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

Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Sadc leaders nail Mugabe

Dumisani Muleya
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe this week cut a lonely figure in the face of unprecedented criticism by his counterparts who ordered him in public to address the land crisis within a month or face isolation.

In a no-nonsense mood, the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) leaders abandoned their usual posture of revolutionary solidarity with the region’s longest-serving leader and forced him to backtrack. Their visit this week left him even more beleaguered.

The meeting marked a turning point in relations between Zimbabwe and regional countries. To a man, the presidents of South Africa, Malawi, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia and representatives of Angola and Tanzania, told Mugabe to his face to stop prevaricating and act.

Diplomatic sources said Mugabe was angered by the outspoken statements of his regional colleagues and on their insistence that he consult Zimbabwe’s civil society before proceeding with land reform. His discomfort was reflected in official media attacks on the visiting heads of state.

“Mbeki was very firm against Mugabe, Zanu PF and the war veterans,” a diplomatic source said. “Authorities did not like that and hence these state media attacks.”

His refusal to take questions at the end of the proceedings on Tuesday night and his glum countenance told their own story, observers said.

Political analyst Masipula Sithole said: “Mugabe was looking for solidarity messages, but he got a hammering. I think this diplomatic public flogging has dramatised to him how isolated he is now.

“Mugabe has pretended to the world that his colleagues in the region support his policies, but after this summit no amount of gloss or spin-doctoring can change the fact that his colleagues are angry with him and embarrassed by his conduct,” Sithole said.

Mbeki is said to have touched a raw nerve when he mobilised regional leaders to confront Mugabe head-on for the first time.

Diplomatic sources said tension between Harare and Pretoria heightened last week as the two differed on the format this week’s Harare meeting should take. Mbeki and current Sadc chair, Malawi’s Bakili Muluzi — who have recently been stepping up their robust criticism of Mugabe — insisted that the meeting must involve all key stakeholders, including the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and commercial farmers, while Mugabe had been hoping to stage another of his regional solidarity shows which pass ringing resolutions supporting whatever policy he tables. This time his peers declined to be complicit in repression or rubber-stamp decisions that defended lawlessness and violence.

As the meeting convened, Mugabe’s supporters were unleashing further violence in the Beatrice area in flat violation of the agreement reached in Abuja. The leaders had not been impressed by being thrust into the arms of Joseph Chinotimba — the self-styled “commander of farm invasions” — on their arrival at Harare airport, diplomats said.

Following up last month’s watershed Blantyre Sadc summit in Malawi, the regional leaders cornered the glum-looking Mugabe and forced him to accept their crisis resolution proposals.

They compelled him to accept the establishment of a regional committee to monitor the restoration of the rule of law and issued an ultimatum for him to end state-instigated violence and lawlessness. Farm invasions and violence this week continued unabated.

Sadc leaders also ordered the formation of a multi-party parliamentary committee to work on economic recovery. Mugabe has always refused to work with the MDC claiming it represents foreign interests. The government has also refused to speak to the Commercial Farmers Union.

The latest measures are designed to oblige Mugabe to observe the Abuja terms signed in the Nigerian capital last week. Although Mugabe claims the agreement constituted a “victory” for Zimbabwe, this week’s events showed the accord in fact reined him in.

While it recognised land was at the core of the current crisis, the Abuja agreement ties the land reform programme and international assistance to the observance of the rule of law, an end to violence, human rights observance and democracy — the very issues that Mugabe claimed only recently were “peripheral”.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zimbabwe inflation rate reaches record 76,1%
September 14 2001 at 09:09AM

Harare - Zimbabwe's annual inflation rate surged to a record 76,1 percent last month, figures released yesterday showed, fanning fears of a triple-digit figure by the end of this year.

The Central Statistical Office said the consumer price index rose from 70,1 percent in July, outpacing the previous record of 70,4 percent in October 1999.

"The figure doesn't surprise me because the parallel market rate has impacted on prices all around," said Tony Hawkins, a business studies professor at the University of Zimbabwe.

He was referring to the black market rate of over Z$350 to the US dollar during an acute foreign currency shortage. The official rate has been pegged at Z$55 to the dollar since last November.

The stats office attributed the increase to rising prices of bread and cereals, rent and rates, beverages, vehicle running costs and public transport. - Reuters

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Mugabe may have second thoughts on land promise

By Ed O'Loughlin in Johannesburg

Zimbabwe's bloody land war could be far from over, experts warn, despite an agreement from President Robert Mugabe this week to halt attacks on white-owned farms.

Although Mr Mugabe accepted a Commonwealth-brokered agreement to halt the violence on Sunday, farmers said scattered incidents continued to occur in various parts of the country during the week.

Some regional observers say they fear the beleaguered 77-year-old President may be planning to renege on a deal that was largely forced on him by fellow African states.

While Mr Mugabe has described the invasion of more than 1,700 white-owned farms as a popular protest at colonial-era land ownership, his critics say the President has deliberately fanned the violence in an attempt to boost his own flagging popularity.

More than 30 opposition supporters, nine white farmers and dozens of black farm workers have been killed by gangs of pro-Mugabe militants since the Government suffered a shock defeat in a referendum in February last year.

Dr John Makumbe, a political scientist at the University of Zimbabwe, said that the deal brokered in Abuja, Nigeria, amounted to nothing more than a United Nations package that Mr Mugabe accepted and then promptly rejected three years ago.

"The 1998 deal was requiring a transparent approach to land reform, full compensation for the land which the Government acquired and also a non-violent approach. The 'fast track' program which Mugabe established in February 2000 violates all those principles," he said.

"For the deal to stick he has to order the war veterans and the persons occupying invaded farms to go away, and he is not about to do that. To do that would be to commit political suicide in terms of the 2002 elections."

A South Africa-based regional analyst said he thought it "extremely improbable" that Mr Mugabe would abandon his campaign so easily.

"In terms of winning a national election he has no other vision," he said. "He has no answer at all to the political and economic crisis he has created."

After 22 years of rule by Mr Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, the once wealthy Zimbabwe is lurching along on the edge of total collapse.

Chronic fuel and foreign-exchange shortages have crippled industry, and the land invasions have disrupted Zimbabwe's biggest single source of foreign currency and exacerbated food shortages, with the UN warning of possible famine early next year.

On Monday a group of regional African leaders, worried about the destabilising effect on their own economies, flew to Harare to pressure the erratic Mr Mugabe to implement the deal he had agreed to the day before.

Mr Mugabe's Zimbabwean supporters were shocked and angered when the group's chairman, Malawian President Bakili Muluzi, said Zimbabwe was damaging economies in the region and creating hopelessness at home. The violence associated with the land campaign had undermined the strong moral basis for land reform, he said.

Some analysts hope Mr Mugabe's realisation that he is isolated from his fellow African leaders may encourage him to honour this deal, having dishonoured so many others before.

Others doubt he will resist the temptation to raise the political temperature as his popularity keeps declining.

"A week after the [1998 Harare land] conference he was going to accept everything," said an analyst at a Johannesburg think tank. "A few days later he was screaming that he wouldn't pay a penny for the land and he would never bow to the British. We could well see that again."

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Tribal clashes on farms

Augustine Mukaro
THE fast-track resettlement programme has split the country along tribal lines as clashes erupt between farm invaders and locals who view the new occupants as usurpers.

Clashes were more serious in areas where settlers from other provinces had been allocated land ahead of villagers living adjacent to the acquired farms. Villagers who had not invaded farms but had waited to be moved to acquired farms felt left out as land was parcelled out to farm invaders. Some invaders were even parcelling out land to themselves.

In Mashonaland East, Agritex field officers said serious clashes had been reported in Murewa and Hwedza where settlers from other provinces were allocated land ahead of the locals.

Mashonaland East governor and resident minister David Karimanzira last week confirmed that there were clashes in Hwedza between settlers and locals. He said the locals wanted the new arrivals to return to their areas of origin. He said according to a verbal report by the police and the provincial administrator, 70 people were arrested in connection with the clashes.

Karimanzira said there were numerous clashes in the province between settlers and villagers.

Agritex officers said people from Mudzi and Mutoko — where there is a shortage of arable farmland — were being resettled in Murewa.
“Very few people living in the Mangwende area of Murewa have been resettled, although a number of them have registered to be moved,” a traditional leader in the area said.

“What we are seeing are people coming from Mudzi and Mutoko invading farms and allocating themselves tracts of land in the Virginia and Waterloo areas. This is a source of tension between the villagers and the settlers,” he said.

More clashes loomed in the densely-populated Murewa and Wedza areas as villagers became desperate to get land before the onset of the rains in the next two months.

The Zimbabwe Independent learnt of similar clashes in the Chakari and Sanyati areas outside Kadoma. People in Whozhele area last week clashed with settlers who had been moved from Gokwe and Chiwundura in the Midlands.

A Zimbabwe Farmers Union officer in Chakari said Mashonaland West governor Peter Chanetsa and his Midlands counterpart Cephas Msipa should meet to resolve the issue.

“The clashes forced some of the resettled farmers to vacate the land they had been allocated,” the officer said.

“The situation only calmed down after the intervention of the governors of the respective provinces.”

Msipa could neither confirm nor deny the clashes.

“People who intend to be resettled are not asked for their origins, they are just resettled,” he said.

This help-yourself policy has seen people from different clans who ascribe to different beliefs, norms and values being bunched into one scheme resulting in varying opinions and subsequently clashes.

In the south-eastern Lowveld there have been tribal tensions between the Shangaan and Karanga from Masvingo and settlers from Manicaland districts. MP for the area Aaron Baloyi has been arraigned before the courts for allegedly leading hordes of Shangaan tribesmen in raids on newly-arrived settlers from Bikita and Gutu.

