|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Peter Tatchell is to petition the Australian government
for the arrest of Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe, at the forthcoming
Commonwealth summit in Brisbane.
Tatchell said: “Soon after I arrive in Brisbane on 28 September I will seek to meet and persuade the Australian attorney general and the Brisbane police chief to arrest president Mugabe for the crime of torture under the UN Convention Against Torture 1984, which Australia has signed, ratified and pledged to enforce. This UN Convention has been incorporated into Australian domestic law - the Crimes (Torture) Act 1988.”
He added that these were the same laws that were used to arrest the ex-Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic. “Milosevic is under arrest,” said Tatchell. “Mugabe must be next.”
Tatchell continued: “I will be bringing with me affidavits from Zimbabweans tortured by Mugabe`s regime, which have been corroborated by Amnesty International and the Zimbabwe High Court. These affidavits provide the legal basis for Mugabe`s arrest under Australian law.”
Tatchell has been experiencing difficulties in obtaining a visa for his trip to Brisbane despite being an accredited journalist. He stresses that his intentions are law-abiding and peaceful.
The outspoken gay rights campaigner was assaulted by Mugabe`s bodyguards in Brussels in February when he attempted a citizen`s arrest of Mugabe. He has launched a Human Rights Fund to help finance his ongoing fight to arrest the Zimbabwean president.
|Mugabe's judges to hear key land case|
|FROM JAN RAATH IN HARARE|
|THE new Chief Justice of Zimbabwe has put forward a bench
of judges dominated by recent presidential appointees for a crucial hearing over
the Government’s land policy.
The list on the court noticeboard for the case between the Government and the Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU) is headed by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, a supporter of President Mugabe, and three other judges sworn in only last month.
The fifth, Judge Ahmed Ibrahim, is the only name on the list who was part of the court that once won international acclaim for its independence, before Mr Mugabe forced Anthony Gubbay, the former Chief Justice, to resign under threat of violence in March.
The three other court judges, two blacks and a white who served with Mr Gubbay, have been excluded.
Victory for the Government would effectively close off one of the last sources of hope for Zimbabwe’s white farmers, opposition parties and ordinary citizens battered by the lawlessness and violence of Mr Mugabe’s ruling Zanu (PF) party.
Mr Mugabe is seeking approval by the court for his so-called “fast-track land reform programme”, which amounts to little more than trucking ruling-party supporters on to white-owned farms.
In an unprecedented move today, the CFU is to ask Mr Chidyausiku to excuse himself from the case. The union said that according to papers filed with the Supreme Court, he has so clearly allied himself with Mr Mugabe’s campaign to seize white-owned land that the CFU had no confidence that he would deliver an impartial verdict.
Two other judges, Misheck Cheda and Luke Malaba, are being asked to step down as well, because they have been named in an official Agriculture Ministry list for being granted large cattle ranches at nominal rent. The ranches were bought by the Government to resettle landless peasants.
Farm union officials said yesterday that there had been no let up in the violence and harassment on white farms, despite the Government’s commitment to restore the rule of law and to carry out legal and sustainable land reform.
Yesterday three journalists and a driver from the independent Daily News were receiving medical attention after being assaulted by squatters at a farm in Wedza, about 60 miles east of Harare.
IMF Team Visits Harare
UN Integrated Regional Information Network
September 18, 2001
Posted to the web September 18, 2001
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has stressed the need for measures to restore confidence in Zimbabwe's economic future, "particularly through an orderly land reform process".
The IMF said in a statement on Monday that the economic situation in Zimbabwe was "deteriorating rapidly" with poverty rising. The statement, based on a staff assessment visit from 3-15 September, added that the team made a number of recommendations on macroeconomic policies. "The team recommended that the primary budget balance (which excludes interest payments) be in substantial surplus in 2002. The loose monetary policy since early this year has led to a rapid increase in asset prices, an acceleration of inflation and a sharp depreciation of the Zimbabwe dollar on the parallel market," said the statement. "The team recommended an immediate tightening of monetary policy to reduce inflation, which has been particularly harmful for small savers, pensioners and the poor."
