|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
|Monday, 17 September, 2001,
16:14 GMT 17:14 UK
No land, no work in Zimbabwe
By our reporter in Hwedza
At Brystol farm near Wedza communal areas, workers treat strangers with deep suspicion.
The few who are brave enough to speak, only do so away from the watchful eyes of the self styled war veterans.
Luckily none came to ask what my business was, although they keenly observed our movements from their base.
Once at a safe distance from Brystol farm, the farm labourers opened up and they had sad tales to tell.
An estimated 70,000 farm workers are said to have been displaced as a result of the farm invasions.
Despite the recent Commonwealth-brokered Abuja agreement to stop the violence, life for farm-workers has not changed.
''The war veterans told us they wanted their land. We tried to explain to them that we want to work and we don't have anywhere to go but they would not understand our problems.
"They accuse us of supporting the opposition party and they say there is no need for them to live alongside us,'' said Taurai who was kicked out of his home six weeks ago.
Ever since, he has been living with relatives on other farms but says the war veterans have followed him there.
Farai has four children and for the past month they have all been living in tobacco barns.
''We are trying to go back to work but last week war vets came and beat us up,'' he said.
"We need another political party to rule because we are struggling,'' he said, openly showing his support for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
Apart from the risk of violence from war veterans, working conditions for farm labourers in Zimbabwe are pitiful.
At the current unofficial market rate, Farai was taking home $6 a month in a country where the minimum wage is put at $ 56 per month.
''I am not educated and so I cannot get better jobs. So with this money I can give something to my family. It's little money but it's better to work. If I have a piece of land, I need fertiliser, seeds and chemicals. I don't have the money so it's better to work,'' he said.
The Zimbabwe Government aims to acquire over eight million hectares of white-owned land to resettle 150,000 poor black families.
Currently, total commercial farm area is put at 11.2 million hectares which includes land owned by the state and black commercial farmers.
According to the white dominated Commercial Farmers' Union, this policy could be disastrous.
The CFU estimates that Zimbabwe's commercial farm output could fall from $145 million to $81 million by the year 2003, depending on whether the resettled farmers grow subsistence crops such as maize or cash crops, such as tobacco or paprika.
Furthermore, the CFU says that the 150,000 families to be resettled will replace a similar number of farm worker families, "therefore there is no net employment benefit".
And the displacement of farm workers could strain regional relations.
Most are of Malawian or Mozambican origin but many have spent so long in Zimbabwe that they consider it home.
At the recent Harare summit of southern African leaders, it was Malawi's President, Bakili Muluzi, who made the toughest statements concerning the farm violence.
As a result of the rising number of farm workers displaced by land invasions in Zimbabwe, the Farm Community Trust (FCT), a Harare-based agency, has called for immediate humanitarian assistance to deal with the crisis.
"There's certainly a role here for international organisations, these people urgently need feeding programmes and shelter," said Godfrey Magaramomba of the FCT.
According to Mr Magaramomba, those evicted are now living in appalling conditions in makeshift camps and squatter settlements along main roads.
Evicted farm workers have reportedly told FCT that after being labelled opposition supporters by war veterans, they are then told not just to leave the farms, but to leave the area completely.
More than 2,800 commercial farms have been listed for compulsory acquisition.
About 200,000 workers and their dependants, about 1.5 million in total, live on these farms.
"We've got some food, blankets and (plastic) sheeting up to them in Hwedza but it's a drop in the ocean," Ewen Rogers of the CFU's labour bureau said.
Mr Rogers wants to see agencies like the World Food Programme (WFP) initiating feeding schemes in places like Hwedza.
"If there was a natural disaster to blame for this crisis, the international community would respond, so why not in this case?" he asked.
The agreement made at the Commonwealth conference in Abuja, Nigeria last week over the escalating land occupations reflects the growing concern by the Western powers over a dispute that has continued for the last 18 months. It is also the product of increasing pressure from the governments of Africa to settle the issue, due to fears that it will destabilise the whole region.
The agreement was reached between the Zimbabwean foreign minister and ministers representing Britain, Canada and Australia. Its key broker was Olusegun Obesanjo, President of Nigeria. Also present at the special committee meeting were ministers from Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and Jamaica.
Zimbabwe has agreed to call off the occupations by thousands of squatters led by the war veterans that have taken over about 1,700 of the 4,500 large white-owned farms, making up much of the prime land in the country. It has agreed to move occupiers off land that was not “designated” and put them on “legally acquired land” and to speed up the process of “de-listing” farms that it does not intend to take over under the supervision of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
In return Britain has “reaffirmed its commitment to make a significant financial contribution” to a land reform programme and will encourage other Western donors to do the same. No figure was agreed. Britain, Australia and Canada said they would also “respond positively” to requests for supporting elections and “continue to contribute to poverty reduction programmes.”
On paper there is little new in this agreement, since Britain has previously offered a small amount (£35 million) for land reform in which the white owners were compensated. The promises of such paltry aid mean little for a country that is on the verge of economic collapse, has had its lines of credit cut off, and is under threat of sanctions from the United States and the European Union. Conversely a recent announcement by Zimbabwe’s agriculture minister, claiming that most of the white farms (over 70 percent) are now designated for government acquisition, raises the question of what exactly is the criteria for “de-listing” farms. President Mugabe and Zimbabwean ministers have given commitments before to abide by the “rule of law” and to call off occupations in the tortuous course of the dispute.
Since the agreement was signed, the war veterans have said that they will not accept it. But the fact that the Zimbabwean regime signed the agreement in the presence of key players in African politics, with Britain dropping its confrontational posture, makes it likely that there will be some attempt by the Zanu-PF government to at least rein in the war veterans.
The broader concerns of the Western governments and African leaders are made clear by the reference in the text of the agreement to the “crisis” in Zimbabwe that “poses a threat to the stability of the entire sub-region and the continent at large.” Nigerian Foreign Minister Sule Lamido stressed this point, saying, “Africa cannot afford another war, not least a racial war or one with racial undertones”. It was further underlined at a meeting in Harare this week of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) of regional leaders, including South African President Thabo Mbeki. The current chair of SADC, President Bakili Maluzi of Malawi, stated, “the economic and political problems Zimbabwe is facing now could easily snowball across the entire southern African region.”
South Africa is the main economy in the region—its GDP is more than ten times that of Zimbabwe—and it is stepping up pressure on the Mugabe regime to regain some stability and improve relations with the Western powers. The African National Congress (ANC) government controls most of Zimbabwe’s fuel and electricity supplies. Since the beginning of this year, the South African rand has fallen by 12 percent against the dollar, as funds have been pulled out. While not wishing to be seen attacking their neighbour too openly, the ANC is painfully aware that international investors are citing the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe as one reason for pulling out of South Africa.
Growing opposition to the free market policies of the ANC government is also cited as a major problem by investors. This summer there have been strikes in South Africa by thousands of workers in the auto, power and other industries as well as a two-day strike by millions against the government’s privatisation programme. In Zimbabwe also there have been strikes in the education and health sector, as well as in the steel industry, in which two pickets were shot dead by police and two more have subsequently died of injuries. These strikes have taken place despite the efforts of the trade unions to keep action to a minimum.
Whilst the land issue is being manipulated by the Zanu-PF regime in Zimbabwe for its own ends, there are legitimate aspirations amongst millions of rural poor and landless people in southern Africa to take back the land stolen from them by white settlers under colonialism or white minority rule.
The Mbeki government is fully aware that the continued ownership of the richest farmland by a tiny, mainly white elite is only the most visible expression of the failure of either Zanu-PF or the ANC to redress inequalities of wealth in both countries. South Africa fears that land protests could emerge at home, where black people own only 15 percent of the land. Despite laws allowing for “restitution”, where land can be returned to those who can prove it was seized under apartheid, little redistribution of land has taken place since the ANC came to power. Several thousand from a coalition of landless peoples organisations lobbied the racism conference in Durban, and South Africa, making world headlines when the government evicted squatters at Bredell, near Johannesburg in July. In Namibia also there are 4,000 large commercial mainly white-owned farms and the Namibia Farmer’s Union representing black farmers has protested that only 35,000 farmers have been resettled since independence in 1990.
Nationalising the land was a central plank of Zanu’s policy in the civil war it conducted against the British-backed white supremacist government of what was then called Rhodesia. On that basis it won mass support in the rural areas. In the 1979 Lancaster House Agreement that ended the war, however, Zanu made clear its real agenda—the taking of power by a narrow black elite while accepting the continued domination of the Western powers over southern Africa, and collaborating with the white farmers and mine owners in developing a capitalist economy.
