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

Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Washington Post

Sowing Harvests Of Hunger In Africa
Disease, Drought, Politics Fuel Famine

By Michael Grunwald
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 17, 2002; Page A01

SIGWE, Swaziland -- There is a time to reap and a time to sow, and now is
the time to sow. The first rains have fallen on the parched lowlands,
softening the soil for the plow. But Saraphina Simelane has no seeds to
plant. Joseph Dlamini has seeds, but no money to hire oxen. Julia Gwebu has
no seeds, no money, no oxen and no time; she spends her days in her thatched
stone hut tending a daughter with AIDS.

Halfway through the planting season for maize, the traditional staple for
this landlocked kingdom in southern Africa, hardly anyone is plowing, much
less sowing. Droughts ravaged Swaziland's last two harvests, and relief
agencies are handing out seeds to 12,000 subsistence farmers. But another
38,000 households have nothing to put in the ground, and while foreign aid
organizations are feeding them for now, they can't reap what they don't sow.

"It looks like we're in for another disaster," said Ben Nsibandze, chairman
of Swaziland's National Disaster Task Force. "It's becoming almost endemic.
We're just hand-to-mouth, hand-to-mouth."

The World Food Program estimates that about one-fourth of the kingdom's 1.1
million citizens are now at risk of starvation. And aid groups report the
worsening situation in tiny Swaziland -- rated a middle-income country by
the United Nations -- looks mild compared to looming catastrophes in larger,
poorer nations such as Angola, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe in southern
Africa, or Ethiopia and Eritrea in the Horn of Africa.

More than 30 million Africans are threatened by famine, and the situation is
getting worse. In Zambia and Malawi, 70 percent of households have no seeds.
In Zimbabwe, the figure is 94 percent. Prices are skyrocketing, oxen are too
thin to haul plows, and an El Niño could bring a third year of drought.

The crisis has roots in bad weather, bad policies and bad economies, but
it's the AIDS epidemic -- which has slashed average life expectancy to 45
years or less in every southern African country but one -- that has prompted
humanitarian agencies to call this a "new variant famine." Simelane, 65,
cares for five orphaned grandchildren. Dlamini, 21, is responsible for four
orphaned siblings. Breadwinners are dying or growing too sick to work or are
selling off farm supplies to pay for health care at a time when bread is in
short supply. In the lingo of foreign aid, millions of potential drought
victims already have "diminished coping abilities."

"The numbers are staggering," said Judith Lewis, the U.N. coordinator for
southern Africa, a region where AIDS has flourished amid poverty,
substandard health care and a culture that traditionally frowns more on
discussion of sex than the practice of it. "When we look at the
vulnerability -- the world's highest malnutrition rates, the world's highest
HIV rates -- we're bracing for the worst."

Swaziland's people are not yet starving to death, thanks to emergency aid
that began arriving in July. The nation is not reeling from decades of war,
like Angola, or expelling many of its productive farmers, like Zimbabwe, or
refusing to accept thousands of tons of genetically modified food, like
Zambia. It will receive a scant fraction of the $500 million the United
Nations hopes to spend in southern Africa through March.

But Swaziland provides a window into Africa's unfolding food crisis. It is
smaller than New Jersey, and hunger is limited to the rural south and east
of the country. It is a functioning country, with well-paved roads,
well-regarded schools and developed urban areas. It is Africa's only
absolute monarchy, but it is a relatively transparent society. World Bank
data show that since declaring independence in 1968, Swaziland has been less
reliant on foreign aid than any other country in Africa.

Nsibandze says that Swaziland is now in danger of becoming a perpetual
welfare state, "constantly appealing to our international friends." The
country is producing less than one-third of its own food, and more than
one-third of its adults are HIV-positive. The first rains this year were
again a month late, and the second rains did little good because there were
few seeds in the ground. Mostafa Imam, a Swazi who runs the U.N. Food and
Agriculture Organization program here, swells with emotion as he points out
the untilled fields and dusty pastures that dominate the landscape of the
southern lowlands.