According to the statement the mission "welcomed" the targeted social nets that have been designed to address the current food crisis and protect the poor and recommended that low priority expenditures be reduced to allow their expansion. "It noted the risks to food security posed by control, such as the reinstitution of the Grain Marketing Board monopoly on maize and wheat distribution and urged that all such controls be removed," said the statement.
It added that the team "urged" the government to adopt comprehensive adjustment policies that would "restore growth and alleviate poverty". "Such policies would provide a basis for clearing arrears (that Zimbabwe has with the IMF) and an eventual resumption in financial support from the IMF and other creditors and donors," the statement said.
The IMF team also met with representatives of civil society such as non-governmental organisations, the business and financial communities, political parties and trade unions.
Comment from The Age (Australia), 18 September
Zimbabwe's latest land agreement
Since February last year, 1700 white-owned farms have been invaded in Zimbabwe and at least eight farmers and 28 black workers killed in the process. The invasions have been sanctioned by Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and carried out by militants, led by so-called veterans of the 1970s liberation war. Earlier this month militants, the President's supporters, launched assaults in Matabeleland province, occupying three goldmines, setting fire to farm land and warning whites to leave the country or die. In the previous month 40,000 British nationals in Zimbabwe were told that they must renounce their right to a British passport this year if they wish to retain Zimbabwean citizenship.
These violent actions have severely weakened a shaky economy and it is feared that the farm seizures will result in food shortages. In an attempt to stop the crisis, Mr Mugabe was offered a deal at a meeting of Commonwealth foreign ministers in Nigeria earlier this month. Under the agreement, Britain will release £36 million to pay for land reform if Mr Mugabe restores the rule of law and takes "firm action against intimidation and violence". But little more than a week since Mr Mugabe agreed to the plan, the seizures are continuing. Indeed, last weekend two more people were feared dead after militants set fire to houses on white-owned farms they were illegally occupying.
Suspicions that Mr Mugabe's agreement to the plan was merely a tactical measure aimed at ducking pressure at next month's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Brisbane appear to be justified. As part of the agreement, Mr Mugabe said he would not condone any violence on the farms, although there is strong evidence that his party has been behind the violence that has occurred so far. In August a document belonging to his Zanu PF party outlined the political goals of the campaign against white farmers. It read in part: "The operation should be thoroughly planned so that farmers are systematically harassed and mentally tortured and their farms destabilised until they give up."
Hypocrisy and cynicism have been the hallmarks of the farm-seizure campaign. Although the invaders have been called war veterans, in order to give them some moral legitimacy, many are too young to be veterans. Seizing commercial farmland, and placing it in the hands of inexperienced thugs, does not help Zimbabwe's economy or its respect for law and so far has masked a deeper political crisis. While the British deal recognises that genuine land redistribution issues are at stake, it would be most unfortunate if Mr Mugabe believed his policies were sanctioned by the Commonwealth. It is to be hoped that a rigorous scrutiny of Zimbabwe's policies continues at the Brisbane summit.
|Farm invaders attack Daily News reporters|
9/18/01 9:00:16 AM (GMT +2)
COLLIN Chiwanza, 28, a Daily News reporter, went missing after he and three colleagues were assaulted by a mob of 20 at Bita Farm in Hwedza yesterday.
The reporter was found last
night more than eight hours after fleeing into the bush to escape the attack by
the farm invaders.
The attack took place in the presence of Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena, the official police spokesperson. Mduduzi Mathuthu, another reporter, Urginia Mauluka, a photographer, and Trust Maswela Mpofu, the driver, were also assaulted with fists, chains and poles.
The team was saved by an armed soldier who threatened to shoot the attackers when he realised the four were in danger of being critically injured or even fatally assaulted.
The three then fled. Mathuthu, Mauluka and Mpofu sustained swellings and bruises all over their bodies. They also lost at least $2 700 and some of their particulars during the attack. The invaders confiscated the crew’s wallets and camera, which were later returned to them after a policeman intervened.
