|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Officials defy Mugabe's ultimatum, hang onto farms
Bulawayo - A government report into
Zimbabwe's controversial land reform
programme has opened a can of worms, throwing the spotlight on corruption
surrounding the ownership of multiple farms by senior government officials
and others close to the establishment. To date only one politician has
publicly surrendered his extra farms to the state, a month after the expiry
of a two-week deadline set by President Robert Mugabe. Mugabe's deadline
marked his first response to the damning report by the Presidential Land
Review Committee that he appointed in May to assess the success of his
government's controversial land reform programme. The report reveals gross
irregularities and corruption in the allocation of land since the "fast
track" land reform programme began in 2000. In addition, it is said to
expose the exaggeration that over 300,000 landless families had been
resettled. Prompted by this report - and two others before it - President
Mugabe on Jul. 30 gave his party colleagues with multiple farms until Aug.
13 to relinquish the extra properties. To date only Obert Mpofu, the
governor of the Matabeleland North province, declared he was surrendering
two state farms he had leased in the productive Nyamandlovu area. He retains
a farm he bought before the land reform programme began. However, Mpofu is
understood to have recently taken over two hunting concessions, Railways
Farm 40 and farm 41 located on the edge of the country's biggest game
reserve, the 14,000-hectare Hwange National Park. In the rest of the
country's nine provinces, officials have maintained a deafening silence over
surrendering their extra properties. The chairperson of the ruling Zanu PF
party, John Nkomo, has said 30,000 hectares have been surrendered
countrywide by multiple farm owners and that more land was due to be given
However, the opposition is unconvinced, insisting
that Mugabe's directive
has largely been ignored, an indication that he has lost all moral sway
among his colleagues who now see him as being on the way out. Paul Themba
Nyathi of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says due to the
heightening discussion on when Mugabe will leave office, his underlings view
the 79-year-old leader as a lame duck whose days are numbered hence see no
reason why they should do his bidding. "His power has been whittled because
of the succession debate," Nyathi says. "He has no moral authority because
they know what he himself has done (corruptly)." However, speaking when he
officially received the report on Sep. 11, Mugabe has promised to act on the
recommendations of the Presidential land Review Committee, a hint that he
may sack those of his Cabinet members implicated in the report. In power for
23 years, Mugabe is seen as the stumbling block to a return to normalcy in
Zimbabwe, presently in the throes of a political and economic crisis.
However, analysts say his retirement is now unavoidable and will come as
soon as he manoeuvres a successor who will protect him against an expected
backlash. Political analyst Lovemore Madhuku says there is no way there can
be a return of these farms under the current regime which he says is tainted
by corruption. He says no politician will return the farms knowing his
colleagues are corrupt too, be it in other areas. "No-one in Zanu PF has a
moral high ground to impose the rules," he says. "Land is merely one area of
their massive corruption enterprise." A farm in Zimbabwe is the ultimate
prize for a career in politics. Almost the entire leadership in government
and within the ruling Zanu PF party is known to have at least one farm each.
Since May 2000 when the government lost a crucial
referendum on a new
constitution, it has embarked on a crude and rather populist land reform
exercise, shortly before a crucial parliamentary election it was projected
to lose. The reason for the land reform exercise was to correct colonial
injustices in landownership which was one of the main reasons Zimbabweans
fought a 15-year-long bush war that culminated in independence in 1980.
However, coming 20 years after independence and with no clear criteria on
intended beneficiaries, many of the choice farms have ended up in the hands
of government officials, judges and other well-connected individuals. Some
of these new farmers have earnestly tried their hand at their newest
calling. But not enough, apparently. Revelations this month that the
Zimbabwe National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ZNSPCA)
was prosecuting former Central Bank governor Kombo Moyana following the
death of 55 head of cattle at his farm, showed how little value some of
Zimbabwe's powerful have attached to the land they got so easily. The ZNSPCA
said the animals, part of a herd of 300, had died a slow death at Moyana's
Olympia Farm on the outskirts of the capital Harare because of a shortage of
grazing and water. Moyana is being charged under the Prevention of Cruelty
to Animals Act which attracts a maximum fine of 20,000 Zimbabwe dollars
(about 5 U.S. dollars) or six months imprisonment or both. The country's
land reform exercise has largely been blamed for the fact that agro-exports
have plummeted while some 5.5 million Zimbabweans will need food aid by Jan.
