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Violence breaks out in Zimbabwe as regional talks begin
The Associated Press
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) Malawi's president warned Monday that economic instability in Zimbabwe could spread to neighboring nations if the two-year-old standoff over land reform is not resolved soon.
Malawi President Bakili Muluzi, chairman of the 14-nation Southern African Development Community, said regional leaders did not dispute the need for land reform in Zimbabwe but were alarmed by the methods used.
"If the land issue is not resolved peacefully, the economic problems which Zimbabwe is facing now could easily snowball across the entire southern African region," Muluzi told reporters after five hours of closed-door talks.
But clashes over land persisted, and leaders of Zimbabwe's militant former guerillas warned the regional heads of state and government they would accept no delay in redistribution of white owned farms.
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has been widely criticized for allowing the often-violent seizure of white-owned farms by ruling party militants. He promised last week to curb violence and intimidation.
Muluzi and the presidents of Malawi, South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique and Botswana are attending a two-day summit with Mugabe. Tanzania and Angola are represented by Cabinet ministers.
As the regional leaders met Monday, clashes broke out in Zimbabwe's second-largest city, Bulawayo, when a candidate representing the opposition Movement for Democratic Change was declared winner of a weekend mayoral election.
Ruling ZANU-PF party militants went on a rampage, attacking passers-by with sticks and rocks in the city's opposition-dominated Makokoba township. Paramilitary police, who sealed off the area, were reportedly implicated in the attacks, said Shari Eppel of the Imani Trust, an organization that assists the victims of political violence.
Earlier, opposition leaders said shots were fired late Sunday at their Bulawayo party offices by an aggressive crowd of ruling party militants.
"They had been dropped just outside our offices by ZANU-PF trucks," Welshman Ncube, the party's secretary general, said by telephone from Bulawayo. "We saw all this clearly."
Police inspector Albert Mandiza, meanwhile, told state-run radio that Bulawayo authorities had arrested three people suspected of abducting ruling-party supporters during the mayoral vote.
The summit comes amid mounting concern that Zimbabwe's economic woes are spreading to other countries in the region.
Political violence blamed mostly on ruling party militants, led by veterans of the independence war that ended white rule in 1980, has crippled Zimbabwe's agriculture-based economy.
The militants have occupied more than 1,700 white-owned farms since March 2000, spurred by a government campaign to seize 4,600 farms without compensation and hand them over to landless blacks.
The land seizures have disrupted the production of corn, Zimbabwe's staple food, and tobacco, the biggest foreign currency earner.
Zimbabwe's foreign minister pledged Thursday to end the farm occupations in return for British funding for orderly land reform at the meeting in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.
Mugabe who has been in power for 22 years has said that he accepts the accord, but it still needs the endorsement of his Cabinet and then his party's senior policy-making body.
However, at a closed meeting with the regional leaders late Monday, representatives of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans' Association said they oppose the plan.
"So long as these injustices against the indigenous people of this country are not rectified our peaceful demonstrations in the farmlands will continue," they said in a prepared outline of their case for immediate seizures.
"Allow us to make it crystal clear . . the landless people of this country and ourselves will not support a programme controlled by the pace at which funds will trickle in from the British," the statement said.
Diplomats said the veterans, led by Joseph Chinotimba and Patrick Nyaruhwata, sharply criticized an infuriated Muluzi and claimed his speech was written by the British government.
Copyright 2001 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Africans Urge Mugabe to Curb Land Chaos
By Cris Chinaka
HARARE (Reuters) - African leaders began a land summit in Zimbabwe Monday with a strong warning to President Robert Mugabe that his often violent campaign to seize white-owned farms was hurting economies throughout the region.
"Of great concern to all of us is that, if the land issue is not urgently resolved amicably and peacefully, the economic and political problems Zimbabwe is facing now could easily snowball across the entire southern African region," Malawian President Bakili Muluzi told the summit.
Muluzi, chairman of the 14-nation Southern African Development Community, is chairing the two-day talks attended by the leaders of South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique, and ministers from Angola, Nigeria and Tanzania.
"Our other major concern is that the current increasing political instability could create a negative image for critical direct foreign investment in the region," Muluzi added.
Zimbabwe has been in crisis since February 2000 when militants, led by veterans of the 1970s liberation war and encouraged by the state, began invading hundreds of white-owned farms.
As the leaders met in Harare, violence flared in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city, after the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) won all the seats in a weekend municipal election, witnesses said.
"We hear (ruling) ZANU-PF supporters are stoning cars and beating up people. I've also closed my shop because there's violence outside," one witness told Reuters.
A police spokesman in Harare said several people had been arrested. An electoral official said the MDC had won all seven municipal seats, but vote-counting in a parallel mayoral election had yet to begin.
A STEP FORWARD
The African leaders later went into talks with farmers, war veterans and the Zimbabwe Council of Chiefs -- a body that represents traditional rulers who have backed Mugabe's land-grab campaign.
The veterans told the visiting politicians they would not accept any agreement that limited the government's ability to forge ahead with its controversial program.
"For as long as the injustices against the indigenous people of this country are not rectified, our peaceful demonstrations on the farm lands will continue," they said in a statement presented to the SADC leaders.
"Allow us to make it crystal clear that the landless people of this country and ourselves will not support a program whose pace is controlled by the pace at which funds will trickle in from the British."
Former colonial power Britain is expected to contribute substantially to the funds for a fair land reform program agreed under a deal brokered by Nigeria at a meeting in Abuja to end the seizures of white-owned land.
A group of farmers who have offered farmland for the program described the meeting as a step forward.
"It's not the end but the beginning. What's important is the implementation," said Malcolm Volwes, spokesman for the Zimbabwe Joint Resettlement Initiative. He spoke to reporters after his organization's presentation.
A committee grouping Zimbabwean human rights groups and other nongovernmental organizations formed to help resolve the land crisis urged the leaders to undertake a more thorough analysis of the Zimbabwe crisis than was evident in Abuja.
"It is crucial that the understanding of the crisis be broadened from a narrow focus on land ... references to human rights, rule of law, transparency and democratic principles must be understood in the holistic context referred to in the Abuja agreement," the committee said in a statement.
In his speech, Muluzi criticized Zimbabwe's land redistribution methods, which have resulted in nine white farmers being killed and scores of black farm workers assaulted.
"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," he said.
Mugabe says it is immoral for white farmers to occupy 70 percent of the country's best farmland while majority blacks are crowded on to barren land. His government has targeted about 5,000 commercial farms for black resettlement.
