|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Like many stories, the farm crisis in Zimbabwe held the attention of the world for only a week or two, before the cameras zoomed in elsewhere, but I was hooked a little longer. Somehow I'd found my way on to Cathy Buckle's personal and ever-growing address book. A white farmer, whose land was being annexed by the so-called war veterans, Cathy was doing the only thing she could - emailing anyone who would listen. Like people all over the world, I hung on her weekly update, which rarely made happy reading.
Owner of a farm with her husband and seven-year-old son, she was a prime target for the war veterans, who were demanding redistribution of the country's mainly white-owned agricultural land. It mattered little in the great scheme of things that the Buckles had bought their land, not inherited it from a colonial baron, as some white Zimbabweans had. Nor that they had invested 10 years to make the rugged soil fruitful. Nor that they had supported Robert Mugabe when he overthrew Rhodesia's white rule.
Their farm was ripe for picking, and for handing out to the war veterans or apparatchiks who would back Mugabe's Zanu-PF party in the 2000 elections, and the leader himself in 2002.
Now, in her book African Tears, Cathy tells the tale of Stow Farm, from when the war veterans arrived at her gate in March 2000, to the day in October when she and her family left, for their safety and sanity. Despite their determination to stick it out, they were eventually worn down by the intimidation, destruction of property and crops, theft of equipment, and attacks on staff. It is the story, says Zimbabwe Independent editor Trevor Ncube, of "one family's struggle against state-sponsored terror".
Cathy and Ian Buckle bought their farm in 1990. They wanted their son to be born and grow up in an idyllic rural home, and were prepared to sweat and toil to make their soil productive, and realise their dream. By last year, it sustained the Buckles, their dozen or so farmhands, and a further 20 or more of the workers' wives and children.
In 1990, Mugabe's government could have made a compulsory purchase of the farm, but said it was not interested. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s Zimbabwe failed to buy farms it could have redistributed to blacks. Cathy believes this exposed as a purely political ploy Mugabe's speech on April 18, 2000, on the 20th anniversary of Zimbabwe's independence. "Land is the last colonial question - we are determined to resolve it once and for all," he said.
'Feels like rape'
In fact, it was just the beginning. Over the next six months, hundreds would gather on the farm, staking out their plots, felling the tree crops planted over many years, burning fields of maize and killing prime livestock. "I've worked so hard over these past 10 years, and know every inch of this farm, and the pain of seeing those people destroying it is intolerable. I feel as I imagine it must feel to be raped," she wrote.
Besides their personal tragedy, Cathy wept for her country. The veterans were destroying her crops, as they were all over the country, without any idea how to use the land afterwards. Zimbabwe, one of Africa's few success stories, was on the road to ruin.
Cathy had been strong, and determined to resist the madness sweeping her beloved country. But now, destroyed financially and psychologically "at the end of my tether", she had to leave. She decided to write African Tears, though she knew it would infuriate the government. She still lives in Zimbabwe, but is too frightened to give interviews or be photographed.
The farm invasions are still going on, indeed have spread to white businesses
in the city. And it is likely the campaign of terror will be stepped up before
presidential elections next year. That may be Zimbabwe's last chance to step
back from the brink.
|Landmark trial set for Monday|
5/19/01 3:43:10 PM (GMT +2)
KUMBIRAI KANGAI, the
former Minister of Lands and Agriculture, and a luminary of the liberation
struggle, will on Monday appear in the High Court in Harare at the beginning of
what should be a landmark trial.
He faces charges under the
Prevention of Corruption Act involving $228 million.
Kangai, 63, is on $250 000 bail.
His lawyer, Jonathan Samkange, of Byron Venturas, said yesterday: “The trial is definitely taking place on Monday. We want to get over with it.”
Samkange said Kangai will be jointly tried with Tobias Takavarasha, his former permanent secretary, and Martin Muchero, the former managing director of the government-owned Grain Marketing Board (GMB).
Part Four of the Prevention of Corruption Act which deals with offences committed by public officers says if a public officer, in the course of his employment, does anything that is contrary to or inconsistent with his duty as a public officer, he shall be guilty of contravening the Act.