People from places like Bikita, Gutu, Buhera and Chikombedzi were resettled in Chiredzi and the locals, who felt deprived of their resources, have tried to expel them.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Business cartel cleans out local consumer goods

Forward Maisokwadzo
A CARTEL of companies is wreaking havoc on the local consumer goods market by buying out all consumer products manufactured locally for resale to cross-border traders, it emerged this week.

Leading wholesalers are buying products in bulk from manufacturers to sell to cross-border traders from neighbouring countries to raise much-needed foreign currency. This is creating widespread shortages.

An executive with a food manufacturing company told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that Zambia, Malawi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique have of late been flooded with local basket goods which are running out of stock in this country.

“Wholesalers are buying goods in bulk ostensibly to supply the market but now they prefer to deal with cross-border traders who purchase in foreign currency,” said the executive.

“These same foreign dealers are flooding their home markets where we also distribute our products.”

Last week the Department of Customs and Excise impounded 57 Zambia-bound trucks at the Chirundu border post laden with consumer products. The same occurred at Nyamapanda, the gateway to Mozambique and Malawi, although the Independent could not establish the number of trucks impounded.

The cross-border traders sold their products at prices lower than those levied by Zimbabwean manufacturers’ distribution outlets in various neighbouring countries.

“This has killed the competitiveness of companies with operations in countries like Zambia where their products are being sold (by traders) at cheaper prices,” the industrialist said.

The industrialist declined to name the wholesalers, believed to be Zimbabweans of Asian descent, involved saying: “We have names but I can’t disclose them for we are in the process of raising complaints with the relevant government authorities to arrest the situation which has led to shortages of essential consumables.”

A government official with the Ministry of Industry and International Trade said reports had been submitted to their offices and efforts were being made to control informal cross-border trading.

“Government is working out modalities to deal with the situation which has resulted in a shortage of several consumer products in the country,” said the official.
From Page 1

Among the consumer products reported to be found in neighbouring countries were cooking oil, flour, soap, sugar, margarine, toothpaste, rice, tea and powdered milk.

The mushrooming of the cartels involved in cross-border trading has resulted in supermarkets running out of stock and a resultant sharp increase in the prices of most essential commodities in the past few weeks.
On Wednesday, reports from Mutare said the city had run out of cooking oil.

Olivine Industries, a producer of cooking oil among other products, said they were producing what they could under the current hostile environment characterised by foreign currency and fuel shortages.
“We try to meet our orders but we can’t control what happens after we sell our products to our customers,” a company official said.

Some wholesalers were actually buying out all stock in manufacturers’ warehouses, forcing other retailers to source products from them, at exorbitant prices.

The shortage of essential commodities has triggered the steep rise in the prices of basic goods.

Local companies with operations in the region like milk processor Dairibord Zimbabwe, Cairns Foods, Olivine Industries and Lever Brothers, have become victims of cross-border trading.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Mugabe expels US election advisers

HARARE, Sept 13: Representatives of a United States-based election support organisation left Harare on Thursday after being expelled by President Robert Mugabe's government, officials confirmed.

Thomas Bayer, director of programmes in Africa and the Near East for the International Foundation for Election Systems, said today he was about to fly out of Harare international airport, but was unable to give further details immediately.

However, Western diplomatic sources who asked not to be named confirmed that Bayer and Laurie Cooper, the IFES's senior programme officer in the regions, were ordered by immigration officials on Wednesday to leave today, despite a plea by the pair to be allowed to go on Saturday.

They arrived in Harare a week ago, planning to offer assistance to the Zimbabwe government and non-governmental organisations to prepare for presidential elections due by the end of March next year. Their offer was rebuffed by registrar-general Tobaiwa Mudede, the government official whose office is solely in charge of elections, although they were able to meet non-governmental organisations, the sources said.

Bayer and Cooper were called to a meeting with immigration officials on Wednesday and given their orders to leave. "They were not deported," the source said. "The officials said they were welcome to come back, but only as tourists.

"What the government really means is that it is not going to have anyone here who they believe is going to 'interfere' with their running of elections. It's clear they doesn't want observers here next year." IFES is an internationally respected, non-partisan organisation that has helped organise democratic elections all over the world, including Africa.

They have been involved in elections in South Africa. "They are a really well-known professional operation," said the diplomat. There are deep concerns that Mugabe's regime will try to rig next year's elections where for the first time in his 21-year rule he will face a likelihood of defeat.

In parliamentary elections in June last year Mugabe's ruling ZANU(PF) party narrowly beat the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in the vote for the country's 120 constituencies, but secured a majority through constitutional provisions that allow the 77-year- old dictator to choose an extra 30 MPs.

Repeated appeals by opposition parties and civic groups for an independent electoral commission to run elections and for wide- ranging electoral reforms have been rejected by the government.

Recently the government said it would ban any non-governmental organisations from being involved in elections.

Until now, church and civic organisations have been heavily involved as election monitors and observers. Observers say Mugabe's lawless militias have escalated their 19-month campaign of violence and intimidation ahead of next year's elections.-dpa

Back to the Top
Back to Index

From FinGaz

Experts meet as El Nino looms

Staff Reporter
9/13/01 7:40:39 PM (GMT +2)

SOUTHERN Africa weather experts meet in Malawi next week to discuss the
climate outlook for the region after the World Meteorological Organisation
(WMO) sounded a warning about the possibility of the return of the El Nino
weather phenomenon.

The climate outlook for the coming season in the 14-nation Southern Africa
Development Community (SADC) will be issued after discussions in Mangochi,
Malawi, from September 17 to 21.

The communication, which will be the "most authoritative information for the
region", comes in the wake of a statement by the Geneva-based World
Meteorological Organisation (WMO) warning of a weak El Nino in the next six
to nine months.

"After a prolonged La Nina phase that began in mid-1998 and continued into
early 2001, central tropical Pacific surface temperatures returned to near
normal (neutral) state by the middle of the year," the WMO said in its El
Nino update.

"They are now starting to become slightly warmer than normal, but only

The warming of surface Pacific temperatures to above normal can lead to El
Nino, which causes drought or floods in different parts of the world.

Cooler temperatures than normal in the eastern tropical Pacific ocean
usually spark the La Nina, the flip side of El Nino.

"The slow, weak warming that is underway in the central and eastern tropical
Pacific may be sufficient and persistent enough to become classified by some
schemes as a weak El Nino by the end of 2001 or early into 2002," the WMO

Zimbabwean experts this week said the Malawi talks will give regional
meteorological departments an opportunity to assess the potential impact of
changes in the Pacific on countries in the SADC.

Michael Glantz, a leading American expert on the El Nino phenomenon, told
the Financial Gazette: "There is a mild El Nino developing. Often, although
not always, such an El Nino can bring drought to southern Africa as it did
in 1991-92.

"The year 1997-98 was different because the western Indian ocean was
unusually warm and that screwed up the influence of the El Nino occurring
off in the distant Pacific ocean."

Michael Coughlan, director of the WMO’s climate programme, added: "With a
weak event such as the current one appears to be, it is likely that
processes involving the Indian ocean will be of more importance to seasonal
conditions in the countries of southern Africa than processes centred on the
Pacific ocean."

Zimbabwe’s Meteorological Services Department said it was too early to
determine the impact of the warming of Pacific temperatures on the country.

However, Zimbabwe has in the past been hard hit by the El Nino phenomenon
which, according to experts, has caused droughts in the southern African
country four times out of five that it has occurred.

Analysts said if the predicted El Nino phenomenon had its usual impact on
the country, it would compound an already harsh environment where the
mainstay agriculture sector is under severe pressure because of farm
occupations by government supporters.

Food shortages—a result of the farm seizures—are looming and hundreds of
thousands of people will need food aid by early next year.

"We can expect a drought to be more disastrous under these conditions than
it would have been if we hadn’t done this (destabilised the agricultural
sector)," said economic consultant John Robertson.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

MediaMonitoring Project Zimbabwe
Media Update # 2001/36
Monday 3rd September to Sunday 9th September 2001


Highlights of the week were the elections in Bulawayo and Makoni
West, and the Abuja summit. Once again, it fell to the privately
owned Press to counter the propaganda promoted in the state-
controlled media that endorsed the ruling party's perspective of
both events.
While coverage of the elections in the state media amounted to
simple and blatant favoritism for ZANU PF candidates, the political
line followed in the state media's coverage of the Abuja summit
was such that the international community's objectives of the
meeting were totally obscured.
The state media portrayed the summit as an initiative to solve the
diplomatic crisis between Zimbabwe and its "deceitful former
colonial master", Britain, which had been attempting to undermine
the government's land reform programme. The private Press, on the
other hand, portrayed the Abuja meeting as a Commonwealth
initiative to solve the internal political and economic crisis in

The Abuja summit received intense but contrasting coverage
between the state and private media.
The state media's coverage prior to the summit followed the ruling
party's assertions that land was at the heart of Zimbabwe's
problems. The fact that Britain acknowledged this as one problem
among others plaguing Zimbabwe was portrayed as a major victory
for Zimbabwe over Britain.
The selective and single-minded manner in which the state media
parroted the land issue - sometimes without supporting facts, and
always to the exclusion of other related key issues - raised
questions about the credibility of their stories.   
To strengthen the land argument, the state media constantly
referred "to landless people and war veterans, unhappy with
government delays in resettling them went on to occupy
commercial farms in protest".
Conspiracy theories abounded against Britain in the state media's
The Herald (5/9) carried an editorial "UK's new offensive bound to
fail" in which it portrayed Britain as a hypocrite that had failed to
honour "its colonial obligations, and was now determined to
pull wool over the eyes of countries trying to break the
impasse between Harare and London."
The editorial, like the previous story, UK on diplomatic offensive
(4/9), also accused Britain of "crafting" a document redefining the
1979 Lancaster House Agreement ahead of the summit. The paper
referred to the document at length but short-changed the public by
failing to explain its contents, thereby compromising the story's
Declared the paper:
    "Our former colonial master is a master at trickery. But
    it is high time other countries see through the tricks
    the way Zimbabwe does."
The Financial Gazette story, Britain faces pressure to end
impasse with Zimbabwe (6/9) soberly provided arguments for both
Zimbabwe and Britain. In fact, for the first time, readers learned that
Britain's three objectives at the summit were: "to defuse tension
inside Zimbabwe, to avert a big row over Zimbabwe at a
summit of the British-led Commonwealth group in Australia in
October and to make Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe
realize the need to tone down his hard-line pursuit of land