He has endorsed the Abuja plan, but says he wants the approval of the ruling party and cabinet.
September 3, 2001/Vol.
158 No. 10
The Law of The Land
Zimbabwe turns up the heat on white farmers, and the economy cools
The green, rich cattle, wheat and tobacco lands of Chinhoyi, 120 km northwest of Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, are remembered as the scene of early skirmishes in the black guerrilla war more than two decades ago that ended white rule in what was then Rhodesia. Last week most of the 90 farms around Chinhoyi were deserted. Many had been looted and pillaged by mobs acting with the blessing of President Robert Mugabe. Farm equipment, seed and fertilizer were stolen, and livestock killed or driven into the fields. "I feel as though I've been raped," said a Chinhoyi farmer, surveying his ruined homestead. Twenty-one white farmers who had rallied to the defense of a besieged neighbor spent 17 days in jail before being released on bail, charged with assaulting the invaders. In nearby farm areas, citizen-band radios were crackling with emergency security alerts as residents went on a virtual war footing.
After 20 years of independence in Zimbabwe, surprisingly little has changed. White farmers are again facing a black insurgency — only now it represents a government seemingly bent on destroying them, even if it destroys the country. The turmoil in Chinhoyi is the latest in an 18-month onslaught against the white farming community since Mugabe declared a "fast-track" policy of seizing more than 90% of white-owned farmland for black resettlement. Nine white farmers have died in the accompanying violence. Scores of black farm workers have been injured, and thousands more have been driven from the land by militant squatters. Zimbabwe's Commercial Farmers' Union says supplies of maize, wheat, tobacco, coffee, meat and dairy products have fallen by 20% to 50%, and farmers are liquidating their herds. Even Zimbabwe's protected wild life is being slaughtered as game farms and private reserves are invaded. The mobs have marched on retail stores, mines and factories. If that weren't bad enough for the economy, foot-and-mouth disease was diagnosed last week in western Zimbabwe, probably spread by squatters driving rustled cattle into open areas to mingle with infected wild game. Beef export markets — worth $90 million last year — have disappeared. Foreign exchange has all but dried up. Inflation, likely to hit 100% by the end of the year, has compelled the government for the first time to issue a 500 Zimbabwe dollar note.
A few farmers believe that they could negotiate to stay on at least a part of their lands, but then many of them couldn't afford to replace the trashed machinery and supplies. Zimbabwe's white population is down to around 50,000 from 250,000 at independence. Those who hold dual British and Zimbabwean citizenship have been given until January 6 to choose one or the other. If they remain British, Mugabe has said, they will then become "foreign whites who will have to obey Zimbabwe's laws." And they fear that those laws could bar them from owning land, property or businesses.
Mugabe would welcome an exodus of whites as justification for his platform to "give Africa back to the Africans" and command the majority rural vote he needs in the presidential election due by next April. Urban dwellers are largely fed up with Mugabe, so the multi-racial opposition Movement for Democratic Change may do well in the cities. But considering what Mugabe's mobs can do in rural areas like Chinhoyi, the 77-year-old President may already have his re-election in the bag. He has dismissed warnings of diplomatic sanctions from Washington as "racist threats," ignored advice from the Commonwealth, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank and brushed off the withdrawal of aid from Denmark and other European donors. "He's burying his head in the sand," says Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the MDC.
While Mugabe stonewalls, other African leaders are becoming alarmed by the Zimbabwe situation. South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki admitted in a BBC interview that Mugabe had ignored his attempts at "quiet diplomacy." The powerful Congress of South African Trade Unions has openly condemned the land grabs. Even King Mswati of Swaziland, Africa's only absolute monarch, has said Mugabe "has to be stopped." Two weeks ago, expressing "grave concern" about Zimbabwe, the 14-nation Southern African Development Community moved to set up a team to "engage in dialogue" with Mugabe and his government. There is little evidence the message is getting through. But if Mugabe were to visit the once-prosperous, now devastated farms of Chinhoyi, he might conclude that his onslaught against democracy is one war he can't win.
WIRE: 09/10/2001 3:57 pm ET
Zimbabwe's War Veterans Warn on Land Agreement
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's war veterans told visiting southern African leaders on Monday they would not accept any land reform program which curbs the government's ability to speed up redistribution.
"Allow us to make it crystal clear that the landless people of this country and ourselves will not support a program whose pace is controlled by the pace at which funds will trickle in from the British," the war veterans said in a after a meeting with the SADC delegation.
On Sunday, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe endorsed a Nigerian-brokered plan to end seizures of white-owned farms in exchange for funds -- largely from former colonial power Britain -- to implement a fair and just land reform program, but he said he needed the approval of the ruling party's politburo and the cabinet.
"The UK funding or funding from any other quarter should not be used to control the pace of the land reform program, nor tie down or blackmail our leadership as it endeavors to meet the aspirations of the indigenous people of this country," the veterans added.
Southern African leaders started talks in Zimbabwe on Monday with Mugabe on the country's land crisis a day after he endorsed the plan to end seizures of mainly white-owned commercial farms.
The visit was arranged by the 14-member Southern African Development Community (SADC) to help resolve the land standoff, which has raised fears among Zimbabwe's neighbors of a spillover effect that could scupper regional economic growth.
Zimbabwe has been in crisis since February last year when militants, led by veterans of the 1970s liberation war and encouraged by the state, began invading hundreds of white-owned farms across the country.
WIRE: 09/10/2001 10:19 am ET
Government, opposition report violence as regional talks begin in Zimbabwe
The Associated Press
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) The government and the opposition traded accusations of violence Monday as President Robert Mugabe went into talks with regional leaders on resolving an economic crisis that has followed almost two years of political turmoil in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe welcomed the presidents of Malawi, South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique and Botswana at Harare's airport for the two-day summit part of a Southern African Development Community initiative. Tanzania and Angola were represented by Cabinet ministers.
The leaders later went into a working lunch.
This week's summit, which will also include representatives of white farmers and militants who have illegally occupied their land, comes amid mounting concern that Zimbabwe's economic woes could spill over to other countries in the region.
"The government must stop acts of violence," Malawi President Bakili Muluzi, chairman of the 14-nation regional grouping, told reporters before leaving for Zimbabwe. "We have to treat them as a South African Development Community issue."
Political violence blamed mostly on ruling party militants, led by veterans of the independence war that ended British colonial rule in 1980, has crippled Zimbabwe's agriculture-based economy.