“The officer shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding $3 000 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years or to both such fine and such imprisonment.”
This is the first time since independence that a senior Zanu PF official and government minister is standing trial for corruption.
Kangai was one of the eight founding members of Dare reChimurenga, Zanu’s supreme council formed in 1973 to spearhead the liberation war.
He sat on the council with Herbert Chitepo and Josiah Tongogara, both late, as secretary for labour and social welfare. After independence he became Zimbabwe’s first Minister of Labour and Social Welfare.
Takavarasha is on $50 000 bail for allegedly misappropriating nearly $160 million through fraudulent deals at the GMB while Muchero, also on $50 000 bail is facing charges of fraud and corruption involving $176 million.
The State alleges that following a poor farming season in 1997/8, the GMB was assigned to import 460 000 metric tonnes of maize for domestic consumption and to replenish strategic grain reserves.
Kangai, the State, alleges, convened a meeting attended by Takavarasha, Muchero and the late deputy secretary for Lands and Agriculture, Gordon Sithole in June 1998 at which he underlined the need to stick to proper grain buying procedures.
This entailed the GMB going to tender and respecting the pricing and import and export programme and other regulations governing parastatals in terms of the Audit Exchequer Act and the GMB Act.
Three weeks later, however, Kangai allegedly flouted his own directive when he allowed the GMB to invite bids for 50 000 metric tonnes without going to tender.
The State alleges that Kangai was endorsing a proposal made by Muchero to skirt regulations for this one-off buy and later negotiate for the balance of the tonnage with the companies selected in the initial 50 000 tonnes.
The State also alleges that between 22 October 1998 and January 1999 a private company, Andrie CIE SA bought 80 000 metric tonnes of maize from the GMB at US$120 (about $6 800) per tonne for export to Malawi.
GMB had, at about the same time, and with Kangai’s alleged consent, contracted Andrie CIE SA to import maize from South Africa and the United States at prices anging between US$165 (about $9 400) and US$209 (about $11 900) a tonne.
Kangai is accused of failing to disclose to the government that Andrie CIE SA was exporting the maize to Malawi and instead authorised that the maize export permits be issued, purporting that the GMB was the exporter. This was done to circumvent the government ban on maize exports by private companies and individuals.
When he was arrested in March 2000, Shadreck Beta, the then Zanu PF chairman for Manicaland province disqualified Kangai from contesting the party’s primary elections, saying that he had a pending court case.
But it emerged there had been no instruction from the party’s politburo. The Politburo then gave Kangai the green light to contest both the Zanu PF primary and subsequent parliamentary elections last June. He won the Buhera South seat.
In July 2000, Kangai refused to move out of his office at Ngungunyana
Building. This followed the appointment by President Mugabe of Joyce Mujuru as acting Minister after Kangai was arrested and hauled before the Harare Magistrates' Court.
Kangai was subsequently replaced by Joseph Made who now heads the new Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, following a Cabinet reshuffle on 17 July 2000.
|Organisation wants South African government to condemn Zimbabwe|
5/19/01 3:16:26 PM (GMT +2)
FRIENDS of Zimbabwe
(FOZ), a Capetown-based organisation, wants the South African government to take
a firm stand against Zimbabwe and condemn the increasing lawlessness which they
say has a negative impact on the South African economy.
FOZ officials said the
South African government should join the chorus of groups and countries calling
for suspension of financial aid to Zimbabwe and impose an arms embargo and a
worldwide travel ban on government officials.
The organisation, consisting of Zimbabweans and non-Zimbabweans in Cape Town, held a demonstration last Friday to protest against the disregard of the rule of law, repression of the independent media and the abuse of land reform by the government.
Paul Carter, the director of FOZ, told The Daily News from Cape Town yesterday that 300 people had handed over a petition to the Foreign Affairs department.
Another copy was sent to the Zanu PF headquarters in Harare.
Carter said: “The situation in Zimbabwe is of major concern to other countries in the region and we feel that public protests may register our displeasure at the behaviour of the Zanu PF government in Zimbabwe.