"I weep for my country," he said. "When you can plow, you can hope. Right
now there is no hope."

Too Poor for Donated Seeds

Grace Mkhabela is in charge of distributing U.N. maize and seeds at the
Sigwe police station, where hundreds of villagers come for help.

She is a manager for a local nonprofit group, Swaziland Farmer Development,
and she decides who is hungry enough to eat and who is strong enough to

Simon Mamba, 61, lost his entire crop last year. He has 20 mouths to feed,
and he had to take three grandchildren out of school because he could not
afford the fees. Since Mamba has a low-paying mining job, he is ineligible
for food aid.

"We have to focus on the most vulnerable," Mkhabela explained. And seeds are
being distributed only to food recipients because hungry people tend to eat
seeds instead of plant them.

"I'm too rich for food but too poor for seeds!" Mamba said. "It's better for
me to die."

Simelane is unemployed, and she is certainly poor, crammed in a dingy home
with five orphans who sleep on her floor. The two youngest, Pati and
Pendulili, have bellies distended from malnutrition. Their sweatpants have
more holes than cloth; their shoes are caked with mud and ripped to shreds.
Although Simelane is eligible for food aid, she does not get seeds. "We
cannot serve the old and weak," Mkhabela said. "We must give seeds to strong
people who will plant them with success."

Then there is Irene Dlamini, no relation to Joseph. She is only 40 years old
but just as poor. She has 11 children who live on two spoonfuls of porridge
a day. None of them go to school anymore. Yet she does not get seeds either.
Mkhabela could not say why Dlamini was unlucky. There just aren't enough
seeds to go around.

"It's a very painful feeling," Dlamini said. "My children think I neglect

Even those who receive seeds are by no means assured of a crop. Joseph
Dlamini, the young man trying to feed four orphans, has been unable to hire
oxen or a tractor to plow his fields. And it may be too late for him to
plant maize, which should be a foot high by now. Still, he is trying to
build a fence around his bone-dry fields out of acacia branches, just in
case. "It's all I can do," he said.

Drought is particularly lethal to maize crops, but maize is central to Swazi
culture, so aid agencies have struggled to persuade Swazis to diversify into
more drought-resistant crops. But the darkest shadow over Swaziland's
nutrition problems is the AIDS epidemic.

It is rarely spoken by name; Gwebu, for example, said her daughter has "a
blood problem." But it is hard not to notice that the vast majority of the
villagers at the food lines in Sigwe are either children or seniors.

Health officials say life expectancy in Swaziland has fallen by 25 years
since the AIDS epidemic began.

In the countryside, teenage Swazi girls are selling sex -- and spreading
HIV -- for $5 an encounter, exactly what it costs to hire oxen for a day of

"People just can't cope," Lewis said. "This isn't sustainable."

The international community, led by the United States, has rushed in enough
food to stave off famine in Swaziland this year, and by all accounts the
food is being directed to people in need. But donors have been reluctant to
invest in longer-term solutions -- or even medium-term fixes such as seed
kits, which cost $31 -- in part because Swaziland has failed to make those
investments itself. Politics is also at the heart of this crisis.

"It's probably more important than weather," a Western diplomat said. "Make
that definitely more important."

Jet-Setting Through a Crisis

"It seems like we're losing our direction," Sibonelo Mngomezulu said. "We
need to rechallenge our priorities. We have to think about our people and
what they need. The king needs to be enlightened."

Those are bold words in Swaziland, where political parties are banned and
criticism of the popular king, Mswati III, can be tantamount to sedition.
They are especially bold from Mngomezulu, who happens to be the third of the
king's 10 wives. She is also one of his key advisers; many others, the queen
said, are "selfish and corrupt," and she blames them for the global
notoriety he attracted earlier this month after aides tried to intimidate
judges into rejecting a lawsuit accusing him of abducting his 10th wife.

