response” if they provoked Zanu PF. The story was reproduced in the
Moyo denies this saying journalists are protected by the law
and that people in Zimbabwe, unlike South Africa “with an institutional culture
of violence”, can go to sleep at night with their doors open.
know if he has ever tried doing this in Harare. But he says he won’t be giving
any more audiences to visiting delegations because they “lie, twist and distort
Rather like him in other words! Tagged on to the minister’s
remarks were comments by the Herald reporter (we assume) wondering why the
Standard should want to reproduce a story appearing in a South African paper.
From this premise it proceeded to note that “the white-owned media in South
Africa has come under pressure for promoting a right-wing campaign against
President Thabo Mbeki and other black leaders”.
This simplistic nonsense
presumably refers to Steve Tshwete’s witch-hunt against three ANC members for
“plotting” against the president. It is actually Tshwete who has come under
pressure from all sections of the media to explain why state resources are being
used to pursue a personal agenda. And the ANC has now admitted it has inflicted
considerable damage on itself by the way it has handled the matter.
the Herald actually following this story? It doesn’t seem like it. Moyo’s
remarks published in the Herald on Monday about “counter-intelligence
organisations” visiting Zimbabwe explains the provenance of a story on the
Herald’s front page the same day about “British espionage teams” attempting to
discredit Zimbabwe by digging up dirt on its murky business activities in the
Moyo probably meant covert intelligence rather than “counter-
intelligence” (which is the CIO’s job) and the Herald story was probably about
the recent visit of two researchers from Global Witness. The investigative NGO
recently did a good job exposing how Angola’s political elite had used oil
revenues to feather their nests and fund the civil war against Unita. It also
showed how “blood diamonds” had been moved out of Sierra Leone onto world
The researchers were indeed investigating whether the Forestry
Commission had fulfilled its boast last year that it would soon be logging in
the Congo but they found that, like so much else, what the government says it
will do and what it actually does are two different things.
Herald couldn’t name Global Witness is difficult to understand because Reu- ben
Barwe (state witness in the Tsvangirai case), no doubt tipped off by the real
spooks, tried to ambush them when they left from Harare airport last Friday.
One of the researchers was asked at passport control what she was doing
“Are you a tourist?” she was asked. “Or a lawyer or
environmentalist?” Leaving aside the shocking evidence that the Civil
Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe allows departing visitors to be harassed in this
way, she handled Barwe with charm and professionalism admitting she was indeed a
lawyer. Barwe came away without the conspiracy theory he was looking for.
So why didn’t the Herald mention Global Witness when they were top of
the list of suspects? Because the “plot” would not have thickened if it had been
As it was, the Herald was able to quote the usual
“intelligence sources” as saying the “influx of so-called environmentalists is
no coincidence but is part of a wider British plot to launch another offensive
on its former colony”.
Let’s hope these are not the same “intelligence
sources” who got it wrong on the three Americans, the British diplomatic bag,
hijacking fuel on the high seas etc.
Why does the BBC allow Joy TV (or
more likely ZBC) to censor its news bulletins? Last week on Monday evening the
BBC carried an item on Tsvangirai’s trial. It formed part of the headlines on
the bulletin carried by Joy but mysteriously disappeared from the main text.
Viewers in other countries saw it so the cutting was done here. Can Joy confirm
this, and is it all okay with the BBC?
Finally, two snippets from last
Thursday’s press conference given by the Press Freedom delegation before it left
Harare. Unreported were the remarks of Joe Mdhlela, Media Workers Association of
South Africa representative, who said the situtation in Zimbabwe today reminded
him of South Africa under apartheid.
He was referring to the
government’s attempts to intimidate the press. This may partly explain
Jonathan Moyo’s indignant statement that he won’t be seeing such delegations in
But Moyo can draw comfort from the remarks of Herald reporter
Chris Chivinge who, replying to the delegation’s surprise that the forthcoming
Freedom of Information Bill was crafted without any input by stakeholders, said
it wasn’t necessary.
“When you draw up the law for thieves you don’t
have to consult them,” he told the stunned delegates.
