|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
The Zimbabwe National Army has offered farms and land to all serving soldiers in exchange for their support and loyalty to President Robert Mugabe in next year's presidential election.
Land requests by soldiers will be separated from those of civilians and will be given priority, in a policy aimed at promoting black commercial farmers. The army's internal task force, headed by Brigadier Daniel Nyikaramba, is handling applications by soldiers interested in the land offers.
A budget is being drawn up to help to resettle soldiers on their repossessed land and to help them to buy the necessary inputs to start farming, The Financial Gazettereports. Soldiers will be allocated mainly plots on sub-divided farms, but some top-rank officers who do not own land have been offered bigger farms.
A few months ago, the army decided to give the first preference of jobs in the military to children of soldiers and independence war veterans. And sources say the soldiers are to be given special bonuses this year ahead of civil servants.
One officer, who did not wish to be named, said: "We have been told we [the soldiers] are the people who fought for the land and we should get the first preference for plots and farms ahead of everyone else. The army will also help to resettle us and I must say most of our members are extremely happy about this move and have submitted their applications."
* Zimbabwe's consumer price index rose by a record 97.9 per cent in the year to October, after increasing 86.3 per cent in September, figures from the Central Statistical Office showed yesterday. Analysts say inflation could exceed 100 per cent by the end of the year.
Harare - The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe was conducting inspections to ensure
enforcement of the new law that banned the use of parallel market rates in the
pricing structure of goods and services, it said on Monday.
The bank's public affairs and information official, Ignatius Mabasa, said any violations of the regulations would be dealt with in terms of penalties provided in the legislation.
The new law had already affected operations of a lot of companies that had been charging for their services and goods using the parallel market rates.
The enactment of the exchange control order was prompted by the need to curb foreign exchange activities in the parallel market.
Violations of this order would constitute contravention of the Exchange Control Act and regulations made under it.
"Culprits will be dealt with in accordance with the law in terms of the Exchange Control Act," Mabasa said.
In August, the government gazetted a law that outlawed charging for goods and services offered in Zimbabwe at prices beyond the official exchange rate of $1 to Z$55.
This new law had managed to curb a trend that was developing in Zimbabwe whereby prices of imported and locally produced goods and services had been on a continuous rise.
Prices were often pegged at black market exchange rates of anything up to $1 to Z$300.
The new statutory requirement was met with relief by consumers.
They have seen prices changing daily, with some goods and services becoming unjustifiably expensive.
The amendment stipulates that "any person in Zimbabwe who sells or provides any goods or services, whether within or outside Zimbabwe, shall not charge a price or receive a payment in Zimbabwe dollars in respect of such goods and services in excess of the price obtained by applying the maximum exchange rate specified".
If they [the MDC] want a bloodbath, they will certainly get it
The body of Cain Nkala was found in a shallow grave on Tuesday, a week after he was kidnapped from his home by armed assailants. He had been strangled with his shoe laces.
Police have arrested six men, reportedly opposition members, and the minister of home affairs has been quoted as saying that the police are investigating leaders of the Movement for Democratic Change.
But the MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, says this is a pretext to intimidate the opposition ahead of presidential elections due early next year.
More than 40 people have been killed in politically-motivated violence since President Robert Mugabe was defeated in a constitutional referendum in February 2000.
Most of the violence has been blamed on supporters of Mr Mugabe, especially war veterans involved in the occupation of white-owned land.
Since Mr Nkala's abduction, there have been isolated cases of violence against MDC members in Bulawayo and Harare - both opposition strongholds.
On Saturday, war veterans, closely allied to President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, stormed the headquarters of the MDC in the capital.
"If they [the MDC] want a bloodbath, they will certainly get it," said Vice President Joseph Msika.
Nkala was a prime suspect in the abduction of an MDC polling agent, Patrick Nabanyama, on the eve of the June 2000 parliamentary elections.
This raises suspicions that the two young men were tortured into admitting something that they did not do
Welshman Ncube, MDC
Mr Tsvangirai condemned the murder of Mr Nkala and called for the culprits to be brought to justice.
"Our conscience is clear," he said.
