|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
A sense of identity
Sometimes other people’s horror brings home one’s own shortcomings. Out of the senseless terror meted out on Americans last week emerged one thing, sadly, if not absent, at least deficient in Zimbabwe.
No one watching the terrorist attacks could fail to be moved. Whether one’s emotion was anger or sadness at the utter waste of human life, at the attempt at terrorism’s vile tyranny, everyone had to feel something.
Yet out of that came an overriding sense of unity. Everyone spoke of the outrage in the same terms, everyone spoke of the attack, not just on American people, but on American identity, on "Americaness". Some people may feel offended by this, but the sense of togetherness that bound Americans together in the face of death and destruction is less discernable in Zimbabwe.
Still, there are differences. Few Zimbabweans can really imagine the horror New Yorkers felt last week. Despite the horror so many Zimbabweans have experienced over the last 19 months, the US attack was sudden and unprecedented in peace time. Zimbabwe has not experienced terror on the same scale – but they have experienced a protracted, wearying struggle that has depleted their reserves of inner strength and, sadly, brought division to communities.
There are other differences, too. In Zimbabwe it is the government that has sponsored terrorism on farms, in communal areas and in the country’s poverty wracked townships. In the United States the terror came from a faceless, demonic monster.
But all that aside, what Zimbabweans have been lacking is guidance and leadership. Speeches made by the leaders of everyone opposed to the tyranny are hardly stirring when they need to be, hardly consoling when sympathy is needed. Instead, Zimbabweans are subjected to a barrage of mewling rhetoric that seeks to justify the Mugabe regime’s excesses or diminish the reality of the problem. How many leaders have stood up and said, "This is wrong, this is evil, this can no longer be tolerated?" How many leaders have worked hard at exposing the same excesses and presenting them on a plate to the international community as examples of the sort of criminal governance ordinary Zimbabweans endure day in and day out?
It’s not as if the opportunity has been lacking. Zimbabwe has dominated the front pages of newspapers around the world for almost two years, yet so very little has been exploited, and righteously exploited, to get the right message to the international community. The country has been awash with journalists – and still is, despite Jonathan Moyo’s best efforts.
If it was wrong to appease the regime before the Abuja Talks, then it is even more so now. ZANU-PF has agreed to restore the rule of law and now it must do so. There is no longer any excuse to pretend intimidation has ended, that farms are not being invaded by mindless thugs, that property is not being looted and vandalised, that people are not being held hostage in their own homes. All these things remain the Zimbabwean reality and they must be spoken of loudly and clearly until the rule of law is restored.
There are no half measures here. The rule of law means the rule of all laws, it means complete compliance with the Supreme Court and an end to deceitful manipulation of both the legislature and the judiciary. It means an end to what Professor John Makumbe referred to as the "Zanuisation" of the country’s courts – and it means an end to spurious and clearly unconstitutional laws like the absurd Land Occupiers Act.
But that’s only half of what needs to be done. While there is much to fear in Zimbabwe, there is also much to fight for. If there were a greater sense of unity, perhaps it would be easier, but it still needs to be said that this country is worth the effort because it is home, the place the overwhelming majority of this paper’s readers belong. There is a fundamental difference between living somewhere and belonging somewhere and for Zimbabweans to be afflicted by the ludicrous belief that they do not belong is both sad and wrong.
In times of conflict, choices have to be made, and one of those choices inevitably centres on commitment to one’s country. Fifty years ago, these decisions were easier to make. During the Second World War, people didn’t give a great deal of thought to where their duties lay. The decision wasn’t difficult, for bringing an end to the evil of fascism was a necessity given that fascism had neither merit nor good in it. It was good against evil, which is pretty clear cut, and it was in everyone’s interest to end Hitler’s evil for all time. Had he won, the world would have been a very different place, a place of malevolence and oppression.
Just how different is Zimbabwe? The scale is obviously vastly different, but is the intent? In Zimbabwe today one small group of people are preaching a doctrine of hate and racism that has the potential to destroy, not just the economy, but the entire country. That needs to be stopped – and stopped by Zimbabwean people. People have to decide whether being Zimbabwean entails duty as well as rights – and whether, when those rights are eroded by the State, another duty falls into place – namely to stand up to oppression and commit oneself to one’s country. Not everyone thinks Zimbabwe is worth the effort, which is sad, because there was time when one’s country meant more than how much money there was in the bank, how well stocked supermarket shelves were and how often one could afford foreign holidays. Still, at the end of the day, the people who leave now will be the ultimate losers, because Zimbabwe will "come right", to use local parlance, and those rather sad individuals shouting abuse at the Mugabe regime from 6000 kilometres beyond the ramparts will only serve to make themselves look foolish.