It would, of course, be difficult to
find a Zimbabwean sympathetic to the problems faced by ZANU-PF's leadership -
and still more difficult to find anyone sympathetic to President Mugabe's woes.
On the contrary, most Zimbabweans will be delighted to learn that things aren't
going terribly well for their septuagenarian president.
Consider a week when a minister too
principled to remain in cabinet resigned amid considerable controversy, a week
in which there were more electoral upsets in the courts and a week during which
the High Court deferred to the Supreme Court, giving the country's highest legal
body the opportunity to make further amendments to Zimbabwe's notorious Law and
Order (Maintenance) Act (LOMA).
Perhaps most Zimbabweans are too
despondent to notice these victories, but in each of the cases gains were made
in a pleasantly civilised manner.
Dr Nkosana Moyo's case also caused
considerable confusion. Government sponsored spin-doctors at the
State-controlled Herald initially thought the safest option was to trash the
former industry minister, comparing him unfavourably to, of all people, the late
Border Gezi. Gezi, the once exuberant and most say overly zealous supporter of
ZANU-PF's more outlandish policies, succeeded to enrich the poor, we were told,
while Dr Moyo was singularly less successful at enriching the black middle
classes. Apparently enriching the black middle classes was integral to Moyo's
ministerial portfolio and he wasn't very good at it.
The tone changed as days progressed,
becoming less critical, but the damage was done - and mainly to the hardliners
in the ruling party.
At the time of going to Press, it is
still uncertain why the man resigned, though it's fairly obvious his principles
affected his decision. Whether or not he genuinely asked Mugabe to consider a
government of national unity isn't certain, though it is being talked about
increasingly in the corridors of power. It's also known that he was highly
critical of the self-styled war veterans and their absurd business invasions.
Then there was Mr Morgan Tsvangirai's
case. Hauled before Justice Moses Chinhengo at the High Court, the State alleged
that the MDC leader was guilty of inciting violence because, during an MDC rally
in September last year, he suggested Mugabe should consider resigning or being
removed violently. Tsvangirai's defence argued the case was unconstitutional
because it infringed the MDC president's right to freedom of expression. The
court agreed, but went a stage further when Justice Chinhengo pointed out that
LOMA was a relic of colonial legislation and not the sort of thing a modern
democracy needs on its statute books.
This wasn't supposed to happen. Over
the last few months a process of menace and manipulation was supposed to have
made the judiciary compliant - and if not compliant, then sympathetic to the
ruling party. This setback to ZANU-PF may increase the pressure on judges
(indeed, another has just resigned), but Zimbabweans will hope that the pressure
will be resisted with the same quiet dignity they've become used to.
And of course Chinhengo was right. The
LOMA is an anachronism. The truth is that it was an anachronism even when the
Rhodesians used it to punish and suppress the very people now using it to…
punish and suppress a new opposition. Perhaps it's an apt example of the old
saying that what goes around comes around, but Zimbabweans should hope that the
Supreme Court throws the entire Act out of the window and never again allows
this sort of mischievous legislation to darken its doors again.
Also in the courts, another electoral
decision was thrown out, which will anger ZANU-PF but please the opposition.
Sadly the civilised part of that particular process will end in the courtroom.
What follows will be more violence as ruling party thugs set to with a vengeance
on an electorate now exhausted by ruling party tactics. That it happened in
Masvingo Province provides some sad irony when, during the same week, mayoral
elections in the provincial capital saw inter-party violence and thuggery. This
time the opposition retaliated - and saw mass arrests of their members as a
Farmers, punch drunk from over a year
of intimidation, harassment and murder, might find it difficult to gain any
satisfaction from victories in the courts. The stock response will be, "but when
was the last time the courts made a difference." It's true that on invasion
matters, the courts have been ignored by the police, by civil servants and, most
sinisterly of all, by Mr Mugabe himself.
But ignoring a Supreme Court ruling over
Tsvangirai will be an altogether different matter - and probably impossible. It
may not have been Mugabe's intention to have the MDC leader locked up for life,
but it was almost certainly ZANU-PF's ploy to have him sentenced to at least six
months in prison, preventing Mr Tsvangirai from standing in next year's
presidential elections. That remains possible, though less likely and farmers
should gain some satisfaction from the fact that, even if their cases came to
nought, at least someone is making progress.