2004. A severe outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease has also ensured from the
programme, prompting the government to commit additional resources for the
importation of vaccines.
But the government
still has another task to accomplish. Since banks are
unlikely to lend to farmers with no title to land that in the majority of
cases is still the subject of litigation, the government has to step in and
provide loans or inputs to the newly resettled farmers. Two months before
the rainy season, there is also no seed on the market. That, too, might have
to be imported, raising fears that the seed might not be ideally suited for
local conditions. Nyathi says for Mugabe to have urged his party colleagues
to hand over their extra farms was proof that the land reform exercise was
unplanned and haphazard in the first place. "What fascinates Zanu PF on the
land issue is the way that whites have been beaten down and demoralised,"
Nyathi says, referring to the small pool of white landowners, many of whom
have been driven off their farms. The Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), which
represents the landowners who controlled about 70 percent of the country's
productive land, says over 11 million hectares of land, or 6,400 farms have
been gazetted for acquisition in the last three years. "The danger, we are
facing now, is that we have a lot of people being put on the land and
someone else holding the title deeds," says an official with the CFU who
preferred to remain anonymous. Many of the evicted farmers are contesting
the process which they have deemed illegal. "It's a legal quagmire that has
to be sorted out when the country returns to normal," says the CFU official.
Zimbabwe police raid paper offices, seek equipment
HARARE, Sept. 16 — Zimbabwe police raided the offices of the country's sole
privately owned daily paper on Tuesday and seized equipment, days after
shutting the paper down under tough media laws, its publishers said.
Police closed down the Daily News last week after the supreme court
ruled it was publishing illegally because it had not registered under media
laws introduced by President Robert Mugabe's embattled government.
The closure prompted an outcry from media groups, opposition
politicians and former colonial power, Britain, which branded it an attempt
to stifle democratic voices in Zimbabwe, deepening a bitter divide within
Police again swooped on Daily News offices on Tuesday morning, with
around a dozen riot police armed with batons standing guard after colleagues
entered the building.
''They want to confiscate all our property. They want to take all
that's relevant to publishing. Our argument is that they have no warrant or
court order to do that,'' said Sam Sipepa Nkomo, chief executive of the
paper's publishers, Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ).
''They are determined to shut us down,'' Nkomo told journalists
outside the paper's offices.
Nkomo said police had indicated they were ready to take him to court
on charges of illegally publishing a newspaper and that they wanted to
confiscate the equipment as exhibits.
Police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said he
could not immediately confirm the report but would check.
ANZ lawyer Gugulethu Moyo said she would lodge an urgent appeal at
the High Court for an order forcing police to re-open the paper pending the
outcome of an application lodged on Monday with the media commission for an
ANZ had initially refused to register under new laws passed soon
after Mugabe's controversial re-election in 2002.
The laws impose tight controls on local reporters and a ban on
full-time foreign correspondents and have seen over a dozen journalists
charged and the correspondent of Britain's Guardian deported.
The government says the law will enhance professionalism.
Up to Nigeria to invite Mugabe to Commonwealth: SA
September 16, 2003, 05:38 PM
It was up to Nigeria to decide whether or not to invite Zimbabwe's President
Robert Mugabe to this year's Commonwealth summit, the South African
presidency said today.
Bheki Khumalo, the spokesperson said the presidency would engage with
Nigeria to seek common ground on the matter, but accepted the host country
had the final say. "If President Mugabe does not attend the meeting, it will
be because he has not been invited by the Nigerian president (Olusegun
Obasanjo) not because of the actions of John Howard, the Australian Prime
Howard and Don McKinnon, the Commonwealth Secretary General, earlier
announced Mugabe would not be invited to the summit in Abuja in December.