ZIMBABWE’S Movement for Democratic Change alleged that the ruling ZANU-PF had attempted to rig the Bulawayo mayoral election by sending thousands of youths from outside the constituency to vote. They also arrested the MDC mayoral candidate after he gave his elderly uncle $20 to by a Coca Cola, accusing him of vote buying. Both ploys failed when the MDC romped home to a massive victory, giving the opposition its second city.
MDC MP David Coltart’s Bulawayo body guards were arrested after they had filmed thousands of ZANU-PF militants being bused into Zimbabwe’s second city for the mayoral elections. The police alleged they had weapons of war. Coltart said they didn’t.
ZANU-PF’s increasingly erratic information minister, Professor Jonathan Moyo, was allegedly quizzed by his superiors about a series of bounced cheques. The cheques were allegedly distributed in and around Bulawayo before the mayoral elections.
Leaders of the Southern African Development Community met in Harare to discuss the Zimbabwe Crisis. Insiders said that President Robert Mugabe was given another roasting by the presidents, some of whom were visibly distressed by the inclusion at the conference of the generally unkempt self-styled leader of land invasions, Mr Joseph Chinotimba.
At the same conference, Zimbabwe’s notorious and unaccountable Central Intelligence Organisation barred Professor John Makumbe from Transparency International and Tony Reeler from the Amani Trust from attending. It was pointed out that this was not very transparent of the Zimbabwean government. Five journalists were also escorted from the building, including the Editor of this paper.
Food shortages were apparent when supermarkets began rationing customers. Shortages of sugar, cooking oil, flour and maize meal were all reported. The government made an unconvincing attempt to blame the shortages on "cross border traders."
Farm invasions continued countrywide, despite assurances made during the Abuja Talks and at the SADC conference.
High Court Judge, Justice Moses Chinhengo ordered police commissioner Augustine Chihuri to remove invaders from commercial farms.
President Robert Mugabe condemned the terrorist attacks in the United States of America.
Fourteen cars were hijacked over a 10 day period in Harare, mostly from the affluent northern suburbs. The vehicles were allegedly destined for Mozambique, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Traffic lights worth about $7 million have been stolen from the capital, says the city council. The foreign currency shortage was hampering the council’s ability to replace the stolen lights.
ZANU-PF supporters allegedly assaulted an MDC activist in Chikomba, previously held by Dr Chenjerai Hitler Hunzvi.
Commercial farmers were again accused of looting and invading their own farms. The farmers denied the accusations.
Maize producers were said to be unhappy with new prices announced by Zimbabwe’s agriculture minister recently.
There was increasing speculation of a devaluation of the beleaguered Zimbabwe dollar, with some dealers saying that the Abuja talks signaled an end to foreign currency shortages as aid would soon pour into the country.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe was embarrassed to discover that its website was linked to pornographic material on the Internet.
AN unprecedented and vicious terrorist attack took place in the United States when unknown terrorists flew two commercial airliners into both of the World Trade Centre Towers. Another flew into the Pentagon, while a fourth crash landed in open country. Thousands are believed to have been killed in the worst terror attack ever recorded. The US government said it had no prior warning of the attacks, but speculated that Saudi dissident, Osama bin Laden, the world’s most notorious terrorist, might have been involved. Believed to be hiding in Afghanistan, Islamic militants throughout the world were bracing themselves for expected American retaliation for the attacks. Bin Laden was said to have denied involvement in the attack, but there was speculation that the Americans would hunt him down and kill him anyway.
The South African government said that Zimbabwe’s Herald newspaper was "very naughty" for the way it had attacked Thabo Mbeki.
The British government said it would soon institute new immigration policies to allow asylum seekers to work in the country. Nearly 100 000 people sought asylum in Britain last year, though the country is plagued by thousands of illegal immigrants, many from eastern Europe.
The United Nations hailed the Durban race conference as a success, despite the furore over America’s attitude. In the end Zionism was not linked to racism, though other ways of criticising Israel crept into official reports from the conference.
Religious clashes between Muslims and Christians left over 500 dead in central Nigeria’s city of Jos. Over 500 were injured in the same clashes.
Jeffrey Archer, the jailed British author, is to write a book about life in prison. A close friend said that Archer had adapted well to life in prison where he was doing a lot of writing. The report said that in addition to writing, Archer had taken up pottery.