Besides the state media's attempts to portray land as the
fundamental problem to Zimbabwe's woes, they also employed an
array of unnamed sources in an effort to highlight Britain's alleged
attempt "to divert attention from the land issue by raising
extraneous matters such as the rule of law, democracy,
judiciary, presidential elections and monitors for the poll"
(4/9). British officials weren't given the opportunity to comment
about the alleged document.
These issues, cursorily mentioned, were therefore spiked and not
accorded their proper importance alongside the land issue.
In Little Hope for Abuja talks (7/9), The Zimbabwe Mirror's political
commentator Heneri Dzinotyiweyi captured it all when he stated:
"The main problem in Abuja is that Zimbabwe is adamant that
the talks zero in on the land issue while the Britons want to
discuss everything, including issues which have to do with

Incidentally, the comment also neatly summed up the differences
in the reporting trends between the state and private media.
The Daily News comment, "Don't force people to run before they
can even walk" (5/9), did not just attack government's
"monotonous impression that thousands of landless peasants
were so hungry for land that they were prepared to move onto
white commercial farms and start a new life". It also raised the
concerns of commercial farmers, their workers and the opposition
too, whom it claimed believed farm invasions had little or nothing to
do with equitable land distribution but "to seal off the countryside
from exposure to diverse political activity and campaigns" and
"to keep the rural electorate hostage and limit its political

More importantly, while The Herald (4/9) informed readers that
Britain's underhand tactics to isolate Zimbabwe internationally had
failed, The Zimbabwe Independent (7/9) instead, reported that
"global concerns on Zimbabwe were coalescing and
hardening" as efforts intensified to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis.
The story, which names and quotes local and regional political
analysts, does not paint a picture of a Zimbabwean victory over
Britain, but of a country being rehabilitated by the international
community under two broad initiatives: ". a moderate advocacy
strategy underpinned by President Thabo Mbeki's 'quiet
diplomacy' and a heightened approach sponsored by the
United States and its allies".

The media interpretation of the Abuja agreement and its conditions
left a lot to be desired. Only The Standard (9/9) seemed to do a fair
ZBC and the government's Zimpapers dailies simply presented the
outcome of the Abuja meeting as a 'victory' for Zimbabwe without
explaining the provisions of the accord.  No comment was sought
from diplomats representing the countries that participated.
Instead, the state media relied entirely on the government's
interpretation of the agreement.
They only quoted government officials claiming that Zimbabwe had
always carried out its land reforms legally, and failed to provide an
objective picture of the agreement or its implications for Zimbabwe.
In a story covering the opening of the Abuja meeting, The Daily
News (7/9) headlined Nigeria's criticism of farm invasions but failed
to mention what progress had been made at the talks, presumably
because its deadlines are so early following the bombing of its
presses that it was unable to carry the latest news from Abuja.
The Herald (7/9), Breakthrough in land talks, however, was able to
take advantage of its rival's limited capacity to tell readers that an
agreement had been struck and quoted a fair number of sources.
ZBC gave the impression that Zimbabwe had emerged the victor
while Britain had finally abdicated from its original position and had
agreed to comply with the Zimbabwean constitution requiring it to
fund the government's land reform exercise.

ZBC initially reported that an agreement had been reached in Abuja
(ZBC, 7/9, 8pm) in a report, in which Foreign Affairs minister Stan
Mudenge stated:
    " Yes, there has been an agreement by the British and
    ourselves that the British will provide resources to
    enable Zimbabwe to acquire provided for by
    our constitution .And as we have said time and again
    and as provided for in our constitution, if there are
    adequate financial resources provided we on our part
    will acquire land and pay full compensation."

Mudenge also dissociated government from land occupations when
he categorically stated that farm occupations were not a policy of
the Zimbabwean government.
In the same bulletin, ZBCTV quoted a ZANU PF linked legal expert,
Terrence Hussein, in an effort to corroborate Mudenge's claims that
the government's land resettlement was legal. Hussein stated:
    "The land reform is governed by first of all the
    Constitution of Zimbabwe, that is Section 16 as
    amended in the year 2000. This basically empowers the
    government to compulsorily acquire land on behalf of
    landless people. We then go on to the Land
    Acquisition Act, which basically provides for the
    modalities of going about acquiring land in this
    manner. We also have the Rural Land Occupiers
    Protection from Eviction Act, which protects landless
    people who have been occupying commercial farms to
    date. It protects them from arbitrary eviction. So these
    are basically the laws that are being looked at and are
    required to be complied about"

There was no clarity about the correlation between Section 16 and
the Land Acquisition Act that Hussein referred to.
Nor was Hussein asked to explain why government had enacted a
law to protect land occupiers if farm occupations were not part of
government policy as claimed by Mudenge. Also, Hussein was not
asked how the government would evict land occupiers protected by
controversial laws put in place by ZANU PF. Hussein went on to
describe the agreement as "a victory for the people of
Zimbabwe both the landless people who are going to see land
allocated to themselves, as well as white commercial

The Herald reinforced this view the next morning in its story,
Landmark decision (8/9), by relying almost exclusively on
comments made by Mudenge and Agriculture Minister Joseph
Made. Extraordinarily, Mudenge was reported as saying there had
never been any animosity between Zimbabwe and Britain, only
Said the report: "Asked whether Britain would backtrack on its
undertaking, Cde Mudenge said there was no reason to doubt

The Herald failed to ask Mudenge why he was suddenly so trusting
of the British in the light of previous accusations by government
that Britain had abdicated its duty to honour the 1979 Lancaster
House Agreement, among other offences.

Both The Herald and The Daily News published more detail of the
agreement's contents on their inside pages that day. But the state
daily smothered its story with a companion piece of propaganda
entitled, Land issue: State shows resolve to correct colonial
injustices, which emphasized how the "international press, led
by powerful sectors of the British and American societies, have
restricted sharp focus on Harare, revealing a well-orchestrated
conspiracy to portray Zimbabwe as an international bandit".
None of the media asked how the Abuja agreement would be
implemented. Nor were there any comments in the state media
from regional or international political analysts, or foreign diplomats
who attended the summit.

Accord to speed up land reform, The Sunday Mail (9/9), contained
nothing new in terms of facts, time frame or figures, on how the
Abuja agreement would accelerate land reform in Zimbabwe. It
merely rehashed The Herald's earlier story.

However, an agency report from AFP carried in The Herald (8/9),
Nigeria's Obasanjo, a successful peace broker, seemed to explain
successfully in a sentence what the state media chose not to tell
its readers all week: "In a deal brokered by Obasanjo, the
Zimbabwean government pledged on Thursday to move its so-
called war veterans off illegally occupied white-owned land
and restore the rule of law, in return for financial assistance
from Britain."

The report tallied with The Standard story Mugabe in a fix (9/9),
which claimed that Zimbabwe had indeed agreed to halt farm
invasions, political violence and to reinstate the rule of law in
exchange for British financial assistance - key conditions the state
media carefully avoided telling its audiences. Even then, the British
would only release the funds after they saw "concrete evidence
that Mugabe has made good his promise".
Said the paper: "Contrary to assertions by government officials
that the deal marked a breakthrough in the land impasse, the
development has actually cornered Mugabe."

The paper also broke the news that the agreement remained a
paper document since Mugabe had still not signed the Abuja

Rakiya Omaar of Africa Rights, a London-based African rights
watchdog, was quoted in the story: "Whether it will succeed
depends entirely on the will of President Mugabe. He is the
patron of the men responsible for the violence.."
The Standard also identified the Abuja agreement as a "revisit of
the 1998 donor conference where Zimbabwe agreed to a lawful
land reform programme in exchange for international support"
but which was never realized.

However, that evening ZBCTV (9/9, 8pm) quoted President Mugabe
reinforcing the triumphant nature of his ministers' comments earlier
in the week. Reaffirming that Zimbabwe had always upheld the rule
of law, he said: ".those freedoms are enshrined in our
constitution, so it becomes redundant to talk about the rule of
law, to talk about human rights when you have already
accepted that the question must be handled in accordance
with the Zimbabwean constitution and the Zimbabwean law.
That's what we have been trying to do.those fundamental
rights are being practised" 

ZBC did not ask why previous land reform initiatives, where the
donor community, including Britain, had pledged to fund an orderly
and legal land reform programme, had not been implemented.

Coverage of the Bulawayo mayoral and municipal elections and the
Makoni West by-election was largely overshadowed by the Abuja
Reports focussed mostly on political violence and ZANU PF's vote-
buying gimmick disguised as government policy meant to empower
the public through self-help projects.
ZANU PF's control of the public media was reflected in the way the
state media covered the election. As has become the norm,
Zimpapers and ZBC were blatantly used as platforms for the ruling
party's campaigns.

ZBC allocated ZANU PF's candidate for Makoni West, Gibson
Munyoro, vastly more time on television's main news bulletins than
his two rivals. He was allocated 17 minutes (71%) out of 24
minutes devoted to the by-election. The other seven minutes were
allocated to stories covering both ZANU PF and the MDC.
Also, ZBC audiences only learnt what other candidates were
offering during its current affairs programmes, "Itshukelwa Ebandla"
(ZBCTV, 3/9) and "Enkundleni" (Radio 2, 7/9, 8.30-9.30pm).
On September 7th ZBC (8pm) quoted Zanu PF officials Munyoro
and Mark Madiro accusing the MDC of attacking ZANU PF youths.
The MDC was denied the right of reply.
And although the mayoral candidates for the MDC and Liberty
Party in Bulawayo were quoted in some television news bulletins
(ZTV, 5/9, 8pm), the ZBC bias was evident in the reporter's voice-
over. For example, in one of its stories, the reporter quoted
Sikhanyiso Ndlovu referring to the introduction of the commuter
train, the Zambezi water project funding and the $12m donated by
ZANU PF under the guise of 'projects' as examples of
government's achievements in Bulawayo.