The militants have occupied more than 1,700 white-owned farms since March 2000, spurred by a government campaign to seize 4,600 farms without compensation and hand them over to landless blacks.
The seizures have disrupted the production of corn, Zimbabwe's staple food, and tobacco, the biggest foreign currency earner.
Zimbabwe's foreign minister pledged Thursday to end farm occupations in return for British funding for orderly land reform at a meeting with Britain and its former colonies in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.
Mugabe said he accepted the accord, but that it still needed the endorsement of his Cabinet and then his party's senior policy-making body.
Welshman Ncube, secretary general of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, said he does not believe Mugabe will abide by the deal.
"It is just a tactical move," he said.
He hoped the regional leaders would "take a more robust approach than that at Abuja."
Mugabe has been in power for 22 years and plans to seek another six-year presidential term in elections in April, but his support has waned.
The opposition was widely expected to win a mayoral election in Zimbabwe's second largest city, Bulawayo where results were expected later Monday.
Ncube, the opposition leader, accused Mugabe's supporters of violence during the weekend vote.
Ncube said four or five shots were fired late Sunday at his party offices by ruling ZANU-PF party militants. Ruling party militants also beat opposition supporters as they waited to vote, he said.
But police inspector Albert Mandiza told state-run radio that Bulawayo authorities had arrested three Zimbabwean whites, who he said were linked to the abduction of ruling-party supporters during the vote.
He said weapons and two-way radios had been seized at the homes of the men, who he identified as opposition members. An opposition spokesman said the three men were professional hunters, and all the weapons seized were licensed.
The Movement for Democratic Change holds 56 of the 120 elected seats in Zimbabwe's parliament.
Mr Mugabe said yesterday that he accepted the accord in principle, but it still had to be approved by his cabinet and the politburo of his party, Zanu-PF. "We accept it but we need to go through processes. They are legal and political," said Mr Mugabe.
The British government pledged to pay £36m for land redistribution as part of a Commonwealth agreement and the Zimbabwe government, in return, agreed to maintain the rule of law and the basic principles of democracy.
Critics in Zimbabwe charge that the Mugabe government has already broken the accord. On Saturday about 150 of Mr Mugabe's supporters invaded the Logan Lee farm, assaulted farm workers and burned down 20 of the workers' homes. They ordered them to stop all work on the farm.
In Bulawayo, where municipal elections are being held for a new mayor and city council, the opposition party says that Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF is bussing in thousands of non-Bulawayo residents to vote. MDC officials allege that the non-resident voters were registered by the government in Harare.
Mr Mugabe claimed that the agreement hammered out in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, represented a victory for Zimbabwe. He said the agreement "enables Britain to act as a partner. For the first time we speak the same language." He also said that his government's "acquisition of land will continue with international support. It is a victory for us. And a victory for the farmers who need to be compensated."
Mr Mugabe returned to Zimbabwe yesterday after 10 days on a "working holiday" in Libya. Once in Harare he met the Nigerian foreign minister, Sule Lamido, who presented Mr Mugabe with a copy of the Abuja agreement.
Nigeria's president, Olusegun Obasanjo, said in Lagos yesterday that he was still waiting to hear from Mr Mugabe on the agreement.
Mr Mugabe did not say what measures his government would take to comply with the agreement's conditions that the land acquisition process must be lawful and free from violence. Nor did he describe what steps would be taken to fulfil other conditions of the accord, such as making sure that his government holds free and fair elections.
Government critics say these omissions are a further indication that Mr Mugabe will not uphold the conditions of the Abuja accord.
"The Abuja accord is about more than just land. It is also about maintaining a fair democracy and holding free and fair elections without vio lence," said John Makumbe, professor of political science at the University of Zimbabwe.
"I hope the Commonwealth is keeping a good record of how Mugabe is already flouting the Abuja agreement. I hope the Commonwealth will hold him accountable at the heads of government meeting in Brisbane in October. Unless the agreement stops the government's violence and subversion of democracy, it will not have resolved Zimbabwe's crisis."
Mr Mugabe is due to meet South Africa's president, Thabo Mbeki, and five other southern African heads of state in Harare today and tomorrow to discuss Zimbabwe's wide-ranging political and economic crisis. The six leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) are expected to express their concern at Zimbabwe's ongoing crisis and the negative economic effect it is having on the entire southern African region.
Mr Mbeki has been the driving force behind the Harare summit, which is seen as an unprecedented regional vote of no confidence in Mr Mugabe's leadership. He has said he intends to take a firmer line with Mr Mugabe, not least because Zimbabwe's crisis is blamed for a drastic drop in the value of South Africa's currency, the Johannesburg stock exchange and foreign investment.
Likewise, pressure on the EU to follow the US Congress and impose sanctions targeted on Zimbabwean presidential and ministerial assets and foreign travel may prove irresistible if the hopes raised in Abuja are dashed. Mr Mugabe must surely also realise that he cannot continue to defy his fellow African leaders, except at enormous political and financial risk. Nigeria's leadership has put its prestige on the line in the search for a restoration of order in Zimbabwe. So, too, has Thabo Mbeki, who is due to visit Harare today with a group of regional presidents. South Africa's leader could apply the sort of economic leverage on Zimbabwe, if he wished, that Britain and the European parliament can only dream about.
All the above assumes, however, that Mr Mugabe will respond rationally - not often the case in the recent past. The great fear must be that, given a farm invasion here or there, he will pay grudging lip service to the Abuja accord for the next few weeks, encourage the promised resumption of foreign aid and lending, and then slide back into the old ways of intimidation and proxy violence as next spring's presidential election nears. Land reform is important to Mr Mugabe. But keeping power is more so.
Six southern African heads of state
have begun meeting in Harare in a new regional bid to resolve Zimbabwe's crisis
over President Robert Mugabe's controversial land-reform policies.
President Mugabe Monday welcomed the presidents of Malawi, South Africa,
Namibia, Mozambique and Botswana at Harare's airport for the two-day summit,
part of an initiative of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Tanzania and Angola, also members of the 14-nation regional grouping, sent
cabinet level representatives to the summit.
SADC's chairman, Malawi President Bakili Muluzi, said Zimbabwe's government
must stop acts of violence. He made the remark - a reference to the illegal
occupations of white-owned farms by black militants - before leaving for the
Members of the organization are concerned that Zimbabwe's crisis could
destabilize the region.
The participants went into closed session Monday and they are to hold talks
with white and black farmers, war veterans and opposition parties on Tuesday.
