Zim minister may face violence charges September 19 2004
Harare - Zimbabwe police have recommended that one of
President Robert Mugabe's ministers should face charges of political
violence for leading attacks on rivals in the ruling party, a state-owned
newspaper reported on Sunday.
Anti-Monopolies Programme Minister Didymus Mutasa would become the first
high-profile official to face such charges if the authorities decide to
The Sunday Mail said Mutasa had been implicated in a
recent wave of violence against fellow members of the governing Zanu-PF
party who are supporting a rival candidate ahead of party primary elections
for next year's parliamentary poll.
Neither Mutasa nor police
were available for comment.
Political violence has marred
Zimbabwean elections in the past five years but critics say it has mostly
been directed against the opposition.
Mutasa, a member of
parliament since Zimbabwe's independence from Britain 24 years ago, is
regarded as one of Mugabe's most loyal lieutenants.
previously denied charges that he recently led a gang of militant youth
supporters in assaulting members of a rival faction in Makoni North in
eastern Zimbabwe, and that he assaulted a police officer assigned to
investigate the case.
The Sunday Mail quoted police sources as
saying a probe had implicated Mutasa in string of assaults that wounded
scores of people, some with broken legs.
"Highly placed sources
say investigations into the violence that took place in the constituency
last month have shown that the minister has a case to answer," the newspaper
"The sources say the board of inquiry has recommended that
all parties and persons that were involved... should be dealt with in terms
of the law regardless of status or station in life," it said.
THE political fortunes of veteran Manicaland politician
Didymus Mutasa might be waning following damning submissions by traditional
leaders, senior policemen and Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO)
officers implicating the senior politician in a systematic abuse of
authority spanning over the years.
Authoritative war veterans
and Zanu PF officials in Makoni told The Daily News Online that the
seven-member probe team, tasked by President Robert Mugabe to gather all the
relevant facts of the circumstances surrounding the violence that engulfed
Rusape, Mayo and Headlands around August 21 and 22 was now finalising its
The officials said an Inspector Tomukai, the officer
in charge crime at Rusape Police Station, who was also beaten up by Mutasa
made his submissions, together with Superintendent Mildred Muza, the
District Criminal Investigating Officer for Rusape District
Some members of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO)
were also asked to make their submissions.
team comprises members of the police, the CIO and war veterans and reports
to President Mugabe. According to well-placed Zanu PF officials in
Manicaland, Mutasa was denounced by some people who had long been considered
"Some of us have been with Mutasa since independence
and we know when things are not going well for him," a senior Zanu PF
women's league official said.
"When the campaign for the
primaries began some time ago, we all thought the chefs would accept
challenges from junior members of the party.
"But when Cde Kaunye
challenged chef Mutasa, we all saw the changes. The man became hostile and
ruthless. Violence was unleashed on us and several got injured. It was not
difficult for us to make detailed submissions of what we saw and what we
knew about the violence that erupted here."
said she told the team that Mutasa had become a threat to their security as
Zanu PF supporters.
Another war veteran who also made
submissions yesterday said that it was high time the truth was told without
fear because Zanu PF faced collapse from within if people of the mould of
Mutasa remained unpunished.
The war veteran said the
information he gave included how Mutasa allegedly rewarded some of the
terror gang with land previously allocated to some people, who have since
been forcibly evicted.
"We told the team that Cde Mutasa was
now working against the Third Chimurenga and it was one of the major reasons
why he unleashed the Chinyavada hit squad," the war veteran
"The team was also told of how Mutasa used his power to
remove Mrs Lucia Chitura from the Zanu PF district office where she was Zanu
PF's district co-ordinator although she remains on the party's payroll. She
is barred from going to the office. Her crime was simply to be friends with
former Manicaland governor Oppah Muchinguri."
