The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

Back to Index



"After stopping for drinks at an illegal bar, a Zimbabwean bus driver found that the 20 mental patients he was supposed to be transporting from Harare to Bulawayo had escaped.
Not wanting to admit his incompetence, the driver went to a nearby bus-stop and offered everyone in the queue a free ride.
He then delivered the passengers to the mental hospital, telling staff that the patients were very excitable and prone to bizarre fantasies.
The deception wasn't discovered for 3 days."

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Dear family and friends,
What excitement, almost hysteria in fact. Last night the phone was ringing
until all hours - have you heard the news people kept asking me. The US
Secretary of State, Colin Powell, is on a 4 nation African Tour, yesterday
he was at Witz University in Johannesburg South Africa. Mr Powell announced
that the debts of 19 African countries have been cancelled - countries
which have democratic governance. Zimbabwe was not one of those 19. Mr
Powell said that Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe had been in power for over 20
years and seemed determined to remain there, by whatever means. Colin
Powell said that the people of Zimbabwe must be allowed to make their own
choice as to how they are governed in future and must be able to go to a
free and fair election. The crowd went wild, a huge cheer went up and Mr
Powell had to actually stop speaking for a moment until the noise died
down. AT LAST, a top politician and the first African American, has seen
what is going on and has told it like it is. His words were not couched in
diplomatic niceties, they were hard, angry and categorical. Well done Mr
Powell, may I send you a copy of African Tears so you can see what is
happening on the farms as well? Perhaps almost as exciting as Mr Powell's
speech was a live telephone interview by a South African TV news station
later last night with Zimbabwe's Minister of Justice, Patrick Chinamasa.
Asked for his reaction to Powell's speech, Chinamasa said: "Powell's words
are nonsense. The Americans and British are trying to impose leaders on
us." What can you say, I just shake my head and laugh at the bombastic
arrogance of our leaders.

Back home we've had the usual nonsensical week. Our former Minister of
Agriculture, Kumbirai Kangai, is finally in court on charges of corruption.
We all knew that the 63 year old, out on a quarter of a million dollars
bail, would not go down alone. His defence is that both President Mugabe
and the Cabinet knew about the maize he sold without following tender
proceedures - in Zim this is the loudest and most frequently heard cry: I
am not the one. It remains to be seen how courageous the Judge will be.

Bulawayo's state owned newspapers saw an advertisment placed by 'war
veterans' this week. All private cattle sales are hereby banned, the ad
said. Anyone conducting private cattle sales would have the money taken and
the animals impounded.

Trials of 'rogue' war veterans who raided Harare businesses, continued. As
the week wore on though, it became crystal clear that this is some sort of
window dressing because none of the big fish were netted and one lowly
organiser who had been arrested, was released immediately with 'no case to

The country has been abuzz all week with rumours about the fate of war vet
leader Hunzvi who collapsed in a Bulawayo hotel on Monday. From then till
now no one has seen or spoken to the man, no cameras or even phone calls
have been allowed but his doctor says his condition is improving. At the
moment the story we are being fed is that the man has cerebral malaria, he
is not dead, just resting. Anyone remember Monty Python's classic skit
about the parrot?

To end on a personal note, I must comment on some of the responses that
came in to my letter last week. The reaction was split in two, people in
Zimbabwe really defensive and almost angry that I had suggested we should
ALL start speaking out. They told me that I didn't know what was going on
behind the scenes, that anyway what difference would one voice make and how
on earth can they help when it might lead to arrest or the wrath of the
'war veterans'. The other half of the reaction came from dozens of people
outside of Zim and their response was: yes, how can anyone in the outside
world help Zimbabweans if they don't start standing up for themselves. if
we don't see them on the streets in their thousands, hundreds of thousands
saying  we've had enough. I know what it's like, how hard it is to speak
out - and how frightening it is to get threatened but if only we could all
start standing together, side by side, hand in hand, imagine, just imagine
the power, the unity.
Until next week, my special thoughts, thanks and love to all of you who
keep on caring. Love C
Back to the Top
Back to Index


ZIMBABWE STANDARD Sunday 27 May 2001
News Focus—Defending the indefensible

AT a time when Zimbabwe’s judiciary is going through a major transformation, characters of people being appointed to various posts in the judicial service naturally come under scrutiny, that of the Chief Justice in particular.
Lawyers came out strongly in a story broken by The Standard last week saying acting Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyau-siku should not be confirmed to the top judge’s position once incumbent Justice Gubbay leaves after his forced resignation.
In a five-page petition to the Judicial Services Commission, the lawyers took issue with Chidyausiku’s association with the ruling Zanu PF party, suggesting that this compromised the judge’s impartiality.
Chidyausiku’s ability to act as a moral pillar was also in question with his famous ‘moment of weakness’ statement being brought to the fore as a sign that he could not be trusted with the responsibility of holding the esteemed office.
He made the statement defending his giving a lady commissioner in the then Constitutional Commission, undeserved funds.
Then there are the allegations that he made sexual advances towards yet another lady commissioner while on an overseas trip to sell the commission’s agenda.
As if that were not enough, we have it on good authority that the honourable judge is contravening the very law under which he is married by running a second household with another woman.
Of that, the lawyers said: “Mr Chidyausiku is civilly married to his proper legal wife but openly operates more than one household and has more than one wife. It is necessary that your commission (Judicial Services Commission) consider whether or not the country requires a Chief Justice who is in relationships that are questionable and well outside the law under which he is married.
“It is our strong view that a Chief Justice of a country such as ours should be seen not only as totally impartial but should be of the highest integrity both in and out of court,” said the judges.
Against the backdrop of these very scathing criticisms, information and publicity minister Jonathan Moyo was in the news last week attempting to convince the nation that a person appointed to the position of chief justice does not need to be of impeccable character.
The major talking point over Moyo’s defence of Chidyausiku has been that the minister did not deny the allegations of immorality, incompetence and partiality raised against the judge save to say:
“My advice to these gangs is that they should not push others into revealing their dark sides because what they are doing against the acting Chief Justice can be done against them with devastating results.
“There have been rumours of drunken brawls and the lies as well as the king of verandah immoralities that no one wishes to investigate.”
A senior lawyer who spoke to The Standard agreed with the authors of the petition saying it was imperative that whoever is appointed to the post of chief justice must be of the highest morale standing in order for him to carry out his duties without blemish.
“The petition took a lot of words from my mouth. A person hoping to take up the post of chief justice has to be beyond reproach because of the demands of that office.
“Chidyausiku’s traits, unbecoming of a judge, clearly disqualify him,” said the lawyer who spoke on conditions of anonymity saying his chances of appearing before Chidyausiku were high and he feared the consequences.
The lawyer said juxtaposing the lawyers’ case and Moyo’s defence would show that the minister was “defending the indefensible”.
“Instead of considering the objections contained in our petition, the minister chose to relegate the document to the work of ‘former Rhodesian gangsters’—a very sad development which really shows what we are up against.”
Scoffing at the document Moyo said: “It is obvious that the scurrilous document has been written by the usual white liberal gang in the judiciary fronting the usual black Uncle Toms.”
Instead of agreeing to consult on the process of appointing judges, Moyo took the hardline stance saying: “There is no room for gangsterism through character assassination, smear campaign and other dirty tactics last seen in Rhodesia.
“They can make as much noise as they want. It is part of their freedom brought about by our hard-won independence, but they will not be part of the process of choosing the Chief Justice.”
Given Moyo’s outburst, Zimbabweans are likely to live with judicial appointments that will not take cognizance of what the petitioners describe as the ‘suitability’ of people to hold judicial office. It is the president’s sole prerogative, Moyo says.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

MDC on Monday 28 May 2001

A clearly partisan police force

The role of the police in any democratic state is to ensure that the rules
of a nation are upheld by all people regardless of the colour of their
skin, their gender, political affiliation, or position in society. -Not so
in Zimbabwe.

The conduct of the Zimbabwe Republic Police in their discharge of duties
bears testimony to the dangers of a police force that is partisan to a
certain political party.  There are currently more than 45 innocent
citizens who have been murdered so far since the onset of the campaign for
the 2000 General Election, and most of the criminals continue to walk
scot-free.  Thousands continue to suffer various forms of brutality and
torture resulting in many sustaining broken limbs at the hands of a party
whose only hope for survival lies in shedding the blood of innocent
people.  The police have shamelessly watched all this and the Commissioner
himself has openly confessed his allegiance to the ruling party.
Criminals who killed and maimed people still walk free today and some have
no shame in boasting about the evil they have perpetuated and that they
are above the law.  The police have done nothing about them.

It is now clear that MDC activists and all Zimbabweans who, out of their
wisdom, do not share the same values with Zanu PF have no protection
whatsoever from the police in Zimbabwe.  Like MP Madzimure correctly
summed it up, "These angels of death have the audacity to destroy homes
and maim people because they know they are above the law.  There is no
rule of law in this country, at least for all of us."

The police force which has done nothing about various forms of crime
including the latest spate of abduction and extortion in industry up until
the shortsighted party realised that its strategy of company invasions was
not working.  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.  The strategy has also
resulted in the imposition of sanctions by the international community.
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) warned the Zanu PF government
from day one of the obvious consequences of its myopic strategy, but that
warning fell on deaf ears.  A part that runs the country on an ad hoc
basis simply does not deserve a people's mandate as it has no sustainable
programme that will deliver a better life for its people today and

This much ado about nothing is a mere political gimmick, of a political
party which is groping in the dark for answers as it has no clue of how to
turn the economy around and create jobs for people.  If they are serious
about it then the first people to be arrested should have been Chenjerai
Hunzvi and Joseph Chinotimba.  These are the ringleaders who have led the
thuggery in the companies.

We in the MDC cherish the values of a democratic nation where the rule of
law exists and where people are free to hold and articulate their own
political opinion with the full protection of the law and without fear.
The police in Zimbabwe and the brutal perty on whose behalf they are
fighting must realise that no amount of force can stop an idea whose time
has come.  A man who goes against the direction of the wind is foolish
because he will be blown away in the wind
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Ever heard of a two-day Fun Day? Now you know it's serious!
MDC's Umzingwane Constituency is raising funds towards the purchase of a vehicle for their Constituency. Please come and support them and have a party at the same time!.
Venue:            By How Mine
Entrance Fee: $300.00
Catering:         Cash bar and "things to buy"
Times / dates:  It started at 3:00 p.m. today - 28th May 2001, and will continue till late! Tomorrow - Tuesday 29th May, 2001- it starts at 12:00 noon and they're threatening to carry on till Wednesday morning!
MDC Support (Southern Region), Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
Phone: +26391241156 / 7 or +26391244699
E-mail : OR
Fundraising Details:~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
MDC SUPPORT (Southern Region) FUND - Make cheques payable to Matilda Trust, and send to P.O. Box 9400, Hillside, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe (clearly endorsed "Support ") or deposit into Barclays Bank, Main Street Branch (2307), Bulawayo - account number 1996379.
For transparency and accountability, please advise this office of deposits to enable us to receipt accordingly.
VICTIMS OF POLITICAL VIOLENCE FUND - as above, but clearly endorse cheques for "Victims Fund"
VISIT THE MDC WEBSITE AT !! ALSO LOOK IN AT the ZWNews website at - now the largest and most authoritative site on Zimbabwe - and the ZimToday website at for news, views and pertinent information! To subscribe to the MDC central mailing list, EITHER sign up via the MDC website's Home page, OR send a blank e-mail to FOR UP-TO-DATE INTERNATIONAL PRESS INFORMATION on the situation in Zimbabwe, subscribe to ZWNews at .
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Bulawayo - Meet Your Candidates
for the Municipal Elections!
You are all invited to an MDC Rally:
Venue:    White City Stadium
Date:       Sunday 3rd June
Time:      10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Agenda: To introduce your MDC Mayoral Candidate - Japhet Ndabeni Ncube, and the 7 candidates for Municipal Council Wards.
Please circulate this message to as many of your colleagues, friends and workers as you can!
MDC Support (Southern Region), Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Dear All

Herewith  a very interesting and relevant document for your info



Ladies and Gentlemen, I kindly wish to let you know that ZLP is not a
political party. This organization was formed last year in May 2000 by Ex
ZANLA HIGH COMMAND and ZIPRA FORCES. While the organization is non-partisan,
its members are free to join any political party of their choice, and the
organisation is not against the Government.

This organization is totally against lawlessness caused by War Veterans and
ZANU PF criminals. The harassment of the Judiciary, teachers' intimidation
and beating of innocent people, Company invasions and Land Grabbing is not
accepted in a Democratic state like Zimbabwe. Our background as Ex-fighters
is as follows:-

1 Background

The 1970's liberation war in Zimbabwe was fought to eliminate social
discrimination and economic deprivation of the majority by colonialists. The
picture that is emerging twenty years after independence is that the
nationalists who spearheaded the war of liberation were interested not in
changing the system, but merely in placing themselves in the positions of
the deposed colonialists. To this end people were, for twenty years,
deliberately kept ignorant of the meaning of true freedom and the ways of
attaining economic well being, while they waited patiently for expected
prosperity to be delivered. Having realised the need to struggle further to
obtain power to determine their destiny and to attain cherished economic
prosperity, Zimbabweans now find themselves confronted by their former
liberators, who, it is emerging, are bent on using any means to maintain a
system which benefits only a priviledged few.

The consequence of economic mismanagemnt and political intolerance is that
Zimbabwe, as a nation, is on the brink of economic collapse and faces a
socio-political situation which threatens to explode into turmoil.

One of the tools being used to prevent Zimbabweans from determining their
destiny is the fighters who participated in the liberation war in the
seventies. Most of these joined the struggle with little formal education
and were dumped after independence. They were deliberately left destitute,
without access to resources and ignorant of the direction of the country
they had liberated. Their ignorance and destitution as well as (regrettably)
experience in violence are now being exploited to perpetuate the incompetent
rule of politicians against the wishes of the people. Given the unfolding
preparedness of these unscrupulous politicians to destroy everything so as
to stay in power, it is imperative that concerned citizens capable of
contributing towards this impending disaster act quickly.

The Zimbabwe Liberators Platform (ZLP) is one such concerned organisation.
Formed by some enlightened members of these liberation war veterans, the ZLP
has realised that by neutralising their misguided colleagues as tools of
oppression, and re-directing their energies towards development the
impending catastrophe can be avoided.

It is in this respect that he ZLP is launching this rehabilitation programme
to bring together former fighters, youths and members of the community in
general to understand the socio-political and economic needs of Zimbabwe
today and combine their efforts towards attaining these.