Radio 2/4, (7/9,1pm) did not analyse the implications of the $400
000 it reported Information Minister Jonathan Moyo as doling out to
the people of Sizinda in a ward whose councillor was paraded
across the state media for defecting from the MDC to rejoin ZANU

Zimpapers also failed to see anything wrong with ruling party
officials lavishly distributing state-funds at political campaign rallies.
The Herald story, ZANU PF, MDC lock horns (6/9) illustrated this
point. Instead of questioning such malpractices, the paper was
content to report: "Morale was high at rallies following the
disbursement of $2m to people for projects by the Minister of
Youth, Gender Development and Employment Creation, Elliot

In contrast, The Daily News (3/9) was able to unmask this cheap
attempt to bribe Bulawayo's electorate in Tsvangirai steals show in
Bulawayo. It noted: ".the ruling party has major obstacles to
overcome, despite its spirited campaign to court voters by
liberally disbursing funds for projects in the city".
But the paper failed to explain whether this activity contravened the
Electoral Act.
Neither did The Zimbabwe Independent (7/9). In its article Byo:
ZANU PF's nemesis, the paper only noted ZANU PF's vote-buying
Besides throwing taxpayers' money around in Bulawayo, ZANU PF
set another record in electioneering subterfuge, using the compliant
state media as its tool.
This took the form of a news item in The Herald (3/9) reporting a
government-hosted gala broadcast live on television to thank the
outgoing mayor of Bulawayo at which "Cde. Msika took the
opportunity to seek support of the hundreds who attended the
gala to vote for Cde Mlilo in the election that will pit him
against Mr Japhet Ndabeni Ncube of the MDC and Mr Jabulani
Ndlovu of the Liberty Party of Zimbabwe".  

By its own admission, The Herald noted that "Bulawayo's acting
mayor David Ndlovu carved himself a place in Zimbabwe's
history when he became the first non-substantive civic leader
to be publicly honoured by the government."
The reporting of political violence in Makoni West and Bulawayo
continued to mirror the polarization of the media, confusing readers
on the actual state of affairs on the ground. In other words, political
violence continued to be reported in the context of either the MDC

The state media confined its reports of political violence to attacks
against alleged ZANU PF supporters in Bulawayo and Makoni
West, but ignored attacks on the opposition. MDC allegedly
threatens workers ahead of election, The Herald (4/9) and, MDC
candidate arrested for allegedly inciting violence (4/9) are examples.
In fact, while The Herald (5/9) reported six incidences of political
violence it only concentrated on one in which MDC members were
alleged to have stoned a bus carrying ruling party supporters. A
police spokesman was quoted saying "ZANU PF supporters
retaliated by beating them, sustaining minor injuries". The
paper did not question the police spokesman over the other

The Herald also tried to link the MDC's campaigns to the foreign
conspiracy theories against Zimbabwe. In an article headlined "Ex-
Rhodesians team up on Internet" The Herald (4/9) quoted
Information Minister Moyo urging " . the people of Bulawayo to
demonstrate that Rhodesians would never rule Zimbabwe
again by voting overwhelmingly for the ZANU PF candidate ."
Even the defection of the politically fickle Alderman Mike Parira-
Mpofu, back to ZANU PF made headlines in the state media and
was used as further propaganda against the MDC.
Mpofu was allowed to attack the MDC, with impunity.

ZBC's patronage was also reflected in its announcement of the
election results. The state broadcaster (ZTV, 10/9, 8pm) did not bill
MDC's victory in the seven contested wards in Bulawayo, merely
mentioning the news after the main news bulletin break. The same
bulletin also featured the wisdom of Minister Moyo when the news
reader reported him as saying, "ZANU PF councillors have the
national and revolutionary profile that the MDC councillors
who are parochial and may not even know why and how they
became councillors"

Moyo even made an effort to underplay the MDC victory by referring
to Parira Mpofu's defection as a triumph for ZANU PF, instead of
the embarrassment it was, since he won his seat on an MDC
ticket, which was handed over to the ruling party without a vote.
Any professional broadcaster would have sought comment from the
winning party, but ZBC failed to manage this basic requirement.
When the ZBC announced the main results (Radio 1/3, 10pm &
ZTV 11pm, 10/9), it also played down the MDC's victory in
Bulawayo by emphasizing that the MDC had won the mayoral seat
in an election characterized by apathy and suppressed the fact
that voter apathy was more pronounced in the Makoni West by-
election where ZANU PF had won. ZBC also ignored a simple fact
that municipal elections traditionally don't attract as many voters
as parliamentary elections.
There was no mention of the outbreak of violence perpetrated by
ZANU PF supporters as soon as the news of the MDC victory
spread in Bulawayo.

Earlier in the week, The Financial Gazette (6/9) provided its
readers with a credible and balanced story in, MDC set to sweep
Byo mayoral poll, sourcing comments from both parties.
And an even more telling story by the paper, Headmen ordered to
herd villagers to vote, looked at the situation in Makoni West
through the eyes of the electorate, which summarized the situation
on the ground well.
There was little or no analysis of the electoral processes in the two

The most unfortunate was the failure by the entire local media to
follow-up on a revealing statement by Bulawayo wards registrar,
Jabulani Mbambo, that "the exact number of registered voters
would only be known today or tomorrow when the final roll
comes from Harare," (The Herald, 5/9).
In fact, what has manifested itself in the Press over the years is
their woeful failure to probe the mechanics and manipulation of the
electoral process thoroughly. And in this case they should have
made Mbambo's revelation their concern.
The Daily News only highlighted alleged anomalies in the electoral
process in its article on the first day of voting (8/9), which quoted
the MDC accusing ZANU PF of manipulating the voters' roll.
Unlike, The Herald, The Daily News accorded ZANU PF the right of
reply through its secretary for publicity and information, Nathan
Shamuyarira, who denied the allegations.

The Daily News followed this up on the other side of the voting
weekend with its story, Massive rigging alleged in polls, (10/9) in
which the MDC also accused ZANU PF of harassing its members
in Bulawayo and Makoni West.
Predictably, the news focus in The Sunday Mail (9/9) was that
MDC youths had assaulted ZANU PF members without any
mention of the rigging allegations. The assaults were reported as
fact despite police comments that investigations were continuing.
On the last day of the election, ZTV (9/9, 8pm) carried a report in
which Senior Assistant Commissioner Albert Mandizha, was
quoted as saying the police had discovered a consignment of
weapons from three white men who were personal aides to the
MDC's David Coltart. The reporter stated that the weapons were
specified arms of war that could only be found with the police and
the army, giving the impression that the MDC was a violent and
dangerous party. Viewers were shown the firearms as proof. But
there was no attempt to establish whether the weapons were
licensed or what they may have been used for. In the same report,
MDC spokesman, Learnmore Jongwe, was abruptly cut before he
could give his party's side of the story. No effort was made to seek
a comment from David Coltart.

The next day, The Herald (10/9), gave the arms story wide publicity
and tried to link the discoveries of the "arms cache" to incidents of
political violence in western Bulawayo.

The MEDIA UPDATE is produced and distributed by the Media
Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ), 15 Duthie Avenue,
Alexandra Park, Harare, Tel/fax: 263 4 703702, E-mail: Web:
Feel free to respond to MMPZ. We may not be able to respond to
everything, but we will look at each message. Also, please feel free
to circulate this message.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

ZIMBABWE HUMAN RIGHTS PROTEST Jonathan Moyo bites the Byo dust Jonathan Moyo bites the Byo dust


Date: Saturday 6 October 2001
Time: 12.00hrs - 14.00hrs
Venue: Zimbabwe High Commission
429 Strand Street
(Nearest tube Charing Cross).
SPECIAL NOTE: In light of the American tragedy: 12.30 hrs 2 minutes silence followed by prayer, collectively singing Amazing Grace. The world is overwhelmed by the shock and horror of these sinister attacks leveled at the proud city of New York, the Pentagon in Washington DC and the American People. We would like to take this time to say that our deepest sympathy, condolences and prayers go out to the victims, their families, and all Americans world-wide in this tragedy that has affected and touched us all. This is not only a national tragedy in America but an appalling,cowardly and sinister attack against the very foundations, principles and beliefs of  all democratic countries.''Under the shadow of thy wings shall my refuge, until this tyranny be over''. Pslam 57.1

The protest is organised by concerned Zimbabweans and supporters, Human rights campaigners, Church groups and organisations, gay rights organisations and environmentalists. Possibly the last protest outside Zimbabwe House before the end of the year 2001. This protest shall coincide with the CHOGM meeting/protests taking place in Brisbane Australia. The protest will focus on:

Albert Weidemann
1 Ambrose Road
North Yorkshire
Tel: 01765 607 900


Durani Rapozo
Mobile: 07740 437 667 (UK) 
Back to the Top
Back to Index


Fires endanger white farms

From News24 (SA), 13 September

Featherstone, Zimbabwe - With boxes of matches as their only weapons, President Robert Mugabe's lawless militias have launched a new offensive against the country's white farmers - engulfing huge areas of the countryside in flame. In just over two weeks, about two-thirds of all grazing in the drier cattle-ranching regions that cover most of the country has been destroyed by fires raging across hundreds of thousands of hectares, often for days on end. Two people, believed to be the children of squatters, were burnt to death last week. There are widespread reports of animals dying in fires, including 57 young ostriches in the western district of Nyamandlovu this week.