Israeli tanks attacked a Palestinian security facility, killing four Palestinians in the West Bank city of Jenin. Meanwhile Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres said he was maintaining efforts to have a truce meeting with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
It was estimated that insurers in the United States might be facing a US$15 billion bill after the terrorist attacks that ravaged New York and the Pentagon.
The European parliament warned Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe that tough sanctions would be imposed unless the rule of law was fully restored.
Zimbabwe crisis could scuttle investment, warn SADC leaders
SOUTHERN Africa Development Community (SADC) leaders this week made it clear that the Zimbabwe government was breaching its own laws and that this was a cause for concern for the whole southern African region as it was creating negative image this was detrimental for critical direct foreign investment.
Speaking at the a meeting dubbed "Initiative on Zimbabwe’s economic and political developments" and attended by Heads of State from South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Malawi, Botswana and Zimbabwe the SADC chairman, Malawian President Dr Bakili Muluzi, said of great concern was that if the land issue was not urgently resolved amicably and peacefully, the economic and political problems Zimbabwe was facing now could easily snowball across the entire southern African region.
"Our major concern is that the current increasing political instability could create a negative image for critical direct foreign investment in the region," Dr Muluzi said.
Zimbabwe, he added, is a major trading partner for most "of us in the region. As of now, we have started witnessing some negative consequences in our countries following the slow down of the Zimbabwean economy."
He hailed the Abuja meeting saying President Mugabe had agreed to stop the violence and intimidation of white farmers in the country.
"I am very encouraged to hear that the government of Zimbabwe has agreed to observe the rule of law when distributing land from white farmers to landless black Zimbabweans.
"I am also encouraged that at the same venue in Abuja, the government of Zimbabwe agreed to curb violence and intimidation, which have created fear and hopelessness in the country," he said.
However, while the SADC Heads of States were holding talks to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis and telling the world that President Mugabe’s government had agreed to stop the lawlessness, war veterans in some parts of the country were busy invading farms, harassing farm workers and generally going against the letter and spirit of the Abuja agreements.
They allegedly caused extensive destruction of farm property in Shamva and Karoi and in Beatrice they chased away workers and burnt down their homes.
Dr Muluzi said the SADC region wanted the land issue to be resolved with speed and that the meeting was to facilitate the attainment of an amicable, peaceful and lasting solution to the issues currently affecting Zimbabwe.He said this could only be achieved if all the relevant stakeholders worked together with determination and willingness in fostering the process.
He said the land issue in Zimbabwe had deep-set historical foundations that had been shaped by social, economic and political dimensions. He said land reform was central if the Zimbabwe democratic constitutional reform process was to be completed successfully.
"I therefore believe that in Mugabe playing the land reform card, he is not altogether unjustified or wrong. To me the problem lies in the way the government of Zimbabwe is trying to implement the land reform process and the principle of equitable land distribution. That is the heart of the matter. That is the cause of the present crisis. That is the problem we must resolve."
He said Britain and other countries that promised assistance for the land reform programme had a responsibility to re-examine their positions. Equally, he said, the government of Zimbabwe needed to be conscious of the economic and social consequences, if the land reforms were not carried out in the most peaceful and democratic manner.
Dairy chairman slams lawlessness
Mr Stoff Hawgood, chairman of Zimbabwe’s National Association of Dairy Farmers, this week warned that the dairy industry was "on the edge of a cliff" because of the illegal occupation of farms by self-styled war veterans and militants loyal to the ruling ZANU-PF party.
Speaking at a field day to honour the dairy farmer of the year, Mark Hardcastle, Mr Hawgood said many farmers were not being allowed to farm, some for the second season in a row. "The very people with a duty to uphold the law are telling farmers to negotiate with invaders," said Hawgood of the police. "Ninety percent of our farms are affected in this way and we face a total loss of viability if something is not done to stop it. We’re on the edge of a cliff," he added.
In a hard hitting speech to over 200 large and small scale dairy farmers, Hawgood said that farmers were struggling to find pastures for dairy cows because self-styled war veterans had set alight much of Zimbabwe’s grazing. He also said that crops were being stolen, making it difficult to feed animals on farms.
The field day, held at Tavistock Estates in Beatrice, was called by the NADF in recognition of manager Mark Hardcastle’s achievements. The farm, owned by Mr Hawgood, carries a herd of 502 Holsteins.