2 Way Forward

The ZLP is embarking on a program to assist in halting national decline and
contributing towards bringing about socio-political and economic
development. The ZLP has observed the central role being played by misguided
war veterans and unemployed youths in this process of national decline and
attributed this to exploitation of the ignorance and destitution of these
elements by unscrupulous politicians for purposes of perpetuation the latter
's stay in power.

In this program, planned to run concurrently with three others, the ZLP is
targeting these misguided elements with a view to mentally reorientate them
and empower them to exert their energies towards developing the nation,
rather than destroying it, as is the current situation. The ZLP will achieve
this through a two year outreach operation which seeks to inform war
veterans and other misguided elements on the current socio-political
situation and the way forward; bring awareness of their new role and train
and assist them to participate in the cash economy. It is important to note
that this is a process which should have been implemented just after the
liberation ward in 1980. At the end of this programme, the ZLP hopes to have
cleared misunderstanding of war veterans and youths by unscrupulous
politicians and placed the efforts of these on the right track to social,
political and economic development. The ZLP believes the implementation of
this programme will contribute in creating an environment of peace and
tranquillity which is essential to economic well being, the ultimate goal of

3 General Objective

The general objective is to assist towards the establishment and
strengthening of national social stability by eliminating the root causes of
destabilisation (political ignorance and economic deprivation) and
neutralizing potential elements which are spearheading the destabilization

Specific Objectives

To bring about effective social integration between war veterans, war
collaborators and ordinary people as a way of preventing political violence.

To prevent manipulation of war veterans by unscrupulous politicians who
mislead the ignorant and desperate war veterans to deny villagers right to
determine their political destiny.

To establish correct and meaningful post war functional role of the war
veterans in the development of the nation.

To improve the self sustenance and economic well being of war veterans.

To enlighten both war veterans and the general population on their
democratic rights and the need for an environment of peace and tranquillity
as a prerequisite for economic development.

The major task in this project involves re-orientating the communities' mind
and energies towards the new requirements of the nation which is economic
development. The project strives to improve political consciousness and
build social and economic status of the misguided war veterans and youths
whose ignorance and destitution makes them easy prey for manipulation by

Social Integration

Social integration will be founded on making the community recognise and
appreciate the role played by everybody during the liberation struggle. The
community's minds will then be directed on the new role required to achieve
economic development. Twenty years after the end of the war, people are
still divided along the lines of "War Veterans", "War Collaborators", former
Rhodesians and ordinary "povo" (civilian population). A re-integration and
rehabilitation programme should have eliminated this and achieved national
unity two decades ago had it been implemented as a matter of policy. The
current exploitation of these societal divisions by unscrupulous politicians
is now exposing the danger of perpetuating disunity. In an unprecedented
move irresponsible politicians have set one section of the population
against the other; something that would have been impossible if proper
rehabilitation had been promoted in 1980. By implementing this programme,
the ZLP hope to ensure this would never happen again.

To achieve social unity the ZLP outreach teams will conduct meetings,
discussions and workshops in communities to

Identify the problems existing between communities, war veterans and other

Analyse the root cause of these problems and suggest solutions to them.

Collectively look at the issue of re-uniting those who fought and those who
were in the villages during the war; (emphasis should be laid on continuing
the complementary role each played to the other during the war)
Collectively settling the rehabilitating those whose lives were disrupted
during the war with a view to bringing normalcy to the community.

Collectively identify new national requirements and define roles so as to
avoid conflict
Clarify the need for dialogue and tolerance in cases of divergence in views;
(especially where there are no antagonisitic contradictions)

The ZLP takes cognisance of the fact that the problem is not people's
affinity for violence, or reluctance to focus on developing the nation;
rather it is lack of proper guidance and direction. The ZLP outreach teams,
in collaboration with other concerned civic society groups will endeavour to
provide this guidance.
MDC Support (Southern Region), Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
Phone: +26391241156 / 7 or +26391244699
E-mail : OR
Back to the Top
Back to Index

From The Guardian (UK), 28 May

Second Mugabe minister dies in a car crash

Harare - Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe's government has been thrown into disarray by the death of the defence minister, Moven Mahachi, the second cabinet minister to die in a car accident in the past month. Mr Mahachi, 53, was killed late Saturday afternoon in a car accident in Zimbabwe's eastern mountain district of Nyanga. He had been one of Mr Mugabe's longest serving and most trusted allies. In 1975 he helped Mr Mugabe escape Rhodesian authorities by sneaking across the eastern border to Mozambique. Robert Mugabe was so shaken by Mr Mahachi's death that he cancelled a trip to Indonesia where he was to attend the G-15 summit of leaders of developing countries.

As defence minister, Mr Mahachi was an important supporter of Zimbabwe's involvement in the Congo war, where the country has more than 12,000 troops supporting the Congolese president, Joseph Kabila. In January 1999 Mr Mahachi ordered the arrest of two Zimbabwean journalists who had reported opposition within the army to the Congo war. Army agents severely tortured the two journalists before releasing them. Mr Mugabe said the torture of the journalists was justified. Despite identification of the torturers and considerable evidence, police have not arrested anyone for the crimes.

Mr Mahachi is the second Zimbabwean cabinet minister to die in a month. Four weeks ago the employment minister, Border Gezi, was also killed in a car accident. Mr Gezi was a key organiser of the invasions of white-owned farms and the often violent election campaigns in rural areas. Mr Mugabe's ruling party, Zanu-PF, is bitterly divided by rival factions. Harare is full of rumours that the two ministers were victims of assassination plots, not road accidents.

A third cabinet minister left office in recent weeks. The trade minister, Nkosana Moyo, resigned three weeks ago, apparently in protest at the violent invasions of factories by Mr Mugabe's war veterans. Such is Mr Mugabe's reputation for vindictiveness that Mr Moyo left the country with his family before faxing his resignation, apparently to avoid any retaliation. The two deaths leave Mr Mugabe without key cabinet allies who could be trusted to carry out his policies.

Zimbabwe's politics are reaching new heights of tension and violence. Yesterday two members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change were found severely beaten but alive, after being abducted by Mr Mugabe's war veterans. The member of parliament for Matabeleland North, Abednigo Bhebhe, was kidnapped by a gang of war veterans while he was filling his car with petrol. He was beaten unconscious but later managed to escape. He is recuperating in hospital. Another MDC member, Joel Sithole, was abducted from the Plumtree area of southwestern Zimbabwe on Thursday. He was found late on Saturday and is recovering from injuries. Two international human rights experts charge that the Mugabe regime is carrying out widespread torture and murder. Amnesty International investigators have compiled a list of eight opposition supporters who have been abducted or have disappeared.

From the Daily Telegraph (UK), 28 May

Mugabe 'devastated' as minister dies in crash

Harare - President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe cancelled a trip to Indonesia yesterday after a senior cabinet minister died in a road accident, the second in four weeks. Moven Mahachi, the Defence Minister, was killed in a head-on collision on Saturday. It followed the death of Border Gezi, the Employment Minister, whose car skidded off the road on April 28. With the resignation of the Industry Minister, Nkosana Moyo, three weeks ago, Mr Mugabe has lost more cabinet ministers in the past month than throughout the previous five-year parliament.

There are now three vacancies in the cabinet and five pending by-elections. If the opposition MDC were to win three of these, it would hold a majority of the parliament's 120 elected seats. Mr Mugabe would still retain an overall majority through the 30 MPs appointed by him, but he would be politically weakened. Mr Mugabe was reported to be "devastated" by Mr Mahachi's death. He was due to attend a summit of 15 developing countries in Jakarta, but instead will stay in Zimbabwe for the traditional mourning period. Mr Mahachi, 52, had been a minister since independence in 1980 and was among the diminishing group of veterans of the war against white rule still in active politics. His loyalty to Mr Mugabe was unquestioned.

A presidential election must be held by next April and Mr Mugabe faces a tough challenge from the MDC. His supporters have continued their onslaught against the MDC by beating Abednico Bhebhe, the opposition MP for Nkayi. A mob of 12 Zanu-PF supporters surrounded him at a petrol station in his constituency, 200 miles west of Harare, on Saturday. Mr Bhebhe, 35, said one of his attackers shouted: "We have been mandated by the president to kill anyone who wants to give Zimbabwe to the whites". The mob dragged him into the bush and beat him with whips, clubs and iron bars for four hours. Mr Bhebhe said: "One had an axe and he was saying, 'Let me finish him off'." But Mr Bhebhe grabbed the axe and the mob ran off. He needed six stitches to his head.

From The Star (SA), 27 May

Zimbabweans in SA urged to go home for poll

Zimbabweans living in South Africa are being urged to go back home to vote in next year's presidential elections. "All Zimbabweans based here have to exercise their birthright to cast their votes for the government of their choice, but Mugabe is so ruthless that he will not allow you to do so," said MDC deputy president Gibson Sibanda in a keynote speech delivered to more than 500 Zimbabweans who packed a Johannesburg hotel on Sunday. "We appeal to you to find ways and means to support change. Come back home and register your names."

The crowd chanted "Down with Mugabe! Down with Zanu-PF!" at the South African meeting that launched the presidential election campaign of the opposition MDC. "We have had enough of the bloodshed in Zimbabwe. We are saying enough is enough. Because of the killings and rapes, many Zimbabweans have quit the country that their great-grandfathers left for them. We owe it to ourselves and our children that we come together and deliver change for a better life for all Zimbabweans," said Sibanda. "We believe there are presently more than 2 million Zimbabweans living in South Africa. If we come together we can take back our country from the vicious and ruthless dictator and create a better life for our children."

From Business Day (SA), 28 May

Harare dismisses offer of land from farmers

The rift between the Zimbabwean government and the country's beleaguered farmers over Harare's controversial land reform programme looked set to widen yesterday after government dismissed the farmers' offer of 1-million hectares to resettle landless blacks. The recently formed Zimbabwe Joint Resettlement Initiative - an alliance between the predominantly white CFU and business - offered to halt the CFU's legal battles against the government and promised a major effort to help win international finance for "a sustainable agrarian reform programme". Initiative co-ordinator Malcolm Vowles said that in initial discussions with senior government officials in the past two months there had been "recognition from all parties concerned that the conflict (was) unsustainable".

While Joseph Msika, the vice-president responsible for land reform, was reported to be studying the offer, Information and Publicity Minister Jonathan Moyo last night dismissed it as a "gimmick" to draw attention to the farmers. He said the farmers' initiative, which falls far short of the targets that are being eyed by Harare, was prompted by this week's move by government to "protect rural land occupiers". After last December's court order for authorities to adhere to their own laws in implementing land reform, government this week moved to legalise the illegal occupation of farms by preventing any action against the squatters who began their invasion a year ago.

Moyo said the "fast-track" plan to acquire 5-million hectares of the 12-million hectares in mostly white hands was "irreversible". Government has rejected previous offers from the farmers. Moyo claimed that the programme had now resettled about 115000 families. If accepted, the farmers' plan would resettle about 20000 families.

From The Zimbabwe Standard, 27 May

SA farmers petition for Zim workers

Bulawayo – South African farmers from Soutpansberg in the Northern Province are reportedly seeking a permanent court order to bar the department of Home Affairs from deporting their immigrant Zimbabwean farm workers. The farmers had earlier won a temporary court interdict stopping the department from expelling the foreigners. The interdict expires on 1 June 2001, The Standard has gathered. The South African farmers won the interdict before the Easter holidays when that country’s department of Home Affairs was in the process of deporting about 12 000 illegal immigrants from the country’s Northern province.

However, immigration sources say a week before the interdict expires, the farmers are pooling their resources to seek a permanent solution to the problem. "Now that the interdict is about to elapse, the farmers are consulting on the next course of action to take against Home Affairs. And from the look of things, a bruising encounter is on the cards before the farmers can settle this issue once and for all," said the source.

Immigration authorities in both South Africa and Zimbabwe allege that the farmers sought the court order after the South African authorities accused Zimbabwean immigrant workers of being in that country illegally and announced plans to deport them. In their court applications, the white farmers took a swipe at the South African government’s policy of reserving jobs for locals ahead of foreigners. The farmers argued that since South African nationals were reluctant to work on the farms, the deportation of the Zimbabweans would adversely affect farming activities in the region.

None of the 12 000 farm workers have been deported since the interdict was given in March. The principal immigration officer at Beitbridge border post, Dennis Chitsaka, told The Standard that despite the deportation threats emanating from South Africa, most Zimbabweans were in that country legally as they had been issued with border passes by that country’s authorities. "The workers had border passes which the South Africans cancelled without consulting us and now that they do not need the Zimbabweans anymore they decide to just throw them out," said Chitsaka. "Besides, most of the Zimbabweans have been working on those farms for between 10 to 15 years."

An official of the South African High Commission refuted claims that the department of Home Affairs had been issued with the court interdict. "As far as the embassy is concerned, we are not aware of the interdict. What we are aware of is that unskilled immigrant labourer were given up to 15 April this year to leave South Africa, while skilled personnel have until 15 October this year to do so,"said the official without elaborating further. When last contacted on the deportation issue during the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo, South African high commissioner to Zimbabwe, Jeremiah Ndou, told The Standard that the deportation of the immigrant farm workers was the result of ongoing investigations into the working conditions of workers in the farming industry in that country.

He said when harassment of foreigners was unearthed, the foreigners were deported to save them from further abuse by their employers. "There are ongoing investigations at the moment and farm workers who are found to be abused are sent back to their countries of origin. The South African government cannot just watch when worker’s rights are violated," Ndou said. According to immigration authorities, a total of 8 000 Zimbabweans were deported from South Africa between January and February of this year. "Deporting the Zimbabweans would not solve matters because the farmers are already urging and advising their workers to return to South Africa once they are deported to their countries of origin," said the immigration source.

Comment from New Vision (Uganda), 26 May

Who'll Save Kabila From The Bruisers?

The inter-Congolose dialogue, every day it is delayed, signals serious storms ahead. By pulling out unilaterally, Uganda was ahead.

Everyone who has met the new President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Joseph Kabila, is extremely enthusiastic about him. They say he is very bright but controlled and polite, in addition to having a modest and friendly approach. He is, in that respect, the very opposite of the last leader of the DRC, the late, assassinated, Laurent Kabila. Laurent, in Biblical language, begat Joseph; but it is not the column's intention on this occasion to map out the clear contrasts between the two. You could say there is no time, and with good reason. If the young president is to bring back the bacon to his tortured nation (and even that might be debated: bring it back from where and when?), he has to start yesterday.