Mathuthu said Bvudzijena was travelling with John Karimazondo, a Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation reporter, in a police Defender vehicle. Last night, Bvudzijena, although admitting he was at the farm, denied witnessing the attack.
He said: “I don’t have any comment on that issue. I think they are confusing me with someone else.”
The Daily News team reported the assault at Mahusekwa Police Station in the Marondera district, who gave them “requests for medical report forms”.
The police said they would refer the case to Hwedza Police Station.
Last night, Hwedza police said they were still looking for Chiwanza. “We have sent police officers to the farm to look for him,” said an Inspector Nyamutamba of Hwedza Police Station under whose jurisdiction Bita Farm falls.
The news team was about to get into their car after completing an assignment when they were confronted by the mob which arrived in three vehicles a yellow Nissan pick-up truck with a white canopy, a green Land-Rover and a grey Nissan UD lorry, suspected to belong to the police.
The mob disembarked from the vehicles, ordered the news team to sit on the ground and started questioning them. They accused them of having been sent by the British and the MDC. They claimed that The Daily News was scuttling the government’s land reform programme.
The mob then separated the four Daily News staffers and assaulted them for at least half an hour before the intervention of the soldier. Rex Mphisa and Regis Nyandima, reporter and photographer, respectively, with the government-controlled Herald, who arrived later, covered the event without being harassed.
Chiwanza sought refuge at one of the farms in the area. Before yesterday’s attack, one of the workers at the farm said about 35 land invaders were dropped by a truck at the farm on Saturday night.
The invaders ordered the workers to vacate their houses, saying they now belonged to the settlers, resulting in violent clashes. Two resettled farmers were reportedly killed and several workers sustained serious injuries in the clashes. The bodies of the dead settlers are at Hwedza Police Station.
|Farmers, workers flee Hwedza|
9/18/01 9:05:18 AM (GMT +2)
ABOUT 2 000 families
have been evicted from 14 commercial farms in Hwedza by war veterans and Zanu PF
supporters who rampaged through the rich farming community over the past few
days, forcing both the workers and the farmers to flee for safety.
Colin Cloete, the president
of the Commercial Farmers Union, said at least 19 commercial farmers in the area
have had serious work stoppages following visits from war veterans, while 14
farms are now virtually deserted.
Groups of rowdy war veterans have taken over the farms under the government-sponsored fast-track resettlement scheme.
Cloete said five farms in the area have had sporadic work stoppages. He said: “The farmers in Hwedza are negotiating with the local district administrator, the police and the war veterans so that they can be allowed to go back to their farms and continue farming.”
So serious is the problem that thousands of farm workers, including children, have been living in the bush while others have gone to their relatives.
Isiah Kufa, a worker at Fels Estates said on Tuesday a group of war veterans descended on the farm and evicted all the workers.
Kufa has been living on the farm for the past 10 years and he has no other home.
Some of the affected farms are Nhumwa, Markwe, Imbima, Igudu, Idube, Fels, Rapako, Bolton, Leeds, Poltimore, Shaka, Hull, Lifton, Nelsons, Saltash, Iamba and Corby.
All the farmers have sought refuge elsewhere, leaving behind unattended crops, cattle and household property.
Craig Coleman of Malaba Farm in Marondera was held hostage for a day.
He later escaped through an opening on his security wall.
The war veterans had threatened to kill him if he did not leave the farm in their hands.
Coleman’s farm workers said the war veterans told them they wanted to set up a training centre for Zanu PF youths within the area.
Most of the workers said they had nowhere else to go and were depending on assistance from sympathisers, mostly commercial farmers.
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 crop, and ongoing disruptions to farming due to land invasions.
Since February 2000, government supporters have invaded hundreds of white-owned commercial farms to push for faster land reforms.
One hundred thousand children in the southern provinces of Midlands and Masvingo, are being given a supplementary meal every day by Care International, a Care official said.