Fires are part of the natural cycle of the bush in the hot, dry months before the start of the rainy season, but there is no doubt that nearly all of it now is arson, says the Commercial Farmers' Union. This year's fires are three times worse than last year's, which was the worst ever and coincided with the invasion of white-owned farms by state-driven squatters. "The effect on the cattle industry is catastrophic," said CFU deputy director Jerry Grant. "There is wholesale destocking and slaughter because ranchers have nowhere to feed their cattle. "The national commercial herd is down to 1.2 million and it's shrinking fast. We will never meet our European export quotas of 9 000 tonnes again," he said.

The district of Featherstone, about 100 kilometres south of Harare and one of the country's major beef producing areas, is probably the worst hit, with 80% of all grazing gone up in smoke. Kilometre after kilometre along the district roads, the veld on either side is a sea of black, with small piles of white ash where trees smouldered away. "On some days it's so bad, you can hardly see the sun," said local farmers' association chairman Les Mallet. "It's as dark as it was during the solar eclipse in June." The worst was a three-day conflagration that swept through an entire 33 000 ha ranch. Sometimes farmers faced with up to five fires breaking out in a day.

Boetie O'Neill, 36, has managed to save two-thirds of his ranch, thanks to his home-made fire brigade - three tractor-drawn trailers, each carrying a 2 000 litre water bowser - that has doused scores of blazes on his own and his neighbours' farms. But the fires in Featherstone are only a part of demoralising strategy of harassment, violence and intimidation against the farmers. The real name of the game is extortion. Last week the squatters on his ranch drove his animals out of the paddocks and on to the main tar road where they have no water and no grass, and stand the chance of being hit by a vehicle. Four new-born calves died in the heat. Police ignored calls for help. O'Neill asked the squatters what he should do with his cattle. The land now belonged to them, they said, but he could graze his animals on unburned parts of the ranch - for a fee. On Friday last week, O'Neill, who in two years has almost doubled the carrying capacity of his pasture through revolutionary grazing techniques in the last two years, paid out Z$123 000 for the right to graze his animals on his own land. "Then they caught me out," he said. "First they said it was for six weeks until the middle of October. But after I had paid them, they moved the goalposts. They said it was only for seven days."

The paper chase doesn't stop there. This week the squatters admitted to him that the money they raised went mostly on paying the roaming mobs of ruling party youths, Mugabe's violent political troopers in the commercial farming areas. The daily wage of 500 Zimbabwe dollars a day is an enormous sum of money for unemployed youths lifted off the streets by Zanu PF. In an ultimate irony, O'Neill is paying for the lawless thugs who make a misery of his life and those of his family and his 60 workers, 30 of whom he was forced recently to retrench. A new ultimatum came this week. He was told he had to get all his cattle off the ranch. He has to meet the squatters, war veterans and party youths on Sunday. "What they want is for us to pack our suitcases and leave them the cattle," he said. "If the meeting doesn't go well, I will slaughter everything. And I am not going anywhere.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

From the Times (UK)


Zimbabwe teacher battered to death


A HEADMASTER in rural Zimbabwe has been battered to death, allegedly by
supporters of President Mugabe, days after the country accepted
international agreements to restore the rule of law.
Police confirmed that the body of Felix Mazava, 47, had been found on
Thursday in a field in the Chikomba area, 80 miles south of Harare, which
has one of the worst reputations for brutality by the ruling Zanu (PF)

The independent Daily News and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
quoted relatives as saying that Mr Mazava was abducted on Wednesday after
being accused of supporting the MDC. The newspaper said that a post-mortem
examination had found a deep stab wound in his chest, multiple arm fractures
and a severe gash to the head.

Chikomba is the former constituency of “Hitler” Hunzvi, the notorious former
leader of the so-called war veterans who was declared a national hero after
his death in a car crash in May. Reports of escalating intimidation
foreshadow next weekend’s by-election there.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Constitutional Assembly Threatens Mass Action If Government Shuns Free, Fair Poll Proposals

September 14, 2001
Posted to the web September 13, 2001

The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) said it would mobilise Zimbabweans to embark on mass action, and would also lobby international support against the government, if it refused to implement the NCA's proposals to guarantee free and fair presidential polls scheduled for next year, the 'Financial Gazette' reported on Thursday.

NCA chairman Lovemore Madhuku said the implementation of minimum requirements needed to guarantee free and fair elections was a matter of life and death for the NCA and that the civic group would not back down. "We won't give up. We will die on that one," he was quoted as saying. Madhuka said the NCA would present two options to the government.

"The first option will be for the government to adopt and enact our draft constitution which we will present to them by December. The draft constitution has permanent mechanisms to guarantee free and fair elections. If for some reason the government decides to postpone the issue of the constitution until after the presidential elections, then it would have to implement the minimum requirements that we have suggested for the holding of free and fair elections. That will be a fair compromise and we will agree to that," he told the 'Financial Gazette'.

Madhuka added that if the government did not adopt the NCA constitution, the organisation wanted an independent electoral commission to run the elections. He said that the NCA wanted the voters roll to be updated and verified well in advance of the elections and for equal air time and space to be given to the opposition in the public media. "It's either that the government enacts the new constitution or effects these minimum requirements or we will take to the streets," Madhuku said.

He said the NCA would also lobby the United Nations, the Commonwealth, the European Union and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) to apply pressure on the government to ensure the implementation of the minimum conditions. The NCA wanted to make representations on these issues to the SADC leaders from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Malawi and Mozambique who met in Harare on the land crisis this week, but was excluded from civic groups which met the leaders, the report said.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Jonathan Moyo’s dissembling was at its peak this week. While pretending there was nothing significant about the ruling Zanu PF losing heavily in elections in Bulawayo last weekend, his whole article in the Herald on Tuesday had the bitterness of a man completely thwarted.

According to reports just over 73 000 people voted in the weekend election, with Zanu PF’s mayoral candidate getting a paltry 12 783 against the MDC’s 60 988. To borrow Moyo’s own phrase: “That is a very significant statistic that can only be ignored by hooligans.”

Then he gives us his views on Zanu PF. He says the party has clearly regained some of the ground lost in the June parliamentary election. Of course he didn’t show us by how much or whether the “statistic” is significant or not. In fact we suspect he wrote his story before the results were out, anticipating MDC celebrations on the streets.

That perhaps explains his claim that the MDC was “using the cover of democracy — in fact the cover of darkness — to crudely and violently celebrate what is essentially an empty victory from a national standpoint”.
Is the cover of darkness he refers to a reference to ZBC’s blackout of the opposition? The MDC is not working “under the cover of democracy”. It is working in the absence of democracy.

The violence that people have been subjected to by Zanu PF cannot be equated to democracy by any stretch of the imagination. The MDC has had to use word-of-mouth to do its campaigning because Moyo thinks only Zanu PF is entitled to use state resources. And he is failing dismally against a newly-formed party that owns neither a newspaper nor a radio station.

But more shocking is Moyo’s feeble attempts to wriggle out of his own embarrassing failure. All of a sudden he tells us the MDC’s victory is “empty”. Since when?

If the MDC victory is empty why did Moyo and his party seek to portray the campaign for the wards and mayoral seat as a battle for political survival? Why did Moyo spend millions of dollars on petty projects, including the $400 000 donated to a vendors’ association last week, if it was not to buy votes?

Why was he spending most of his weekends in Bulawayo if not to make himself appear like one of the people of Bulawayo? Of course people did come for the money which was long overdue but they would not prostitute their souls. They exposed him for what they perceive him to be — a mercenary who has sold his moral principles and academic credibility for a ministerial Benz.

After all his ranting one would think the professor’s bile would dry up, but no.

“Prices of basic commodities such as cooking oil, bread, sugar and soap are not going to come down tomorrow... because of the victory of the elements that are celebrating in a crude and violent way.”

Is the MDC responsible for inflation? Does it preside over economic policy? He fails to understand that his party is being rejected all round because it has caused so much misery and destitution. The reason the MDC has emerged as such a nightmare for Zanu PF is precisely because it has exposed the hypocrisy of a ruling party claiming to be the people’s champion but spending money on itself.

It is in fact shocking for a political scientist to expect a mere opposition to be the one providing social services to the people when there is an elected government to which people pay their taxes. Moyo, who is increasingly becoming unbalanced, is a telling example of an official who approaches issues with his mind completely shut while his mouth is wide open. Our taxes are being diverted to vote-buying which doesn’t seem to be working.

Moyo should bury his head in shame. No loss could be more humiliating. And he — as Zanu PF’s chief campaigner in the City of Kings — is largely responsible for the setback. We gather he was booked into the Bulawayo Rainbow Hotel until Wednesday this week but checked out in a huff on Monday when the extent of his defeat became evident. Now he is threatening to get even by unleashing a fresh round of company invasions.

Like all his policies it is doomed to fail. The people of Bulawayo are not buying Moyo or the second-hand political clothes he is hawking on the streets. The vendors know what to do. They took his money but declined to vote for him!

The Herald last Friday carried a little story claiming there was no violence in Wedza as reported by the Zimbabwe Independent. Nothing wrong with that — if it were true. What we found curious however was the way the Herald now seems to operate. Why did its tour of the farms in the area have to be “arranged” by police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena? Journalists worth the name could easily have arranged their own tour of the farms to check things out for themselves instead of peering through the blinkers of a police Defender.

But we know there are two big obstacles to such an undertaking: either they were afraid they would be attacked by the farm workers whom they have been vilifying, or they would have no paper in which to publish findings on the ground. So it was necessary to “arrange” with Bvudzijena to clear the area of undesirable elements before the tour. And indeed, when the Herald press corps got there “farming activity was going on as usual, without any reports of violence”.

The farm workers probably know more about what happened in Chinhoyi a few weeks ago than the Herald and Bvudzijena put together. The Wedza trip was just one example in many in which state agencies including government media try to cover-up and suppress news. We have witnessed this deceit before.