The inter-Congolese dialogue, every day it is delayed, signals serious storms ahead. Whether you like it or not Uganda, by taking the unilateral step to very largely vacate its Congo positions, was ahead of the other protagonists in giving that country a fresh chance towards that all-important dialogue, especially if the other players did the same. Already Uganda had played two other major cards, first by giving military training to indigenous Congolese so that they could stand strongly on their own feet and thus take a meaningful part in the dialogue (indeed make sure such a dialogue did happen). Second, Uganda had ensured the various Congolese factions with which it worked got united in a serious entity worthy of respect. Only then, loyal to the end, did it start waving goodbye. These things did not happen by accident but design.

Of outsiders remaining behind, special word is due to Rwanda, right at the cutting edge of Congo, and tacitly recognised as such by the Lusaka Peace Agreement. The Rwandese, of all the players, need the UN forces (such as they might be) to come into Congo before Rwanda's own departure. Speak only of the Interahamwe, who are still active in Congo today, and the reason becomes obvious. Almost equally the Angolans share a dangerous border with Congo and must be satisfied that the rabid UNITA will not take any advantage.

But what possible excuse can be made out for those errant bullies, so far from their own habitat, Zimbabwe? Even, one supposes, Namibia? And here lies the crux of the problem. Now that withdrawing from Congo seems closer, it is one of these bruisers, Nujoma of Namibia, who blathers, seemingly on behalf of President Joseph Kabila, that Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda, with their rebel cohorts, have massacred around two and a half million Congolese nationals during their stay in Congo. This is barking madness, and only intended to confuse the issue so that Nujoma, and especially Mugabe, both too far away from Congo to have any meaningful reason to be there, can hang in for a few months more to finish their "business". Fortunately the current Security Council visitors in the region have found little trouble in seeing through this cheap trick. As if this were not enough, a so-called Commission looking into Laurent Kabila's assassination, has "coincidentally" ruled that Rwanda, Uganda and "their" Congolese were guilty; this without a shred of evidence!

Back to where we started: what does the admirable Joseph Kabila, so different from his dad, have to say about all this? Nothing, but not because he has nothing to say. Has he become more or less a prisoner in the hands of his keepers, Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia? They form his guard against the old Kabilites in Kinshasa, who have been well kept down since the death of old Laurent; also no doubt against the pressing and increasingly powerful rebels who are no friends of old Kinshasa. Therein lies the real tragedy. Who is going to break this remorseless chain? Kabila, charming and forward-looking as he might be, sees the barrel at his breast wherever he looks. He is in need of serious prayers.

As good a time as any to look at the incongruous linkage between the profoundly laughable recent UN Panel on the Congo, and the current 12-man Security Council visitation in the region. The latter resound to a weighty tread, the former were hollowness itself. France, rumoured to have played such a strong part in the setting up of the Panel, is also titular leader of the Security Council team, but here all similarity ceases. I like the deftness of touch with which a sometimes elephantine Council has played this particular game, and without in anyway messing up the elegant features of the past and future UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan.

It is now incumbent upon us all to play the same straight bat, as we say at the cricket. Indeed Uganda has set the ball rolling by appointing a Commission of Inquiry into the Congo affair. Let all necessary information flow as freely as the milk of a new mum. Let no rapists of Congo treasure find shelter to button themselves up uncharged. Let the noble police of the world, however few of them, take and guard every nook and cranny of Congo until all there is safe and flourishing, yea even for the first time in a century and more. Amen. Meantime here in democratic Uganda, amid high excitement, over 700 people were nominated for the forthcoming parliamentary elections. Voters' turn-out will be, as usual, higher than in most so-called democracies elsewhere. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

The default format is Rich Text (HTML), (colour, bold and underlined text but relatively bulky file sizes). If
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Please could you send this to every one you know - it seems that rumours
are already out but we would like the truth to be told and
would appreciate all the help we can get - many thanks - Lynda Scott
There is a short version and a long one - depends on your interest and

Statement by Ruenya Granite (Pvt) Ltd.

Following misleading reports on Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation News
on Friday 11th May, 2001 I have decided to make a
Statement on behalf of Ruenya Granite (Pvt) Ltd to present our
suppliers, customers and the public at whole with the true facts of
what has occurred on our Mutoko mine.

At the end of March, fifteen 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.  On advising these eight workers they
advised our quarry administrator that they would not be leaving as they
felt that they were being victimized and demanded outrageous
redundancy packages.  Redundancy packages should not normally be paid in
the case of the expiry of "fixed term" employment
contracts.  They were advised to follow the laid down appeal procedures
and follow their rights in this regard.  They appeared for
work the next day and continued to work at the mine refusing to leave
until they were paid these packages.

On Friday 6th April these workers were refused access to the mine by the
mine security.  At this time they became extremely agitated
and threatened to beat me as soon as I left the mine.  I again asked
them to follow the proper grievance procedures and would be more
than prepared to deal with them on that basis.  On receiving more
threats of violence I told them to disperse or failing which I would
call the Police.  They then told me that they wanted to go to the Police
station and lay charges against me.  I asked a driver to pick
them up and take them to the Mutoko Police Station.  During the journey
there these eight workers threatened to beat the driver of the
company vehicle unless he proceeded to Zanu PF headquarters in Harare.
The driver was able to turn around and brought them back
to the quarry.  On arriving back at the quarry they again threatened me
and the driver was sent on his own to collect the Police.

A Police Sergeant arrived at the mine a little later with Mr. Sithole
and Mr. Muvuro of the Associated Mine Workers Union.  The Union
representatives insisted that I meet with them, which I refused to do
without proper representation.  Mr. Sithole then ordered the
workers to barricade the workshop area and not allow Mrs. Scott (the
company financial director) and I out until we met with them.
The workers again threatened to beat me in the presence of the Union
officials and the Police.  I then met with the union officials and
the Police under duress.  I showed the Union officials the written
contracts that they alleged were unacceptable because the wrong
forms had been used.  I told the Union officials that I would like to
take advice rather than blandly accept their view.  It was agreed
that the Union would order the workers to disperse and that we would
meet in Harare within a week.  On leaving the meeting Mr.
Sithole ordered the eight workers to disperse and then they left. We
attempted to lay charges against the eight workers and the Police
repeatedly refused to take our complaint.

On Monday 9th April a local War Veteran called Hodzi visited the mine.
Hodzi had previously been involved in an attack on Ruenya
during the elections in which company houses were burnt to the ground
and over $2 million dollars of equipment was damaged and
looted by the War Veterans and Zanu PF Youth Brigade.  Hodzi addressed
the workers during that visit.  In the meanwhile Mrs. Scott
contacted the NEC who were asked to intervene in the Labor dispute.  She
was advised that the Union had no jurisdiction and that the
NEC would attempt to resolve the dispute.

The situation escalated on Thursday 12th April when the eight workers
who threatened the driver turned a company truck away from
the quarry and the driver was unable to collect some critical pieces of
equipment that required repair and to collect diesel for the
vehicles in Harare.  On the same day one of the transporters employed by
Ruenya to collect blocks from the quarry was stopped by
War Veterans and told not to proceed to Ruenya as "there was going to be
trouble there". The eight workers then threatened the
Production Manager Mr. Erik Immelman and removed him and his family from
the mine telling him "that he must go back to South
Africa and never come back."

On Friday 13th April the mine was closed for the holidays up until it
was due to open again on Thursday 19th April.

On the 19th April we received a letter from a Mr. Oromba, the Secretary
for Admin of the Mutoko District Liberation War Veterans
Association that stated a number of demands.  They demanded that we fire
all workers who belonged to MDC and only employ people
with Zanu PF affiliations, we must re-instate the eight workers whose
contracts had expired and that the management should return to
Britain or "they would hunt us until they got us".  The mine was
instructed to close by management who now feared for the safety of
their employees.  Mrs. Scott wrote to the NEC and to the Chamber of
Mines explaining the situation and got no positive action from
them. A copy of this letter was given to the Mutoko Police who took no
action regarding the new threats.

The rest of the workers returned to work on the 20th in the face of
management's decision to stop operations pending clarification
from the Police that it would be safe to commence operations at the mine
and that the management could return without threat of
violence or recrimination.  Management explained the position to the
workers by radio and phone and that it was pointless them
coming to work whilst there was no management there to direct the

A number of attempts were made to negotiate a settlement with the War
Veterans and the workers themselves which culminated in an
agreement where the eight workers would be re-instated and thereafter
management could pursue it's rights in relation to any other
disciplinary action that we might choose to take against the eight.
Management again attempted to lay charges against the workers
who had threatened violence and were told by Mutoko Police that they
refused to take a complaint from us and in fact would lay
charges against us for making false statements.

On 26th April we received a letter from the Workers committee with a
list of demands that had to be complied with by 11th May or a
"collective job action" was threatened.  It now seemed that the Unions
had proposed this action against the company and that the
agendas of the Union and the War Veterans were different.  It seemed to
me that the Union and the War Veterans were now competing
to win the favor of the workers with the company as the scapegoat in
both scenarios.

Considering the threats made against the management and the prevailing
situation where other business executives had been taken and
beaten, a decision was taken on Friday 27th April to close the Harare
Head Office until the matter could be resolved and that we could
be assured that it would be safe to return to work. On the same day four
men arrived at the office, one of which was armed saying
that they had come to collect Mrs. Scott.  On realizing that the office
was closed they left a message with the security guard to say
"they would be back to collect her."  Other vehicles arrived at the
office on Wednesday the 2nd May and Thursday the 3rd May with
armed men chanting slogans who claimed to want to kill Mrs. Scott and
Mrs. Paguwa.  All these incidents were reported to the Police
in Highlands and Mutoko.  On the 27th April the eight workers had
threatened the Production Manager again and forced him to drive
them to Harare to the Union offices.  This culminated in a meeting,
which was attended by two company representatives under duress,
the Union and the NEC.  At that meeting the company representatives
agreed that the eight would be re-instated pending the actions to
be taken by the Company against them relating to their threatened

Another attempt was made to lay charges against them, which was refused
by the Mutoko Police.  They refused to participate in any
disciplinary hearings and again threatened the management if any attempt
was made to take them through the legitimate procedures.

All of these incidents occurred prior to the date that pay would
normally have been due to be paid to the workers.  No action
had been taken by the Police neither to ensure the safety of the
individuals concerned nor to diffuse the already volatile

In the interim I had opened dialogue with another War Veteran in Mutoko
named Ndemere.  Ndemere had also been present at the
burning and looting that took place at the mine during the elections.
It seemed that he was committed to resolving the situation and
acted as a mediator.  I had a number of lengthy discussions with Ndemere
which culminated in an agreement on Tuesday 8th May that
the quarry would commence work on Friday 11th May with undertakings from
the War Veterans that they would guarantee the safety
of the management, allow free passage of trucks to collect diesel and
blocks and that the office in Harare would be reopened on the
strength of those undertakings and that the pay would be prepared and
sent out by Monday 14th May.

On Wednesday 9th May we dispatched a truck to Mutoko to collect diesel,
which was stopped and hijacked by the workers
demanding that they be taken to Mutoko for a "demonstration".  The
subsequent overloading of the truck caused it to break down and
the workers arrived in Mutoko and staged their demonstration demanding
that a new set of grievances be met.  Ndemere persisted
with them and the negotiations and they agreed to abide by the agreement
brokered by him and return to work on Friday 11th May.
The War Veterans gave me assurances that they would control any
threatened violence and would ensure that the workers returned to
work in a peaceful manner.  The Police did not take any action against
the illegal demonstrators.

On Thursday 10th May, 2001 I was advised that the workers had forcibly
removed machinery and equipment from the mine totaling
some Z$50 million in value and driven the equipment into Mutoko.  I
reported the matter to the Police who escorted the procession into
Mutoko.  The workers have now demanded that we comply with another new
set of demands or they will not release the machinery.
No serious attempt has been made by the Police to take any action
against the perpetrators of this theft of equipment.  The War
Veterans have reneged on their agreement and now insist that I also
comply with the demands of the workers.  The workers have now
threatened to burn the equipment and no action has been taken in this
regard either.

It is my view that the situation in Mutoko has got completely out of
control and mob rule is the only law.  Neither the Police, Labor
authorities, War Veterans or any other authority are able to bring law
and order back to a community where corruption and extortion
have become a way of life.  It is the right of any free individual to be
able to work in an environment that is free from violence and
intimidation and being able to follow the rule of law that protects the
rights of all citizens.  For Ruenya to continue operations it must
be put back into that position so that it can carry on with it's
endeavors to operate a profitable business that generates foreign
currency, continues to employ people committed to peace and the
principle of co-existence and provides value to all it's stakeholders
and the community at large.

We acknowledge that the wages due to the workers for the days worked in
April up to the time that the operations were suspended are
yet to be paid.  However it is impossible for us to do so whilst our
Harare office employees are too fearful to come to work to
complete this work.  It is our position that the actions taken by the
workers are illegal and accordingly these incidents must be dealt
with in the proper manner and through the proper channels before
negotiations relating to the re-opening of the mining operations and
the offices in Harare can be contemplated.  I would call on the
respective authorities to restore law and order to the situation as
as possible before it escalates again into uncontrollable violence that
would see a repeat of the attack on our operations where we
suffered at the hands of mob violence.

Abe Smit

Managing Director

Ruenya Granite (Pvt) Ltd.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

28 May 2001

Going up in smoke

YET again Zimbabwean politics appear to have taken a hand in the purely business affairs of the tobacco auction floors with, as always, disastrous consequences for our already terminally ill economy. It is unfortunate that a perception is gaining currency that free enterprise in Zimbabwe should be selectively applied to benefit a select few deemed acceptable to the politics of the moment. That means, of course, that it may be enterprise, of a sort, but it's far from free.

For those who haven't managed to guess, we're talking about the fracas on the floors. Despite an earlier agreement to allow three sales a day to pass through the Tobacco Sales Floors, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) reneged and decided that each auction floor should be allowed just two sales a day

TSF dominates sales and presumably is the most popular because it is efficient, has a proven track record and looks after both growers and buyers to the satisfaction of both. Burley Marketing Zimbabwe (BMZ) had previously held a much smaller share of sales, but did sufficiently well to remain in business.

But enter a new player, the Zimbabwe Industry Tobacco Auction Centre (ZITAC), who have taken over the old Boka floors. That it is an indigenous concern is irrelevant, despite whatever the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board says. What is relevant is that it is new in the game and has no track record to speak of. Coventional wisdom dictates that it must prove itself without protectionist policies if it is to succeed. ZITAC should be welcomed for increasing competition, but growers have every right to choose where they sell their tobacco.