CFU condemns US attack
THE Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) this week joined scores of world governments and international organizations in condemning the terrorist attack of the United States of America which destroyed New York’s famous World Trade Centre twin towers and the Pentagon in Washington DC.
In a message to American president, George W. Bush, CFU director, Mr David Hasluck wrote: "On behalf of the President, Council, staff and members of the CFU, I wish to convey our sympathy and sorrow at the wanton, evil terrorist attack against the United States.
"I ask that you convey this message to the President and people of the United States, particularly to the families of those directly affected by the loss of their loved ones. Be sure that all the people of the United States are constantly in our prayers and we share the burden of your grief and shock,
"We stand ready to assist in whatever way possible," said Mr Hasluck in his message sent through the US embassy in Harare.
President Mugabe gives nod to Abuja Accord
AS regional and international pressure continues to mount on President Robert Mugabe moderate his ruinous domestic policies, the Zimbabwean leader this week agreed to abide by the resolutions of the Abuja Commonwealth ministerial meeting.
The timing of the SADC heads of State meeting in Harare, a follow up to the Abuja conference, is being seen by analysts as a strategic move to clear the way for President Mugabe to attend the Commonwealth Heads of State and Government meeting in Brisbane, Australia where he faces possible public condemnation by some members of the Commonwealth.
It was significant, some analysts said, that SADC leaders preferred to be appraised of the situation in Zimbabwe by stakeholder groups in the country rather than listening only to the government side. Nearly 20 organisations presented their views to the Heads of State.
Member of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC), Rev. Wutaunashe said their presentation was supportive of justice and the need for land redistribution. He said it was felt that the violence that has accompanied the resettlement exercise so far was not acceptable and government had a responsibility to ensure that this was brought to an end.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) chairman of the Presidential advisory committee, Mr Reuben Gwatidzo suggested that intensive training for the beneficiaries to become competent commercial farmers must follow the current land resettlement.
Chief Charumbira of the Council of Chiefs said, there was need for substantial investment in the agro-industries, which would assist the new settlers with implements, fertiliser, seeds and other required inputs.
While welcoming the British government’s pledge to provide funds for the resettlement programme, war veterans secretary general Mr Andrew Ndhlovu insisted such funding should be channelled through the Zimbabwean government, which would establish a sustainable mechanism of paying the farmers compensation in local currency.
MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai also met the SADC leaders and told them that his party was in agreement with government on then need for land reform, but differed on the methods He said he told the SADC Heads of State that the land question was just part one of the many problems facing the country, not least among which is the breakdown in the rule of law. MDC secretary for Lands, Mr Tendai Biti, said his party also raised the issue of the need for a free and fair presidential election supervised by an independent electoral supervisory commission.
The Zimbabwe Joint Resettlement Initiative (ZJRI) told the head of States that Zimbabwe had reached a stage where an urgent solution was needed and that the ZJRI initiative was an immediate starting point for the implementation of a resettlement programme based on consent and consensus. It also welcomed the Abuja communiqué, which provides the basis for a broader funding and support for the land reform programme.
In their communiqué after the meeting, the SADC Heads of State hailed the summit as a historic event that allowed them the opportunity to hear views from all key stakeholders on the land question. They welcomed the decision by UK to provide financial support and to encourage other donors to do the same.
Chombo, Made to take CFU to court
IN A new twist to Zimbabwe’s land saga, the Supreme Court will from tomorrow, Wednesday, begin hearing arguments in a case between the government and Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) following an application by the State seeking an order recognising that since December last year, the government had followed the Supreme Court orders that it must embark on a lawful land reform programme that recognises the rights of the farmers.
The government’s application, through ministers of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Dr Ignatius Chombo, Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, Dr Joseph Made and Police Commissioner, Augustine Chihuri will also urge the court to recognise that they have restored the rule of law in the commercial farming areas, and have replaced the original "fast track" resettlement plan with a workable programme of land reform which they are implementing so that they can continue the land acquisition exercise – or at least the legal aspects of it.
In a statement on Friday, CFU director, Mr David Hasluck said the union would oppose the application in the interests of its members. "It does not oppose the need for land reform and recent reports from Abuja and the SADC Heads of State meeting in Harare this week have shown that the Zimbabwe Joint Resettlement Initiative working with all stakeholders and the union would come up with offers of some 900 farms." he said.
Government has welcomed that offer but it continues with its cases against individual farmers to confirm the acquisition of over 6000 farms that have been listed for acquisition amounting to more than 85% of the land owned by members.