Over the following two decades there were many land occupation movements, but despite rhetoric from the Mugabe leadership that white farms would be confiscated, the police evicted those involved. Only a relatively small number of landless peasants have been allowed to move on to “Resettlement Land”. Over 20 years, about 60,000 small farms have been created, many of which have not survived, and these were mainly on the poorest land. (In total about seven million of the 12 million population are rurally based, with approximately one million black farms, mainly very small and without modern equipment). Much of this resettlement land was purchased at market prices from the white commercial farmers under the terms of the Lancaster House agreement. The white farmers, who own the bulk of the best quality land occupied by about 4,500 farms, were encouraged to stay in business, producing about a third of the country’s export earnings.
After gaining independence, virtually all of the nationalist regimes in Africa enjoyed a limited economic expansion. The World Bank accepted nationalisations and even welfare state measures in the 1960s and 70s as a way of countering the influence of the Soviet Union. But the nationalist elites had little or no genuine independence from Western imperialism, and by the 1980s they had largely accepted IMF-World Bank structural adjustment programmes. Free market measures, the privatisation of the state sector and the opening up of economies to the world market became the norm. The result for most of the population of sub-Saharan Africa has been devastating. From 1987 to 1998, for example, the number of people living in poverty (on less than a dollar a day) has increased from 217 million to 291 million, roughly half the total population, according to the World Bank’s own figures.
In Zimbabwe, the position was somewhat different because the white minority regime had set about building up its own economy under the siege conditions of the civil war and sanctions. In the 1980s, Zanu-PF was able to utilise this local wealth as thousands of white settlers fled the country. Welfare measures were expanded, in particularly in the education sector. For a period the new small commercial farms that were set up and supported by the regime were regarded as an African success story. But by the 1990s the Mugabe government had to accept the domination of the global economy and abandoned its pretence that it was going through a “national democratic phase” of a revolution that would at some future date enter a “socialist” stage.
Accepting IMF structural adjustment meant opening up its industry to foreign competition, particularly that of South Africa after the end of sanctions that had been imposed during apartheid. As well as closing down sections of local industry, the state sector was cut back and opened up to privatisation. This precipitated a sharp economic decline, compounded by falling prices for tobacco, one of its main exports.
The impact on the population was dire. To give just one statistic, infant mortality shot up from 52 to 69 per 1,000 live births between 1990 and 1997. As the level of debt increased the IMF demanded that the government made further expenditure cuts.
Zimbabwe also entered the war in the Congo, supporting the Kabila regime in return for diamonds and other natural resources. The Zimbabwean army organised its own business ventures, cutting across Western interests that wanted its own mining corporations to exploit the region.
Eventually in 1999, negotiations between the Mugabe regime and the IMF broke down, cutting off Western credit and forcing the economy into even steeper decline. The Zimbabwean government was not prepared to see its public finances, which stood at the core of its system of political patronage, slashed even further.
In response to the economic devastation produced by the IMF measures imposed by the Zanu-PF regime a wave of strikes, protests and land occupations developed during the 1990s. In the absence of any alternative socialist policy, however, the urban opposition to the regime was dominated by a coalition made up of the trade union bureaucracy and business interests, including sections of the white farmers. Organised in the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), these pro-imperialist forces nearly succeeded in winning a majority in the elections of June last year. Backed by the Western powers, with Britain at the forefront, the MDC advocates a crash programme of free market measures, claiming that Zimbabwe’s virtual economic collapse is due entirely to the corruption of Zanu-PF and its failure to strictly apply IMF measures.
It was the impasse with the IMF and the growth of support for the MDC that led the Zanu-PF regime in 2000 to give its backing and financial assistance to the war veterans movement and to step up the farm occupations. It was both an election strategy—since Zanu’s base of support was traditionally in the rural areas where the demand for land was popular—and, more importantly, a bargaining ploy to pressurise the Western powers. Scenes of white farmers being driven off their land by gangs armed with clubs and axes were intended to force a renegotiation of credit terms.
Whilst there has been rhetoric from Mugabe and Zanu-PF leaders that this was a return to the national liberation war, there has been no pretence that there is any possibility of a return to the nationalised economy of the 1980s. Despite the pompous speeches about the importance of the land question, Zanu-PF has no coherent strategy for agricultural development, and merely hopes to get Britain and the West to back off from their efforts to topple Mugabe and renew the supply of monies and credit, most of which will go to Zanu-PF supporters. The Mugabe regime has also attempted to defend the position of the elite and military top brass by negotiating loans from Libya, and extending its business operations in the Congo—which now includes logging in vast areas of tropical rainforest.
Many of the farm occupations have taken the form of intimidation and sabotage, breaking up mechanised large-scale estates without any provision of alternative resources. The Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU), representing about 300,000 small farmers, has pointed out that Zanu-PF has even abandoned its own agricultural programme and is doing nothing about providing an infrastructure for the occupiers.
Over 300,000 farm labourers that work on the commercial farms are now facing not just unemployment, but homelessness. Many of them are immigrants from neighbouring countries and are being driven out of their homes by the war veterans’ occupation, with hundreds now camped along the roadside next to the occupied farms. As well as the eight white farmers killed in the occupations, 28 black farm workers have also died.
The reckless policies being pursued by the Mugabe regime do risk provoking a civil war, but not the “race war” cited by Nigerian Foreign Minister Sule Lamido. The conflict threatened by the combination of Western efforts to destabilise Zimbabwe and Mugabe’s demagogic use of the land question is between the rural poor, particularly the most oppressed and backward sections of the peasantry on one side, who at this point are backed by the police and army, and the workers and poor in the cities. Mugabe has had some success in portraying urban workers opposed to his regime as “imperialist stooges”, thanks to the pro-Western policies pursued by the trade unions and the MDC. The dangers posed by such a development are acute, in a country where desperation is created by the fear of economic collapse and food shortages.
The only alternative to the disastrous leadership of the African bourgeoisie, whether or not it continues to espouse the rhetoric of “national liberation” like Zanu-PF, or gives open support to the free market like the MDC, is for the working class of the region to develop an independent socialist movement that would win the backing of millions of small peasants and rural poor. A socialist policy for the resolution of the land question would first and foremost recognise the necessity for democratic control and social ownership not just of agriculture but of industry and banking also, and on a continental scale and ultimately global scale.
There is no possibility of an agricultural development being made in Africa without a repudiation of the huge levels of debt owed to the Western banks. It is also necessary to develop a plan for the economy that provides for the whole population, rather than being primarily a source of minerals and raw materials that from colonial times on has benefited only Western corporations and a tiny elite. Such a plan would recognise the legitimate aspirations of millions of poor people for land in southern Africa, whilst encouraging the development of the most productive techniques to provide food for the rapidly expanding urban centres. Throughout much of Africa, the main rural production is subsistence agriculture, which cannot meet the needs of an expanding population.
Mechanisation, provision of chemical and organic fertilisers and pesticides, as well as making available scientific expertise has long been recognised as basic requirements to increase food production in Africa. Small-scale private producers should be assisted with interest-free loans, but the ultimate requirement must be the development of the most advanced large-scale agricultural production, run collectively and socially owned, as opposed to the present profit-based large farms that are owned by a wealthy and mainly white elite.
|Zimbabwe Renagues on Abuja deal|
11 days ago in Abuja, Nigeria, an agreement was reached between
Zimbabwe and the Commonwealth. It now appears on the part of Zimbabwe the
agreement was illusory.
Zimbabwe had agreed, inter alia, to stop the occupation of farm lands, and
that in any event removals will only be on legally acquired lands. Additionally,
there was a commitment to the rule of law.
Olusegun Obasanjo, the Nigerian President, who along with other Commonwealth
States would have believed that the agreement would be honoured by Zimbabwe. It
could now be seen as the continuation of Robert Mugabe's cynical ploy to hold on
to power, and the question now is does Zimbabwe intend to honour this and other
The Commercial Farmers' Union reported two days ago that a farm had been
attacked by self-styled war veterans who had burnt down farm workers' houses and
offices. Farmers say the violence has continued despite the Commonwealth deal,
and that there has been no action by the government to evict illegal land
President Robert Mugabe was not at Abuja and has stated that the Commonwealth
deal still requires approval by the Zimbabwean Cabinet and the leadership of the
It remains unclear whether Robert Mugabe ever intended or intends to honour
the Abuja Agreement, a similar deal involving Zimbabwe brokered by the United
Nations was never honoured.