Meanwhile, we are still at a loss as to why the police wanted to talk to our chief reporter, Dumisani Muleya, after he wrote the story on the displacement of farm workers in the Wedza area two weeks ago. If anything, the transcript of his meeting with Detective Assistant Inspector Malunjwa betrays both ignorance and political pressure on the police. Instead of the police investigating the story independently, they wanted Muleya to do it for them.

For instance, Malunjwa and his boss, Detective Inspector Matema, insisted on Muleya accompanying them to Wedza to identify the people he had interviewed. There was no reason given. After the lawyers intervened, it turned out that the police had not even read the CFU reports which were extensively quoted in the story. They had not even read the story. When he was told there was no need for Muleya to go to Wedza and that the police in the area were better placed to investigate, Malunjwa found himself in a fix.

“That’s very clear. We do agree with you,” he said glumly. “You are made to do things ... some of these things you may be pushed into a corner which does not go into one’s conscience. When one is not the person behind ...”

So effectively there was no case for Muleya but Malunjwa was being “pushed into a corner” by his bosses against his “conscience”?

This became even more apparent when Detective Inspector Mate ma took over the interrogation. Asked by the lawyers whether he had tried to verify the facts on the ground in Wedza, he said: “I phoned on my cellphone to the unit there and they told me that they spoke to someone at the farm.”

Further down he reveals that he is not his own man. He said Zimbabwe was a sovereign country and asked why Muleya was writing about people from Malawi and Zambia being harassed?

“What do you think that the people in those countries think about Zimbabwe when they read these things? We are doing a job as well,” said Matema.

So that is the reason state-controlled media won’t report the violence and mass displacements? Neighbours will be offended. Surely Matema can tell his masters to play their politics well instead of attacking the messenger! Matema should also know it is not the police’s job to suppress news — in this case farm workers displacements — but to enforce law and order. Why harass journalists while state-sponsored hoodlums are wreaking havoc on farms? Police should stop behaving like political activists or hired party henchmen.

Has anybody noticed how Zimbabwe’s hitherto slothful police force has suddenly jumped into action as the authorities attempt to demonstrate that they are serious about enforcing the Abuja accord? If the official press is to be believed they are evicting thousands of settlers on delisted farms in Masvingo and responding with urgency to violence in Beatrice.

But farmers in Beatrice told the BBC on Saturday that they were under siege and the police had refused to assist. The CFU said repeated attempts to get the police to act had been met with a point-blank refusal.

So it is strange to see police spokesmen claiming in the Herald that they had responded quickly to pleas for assistance from farmers.

The contradiction is not difficult to fathom. On Saturday the political orders had yet to be given for the police to act. By Sunday, with a visit by regional heads of state looming and the world expressing growing scepticism about the Abuja accord, orders had gone out for war veterans and other hoodlums to be reined in. But as events in Beatrice this week showed, where the law has not been enforced over 18 months there is little incentive for people to obey it, especially those with a licence for lawlessness. And the police, as the officer commanding Bulawayo province, Senior Assistant Commissioner Albert Mandizha showed on Monday, are still openly partisan and unprofessional in their approach towards their work.

Does Mandizha seriously believe Bulawayo has “enjoyed peace until last Thursday’s kidnapping incident”? He needs to be asked what happened to Patrick Nabanyama and why he hasn’t done anything about the less-than- peaceful disappearance of David Coltart’s election agent. At least the results of the Bulawayo poll will show officers like Mandizha who the people support — ie not the party he evidently supports!

One good thing emerged from Abuja. Mugabe will no longer be able to claim that Africa supports his land-grab. The views openly expressed by Nigeria’s foreign minister, and subsequently this week by President Muluzi, show that the consensus on Mugabe’s damaging policies is now pan-African as well as pan-European and pan-Commonwealth.

Joseph Made’s pathetic attempts to claim in the Sunday Mail that Zimbabwe’s approach to land reform had been “appreciated” by other foreign ministers at Abuja is simply not borne out by the statements made there.

He was evidently not listening, or trying to hoodwink the Sunday Mail — not a difficult task. The story that Zanu PF has all along been acting legally and constitutionally simply won’t fly — as the leaders gathered in Harare this week underlined. Mugabe is now isolated on the land issue. And there will have to be much “backtracking” on the nature and extent of the land seizures if any donor funds are to materialise. The sooner Zanu-PF propagandists wake up to this cold reality the less tortured their explanations will be.

Why is the Sunday Mail intent upon suggesting that Nigeria and South Africa have different agendas when they have been working closely together since last year? And why does the Herald’s correspondent Marvellous Mapininga, who was in Abuja, flatly contradict the Sunday Mail’s claim? It would be interesting to know what is going on here — apart of course from sheer ignorance!

At least regional leaders will have had a “first-hand understanding” of what Zanu PF is “trying to achieve” from events in Beatrice this week. They also of course had the chance to compare 12 000 votes with 60 000!
They were unimpressed we gather with Joseph Chinotimba who Mugabe introduced them to at the airport. Why did he think that presidents who had come to Harare to discuss the restoration of the rule of law would be keen to meet the architect of lawlessness? We can imagine how delighted they were when Chinotimba attempted to participate in their proceedings at the Sheraton! Was this Mugabe’s court jester, they must have asked themselves, being afforded free rein to mock his fellow heads of state?

And is it seriously imagined they weren’t able to see through Zanu PF front organisations like the Inyika Trust and Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions masquerading as civil society? What a charade!

Vice-President Simon Muzenda’s remarks to the police about arresting “lying journalists” who write about the country’s “barbaric” security institutions would appear to reflect growing nervousness in official circles about the consequences of systematic corruption and misrule.

Zanu PF’s leaders may have temporarily hired an unprofessional police force to intimidate journalists by taking them in for questioning and then charging them under the discredited Law and Order (Maintenance) Act. But very soon the heads of “barbaric” security institutions that collaborate with discredited politicians to protect them from the consequences of their misrule will in turn be answering to the forces of justice. The violation of the Police Act by certain officers is now a matter of public record.

Lying politicians and their henchmen will not get away forever with threats against journalists and others in civil society doing their jobs.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

End game not too far

YOU can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs, says the old saying. And eighteen months ago, most right thinking Zimbabweans were saying that the country needs to break an awful lot of eggs, that in order to rebuild what was once a prosperous little African country, a destructive catharsis was essential. Zimbabwe will only emerge stronger and fitter after the present cancer is removed, but that the removal is going to be a cruel and painful process.

This paper said the same thing. We said the birth of a new Zimbabwe would be traumatic and painful, but that it would happen and Zimbabwe would once again be able to raise its head with pride.

Perhaps the message was given too early. When told that the fight would be long and hard, people may have nodded sagely, but it’s doubtful they really took it in. It was, after all, just another opinion, one of many and perhaps the least agreeable. On the other side of the great divide, there were those who promised salvation through acquiescence. They said that sitting at the feet of Zimbabwe’s leaders and fawning appropriately would soon put things right. Since then a thousand promises have been broken, though not, interestingly, by the ruling party or its merchants of madness. They promised violence before Zimbabwe’s constitutional referendum and they’ve delivered it relentlessly ever since.

No, the promises have been broken by those in agricultural politics who swore "things were on the mend".

Which is all by the by. What is happening now is that Zimbabwe has entered a new phase and all the difficulties promised and prophesied 18 months ago are happening. It was said then that things have to get worse before they get better – and they’re certainly getting worse. The events that constitute a crisis have accelerated and people are becoming increasingly nervous, despite the fact that everything that is happening now had to happen and could have been foreseen.

Over the last eight weeks, the Zimbabwe Crisis has worsened considerably. The arrest and subsequent illegal treatment of the Chinhoyi 21 precipitated a new phase of chaos and anarchy. It was followed by the dramatic destruction of over 40 homes in Doma, then by the eviction of thousands of workers and their families in Hwedza. Optimists say that what we’re seeing now is the endgame, the final big push from ZANU-PF as it tries to pull off the coup that will see it remain in power for another five years.

Well, it may well be the endgame, but it’s still too soon to say. SADC’s leaders have undoubtedly turned on Mr Mugabe. They did so last week in Mozambique, despite the State’s best efforts to tell us all that the president was in Mozambique to discuss the Beira Corridor. They will do the same at another meeting, probably this week. Mr Mugabe now has no friends – or no friends worth having. This will either make him behave with more decorum or it will make him intensify his self-proclaimed war against everyone who is opposed to his dictatorial rule.

Still, if this isn’t Mr Mugabe’s endgame, then the endgame can’t be too far away now. The circle of enmity around him has closed with condemnation from old friends in South Africa and Mozambique. He might look to Dos Santos in Angola and Nujoma in Namibia, but neither is of any real consequence, the former a picture of depraved corruption so grotesque he now rivals his old neighbour Mobutu Sese Seko, while the latter relies on South African patronage for survival. Mr Mugabe will be hard pushed to escape the same fate Mr Smith faced when Henry Kissinger put the squeeze on Rhodesia.

Not everyone thinks that’s good news. Lot’s of respected people in Zimbabwe still believe (or hope fervently) that Mr Mugabe will provide a solution that maintains the status quo – and extends ZANU-PF’s hegemony for at least another five years. Some believe this out of naivety, others, especially in business, fear Mr Mugabe’s demise because it spells an end to life on the gravy train.

They’re likely to be very disappointed, but that will be of little consequence unless Zimbabwe institutes its own Truth Commission in the future.

But whether this is the endgame or whether the endgame is still to come, it is likely that life in Zimbabwe is about to become even more difficult before it gets better. That means Zimbabweans have to make certain decisions, decisions that question their commitment to the country. Many people have already left, while many others are trying to leave now. The brain drain is regrettable, but perhaps unavoidable. What would as regrettable as the brain drain (without in any way saying that farmers aren’t brainy), would be an exodus of farmers. That would be regrettable on several fronts. Firstly, it would seriously reduce the speed of economic recovery because Zimbabwe’s economy is dependent, perhaps too dependent, on organised agriculture.