Howard is current chairperson of the organisation that mostly consists of
former British colonies.
A Commonwealth troika comprising Howard, Obsanjo and South African President
Thabo Mbeki, suspended Zimbabwe last year from the 54-nation body's councils
for 12 months. This was prompted by a damning Commonwealth report on the
controversial Zimbabwean presidential elections that returned Mugabe to
When the initial 12-month period ended in March this year, the organisation
announced Zimbabwe's suspension would remain in place until December. Mbeki
and Obasanjo opposed the move, arguing that the political, economic and
social climate in Zimbabwe was improving. Khumalo said South Africa did not
regard the extension of further sanctions against Zimbabwe as valid.
"Our view is that the Commonwealth imposed the maximum penalty on Zimbabwe
by suspending it for one year in March last year." There was no reason for
the continued exclusion of Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth, Khumalo said.
South Africa remained convinced Zimbabwe's problems could be solved, and
would continue engaging with Nigeria in this regard. - Sapa
Row brews in Commonwealth over Mugabe summit snub
CANBERRA (Reuters) - A row was brewing in the Commonwealth on Tuesday over a
decision not to invite Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe to a leaders' summit in
December with Australia backing the ban but South Africa calling for him to
Prime Minister John Howard said he had received assurances that Mugabe would
not be invited to the summit, with Zimbabwe accused of election rigging and
human rights abuses and suspended from the 54-nation group of mainly former
But the decision to block Mugabe from the Commonwealth Heads of Government
Meeting (CHOGM) in Nigeria's capital Abuja later this year has angered South
Africa, which has urged the Commonwealth to relax its sanctions against its
Howard was adamant Mugabe should be barred as there had been no sign of an
end to the human rights abuses in Zimbabwe and the veteran leader had
refused to talk to Commonwealth Secretary General Don McKinnon about his
"In these circumstances it would be a travesty if Zimbabwe were to be
represented at the Abuja meeting," Howard told parliament on Tuesday.
His comments came after a spokesman for South African President Thabo Mbeki
accused Australia of using "megaphone diplomacy" with Zimbabwe and called on
the Commonwealth to overturn the ban.
"We don't think that using megaphone diplomacy will work and we hope that
the Australians, in particular the Australian government, will understand
this," spokesman Bheki Khumalo told Australian radio.
The Commonwealth suspended Zimbabwe for 12 months in March last year
following accusations of intimidation and vote rigging during 2002
presidential elections, and of human rights abuses. In March this year, it
extended the sanctions until December.
But Mugabe dismisses the charges, blaming Zimbabwe's political and economic
crisis on opponents of his policy of seizing land from the white minority
and giving it to landless blacks.
Howard said the situation in Zimbabwe was a "tragedy" with the people denied
their choice of government, the economy in ruins, and about 5.5 million
people dependent on food aid.
He said Australia and many other countries did not think Mugabe should
attend CHOGM, with this list including the host of that conference, Nigerian
President Olusegun Obasanjo.
"I welcome the decision that has been taken by Nigeria not to extend an
invitation to President Mugabe," Howard said.
S African anger over Mugabe ban
By Steve Lewis, chief political reporter
September 17, 2003
South Africa has lashed out at Australia's lead role in banning Zimbabwe's
dictatorial President Robert Mugabe from the next meeting of Commonwealth
leaders, accusing John Howard of using "megaphone diplomacy".
As relations sour between the countries, an unapologetic Prime Minister told
parliament it would be a "travesty" if Mr Mugabe were allowed to attend the
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, to be held in Nigeria in December.
Zimbabwe has been suspended from the Commonwealth since March 2002,
following general elections in the African country that Mr Howard said
yesterday had been "rorted".
But South African President Thabo Mbeki is urging other Commonwealth leaders
to adopt a more tolerant position towards the strife-torn country. "We don't
think that using megaphone diplomacy will work and we hope the Australian
Government in particular will understand this position," a spokesman for Mr
Mbeki told ABC radio yesterday.