The summit comes one day after Mr. Mugabe said he accepted in principle a
Commonwealth-brokered agreement to solve the problem of land ownership in
Zimbabwe. The Harare government agreed to stop black militants' attacks on
white-owned farms, in return for financial assistance to implement a fair
Zimbabwe has been in crisis since February of last year, when militants, led
by veterans of the 1970s liberation war, began invading hundreds of white-owned
farms. Meanwhile, a campaign of intimidation begun by the ruling (ZANU-PF) party
before last year's parliamentary elections has resulted in more than 100 deaths.
Some information for this report provided by DPA and AFP.
President Mugabe Monday welcomed the presidents of Malawi, South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique and Botswana at Harare's airport for the two-day summit, part of an initiative of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Tanzania and Angola, also members of the 14-nation regional grouping, sent cabinet level representatives to the summit.
SADC's chairman, Malawi President Bakili Muluzi, said Zimbabwe's government must stop acts of violence. He made the remark - a reference to the illegal occupations of white-owned farms by black militants - before leaving for the summit.
Members of the organization are concerned that Zimbabwe's crisis could destabilize the region.
The participants went into closed session Monday and they are to hold talks with white and black farmers, war veterans and opposition parties on Tuesday.
The summit comes one day after Mr. Mugabe said he accepted in principle a Commonwealth-brokered agreement to solve the problem of land ownership in Zimbabwe. The Harare government agreed to stop black militants' attacks on white-owned farms, in return for financial assistance to implement a fair land-reform program.
Zimbabwe has been in crisis since February of last year, when militants, led by veterans of the 1970s liberation war, began invading hundreds of white-owned farms. Meanwhile, a campaign of intimidation begun by the ruling (ZANU-PF) party before last year's parliamentary elections has resulted in more than 100 deaths.
Some information for this report provided by DPA and AFP.
7 Sep 2001 17:06 UTC
Zimbabwe's main opposition party
has strongly criticized the agreement reached at the meeting of the Commonwealth
on redistribution of land from white-owned commercial farms. The party is
skeptical that the government and President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party will
keep its side of the agreement, which was reached in Abuja, Nigeria.
Tendai Biti, foreign affairs spokesman for the Movement for Democratic
Change, told a news conference in Harare, Zimbabwe's capital, Friday that the
agreement is what he calls "a betrayal" of the economic and political crisis in
Zimbabwe has agreed to stop the illegal seizure of white-owned farms and
enforce the rule of law in exchange for a pledge from Commonwealth nations to
fund its land redistribution program to benefit poor, landless blacks.
Mr. Biti says the main weakness of the agreement is the declaration that land
is at the center of the country's problems. He says a far wider range of
problems needs to be overcome, particularly violence, enforcing the rule of law
and revamping the country's economy. "Land has become the football ground," he
says. "ZANU-PF is fighting the power contestation in the run up to the 2002
presidential elections and that is why it has suddenly become an issue."
Mr. Biti says that the government has a long record of failing to keep
agreements. He says it is doubtful that the government will uphold the
agreement. "In our view, we don't see ZANU and the Harare regime upholding and
respecting on the ground and in Zimbabwe the Abuja agreement," Mr. Biti says.
"To think otherwise, given its past history, would be in our view naive."
Political analysts in Zimbabwe say the successful implementation of the
agreement will depend on the reaction of President Mugabe, who has been in Libya
for almost a week.
Colin Cloete, president of the Commercial Farmers Union, says he hopes that
the agreement will be the basis for serious discussion. He describes the
situation on commercial farms as "desperate" with an upsurge in violence over
the past week.
Tendai Biti, foreign affairs spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change, told a news conference in Harare, Zimbabwe's capital, Friday that the agreement is what he calls "a betrayal" of the economic and political crisis in the country.
Zimbabwe has agreed to stop the illegal seizure of white-owned farms and enforce the rule of law in exchange for a pledge from Commonwealth nations to fund its land redistribution program to benefit poor, landless blacks.
Mr. Biti says the main weakness of the agreement is the declaration that land is at the center of the country's problems. He says a far wider range of problems needs to be overcome, particularly violence, enforcing the rule of law and revamping the country's economy. "Land has become the football ground," he says. "ZANU-PF is fighting the power contestation in the run up to the 2002 presidential elections and that is why it has suddenly become an issue."
Mr. Biti says that the government has a long record of failing to keep agreements. He says it is doubtful that the government will uphold the agreement. "In our view, we don't see ZANU and the Harare regime upholding and respecting on the ground and in Zimbabwe the Abuja agreement," Mr. Biti says. "To think otherwise, given its past history, would be in our view naive."
Political analysts in Zimbabwe say the successful implementation of the agreement will depend on the reaction of President Mugabe, who has been in Libya for almost a week.
Colin Cloete, president of the Commercial Farmers Union, says he hopes that the agreement will be the basis for serious discussion. He describes the situation on commercial farms as "desperate" with an upsurge in violence over the past week.
commercial farms in Zimbabwe is continuing, with at least two farms being
invaded by pro-government militants while owners have been held hostage in their
homes. The presidents of Angola, Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and
Malawi are scheduled to arrive in Harare Monday to discuss with President Robert
Mugabe an agreement signed in Nigeria to end violence on farms.
Under the accord, the violence will end and there will be
no more invasions, while pro-government militants and squatters will move off
farms that have been illegally occupied.
In return, Britain and other western countries will
provide at least $50 million for resettlement of poor people and for
compensation to farmers who give up their land.
Since the agreement was signed, there have been at least
six incidents of violence on farms, say commercial farmers, while two farms have
been invaded and the homes of workers on one of them burned down. The new
incidents included two farmers held hostage in their homes until freed by police
intervention. A woman who was caretaking a homestead was forced to flee when a
mob marched on her house.
President Robert Mugabe says he accepts the agreement. On
his return Sunday from a week's visit to Libya, he told a news conference, "I
accept the agreement." He says that formalities of acceptance have still to be
undertaken by his Cabinet and his ruling party's politburo, which decides
Political science Professor Masipula Sithole says it is
possible Mr. Mugabe will veto the agreement in order to win the presidential
election scheduled for next year. University of Zimbabwe political science
lecturer John Makumbe describes Mr. Mugabe as "insincere" and accuses the
president of, in his words, "hoodwinking the world" by pretending to support the
Nigerian agreement. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change says Mr.
Mugabe will probably discard the agreement.