State television has shown two men confessing to the murder and says they are members of the MDC.
The MDC has not disputed that the men are members and secretary general Welshman Ncube has complained that they have not been given access to lawyers.
"This raises suspicions that the two young men were tortured into admitting something that they did not do," he said.
Home Affairs Minister John Nkomo says the murder was an act of "terrorism" perpetrated by "enemies of the government".
Mr Tsvangirai said that the authorities were practising double-standards by making such a fuss about the murder of Mr Nkala when "ignoring" attacks on the opposition.
Last year, Mr Mugabe issued an amnesty for political crimes committed in the run-up to last year's parliamentary elections - except for murder, rape and fraud.
We are now truly on the edge of a catastrophe. In a few weeks time we will start to run out of our main staple food – maize and this, along with shortages of other types of food will create conditions we have never seen in this country. On top of the aching poverty, unemployment and general hopelessness, the country will be plunged into a fresh crisis and the outcome is anyone’s guess.
The government has requested aid at the very last minute, but in it’s desperation is still not prepared to let go of the opportunity to use this crisis as a means to show the "people" that they are feeding them. They remain committed to controlling the supply of all basic foods to the population. Under such circumstances, on the eve of presidential polls to decide the future of the country, the international donors will not put up the money needed to secure the food and will not take the required co-ordinated action to get the food into the country. South Africa is already short of food itself and can ill afford to supply maize to Zimbabwe.
The whole food chain is reeling from punitive price controls, which are forcing many firms into bankruptcy. The farm sector is in total chaos as the government promulgates regulation after regulation to facilitate its headlong rush to take over valuable, intensively developed farms from their totally intimidated commercial owners. New regulations just published give the government the power to take farms away from their rightful, lawful owners by force without compensation of any kind. They will be left destitute and homeless and their 350 000 staff and their families will become internally displaced refugees. Agricultural output will fall by 50 per cent and up to half of all commercial and industrial firms will close their doors – putting at least another 150 000 workers onto the street. Nearly half of all formal sector jobs will then have been lost in two years.
In complete desperation, another million or more economic refugees will flood into South Africa, destabilizing their cities and intensifying their local crime and violence. Our urban centres will be devastated as they try to accommodate the jobless and the hungry and street violence will erupt. The situation will spin out of control giving Mugabe and his cohorts what they wanted – a chance to use their weapons against the people who have humiliated them democratically since 2000.
As for the preparation for the forthcoming elections – just look at what they are doing at present. A totally biased registration exercise where known MDC supporters – the young, the educated, are being denied the right to register. Hundreds of thousands of existing voters being disenfranchised by new citizenship regulations and the dislocation of people from their constituencies and new regulations demanding that they vote only in the constituency in which they have been living for a year or more. The millions of economic refugees outside the country now denied a vote by new regulations on postal ballots. A voters roll that is being manipulated on a massive scale by the Registrar Generals Office. Systematic, planned violence and intimidation of the voters in all areas, but especially in the rural farming districts where traditional leaders are being lined up to force people to vote under supervision when the time comes.
The media is being managed in such a way as to establish full control over all means of information. Journalists who step out of line are being dismissed from their jobs. The propaganda machine is in full flight and the opposition and civil society is getting no space at all in the state-controlled media. International media is tightly controlled and restricted. A small clique of ministers is making all the running along with a group of Zanu loyalists from a wide range of backgrounds.
Just how far they will go is clearly revealed by the incident last week when a group of up to 10 men with AK 47 rifles abducted a leading war veteran leader in Bulawayo, Cain Nkala. They took him in broad daylight out of town – various reports coming in to us say he was taken out on the road to Khami Prison. His wife was beaten in the process and has refused to speak to the independent press about the experience. Now his body is "discovered" out on the Plumtree road – at the other end of the road via Khami Prison and in a carefully choreographed exercise, two young men are produced who say they are MDC members and were present when Nkala was killed – strangled with his shoe laces! Africa is a continent where the people have developed a very keen sense of communication. You cannot get away with this sort of thing and it is not talked about in the townships and in the drinking holes. All of the ordinary Zimbabweans I speak to say this was a Zanu assassination of someone who was preparing to talk out of turn – about the abduction and killing of an election agent of the MDC last May in the run up to the parliamentary elections in June.