But the most
critical submissions were made at Chiendambuya and Mayo where traditional
leaders, headmen and kraal heads rallied behind Kaunye to highlight Mutasa's
alleged abuse of power and violent tactics to retain his
The traditional leaders allegedly outlined how
they had been made to fight against each other following the deliberate
spread of falsehoods by people backing Mutasa.
out in Makoni District after Mutasa, the Member of Parliament for Makoni
North, the Zanu PF secretary for external affairs and also the Minister of
Anti-Corruption and Anti-Monopolies led a five-vehicle convoy to unleash
violence on supporters of Retired Major James Kaunye, the aspiring MP for
Nathaniel Punish Mhiripiri, the aspiring MP for
Makoni East had his wife Florence beaten up and his property destroyed and
looted. Kaunye is the chairman of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War
Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) in Manicaland.
During the attack,
the terror group left a trail of destruction. They looted and beat up
Kaunye, leaving him for dead. The matter is now before the courts with 31 of
Mutasa's supporters facing counts of public violence, malicious injury to
property and causing grievous bodily harm.
Mutasa yesterday scoffed
at suggestions that he was behind the violence that left 70 Zanu PF
He lashed out at Kaunye, describing him as a
"war veteran of dubious credentials" working together with the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Makoni District.
media associates me with violence," he said.
"That committee came
to Makoni at my instigation. I requested the Minister of Home Affairs Kembo
Mohadi to set a committee to investigate the violence. The president knows
about it but he is not the one who set it up.
"They interviewed me
and I told them what I know happened. They also interviewed everyone who
they thought was involved in the violence. What happened is that this young
man called Kaunye, who is a dubious war veteran, started his violence but he
was caught in his own trap.
"He is dubious because real war
veterans do not behave like he is doing in Makoni. We think very strongly
that he is working with the MDC in Makoni. His supporters are mostly former
MDC members and therefore, he must have been told by the MDC to start the
violence so that they tarnish my name."
Mutasa said on the day
of the clashes, Kaunye and his supporters followed him to a meeting at a
church in Headlands and attempted to disrupt it. However, members of the
Zanu PF youth league present were unhappy and they physically dealt with
Kaunye, leaving him and some of his supporters injured.
A RECENT Africa Report on
Zimbabwe and South Africa concludes that the two southern African countries
share similarities on issues relating to history and land.
all their differences, says the report, one thing Zimbabwe and South Africa
have in common is that land issues, dating back to colonial times and white
settler governments, are highly emotive, evoking difficult questions of
history, race, politics, economic opportunity and international
Entitled Blood and soil, land, politics and conflict
prevention, the report says successfully defusing tensions over land remains
central to reducing the risk of conflict in both countries, and boosting
their long-term economic prospects.
Blood and Soil offers a
detailed analysis of the different challenges of land reform in both
Zimbabwe and South Africa. It provides a balanced assessment of the claims
and counterclaims made about who bears responsibility for the current
catastrophic situation in Zimbabwe.
And it also provides practical
policy suggestions for ways forward: identifying the contours of a
post-transition land approach in Zimbabwe and a comprehensive agenda for
reinvigorating the land reform process in South Africa.
report is the product of intensive field research in both countries. The
policy recommendations are the result of widespread consultations with
senior policymakers in Africa and around the globe.
above all attempts to place disputes over land ownership and use within
their overarching social, political, economic and historical
Crackdown on prostitutes raises eyebrows in
BEITBRIDGE - Several
business people here are up in arms with the Zimbabwe Republic police over
the crackdown on prostitutes which they say is now negatively affecting
They told Daily News Online that they are now
losing their clients since the crackdown started a few weeks.
An official at Limpopo Lodge said: "A lot of our clients no longer come here
because officers are harassing our female patrons. You see some of these
guys are coming here to enjoy a drink and talk to ladies but now the ladies
are constantly being arrested or chased away by the officers."
barman at the popular Travellers Inn, said sales had gone down and
attributed the decline to the police crackdown on "the ladies of
"At times they don't arrest them. They simply chase them
from hotels, pubs and lodges," said Gibson Ndlovu of Dulibadzimu township.