"But the union and the farmers object to the way this is all being done because it is unlawful. They point to the continuing violence on the farms and ineffective police responses. It is the union’s position that the violence arises from the practice of allowing settlers or invaders to call the shots and from pegging land whose acquisition has not been authorised and even though the land has already been prepared for farm crops," Mr Hasluck said.
Last year the CFU took the government to court challenging the constitutionality of the land reform programme and judgement was passed in favour of the CFU. The Supreme Court ruled that Government was acting in an unlawful and unconstitutional way with its fast track plan. It held that owners were being deprived of the protection of the law. The police had consistently refused to enforce earlier court orders to remove those who had invaded farms.
The Court also noted that "wicked things" were going on in the farming areas referring to beatings, assaults and enforced attendance at political rallies with the police taking no action to stop the illegalities involved.
The Supreme Court found that the invasions amounted to discrimination according to political affiliation and place of origin particularly as it affected the large farm labourer population, many of who had origins in Malawi and Mozambique; all of which was ruled to be against the constitutional protection of freedom of association.
The Supreme Court therefore ruled that the implementation of land reform in this illegal way had to stop and it prohibited further action along the lines that Government had been following. But the Court also recognised the necessity of land reform and gave Government over six months to restore legality to the way in which it was resettling the land.
The Court called for the restoration of the rule of law in the commercial farming areas and for a workable programme of land reform. It allowed Government to carry on with land acquisition and resettlement but only until 1 July this year by which time it had to satisfy the Court that it had put things in order.
Mr Hasluck noted in his statement that since then government had periodically given orders that there were to be no further land occupations but these have continued to this day.
"They claim that they have replaced the original Fast Track land plan with a workable programme of land reform, which they are implementing as was ordered by the court. "Government unfairly accuses farmers and their workers for attacking settlers and frustrating the process," said Mr Hasluck.
"Violence comes from settlers shutting down farming operations and, above all, attacking farm workers and chasing them from their homes," said Mr Hasluck.
He said the constitution says that it is lawful to take rural land for resettlement purposes where it is reasonably necessary to do so but also provides a general protection against government taking land on a compulsory basis without observing certain protections and procedures in the acquisition process.
Ban on cattle movements eased
THE Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) which slapped a country-wide ban on cattle movements following the outbreak of the dreaded Foot and Mouth Disease three weeks ago, has lifted the suspension on animal movements in the Midlands, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West, Manicaland and Masvingo provinces subject to a full farm or dip tank inspection prior to the movement.
According to Cattle Producers Association (CPA) FMD update issued by CPA chief executive, Mr Paul d’Hotman last Friday, Field Circular no. 18 to all DVS staff lifted the suspension of cattle movements in specified areas but stressed the need for producers to maintain liaison with veterinary authorities to facilitate inspections.
Mr d’Hotman said, however, the ban on cattle movements in the Matabeleland region where the FMD outbreak was first detected remains in force and producers should report details of non-compliance to the director of veterinary services, Dr Stuart Hargreaves or the police.
He said the veterinary authorities were still trying to ascertain the source of the outbreak. "In the meantime, producers are reminded of the importance of carrying out regular inspections of their cattle and reporting back to their local veterinary office," he said.
Shift to soyas predicted
Mr Ian Barratt, Commercial Oilseeds Producers Association chairman has predicted a shift in grower interest from maize to soya beans and other crops in coming seasons. He believes this is likely to happen because of stringent government controls in the marketing of maize.
Government recently passed legislation giving exclusive monopoly in the buying and selling of all Zimbabwe-grown maize and wheat to the State controlled Grain Marketing Board, a move widely condemned in commercial farming circles.
In a brief speech at a ceremony at which agricultural equipment supplier, Tarry’s, unveiled its latest high-tech combine harvester, the Lexion 460 manufactured by Claas of Germany, Mr Barratt said he believes more farmers will move to growing soyas in place of maize in the future.
Tarry’s, distributors of Claas combine harvesters in Zimbabwe also hold the franchise for Italian-made Landini tractors.
The Lexion 460, the first of its kind in Zimbabwe, at $25 million is far more technologically advanced than the Mega Dominator 204 combine harvester also a Claas product that has been marketed in Zimbabwe for some time. Lions Den farmer, Doug Taylor-freeme, who is also Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) vice-president (Commodities) bought the combine and took possession of the massive machine at the ceremony.
Present to witness the hand-over were CFU president, Colin Cloete, vice-president (regions) William Hughes and several farmers.