But secondly, at a moral level, it would provide the ruling party with what they want most – the opportunity to initiate a Zambian scenario in Zimbabwe. Some farmers already know this because they’ve been asked whether they want to be on a list of farms that will survive the mass listing of properties. The ruling party believes Zimbabwe can survive and prosper with as few as 700 very large tobacco estates supporting thousands of small-scale growers, in much the same way as Brazil’s tobacco industry works. They may be right, but that isn’t the point. What would suit Zimbabwe best isn’t what would suit ZANU-PF or its greedy financial backers best. Rather it is what would suit the thousands of farmers who currently feed the country and make a decent living for themselves rather than an obscene living for grasping middle men and the obsequious business community.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Cattle producers face new threat

VELD fires being randomly lit by land invaders countrywide are further compounding problems faced by commercial farmers, many whom have been left with inadequate grazing land but cannot move their cattle to alternative pastures because of the outbreak of the Foot and Mouth Disease which has necessitated a ban on all cattle movements.

The land invaders have set ablaze thousands of hectares of pastures in their efforts as to clear the land in preparation for ploughing. In some cases the lighting of fires is being seen as a deliberate strategy to force the farmers off their land.

Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU) regional executive for Midlands, Mr Bob Vaughan-Evans said, "In all my five years in the Midlands, I have never seen anything like this.

"People are just lighting these fires, sometimes deliberately, without a care what happens after."

As a consequence, he said, there was no longer sufficient grazing for cattle and farmers had to find alternative pastures but legally, due to the recent outbreak FMD, they are forbidden to move cattle only unless they are sending them directly for slaughter.

However, sources interviewed by The Farmer confirmed that there were still some illegal cattle movements in some areas in defiance of the ban by the Department of Veterinary Services and this would undermine efforts to control the spread of FMD.

He said one farmer in Gweru, Mr Dave Engle, narrowly escaped being incinerated to death in a raging inferno he and his workers were trying to fight. He said the fire, which started on a neighbouring property, was rapidly advancing towards his farm when he summoned his workers to try and put it out. Mr Vaughan-Evans said the farmer was practically enveloped in the inferno and had to run through the fire to escape.

He said in his view, invaders were lighting the fires in an effort to clear land for ploughing. He did not believe most of the fires were deliberate arson but many of those setting the fires soon became overwhelmed by the flames because of the dry conditions prevailing. He also thought there was an element of recklessness among some of the illegal settlers who seemed unconcerned about the consequences of their actions.

A Kwekwe farmer who refused to be named related an incident in which two donkeys belonging to illegal occupiers at his farm were burnt alive. He said although he was not sure who started the fire, indications were that it was one of two groups camped on either side of his property.

The farmer expressed fears that the situation regarding veld fires in the area could soon get out of control. "The situation is very bad. Everyday we see raging fires around us. Those less fortunate have lost almost all their gazing lands. I lost 150 hectares but others have lost as much as 1000 hectares."

What is most worrying, said the farmer, "is that once they light these fires, they haven’t a clue on how to control them."

CFU regional executive, Mashonaland West (South) Mr Ben Freeth expressed a more ominous view. "It seems its now official policy to burn people out. As soon as they tell you to move off, they start the fires," he said.

He said no sooner had current holder of the prestigious Cattle Man of the Year, Roy Lilford, received a letter ordering him to move off his property, there was a veld fire raging on the farm. Mr Freeth said in other instances, fires had been started on a farm soon after Agritex officials involved in pegging farms had completed their work.

According to Mr Freeth, in a number of cases, high value Rhodes grass plantations had been set ablaze to allow District Development Fund tractors ploughing for the new settlers to move in.

Mr Freeth said because vast tracts grazing land had been destroyed in fires, the affected farmers had resorted to seeking help from neighbours, particularly some black farmers, whose properties have escaped the fires. He thanked some of the black farmers whom he said had shown willingness to share their pastures. He said, however, with the current outbreak of FMD, sharing of pastures might no longer be possible because of the ban on cattle movements.

It was a pity, he said, that after a good rainy season resulting in the development of good pastures, this was now being destroyed at the same time that some farmers were de- stocking. He urged farmers and relevant authorities to move swiftly to put in place necessary fireguards before all grazing lands are totally destroyed.

Hwedza, which hit the headlines in recent weeks when so called war veterans and Zanu-PF militants went on rampage evicting thousands of farm workers from their homes and resulting in a total breakdown of farming operations on scores of farms, has had its share of veld fires.

There have been reports of a Hwedza farmer who was given an ultimatum by the land invaders to move off his 650 herds of cattle, which he could not do because of the ban on cattle movements in the wake of the FMD outbreak. Angered by his failure to comply with their demands the invaders are reported to have set ablaze about 1000 hectares of pasturelands and have been preventing the farmer from feeding his cattle with stored hay. 

Zimbabwe’s logging reward for DRC war


Zimbabwe plans to log forests in the Democratic Republic of Congo 10 times the size of Switzerland, raising $300 million in the first three years, to recoup the cost of backing the government against rebels, a human rights group said.

Zimbabwe’s army plans to log about 600,000 cubic meters of wood, the equivalent of about 222,000 acres of tropical forest, a year from four concessions covering 15 percent of Africa’s third-biggest country, the London-based Global Witness said in a report. A Zimbabwe government spokeswoman wouldn’t comment on the report.

President Robert Mugabe’s decision to deploy 11,000 troops to the DRC to support the government against rebel forces backed by Uganda and Rwanda helped push Zimbabwe’s economy into its worst crisis and drain foreign currency needed to import fuel and food, analysts say.

"This type of rapacious exploitation in the Congo will only accelerate the conflicts in the Central African region,’’ said Matt Phillips, senior campaigner at Friends of the Earth. "The military controls this type logging all over the world, in Africa, Cambodia, Indonesia, in order to earn money to spend on military operations.

Zimbabwe spends more than a $1 million a day on the war, roughly the cost of daily fuel imports, according to Harare-based economist John Robertson. It intervened in October 1998 in the DRC, which has some of the richest reserves of hardwood timber, copper, cobalt and diamonds.

"Zimbabwe’s intervention has incurred heavy costs in men, material and money,’’ said the Global Witness report. "These facts add to the government’s incentive to recoup at least some financial losses, which they could use to defend their role in the country.’’

The Concession A venture known as the Congolese Society for the Exploitation of Timber, or SOCEBO, has the right to log 33 million hectares (81.5 million acres) of tropical forest, Global Witness said. Timber from the world’s largest logging concession will be used mainly in furniture and chipboard for construction, the group said.

"Magnificent forests will be devastated, local communities will lose their livelihoods, and the wood will end up pulped or chipped in the UK, the US and China,’’ said Phillips.

SOCEBO, Global Witness said, is a venture between Operation Sovereign Legitimacy, a company controlled by Zimbabwe’s military and the business interests of Mugabe’s ruling party, and Comiex, a Kinshasa-based company. The Wall Street Journal has reported Comiex is linked to former president Laurent Kabila.

Some of the wood may be transported by rail through Zambia and Zimbabwe to the South African port of Durban, while the rest may be carried down the Congo river to the Atlantic coast, said Global Witness. Likely buyers would be in Europe, especially France, which already imports wood from Cameroon, Gabon and Liberia.

Previous attempts by Zimbabwe’s military to earn money in the DRC have had mixed results. Last year Oryx Natural Resources Ltd, postponed plans to takeover Petra Diamonds Ltd. and sell shares in London to raise money to fund the development of a Congolese diamond mine.

Grant Thornton, a financial adviser to Petra, opposed the venture’s formation because of its links to Operation Sovereign Legitimacy and Comiex and prevented the listing.

Zimbabwe’s state-controlled Mhangura Copper Mines Ltd. has processed Congolese cobalt ore, and a Zimbabwean, Billy Rautenbach, for a time was in charge of the Congolese state mining company, Gecamines.

Zimbabwe Defence Industries, a state-owned company, has sold $53 million worth of food and uniforms to the DRC military, Global Witness said. 

Veld fires increasing risk of transmission

Origin of foot and mouth disease confirmed

THE Department of Veterinary Services says it is now convinced the current outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) originated from buffalo-cattle contact and, most likely, in the Gonarezhou National Park and the Save Conservancy where war veterans have deliberately flouted veterinary regulations as they embarked on rampant poaching.

In an Interview with The Farmer the Director of the Veterinary Services Department, Dr Stuart Hargreaves, said, "The source of the outbreak is definitely buffalo-cattle contact. We are now investigating the various possibilities of where and how this could have occurred. "

Saying he had no knowledge of who the perpetrators of poaching and cutting down of fences were, Dr Hargreaves said, "Poaching is on the increase. Reports that fences are being cut are on the increase but we do not know who the perpetrators are. So I can’t comment on that."

The government has blamed unidentified poachers for cutting down veterinary fences but analysts say the incidents cannot be divorced from the lawlessness that has characterised the land invasions. Many say before the farm invasions 18 months ago, poaching was largely under control through the Department of National Parks and Wildlife which maintained the fences to control animal movements within game parks and conservancies.

The problem escalated to the present stage when land invaders, led by so called war veterans, moved into the affected areas and started cutting down fences and poaching, causing damages that have been estimated to run into hundreds of millions of dollars. The Department of Veterinary Services, Department of National Parks and Wildlife and the police have watched helplessly while poaching assumed catastrophic proportions in the wake of an almost complete breakdown of veterinary controls and regulations.

Asked to comment on the EU recommendations to repair the veterinary control fences that have been destroyed, Dr Hargreaves said; "We wrote to them. They wanted to know when and how we were going to implement their recommendations. We gave them the time frame as to when and how we would implement their recommendations. We were not given a specific time of the implementation." He acknowledged, however, the recommendation for the repair veterinary fences required urgent attention.

