|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
|Thursday, 25 October, 2001, 13:45 GMT 14:45 UK
Analysis: Zimbabwe's fragile consensus
By BBC Africa Correspondent Rageh Omar
The Commonwealth Agreement, signed in the Nigerian capital Abuja on 6 September, was achieved to the surprise of nearly all the diplomats and observers who had gathered there.
It was at the very least a point of departure, a road map, on how to end the political and economic turmoil that had plunged Zimbabwe into a calamitous state.
At its heart, the Abuja agreement was about everyone agreeing that there was a genuine and pressing need for land reform in Zimbabwe.
Some 4,500 white commercial farmers own approximately 75% of the best arable land, and tens of thousands of landless, poor black peasants eke out a living on the remainder.
The Abuja accord was clinched against all the odds.
They urged President Mugabe's government to end the political and economic turmoil resulting from the land crisis which threatened the stability of the whole continent.
For its part, Zimbabwe pledged to end further illegal occupations of white-owned farm land, political intimidation and human rights abuses.
Britain also recognised that there was a need for fundamental land reform in Zimbabwe and pledged to honour the commitment it made at Zimbabwe's independence 21 years ago to provide significant funds to help this process.
But if anything the rhetoric between the two sides indicate that many obstacles still remain.
On the eve of the arrival of the Commonwealth delegations, the state-owned Herald newspaper said that the Zimbabwean government feared that Britain and what it called its allies in the white Commonwealth were seeking to turn the Abuja agreement on its head.
Similarly, Britain's Secretary of State for International Development Clare Short told the British Parliament that London had worked hard to prevent the continuing deterioration in political and economic governance in Zimbabwe, but completely without success.
Since the Abuja agreement was signed, Zimbabwe's Commercial Farmers Union, which represents nearly all white farmers, said an additional 688 properties had been occupied by government supporters.
Aside from farm invasions, the leader of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was attacked two weeks ago by a mob of suspected ruling party supporters.
Morgan Tsvangirau escaped unhurt after his motorcade was attacked by suspected Mugabe supporters with sticks, stones, machetes and spears.
The MDC has also threatened to boycott future by-elections because of violence and intimidation at a bye-election in September.
Human rights groups in Zimbabwe said the run-up to voting in the rural seat of Chikomba had been marred by murder and intimidation.
A coalition of rights groups alleged that one opposition supporter, a school headmaster, had been murdered and several others tortured in the run-up to the poll.
They also said that the leading opposition candidate had received death threats.