Mr Frank Jurgen, technical advisor from Claas, Germany, in the country to train users of the new combine explained the technical specifications of the Lexion 460 which include computerized controls which enable the driver to change the functions of the combine depending on the crop being harvested from its air-conditioned cab.
General manager of Tarry’s, Mr Nick Gillot, said business for the company had been slow over the past year due to the economic difficulties prevailing in the country, not least among which were severe shortages of foreign currency and problems on the farms.
He invited farmers to a trial demonstration of the Lexion 460 at Mr Taylor-Freeme’s Romsey Farm in the Lion’s Den farming area this week.
Strike paralyses Claremont Orchards
MANAGEMENT officials of Claremont Orchards in Nyanga were this week held under siege by striking workers led by the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU) which allegedly incited the workers to demand a wage increase of $8 000 per month up from $1 900.
A management official who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Farmer the workers barricaded the financial director, Mr Steve Smythe, and the director, Mr Robbie Lindsey, in their offices overnight. "Their wives had to bring them blankets as they slept in the offices," he said. The men were still being held in their offices at the time of going to press.
Claremont Orchards is part of Ariston Holdings, listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.
The manager said the whole strike appeared to have been instigated by the ZFTU. He said the union, a rival to the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, had forced every employee of the company to join in the strike. Workers who were absent during the strike were expected to give an explanation why they failed to join the strike. He said strikers gathered around the offices where the two officials were barricaded.
"I discovered that people were being forced to join the strike. The situation got worse when the war veterans came. They don’t even want to see General Agricultural and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ) or the National Employment Council (NEC) officials whom they accuse of negotiating a "low" wage increment.
He said flowers that had been cut in preparation for transportation to the Harare for export were still undelivered, as the company’s transport fleet have been grounded as a result of the work stoppage.
He said two policemen were sent to defuse the situation but retreated without resolving anything. Efforts to get a comment from the management of Ariston Holdings were unsuccessful.
Farm workers in the spotlight
THE itinerant farm labourer, for ages consigned to the periphery of virtually every sphere of social and economic development, was this week the focus of attention at a four-day meeting titled "Regional Conference on Farm Workers’ Rights and Human Security in Southern Africa."
The conference, organised by the Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe, a local non-governmental body concerned with the welfare of farm workers, with the support of trade union movements representing farm workers in the southern African region and various donor agencies, comes at a time when fears are mounting of a serious humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe as thousands of farm workers are rendered destitute in the wake of government’s controversial fast track land reform programme.
Current statistics indicate that of a possible 40 000 farm workers already without homes or any means of livelihood, only1000 may have benefited from resettlement. Zimbabwe is believed to have in the region of 300 000 farm workers, a majority of who will lose their means of livelihood, homes and access to any social amenities once uprooted from the farms on which they are employed.
Countries represented at the conference included South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, Lesotho, and Swaziland. Malawi, Zambia and host country, Zimbabwe.
A University of Zimbabwe sociologist and expert in farm-worker issues, Dr Lloyd Sachikonye, who delivered the key-note address at the conference told delegates Zimbabwe’ s farm workers had virtually lost the protection of the law during the past two years after the government began its resettlement programme.
"Thousands of jobs have been lost as a consequence of this controversial reform programme, and human security and rights of some farm workers flouted in the process," Dr Sachikonye said adding that these developments had assumed an alarming dimension in such areas as Mashonaland West and East provinces where thousands of farm workers had been displaced.
He noted that the "land question" particularly in the territories of Namibia, South Africa and Namibia had centred on the redistribution of land to the so called landless and those living in congested "reserves" while, in most instances, ignoring completely the farm workers resident on the targeted land.
"Although one of the objectives of land reform is social equity especially through poverty reduction, it is clear farm workers have largely been marginalized from this process," said Dr Sachikonye. In Zimbabwe, farm workers have not been systematically intergrated in past and current land reform programmes, he said. This had been so, notwithstanding the attempt by a draft Land Policy document of 1999, which ostensibly recognized the right of farm workers to land, both in terms of residential rights and rights to resettlement through land reform.
"Indeed, farm workers are not viewed as a social category entitled to resettlement. Instead, they are increasingly viewed with suspicion if not hostility, said Dr Sachikonye.
This has been borne out recently by numerous violent incidents on the farms when farm workers have been accused by land invaders and so called war veterans illegally occupying farms, of siding with commercial farmers in efforts to frustrate the government land reform programme.