It is no secret what the queen means by priorities. A $900,000 proposal for
emergency aid has languished for months; a $500,000 proposal to upgrade the
royal fleet of luxury cars was swiftly approved. The government has no
irrigation projects for maize -- only for sugar plantations controlled by
the king. Rural farmers have no way to finance their own irrigation projects
because the king holds title to their land. And even though the government
has stopped giving away seeds to farmers, an on-again, off-again agreement
to buy the king a jet for $60 million -- twice the country's health
budget -- appears to be on again.

"Obviously, it would make better sense to spend money elsewhere," the queen
said in an interview in her palace.

The king has not even declared a state of emergency, which would have
released more foreign money to buy seeds in time for planting season.

He may consider it too much of an admission of failure, or he may not even
realize the seriousness of the situation. At a recent ceremony, the U.S.
ambassador, James McGee, showed the king photographs of hungry Swazis that
the ambassador had taken. The king's response, according to a witness: "Oh,
that's nice."

In January, Mswati will oversee Swaziland's most sacred ceremony, the annual
Ncwala, and he will give his people permission to eat the year's first
maize. "I just hope there is maize to eat," said Imam, the U.N. agriculture
official. "We should not be a nation that depends on the world."

© 2002 The Washington Post Company
Back to the Top
Back to Index

A People Reduced to Queues

Sunday Times (Johannesburg)

November 17, 2002
Posted to the web November 17, 2002

Dingilizwe Ntuli

WHEN a friend's brother working in the UK bought him a car four months ago,
he rejoiced; his transport woes were over.

My friend used to spend an average of four hours a day queueing for
transport to and from work and his brother's gesture had seemingly cushioned
his afflictions. But little did he know that owning a car would turn into a

He now spends even more time in queues: to purchase rationed fuel.

When his turn finally arrives after queueing for five to seven hours, he
gets 15 litres, which is just enough to keep him on the road for four days
if he drives strictly between home and work.

How times have changed in Zimbabwe.

The economy is in recession and the fuel supply has deteriorated due to the
collapse of a deal with Libya's Tamoil to supply 70% of the country's fuel.

Zimbabwe has failed to keep up with payments for the petrol, and Tamoil and
other suppliers now require cash up-front before shipping any fuel to

The government requires about 600-million (about R6-billion) a year for fuel
imports, but its foreign exchange coffers are empty because of the halting
of donor aid, ballooning inflation and a fixed exchange rate.

Motorists like my friend are now bearing the brunt of years of economic
mismanagement. If the crisis continues, he will soon be forced to park his
car and either rejoin transport queues or walk to work like so many others.

Fuel queues are not my friend's only headache: he also has to stand in line
to buy basic foods, like bread, milk, maizemeal, sugar and salt, which we
take for granted in South Africa.

My friend's life mirrors that of other people in this country that once
offered a promising glimpse of Africa's future but now balances precariously
on the edge of a cliff.

Life in Zimbabwe has become brutish as President Robert Mugabe's economic
policies begin to affect ordinary citizens.

The transport system is crumbling as a result of the fuel shortages and a
steady stream of people can be seen walking and cycling by the roadside
during rush hour. They have either become fed up with waiting for hours or
simply can't afford the exorbitant fares.

Food shortages are worsening, pushing thousands of people to the brink of
mass starvation. Most families have to make do with a single meal a day in
the unfolding misery.

Government-imposed price caps on foodstuffs have exacerbated the crisis,
because most producers who were operating at a loss have now been forced out
of business.

The country's land dispute has also drastically reduced grain production.

Corn, once a major export, is in short supply and construction projects,
abandoned by foreign investors, stand frozen in place.

Even people with money are threatened with starvation because there is
precious little to buy. They rely on purchasing groceries in neighbouring
countries to escape the hunger stalking the land.

Once flourishing cities, the capital, Harare, and second city, Bulawayo,
echo with emptiness. Most supermarket shelves are bare, but massive queues
still form at dawn. The people disperse only when the shops close for the
day. If they were to quit queueing any earlier, a consignment might arrive
and they would have missed the opportunity.

And because every basic commodity is rationed, whole families are found in
one queue trying to maximise on available supplies.