Zimbabwe's state-controlled Herald mischievously implies farmers who refuse to sell through ZITAC might be indulging in sabotage.

Without concrete proof to support such an allegation, we say that's nonsense, and so is the statement that for competition to succeed, the "new player must be given some market share." The statement is risible because market share is earned, not given. ZITAC will succeed if it provides a good service - and fail if it doesn't. Or it may simply fail because the market is already over-traded, but that's hardly a good reason to protect it. After all, if there are already too many auction floors, why start a new one? Simple market research should have been able to predict ZITAC's chances of success, but if those chances depend on protectionism, then the business is likely to flounder - and deserves to.

The interference in the floors looks more and more like mischievousness. It also looks increasingly dangerous, though everything Zimbabwe's government does taunts danger at the moment. Still, there's a chance that this meddling will irritate the buyers who might even walk out, leaving Zimbabwe with lots of tobacco and very little prospect of selling it. But even worse is the fact that while we're busy squabbling on which auction floor is politically correct, we are missing out on the opportunity to earn vital foreign currency against crippling shortages such as those of fuel currently gripping the country.

Of course, with so much that has happened over the past 18 months to destabilise organised agriculture, mucking around with a tried and tested system on the tobacco floors really will be the last straw that breaks the camel's back.

Naturally there are sensible solutions. One would be to allow all three floors to hold as many sales a day as they like. That would be free enterprise. It would also determine whether the sector is over traded or not and let the survivors, be they one or all three, prosper on their own merits. Allocating two sales each even to an auction floor whose bookings to date do not justify the additional capacity is irrational. What should have happened instead was, for TIMB for allocate the two core sales to each of the floors and allocation of additional sales would be determined by available bookings. This would allow the established floors the latitude to get ahead with business while ZITAC gains relevant experience to either sink or swim on its ability to deliver, with perceived assistance of political pressure as appears to be the case.

Then of course, there's the often avoided subject of direct marketing. It has risks, but it also has merits and it remains within the principles of free enterprise. There is no reason why direct marketing and the auction system can't work at the same time, leaving it to the grower to decide how to sell his tobacco. In fact, by not allowing direct marketing of tobacco, a restriction on the grower's freedom of choice is impinging on the way he runs his business.

The right to direct market needs to be tested more fully. Perhaps the floors would lobby against it, but ultimately they would fail. More and more direct marketing is taking place in the USA and it is the norm for much of the world. Growers and buyers agree a price before the crop is even in the ground, allowing for efficient budgeting and much easier business management. It certainly takes the guess work out of the system, a benefit when inflation is set to rise markedly over the next few months - the IMF suggests 150% by the end of the year, and local economist John Robertson says he can see why they might say that, but he believes 100% would be closer to the mark. Either way, those are terrifying figures.

It also needs to be asked why the TIMB decided to tinker with the system in the first place. Was it just to give a slice to an indigenous company? Was it because of intense lobbying from below? Or was it a result of a directive from above? And has Zanu-PF's apparent desire to destroy commercial agriculture anything to do with it? Farmers need answers to these questions, but first they need the imbroglio sorted out. The right to choose whom to sell through is a basic right and spurious talk about one floor offering more than the other is irrelevant. The best floors will always have the lion's share, while the others will either do less well or go broke. That is the way it should be and that is the way tobacco growers must insist it is. No one should succumb to this sort of economic bullying, especially when there may well be a sinister agenda behind it. In other words, if you're a long-term happy customer of TSF, don't change unless you can't afford not to sell, but if you're facing bankruptcy and an angrier than usual bank manager, survival obviously comes first. ð ð ð ð ð ð ð



Brian Latham
Editor- The Farmer

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Former minister names Mugabe in corruption trial
Initiative to establish dialogue
Tobacco sales: business or politics?
More violence coming: Tsvangira

Former minister names Mugabe in corruption trial

THE trial of former Lands and Agriculture Minister Mr Kumbirai Kangai and the co-accused, former permanent secretary Mr Tobias Takavarasha, and suspended Grain Marketing Board (GMB) chief executive, Mr Martin Muchero, on corruption charges involving $228million started in High court this week with all pleading not guilty.

Kangai and the two are facing charges of breaching the Prevention of Corruption Act arising from the import and export of maize by GMB. Mr Takavarasha is facing allegations of misappropriating $160 million and Mr Muchero is facing fraud charges involving $176 million.

Mr Kangai's lawyer, Mr Jonathan Samukange, said the $228 million deal, which, the state alleges, was fraudulent, had the blessing of President Robert Mugabe.

This approval was after it was established by GMB through Mr Muchero that the country would have a maize shortfall of 460 000 tonnes.

Mr Samukange said, "Kangai discussed the matter with President Mugabe who gave his approval. The matter was referred to Cabinet for discussion."

He said cabinet then approved the export of maize to Malawi and GMB was informed about the approval.

Mr Samukange said Mr Kangai was not involved in the administrative issues of procuring the maize, as this did not concern him. He said Kangai simply directed policy and Mr Muchero was responsible for the operations of GMB.

"Kangai will simply say he has been included in this charge to embarrass him because he was a minister," said Mr Samukange.

The state alleges that the three were agents of the state in importing and exporting maize and during the 1997/8 season ignored government procurement procedures of awarding the contracts to import maize that required going to public tender. However, defence lawyer, Mr Samukange, argued that the GMB was not required to go to public tender under its commercial mandate. He said even during drought periods the GMB never put its commodity trading business through the government tender board.

However, a witness for the state and suspended GMB logistics manager, Mr Cosmas Kamba, testified that tender procedures were flouted when his boss, Muchero, ordered him to export 50 000 tonnes maize without going through tender procedures. He said the procedures were not followed, as tenders, which were supposed to be publicly done, were not. Mr Kamba said first they would usually go to the Government Tender Board.

The state accused the trio of conniving in favour of Andre and Cie South Africa, which was more expensive than the other companies. It was also alleged that Andre and Cie imported maize from Malawi on behalf of GMB and GMB sold the same maize to Malawi.

The state alleged that over 50 000 tonnes were exported to Malawi when the maize situation in the country was not good. However Kangai, Muchero and Takavarasha said the maize that was exported to Malawi was old stock bought from farmers in 1997/98 farming season, which was being disposed off to create space for the new crop for 1998/99 season.

Mr Muchero said he never favoured any company and that the system used by the GMB was transparent and benefited the GMB.

But Kamba told the court that he was ordered by Muchero to export the maize to Malawi even though he pointed out to Muchero that it was a known fact there was a maize shortage in the country. "He ordered me to export. I asked how we could do this when there was a shortage but he told me to follow orders and I had no option since he was my boss," said Kamba.

Kangai is on $250 000 bail and Takavarasha and Muchero are of $50 000 bail each. The state said it has 17 witnesses who were expected to testify against the three in court.

Initiative to establish dialogue

A NEW organisation, the Zimbabwe Joint Resettlement Initiative (ZJRI) last week approached the Zimbabwe government with new proposals to kick start dialogue between government and farmers. The ZJRI, which comprises Mr Nick Swanepoel, Mr Greg Brackenridge, the two CFU vice presidents, Colin Cloete and William Hughes and ZTA president, Mr Kobus Joubert, as well as CFU deputy director Malcolm Vowles, presented a letter to Vice President Joseph Msika.

Mr Swanepoel told reporters that the Zimbabwean government received the letter "cordially" while Vowles said that the letter was sent as "a public demonstration of our commitment."

What follows is a copy of the letter sent to Msika.

"As citizens of this beautiful country we are aware of the significance of land to the peoples of Zimbabwe. We are also aware of the manner in which the land issue in Zimbabwe has been politicised on racial grounds. We feel that the organised farming community has contributed to the impasse with the government.

This situation is most unfortunate because it has been sensationalised and misrepresented within the international community. However we remain acutely aware of the need to speedily settle thousands of families crowded in unproductive rural areas. Hence we pledge our commitment to work with the government to ensure the success of the land resettlement programme.

The intention of the Zimbabwe Joint Resettlement Initiative (ZJRI) is to consolidate existing private sector resettlement initiatives into a partnership, fully committed to cooperating with government in a sustainable agrarian reform programme underpinned by continuity of national production.

To demonstrate sincerity of purpose, the following programme is proposed:

ðl Motivating commercial farmers to deliver an initial tranche of one million hectares of suitable land, for acquisition by government, on an uncontested basis, to enable the settlement of at least 20 000 families.

ðl Implement a tillage scheme through commercial farmers, to offer one hectare of free tillage to each of these new families.

ðl Assist the resettled farmers with inputs worth Z$60 million to be disbursed through existing channels such as Cottco, Agribank, Farmers' Development Trust and other farming organisations, ensuring a direct beneficial effect to the newly settled families.

ðl Implement a Z$1.375 billion soft-loan revolving fund through the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Bank to support government's commercial farmer settlement scheme.

ðl Offer consultants (at least three per province) to assist resettled farmers with technical advice.

Mount an international promotion campaign to publicise Zimbabwe's ability to settle its internal problems, thereby enabling Zimbabwe to secure financial support from the donor community to sustain our land reform programme.

Our hope is to exercise the preferred option of settling disputes through negotiation in good faith and by agreement, rather than settlement through the courts. For this reason, the Commercial Farmers' Union will not need to pursue further litigation against government, nor does it have any pending litigation against government.

Successful implementation of this initiative will start a positive cycle of confidence for all stakeholders and reverse the current negative image of Zimbabwe in the eyes of the international community".

Tobacco sales: business or politics?

ZIMBABWE's tobacco sales, mired in controversy from the start as farmers unsuccessfully lobbied for the devaluation of the local currency to guarantee viability in the industry, slid deeper into problems this week with the three auction floors trading accusations on the role of the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board in allocating sales.

The TIMB moved centre-stage in the wrangle this week when it decided to allocate two sales a day to each of the auction floors regardless of booking levels arguing that producers who found their auction floor of choice fully booked could always move to the next. This has not gone down well with the leading player, Tobacco Sales Floor (TSF) that has accused TIMB of making this ruling in order to accommodate the Zimbabwe Tobacco Auction Centre (ZITAC) a newly established company owned by indigenous Zimbabweans.

The Farmer this week set out to find the source of the furore following media reports of an alleged tug-of-war for tobacco growers which had left two of the established auction floors, TSF and the Burley Marketing Zimbabwe (BMZ), operating well below capacity and costing the country millions of dollars in potential foreign exchange earnings.

TSF managing director Mr Pat Devenish said he is convinced there is a "political conspiracy to destroy the TSF" which is being orchestrated through the TIMB. "For some reason they hate the TSF. He told the Farmer, "They want to destroy it."

To underscore his point, Mr Devenish said up to Wednesday, the day of the interview last week, bookings at the TSF stood at 20 893, while BMZ had 15 323 while ZITAC had 1 733. By allocating two sales to each of these floors, TIMB had created a situation where growers would have to wait long periods for their tobacco to be sold through their chosen floor or would be forced to take their bookings to the other floors.

The chairman of the TIMB Mr Njodzi Machirori was earlier reported to have dismissed demands by TSF for a third available sale saying this was not necessary as growers who found TSF fully booked could move their tobacco to ZITAC or BMZ where there was excess capacity adding that prices at ZITAC were even better.

Devenish did not agree pointing out that in a free market economy where everyone was free to choose where or how they wished to sell their crops, it was not proper for the TIMB to decide for growers where they should sell their tobacco.


ZITAC, for its part, believes if there is any conspiracy involved, it is the attempt by the established floors to prevent its entry into the industry. Mr Wilson Nyabonda, chairman of ZITAC, told The Farmer he was convinced there is a campaign by Zimbabwe Tobacco Association, which holds a controlling interest in TSF, to discourage growers under its umbrella from selling their tobacco through ZITAC.

He said he was aware of a campaign linking his company with the ruling Zanu PF party and the government which is being blamed for the instability on the commercial farms following the land invasions by war veterans, in order to discredit it. "The truth is that we have no links whatsoever, with either the ruling party or government. ZITAC is an independent company run by professional Zimbabweans who believe in the future of this country," he said.

However, although some industry sources said they did not see anything wrong in ZTA protecting its members' investments in TSF by encouraging growers to sell their tobacco through it, the association distanced itself from the allegation. ZTA declined to comment further saying its position would be clarified at a press conference scheduled for Monday (yesterday).

Mr Nyabonda pointed out that since the auction floors opened on 24 April, the ZITAC floors had consistently offered better prices and he wondered why growers, faced with viability problems because of government's refusal to devalue the Zimbabwe dollar, would still opt to sell their tobacco where they would get a smaller return.

Nyabonda said his company's immediate success in securing better prices for growers could be attributed to its highly experienced and dedicated staff, a state-of-the-art computer system to ensure maximum efficiency in all transactions as well as better facilities for buyers and growers at the vast former Boka Auction Floors complex.

Welcoming the TIMB decision, ZITAC managing director, Atwell Seremani said it had become necessary " to level the playing field" in the market as the established floors were refusing to share the market. He said at several meetings held with other stakeholders to discuss how the sales should be allocated, the competing auction floors had had been un-cooperative on the issue.

According to Mr Devenish, the TSF was geared to sell up to 17 000 bales a day but was now being restricted to selling just 7 800 bales and this was costing the company millions of dollars in potential earnings and depriving the country of vital foreign exchange. He said because of the TIMB decision forcing TSF to scale down its operations, 5 000 jobs that could have been created by this time had been lost.

Mr Bruce Searles, executive director of Burley Marketing Zimbabwe (BMZ) said although his company stood to benefit from the TIMB decision, it was evident that the situation had been turned into a political issue. He urged the TIMB to reconsider its stance on the allocation of sales urging a return to the old system when each of the floors was allocated one core sale while the remaining available sales were determined on the basis of bookings at each floor.


Mr Searles said the TIMB decision had the effect of taking away growers' choice of where to sell their tobacco." While appreciating the need to give support to a new player in the industry, it is unfair to do this at the expense of others. While BMZ may benefit from this decision, there is no guarantee that growers will book their tobacco with us simply to meet our sale quota," he said.

Some independent analysts warned that the actions of TIMB in trying to spread the business among the auction floors could backfire if the farmers felt they were being forced to sell their tobacco through ZITAC. "No one likes to be told what to do and by compelling farmers to go to ZITAC, that could actually create resentment among the farmers and ZITAC could be the end loser," said one analyst.