But there it was – 15 minutes of the main news on Tuesday night – a Police Commissioner, a Minister, the TV cameras and numerous other actors. All singing the same tune – this was a MDC killing, it is "terrorism" and the Police did a good job. Compare this to the killing last year of Mabika and Chiminya. They were stopped on a rural road by a Zanu PF vehicle in front of a second MDC vehicle with 8 people on board, set on fire by two men with AK 47 rifles and when Talent Mabika tried to get out the vehicle she got no help and died of her injuries a while later. We know the full identities of both men – one is a serving member of the Central Intelligence Organisation who has subsequently been promoted. The two men have been named in High Court hearings and the Judge has ordered that they be brought to Court to face trial for the two murders. What happens – nothing? You can add to this incident dozens of others where MDC activists – white and black, have been killed, often with weapons and there has been no follow up or action taken.
In the most recent survey of voter’s opinions, it was the section on violence and intimidation that I found most interesting. 17 per cent of those polled (3000 voters chosen at random from the roll in all wards) said they had experienced politically motivated violence in the past year – that is equal to 2 million people in the country! Amani trust – a NGO run by non-partisan professionals who have been monitoring political violence have recorded nearly 100 000 incidents in 18 months – 94 per cent of which were Zanu or government inspired. 4 per cent were MDC. We in the MDC have gone to great lengths to persuade our members that we are democrats – not street thugs and that we want to fight these electoral battles with our minds and voices, not our hands and stones. We have a membership of over 2 million – most of them young and urban and its been an amazing achievement that we have been able to restrain their reactions to the constant provocation’s.
All we ask for is a chance to vote in peace for the candidates of our choice. All we need is a reasonable voting procedure, recognition of the right of all citizens to vote in a national election and freedom of speech and association. We do not want special treatment or dispensation – equality before the law is our basic demand. We are being denied all of these basic rights.
I said at a meeting in South Africa on Monday – we are doing our bit as citizens – we are putting our lives and the lives of our families on the line every day, we are jeopardising our businesses and the security we have worked for is at risk. We are fighting for democracy and the freedoms of speech and association. We are struggling to reestablish the rule of law. As I write a good friend and colleague, Dave Coltart is once again in hiding with his family and his election agent, Simon Spooner is in prison charged with Nkala’s murder. Is it too much to ask of our neighbours that they do something to help us get a level playing field for the upcoming elections?
At this same meeting a leading US academic said this about the South African position in the region: "You can do nothing – and then must face the consequences, because then you will guarantee this train smash occurs. You can over react and impose full scale economic restrictions but this will just make conditions worse for the ordinary people you want to help, or you can use your influence and power regionally, to persuade other leaders that Mugabe must be reined in and the conditions created for an election in early 2002 where the people of Zimbabwe can make a choice." Is that too much to ask?
Zimbabwe, 14th November 2001
From The Independent (UK), 14 November
Mugabe veteran found in shallow grave
A leader of President Robert Mugabe's liberation war veterans was found dead in a shallow roadside grave in southern Zimbabwe. Cain Nkala had been buried at Bulawayo, the country's second city, in Matabeleland, Wayne Bvudzijena, a police spokesman, said. Nkala was the chairman of the war veterans' association in the city, whose population strongly supports the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Veterans of the war against white rule in Rhodesia in the Seventies have become President Mugabe's principal tools in the elections due by May 2002. The veterans have occupied more than 1,500 commercial farms as part of the 77-year-old leader's campaign to resettle landless black people without paying compensation to the white owners.
Mr Mugabe's campaign has been particularly violent in Matabeleland because the ruling Zanu PF has practically no grassroots support there. Yesterday, Mr Bvudzijena said six people had been arrested over Nkala's disappearance. The MDC, which denied any role in the abduction of Nkala, said several of its members had been arrested but could not confirm whether the arrests were linked to the disappearance. President Mugabe has stepped up the seizure of commercial farms and banned private groups from giving food aid to hungry people. Analysts see both moves as linked to his re-election campaign. He has used his decree powers to amend Zimbabwe's Land Act to allow officials to seize all farms listed for compulsory seizure, even those whose owners have lodged legal appeals against repossession. The government said it had made the move, requiring farmers to stop work immediately and move out within three months, because they were abusing the court system to frustrate land reform.