“The continued ambiguous response from the South African government is intolerable.
“Condemning another government for contravention of its own constitution, negation of the rule of law and gross human rights violations cannot be construed as interference in the internal affairs of another,” the organisation said in a statement.
“It is the responsibility, and not the privilege, of the governments of other nations to condemn abuses of human rights, wherever they take place because human rights cannot be selectively applied -they are universal.”
|Youths demand allowances|
5/19/01 3:03:15 PM (GMT +2)
About 50 Zanu PF youths and women besieged the party offices in Masvingo yesterday demanding their allowances for campaigning during the Masvingo mayoral election which their party lost to the MDC.
The disgruntled supporters said they were promised $5 000 each during the run-up to the election but were surprised when party officials advised them that the funds were not available. - SR
|Registrar-General’s office denies rigging mayoral poll|
5/19/01 3:14:50 PM (GMT +2)
office has described the recent Masvingo mayoral election as free and fair and
dismissed allegations by Zanu PF that the office rigged the polls in favour of
Willard Sayenda, the
official in charge of the polls, said in a statement on Tuesday: “The
registrar-general staff exercises strict impartiality without fear or favour and
in strict compliance with the law and any subsidiary regulations governing the
conduct of elections. It is on that basis that we are declaring the polls free
The election was won by the MDC’s Alois Chaimiti who polled 4 532 against Zanu PF’s Jacob Chademana’s 2 188 votes.
Soon after Chaimiti was declared the winner, Zanu PF, led by its provincial chairman Samuel Mumbengegwi and some residents of 4.1 Infantry Battalion of the Zimbabwe National Army claimed the election was rigged by officials from the registrar-general’s office in favour of the MDC.
Zanu PF alleged that the officials connived with the MDC to remove a number of names from the voters roll, leading to Zanu PF’s shock defeat.
“The allegations are malicious and must be dismissed with the contempt they deserve,” said Sayenda.
The election was marred by voter apathy. Only 7 421 of the 27 000 potential voters cast their ballots. A total of 3 442 unregistered voters were turned away from the polling stations.
Meanwhile calm has returned to Masvingo following the violence that marred the run-up to the election.
Wild celebrations by MDC supporters were halted by the police who said they feared they might degenerate into violence.
On Monday, the police had withdrawn their 24 hour-road blocks and no post-election violence was reported.
From the Daily Telegraph (UK), 19 May
Mugabe permits arrest of mobs invading 'white' firms
Harare - Facing unrest within his cabinet and overwhelming international pressure, President Mugabe has authorised arrests among the mobs that have invaded hundreds of businesses in Zimbabwe. Police sealed off the Harare provincial headquarters of Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, where the gangs have been based, firing tear gas to clear a crowd of supporters surrounding the building and checking everyone entering it. A series of swoops began on Wednesday, when a group were arrested for extortion and kidnapping. There were two further arrests yesterday, taking the total detained to 28.
At least 300 white-owned businesses have been invaded since last month, with the gangs typically seizing on labour disputes as a pretext for demanding money with menaces. The list of targets now covers any organisation linked to the white community, including aid agencies, charities, a hospital and an orphanage. The gangs have made no secret of their loyalty to Mr Mugabe and have brought the terror tactics used against white farmers into the cities. Their new offensive has dealt another blow to an economy that was already in crisis.
Western diplomats believe that when the cabinet met on Tuesday, ministers demanded action against the mobs. A diplomat said that Mr Mugabe's decision to support them was influenced by two events. Zanu-PF lost a mayoral election in Masvingo on Monday, taking just 29 per cent of the vote in a former stronghold, which showed urban terror tactics were not working. A day later Dandy Zimbabwe, a Danish confectionery factory that was one of the first firms to invest in Zimbabwe after independence in 1980, closed because of threats, with the loss of 150 jobs. Mr Mugabe has also come under immense international pressure. Companies linked to Australia, America and eight European countries have been affected by the occupations, and Pretoria has protested over the invasion of at least 18 South African firms. Promises were made last year that the squatters would be restrained but observers doubt whether Mr Mugabe genuinely intends to call off the mobs.From ZWNEWS, 19 May
War veterans who aren’t, a police force that doesn’t, law suits and worse for telling the truth – all par for the course in Zimbabwe’s Orwellian world.