A typical example were incidents in the Mhangura/Doma farming areas where farm workers were alleged to have colluded with their white employers to loot and destroy their own farms as a ploy to demonise war veterans and cause international intervention in the Zimbabwe crisis. "Indeed, farm workers have become targets of war veterans in their tug-of-war over land with commercial farmers," Dr Sachikonye said.
But, the problems of farm workers are much deeper than that.
Dr Sachikonye’s paper also outlined a number of rights, which have been denied to certain categories of farm workers in Zimbabwe. These include citizenship rights despite the fact that many of the migrant workers have spent of their working lives on the farms or are second of third generation descendants of migrant workers from Malawi, Mozambique of Zambia. This denial of full citizenship rights tended to block access to social, economic and political rights enjoyed by full-fledged citizens, said Dr Sachikonye.
A representative of Save The Children Fund, a non-governmental organisation that has been involved in a number of health promotion and other programmes for farm workers in Zimbabwe for the past 19 years, Mr Chris McIvor, said farm worker communities manifested some of the worst health, education, nutrition, housing and sanitation statistics in the country. This was mostly because neither the government nor farm owners accepted responsibility for the welfare of farm workers.
At the same time, said Mr McIvor, the transitory and impermanent nature of their work on farms, their various and diverse ethnic origins and their political marginalisation at both district and national levels created communities that were fragmented, weak and unable to promote their own development and better their conditions.
Opening the conference, the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Mr July Moyo, said land redistribution in Zimbabwe was a "historical moment for an agrarian revolution and the protection and promotion of farm workers’ rights as well."
The government’s "new vision," he said, "is the promotion of economic opportunities for men and women to obtain decent and productive work, in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity," This included all workers, wherever and whatever sector they work in including farm workers.
He said in order to develop policies to address both the problem area and its manifestation, which hinders farm workers from fully realizing their human rights, his ministry had commissioned a national farm survey to determine the extent of the impact of the fast track resettlement programme on farm workers.
Hwedza farmer faces murder charge
A 70-year-old Hwedza farmer, John Bibby, was arrested at the weekend on allegations that he commanded his workforce to attack some potential settlers, resulting in two persons being stoned to death on Beta Farm, 100 km north of Harare. Mr Bibby has denied any involvement and said that the charges are completely untrue.
According to Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) statement, events unfolded at midday on Saturday when two seven-tonne trucks were seen picking up youths at Numa and Markwe Farms in the district. The groups were in the company of war veterans known as Chipere and another called Isaac. These two were allegedly involved in faction fighting with another war veteran leader, Gibson Mujeyi, some two weeks ago, which resulted in public violence charges being laid.
The trucks arrived on Beta Farm shortly after midday, with approximately 100 persons armed with sticks. Fearing for their lives, Mr and Mrs. Bibby locked themselves in the house and immediately called Hwedza police to seek protection but to no avail.
The invaders set alight bales of hay and the farm workshop as well as workers houses causing damage running into hundreds of thousands of dollars.
A further call to the police 30 minutes later was met with the news that a vehicle that had been dispatched had broken down and that another vehicle would be sent to the scene. Later, some uniformed police officers accompanied by two alleged war veterans, arrived and proceeded to verbally abused Mr Bibby - telling him to "return to Britain".
Mr Bibby was taken to the farm village where he was introduced to the district administrator who advised him that two people had been killed. This was the first time that he had heard of incident. He was accused of chasing settlers off his farm, which he denied.
He was then asked to accompany the Police to Hwedza, where he joined over 17 farm staff who had already been arrested.
Harare’s house prices rise
HARARE’s residential and other building property prices, buoyed by financial market that appears to be thriving despite an inhospitable macro-economic environment, have risen dramatically in recent months with houses being snapped up within a week of being placed on the market.
Property experts report that while supply was "perceptibly tight, demand was at a crescendo," and they attribute this to newly enriched Zimbabweans reaping handsome rewards from their investments on the stock market and the legion of exiled Zimbabweans living abroad.
"Our last report suggested that property was in short supply and that prices were moving up quickly. That trend has accelerated dramatically and houses are now being sold within the week of accepting instructions,"say dealers, Gainsborough Zimbabwe in its second quarterly report for 2001.
The report says in the last three months, good homes had been appreciating at between 20 – 25 % a month as values play catch-up with other assets and inflation. According to Gainsborough, prices were now generally up 100 % on year 2000.