Zimbabwe had agreed, inter alia, to stop the occupation of farm lands, and that in any event removals will only be on legally acquired lands. Additionally, there was a commitment to the rule of law.
Olusegun Obasanjo, the Nigerian President, who along with other Commonwealth States would have believed that the agreement would be honoured by Zimbabwe. It could now be seen as the continuation of Robert Mugabe's cynical ploy to hold on to power, and the question now is does Zimbabwe intend to honour this and other International Agreements.
The Commercial Farmers' Union reported two days ago that a farm had been attacked by self-styled war veterans who had burnt down farm workers' houses and offices. Farmers say the violence has continued despite the Commonwealth deal, and that there has been no action by the government to evict illegal land invaders.
President Robert Mugabe was not at Abuja and has stated that the Commonwealth deal still requires approval by the Zimbabwean Cabinet and the leadership of the Zanu-PF party.
It remains unclear whether Robert Mugabe ever intended or intends to honour the Abuja Agreement, a similar deal involving Zimbabwe brokered by the United Nations was never honoured.
|Thousands in rural Zimbabweans face starvation
HARARE: Thousands of people living in southern Zimbabwe are facing starvation as critical food shortages loom, aid agencies and officials said on Monday.
The food crisis in southern Zimbabwe has been blamed on a variety of factors, including a devastating cyclone in early 2000, a January drought which destroyed this year's maize crops, and onging disruptions to agricultural activity due to land invasions.
Since February 2000, government supporters have invaded hundreds of white-owned commercial farms to push for faster land reforms to redress colonial-era inequalities in ownership.
One hundred thousand children in the southern provinces of Midlands and Masvingo, are being given a supplementary meal a day by Care International, a Care official who asked not to be named told AFP.
Food shortages in Mberengwa, in the arid and drought-prone Matabeleland South province are critical, Rugare Gumbo, the ruling ZANU-PF MP for Mberengwa East told AFP.
"We do have a desperate situation," said Gumbo, but could not give exact figures of people needing assistance, saying officials in the area were still compiling them.
More than 180,000 people live in Mberengwa, according to the Central Statistical Office's most recent census.
Meanwhile the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has alleged that food-for-work programmes carried out between January and April in Mberengwa had been reserved for ruling party card-carriers.
"In that area people are starving while ZANU-PF plays this kind of politics," said Sekai Holland, the MDC candidate for Mberengwa East who lost to ZANU-PF's Gumbo in general elections last year.
In Harare, the Famine Early Warning System (FEWS) said in its latest report that food security in rural areas such as Mberengwa were "critical".
FEWS said the country's stocks of grain were due to run out in two weeks' time, just as rural households in southern and western Zimbabwe were expected to run out of grain supplies.
Last month Zimbabwean Agriculture Minister Joseph Made said the country was set to import 100,000 tons of maize from neighbouring South Africa in a bid to avert the looming food shortages.
He said the maize would be stored until April or May 2002, when he estimated the country's maize stocks run out.
A 70 year-old farmer and 17 of his employees were each charged with two counts of murder, the farmers' lawyer, Ray Passaportis, told AFP.
The farmer, John Bibby, told his lawyer he locked himself inside his home throughout the clash on his farm.
His security guards said the two men died after falling from a truck and getting run over by the government supporters who were ferrying them from farm to farm.
The deaths on Bita Farm in the rural district of Hwedza, 100km southeast of Harare, came as pro-government militants burned the homes of farm employees and the farm's office complex, an official at the Commercial Farmers Union said.
CFU officials said both those killed appeared to be among the young pro-government militants who were being ferried by truck among different farms around Hwedza.
The deaths are part of the violence that continues nationwide, despite three separate deals reached during the past two weeks aimed at resolving Zimbabwe's political crisis.
President Robrert Mugabe has remained largely silent throughout the latest diplomatic developments.
Farmers say they have yet to see any crackdown on the occupiers, who continue forcing work to a halt on farms, and burning grazing land.
Pro-government veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation war launched a campaign of farm invasions in February last year, claiming they were protesting at the slow pace of land reform to redress colonial-era inequities.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change says the farm invasions are a politically motivated scheme to punish its supporters and to seal off huge tracts of the countryside to prevent them from campaigning for the presidential election, due early next year.
Focus On Continuing Crisis
September 17, 2001
Posted to the web September 17, 2001
The following report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations
The Zimbabwe government's agreement to stop seizing land from the country's white farmers to and uphold the rule of law may have pre-empted the threat of punitive international economic sanctions against the country. But analysts this week told IRIN that turning the country's ruined economy around required much more than the land deal.
They said pro-government so-called war veterans could also prove a hurdle to the government meeting pledges it made to the Commonwealth and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to end lawlessness and violence.
The government last week agreed to a Nigerian-brokered accord to end the seizure of mostly white-owned farms while it promised SADC leaders it was moving to end lawlessness in Zimbabwe and agreed to the region monitoring the restoration of the rule of law in the country.
But the Nigerian-brokered deal would still leave Zimbabwe unable to meet targets for the resumption of urgently-needed International Monetary Fund (IMF) balance-of-payments support for the country, University of Zimbabwe (UZ) business studies professor Tony Hawkins told IRIN. Most economic analysts agreed that IMF assistance, suspended in October 1999, was critical if Zimbabwe was to turn around its collapsing economy. Resumption of aid by the IMF would also unlock billions of dollars worth of aid other donors, taking the cue from the Bretton Woods institution, were withholding from the country, they said.
"The agreements reached in Abuja and in Harare would in some part help put back the key agriculture sector on its feet. But the truth is the economic crisis will continue," Hawkins said.
Hawkins spoke as the government's Central Statistical Office announced that inflation had hit an all time record of 76.1 percent in August, sparking fears that continued hikes in prices of basic commodities and expected food shortages in the coming few months might lead to unrest among the urban poor.
More disturbing still was the concern that President Robert Mugabe could renege on the accords, said Zimbabwe Institute of Development Studies researcher Brian Raftopoulos. "It [will be] almost impossible for President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF party to stay within the conditions of the agreements made in Abuja and in Harare and still be able to contain the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party," he told IRIN.
According to Raftopoulos, Mugabe and ZANU-PF had, since narrowly winning parliamentary elections last year, built their political survival strategy around violence and intimidation against their political opponents. More than 35 Zimbabweans, most of them opposition supporters, were killed during the run-up to last year's general election.
"Fulfilling the Abuja and Harare agreements will create peace in the country and therefore space for the opposition to build on widespread discontent among Zimbabweans and mobilise against ZANU-PF," Raftopoulos said. "That is just too dangerous for Mugabe's re-election bid next year".
For the government to ensure the defence of rule of law as it pledged in Abuja and in Harare last week, it would have to crack the whip against the war veterans. But Raftopoulos said that was unlikely because the former fighters had become too important to Mugabe's own political career. "We could actually see the war veterans carry on with lawlessness and violence in breach of Abuja, with the government claiming it did not have control over the veterans," said the researcher.
As if underlining their continued threat, war veterans this week set fire to workers' houses at white-owned farm they were illegally occupying in the Wedza commercial farming district about 140 km east of Harare. The largely-white Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) said there has been no let up in attacks against farmers and their workers since the government pledged to the Commonwealth in Nigeria and to SADC leaders in Harare to implement a just land reform programme.
Zimbabwe has been in political and economic crisis since February 2000, when pro-government militants led by veterans of the country's liberation war, began illegally invading white-owned farms with encouragement from the government. Investors and donors fled the country in protest at the lawlessness, deepening an economic crisis that has manifested itself in acute foreign currency and fuel shortages, and skyrocketing prices of almost all commodities.
Political scientist and newspaper publisher Ibbo Mandaza said the agreement brokered by Nigeria on behalf of the Commonwealth, and Mugabe's pledges to SADC in Harare last week, broke Zimbabwe's deepening isolation. "The agreements are part of a diplomatic and political process by Zimbabwe and designed to break the international encirclement of the country which included undeclared sanctions against the country," Mandaza said.
However, Hawkins pointed out that despite the agreements, no donor was likely to give Zimbabwe money until well after the presidential election.
For details of the Abuja agreement: http://www.reliefweb.int/IRIN/sa/countrystories/zimbabwe/20010907.phtml For opposition reactions to SADC deal: http://www.reliefweb.int/IRIN/sa/countrystories/zimbabwe/20010913.phtml
In a statement at the end of a 12-day mission to the crisis-hit southern African country, an IMF team warned President Robert Mugabe's embattled government against rising inflation, growing poverty and closing down a parallel foreign exchange market thriving in the face of a severe hard currency shortage.