More violence coming: Tsvangirai

The leader of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, has predicted a violent run up to presidential elections next year.

Speaking to about 10, 000 people in Chitungwiza, a dormitory city just south of the capital Harare, Tsvangirai this week told his supporters that time was running out for Zimbabwean president, Mr Robert Mugabe who leads the ruling Zimbabwe African Nationalist Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party.

Accompanied by senior MDC members of parliament, Tsvangirai warned of increased violence as the election approached. "ZANU-PF will not go down without a fight. There's going to be unprecedented violence and many people will die, but the revolutionary goals we have set out to achieve will definitely be realized in the end," said the opposition leader. Tsvangirai also warned supporters not to succumb to the racial polarisation being used as an electoral tactic by Mugabe. 'If you fear whites then you have a serious inferiority complex. Mugabe has that inferiority complex because he's always accusing the MDC of being aligned to whites. Why does he fear only a handful of whites in his own country?' The newspaper reported.

Racial and inter-party violence has been rife in Zimbabwe since February last year, with over 30 people, including seven farmers, being murdered by self-styled war veterans and militant Mugabe loyalists intent on retaining power for ZANU - PF, the party that has governed Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980. ZANU - PF narrowly won last year's June parliamentary elections after unprecedented violence and intimidation that led to international criticism that the polls were neither free nor fair.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Farm Invasions and Security Report
Monday 28th May 2001

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.

400 red zone cattle have been moved onto Nandice Ranch in Mwenezi.
A tame eland on Chindito Farm in Gutu / Chatsworth was shot and killed by illegal occupiers.
Illegal occupiers are hunting  with dogs on Cotswold Farm in Umboe,  with police refusing to react.
The owner of Goldilands in Beatrice, received a death threat from  an illegal occupier, Chiramba , if he did not vacate the farm.    
Work stoppages are prevalent throughout the country.  

There was no report received from  Matabeleland Region. 

Mashonaland Central
Mvurwi - A work stoppage at Rimbick yesterday has continued today, as illegal occupiers wish wish to remove "informers" from the work force.  Police have been advised of the situation but have not responded.
Shamva - There has been a work stoppage on Avilion, since Saturday and attempts to resolve the situation are ongoing.
Mashonaland West North
Chinhoyi - The owner of Portelet Estate was approached by 4 illegal occupiers who informed him that they had been allocated plots of land on Portelet Estates for135 families.
Umboe - Illegal occupiers are hunting on Cotswold Farm with dogs.   Police refuse to react.  An illegal occupier was caught setting a cable snare.
Trelawney - Illegal occupiers caused a work stoppage on Machiroli Farm, threatening to burn the farm tractors.  The situation was defused and work has commenced again.
Raffingora - A work stoppage of wheat planting occurred on Mufuta Farm.  Comrade Kangachepe arrived with a group of about 40 illegal occupiers,  including militant nurses Babara Mudahondo and Evangeline, demanding 50% of the wheat planting.  The owner informed the agressive group that he was conferring with the Governor and the D.A.   The illegal occupiers dispersed and allowed farming operations to continue.
Mashonaland West South  
Norton - Agritex moved onto Fort Martin Farm and put concrete pegs in the middle of the lands.  The owner has suspended farming operations until he receives clarification on what these people intend to do. Local Government are aware that  the owner was Tobacco Grower of The Year and owns one farm.
Selous - Agritex commenced pegging on Railway Farm 21.  After leaving gates open, causing the stud breeding herds to become mixed up and evicting the foreman from his house.  They left when they realised that they were on the wrong farm.  Government valuators valued Newoodsgift Farm which was offered to Government in 1998 and then valued, paid for and resettled in 1999. 
Suri Suri - On San Fernando a new Nissan twincab with the ZANU (PF) signs covered over put a rope on the managers homestead security fence gate and towed it away. 
Battlefields - On Tembevale Agritex have started pegging in the middle of a land that the owner is currently developing to put a ZW$10 million centre pivot on.  The assistant DA Kadoma has told  the owner to stop this development.
Mashonaland East  
Beatrice - A dairy cow was slaughtered on Montlavina farm.  Illegal occupiers arrived on Logan Lee farm and tore one of the seed bed sheets. The group then tried to set fire to the seed bed site fence and the surrounding veld. Labour working on the seed beds were threatened. The police had no transport to respond but after negotiations with the farm manager, illegal occupiers left the farm. The owner of Goldilands, received a death threat from illegal occupier, Chiramba if he did not move off his farm.
Bromley/Ruwa/Enterprise - An innocent church service held on Mukwene farm in accordance with the National day of prayer was misinterpreted as a demonstration against land resettlement.
Harare South - On Saturday illegal occupier Deka and others arrived on Rusimbiro  and went to the seed bed site. They threatened the foreman with a knife and a firearm instructing him to stop work. The illegal occupiers then pegged some of the land. There was a good community response and police reacted to defuse the situation. A large crowd of individuals arrived and had a meeting near the butchery on Dunluce farm. They then went down the Charter road pegging farms on its boundary. There is still hut building on Edinburgh.
Marondera - Problems on Wenimbe continue.  A new invasion occurred on Waltondale.
Marondera North - Work stoppages continue on two farms in the district.  There was a new invasion by illegal occupiers on Cotter farm where pegging in a irrigated land took place.

General - There has been a lot of properties being fast tracked in the Region.
Chipinge -  Illegal occupiers have prevented land preparation on Green Valley.
Odzi - There has been mass invasions in the area and extensive pegging is taking place.  On Beeskraal Farm about 40 illegal occupiers were wanting to see the DA and police but the DA did not come and as a result the farmer was accused of bribing the police and DA with cattle.  The illegal occupiers then held the farmer hostage in his shed for about three and a half hours until the police arrived but as the DA still hasn't been to see them problems are expected to continue today.  Illegal occupiers have stopped land preparation on Wilton Farm and the employees are being kept in the compound.
Rusape - various farms have been ear marked for fast tracking with some farmers being told to stop work by the DA.

Masvingo East & Central – A water pump and electrical switch was stolen on Ballinahone Farm.  A cattleway crush was stolen from Testwood Farm.  A homestead on Fomax Dairy, was vandalized by illegal occupiers who broke the toilets, stole roofing, doors, windows and electrical equipment in the homestead.
Gutu / Chatsworth – 3 head of cattle were stolen from Chomfuli Farm.  A tame eland on Chindito Farm was shot 100m from the homestead over the weekend.  The owner responded by firing two shots with his pistol in the air. Perpetrators then responded by firing a few rounds in the air towards the direction of the homestead.
Mwenezi – Threats to burn the whole of Stelmarco Ranch have been received from illegal occupiers if the owner does not remove all his cattle off the ranch and stop pumping water for his cattle.  The situation has been defused.  350 head of communal cattle have been moved onto Lesanth Ranch, with 180 illegal occupiers.  Illegal occupiers told the owner that commercial hunting would only be allowed on the property if half the proceeds were given to them.  Illegal occupiers started a fire on Umfula Ranch.  400 red zone cattle have been moved onto Nandice Ranch.  Threats were made toward the owner of Quagga Pan A, if he did not remove his cattle out of the paddocks now occupied by illegal occupiers.
Save Valley Conservancy - Poaching continues despite ongoing negotiations with Government.
Chiredzi – There has been an influx of illegal occupiers on Mungwezi Ranch.  Areas have been cleared 200 metres into the bush from the tar road on Crown Ranch with building of huts and much movement of cattle, goats and donkeys.

Shurugwi - Illegal occupiers are preventing a farmer from baling cut hay, insisting the hay belongs to them.
Somabhula - Contined work stoppages occurring with more communal cattle arriving on farms throughout the area.
Kwe Kwe - Farmers in the area that were not allowed to plant can now do so in conjunction with a training programme for emerging farmers. This will occur on a cost recovery basis.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

From The Zimbabwe Standard, 27 May

Mahachi killed in car accident

Moven Enoch Mahachi, minister of defence, has died. He was 49. Mahachi died in Nyanga yesterday evening in a car accident on his way from Mutare to Nyanga. He had attended a Zanu PF Manicaland provincial meeting in the afternoon. According to Manicaland provincial governor, Oppah Muchinguri, the accident happened at 4.30pm near Nyamhuka township in Nyanga, about 100 km from Mutare. The minister was on his way to his farm in Nyanga from a Zanu PF Manicaland provincial co-ordinating committee meeting in the afternoon. He was involved in a head on collision with an Alfasud which had tried to overtake a car that had given Mahachi the right of way. The car wanted to turn towards Nyamhuka township. Muchinguri told The Standard that the Alfasud driver was drunk. He survived the accident. Nyanga police also confirmed the accident. Five other passengers were in Mahachi’s car: his driver, bodyguard, and three women’s league members who all sustained minor injuries. Mahachi leaves behind a wife and four children.

Since independence, he held the portfolios of home affairs, agriculture and resettlement, and lately that of defence. The defence minister becomes the second high ranking Zanu PF member and cabinet minister to die in a month. Youth, gender and employment creation minister, Border Gezi, died last month in a car accident near Masvingo. Like Gezi, Mahachi’s parliamentary seat was being challenged in the High Court by the MDC which cited serious pre-election violence and intimidation on opposition supporters. Mahachi beat MDC’s Remus Makuwaza by 5 000 votes. Makuwaza told The Standard last night: "We sympathise with the Mahachi family. We were not fighting individual battles in the courts, but it was precisely based on political differences and nothing to do with personalities."

In January 1999 Mahachi ordered the arrest of The Standard editor, Mark Chavunduka, and chief writer, Ray Choto, for a story which gave details of an attempted coup within the Zimbabwe National Army. The two were seriously tortured by security men. This was after The Standard had revealed that 23 army officers had been arrested for inciting other army members to stage a coup. Mahachi also vehemently defended Zimbabwe’s involvement in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where hundreds of Zimbabwean troops have died in the three-year-old war.

Zanu PF Manicaland provincial information secretary and justice minister, Patrick Chinamasa, who knew Mahachi since 1969, told The Standard that he was saddened by Mahachi’s death. Chinamasa was with Mahachi at the Mutare meeting. "I am utterly shocked by the news. I saw him a couple of hours ago at the meeting. It is an untimely loss to the party. It is so sad for the party coming soon after the death of Border Gezi. He was a young man committed to the party and I want to express my condolences to the Mahachi family," said Chinamasa last night.

MDC spokesman, Learnmore Jongwe, said his party was saddened by Mahachi’s death: "The MDC has been shocked by the news of the minister Mahachi’s death. What is particularly saddening about the loss is that it comes barely a month after Zimbabwe lost another cabinet minister, Border Gezi. The MDC joins the Mahachi family in this moment of grief." Said Muchinguri: "Tarwadziwa. This is not a time we expected the death of another senior government official. We just could not afford to lose another life. Our condolences to his family."

From ZWNEWS, 27 May

Foul play not suspected

Despite in the past having been sidelined in the government and Zanu PF power structure by the current Speaker of Parliament, and President Mugabe’s heir-apparent, Emmerson Mnangagwa, the death of Defense Minister Moven Mahachi in a car accident yesterday is not thought to have been the result of foul play. Mahachi is on record as complaining that the Zimbabwean generals commanding the Zimbabwean armed forces in the Congo were reporting to Mnangagwa first, rather than through him as Defense Minister.

The deployment of Zimbabwe’s armed forces in the DRC has been claimed on several occasions by senior government ministers to be ‘self-financing’ through hard currency payments to the Defence Ministry and to Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI) – a state-owned company which manufactures ammunition, uniforms, and other military materiel. However, it was not long before parallel business dealings were set up which by-passed the Defense Ministry and ZDI, with payments, and mining and business concessions, from Laurent Kabila and his administration being directed instead to senior military staff, Zanu PF controlled companies, and very senior Zanu PF members themselves. It was estimated yesterday by experts in Zimbabwe’s role in the DRC that up to US$400 million is owed to ZDI, managed by Col T Dube, creating an instant profit for those involved, and therefore at the full expense of the Zimbabwean exchequer.

From The Observer (UK), 27 May

Pretoria to turn heat on Mugabe

Harare - Zimbabwe is facing a tough new stance from its powerful neighbour, South Africa, after last week's unprecedented attack by US Secretary of State Colin Powell on President Robert Mugabe. Meanwhile, new reports of state-sponsored disappearances and torture have added to pressure for international action, such as suspension from the Commonwealth. Powell said the stability of the entire southern African region was threatened by economic and political turmoil caused by Mugabe's policies. These include violent oppression of opposition parties, the seizure of white-owned farms and the invasion of factories. Powell said the crisis was a key topic in his talks with South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. 'The two things [political and economic crisis] together are leading to a crisis that will spill over the borders and affect South Africa itself.'

At a speech in Johannesburg, Powell said there was an urgent need for free and fair elections. 'After more than 20 years in office, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe seems determined to remain in power. Now it is for the citizens of Zimbabwe to choose their leader in a free and fair election and they should be given the opportunity.' The Mugabe regime yesterday dismissed his criticism as 'baseless and ill-informed'. But Dlamini-Zuma said after her talks with Powell that South African President Thabo Mbeki would soon be holding talks with Mugabe.

Yesterday it was reported that an opposition candidate had been abducted by suspected supporters of Mugabe's Zanu-PF party. Joel Sithole, a candidate of the Movement for Democratic Change for a seat on the rural council in southern Plumtree, was kidnapped on Friday afternoon and had not been seen by late yesterday. Amnesty International charges that the Mugabe regime has caused the abductions of eight other MDC supporters. 'Extra-judicial executions and torture are occurring throughout Zimbabwe,' said Tor-Hugne Olsen, the head of an Amnesty team investigating atrocities in the country.

From ZWNEWS, 27 May

One abductee found, another disappears

Joel Sithole, the opposition candidate abducted on Friday afternoon, has been found.  Reports say that, helped by local people, he escaped from his captors and made his way to Brunapeg Mission.  The state of his injuries were not clear at the time of writing. In another incident of this nature, however, it was reported late yesterday afternoon that the MDC MP for Nkai, Abedinico Bhebe, had also been abducted while campaigning on behalf of MDC candidates for rural district elections in the area. Last seen at a filling station in the Nkai area with his driver and assistant, he was reportedly assaulted before being taken away, and his whereabouts were unknown late last night.  However, unconfirmed reports from the area suggested that he was being held at a war veterans base near a local police station.