Perhaps none of this is going to have an
immediate effect on the Zimbabwean disaster, but the ruling party will consider
all of these things setbacks. Zimbabwe's problems are not going to be solved
overnight, nor even in the next year, but it's been some time since ZANU-PF
received a knock - and last week saw the party receive several. That they were,
in the main and Masvingo aside, civilised knocks makes it all the better. There
is far too much violence around as it is, almost exclusively orchestrated by Mr
Mugabe and his lieutenants, so when little victories for democracy and decency
are won without violence, then right thinking Zimbabweans have cause to feel
proud of themselves.
ZIMBABWE's Lands, Agriculture and Rural
Resettlement Minister, Dr Joseph Made, refused this week to give any assurance
that wheat growers will be allowed to reap their crop saying government had lost
faith in white commercial farmers. The minister said disgruntled farmers who
want to leave their farms should go ahead and do so.
Farmers, many of whose farms were
forcibly occupied by so called war veterans as a prelude to government's
controversial fast-track resettlement programme last year have, over the past
few months, been seeking some form of assurance that their concerns regarding
disruptions of their cropping programmes by the land invaders and Zanu-PF
supporters would be addressed.
Zimbabwe Cereals Producers' Association
(ZCPA) chief executive, Mr Peter Wells said although there is huge interest to
grow wheat and there were standing orders for wheat seeds from farmers,
continued interference in their operations by war veterans remained of serious
concern to them. He said cited the ongoing fuel crisis as yet another major
problem, which farmers would need to be resolved to ensure smooth planting and
harvesting of the crop.
Mr Wells said due to the continued
gazetting of farms for compulsory acquisition by government, financial
institutions had closed their doors to non-cash farmers who rely on borrowing to
finance their cropping.
Some farmers said they had hoped that
some form of government assurance over the issue of listed farms would enable
them to secure finance from financial institutions to grow wheat and also instil
a sense of security for their crop.
Mr Wells revealed that some war
veterans occupying some of the farms were demanding a share of the wheat crop
the farmer decides to grow.
However, in an interview with The
Farmer this week, Dr Made and the Cabinet Land Committee chairman, Dr
Ignatius Chombo, charged that farmers could not be trusted hence government's
decision not to entertain their appeals for assurances. Dr Chombo is alleged to
have threatened that if the farmers whose land was invaded but not listed for
compulsory acquisition failed to grow wheat, then government would target their
farms for resettlement.
He said farmers should just go ahead
and plant wheat or risk having their farms confiscated by government because
government would not let them stay on the land they are not using.
Dr Chombo alleged that farmers were
bent on frustrating government's land reform programme. He denied there were any
problems of disruptions of farming activities by war veterans and other land
invaders but that some farmers did not want to co-exist with the
Government is at the moment preparing
to present a bill in parliament to legalise farm invasions. The bill will make
it illegal to evict or harass farm invaders.
Dr Made said wheat farmers should not
complain about land invaders and try to blame them for their failure to plant
wheat. He said tobacco farmers managed to grow their crop in the presence of
land invaders and there was no reason why those who wanted to grow wheat should
not be able to do so. He claimed that tobacco farmers had been given assurance
when they planted their crop but were now are refusing to sell that
"They are now refusing to sell when we
gave them assurances to go ahead and plant in good faith. We cannot trust them.
They want to hold the whole country at ransom. If they want they can leave the
farms," said Dr Made.
War veterans are, in many instances,
threatening farmers who intend to grow wheat and Mr Wells said farmers were now
in a quandary. "They do not know what to anymore" he said.
Initially, it was estimated that about
250 000 tonnes of wheat were to be produced this season but Mr Wells said there
was so much uncertainty that his association was now finding it difficult to get
estimates on how much wheat was being be planted.
The country has got an annual wheat
consumption of about 400 000 tonnes and Dr Made is on record saying that the
country will produce enough wheat this year, dismissing reports that the country
will be forced to import wheat. The government has since banned all wheat
If wheat is to be imported the price of wheat
products such as bread will shoot up especially considering that millers would
be forced to source forex to import from the parallel market.