Zimbabwe's current fixed exchange rate system was damaging the economy, it said.
The IMF team praised the government for efforts to lower the budget deficit - which has averaged 10% of gross domestic product (GDP) in the past decade - but it called for comprehensive policies to restore growth and ensure sustainable food security.
"The Zimbabwe economy is deteriorating rapidly and poverty is rising," it said. "To improve prospects for a resumption of economic growth, the staff team stressed the need for measures to restore confidence in the economic future of Zimbabwe, particularly through an orderly land reform process," the team added.
The team met government officials, civic leaders, the business community, trade unions and opposition parties. But the talks did not focus on any immediate resumption of aid to Zimbabwe, which was cut two years ago over Mugabe's controversial policies.
Last week, Mugabe endorsed a Nigerian-brokered plan to end government farm seizures in exchange for funds from former colonial master Britain to implement a fair land reform plan.
Nine white farmers have been killed and scores of black farm workers assaulted during the land grabs in which hundreds of white farms have been invaded in the past 18 months by militant supporters of Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party.
The IMF said the Abuja accord was encouraging. Before the IMF's latest mission, Gerry Johnson, the IMF's senior representative in Harare, said the visit had been agreed with the Zimbabwe authorities for "a standard review."
Zimbabwe is in its third year of recession. Analysts expect food shortages later this year or early 2002, raising the spectre of civil unrest, after a sharp decline in farm output caused by disturbances on white-owned farms invaded by pro-government militants since February 2000.
The economic malaise has been worsened by the suspension of aid in 1999 by Western donors, mainly over Mugabe's controversial seizure of white-owned farmland for black resettlement without compensation.
In May, the IMF said cash-strapped Zimbabwe was late in its debt repayments to the fund. The following month, Finance Minister Simba Makoni appealed for IMF and World Bank help for Zimbabwe to fulfill its debt obligations, saying that it was determined to pay off $600 million worth of arrears.
In its statement on Monday, the IMF team said Zimbabwe's "loose monetary policy" this year has led to a rapid increase in asset prices, a rise in inflation, which has a hit a record 76% and is expected to rise to 100% by December, and a sharp depreciation of the local currency.
A severe foreign currency shortage has forced many traders to buy the limited supply of US dollars at an informal parallel market rate of Z$350 per US dollar against the formal rate of 55 to 1.
The state argues devaluation will not help the country's economic woes and has threatened to crash the parallel market.
On Monday, the IMF said the parallel market was slowing down the economic decline. "Until the conditions were right for unifying the exchange rate at an equilibrium level, the team urged the authorities to welcome the parallel market."
The IMF noted on Monday that Zimbabwe is in debt arrears to the fund and other bodies, but said only comprehensive policies would provide a lasting solution to its problems.
"Such policies would provide a basis for clearing arrears and an eventual resumption in financial support from the IMF and other creditors and donors," it said.
Deflating Media Propaganda
The Nation (Nairobi)
September 17, 2001
Posted to the web September 17, 2001
Prof. Katama Mkangi
I have just returned from my second one-month's visit to Harare - Zimbabwe. Going by the bad international publicity against President Mugabe, one would have expected to land in a country in the grip of fear and a general sense of insecurity. One would have expected hordes of white people queuing to leave the country.
In both of my visits, I can safely say I have never felt safer than when I am in Nairobi. One becomes a little bit unnerved by this peaceful environment as you expected to witness mayhem, chaos and crazed machete-carrying Africans ready to do battle with whites as you landed. The so-called international media have hyped you to expect a Zimbabwe on the brink of total collapse.
Perhaps you might think, I was staying in Harare only? Not really. My family and I ventured outside Harare. The first one was a visit to the famous Chinotimba/Mosi-au-Tunya (Victoria Falls) town. It's a major tourist town because of the majestic falls across the Zambezi River. I expected the Air Zimbabwe flight to be half full. To our surprise, the plane was full of white tourists with a sprinkle of 'coloured' tourists like ourselves sticking out like a sore thumb in a barren desert of white. And at the famous Victoria Falls Hotel where we spent five days, we were the only African tourists. Definitely, I felt more of being a foreigner despite the valiant efforts the Zimbabwe African staff made to make us "feel at home."
I found Zimbabweans working hard to make a living against an economic situation where the value of their currency is haemorrhaging on a daily basis. In the "parallel" illegal white market, the Zim dollar was exchanging at one US$ to 280 Zim dollars! There was no sense of panic or hysteria.
We also drove to Kariba dam. It is a journey by road comparable from Nairobi to Voi. First, I had to keep on pinching myself in order to confirm that I wasn't day dreaming. I couldn't believe the well-maintained road. If I saw potholes on this road, then they were three small brown patches, which were in the middle of a road.
We were tense on our way to Kariba with all the talk about war veterans killing whites and grabbing their farms.
In a country where whites are supposedly being hunted, we came across a scene that is literally out of Africa. In a town called Karoi, on the well-manicured lawns of Twin Rivers Motel we found whites comfortably sitting outside with their families, doing what whites have come to take for granted while in Africa - living comfortably, enjoying and relaxing with African servants hovering around to respond to their whims.
But in general, when in Zimbabwe, one feels deflated by this whole propaganda that the country is on fire similar to Palestine or Northern Ireland.
As a matter of fact, coming from Kenya, one might find that there is something disturbing about Zimbabwe. Something unreal and annoying. While on the other hand the West makes so much hullabaloos about President Mugabe, Zimbabwe remains as white after all these two decades of Uhuru.
I was told that when one of the main hospitals was to be renamed Parirenyatwa in memory of a freedom fighter, the whites and a few blacks were up in arms. The same applied when Julius Nyerere and Nelson Mandela their names had to replace those of whites. Yet, Ian Smith whose government committed racial cleansing and genocide against Africans is living unmolested on his sprawling farm in the country.
Walking in Harare and/touring Zimbabwe, one gets a frustrated feeling of being an African by the dominant presence of the white people. This dominance is nowhere better reflected than in the national economy. And this fact is nowhere more demonstrated than in land ownership.
The land issue in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Namibia and South Africa has to be solved in favour of the Africans if peace is to prevail in these countries.
What President Mugabe is fundamentally doing, is to question the colonial economy whose viability rests on the denial of Africans to determine their future both politically and economically.
Mr Mugabe, like Julius Nyerere before him, is attempting to come up with a home-grown solution to foreign-imposed problem. This is being taken by the West as a cardinal sin. No African President is expected to question the economic structure modelled on Western values that regard inequality and poverty as being part of 'development'. That is why any African leader such as P. Lumumba, Kwame Nkrumah, Samora Marcel, Sekou Toure and Muammar Gaddafi have been demonised, overthrown and met violent deaths.
African leaders who have had no guts, intellectual clarity, a sense of historical mission and/or moral strength to stand up to the West, have always been praised as 'friends of the West'. Here I won't mention names. But why should African leaders be strung along and sent to reign-in Mr Mugabe while they are facing worse if not a similar problem in their countries?
In Zimbabwe, the Movement for Democratic Change is an opposition, which is an open secret in Harare that whites and Britain are sponsoring to fight the government of President Mugabe.
If force is being used - a good 20 years after independence - a discerning mind should realise that efforts and overtures to rectify this anomaly peacefully during all these years must have been turned down. Thus, to regard the method used to repossess the land, as a mindless orgy is to miss the point.
Thus, the perpetrators of violence are not the government of President Mugabe, but rather, the beneficiaries of the prevailing unjust system. What we see as war veterans' violence, is more of a reaction than an initiating response. That is why, during the past 15 months, the world has come to know of the deaths of five whites killed, but rarely is the world aware of the deaths of 34 Africans killed during the same period.
If it were violence that we all are against to, then it should have been condemned unreservedly in all scenarios.
Hence, let us give President Mugabe a fair hearing. He needs our support not condemnation. After all, his unwritten text is Africa for Africans! Do you have a problem with this? If you have, try to migrate to Europe.
Prof Katama Mkangi is a political commentator
Robert Mugabe isolated
With Commonwealth and regional
pressure bearing down on him, he will at least get away with less than before
While last week's meeting in Nigeria of Commonwealth foreign ministers, which
saw Britain offering to fund land reform in its former colony, might have
provided the embattled leader with hope that things were going his way, this
week's two-day summit in Harare of Southern African Development Community (SADC)
heads of state appears to have disabused him of any idea that African leaders
are on his side.
In his opening address SADC chairperson President Bakili Muluzi of Malawi did
not mince words on the danger of Zimbabwe's economic crisis spilling across its
borders, while in closed sessions South African President Thabo Mbeki was
understood to have been sharply critical of the damaging policies pursued by
Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.