Restaurants stand deserted and the once-proud hotels valiantly cater to
handfuls of people, despite the reduced rates.

Only bars and bottle stores are doing a roaring business, as people throng
existing outlets in a vain attempt to drown their sorrows. Beer is in
abundance and remains one of the few commodities that can be bought without
having to queue.

Young people fill the streets aimlessly. Unemployment has long been
institutionalised and their talk centres on leaving the country.

To them, the grass is greener anywhere other than in Zimbabwe.

Some of their friends and relatives have earned money outside the country,
then returned within a short period of time to buy properties.

The levels of desperation have created catchment areas for increased
hooliganism, intolerance, violence and crime. More and more people between
16 and 18 are turning to drugs and are being arrested for crimes ranging
from house break-ins to robbery.

Inflation, which is around 140%, is devastating the lives of ordinary
Zimbabweans - it has eroded their incomes by three-quarters.

The scarcity of foreign exchange has imploded the value of the Zimbabwe
dollar and the black market has spiralled out of control.

The US dollar trades at Z1 800, the British pound fetches Z2 600, the rand
sells at Z250 and the Botswanan pula gets Z280. The official exchange rates
for the US dollar, pound, rand and pula are Z55, Z75, Z6 and Z9

Government parastatals are flooding the parallel market to raise money to
service their debts, forcing private companies into panic buying and
creating a serious demand.

As a result, banks are running out of local currency as black marketeers
withdraw massive amounts to buy foreign exchange. This money changes hands
on the black market, leaving banks in a crisis.

The central bank has subsequently placed daily withdrawal restrictions of
Z500 000 (officially R83 000) to keep the situation in check.

But in essence, Z500 000 is worth a mere R2 000, a far cry for serious
business transactions.

It's time Zimbabwean politicians put the country on a path of economic
recovery instead of enacting laws to entrench themselves in power.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Independent (UK)

Farmers ousted by Mugabe scratch a living in Zambia
By Basildon Peta in Chisambo, Zambia
15 November 2002
Graham Rae was among the most productive white farmers in Zimbabwe and
employed hundreds of black workers before he was branded an "economic
saboteur" by supporters of Robert Mugabe and thrown off his land.

Today, as with other once-prosperous farmers who suffered the same fate, Mr
Rae has had to start again from scratch in neighbouring Zambia, going cap in
hand to investors at a time when he should have been preparing for

Mr Rae and his colleagues were, not so long ago, among the wealthiest of
Zimbabweans. But, because of President Mugabe's violent confiscation of
their land, many white farmers are now forced to make a living selling
hamburgers in Europe while others have become shopkeepers, waiters and
waitresses in countries as far afield as Australia and America.

Mr Rae is among those who accepted offers of huge tracts of land in
neighbouring countries. Mr Mugabe has banned them from taking their
equipment and has refused to compensate them for equipment left behind as
required by law. He has also ignored calls from the Zambian government to
allow the farmers to recover their goods. The British Government has
steadfastly refused to help the farmers, arguing that to do so would amount
to bankrolling Mr Mugabe's chaotic land reforms.

Peter MacSporran, a former president of the white Commercial Farmers Union
(CFU), said: "I am 53 years old now but I have to start from where I was 30
years ago. Unfortunately, our wealth was in our land and we can't move it.
We can't move the houses we had built for ourselves and our children, we
can't move the dams we had built, the huge barns we had erected for our
crops ... It's sad."

Mr Rae had built the largest privately owned dam on one of his two farms.
Soon after President Mugabe announced the land would be redistributed,
rampaging supporters classified Mr Rae as an "economic saboteur" for
resisting their drive to confiscate white farms for the black majority.

He was one of the first farmers to be harassed when Mr Mugabe unleashed his
supporters in the state-sponsored drive to occupy and seize white farms in
February 2000. Mr Rae said: "The war veterans stormed my property and called
me a 'f***ing white pig'. My labour was beaten and my property was looted. I
couldn't do anything. I had to pay huge amounts of money for permission to
harvest my own crop."