If you have followed the news from Zimbabwe over recent weeks, you will be aware of the invasions by marauding bands of Zanu PF thugs, masquerading as war veterans, who descend on companies, charities, hospitals and schools to "settle labour disputes" – current Zimbabwean Newspeak for extortion and theft – on a commission basis. You may also have read about the ‘mediation’ on Wednesday by a gang of these venerable old soldiers at the offices of Fawcett Security in Bulawayo. The mob herded a number of Fawcett employees four kilometres to the local Zanu PF offices, where the advantages of the roving Zanu PF labour-arbitration service were explained to them.
This incident was reported widely worldwide – in the Zimbabwean, South African, UK and US press, and by such organisations as the BBC and Reuters. ZWNEWS carried its own eye-witness account. The facts are clear – this was just another in a long series of lawless incidents intended to intimidate anyone, and any organisation, which might possibly be less-than-wholeheartedly loyal to the president. The only real difference between the Fawcett Security invasion, and many others which preceded it all over the country, was that - mercifully - no-one was violently assaulted.
But here’s how the Bulawayo Chronicle – one of the stable of state-owned newspapers – reported it…
From the Bulawayo Chronicle, 18 May
White employees seek help from ZANU (PF)
MORE than 15 white employees working for Fawcett Security in Bulawayo joined about 70 black counterparts who went to the ZANU (PF) offices to protest against poor salaries and working conditions at the firm, a war veteran mediating in labour disputes in the city, Cde Mkhululi Dube, said on Wednesday. Although no official comment was immediately available from the security company, workers said they were unhappy with the company’s decision not to re-employ 40 workers dismissed for taking part in a demonstration last year.
However, Reuters news agency quoted Fawcett’s general manager Mr David de Burgh-Thomas as saying about 30 war veterans abducted more than 60 employees and marched them to the ZANU (PF) offices. "A mob of more than 30 people came to the office and took in excess of 60 of our staff. They forced them to march down the street to the ZANU (PF) headquarters chanting party slogans," the news agency quoted him as saying. The company agreed to re-employ the workers last month after war veterans mediated in the labour dispute.
ZANU (PF) Bulawayo interim provincial chairman, Cde Norman Zikhali, confirmed that the hordes of Fawcett employees went to the party offices. Workers at the firm said they closed the firm in solidarity with the dismissed employees. Cde Zikhali however said that when they learnt that the workers had closed the firm, he asked them to resume their duties. "We are not there to close firms. Our role is to facilitate dialogue and if there is a stalemate, there is a clear way of dealing with such disputes, " he said. Security guards charged that they were assigned duties at the farm of one of the firm’s senior officials.
You might be forgiven for believing that the Chronicle Reporter lives on another planet, although he or she at least did quote the Reuters report, if only to imply it was a pack of lies.
If you are a seasoned Zimbophile, you may have read the Times article in May last year about Violet Gonda, of the Media Monitoring Project in Harare, whose job it was to watch endless hours of ZTV – the state-owned monopoly television channel. "It is a nightmare," she said. "I am nearing brain damage. I get headaches. I get enraged and want to throw something at the screen. It's all just so very, very bad." . The BBC’s Kate Adie, veteran of more dictatorial regimes than most Zimbabweans have had cold breakfasts, was equally complimentary : "I've seen a lot of propaganda across the world," she told MMPZ staff. "This takes the biscuit." Readers sometimes ask why we don’t include more from the state-owned press in the pages of ZWNEWS. Because most of it is guff, that’s why…
From the Daily News, 18 May
Missing docket not an issue, says Tsvangirai
The mysterious disappearance of the docket which is the basis of the State's case of terrorism and sabotage against MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, should not in any way affect court proceedings. The government-owned daily, The Herald, quoting unnamed sources, reported yesterday that Tsvangirai's docket was missing from the Attorney-General's Office. The paper reported that the docket and a video tape of the rally at Rufaro Stadium where Tsvangirai allegedly called for the violent removal of President Mugabe went missing in unclear circumstances.