From ZWNEWS, 14 November
Matabeleland repression widens
The attacks on MDC supporters in Matabeleland, which began on Wednesday last week, have continued over the last two days, with widespread arrests. A dozen or more people have been taken into police custody, with many being denied their constitutional rights to be charged or released, or to have access to a lawyer. As well as being part of the general harsh crackdown on the MDC countrywide, the arrests in Bulawayo are widely thought to have an additional link to the disappearance in June 2000 of Patrick Nabanyama – an MDC election agent – who has not been seen since.
The recent events began on 5 November with the abduction from his Bulawayo home of Cain Nkala, a senior leader of war veterans in Bulawayo. He was taken forcibly from his home at midnight by ten men armed with AK 47s – widely issued to members of the army, police, and CIO. Nkala’s wife was injured in the struggle to take her husband. Two days later, the MDC provincial offices in Bulawayo were surrounded by armed policemen, and were then subjected to an eight-hour search. Documents and records from the offices were taken – illegally – and several MDC security guards and others were arrested. Those arrested were Masere Moyo, Ronnie Zulu, Thabiso Mangala, Ferdinand Dropper, Army Zulu, and Silas Sibanda.
At lunchtime on Saturday, the MDC headquarters in Harare were besieged by a mob of war veterans claiming they were looking for Cain Nkala. MDC staff and passers-by were assaulted. On Sunday and Monday, vice-president Msika was quoted in the state media as saying: "If they are looking for a blood bath they will certainly get it. We have not arrived at that juncture yet. We do not want to be controlled by anger but our reaction will come at the appropriate time." In the current tense circumstances in Zimbabwe, such a statement from so senior a figure is an open invitation for political violence to be committed with impunity. Similar statements were accorded to Obert Mpofu, the unpopular governor of Matabeleland North province, and Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, Zanu PF’s national deputy political commissar. Allegations were also made that MI5 – the agency responsible for counter-intelligence within the UK – was sponsoring a "third force" intent on destabilising the Zimbabwe government.
On 12 November, police visited the MDC headquarters in Harare, but were denied entry as they did not have a warrant. In Bulawayo, Simon Spooner, campaign manager for Bulawayo MP David Coltart was arrested. The house of Fletcher Dulini, the MDC treasurer, was raided at 3:30 am by police. Dulini was not there, but the police forced their way in without a warrant, searched the house and left with documents, including personal study materials, leaving Dulini’s wife terrified. Police later raided the house of a man who repairs MDC vehicles in Bulawayo. At 5.00 am the house of MDC Administrator Mr Msimanga was raided. He has been detained twice on spurious allegations in the last few months. He was not present - he is currently in a safe house suffering from post traumatic stress disorder - and the police broke down his door and conducted an illegal search, and took away some of his personal effects.
At 11:00 pm on Monday night, Noma Nabanyama, daughter of Patrick Nabanyama, was arrested by police, and was interrogated until 5:00 am on Tuesday morning. She was accused of having lied about the disappearance of her father and it was alleged that when she went to Australia recently she actually went to see her father. She was subjected to sustained verbal abuse. She was eventually released after the police confiscated her passport. A relative of the Nabanyamas - "Sigogi", a former Lt. Colonel in Zipra before independence - was also picked up on 11 November in connection with Cain Nkala’s abduction, and he has not been released. It is not clear where he is being held. Others arrested very early on Tuesday were two MDC ward chairpersons, L. Munyika and Sazini Mpofu, who have not been seen since, and Gilbert Moyo, Stanley Dile, Sakhile Ncube and Sitsha Ndlovu. Thembi Nkandla, MDC provincial treasurer and a single mother with a four year-old child, was also arrested on Tuesday.