Mr MacSporran and another white farmer, Vernon Nicoll, suffered the same
fate. Mr MacSporran said: "It became impossible to farm. We were just not
able to work our land due to the disturbances."

The challenges and difficulties of having to start all over again persuaded
the three farmers to join forces to kickstart a farming project when they
moved to Zambia, where they now lease arable parts of a 22,000-hectare farm.

After a long, tortuous process of being turned away by banks and financial
institutions, the three eventually found one willing to lend them US$3m
(£1.9m) to build a dam and grow crops. Their prospects now largely depend on
weather patterns this year in the drought-hit country. They said it would
take at least seven years of hard work for their farming project to develop
to the same level as the properties they abandoned in Zimbabwe.

These farmers might be considered the lucky ones. Most of the others who
moved to Zambia have been less fortunate.

Spencer Connelly, 58, lost everything. Many of his personal belongings were
confiscated by Mr Mugabe's so-called war veterans. Mr Connelly moved to
Zambia, where he was unable to start anything on his own. Despite having
been a landowner in his own right, Mr Connelly now has a job as a tobacco

Dave Craft, a farmer, tried to rescue a black farm manager who was under
attack from the war veterans on New England Farm in central Zimbabwe. He was
charged by the partisan Zimbabwe Republic Police with inciting public
violence and was eventually chased off his land and fled to Zambia. He is
now a worker on the property leased by Mr MacSporran and his partners.

More than 50 farmers have now settled in Zambia, to an enthusiastic welcome
from the government, although farmers find it hard to get loans because they
have no title to leased land. Many more are expected to arrive in Zambia as
Mr Mugabe enforces his campaign to seize 95 per cent of all white land,
leaving fewer than 100 white farmers out of an original 4,500.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Sent: Thursday, November 14, 2002 8:40 PM
Subject: Broadcast
Dear all, I was interviewed by SW Radio (independent radio station broadcasting into Zimbabwe) at noon today and the interview was broadcast into Zimbabwe at
17.00hrs.  This was as a result of my message to Vice President Dick Cheney.
We can only keep trying.
The sickening thing is that while 6 million are starving because of this despot and his cruel rule, the media are more concerned in Royal butler shenanigans and fire-fighters wanting a 40% increase and risking lives to get it.
Keep on trusting those of you in Zimbabwe.
'Shall they escape by iniquity?  in thine anger cast down the people, O God.
Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?
When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me.
In God will I praise his word; in the Lord will I praise his word.
In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.'
Bless you all,
 Andrew Hall,
Worcester Local Contact Group,
Christian Watch,
United Kingdom.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Sunday Times (SA)

Analysts play down SA's talks with Zimbabwe


The resuscitation of binational commission talks between South Africa and
Zimbabwe is not seen as an endorsement of President Robert Mugabe's

The binational commission, set up in March last year, has stalled in recent
months following Zimbabwe's suspension from the Commonwealth.

It resumed only when South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
visited Harare last month. Analysts say her call to Britain to compensate
white farmers for land seized does not signal a shift in Pretoria's policy
towards Harare.

Dlamini-Zuma appealed to Britain and the international community to aid
Zimbabwe, regardless of its government's mistakes, after talks with her
Zimbabwean counterpart, Stan Mudenge, in Pretoria last week.

Tom Lodge of Wits University's Department of Political Studies said
Dlamini-Zuma was merely reiterating South Africa's position that Zimbabwe's
land redistribution programme is irreversible.

"S he was saying Zimbabwe may have implemented its land reforms badly but
the international community should now focus on how to revive the
agricultural sector and the economy under the current scenario," said Lodge.

He said the government's failure to loudly spell out its position on
Zimbabwe had fuelled perceptions that South Africa endorsed Mugabe's

The government had not explained clearly to the international community the
economic costs to South Africa should Zimbabwe collapse and this had sent
wrong signals of endorsement, he said.