Tsvangirai's lawyer, Innocent Chagonda of Atherstone and Cook, said yesterday: "The alleged disappearance of the docket does not affect court proceedings. A docket is not placed before the court, but is used by the prosecution. The court has its own record." Chagonda said a docket contained the record of all statements by the witnesses and information on how the case was investigated. In its case against Tsvangirai, the State is relying on the testimony of, among other witnesses, Reuben Barwe, the ZBC chief reporter, and Priscilla Mapuranga, a camera person. David Coltart, the MDC secretary for legal affairs, said the alleged disappearance of the docket should not be an issue because there was abundant evidence on the case. "They are trying to make an issue out of nothing," Coltart said yesterday.
When the case went before the High Court last week, Tsvangirai's legal team, led by Advocate Chris Andersen, challenged the constitutional validity of the Law and Order (Maintenance) Act of 1960. Justice Moses Chinhengo then referred the case to the Supreme Court. Tsvangirai's record is still being compiled by the High Court. The record will be sent to the Supreme Court which will then set a date for the hearing. The five judges of the Supreme Court will then sit as a constitutional court to determine the constitutionality of sections 51 and 58 of the Act which deals with acts of terrorism and sabotage and inciting public violence, respectively. The judges are Godfrey Chidyausiku, the acting Chief Justice, Wilson Sandura, Simbarashe Muchechetere, Ahmed Ebrahim and Nicholas McNally.
From The Star (SA), 19 May
Chissano condemns leaders who cling to power
Maputo - Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano has defended his decision not to seek a further term of office, and criticised those leaders who cling on to power endlessly, even when they are no longer in a fit condition to exercise it. Though he mentioned by name only Malawi's late dictator President Kamazu Banda, his audience took him to be referring also to such living presidents as Zambia's Frederick Chiluba, who is having second thoughts when he saw the depth of the opposition in his own party, and Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, who is stoutly resisting efforts to step down despite leading a country sinking into economic chaos.
Political leaders should leave office "while they are still viewed as friends by the people", Chissano declared on Wednesday during a visit to the town of Espungabera, on the border with Zimbabwe. Speaking at a rally, Chissano had to deal with questions from peasant farmers who did not understand his decision to stand down at the next general elections, scheduled for 2004. He acknowledged that "many people are afraid of this decision since they think the idea is for me to hand over the seat to (Afonso) Dhlakama (leader of the former rebel movement Renamo). Don't be afraid. We'll work towards choosing the ideal person to govern the country".
Chissano stressed he had no intention of ending his life an isolated and hated figure such as "life president" Banda, who, he said, towards the end had been in no condition to hold office. "Yet he refused to let go. He no longer trusted anybody. He thought everyone wanted to take power from him, power which he could no longer use properly." Chissano recalled that whenever he had visited Malawi under the Banda regime, "the speeches were always the same. He wasn't changing anything. As a result he died surrounded by enemies. Who were Banda's friends when he died? Nobody!" Chissano declared. "They had all distanced themselves from him. That's not what I want."
Chissano assured his listeners that Frelimo has other figures who are capable of succeeding him and "continuing the work of serving the people". He recalled that at the start of his presidency, in 1986, after the death of Samora Machel, "I was afraid. I even had dreams in which I asked Samora how to do this or that. But later I got used to it." Chissano said it would be easier for his successor "because I will still be here, and I will be able to help", adding that "if we see that we have made the wrong choice, then we'll just remove him and put somebody else there".
From The Zimbabwe Independent, 18 May
Opportunists cost Zanu PF victory – Zvobgo
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 MDC in the Masvingo mayoral election, Zvobgo said his party performed dismally due to the strategy of opportunists who wanted to "harvest where they had not planted". "Baboons are on the run in Masvingo," Zvobgo 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 coercion 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.