The MDC security personnel arrested on Wednesday last week have still not been brought before a magistrate, as is required by law after being held in custody for 48 hours. A court order has been sought compelling police to bring them before a court, with no known result as yet. Spooner has been denied access to a lawyer and food as of the time of writing. He was eventually tracked down to the police camp at Esigodini, some 50 kilometres south-east of Bulawayo. This camp became notorious in the early 1980’s as a detainee holding area during the Matabeleland massacres.
The state media continue to associate those arrested with the disappearance and murder of Cain Nkala. ZTV last night showed particularly gruesome footage of Nkala’s body being dragged feet-first from a shallow grave. However, sources within the war veterans’ movement in Bulawayo say that the abduction and killing of Nkala were inside jobs. Resentment had apparently grown among Nkala and others charged with the abduction of Patrick Nabanyama, because they had not been granted a pardon in terms of the presidential amnesty announced last year for the perpetrators of politically-motivated crimes. Kidnap and murder were not included in the list of crimes covered by the amnesty. There was also resentment that the members of the CIO, to whom Nkala and others claimed they had delivered Nabanyama after his abduction, had not been charged at all. It is reported that Nkala may have approached a journalist who was then shown where Nabanyama’s body was buried. Those implicated in Nabanyama’s disappearance then arranged for Nkala’s demise in order to cover up their own involvement. It has also now been confirmed - from two independent sources that a meeting of Matabeleland war veterans took place on 1 November, which was attended by very senior Zanu PF Matabeleland politicians. At that meeting, a general instruction was issued to eliminate as many Matabeleland MDC officials as possible. A specific order was issued against the life of David Coltart.
From The Guardian (UK), 14 November
White farm exodus to cost £400m
Harare - White Zimbabwean farmers began dismantling irrigation systems and equipment on some of their farms yesterday after they were warned on Monday that under new laws they could be imprisoned for continuing farming. More than 4,400 white-owned farms are to be seized by President Robert Mugabe's government in the coming weeks, preventing farmers growing crops and throwing 240,000 labourers out of work. The white farmers will be confined to their houses, which they must vacate within three months, according to new measures decreed by Mr Mugabe. The government has already given preliminary notice of acquisition to 95% of the country's big farms and will proceed with delivering the final eviction notices, the agriculture minister, Joseph Made, said yesterday.
The new action to seize the farms is in preparation for the presidential election, due by the end of March. Mr Mugabe is campaigning on the land seizures to try to win another six-year term. In a further electioneering move, it was announced that only the government may carry out the vital tasks of delivering food aid and training election monitors. "With all these actions the government is trying to improve Mugabe's chances to win re-election, yet by using such heavy-handed tactics they are actually worsening his position," Masipula Sithole, political science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, said.
By denying the large-scale farmers the right to till their land, the government is forcing them to abandon crops worth an estimated £410m. "It is economic suicide," John Robertson, a Harare economist, said. "Anything that has been planted will go to waste. Gross domestic product will be cut by half. Half of our people will be shoved out of the economy and into the most desperate subsistence." The first to suffer will be the black farm labourers and their families, numbering 1.2m, who will lose both work and homes. In many cases the number of people resettled on a farm is smaller than the number of labourers the farm formerly employed. Thousands of evicted farm workers are already roaming the countryside looking for food and shelter.
The latest action comes as Zimbabwe faces shortages of its staple food, maize. Last week the government asked the international community for food aid worth £225m. "The government says the food shortages were caused by floods, but we all know it is a self-inflicted shortage," an international aid expert said. "We are very sceptical of their appeal. Saying that all international food aid must be distributed by the government is tantamount to saying the food aid will be used for the presidential campaign." Mr Mugabe's efforts to paint the national crisis as simply a case of black Zimbabweans taking back land seized by white colonialists is belied by the situation in Gokwe, in rural western Zimbabwe. The area has nearly no white farmers, yet it has been gripped by political violence. Scores of teachers suspected of supporting the opposition have been beaten and tortured by Mr Mugabe's followers. In one incident a magistrate was assaulted by backers of Mr Mugabe's Zanu PF party because he jailed a party supporter for robbery. The police confirmed the incident but said no one had been arrested.