South Africa's relations with Harare have become increasingly strained over
Mugabe's reluctance to rein in militia leaders who, during the summit, were
unleashing violence on farms in the Beatrice area, south of Harare. Mugabe had
even insisted on the heads of state greeting war veteran Joseph Chinotimba,
self-styled "leader of farm invasions", on their arrival at Harare airport.
Muluzi announced on Tuesday the formation of a ministerial committee to carry
on the work of the regional leaders. He assured reporters that "things are going
to change because the government of Zimbabwe is committed to the issues which we
is their insistence that Zimbabwe must stick to the rule of law that has stung
Mugabe most. The official media, Mugabe's mouthpiece, this week launched
scathing attacks on Mbeki and Muluzi. Mbeki had been a "casualty" of the Abuja
accord, The Sunday Mail curiously claimed, suggesting South Africa was
not a "true African country".
The Herald alleged that Mbeki had refused to heed the Pan Africanist
Congress at home on the land issue while listening to the opposition in Zimbabwe
which, it claimed, opposes land reform.
Muluzi was accused of being discourteous to his hosts by lecturing them on
the need for the rule of law.
The Abuja agreement obliges the Zimbabwe government to halt land invasions.
But as most commercial farms are already under occupation by Mugabe's hired
thugs, this will make little difference to violent realities, including the
dispossession of about 300 000 farm workers of Mozambican, Malawian and Zambian
As Mugabe's popularity wanes as economic privation and political repression
mount, so he will resort to every instrument of coercion at his disposal. That
means keeping war veterans and other armed supporters on the farms. But while
the Harare government needs to mollify its own constituency it is, at the same
time, anxious to be seen complying with the Abuja terms.
As this week's events show, Mugabe is facing growing international censure
over his self-made crisis. The United States and European Union are threatening
sanctions. Mbeki and President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria are leading a
Commonwealth initiative to bind Zimbabwe to the rule of law.
Next month Commonwealth heads of government meet in Brisbane, Australia, to
examine ways of tightening measures against rogue members.
The Abuja and Harare agreements will likely head off the challenges to
Mugabe's renegade rule and enable him to argue that he is cooperating with the
But he is unlikely to give up the 2 700 farms seized under the so-called
fast-track resettlement scheme which the Supreme Court has declared illegal. And
Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge, on his return from Abuja, made it clear that
about 4 500 farms designated for acquisition - 90% of the total - will not be
delisted, nor will their occupiers be evicted.
Most Zimbabweans agree on the need for land reform. But most insist it must
be planned and lawful, enhancing food production rather than sabotaging it. They
are supported in this by the United Nations Development Programme and other
It is doubtful whether the gulf between the two divergent approaches can be
bridged - or whether the international community is prepared to turn a blind eye
to the intimidation and electoral rigging taking place as Mugabe feels
increasingly cornered by democratic forces. That sense of isolation will have
been heightened by last weekend's overwhelming victory for the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change in a Bulawayo municipal poll.
Mugabe will no doubt soon be breathing defiance again. But with Commonwealth
and regional pressure bearing down on him, he will at least get away with less
than before while his carefully nurtured myth that Zimbabwe's problems centre on
land has finally been laid to rest.
Iden Wetherell is editor of the Zimbabwe Independent
hen Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe returned from Libya last weekend he was full of cheer that the Abuja agreement on Zimbabwe's landreform programme had provided a welcome show of solidarity by African states. By Tuesday that optimism had evaporated as Mugabe had difficulty disguising his resentment of criticism from neighbours.
-- The Mail&Guardian, September 17, 2001.
While last week's meeting in Nigeria of Commonwealth foreign ministers, which saw Britain offering to fund land reform in its former colony, might have provided the embattled leader with hope that things were going his way, this week's two-day summit in Harare of Southern African Development Community (SADC) heads of state appears to have disabused him of any idea that African leaders are on his side.
In his opening address SADC chairperson President Bakili Muluzi of Malawi did not mince words on the danger of Zimbabwe's economic crisis spilling across its borders, while in closed sessions South African President Thabo Mbeki was understood to have been sharply critical of the damaging policies pursued by Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.
South Africa's relations with Harare have become increasingly strained over Mugabe's reluctance to rein in militia leaders who, during the summit, were unleashing violence on farms in the Beatrice area, south of Harare. Mugabe had even insisted on the heads of state greeting war veteran Joseph Chinotimba, self-styled "leader of farm invasions", on their arrival at Harare airport.
Muluzi announced on Tuesday the formation of a ministerial committee to carry on the work of the regional leaders. He assured reporters that "things are going to change because the government of Zimbabwe is committed to the issues which we have discussed".
It is their insistence that Zimbabwe must stick to the rule of law that has stung Mugabe most. The official media, Mugabe's mouthpiece, this week launched scathing attacks on Mbeki and Muluzi. Mbeki had been a "casualty" of the Abuja accord, The Sunday Mail curiously claimed, suggesting South Africa was not a "true African country".
The Herald alleged that Mbeki had refused to heed the Pan Africanist Congress at home on the land issue while listening to the opposition in Zimbabwe which, it claimed, opposes land reform.
Muluzi was accused of being discourteous to his hosts by lecturing them on the need for the rule of law.
The Abuja agreement obliges the Zimbabwe government to halt land invasions. But as most commercial farms are already under occupation by Mugabe's hired thugs, this will make little difference to violent realities, including the dispossession of about 300 000 farm workers of Mozambican, Malawian and Zambian descent.
As Mugabe's popularity wanes as economic privation and political repression mount, so he will resort to every instrument of coercion at his disposal. That means keeping war veterans and other armed supporters on the farms. But while the Harare government needs to mollify its own constituency it is, at the same time, anxious to be seen complying with the Abuja terms.
As this week's events show, Mugabe is facing growing international censure over his self-made crisis. The United States and European Union are threatening sanctions. Mbeki and President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria are leading a Commonwealth initiative to bind Zimbabwe to the rule of law.
Next month Commonwealth heads of government meet in Brisbane, Australia, to examine ways of tightening measures against rogue members.
The Abuja and Harare agreements will likely head off the challenges to Mugabe's renegade rule and enable him to argue that he is cooperating with the international community.
But he is unlikely to give up the 2 700 farms seized under the so-called fast-track resettlement scheme which the Supreme Court has declared illegal. And Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge, on his return from Abuja, made it clear that about 4 500 farms designated for acquisition - 90% of the total - will not be delisted, nor will their occupiers be evicted.
Most Zimbabweans agree on the need for land reform. But most insist it must be planned and lawful, enhancing food production rather than sabotaging it. They are supported in this by the United Nations Development Programme and other donors.
It is doubtful whether the gulf between the two divergent approaches can be bridged - or whether the international community is prepared to turn a blind eye to the intimidation and electoral rigging taking place as Mugabe feels increasingly cornered by democratic forces. That sense of isolation will have been heightened by last weekend's overwhelming victory for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in a Bulawayo municipal poll.
Mugabe will no doubt soon be breathing defiance again. But with Commonwealth and regional pressure bearing down on him, he will at least get away with less than before while his carefully nurtured myth that Zimbabwe's problems centre on land has finally been laid to rest.
Iden Wetherell is editor of the Zimbabwe Independent
|Zimbabwe Warns Importers on Biotech Food|
|(Posted: 17-Sep-01) |
|Agence France Presse | September 13, 2001
HARARE - Zimbabwe's government has warned importers on bringing genetically modified food into the country without the permission of the state Biosafety Board, a board official said Thursday.
"We have told importers, should you need clarification on importing food, please seek advice from the board," an official at the Research Council of Zimbabwe said.
While the government has not banned importers from bringing genetically modified food into Zimbabwe, the official said they must receive permission from the Biosafety Board.
The warning was released last week, reminding importers of the biotech regulations implemented last year, he said.
The board has approved trials of genetically modified maize and cotton in the next growing season.
The food issue is expected to gain urgency as Zimbabwe faces a shortage of an estimated 600,000 tonnes of staple maize grain, meaning it will have to import maize from major producers such as South Africa.
South Africa will harvest its first crop of genetically modified maize later this year, and other major producers such as the United States already grow genetically modified maize crops that are not separated from organic maize.
Under Zimbabwean law, the importer must determine the origins of any food product and win government approval if it includes genetically modified organisms.