"Sanctions have been imposed against Zimbabwe now for a number of months,
with no results." But Mr Howard is equally determined to ensure Mr Mugabe
remains on the outer, yesterday describing the situation in Zimbabwe as a
"Everything that Australia has said about Zimbabwe ... most particularly
since the rorted election two years ago, far from being megaphone diplomacy,
has been a plain statement of the truth," the Prime Minister told
"Its people are starving; their choice of government has been denied to
them; their economy is in ruins. Most members of the Commonwealth, and
certainly Australia, believe that the people of Zimbabwe deserve better."
He also told parliament that Mr Mugabe had snubbed efforts by Commonwealth
Secretary-General Don McKinnon to try to engage in a dialogue over reforms.
"In these circumstances it would be a travesty if Zimbabwe were to be
represented at the Abuja meeting," he said.
While South Africa had been hoping to enlist Nigeria's support for its
pro-Mugabe campaign, Mr Howard said Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo
supported the ban on Mr Mugabe.
Labor foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd described Mr Mugabe as a
"political thug". But he said the Prime Minister was caught between his
doctrine of "international humanitarian intervention" in Iraq on the one
hand, and his earlier "political impotence" over Zimbabwe on the other.
"That is why Howard has suddenly had to ratchet up his political language on
Zimbabwe," Mr Rudd said.
Mr Howard, Mr Mbeki and Mr Obasanjo were members of a leadership "troika"
established to consider the Zimbabwe issue ahead of the CHOGM.
Zim keen on jumbo rescue
16/09/2003 14:54 - (SA)
Pretoria - The Wildcare Africa Trust's offer to treat an
elephant whose leg
has been caught in a snare in Zimbabwe has received positive response from
authorities, the trust's director, Karen Trendler, said on Tuesday.
An official from the trust had been in contact with Dr Morris Mtsambiwa,
director-general of the Zimbabwean Parks and Wildlife Authority, she told
"He is very, very keen that we help."
A Beeld reporter on a boat trip on the Kariba dam recently spotted the young
elephant with the snare still on its front leg. The wire has caused an open
Wildcare Africa specialises in rescuing and rehabilitating animals.
"Before we can move at all, and start planning, we need to get permission
from the director-general of parks and wildlife," Trendler said.
Mtsambiwa, who was attending the World Parks Congress in Durban, expected to
be back in his office later in the week. He undertook to follow up the
matter and to establish, through rangers on the ground, the status of the
"From there we can start."
It was just a matter of logistical arrangements, she said.
The rescue mission would need a team of people, drugs to dart the elephant
and petrol - a scarce commodity in Zimbabwe.
Once there, an experienced wildlife veterinarian would dart the elephant
before the snare was removed. Long-acting antibiotics would be administered
to help heal the wound, Trendler said.
Sydney Morning Herald
Fence likened to African Gaza Strip
Botswana has started erecting a 500-kilometre electric
fence on part of its
border with Zimbabwe to stop an influx of humans and livestock, dismaying
Zimbabwean officials who claim that southern Africa is building its version
of the Israeli security wall.
Almost 2.5 metres high, the wall will snake through scrubland that is a
crossing point for refugees and illegal immigrants fleeing economic and
political hardships in Zimbabwe under President Robert Mugabe.
About 150 kilometres of fence have been erected so far, with some sections
already electrified. Botswana hopes to finish construction this year, when
immigration officers, reinforced by police and army units, will patrol the
Illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe have already torn down parts of the fence
which their government has condemned as an affront to human rights.
Botswana has defended the fence as a legitimate response to the threat posed
by unemployed Zimbabweans and stray cattle carrying foot-and-mouth disease.
Although Botswana is larger in area than Zimbabwe, its population of 1.7
million feels tiny and vulnerable compared with its neighbour's 11.8
million. The arrival of about 60,000 Zimbabweans has stirred resentment and
fuelled claims that many are criminals and spongers.
Authorities in the capital, Gaborone, said it was the biggest immigration
problem since independence from Britain in 1966 and that 2500 people were
being repatriated each month.