Meanwhile, the Movement for Democratic Change has accused
Mr. Mugabe's ZANU party of electoral fraud during the two-day poll to elect a
new mayor for Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second biggest city. The MDC says it has
videotaped busloads of youths being secretly taken to Bulawayo from outlying
areas to vote in the election. Several MDC officials arrested by police while
filming, are in jail in Bulawayo.
Two diplomats from the U.S. embassy in Zimbabwe who
witnessed the arrests were questioned by police and allowed to go after they
produced their identity documents.
Under the accord, the violence will end and there will be no more invasions, while pro-government militants and squatters will move off farms that have been illegally occupied.
In return, Britain and other western countries will provide at least $50 million for resettlement of poor people and for compensation to farmers who give up their land.
Since the agreement was signed, there have been at least six incidents of violence on farms, say commercial farmers, while two farms have been invaded and the homes of workers on one of them burned down. The new incidents included two farmers held hostage in their homes until freed by police intervention. A woman who was caretaking a homestead was forced to flee when a mob marched on her house.
President Robert Mugabe says he accepts the agreement. On his return Sunday from a week's visit to Libya, he told a news conference, "I accept the agreement." He says that formalities of acceptance have still to be undertaken by his Cabinet and his ruling party's politburo, which decides policy.
Political science Professor Masipula Sithole says it is possible Mr. Mugabe will veto the agreement in order to win the presidential election scheduled for next year. University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer John Makumbe describes Mr. Mugabe as "insincere" and accuses the president of, in his words, "hoodwinking the world" by pretending to support the Nigerian agreement. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change says Mr. Mugabe will probably discard the agreement.
Meanwhile, the Movement for Democratic Change has accused Mr. Mugabe's ZANU party of electoral fraud during the two-day poll to elect a new mayor for Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second biggest city. The MDC says it has videotaped busloads of youths being secretly taken to Bulawayo from outlying areas to vote in the election. Several MDC officials arrested by police while filming, are in jail in Bulawayo.
Two diplomats from the U.S. embassy in Zimbabwe who witnessed the arrests were questioned by police and allowed to go after they produced their identity documents.
From ZWNEWS, 8 September
MDC officials arrested, US diplomats detained
Less then two days after the Zimbabwe government promised a Commonwealth ministerial delegation that the rule of law would be restored, three bodyguards protecting the MDC MP for Bulawayo South, David Coltart, were arrested in Bulawayo on Saturday afternoon. The three – one of whom is a diabetic and in need of insulin - were still in detention at the Bulawayo Central Police Station late on Saturday evening.
The events leading up to these arrests began earlier on Saturday morning when Coltart and his bodyguards saw hundreds of shaven-headed Shona-speaking Zanu PF youth streaming up 8th Avenue towards the High Court in Bulawayo - a majority Sindebele-speaking city. Later, buses from a company owned by Simon Muzenda – the Vice President – were seen disgorging more of these Zanu PF youth in the car park at the City Hall in the city centre, and further buses from the same company were seen heading into Bulawayo along the Harare road. Coltart and his bodyguards began to film the proceedings and ended up being chased round and round the car park by a CID vehicle which was trying prevent them recording what was happening
In the afternoon, five police landrovers arrived at the MDC Provincial Offices in Herbert Chitepo Street in Bulawayo to "tow away a pick-up truck" belonging to the MDC, which they said was wanted as evidence for some undisclosed earlier incident. They were accompanied by a truck-load of fully armed riot police, and they entered and searched the premises, despite being unable to produce a search warrant. Coltart and his bodyguards were in the vicinity and again began to film the events. Coltart’s vehicle, and a vehicle belonging to the US Embassy – accredited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to observe the Bulawayo mayoral election poll being held this weekend - which also happened to be in the area, were stopped by police. The bodyguards were arrested, and US diplomatic personnel were detained for over an hour. Coltart’s phone and video camera were confiscated. The bodyguards have been charged with "possession of a walkie-talkie without a licence". The walkie-talkies have a range of about 50 metres, can be bought in supermarkets, and do not require a licence.
MDC supporters have today been subject to beatings by roaming gangs in the poorer suburbs on the periphery of the city, and the seven candidates standing for council ward elections have had to seek refuge in safe houses because of night time attacks and threats to their security. MDC polling agents have been threatened and intimidated at polling stations, and a MDC support team delivering evening meals to MDC election monitors was threatened with kidnapping by Zanu PF youth.
Johannesburg | Monday
From the M & G [SA]
SOUTH Africa's rand opened slightly firmer on Monday, encouraged by news that
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe had approved a deal to halt illegal land
invasions, but traders said the mood was still wary.
At 0645 GMT the currency was trading a cent firmer at 8,47 against the dollar, but had eased off an opening level of 8,45 — which is seen as a key level to break for a substantial recovery.
Last week, it sank to a new record low of 8,53 against the US unit amid mounting concerns of Zimbabwe's deepening political and economic crisis.
News of a Nigerian-brokered deal to end the occupation of mainly white-owned land in Zimbabwe in exchange for financial support from former colonial power Britain for a legal land reform programme had sparked hopes of a sustained recovery.
"The guys are still pretty sceptical as far as the whole Zimbabwe issue is concerned," a Johannesburg-based trader said.
"There's still a chance we may drift lower to the 8,43 level but that will be
pretty much it for now," he said.
Against the euro, the rand was stable at 7,68, but it was six cents weaker against the pound at 12,38 — within striking distance of its latest low of 12,40 reached last week. It has lost about eight percent of its value on a trade-weighted basis this year, versus 12,5 percent last year.
Bonds managed to extend gains, with hopes still high for falls in August inflation data due on September 18 and a rate cut from the central bank at its monetary policy a few days afterwards.
Yield on the most traded R150 bond due 2005 and the R153 due 2009 were both
three basis points lower at 10,08% and 10,73% respectively.
From The Zimbabwe Standard, 9 September
War vets leader up for incest
The aspiring war veterans’ chairman, Andrew Ndlovu, is facing incest charges, The Standard has established. The matter was set to be heard on Friday in court 18 at the Harare Regional Magistrates Court, but Ndlovu failed to turn up. Amongst people called in as state witnesses are Gailee Jess Jani of Greendale Avenue in Harare and a war veteran, John Gwitira, of Highlands, Harare. Ndlovu is accused of having fathered the child of his daughter, Belinda Razisiwe Ndlovu. A docket – Crime Registration Number 741/7/99 - was lodged at Mbare Police Station.