Copyright 2001 Agence France Presse
|Nurses in mass exodus|
9/17/01 9:26:16 AM (GMT +2)
By Columbus Mavhunga
Zimbabwe could lose more
than 300 nurses before the end of the year as international medical
organisations intensify the recruitment of the poorly remunerated Zimbabwean
About 314 nurses on Tuesday
submitted their applications to Global Meds LCC, a United States health
personnel recruiting company. The number is likely to rise as an Australian
nursing consultancy last week joined the recruitment drive through newspaper
Successful applicants for Australian positions will earn between A$2 800 (Z$82 600) a month and A$3 750 (Z$110 625), sending strong signals of possible mass resignations from an already short-staffed health sector.
US-bound nurses stand to earn at least US$2 800 (Z$154 000) a month compared to the Z$18 000 they get from the Public Service Commission (PSC).
Jamison Firestone, the Global Meds LCC managing director, said the response from the Zimbabwean nurses was “overwhelming”. He said he would be returning to recruit more nurses before the end of the year.
“I will not let this chance go,” said one nurse from Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo. “We have been talking to the PSC for a long time now, but they seem to be negotiating in bad faith.”
Nurses and junior doctors in Harare and Bulawayo are still battling to get their August salaries which were frozen by the PSC following a two-month strike.
They were demanding a review of their salaries and working conditions to match those of their counterparts in the region. The PSC has indicated that it has no money to pay them, and the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare last month wrote to the Treasury requesting a supplementary budget to cater for the salary increments for nurses and junior doctors.
Over the past few years, the country has been rocked by a brain drain of doctors and nurses leaving for greener pastures in countries such as New Zealand, South Africa and Britain because of the PSC’s apparent failure to adequately remunerate its health personnel.
Last week the Ministry of Health said more than 300 nurses had resigned from Parirenyatwa Hospital last month, while Harare Central Hospital has 208 nursing vacancies.
Repeated efforts to get a comment from Ray Ndhlukula, the PSC permanent secretary, on how the government proposes to deal with the massive brain drain, were fruitless.
Dr Sibert Mandega, the president of the Hospital Doctors’ Association, said low and uncompetitive salaries in the health sector have resulted in most experienced doctors leaving for greener pastures in Botswana, South Africa and the United Kingdom.
According to Professor Sam Tswana, the Dean of Medicine at the University of Zimbabwe Medical School, the current brain drain is severe because working conditions outside Zimbabwe for doctors were attractive and local doctors were highly marketable.
An estimated 100 doctors from Bulawayo alone, were due to leave for an unnamed Southern African Development Community country following recent interviews for recruitment.
|Zanu PF does not take kindly to losing|
9/17/01 10:18:34 AM (GMT +2)
THE pattern of post-electoral violence in this country over the past 18 months suggests that Bulawayo’s victory celebrations over the mayoral and ward elections could be short-lived. This could be the calm before the storm.
Zanu PF has never taken
kindly to any defeat and the residents of Bulawayo who gave the ruling party a
thumping in last weekend elections need to fully appreciate what is likely to
happen to them anytime now when Zanu PF unleashes its anger in a reaction to its
defeat by the MDC.
The pattern is that after the rejection of the draft constitution during last year’s referendum, President Mugabe demonstrated magnanimity that in the period since Independence was only matched by the proclamation of the spirit of reconciliation. But soon after that, the seeds of the current wave of lawlessness were scattered. The first demonstration of anger was the brutal assault on 4 000 demonstrators marching in central Harare at the beginning of April last year.
After the June 2000 parliamentary election, in which Zanu PF lost 57 seats to the MDC, including all the constituencies that make up Harare, the government and Zanu PF made certain that the people paid dearly for daring to reject them.
Zanu PF’s supporters and members of the police and army, or people in army uniform and in some cases using army vehicles, beat up voters. Justin Mutendadzamera, the MP for Mabvuku (MDC) and his wife were among the notable victims of violence by state agents.
Job Sikhala, the MP for St Mary’s (MDC) and his spouse, were brutalised in Chitungwiza, as was Willias Madzimure the MP for Kambuzuma (MDC), whose house was destroyed by suspected Zanu PF supporters.
While the three MPs are among the most notable public figures, the violence swept through Dzivarasekwa, Budiriro and other suburbs of Harare because Zanu PF suffered disastrous losses.
In Masvingo, after the loss to the MDC, whose candidate Alois Chaimiti won the race for the town’s executive mayor, young soldiers were unleashed on the residents. In all these cases the violence was carried out as a form of punishment for voting against Zanu PF. This is the pattern of events the residents of Bulawayo need to appreciate. They need to be warned of the possibility of an imminent backlash from Zanu PF and the government.
The charges by the MDC at the weekend that Zanu PF had bussed youths into Bulawayo could suggest that this was in preparation for unleashing punishment against residents of the country’s second largest city, where Zanu PF also lost all the parliamentary seats in June 2000. The suggestion then would be that very shortly, these youths will be unleashed on the residents.
The government’s anger would be greater, especially given the enormous financial resources poured into the city, ostensibly to persuade voters to support the ruling party’s candidates for the mayoral and ward elections. Voters in Bulawayo gladly accepted the money but, aware that their vote was a secret, proceeded to vote with their conscience. It was a huge embarrassment for both the government and Zanu PF. But as has been the pattern over the past one and half years, the government reacts to defeats with intensified violence.
Violence has become an integral part of the Zanu PF election or post-election strategies. This was evident in Marondera West, Bikita West, Bindura and Makoni West. The greatest tragedy in all these blighted events is the ambivalence of the police force, which has thoroughly discredited itself by its willingness to do Zanu PF’s bidding.
At some point in the not-so-distant future the police force will need to be cleansed of elements that have been willing to throw the Police Charter out of the window and abandon their role as guardians of all citizens of this country.
There is no role for such people in the police force, because in the long run their failure sows the seeds of anarchy when citizens become convinced that in order to safeguard themselves, their families, interests and property they have to take the law into their own hands.
In the period during the run-up to next year’s presidential election, it is imperative for Sadc, the African Union, the Commonwealth and the international community to send their representatives to Zimbabwe. Their presence will have the effect of curtailing government excesses.
The government should have no objection if it has nothing to hide. In the meantime, diplomatic missions accredited to this country can usefully undertake this function. Not to do so, would be to abandon the people of this country to the mercy of a government that has no respect for its people except its praise singers.
|Ex-CFU chief’s farm listed for acquisition|
9/17/01 10:27:27 AM (GMT +2)
THE government has listed former Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU) president Nick Swanepoel’s only farm and properties belonging to two agro-based companies in its latest Preliminary Notice to Acquire Land.
International, the country’s leading producer of day-old chicks, had four of its
properties listed, and wood processor, Border Timbers Limited, had one property
The properties were listed for compulsory acquisition in the government notice Lot 28 published on 7 September 2001.
Under the Compulsory Acquisition Act, the government should not compulsorily acquire agro-related companies, plantations and when a farmer owns only one farm.
Contacted for for comment, Swanepoel said: “I am doing what every farmer is doing – to object – because it is my only farm.”
His farm is in the Lomagundi district. Swanepoel’s 782,94 hectare farm is not adjacent to communal areas. If a farm lies next to communal areas, the government acquires it and the farmer is compensated for improvements.
Swanepoel, who is currently the facilitator of the land negotiations between the government and commercial farmers, said the farm was listed three times this year.
Commercial farmers have accused the government for wasting taxpayers’ money by listing farms several times.
The redundancies in listing farms has resulted in civil servants processing the same number of farms over and over again.
Swanepoel this year facilitated talks between the government and the Zimbabwe Joint Resettlement Scheme which saw, for the first time in recent years, farmers and the government breaking a land deadlock. The government accepted the one million hectares of land offered by commercial farmers for resettlement under the scheme.
Before Swanepoel was made facilitator of the talks, he had led a splinter group in the CFU last year. The Swanepoel-led group disagreed with the previous CFU leadership headed by Tim Henwood on how to end the land crisis.
The four listed Crest Breeders properties, which measure about 1 189,6 hectares, are all in Harare.
Robert Taylor, the Crest Breeders group financial director, said: “We have put objections through courts to challenge the listing of the properties. We are utilising all the properties for our poultry operations.”
“Poultry projects require a fair amount of land and there is no foreign ownership of the land.”
Crest Breeders produces 65 percent of day-old broiler chicks in Zimbabwe. The properties are not adjacent to communal lands. The Border Timbers property listed acquisition is in Mutare and it measures about 1 589,0447 hectares.
Border Timbers deputy chairman Kenneth Schofield said: “Forestry land is intensively used in Zimbabwe. This Mutare Border Timbers property is 100 percent utilised land and it is forest.