Prostitutes were now operating underground at places where they are now
But as business people cry foul over the loss of business,
the move has received mixed reactions from residents in townships. A
landlord in Dulibadzimu told Daily News Online that since the crackdown the
prostitutes were giving her big business.
"I now rent out my
rooms for an average $160 000 per room monthly and this is really good for
me. But some rooms are used hourly and I charge an average $10 000 per
hour," he said.
But other residents were against the crackdown
saying prostitutes should be left to operate from lodges and
Prostitution is rife in the border town where long distance
truck drivers and border jumpers have been largely blamed for the
Like any other border town in Zimbabwe, HIV/AIDS prevalence
is very high at Beitbridge. At least one in four adult Zimbabweans is
believed to be HIV positive, making the country one of the worst affected by
the killer virus in the region.
HARMISON ZIMBABWE PULLOUT COULD JUST BE START FOR
ENGLAND Steve Harmison today became the first England player to pull out of
the winter tour to Zimbabwe - and others could follow without censure from
The England and Wales Cricket Board confirmed Harmison
will face no action for boycotting the five-match one-day series, starting
in the final week of November, and while it is hoped the majority of the
regular limited-overs party travel, there remains the possibility that more
high-profile stars follow suit.
Harmison, rated the world's number
one Test bowler, told captain Michael Vaughan and coach Duncan Fletcher he
would not be part of the one-day assignments in the African country
following yesterday's win over Sri Lanka in Southampton.
The ECB met
with the squad and their representatives only a matter of days ago to urge
them to make themselves available en masse - although assurances were given
to those who opt out - and further talks, designed to allow others to make
clear their intentions, will now take place before the end of the ICC
England are obliged to play in Zimbabwe under the
International Cricket Council's future tours programme - despite
reservations from the hierarchy and players alike - or face fines and
"As the ECB has concluded that the tour must go
ahead subject to it being safe and secure to do so, we have asked all the
current England players and management to make themselves available," said
an ECB spokesman.
"Stephen Harmison is the only player to have informed
the board that he will be unavailable for the tour.
"The ECB has
previously stated that any player who makes himself unavailable to tour
Zimbabwe for reasons of personal conscience will not be penalised and this
remains our position."
England were hit in the pocket for scratching
their World Cup fixture in Harare last February and Harmison, a member of
that squad, says he made up his mind not to tour Zimbabwe in the future, at
Around half of the 15-man party on duty in early 2003 did not
want to travel to a country gripped by Robert Mugabe's abhorrent regime,
guided by their consciences as much as fear for their
"Nothing has changed for me," Harmison wrote in his Sunday
newspaper column. "The situation there is worse now - that's what the
official reports say - and Zimbabwe's top players have been
"I hope nobody questions my commitment. Being part of this team
means so much to me.
"I don't believe my decision will cause any
splits or break up this team.
"What we've built is special and strong and
10 days in Zimbabwe isn't going to damage that."
How many more of a
core group, who won a record-equalling seven successive Tests this summer
and face a pre-Ashes encounter with Australia in the Champions Trophy
semi-final this coming Tuesday, decide to back out is yet to be
In contrast to the last time England were faced with the prospect
of playing in Zimbabwe, though, the ECB and players are discussing matters
An England side will set off to Harare unless an
inspection party, including Professional Cricketers' Association managing
director Richard Bevan and an ECB representative, finds security problems or
an International Cricket Council investigation into racism in Zimbabwean
cricket shifts the focus in the coming two months.
"The players are
sympathetic to the ECB's position," said Bevan. "It is not like Cape Town in
as much as the ECB has a contractual obligation so they must tour at
"When the selectors meet we will sit down with the players. If a
player does have an issue then he has been told he does not have to
"That does not mean to say the ECB are ignoring the issues going
on and it is certainly not being treated as a normal tour.
the majority of players will be going and supporting the ECB, taking into
account they have to tour. No other player has come to me and said he has no
intention of travelling.