Much of the demand has been noted in the cluster homes and retirement complexes and this is assumed to result from growing concern over personal safety among most urban dwellers. "As personal safety becomes more important to owners so a premium is paid for such homes," says Gainsborough in its report.
Although new homes continue to be in short supply, particularly in the middle-market sector, leisure style homes have continued to flourish at locations such as the multi-million dollar Borrowdale Brooke housing project. "Several large schemes in the greater Westgate area sold very rapidly but there is little or no activity in this the middle market sector right now," says Gainsborough.
New suburban areas were growing apace particularly in the northwest and in Marlborough/Mount Pleasant where large tracts of land have been serviced and sold as sites. According to Gainsborough, goods sites around Harare have a ready market at plus or minus a million dollars for one acre. "A really top class address offering a well treed site could raise two million dollars in present conditions," says Gainsborough, adding: "The growth of large new homes is all too evident; this new wealth is not afraid to invest in the very best – a healthy sign for the future."
|Zimbabwe riot police quelling a
similar rally earlier this year in Harare. |
From The Sunday Times (SA), 30 September
Ndebeles seek to revive kingdom
Chiefs turn to great-grandson of deposed king as economic crisis tightens its grip in Matabeleland under Mugabe's oppressive rule
Bulawayo - Zimbabwe's political woes have spawned moves to restore the Ndebele monarchy, overthrown by British colonialists 130 years ago. Frustrated by what they see as their marginalisation by Robert Mugabe's predominantly Shona government, Ndebele chiefs and political activists have started mobilising to revive their kingdom. Ndebeles, who make up 20% of Zimbabwe's population, argue that there has been little development in Matabeleland since independence 21 years ago - and that they are now bearing the brunt of the country's economic crisis. They claim development has been confined to Shona-speaking provinces, that key civil-service jobs are reserved for Shonas and that Ndebeles are regarded as an underclass.
Several thousand Ndebeles died in the early 1980s when Mugabe's Five Brigade was unleashed on Matabeleland after it voted overwhelmingly for Joshua Nkomo's Zapu-PF. The Zimbabwean Ndebeles are an offshoot of the Zulu nation, comprising 10 ethnic groups who came together under Mzilikazi Khumalo - a leading general in King Shaka's army. Matabeleland chiefs have told the Khumalo family, the erstwhile royal clan, that people want a king "to uphold and monitor their culture and heritage". Zwidekalanga Khumalo - the great grandson of King Lobhengula, the last Ndebele king - said his family had been approached by chiefs to lead the crusade to restore the kingdom. Khumalo, a regional manager with the TM Group of supermarkets in Bulawayo, told the Sunday Times the family would respond to the chiefs' request once it had consulted widely on the matter to come up with a candidate who would not anger the ancestors. "The Ndebeles are a nation of diverse ethnic groups who have long been without a leader, so a lot of issues have to be considered," he said.
Ndebele politicians including the provincial governor, Obert Mpofu, and Zanu-PF's Sikhanyiso Ndlovu oppose the push for a kingdom, saying it would only fan tribalism. But Welshman Ncube of the Movement for Democratic Change said there was nothing fundamentally wrong with the idea "if the monarchy retains a ceremonial and traditional role and is of no political persuasion". Khumalo said a king would not be involved in party politics but would act as a custodian of Ndebele values and culture. "The politicians should not try to influence people in the consultation process because this has nothing to do with politics but values - which is why we will not engage government in the process." If the kingdom was restored, he said, the Ndebeles would ask the government to return the property on which Mugabe's official residence in Bulawayo is located. The residence, State House, is the site of King Lobhengula's last palace. Khumalo said it had been occupied by "successive white governments . . . and it's surprising that even our current black government has continued occupying the place".
The idea of restoring the kingdom has gained ground even among urban Ndebeles, who feel a monarch will be able to put pressure on the central government to treat the region better. Ngqabutho Ncube, a 27-year-old Bulawayo accountant, said reviving Mzilikazi's nation would send a strong message to the country's rulers in Harare that the Ndebeles would no longer accept second-class treatment. "We are tired of being treated like aliens in our own country because of our refusal to support the government's policies and I think regrouping under a king would send a strong message to them about our resolve," he said. Sibusisiwe Nxumalo, a middle-aged woman, said a king would show that the Ndebeles had not lost their culture despite being marginalised. Extremist royalist agitators want secession from Zimbabwe. "Since the break-up of the kingdom, the Ndebele have lived under oppressive governments and it looks like forming our own state is the only way out of oppression," said a university student, Alois Mazolo.