EU ultimatum on beef quota
The European Union has given Zimbabwe three months
grace to solve problems with its beef industry or face the loss of its 9 100 ton
export quota to Europe under the Lomé Convention.
EU veterinary inspectors visited
Zimbabwe in January this year, concerned that self-styled war veterans had
disrupted control measures put in place to cordon the spread of Foot and Mouth
Disease. Particular emphasis was placed on Zimbabwe's southeastern Lowveld
region where war veterans and supporters of the ruling Zanu-PF party had cut
veterinary control fences to move their cattle onto invaded commercial farms.
In its 26-page report, the EU
inspectors said, "The circumstances are such that there is an increased risk of
an outbreak of Foot and Mouth, particularly in the vicinity of the Save
Conservancy." The conservancy area, also in the southeast, is home to large
herds of buffalo, known to be endemic carriers of the disease.
Prior to Zimbabwe's land invasions,
strict controls enforced and monitored the movement of all cattle around the
country, but this ended with invaders removing fence lines. Self-styled war
veterans embarked on a spree of farm invasions last February, causing severe
disruption to organized agriculture, a sector that provides 18 percent of the
country's GDP and 40 percent of its export earnings. The rise of lawlessness,
which has the backing of the Zanu-PF government, prompted the EU to send
inspectors to Zimbabwe to monitor the situation.
Dr Stuart Hargreaves, the Director of
Veterinary Services, the government department charged with providing an action
plan to convince the Europeans that Zimbabwean beef will continue to be safe to
eat, said he could not comment on the EU report until he had spoken with his
Last month Europe suffered it's worst
Foot and Mouth epidemic since the sixties. Starting in Britain, it prompted
Britain's Labour Party government to postpone its general election by a
Support for stressed
THE Farm Families Trust, a voluntary
organisation whose existence was necessitated by violent farm invasions by so
called war veterans which left scores of farmers and their workers severely
traumatized, has launched an outreach programme in commercial farming areas
throughout the country.
Called the "Stress management outreach
programme", the scheme aims to liaise with farming communities and stress
management experts who are available to speak to farmers' association meetings
or farmers' groups. In addition to the planned production of a stress management
brochure, organizers also hope to maintain a catalogue of "debriefers" who can
be contacted on an individual basis to provide professional, confidential
assistance to stressed farming families.
Felicity Wood, the former editorial
director of The Farmer is the administrator of Farm Families Trust.
Meanwhile, assaults, harassment and
work disruptions by so called war veterans illegally occupying commercial farms
have continued unabated. While in recent weeks, media attention has focused on
urban factory and boardroom invasions by gangs of thugs claiming to be
ex-fighters in the country's war of liberation, reports reaching the Commercial
Farmers Union indicate an upsurge of incidents of violence against farmers and
their labour in the countryside.
Last week, a large group of illegal
occupiers assaulted farm workers at Robin Hood Farm in the Shamva area. In
another incident, a tenant at Weipe Ranch in Mwenezi was beaten up by two youths
who were later arrested by the police and charged with assault and stock
Also being frequently reported to the
CFU are increasing incidents of farm workers being unceremoniously evicted from
their farmhouses so that the illegal occupiers take them over. Employees of
Riversdale Farm in Umboe were ordered to vacate their houses to leave room for
the invaders who said they wanted to be near the farmlands and
In a related incident, owners of
Kromkloof and Landsdown farms in Chipinge were forced out of their homes and the
illegal occupiers took residence. Neighbours had to intervene to save a family
that was being harassed by an estimated 30 invaders who surrounded their
homestead chanting Zanu-PF slogans at Box Farm in the Beatrice area.
Even more disturbing to the farmers are
continued disruptions of farming activities in some areas resulting in winter
wheat cropping falling behind schedule. In the Bromley, Ruwa and Enterprise
farming areas, interference, and in some cases, outright prevention of wheat
planting has been reported at Saratoga, Gilnockie, Marsala, and Strathlorne and
Lawfield farms. Wheat planting was prevented at Insingisi Farm in Glendale,
while in the Mutepatepa farming area; seedbed planting and ploughing was
stopped. The Mucheke/Virginia farming area has also reported frequent work
stoppages as the invaders continue their harassment of farm workers.