Botswana's representative at the United Nations, Alfred Dube, said: "We are
concerned about what is going on [in Zimbabwe].
"It is very unfortunate that we have our houses being burgled every day and
our children being harassed. We understand why our people are saying that
the Zimbabweans must go."
Accusing their hosts of xenophobia, Zimbabweans said they came in search of
sanctuary and work, not for trouble.
Ties between Botswana and Zimbabwe, soured by President Festus Mogae's
criticism of Mr Mugabe's controversial policies, have worsened because of
the border fence.
Zimbabwe's high commissioner in Gaborone, Phelekeza Mphoko, accused Botswana
of creating a new Gaza Strip.
"People will continue to destroy the fence because it has divided families
on either side of the border," he told the Botswana Gazette.
Nigeria has bluntly told Mr Mugabe he will be excluded from the next
Commonwealth summit unless he agrees to share power with his country's
opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change, a senior Commonwealth
official said on Monday.
Britain's Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and several other leaders have made it
clear they will boycott the Commonwealth meeting in Abuja in December if Mr
Mugabe attends, the official said.
The Guardian; The Telegraph, London
Zimbabwe: Government's Closure of Independent Newspaper Gags Press Freedom
2003-09-16 | By shutting down the Daily News newspaper, the Zimbabwean
government has demonstrated yet again that the Zimbabwean authorities are
intent on silencing dissent and denying Zimbabweans their fundamental right
to freely express themselves, Amnesty International said today.
On 12 September police entered Daily News offices in Harare, requested
all staff to leave and ordered the closure of the offices. The editor,
Nqobile Nyathi, and the operations manager, Simon Ngena, were arrested and
later released without charge.
The closure of the Daily News came one day after Zimbabwe's Supreme
Court ruled that the newspaper was "illegal" because of its refusal to
register with the state-controlled Media and Information Commission (MIC), a
requirement under Section 66 of the Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act (AIPPA). The court issued its ruling after the Daily News
challenged Section 66, arguing that such a requirement was unconstitutional.
"This latest action by the Zimbabwean government sends a strong and
clear signal to regional and international leaders that human rights are
under siege in Zimbabwe. Sustained public condemnation of the repression of
fundamental rights in Zimbabwe is not an option but a must", Amnesty
The Daily News has been the target of several verbal attacks by
government officials, and its offices have been petrol-bombed three times
since it was founded in 1999.
AIPPA, enacted in March 2002, restricts access to information held by
public bodies; establishes a government controlled Media and Information
Commission which regulates the independent media; requires the accreditation
of journalists and media houses; and criminalizes defamation.
In its report, Zimbabwe: Rights under Siege (AFR 46/012/2003) Amnesty
International documents how the Zimbabwean authorities are using restrictive
legislation such as AIPPA to repress internationally-recognized rights and
freedoms, including the right to freedom of expression.
Amnesty International: http://www.amnesty.org
PLEASE VISIT THE WEBSITE OF ZIMBABWE’S DAILY NEWS AND JOIN THE FORUM:
Please also see:
Committee to Protect Journalists: http://www.cpj.org/
From The Daily News (internet edition), 16 September
submitted registration and application forms
Senior officials from Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe,
publishers of The
Daily News and the Daily News On Sunday, whose newspapers were shut down
last week by the government, yesterday submitted registration and
application forms to the government-appointed Media and Information
Commission in Harare to enable them to resume operations. The company was
represented by its legal advisor, Gugulethu Moyo, operations director,
Innocent Kurwa and finance director, Brian Mutsau. Speaking after submitting
the application forms, Moyo said: "We paid a registration fee of $500 000
and an application fee of $20 000." The Zimbabwe Supreme Court ruled on
Thursday last week that it would not hear an ANZ application on the
constitutionality of the section relating to registration which makes it
mandatory for media houses to register with the commission. The Supreme
Court ruled that the company should first comply with the draconian Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act before its application could be
Friday evening, armed riot police and intelligence
officers swooped on the
eight-story ANZ offices in the city centre and its printing factory in the
industrial areas of Harare and ordered all employees out. The Daily News
editor, Nqobile Nyathi and Simon Ngena, the production manager were
questioned briefly by the police on Friday. Moyo said they had also been
ordered to supply all copies of newspapers published from 31 December 2002
to date. By yesterday afternoon, the ANZ premises were still sealed off by
heavily armed riot police. Moyo said according to section Eight of the
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, after submitting their
registration papers, they were supposed to resume operations. The Act reads:
"During the consideration of its application applicant shall be permitted to
continue to carry on the activities of the mass media service, operate the
news agency, work as a journalist or operate the representative offices as
the case may be until his application has been determined." Moyo said the
ANZ chief executive officer, Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, was expected to appear at
the local magistrates court for operating illegally. Moyo late yesterday
said they were preparing an urgent application to the High Court, compelling
the police to allow ANZ employees to continue operations.