Zvobgo said there were "visitors" in Zanu PF who wanted to manoeuvre to the top while destabilising the party and undermining its electoral prospects. "The 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. "I was 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 exercise. "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.
"An 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. "The 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.
Zanu PF secretary for administration Emmerson Mnangagwa this week said his party would deal with internal problems to revive its electoral fortunes. The 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 Hungwe’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 of substance. "In our campaign there was not an iota of an idea about how we were going to solve economic problems," he said. "Economic fundamentals are totally upside down. There are always long fuel queues but we did not deal with these issues during our campaign," he added.
From ZCPA, 18 May
I refer to an article entitled "Zimbabwe Producers Predict Maize, Wheat Shortages This Yr" from the Wall Street Journal included in ZWNEWS of 17 May. I would like to correct some aspects of the article if I may.
For the record, I am the Chief Executive of the Zimbabwe Cereals Producers Association, not the Commercial Grain Producers Association (CGPA) as stated. As a matter of interest, the CGPA renamed itself a few years ago and are now called the Zimbabwe Grain Producers Association. I did not speak directly to Dow Jones as the article mentions. I have spoken to several local reporters recently one of whom may have forwarded the information. The basic information carried in the article is correct except for one aspect that I wish to correct : "Last year a surplus of around 100,000 tons of wheat carried over from the previous year made up a shortfall in production." Zimbabwe did not produce a surplus of 100,000 tonnes of wheat as implied. The reverse actually occurred, there was a shortfall of about that tonnage. Zimbabwe is not self-sufficient in wheat and there is a shortfall in production every year that has to be imported. The shortfall obviously varies according to how much is grown.
Against all odds, the third Harare International Festival of the Arts has just been hosted in Zimbabwe's capital city.
The country is beset by problems - recently fuel queues have disappeared because there is now no fuel and 'war veterans' have transferred the terror techniques they perfected in the rural areas to the cities, targeting white-owned businesses and NGO's in particular.
Just down the road at the ruling Zanu-PF party headquarters, terrified company managers are being 're-educated' into handing over millions of dollars.
Yet none of this disturbed the carnival atmosphere at the arts festival, where black and white Zimbabweans mingled with those few tourists and artists willing to brave Robert Mugabe's third 'chimurenga' or struggle.
The festival opened with the music of Duke Ellington, and ended with two concerts - one by the most prominent protest singer still left in the country, Oliver Mutukudzi, and the other by gospel singers including Mechanic Manyeruke.
Mr Manyeruke had himself been threatened by 'war veterans' just a week earlier when he led a May Day rally in prayer.
Many of the festival entries, especially the dance and music, were not in the least controversial, the political content was most evident in the theatre.
The Amakhosi Theatre Group from Bulawayo, known for addressing national issues, presented a play about the land conflict entitled 'Witnesses and Victims'.
Amakhosi started in 1981 as a karate club in the house of the Mhlanga brothers, Cont and Styx, in the township Makokoba.
They built the group into one of the most influential and internationally renowned drama groups in the country, with 150 artists involved in dance, theatre, film and video.
Recently Cont left the group to form a separatist Ndebele political party. The Ndebele minority, drawn from Matabeleland, constitutes 20% of the population.
The producer of Amakhosi's play, Bhekizulu Masuku, says the group must have succeeded in presenting both sides of the argument since the authorities have not objected.
"When they come to see the play, they think they're going to catch us 'at it', so to speak, but then they realise that the play is balanced," he says.
Mr Masuku says that the group is important because it gives those without resources, power and access to the media a chance to publicise their views.
Elephants Trample Farmer to Death
Panafrican News Agency- (Dakar)
May 19, 2001
Posted to the web May 19, 2001
A stray herd of elephants from Botswana trampled on a Zimbabwean farmer to death after he tried to chase them away from his fields, police said Saturday.
Freddy Ndlovu's flattened body was found in his field by a village search party which went out to look for him after he failed to return home.
Police said the farmer and his wife found the elephants eating their crops, and he asked his wife to return home so he could chase the animals away.