The owner of Sherwood Estates, in the
Norton area in Mashonaland West/North reported receiving verbal and written
death threats over the past few weeks.
rural labour force in Africa says FAO
A new report by the UN Food and
Agriculture Organization, (FAO) projects that deaths caused by HIV/AIDS in the
ten most affected African countries will reduce the labour force by as much as
26 percent by 2020. The report estimates that since 1985 some 7 million
agricultural workers have died from AIDS related diseases in 27 severely
affected African countries. An estimated 16 million more deaths are reported
likely in the next two decades.
The report, prepared for the 27th
Session of the Committee on World Food Security, meeting in Rome 28 May - 1
June, says: "Throughout history, few crises have presented such a threat to
human health and social and economic progress as does the HIV/AIDS
Some 36 million people worldwide are
infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, 95 percent of those people live
in developing countries.
Sub-Saharan Africa is the region
hardest hit by the epidemic, with 24 million people infected. India, with more
than 4 million people infected, is the country with the largest population
living with HIV. The virus is having a major impact on nutrition, food security,
agricultural production and rural societies in many countries, according to the
report. Since the disease commonly strikes the most economically productive
members of society, HIV/AIDS is a problem of critical importance for
agricultural, economic and social development.
"HIV/AIDS can have devastating effects
on household food security and nutrition," according to the report. A downward
spiral of the family's welfare begins when the first adult in a household falls
"There is increased spending for health
care and decreased productivity.
Food production and income drop
dramatically as more adults are affected.
According to the FAO report, the loss
of able-bodied adults affects the entire society's ability to maintain and
reproduce itself. "Agricultural skills may be lost since children are unable to
observe their parents working." HIV/AIDS takes an especially heavy toll on the
To combat the continued spread of the
disease and reduce its impact, the FAO report makes a number of recommendations
that will be reviewed by the Committee on World Food Security meeting in Rome
from 28 May -1 June 2001.
The recommendations stress "strong
advocacy strategies to raise awareness of governments, policy makers,
ministries, opinion leaders and the general public about the impact of
HIV/AIDS." It also calls for support to ensure that destitute children and other
AIDS-affected household members can meet their daily food requirements and other
The report advocates the review of laws
and practices concerning access to land and resources to ensure that the
livelihoods of widows, orphans and other poor HIV/AIDS-affected household are
protected. Other recommendations include the establishment of household food
security and community nutrition programmes as well as training and educating
agricultural extension workers to assist HIV/AIDS-affected households and
The report also recommends that donor
countries assist in HIV/AIDS prevention and reduce its negative impact on food
security by providing advice and resources to countries heavily affected by the
virus. Such assistance, the report says, might include food aid to provide
supplementary feeding to households and orphanages.
During the last decade, FAO has
undertaken assessments of the impact of HIV/AIDS on agriculture, food security
and rural development, and has provided assistance to countries in developing
their programmes. In 1999, FAO signed an agreement with UNAIDS to collabourate
in developing broad-based responses to HIV/AIDS in relation to agricultural
development and food security.
Tsvangirai case goes
to the Supreme Court
THE president of Zimbabwe's main
opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Morgan
Tsvangirai, has appeared in the high court in Harare to answer charges of
contravening section 51 (2) of the notorious Law and Order Maintenance Act of
1960. Tsvangirai, appearing before judge Moses Chinhengo, is alleged to have
called for the violent removal of President Mugabe from office at a rally
commemorating MDC's first anniversary in September last year.