From CNN, 26 May

Zimbabwe continues studying white farmers' offer

Harare - Zimbabwe's vice-president was quoted on Saturday as saying the government was still studying a proposal by white farmers aimed at breaking an impasse over President Robert Mugabe's land seizures and had not rejected it. Joseph Msika, who chairs the cabinet land acquisition committee, told the official Herald newspaper the government welcomed the farmers' offer as a basis for talks but wanted time to establish that it supported its own land program. "What we do not want is for the CFU (Commercial Farmers Union) to propose an alternative program," he said. "It should rather be supportive of our own program, otherwise the proposals contained in the union's document are a step in the right direction as far as I am concerned," he said.

Zimbabwe's embattled white farmers on Thursday offered to sell one million hectares (2.5 million acres) of land to resettle 20,000 black families. They also promised to help organize finance for the scheme. The program is sponsored by the CFU, private sector banks and other businesses and followed a series of meetings between farmers and government officials. Agriculture Minister Joseph Made had dismissed the proposal, saying the government was pushing ahead with its plan to seize white-owned farms and had no reason to talk to the farmers.

But Msika said farmers' plans to drop legal challenges to government seizures of land had made room for negotiations. "Now that the commercial farmers have realized that land is fundamentally a political issue and not a legal one, our committee will be in a position to open meaningful dialogue with them," he said. "In fact by welcoming the CFU's initiative and accepting their document for perusal, we lose nothing as this is merely a basis for dialogue," he added.

Mugabe has targeted more than 3,000 white-owned farms as part of his plan to redistribute land he says was stolen by British settlers more than a century ago. Land seizures have been accompanied by violence and a subsequent fall in output at commercial farms since the land reform program began last year. The farmers say their proposal would allow Zimbabwe to lay out a land reform scheme acceptable to international donors, and if it was accepted by the government, the CFU would "not need to pursue further litigation against the government." The farmers have won court cases declaring Mugabe's land program illegal, but the government has ignored the rulings.

The farmers say the initiative's success depends on the government paying fair compensation for the land. Mugabe has said that can only be done with donor funding. The program would help to establish $1.37 billion ($25 million) in financing for resettled farmers. The government has dismissed previous CFU proposals as attempts to derail its "fast-track" land resettlement plan. Mugabe plans to confiscate five million of the 12 million hectares occupied by white farmers. He has said white farmers own 70 percent of the best land and should only be compensated for improvements, not for the land. Mugabe has allowed his supporters, led by self-styled veterans of the 1970s war of independence from Britain, to occupy hundreds of white farms since February last year.

From The Zimbabwe Standard, 27 May

MDC to announce mayoral candidate tomorrow

Bulawayo - The MDC says it will announce its candidates for the Bulawayo executive mayoral election and for the seven uncontested council wards tomorrow. MDC spokesman, Learnmore Jongwe, on Friday told The Standard that his party was in the process of ironing out modalities before announcing at the press conference, the party’s sole candidate for the mayoral race and those candidates selected for the seven council wards. "We have identified the candidate to field for the party in the mayoral race, and that candidate will be revealed to members of the press by the leadership together with the seven candidates who will contest the council wards. The same mayoral candidate and the seven ward councillors will be introduced to the people of Bulawayo at a star rally to be addressed by the party’s president, Morgan Tsvangirai, at White City Stadium on Sunday 3 June," said Jongwe.

Among those believed to have shown interest in representing the MDC in the executive mayoral election include former National Railways of Zimbabwe boss, Alvord Mabhena, ex AAG president Matson Hlalo, council employee Ndabeni Ncube, residents association chairman Edward Simela, and former deputy city treasurer John Mulegwa. Four parties are expected to field candidates in the forthcoming race. Parties that have already started campaigning for the city’s top executive post include the ruling Zanu PF, the MDC, Zapu, and the Liberty Party of Zimbabwe.

From The Zimbabwe Independent, 25 May

SAA boss warns on unrest

A senior South African Airways (SAA) executive has challenged President Robert Mugabe's government to ensure that the political and economic climate in the country is conducive for foreign companies to operate. "Over the past five years, half a dozen inter-continental airlines have pulled out of Harare and I am sure that none of them wanted to leave this market," Bonang Mohale, executive vice-president of SAA and head of a visiting business team, said yesterday. "But airlines are like any other business and they have to take hard, commercial decisions," he said. Mohale was accompanied by Siza Mzimela, SAA general manager for Africa, and Peter Hudson, senior manager, treasury. The team, which earlier met government officials, said the Zimbabwe government should create a conducive environment by respecting the rule of law to give businessmen the necessary level of confidence. "The tourist most evident in Zimbabwe is the rule of law which seems to have taken a holiday," said Mohale. He said when Zimbabwe's war veterans ran amok, South African tourists who had booked with SAA cancelled their trips. "The success of an air-travel market depends on political stability and a good international image for the country so that passengers want to go there," he said.

He also said there was need for the Zimbabwe government to give airlines a facility to remit money they realised from fares because the absence of this would hamper the airline's ability to work in the market. "Zimbabwe has always been an important destination for us and a country where the airline has made many friends. And I look forward to the time in the near future when we can increase our flights here. But that future is in Zimbabwe's hands," he said. Mohale said SAA had over $1 billion revenue sitting in Zimbabwe which needed to be repatriated to pay workers' salaries and also buy spare parts. "But with existing regulations, we are facing difficulties getting that money. However, with this visit and assurances we got from the Zimbabwe government officials, we expect things will go well," he said.

Mohale said he had raised his concerns with Swithun Mombeshora, the Minister of Transport and Communications, whom he said gave an undertaking that the situation would be addressed. "Zimbabwe is our home, that's why we are here to make useful conversations with the responsible authorities," he said. He urged presidents Robert Mugabe and Thabo Mbeki to hold further talks to try and find a lasting solution to the current problems facing Zimbabwe. "I believe a one-on-one conversation between the two presidents would be useful," he said. Asked what guarantee SAA expected from the Zimbabwe government, Mohale said security to do business in the country was very important as well as being able to repatriate money.

SAA has been flying to Zimbabwe for more than 50 years and has 25 flights a week coming into the country, making it the biggest foreign carrier. It flies three times a week to Bulawayo and 11 times a week to Victoria Falls and Harare. The call by the giant South African airline came barely weeks after a string of attacks on mostly white-owned firms by ruling party militants led by war veterans. At least 16 South African firms operating in Zimbabwe have been targeted in recent months by Zanu PF gangs who have extorted millions of dollars from companies and forced them to reinstate retrenched or sacked workers. The country's tourism industry has declined by over 60%, an issue that has been exacerbated by the recent company raids, the controversial land policy and state-sanctioned lawlessness.

It is believed that SAA is aware that the lawlessness in the country could impact heavily on its operations since Zimbabwe is one of only two destinations in the world where SAA flies to three points in the country. The only other place is the United States where it flies to Atlanta, Miami and New York. "Zimbabwe is the largest trading partner of South Africa and in terms of SAA's revenue more is coming from Zimbabwe, hence our commitment to be here for a long time," said Mohale. Asked about the fate of tourists ferried to Zimbabwe by SAA, Mohale said their visit to Zimbabwe indicated their commitment to safeguard the interests and personal security of their passengers. "We are committed to the plight of our customers and we do what we can to make sure that they do not face any difficulties in Zimbabwe," he said.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

From ZWNEWS, 24 May

New offer on land

In a new twist to Zimbabwe’s land crisis, farming and banking representatives, as well other concerned parties, today offered the government a million hectares and technical and financial support in return for the possibility of an end to the violence which has blighted the agricultural industry since early last year. At a press conference today, representatives of the Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU) and Zimbabwe’s commercial banks, released details of the plan and said that as citizens of such a beautiful country, they were fully aware of the significance of land to the people of Zimbabwe.

"We are also aware of the manner in which the land issue in Zimbabwe has been politicised on racial grounds. We feel that the organised farming community has contributed to the impasse with government. This situation is most unfortunate because it has been sensationalised and misrepresented within the international community. However, we remain acutely aware of the need to speedily settle thousands of families crowded in unproductive rural areas. Hence, we pledge our commitment to work with Government to ensure the success of the land resettlement program," the group, known collectively as the Zimbabwe Joint Resettlement Initiative (ZJRI), said in a statement released after the press conference.

The essence of the plan involved the offer of one million hectares of suitable land "for acquisition by government on an uncontested basis to enable the resettlement of at least 20 000 families." It was not clear whether the same million hectares were in addition to the five million already seized by government. In addition, commercial farmers would provide free tillage, agricultural inputs and technical advice, while the banking industry would implement a revolving fund for soft loans to resettled families. Disputes would be settled through negotiation rather than through the courts, and an international PR campaign would be launched to convince overseas donors to renew financial contributions to Zimbabwe. It was mooted at the press conference that the plan was similar to that proposed by John Bredenkamp, a confidante of President Mugabe, at the Special CFU Congress on 21 March. The ZJRI plan was submitted yesterday to the Chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Resettlement and Rural Development, Vice-President Joseph Msika.

From Business Day, 25 May

Harare dismisses offer of land from farmers

The rift between the Zimbabwean government and the country's beleaguered farmers over Harare's controversial land reform programme looked set to widen yesterday after government dismissed the farmers' offer of 1-million hectares to resettle landless blacks. The recently formed Zimbabwe Joint Resettlement Initiative - an alliance between the predominantly white CFU and business offered to halt the CFU's legal battles against the government and promised a major effort to help win international finance for "a sustainable agrarian reform programme".

Initiative co-ordinator Malcolm Vowles said that in initial discussions with senior government officials in the past two months there had been "recognition from all parties concerned that the conflict (was) unsustainable". While Joseph Msika, the vice-president responsible for land reform, was reported to be studying the offer, Information and Publicity Minister Jonathan Moyo last night dismissed it as a "gimmick" to draw attention to the farmers. He said the farmers' initiative, which falls far short of the targets that are being eyed by Harare, was prompted by this week's move by government to "protect rural land occupiers".

After last December's court order for authorities to adhere to their own laws in implementing land reform, government this week moved to legalise the illegal occupation of farms by preventing any action against the squatters who began their invasion a year ago. Moyo said the "fast-track" plan to acquire 5-million hectares of the 12-million hectares in mostly white hands was "irreversible". Government has rejected previous offers from the farmers. Moyo claimed that the programme had now resettled about 115000 families. If accepted, the farmers' plan would resettle about 20000 families.

From IRIN (UN), 24 May

Government Rejects Oppenheimer Land Offer

Nairobi - Zimbabwe has rejected an offer of land for settlement from the Oppenheimer family, saying it wanted twice as much from the mining magnates, 'Business Day' said on Wednesday. The report said an offer of 34,000 hectares was offered as a "gift" to Zimbabwe by Nicky Oppenheimer, chairman of diamond group De Beers. The land was part of the family's 137,000 hectares Debshan ranch in the arid southwest of the country where 21,000 head of cattle are bred for export to Europe. Zimbabwe's Information Minister Jonathan Moyo was quoted in Zimbabwean news reports as saying the government was not satisfied with the offer. "The government will be satisfied with at least 65,000 hectares. The size of the land they offered is obviously unacceptable, considering this ranch is the size of Belgium," he said. "The clamour for land by peasants in surrounding areas cannot be underplayed. This place dramatises the historical imbalances that we are trying to correct." It was the first public response by the government since Oppenheimer personally made the offer to President Robert Mugabe in September last year. Oppenheimer also offered to set up a trust fund to help settlers begin farming. Oppenheimer went to Zimbabwe last year after all 240,000 hectares of the family's ranches in the southwest were formally listed for compulsory acquisition.

From The Zimbabwe Independent, 25 May

MPs refute Mail story

Opposition MDC legislators Paul Themba Nyathi and David Coltart have said that claims made in a local newspaper that they supported government’s land reform programme were completely false. Nyathi, who represents Gwanda North, told the Zimbabwe Independent that the story that appeared in the Sunday Mail last weekend was deliberately distorted. Nyathi and Coltart, who represents Bulawayo South, were reported to have said in the United States that they endorsed government’s land reform programme.

Nyathi said they had never expressed support for the government’s programme. "It is a desperate attempt by the government to secure an endorsement of its chaotic land reform from the MDC," Nyathi said. He said a first secretary of the Zimbabwe embassy attended the press conference where the two MPs spoke and was taking notes of the proceedings. "As MDC, we support the land redistribution exercise. We are looking at an agrarian reform which is a lot more comprehensive. We have no problems with aspects of the Land Acquisition Act." Nyathi said that they agreed with the criteria for designation of land which targeted derelict farms, those adjacent to communal areas and farms belonging to absentee landlords.

Coltart said he acknowledged that farmers had not been proactive but what the report did not say was that the Land Acquisition Act was not being followed by the government. "They are not following their own legislation," Coltart said. He said that in the US they spoke about the MDC’s land policy, which was very different from what Zanu PF was doing. Coltart said that they told their audience that a land commission should be appointed comprising the various stakeholders. "Zanu PF is just dumping people with no title deeds onto farms," Coltart said. "Zanu PF has left out technical people in its land reform exercise. War veterans and less-skilled people were identifying land for resettlement," he said.

"Maintenance of productive farms is critically important whereas Zanu PF just occupies anything in its way as long as it is a farm," Nyathi said. He said that they never urged the international community to "put Mugabe out of office", as reported. "We simply advised the international community to put pressure upon Mugabe to respect the electoral laws and the constitution," he said.

From The Zimbabwe Independent, 25 May

UNDP report on land heading for rejection

A report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on indigenisation of the economy says Zimbabwe will require US$1 billion to implement a proper land resettlement exercise which deals adequately with poverty reduction. The report is unlikely to be well received in official circles as its findings do not fit into the government’s current fast-track programme. Sources close to the preparation of the report, which is expected to be released at the end of the month, said the recommendations, especially on land redistribution, were contrary to government’s current strategy and were likely to be rejected unless there was a change of heart at the top.

The sources said there was a likelihood of greater confrontation between the government and key stakeholders on the land issue as the recommendations contained in the report are the very ones the government has rejected. The government has of late used land redistribution as an election campaign gambit and is not likely to drop its current approach ahead of the presidential poll scheduled for next year. Sources said the UNDP research team, which travelled extensively to see how land could be used as a facet of empowerment, concluded that Zimbabwe would require US$1 billion to put up basic infrastructure to support land reform as an incremental process over a five-year period.

