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Last white farmers defy Mugabe ploy to drive them out
From Jan Raath in Chipinge
The Times Online
WHEN Rob Clowes’s farm was nationalised last Wednesday, he continued repairing a pump and supervising the planting of coffee seedlings. Soon there will be £20,000 worth of imported avocado seedlings to go in, and 63 acres to be planted with macadamia nuts.
The coffee will be ready for harvest in 2008, and a couple of years later the avocados and nuts will be ready for export to Europe. His daughter, Jemma, will be set for grade 1 at the little school that the Chipinge commercial farming community built, down the road from his 380-acre farm, Destiny.
But not if Didymus Mutasa, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Land Reform and State Security, has anything to do with it. “White farmers are dirty and should be cleared out,” he said on Sunday. “The Government will not hesitate to take their farms to resettle the black people.”

Mr Mutasa has a new weapon at his disposal. President Mugabe has just signed into law a constitutional amendment widely seen as the coup de grâce for the country’s 500 remaining white farmers.
Since 2000, when Mr Mugabe started his lawless, violent seizures of white land, only a handful of properties have been legally acquired by the State, because the farmers have gone to court to block to the acquisition process.
The amendment declares all land designated for “compulsory acquisition” since 2000 — in effect every one of the 5,200 white-owned farms — to be state property, and nullifies all 4,000 pending court cases.
About 40 white families are still farming in the fertile hills of Chipinge, in southeastern Zimbabwe, probably the largest surviving such community.
In June Mr Clowes, 30, and his wife, who at the time was pregnant, endured a 16-day invasion of his farm by a group of stoned young thugs sent to drive him off his land.
He hopes that the Government will allow the holdouts to continue producing the food and hard currency that it desperately needs. “We have been living on hope for five years. We will go on living in hope that sanity will prevail,” he said.
“You can’t stop farming. Africa is a huge risk, but it’s worth it. In Chipinge, it’s the perfect place to grow things. The financial rewards are good. We love it here, my kids love it here.
“If we move off, we have to know we have tried everything. If they come with guns, we will be out. But I don’t want to look back and say, ‘we had a chance of a lifetime and we failed’.”
His neighbours feel the same. Trevor Gripper runs a 2,500-acre farm that has been in his family for 111 years. He has been forced off all but 18 acres. His father was shot dead on the farm in 1978 during the country’s civil war.
The settlers have destroyed 500 acres of coffee, and burnt most of the 250 acres of macadamia nuts. Mr Gripper said: “We will survive it. When you get a stitch in a race, you keep going till you cross that line. You are stupid if you walk off.”
In 1999, Harry, a farmer who asked not to be identified, spent $1 million on 100 miles of piping and a dam to irrigate 500 acres of new coffee. When the first crop was ready, a mob of state security agents, soldiers and policemen invaded the plantation on the pretence of resettling themselves. They picked the coffee, sold it and stole the pipes. They have not been seen since.
“We’re as good as bankrupt now,” said Harry, whose great-grandfather settled on the farm in 1893. “The land is nationalised so we have no land to borrow money on any more.”
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ZIMBABWE: Succession issue fuelling attempts to bring polls in line, say analysts
20 Sep 2005 16:37:21 GMT