"Throughout the past year, the PCA has made
ongoing representation to the ECB to ensure that the players' views and
concerns around the Zimbabwe issue are understood fully."
objections about playing against a Zimbabwean side shorn of 15 white rebel
cricketers, sacked by the Zimbabwe Cricket Union earlier this year, did not
prevent the Durham pace bowler lining up against them last
Neither is the 25-year-old the first foreign cricketer to
decline the chance to tour Zimbabwe as Nottinghamshire's Australian
leg-spinner Stuart MacGill refused earlier this year and has intriguingly
been overlooked by his country for next month's commitments in India.
Henry Olonga has
welcomed England fast bowler Steve Harmison's decision to boycott the tour
to Zimbabwe. "I think it's commendable. It's not often sportsmen are
willing to take a strong position on political issues.
"Zimbabwe at the moment is a hot bed of controversy. I take my hat off to
him," he told BBC Sport.
Olonga quit international cricket last
year after staging a black armband protest against the Zimbabwe government
during the World Cup.
And he has repeatedly urged teams to stay
away from Zimbabwe in protest at the policies of the Mugabe
Harmison is not the first cricketer to boycott a tour, with
Australian spinner Stuart MacGIll having taken a similar stand earlier this
"It's unfortunate for the cricket community in Zimbabwe that
they miss out on the opportunity to see these world-class stars, and
Harmison is the in-form bowler for England at this point in
"But there is a bigger picture which people in
positions of power are just not willing to confront. They just don't seem to
get the message.
"There have been enough sportsmen who have taken
some kind of stance about what's going on in Zimbabwe. But people who really
count, when it comes to decision-making about Zimbabwe, aren't following
Harmison is the only player to have told the England and
Wales Cricket Board he will not tour in November.
refused to criticise those who decide to make the trip.
pleasant surprise when someone like Harmison or MacGill says 'We don't agree
with what's going on there'.
"I don't sit in judgment in any way
over people who do go. If they want to focus on their career, that's
"Most sportsmen don't want to get involved in those things
and I don't have a problem with that," he added.
Africa's descent into nightmare Cameron Stewart,
Ethiopia September 20, 2004 AS the world debates how to respond to the
humanitarian disaster in Sudan's Darfur region, a larger shadow is creeping
across the dark continent.
From the Ivory Coast in the west to Somalia in
the east and Zimbabwe in the south, sub-Saharan Africa is in a crisis
unprecedented even by the flimsy standards of its own troubled
In a continent increasingly racked by war, economic stagnation,
an AIDS pandemic, corruption and intractable ethnic and tribal divides,
Africans are struggling to secure their future more than a generation after
the end of colonialism.
This bitter truth was been spelt out in
unusually blunt fashion by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan,
himself a Ghanaian, following his recent visit to Darfur.
that the Sudan crisis, while shocking, was only one of a host of new
problems in the region that were placing African nations at
"We must not let the achievements
of recent years be rubbed out by a return to an Africa in which millions are
plagued by terrible violence," Annan told a summit of the 53-member African
But the reality is that millions are already being plagued by
terrible violence - one in five Africans now live in a state that is being
torn apart by war.
The most notorious at present is Sudan's western
Darfur region, where government-backed Arab militia, the Janjaweed, are
killing, raping, terrorising and displacing the black African
The UN, which calls Darfur the world's worst humanitarian
crisis, says at least 50,000 people have died and more than 1.4 million have
been forced from their homes.
The World Health Organisation warned
last week that up to 10,000 people, many of them children, were dying each
month from disease and violence in the rudimentary refugee camps that house
But violence in the region is endemic and spreads far
Across the border in northern Uganda, thousands of
civilians continue to die in an 18-year-old conflict between the Government
and the bizarre, cult-like Lord's Resistance Army.