From The Media Institute of Southern Africa (Namibia), 15 September
Daily News closure remains indefinite
The Chairperson of Zimbabwe's Media and Information Commission,
Tafataona Mahoso says that the closure of the Daily News is indefinite even
if the paper registered with his Commission. Mahoso told the state owned
Sunday Mail newspaper that the registration process involved evaluation of
the information submitted on the forms and this can take longer. No time
frame was given as to when this might happen. "Arriving at the doorsteps
(MIC) does not mean that they will be registered. It was them who went to
the court to report their crime and not us," said Mahoso. The Daily News
legal advisor Gugulethu Moyo told the Zimbabwe chapter of the Media
Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Zimbabwe) that she has submitted the
Daily New's registration forms with the Media and Information Commission,
headed by Mahoso. The closure of the Daily News has been roundly condemned
by media organisations in Zimbabwe and internationally as a blow on press
and freedom of expression.
Hunting barred, chefs told
Innocent Chofamba Sithole
THE Department of National Parks and Wildlife has barred influential
politicians and businessmen allocated properties in protected wildlife
sanctuaries in Matabeleland North province under the A2 resettlement scheme
from carrying out any hunting activities, the Sunday Mirror has learnt.
The move comes amidst reports that Matabeleland North governor, Obert Mpofu
had sought a hunting licence for his properties, Railway Farm 40 and Farm 41
which accommodate Kanhondo Lodge and Kachana Lodge, respectively, in the
greater Sikumi Forest area adjacent to the world-renowned Hwange National
The two lodges are also reportedly under a lease agreement between the
previous owners and Touch the Wild Safaris, a subsidiary of Rainbow Tourism
Group (RTG), who jointly own it with Island Blythe Limited (IBL) of
The Sunday Mirror is reliably informed that several cabinet ministers, a
banker, a tourism industry captain and one Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation
bureau chief (names supplied) have allegedly taken over various properties
in the large Sikumi Forest area of Hwange National Park which accommodates,
inter alia, Sikumi, Kanhondo, Kachana and Sable lodges, all of which are
properties of Touch the Wild Safaris.
Both RTG and IBL could not be reached for comment at the time of going to
Speaking to the Sunday Mirror on Friday, National Parks acting
director-general Vitalis Chadenga reiterated that protected areas were
dedicated to “the protection and maintenance of biological diversity and as
such, hunting [was] not permitted”. “We insist that [the area] must be used
for non-consumptive activities. Quite clearly, hunting would conflict with
this principle,” Chadenga said.
The National Parks department, confidential sources said, was aware that the
new entrants in the lucrative tourism sector were trying to hunt in the
protected areas, hence its reinforcement of the ban.
“It’s obviously a very rich area in wildlife and I think they wanted to
benefit,” a wildlife industry source said.
The South African Mercury newspaper recently reported that influential
politicians had entered the Hwange wildlife sanctuary, in the process
raising deep concerns over the possible escalation of poaching activities,
which only last year claimed more than 300 of the remaining black rhino in
Before the arrival of the new tourism industry players there had been no
hunting going on in the sprawling Sikumi forest area, which is also home to
the presidential elephant herd. However, wildlife industry insiders say
about six elephants and as many lions have been shot dead this year alone.