Source: IRIN
JOHANNESBURG, 20 September (IRIN) - A Zimbabwean government proposal to harmonise the date of presidential and parliamentary elections is motivated by the "unresolved" succession issue within the ruling ZANU-PF party, say political analysts.
Patrick Chinamasa, Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, told IRIN that a draft constitution amendment bill was being prepared before President Robert Mugabe's term expired in 2008 to ensure that presidential and parliamentary elections coincided.
Under existing legislation, presidential elections are held every six years, with legislative polls at five-year intervals. The next presidential election in Zimbabwe is due in 2008, while parliamentary polls should be held in 2010. Mugabe, 81, has been in power since Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain in 1980.
Chinamasa said the proposed amendment would most likely be tabled in parliament early next year.
"It is obvious that the succession issue has not been resolved within the ZANU-PF, but the positive element is that the party has at least initiated discussions around it and they need some more time," commented political analyst Chris Maroleng from the Institute for Security Studies, a South African think-tank.
ZANU-PF has been tight-lipped about the succession, but faction fighting over the issue within the party surfaced ahead of its congress in December 2004, at which Joyce Mujuru was chosen as Mugabe's vice-president and potential successor.
Six ZANU-PF provincial chairpersons were suspended after it became known that they had attended a meeting to back parliamentary speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa, while two ministers present at the gathering were also barred from standing as parliamentary candidates in the party's internal elections.
University of Zimbabwe political scientist John Makumbe observed that by amending the election timeframes ZANU-PF was "merely trying to buy itself more time in power". He said the proposed changes were meant to ensure that Mugabe remained at the helm, regardless of when the parliamentary polls were held, because "they realise they have a better chance at the elections if he is still around."
It was not clear whether the government intended altering the parliamentary term of office or that of the president.
Chinamasa has reportedly said the government was considering several options.
On Tuesday the official newspaper, The Herald, quoted him as saying, "Whether the president retires or not, the question, of course, still remains that his term of office expires in 2008. We have also at the [ruling ZANU-PF] party taken a decision to harmonise parliamentary and presidential elections, so various scenarios come to mind as to how we harmonise them.
"We can harmonise by cutting short the current parliamentary term from 2010 to 2008, so that come 2008, we have both presidential and parliamentary elections. That is one route we can follow.
"We can have an election of a president in 2008, only to serve for two years - from 2008 to 2010.
"A third scenario is that we can have an election of a president to serve for seven years, from 2008 to 2015, so that the harmonisation takes place from 2015 onwards. So there are several scenarios."
If the president's term was extended, it would give Mugabe more time to deal with the succession issue, Makumbe pointed out.
Maroleng suggested that a clearer indication of ZANU-PF's intentions would be if changes were made to an existing law, which called for elections within 90 days after the president announced he was stepping down or fell ill. "They could do away with that clause and Mugabe could simply hand power to the next in line within the ZANU-PF, without having to hold elections."
However, Chinamasa dismissed allegations that the amendments were cosmetic measures meant to perpetuate ZANU-PF's rule and give the party more time to stabilise if Mugabe retired in 2008, as promised.
"The country has been living in the grip of election campaigns and preparations because presidential and parliamentary polls are held at different times. The amendment, if it comes into force, will do away with this and leave the country more time to develop away from party politics," said Chinamasa. "It is wrong to view such amendments as self-perpetuation measures that benefit the president and ruling party, because we are a popularly elected party that is governing on behalf of the people."

IRIN news
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Zimbabwe crisis seen worsening as Mugabe holds out
Tue Sep 20, 2005 4:53 PM GMT
By Cris Chinaka
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's crisis is likely to worsen in the coming months if President Robert Mugabe holds out against mediation efforts because only dialogue can help the country get vital economic assistance, critics say.
Mugabe, 81 and in power for 25 years, is accused by his critics of wrecking the southern African state by rigging major elections in the last five years and pursing controversial policies which have left him branded a dictator.
Mugabe says Zimbabwe has been targeted by foreign opponents led by former colonial ruler Britain for his nationalistic policies and says that most of Africa is firmly on his side in what he describes as an ongoing struggle against imperialism.
Analysts said the economic crisis, dramatised in severe shortages of food, fuel and rising inflation and unemployment, is set to worsen over Mugabe's hardline politics.
These include his recent rejection of offers by the African Union chairman, Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, to name former Mozambican leader Joachim Chissano as mediator in talks with the main opposition.
"Mugabe's position on political talks with the (opposition) MDC, his attitude towards a loan offer from South Africa, his belligerant speeches on the diplomatic stage, his handling of food shortages and his adoption of controversial laws has compounded Zimbabwe's problems," said human rights lawyer Jacob Mafume.
"We need international help to solve a lot of our problems but we are not going to get that necessary help when Mugabe goes around telling the world we don't need any reforms or any help except on his terms," he said.
The United Nations said on Monday it would send a top aid official to Harare to try to smooth differences with the government over a stalled $30 million humanitarian relief programme it offered after the government demolished thousands of shacks and "illegal" houses in urban areas early this year.
"It is difficult to see how the situation is going to get better, politically and economically, until we have made peace with the world," said leading economic commentator Erich Bloch.
Mugabe's ZANU-PF party last month used its two-thirds parliamentary majority to approve constitutional changes allowing the government to effectively nationalise formerly white-owned farms and to impose travel bans on Zimbabweans the government regards as hostile.
While Zimbabwe faced possible expulsion from the IMF over debt repayment arrears, Mugabe stalled talks with South Africa on a loan offer apparently over political conditions, eventually scrounging at home for a surprise $120 million payment to the fund to ease pressure on his government.
And in a sign that he is not backing down from confrontation, Mugabe lashed out the U.S. and Britain at the United Nations summit last week, accusing them of bullying and creating problems for many countries, including Zimbabwe.
Mugabe denies he has ruined one of Africa's most promising economies, saying Zimbabwe is a victim of economic sanctions imposed by key Western donors at the behest of Britain following his seizures of white-owned farms for redistribution to blacks.
Thousands of businesses have closed over the last six years and unemployment has jumped from over 45 percent in 1995 to over 70 percent while inflation has soared to triple digits, making it one of the highest in the world.
The veteran Zimbabwean leader also rejects accusations that he has rigged three presidential and parliamentary elections in the last five years to retain power.

© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.
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Relief Web

Zimbabwe: UN to send top official to Harare over clean-up aid

JOHANNESBURG – The United Nations says it will send one of its top officials to Zimbabwe after Harare rejected UN proposals to raise US$30 million for victims of a controversial government clean-up exercise.

UN spokesperson Marie Okabe says the world body will dispatch one of its officers to thrash out differences with Harare on the modalities of the relief operation for the clean-up victims after President Robert Mugabe met UN chief Kofi Annan last week.

Three months ago, Mugabe's government demolished thousands of houses and backyard shacks in a controversial clean-up campaign that left at least 700 000 people homeless, according to a report compiled by UN special envoy Anna Tibaijuka.

Another 2.4 million people were also directly affected by the exercise which the UN and all the major Western governments criticised as an assault on the rights of the poor.

KOFI Annan . . . to send top official to Harare

But Mugabe has defended the exercise as necessary to restore the beauty of cities and towns and smash the illegal foreign currency market blamed for Zimbabwe's economic woes.

The Zimbabwean government rejected a UN proposal to raise US$30 million from international donors for shelter and food to the displaced communities.

Harare has in the past also rejected humanitarian aid for clean-up victims from South African churches accusing the religious groups of harbouring a hidden agenda. Mugabe earlier this week criticised the United States for focusing on the Zimbabwe housing demolitions while neglecting its own victims of Hurricane Katrina in the US Gulf Coast.

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Zimbabwe remains worst affected by HIV/AIDS in world: minister 2005-09-21 03:10:55

    HARARE, Sept. 20 (Xinhuanet) -- Zimbabwe remains one of the countries in the world worst affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic with a prevalence rate of 21.3 percent and women constituting 60 percent of those affected, a government minister said on Tuesday.

    Health and Child Welfare Minister, David Parirenyatwa, said this at the official launch of the "Man Enough to Care" document by Africare, a nongovernmental organization.

    In a speech read on his behalf by Disease Control and Prevention deputy director, Stanley Midzi, the minister said educational campaigns and discussions had significantly increased the level of AIDS awareness.

    This, however, was yet to translate into a significant reduction in risky behavior and ultimately that of infection, he said.

    "I need not over-emphasize that Zimbabwe is experiencing high levels of HIV prevalence rates although there has been a reductionof prevalence from 24.6 percent to 21.3 percent," Parirenyatwa said.

    He called for intensified efforts to address silence, denial, social norms and economic forces.

    In that regard, the minister said, the comprehensive investmentof resources was welcome to combat the scourge.

    Parirenyatwa said the launch of the "Man Enough to Care" document would increase male involvement in gender based programs,thereby complimenting women's societal roles.

    Despite the magnitude of the HIV/AIDS problem, men, due to traditional social norms, have played a lesser role in the care ofthe chronically ill.

    With support from the corporate world and donors, the minister said prevention, care and support would effectively reduce the scourge's impact.

    Africare with support from Development Corporation of Ireland, John Snow International Research and Training as well as International Fund for Agricultural Development has already taken the lead by exploring ways of involving over 400 men.

    These people have been assisting about 3,000 people living withHIV/AIDS in Harare, Makoni, Zvishavane and Shurugwi since 2002.

    Through Male Empowerment Group Projects by Africare, men receive Voluntary Care Giver Training to enable them to help the affected people. Enditem

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VOA News
Large-Scale Food Aid Due in Southern Africa in Weeks

20 September 2005

U.S. government plans to ship 73,500 metric tons of food to Zimbabwe and other Southern African countries are well advanced and distribution in the region is likely to begin next month, an American spokesperson told the Voice of America.

Spokeswoman Carla Benini of the U.S. mission to the United Nations food agencies in Rome – the World Food Program and the Food and Agriculture Organization – said no date has been set to launch distribution to begin, but it could begin in October.

The World Food Program says 10 million people in the region need food aid – 4 million in Zimbabwe, 4 million in Malawi, 1 million in Zambia, 500,000 in Lesotho, 400,000 in Mozambique, and 200,000 in Swaziland. Zimbabwe has been a focus for attention, in part because the Harare government is at odds with United Nations humanitarian aid officials over whether or not current food shortages mean widespread hunger.

The United States has been the main contributor to food relief efforts for the region. It contributed $51.8 million to direct 73,500 tonnes of food into the region.

WFP spokesman Mike Huggins in Johannesburg said he was not informed of the U.S. schedule, and was waiting for supplies to arrive before initiating distribution logistics.

The Zimbabwean government has said it wants to distribute food through its official channels, but Mr. Huggins said the WFP and its local partners will handle this.

Reporter Patience Rusere for VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with Ms. Bernini.

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