The elephants crossed back to Botswana after killing Ndlovu.
UN Integrated Regional Information Network - (Nairobi)
May 19, 2001
Posted to the web May 19, 2001
In Zimbabwe it's been another week of insecurity as businesses have continued to be the target of aggression by self-styled war veterans. Several foreign-owned companies are reported to be closing or leaving as a result of the mayhem, including a Danish-owned chewing gum firm. Canada decided to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe in response to harsh treatment meted out to its nationals, and the European Union (EU) said it was also considering sanctions. For a second time in recent weeks, the government made an attempt to rein in the veterans.
On Wednesday, 10 war veterans were arrested for allegedly extorting about US $25,000 from a private company under the pretext of solving a labour dispute, the state-controlled 'Herald' reported. Also arrested were 10 employees of the unnamed firm. Joseph Chinotimba, chairperson of the ruling party-linked war veterans in Harare commended the police action. "We gave a directive to the police that any person found extorting money from employers and workers should be arrested," he was quoted as saying. The clampdown followed government instructions to arrest those responsible for invading companies in recent weeks on the pretext of resolving labour disputes and demanding money.
The report, quoting sources close to the cabinet, said the issue of rogue elements and impostors among the veterans was discussed extensively in the cabinet on Tuesday, where there was agreement that the actions were criminal and unjustified. "The government decided on Tuesday that very stern measures will have to be taken against these rogue elements. All those guilty of unlawful conduct will have to be taken in and made answerable," the source said.
But despite declarations by government to get tough on the vets, the independent 'Daily News' reported that so-called war veterans and ruling ZANU-PF supporters abducted 60 workers at the Bulawayo head office of Fawcett Security Operations on Wednesday. The abducted staff were reportedly force-marched through the city's streets to the party's offices. The workers, mainly managers, accountants, bookkeepers, secretaries, receptionists and security guards, were forced to chant ZANU-PF slogans and were only released after the intervention of Dumiso Dabengwa, the former home affairs minister.
Several teachers recounted to the independent 'Financial Gazette' 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. "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," said Themba Ncube, a qualified primary school teacher who fled Nkayi with his wife, also a teacher, and child.
In other developments, PANA reported on Monday that the government passed a law the previous Friday forbidding foreign funding for local political parties. The Political Parties (Finance) Act forbids political parties from soliciting or receiving funding from foreign sources and provides for stiff penalties, including disqualification for those violating the law. Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa was quoted as saying that the law "would deliver a deathblow to those who act as spokespersons for foreign interests". The government has accused European countries, particularly Britain, of interfering in Zimbabwe's domestic affairs by financing opposition parties.
Diplomat Says Pretoria Will Not Condemn Harare Over Land Issue
Panafrican News Agency (Dakar)
May 19, 2001
Posted to the web May 19, 2001
A senior South African diplomat in Zimbabwe said at the weekend that Pretoria will not bow to international pressure to condemn President Robert Mugabe's government for allegedly promoting lawlessness through its land reform programme.
Jereiah Ndou said South Africa supported Zimbabwe's land reforms, which involve the compulsory seizure of uncultivated farms from whites to resettle land-less blacks.
He added that South Africa will continue to engage the Zimbabwean government in quiet diplomacy.
"The debate (about land reforms) in Zimbabwe has been going on for quite sometime now, but we don't believe in standing on top of a roof and making noise. South Africa and Zimbabwe have a long relationship and we have inter-dependent economies. So we will rather work together to solve problems than shout," Ndou said.
South Africa, the regional economic powerhouse, has come under fire from its critics within and outside for taking a softer line on the Zimbabwean government, which they accuse of human rights abuse and promoting lawlessness.
But Ndou said Pretoria would continue to pursue its policy of quiet diplomacy with Zimbabwe in spite of the international criticism this had attracted against South Africa and President Thabo Mbeki.
"There is an unfortunate attempt to demonise us as yet another African government, inefficient, corrupt and already failing. But it is unfair because everyone knows that we are a young democracy and we are moving in the right direction from a wrong and difficult zone," he said.