His powerful defence team headed by
senior counsel advocate Chris Andersen, assisted by advocate Erick Matininga and
instructed by lawyer Innocent Chagonda made a successful application for the
matter to be referred to the Supreme Court on the basis of the constitutionality
of the charge. Advocate Andersen argued that the section of the Act in which the
charge was found was too broad and unconstitutional as it infringed upon the
defendant's rights of freedom of expression as enshrined in the Constitution of
Zimbabwe section 20. Advocate Andersen cited the case of Chavhunduka versus the
State in which section 50 (2) of the Law and Order Maintenance Act was found to
The prosecutor, Nathaniel Sibanda
argued that the defence's application was not serious and that it was a ploy to
buy time by delaying the trial. Sibanda plans to bring nine witnesses including
ZBC reporter Reuben Barwe. If prosecuted under the Law and Order Maintenance Act
Tsvangirai is liable to life imprisonment automatically disqualifying him from
running for the presidency next year.
In his ruling, Justice Chinhengo
stated, "It is self evident that the request was not frivolous or vexatious, the
only basis the court can refuse to refer the matter to the Supreme Court". He
also stated that the Law and Order Maintenance Act was a colonial piece of
legislation that had always brought up constitutional questions each time a case
was brought under it.
Through out the proceedings in the
packed courtroom, Tsvangirai appeared calm and composed. Meanwhile outside the
High Court over 200 MDC supporters gathered chanting party slogans in solidarity
of their president. Upon receiving the news of the verdict the crowd became
ecstatic mobbing Tsvangirai who was quickly whisked away by his aides.
Thereafter, the determined supporters demonstrated around the city peacefully
condemning the trial of their president with the riot police keeping a close
watch. In some skirmishes that occurred at the High Court, security agents, on
the basis that he did not have his identity card, denied MDC legislator, Job
Sikhala, entry into the High Court. Sikhala insisted that he be let in to attend
the hearing since the security agents knew that he was a member of parliament.
However, the police would not barge and they formed a human barrier to block his
way. He was only able to attend the ruling in the afternoon.
In a related matter, the MDC Secretary
of Information and Publicity, Mr Learnmore Jongwe, issued a statement condemning
Minister of State for Information and Publicity, Professor Jonathan Moyo for
making irresponsible and reckless comments on the MDC president's trial which
was pending before the courts. Jongwe said, "The comments are clearly designed
to exert unlawful pressure on the court so that it can reach a verdict that is
pleasing to him and his beleaguered party".
Maize: No price yet but farmers must
IN a move described as most unusual,
the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement is urging farmers to
start delivering maize to the Grain Marketing Board before it announces the
maize producer price for this year. The GMB will be buying the maize at last
year's price and will be expected to make back payments after the new producer
price is announced.
Traditionally, the maize producer price
is announced at the beginning of April.
The responsible minister, Dr Joseph
Made, has instructed the debt ridden GMB to start buying maize at the old price
while the new price is being worked out. Dr Made said farmers who deliver now
will be paid at the old rate and may claim the balance after he announces the
new price, which will be higher than last year's.
The calls from government come amid
speculation that the country may be facing a maize shortage despite having a
fairly good rainy season. The excessive rains and the controversy surrounding
the fast track land reform programme disrupted production. Although GMB, wracked
by financial problems, claims it has about 350 000 tonnes in stock, farmers are
suspicious of government's decision to urge them to deliver the crop prior to
the announcement of the producer price.
Industry sources said according to the
GMB Act, the maize producer price should be announced on 1 April every year, but
government has flouted the law.
Although farmers' organisations feel
that this year's price per tonne should be between $10 000 and $11 000 they said
it was unlikely that government can give such a price. Some even felt that $11
000 per tonne would not be enough to fully cover the production costs, leaving a
Zimbabwe Farmers' Union (ZFU) has
indicated that a price of $10 000 per tonne will be acceptable while Zimbabwe
Grain Producers' Association wants at least $11 000 per tonne. The Indigenous
Commercial Farmers' Union said they would want a price equivalent to US$139 per
tonne but using the parallel market exchange rate. At the official rate this
will be Z$7 600 but at the parallel market this will be about $15
The price of $11 000 will be almost
100% higher than last year's of $5 500 per tonne but considering the rate of
inflation and the cost of inputs which continue to sky rocket this will not full
Indigenous Commercial Farmers' Union
(ICFU) director Mr Nokwazi Moyo said as farmers they were not happy that the
government, through the GMB, pegged the maize producer price without consulting
industry's stakeholders especially farmers.