Said Dr Hargreaves, "The issue is still waiting for a proper agreement between local District Council, war veterans’ task force and the Conservancies." He said the parties concerned were aware of the urgency of the matter, as it had been fully explained to them.

Dr Hargreaves said however some of the recommendations would take years to implement such as the transfer of authority governing abattoirs from the Ministry of Health to the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement.

Dr Hargreaves also said farmers affected by the current random burning of grazing lands and have to move their livestock to alternative pastures need to report to their nearest Provincial Veterinary offices to discuss their requirements. He said, "In emergency situations we can inspect all the cattle and allow them to be moved if they are not in foot and mouth quarantined areas. If it is in quarantined areas it becomes exceedingly difficult."

Dr Hargreaves appealed to people causing fires to stop saying; "Veld fires minimise the options that we have. It minimises flexibility in efforts to contain the disease and fires actually increase the risk of transmission,"

Even as the disease is reportedly still spreading to other areas in the country’s southern region, The Farmer understands that there are still a lot of illegal cattle movements in many areas especially with the government urging people to take up their plots in areas they have been resettled.

Dr Hargreaves said he was aware of the problem emanating from the directive to the resettled farmers and his department, through the ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Resettlement, had called for a meeting with the ministries of Home Affairs, Finance and Economic Development, Local Government and National Housing and Transport to see how best the issue can be dealt with.

At least 5000 cattle in the Gwanda-Beitbridge areas where fresh outbreaks have been reported could be infected and measures to ensure vaccination were already in progress at the time of going to press.

Hunting on infected properties has also been banned. Dr Hargreaves said although hunting on such properties is now prohibited this would not impact on tourism. 

FMD makes Harare show low key affair

THE Harare Agricultural Show was a low key affair this year with few farmers bothering turn up, as their main attraction, cattle and other livestock, were not on show due to outbreak of the Foot and Mouth Disease which prompted a government ban on all cattle movements throughout the country. The handful of farmers who visited the show were mostly interested in tobacco and the produce section.

Officially opening the show, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President, Joseph Kabila praised Zimbabwean authorities for their efforts to contain and stop the spread of the disease.

However, information reaching The Farmer indicated that at the time of the opening the show, new infections of FMD were still being discovered in the country’s southern region despite assurances from the government that the disease had been contained.

Meanwhile, at the show, a number of commercial stands remained unoccupied although show authorities confirmed that these had been booked. Most other exhibition halls were not fully occupied, a situation attributed to the economic difficulties confronting the country.

Zimbabwe Agriculture Society chairman, Mr Mick Townsend, said most businesses had made efforts to exhibit at the show despite prevailing difficulties. He said the show provided opportunities for farmers to window shop and for suppliers to the agricultural sector to market their products.

In his address, President Kabila said he hoped the government’s land reform programme would broaden the grower base increasing production in agriculture and thereby bringing more prosperity to the country.

He said he was encouraged to note that farmers, agro-business operators, industrialists, commercial producers, manufacturers, traders, government institutions and policy makers were all at the show to learn from one another.

Mr Kabila called upon business communities of DRC and Zimbabwe to take advantage of the open market policies of the Common Market Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) to develop various opportunities that exist in mining, forestry, agriculture, textiles and tourism.

Mr Kabila said his country had vast resources and potential for generating hydro electricity for the next 100 years and would continue to contribute to the industrialisation of the region.

New outbreaks of FMD reported

FRESH outbreaks of the dreaded Foot and Mouth Disease were reported this week raising fears that the disease may be far more widespread than earlier suspected.

In a statement this week, Cattle Producers Association chairman, Tim Reynolds said since 24 August, infections had been detected in cattle in the Jopempi resettlement area and Mtetengwe Communal area north of Beitbridge between the Masvingo and Bulawayo roads. The disease had also detected in the Siyoka and Dendele Communal areas and several commercial ranches between Beitbridge and West Nicholson.

Although, according to Mr Reynolds, the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) considers Beitbridge to be the main focal point of the outbreak at this stage, other infections had been found at the two northern-most dip tanks in Lupane Communal area near Hwange which is up against the red zone area fence.

In the meantime, a circular issued by the veterinary services department said in order to minimise the adverse effects of the FMD controls on the livestock industry, it had been agreed in areas outside the FMD zones of Matabeleland North and South Provinces and part of Masvingo, cattle sales may still be held but of slaughter stock only. The animals would be inspected at the sale and then moved directly to slaughter at a registered abattoir.

"Animals cannot go back to the farm of origin or any other farm after the sale. This must be the pre-sale agreement. All animals go for direct slaughter within 24 hours following the completion of sale," said the circular

"The initiation of sales for direct slaughter is an effort to assist the livestock industry without increasing the risks of FMD transmission. Very serious action will be taken against cattle owners/ or purchasers who do not follow these rules for direct sales." The circular warned. 

Yet another land initiative tabled

YET another initiative to resolve Zimbabwe’s contentious land issue by opening fresh negotiations with the British government and other countries and organizations to persuade them to finance land reform under a new arrangement where full compensation will be paid directly to dispossessed farmers has been launched.

The plan, the brain child of a firm of British solicitors, envisages asking the British government, bound by its obligations under the Zimbabwe’s independence Lancaster House Constitution, and other countries and organizations that made pledges to support the country’s land reform during the 1998 UNDP sponsored donors’ conference in Harare, to now make good their promises by providing relevant funding to pay full compensation to farmers for both land and developments.

It is proposed in the plan, met with some skepticism in some farming circles including the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), that the British government along with other countries and organizations that have indicated willingness to assist in Zimbabwe’s land reform, be persuaded to purchase, on behalf of the government of Zimbabwe, all commercial farmland by paying the affected farmers directly, in the currency and country of their choice. The Zimbabwe government would then retain the land it needs for resettlement and lease back to the commercial farmers that which it does not need.

However, in the event that initial negotiations fail, the proposal says as a last resort, court action will be taken against the British government "to force it to fulfill its treaty obligations in regard to land acquisition payments/compensation."

The man behind the initiative, which some farmers described as "too good to be true" is British solicitor, Mr John Lockwood, who says he has been researching the Zimbabwe land issue for past two and half years. Mr John Lockwood is pushing the initiative through his company, a British registered, JAL Legal Consultancy Limited (JALLCL), legal consultant to McCarron & Smallcombe, a UK legal firm.

"The results of Mr Lockwood’s investigations essentially entail a course of action whereby the British government along with other donor countries and organizations will purchase all agricultural land owned by commercial farmers in Zimbabwe," says a document entitled "A proposed solution to the Zimbabwe land issue" and prepared by JAL Legal Consultancy.

"While this might sound fanciful", the document says, "a great deal of legal research has been carried out and a team of advisors has been assembled including Mr Nicholas Atkinson QC. The confidence displayed by this team is reflected in their willingness to charge clients on the basis of a success only arrangement apart from a modest initial fee." The proposed initial fee is 1000 pounds sterling.

In the course of his research, says the document, Mr Lockwood "has unearthed a number of important documents and issues. The single most important document which was signed at about the time of the Lancaster House Agreement, incorporates an undertaking by the British Government to acquire commercial farmland for subsequent transfer to the Zimbabwe government."

The document goes further to say funding for this land purchase has been set-aside with assistance from other governments and institutions. It does not, however, name any of the other donors. "It is therefore the opinion of the JALCL that the British Government have an obligation to acquire such farmland and that Zimbabwean land owners have a cause to enforce this obligation," the document says.

Contacted for comment, a spokesman of the British High Commission, Mr Richard Lindsay, acknowledged the existence of the scheme, but said as an employee of the (British government) authority being taken to court, he could not speculate on the prospects of success of the proposal.

But he said as far as the British government was concerned, it had fulfilled all its obligations under the Lancaster House Constitution. "The British government is not aware of any existing contingent liabilities from the Lancaster House Constitution," said Mr Lindsay.

Efforts to obtain comment from Zimbabwe government officials were fruitless.

JAL Consultancy is currently running advertisements in various media including The Farmer, which promise, "full compensation for land and improvements and an option to then lease your farm back" to those interested to take up their offer.

In its proposal document, JAL Consultancy says its overall strategy will be to individually engage the three concerned parties; farmers, the Zimbabwe government and the British government in a constructive dialogue aimed at trying to resolve the land issue." In so doing, the major objectives of the three parties are being taken into account and the discussions are non- confrontational as the JALLCL has no position to protect, "it says "JALLCL’s primary objective is to obtain a satisfactory outcome for the farmers in their quest to obtain acceptable compensation for the sale of their land. In the event that no agreement is reached with the British government, JALLCL and Council will pursue the matter in the British courts on behalf of their clients."

The document notes, however, that while the Zimbabwe government would not be directly involved in the action between the farmers and the British government, senior officials within the Zimbabwe government had been appraised of the position and their support sought. "A generally favourable response has been received from the Zimbabwean authorities," it says

Initial discussion with the British government had elicited a cautious response, the document says, adding "but the negotiation channels have been established and will be pursued vigorously.

"If the negotiations fail or the terms offered are unsatisfactory. JALLCL believes the next stage would be through the courts to force through and treaty obligations. This would be the last resort but they would be prepared to do so if necessary."

It notes that the British government had stated, on a number of occasions, that money was available for the land acquisition programme. The British government’s reasons for withholding such payments, the document says, was that it was not satisfied that these funds would find their way to the right people. "JALLCL will offer the British government an alternative to funding land acquisitions through the Zimbabwean government by suggesting that it fund land acquisitions directly.

"JALLCL in conjunction with Council will contact all relevant countries, organizations and individuals and offer an alternative solution to the continuing problems of land compensation in Zimbabwe. JALLCL will also bring actions in Britain, Zimbabwe and other country’s courts as advised by Council. The actions may be against governments, organizations or individuals," the document says.

Back to the Top
Back to Index