From The Star (SA), 13 November
Mugabe intensifies crackdown with MDC siege
Harare - About a dozen police officers on Monday besieged the headquarters of Zimbabwe's main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), as President Robert Mugabe's government intensified its crackdown on political opponents ahead of presidential elections in March next year. MDC spokesperson Welshman Ncube said the police tried to search the party's head office for documents relating to its funding, but were resisted by MDC officials "who asked the detectives to produce a search warrant first". The opposition party headquarters were raided on Saturday by a group of 100 "war veterans" who assaulted bystanders and deflated the wheels of a vehicle belonging to the MDC and accused the MDC of abducting their colleague, Cain Nkala, in Bulawayo last week.
The police move on Monday came barely four days after detectives stormed the MDC's offices in Bulawayo. "They did not disclose the reasons why they wanted to search our offices, but we suspect they wanted to look for information about our funding," Ncube said. "As you are aware, the government has been wrongly accusing us of receiving foreign funding in violation of the law. It is desperate to get information to prove these baseless allegations," said Ncube. Mugabe's government passed a law in March banning all political parties from receiving foreign funding. The law has since been criticised by opposition parties who accuse the ruling party itself of receiving foreign funding from its African and Asian allies, mainly Libya and China. Reports said Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi had given Mugabe $900 000 (about R8,7-million) for his re-election bid.
The government crackdown on opponents comes ahead of crunch presidential elections in March which Mugabe may lose, according to an opinion poll published last week. In the past week the government has:
Arrested editor-in-chief of Zimbabwe's Daily News, Geoff Nyarota, and a journalist of the same newspaper, Wilf Mbanga, on "fraud" charges.
Banned civic organisations from engaging in voter education programmes and approved a law banning foreign election monitors.
Approved a law that will disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans living abroad, except diplomats at foreign missions.
Issued a sweeping decree to force farmers off their land and sidestep their rights to have their evictions approved by the courts. Two farms in Karoi were seized on Monday under the same regulations.
Its militant supporters have renewed violence on commercial farms, invading 20 farms in the process and attacking scores of farm workers. Ten farm workers were admitted to hospital over the weekend.
The opposition MDC also claims that most of its supporters in its urban strongholds are being refused registration by government officials, who have started a voter registration exercise in time for next year's election.
From a reader, for the UNDP team currently in Zimbabwe
A step in the wrong direction?
The ZTV News on 3 November described, with great enthusiasm, a ceremony wherein the Zimbabwe Joint Resettlement Initiative (ZJRI) handed over a farm to the government and pledged hundreds more. We have come to believe that anything praised by ZTV must be inherently bad. Is this true of the ZJRI? Unfortunately it is.
The ZJRI was the brainchild of a coalition of farmers and businessmen, some honestly motivated, some patently not, who believed that the land crisis might be resolved through negotiation with the government. It is easy for those who have not experienced the horrors suffered by farmers and their workforces in Zimbabwe over the last 18 months to protest that such negotiation smacks of ‘appeasement’. We must try to be fair: It is natural that people threatened with the loss of their property, livelihoods, even lives, and without recourse to the law, should attempt negotiation with their oppressors. Some of those giving up their farms for a token compensation may be doing so from a respectable concern to hang onto other properties, some may even be making an altruistic sacrifice in the hope that commercial farming in Zimbabwe can continue elsewhere and to try to save, for example, the futures of farmers such as those in Guruve, driven from their farms by a mob two weeks ago. And, of course, it is easy to paint colourful and optimistic slogans about trust and compromise onto the side of such an initiative which, ostensibly, comprises black and white Zimbabweans, farmers and government, settling their differences in a non-confrontational manner. But, many of the farmers who have born the brunt of the farm occupations remain solidly opposed to the ZJRI – they can perceive its moral bankruptcy, they have the right to speak of appeasement, and they do.
The 1998 donors conference offered to the government of Zimbabwe a generous solution to the land problem. They chose not to take it, saving the land issue to be the political weapon it now is. To give up farms to them now at a 100th of their proper value is not just to bow to horrible intimidation, it is to reward it. Such an action sends a clear message to those who relish anarchy: ‘make our lives hell and we’ll give you what you want.’ The ZJRI does not even seem to link its concessions to any kind of improvement in the government’s attitude to human rights and the rule of law. Whilst this ‘historic’ ceremony was taking place Mugabe’s henchmen were conspiring to shut down the courageous Daily News, his thugs were preventing hundreds of farmers from farming land that even the government acknowledges is legally theirs and were keeping tens of thousands of farm workers from their homes.