“Agro-industrial land should not be compulsorily acquired and Border Timbers is also protected by a Zimbabwe and Germany bilateral agreement. The German government has an investment in Border Timbers.”
Schofield said the company would object to the government’s intention to acquire of the all Border Timbers properties measuring 32 000 hectares.
|EU urged to freeze Mugabe’s external assets|
9/17/01 10:23:20 AM (GMT +2)
By Ngoni Chanakira, Business Editor
The European Parliament says the Zimbabwean government should respect its own land legislation and the tenure rights of both local and foreign investors.
In a resolution on
Zimbabwe, adopted in Brussels, Belgium, last week, the European Parliament
expressed its dismay at the ongoing company and farm invasions by people
claiming to veterans of the liberation war of the 1970s and mainly Zanu PF
The European Parliament said that a “disproportionate share of redistributed land had gone to supporters of President Mugabe”, and “this has compounded the problems of land ownership in Zimbabwe”.
The parliament said it urges “the European Union to increase pressure on the Government of Zimbabwe to respect its own land legislation and the tenure rights of both local and foreign investors, and further urges the Government of Zimbabwe to resolve the question of land distribution through legal, democratic, non-violent and transparent mechanisms”.
It said while it had begun political dialogue with Zimbabwe under Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement, it called upon the European Council and the European Commission to consider “targeted action on the Government”.
The targeted action includes economic sanctions and the freezing of assets held outside Zimbabwe and international travel by President Mugabe and his senior officials.
The European Parliament said the Zimbabwe’s budget deficit was nearly 30 percent of gross domestic product, hospitals and shops faced severe shortages, and the country needed at least $2,2 billion to pay for its monthly fuel imports from neighbouring countries.
It said the country faced a “potential food deficit of 120 000 tonnes of wheat and serious food shortages are already being forecast for Matabeleland, where there is no grain left”.
The Southern Africa Development Community’s Early Warning Unit has already said Zimbabwe needs to import at least 600 000 tonnes of maize and 100 000 tonnes of wheat to avert a food crisis.
However, while regional and international organisations have warned of the looming food crisis, Joseph Made, the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, continues to dispute the figures.
The minister claims that they are being cooked up and blown out of proportion by individuals and organisations bent on sabotaging and smearing the country's “good image”.
The Europeans also said they condemned the treatment of Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay, driven to retirement by the government and the death threats against the remaining judges, as unconstitutional acts “deliberately calculated to undermine the legal accountability of the government”.
It asked the government to stop “harassing and intimidating members of the judiciary and independent Press”.
From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 17 September
Zimbabwe farmer, 70, is charged with murder
Johannesburg - Zimbabwe’s pledge to the international community to end the violence that has dragged the country into crisis was called into question at the weekend as the intimidation of white farmers intensified and two people died. John Bibby, 70, a white farmer, together with 17 of his workers were arrested and each charged with two counts of murder after two "war veterans" loyal to President Mugabe died late on Saturday when they were run over on his farm. Mr Bibby, who farms at Hwedza, 60 miles south-east of Harare, said he was too far away from the incident to witness it and denies involvement.
He said the two men had fallen out of the back of the vehicle they were travelling in and were hit by a vehicle driven by one of the 50 veterans who had attacked the farm. His account has been ignored by police. The deaths at Bita Farm followed a rampage by the self-styled veterans, which began shortly after Mr Bibby returned home after fleeing from the farm two weeks ago following a clash on his land between two factions of veterans. Since then the Zimbabwe National Army had guarded the farm from illegal invasions, arson attacks and looting. After they left, veterans arrived and began to attack farm workers, ransacking and burning down their houses and the farm office.
The deaths follow the beating to death of a primary schoolheadmaster last week in the central town of Chivhu, in a district where an election is set for September 22-23. The headmaster, Felix Mazava, was a supporter of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, and party officials are convinced that his killing was politically motivated. The deaths are part of the violence that continues nationwide, despite three separate deals reached during the last two weeks aimed at resolving Zimbabwe's political crisis.
Intimidation of white farmers has continued unabated. John Lloyd, 49, a farmer, and his wife Gillian, 50, have been surrounded by Mugabe supporters since Thursday, barricaded into their house on their small farm south of Harare. On Saturday, the squatters, some of whom have been on the farm for 16 months even though it has not been selected for redistribution, placed two boxes in the shape of coffins outside the house. They decorated them with flowers, fashioned into two crosses. "They had a mock funeral for us today and they say the boxes are for my husband and myself," Mrs Lloyd said yesterday. "We have had little sleep as they have been singing all night. Some of them have been very drunk. On Saturday a woman threw a brick at me. The police eventually responded but have not resolved the situation. We are barricaded into the house with our maid and gardener and their families. It is far too dangerous to go outside."
Ten days ago in Abuja, Nigeria, Commonwealth foreign ministers hammered out an agreement with Zimbabwe's foreign minister, Stan Mudenge, who agreed to end violence, illegal land seizures and to reinstate the rule of law. "Mugabe never had any intention of honouring any agreements he made in Abuja," Dr John Makumbe, political scientist at the University of Zimbabwe, said yesterday. Last week, Joseph Msika, one of Mugabe's deputies, told five African presidents that he would find a way to return to good governance and would get farmers back on their land.
From Business Day (SA), 17 September
New deals fail to end deaths in Zimbabwe
Harare - Three people have died in Zimbabwe during the past week as violence in the countryside rages unchecked, despite three separate agreements aimed at resolving the country's land crisis. The latest deaths came on Saturday, when two people died during a clash on a whiteowned farm in eastern Zimbabwe. An octogenarian farmer was charged with inciting the violence and as an accessory to murder, farming officials said yesterday. The farmer, John Bibby, said he locked himself inside his home throughout the clash on his farm. His security guards said the two men died after falling from a truck and getting run over by the government supporters who were ferrying them from farm to farm. The deaths on Bita Farm in the rural district of Hwedza, 100km south-east of Harare, came as pro-government militants burned the homes of farm employees and the farm's office complex, an official at the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) said. CFU officials said both those killed appeared to be among the young pro-government militants who were being ferried by truck between different farms in the Hwedza area. Those deaths followed the killing of a primary school headmaster on Tuesday in the central town of Chivhu, part of a district where a parliamentary by-election is set for September 22-23.
The headmaster, Felix Mazava, was a supporter of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), and party officials are convinced that his killing was politically motivated. The deaths are part of the violence that continues nationwide, despite three different deals reached during the last two weeks aimed at resolving Zimbabwe's political crisis. Under the first agreement, reached on September 5 with white Zimbabwean farmers, the government accepted an offer of nearly one million hectares of land and substantial financing for resettled farmers. Although the government agreed to nothing in return, farming officials see that deal as their best hope for ending 18 months of violence on their land. The next day, Zimbabwean Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge agreed at Commonwealth talks in Nigeria that the government would crackdown on farm violence in exchange for British financing of land reforms. That meeting was followed by a regional summit on Monday and Tuesday in Harare, where regional leaders backed the deal that was reached in Abuja and said that Mugabe had assured them that he would crack down on the violence and intimidation. The summit ended with no concrete agreement, but did force Mugabe to meet his chief critics including the opposition, church leaders, businesses and white farmers.
Mugabe has remained largely silent throughout the latest diplomatic developments. Although he endorsed the Abuja deal in principle, he has yet to officially sign it. Farmers said they had yet to see any crackdown on the occupiers, who continue forcing work to a halt on farms and burning grazing land. Pro-government veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation war launched a campaign of farm invasions in February 2000, claiming they were protesting against the slow pace of land reform to redress colonial-era inequities. But the MDC said the farm invasions were a politically motivated scheme to punish its supporters and to seal off huge swathes of the countryside to prevent them from campaigning for the presidential election, due early next year. Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's central bank said yesterday it had fined three local commercial banks Z11m for allegedly buying scarce foreign currency on the black market. Zimbabwe is struggling with its worst economic crisis since the southern African country gained independence from Britain in 1980, which many blame on mismanagement by Mugabe's government.
From The Zimbabwe Standard, 16 September
Government pay cheques bounce
Cheques paid out to striking junior doctors and nurses by government have been dishonoured by several banks as it emerged that the ministry of health and child welfare has run out of money, The Standard has learnt. Contacted for comment, health minister Dr Timothy Stamps confirmed that he had received reports of the non payments but said it was not his ministry’s problem. Dr Stamps said his ministry would this week, through parliament, seek a supplementary budget vote of $1,25 billion from the ministry of finance and economic development. The health ministry had been allocated an annual budget vote of $10,9 billion for January through to December this year.