Centre for Policy Studies analyst Dumisani Hlope said: "[The West] should
leave South Africa to help restore normalcy and I believe South Africa's
continued participation in bilateral talks with Zimbabwe means progress is
being made ."
Back to the Top
Back to Index

From The Washington Post, 14 November

Bloodshed and misery taint Congo's diamond wealth

By Finbarr O’Reilly

Mbuji-Mayi, Congo (Reuters) - In a drab concrete room with three chairs, a desk and a lamp, Dan the diamond dealer uses a magnifying glass to examine the tiny reasons why his shop shelters behind iron bars. "Lately, I've been sorting through about 10,000 stones and buying between $20,000 and $30,000 per day," the Belgian diamond dealer says. His is one of hundreds of single-room shops jammed shoulder to shoulder on the busy Inga street in Mbuji-Mayi, the diamond capital of the war-scarred Democratic Republic of Congo. The lure of Congo's plentiful natural resources, including gold, timber and the mineral coltan, has helped drive a ruinous four-year conflict in central Africa that has left an estimated 2 million people dead. International efforts have focused on ending the trade in so-called "blood diamonds" exploited by insurgents to fuel wars. And since the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States last year, concern has risen over links between African conflict diamonds and money laundering by groups such as Al Qaeda, suspected of carrying out the plane hijackings.

But a recent U.N. report concluded that plunder continued unabated in Congo despite the withdrawal of many foreign soldiers who had been helping rebels or government forces under agreements aimed at ending the war. One of the war's fiercest battles was for Mbuji-Mayi, the treasure chest of the cash-strapped Kinshasa government, which lost huge swathes of mineral-rich eastern and northern Congo to rebels still controlling half of Africa's third-largest nation. In 1999, the advance of Rwandan-backed rebels was halted 60 miles from town by troops from Zimbabwe, which was given mining concessions by the government as payment for its help. Zimbabwean tanks still ring the muddy city, where diamonds are sold openly on the street like bags of expensive candy. Bright-painted diamond shops have names such as Big Boss, House of God, Eternal Treasure and Saddam Hussein Diamonds.

Mbuji-Mayi produces mostly low, industrial-grade stones, but gems also turn up - like the De Beers "Millennium Star," touted by the company as the most beautiful diamond ever found. Diamonds are Congo's biggest source of export earnings, officially worth $240 million in 2000 and $225 million in 2001, according to government figures. But twice that amount is smuggled out illegally through porous borders by corrupt officials, criminal networks and rebels, according to a report earlier this year by Partnership Africa Canada, an Ottawa-based group. "People are becoming poorer, while others - entrepreneurs, thieves and killers - are becoming richer," it added. Despite the immense wealth underfoot, less than half the 2 million residents of Mbuji-Mayi have access to running water or electricity. Those who do are linked to the infrastructure of the state mining company, MIBA. The human rights group Amnesty International said last month that dozens of suspected illegal miners, including children, were being shot dead every year in their attempt to find stones that could change their miserable lives. "Every day, blood is being spilled in the diamond fields of government-controlled Democratic Republic of Congo, and nobody in the international community is taking any notice," Amnesty said.

All sides in Congo's war have been accused by the United Nations of looting resources while the population suffers. After two years of talks, diamond-trading nations this month adopted the United Nations-backed Kimberley certification scheme to track gems from mines to stores and help stop the sale of blood diamonds fueling wars like the one in Congo. But while it may have an impact on rebel-held parts of the Congo – if rebels are not able to pass off the gems as being mined in corrupt neighboring countries - it will not affect the trade from government-held Mbuji-Mayi.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Britain sued for millions by Mau Mau terrorists
By Daniel Foggo and Christian Steenberg
(Filed: 10/11/2002)