The sources said the fate of the report would form the basis of future co-operation between United Nations agencies and other multilateral donors and the government on development aid. Zimbabwe has, since the fast-track land resettlement programme started last year, alienated itself from traditional donors who have protested against what they believe is a disorderly exercise. The report is part of the UNDP’s Indigenisation Policy Programme whose main objective is to assist the government to articulate a comprehensive employment creation and poverty reduction-focused plan.

Initially the programme had two main activities planned for the 1999-2000 period. It entailed a study on the status of indigenisation and a public awareness campaign. These failed to materialise in 1999 as the proposal for the study was deemed inadequate and the research team had to be reconstituted. The 2000 UNDP Zimbabwe annual report confirms the reconstitution of the team. Sources close to the study said land resettlement had become an integral part of the proposed indigenisation policy and for it to succeed there was need for a clear plan of action that would attract donor support.

"The Indigenisation Policy Programme that the UNDP will come up with will always be at variance with the government’s scheme of things as long as the policy calls for an alternative to the fast track resettlement programme," a source said. In part, sources said, the report recommends a return to a resettlement programme that would empower the people. For this to be realised there are recommendations to go back to positions agreed upon at the Land Donors Conference held in Harare in 1998. The report recommends that the government should exhibit negotiation skills to open dialogue with the donor community and stakeholders in the politics of the land. It notes that the rise in the political temperature due to the polarisation that has taken root in the country would only further complicate issues as key partners have been left out of the decision-making process.

The report also recommends that the government should take on board the recommendations of the Rukuni Commission on land. The study done by a team headed by Professor Mandivamba Rukuni in 1994 recommended a resettlement programme that would guarantee tenure for the communal sector and a depoliticised scientific exercise geared at increasing agricultural productivity across a diverse base. The UNDP research team also found that the government’s agitation for land reform coincided with a period of marked economic slowdown which made detractors suspicious of the government’s intentions. There are also parallels between the recommendations of the report and the report of UNDP administrator Mark Malloch Brown who visited Zimbabwe in December last year.

To the outside world Zanu PF has maintained that its current policy is consistent with what was agreed upon in 1998. The government has also said that donors cannot dictate policy to Zimbabwe but it is prepared to work with bilateral and multilateral donors who accept and support the accelerated fast track programme implementation plan. Its plan of action includes poverty alleviation and empowerment using land but there is no financial support for the exercise. The absence of support is apparent, as the government has failed to put up basic infrastructure on resettled farms resulting in high incidences of new settlers absconding.

From The Daily News, 24 May

War vets destroy MDC MP’s house

About 200 war veterans and Zanu PF supporters in Kambuzuma yesterday attacked the home of Willias Madzimure, the MP for Kambuzuma, in broad daylight and reduced it to a shell. They destroyed all windows and ransacked and looted household goods worth thousands of dollars. Godknows Musukutwa, 25, a security guard at the MP’s home, sustained serious head injuries during the attack. He took cover under a bed. Yesterday's incident was the second within 24 hours involving the MP. Madzimure's house was first attacked on Tuesday night, allegedly by the same group.

The police said they arrested only two suspects yesterday. Constable Jeremiah Sikuni of the Police Internal Security Intelligence told The Daily News at the scene that police were carrying out investigations. Sikuni said the matter would be handed over to the Law and Order Maintenance section for further action. But an angry Madzimure dismissed claims that the police were investigating. He said he was surprised that the police had refused to arrest suspects whose names had been supplied to them. Said Madzimure: "I don't know where I am going to sleep tonight. I no longer have confidence in the police. The rogues looted my money and property."

At the time his home was attacked, the MP was sitting in Parliament. "While my house was being destroyed, I was busy in Parliament arguing with Jonathan Moyo, who claimed there is rule of law in this country. I told him he is a liar and a very dangerous one for that matter." Moyo is the Minister of State for Information and Publicity in the President’s Office. Madzimure said Zanu PF supporters had the audacity to destroy his home in broad daylight because they knew they were above the law. "But Jonathan Moyo says there is rule of law. I will invite him to my home so he can see that there is no rule of law in this country - at least not for all of us," charged Madzimure. Contacted for comment last night, Moyo said: "Call the police."

Madzimure said war veterans who forcibly took over a piece of land in Kambuzuma belonging to the City of Harare were using the squatter camp there as a base from where they conducted their unlawful activities, including assaults on innocent people suspected to be MDC supporters. Madzimure becomes the third MDC MP to fall victim to the attacks perpetrated by Zanu PF-aligned activists. Job Sikhala, the MP for St Mary's, and Justin Mutendadzamera, the MP for Mabvuku, together with their wives were assaulted in separate incidents by alleged Zanu PF activists. he violence is viewed as part of a campaign by the ruling party to win back urban voters in preparation for next year's crucial Presidential election.

From The Natal Mercury, 25 May

Torture, murder, rape 'common' in Zimbabwe

Two international civil rights bodies have warned that torture, murder and rape have become "common" in Zimbabwe and that an "extreme climate of terror" exists in the run-up to next year's presidential election. The head of an Amnesty International research team, Tor-Hugne Olsen, told the United Nations news agency IRIN on Wednesday that, after spending a week in the country, the team had established that such "extra-judicial executions and torture are occurring throughout Zimbabwe, but particularly in legally disputed constituencies". "We saw a clear pattern, where the constituency is the subject of a legal case, of witnesses who could confirm allegations of violence now being targeted."

The team noted with concern that some witnesses had been badly assaulted by self-styled war veterans and Zanu-PF supporters and some had disappeared. The Amnesty team said it had received the names of at least eight missing people, all opposition MDC activists. Olsen said the team found the assault of two elected opposition MPs, Justin Mutendadzamera and Job Sikhala, particular worrying. "When MPs are attacked it sends a very strong message to the rest of the people in society that there is no atmosphere conducive to freedom of expression."

Inge Genefke, of the Denmark-based International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, who has also been on a fact-finding mission, told a news conference on Thursday: "There is a state of mass psychological torture in this country. There is persistent torture in Zimbabwe. I found the situation worse this time because of the amnesty that is there," she said, referring to a blanket amnesty President Robert Mugabe has decreed regarding politically motivated crimes, reports Sapa-AFP. She said physical and psychological torture took the form of beatings, forced attendance at political meetings, public humiliation and threats to life and security. The level of torture showed it was being sanctioned by those in authority.

From BBC News, 24 May

Kabila murder report 'rubbish'

Rwanda, Uganda and Congolese rebels have dismissed claims that they were behind the assassination of the DRC’s former President, Laurent Kabila. A report released by the Kinshasa government on Wednesday pointed the finger at the country's enemies in the two-and-a-half year war and said January's murder was part of a coup d'etat attempt. Rwanda described the claims as "outlandish", while Uganda said assassination was not part of their political work. The report was greeted with disappointment in Kinshasa as it gives few details of what lay behind the murder and has not put paid to the large number of conspiracy theories.

A Rwandan Government spokesman said that the document was simply an attempt by Kinshasa to discredit its opponents. "They are fabricating and concocting everything to smear the image of their enemies... Let them produce proof of the allegations", he said. The Rwandan backed RCD-Goma rebels dismissed the report as "total rubbish". Head of security Bizima Karaha said that the report "shows they've got no clue at all of what happened or they're determined to hide what happened".

The report names the assassin as bodyguard Rashidi Mizele but says he was part of a wider coup attempt. About 100 people were arrested following Mr Kabila's assassination and the report does not make any mention of these people. One high profile name missing was Laurent Kabila's aide de camp, Eddy Kapend. Colonel Kapend had been the first to go on national television to say the president had been shot and ordered the closure of all borders. He was arrested soon after and remains most people's prime suspect, but the commission refused to discuss his role, saying only that the judicial process in the country would continue and should be respected. The lack of names in the report led one Kinshasa newspaper on Thursday to say that "we are swimming in vagueness". Another said that the memory of Mr Kabila had been betrayed.

Announcing the findings on Wednesday, DR Congo Attorney-General Luhonge Kabinda Ngoy said on Wednesday: "Rwanda and the RCD-Goma worked together in the assassination of the head of state. Their special services and representatives were present in Kinshasa and certain neighbouring countries." Mr Ngoy also said: "It was part of a plot to make a coup d'etat." Laurent Kabila had acquired many enemies and was seen as a stumbling block to the peace process aimed at ending the country's war. His son Joseph Kabila, who replaced him as head of state, has made much more progress.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 26 May

Powell calls on Mbeki to act over Zimbabwe

Harare - America stepped up the international pressure on President Robert Mugabe yesterday by calling for action to prevent Zimbabwe's crisis from spreading into neighbouring South Africa. Colin Powell, the Secretary of State, delivered a tough message in Pretoria after meeting Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the South African Foreign Minister. It was seen as a signal that America expected Mr Mugabe's most powerful neighbour to take a firmer stand against his excesses. President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa has adopted a conciliatory approach towards Zimbabwe and this has failed to prevent Mr Mugabe from oppressing the opposition and illegally seizing white-owned farms, which threatens to bring about an economic collapse.

Mr Powell gave warning of the danger posed to the entire southern African region by political turmoil in Zimbabwe. He said: "We not only discussed the economic crisis. I concentrated on the political crisis caused to a large extent by the actions of President Mugabe. "The two things together are leading to a crisis that will spill over the borders and affect South Africa itself. Action has to be taken to stabilise the situation and persuade Mr Mugabe to act in a more democratic fashion." Later, in an African policy speech in Johannesburg, Mr Powell called for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe. He said: "After more than 20 years in office, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe seems determined to remain in power. Now it is for the citizens of Zimbabwe to choose their leader in a free and fair election and they should be given the opportunity."

Mr Mugabe glories in defying the Western powers, particularly Britain and America, and has ignored all their calls for restraint. But South Africa supplies Zimbabwe with fuel, electricity and other essentials and is the one country that he cannot afford to ignore. Mrs Zuma indicated that South Africa shared many of America's concerns. She said: "We view the situation in Zimbabwe as very critical and we are very worried both as neighbours and as people who do a lot of trade with Zimbabwe."

Mr Mbeki has chosen not to use the immense leverage South Africa has over Mr Mugabe. Yet Zimbabwe's economic collapse has deterred foreign investors from approaching South Africa and contributed to the rand's slide on the foreign exchange markets. Pressure from Mr Powell is likely to make Mr Mbeki take a tougher stand.

From Business Day (SA), 26 May

Dlamini-Zuma acknowledges Zim warning bells

Cape Town - Visiting US Secretary of State Colin Powell and South African Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma agreed on Friday that both economic and political action needed to be taken by Zimbabwe itself to stabilise the African country. After Powell met President Thabo Mbeki on Thursday night and held further talks with Dlamini-Zuma this morning, he told a media briefing in Pretoria that they had discussed the Zimbabwe crisis. The talks concentrated, he said, on problems caused largely by actions by President Robert Mugabe. He said both Dlamini-Zuma and he saw the problem in the same way. Powell said action needed to be taken "both on the economic front and political front to stabilise the situation".

Zimbabwe has been unstable for more than a year with political and economic instability taking the form of election violence, invasion of white commercial farm land by landless peasants, the take-over of businesses and threatening action against business leaders, including South African businesspeople working in that country. Referring to "Mr Mugabe", Powell said the Zimbabwean president needed to be persuaded "to move in a more democratic fashion to resolve the problems of his country".

In a candid response to the Zimbabwe situation, which had been discussed with Mbeki during Powell's visit, Dlamini-Zuma said: "We did discuss Zimbabwe at yesterday's meeting." She said SA's approach to Zimbabwe had been elucidated "and what we are planning to do". Dlamini-Zuma said further: "We view the situation in Zimbabwe very critically, for economic and political reasons." She said SA was worried "both as neighbours" and trading partners "and we will continue to try to assist that Zimbabwe does not get deeper and deeper into an economic crisis". The Foreign Minister said SA would try and help Zimbabwe "come out of it". Indicating that SA would be holding talks very soon with the Zimbabwean administration, she said that "if nothing is done soon at the end of the day it is the Zimbabweans themselves who have to take decisive steps to take themselves out of a critical situation." While "all of us can help," if that did not happen "the situation is going to deteriorate quite fast," Dlamini-Zuma warned.

From The Star (SA), 25 May

Zimbabwe militants' leader leaves hospital

Harare - Zimbabwe's controversial war veterans' leader, Chenjerai Hunzvi, was discharged from hospital on Friday, four days after suddenly collapsing, Zimbabwe's state news agency Ziana reported. Ziana quoted a hospital official as saying Hunzvi was feeling much better, but he did not identify the illness he had suffered. "He was strong enough to be discharged and his progress will continue to be monitored by his own personal doctors," said Dr Godwin Gwisai of the United Bulawayo Hospitals. The Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association dismissed rumours earlier this week that their 51-year-old chairperson had died. Speculation had been rife that Hunzvi, who spearheaded a violent campaign against the opposition MDC and the invasion of white-owned farms last year, had died of his unidentified illness. The campaign led by self-styled war veterans helped President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party win closely fought parliamentary elections last June against an opposition thriving on an economic crisis they blame on government mismanagement. Political analysts said Hunzvi is likely to play a key role in Mugabe's campaign for re-election in a presidential vote due early next year.

From The Zimbabwe Independent, 25 May

MDC a multi-ethnic party

The MDC secretary for legal affairs, David Coltart, has said his party is one of very few in Africa with a multi-ethnic and multi-racial membership, something from which it has derived political clout and international recognition. "Never in Africa do you find a party that is both multi-ethnic and multi-racial like the MDC," Coltart told about 2 000 people during a campaign meeting in Bulawayo over the weekend. Coltart was speaking during a meeting called to garner support for the MDC’s yet-to-be-announced candidate ahead of the executive mayoral election due in Bulawayo over the weekend of June 24/25. Senior Bulawayo City Council official Ndabeni Dube is tipped to stand as the MDC candidate.

"We are proud that the MDC is a multi-ethnic party. We have a Shona president who can go to Maphisa and address a rally without anyone forcing people to attend the rally," he said. "Besides that we have a Ndebele vice-president who can go to Mabvuku and have people attend his rally without any coercion or use of terror tactics to force people to attend the rally. Apart from that we have the mabhunus (derogatory name for whites) like me and Mike Auret." Coltart described the MDC’s composition as a first for Africa and said the world understood the racial taunts hurled at the party. The MDC had over the last 12 months withstood a racial onslaught masterminded by President Mugabe who accused the party of being a front for whites. Mugabe has constantly questioned the presence of whites in MDC structures.