This is a conflict
that has seen the kidnapping and forced conscription of thousands of child
soldiers in the name of a rebel movement that wants to run Uganda according
to its own perverse brand of Christianity.
In February, the LRA attacked
a village in the north, burning some 200 women and children in their huts,
an atrocity that barely made news in the West.
Further east, border
tensions between Ethiopia and Eritrea threaten to spill over into another
war, while Somalia remains the only nation in the world without a
functioning government after being abandoned by countries of the West a
decade ago and left to fester in eternal war between rival warlords.
Congo, the nation's peace process is teetering as the UN scrambles to
approve a major increase in the size of its peacekeeping force to quell
recent outbreaks of violence in the east.
"The war that began in 1998
and cost the lives of at least 300,000 people as a result of direct fighting
and violence and another 2.7 million through disease and starvation has
never really ended," says Gareth Evans, former Australian foreign minister
and now president of the International Crisis Group.
Last month, more
than 150 Tutsi Congolese refugees were slaughtered in western Burundi by
suspected Hutu extremists in a haunting reminder of the racial divide that
triggered the Rwandan genocide a decade ago.
Further west, the Ivory
Coast is in civil war betwen Muslims in the north and Christians in the
south, while similar religious rivalry in Nigeria has killed some 10,000
people in the past five years.
And further south, Robert Mugabe continues
to destroy Zimbabwe's economy and rule of government through a system of
corrupt, dictatorial patronage, while the only country with the power to
influence Zimbabwe - South Africa - turns a blind eye.
There are some
rare bright spots, notably the 20-year-old war between Christians and
Muslims in southern Sudan - a separate conflict from Darfur - may finally be
ending, while peace has come to Liberia after years of bloody
But the gravest danger to the future of sub-Saharan African
countries is not military conflict but the related issue of economic
A UN Industrial Development Organisation report released last
month paints a devastating portait of poverty, illustrating how the benefits
of globalisation have largely bypassed the continent, leaving Africans
poorer than ever before.
"Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region of
the world where extreme poverty has been spreading steadily for the last 20
years," the report said.
GDP per capita in sub-Saharan Africa is $US1790
($2557) compared with $US28,260 in Australia.
The UN report concludes
that Africa's decline "is absolute" with the number of Africans living in
poverty rising from 42 per cent to 47 per cent in the past two decades at a
time when the global figure has fallen from 40 per cent to 21 per
Even the continent's economic powerhouse, South Africa, is
afflicted by an unemployment rate of more than 30 per cent.
So who is
to blame for this depressing state of affairs?
African leaders have been
quick to point to external factors such as the legacy of colonialism and the
indifference of the rest of the world.
Many African nations were born
into instability when colonial powers drew up arbitrary national borders
that ignored ethnic and tribal divides. "Many of Africa's problems do relate
to the colonial legacy and there have been huge problems transposing the
concept of a modern nation state to the circumstances of Africa," says
Phillip Darby of Melbourne University's Institute of Post-Colonial
Yet the rest of the world has kept its distance from Africa's
troubles and, with the exception of Darfur, or a similar crisis such as the
Ethiopian famine two decades ago, sub-Saharan Africa is all but ignored by
"Unlike Iraq or the Middle East, there are simply not very many
hard interests in Africa for Western nations," Professor Darby
The US has avoided large-scale involvement in sub-Saharan Africa
since its public humiliation in Somalia in the early 1990s, including the
famous Black Hawk Down incident and the subsequent dragging of dead US
servicemen through the streets of Mogadishu.
paralysed the US - and Western - response to Rwanda during the 1994 genocide
that left at least 800,000 people dead.
Western enthusiasm for
intervening in Africa will be further diluted by the experience of Iraq,
which has served as a grim reminder of the limits of nation-building by
Experts warn the Iraqi experience is playing into the
hands of the Sudanese Government, which knows the West will be extremely
reluctant to put its own troops on the ground in Darfur.