"You can ask the Salary Services Bureau as it is responsible for the payments. I am aware that there were some delays in the payments of the doctors, but I know that is being worked on now. Find out from the minister of public service labour and social welfare (July Moyo). It is his responsibility," said Dr Stamps. Efforts to obtain comment from Moyo on Thursday and Friday were unsuccessful. Each time The Standard called, his secretary promised to call back saying the minister was attending a meeting.
The government employs over 1 634 doctors and 16 470 nurses. Hospital Doctors Association president, Dr Febit Mandega, confirmed that the doctors had either been paid dishonoured cheques or had not received any payments. "There is a lot confusion in this matter as some have been paid and others have not received anything. I can confirm that our allowances are being withheld by government as I speak to you. I do not know if it is because that government has no money, but I can tell you we have not received our money." Aspect Maunganidze, the deputy president of the Hospital Doctors Association, said his organisation was in the process of compiling a list of doctors who were having problems in accessing their allowances.
Two months ago, the nurses, doctors and specialists went on a nationwide strike which paralysed the already crippled health sector. They were pressing for better working conditions and salaries. Doctors told The Standard on Thursday that cheques paid to them a fortnight ago had been dishonoured by their respective banks. "We collected our cheques on Tuesday (4 September) for the call allowances we attended in the past four months, and it was very disappointing to find out that the banks had penalised us for depositing the cheques which were dishonoured," said one doctor who preferred anonymity for fear of victimisation. "I also understand that some of my colleagues have not received a cent from government in call allowances which have nothing to do with the strike," said the doctor.
Another doctor said he had gone to the bank on Thursday (13 September) only to be told there was no money in his account as the government had not yet deposited any money. Nurses also confirmed that they had encountered similar problems with the cheques they had received from government during the last two weeks. Although The Standard could not establish the actual amount paid out to the medical staffers, the bill is said to run into several millions. Said Stamps: "I do not know the amount but it could be huge since there are many of them who have reported that they have not received their money." Doctors are entitled to night call allowances of $330 per hour during week days and $404 per hour on weekends, and it is these allowances that government is failing to pay. Nurses are entitled to night allowances of $200 per hour.
From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 17 September
DRC plunder: UN meets Mugabe
Harare - The head of a UN team probing the looting of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo has talked to Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, who has sent up to 12 000 troops to the war-ravaged country. Egypt's ambassador to the United Nations Mahmoud Kassem met with Mugabe on Friday for what state media described as a briefing on the conflict in the DRC, which has become known as Africa's World War. Mugabe did not make any public remarks after the meeting, but Kassem told the state-run Herald that the UN team was in Harare to update its information about the illegal plundering of the DRC's natural resources by foreign armies fighting in that nation's war. Last April, the UN expert group accused rebels in the east of the DRC and their backers - Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi - of looting the huge mineral wealth of the country, which has been effectively split in two by almost three years of war.
After presenting the panel's first report, Ba-NDaw told a press conference that her team was not able to get as much information from Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola as from the other nations involved in the war. The independent Zimbabwean weekly Financial Gazette reported on Thursday that the team wants to determine the extent of alleged looting by Zimbabwe and Namibia in the DRC. "During the investigations which led to the report against Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, some prima facie evidence pointing to the involvement of Zimbabwean generals in the looting of the DRC surfaced," an official working with the UN team told the paper.
The war has generated a number of lucrative business interests for Zimbabwe, notably in timber, energy, mining, transport and communications. But Zimbabwe has never given any public account of the war's casualties or its economic benefits. Mugabe's military campaign in the DRC has been hugely unpopular among Zimbabweans, who are suffering through the nation's worst-ever economic crisis and who see little benefit to their involvement in the war. Zimbabwe's troops have fought alongside those from Angola and Namibia to prop up the DRC government against rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda. Namibia has now withdrawn its troops, as UN observers have been deployed to monitor a peace deal. In the past, Mugabe has defended Zimbabwe's wartime business interests in the DRC as legitimate, because the DRC government had invited Zimbabwe into the country to help defend the government. When the UN report was released in April, the government hailed it as a validation of Mugabe's motives in the tangled conflict. Burundi, Rwanda, and Uganda have all angrily denied the UN team's findings.
From The Zimbabwe Standard, 16 September
Tsvangirai leads MDC team to Brisbane
Morgan Tsvangirai, the president of the MDC, will lead his party’s delegation to next month’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Brisbane, Australia, The Standard is informed. News of Tsvangirai’s trip came as government sources confirmed that President Robert Mugabe will also attend the meeting, before he embarks on a tour of the Far East, including Vietnam. Other members of the MDC delegation are shadow minister for foreign affairs, Tendai Biti, secretary for international affairs, Sekai Holland and party national youth chairman, Nelson Chamisa.
Although MDC officials remained tight lipped on those the delegation would meet in Brisbane, The Standard understands that these include legislators from various countries interested in the Zimbabwean crisis, and members from the Commonwealth secretariat. The Brisbane summit is scheduled for 6-9 October. MDC spokesman, Learnmore Jongwe, told The Standard last week that his party’s delegation would use the Brisbane meeting to attract international attention to the Zimbabwean crisis, as well as to articulate the shortcomings of the Abuja agreement. The MDC has criticised the Abuja agreement, reached in Nigeria recently between Zimbabwe and Britain, as unworkable.
Said Jongwe: "We have decided to send a delegation to Brisbane so that the other side of the Zimbabwean story can be told to the delegates. In the past, we have missed an opportunity to present this, hence people have gained the wrong impression about the MDC’s position and the reality of the Zimbabwean crisis. We will meet informally with a number of delegates to give our position." Jongwe said the MDC delegation would highlight the shortcomings of the Abuja agreement which he said had started on a wrong footing. Despite mentioning the need to restore the rule of law, the MDC believes the agreement skirted round the issue.
"What’s all this noise about Abuja? We are going to tell the Commonwealth that Abuja will not work. The Abuja agreement started on the wrong premise because it identified the wrong issue as at the core of the Zimbabwean crisis. The Zimbabwean crisis is centred around the desire by the ruling party to use uncouth means in order to have a bloody overstay in power. That is why every section of the society which is an obstacle to this overstay in power has been on the receiving end of Zanu PF’s terror campaign. Unfortunately, Abuja was blind to the harassment of the judiciary, the press, the opposition and the selective application of the law," said Jongwe.
From The Zimbabwe Independent, 14 September
Zim, Angola mull arms deal
Zimbabwe and Angola were last weekend in talks over the setting up of a joint venture arms manufacturing plant, the Zimbabwe Independent heard this week. Press reports from Luanda said Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi last weekend met with his Angolan counterpart Kundi Pahyama where the proposal to set up the joint venture company was discussed. This week an Angolan envoy delivered a special message to President Mugabe from President Jose-Eduardo dos Santos as a follow-up to last weekend’s meeting. Diplomatic sources said the message contained the joint venture proposal in arms manufacture between the two SADC allies who played a key role in propping up the government of the late Laurent Kabila and his son Joseph in the Democratic Republic of Congo. On the other hand, Angola has been battling with a civil war of its own since independence in 1975.
Defence sources this week said Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI) was expected to play a pivotal role in the envisaged joint venture due to its experience in explosives filling and small ammunition manufacture. In a written response to the Zimbabwe Independent on Tuesday, ZDI general manager retired Col Tshinga Dube said he had not been briefed on the minister’s trip to Angola. "In fact I have not met the Minister of Defence since he took office," said Dube. The Ministry of Defence had not responded to written questions at the time of going to press.
ZDI runs an explosives filling plant at Elphida Farm in Domboshawa, which became operational in 1990 after a bilateral agreement between Zimbabwe and France in 1987. The plant produces ordnance ranging from 60mm mortar bombs to 155mm artillery shells. Adjacent to the plant is a small ammunition project which commenced operations in 1993, producing ammunition for various calibre of small arms, including bullets for FN and AK47 assault rifles. Military sources said the problem had been the marketing of the products as the Zimbabwe Defence Forces did not have the money to buy the equipment from the ZDI. Treasury has over the years refused to allocate money to the defence forces for the purchase of new equipment. The increased regional political will to open up trade with South Africa in the mid-1990s increased competition within the regional market and it was recognised that South Africa’s defence industry had far better ordnance to offer the ZDF than ZDI. The envisaged joint venture is thus expected to recharge the fortunes of ZDI which experienced a windfall when the civil war broke out in the DRC in 1998. Sources said the current peace initiatives meant another lean spell for the arms manufacturer.