The Bulawayo South member of parliament also took time to highlight Zanu PF’s misfortunes in the last five months. "First they tried to use land as a bait, and after realising that it did not work they tried company invasions as a way of getting voters to flock to Zanu PF. But after noticing that the ploy has failed and they have lost the case, John Nkomo and July Moyo now take turns to offer denials," Coltart said. Speaking at the same occasion, MDC secretary-general, Welshman Ncube, bemoaned what he called Zanu PF’s legacy of poverty evidenced by high unemployment and disillusionment among Zimbabweans. "I often think that MDC members need to have their heads examined because how do you hope to take over a country in this mess," asked Ncube. "The decay is everywhere... the national economy is in a mess and let us not fool ourselves on that. It is a state which the MDC cannot turn around in a matter of weeks, months or years. We do not underestimate the difficulties an MDC government will face but we understand what needs to be done. We have to deal with the issue of corruption and deal with it ruthlessly," he said. "Zanu PF does not condemn corruption, they breathe it. It is oxygen to them, if you take it away they will die."

From News24 (SA), 25 May

Zim rejects farmers' land offer

Harare - Zimbabwe's agriculture minister has dismissed a proposal by white farmers aimed at ending the country's political crisis, saying the government is pushing ahead with its plan to seize white-owned farms. "Everything to do with land acquisition has been done and is all finished. What should we be negotiating over?" Joseph Made said in a statement in the official Herald newspaper on Friday.

Zimbabwe's embattled white farmers on Thursday offered to sell one million hectares to resettle 20 000 black families. They also promised to help organise finance for the scheme in an effort to end a row caused by President Robert Mugabe's land seizures. On Friday, the farmers' programme coordinator Malcolm Vowles said he was not concerned about the minister's rejection of the plan and would wait for an official response. "The government has told us they are looking at our proposals," he told Reuters.

The programme is sponsored by the mainly white Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU), private sector banks and other businesses. It followed recent meetings between farmers and government officials. Mugabe has targeted more than 3 000 white-owned farms as part of his plan to redistribute land he says was stolen by British settlers more than a century ago. Land seizures have been accompanied by violence and a subsequent fall in output at commercial farms since the land reform programme began last year.

Vowles said the proposal would allow Zimbabwe to lay out a land reform scheme acceptable to international donors. If it was accepted by the government, the CFU would "not need to pursue further litigation against the government". The farmers have won court cases declaring Mugabe's land programme illegal, but the government has ignored the rulings. Vowles said the initiative's success depended on the government paying fair compensation for the land. Mugabe has said that can only be done with donor funding. The programme would help to establish Z$1.37 billion in financing for resettled farmers.

The government has dismissed previous CFU proposals as attempts to derail its "fast-track" land resettlement plan. Mugabe plans to confiscate five million hectares of the 12 million hectares occupied by white farmers. He has said white farmers own 70 percent of the best land and should only be compensated for improvements, not for the land. Mugabe has allowed his supporters, led by self-styled veterans of the 1970s independence war, to occupy hundreds of white farms since February last year and has defied court orders to evict them. The government is stepping up a campaign to shore up popular support ahead of presidential elections due next year.

From The CFU, 25 May

Farm Invasions Report, May 24 2001


30 head of cattle and thousands of guinea fowl were poisoned on a farm in Kadoma, after illegal occupiers had soaked maize in cyanide acquired from gold mines.

About 10 ostriches were killed on Stonehaven, in Marondera North, by illegal occupiers and their dogs.

The owner of Central Farm in Beatrice, has been told to stay off his farm by the Lands Committee after illegal occupiers stated they were taking over the farm.

The owner of Blighty Farm, in Mvurwi had to pay $20,000 for alleged damage done by his cattle to illegal occupiers’ maize.


There were no reports received from Mashonaland West (South), Manicaland and Matabeleland Regions.

Mashonaland Central

Mvurwi - The owner of Blighty Farm, had to pay $20,000 for alleged damage done by his cattle to illegal occupiers maize on his farm, after the fence had been cut. The dispute between illegal occupiers and the owner has been resolved for the time being.

Mutepatepa - The owner of Dunaverty Farm has been allowed to continue with wheat planting but has been advised that there will be no summer cropping. Work continues to be prevented at Amanda, and seedbed planting has been stopped at Katanya.

Mashonaland West North

Chinhoyi - Illegal occupiers have caused two wheat work stoppages on Braeside Farm and threatened to burn the owners tractors. More illegal occupiers have moved onto Msengi Farm. 40 families from Shackleton Mine have moved onto The Range Farm. The DA has instructed that pegging commence on Bandira Farm even though the owner had already sold 22 000 ha to government.

Trelawney - More illegal occupiers have moved onto Shirleigh Farm.

Banket - There are 72 illegal occupiers remaining on Mimosa, arguing amongst themselves as to whether they should stay on the farm or not. The remaining illegal occupiers have returned to the Chrome Mines.

Karoi - A work stoppage occurred on Ardingley Farm preventing the owner from planting seed beds.

Doma - There has been much movement of illegal occupiers onto Chipiri and Chitatu Farms.

Umboe - 6 more head of cattle are missing on Chifundi Farm.

Mashonaland West South

Kadoma - 30 head of cattle and thousands of guinea fowl were poisoned, after illegal occupiers had soaked maize in cyanide acquired from gold mines.

Mashonaland East

Beatrice - The labour from Welcome Home farm were instructed by illegal occupiers to meet at Joyce Mine. The meeting was a form of orientation where the labour had to stay there for 3 hours and the youths for 4 hours. When labour were called to attend the meeting the following day, a dispute between a labourer and an illegal occupier took place, resulting in one of the labourers being beaten up. Illegal occupiers demonstrated outside the homestead of Nebo Farm as they did not want the lessee of the farm to prepare land for next years crops. The owner of Central Farm has been told to stay off his farm by the Lands Committee after illegal occupiers stated they were taking over the farm. The owner has been told that he can finish grading his soyabeans, only if he has the permission of the police to go to the farm, but he must remain in the grading sheds and not visit the lands. Agritex are pegging on Muriwai, Carnethy and Logan Lee.

Bromley/Ruwa/ Enterprise - DDF have pegged through lands being prepared for next seasons crops on Dunstan.

Harare South - About 80 illegal occupiers arrived on Edinburgh farm, pegged in three lands prepared for tobacco and erected a hut in one of the prepared lands.

Marondera - Ngezi farm has been reinvaded. Agritex are pegging on Chipesa.

Marondera North - There have been work stoppages on Cambridge and Ulva. About 10 ostriches were killed on Stonehaven by illegal occupiers and their dogs.

Macheke/Virginia - The owner of Warren Farm was told by the main illegal occupier, Manera, that the labour were to leave their houses as the illegal occupiers wanted to occupy them. The owner refused and reported the incident to the police. Manera then proceeded to plant a vegetable garden in the tobacco seed bed site, and barricaded the farmer in his house. This was later resolved. Later that night, the illegal occupier barricaded the owner’s wife in the house, the police refused to react and a neighbour went in and collected her. There have been a number of " fast - track" letters served in the district. Illegal occupiers on Malda farm stopped the owner from cutting grass for his seed beds. A councillor from Murehwa instructed the owner of River Valley farm to move his labour off the farm as he had been fast - tracked. About 20 abusive illegal occupiers arrived on Marylands and stopped all work. The Assistant DA resolved the problem and after being told that there were to be no work stoppages, the invaders left.

Wedza - There was a work stoppage on Idube. Two calves have been slaughtered on Collace. A work stoppage has occurred on Fells.


Masvingo East & Central – There has been an increase of illegal occupiers on Bon Domi, with huts being erected.

Chiredzi - Continued tree chopping, building of shacks and poaching continues.

Mwenezi – A veld fire on Rutenga Ranch resulted in a substantial area of grazing being burnt. 200 illegal occupiers are living in one paddock and about 67 in another. Firewood was stolen on Rienette Ranch. 18 snares were found on La Pache Ranch. There has been an increase in illegal occupiers on Sheba and Valley Ranches. The owner of Alternburg Farm has offered two thirds of his farm to Government and the remaining one third he has requested for himself. This has been occupied. Work stoppages continue on Umbono Holdings.

Gutu / Chatsworth – Deforestation and building of shacks continues.

Save Conservancy – The situation remains unchanged. On Mukwasi Ranch there has been an increase of illegal occupiers. Negotiations between Government and Save Conservancy appear to be moving ahead to resolving the fence issue.


Mvuma - Illegal occupiers are waiting quietly to be allocated stands on two new farms in the area.

Somabhula - A farmer was prevented by Illegal occupiers from cutting and baling hay, the reason being that the hay belonged to illegal occupiers after being resident for two days.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

From ZWNEWS, 25 May

A "masterpiece of delusional PR"

Government and opposition "near accord"? "Free and fair" elections? The "application of the rule of law"? What could have brought about this overnight change in Zimbabwe? If a statement issued by the Zimbabwean embassy in Washington yesterday is to be believed, the country’s government has undertaken the most spectacular U-turn seen since Independence in 1980.

"Because of the domestic political consensus taking shape concerning land reform, the elections of the past year, the application of the rule of law in dealing with ex-combatants, and the growing international reaction against economic sanctions," says the statement, "the international community should focus on supporting free and fair elections in the coming year, efforts for economic recovery, and combating HIV/AIDS, and not economic sanctions against the Zimbabwean people."

"The MDC now supports land reform and the right of eminent domain," the embassy astonishingly claimed.

A statement refuted quite categorically by leading opposition members. In today’s Zimbabwe Independent - one of Zimbabwe’s leading weekly independent newspapers - two MDC MPs, who were seen to be the source for such a claim, denied the suggestion entirely. Responding to an article in the state-owned Sunday Mail claiming that he and a fellow MP, Paul Themba Nyathi, had expressed support for the government’s fast-track land programme while on a trip to the US, David Coltart MP, said: "As MDC we support the need for land redistribution. What Zanu PF is doing is just dumping people with no title deeds on to farms." "Maintenance of productive farms is critically important whereas Zanu PF just occupies anything in its way as long as it is a farm," added Nyathi.

"Domestic political consensus concerning land reform"?

In the last week, two substantial offers of land and funding for technical agricultural support, have been made: one by the Oppenheimer family, the other by a joint task force of farmers and bankers. Jonathan Moyo, the information minister, on behalf of the government, rejected both offers. Additionally, it is alleged that the UNDP report on Zimbabwe’s current land reform programme - due to be released next week - will also find disfavour at State House because it points out the chaotic nature of the government’s current policy.

"Most recently, the mayoral election in Masvingo was won by the MDC candidate, demonstrating that Zimbabwe’s electoral process remains free and fair," the embassy statement continues.

Zanu PF has forgotten that it claimed this week that the Masvingo poll was "rigged" by the Registrar General. Two days ago, the High Court in Harare was told of "massive irregularities at polling stations, intimidation, torture and violence" in the constituency election in Marondera East, which Sydney Sekeramayi, former state security minister, won by 72 votes. "There were two recounts in Marondera East, resulting in enormous disparities in the results. There were over 6 000 unaccounted-for votes and the Registrar General has to tell the court why. Ballot boxes were brought in from the Chikomba constituency, where Dr Chenjerai Hunzvi is an MP, into Marondera East. Why? The Registrar General has to explain," said the advocate for the plaintiff in the petition to have the result overturned.

"The government has begun clamping down on invasion and extortion of business, with the arrest of more than 25 ex-combatants in the past week," the embassy claims further.

The police did not get around to arresting the war veterans/Zanu PF supporters who looted and then destroyed the home of MDC MP, Willias Madzimure, while he was taking part in a parliament debate on Wednesday. Nor have they removed the self-styled war veterans off occupied farms throughout the country where they have disrupted commercial agriculture for the past 18 months, ensuring that food shortages will be commonplace by the end of year.

In only one respect does the embassy statement bear a passing resemblance to the truth: there is a widespread consensus that economic sanctions should not be applied to Zimbabwe - endorsed by the MDC, foreign governments and ordinary Zimbabweans. There is, however, a growing consensus that personal sanctions against President Mugabe and his ministers should be applied in order to counter the culture of impunity, which pervades government and Zanu PF thinking.

Sources in Washington DC said that this release was sent out in a last desperate attempt to stave off the US government passing the Zimbabwe Democracy Act. Another commentator, on reading the Embassy statement yesterday, observed: "This is a masterpiece of delusional PR".

The full text of the Embassy statement is included below.

Embassy of The Republic of Zimbabwe

Washington D.C.


Recent signs in Zimbabwe point to movement towards the resolution of a number of previously contentious issues.

The government and the main opposition party (Movement for Democratic Change – MDC) are in near accord on the key issue of land reform. The MDC now supports land reform and the right of eminent domain. The party has also registered its strong opposition to economic sanctions against Zimbabwe.

Likewise, the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) noted in their March 2001 meeting that white farmers have always supported land redistribution, and reconfirmed their "commitment to urgent dialogue with government…and to assist in the successful, orderly implementation of land reforms." On may 2nd President Robert Mugabe announced that the government planned to complete the land reform programme by year end after which there will be no further occupation of white owned farms.

Also on the national front, free and fair legislative elections and bi-elections were held in the past twelve months. The June 2000 national elections brought strong opposition representation to Parliament : 56 out of 120 seats were taken by the MDC. Most recently, the mayoral election in Masvingo was won by the MDC candidate, demonstrating that Zimbabwe’s electoral process remains free and fair. The opposition party won three of the electoral challenges in the High Court, two were dismissed and three were withdrawn, showing that the courts operate as independently as before.

The government has begun clamping down on invasion and extortion of business, with the arrest of more than twenty five ex-combatants in the past week. Home Affairs Minister Mr John Nkomo called for an immediate end to all threats and attacks on business, and ordered the police deployed to ensure security and "an immediate turnaround of this lawlessness".

On the international front, British Foreign Secretary Mr Robin Cook told the House of Commons on May 1st, 2001 that it would be a mistake for the British government to apply sanctions, which would deal a very grave blow to the innocent people of Zimbabwe. The fourteen SADC countries and the fifty three nations of the Organisation of African Unity are similarly opposed to economic sanctions. The British have also requested negotiations with Zimbabwe, working through Mocambique’s Foreign Office and former Nigerian President General Ibrahim Babangide.

Because of the domestic political consensus taking shape concerning land reform, the elections of the past year, the application of the rule of law in dealing with ex-combatants, and the growing international reaction against economic sanctions, the international community should focus on supporting free and fair elections in the coming year, efforts for economic recovery, and combating HIV/AIDS, and not economic sanctions against the Zimbabwean people.

23 May 2001

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index