"blame it on others" argument proffered by African leaders is growing thin
some 40 years after the general end of colonialism.
Rather than colonial
legacy, it is poor governance, cronyism and outright corruption that is
sending otherwise resource-rich nations such as Zimbabwe into bankruptcy.
Angola and Nigeria are poorer today than when oil was first discovered in
each. One of the few success stories is Botswana, which has enjoyed peace, a
market economy and good governance for the best part of 40 years.
when Botswana newspaper The Reporter delivered a report card on Africa
recently it pulled no punches, describing African leaders as being trapped
in a "victim mentality".
"African leaders still blame colonialism for
all the continent's ills, most of which stem from avarice by the ruling
class and its cronies - and total disregard for good governance," the paper
"So many years after independence, African leaders still expect the
world . . . to clean their mess - the Darfur crisis is a case in
As British author Robert Guest points out in his new book The
Shackled Continent, African leaders have shown a willingness to flout the
law for their own gain largely because they are unrestrained by
institutional checks and balances.
The social and economic cost of
such indulgences becomes all the greater when you consider that the AIDS
pandemic is devastating the new, younger generation of Africans from which
future leaders will be drawn. An astonishing 30 million people living south
of the Sahara now have AIDS or HIV. One African adult in 11 has HIV and last
year 2.2 million Africans died of the disease.
expectancy in sub-Saharan Africa has slumped to 46.3 years but is much lower
in AIDS-ravaged nations such as Zambia where the average newborn can expect
to live only 32.7 years.
Although some countries, such an Uganda, have
managed to reduce infection rates due to education programs and condom
distribution, others - including relatively affluent South Africa - have
lived in denial.
South Africa has the highest number of HIV cases in the
world, yet until recently President Thabo Mbeki insisted HIV did not cause
It is the AIDS crisis and the economic stagnation in an era of
globalisation that distinguishes this current crisis from previous ones in
The region has long been a witness to horrific
bloodshed, from the crimes of Uganda's Idi Amin and Zaire's Mobutu Sese Seko
and of course the genocide in Rwanda. But many Africans remain reluctant to
penalise their own, especially when urged to do so by the West.
African Union - which is attempting to become an African version of the
European Union - has so far shown little or no stomach for criticising its
And in a readers' survey last month for New African
magazine, Mugabe - a man vilified in the West - was voted as the
third-greatest African of all time, behind Nelson Mandela and Kwame Nkrumah,
Ghana's first prime minister and a father of the pan-African
Yet amid the gloom there are some signs of hope.
a country all but destroyed by genocide a decade ago, has restored political
stability and was the first to volunteer to send troops to restore order in
Rwanda's story shows positive lessons can still be drawn from the
darkness. Such lessons are desperately needed today, not just in Sudan, but
across sub-Saharan Africa.
Stuff, New Zealand African nations seek to end black rhino hunting ban 20
JOHANNESBURG: Namibia and South Africa want to lift a ban
on hunting the rare black rhino, a move certain to draw protests from
conservationists who say the species is still recovering from decades of
Both countries have made submissions seeking
approval for potentially lucrative black rhino hunts at next month's meeting
of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna
and Flora (CITES), which regulates the global trade in wild
Black rhino populations have been decimated by poaching and fell
in the mid-1990s to around 2400 animals in the wild from 65,000 just two
Poachers typically hack off the horns - prized in the
Middle East as dagger handles and in East Asia for medicinal purposes - and
leave the great carcasses to rot in the sun.
The species has since
recovered somewhat thanks to anti-poaching measures in South Africa and
Namibia as well as the development of lucrative game farming. A recent
estimate put black rhino numbers at 3600, the vast majority in South Africa
Namibia is seeking an annual quota of five rhinos for trophy
hunters out of its estimated population of 1134 while South Africa wants to
hunt 10 of its estimated 1200 black rhinos a year.