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 said. "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 180000 people live in Mberengwa, according to the Central Statistical Office's recent census.
Meanwhile, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has alleged that foodfor-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 Gumbo in last year's elections.
In Harare, the Famine Early Warning System (FEWS) said in its latest report that food security in rural areas such as Mberengwa was "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 100000 tons of maize from SA 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 would be depleted. Sapa-AFP.
HARARE, Zimbabwe (Reuters) -- Zimbabwe's ruling party has unanimously endorsed a plan to end President Robert Mugabe's controversial land seizure drive.
Mugabe, whose personal seal is crucial to the deal, approved the accord in principle more than a week ago, but said he needed to pass it through his ZANU-PF party politburo and the cabinet.
Under the deal, the Zimbabwean government agrees to end the land seizure program in exchange for funds to implement fair and just land reforms.
"The politburo unanimously accepted the settlement," said Emmerson Mnangagwa, administration secretary of Mugabe's ZANU-PF.
"We accepted the settlement at our normal monthly meeting," Mnangagwa told the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation about the pact, under which Britain pledged to help finance Zimbabwe's land reform program.
Mugabe said it was critical the commonwealth ministerial meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, had reaffirmed that land was at the core of the crisis in Zimbabwe and that it had to be settled within the law.
The Commercial Farmers Union and Zimbabwe's main opposition party have welcomed the agreement, but said it would only be of importance if Mugabe implemented it.
Under the accord, Zimbabwe's former colonial power Britain agreed to co-finance compensation for farmers whose land is handed to blacks.
Zimbabwe plunged into political and economic crisis when Mugabe allowed his supporters to begin invading hundreds of white-owned farms in support of his land seizure drive.
Critics say Mugabe chose a radical land reform drive as part of a campaign to retain power in the face of a serious political challenge. He has been in power since the former Rhodesia gained independence in 1980.
Police reported Monday that a white Zimbabwean farmer and 24 farm workers were arrested in the murder of two militants who were allegedly killed while moving onto a farm targeted for government seizure.
Farmers say there has been no let-up in attacks against them and their workers since southern African leaders who met Mugabe in Harare last week established a committee to monitor the restoration of order in Zimbabwe.
|Elliot Pfebve arrested|
9/18/01 9:08:16 AM (GMT +2)
ELLIOT Pfebve, the
losing MDC candidate in the recent parliamentary by-election in Bindura, was
arrested yesterday morning as he reported a second break-in at his city centre
offices at the Harare Central Police Station.
Three weeks ago, the
offices of his company, Computer Africa, were broken into, but there have been
no arrests. Pfebve suspects the burglaries are politically motivated.
In the run-up to the June 2000 parliamentary election, his brother, Matthew, was killed in the political violence that characterised Zanu PF’s campaign for the Bindura seat, won by the late Border Gezi of Zanu PF, who died in a road accident in May.
Yesterday morning, the Law and Order section of Harare Central Police
Station arrested Pfebve on allegations of attempted murder. He was still detained by late yesterday afternoon.
Pfebve’s arrest stems from an incident in July when Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC president, escaped unhurt after an attack on his convoy in Chiveso village in the run-up to the by-election in Bindura. All the 13 vehicles in the motorcade were damaged.
Zanu PF youths allegedly hurled stones while some gunshots were fired from where the supporters were positioned.
Learnmore Jongwe, the MDC spokesman, yesterday confirmed Pfebve’s arrest.
“Interestingly, there is no complainant,” said Jongwe. “This is Zanu PF’s view of justice, but we are prepared to fill their jails. This harassment will not halt the people’s resolve to complete the change they started in June 2000.”
Pfebve said a computer, a stove and a number of tools were missing from his office, whose drawers were ransacked and left open, indicating that someone had rummaged through them.
Pfebve is one of three citizens suing President Mugabe in the United States for human rights abuses, following the murder of his brother, Matthew, by suspected Zanu PF supporters in the run-up to last year’s poll.