Many Zimbabweans complain bitterly that all the international community does about Zimbabwe is talk, that the move to Article 96 discussions by the European Community was too little too late. They are right to complain. But the ZJRI has, by many accounts, been a major obstacle to those who would bring Mugabe to book for it has made splendid propaganda copy for the government, particularly in its dealings with the African nations best placed, and least willing, to exert real pressure. ‘Look’ they say – ‘would the "white farmers" be talking to us so positively if we were really driving them and their workers from their farms?’ Gratefully mollified the would-be critics retreat.
If the South Africa media is to be believed Mugabe’s boys are deeply divided between the doves who seek some sort of profitable but sensible end to the Zimbabwe crisis and those who would see Zimbabwe a dust bowl before conceding power. Maybe. Certainly cracks have been widening in the Zanu PF edifice for many months now. Hence it can be argued that the ZJRI is supporting the doves, furthering a reasonable solution, by giving them a result. This argument ignores recent history: every time that it comes to the crunch the doves, particularly their titular head vice-president Msika, are casually shunted aside by the ‘new men’, by Moyo and Made and the other placemen. Those with power in Mugabe’s government, and he himself, will gobble up the ZJRI’s concessions, take comfort and votes from them, and give nothing in exchange. Dealing with the devil may yield short-term advantage but it will not improve the devil’s morals nor weaken his self-interest.
Some who back the ZJRI advance one final, and quite unpalatable, argument: that of the African realist. ‘Africa will never change’ they say, ‘you have to make deals, you have to work with the violence and anarchy and corruption, there’s no other way.’ This is racism, less stark, but just as divisive as that of Zanu PF. Millions of Africans are fighting their way out of the shambles of the last forty years: attitudes such as those of the African realist shoot them in the back. Zimbabweans must aspire to the same values that govern the free world; concessions to dictators help this process not at all. And there is another way: the UNDP, with the weight of the world behind it, will soon be seeking to design a fair and transparent land reform programme for Zimbabwe. The ZJRI weakens their hand too and will do so until its progenitors agree to absorb it in a wider and better plan that seeks a return to civilization. So far the ZJRI has been a bad thing: if it is to redeem itself it must do so swiftly.
From News24 (SA), 13 November
Yellow card for foreign media
Harare - The Zimbabwean government has warned foreign correspondents in the country against demonising it in the eyes of the world, or face the consequences of the law. In a statement issued late on Monday, Information Minister Jonathan Moyo said the "political band of Harare-based foreign correspondents" must ready themselves "to be subjected to the judicial process and the last to cry foul when the law is applied to them or their political friends". He was criticising a strong statement issued last week by press watchdog the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) which criticised the government's arrest of the editor and former publisher of a local private daily newspaper. Geoff Nyarota and Wilf Mbanga, editor and former chief executive of the Daily News, were arrested last week on fraud charges. The Misa statement dismissed the arrests as unjustified. Moyo accused Misa and Harare-based foreign correspondents of "criticising or demonising the people of Zimbabwe and their government". Several foreign correspondents have this year been expelled from Harare. The Abuja Agreement, signed by the government in Nigeria in September to bring an end to lawlessness in the rural areas accompanying its controversial land reform programme, also commits the Zimbabwean government to upholding freedom of the press.
|Opposition officials flee Bulawayo after attacks|
|FROM JAN RAATH IN HARARE|
|OFFICIALS of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) in the western Zimbabwean city of Bulawayo fled into hiding yesterday
after a series of attacks by President Mugabe’s militias.
The home of one official was burnt and those of two others badly damaged in attacks by mobs of youths and members of the so-called war veterans. Witnesses said that at least three other homes were attacked.
The discovery on Monday of the body of a senior local war veteran leader abducted by unknown assailants a week ago has brought a brutal response from the Mugabe regime, beginning with a spate of arrests of alleged suspects, all members of the MDC, in Bulawayo, a stronghold of the movement.