"Ten males per
year out of a total population of approximately 1200 would have no impact,"
South Africa said in its submission to the CITES Secretariat.
rhinos have been strictly protected by CITES since 1977. The CITES
Secretariat supports the proposals and its more than 160 member states will
decide the issue by consensus at the meeting in Bangkok - though there is no
guarantee they will lift the hunt ban.
Conservationists say there is
no reason for complacency.
"It's early days. The black rhino population
is still recovering and the trade in rhino horn continues," said Jason
Bell-Leask, the southern Africa director for the International Fund for
Namibia makes the argument that limited hunting would
raise valuable conservation funds. "All revenue from hunting will be
re-invested in conservation programmes," it said in its
Limited hunting of far more numerous white rhinos is allowed
in South Africa and has certainly proved to be lucrative. Hunters pay on
average between $20,000 ($NZ30,665) and $25,000 ($NZ38,331) for a white
"It goes purely on horn length - it is approximately $1000 an inch
and white rhino horns average 20 to 25 inches," Mike Cameron, a veteran
professional hunting guide, told Reuters.
The black rhino is smaller
but also rarer so it would almost certainly cost tens of thousands of
dollars to shoot one.
Both animals are in fact grey in
Underscoring the dangers that the animal still faces, Zimbabwe's
black rhino population is believed to have halved over the past four years
to about 200 amid growing lawlessness in the country.
hunters believe the ban should remain in place for now.
keep the ban in place until there is a very substantial number of these
animals to ensure their survival. You can kill them in five minutes but to
replace them takes a very long time," said Cameron.
Farm designations slammed as vindictive Kuda
A DECISION by government to designate farms belonging to a
number of high profile "fugitive and errant" businessmen implicated in
various crimes has been described as part of a ferocious and highly
vindictive process, targeting individuals perceived to be enemies of the
Land experts, legal gurus and political analysts told the Sunday
Mirror last week that there appeared to be ulterior motives veiling the farm
designations, which government has said are for "resettlement
Ten farms belonging to five high-profile businessmen facing
various charges were marked for compulsory acquisition by government in the
past two weeks, in an Extraordinary Government Gazette under section five of
the Land Acquisition Act.
The businessmen, James Makamba, Julius
Makoni, Francis Zimuto, Cecil Muderede and Nicholas Vingirai, face an array
of criminal charges ranging from externalisation of foreign currency, fraud,
theft, corruption and smuggling.
Makamba has been aquitted on some of
the charges he was facing, while he was also fined more than seven million
dollars for dealing on the black market.
The Section Five notice serves
as a statement of government's intention to compulsorily acquire a farm in
question, giving the farmowner 30 days to respond to government's
Nine of the farms belonging to Makoni, Zimuto, Vingirai and
Muderede, were purchased by the embattled businessmen using personal funds,
while the tenth - Maryvale Estates in Mazoe district, a sub-divided farm was
issued to Makamba under the land reform exercise.
Makamba was issued
with a withdrawal letter dated September 8, nullifying the offer letter he
received upon being allocated the farm. He was yet to sign a long-term lease
for 99-years, giving him rights over Maryvale.
Part of the letter to
Makamba read: "Please be advised that the Ministry of Special Affairs.is
withdrawing the offer of land made to you in sub-division of Maryvale Estate
in Mazoe District in Mashonaland Central. You are forthwith required to
cease all or any operations that you may have commenced thereon and
immediately vacate the said piece of land." Land experts, legal gurus and
political analysts have however blasted the move to designate the business
moguls' farms, saying there were ulterior motives behind the designations
which government claims are for resettlement purposes.
A land expert
who declined to be named said the scenario surrounding the nine farms owned
by Makoni, Muderede, Vingirai and Zimuto reflected a possible government
decision to compulsorily acquire the land owing to multiple farm-ownership
Of the nine farms in question, Zimuto owns three,
while Makoni, Vingirai and Muderede are on record as owning two farms
Makoni, Zimuto and Vingirai fled to the United Kingdom, while
Muderede is in remand prison, awaiting trial for a wide array of crimes.