The families of soldiers who fought the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya reacted with fury last night to news that former terrorists are planning to sue the British Government over their treatment after being taken captive.
British lawyers representing former Mau Mau fighters claim that they were tortured by the colonial authorities and are therefore entitled to millions of pounds in compensation. They plan to launch a High Court action to demand reparations.
The move has prompted anger among those who remember the viciousness of the Mau Mau campaign, which began in 1952 and lasted for more than four years.
Julian Hastings, whose father Martin was an Army colonel wounded fighting the Mau Mau and was later awarded the campaign's only Distinguished Service Order, said the claim was "completely idiotic".
"The Mau Mau caused such a great deal of trouble that for them to suggest they were the victims is preposterous," said Mr Hastings. "The Mau Mau were a small group who caused a lot of disruption, not only to the British but also to their own people."
Mr Hastings's father, who died in 1999, was decorated for charging a Mau Mau position and continuing to direct the battle despite being shot below the heart. His son added: "I know if my father were still alive he would feel exactly the same way and so does my godfather, who also fought the Mau Mau."
The Mau Mau veterans have employed a lawyer, Martyn Day, to fight their claim in the British courts. Mr Day, the senior partner at the London-based firm Leigh Day and Co, has previously won compensation for British prisoners of war abused by the Germans and the Japanese during the Second World War.
He said that several thousand former Mau Mau fighters might have legal claims against the British Government. He claimed that they had been tortured while they were being held during the uprising.
Historians have documented atrocities on both sides in the Mau Mau conflict, which developed into a civil war as the colonialists recruited local people to help them fight insurgents from the Kikuyu tribe. Veterans of the struggle are demanding compensation not only for injuries suffered in captivity but for the confiscation of land, livestock and property.
Mr Day told BBC Radio 4's Today programme yesterday: "There appear to be hundreds if not thousands of people who were very severely injured through torture during the course of the Mau Mau uprising and the regime operated to try to put them down. For that group, one would be talking very heavy levels of compensation - certainly into six-figure sums - so overall one could be talking many millions of pounds."
The Mau Mau movement began as a rebellion against the exclusive use of Kenyan lands by whites but later came to be identified, wrongly in the opinion of some historians, as a nationalist movement purely intent on ending colonialism. Members of the Kikuyu tribe carried out massacres of white settlers, including women and children, and then against many of their own people who refused to join them. In addition to the 37 white settlers murdered by the Mau Mau, more than 11,000 Africans on both sides died.
British Army troops sent to quell the uprising were forced to fight a counter-insurgency campaign, together with loyal African regiments, against the guerrillas.
Dr David Anderson, the Oxford historian, said: "There was a great deal of atrocity in this war on both sides. More than 70,000 Kikuyu were detained without trial for periods of two to six years in detention camps. Some 1,048 Mau Mau convicts were hanged by the British. As the struggle went on, their property, cattle, farmland and food was confiscated on the government's authority by other Kikuyu.
"If the case goes to court, I see the British Government having to pay something."
The veterans' claims for compensation have been gathering support in Kenya for several years. In 1999, former fighters were in the headlines when they tried to hand a petition into the British High Commission in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, demanding money.
Terence Gavaghan, who was the British authorities' officer in charge of rehabilitating 20,000 African prisoners between 1957 and 1958, said: "It is a pity that most people who try to remake history tend to approach it from a denigratory manner.
"I was employed to make sure that unnecessary violence and intimidation did not take place and the only compelling violence that did happen was in the way of a policeman having to take someone in an armlock when they refuse to co-operate.
"To make the tribes talk with each other, some of them had to be compelled to do so. If they had not been, there would never had been peace. This claim is in terms of hundreds of millions of pounds and the people are old now and may not be who they say they are, but there will be little way of checking.
"This is the name of the game now - everyone in this country now claims compensation."
Bridget Scurfield, whose great- grandmother was killed by the Mau Mau, said: "I feel about this the same way most people would feel if the IRA started suing the Government. The British did some things they should not have but the Mau Mau killed many. It was nasty, and I'm not talking about the odd beating or shooting."
Brig John Randle, who fought the Mau Mau, said: "We took people prisoner and certainly did not torture them: we then handed them over to the colonial authorities.
"The Mau Mau's atrocities are well documented. As well as killing whites they murdered men, women and children from their own race too."
Back to the Top
Back to Index