Environment and tourism minister, Francis Nhema is understood to have issued
a statement banning hunting in the protected area in the wake of mounting
concerns over the illegal hunting activities. Nhema could not be reached for
comment as he was said to be in South Africa for the launch of the “Come to
Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe” campaign. The fifth World Parks Congress, whose
focus is on the world’s protected nature areas and how poor countries can
make conservation pay for itself, is also currently running in Durban, South
The Mercury also reported that Mpofu’s Hwange Wildlife Estate, which has in
the past been used only for game viewing and photographic safari, is home to
a herd of elephants which were given special presidential protection in a
decree issued by President Robert Mugabe in 1991. There is no fence
separating it from Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe’s biggest game reserve at
14 650km2. Mpofu could not be reached for comment at the weekend. The mobile
phone number on which the Sunday Mirror tried to reach him is now out of
use, while his wife said her husband was still in Harare when this reporter
contacted her on Friday evening.
Speaking to the Mercury, chairperson of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task
Force, Johnny Rodrigues expressed fears that allowing hunting in the Hwange
Wildlife Estate would literally put “a death sentence on the future heritage
of the country and the benefits that wildlife conservation would have had
for the people of the country”. Ironically, most of the political
heavyweights allocated land in the game ranches have been associated with
other properties elsewhere, distributed free of charge under the A2 land
Special affairs minister, John Nkomo was recently quoted in The Herald
newspaper as saying that the state had to date recovered about 30 000
hectares of commercial farmland from people who had received more than one
property in the government’s ongoing land reform programme.
But several weeks after the expiry of President Mugabe’s two-week deadline
to multiple farm owners to hand over excess farms, some ruling Zanu PF
senior officials still capriciously hold on to their ill-gotten properties.
A local weekly newspaper splashed embarrassing evidence of continued
multiple farm ownership on its front-page, eliciting sheepish denials from
the named chefs as President Mugabe received the final report of the Charles
Utete-led land review committee at State House on Thursday.
Speaking at the presentation of the report, Mugabe said government had
tasked the Utete committee with reviewing the land reform programme “so that
at the end of the day a report is submitted to government, to me, and that
report is studied by us and recommendations naturally taken care of”.
Among other anomalies, the issue of multiple farm ownership has stirred
great controversy and disquiet within and outside the ruling party.
Disgruntled land hungry peasants and aspiring black commercial farmers who
were marginalised in the land allocation exercise expressed anger and
disgust at senior politicians and influential businessmen who had occupied
more than one farm under the A2 scheme, either in their own names or through
their spouses and relatives.
A preliminary land audit report, which was prepared by land resettlement
minister, Flora Buka and rejected as unauthentic by those it named as having
traversed the land reform policy, aptly captured this scenario and
recommended thus: “It is very important to take urgent corrective measures,
particularly where the leadership is the perpetrator of anomalies as the
general public is restive where such cases exist and a multitude of people
are still on the waiting list.” Mugabe, who expressed confidence in the
Utete committee and described its report as “quite comprehensive” and
“thorough”, is expected to act firmly on his errant subordinates.
“There are certainly very urgent - too urgent – matters that bid us to pay
attention, prompt attention to them,” he told members of his cabinet and
ruling party politburo gathered at the presentation ceremony.
“I think all of you are now burning to know what’s in the report . . .
Please read it when you do get it, go through all of it. We might choose to
have one full day (as cabinet) to deal with the report,” he said.
The presidential land review committee was appointed on May 14 this year and
took three months to complete its mission. It was supported by provincial
and district land officers, who carried out field research in the various
Utete said the report was in two volumes: the first captures findings and
contains analyses, conclusions and recommendations, while the second
comprises special studies.
He said the report recommends that government adopt measures to conclude the
land reform programme as well as redress anomalies therein. The report also
recommends specific short to long term measures which, if adopted, have the
potential to spur the economy as a whole forward.