According to the land expert, a farm can be gazetted for compulsory
acquisition under Section Five where the owner is a multiple farm owner, and
where the farm is near communal areas that need to be decongested.
added that further designation under section five could only occur where the
farm was over-sized or underutilised.
Withdrawal letters are issued with
the discretion of the relevant ministry in cases where set standards are not
met, but can also be issued in cases of multiple farm ownership,
under-utilisation and where possession of a farm is not effected within 30
days of occupation. "Where a farm has been designated under Section Five,
the farmer is allowed to raise his or her objections within 30 days. If
government goes ahead with a Section Eight notice, and the farmer is
contesting, the matter will have to go before the administrative court. "If
the farmer is not contesting, the administrative court confirms government
acquisition of the property, whereupon the next step is to establish
compensation for the farmer for improvements on the property and the
transfer of title deeds," said the land expert.
Considering the process
involved, speculation has been rife that government is taking advantage of
the absence of Makoni, Vingirai and Zimuto who are therefore unable to
contest government's action.
The situation would then lend favourably to
the forfeiture of all properties and all equipment to the state's
It also invariably raises the question of who would contest
government's intention to compulsory acquire the
Furthermore, no family member or business associate can act
on behalf of the fugitive bankers or Muderede, as they were declared
specified persons and thus had all their properties and accounts frozen
pending the outcome of investigations into the extent of prejudice suffered
Makamba's case has also been a subject of great concern,
as he might not be compensated for improvements at Maryvale Estates for
which he borrowed $5 billion from the Jewel Bank.
include the construction of Blue Ridge Spar supermarket and the financing of
his farming operations, and the debt has since escalated to $9
"You cannot receive compensation when you haven't signed a long
lease. If a withdrawal letter was issued and a subsequent withdrawal letter
given then government normally forfeits the improvements to the state," said
the land expert.
Likening the designations of the ten farms belonging
to the indicted businessmen to the Mawere saga in which mines connected to
him have been taken over, a legal expert and MDC economic secretary, Tendai
Biti also questioned the wisdom of the move at a time when all targeted
individuals were currently specified and investigations were
"While the Land Acquisition Act was used and allows for the
designation, instead of the Prevention of Corruption Act, these indigenous
business-people are still specified. Why the rush in designating their
properties? It just proves the vindictive nature of government," queried
Biti. Another legal guru, Johannes Tomana, said assets belonging to
specified individuals "normally can't be sold or otherwise" until
investigations into their alleged illegal dealings were
Tomana defended the action by government saying: "The
designation of the farms and the specification of the individual might not
be related. Maybe there is another reason why the farms were designated. But
then, why should these individuals run away if they are not guilty?"
Political analyst and prominent academic, Heneri Dzinotyiwei said the manner
in which the land reform exercise was now being administered, as exemplified
in the designation of Makamba's and the other fugitive businessmen's farms,
He attacked the move to designate farms before
investigations into alleged illegal activities were over, saying it was a
travesty of justice.
"When a person has a case to answer, and action is
unilaterally taken by the state without consulting the judiciary, it means
the three-tier state as the anchor of democracy is under threat," said
Makoni and Zimuto fled to Britain with fellow NMB directors,
James Mushore and Otto Chekeche after they were alleged to have externalised
$30 billion through a UK-registered company, LTB Money
Vingirai also fled the country after an incapacitating
liquidity crunch rocked his Intermarket Holdings, while Muderede is facing
charges of dealing illegally in foreign currency, defrauding the Grain
Marketing Board, smuggling and theft.
The investigations into the
alleged shady dealings of Makoni, Vingirai, Zimuto and Muderede apparently
seek to establish the extent of prejudice suffered by government due to the
illegal dealings and externalisations.