Khethani Sibanda and Sazini Mpofu, who said that they were members of the MDC, were paraded on state television on Tuesday night and were filmed telling police that they had buried Cain Nkala, the abducted war veteran.
Welshman Ncube, the party’s secretary-general, said that police had refused to allow lawyers access to the two men.
“This raises the suspicion that the two young men were tortured into admitting something which they did not do,” he said. He denied that the movement was involved and appealed to the police to arrest the real perpetrators.
At least another 13 officials of the MDC arrested in the past week were still being denied access to lawyers yesterday. The state-controlled Daily Herald said that police were also looking for two Bulawayo MPs.
Joseph Msika, the MDC Vice-President, told the opposition at the weekend: “If they are looking for a bloodbath, they will certainly get it.”
Yesterday Patrick Nyaruwata said he was calling on his members “not to take revenge, although the enemy clearly deserves revenge”.
Unsubstantiated accusations of involvement in violence, the arrests and the attacks in Bulawayo this week bear a frightening resemblance to the ruling party stragegy in the city 18 years ago that preceded the four-year bloody pogrom to crush the former Zapu party of the late Ndebele leader and former Vice-President Joshua Nkomo.
Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC’s president, said yesterday that the ruling Zanu (PF) party was “putting in place mechanisms for a further descent into violence through arming war veterans (and) training militias”.
One political scientist, Brian Raftopoulos, said that he feared more violence. “We don’t know the full story, but clearly what was bound to happen was they would use (the killing) as a pretext to launch further violence against the MDC,” he said.
“This has been coming for a while and it’s a very disturbing development,” Mr Raftopoulos added.
HARARE, Zimbabwe --Zimbabwe's main opposition party has rejected government charges that it was behind the murder of a leading war veteran leader.
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai said militant supporters from President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party had assaulted MDC members in Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo on Wednesday.
He said the attack was in retaliation for the death of Cain Nkala, who disappeared a week ago and was found dead on Tuesday.
Home (Interior) Affairs Minister John Nkomo told Zimbabwe state television on Tuesday that five of six people arrested in connection with Nkala's disappearance and alleged murder were MDC members.
He said the police were investigating the possible involvement of some top MDC leaders.
Tsvangirai told a news conference that his party was not involved in the murder of Nkala, who was a supporter of Mugabe's land reform campaign.
"We are shocked at this suggestion because we are not involved in any crime and would not condone any crime," he said, calling the government's allegations "utter rubbish."
"Our conscience is clear," Tsvangirai said.
He accused ZANU-PF of using Nkala's death as an excuse to crack down on opposition supporters.
"The agenda is very clear. They want to beat people into submission before the election" due next year, he said.
Zimbabwe television showed on Tuesday two men confessing that they were part of a gang that used shoe laces to strangle Nkala, chairman of the war veterans' association in Bulawayo, who was found buried in a shallow grave on the city outskirts.
At the weekend, Zimbabwe war veterans and other supporters of Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party besieged the headquarters of the MDC, blaming them for Nkala's alleged abduction.
Witnesses said the group assaulted several bystanders outside the building before slashing the tyres of a vehicle belonging to a senior MDC official.
The party accused police officers of failing to react while some MDC members were being assaulted by part of the mob inside the building.
State media has several times quoted the veterans as threatening "war" on those behind Nkala's disappearance.
The MDC has also denied it was involved in the abduction, saying attempts to blame the opposition are a deliberate ploy ahead of a presidential election due early next year.
On Tuesday the party said several of its members had been arrested in Bulawayo since November 5, but did not say whether the arrests were linked to Nkala's disappearance.
The MDC, which won 57 of 120 contested seats in last year's parliamentary elections, has gained support countrywide, including in the ZANU-PF's traditional rural power bases.
At least 31 people, most of them opposition supporters, were killed in political violence ahead of the June 2000 polls.
Mugabe has allowed his supporters, including veterans of Zimbabwe's independence war, to illegally occupy white-owned farms over the last 21 months in what they say is a show of support for his controversial and often violent land reforms.