Contacted for comment on Friday, Ndlovu said he was not aware of the matter, although Mbare Police confirmed yesterday that the state was the complainant against Ndlovu and his daughter, Belinda. "I am in Bulawayo preparing to vote in the mayoral elections. I do not know about the charges that you are talking about. As you know, we are in the process of campaigning for the leadership of the war veterans association and there is a lot of smear campaigning. This is one of the tactics being used against me by people who want to tarnish my image." Ndlovu, a former dissident, is currently projects director in the war veterans association, and is aiming for the chairman’s post when elections for a new leadership are held.
From The Zimbabwe Standard, 9 September
Soldiers harass public over Mugabe graffiti
Members of the Presidential Guard manning President Robert Mugabe’s official residence, Zimbabwe House, went on a rampage last week, beating up people indiscriminately for allegedly writing derogatory statements about the president in one of the public toilets at the nearby department of research and specialist services. Employees at the department told The Standard that they were humiliated by the soldiers who accused them of spraying graffiti in the men’s toilet. The Standard visited the premises on Thursday and saw some of the writings on the wall which read: "Mugabe resign and let Morgan Tsvangirai take over the country"; "Pamberi ne MDC pasi neZanu PF"; "Zanu PF has ruined the country". The department of research and specialist services is headed by Dr Ntombana Regina Gata, who is President Mugabe’s half sister.
One of the employees from the offices, who refused to be identified for fear of victimisation, told The Standard of the ordeal they were subjected to by the soldiers. "We were asked not to use the route that we use everyday, which is Seventh Street and Tongogara Avenue. Instead they forced us to use the Botanic Gardens way. We were also searched and some of the workers were beaten after they were accused of sympathising with the MDC," said one employee. Another worker said there was no reason why it could not have been the soldiers themselves who wrote on the walls as they use the same toilets as the public. "I was frog marched at gunpoint by one of the soldiers who beat me with clenched fists," he added. Road construction workers who were maintaining roads in the area were not also spared of the humiliation. The spokesperson for the defence forces, Lt Colonel Gathseni Mboweni, said: "I do not know of that incident, but our soldiers are a disciplined force who do not go about beating up civilians."
Time for Concerted International Action on Zimbabwe
J. Stephen Morrison, Terrence Lyons, and Jennifer Cooke
Zimbabwe has entered a political and economic crisis that could worsen precipitously and destabilize the surrounding region. Pressures for democratic change and economic reform are steep-indeed growing-as Zimbabwe heads, with considerable uncertainty, toward national elections in the first quarter of 2002. Yet the government of President Robert Mugabe and his cronies within the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party resist genuine reform, determined instead to use violent coercion to hold onto power and privilege. Challenging the 77-year-old Mugabe's hold on power are a range of mobilized organizations, most notably the opposition political party the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), along with the Zimbabwe Confederation of Trade Unions, and civic organizations associated with the National Constitutional Assembly and other nongovernmental networks. Whether the opposition's remarkably disciplined adherence to nonviolence can hold under mounting violence is an open question. Equally unclear are the evolving calculations of the commanding officers and rank-and-file of the military, the police, and the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO), whose ultimate political loyalties could prove decisive to the next phase of Zimbabwe's future. More certain is that Zimbabwe's margin for economic maneuver has evaporated, compounding national tensions. Agricultural shortfalls that could total 600,000 metric tons by early 2002 raise the specter of mass hunger and internal dislocation and significantly increase Zimbabwe's dependence on external largesse. (Harare will require upward of $270 million in humanitarian relief.) By virtually every macroeconomic indicator, the national economy is at its worst point ever, and could worsen before it improves. And on top of these trends, Zimbabwe's prevalence rate for HIV in adults-25 percent-is the second highest in the world, next to Botswana. U.S. secretary of state Colin Powell's public rebuke of Mugabe, delivered while in South Africa in May, signaled heightened interest within the Bush administration in the Zimbabwean crisis, and was preceded and followed by an active internal review of policy options. The Bush administration has yet to outline publicly what additional policy measures it will pursue. The United States and the broader international community should make every effort to raise the odds that Zimbabwe's crisis can be resolved peacefully through free and fair elections. At the same time, however, realism is needed: Mugabe is highly unlikely to concede power through a relatively free and fair electoral process, and highly likely to resort to ever-higher levels of violence. The signs are starkly manifest: already there have been violent episodes in the run-up to the elections in early 2002, stoked by the government's continued sanctioning of brutal intimidation of the political opposition, judiciary, media, and commercial farming and other business entities. Although a concerted international campaign is warranted to turn Mugabe off this course and onto a path that bring free and fair elections, one needs to admit that there is a high probability that effort may fail. Hence a top priority of U.S. policy should be to prepare contingencies for alternative scenarios, namely, a negotiated transfer of power, or, far more uncertain and potentially dangerous, a chaotic and violent transition impelled by mass popular uprising, a government-declared state of emergency, or a military coup. Until now, U.S. policy has not systematically countenanced these possibilities. Now, rather than later, is the time to prepare for these nonelectoral outcomes. Where warranted, the administration should consciously build on the strategy pursued during 2000-2001 in Serbia that targeted sanctions against Milosevic, combined with innovative support to the opposition, sustained public diplomacy, and concerted multilateral action.
Related priorities of U.S. policy should include:
The Present Crisis
Many observers had high hopes for Zimbabwe after it achieved independence in 1980 following a brutal civil war against white rule and embarked on a national policy of racial conciliation, extension of education and health services to its citizenry, and the promotion of economic growth. The country of 11 million people has considerable agricultural potential and has been a significant exporter of tobacco and maize as well as gold and other minerals. The tourist industry has brought in large amounts of foreign exchange, bolstered by Victoria Falls and well-managed game parks. Zimbabwe has a tradition of independent courts, professional civil servants, a professional and entrepreneurial class that grew steadily in the 1980s and 1990s, and an educational and health system that for many years was a model for other countries in Africa. Mugabe's reign, however, steadily degenerated in the 1990s into corruption, authoritarianism, and violent patrimonial rule. Following the government's defeat in the February 2000 referendum on a new constitution and the launch of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to challenge its rule, the ruling party used violence and intimidation to retain power in the June
2000 parliamentary elections. So-called "war veterans," working closely with ZANU-PF and the police, seized white-owned farms, and engaged in widespread attacks against opposition strongholds. Intense political violence in the 90 days preceding the June 24-25 elections resulted in at least 38 and possibly as many as 80 fatalities. Despite violence, intimidation, and fraud, however, the MDC won nearly 50 percent of votes cast, according to official figures, and took 57 of the 120 elected seats (1 seat was won by another small party, 30 seats are appointed, and the MDC has challenged the results of 39 seats in court). Today, the ruling party and state security agencies are tightening controls further in the run-up to the presidential elections scheduled for April 2002. New limits on the media, escalating attacks on opposition leaders and supporters, and prohibitions against international support for democratization confirm widespread suspicions that the Mugabe regime is prepared to use coercion and intimidation to retain its hold on power, with reckless disregard of the rule of law. War veterans moved from seizing white-owned farms in 2000 to attacking nongovernmental organizations, threatening independent judges, journalists, and foreign diplomats, and occupying businesses and local government offices in 2001. President Mugabe has readily resorted to blatant tyranny and abuse of power as means of survival, embracing these tactics as part of a broader strategy of fomenting anarchy. Indications are that the military and police are becoming increasingly politicized as the leadership is purged of professionals and stacked with Mugabe loyalists. The deaths of several prominent leaders, including Minister of Defense Moven Mahachi and Minister of Gender and Employment Creation Border Gezi, in car crashes that many Zimbabweans regard as nonaccidental, have recently shaken the ZANU-PF. Chenjerai "Hitler" Hunzi, the leader of the war veterans, died in June 2001. The party's loss of the February 2000 referendum, loss of urban constituencies in the June 2000 parliamentary elections, and, most recently, the loss of the municipal election in Masvingo in May 2001 have rattled the leadership and aggravated an existing atmosphere of paranoia and conspiracy. The opposition MDC represents one of the most dynamic and effective democratic movements in Africa today. It is a broad-based party, formed out of the trade union and civil society movement that organized the campaign against the referendum in 2000. It has demonstrated its ability to win votes across ethnic lines in urban areas and has a strong regional base in the Ndebele-inhabited Matabeleland region, where memories persist of government violence that left an estimated 7,000 to
20,000 Ndebele civilians dead in the 1980s. Under the leadership of former trade union leader Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC has consistently espoused the centrality of a return to the rule of law. Its economic policies are neoliberal, with calls for a value added tax to balance the budget, reform of parastatals, cooperation with international financial institutions, and land reform based on consultations and private property rights. The MDC, along with civil society groups, has demonstrated remarkable restraint and internal discipline in the face of persistent violence and coercion and has assiduously avoided actions that might provide a pretext for a state of emergency. Most observers believe that the MDC would handily win a fair election, a conclusion supported by recent public opinion surveys. The political crisis has both contributed to and been exacerbated by Zimbabwe's dramatic economic decline. Zimbabwe's intervention in the Democratic Republic of Congo alone triggered a hemorrhage of government funds and crippling budget deficits while favored military officials have enriched themselves through procurement contracts and the stripping of assets within Congo. The Economist Intelligence Unit forecasts gross domestic product to fall 5.6 percent and inflation to reach 56 percent in 2001. Foreign exchange has disappeared, tourists have stayed home, and investors have fled. The HIV/AIDS pandemic has hit Zimbabwe particularly hard, with nearly one-quarter of adults estimated to be HIV positive despite major investments by international donors and private relief organizations. Disruption of the agricultural sector has led to major shortages of wheat and maize, staple foods of most Zimbabweans. Cereal production for the current marketing cycle is forecast at about 1.82 million tons, 24 percent down from last year, and observers predict that the country will require significant international food relief-as much as 600,000 tons-by fall 2001. Fuel prices increased by 70 percent in June, leading the trade unions to organize a two-day general strike in early July that halted most urban economic activity and resulted in a number of clashes.
Mugabe’s regime appears headed for a hard crash. Tensions in the lead up to elections and in the context of an economic and food emergency could easily provide the spark that generates an even more debilitating crisis. Three possible scenarios emerge.
Elections:The first and clearly most desirable scenario would be if relatively free and fair elections transpire, with violence and intimidation kept to a minimum. Most observers believe that although Mugabe does retain some bases of support in the Shona rural heartland, within ZANU-PF, and, to some degree, among the military and police forces and the CIO, in such circumstances, Tsvangirai would emerge the victor. It is unlikely, however, that Mugabe will allow himself to be voted out of office, and more probable that he would cancel the elections altogether, nullify the results or otherwise sabotage the process if he is convinced the process has a fair chance of empowering Tsvangirai.
Negotiated transfer:A second possible scenario is a negotiated transfer of power, possibly built around a government of national unity that includes elements of the MDC and reformist elements within ZANU-PF. Such an arrangement would likely require an amnesty for those implicated in the violence and corruption of the ruling regime, a safe exit for Mugabe himself, and perhaps active external facilitation. Some observers suggest that ZANU-PF has been so compromised and purged of moderates that a coalition with opposition leaders may be impossible. Others contend that reformist elements within the ruling party do exist but have been cowed by Mugabe’s intimidation tactics.
Forced change:A third scenario of forced change prior to or during the elections is a very real possibility. Should Mugabe ban political parties, declare a state of emergency, or unleash paramilitary loyalists on the Zimbabwean people, there may be mass action and civil unrest as the opposition and civil society resist. Whether such demonstrations will result in a Belgrade- or Manila-style "people’s power" transition or widespread violence and chaos is very difficult to gauge, and will depend to a significant degree on the calculations and evolving allegiances of the Zimbabwean armed forces. A military coup or military acquiescence to a massive popular uprising are not out of the question and will depend to some degree on Mugabe’s adroitness in keeping both rank and file and senior military officials paid and satisfied. Zimbabwe’s maneuvers in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the timing and conditions of troop withdrawal and demobilization may also be important factors that shape outcomes.
International leaders, with the exception of former colonial power Great Britain, have been slow to focus on Zimbabwe’s growing crisis, and until recently the southern African region has been in denial of the threat. In the past few months, international concern has coalesced, and external powers are converging on a set of common premises and actions. The United Kingdom’s criticisms are now being echoed in larger multilateral settings, including the European Union and the Commonwealth of Nations. The EU in late June 2001 indicated its intention to closely monitor developments in Zimbabwe during a two-month period and to take appropriate measures if the government failed to make substantial progress in restoring the rule of law, ending political violence, and publicly committing itself to holding free and fair presidential elections. The EU will likely determine what those measures will be at an upcoming EU general council meeting in early October.
Also in June, the Commonwealth of Nations, at Nigeria’s proposition, agreed to send a special ministerial delegation to Zimbabwe, in preparation for the October Commonwealth Head of Government meeting in Brisbane, to address broad governance concerns and open dialogue to resolve differences on the land redistribution strategies. Should Mugabe’s regime persist in fomenting violence and lawlessness, the Brisbane conference may consider suspending Zimbabwe’s membership in the Commonwealth of Nations. At recent points, South African president Thabo Mbeki and the rest of the South African government have appeared to take a more forceful approach, though there is still little evidence of a concerted, determined South African effort to rein in Mugabe. Zimbabwe’s other neighbors and key African leaders such as Nigeria’s President Olugeson Obasanjo are increasingly engaged.
Colin Powell’s call for democratization and the rule of law in Zimbabwe during his May 2001 trip to the region placed the issue on the front burner of U.S. policy toward Africa. Powell observed that Mugabe "seems determined to remain in power" but that "it is for the citizens of Zimbabwe to choose their leader in a free and fair election, and they should be given one." Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Walter Kansteiner recently summarized U.S. policy in June: "Our message to President Mugabe and his government must be consistent and clear: [although] the United States desires open and friendly relations with Zimbabwe, we cannot have normal relations until the violence and intimidation are ended and the rule of law is restored."
The U.S. Congress has taken up the Zimbabwe issue, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has approved the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, which calls for continued suspension of bilateral assistance and debt forgiveness until the rule of law and adherence to other international norms are restored. The Bush administration should not delay initiating discussion with Congress on Zimbabwe and ironing out any points of difference it might have on the Zimbabwe Act, for example inserting more precise language on conditionality, and enhancing inducements and pressure for reform. When Congress moves to enact the bill, last minute debates and fine-tuning on the bill that might delay its implementation may also diminish its impact and effectiveness.
The international community must speak with one voice and condemn the violence and lawlessness that is at the heart of Zimbabwe’s crisis. As a priority, external actors should do their utmost to encourage and facilitate the transition of power through free and fair elections. First, the United States and others should openly challenge Zimbabwe’s legislative ban on external assistance to political parties, a law which may extend to barring nonpartisan technical assistance to activities such as voter education or verifying the flawed voters rolls. The international community should push the Zimbabwean government to accept election monitors 90 days prior to the election, should offer support to Zimbabwe’s newly established Electoral Commission and independent Zimbabwean election monitors, and assist efforts to register and enfranchise the nearly 1.5 million Zimbabweans who live outside of Zimbabwe, mostly in South Africa.
The U.S. administration should follow up Powell’s public rebuke of Mugabe in May 2001 with repeated calls for the government of Zimbabwe to respect the rule of law, rein in war veterans bent on terror and anarchy, and open political space by allowing freedom of movement and access to the state-controlled media by all parties. The administration should bolster its public exhortations with the credible threat that Washington will lead in the United Nations and bilaterally impose on Mugabe and his inner circle a travel ban and a freeze on overseas assets unless substantial progress is seen in a fixed period (e.g., 60–90 days). It should also lay out other stark actions that it will undertake should circumstances worsen: should elections be cancelled or nullified; should Mugabe declare a state of emergency, ban political parties, or further curtail political space. The United States should create a donor coordination mechanism, such as the Economic Governance Group and the Political and Constitutional Forum established by the international community in Kenya, to harmonize conditionality requirements and curtail the regime’s ability to play donors off of each other. In particular, large-scale food relief in response to the imminent shortfall of staples must be managed carefully to avoid donated food from becoming additional patronage used to shore up the failing regime and to support nongovernmental organizations in the countryside.
External funds to combat HIV/AIDS will likewise need to be insulated from political manipulation. As one of Africa’s most acutely affected countries, Zimbabwe will serve, for better or worse, as a critical test case for international efforts to combat HIV/AIDS. U.S. organizations, including the Rockefeller Foundation and Stanford University, have been active in Harare since the mid-1980s and have invested considerable resources in fighting the disease. Zimbabwe and the southern African region will be under intense scrutiny in coming years, and should AIDS funding be squandered or used for venal political ends, the risk of donor disengagement and cynicism, with dire implications for the rest of Africa’s HIV-positive population of 26 million, is very real. The United States should also work with the international community to encourage Zimbabwe’s adherence to the Lusaka cease-fire agreement and the UN-led strategy of Disarmament, Demobilization, and Resettlement.
Should the Zimbabwean government agree to a negotiated transitional power-sharing arrangement, through a coalition government with amnesty for Mugabe and his associates, the United States and the international community should concur and extend offers of facilitation, while continuing to push for open elections, expanded political space, and democratic consolidation.
Such an arrangement may defuse some of the most immediate and acute political tensions and make it easier to establish the conditions and technical assistance necessary for democratic change through elections.
Should there be a massive popular uprising, as occurred in Cote d’Ivoire in October 2000, the international community must remain firm in its support for the rule of law and the transfer of power through peaceful and democratic means. In every instance, the United States should make it clear that it is not interested in parties or personalities, but in democratic processes that are grounded in law—law that is crafted by and for the Zimbabwean people and protected by an independent judiciary.
Tensions within Zimbabwe are nearing the breaking point. Agreement is nearly universal that responsibility for Zimbabwe’s dismal situation rests at Mugabe’s door—and that unless he steps down or is removed from power, the country will continue to stagger toward collapse. The question becomes whether Mugabe’sfin de regime is marked by violence, displacement, and unmet humanitarian needs or whether he and his inner circle at some point come to terms with the reality of their situation. Now is the time for the international community to forge a common message that clearly condemns violence and demands a return to the rule of law and a democratically elected government. The next months will be pivotal for Zimbabwe, and the risks of wider violence and instability compel urgent action. Mugabe’s departure will not guarantee a quick reversal, but it will certainly be a necessary first step toward realizing the country’s tremendous potential. Long-term prospects for Zimbabwe still give reason for hope—if Zimbabwe is able to move peaceably beyond Mugabe and avoid a hard crash.
J. Stephen Morrison is director and Jennifer Cooke isdeputy director of the CSIS Africa Program. Terrence Lyons is an assistant professor at the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University, and senior associate with the Africa Program at CSIS.
Africa Notesis published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a private, tax-exempt institution focusing on international public policy issues. Its research is nonpartisan and nonproprietary.
CSIS does not take specific public policy positions. Accordingly, all views, opinions, and conclusions expressed in this publication should be understood to be solely those of the author(s).
© 2001 by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.